Never Bite The Hand That Holds The Camera

There’s a large cane basket that sits on the floor in the front room; it’s used to store most of our photo albums. I don’t remember the last time an album was taken from the basket; they sit in the basket as if they were a game of Stack Tower. The basket’s duty these days is to serve as a decorative piece and occupy the negative space in front of the didgeridoo. At one time the albums were kept within easy reach on a bookcase shelf or a side table. They were searched at random, or each page of an album was methodically turned releasing treasured memories of long ago holidays, family gatherings, birthdays, and special events. Most of the albums have plastic pages with six pockets on each side holding the pictures; some have a clear plastic overlay coated with an adhesive to hold the pictures onto the page. And there may be an album where the prints are held in place with decorative photo mounting corners. I remember when the pages of photo albums were always sheets of black paper. You’d carefully put a photo mounting corner onto a black and white photo, lick them, and then hold the photo in place on the page until the glue spit stuff on the photo corners was somewhat dry.

image source:jmcadam

Years ago we licked a lot of stuff. You never worried about where a stamp for an envelope had been; you’d just lick the back of it and stick it onto an envelope. If you collected stamps you’d use a stamp hinge to mount them in your stamp collectors album. The hinge was a small piece of transparent paper with glue on one side. You’d lick the side with the glue and try to put half of the licked sticky side onto the back of the stamp, and then fold the hinge so it would stick onto a page in the stamp album. And you did this all before your spit dried, and the stickiness stopped being sticky. Licking stuff was just second nature. You always licked the icing off a Tic Toc biscuit before eating it, and you always licked you fingers or wherever the sauce and meat had dropped when you were eating eating a pie and sauce, and you always licked the beaters after mum had whipped the cream for her cakes with the Mixmaster.

Back then you never really knew what you had taken a picture of until you picked up your printed photos from the chemist shop. You’d point the camera at something, look down and through the view finder to see what the camera was pointed at, and then push the shutter button on the side of the camera. I think I had a Kodak Brownie Flash II. You got your Kodak black and white film at the chemist shop; 8 pictures to a roll. The film was wound on a spool that would slip into the camera.

image source:skmcadam

You’d take the exposed film back to the chemist to be sent away for processing and printing; it would seem like an eternity, but the next week your photos were in a Kodak envelope waiting to be picked up. Before you left the shop you’d breathlessly reach into the envelope for your black and white memories; most times only half of the eight were in focus, well framed, or properly exposed. And you would carefully put a photo mounting corner onto the corners of each black and white photo, lick them, and then hold the photo in place on the page of a photo album.

I think at one time photo’s were somewhat personal. Photo albums weren’t passed around or given to friends to enjoy; they were personal keepsakes. You never really knew what attractions, buildings, scenes, or destinations your friends had preserved from their holiday’s as personal memories. When relatives or friends did share their albums it was unusual to find two identical photographs; a well known attraction may have been photographed from the same viewing place but there was always a difference in the angle or direction. It’s different today. It seems that images are captured, and then immediately shared on the myriad of social networks, or uploaded and distributed through cloud based databases. A quick search through these online resources shows that most people have photographed the same buildings, attractions, and landmarks from the same viewing place, at the same angle, and from the same direction. Data suggests that 35% of the online photographs of the Eiffel Tower are taken from the same three angles and that 85% of the photos of Machu Picchu are from the same spots; creating nearly half a million identical images on Instagram. It would seem that Instagram and TripAdvisor are not only used for inspiration of where to go for a holiday, but what to photograph and visit.

image source:jmcadam

And so I started musing. Why not provide different images of the same attractions and landmarks for all those bored with seeing the same images; and what if there was an online database of images of the world’s finest beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes and glaciers, rain forests, cultural monuments, heritage sites, important historical and political sites, and architectural structures taken from different perspectives. And to ensure the integrity of “a not the same old images” database an image would be subjected to a content analysis script before it could be uploaded. If the content analysis script determined that a similar image already existed in the database, then the image awaiting uploading would be rejected; no two images would be the same.

The iconic Flinders and Swanston Street intersection could be thought of as Melbourne’s Time Square, Piccadilly Circus, St Mark’s Campanile, or the Fontaine Saint-Michel; there’s always people going places walking up and down the street, and others stopping and waiting to meet under the clocks. On each corner of the vibrant intersection is a quintessential Melbourne building.

image source:gigapan.com

Flinders Street Railway Station is Australia’s oldest train station, and the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere. Before Melbourne’s underground was built all suburban trains would finish and start from one of Flinders Street sixteen platforms. The clocks under the main dome have always shown the departure time of the next train; if I was living in Melbourne I would be meeting under the clocks. There’s always an urban myth attached to an iconic building, and Flinders Street is no exception. The firm that won the design competition for Melbourne’s new station was also building the Mumbai station and it’s rumoured that the plans for the two stations were mistakenly switched. India got a Gothic style station, and Melbourne an East-Indian design with a flashy dome, an arched entrance, a tower, and clocks.

image source:lovellchen.com.au

Young and Jacksons has welcomed Melbourne drinkers since 1875. It’s not only legendary as a watering hole, but also for a nude painting. Chloe was a 19 year old Parisian artist’s model named Marie, and was painted by French figure painter Jules Joseph Lefebvre. Chloe was showcased at the Paris Salon in 1875; she has graced the walls of Young and Jackson’s since the early nineteen hundreds. Who didn’t have a few pots of the amber in the public bar whilst waiting for their train; looking through the windows, and across the street to the Flinders Street clocks to check their time. There was always time for another couple of pots. Today you can relax with a beer, wine, or a cocktail, and steal a glimpse of Australia’s most famous $5 million nude in Chloe’s Room on the first floor.

image source:melbourne.vic.gov.au

The neo- Gothic St Paul’s Cathedral was designed by the British architect William Butterfield. The building’s foundation stone was laid in1880. The church is unique for several reasons. Instead of using the traditional blue-grey Melbourne Bluestone of the time a warm yellow-brown coloured sandstone from Geelong was used. The three spires that were added thirty years later were never part of the original design; they’re a different colour from the rest of the building because a stone from Sydney was used for their construction. Before construction of the church started it was discovered the traditional east west orientation design wouldn’t allow the cathedral to fit into it’s block of land; it was flipped, and the north-south orientation makes it unique from all other Anglican Cathedrals.

image source:cv.vic.gov.au

In 1967 the Prince’s Bridge railway station was demolished, and the seventeen storey Princes Gate Towers twin towers office buildings were built over the still functioning train platforms. The towers became the headquarters of Victoria’s Gas and Fuel Corporation. When mum and nanna went into town they would start their day at the cooking presentations at the Gas and Fuel’s demonstration kitchen. Thirty years after being built the stark blocks of concrete were flattened, and the railway lines covered over. Federation Square, a modern piazza was created; a civic and cultural space where Melburnians would gather to celebrate, share, learn, and be inspired. Fed Square’s open spaces, galleries, restaurants and bars have become part of Melbourne’s heartbeat.

If you Google Flinders Street Station, Young and Jackson Hotel, St Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square, or Flinders and Swanston Street intersection you’re presented with countless identical images; all taken from the same angle, and the same point of view. The following are the beginning of my “a not the same old images” database for the iconic Flinders and Swanston Street intersection.

image source:jmcadam

image source:jmcadam

The more I mused the concept of “a not the same old images” databases the more I became convinced that

the ones who see things differently; they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. steve jobs 1997

And now I need to put the kettle on, sit back with a cup of tea, and look through the albums to find photo’s of my svelte self.

 

15 Tips for Taking Great Vacation Photos 

Michaels Camera Shop; Melbourne

Modernism Lost

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If You Don’t Know What You’re Doing Then You’ll Do Something Else

I remember when you went to a travel agent to plan your holidays. After meeting with the agent, and talking about your holiday, you would leave with a handshake and a firm assurance of see you next week. Next week the agent, as you sat facing them, would open your travel documents folder and slide each document across their desk; it was upside down to them but facing you. They would explain your itinerary while unfolding a collection of three-fold brochures; local events and tourist attractions at each town, and day side-trips and excursions. They would have made overnight accommodation reservations, which always included a cooked breakfast, at holiday friendly hotels and motels, or booked you into a caravan park or a holiday flat. And then with a flourish, the agent would produce from the drawer in their desk your railway or airline tickets. Even though the jet age had arrived in Australia most Australians still took the train to their holiday destination; but they were starting to take to the road. Australia was falling in love with it’s own car; the Holden was the king of the road. Family holidays were becoming long road trips with a caravan in tow, and mum sitting in the front seat next to dad.

image source:photobucket

I don’t remember mum and dad going to a travel agent for our holiday road trips to Sydney, Surfers Paradise, Canberra, and what must have been all of Victoria’s country towns. But I don’t think mum would have agreed to these holidays if she didn’t know where we were going to stay and how we were getting there. Dad was the one who wouldn’t have wanted any planning; but he must have gone into the city headquarters of the RACV and picked up road maps and pamphlets on the best routes to take and the condition of the roads, brochures on scenic attractions, leaflets about hotels that catered to the motorist, and handouts on the leading caravan parks and camping grounds. As a member of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria you felt a sense of eminence and entitlement; it was as if our holidays had been approved by Her Royal Majesty. Dad drove the old Princess Highway to Sydney. I only remember the huge open pits of the SEC’s coal mines at Moe and Yallourn, stopping in Lakes Entrance, and the Jenolan Caves and Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains.

image source:sydneyaffairs.com

The only planning I did when I went searching for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary was to buy a ticket for a berth in tourist class, below the water line, on Lloyd Triestino’s Galileo Galilei, and for the second quest an economy class ticket on Thai Airways. The journey to the US was done with the same amount of planning; a stuffed Adidas gym bag and a Qantas economy class ticket. In the last thirty plus years travelling to Australia, United Kingdom, and throughout the US has been for holidays; and for most of these trips, accommodation, car rental, places to visit, and the sights to see have been decided on before the journeys. Some say that planning the itinerary is part of the holiday. However, I don’t think the planning should be so detailed and absolute that it forbids any spur of the moment detours or flexibility.

On the most recent trip to the The Land Down Under we had planned to stop over in the North Island of New Zealand for a little over a week, and then head off to Melbourne and an Airbnb in Albert Park. We had reserved a rental car for the first week in Melbourne so as to meander around the Mornington Peninsula wineries, drive to Castlemaine, and then rekindle faded memories by cruising some of the Melbourne suburbs that we used to haunt. The itinerary also included a couple of walking tours, high teas, and building tours. Sometime during the holiday we were going to visit my brother and cousin Peter. We phoned my cousin when we arrived in Melbourne, and on the spur of the moment invited him on our day trip to Castlemaine; and so we headed off to the historic goldfields area of Victoria. On the drive back we spontaneously suggested we call on him next week for vanilla slices and cups of tea.

image source:pixabay

My cousin Peter has lived in Moonee Ponds for over thirty years. I remember when he bought the flat; we thought he had a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock. Moonee Ponds was just Moonee Ponds; a nondescript inner suburb of Melbourne bordered by Braybrook, Maidstone, Brunswick, and Essendon. Back then, anywhere past Footscray was off limits for a Williamstown boy. Besides, Essendon was the home of the bombers; the rough and tough football team of the seventies. The only supporters of the bombers were those that lived within the shadow of Windy Hill; and if you were a true sons of the scray you hated Essendon. Edna Everidge also lived in Moonee Ponds. Edna is a character created by Australian satirist Barry Humpheries; originally a drab Melbourne housewife satirising suburbia. Edna is now a Dame, and is known for her lilac coloured wisteria hair and cat eye glasses. Her favourite flower is the gladiolus or gladdie, and she greets everyone with an affectionate Hello, Possums.

image source:skmcadam

After catching the train to Moonee Ponds we station met Peter at the Rusty Duck. Just as we finished our flat whites and latte, Peter in a casual way, suggested a walk to Queens Park. He guided us along, and through streets lined with well maintained nature strips and Federation style brick and weatherboard houses. And we crossed the traffic busy, tree lined Mt Alexander Road into Queens Park. We aimlessly meandered along the winding gravel pathways, across grassways, and around huge shady trees; past the rose and sunken gardens, around the swimming pool and the restored curator cottage that is now a café, and skirted the bowling club and lake. Queens Park was laid out to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee. The original swamp that became the park was a camp site for gold seekers heading to Victoria’s newly discovered Castlemaine gold fields on their first night out of Melbourne; and explorers Burke and Wills used it for their first camp on their ill fated expedition. Today you can hop on board the #59 Airport West-Flinders Street Station City tram and it will take you right past Queens Park. Before leaving Moonee Ponds you shouldn’t forego the opportunity for a self guided viewing tour of the peds migrating to Queens Park; you’ll be amazed by this magical procession, but will need to refrain from using camera flashes. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before they build an elevated wooden viewing stand.

image source:jmcadam

And I had always thought Moonee Ponds was just Moonee Ponds; a nondescript inner suburb of Melbourne.

On the way back to Peter’s flat we made an impromptu stop at a Puckle Street cake shop for lamingtons and vanilla slices, and a spur of the moment pie and sauce. The kettle was soon boiling and my taste buds were reunited with the heavenly taste of the vanilla slice. It must have been the pleasurable encounter with the vanilla slice that caused Peter to make the off the cuff suggestion of watching Cinerama. As he fished around for the DVD we reminisced, and tested our memories about Melbourne’s first Cinerama theatre; the Plaza was underneath the Regent Theatre and  Cinerama was installed in the late fifties. Peter soon found the DVD and the travelogue style Cinerama Holiday on the big screen TV caused joyous gushings of Todd AO, 3 projectors, glorious technicolour and stereophonic sound, curved screen; and the point of view bobsled ride produced murmurs of; it’s just like 3-D, just like you were there. And that gave rise to Peter spontaneously finding 3-D glasses, and swapping the Cinerama Holiday DVD with MGM’s 3-D colour musical Kiss Me Kate; starring Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, and Ann Miller.

image source:jmcadam

I sat spell bound on the couch, that at one time had resting on it the doilies from Prince Charles’s and Diana’s seats when they visited a Hoyts theatre in Melbourne. The sizzling Ann Miller spent time dancing on Fred Graham’s coffee table and throwing her chiffon scarf at the audience, and tap dancing in front of the three-fold mirror in Fred’s apartment; Too Darn Hot doesn’t advance or contribute to the plot, but it was great 3D.

It’s strange how the unplanned guides you with unexpected, but connected surprises. A few days after savouring Cinerama and 3-D at Peter’s we did an off the top of the head visit to the Melbourne Aquarium; my brother’s grandchildren prompted this free spirited decision. It was easy to forget about the aquatic animals, the mysterious stingrays and jellyfish, and seahorses, because there was the fully immersive, eye popping, high energy nine minute 4-D movie Ice Age: No Time For Nuts. Scrat, a nut crazed sabre toothed tiger battles a wonky time machine that has zapped his beloved nut. Now that’s a story line. The 3-D projection is combined with vibrating seats, water spray, snow falling, and strobe lights. The little ones really enjoyed the experience but I think it could have been enhanced with a 3-D Ann Miller dance routine from MGM’s Deep In My Heart.

image source:giphy.com

And when I think back and remember the highlights, and experiences of that recent time in the The Land Down Under and New Zealand I wonder if

  • an Art Deco dining experience at the 1932 Café and Restaurant in the Manchester Unity Building and then a formal guided tour of the building
  • a traditional high tea of freshly baked scones with jam and cream, exquisite pastries and finger sandwiches served on tiered stands, and freshly brewed tea at the Strangers Corridor restaurant in Parliament House of Victoria
  • being immersed in the history of Australian art by the The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia collection; it includes photography, prints and drawings, fashion and textiles, decorative arts from the colonial period and the Heidelberg School, through to the present day
  • sipping a chilled glass of white wine at the Pt Leo Estate on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula; a winery, restaurant and sculpture park with stunning views of Western Port Bay and a distant Phillip Island
  • strolling through eclectic St Kilda; home of Luna Park, the Victorian Heritage Register St Kilda pier, fine dining restaurants and old European cake shops, the Esplanade Market, and the colony of little penguins

or if taking in the lawn bowls at the Moonee Ponds Bowling Club in Queens Park, and watching Kiss Me Kate in 3-D will be the keepsake memories. I should put aside some random time in the next few weeks to start planning a spur of the moment trip to somewhere; I wonder if you can watch 3-D films in Liechtenstein.

 

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium

Kiss Me Kate

Queens Park

What Men Do Better Than Women

At the corner of Swanston and Flinders you wait with a throng of Melburnians for the traffic lights to change so you can become part of the surge crossing the road and heading toward the clocks of Flinders Street Station. Flinders Street is Australia’s oldest train station and is the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere. Back when, all suburban trains would finish their journey at one of the station’s sixteen platforms. The train driver and conductor would swap positions and the train would leave to go back to where it came from. The clocks under the main dome of the station have always shown the departure time of the next trains; they date back to the 1860s. Melburnians have always, and still do, meet under the clocks. I stopped under the clocks and looked back to the Young and Jacksons corner I had just crossed from; a new throng was beginning to form. I waited for the light to change. And there it was again; a green female pedestrian traffic light; a pedestrian light no longer gender coded. I stood under the clocks and started to muse about gender coding.

image source:apnoutdoor.com.au

Describing a girl as a tomboy seems to be falling out of fashion. A tomboy girl was a girl who took an interest in, and enjoyed activities that had been conventionally coded, and culturally accepted, as boy stuff. Shops in the U.S. have now removed gender based labels from their toy and bedding shelves. The bedding area doesn’t have labeling suggestions for boys or girls, and the toy aisles are identified by what’s in them; an action figure aisle or a doll aisle rather than specifying a gender. Chemistry sets and LEGO toys aren’t in a boys section, and play kitchens and dolls aren’t in a girls aisle; they’re in the kids area.

In the The Land Down Under the state of Victoria is changing it’s school uniform policy; girls will have the option to wear shorts or trousers, instead of dresses and skirts. And so girls who like to kick the footy will be able to do so in a pair of shorts instead of a dress or skirt. And wearing trousers or a pair of shorts should make a girl more comfortable when she ducks under a desk to plug in her laptop. The school uniform has become gender neutral.

image source:yvg.vic.edu.au

At last society is becoming gender nonconformist, and gender expansive. Activities and interests are no longer being coded as a girl thing or a boy thing. But I think there are some things that are just men things; things that men excel at, and are even better at than women.

Moving the Lolly
Most Australian men’s urinals have deodorizing blocks resting in the bottom of them. Urinals tend to collect a lot of liquid, so the blocks are put there to neutralize the smell of the urine that doesn’t wash down the drain. The scented block isn’t called a deodorizer; it’s a cake, puck, biscuit, or trough lolly. Regardless of what it’s called it’s there for one thing; to overwhelm the persistent scent of standing urine. Most men’s dunnies at pubs and sporting venues have an against the wall urinal; either porcelain or metal. A classic against the wall unit will comfortable accommodate up to eight men.

image source:jmcadam

Usually there is a hinged floor grate to stand on, and some sort of water flushing fixture. There is a drain under, or beside the grate, because when your aiming against the wall the stream is directed toward the floor. Several trough lollies usually sit in the drain; the more lollies a urinal has, the less sanitary the place. This rule doesn’t apply to sporting venues. After a few beers with the boys, the challenge is always offered to see who can move the lolly the greatest distance. Some maintain the secret to being on target with the lolly and moving it is the angle your stream hits the lolly, and varying the angle during the lollies journey. Others claim the secret is controlling the amount of stream dribbling, and maintaining control of it’s velocity from the start to the end; but a technique that allows control and mastery of the stream begins with just guiding it in circles around the lolly.

The Comb Over
Men welcome and applaud hair loss. We choose to proudly announce and flaunt the progression of our hair loss with a comb over; combing long strands of hair from the sides or the back of our head over the hair loss area. As the area of visible scalp expands we strategically lower the hair part so more hair can be placed over the balding area; the part moves to just above the ear or to our neckline. Men start wearing the comb over at any age; abandoning it only when there is no longer sufficient hair to cover their baldness. The comb over is adaptable and on some reaches the height of tonsorial artistry.

image source:mirror.co.uk Donald Trump: President of the United States. Showcases a stunning two directional double comb over. Not to be confused with a classic side part comb over. The pièce de résistance is the classic traditional duck tail at the back.
 image source:royalinsight.net Prince William: Duke of Cambridge. Not a great comb over because the fine strands of hair that are swept across and over the top of his head don’t really cover the bald patch and thinning hair.
 image source:darkhorizons.com Jack Nicholson: Film star. Wears the comb back. A style sometimes worn just before the comb over. Good for covering receding hair and some thinning bald spots. Can be combined with the comb over for a stunning look.
 image source:buzzfeed Marco Rubio: US Senator. Features a feathered comb over. Feathered hair was popular in the seventies and eighties and today it is described as subtle and airy. People combine it with the comb over to look more playful and engaging.
 image source:dailymail.co.uk Sam Cochrane: Suitor on The Bachelorette Australia. An exceptional comb over combing a man bun with a mullet. Scraggy strands of hair have been pulled from the back of his head over the forehead. Outstanding.

Taking Rubbish to the Tip
There’s no other way to say it; men are just better than women at taking rubbish to the tip. We excel at hauling dirt, wood, furniture, household electrical items, appliances, corrugated iron, or anything no longer useful to the tip. I remember going to the Williamstown tip a few times with dad. I can’t recall any other meaningful father son activities that we did together; activities that became opportunities for shared learning, promoted my self confidence and character development, and caused me to pass into manhood and grow into a well rounded, successful, man. There’s nothing like throwing rubbish out at the tip with dad. The tip was a short drive down Kororoit Creek Road; the houses lining Kororoit Creek Road stopped several hundred feet before the tip. There was a dirt road leading into the tip and you followed a weaving corrugated trail toward the swarming flocks of seagulls to unload your rubbish. The weaving corrugated trail would change it’s route every time you went to the tip. The Callander and Cody families lived on the tip. It was before bulldozers and bobcats; it seemed they raked and moved the rubbish by hand to eliminate mountains of dumped rubbish. And I think they salvaged what they could sell. The tip is now a housing estate.

image source:livescience.com

Consuming Large Amounts of Beer
Men are designed to drink beer better than women; they have a larger build, more blood volume, and less body fat than women. Because body fat doesn’t absorb alcohol all that well, the alcohol level in a women’s bloodstream after a night out drinking will be more concentrated than in a man’s bloodstream. And men have about ten percent more water in their blood than women; we are better equipped to dilute alcohol so after doing a few rounds, men will have a lower concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream than women. The higher alcohol level in a woman’s bloodstream means that more alcohol will travel faster to their vital organs and brain, than it will with a man. Excessive amounts of ridicule has been leveled at beer bellies. Some say that drinking beer can put on weight; claiming that if you weren’t drinking beer your liver would be metabolizing and burning fat cells from food instead of switching gears to work on the alcohol. But I like to think that instead of suffering ridicule, all of us men who like bending the elbow should be admired and saluted.

image source:jmcadam

We acknowledge the health benefits of beer. It has been suggested that beer can lower the risk of kidney stones, protect us from heart attacks, reduce the risk of strokes, strengthen our bones, decreases the chance of diabetes, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, cure insomnia, stop cataracts, and cure cancer. Men know that they have been built to drink beer instead of  Zumba workouts, muscle sculpting Pilates, or Shake Weight routines.

The Trouser Cough
Men enjoy letting one go in public. Ever since we were young lads in a school room we’ve challenged each other to let one rip. The coup de grâce was always the silent, but deadly smelling one that wafted throughout the room, with nobody knowing where it came from. But if the general agreement was that it was a winner, then everyone claimed ownership of the Master Blaster. As the legitimate owner of the Blaster you would sit back in your desk with a proud smug satisfaction. Men have no problem letting a loud one rip in mixed company and we’re usually praised with resounding cries from the mates with; the mighty chocolate lips has spoken. And there isn’t one of us who hasn’t challenged a partner to a game of Dutch Ovens; putting both of your heads under the bed sheets after you’ve just let one go and then seeing who is the first one to crawl out from under the sheets. First one out is the loser.

I think it’s time that I slipped into the Chloe Bar at Young and Jacksons and ordered a few pots of the ice cold amber, and toasted the famous nude portrait; just as men have done since 1909.

 

The Urinal Shop

Young and Jacksons Hotel: Chloe

How a Fart Killed 10,000 People

If You Can’t Spell It Don’t Eat It

I think one of the most difficult decisions that you have to make when you’re travelling is where are you going to eat; especially when you’re driving somewhere. A Sunday drive or a day trip doesn’t usually bring about this mind boggling challenge because most times before starting out you’ve made a quick stop at your favourite breakfast place for poached eggs on toast, baked egg strata, or chicken fried steak with eggs and an English muffin; and then lunch is usually a sandwich at Subway or Maccas. And more often than not your back home in time for the evening meal.

image source:jmcadam

It’s a given that a summer road trip of a few days, or a weekend away, is going to cause daily episodes of acute mental trauma because of the where to eat question. Now I’m the first to give credit where credits due. The highway architects who designed the interstates and freeways that dissect the U.S. and connect it’s major cities, whilst bypassing mid size and smaller cities, had a tremendous amount of foresight; they creatively designed the routes of the roads to connect the clusters of restaurants that were dotted throughout the country. They put the whole question of where to eat on cruise control. As you drive the interstates and freeways the answer to the where am I going to eat question is so obvious there’s no thought involved.

image source:kentucky.com

On the last few road trips, even though it causes longer travelling time, we’ve avoided the interstate restaurant clusters by cruising the secondary highways and travelling through small towns; or if we’re travelling on the interstate we choose an exit, before the FOOD EXIT sign, leading to a nearby town. Most small American towns have a quaint city square anchored by a court house, and shops framing the four streets defining the square; or they have a single main street with the history of yesteryear still displayed by the facades of the shops. The answer to the where to eat question is decided by the size of the town. Most times the choice is the one and only café in the town square or in the main street.

Sabetha is a small town in Kansas off of highway 75. The freeway exit meanders into Main Street. In the 2010 census the city population was 2,571; the city has more jobs than residents. City managers estimate that Sabetha has nearly 5000 jobs, while only having 2500 residents. The Downtown Coffee Co LLC sits on the corner of 9th and Main Streets; an unassuming building with two windows, wider than they are high, resting on either side of the entrance.

image source:google

Amanda who took my order recommended Hacksaw’s Pulled Pork Sandwich; Hack’s very own seasoned pork on a sweet jalapeño bun, topped with your choice of Swiss, American or Pepperjack cheese, and a side of BBQ sauce. Amanda confessed that the Downtown Coffee Co LLC didn’t make the pulled pork in house, the butcher down Main Street did; and so I promptly asked “who made the pies.” I resisted the Coffee Co home-made pie.

image source:google

I looked around the Downtown Coffee Co LLC waiting for my Heck’s; close by was a display of bath and body works products and hemp lotions. On my way to the toilet I passed several small rooms with tanning beds. Now you don’t have many restaurants that offer speciality coffee drinks, soft serve ice cream, pastries, pizza, sandwiches, and that also have a full service tanning salon. If I was asked, I would recommend without hesitation the Downtown Coffee Co LLC for a gourmet grilled cheese panani, and a quick ten minute lay down, or stand up, on one of the tanning beds; and they have free Wi-Fi.

image source:google

A naive traveller wouldn’t recognise the Manchester exit off of Tennessee Interstate 24 as the yellow brick road to quintessential home cooked interstate food. A left turn at the exit and then left at the Paradise Street intersection leads to a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store; opposite the Store is Emma’s Family Restaurant. Emma’s front sign promises HOME COOKIN AT A GREAT PRICE. Now I know home cooking. Mum was acknowledged by everyone in the family as a breathtaking all round cake maker but not as an outstanding cook; she was a basic home style cook. Mum boiled her vegetables, sometimes all together in the same saucepan, and she cooked lamb chops or sausages under the stove griller. I think she cooked her crumbed lamb cutlets in a frying pan on top of the stove; Sunday’s roast leg of lamb dinner and roast potatoes was roasted to perfection in the oven.

I didn’t recognise any of mum’s home cooking in the warming trays soaking in the self service buffet food table. There was just an endless collection of trays of fried chicken, chicken fried steak, fried catfish, meat loaf, greens, green beans, black eyed peas, mac & cheese, fried okra, potato salad, salad fixins, and dessert pies and cobblers. After the third trip to the southern comfort food buffet I had to distract myself from the remaining fried catfish and hamburger steak on the plate, so I looked around Emma’s. I saw what a slow camera pan would reveal in a luncheon diner scene in a romantic comedy. Emma’s had a sit down table section. The table and chairs were black, and the chair legs had fluorescent green tennis balls, similar to the precut tennis glide balls you see on orthopaedic walkers, on their legs; which caused me to ponder do tennis balls really belong on walkers. Tennis has to be a dark, distant memory for people who use walkers.

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Tennis glide balls on chairs make sense if you’re pushing the chair back from the table to start on your fourth trip to the buffet or if you’re trying to push the chair sideways with your hip when you’re balancing a plate stacked with home cooked southern comfort food. But gliders do come with some drawbacks; what if you push the chair back from the table and the balls came to rest in partially dried mac and cheese or peach cobbler. With the fuzzy balls scraping across a floor covered with dried southern comfort buffet food I wouldn’t think their soft fuzzy bottoms wouldn’t stay soft and fuzzy for long; and they would be somewhat unsanitary. You would need to change the balls at least once a week. But I think the biggest shortcoming of putting tennis glide balls on chairs is that dogs would want to chase the chairs. I would dare anybody to leave Emma’s without a plate of home made peach cobbler and fried chicken.

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I always thought the Florida Keys would be like the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise I remembered from the late sixties; that the Overseas Highway would be similar to the Princess Highway, a thin strip of road meandering through small sleepy beach side towns. In my mind I saw a gaggle of motels and hotels, towering five stories or more into the blue sky, transforming the flatness of a modest retirement communities into a natural urbanscape. A five hour drive over water is the best way to describe The Overseas Highway. The highway connects the islands that are the Florida Keys and then it becomes a thin strip of road surrounded by souvenir shops, restaurants, marine rental and charter boat shops, and entrances to hotels, motels, and resorts. It was just after lunch time, and for some inexplicable reason the Overseas Highway was grid locked at Islamorada. Nestled in a small strip mall across the road was the City Hall Café. And a road sign announcing AWARD WINNING KEY LIME PIE. Time to hang a uey.

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I can vouch to the fact that some of the best meat pies in Australia can be had at any shop announcing on their front window, overhead veranda shop sign, or on a wall inside the shop that they have award winning meat pies; and I’ve had some beauties. So I had no doubt that the Key Lime pie from the City Hall Café would be a taste sensation. The lady behind the counter proudly stated “the recipe we use at City Hall is from the library archives. It’s the original key lime pie.”

State Library and Archives of Florida: 1964 Postcard Collection
General Note
Number on back at bottom left: KW.5.
Note recipe at right reading:
“An authentic Key Lime Pie with native key limes. Note the creamy yellow inside. Key Lime Pie is world famous for a just right tart taste. RECIPE: 4 eggs,1 can Condensed Milk,1/3 cup Key Lime Juice.
Beat the yolk of 4 eggs and the white of one until thick. Add the condensed milk and beat again. Add the lime juice and beat until thick. Beat the 3 remaining egg whites until dry and fold in the mixture. Pour into a baked pie shell. Separate two eggs, beat the whites with two tablespoons of sugar until stiff and forms peaks, spread on top of pie and bake in oven until meringue is brown.”
Accompanying note:
“The early settlers along the Florida Keys had no means of refrigeration, and as a result, had very little in the way of desserts. The Key Lime Pie, made from Key Limes that are grown in the Florida Keys, and have a very tart taste due to the rock formation of the Keys, is a result of this search for a sweet that would be made easily from the produce at hand. The recipe has been handed down from generation to generation since the 18th century.”

The Key Lime Pie became Florida’s Official State Pie in 2006. I find if somewhat difficult to imagine a state without an official pie. How did Florida manage without a State Pie for so many years; I suppose that’s what makes Florida great. The special of the day was Snapper Taco’s; I confessed I had never had a Snapper Taco, and in fact I had never heard of them before. And the lady behind the counter once again proudly stated “that’s what the owner caught out fishing this morning.”

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On a full stomach of Snapper Taco’s and Key Lime Pie we headed to Shell World in Key Largo; the beyond compare tourist souvenir shop, stranded in a time warp; where shelves are laden with marine themed snow globes, hats, resort wear, lamps, knick-knacks, and more. After leaving Shell World I started to ponder; would the locals ever get tired of Snapper Taco’s and long for Snapper Flautas or Snook Enchiladas.

Sometimes on a short summer road trip or a weekend away it’s impossible to avoid deep-fried foods, drive through production line hamburgers, and bright orange fizzy drinks. I think for the next getaway I will throw some fresh fruit, muesli bars, nuts, veggie sticks, hummus, popcorn, roasted chickpeas, and fava beans in the Esky and eat in the car.

 

Key Lime Pie History

Walker Glides, Not Walker With Tennis Balls

10 Roadside Foods You Should Never Eat

No Holds Barred

The other night I was channel surfing using the on-air channel guide. The local cable company provides seventy plus channel choices with the TV Starter option. I usually have three or four first choice channels picked out at a time and I cycle between this bundle before I grow weary of their programs. And that’s what caused the channel surfing the other night. I chose a new channel as a first choice channel and now three nights a week a curious fascination draws me to replays of the The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Johnny’s guests can include Robert Mitchum, Don Rickles, Sylvester Stallone, Tony Randall, Joan Rivers, Billy Crystal, Charles Nelson Reilly, or Suzanne Pleshette. The replays are from the seventies and eighties; Johnny’s monologues include references to Ronald Reagan as Governor of California, or as President of the United States; the hair styles and wardrobes of Johnny, Ed, and the guests also suggest the seventies and eighties. The other night Johnny introduced and interviewed Hulk Hogan. Hulk was a guest because he had just made his film debut in Rocky III; cast as the world wrestling champion Thunderlips, the Ultimate Male. It was early in his career and Hulk had yet to fully explore and embrace The Hulkster and Hulkamania. Johnny was disinterested in the beginnings of Hulkamania.

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I sat on a cramped couch, glued to the small TV in the corner; the second floor of the bungalow style house was made up of a front room, bedroom, bathroom, and a small kitchen. Lincoln, Nebraska, was now my postcode. Immigrants will tell of how they learned to speak American by watching television. I already spoke English, so I watched television for the synthesis of American cultural and the Australian lifestyle. I watched wrestling; the late seventies and early eighties had to be the second golden age of wrestling. Hulk had become The Hulkster and was a permanent guest on a The Tonight Show format wrestling talk show; Vince McMahon was Johnny. The The Hulksters talked a lot about all the Hulkamaniacs around the world, and the importance of Hulkamaniacs saying their prayers, drinking their milk, and taking their vitamins. And I watched all the wrestling matches; I lost count of the number of times I saw the ripping of The Hulksters shirt. For over a year I watched professional wrestling; I was bewildered by the cast of stock characters, and the plots and twists that moved the fantasy along.

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There was a series of low railway viaducts just passed the intersection of New Footscray Road and Dudley Street. They carried the western suburb trains, Spirit of Progress, Overland, and the myriad of railway lines that made up the Melbourne railway yards. Back then, the yards seemed to go on forever; they stretched from North Melbourne to Spencer Street. The jumble of lines were clogged with every type of goods wagons and passenger carriages; the yards included goods sheds and a hump yard. The shadows of the viaducts and yards fell across the stadium. The West Melbourne stadium was a grungy, concrete bunker sandwiched between the railway lines and Dudley Street. I remember Dad taking us to the wrestling at the stadium. Back then it was the mecca of boxing and wrestling in Melbourne. We sat high up in the raked bleachers and squinted through the dark smoke filled space, to watch the action figures in the ring; a vintage black and white film with a grainy look and light leaks. The ring was a small squared circle in the distance, floodlit by overhead lights; the wrestlers were small mannequins. You barracked hard when Big Chief Little Wolf applied his Indian Death Lock, and you booed Gorgeous George and referee Bonnie Muir.

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I remember the ring attendants ambling around, back and forth outside the ring. There were at least six attendants; they ambled not in a random fashion, but in some predefined pattern around sections of the ring. The attendants wore long white coats; the same white coats Victorian Football League Goal Umpires wore. Over the years I often wondered what caused me to choose studying chemistry at Footscray Technical College instead of art at Caulfield Institute of Technology. As I think back, I remember my fascination with the stadium’s white coated attendants; within an outstretched arms length of uncertainty, walking within inches of a Flying Head Scissors and Atomic Drop, and at any moment a grappler could be thrown out of the ring and land at their feet. I must have chosen chemistry at Footscray Tech so I could wear a long white chemistry lab coat and always walk within an outstretched arms length of uncertainty.

Some boys chose wrestling as an activity at the Williamstown Youth Center. It was the type of wrestling you saw on the newsreels at the pictures; Greco Roman and freestyle wrestling. Wrestling that was always part of army training, or school sports; wrestling that boys did man to man. Submission Holds and Pin-Falls were unknown; we practiced the science of wrestling and only used leverage and balance as our holds. Each match was a physical chess game, and we always finished our bouts as friends.

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Most nights of the week, after tea, I challenged Dad to a wrestling match. When he accepted, we squared off on the kitchen floor. The passageway spilled out into one end of the kitchen, and the back door to the fernery was opposite the passageway. Mum’s sewing machine was tucked into the corner by the door to the fernery, and the phone was on a small table by the door to the passage; the end of the kitchen between the two doorways was a natural squared circle. Dad and I did a freestyle type of wrestling. We started our matches in a modified Referee’s Position; the one where you choose either the top position or the bottom position. Dad always took the bottom position, squatting with his knees and hands on the floor. And that was the only Youth Center move we used. I tried to put dad in an Indian Death Lock, a Hammer Hold, Head Scissors, or a Submission Head Lock but he squirmed and slithered, and used his weight and strength to release himself from my wrestling holds. And when I couldn’t subdue him I would move into him with a series of Japanese Chops.

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In the early sixties Melbourne’s Channel 9 began broadcasting, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, its own World Championship Wrestling. The matches were scripted promotions for Killer Karl Cox’s, Mario Milano’s, Spiros Arion’s, Brute Bernard’s, Bulldog Brower’s, and other wrestler’s weekend matches at Festival Hall. I occasionally watched Gentleman Jack Little and the boys; I was losing interest in wrestling. I had transitioned from a young boy through early childhood, and into a fledgling adolescent. I had things to do on Saturday and Sunday afternoons; besides, I was now wearing a white chemistry lab coat two afternoons a week for Organic and Inorganic Chemistry Labs at Footscray Tech, and the West Melbourne Stadium, the House of Stoush, was no longer the grimy mecca for boxing and wrestling. It had been renamed Festival Hall in the early sixties and it was now Melbourne’s largest live entertainment venue. The Beatles, played the hall when they invaded Australia as part of their 1964 world tour.

Back then there was a lot of decision that you had to make; hippie, bodgie and widgie, mod, skinhead, surfer, or Beatles or Stones. I decided I was Stones so I didn’t see the Beatles at Festival Hall; but I did see an early sixties Chubby Checker concert, and the 1973 Frank Zappa and Mothers of Invention concert. I remember Zappa using his guitar as a cigarette holder. He pushed the filter of his cigarette down onto a string sticking out from the tuning peg, and he tucked lit cigarettes under the strings on the pegboard. His cigarette on the end of the string defined its own path as Zappa threw out his own unique solos; it’s embers and smoke joining the other embers and smoke in a darkened, grungy, Festival Hall.

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Sometimes we look back and question the decision we made. During my search for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary in the early seventies I used London as my homeland. I worked as a life guard at an outdoor swimming pool with four other band of brothers; Peter the university student, John the part-time criminal from Herne Hill, Mick the Irishman sympathetic to the troubles and a supporter of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, and The Young Londoner. John the part-time criminal from Herne Hill worked a collection of part-time jobs to supplement his income from other activities; when the long hot summer was drawing to a close he asked me what I was going to do for a job. He knew a friend who was trying to get a bunch of lads together to tour small Italian and Eastern European towns and perform one night wrestling matches; did I want to do it. I confessed I had only wrestled on the kitchen floor with my dad. John the part-time criminal from Herne Hill didn’t see that as a problem; the troupe was going to spend the next month learning holds and routines, and developing their characters. The next morning I told John the part-time criminal from Herne Hill, thanks for thinking of me. You always regret some decisions you make.

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With the success that Chubby Checker had with Lets Twist Again, Twistin USA, Slow Twistin, and Twist It Up as follow ups to The Twist, I wonder if he regrets the decision not to follow up The Hucklebuck with a version called The Camelclutch

Ah here’s the dance you should know
Ah, baby when the lights are down low
I say, grab your baby then go
Do the Camelclutch (yeah)
Do the Camelclutch (yeah)
If you don’t know how to do it
Man you’re out of luck
Push ya baby out (yeah)
Then you hunch her back (yeah)
Start a little movement in your sacroilliac
Wiggle like a snake, wobble like a duck
That’s what you do when you do the Camelclutch

I didn’t decide to stop watching wrestling; I just drifted away from it. And the other day I found an old small box labelled John’s Toys; I sold my Titan Sports 8-inch 1984 vinyl Hulk Hogan wrestling action figure, that included a championship belt, and a box of 25 assorted wrestling action Band Aids.

 

Festival Hall: the greatest moments from Melbourne’s favourite live venue

Channel 9’s World Championship Wrestling

Frank Zappa Bio

I Look At My Clothes To See What I’m Wearing

The other day when I was resting on the fringe of the women’s section at a WestRoads department shop I slowly became aware that I was surrounded by racks or women’s clothing that had parts of their shoulder, or the complete shoulder removed. It appears that leaving part of the shoulder exposed, or the whole shoulder and upper arm exposed, is the must have look for 2017. The cold shoulder look is everywhere; dresses, jumpsuits, bridal gowns, and even bathers. And surrounding the cold shoulder displays were racks of Hippie Laundry label smocked off-the-shoulder tops, tie-dye popover tops, and destructed shorts.

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As the sales associate wandered by I turned to her and with a slight smile said

If you can remember the sixties, you weren’t really there.

The sixties welcomed tie-dye shirts, long flowing gypsy skirts, fringed vests, and peasant blouses; I learned that women had shoulders. The associate was staring off into the display of cold shoulder clothes and answered

I had a halter top sun dress and a batik tie dye halter top.
I wouldn’t wear the cold shoulder; it’s for the young ones.

I don’t remember going shopping for clothes back when. Mum made most of my clothes until I was in my late teens. It’s impossible for me to forget the blue blazer and grey long trousers that she made for me; I was maturing into a teenager and it was time for me to wear grown up clothes. The blue blazer and grey long trousers were about twice the size they should have been, but they were made for me to grow into; maybe the loose, baggy fit was some cool early sixties look that I didn’t know about. Mum said that the blue blazer and grey long trousers were to be kept for best; they were my going out clothes.

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On school holidays mum and nanna would take me with them when they went into town on one of their shopping days. Like everybody back then they would wear their best dresses, and sometimes gloves, when they went into town. I would wear my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes. We would stop at Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade and I would sit with mum and nanna, and the other shopping ladies enjoying their sandwiches or if it was later in the day scones and a cup of tea; they were all in their stylish suits or dresses. I was in my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes.

If you looked closely into the dark night you could just make out the glow of the new landscape that television was carving out across Melbourne. But it was still a time when going to the pictures in town on a Saturday night was a special occasion; a special night out and you would wear your best clothes. Dad would wear a suit and tie, and mum her best Saturday night going out dress. I wore my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes.

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I was a young teenager when I first caught the train to Yarraville to take learn to dance classes at the Universal Dancing Classes Ballroom. I was expecting the debonair Pat McGuire and his wife Marjorie to turn my two left feet into dancing sensations; I would glide across the floor showcasing the pride of erin, fox trot, and the evening three step. Mum was so happy that I wanted to learn to dance; I was so happy for the opportunity to meet girls. Mr McGuire would walk the boys through a dance, and Marjorie did the same with the girls. When he thought it was time to practice the dance he had the boys line one side of the hall and the girls the other. Most of the time it was boy’s choice so you had to invite a girl to dance. The girls didn’t know if you had mastered the dance steps or not; I’m not sure they cared because they were at the Universal Dancing Classes Ballroom to meet boys. I know it wasn’t my pot cut, I was growing my hair into a long sixties style, that caused the girls to turn down my invites to step onto the dance floor. Every week the refusals repeated themselves and I would spend the night sitting in front of, and learning against, the boy’s wall. As I sat in front of the boy’s wall I searched for the reason why the girls refused my invite to join me on the dance floor; the only common denominator that came to mind was that my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes made me look like a dork.

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I stopped going to dance classes at the Universal Dancing Classes Ballroom and I never wore my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes again.

I remember when The Beatles invaded Australia as part of their 1964 world tour. We all wanted a Nehru collar jacket. A year later Jean Shrimpton shocked Melbourne when she wore a mini skirt to Derby Day and caused absolute silence in the members lounge at Flemington Racecourse. It was five inches above the knee and her legs stopped a nation. And that was the first time I appreciated women’s fashion. I learned that women had knees and thighs. I was neither a mod nor a rocker but I did take charge of mum’s electric sewing machine and peg my jeans to produce a stove pipe effect. I turned the legs inside out and sewed a new tapered seam alongside the original seam; creating a small opening at the bottom of the legs that I could just squeeze my feet through. Even though I was rewarded a new freedom when I became a college student at Footscray Tech I still needed mum to provide food, shelter, and clothing. I wanted to shop for my own clothes; the closest I got was telling mum what I had to have. It was the late sixties and cool college students rejected the hippie fashion of tie dye, leather sandals, flowers and peace signs, and beads and fringes; that would all come later.

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Our uniform was corduroy pants and desert boots. I did persuade mum to buy me a paisley shirt. It was a time of conflicting idealism, protest, rebellion, and freedom of choice. We could choose to be hippie, bodgie and widgie, mod, skinheads, or surfers; and I became a little of each depending on what I could persuade mum to make with her sewing machine. A bottle green duffle coat, navy blue refer jacket, a green jerkin, tapered jeans, bell bottoms, and black ripple sole shoes were the only constants as I brushed up against the late sixties and early seventies sub cultures. I remember owning a suit. I left the suit in Australia when I set out in the early seventies on my first hallowed rite of passage searching for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary. Mum would have kept the suit, but I never wore it again.

Carnaby Street was on the cusp of it’s hey day when I was living in London. In the early sixties it was the birthplace of Swinging London, the home of mods, skinheads, and punks. It was the place to be if you were creative and in search of inspiration. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks made Carnaby street a legend; in the early seventies it’s rebellious reputation was fading.

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The fashions of yesterday in the left over menswear boutiques were making way for the emerging punk culture. I resisted becoming a dedicated follower of fashion during my search for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary; my journey started and ended in jeans. When I returned to Australia after wandering Europe, and drifting through the Middle East and into India along the ill defined hippie trail, I left my jeans on the bedroom floor for mum to wash. I wore my Indian kurta shirt, harem pants, and scarves the first few times I walked Douglas Parade.

And as I sat back resting on the fringe of the women’s section at a WestRoads department shop I started to ponder why is fashion only for the skinny, gap tooth smiling, youthful young ones and why is fifty plus the age that makes us no longer style conscious.

If fashion designers refuse to create daring, provocative, every day fashion that allows all of us fifty plus to flaunt an intense, emotional street style image then we need to create our own. Every pop culture that we travelled through defined itself by the clothing and fashion they established and left behind; hippies, bodgies and widgies, mods, skinheads, surfers and punks wore their individual clothing in a collective way. I think we need to forget about the 50 and older sections in clothes shops that are stocked with age appropriate clothing and just shop in whatever section we want. Ours is the right to create a mix-and-match wardrobe.

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But there is a place for the trousers with an elastic waist band that straddles the back of our waist, and need to be positioned just above where our stomach starts it’s bulge. We need to lower them so they sit low on the hip, below the waist, below the waist band of our brightly coloured, patterned boxer shorts. We need to reveal our underwear. Sagging shouldn’t be the exclusive fashion of Justin Bieber.

Fashion predicts that for 2017 hipsters will combine styles. Hipster chic street style will be mixing grunge and hippie; must-haves such as matching button ups, knee-high socks, polka dot tights, cool striped crop tops and big floppy hats. So it’s time that we reach into our wardrobes and storage boxes and reclaim our skinny jeans and trousers, the corduroy jacket with the leather patches on the elbows, the leather sandals, tie-dyed and paisley print, and shirts decorated with beads and fringes, bell-bottomed jeans, Nehru collar jackets, and the duffle coats and refer jackets of yesteryear.

For the last thirty years I have headlined floral print shirts year round. And I bought shorts from Australia and wore them before they were popular in the mid-west; before the united parcel delivery driver or post men wore shorts. Mum would only let me take a little from each culture; a pegged jean here and a paisley print there so my wardrobe is bare. If only I could wear my loose, baggy blue blazer and grey long trousers going out clothes one more time. This time with a floral print shirt and I would glide a partner across the polished dance floor in my own maverick style.

 

Sixties’ model Jean Shrimpton shocks world with first miniskirt

Carnaby Street: 1960 – 2010

The Beatles let it be in Australia: 1964

Riding A Tait Back To The Future

It’s that time of the year when spring starts to creep out from under winter’s canvas. Daylight has become my alarm clock by sneaking early, and before it should, each morning through the bedroom wooden venetian blind slats; and so my walking journey around Westroads Mall starts before it should. The mall looks the same at 8:00am as it does at 9:00am. I think most of the other 9:00am mall walkers must also have wooden venetian blinds in their bedrooms. I give my modest head nod, or my indiscernible move of the index finger, as we pass. And I wonder if I was really there an hour or so earlier. After three laps of the upper level I am ready for the two laps of the lower level. I head for the escalators; they are motionless.

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I did the obvious and looked around a couple of times; moving my head through interrupted semi circles. The escalators weren’t working. And there was no On Point through the ear buds; just news but no news analysis. I looked down to my smart phone. The digital smart clock was showing 8:30am. And then I got it; escalators don’t have venetian blinds in their bedrooms. I don’t enjoy walking down non moving escalators so I set off for the stairs at the other end of the mall. I lightly gripped the handrail so my hand would slide the length of the first flight of stairs. I stared down at the stairs and absent mindedly started to count. And as I counted the stairs seemed to vanish in the distance. At the end point of the never ending stairs I could make out the faint glow of a long salmon pink tiled corridor; display windows lined the walls and there were black granite columns and Art Deco shop fronts.

image source:c1.staticflickr.com

The Degraves Street Subway and Campbell Arcade connect Degraves Street with Flinders Street Station. It was the start of our shortcuts to Collins Street when we took the train into town to go to the newsreels. On newsreel day we would be anxious to catch the first off peak train into the city; the first after 9:00am. We would gallop up Peel Street, cross into Davies Street, and when we got to the Dispensary look across Melbourne Road to see if a city train was stopped at the signal. If there wasn’t a train it meant a slow jaunt into Melbourne Road, past the Newport Post Office and shops to the station. A stopped train meant a frantic run to the station; buying your ticket just as the porter was closing the platform gate. And sometimes when my mind wanders I am back asking for a ticket into town.


After leaving Spencer Street Station the train would turn onto, and start to rattle over, the twisting viaduct running alongside Flinders Street and the Yarra. I remember when the viaduct carried four railway lines; they converged and diverged into other lines that arrived and departed from the thirteen platforms of Flinders Streets Station. It always seemed that the signals stopped the Williamstown train just before it go to Flinders Street; and you would watch the two carriage St Kilda and Port Melbourne trains scurry across the river on the Sandridge Bridge. Warehouses and factories edged the river and the pylons that supported the buildings reached down into the water. I remember the Glaciarium ice skating building, and the Allens factory. The Allens factory had a giant animated neon sign on the roof; Allen’s was on a lolly wrapping with green coloured Sweets just below.

image source:islandcontinent.com.au

When we had a spare sixpence from our pocket monies we would head down to Dashers to spend it on lollies. I don’t think we ever knew their real name but we had christened them Mr and Mrs Dasher because they moved so slow. Dashers was a traditional milk bar and was on the corner of Douglas Parade and Bunbury Street. Inside, at the back of the shop, was a wooden display case; a mind boggling treasure chest of little trays crammed with all types of loose lollies. This sugar happy land was part of the shops counter and was protected by a hinged glass lid. The lid was scratched, and made opaque in places from the countless times the knurled edges of threepence’s, sixpences, and pennies had been run along the glass. Spending our sixpence came with it’s own angst. We were possessed with tormented decisions deciding what was the better sixpence value; clinkers, fruit tingles, choo choo bars, black cats, spearmint leaves, milk bottles, bananas, musk sticks, or a packet of fags. Fags were white thin sticks of soft hard, sweet musk flavoured sugar with red colouring on one end; miniature fake cigarettes with a glowing tip. You would keep your packet of fags in your shirt pocket, and spend the whole day with a glowing white, thin sweet musk flavoured sugar stick hanging from your lips. Smoking was cool back then. Sixpence would buy you a bag of mixed lollies and you were lucky if it lasted through the afternoon. Milk bottles, spearmint leaves, bananas, and a host of other famous Australian lollies were made by Allen’s.

image source:milkbarsbook.com

As the signal standstill wore on and the Yarra bank lost it’s fascination you started a search for distractions. The carriage became it’s own distraction. Each Tait carriage was it’s own sitting parlour. Bench seats ran across the carriage in aisles and partitions divided the carriages into small spaces; a collection of spaces was divided into compartments. An aisle of seats had its own sliding door and carriage window; each window had a wooden latticed blind. Lights hung from the patterned pressed tin ceiling and each carriage had luggage racks mounted onto it’s stained wood grain walls. A carriage was divided into first or second class and the inside was split into smoking and no-smoking. I don’t think we ever appreciated the Tait carriage for what it was. Most times a glance around the carriage and over your fellow passengers would only take a couple of minutes; then the disinterested would reach for their cigarettes and the wooden carriage would be filled with clouds of drifting smoke. Stubbed cigarettes quickly gathered on the floor. Smoking was banned on Melbourne trains in the late seventies.

image source:flickr.com

And for the next ten plus years I pondered why you could smoke on air planes but not on Melbourne trains. I can easily think back to when the first thing I did on a plane was to light a cigarette; the moment the wheels left the ground. The only time you couldn’t smoke in a plane was when it was on the ground. It seemed as if the entire plane was smoking a cigarette, pipe, or a cigar before the metal tube had reached it’s cruising level. Clouds of drifting smoke would hover just above seat level waiting to be recycled through the plane. And there came a time when smokers were restricted to the back of the plane. The last few rows were designated as smoking so you had to remember to request smoking when you were assigned a seat. If you forgot to request a smoking seat, or they had all been taken, as soon as the seat belt sign was off you gathered with the rest of the smokers at the back of the plane; and stood for most of the flight. Smoking was banned on all Australia domestic flights in 1987 and in 1996 on all Australian international flights. Smoking is now banned on most airlines in the world; and now I ponder why is there an ashtray in the lavatories of air planes.

image:dailyherald.com

When the Red Tait’s were being replaced by the Blue Harris trains and we were going into town we hoped beyond hope that our train would be a blue one. When we got to the Dispensary, and if we saw a red train was stopped at the signal we would dawdle to the station to miss it. And our fervent desire was that our meandering was fruitful and that the next train would be a blue one; we would wait breathlessly at the station without knowing if it was going to be a red or blue one. If you stood close to the platform edge and arched your back you could see an approaching Williamstown train. The signal would stop the train just past the workshops so the two carriage Altona swing door dog box or the Geelong diesel country train could stop at the station; or a goods train slowly make it’s way up the line. And if it was a blue one the wait for the signal to release the train was gruelling; excitement overcame us when it pulled into the station. We sat in agitated intoxication in the modern cavernous metal carriage and stared out through the large glass plated windows. In summer passengers opened the two sets of two sliding doors to move the air through the carriage; just as they opened the sliding doors in each seat aisle of the red rattlers on hot stifling summer days.

image:arhsnsw.com.au

You used to change trains at Newport for Altona; the red two carriage swing door, dog box sea weed city flier, was kept on a small siding just past the station. And now Altona is a loop off of the overcrowded Werribee line; and the two carriage Williamstown train is now kept on the siding just past the station. On the weekends and late at night you change trains at Newport for Williamstown.

Allen’s was Australia’s largest confectionery company and it’s now owned by the international giant Nestle. Milk bottle lollies, the milky white colour vanilla flavoured miniature milk bottles are now a bag of banana, lime, caramel, strawberry and chocolate flavoured milkshakes. Fifteen year Australian lolly eaters are voting whether to remix black cats, teeth, or strawberries and cream. Allens, the Glaciarium ice skating building, the Wirth’s Circus buildings, and the other old warehouses and buildings that created Melbourne’s industrial landscape on the other side of the river are long lost memories. The area has been carved and shaped into the Arts Precinct and Southbank; Melbourne’s bustling river front, overflowing with clusters of arts organisations, cafe’s and restaurants, public art, entertainment, and stylish shopping.

image:facebook.com/LostMelbourne

I should adjust my rear vision mirror; or maybe visit Omaha’s Lauritzen Gardens Model Railroad Garden and chew on a bag of Minties.

 

History Of Southgate & Southbank Area

Lauritzen Gardens Model Railroad Garden

Tait train