October 31, 2007

Street Level

King Street, Newtown

"Mate, just take a pitcha of me instead of all the shops!" ("Kenny" on King Street).

Cooper's Hotel, King Street, Newtown

Happy bloody hour.

King Street, Newtown

Deepest Africa.

King Street, Newtown

International Dreaming (this mural has miraculously survived for decades now).

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October 30, 2007

Oz Politics At A Glance

(A glimpse into the election for the non-Australians out there who aren't suffering through the contest between two of the most boring people on the planet… it's even better if you know that Rudd, Labor Party leader, speaks Mandarin).

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October 29, 2007

Erko Plus

Erskineville Rd, Erko

Erskineville Rd, Erko

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October 26, 2007

Then And Now

What a difference a decade or two makes (or doesn't)…

Erskineville Rd, Newtown

Erskineville Rd, Newtown

Erskineville Rd, Erko

Erskineville Rd, Erko

Bedford St, Newtown

Bedford St, Newtown

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October 23, 2007

The Anti-Telegraph (Lismore)

In the Co-op on the plaza at Southern Cross University I pick up a remaindered Les Murray biog; I just have to find out where that huge well of self-pity comes from. This anti-Telegraph Avenue seems to be a good place to start, surrounded by a weird mix of homeopathy schools and redneck trucks, strutting Aussie battlers, beautiful old houses, verandahs, lush greens and bright colours, backroads restaurants, cattle, heat, humidity, rainforest, fibro shacks ….

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October 22, 2007


The ghosts are thick on the ground here, names like Murwillumbah, Byangum, Goonengerry, Mallanganee, Gundurimba, Wooyung, Dungarubba, Goonellabah, Nimbin, the Clarence, the Tweed, Pimlico… (the taxi from Erko to the airport has a loud American accented GPS on the dash, which adds to the ghostliness). My Jetstar boarding pass has a coupon for $5 off Barbie products at Target. How did they know?

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October 20, 2007

Where I'm From

Lion Island from Umina Beach

Or one of the places, at any rate. And Spike does this sort of thing a lot better, but those odd little holdovers from the past (plain ugly or not) like the one below still crop up on the walks through streets now mostly populated with far uglier and much larger places that absolutely strive for mediocrity. There's no There, There, in almost all of my hometowns now.

(And no, this particular house in Ettalong was not my childhood home, but it surely typifies some part of my childhood).

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October 18, 2007


Pale skins, British faces, narrow streets, crowded footpaths, old shops with awnings, terraces, fleeting accents… not so much a homecoming as … well, what? I'm a foreigner with a native accent.

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October 15, 2007

Good Gracious

“Because the beautiful is nothing
other than the beginning of the terrible,
which we can scarcely bear,
and we marvel at it, because it calmly refuses
to destroy us. Every angel is terrible.”

(Rilke, First Duino Elegy, trans. Michael Wood, in an old LRB)

“Rilke doesn’t have too much in common with Brecht, but both of them probably knew so much about grace and courage because they had an intimate and harrowing experience of what it meant to lack them.” (Wood again).


October 11, 2007


In his "Design and Crime", Hal Foster takes Adolf Loos's famous "the evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from utilitarian objects" (and the associated "ornament and crime" tirade about civilization and purity) seriously, as ideological baggage. But if you're going to take a statement like that seriously and at face value (rather than as the drily amusing polemical provocation I tend to think it is), you have to take it seriously as a psychological phenomenon rather than politically or ideologically. You're not going to get too far into why such slogans seduce without delving deeply into the subconsciouses of the sort of people for whom Purity and Authenticity appeal so much. It's about Belief, not about ideology. In such people, Belief prefigures ideology (but again, given Loos's actual output, you can't help feeling he's just stirring; like Schoenberg, he protests about protesting just a little too much).

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October 06, 2007

All Warm And Fuzzy

In the Milano they're playing a light, unfamiliar, flowing Spanish-language cover of the old Pretenders song "Back On The Chain Gang" with a very different set of lyrics in the chorus, I can't get it out of my head all day, later I discover it's one of Selena's, something I hadn't quite expected or known. Down Telegraph, Mars is now telling me I make their sweaters feel all fuzzy, which seems a little unlikely, but they know best. You can't argue with an oracle.

At Moe's I pick up two remaindered coffee table books on late modern (but not Modern) architecture: I seem to look to architecture (rather than photography or painting, etc.) for visual inspiration nowadays. And not just the architecture in books, but those concrete images talking to each other across the streets of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, and Los Angeles… (there's not a lot of capital "A" Architecture in the Bay Area, so you have to go looking for architecture in the small, in the unexpected detailing above a shopfront in Oakland's uptown district, or the way the Transamerica Pyramid is so often visible at street level only by reflection, or in the overall effect of a streetful of shabby Victorian terraces). There's more to chew on there than in most of those capital "A" art books I can't help also browsing….

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October 01, 2007

Blazed and Confused

The Bridgeporte Building, East Oakland

A year after the fire, little signs of a slow regrowth, lit by the sky from another fire

(The Bridgeporte Building, 29th and Ford, Oakland; click the image above to see a larger version).

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