Category Archives: sydney


One of the rules of Sydney is that you are only supposed to speak about your part of it, so here goes: I grew up in the west, have lived in the inner city and the inner west, studied in the north, went to school in the outer southwest, worked in the Sutherland shire, which is where half of my family live, and have spent enough time in the east to thoroughly lose the chip on my shoulder about it.

All these places were and are inhabited by drongos, derros, bible-bashers, wowsers, wankers, ockers, snobs, molls, junkies, airheads, revheads, dickheads, bogans, dags, ratbags and bludgers from every imaginable part of the world. (Yes, even the Shire.)

In my lifetime, the city’s material environment has been homogenised by franchises and rising standards of living – when I was a kid, most of the roads in Granville didn’t have kerb and guttering, and the flashest car you were likely to see was a Holden Statesman – and its population has become ever more diverse. (Yes, even in the fucking Shire.)

All this is by way of illustrating why it is that when people talk about ‘western suburbs’ or ‘the Shire’ or whatever, as if that means a single homogeneous chunk to be used as an element in political debates, I think they sound like idiots,* or, even worse, pollsters.

*When I was young I used to generalise about Sydney areas all the time and my Mum used to try to correct me. She was right.


A Messier Sydney

M2: a globular motorway in the Hills District 37,500 light years from Earth.

M4: a toll-free cluster with the apparent diameter of the full Moon.

M5: located in the Serpent, one of the oldest motorways associated with the Milky Way galaxy.

M7: also known as the Ptolemy Cluster, this open group of more than 80 stars has gateless tolling and connects with the M4 at the Light Horse stack interchange.

Kensington St

One of the advantages of working in a neighbourhood where you used to live for eight years is that you can go for a quick walk during your lunch break and come back quite depressed.


Wait, did I say “advantages”?

Old Pyrmont Bridge

Taken with my new Flip video camera, which I won with this tweet.

Sydney Festival 2010

It’s very late in the year to be reviewing the Sydney Festival, especially considering that the music appeared to have been selected by someone very much like me only with somewhat better taste. I think I didn’t get around to it because I was trying to finish the Shakespeare stuff, and also because I saw so many shows that I got a bit exhausted.

The Manganiyar Seduction

The Manganiyar Seduction at First Night. This was like Celebrity Squares with hair-raisingly accomplished musicians instead of Lucky Grills. There was a fellow who played a jaw harp like he could knock you down at fifty paces with a single twang if he wasn’t a nice person, which he seemed to be.

The Reels

I own a lot of Severed Heads recordings but nothing by the Reels, so I’m not sure why I was surprised that the Reels were the support act. With the benefit of hindsight, I think I should have bought a few less different remixes of “Greater Reward” and more Reels albums.


Especially since Tom Ellard still hates us. But we’re used to that, and a lot of us danced anyway, and the new version of “Mambo Fist Miasma” was great. The show closed with a big steampunk rocket giving us the finger, followed by an encore of “We Have Come To Bless The House” with the lovely original video.

I'm gonna rip your hair off

I’m looking forward to the new album by the Books, especially if it has the piece shown here, compiled from found recordings in kids’ tape recorders picked up in secondhand shops.

I didn’t take any photos at the Laughing Clowns show, but here are some very good ones of them playing in Brisbane. This was the only Clowns show I’ve seen: it was really good. The Dirty Three played next, and many people also present in the Enmore Theatre seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. I gathered from his banter that Mr Warren Ellis is not unacquainted with recreational chemicals, and he can play violin while standing on one foot, a rare accomplishment which may explain the crowd’s enthusiasm.

We also saw Smoke and Mirrors, which was a burlesque-circus type affair with acrobats and a lot of good songs written by iOTA and a show-stopping moment by Queenie van de Zandt as the Bearded Lady.

Optimism – an adaptation of Candide – had a lot of good moments but also a lot of “oh another contemporary pop song stuck into a play” moments.

Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson Lego

The Olafur Eliasson exhibition at the MCA is really good. This room is full of white Legos and the audience build things out of them. As we walked around the rest of the exhibition we could hear regular crashes as overambitious creations fell down.


I have many fond memories of the Hopetoun Hotel but I’m faintly surprised that it lasted as long as it did. I think I first saw a band there in 1986. For comparison, I wonder how many music venues in Sydney from 1963 were still in operation in that year? The old Capitol Theatre, perhaps. This post puts things in perspective.