Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

dad rudd pm

I am still in shock over the leadership spill as I suppose are most people not least K. Rudd. The ABC handled it with their usual aplomb last night, halting the Movie Show half way through by getting the work experience kid to speed up then pause the program and suddenly we are at a press conference, with Rudd looking more invigorated and composed than ever (the FREAK) and weird nonsense at the bottom of the screen including text saying he was already dumped.
Today's news tomorrow's fish wrapper... is a phrase now doubly archaic.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

bathroom renovations

From yesterday: Mia is doing all that is required on the bathroom renovations thus far. All I do (which is not to be sneezed at) is ponder why spiders built webs inside walls. I suppose they were 70s spiders and maybe had ideas we might now see as particularly zany. Perhaps those things aren’t spider webs but some kind of stringy accumulation of dust formed in mid-air through mysterious inner wall and underhouse currents, affected by planetary gravity.

So the story is that we are without a bathroom for the time being. Fortunately my mother went overseas on Tuesday so we can use hers. Unfortunately she lives a long way away.

I am typing this at Broadmeadows station at 7:46 am and I am very pleased to report Wa Wa Nee’s ‘Stimulation’ is being played over the pa. Congratulations to Metro for such unexpected fine taste in late 1980s pop music. I think the 80s pop music is actually the local version of playing classical music at railway stations to discourage vandalism. I must say I can think of nothing more likely to discourage vandalism in me as the music of Wa Wa Nee, though as I have no doubt said in this forum before, it’s the difficult second album I am into not the first, peasier, one.

Last night we watched Bran Nue Dae which got very good reviews and was awful. I wonder what the idea behind that was, but I do know when I saw ads for it at the cinema I immediately wanted to see it (I suppose that want was not so intensely compelling that it translated to going to the cinema to see it, but if I remember rightly there were attempts that didn’t work out). Missy Higgins and Jessica Mauboy are quite good actors. Keep an eye out for ‘Geoffrey Rush’ in the future too.

From today: Shane left for Portland via LA and Brisbane this morning. We nearly didn’t make it as I nearly crashed the car as there was ice on the passenger side of the windscreen (it was about 4:50 am). But we did make it, unless we are dead a la the early part of Beetlejuice. He seemed chipper enough all things considered, we had a conversation about deodorant. End of an era, even if he does come back (everyone says he won’t, but who’s going to say that to the boxes under our house?).

You know what, I am finding the news really irritating these days. I am finding it hard to listen to Radio National in the morning as well, it’s not just because the political party I barrack for aren’t doing so well or that there’s some kind of soccer game being played in South Africa, I just find it all predictable, samey and annoying. Is this a stage of life, or am I correct?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

the mavis collection

A few days ago a collection of paper was passed on to me from the estate of my grandmother Mavis. It was an unusual bunch of stuff, none of which she had actually earmarked for me specifically but obviously a decision was made that (1) I would be more interested than anyone what she'd elected to keep of the things I'd drawn/ published and given to her and (2) I just liked old printed crap anyway, so I'd probably like this old printed crap. (1) is less true than (2) because I am only mildly interested in old things I've done. Or rather a lot of it embarrasses me a lot, because I know more than anyone that what I thought I could get away with lazily actually doesn't radiant brilliance and never did. However, this is brilliant:

There are only about ten copies in the world. I did it specifically for Mavis (a 19 page comic strip) because she was always saying she wished I'd draw more. Unlike all the other Winky strips there was no swearing or nudity, which was an interesting challenge, so as not to offend her. Not that she would have said anything if there had been (or read it either way, as far as I know).

This is sort of impressive for the amount of effort involved, but it's not very good:

I think for a few years I made kind of comic book christmas cards. It's the kind of thing that grandparents are, or say they are, impressed by. You probably can't read the comic on the front but it's my usual lazy thing of telescoping an 'only a dream' story... I did that a lot. Robert Smith once told me that was how he thought, which was great at the time, but now I think doesn't perhaps reflect that well on him or me.
Speaking of Robert Smith, Mavis kept two issues of Smash Hits which I suppose I'd sent her. This one has an article by me on James Dean (!?) and one on Cheap Trick as well as various other bits and bobs I wrote probably.

Back to my own publishing things, this is a small comic book I had no recollection at all of ever seeing before though some of the content was familiar. How creative I was with the typewriter, and the funny absurdist title.

I couldn't imagine why Mavis had this in her collection of stuff, then I realised the (deliberate? to go with the cut-up cover graphic?) typo in the spelling. Norm would have retained this. In fact, I have a very vague memory of him showing it to me, believing it to be a genuine error, and I suppose it might have been, I just don't know. The interior of this issue is quite interesting, I'll tell you about it sometime.

No idea why Mavis had this. Must look inside it one day. Maybe there's an article about a bowls triumph of hers or something.

This was the school newspaper which Saul and I edited at least one year. It blew out of all proportion, became a millstone then a white elephant. One contribution we agonised about for months because we thought it was so stupid and then we ended up burning it on the stove, laughing (probably giggling if truth be told) hilariously. This was so obviously my forerunner to fanzines.

I was perplexed for a while as to why this was in Mavis' collection - not just the great cover image. It's the Herald and Weekly Times house journal, and Norm worked for the competition. Then I read it.

There is an article on the second last page of the 'Inter-house Bowls Test' inc. this picture of Norm bowling on 19 April 1962 at Middle Park Bowling Club. My sister Tamsin made a copy from the original of this photograph and she has it on her wall (or one of them), she showed it to me only last week, saying Norm didn't usually take a very good picture, but in this case he came out alright. And he's doing something he loved (at least as much as smoking and eating). I will look like him in ten years, but with hair.

Norm served in New Guinea and I guess the four or five issues of Guinea Gold in the pile were things he collected from that time, along with the 'native spear' which now enjoys pride of place under our house, and which I believe is my right to bear particularly as oldest family member of my generation. This is a pretty special issue of GG, isn't it:

Don't know why Mavis had this copy of the Bulletin but once again... it's interesting.* Sorry, that's all I can say right now.

I must have sent her this copy of B-Side! Christ she had to be a tolerant person - well, she was. I mean no disrespect to B-Side, great magazine (though note the misspelling of Lighthouse Keepers on the front - Norm would have loved that).

And look, here's my own fanzine, second issue, usual kind of mental cover. Well done me. Look at that celebrity line-up!

* I asked my father when we went to the football last Friday why Mavis would have had a 1961 Bulletin amongst her things. He said it would have been a mistake, as she was an assiduous thrower-outer.

Friday, June 11, 2010

smart bus

(From yesterday) I have been entranced in my time by a couple of offhand references to fixed-rail road transport which traversed countryside; there’s a mention in E L Doctorow’s Ragtime that back in the whenever time he was talking about, you could just get off one trollycar and onto another and get right across the USA; I’m sure it’s not true but it’s cool. Then I just recently read Keith Waterhouse’s excellent City Lights, and he mentions trams that run all the way out into the country between two major cities (Leeds and Manchester or something) and all you had to do was traverse a little bit of countryside inbetween. I am way so into that idea. I also love the comic strip Toonerville Folks, which was beautifully stylized and so bizarre the idea of a little tramway that traveled through the countryside (though surely it’s about a commuter suburb? God, I have no idea). The driver of the Toonerville Trolley was like some kind of Casey Jones figure.

The Smart Bus, which I am taking this afternoon from Springvale-Home is a bit like that in a way. Being Smart it doesn’t think about A to B but about A to A.1, or A.5 to B-3. You could probably count on the fingers of one hand the people in Melbourne who have taken a Smart Bus the length of a route, and those that do probably expect (and for all I know get) a medal at the end. I’m traveling the bulk of it for experience and for educative purposes (mine and others’).

What I am not getting an education in is pop music. What is it with all this friggin’ Dire Straits on the radio? Hated them then, hate them still, well, I loved ‘Sultans of Swing’ when that came out, but the big news is, that was about 32 years ago, and I’m ready to forget it now. I could do without hearing ‘China Girl’ ever again too thanks if that’s OK. Coolly though I heard ‘Pasadena’ on the radio in a Doveton op shop this morning – still sounds great. I suppose it was John (Paul) Young’s version not Ted Mulry’s but for all I know it’s the same backing track. If I remember rightly the story is Simon Napier-Bell made the backing track out of a tape loop – such a cool mother.

I am presently in Doncaster. It’s a funny day, sunny and rainy, and cold, and hot. Just going past Manningham Council Chambers, which looks a bit like something out of Blade Runner. I have my crap spread all around me and I’m assessing some secret things I probably can’t blog about. Suffice it to say I’m getting out a lot of resentment I didn’t even know I had, and this is reminding me how important it is to be nice to everyone all the time, lest one day someone without your knowledge gets a chance to assess a grant application or something similar of yours.

My new thing is gauging locales by the names and amounts of wireless users in areas I pass through. Doncaster has TGIF Doncaster (which is ostensibly free to all users but isn’t coming across) as well as default-ap, ChrisGel, Sabre10 and ALISTVIDEO. (Going towards Manningham road another one came up: ‘australia’). About ten all up. I was explaining to a student yesterday (thinking out loud) how weird it is looking at your laptop when going through different suburbs – some have only a couple of wireless users (and they have names like ‘wireless’) and some have about 20. Near our house is a wireless user called Pugad Baboy.

As we move along Williamsons Road towards Montmorency/ Greensborough we find both David Cuthbertson’s Network, but also davidcuthbertson’s Guest Network. Lucky guests! Also something called Telstra8442. Then suddenly as we come to the Main Road roundabout we find only 3, inc. one called ‘groovenet’ and one called – imagination strikes again – ‘wireless’. Then there are about 15, including the splendidly titled ‘OurNetwork’. Hats off to those Nillumbik literal users. Then we come to Eltham station and the number of users explodes, to 23+ (I counted 23 and then the list got bigger).

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

mt wellington

So we went up Mount Wellington on a whim – actually in Natalie’s parents’ car – and got to the top just as it started snowing. Then Mia discovered she couldn’t start the car. Get this: the top of Mt W has a communications tower that radiates so prolifically it disables car security devices. We called the RACT and went a long way into discussions before I revealed we were atop Mt W and was told (by the warmly reassuring Mary) that this happens all the time, and that there were some instructions in the visitors’ centre about how to get around it. I didn’t want to go to the visitors’ centre because there were dim outlines of teenage boys there yelling ‘Yaaaaa! I hate the mountain and everyone on it!’ and throwing things. But then they left so I went and looked. It had a lot of weird instructions like a metallic windshield cover would block out the rays, and that the driver should put the unlocking device on their left knee. Anyway, somehow Mia got it working just by trying 50 different permutations and noticing that the little irritating red light once flashed three times instead of two and quickly trying the initiative. It wasn’t life or death anymore than anything normally is, because we’d already called the RACT and they were on their way, but it was still as my late grandmother would say, something in our lives.

This was on top of having recently visited the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery which has an extensive exhibition about Antarctic exploration and photos of the Shackleton ‘death tent’ etc.

I guess my take on Hobart June 2010 is it’s a stoic little city getting on trying to keep up and on some occasions making its own way creatively. I love it when little cities make their own fun in the knowledge that it’s not going to set the world on fire, and that they are a little city and they don’t need to care what other people think. I hate it when people in little cities adopt mannerisms and tropes of global culture(s) like some kind of Esperanto. I hate that.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Ritz

Thank you to Natalie and her absent parents for their hospitality over the last few days in salubrious digs in Sandy Bay. We saw a good band yesterday called Mess o Reds at an all ages show at the Brisbane - and a stupid band called The Ritz and a decent, fun band called Bring Sophy to Me. All seemed to be about 15 years old. The Ritz looked to me like three guys (that much they would have looked to anyone) who had seen some early 90s hair bands on Rage one night and taken to the notion, to the degree that the bass player wore a motley crue t-shirt, striped red and gold trousers, scarves on his bass, and hair that was either a wig or hair made to look like a wig. I felt that in The Ritz only one member was really serious - the guitarist/singer - who was pretty perfect in his playing, whereas the other two had totally embraced the moves.

I was actually there because I wanted to see Manchester Mourning, whose CD I have been enjoying a lot over the past year. They were on the board outside but that was the sum total of their appearance. Having enjoyed Mess o Reds I went up to the door and asked the boys there who they were and what was next. I was given the run down and said, 'what happened to Manchester Mourning', to which a scamp from Bring Sophy to Me said, 'they're not playing, that's a mistake with the thing'. I wondered there and then whether this was a canny Hobart trick to advertise a slighty-known group such as MM in the hope that everyone would come and no-one would be so bogus as to complain when it was discovered the hit band wasn't there. Then I reasoned MM are probably only a hit band to me, and that if you did something like that in Hobart it would attract the same kind of stigma as putting a fake Fleetwood Mac on tour did for Clifford Davis only on a Hobart level.*

Meanwhile it's a beautiful day in Hobart today and we are about to go to Glenorchy market.

* I sent them a message on myspace to ask them why they hadn't played and got a response: 'we weren't supposed to..... i dont think we were ha'

Saturday, June 05, 2010

king st sandy bay saturday night

tasmanian coffee grinders

I went there this morning (Sandy Bay, just near the Purity - that's me trying to forge some vintage Hobart credentials, I know it's not working) and they did not welcome me as the prodigal son, even though I spent so many mornings there in Jan-Mar 1996 spending my dole 'cheque' on long blacks virtually justified by the chance to get a free read of the newspaper(s).

I feel I should also make a visit to the UTas library and put up a plaque in the place I first ever sent an email. Maybe I won't and say I did. (I did!).