Monday, April 28, 2008

apollo bay music festival

We stayed at Star on the Sea, which from what I can gather is owned and operated by nuns who only stay there themselves in the christmas holidays. It is beautifully makeshift inside. Here is the marvellous kitchen.

New Estate played probably one of, if not THE best show(s) - sorry about grammar - of their existence at the Surf Club on the Saturday afternoon. The people there, old and new, really dug it.

Later in the evening I went and saw Duckdive at the bowls club. They started, if I remember correctly, with the last song off their album, and it was quite magnificent. They ended with a Justin Timberlake song (sorry, didn't recognise, Justin who?). I was a bit sorry for the trumpet player (not pictured here) because for a lot of the set he just stands there being part of a frontline. He is a good trumpet player though this evening he looked like someone out of Brideshead Revisited. And like obviously on purpose. Dbl bassplayer does a good Todd Hunter imitation too don't you think? I mean young Todd Hunter. He could go one better and be as good as Todd and play electric bass (I'm sorry but that's my inclination. They already sound excellent - but they could sound 10% more excellent with that cool hollow Stereolab/Beach Boys bass sound. I used to say the same thing about royalchord, and look where it got us all.)

This is Duckdive's audience, with their luminous eyes.

On the Sunday I was in a cafe and it rained a lot there was a weird bluesy boogie band going on down there in the street and people in the cafe were bopping lightly with their heads, their faces blank, it was pretty creepy - kind of an indictment on white people's capacity for moronic bopping. Anyway I looked out in the street and it was raining and check out the huggers on the right.

Here are the Rustys who were one of the busking groups in the street. As opposed to busking half way up a mountain or deep in a well.

Here is The Stems' audience, such as they were (there were a lot of people up the back). I think I saw the Stems in 1984 with the Moffs. They were pretty tight for this show. A middle-aged fool after the show was over, who had been head-bopping all through, said to his compadre, 'This festival's good because you get to see the groups you didn't see at the time.' Great thinking, friend.

New Estate were playing another fine show back at the Surf Club - groundhog day or what - then we left and drove back partly via the Great Ocean Road, partly via the Great Nondescript Winding Crap Road.

Friday, April 25, 2008

two students

Not my students, but young women I have overheard on public transport. I don't know what institutions they attend. The first was a girl on the train pulling into N Melbourne, whose speaking manner seemed to result in every sentence concluding in sarcastic inflection. She told her friend she hadn't been doing that well because she had 'plagiarism issues' but as she was speaking got out her latest piece of marked work and said she had got a credit for it. Friend: what does that mean? She: It means I'm 'getting better'. (Or maybe this just sounded sarcastic).

Second student was a girl wrapped in fake fur on the tram south Melbourne-city talking on a mobile phone. She had not done any of the reading for her subject or at least, she had just read the first sentence of every paragraph in the prescribed readings, and the essays she wrote as a result got really good marks. There's a tip.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

alienating my new friends

Although I am wonderful, I do sometimes alienate people, like the girl I saw wearing an achewood hoody on the tram yesterday, I'm sorry to say that the exchange went for about 20 seconds, along the lines of me saying 'achewood hoody', and she saying 'yes, it's nice to meet... [unfinished, but she meant meet someone who knows what achewood is]' and me then going into a telegrammatic not diatribe but a kind of speed musing on how this spelt the increasing popularity of achewood and therefore the beginning of the end... I mean I was about to get off the tram, so I had to get this out fast. It was a bit rude but it was true. Once achewood gets so popular you see people on the tram in Melbourne wearing achewood apparel, you know it's all starting to go wrong, and it will become terrible. I mean it has to somehow anyway, so that's OK, but still, it's sad when something great comes to an end. I think the girl will know what I mean soon if she didn't just then. By the way she was with some guy whose company she was enjoying, so I felt OK approaching her and not looking 'interested' in the sense you know what I mean.

Monday, April 21, 2008

no time

No time to write much but I will say I went to Castlemaine on the weekend to visit my sister Nicola and her husband Toby and their offspring Niamh, drove there with my sister Tamsin and her offspring Alice and Olivia. Olivia and I spent some time on a higher part than the strange house N T and N live in building what she christened the dolphin rock house. I was uncertain and I think so was she, whether it was a model of a house or a real stone house as per the lower house, which is stone and brick. Anyway at a certain point I suppose it got too much as she said, 'can I go and get my mum?' and I said, of course and she didn't come back. Although she might say that I didn't wait that long to see if she would. But we didn't discuss it.

Here is a selection of the people who were there, on the verandah. Tamsin, Philippa, Lina, Alice, Olivia and Tania are all in this picture.

It was my birthday the next day. Mia made a perfect cake and April (whose birthday it is, soon!) came over with her people. Her eyes matched her jumper, which incidentally she was not keen to put on for some time. She is a funny girl.

Friday, April 18, 2008

art fair

Mia has some paintings in the art fair, we went last night. Usual extraordinary mixture of the very fine and the quite appalling. You can see the little space where her paintings are through here (behind the column).

And the Exhibition Building never fails to impress anytime.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I think I have pretty much decided not to have a birthday. It was a tough decision as I have tended in recent years to grin and bear the birthdays but 43 just seems so nothing that I can't get interested even in ironically celebrating it. However, I will permit myself the luxury of reflection, insofar as, I feel that at 43 I have many reasons to be relaxed and comfortable, even smug and smirky, with a Good Job I enjoy more than I have ever enjoyed any job, a valid, creative and delightful Life Partner, a solid and appreciating Home, Fine (even Rude?) Health, many interesting projects on the boil such as forthcoming conference, books to be written/otherwise facilitated, And So On. I pretty much got what I wanted and while we are strangely feeling the $ pinch more than ever at the moment, and I would not mind a new stove and some shelves in the living room, I strongly suspect these will be resolved with time, particularly if I do something about them.

Smugness over, it's back into whining and carping territory again.

Why do people always, etc etc

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

early train

I finally managed to catch a pre-7am train. These are the trains that get to town before – guess! – 7 am at which time if you have validated a pre-7am ticket then you don’t have to pay. My problem is not so much getting up at 5 in the morning – although I am a bit dysfunctional and it just occurred to me then that I might not have turned the heater off, though I think I probably did, but anyway I’m going to have to call Mia and wake her up to check which something tells me she won’t thank me for (later: I did, but I had, she as predicted didn't) – but getting to the train by 6:22, which is the last possible train I can get that gets me into the city before 7 (the one after is just after). Well actually I got there with tons of time to spare, considering the train was late (though not as late as the platform indicators said - they were still saying it had 4 minutes to arrive when it was virtually there, then they suddenly flash to ‘NOW’ which makes you feel like you’ve just jaunted), indeed, enough to go around from platform 1 to the main ticket place on platform 2 and tell ‘the man’ that the ticket validator wasn’t working, to which he made a noise that sounded to me like ‘yes I know we’re having someone come out and look at it as soon as possible thank you for bringing it to my attention’.

It’s a pretty packed train, really, at least, probably about 2/3 of the seats are filled and we’re not at Strathmore yet. It’s not quite light as yet and a nice time of day. One of the things I was wondering about on this trip was whether I could bring my recently refurbished (by Mia) bicycle on this train and ride it to work from N Melbourne. The issue then of course would be I wouldn’t be able to take my bike back on the train between 5 and 7 so I’d be stuck at work or some strip club biding my time until I was able to return.

Now we are at Essendon this will be the proof of the pudding how packed the train gets here. If it gets substantially filled with people I will either have to think about getting an even earlier train… it is pretty filled up but it’s not like it is an hour later when all those paying people block up the entrance ways and there is literally no way (aside I suppose from standing in the doorway from the outset) that people like me can comfortably get off the train at N Melbourne. I think so far (now we arriving Ascot Vale) this would be OK bikewise. Unless a billion people get on here or at Newmarket or Kensington, all those yuppie scum stations, it should be fine.

Last night I watched The End of Suburbia the documentary from about four years ago re: the demise of suburban life in the US because of the demise of oil/petrol. When I say I watched it, I’m a liar, well, literally I did but I fast-forwarded through a bit of it in a ‘yeah yeah’ way. We at our house are not dependant on our cars, we just use them all the time, except for things like Mia’s band, but that’s just one more example of where it wouldn’t take much of a rearrangement of the world – a little bit of pressure that would probably come from somewhere else – to make this unnecessary, i.e. I am told in Japan they have all the required equipment at the venue and you borrow it for the night, which sounds like just a brilliant idea and when you think about it they probably pay that off in a matter of weeks because the whole band would then drink a lot and the extra profit would come to thousands very quickly. Perhaps in Australia more than Japan the whole band might drink a lot and then smash the equipment but I doubt it actually, anyway all you’d have to do is make them sign some liability and then when they woke up the next morning and realised they’d trashed the equipment and were liable for thousands and thousands of dollars they’d either skip town or top themselves, either way it’d be good overall for society and the music scene. The venue owners could by law have first pick of their DVDs and Smiths albums as compensation for their lack of compensation.

So The End of Suburbia was I thought a bit too much red-faced middle-aged (or older) white men, not that I am against them per se because after all I am one, arguing vociferously. Who needs it? A lot of time spent convincing us the people (or the American people actually) of something that is bleeding obvious, and then 10 mins at the end featuring the alternatives, which is what I was really interested in, Peter Calthorpe etc. I think this might be another example of an American film which can be sold to provincially-minded alternatypes who don’t realise how provincially minded they actually are, and are happy to pop Australia into the same category as Dallas Texas a place they haven’t been and won’t go to, ever (and have probably never gone to the Australian places they are comparing it to). Neither have I but I know it’s a whole different ballgame. I’m not saying that I don’t therefore think that people should quit driving their cars all over the place all the time like idiots, befouling the environment and sequestering themselves off from reality, but I am saying that we can’t always take on American warnings as though we’re ‘just behind’ America. The rest of this post was so stupid and badly written I had to come back a day later and cut it off. Sorry it makes even less sense now. Actually that's arguable. Anyway, here's a picture of a balloon I saw on the way to work soon after writing the above.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

glenroy laundromat

Our washing machine is up shit creek so I went to the laundromat today. I took some photos of the only interesting things, with my pinhole in a shoebox camera.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

just pictures

During the week I sent these three pictures from my phone self to my email self. Not sure why. Two are from Perth last year, the charming Shadow who was Millie's older sister who, sadly died a few months ago from her cancer, and unrelated youngster Taffy who is now bigger I am sure. Present wherabouts of balloon uncertain.

And thirdly, a picture of a display house or something being built taken from the 401 on the way to work one morning. I seem vaguely to recall I had something snappy to say about this, but the moment has now gone. Long gone.

Friday, April 11, 2008

a word from the enlightened

tracy armatrading

I am a big fan of my local cafe here on campus. It is convenient and the people are nice. Some even know my name a la Cheers.

In the last couple of weeks there has however been a surfeit of Joan Armatrading's greatest hits being played there. As I said to Bianca Brant yesterday I don't mind Joan Armatrading in small doses, but the small doses need about two years between them. This morning it was the kind of Joan Armatrading extension, Tracy Chapman, who to my mind is somewhat indistinguishable in sound. Anyway, one of the charming staff said to me, 'why are you listening to your ipod when we're playing Tracy Chapman?' It was quite funny (n.b. it was meant to be).

They also play the Beatles too much, i.e. at all.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

cops all over the trains tonight

Who knows what that's about. I've more or less completely lost my voice but they have yet to take away my mind - or is it? Anyway, I was able to do a lecture today, kind of, and I was also able to have long conversations with colleagues where it all seemed to work OK, but I did say at the end of the day, if it gets any worse I'm not coming in tomorrow, which I think I can do.

In fact most of the day was entering marks for students, which takes a long time - one of those things you'd think wouldn't, and then, you see, it does.

Kenzie is staying with us I wonder what he expects to have for dinner.

Here's a funny thing a girl said on the train tonight to her friends, 'I was in Sunshine with Jack watching... Stepford something and I was going to go home and I didn't and I called my dad and just left a message and the next day he called me and said [Name, whatever, can't remember] did you come home last night? and I was 'Nuh!' (Laughter).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

just call me tiny clanger

Except it's a girl's name. But I certainly felt many points of real life reference while watching this

Young and Boring

It sounds like a media scam when you think about it and we do know it goes back a long way, this strange idea that Young People are Cool. It is funny on reflection to consider that, while I do kind of tacitly accept Young People being Cool as a concept, in the same way I get through life with the general notion that not everyone in the world thinks Make Mine Mink is the funniest film ever made or that people who climb mountains, rather than being locked up or just barely tolerated, are feted – a dual reality, if you will – Young People were never cool when I was a child, a teenager, or in my twenties. And I work a lot with young people now and if they are Cool they are incredibly uncoolly good at keeping this a secret, to the extent that I’m pretty sure they are actually not at all Cool. Oh, except inasmuch as many Young People are the objects of lust and envy amongst older people, I guess. That could be mistaken for Cool, in the final analysis it’s only Cool the way Clapton; Tintin and Snowy after the solar eclipse; or Captain Cook in Hawaii were gods – you know, they weren't.

It is such a relief to realise this because I keep finding myself listening to Young People’s music, enjoying it and fearing that someone will accuse me of trying to be Cool from it. I guess the fear is actually more accurately that they will accuse me of that and I will believe them. Well, as long as Young People aren’t Cool, it’s not going to be a problem.

I am thinking particularly of Operator Please and the Young and Restless. The first of these is a genuine young band, because they are under 20, the second is overall older I think but presumably appeal to young people (all I really have to go on for that is the comments on YouTube which seem to be written by 5 year olds) (mind you the video below is so silly it made me question my allegiances a bit). OP’s album is actually a little sugary and tweaked for my liking – the singles are great, particularly ‘Leave it alone’, but the album generally is crafted to an inch of its life and the drumming is too programmy, even when it’s trying to be anything but (eg on ‘Zero Zero’). Mia thinks that OP could be famous and successful forever, and I will take that on, after all I am the one who (bet I’ve told you this before) forced friends to sign a statement in 1996 that they thought Silverchair would be successful two years later, because I so completely did not believe it to be so – having been bitten by Zillian and the ZigZag Men, I suppose, and shy.

Young and Restless are a lot of fun. On reflection I’m not quite sure why I put them in the Young People’s Music category. Maybe because of their name – just like Sonic Youth, John Paul Young, Baby John Burgess, You’ve Got Foetus on your Breath, right? The drumming is sensational (the first thirty seconds of ‘Satan’, yes they have a song called that can you believe it!, is so inspired), the bass is grunty, and so on. Their record is probably in its way every bit as calculated as Operator Please’s (most records are, frankly, there's no reason to dislike records or like them on this basis) but they went the extra yard to make it seem less so, or alternatively it all just fell into place or-gan-ic-ally. My favourite song of theirs – can’t remember its name – is the one with the least amount of tune (my mp3 player doesn’t like this one all that much, so I don’t hear it very often on random) but the tune ones are grouse too.

Also at the moment I’m listening to the unyoung sounds of:

Jane Dust – A spray of red from the deep what a sensational album and the song below is one of my favourites
The Muddy Spurs – the best Muddy Spurs album I’ve heard - never made a video or were videoed it would seem so all I have are memories
X – At home with you – the recent reissue with the live album adjoining which I haven’t listened to yet
Stereolab – Sound Dust – the last album with Mary Hansen and only two bucks from Dimmeys this morning
Mandu – natch
Magic Dirt – the Snow White album which is ten bucks at JB at the moment and highly recommended by me
Kes Band - Kes Band

Friday, April 04, 2008


11 days to the third anniversary of this blog and only 16 days to the 43rd anniversary of my birth. Which is more exciting I don't know, and I am also unsure how to celebrate them. I suspect actually the first of these anniversaries will not be celebrated at all. That still leaves the question of the second. It may be dinner at Anatolian. Their state-of-the-art audiovisual facilities could come in very handy for the rough cut that movie of my life Claudia and Per are making.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

people who use their hands rool

Those of you who know Mia’s work know that she has in the last couple of years (more probably) taken to sewing parts of the canvas with relevantly-coloured cotton to fit with the otherwise representative image giving a textural feel to her oil painted views.

Because I generally assume there is little Mia can’t do particularly when she puts her mind to it I have fairly much taken this with my usual unimpressed impressedness because, while I know I couldn’t do anything like it myself, I know she has this amazing ability to negotiate an image and turn out something that looks, firstly, like the thing it is meant to look like, and secondly, uniquely hers. But, in the heat of a hot day, I was watching her listlessly from the side of the room as she sewed a new canvas with nothing but a few vague blue pencil lines and a reference photograph and I was struck by how incredible a talent it is to be able to manipulate a dumb machine on a square of canvas half-intuitively, half with concentration, and always aware if you mess it up you’ve ruined it. I was reminded by Marion Mahony Griffin’s silk paintings of the hypothetical Canberra where once again if she messed up once, she would have to scrap the whole shebang. Surely this puts more and more pressure on the artist as the picture builds in complexity. I don’t know if I could hack that complexity.

And, like all artists in this long and increasingly complicated age of reproduction, people like Mia and Marion know/knew they were up against those who could rub it out and start again in a second, that the visceral affect of the final product competes with someone using photoshop or whatever the 1912 equivalent of photoshop was (there was one in this sense, I’m sure) and it’s only those who care to examine the end product in detail – and most don’t – who can see what a built-up layered piece of art it is, impressive on that point only, and it looks beautiful as well, not coincidentally.

William Morris had his funny big schtick about taking pride in work and nurturing an innate but hidden artisinal sense in every human. I have yet to develop that sense in myself as yet, though I do draw a little now and then, rarely representatively. I have thought though about making our house decoration-unique, since it’s pretty unlikely we’ll ever sell it, certainly it seems that way now. Like the best artists Mia has the artisan-artist sense. Many members of my family have the artisinal part, my father, my brother though not so much now, my sister has been amplifying hers with her interest in sewing and textiley things. I am sure it’s the way of the future.

Meanwhile I bash away on various computers writing rewriting it’s never perfect and it doesn’t really have to be because it’s tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper or, in the case of the internet, tomorrow’s waste of electricity and that’s all. However I do not kill people or animals (not directly, indirectly I am as bad as anyone) so that’s what I give to the future.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

tactics friday night

All who know me know how I hate reunions but I kind of felt being such a Tactics fan I couldn't really miss this one, and I didn't, and it was pretty good. The drummer (a new person - why are the drummers always new people in reunions?) was excellent, and the songs were very well done. Studdert is looking well (no reason why he shouldn't) though I thought those trousers were just dreadful. There was one song that messed up a bit - one of the galloping ones (not 'Coalface', maybe 'Comittee of Love'?) but it doesn't matter a bit. This was an occasion when you realise the music that doesn't exist anymor in the day-to-day (except on records) and what we're missing.