Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't bore us: get to the chorus!

There is so much more I have to say about the Arcade Fire's new LP The Suburbs, but I will pre-empt my full review because you just have to see this. You may need to download Google Chrome for it to work properly, but that doesn't take long and it's worth it.

Basically it's an interactive short film set to one of the rousingest, soaringest, best songs from the album, "We Used To Wait". Directed and created by Chris Milk, you plug in the address of your childhood home and then the film uses Google Streetview and HTML5 to bring the song to life. It's called The Wilderness Downtown. Now I'm not overly techy, but I've never seen anything quite like this before, and you get the sense as you watch it that this could well be the future of music videos.

One thing that's lovely about the song is the motif of handwritten letters as a sign of times we've left behind:

I used to write,
I used to write letters, I used to sign my name
I used to sleep at night
Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain
But by the time we met
By the time we met the times had already changed
So I never wrote a letter
I never took my true heart I never wrote it down
So when the lights cut out
I was left standing in the wilderness downtown
It seems strange
How we used to wait for letters to arrive
But what's stranger still
Is how something so small can keep you alive

When you try the video, you'll see this becomes a key interactive element - you're invited to write a postcard to your younger self with this beautiful sprawling, breathing font that then becomes part of the animation. Bringing in a social media element, at the end you have the option of sending your postcard into the ether - it may be delivered to someone else who watches the video, it might even end up being used as part of the Arcade Fire's live show visuals.

This is a song made for our generation - overwhelmed with options and entitlement, impatient and petulant that we might have to wait or work for anything. The song and the visualisation also capture well the way we indulge ourselves with nostalgia for the simplicity of our childhoods. But I think my favourite part is the chant at the end...

We used to wait for it
We used to wait for it
Now we're screaming sing the chorus again

... possibly because it recalls a timeless album from another band for the ages: Roxette's classic Don't Bore Us, Get To The Chorus.

Tempting fête

1 x bag chocolate fudge, 1 x bag rocky road, and 1 x bag melted Russian caramels:

Home-made pavlova:

Assorted second hand books (2 x Little Golden Books remembered from childhood, 1 x Hating Alison Ashley, 1 x Douglas Copeland short stories, 2 x PRESS GANG BOOKS DEAR GOD I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP):

Hearing an outstanding band of 14-year-olds called Here Be Pirates cover "Hey Joe" (as well as many great originals), while watching small children poke, prod and harass cute farm animals:

Graceville State School fête:

Say cheese

Waaay overdue, I finally made use of a photography tutorial I paid for months ago. It's about bloody time I got the hang of the manual settings. Paul was a great teacher and met my sister and I in New Farm park, and was very patient with us!

Inspired, today I also picked up a new lens for my camera. Nothing overly fancy, but it will be great to play with the settings more, improve my portraits and food shots, and generally have more control over the photos. Now to find a good (but not too bulky) tripod I can tote around, particularly with all the sights to see overseas!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bridging Brisbane

To my knowledge there isn't a Cycle Chic chapter in Brisbane yet, but surely it's only a matter of time. In lieu of a formal Cycle Chic Sunday ride, an old friend and I improvised our own; riding from Rosalie through Milton's Park Road and then following the riverside bikeway all the way to New Farm park for a lunch of fish and chips.

There are so many great rides to do in this city, and signs everywhere of growing infrastructure for bike lovers. In New Farm, for example, there are racks and pay stations going up for a new bike hire scheme due to open late this year. Like Melbourne's experience, I daresay there will be teething issues, particularly with the dilemma caused by our mandatory helmet laws. But hopefully it will get more people on bikes!

The council seems to have been really proactive with their investment in the cycleways, and their surrounds. Everything is very colourful, particularly these blues around the newly opened Go-Between Bridge which joins Coronation Drive to South Brisbane.

Closer to the city, it's all primary colours, bold yellows and reds as well as blues. The paths are marked to leave cyclists and pedestrians in no doubt of where they should be!

Everytime I come back to Brisbane there seems to be another bridge... and this ride is a great way to see them all. The aforementioned Go-Between soon gives way to the spiky Kurilpa (or "chopsticks") bridge, which takes you from the city right to the doorstep of the modern art gallery and state library. Pass under the chopsticks, then the William Jolly, and as you continue along the riverside path the mangroves are right beside you.

Soon you'll hit the Goodwill Bridge which is just for pedestrians, which you could cross to reach Southbank parklands. But if you keep going, you're momentarily plunged into the tropical shade of the Botanic Gardens. More mangroves eventually give way to the moorings of dozens of bobbing boats. This used to be a favourite haunt of mine in my uni days - a quick walk from QUT's Gardens Point campus, you can perch up under a jacaranda or a flame tree and watch the boats and passing tourists.

But keep going. The path snakes around the pier, and you'll have to dodge more than a few pedestrians as you get closer and closer to the Story Bridge. Once you pass under it the path becomes a floating deck over the river, which is quite special.... Here you can see the Story Bridge in the background too (not to mention beautiful Baby Blue):

New Farm Park is a lovely end point to the journey. There you can jump on a ferry and keep exploring... stop for a feed... check out some art or performance at the Powerhouse, or just watch the world go by. There's always something going on here, especially on a weekend - a wedding, a photoshoot, a huge all-in soccer game, ever changing graffiti...

Friday, August 27, 2010

New slang

Sometimes the millions of words we have at our disposal just aren't enough. Sometimes, you need to coin your own new slang...

Dinner Party Drunk
A new zenith (or, perhaps, nadir) of intoxication showcased at a Friday night dinner party after many hours of prior alcohol consumption. Need not actually take place at a dinner party. Symptoms include the knocking over of drinks and glassware, increasingly disheveled appearance, loss of pants and ill-advised hook-ups.

(pron: "SLOOT")
Promiscuity counterbalanced by snooty demeanour makes it hard to call some lasses (and lads) an out and out slut. Enter, the slüt.

(acronym: West End Lesbian Chop Haircut)
Would that I could claim this genius for my own, but I must own that I overheard it in West End heartland at the Boundary hotel. You know the chop - generally bold, often asymmetrical, can be artfully precise or look as though perpetrated by a kindergartener with Crayola safety scissors. Beloved of both experienced dykes and fledgeling lipstick lesbians demonstrating commitment to their new role, it's a look at once calculated to confound hetero male contstructs of beauty and signal one's status as a card-carrying lesbot. Plus, it's pretty hot. This is a flexible term that could work as a verb, common or collective noun. Previously I had adopted the collective noun, a "Penny Wong" for a gathering of angularly-groomed lesbians, but now I much prefer the more intriguing WELCH.
*Geographic note: while Sydney-siders may prefer to substitute "Newtown" for "West End", you're going to have to pull a vowel from somewhere or this will never be a viable vernacular option.

The HOGs / The HOPs
Another stolen acronym: I wrote some time ago about my sister's fantastic creation, the HOGs - Hangover Guilts. But I got to thinking - there do exist hangovers that don't leave you feeling bad. Sometimes, the opposite is true. Whether these feelings are justified or based on beer-goggle optimism, sometimes you stumble in search of a bacon sandwich while feeling smug, even proud of your excesses the night before. Maybe you made a new friend, dazzled a group of people with your wit and charm, held it together in front of an ex, made progress with the cutie you're crushing on, or had the best idea for the novelty band you're going to form. Congratulations: you've got the HOPs. Hangover Prides...

General Gratuitous Abbreviation
It started out as the domain of attention deficit teens co-opting text-speak into everyday conversation. We adopted it as an ironic joke, but like an uncapped eyeliner in your handbag the habit soon stained everything and we keep accidentally smudging it on our faces. Er. You know you're in trouble with GGA when you regularly coin new acronyms, shorten already-decent-sized words into bastard words that are impossible to spell, and occasionally you drop an abbrev or acronym that takes longer to pronounce than the original term. And PS: any lingering conversation can be tidied up with a well-timed "PS.."

Some recent faves:
  • Phenom = phenomenal
  • Potench = potential
  • Pretench = pretentious
  • Bee Tee Dubs = by the way
  • Totes jelly = totally jealous
What new slang have you been rocking lately?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

One from the Archive

Back in Brizvegas, the traditional Boundary beers later gave way to a Thursday night tipple at Archive across the road.

It's a bar that's rather a strange beast, but it works; where beer nerds and word nerds converge... and even some bike nerds, judging by the fixies racked up on the fence outside, and the beards anchored to beers inside.

The decor sums up the culture clash... Boutique beer cartons jostling for space alongside shelves heaving with clothbound tomes. An entire feature wall is papered with old newsprint, and the bar itself is made of old books...

Yo mama

Cutest. Baby. Ever.

Wheels keep on turnin

I knew this would happen. Just because I've left Sydney, the burgeoning bicycle culture has not ground to a halt. In fact - it's going great guns!

The proposed class action against the Bourke Street Cycleway has fallen over...

One for the diary - if you've got an old bike you want to recycle, or you're in the market for a new old bike, check out the Deals On Wheels in Erskineville on Saturday September 18...

If you're design-inclined, try designing a cutting-edge bike rack for the Powerhouse's Bike Rack As Art competition. You could win $10,000! Entries close October 18...

A little late, but you can see Saskia's lovely photos from our Sunday Cycle Chic ride (before the deluge) here...

And if you're looking for some sweet treats and prettiness this weekend, please head along to this for me: the lovely ladies of Three Point Turnz present BIKES, BABES, BAKE SALE at Remy & Lee's from 8am til 4pm. They're raising dolla for a sweet cause, to support a group of girls riding from Melbourne to Brisbane to make a doco. Jealuz!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On a good wicket

Had grand intentions of sharing with you a bunch of love letters to places and things in Sydney, but whaddya know? Time marches on. I did manage to snap some little treasures at my favourite pub though. So here goes: a pictorial ode to Cricketers.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This is the day

Sometimes songs come to you just when you need them. Sometimes they recur with freakishly appropriate timing, as though you’re just a bit player in some distant, meandering indie film soundtracked to perfection by the big guy upstairs. That’s how “This Is The Day” was for me.

When I first heard it I was about 15, listening to Triple J into the wee hours on my headphones as the dormitory snored. Held in thrall by Richard Kingsmill, I had just decided that I would dedicate my life to the one true path: music journalism (well, it worked for a time). When Richard dropped a track and The The’s eerie tinkling riff and wheezing accordion started up, I was blown away. How could you hear these lyrics as an insomniac teenager and not have some kind of epiphany?

Well... you didn't wake up this morning
Because you didn't go to bed
You were watching the whites of your eyes
Turn red
The calendar, on your wall, is ticking the days off
The calendar on your wall is ticking
The days off
You've been reading some old letters
You smile and think how much you've changed
All the money in the world
Couldn't buy back those days.
You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes,
You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky.
This is the day -- your life will surely change.
This is the day -- when things fall into place.
You could've done anything -- if you'd wanted
And all your friends and family think that you're lucky.
But the side of you they'll never see
Is when you're left alone with the memories
That hold your life together like

Fast forward to the end of Year 12; the night before the last day of school, which would also bring the traditional “muck up” day of pranks and our formal. For a group of 12 or so girls it was the last night we’d sleep in a dormitory where some of us had lived for five, even six years. Per tradition we grabbed a bunch of classic videos (yes, those were VHS days), commandeered the common room and set out to stay up all night.

By the time the first sickly shards of dawn light were filtering through the bars on the windows (not an exaggeration), I realised I was the only one who had made it through Empire Records without falling asleep. Whether it was excitement at the end of school, or anxiety at the potential disaster of agreeing have my formal hair and make-up done at the local TAFE – as that starbright tinkle rolled over the credits it was the sign I needed that things would be ok.

About eight months after that I sat huddled over an instant coffee in the St George predawn, about to hit the road for Brisbane and uni. Blinking desperately in a futile bid to wake myself up after a near sleepless night, what song do you think ABC Radio decided to play?

Lately though there's a different song that's having much the same spine-tingly effect on me; I am a bit loathe to confess it because it outs me as a hipster fail that I didn't get on this bandwagon when the song was released in 2007. But on the off chance that I'm not the only one who somehow missed it, the song is of course "All My Friends" from LCD Soundsystem's acclaimed Sound Of Silver. I posted John Cale's cover of it a little while ago - Franz Ferdinand have also done one.

For nearly eight minutes it's driven by a single, insistent, undeviating piano chord and a jaunty hi-hat. Which should be really annoying, but it just makes the circling, gradual build of the guitars all the more powerful. And then the lyrics. It might be loaded with James Murphy's experiences of life on tour ("85 days in the middle of France" isn't something I immediately identify with), but there's something very universal about getting older and clinging to the party lifestyle.

You spend the first five years trying to get with the plan
And the next five years trying to be with your friends again

The all night house parties that you'll never fully remember, with people that you'll never forget. Laughing til it hurts at stupid moments you'll never be able to describe to someone who wasn't there. Sat in the default, circular arrangment of such nights on eskys and milk crates, around clotheslines and bonfires and kitchen tables, bumming cigarettes bleary-eyed as the sun rises. Messy intoxicated dramas and firecracker make-out romances in darkened rooms, over before they begin. And when people ask what you're doing with your life - you can just ask "where are your friends tonight?"

When everything that's happened has brought us to this moment: I wouldn't change one stupid decision / for another five years of life.

Monday, August 23, 2010


All families have their own shorthand of shared memories, private terminologies and in-jokes. In my family one of those tiny sayings that signifies something much bigger is "you're standing by the water's edge...".

It refers to a Family Circus cartoon that must have run some time in the early 90s - my attempts to find it online have thus far proved futile. In the cartoon, the mother says the words "you're standing by the water's edge..." and each of the kids visualises the scene based on what they've seen of the world. The littlest kid imagines a puddle, the next one a pond, then a river, and finally the eldest kid imagines an ocean.

The cartoon was duly clipped from the newspaper, yellowed and curled under a fridge magnet, and was even trotted out in photocopied form for boarding school care packages from Mum. But most of all the words became a mantra of reassurance from Mum whenever we were on the brink of some kind of change in life, and feeling a bit scared about what the future held. A reminder that whatever insecurities you feel, there's a whole world of opportunity there for you to conquer. From a school swimming carnival, to boarding school homesickness, to starting uni and then moving to Sydney... each time the scope was grander, the water's edge stretched further. Now I don't even need Mum to say the words; they just pop into my head.

Standing at the water's edge can be nerve-wracking, but with these times of change there also comes a dropping-away of commitments and a sense of freedom that I can only imagine becomes increasingly rarer into adulthood. In fact I'd say the past few months, waiting to get to this point, have been more difficult than the actual leap into the unknown. To switch metaphors, until the water's edge was in sight, it has sometimes felt like pedalling painfully uphill.

Having finally finished the climb, the downhill leg is exhilarating. Suddenly things are moving of their own accord, as time marches on toward a no-longer distant date of departure. Goodbyes are suddenly for real, packing is becoming a priority... There's no need to pedal now - I'm coasting. All that's left is to kick up my heels, feel the wind in my hair and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New anthem


Yep, they're headphones in the shape of cupcakes. Whatta present, whatta gal.

Alanis would surely appreciate the fact that my parting gift from work was a beautiful new wallet - the next challenge will be filling it. So, um, I'm technically unemployed now. One month til I board the plane for NY. Wanna hang out?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cycle Chic Sunday: Orange you jealous?

Was lucky enough to catch a Cycle Chic Sunday ride this weekend, and luckier still that the sun was out in force but the HOGs weren't. It was lovely to finally meet Saskia, her gorgeous Velorbis bike (see above and drool), and her posse of like-minded Cycle Chic friends.

I met the gang en route to Bondi, at beautiful Swede-centric store Miljo, and ate a delicious mandarin while waiting in the sun. Orange was a strangely recurring colour that day...

... as we stopped for coffee...

...as we cooled our heels...

... and as we saddled up for the ride down to Bondi markets, just as an outta-nowhere monster storm hit. Hooked into a delicious sausage sizzle at the markets and then strolled the stalls with my sister and her boyfriend, who had just braved the Bronte to Bondi cliff walk. It was a beautiful day once those few spats of storm settled down, right through to an ambling, amber-tinted afternoon....

Sacre Blair!

Gossip Girl's return is imminent - and Parisian! Ooh la la! Can't believe I have not blogged about this show earlier. It is my trashpop weakness, and I would be lying if I said no small part of my going to seek my fortune in New York was influenced by the possibility of appearing in the show's background as an extra...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mermaids are fishy but are people too

Keep getting distracted clearing out three-plus years of work emails. Just lost an hour on old personal correspondence, but it was all worth it to find this exchange:

Subject: RE:
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007
From: Clare
To: A
Hello lovely. Thanks for booking splendour now we just need to get tix!! Lemme know when you need $$. Sorry I didn’t call last night – went to this spoken word/performance poetry thing… so weird. It was in this random surry hills warehouse decked out like a forest, full of people with costumes and fake accents. I thought it would just be middle-aged women reciting poems about mermaids (there was only one!) and dykes shouting about the injustice of menstruation (none!!) but instead it was silent po-faced bitches sliding around in bathtubs and dancing choirs and harp players. ODD. I only had a cup of goon but it sounds like I was rocking acid or something; a Hunter S Thompson night on a Bukowski budget. Humph. Anyway, gotta finish up and get outta here!
Talk soon
From: A
Sent: Friday, 23 March 2007
To: Clare
Subject: RE:

Oh Honey - am in stitches - I love your emails. Maybe your goon was so mediocre it had become a hallucinogen. I knew those silver pillows were really little labs. I hate it when I am right but by the time I tell people it is too damn late - Why God Why?? I am inspired to write a poem about mermaids: Ahem

Mermaids are fishy but are people too
Some of them get grumpy on trips to the zoo
Splash is a movie starring Daryl Hannah
Chopper is a movie with Eric Bana
Fish and not people yet people can be fishy
this is a word meaning a bit mysteryishy

I love you

Subject: RE:
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007
From: clare
To: A
That’s it, you’re coming to the next “token word” evening. I was even considering getting up myself, guess I just wasn’t drunk enough. This is the slowest Friday afternoon I have ever had (that’s a big call). I have been thinking about beer since around 11am. Keep the poems coming – you are a genius.
From: A
Sent: Friday, 23 March 2007
To: Clare
Subject: RE:


This is to further whet your appetite for the delicious amber nectar:

Beer - you are not made of frogs
Yet I often drink you in togs
Beer - You are made of hops
I wish they sold you in pet shops
Beer - Sometimes when I spill you I cry
and when I drink many of you, I cannot lie
Beer - When there is is sunshine you are ray
I think I will have a beer bath today.

I am giggling at myself

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Found this amazing ring for ten bucks at the Bondi markets today. Not only is it a little envelope..

...it even opens! So I put a little good luck note inside.

This weekend's just been all win.

Festival of leaving...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Your favourite music

Whoah, quit reading my mind, Clem Snide. (Seen here with Andrew Bird, who is one of the most astounding live performers I've ever seen)

your favourite music
well it just makes you sad
but you like it
cause you feel special that way

you feel special
that youre like no one else
but then youre lonely
and you need someone to help

i can't teach you
to learn to love yourself
but heres a sad song
that i wrote for no one else

A pain in the arse

I posted earlier in the week about Christopher Hitchens' writing about his cancer diagnosis, which resonated particularly with me because a colleague - who is much more than just a colleague - has also been processing similar news over the past couple of months.

Jonty is a dear friend, a much respected mentor and all round good chap - he's one of the people I will miss most when I leave my job. He's cut from the dapper cloth of classic journalistic archetype - ever with a hat on his head, a fag on his lip and a story to tell. He has a seemingly endless store of hilarious anecdotes from his various past incarnations as a choirboy, a punk, and of course a globe-trotting hack. He's a voracious reader, a lover of music, an unabashed baccanalian when it comes to good food and drink. Above all he is a magnificent writer, and he is truly kind and generous in sharing both that talent and advice for aspiring journalists.

In that spirit, he is writing about his experiences with cancer, from diagnosis to treatment, for Crikey's health blog Croakey. It's called "A pain in the arse: A diary about living with cancer". He only pitched the idea to Croakey yesterday so I was suprised to see his first instalment posted today.

"I’m a journalist and writing is how I make my living so the mechanics of sitting down in front of a screen and marshalling my thoughts is the best way for me to feel normal."

He plays with a bittersweet allegory coined by a journalist he admired, James Cameron, who wrote a final column called "A pain in the neck" before he died of an inoperable tumour. Cameron described our lives as like sentences, and his diagnosis was a semi-colon before the final full-stop of death.

"As cancer patients go, I’m one of the lucky ones. The odds are vastly in my favour. I’ve had my own first semi-colon, but I’m looking forward to many more sub-ordinate clauses before my full stop hoves into view."

He also writes about the difficulty of telling people about his illness - working out who to tell, how to tell, the strange role reversal of often having to console people after delivering the news. It is a confronting read, unsentimental and very honest. I think it's a really brave and generous thing he is doing, sharing a journey that so many will unfortunately face, raising awareness and of course encouraging people to be vigilant about their health and not wait for the symptoms to get checked out.

"So you’ll indulge me, I hope, if I write about myself for the next few weeks and months. Journalists are supposed to write about other people and the word “I” ought to be anathema for any self-respecting hack, but this is a part of my treatment that I can control. It’s cathartic for me – and if anyone reading this finds something they can identify with or provides them with a little comfort (or gives them a giggle – the urge for a bit of black humour has never been far away these past months), then I’ll have done a good job."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dance while you can

Sad news this week, as Christopher Hitchens has written in detail for the first time about his cancer: "In whatever kind of a “race” life may be," he writes, "I have very abruptly become a finalist." In his piece "Topic of Cancer" for September's Vanity Fair, Hitchens speaks candidly of his illness as a new terrain. Known as much for his unapologetic love of booze and cigarettes as for his mammoth published ouevre and coterie of literary friends, Hitch's tone has always been worldweary. But now it seems the weary is winning out.

In one way, I suppose, I have been “in denial” for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light. But for precisely that reason, I can’t see myself smiting my brow with shock or hear myself whining about how it’s all so unfair: I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me.... To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?

Of course, knowing Hitchens, it's a painfully well-written piece but as he says, even his trademark irony is little comfort. There are writers who you can feel you know intimately just from reading their work, and Hitchens is surely one of the strongest writing personalities of our generation. His opinions aren't for everyone but he will happily share them nonetheless, and with erudite style, flintily logical argument and linguistic grace. Personally I will always gravitate to writers who embrace humour rather than shy from it, and in that regard Hitchens has always been a delight - check out any of his work for Vanity Fair and revel in his wit.

A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to see Hitchens interviewed. He was in Sydney for the Writers' Festival and shilling his latest book, the memoir Hitch-22, and I joined the studio audience at ABC as he recorded a special episode of The First Tuesday Book Club with Jennifer Byrne.

Somewhere along the line I lost my copy of Hitch-22, before even getting far beyond the opening chapters on his childhood and education. I found his ego and name-dropping a little grating but the writing sharp and witty enough to carry the reader through. Hitchens' relationship with his mother Yvonne is one of the formative relationships of the book, and his account of learning about her suicide, while he was studying at Oxford, was very sad. That said, there is always something a bit unsettling about hearing a man in his middle age refer to his "mummy".

Can I just say what a lovely interviewer Jennifer Byrne is? She's always impeccably researched, intelligent and articulate; but she's also got a bit of a twinkle in her eye, conveys a real interest in whatever's being discussed, and isn't afraid of having a laugh. Nor is she afraid of asking the tough questions, or of having an opinion. The latter of which isn't always appropriate in an interviewer, but when talking about books and ideas tends to work.

She was visibly shocked at Hitchens' attitudes toward women (CH: "no Mrs Hitchens will ever need to work; but if she wants to I'll allow it." JB: "how generous of you"), and cheekily wrapped the interview by thanking "the charming, but sexist, Christopher Hitchens". Byrne seems like she'd be wicked fun to have a few glasses of wine with; can you even imagine the level of conversation at hers and her husband Andrew Denton's dinner table?! I hear she'll be fronting a new current affairs show on Network 10 at 6.30 weeknights.

Finally, I was very taken with an excerpt from WH Auden's poem Death's Echo which Hitchens used to set the scene in his memoir:

The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews
Not to be born is the best for man

The second best is a formal order

The dance's pattern, dance while you can.

Dance, dance, for the figure is easy

The tune is catching and will not stop

Dance till the stars come down with the rafters

Dance, dance, dance till you drop

Here's hoping Hitch has plenty more dance left in him yet - we need guys like him around.

Lad zeppelin

While I fear his diminuitive stature would nary graze my bellybutton, I am nevertheless rather partial to dreamboat Joseph Gordon Levitt. Even more so having discovered his collaborative video-making site Hit RECord, and specifically this verbose piece of whimsy. Splendiferous!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Frock n roll

Powerhouse Museum is all about fashion at the moment. The "Frockstars" exhibition takes you behind the scenes of Australian Fashion Week, from the designer's studio to the make-up mirrors to a front-row seat just a few claws away from the catwalk. As per the Powerhouse's usual excellent curation, it's all very interactive - you can choose to sit in a fashion buyer or magazine editor's seat in the front row, pop on some headphones and hear anecdotes from the real fashionistas. Or make Easton Pearson paper dolls, or peruse Nicola Finetti pattern pieces, or test out hair and make-up techniques.

Up a level, things get a little more historical with a stunning collection of fashion photography by Bruno Benini. Again, the museum's presentation really brings the photography to life - you can go into Benini's darkroom, snap your friends in a replica studio, and get an up-close view of his negatives with a magnifying glass and lightbox.

Perhaps most fabulous of all is an installation of projected images in a room of mirrors that seems to go on forever. You can lose yourself in the prismatic refracted light, as classic black and white images loop through a sequence that goes for eight or nine minutes in full.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sydney Cycle Chic Sunday ride

Sydney-side bike lovers: there's a Cycle Chic Sunday ride this weekend... All the details are on the new Cycle Chic Sydney site. The movement, which is all about "style over speed", has really been gaining momentum locally, particularly after cycle chic godfather Mikael Colville-Andersen visited Aussie shores recently.

WHAT: An afternoon in Bondi with cafe/bar hopping and a spot of vintage market shopping
WHO: Anyone who favours style over speed
WHERE: Meet at Rose Bay Ferry Wharf at 11am or en route
WHEN: Sunday August 15 from 11am

Maybe I'll see you there! Just have to work out how to bluff the style part...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I don't belong here

Not entirely sure why, but I love this photo. I like the composition, but mainly I think it was the incongruity of the bags of rubbish just off the designer boutique drag of William Street. As I scruffily loped through Paddington's back lanes in between gallery stops yesterday, passing pearl-strung and poodle-pouffed women and meticiously disheveled fashionistas, my mental soundtrack was stuck on that haunting children's choir cover of Radiohead's "Creep"*. I don't belong here....

I will make exceptions, however, for the London's outstanding beer garden.

Main Paddington drawcards were Blender and the Australian Centre for Photography. ACP is currently decked with exhibitions of fashion photography, my favourite being "Zeitgeist Becomes Form", a retrospective of German fashion photography from 1945-1995. It's just delicious - from Helmut Newton's cinematic dramatics, to Jürgen Teller's raw androgynes and unconventional shapes. Lots of glorious black-and-white shots, ranging from graphic modish images from the 60s to Ellen von Unwerth's decadent sapphic tableaux. Amidst the monochrome, pops of saturated colour by the likes of Chico Bialas and Christian von Albensleben were even more compelling. I think these shots above by von Albensleben were my favourite - who knew the trots could be so glamorous? And the dive is such a perfect visual moment.

Just down the road, plenty of people were making the best of a sunny winter Saturday at the Paddington Reservoir Gardens. So many quiet nooks to read and picnic, it's a really lovely space that's at once historical, industrial, natural and peaceful.

*The choir cover of "Creep" can be heard in the trailer for The Social Network, aka the movie about Facebook that has inexplicably been made (in related WTFs, Justin Timberlake is involved). The whole thing is so ripe for satire it was only a matter of time before the parodies began to roll in, like The Video Website.