Friday, January 22, 2010

happy birthday

Today is Michael Hutchence's 50th birthday and Flinders Street Station's 100th birthday. Neither is really alive and yet both have a place in our hearts. I like three things Hutchence did: that song with Don Walker, that film with Richard Lowenstein, and the Max Q album. Oh, and Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, most of it anyway. I like many more things FSS did and still does. Happy birthday, you two fine old men.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Waking up at 4:30 with something you have to do firmly embedded in your mind only you can't do it as it is 4:30 in the morning is a big hassle (why do I always check myself to wonder whether hassle is spelt 'hastle'?). That was an hour ago and I have since:

patted both cats
patted both dogs (they were sleeping nestled, it must be cold out there)
checked to see if the paper's come
put stuff in a pile to take to work
read some random sections from part 3 of Plan for Melbourne (1972)
figured out how to delete a file that had been on my desktop for some months now - I didn't put it there and it was undeletable because 'locked'

Last night I watched the last episode of Timeslip. I don't know if you've seen this show it was a scifi show from 1970 made by ITV in the UK. I am surprised it seems to have a sizeable cult following. If you saw the program and then read the discussion boards on the official site you would wonder, like I have, about the people participating. They appear on the one hand to accept that the show is completely thrown together, and on the other, revel in pointing out discrepancies. Someone has made a documentary.

I have watched a lot of it over the last 2 months. I suppose it's quite comforting.

NB Denis Quilley (above) was in an Australian police show called Contrabandits in 1967. Who remembers this?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

like an old man

Like an old man, I fell over running for the train yesterday. From this the lower palm of both my hands are sore and my right thumb has a small red blemish on it that threatens to crack open and spurt something out when I do something manly with my fists eg turn taps tightly.

People were very solicitous when they saw me fall and this just confirms I am an old man. If you saw a young man fall he would probably be falling into a commando point a gun at you position. Or some other killing attitude, with a knife or vampire teeth or something.

As an old man I have to go and get my foot x-rayed (I am an old man so I tend to call them röntgen rays). This is because it has been hurting for some months now and the doctor thinks I might have arthritis. This seemed particularly so in her mind because the foot hurts when I wake up, but not after I walk on it for a while. I see a positive: I like walking and it is good for me and now perhaps no-one can stop me walking as they are always trying to do, as it stops me having pain. The other possibility is I suppose I might have to have the foot removed and replaced with something bionic, hopefully, a bionic foot though a duck’s head as per umbrellas might be nifty. I always thought that was an extraordinary idea and charmingly humorous. Did they use real ones.

There are so many advantages to our fine multicultural society and one is that when, for instance as now in my proximity (at Glenroy station) people have loud conversations in a language other than English, I can’t understand them and so they don’t annoy me. I bet whatever these youngsters (girl ‘n’ guy) are talking about loudly it would annoy me a lot if I understood it and felt compelled to follow its narrative. They are surely talking about driving fast cars and eating mcdonalds.

Friday, January 15, 2010

did leo sayer have a song about a train and was it called 'train'?

(Writ yesterday) Spent a bit of time at the SLV this evening looking at RAIA files, I went through the press cuttings from 1936-37 which had a lot of great stuff about the inauguration of the Slum Abolition Council, a group which – unless I’m thoroughly mistaken – served its purpose and was wound up very quickly when a lot of its members, the ones for whom slum abolition was a core concern, were co-opted into a government committee for the same then reformulated as the Housing Commission of Victoria.

Also, looking at bungalow courts/ maisonette stuff and generally chipping away at the important process of eventually understanding the world and everything in it. Now I am listening to the Black Kids on the train and typing to you.

I did a bit of random blog searching recently and it is amazing to me how many people start blogs and don’t, you know, continue them beyond a certain point. Wow, who do they think they are? A blog is not just a whim you know, it’s an ongoing living thing like sourdough or sad songs. Though it’s hard to tell on the whole whether some of those people are actually setting out to do a blog (and stopping after a couple) or whether they’re really more concerned with having an identity on blogger. That’s probably a big part of it.

I like this Black Kids record though at the moment I like the singles and the other bits are like the cushioning muscle round the vertebrae or, perhaps, one-entry blogs. Well, I will persist and I bet I get to love one or two songs more. They remind me a bit of the… no, I won’t say, you’ll just think I’m a prat.

Man, spend a bit of time looking at architecturally-themed press clippings and then take a train to Broadmeadows viewing as you go the houses lining the railway line. I dare you. The line was electrified in the early 1920s and while there are a few Victorian buildings at (say) Essendon and Moonee Ponds, it’s basically housing from Federation up to pre-WWII, pretty nice a lot of it. In the late 1930s there was hubbub because 85% of buildings weren’t architecturally designed – it’s less now, isn’t it, Shane?

It’s funny looking at those clippings, to my more-trained-than-most-but-still-untrained-nonetheless-eye, a lot of those 1930s houses look like remodelled Victorian houses. I am not sure if they are (and the accompanying text is just not saying so), or whether Melbourne architects of the 1930s were sticking to the form they knew and making the outsides look cool. Both, perhaps, the key being whether the newspaper columns on new buildings – basically industry puff – would dig very deep or see renovation/refurbishment of a façade as a good thing.

Anyway, I loved looking at those clippings. Then I was looking at some individual files, and checked out Charles Heath’s irate letter to the RVIA responding to their stuffy letter criticising him and asking for an explanation because he sent out a slightly self-publicising pamphlet – really, just a folded over piece of paper – featuring his latest (and as far as I’m aware, greatest) building, the Coburg Town Hall which, by the way, you can still see anytime you wanna, in Bell Street. Check it out, cool dome. Then I got into other files which I won’t go into detail about in case someone does a lazy search on them and sees me being flippant about them and thinks I’m not a serious scholar. Am I paranoid?

I left the heritage reading room and I was the last to leave, leaving the lady behind the desk to do whatever crazy thing she might get up to when there’s no-one around to see. I wonder. I kind of envied her having at least an hour just staffing the HRR without having to answer any dumb question (though let’s face it those SLV librarians make things more difficult for themselves). Then I thought, no, I’d just get bored hanging out there with nothing to do and no-one to do it for/with/at.

Then I got to the station and had a few frantic minutes as I had two minutes to buy a ticket and get on the train – just made it otherwise I’d probably still be sitting there on the platform being annoyed and thinking ‘that train’s probably at Glenbervie now,’ or ‘I bet it’s at Oak Park now, damn it.’ And hoping it crashes and blows up and burns to pieces, so that my missing it turns out to be a good thing, and then thinking, what if that actually happens to the one I am about to get on? That’s how it goes peeps don’t say you don’t do the same.

Now I am at Jacana station, which has got to be (I’ve dwelt on this before) the most poorly situated, inaccessible, ugly station in Melbourne, now that Mobiltown’s gone, anyway. Did I ever tell you about the time some bikies circled me at Mobiltown? It was I guess 1978. I was a railway buff of sorts though I wanted to cultivate my own take on railways and I did. And it got me nowhere. Oh, I suppose it got me interested in planning and the built environment and the like, probably, now I come to think of it.

i was

Thursday, January 14, 2010


A lot of the time I am happy to live in the present day. Certainly I enjoy a level of health, comfort, wealth and so on that would not really have been available to almost anyone in previous eras. This decade, too, I have enjoyed the fact that my generation has come to be, if not 'in control', then at very least in the vanguard.* I am less likely to feel oppressed by a sterile passe way of thinking that seemed endemic in, say, the 70s and 80s. Then I get emails like this:

Australia Day is the day we celebrate what's great about Australia and being Australian.

At Jetstar, we're proud to be Australian. Being Australia's Low Fares Airline means we can help bring families together from all over this great country of ours.

I probably was never going to fly Jetstar again for fear of being stranded somewhere overnight without a blanket, but this puts the lid on it. Maybe I misunderstand the term 'white trash', because I will refuse to use it or accept it assuming it has certain racist undertones, but in that context, let's just say that this ad is a trashy appeal to trash. If there is a line between racism and nationalism it's a fine one, but this kind of lazy stuck together with ya chewy bundle of jingoism, familyism and jetstarism makes me SAD.

* Life would be bulk easier if I felt I could get away with these kind of statements. Whatever 'my generation' is, it plainly doesn't think as one. I hope you kind of get what I'm suggesting though.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

hottest days

(written 12/1) Yesterday went up around the 44-45 mark which was shocking. I spent much of the day in the SLV with my mother researching the introduction of a social work degree at the University of Melbourne (1941) and the professionalisation of social work per se in Melbourne (1929 onwards). We went out of the library at 3-ish which was a bit of a shock but not quite as bad as I had expected, given the extra acclimatisation required (though the library is kept at a sensible level, not frozen). The bad bit was leaving work later in the day - between 4.30-5 – when it was the hottest. It was surprising though all things considered how many people and other creatures (ie birds) were around. I wouldn’t have expected so many.

Last night was particularly unpleasant, like sleeping in a shoebox on the fire. But sleeping nonetheless, so why complain you might ask. Well, I am in the kind of mood a day and a half of extremely hot weather gives one, which leads me to say, I complain because fuck you. It was bad enough where I was a few minutes ago at Glenroy station with a juvenile learning to smoke on the platform (making it impossible to sit out there) and someone old enough to know better – a man in his mid-20s, but an ugly mid-20s, he might have been older – playing a hand-held computer game which was probably supposed to be projecting the sounds of millions of rounds from some gun or other but actually sounded like someone shaking a packet of tic tacs, or an old recording of many typewriters played on a transistor.

I should have complained to them but fortunately for me and you I have a blog.

As I stood on the Glenroy platform I felt a cool breeze from the south up the railway line which was a nice thing and boded well for the future.

This morning I spent finessing some chapter proposals for a book I hope to publish (by which I mean to say, have a company publish for me). I think I jumped the shark with my corrections and reworkings but I felt reasonably OK about it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

watch this space

I woz ere yesterday evening around 6:30 when the Google Map vehicle came by. Some kids of a family also walking down the footpath were all like, 'here it is again!' and did goofy things like waving their arms around. I just tried to look as dignified as one can when one's face is pixellated.
Anyway that's not me in the nice skirt, they haven't updated the pictures yet, you see.

to be demolished

Monday, January 04, 2010

rock n roll friends

I have been reading Dean Wareham's book Black Postcards, a very readable piece of musical biography with no strong female characters. Thanks Shane for lending it to me on NYE.
I enjoyed Rage on Saturday night, with an episode of Rock Arena from late 1984, an episode of Countdown from I think 1988 or thereabouts (?) and inbetween an overlong documentary about Countdown from 1979. This was particularly interesting because it started with the Marc Hunterless Dragon doing ‘Love’s not Enough’ in the studio and later, a discussion of the updated group’s appeal (or lack of) by members of the Countdown Committee. Fabulous.
The Rock Arena was amazing for a number of things, all going to remind me of how much fun 1984 was. About half of the show was the Machinations live from the Chevron. I am 99.9% positive that I saw my old rock ’n’ roll (and otherwise) friend Sue Grigg in the audience. I am pretty damn sure it was her. She was wearing blue. Not atypical. That she liked the Machinations is not in any doubt: I have a few of her Machinations singles, which she was going to throw out and which I rescued, with her name written on them, in her handwriting no less. And anyway she wouldn’t deny it. It was a thrill to see her on TV. Within two years she was playing in Chad’s Tree.
The Countdown was OK, ‘Take On Me’ by A-ha (or is it a-Ha?) is still one of the greats, and the Kids in the Kitchen song was so hilariously awful it made me love them again, but when it came down to it I think the Machinations show took the cake. They actually had some really good songs, and that first album is very adventurous. When they became overly funky and shit, they got shit. There is no way to say this nicely but I feel the need to say it for some reason, that Fred Lonergan was an extremely unlikely looking frontperson. I wonder if his unlikely-lookingness (oh. I have found a way to say it nicely) cost them fame and fortune? As it transpired, he had a serious accident where he broke his neck or something and they band sold all their equipment and started up computer shops (the story goes). Someone should do a sociological, and anthropological, study of the bands from various private school catchment cohorts. Machinations were all north shore, erm, St Ignatius or something? Not an Iggy reference. Cockroaches/Wiggles, where were they from? More working class catholic boys I think. Now we’re talking about it, poor Rowland S Howard, the only member of the Birthday Party/BND who wasn’t from Caulfield Grammar, but I guess he got lumped in with that shit. That’s the other thing Rage did on Saturday night – played a massive amount of Birthday Party in honour of RSH. A lot of BP but insufficient Crime and the City Solution or RSH solo, and maybe there just wasn’t that much video of that stuff though really I would have so much preferred C&CS to that hoary old BP guff which was awfully exciting in 1980 and I still love Junkyard and the subsequent EPs but shit, RSH was much more than a Nick Cave adjunct – he was, well, better by far. A charming and interesting man, too, in my experience of him.
My one RSH reminiscence, which has little to do with RSH himself but perhaps says something about the ambient myth: at one of the final Birthday Party shows (when the band came back to Aust without Mick Harvey and Des Hefner filled in) I was in the foyer with my friend Michael and we were talking and then he said, sh, here comes the most beautiful man in rock ‘n’ roll. It was RSH of course.
Pip Proud is recording some vocals to music by Kes Band next Sunday. Pip has a song called 'Slimy Fighters' to which he wants a dance piece performed probably best described by the song’s title. Pip is doing alright, all things considered (throat cancer for which the tumours have apparently stabilised; stroke; alcoholism). You could argue these things were if not caused by each in succession (in reverse order to which I have listed them) then they aided and abetted. He is on a lot of drugs and his radio won’t tune properly but he can get a distant, fuzzy News Radio which he loves and for which I say, thanks ABC.
Music myself I am still greatly enjoying the Dacios album (probably along with royalchord my pick for 2009, though I may have forgotten a few others) and continuing to love Emerson Lake and Palmer, not least for my discovery that shows my own innate dumbness and slowness to catch on and willingness to believe whatever stupid flip assessment was put before me by others, that ELP are yet another prog rock band who are decidedly unpofaced, all things considered, and often fairly witty or at least amusing. I enjoy that. Actually, my dismissal of ELP did not come just from my willingness to accept punkers’ evaluation of them; I did unwittingly see their Pictures at an Exhibition film about thirty years ago at the Valhalla and it kind of sort of made me think, there has to be more to rock music than this pretentious bollocks. I don’t know if I missed something then, or what. I like the self-titled album and of course Tarkus. Actually I love Tarkus. Tarkus is hott.
Who has memories of the Chevron? Is there a facebook group?

The other thing that was on Rock Arena was, excitingly, not one but two videos feat. Noah Taylor - I'm Talking's 'Trust Me' and Beargarden's 'Finer Things'. If I remember rightly these were Noah's first two filmic experiences, yes, even preceding Doggo Goes to Jail.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

new red krayola record soon

Can't wait for this. Gina Birch is on it which is the best news I've heard all year. They should have asked me to do the cover though.

Friday, January 01, 2010

some of my drawings for record covers, 1986-2010 pt II

This cassette album was also from the early 90s but I can't remember when - 1992 or 3? Why the vamp on the cover I don't know. Certainly has nothing to do with the album title, which references an enthusiasm for the tv quiz show Jeopardy during its brief Australian incarnation.

I can't recall the year but I do recall being asked to do this cover one night in... whatever city it was I was in somewhere in the US. I didn't get to smoke pot because I was doing this instead. It was one of those rare moments in my life on earth when I wouldn't have minded smoking pot. I suppose this was a better use of my time (?). I really loved Sukpatch and still do.

A photocopy I found of my delightfully primitive colour separations for the let's face it iconic Stumpvision ep. Over the years probably thousands of people have asked me where the text came from. It's time to tell you it's from Mishima. I used these characters again for the Arty Barbecue album. No relation to the record itself or in fact anything.

A recent Cannanes-related record. I did two covers for this Mytty Archer/ Boyracer/ Cannanes split EP. Both were used. This is one I liked less:

This is one I liked a little more, though I don't really get it.

This is a compilation EP cover I drew yesterday. The title was my own invention and may not be used in the final version. I drew these people in a Fleetwood Mac-style array rocking out for the back cover, then decided to put them in a retro 19th century style for the front. I wanted a 19th century family portrait to reference but could only think of LRB's Diamantina Cocktail album, so I used that.

some of my drawings for record covers, 1986-2010 pt I

Over the centuries I have been asked, but more commonly taken it upon myself, to draw covers for various records. Because this happened again recently I fell to contemplating earlier efforts and scanned some here for you to enjoy.

I am not sure if you'd enjoy this one more or less by the fact that you can barely see it in this image. This is a compilation album called Periscope from 1994 - in fact, I dated it as executed on my 29th birthday. It depicts one creature using another as a periscope by peering into its anus and apparently seeing out the end of its tail. My fond memory relating to this image is that, when it was on sale at (I think I recall this bit right) the Yo Yo A Go Go festival a stall operator witnessed a prospective customer pick up the CD, regard the image and comment to his or herself 'ass-looker'.

This is an early effort also Olympia-related. I was allowed two colours so tried to evoke the feel of the ice cream huts I recalled from early childhood. Calvin Johnson had come up with the term 'lo-fi' and it was a novelty concept you had to think about and deduce as the opposite of hi-fi. This was 1986.

This was a commissioned illustration for an EP released on the Japanese label Clover Records almost a decade ago (the picture is dated 25 April 2001). When I came across this I couldn't remember it at all, it's called Melbourne Holiday. I tried to find a picture of the record online and what I found suggests the illustration was not used. Clearly I put a lot of work into it but it is arguably not really on topic, though presumably I was asked to do whatever I felt like.

This is the cover of the Huon single 'Fluoro'. This was a single from an LP released roughly at the same time and the two were conceptually related, but it's too big to scan.

This is one side of the single. I was about to say I couldn't imagine why I'd chosen the Chrissie Amphlett reference then I got it. Fluoro. Very clever.

Another rejected design, which is a shame because it was for one of my favourite bands. This time I did get a reason for the rejection: 'Mark didn't like it'. Though the person who relayed this was, by the way, the most amazing liar I have ever met, so who really knows. This isn't a great cover but what was used instead was gross and banal.