I went for a walk at lunch time on Friday, taking a slightly different route back to the office. In so doing, I came across an item of cultural ephemera not half a block away from a private Catholic school.
Relax, sensationalists, this isn't The Telegraph, and it's still school holidays. It could be any wastrel dumping their spent jollies-delivery-unit in the street.
Still, made for some nice photos that I couldn't help but share:
Parramatta, you bastion of kulchar you!
Still [life in the back streets of Parra!] more context
Of course the comments on Instagram and Facebook waxed nostalgic for the vintage equivalent from their youth:
"A step up from the Orchy Orange Juice bottles of the '80s ... Just." - nickhadleydarlo
(Orchy had the monopoly on single-serve bottled juice back in the day.)
Early on the night of Wednesday 1 October the SMH online published National Music Editor Peter Vincent's report that the family and management of one of AC/DC's founding members, Malcolm Young, had confirmed rumours of his dementia.
The story opened by bragging about Fairfax "breaking the story last week" (c'mon, the rumour was doing the rounds a couple of months ago) but cited "a major gossip magazine" claiming to receive confirmation from the Young family.
click for close-up
What I love most is how the article telling of Malcolm Young's dementia seems to exhibit symptoms of dementia itself: after paragraphs outlining confirmation of Young's dementia rumour, the band's success, its immediate plans, aspects of dementia itself, the article suddenly starts behaving like your favourite Great Aunt - not the one who flirts shamelessly and inappropriately with your best friend (she's got all her faculties; she's just a bit of a slut) so much as the one who changes the subject entirely for no apparent reason other than to treat us to an out-of-place, bizarrely off-topic tale. In this case, it's a closing paragraph that describes in great detail the American glossy People magazine.
click for close-up
Perhaps National Music Editor Peter Vincent is also Fairfax's International Publications Profiler (a job that can only be getting cushier with time, as more publications cease to exist…)
I am, of course, saddened that Malcolm Young is unwell; I wish he, his family and his band the best of the future.
It was a 'sort of' debut because Steamboat Willie was in fact the third animation that Mickey appeared in, following Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho. However, the earlier two cartoons didn't appeal enough to distributors for them to take them on. Thus, Steamboat Willie was the first Mickey Mouse film to receive distribution, and it's considered important for many reasons, including the fact that it's the first animation to feature synchronised sound.
The title takes the - ahem - mickey out of comedian Buster Keaton's film Steamboat Bill, Jr. The title of Keaton's flick refers to a song, 'Steamboat Bill', which happens to feature in Steamboat Willie along with 'Turkey in the Straw'. In fact, what with the synchronised sound, an argument could be made that Steamboat Willie is the very first music video; it is, after all, a story built around two feature tunes. Consider, though, how quickly animated features with synchronised sound developed: it's only 12 years until Disney's Fantasia, a timeless masterpiece that wedded music and imagery so well. It's worth nothing that another part of the plot involves love interest Minnie Mouse almost missing the boat.
In the 90-odd years from his not-quite debut, Mickey has come a long way, and he's all over the place. Clearly, I can't avoid him, no matter where I happen to be strolling after work - whether it's on the entrance to a house in suburban Glebe after recording the audio of a spoken word gig, or in the window of a clothes shop in the high street of that fashion capital, Parramatta, as you'll see.
Although, in this instance, Mickey's activities are a little questionable. What exactly is Mickey Mouse doing, with his back to us, on this top? Where's Minnie now?
It seems somewhat of a distance from Steamboat Willie to 'motor-boating Mickey'.
Guest House Paradiso wasn't a cinematic masterpiece. It was, however, an opportunity to see Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson being violently hilarious on the big screen. And for me,thanks to the free weekly entertainment rag Revolver, it was the opportunity to meet Rik 'n' Ade in real life. They'd come to Australia to promote the film and were being interviewed in their hotel at The Rocks in Sydney.
I'd taken my sister Sylvia along to the interview. Having introduced her to The Young Ones via Monty Python's Flying Circus, she had - as most converts do - become the more zealous true believer. While I was off having my inner-city freelance writer adventures, she was dutifully compiling all the episodes of Bottom on carefully labelled VHS video cassettes; the series hadn't been released on DVD yet.
Of course, I'd had the good sense to leave my sister in the hotel foyer. I figured, get the interview in the can, then ask if I can bring her up to the room; if they get annoyed by unprofessional fan-boy and his sister, the work's already done.
So after the interview, I sheepishly began by saying, "look, I know it's not very professional, but I was wondering – my sister's downstairs, and…"
"You want us to shag her?" Rik interrupted helpfully. "Well, we've only got a few minutes…" – glancing at his watch – "…but we can give it a go."
Rather than my going downstairs and bringing her up, they suggested they come down to the foyer and say g'day. On the way down they asked me her name.
As the lift opened, the voice of Vyvyan of the 'Young Ones' - or Edward Catflap of 'Filthy, Rich and Catflap' or Edward Hitler of 'Bottom' rang out across the room: "Where's this Sylvia bird then?"
That Sylvia bird was on the sofa opposite the lifts, with the biggest grin on her face.
That was the day Rik Mayall offered to shag my sister.
So the Oscars - or 'Seppo Logies' as I like to think of them - have been handed out for another year. I didn't watch any of it. All I know is what people Tweeted or Facebooked about it:
John Travolta looks younger than when he first became famous as Vinnie Barbarino, the Sweathog, back on Welcome Back, Kotter! Not only that - he still has as much trouble learning stuff (like a possible award recipient's name), reading it off the autocue or card, and saying it out loud - as his character would have had, back then. But ask him about it now and I bet he'd still be all, "What? Who? How? When? Ahhh, I'm so confused!"
Travolta mangles Idina Menzel's name…
…mangles the Irish potato famine's name…
Kim Novak should have stopped having work done to her face some time ago. I know it's been years since she was the babe in Rear Window, but babeciousness persisted throughout her life until more recently, when - it appears - she tried to gobble the rear window… in one gulp… forgetting it was made of glass. (Let me put this bit in perspective, though: making fun of someone who refuses to grow old gracefully is, in this instance, the undertaking of someone who's refused to grow up at all; if she wants her appearance manipulated by external forces that's her business.)
What is it Kim Novak can't face?
An Ellen Degeneres-centric celebrities selfie got retweeted ad infinitem. What? A roomful of celebrities? At the Seppo Logies Oscars? Are you shitting me? No way!
All of that pales into significance when you see this awesome image of Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing the band U2.
I can offer two captions:
"Oy! U2?! Me too!"
1 Yes, of course, Grace Kelly was the babe in Rear Window and Novak was in Vertigo; not for a second suggesting Hitchcock's thrillers or his leading babes are interchangeable. It's just gag the 'gobbling the real window' gag suits this situation so well.
It began with a friend's status update on Facebook, proudly announcing the imminent arrival of a newly purchased turntable, anticipating the opportunity to play "vinyl records". (Bravo for not calling them 'vinyls'!)
She posted a very nice image of a Crosley turntable - on a shelf in a shop, looking nice and new, despite also looking like the kind of vintage turntable that would have the 'warm' sound of 'tubes'.
So I googled 'Crosley'. And discovered, courtesy of a phonophile's YouTube clip, that it's just one of any number of mass-produced turntables marketed under a vintage brand name, out of China. Affordable. It certainly wasn't this easy when I bought mine, a good 15-0dd years ago. Although, I'm a bit happier, in a smug sort of way, about my one: I bought an authentically old turntable - not as old as these new Crosleys are made to look - that had been reconditioned, along with an amp and pre-amp, from Egg Records. There was an old-age pensioner who used to recondition them. He looked a lot like Hoggle from Labyrinth.
After the phonophile's Crosley profile, I discovered this brilliant paean to the pleasures for collecting records. The best discumentary ever. Simply entitled Vinyl.
Last week the Sydney edition of MX - a bastion of journalism - threw up as its 'music memory' the day Bowie announced his Sound+Vision world…ish tour:
January 23, 1990
David Bowie announced his Sound+Vision tour during which he invited each local audience to decide on a "greatest hits" running order, organised through local radio stations. The tour spanned five continents in seven months.
What Sydney MX failed to tell you was… well, it was a lot.
See, cos I do remember the Sound+Vision tour of 1990. I don't remember what the five continents were in those seven months. What I do remember is that Australia wasn't one of them.
Sound+Vision - in addition to being a great song, and single, from the album Low - was also an excellent boxed set spanning Bowie's career and featuring a wealth of unreleased tracks and alternate mixes along with greatest hits, delivered chronologically, across a bunch of discs. Sound+Visioncame out in time for Christmas 1989 (I was working in a music shop at the time; I remember the arvo the order arrived in the store. Very exciting.) Makes sense there'd be a world tour behind it - a 'greatest hits of my life'. (There was a later edition of the boxed set, that took it up to the end of the next decade… that's another story for another blogpost.)
It kick-started a furious Bowie re-issue campaign in which his albums were reissued on CD, lovingly remastered with bonus tracks and excellent booklets, often reproducing original artwork (the 'dress cover' of Man Who Sold the World, for example).
I remember vividly the disappointment I felt knowing Bowie wasn't heading downunder for the Sound+Vision tour. I'd only seen Bowie live once: the Glass Spider Tour a few years earlier. The Sound+Vision tour was putting a bit of distance between itself and that.
As I wasn't going to see Bowie live in 1990, I felt totally justified in splurging on a bootleg album from that tour: Sound + Vision Japan 90. I bought it from Red Eye Records in the city.
David Bowie: Sound + Vision Japan 90 bootleg vinyl cover art
It was a double album with both records in the one sleeve - no gatefold for those bootleggers, even if they did actually go to the trouble of printing labels Not all bootleg records come with labels; rarely so stylish, that's for sure. The bootleggers were going to some effort to draw from official cannon with this apocryphal release.
So back to MX from last week: I don't think the editors remember much about the Sound+Vision Tour of 1990. Because they've used a photo of Bowie from the wrong period. That's the thing about David Bowie: he changes image regularly. You can match photo of him to the time it was taken fairly easily. And that's the thing about News Ltd: with such an extensive database, if they wanted to, they could have got it right. Talk about Bowie in 1990? Find a photo of Bowie from 1990. Oh, you know, maybe employ someone who'll know the difference.
The Bowie image in the above clipping isn't from Sound+Vision 1990; it's from around the mid-t0-late-’90s - before the Reality tour, after Outside (or 1. Outside to give it its correct name; 1. Outside: The Nathan Adler Diaries if we're being pedantic). But I'm disingenuously being vague. Any fan worth their weight in Bowie Bonds knows it's from the tour that followed the Earthlingalbum.
"This extremely well-located, ground floor, Art Deco, studio apartment boasts both character and charm," claims the page dedicated to it on realestate.com.au. "This," it concludes at the end of its spiel, "is city living at its best." I'm calling b*llsh*t! Closer inspection to the photo above demonstrates what it actually boasts: a dreaded kitchen dunny!
It wasn't a problem in the 'olden days' when the euphemistically described 'smallest room in the house' was outside the house - hence that other euphemism, 'the outhouse'. It would be strategically placed - when space allowed - down the bottom of the garden, and the choko vine, ubiquitous to Aussie backyards, ensured putrid aromas (the sillage of sewage) were contained.
When hygiene and technology enabled outhouses to be moved in-house, its understandable why many ended up adjacent to the kitchen: that's where the plumbing was. I'm not sure if indoor choko vines were ever in vogue, but they weren't necessary. As long as there were walls and doors separating the can from the room where foodstuffs were prepared, and a window in the smallest room of the house to allow circulation of air, it was all rather bearable.
So what's with the kitchen dunny? Shouldn't there be a solid, non-see-through door (along with a wall) blocking the view of the lav?
It's not like I'm some sort of expert - even though I have written the odd article regarding remarkable restrooms during my time in trades publications. But I was, for a time, the victim of the dreaded kitchen dunny.
About a year ago, when the career trajectory dipped back into retail and I discovered that absolutely nobody wants a table, I also discovered the stinginess of shop owners could stretch to amenities. Rather than creating two rooms or a room within a room, the 'office' out back - separated from the shop floor by a curtained doorway - was more than an office. It was the classic kitchen dunny. Sink in one corner opposite the door, bar fridge diagonally opposite, dunny in the other corner. It was close enough to the fridge to leave no doubt that the stains running down the side were not from the herbal teas brewed atop the fridge, where the kettle was kept.
There was a strict 'no solids' rule for the kitchen dunny. There was no door separating it from the rest of the store, let alone the other elements of the room that constituted 'office' or 'kitchen' accoutrements and differentiated it from being a dunny. Which is good. As the saying goes, one should never eat where one sh*ts.
Although, if I had to, I could perhaps have pretended I was sucking nipples.
You know, like the dude who licks ashtrays since that's what 'kissing a smoker' was supposedly like - during a time in the late-'70s/early-'80s when that was the clever anti-smoking campaign.
The breastfeeding of babies within the toilet cubicle, because nursing mothers often have no other option, has been compared to eating a meal on the loo.
However, I never ate in the kitchen dunny, because that was also forbidden. Couldn't have customers smelling food or its by-product, as they browsed furniture.
Leaving the shop for meal breaks suited me fine, anyway. I had to go for a wander at lunch: I had to find a usable dunny!
There was a KFC across the road - but I resisted setting foot inside the whole time I was employed across the road from it.
The local Coles didn't seem to have a public loo.
There was a Thai restaurant that kept itself clean, but how many times a week could you have an indulgent Thai meal for lunch?
The café on the next blook was more of a 'most days' haunt.
Of course, the owner of the service station across the road from it didn't mind how often I borrowed the key. But you know how servo dunnies are: definitely not worth the cost of the cherry ripe or can of soft drink I'd buy out of politeness every time.
There was a rather clean office building next door. And it had amenities. Typically, the guys who worked there rarely flushed, and only occasionally lifted the seat, but it was better than all the other options. I'd even take my own lavatory paper. I had to: the non-flushing, non-seat-lifting pigs rarely replaced lavatory paper.
I discovered it because one of the tenants in the building was a magician of a physiotherapist who did amazing back work. He made all the horrible pain disappear. And there tends to be a lot of back pain when working in a furniture shop.
However, being a regular client of the physiotherapist wasn't enough: an accountant who also had offices realised I visited most days and would lie in wait behind his door, to jump out and tell me off.
"This isn't a public toilet you know!" he'd sternly admonish me.
"Look mate," I'd explain, "I'm his patient…" - pointing at the physiotherapist's office - "… and I'm doing you a favour - I'm the only person using the gents who knows how to lift the seat and flush; I'm keeping the place clean for you pigs…"
The thing that had me stumped, the whole time I worked there, was how did my boss get through the day?
I think I can best express the differences between us by drawing from the theme music to the nostalgic sitcom Happy Days. Remember it had two themes? Earlier seasons opened with 'Rock Around the Clock' by Bill Haley and His Comets; it was later replaced by a purpose-written theme song, an earlier version of which had been closing the show from the beginning.
When it came to crappy days at this place, my boss's disposition could best be described by a variation of the latter theme:
Sunday, Monday: he don't poo! Tuesday, Wednesday: he don't poo! Thursday, Friday: he don't poo!Saturday, what a day – Waiting all week to poo!
My case, however, was clearly defined by earlier theme:
One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock: poo! Five, six, seven o'clock, eight o'clock: poo! Nine, ten, eleven o'clock, twelve o'clock: poo! I'm gonna poo around the clock each day…
I've no idea how he got through the day without taking a dump. Maybe I was 'banned' from eating in the store so that, while I was out, he could shut the shop and duck out the back to lay a cable of his own. I don't know.
Point is, it's the 21st century; Australia is a civilised, industrialised, first-world country. There's no reason, let alone excuse, for a kitchen dunny.