Archive for the ‘History’ Category

CTCV tags appear over Melbourne’s world-renowned graffiti

"CTCV" tags drawn over more skilled works

One of the things I love about Melbourne are the amazing graffiti pieces we get. Apparently, we’re known internationally for it, in certain circles. We have a thriving and skilled population of graffiti artists – even under draconian laws that, for example, make carrying a can of spraypaint illegal (giving the police a pre-packaged excuse to stop suspected vandals that merely “look the part”, and haven’t actually been seen doing anything traditionally illegal).

The ‘Authorities’ choose to interpret graffiti as an eyesore. This has led to ridiculous crackdowns in the past, and masses of public money blithely wasted by our state and local governments on “graffiti clean-ups”, such as during the Commonwealth Games.

In the not-so-distant past, a police graffiti/transit squad was rumoured to have engaged in “tagging” of graffiti pieces. Graffiti artists would report catching police “slashing” graffiti pieces (painting over the top of them); I found one tale on an internet forum from a guy who says he left a can of spraypaint behind while being chased by the police – and later found that his can had been used to “slash” a range of pieces.

Tags began appearing, slathered across much better pieces, reading “CTSA” – rumoured to stand for “Cops Trashing Shit Art” or “Cops That Slash Art”.

My view of graffiti is obviously more positive than the “legal” view. I think you need to put it in some kind of perspective. Consider this: We’re bombarded with advertising wherever we go. A billboard is a genuine eyesore. We put up with lists of sponsors and corporate logos on sporting, artistic, and museum events, because we want their money. But they look disgusting. Most of the time, advertisers are outright insulting us; if they’re not insulting our bodies, they’re insulting our intelligence.

Graffiti, on the other hand, entertains. It’s not something put up there to make money; in fact, graffiti artists lose money on it, and sometimes carry it out at great personal (and legal) risk. Sure, it’s about prestige and showing off, and the worst of it – the texta tagging – can almost sink to the level of a company logo… not quite, but almost ;). But it’s often genuinely impressive. If not for the skill involved, then for the “How the heck did they get up there??” factor. Sometimes, there’s even a political point to it – while companies use slick advertising to gloss over their use of overseas sweatshops and other crimes against humanity, graffiti will occasionally bring you comments like “Stop Logging Our Water Catchments!”, “No Jobs On A Dead Planet” (in massive letters on a giant smokestack), and the bitingly ironic slogan “Shut Up And Shop“. And at least it’s your fellow Melbournians trying to grab your attention, just because they think your attention is valuable – not because they want to hustle you.

In around March of this year, Melbourne commuters began noticing a new tag – “CTCV” – used to “slash” a range of pieces. Mostly along train lines, and always over much better pieces.

CTCV tags along Melbourne's train lines.

CTCV tags along Melbourne's train lines.

A friend of mine pointed out that “CTCV” isn’t too far from “CTSA”, and apparently he wasn’t the only one to draw this conclusion. Do an Australia-centred google search for the initials, and you’ll find lots of forum speculation along similar lines by those in graffiti culture.

Is it the work of “gronks” – less talented kids trying to annoy the older graff artists and make a mindless mark of their own? Or could the “C” at the start of “CTCV” stand for “Cops” – as it has been rumoured to in the past? “CTCV” – “Cops That Catch Vandals”? “Cops Trashing Crap Vandalism”?

We’ll probably never know, unless they’re caught in the act. And then, the only people catching them would be graffiti artists themselves – reliable enough eyewitnesses if you ask me, but I doubt the “authorities” would concur.

TAC Ad – Pictures of You

picturesof-youThe TAC has run some pretty emotional and effective ads in its time.  “Pictures of you” has to be one of the saddest in my recent memory. The TAC has set up a website where you can find out more about each story featured in the advertisement. What’s really interesting is the choice of song for the ad and a little bit of Melbourne history behind it.

“Pictures of You” was originally sung by The Cure at a much faster tempo. Local artist, Angie Hart was commissioned by the TAC to do a remake of the song. According to her blog, when she first saw the video she cried (and that’s without the sad music).  Her bio on Wikipedia is an interesting read:

The family moved to Tasmania while Hart was still a baby where they lived in a Christian commune until she was 10 years old. They then moved to Melbourne to join another commune where they remained until Hart was 15 when, with the separation of her parents, the family left the church altogether.

It was this family disruption which led Hart to the Punters Club, a live music venue on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, one of Melbourne’s eclectic and bohemian inner suburbs. She frequented the venue to play pool and drink, though she was still under the legal drinking age. It often fell to bartender Simon Austin to eject her from the premises. Hart’s older sister was also bartending at the Punters Club in 1989 and when Austin, a guitarist and songwriter, mentioned he was starting a band and looking for a singer, Becky Hart suggested her little sister Angie.

The Punter’s club hosted many famous Australian bands in it’s time including Augie March, Jimmy Eat World, and Powderfinger. In 2002, it closed down and has been running as Bimbo Deluxe.  Most recently, the owner of Bimbo Deluxe, Cornerstone Hotels, has been put into receivership putting into question the future of Bimbos as well as a few other famous pubs around Melbourne.

By having my computer next to my television, I’ve learned a lot more about Melbourne today. Angie Hart is playing tonight at the Toff in Town.

Angie Hart

Youtube: The Cure-Pictures of You

Youtube: TAC Ad-Pictures of You

TAC: Pictures of You

Melbourne misses out

Even Mr Monopoly Man has problems figuring out where Melbourne is

Even Mr Monopoly Man has problems figuring out where Melbourne is

Here’s one for Sydneysiders to cheer about. For once, Melbourne was beaten by our ‘auld enemy’ to the final 22 cities set to appear in Monopoly’s latest take on their famous board game. The harbour city appears on the game’s Red strip (The Strand, Trafalgar Square and Fleet Street) in good company, alongside international powerhouses New York and London. Sydney occupies the position occupied by The Strand. Not bad at all.

Yet it’s not surprising to find out that more Australians voted for Melbourne. The cultural, arts, fashion and coffee capital of Australia is a favourite with Australians who visit Melbourne for the vibrant city life, sports scene and wadya know, perhaps a trip on Melbourne’s infamous public transport system *cough* Lynne Kosky out! *cough*

I can only speculate, but I daresay Melbourne was beaten by our lesser cousin due to Sydney’s more international profile. In fact, when asked what the capital of Australia is many people around the world mention ‘Sydney’. Sydney is also the first city most non-Australians think of, and Sydney is also the only city most non-Australians know of. Of course, Aussies know that our capital Canberra is halfway between Sydney and Melbourne so the conflict and dispute would stop. Which also explains why the Australian Capital Territory (where Canberra resides) exists so it would not belong to either New South Wales or Victoria. Ha! That’s a bit of history there. (more…)

Where Art Thou Week 16: John Darling & Son Flour Mill


Brett scored top points for correctly guessing (and really quickly too) this week’s locale. I took this picture on this Tuesday morning after a quick stop at Bunnings. Was bored waiting for the train, so I thought why not rekindle my Where Art Thou post.

An iconic building for the best part of a century, John Darling & Son Flour Mill is located along the Sunshine end of Ballarat Road, right next to Albion station. Listed on the Victorian Heritage Council’s Heritage Register, the building is one of the most elaborate brick mills built in the early 20th century Victoria. The Darling family also played a large role in the Australian milling industry.

1990 Tram Strike

tramstrike.jpgIf you thought taxi drivers blocking Flinders & Swanston street was bad, imagine 250 trams parked on all of the major city routes along with public buses and picketers blocking all tram transportation. That’s what happened on January 2, 1990 and continued on for a month.

The year was 1989, the Cain government was suffering a severe overspending problem and was desperately seeking to cut money from anywhere it could. In August of that year, they revealed plans to convert to a scratch ticketing system on buses, trains and trams which would see 500 tram conductor jobs cut. Trams would be converted into a “driver only” mode and ticketing would be done via a ticketing system and security camera. Tickets were also able to be bought at convenience stores. Basically, the system that we have now.

As you would expect, conductors were not happy and with the support of the union staged various stop workages, refusals to collect fares, running trams without government’s approval, taking over of depots and finally the the straw that broke the camel’s back, parking 250 trams throughout the city. At this point, the government decided to cut off the power to the trams. Workers staged a 24-hour a day picket, setting up makeshift kitchens in tram depots. After a month of this madness, the government conceded on February 2 and although they moved forward to implement “driver only” trams, the conductors all kept their jobs.

Conductors were in the job until around 1998, when all trams were fitted with automatic ticketing machines.

“The reduction in numbers and eventual elimination of conductors saw a rise in assaults, robberies, graffiti and vandalism on trams staffed only by drivers. One hundred roving conductors were employed on Victorian trams in 2000 in an effort to combat these problems. In 1989, the Cain government believed that replacing conductors with scratch tickets would save $24 million annually. With automated ticket machines installed on trams, operators estimate that $50 million is lost each year through fare evasion.”

And where are we now? We are one year behind schedule on the new Myki system which won’t be fully implemented until 2010 and out of pocket $500 million dollars. Those those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.


Wikipedia: Myki

History Cooperative: The end of the line: an examination of the 1990 Victorian
tram dispute

Thanks to the avid cyclist Strider

Picture by James Popple

Melbourne hates the Western suburbs

Oh boy Melbourne really likes fucking with the Western suburbs. Have you guys not noticed how bad news from the supposedly richer and more Anglo (read: less immigrants) Eastern suburb is always lame one liners like ‘Missing Dog Found’ or ‘Fire In Camberwell Put Out No One Is Seriously Injured’ but news from the Western suburbs always come out bad.

‘Woman Found Murdered And Dumped In Footscray’

‘Gang Fight In Sunshine Believed To Be Racially Motivated’

And I remember reading this in the papers once, it went something along the lines of:

‘I was sitting in Sunshine train station, where the bus depot is, and I saw gangs of Vietnamese and Africans sitting in groups. Sunshine and the Western Suburb is a dangerous place to live. The difference races do not integrate and they clash often.’ – some bloody politician

It infuriates me when I see how biased the media is towards the Western Suburbs. I’ve been living here for over half a year now, and although I cannot say that it’s the safest area, the old rhetoric such as ‘OMG you live in Sunshine? You’re gona be fucking murdered.’ is so old.

The Western suburbs, particularly Footscray and Sunshine, have definitely cleaned up and if anything, young couples are looking towards these areas for their first homes.

But I digress.

Now would anyone believe me if I told you there’s a conspiracy by Connex to screw Western Suburbians as well?

Well, two things.

How else does one explain why at peak hour in Melbourne Central platform 3, there are 2 EMPTY trains leaving for Cragieburn within 5 minutes of each other while the PACKED LIKE SARDINES train leaving for the Sydenham line leaves every 20 minutes.

Also, why are there less Zone 1 stations in the Sydenham and Werribee lines compared to every other lines? People living in the North, East and Southern suburbs have Zone 1 stations extending as far as Huntingdale or Reservoir, while the Westies have to cough up Zone 2 fares. This isn’t so apparent along the Werribee line, as the first Zone 2 station – Aircraft – is considerably far away from the Melbourne City Loop. But along the Sydenham line, how is Ginnifer a Zone 2 stop? It’s only 9 stops out of the City Loop!

Here’s a link to the Connex train network and tell me I’m wrong!

Victoria’s Drive-In Cinemas

drivein.JPGStill own a car? The planet says, ‘boo,’ but drive-in cinemas say, ‘yay!’ And who do you care about more, really?

Drive-ins Downunder has listings for all of Victoria’s (and Australia’s) drive-ins, but of special note are the three that are still operating in our area today. Coburg, Dandenong, and Dromana all feature old-style, open-air viewing.

The listing for the Coburg Triple Drive-In, Australia’s largest, are here, though it appears you might have to refresh that each week. And the movies they’re showing are a bit… well, I’m not sure how much they’re charging – since I can’t seem to book it online – but any amount for Rambo is too much. Better luck next week…

If you’re too into saving the planet to attend a session, reading up on the history of these yesteryear hangouts is still pretty fun.

No word on whether the owners are still on the lookout for you heavy petting types in the backseat. (Good luck, though!)

h/t to Effigy2000 and his MeFi writeup.

VB Stubby Symphony Orchestra

There’s nothing better than a cold VB on a hot day especially on some of these 42° days we have been having. The creative guys at Foster’s produced the video below in conjunction with 90 members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Each instrument is made from VB bottles, with a variation in liquid to alter the sound.
Video: VB Stubby Symphony Orchestra

Video: Behind the Scenes

Foster’s has a few beer brands under its company including VB, Carlton, Cascade, and of course Foster’s Lager. Foster’s and the associated brand names are always associated as being Australian. In actual fact, Foster’s was started by American brothers William and Ralph Foster. In 1886, they set off from New York to eventually build a brewery in Collingwood. They sucessfully sold their beer to pubs all across Melbourne by giving them free ice with every order. A year later, the brothers sold the brewery and the rest is a history of amalgamations and mergers.

VB Stubby Symphony Orchestra

The Age: History as told through liquid amber
The Daily Telegraph: Beer ads go web only
GABR: Foster Brewing Co Ltd

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Harold Holt: Suicide, Spy, or Accident?

Harold Holt was an interesting figure in the Australian political landscape. His accomplishments include the planning and preparation of the decimal currency, breaking down the White Australia Policy, and including indigenous Australians (Aboriginals) in the census. Despite that, he is world famous for his sudden death less then two years into being Prime Minister.

On the morning of December 17, 1967, he went for a swim at Cheviot Beach near Portsea. Despite advice from friends who were with him that day, he went out into the water known for strong currents and dangerous rip tides and never came back. His body was never found which has caused many conspiracy theories to develop in the 40 years since his disappearance.

One such theory is that he spent his lifetime as a spy for the Chinese. ASIO found out about this and was going to make an arrest in a few days. So on the day of his disappearance, he swam out and a Chinese submarine collected him. Sounds likely.

In a TV special premiering Tuesday and hosted by Ray Martin, the mystery around Holt’s disappearance will be further examined. This time the theory of his death is suicide. Unlikely? Yes, but more plausible then a Chinese submarine taking him away.

Who Killed Harold Holt?
9:35PM, CH 9

The Bulletin:Sex, Lies, and Suicide

Wikipedia: Harold Holt

Harold Holt Murder
(Good for a laugh. “Holt was murdered, because he was opposed to American bases such as Pine Gap being built on Australian soil”)

Picture is of the Harold Holt Swim Centre in Glen Iris. Oh, the irony. Taken by fotodudenz.

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Chinatown is mostly known for its good and bad Asian restaurants but did you know that Melbourne’s Chinatown is the longest continuously running Chinatown outside of Asia? The Chinese, like many other nationalities were lured over to Victoria (and Australia) with the promise of finding gold during the 1850’s gold rush. Shops and boarding houses were set up around 1854 to service the ambitious Chinese immigrants. After the gold rush fizzled, the area around Little Bourke Street transformed from boarding houses into various stores, importers, furniture makers, and of course restaurants. For much of the Chinese community, it has evolved into a place where friends and family get together to celebrate various occasions.

Some interesting facts:

  • The oldest Chinatown in Australia.
  • The oldest continuous Chinese settlement in Australia.
  • Contains the world’s longest Chinese dragon (over 100 metres). Located in Bendigo.
  • Lord Mayor John So used to run The Dragon Boat restaurant and now partially owns many restaurants in Chinatown.

Chinese Museum: Chinatown

Wikipedia: John So

Wikipedia: Chinatown, Melbourne

Picture via theurbannexus

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