Archive for the ‘News’ 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.

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.

Comedy Festival Redux: Bea Arthur

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Bea Arthur at the Melbourne Comedy Festival / Credit: David Knox

David Knox from TV Tonight posted this great picture of the late Bea Arthur at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy in The Golden Girls, died last week aged 86.

Back in the 90’s, in the heyday of The Golden Girls, Bea toured around the country including a show at the Comedy Festival. She came back in 2002 and performed again in Melbourne.  How did we pull such a big comedian back then and now we can barely get B list American celebrities? Kudos to a funny lady. Might hit channel #bittorent for some Golden Girls episodes.

TV Tonight: Remembering Bea

Exclusive John Brumby News

<i> Credit: Policespeedcameras.info</i>

Credit: Policespeedcameras.info

I really would like to get out there and report on Melbourne things first hand but like most of us, I have a job and other commitments loosely known as a life.  I’m in awe of other blogs who go out there everyday and take pictures, report on issues including interviewing stakeholders in stories, for free. Bravo.

Well, I have a John Brumby scoop that no other press organisation has…where he shops for underwear. Yes, I saw the premier shopping at David Jones, Bourke Street for some underwear. What was more surprising was how well he blended in with DJ’s customers.  Sorry, I rarely see any Megan Gale looking people at DJ’s but rather people who look like they belong in the Long Room in the MCG.

While I did briefly consider quizzing him on some pressing issues this city is having, I’d figure he probably just wanted to be left alone to do his shopping. Although, I could have let him know that Target is having a 20% socks sale. Maybe next time.

Melbourne Rated 24 in Top 29 Best Cities to Live

We're #24

We're #24

I love lists, especially ones that rank Melbourne highly. Askmen.com, a site I always seem to stumble upon when googling actresses, came up with an extensive lists of 29 of the best cities to live in.

The good news: We are #24.

The bad news: Sydney is #5.

Unlike other lists I have seen, this one has set down a few criteria to base their ratings on. We faired well in sports & entertainment, health, fashion, dating & sex, and the good Life (number of sunshine hours, international flights departing and planned urban developments). 100% agree with all of those.

We didn’t fair well in culture and power and money. The culture metric seems to take account of the number of Michelin starred restaurants, arts festivals and people employed in the arts. I can’t possibly believe that we don’t have a plethora of all three. Maybe we don’t have enough big arts festivals but rather small quaint festivals in hidden laneways or back alleys.  As for power and money, it is very expensive to live here and while house prices have skyrocketed up, income has only gradually increased.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the article; “Most importantly though, Melbourne is at the center of the Australian male shortage: There are over 70,000 extra females in the central urban district alone — not a bad predicament to be in, you’d have to say.”

Can’t agree with you more Adam.

Askmen’s Top 29: Best Cities to Live In

Doyle and Brumby, the same person?

Doyle Cartoon. <i>Credit: Melbourne Leader</i>

Doyle Cartoon. Credit: Melbourne Times

It always amazed me that no one ever figured out that Clark Kent, a mild mannered reporter was also Superman. They talked the same, they looked the same, and were never in the same room at the same time.  I suppose I’ve never seen the Doyle or Brumby in the same room but mostly out of not caring.

In the short time that our Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has been at the reigns he certainly has had some Brumbyish ideas. First, he proposed opening up Swanston Street (or more officially Swanston Walk) to vehicular traffic. That went down like a lead weight. In his newest proposal, he wants to ban hailing taxis on Friday and Saturday night in the CBD. In addition, he wants to create zones, where certain suburbs would have fixed prices.

Well, OK, more taxi ranks would be a great idea if you had them on every corner but a ban from hailing taxis from the CBD?  It’s absurd, pointless and dumb. Taxi drivers lose out on fares and passengers lose out on the very convenience of taking a cab. Besides the obvious problem of not enough vacant taxis, the taxis who are free will reject fares that are not far enough away. This has happened to me multiple times which ended up with me reporting the taxi, and the taxi commission essentially saying “bad boy” to the driver.

Brumby’s recent ideas besides the 2AM lockout debacle was allocating a whole bunch of roads as clearways to ease traffic without any consultation with traders or local councils.  I was recently reading an article in the Melbourne Leader Times, of how the Victorian government wants to bypass local council’s planning processes to speed up building developments. No consultation again. Are we seeing a pattern here from these two?

No hailing taxis, cars on Swanston street, no conferring with any stakeholders. What has this government come to? Do these politicians bother to step into the city at all? It seems like they just want the easiest commute into and out of the city and nothing else. How about actually asking us 2AM lockouters what we want? Bring back John So, at least it’s better to have a token funnyman mayor, then someone who wants to rock the boat with ludicrous ideas.

Doyle + Brumby = Dumby (unless someone can think of something better)

Bushfire thoughts

As the previous posts have extensively covered, large areas of Victoria are still burning. People have died, undoubtedly more than have been found so far. Communities (the physical parts of them, at least) are being destroyed. At the moment, the air in Melbourne is full of ash, because of an anticyclonic system sweeping weather down from the north. The sun has this eerie yellow-orange light, that most of us here remember from the last huge bushfires (not that long ago at all).

Some news sources have breathlessly listed the donations made by “Corporate Australia”, $14 million combined from the richest corporations by my latest count; fairly piddling, token amounts, considering the proportion of the countrys wealth controlled by some of these contributors (i suggested they donate their entire tax savings since Howard came to office… it seems fair). As usual for this sort of thing, “Non-Corporate” Australia has been far more impressive, reaching the $50 million mark – a level that is actually going to make some kind of a dent in the damage that has been done, though more is still needed.

You can donate at the Australian Red Cross website.

I have a friend who has been in view of the fires; in Warrandyte, on the edge of the suburbs. He’s described some pretty terrifying sights, like being able to watch individual gum trees explode (eucalyptus oils + heat) through his binoculars. They’re not very far away at all.

Have been tracking down information on Flowerdale, the town where i grew up (we moved when i was eight). It’s apparently been pretty badly hit, do a Google search for the town right now and you’ll find more of those nightmarish pictures of burnt out cars sitting in the middle of the road.

After we moved, the people who bought our old house let a whole bunch of trees grow up close to the house itself. I remember my parents commenting on that. It’s a fairly dangerous thing to do. I only spent Prep and Grade 1 there, but in school we had it drummed into us that you don’t let leaf litter get near the house, among other things.

I wonder how they are. I hope they’re okay. I might drive up in winter, when i won’t be getting in the way of emergency crews (or fires), and see if the house is still there.

Generosity of everyone

It is amazing how generous people can be; here in Victoria, across Australia and across the world. So, far the Australian Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Fund has raised at least 51 million today.

And everyday, there is a new fundraising event, from cricket matches, AFL games, to tonight’s channel nine telethon Live streaming of Channel 9 telethon for Bushfire Fund. It is beginning to be difficult to keep track of all the events. Herald Sun is attempting to list all known events in case there are con artists out here who are trying to benefit from all this.

Personally, I’m looking forward to tomorrow, not because its Friday the 13th, but because Coles will donate all profits earned on Friday to the Red Cross bushfire fund. It is the only time to shop at Coles.

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