Category Archives: photos
Love or hate? I’m not sure, but this daggy shopping centre holds a strange fascination for me. It’s both utter nothingness and fond nostalgia. Reminiscent of the dystopian moment a time traveller from the future might return to in a movie, perhaps just at the point before hyper-capitalism ran the world into a Cormac McCarthy-type state.
I like how there are lots of old people sitting on benches or in those 90s-style shopping centre lounges, sometimes socialising with their friends, other times without apparent purpose. You just don’t see that in Northcote’s hipster cafes. Is it just that they feel it’s not their turf? Or is there a more concrete reason?
Fountains people write on in leaves. Glowing red reeds that clatter satisfyingly when you push ‘em together. Office building design that sinks your spirits. Cheerful manicured flowerbeds photographed by sandalled German tourists. Fountains illuminated at night. A woman on a park bench scoffing potato chips in front of a crowd. No frills busker musicians drawing unexpected crowds to listen to music when they really should be shopping.* Horsies that need retirin’. Blinding bright advertising. The delightfully welcoming window pictures at Metlink.
*Although, Melbourne’s buskers are often endearingly horrible. Apparently they’re making them audition now although perhaps that’s just a concession to keep Doyle happy; so far they’ve all passed and I bet the other judges don’t take it serious. The other night me and my friend saw a busker in a gorilla suit with bagpipes bring a little girl to tears. He did look a bit macabre.
Brunswick: so delighted to see this riding home one night.
And right next door. How about that hedge?
These two are from another street in Brunswick. Slightly more modest, and a little bit delicately beautiful, I think.
Dazzling kitsch from the Abruzzo Club on Lygon Street.
This was at Esprit in Carlton: just horrible. If you don’t buy stuff from a chain store, you’re not generous, and should feel guilty? (According to beautiful girl with a dreamy cloud of curly hair, who actually looks a bit whingy and insipid?)
More Lygon St East Brunswick action. I guess the Coca Cola industry benefits quite well from Australia’s climatic conditions at Christmas?
Who’s going to stand up for everyday Australian blandness in the face of this cloying whimsy?
Had a weekend in Blairgowrie, hence had time to take photos of Christmas beatles close up. My friends and I actually set these two up. This was the courting period.
Now is this actually mating? Not being familiar with the biology of Christmas beatles, we were unsure. For more insect porn, see Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno. Seahorses are the most romantic.
Christmas bike. Awesomely decadent, entirely unnecessary. Brilliant. At Canning Street lights (best bike lights in Melbourne?)
I featured this guy in my last post. Blow up Santa on blow up snow globe, which actually blows with snow (it’s electrically powered). He’s located in an alley in East Brunswick. People stop and gawp (including young teenage boys on their skateboards, not too cool evidently?)
Anyway, he has a night persona, but it’s friendly and not threatening.
Last I saw he wasn’t doing so well, but yesterday I saw the woman who lives there wearily trying to fix him up, looking a bit weary and sick of the whole thing actually (I guess she’s under pressure from her kids).
The above jumper spotted at Savers on Sydney Road. It may still be there if anyone’s interested.
I also like this little strip near the corner of Blyth and Nicholson Streets. I guess Gary Soloman is the proprietor? Please note the beautiful yarn bombing in the reflection of the shopfront in picture 2.
Weekend bargains on Separation Street. This is very lovely.
Merri Creek after the thunderstorm. Buff.
My housemate and I were sitting quietly in the house and it struck me that the fridge was making an inordinate amount of noise. This could be quite disturbing if you had a mental illness. Remember this scene from Requiem For A Dream?
And then I started thinking about how it’s a bit strange that we put things in the fridge, I mean, we take it for granted that everyone has a fridge, even feral vegie-growing left-wing people have one. But we don’t really need fridges, if you could grow your own food and give up dairy, you wouldn’t need to put things in cold storage. It’s just another example of how everything’s so convenient these days, and there’s something a bit sterile about it. It kind of reminds me of the people in the space ship in the kid/adult movie Wall-E, zooming around on their chairs, eating their liquefied meals. I wonder if we will ever look back on fridges and think, yeah, those were the days, imagine us, thinking that we could sustain that kind of lifestyle.
Here’s some high-brow High Street graffiti. Although what it’s trying to elucidate I’m not entirely sure. Probably it’s trying to persuade us of the general importance of elucidation.
Right across from that, they are digging up the road to put in disability-accessible platform stops, which is good, although it won’t actually be accessible until it gets low-floor trams.
Someone should and probably has written a thesis about the ambivalent position of Western tourists in India. Travelling in India maxed out my middle-class guilt and existential angst, which sits at a pretty high base level at the best of times. I mean, we were there, like cashed up enlightenment bogans, chasing spiritual and personal fulfilment, reaping the benefits of cheap prices, yet completely dependent on the assistance of Indians, as if we were babies. Because you’re so dependent, and you have money, sometimes it almost feels like you’re acting like a bit of a lord, expecting them to meet your every needs, even when those needs might seem bizarre to them.
I felt like a bit of an incompetent fool. I remember this one time, we stopped at a family restaurant and my friend and I needed to use the toilet. We were the only women at the whole restaurant. They had to open up a roller door to get us into the toilet. But it was dark, so we couldn’t really see inside the cubicle. I had to get my head torch from the car, and we put in on our head while we were peeing. Then there was nothing to flush the toilet with, no bucket, no jug, and no tap. So I went to ask one of the young guys, who couldn’t speak English, for water.
He offered me a jug for drinking water, but after I gestured that I needed flushing water, he changed it for a bucket and some water. After we finished in the toilet we needed more water to wash our hands. I asked him, wanting to do it myself, but because I couldn’t really communicate that, he ended up washing my hands for me, splashing water over them while I lathered them up with some soap.
I didn’t know what to do with the soap at the end – I offered it up to him as a way to ask him where to put it – but then he ended up taking it from me – which made me feel guilty – because him taking the soap I’d used to wash my sullied hands seemed a bit dirty, and maybe he was just being polite.
On my very first day in the country, a group of little beggar girls with atypically dark skin and bright clothing grabbed on to my skirts, refused to let go, and started shrieking. I think they were enjoying my obvious discomfort, in a normal group-mentality kid bratty kind of a way. I usually do give money to beggars, but because I was freaked out, and didn’t have my money organised in my pocket, I didn’t give them anything that time. So I tried to cross the road and they hung onto my skirts across the whole six-lane highway. Sounds pretty dangerous, but the traffic doesn’t move as fast in India. I mean, they have cows. Which are cute.
I’ve been to Indonesia, South Africa, and Pakistan, but don’t remember the poverty being as visible in any of these places as in India. Or maybe I was more blase when I was younger. Whatever the reason, the squallor seemed more extreme in India, and there were many more beggars on the street than even in Pakistan, which is ostensibly a poorer country.
The worst scenes for me were on our way to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. The previous day we’d been looking around old Delhi, where we saw shit like kids rooting around in the rubbish. My friend had made the point that even though the poverty was so dire, people still took a lot of care in their environment; the arrangement of fruit, spices, colourful Gods, etc – so there was a kind of beautiful dignity there.
But what we saw on the way to Agra seemed to have little that was redeeming about it – it was horrible, just rubble, piles of stuff and buildings falling down and scaffolding and desperate poverty and complete ugliness. Which is not to say that these people didn’t have any dignity or whatever, but just that the poverty was severe and the scene was shocking.
How far could the $1500 used to pay for my plane ticket have gone towards helping people? I mean, it would have been relatively easy for me to give this money instead of taking the trip, if I actually cared enough. And what’s the use of even talking about the unfairness of wealth inequality if you’re not going to anything? Analysing it is almost more hypocritical, because you make yourself feel better but you don’t actually do anything.
In terms of benefiting from inequality, there’s really no difference between being in India or in Australia. In Australia, we’re still benefiting from economic exploitation – for example, the only reason things are so cheap is because it’s produced under horrible, cost-cutting labour conditions. The inequity is just more obvious in India.
It’s amazing how quick you slip into an entitlement mentality. When I was in Islamabad in Pakistan doing volunteer work, I stayed for a month with an older man, the father of my university lecturer. He had servants. The house servant, who cooked every single meal for us, including my customised breakfast every day, used to watch TV from outside the door of the lounge room, he wasn’t allowed to come in. And he would sleep on the floor of the kitchen. But my host also supported the servant and his family in a number of ways.
Despite the kindness of my hosts in having me, I was getting a bit frustrated – my host was, naturally, very concerned about my safety, so wouldn’t let me go outside the house by myself. I’d never experienced that before.
I wanted to do some exercise at least, so insisted, against a little resistance (which was partly on safety concerns and partly, I think, on a class thing about walking around being something lower-class people do), that he let me go for a walk each day. So he did, but made one of the servants come with me. They wouldn’t walk beside me, they’d just tail behind. I think walking is something that the lower-classes do (except if you’re like a rich Pakistani cosmopolitanite who wears a tracksuit and goes for brisk exercise walks).So the servants really, really hated coming for those walks. You could tell.
One day, one of them said they had a sore foot and they couldn’t come. It seemed pretty obvious to me that they were faking it. But my host backed them up, because I think he didn’t like the walks anyway. I was frustrated. I whinged, from memory, although I think I gave up quickly. But what struck me from that experience was how easily this sense of entitlement, and expectation of servitude, become naturalised.
Guy looking after pot plants at Delhi airport – carpet is very Indian.
Richer people at Coffee-A-Day at Delhi domestic airport. Best airport I’ve ever been to. They had free internet.
My theory is that most people only do good things when it’s easy and suits us. This is p apparent when it comes to environmental issues, too. Which is why young, fit, fearless bike riders who live in the inner-city, or people with money who buy organic vegetables and solar panels shouldn’t feel too shiny.
Look at these guys. We saw them in Calcutta. I have blanked out their faces, because I am about to make fun of them.
Anyway, these guys were just walking around the streets of Kolkata with their shoes off, something no Indian would ever do, except maybe the sadhus. I think they’re saying: ‘We’re so OK with all this, that we’re happy to walk around and step on dirt and cow poo and possibly human faeces.’
I don’t knock people who go to India for spiritual enlightenment, I can identify with it and wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of doing it myself someday (maybe soon?). But I felt embarrassed by these guys – it was like they represented Western faux-hemian culture, something which I suspect I might be mildly a part of..
Anyway, I’m going to write more about India, I want to write about some of the cultural and intellectual stuff we saw, it wasn’t just the poverty but that’s something that was on my mind today. And so…
‘Cos you know how, like, nerds reclaimed the word nerd and Greeks reclaimed the word Greek? Like, anyone who’s been bullied, it’s become, like, a trend to reclaim the word’ (comment overheard at SlutWalk).
Has feminism become such a dirty word that it’s cool? I haven’t seen so many coolsies at a protest since the live music rally. SlutWalk was dominated by females in their 20s and 30s. Despite a few ripped stockings and short skirts, nobody really managed to look ‘slutty’, except in a contrived, costumed kind of way. I’d describe the predominant fashion as Fitzroy cool – you know, understated T-shirts and vintage dresses and colourful woollen scarfs?
In a way, it doesn’t really matter whether people get involved in feminism out of passion for the cause or as a fashion statement. Motivations for these sorts of things are usually mixed, and they change over time. It’s common for people to get involved in social justice issues because they think it’s cool or they want to make themselves feel shiny, but that’s not to say they don’t care about the issue too, and often as they get more involved, this passion solidifies. Why second-guess someone’s motivations when they’re trying to do good things?
Getting Gen Yers to attend the protest at all was a massive achievement. As my one of my fave feminists Monica Dux, who spoke at the rally, explains in her book The Great Feminist Denial, while many Gen Y women subscribe to feminist views, they’re reluctant to identify as feminists. They have capitulated to the propaganda perpetuated by the haters, namely, that feminists are hairy-arm-pitted, man-hating bra-burners.
While SlutWalk wasn’t marketed as a feminist event, I’d like to think that it was a first step towards roping in the youngsters. A big cheer went up when Ursula Benstead, counsellor from the Western Region Centre Against Sexual Assault, identified herself a feminist, and clarified that feminism wasn’t all about hairy armpits: ‘The principle is that women are entitled to all the same rights and privileges, including the right not to be sexually assaulted and not be blamed for being sexually assaulted.’
SlutWalk made feminism feel fun. In her speech, Monica Dux admitted that she wasn’t wearing any undies, but not because of the walk – because she hadn’t done the washing. She pointed out the double standards when it comes to what men and women are wearing: ‘Nobody says to a man, oh look, your jocks are a bit tight, better be careful.’ Someone in the crowd yelled ‘Tony Abbott!’
The vibe was fantastic, and if you got as far as showing up, the message – that it’s men who have to stop raping women, rather than women having to avoid being raped – was clear. Benstead talked about having to turn tell girls who’d been sexually assaulted that they had to wait for six months before seeing a counsellor, because the centre was so swamped with clients.
Clearly, sexual assault is still a huge problem, and so is victim-blaming, including self-blaming. I know several people who’ve been sexually assaulted, and in each case, they blamed themselves – for inviting the situation by being too flirtatious, or not fighting hard enough.
It was encouraging to see quite a few men there too. One of the key messages was that men need to take responsibility for tacking sexual assault. One of the speakers, Cody Smith, a trans man and victim of sexual assault, choked back tears as he called on men to take responsibility for changing the behaviour of their friends. He’s spot on – the most effective way to change the mind of men who think that, for whatever reason, they can take what’s not rightfully theirs, is for their mates to speak up against it. This is why behavioural change programs often use male role models to teach their mates about respecting women – for example, check out the Be the Hero project, which tried to get school boys to teach each other to be respectful.
As I discussed in my previous post, the protest was probably less appealing to older feminists. It seeemed that for some ‘old guard’ feminists, the flippant reclaiming of the tainted word ‘slut,’ and the protest’s ironic, faux marketing, would have been pretty hard to swallow. Nonetheless, it was disappointing to see Leslie Cannold criticise older women for failing to take the ‘activist baton’ that young women had commendably seized. Firstly, there were older women there, and secondly, reinforcing divisions between older and younger feminists doesn’t seem particularly helpful.
As I mentioned earlier, some of my friends, both young and old, refused to go because they felt that the term SlutWalk implicitly sexualised rape and put the focus on women rather than men. They were also confused about the protest’s intent – was it condoning porn? Prostitution? They didn’t want to attend something that might be supporting these things. It’s a pity that SlutWalk turned off potential supporters with its marketing, and in the future I hope they can come up with something equally sexy and media-friendly.
At the same time, good on the organisers for drumming up that kind of buzz for an issue which struggles to get the attention it deserves. And for those who actually showed up, the overriding message was pretty clear – that we need to teach men not to rape, rather than women how not to get raped. If you accept this basic premise, disagreement around the details isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Providing nobody gets hurt and people respect differing views, people learn through conflict. Debate and talking over the issues can help you develop a position, and sometimes, change your mind. As Benstead said, if SlutWalk creates a dialogue about sexual assault, misogyny, and social justice, that’s a good thing. And if equally, if we can use irony, controversy, or fashion to attract people who’ve never been involved in feminism before, that’s a good thing too.