This was part of a float in the Melbourne Fringe Festival parade. I saw it and I ran after it with my camera because I thought it was so apt.
Yes, I went to Melbourne and I had many stupid adventures.
Sometimes my digital camera went along for the ride. Here are some of the adventures I had:
Stupid Adventures: Fringe Festival Parade
Viva Brunswick Street!
To mark the start of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, there was a parade held down Brunswick Street. Brunswick Street is approximately the coolest street in the entire universe. It is the home of PolyEster Books, which is the coolest bookshop in the entire universe.
There was a cage with a couple of slappers in it fighting each other. I think there may have been some kind of Melbourne injoke happening that I missed. I love the “Hey Slag” stop sign. I want one for my lounge.
I looked up and there was a naked man walking a dog. He had “Is it art?” painted on his chest, and “No butts about it” on his back. Good on him. Everyone was staring at his donger. I would have taken a photo of it, but my camera was on playback mode, so I only got his arse.
Less than a week later I saw another manpenis. It the infamous “show us your bits” incident at the National Young Writers Festival. During a spoken word performance, the emcee got the audience to yell out “show us ya bits!” when each performer took to the mike. One dude got up there, unzipped his pants and showed everyone his bits.
The parade was lots of fun. It was mostly people promoting various shows and performances that were part of the Fringe Festival. I think it was the most enjoyable parade I’ve been too. There were hotdogs too, which was choice.
There was a lovely lady in the parade. As she got down to where I was someone yelled out for her to sing a song, so she launched into “Fitzroy, Fitzroy” a celebration of the suburb we were in. My favourite line was, “I wanna wake up in the suburb that never wakes up!” Along came a guy walking on his hands. Very good.
This was a float promoting a play that had something to do with the St Kilda Saints, the AFL team of St Kilda. I like the Saints, cos their initials are “St. K.F.C.” Like there’s a patron saint of fried chicken.
One cool thing about Australia, particularly Melbourne, is how footy isn’t just the domain of bogans. Really cool, arty people dig football too.
Stupid Adventures: Nine One One
September 11 happened when I was in Melbourne. This sign was outside St Augustine’s Church, a Catholic Church on Bourke Street.
Church and Tower
This is St Augustine’s Church with the Rialto Tower, Melbourne’s tallest building, in the background. It’s like, really symbolic, or something.
I was waiting for the 96 tram on Spencer Street, just outside the Crown Casino. There’s a walkway that runs along the banks of the Yarra River, and the casino building is on the other side of that. Along the walkway are a number of small towers (about 5 metres tall, I think) and they have water running down the side of them.
Anyway, suddenly there was this loud “whoomp!” noise and a bright flash of light. I turned around and there were flames shooting from the top of these towers. Sometimes just one tower, sometime all of the towers.
The eerie thing was that from the distance I was standing, the towers had about the same proportions as the two World Trade Center towers. To see them with flames shooting out of the top felt really strange. Maybe normally it would have been quite exciting, it might have caused a few people to say “oooh!” but that night all the other people watching at the tram stop were strangely quiet.
I was on the 16 tram going down St Kilda Road. It’s a long tree-line boulevard, but also the location of large office buildings. I noticed one building had a whole lot of bunches of flowers and stuff outside it.
A couple of days later, on the same tram, I got off and took a closer look. It was the United States Consulate, and indeed the garden and front of the building were almost completely covered with bouquets of flowers, signs, cards and bad poetry.
Stupid Adventures: Smack
New Zealand doesn’t have a massive heroin problem. Apparently Christchurch is where all the smackheads are (!). But it’s there in Australia. Most public toilets in Mebourne had yellow biohazard needle disposal boxes. This one was at the Victorian Art Gallery.
There were other signs too. The beach at St Kilda was raked every day to remove any needles left there. A local burger restaurant had a sign on the toilet door saying that junkies needn’t bother asking for the toilet key.
An alternative to the needle disposal boxes is to make it difficult for junkies to shoot up in toilets. This is done by having blue lighting, which I think is meant to make it hard to find veins.
This toilet, in an aracde on Lygon Street, had blue lights. However, there was a window on the far wall, meaning that the cubical nearest that got a lot of natural light. So I guess if you were wanting to shoot up there, there wouldn’t be much stopping you.
Ah yeah, see you down at the Skanc for a pint, me old cobber. That’s the St Kilda Army and Navy Club. But oh my, what a wonderful acronym!
This is The George and it’s on Fitzroy Street. It’s a really cool old hotel. All the paint is peeling off it, but it looks so much better like that than if it would if it was freshly painted. Next to it (obscured by the tree) is the George Cinema, for all your cinematic requirements.
This is more of Fitzroy Street. That Burger King suddenly appeared overnight. There were no “coming soon!” signs. There were hordings up, then suddenly one day they came down and there it was. I think this may have been because there’s been a bit of opposition to the appearance of big burger restaurants in the area. Stealthy! But anyway, the building next to it is nice.
Stupid Adventures: Dominant Paradigm Subversion
Stop Mural Experiments
This piece of graffiti makes me happy. It is raging against all those community murals designed by committee that are so determined to include something for everyone, that they end up with nothing much for anyone.
As far as I can tell, the graffiti has been up there for a few years and no one’s made any attempt to paint over it.
Every Friday a group of protesters gather outside the big Nike store on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets and protest against child labour, capitalism and all the other stuff they read about in “No Logo”.
When the protests started they were intended as a blockade to stop people entering the store, but Nike got the police in, so every Friday a few police stand at the door while a bunch of hippies give out pamphlets.
I think it’s a traffic controller box. Someone has decided that they are ugly as they are and got a local artist to spruce it up. I was waiting for the 96 or the 16 tram on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets and I saw that someone had cleverly written “how marvellously inauthentic this mural is” on top of it. The great thing is that it blends in so well that looks like it’s actually part of the mural. It’s only when you look closely that you can see it’s written in correction fluid, not paint.
This is on a wall outside Luna Park. It’s obviously been there for for at least a year, and yet no one has called in the local graffiti removal crew. I think it’s beautiful, both parodying those lose weight/make money signs that people put up around the place, and a call to arms for angry citizens sick of all the Olympics hype.
Stupid Adventures: Footscray
Seen “Romper Stomper,” the 1992 movie about a bunch of skinheads, starring Russell Crowe? That was set in Footscray, so I wanted to go there and see if it was like it was in the movie.
Footscray was not all blue and gloomy. It was bright and sunny.
I saw no skinheads in Footscray, but I saw many Vietnamese. It feels very exotic, like maybe I was in some country in South East Asia. Except for the Victorian state licence plates.
The Footscray Markets rule. There are plenty of markets around Melbourne that sell similar stuff to the Footscray markets. But unlike the Queen Victoria or Prahran markets, tourists don’t normally go to the Footscray Markets. They have their priorities right: meat on one side, everything else on the other.
This photo is a bit boring because it was getting late in the day and there was no direct sunshine. But yay, pretty pink blossoms in Footscray!
This is a version of the fairly standard community mural. It runs the gamut, from pre-European times, the arrival of the white man, early days and modern times. It looks fairly sturdy, so if some angry skinheads attacked it, it’d remain standing.
Stupid Adventures: Miscellaneous Melbourne
Commit No Nusance
This was a little street off Bourke Street. Someone had gone to the trouble to paint “COMMIT NO NUISANCE” on the wall. Would this work? If there were a bunch of drunken hooligans on their way to see a game down the road at Colonial Stadium, would they see that and say, “Oh hey guys, not here. Let’s take our bad behaviour around the corner.”
The Anti-Cancer Council is a far more sensible name than the Cancer Society. Wow, maybe all the cancer societies around the world are really pro-cancer? Or maybe it’s a society for people who were born between June 22 and July 22.
Gog and Magog
These two fellows are Gog and Magog and they live at the end of the Royal Arcade which runs between Bourke and Little Collins Streets. When I visited Melbourne ten years ago (right when the Coode Island fires were happening) I took a photo of this and eventually I’ll remember where it is, scan it and stick it up here.
I think this is the BHP building. I took this picture from Spencer Street Station. I think it looks bleak. It inspires bad poetry.
This was on the side of a pub in Spotswood. There was a movie called “Spotswood” which also featured Russell Crowe. Spotswood has this pub, a bunch of factories and Scienceworks, the science museum. It’s like, you get to Spotswood, then you leave.
What’s big and grey and squashes lunch boxes? The Westgate Bridge. Ha ha! That’s hilarious because in 1970 when the Westgate Bridge was being built something went horribly wrong and part of it collapsed killing 35 construction workers and assumingly 35 lunchboxes too.
Do Not Spit
Spitting must have been enough of a problem at Flinders Street Station for someone to paint “DO NOT SPIT” on the wall. I don’t think the sign really works all that well, cos it looks like it’s been spat upon.
This is some graffiti just down the tracks from the Moorabbin train station, and just down the road from the Ikea store. I include it here to make things look gritty and urban.
More urban grit. This time in the form of my leg, the train station shelter, someone’s almost-empty bottle of Ribena and “WET PAINT” chalked on the ground.
“Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.”
– “Trainspotting” script, Irvine Welsh and John Hodge, 1996
– Cadbury advertisements, 2001
Lygon Street: it’s full of good things, such as Italian Restaurants, the Vic Roads office (where I got a Victorian drivers licence), and Cinema Nova. I saw a preview of “Lantana” screened there. Four of the actors came and talked before the film, which was rather special.
Stupid Adventures: Public Transport
Hey, let’s talk about Melbourne’s public tranport: it rocks! This is Spencer Street station (and a lovely lens flare). I caught a few trains from here, my word yes. When I was hooning out to the Ikea store, I got the Frankston train and got off at the Moorabbin station (which meant travelling to a zone 2 station on my zone 1 ticket). But a couple of times I got the Werribee train.
There’s a new futura tram being introduced to Melbourne. It’s a low ridin’ one, which is good for old ladies. This is the 96 going up Bourke Street to East Brunswick. I never got to ride on one of the new trams, though.
Spencer Street Station
This is the view from a seat at Spencer Street station. I took this while I was waiting for the Werribee train. Note the use of yellow and green in the station sign. That is because those are the national colours of Australia. I guess it’s more interesting than black and white.
Most the the time the trains ran with a Mussolini-like precision. But sometimes they didn’t. This was one of those times. It was Saturday, and all these people had been at the Royal Melbourne Show thing and the train they were waiting for at Flinders Street Station had been delayed. So they all hung out with their bags of goodies waiting for their train.
As part of the Fringe Festival, a number of trams had some sentences in orange letters written across them. This is one that was on Swanston Street, outside the Victorian Library. I can’t remember what it said, probably something very cool.
Here are a bunch of standard, run-of-the-mill trams at the St Kilda interchange. The grey one in front is the 96, which used to be my favourite tram until I discovered the 112. The far one is the 69, and the middle one might be the 16.
I was talking to a guy at the NYWF. He was orignally from Wellington, but was now in Melbourne at university. We were talking about how incredibly cool the trams are. I think it’s due being able to travel without buying a ticket (even though you’re supposed to), so heaps of crazy people get on board. It’s also due to the open layout of the trams. Because they go in both directions, the seats are in pairs facing each other. It’s almost like sitting at a booth in a diner. Trams are good on an almost spiritual level.