Archive for the ‘Living in Melbourne’ Category

So what are we to do?

I hopped on a tram this arvo and there was a bunch of pothead bogans smoking weed at the back of the tram.

Moving to the front of the tram I sat down, trying to ignore the smell. Everybody around me were clearly trying to put up with it as well. The ‘don’t wana get involved’ mentality.

After awhile, I couldn’t put up with the smell anymore. The entire tram was filled with the stench. I walked over to the driver. Good thing the window was open.

“Hey mate could you please do something about the potheads at the back of the tram? We pay top dollar for public transport to travel in comfort, not put up with irresponsible people who live on the dole.”

“There’s nothing I can do about it, mate.” the driver retorted, without once glancing at me.

“Isn’t there anything you can do? Perhaps signal to the inspectors or the depot, to have some staff assemble at a tram stop up ahead? You do know they’re breaching the law here…” I profused.

“Sorry mate there’s nothing I can do,” said the driver as he slammed the window on me. How rude.

I couldn’t believe it. An elderly man, who is clearly affected by the smoke, gave me the ‘oh well’ look and shrugged his shoulders. Everybody but the potheads were looking at me. Well at least I bloody was trying! You guys just sat there expecting some sort of civility.

Actions speak louder than words. If people want something done, you’ve got to act on it. Why sit on your ass and put up with it when you’ve got your rights as a paying passenger? I’m appalled at the driver’s insensitivity to other passengers. Personally I just can’t tolerate dole bludgers and potheads who smoke with blatant disregard for the law. But what if there was a pregnant woman on board or little kids on board?

Just absolutely appalling.

Lost Dogs – a photographic exhibition

Photobucket The Lost Dogs’ Home has put together a photographic exhibition capturing images of daily life at the shelter. Melbourne-based photographer Penny Koukoulas spent several weeks at the Lost Dogs and focused on individual dog stories which promises to be an emotive and educational exhibition.

Lost Dogs opens on Tuesday 4 August 5.00pm to 7.00pm and runs 4 to 15 August at fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

Tue to Fri: 11.00am to 5.00pm Saturday: 12.00pm to 4.00pm. Entry is free.

Image from www.dogshome.com

“Tell them what the Internet is fooooor…”

I took my wife to the Comedy Theatre yesterday for a matinee performance of Broadway’s multi-award winning Avenue Q. Growing up in the early to mid 80s (guess that kinda pegs my age into a certain age group!) to the regular introduction of letters and numbers of Sesame Street, it was great to relive something days long gone in the flesh.

Of course, nobody in the audience was expecting anything as tame as the PBS show, so we knew what we were getting ourselves in for. It is the most extraordinary show I’ve ever seen. Who knew puppets could be so funny and touching? Few people would have the chance of experiencing a quality Broadway performance in their lifetime and I’m glad had a chance to say they’ve definitely destroyed my cutesy image of puppets! It’s Sesame Street meets South Park! I won’t give anymore away! It’s so good I feel like double clicking on my mouse……..

The Avenue Q team plays in Melbourne for another week before moving to other parts of Australia. Tickets are very affordable and have been reduced to $49.90 (except Saturdays) and I highly recommend it with your family or date or just friends wanting a good time. Just make sure they’re of ‘mature’ age!

EDIT: I just realised Neil’s previous post has a picture of Lucy the Slut. How’s that for unwitting advertisement placement?

Image from avenueqthemusical.com.au

A knight in blue

I had to verify that its true and it is true. We have a knight in shining blue, a Sir Ken Jones to be exact. He is the latest deputy commissioner of crime of the Victoria Police.

I like him. A bit different and because he is an outsider, he is yet to be affected by corruption allegations and in fightings within the force. According to The Age, he rides a Harley Davidson and dares to try different things to reduce crime and corruption.

For some strange reason, he reminds me of Simon Pegg in the movie Hot Fuzz.

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.

Old ad, same problem

Photobucket

Here’s a notice from the friendly people at Highpoint Myer that will either a) invoke your curiosity, b) have you laugh at the staff’s inadequacy or c) all of the above. Obviously written by a staff who hasn’t completed high school. Or worse, an adult who doesn’t know what a pen and paper is anymore.

There’s a reason why I loathe reading forums these days. Kids no longer know how to write with a pen and spend more time ‘writing’ with a keyboard. Or worse, a mobile phone. Clearly, the standard of English drops with the advent of ‘l33t’ (elite) speak. In an unfortunate by-product of the shortening of common words to fit the 160 spaces for short text messaging, grammar is compromised.

Oh how I wished kids these days know the difference between ‘there’, ‘their’, ‘they’re’, ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

By the way, how many mistakes can you count on that notice? I count two.

EDIT: typo

Tamils Nightly Vigil Continues in Federation Square, Melbourne

Melbounes Tamil community continues a nightly vigil against the genocide. The vigil is now ending it's third week.

Melbounes Tamil community continues a nightly vigil against the genocide. The vigil is now ending it's third week.

Melbourne’s Tamil community continues to protest against the ongoing genocide in Sri Lanka, which has seen thousands of Tamils locked up in camps, subjected to terrifying conditions by the Sri Lankan military, and often killed outright, while the Sri Lankan government works to block foreign media from entering. Earlier in the week, I reported on the existence of a protest group at Federation Square. Now, after seeing them there for the third night and talking to some of those involved, I’ve learnt much more about it.

The protestors have been gathering at Federation Square, every single weeknight, beginning around 5 and lasting until 6 or 7, for the past three weeks. Previous protests have gathered around Parliament and the State Library, but at these places, they were failing to attract much notice. Now they’ve found that at Federation Square, far more people can see them. Not only that, but they’re near the police station here, and in full public view – both of which make them safer from attacks by Sri Lankan ex-pat supporters of the genocidal regime. Recently there was an incident in which a group of pro-government Sri Lankans had been out drinking, and Tamil protestors were driving through the city on a pre-planned route. The government-supporters mobbed the Tamil cars and broadcast the incident on YouTube to make fun of them. Racism is a real issue for ethnic Tamils in the Sri Lankan community.

So they stand chanting slogans relating to Tamil independance, to stopping the genocide, and to the controversial resistance group the Tamil Tigers. (more…)

Melbournians/Sri Lankans/Tamils protest at ongoing Sri Lankan Genocide

Banner for a protest in Melbourne over Sri Lanka's treatment of Tamils

Banner for a protest in Melbourne over Sri Lanka's treatment of Tamils


This evening across from Flinders Street Station, I heard the unmistakable sounds of a protest rally.

“Tamil Tigers – Freedom Fighters!”
“Sri Lanka Sri Lanka – Don’t kill Tamils!”

A large-ish group of people had gathered to protest the ongoing ill-treatment of Sri Lanka’s Tamil population. The Sri Lankan government, under the guise of cracking down on the rebel Tamil Tigers, continues to wage a war against it’s civilian population, and the Tamils are among those at the short end of the stick. We see the same problems in Colombia, where the government uses the FARC guerillas as an excuse to continue mistreating indigenous and poor Colombians, and in Isreal, where Muslim terrorists are the favourite excuse for the government to build up an apartheid state against the Palestinian population. All of this, of course, goes on with the tacit support – in fact, through most of history, with the actual monetary and diplomatic support – of our own Western leaders, who generally refrain from kicking up too much fuss.

I was given a pamphlet directing me to these links – haven’t visited them yet, so be warned that there may be disturbing images.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN4e9ZbxP1s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrBPILJyonA
http://fastuntoaction.wordpress.com/

You can contact the organisers of the protest at: networktamils(at)gmail.com

A gathering of protesters outside Federation Square in Melbourne.

A gathering of protesters outside Federation Square in Melbourne.

University staff go on strike for a new contract

Redmond Barry's statue bearing an NTEU flag

Redmond Barry's statue bearing an NTEU flag

The picture is of the statue of Redmond Barry – the quintessential aristocratic buffoon, and the man who sent Ned Kelly to the gallows, forever standing outside our State Library. But the flag he’s holding? Apparently after death, Mr Barry has become involved in the union movement!

It’s an NTEU flag, and the National Tertiary Education Union has called a strike today after several Melbournian universities failed to sign new contracts for many of their staff.

University managements have been mis-managing Australian universities for some time – there’s no dearth of academic articles analysing various aspects of this mismanagement (that’s the problem when you mistreat wordy-types), and various issues came to a head as the NTEU called it’s strike. I spoke to one person who has been kept on casual contracts with no job security for the past five years; one speaker referenced a friend who had been in that position for the past twelve. And I know academics who work far more than eight-hour days to keep their work going, and yet are paid part-time. These sorts of stories have become commonplace in the modern Australian university, and there’s little sign that things are going to change.

Interestingly, NTEU members seemed far more radical than the union leadership supposedly representing them, and it seemed that the strike rally ended rather abruptly, with no general call for a Speak Out – something which would certainly have kept most of there for another couple of hours!

I helped out at the RMIT picket lines today, and found that many people where generally sympathetic. Those crossing the picket line did so apologetically and with some awkwardness, a minority tried to tear down our posters and generally make nuisances of themselves, but such people are always in the minority. What was most heartening was that quite a few people i spoke to decided to turn around and take the day off, and i convinced some to come along to the rally later on.

All in all, the support from the ground up was far more impressive than the support from the top-down. If this had been announced further in advance, if those in the various ALP-aligned student unions had been willing to support it more fully, if the NTEU leadership had encouraged a speak-out and allowed the membership to dictate what happened, it could have been huge.

Frost Levi

No, that’s not the sequel to Frost Nixon.

It’s the thin layer of frost that settled on my Levi’s jeans and all my sundry that were strung out last night.

Is this normal in April? According to The Age, it’s not.

Guess we’re all part of history. And some of us slept through it.

Meh

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