In my area, the city council empties the rubbish bins once a week. We wheel them out to the road; the City of Monash empties them; we wheel them back to our houses and spend the rest of the week filling them up with hotdog packets. Then we repeat the cycle.
My neighbors paint their apartment numbers on their bins. That way they can make sure that each week they wheel out the same bin that they wheeled out the previous week. They have a history with their rubbish bin. Continue reading
When the Domain Tunnel opened in 2000, the state government set a temporary sixty kilometre an hour speed limit. Their caution seems prudent. Who knows how much the construction firm might’ve abridged basic safety to cut costs. But the explanation they proffered insulted all of us. They explained that Victorian motorists needed time to get used to driving through a tunnel. As if they thought that, finding no sky above our heads, we might flip out and slam on the brakes in traffic.
For weeks, they had run an advertising campaign instructing us just to drive like normal in the tunnel. Don’t get out of your car or try to turn around. Continue reading
I grew up in Melbourne’s inner west in the 1990s, back when it was still a hotbed of heroin addiction and burglaries. Before it was cool. I’ve gotten a bit defensive about this since the area started becoming über trendy, because once upon a time no one knew where Yarraville was and I always had to define it by its proximity to Footscray.
“Oh,” people would say. “Oh.”
Now it’s all, “Yarraville’s so lovely! That must have been so great!” And I have to remind them that back in those days, Yarraville was basically the same thing as the rest of the west. Think Sunshine, think Braybrook. Explaining it all to people from the other side of the river, who just don’t understand, is the burden I bear for existing in an area before it started gentrifying.
But this isn’t a piece about the east/west divide or the development of my class consciousness, or even about that time in my creative writing class (at the University of Melbourne, for added context) our tutor asked, “Raise your hand if you’re from the eastern suburbs”, and I was the only person who didn’t. No, this piece is about a unifying oddity I have noticed in the various locales around Melbourne, not one specific to the west. From what I can tell, anyway. I lived in Heidelberg for a total of 6 months and found it weird. There were too many white people*, it was too far from the city, and it was just weird, okay? You can take a girl out of the west …
With the Melbourne Writers Festival now mere hours behind us, I’d like to have a brief reflection on the various sessions I attended. Being the bleeding heart that I am, my interest lay more in the political sessions, rather than the industry-oriented ones. Unfortunately I missed our erstwhile ex-opposition leader Mark Latham’s display, but there was much else on over the ten day festival to entertain and inform. I attended six events across the course of the festival.
The Iron Council
Miéville, China (Del Ray, 2004 ISBN: 0-345-46402-8)
One of my friends emailed me recently and said “Ok, I’m a quarter of the way through The Iron Council. Tell me it gets better.”
And I said, “Keep reading.”
And the next day she said, “WOW. THANK YOU!”
I knew what she meant. The first section of the novel can be confusing – I’ve known friends to discard the book before the plot starts to become cohesive. I’ve read reviews where people have disliked it; I suspect they also gave up early and didn’t keep going. If you keep reading, the brilliance starts to kick in and you end up engulfed in this wonderfully insane world with its insane physics and marvelous storytelling.
(This was written after the tribute to murdered Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh following the Collingwood v Hawthorn game)
I don’t cry at normal things. It’s always something I’ve been a little concerned about. I didn’t cry during break ups or unrequited love or sad movies as much as would be expected. I didn’t cry when my cat died. I only ever cried in pain or anger. I didn’t cry like other girls and didn’t seem to feel things as deeply. My emotional responses didn’t appear very “feminine”. In recent revelations, this has started to make sense to me. And now I’m starting to understand who I am and why the death of Phil Walsh, and particularly why the moment of the teams huddled together being addressed jointly by the two coaches, affects me as a tragedy. Why it leaves me crying in front of the tv.
Crescendo to an error
A certain private parking area near my brother‘s apartment includes fold-up pedestals that the spaces’ owners can upraise to defend them from other motorists. Each pedestal folds up into the middle of its parking space, where you lock it into place with a key. The distance between pedestals in adjacent spaces then becomes just one pedestal diameter less than the width of the space. Now instead of just blocking your space, the interloping vehicle blocks two spaces.
CASK WINE UNDER FIRE AS GOVERNMENT PONDERS TAX HIKE
Hawthorne, Mike (The Sydney Morning Herald, April 2015)
I swing into the bottle shop with just enough fuel left to reach the petrol station on the corner. They’ve invited me to dinner twenty kilometres away in Southbank. By emptying my change jar, I’ve collected together seven dollars and fifty cents to divide between petrol and the bottle of wine I’ve said I’ll bring. Every cent I save on the wine improves the car‘s odds of getting there.
I locate a five-dollar bottle of rosé and then start foraging for something even cheaper to undercut it. Continue reading
THE ZEN GUN
Barrington J. Bayley (DAW Books, 1983, ISBN 9780879978518)
When I flew into Los Angeles in 2002, the airport strip-searched me. I look about as menacing as a pug dog, but as I walked through the x-ray machine, a woman pointed to me and they pulled me off to the side.
Behind a translucent curtain marked, ‘privacy screen’, they had me strip down to my underpants. A man in latex gloves felt me up. Meanwhile, another man pulled the innersoles out of my shoes and probed around inside them with a plastic wand. Continue reading
Temple, Peter (Text publishing: Australia, 2009, ISBN 9781921520716)
Peter Temple’s Truth reads like an Australian television miniseries. You can even see where they would show the tits.
The novel’s beauty comes from the vividness of its writing. We leave it with afterimages of “sharp-toothed skulls” and “beer cartons blown flat against the fences” still glowing behind our mind’s I. We can still hear the footsteps on the “gap-planked verandah” and the “rip and flap of a loose truck tarp in the nearest yard”. Continue reading