Recently there was a fire at the pier, at the beach near where I live, and the kiosk at the end of the pier was burned down. It was a well-known landmark with lots of historical significance. Rumour has it that they're going to build something else on that spot, maybe recreating the kiosk exactly as it was. So I figured I'd better go down to the pier and take a picture of the empty space while it's still a burnt, blackened ruin – it won't be that way for long.
But when I went there on Saturday, I couldn't go all the way down the pier because it was blocked off about a third of the way down. A truck was on the pier, transporting burnt rubble away. There was a guy at the blockage point, explaining to pedestrians that we couldn't go all the way down the pier because it could be dangerous. He was the guy who put up the plastic fence and took it down when the truck came through. So I couldn't see the disaster area up close but it was okay, I still had a nice walk along the foreshore.
The man who said it could be dangerous.
Last Sunday, I went to the city by tram. It was late in the afternoon and the sun was sinking behind the skyscapers. The weather had been pleasant all day, which was a lucky thing because there has been a lot of rain on the other days this week. But it was warm and sunny as I passed by the State Library, and by chance I came across a man giving a public speech through a loudspeaker. His audience was a small group of people sitting at the top of the library stairs.
It was the weekly "Speakers' Forum", where people stand up and speak their mind about any topic. As the man gave his speech, the audience interrupted him many times to argue with him. They just yelled out their comments and he responded with more argument. Most of his comebacks were extremely lame and he was not a gifted orator – he stumbled, paused for too long and repeated himself. The audience seemed to be made up of intelligent people who were well informed about the issues. The man's speech was firstly about chemotherapy and how it's no good, and secondly about Americans and how they're not evil. The audience was arguing with him, saying Americans are responsible for numerous unforgivable atrocities – but they didn't all agree and they were also arguing with eachother.
As I sat on the grass and watched, the man sat down and a second man got up to begin another speech. He was also arguing about Americans, saying that we shouldn't use the term "Americans" to refer specifically to citizens of the USA because there are lots of countries in North and South American – using the term "America" to refer to the United States implies that the United States is the only country of any importance in that region. It was a simple point to make, but he dragged the argument out to great length with lots of padding, listing the countries in South America and going off on tangents.
This whole "Speakers' Forum" idea is highly intriguing – it's a place for people to vent their opinions about issues in the world today, and anyone can get up and talk. I think I'll go to it next week if the weather is fine. And then maybe one day I'll give a speech, about some issue that I care about. I'm not very good with public speaking, but it might be fun just to give it a try.
I left the "Speaker's Forum", not waiting till the end, because I had another place to go – I wanted to see the band Music Vs Physics at the 303 bar in Northcote because they're one of my favourite local bands to see live. I wasn't sure what time they would be on stage, so I arrived early while it was still light. This proved to be a good decision, because as soon as I walked in to 303, there they were, playing on stage.
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But this afternoon turned out to be fortunate in many other ways, too – the main shopping street in Northcote was blocked off to make way for some sort of community festival involving music, it was called the High Vibes Festival. There were a lot of people walking the streets, dressed in a lower-class non-yuppy style, and there was an atmosphere of goodwill. When I went to 303, it was the same in there – I've never seen it so full of people. Some of them were sitting down near the front of the stage. But by and by, as Music Vs Physics played their funky hip-hop style grooves, they all stood up. I danced and felt like I was part of the underground dance music scene – it was surely one of their best gigs.
After they finished, I left 303. But the night didn't end there – I kept wandering and looking at things. At the corner of High Street and Mitchell Street I came across a group of people playing drums. As I watched, a guy came out with fire-sticks and he was spinning them in an artistic way. Then his lady friend did a sort of dance where she had bowls of fire which she carried in her hands, and the two dances interacted with eachother. It was amazing to watch. With all this fire-dancing action, there was quite a crowd of spectators gathered.
After the fire-spinners were finished, the crowd were just sort of standing around wondering what would happen next, while the drums continued. Then, one by one, they filled up the empty space and started dancing on the street. Some of them danced vigorously, some of them just swayed a little, and I was somewhere in between. The positive vibe in the air was such that you might almost think the people had been taking some sort of drug to make them happy. I was thinking, "This sort of celebration is so pleasant, with its informal gathering aspect – no complicated organisation, no money changing hands and therefore no class distinction. Why can't it be like this all the time – a bunch of people getting together to dance and entertain eachother in public spaces at night."
Two interesting things happened before I left – one was that a very old man with walking sticks came along and started dancing near the centre of the group – people cheered him just because he was old and active, and he waved both his walking sticks in the air. The other interesting thing was that a girl came right up close to me (while I was sitting and resting) and she said in a strange voice "You're such a nice person! Are you having a good time? You've got pretty eyes – they're pretty!" I think she was a theatrical student playing a part – she was approaching several bystanders in a similar way.
Flash animation – click on the doughnut to make the lesbians go into the toilet.
(I worked all week on this one.)
Gradually the vibe died down, the dancing became less and one by one the drummers stopped drumming. The festival was still going on but it was contained in various music venues along High Street, and their music drifted out to me as I walked along, eventually turning west and heading back to the train-station.
I've started a new large painting, it's at that stage where I'm just splashing paint around without much precision and I haven't covered the whole surface yet. What it's going to be is, a moonscape with a girl in the foreground and a lunar module in the background with an American flag. So if I do it right, people would be thinking, "Hmmm, that girl would die if she were really on the moon because she'd not wearing one of those air-proof helmet things."
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This week my band (the Floyd Show) had a practice, and the band members got along quite well, and the backing singer said that we were missing Kath And Kim on TV that night. The bass-player said that he hated that show, Kath and Kim which is about a mother and daughter who have funny relationship problems. And the backing singer said that she's met a few people who are just like those characters, and it's funny. This reminded me of a conversation between two guys in my other band who said that they hate Kath and Kim. This leads me to the vague conclusion that Kath and Kim is a show that mostly appeals to women, not to men – I've yet to hear of a man who does like it, apart from a few TV critics in the press. But I think it's a very funny show so I must be the exception.
Non-Historical photo of the week:
Stephen Clark, 27 years old. Note for those just tuning in – this is the last in my "historical photos" series, in which I display a photo for each year that I've been alive.
Last Friday night I went to the Pony Bar and saw a band called The Kits, a rock band (they were very plain), and a band called Folding For Air who played very mellow music with minimal guitar and drums and organ, and the lady singer sounded high-pitched and fragile, but she sounded good and some of the songs were beautiful. The annoying thing was that the crowd were talking too loudly and getting in the way of the atmosphere – they should have been quiet, then I would have appreciated it more. Later that night I saw the band Meebar, again (I saw them last week – they were better this time), and by the time I left it was after twelve-thirty. It was too late to catch a tram all the way home, so I caught one that just took me to Acland Street in the Luna Park area, which is a short walk from my house. There is a nightclub near where I got off, it's a very interesting nightclub – I've never been into it but they have this large window along one wall where any bystander can look in and see what's happening inside, so it's kind of special in that respect.
They had a band there that night who were extremely funky – they were playing quality R&B music without the electronic stuff and their performance skill was far above me. So I stood there at the window, and I watched, and I listened, and watched some more. A guy near the entrance who was adjusting chairs said to me, "It's going off tonight, isn't it?" and I said, "Yes", and he said, "There are a lot of nice girls in there, aren't there?", and I said "Yes." He said "Would you like to go inside?" and I said "No." He asked, "Why not?" I said "Because I'm happy just here." He said, "Fair enough." Truth was, I don't go into that nightclub on principle because it's a yuppy nightclub for rich people. And after a couple of songs I drifted away and went home.