Thursday, September 30, 2004

Today is such a great day! The weather is lovely and sunny, which automatically puts me in a good mood. And I feel good about myself too. It reminds me of Shane's summer crush competition last year. When I was on the tram it was all I could do to lay off sending random text messages along the lines of "Let's go to Jimmy Watson's and drink dry and dry!" and "Let's lie on our backs in a park stroking each other's arms!"

Nice weather brings out my always-terrifying impulse to wear silly clothes and shop. I am wearing my ridiculous reflective 80s sunglasses which I purchased in a $2 shop in Newtown, Sydney, in February. I also wandered into JB Hi-Fi (just to "check out what they have") and $60 later, emerged with Nelly's Sweat and Suit and the Freestylers' Raw as F**k. I also drank two coffees in a row at Bourgie and was *this* close to demanding that Bo put on some dance music at a high volume so I could dance, even though that would scare away the customers. I really like spontaneous public dancing. I want to do some right now. My song of choice would be "Push Up" by Freestylers, or perhaps "Flap Your Wings" by Nelly. Gemma and I have sworn to practice in front of the video til we can successfully get our eagles on.

Also, apparently I am going to teach Penny and Bo how to do the dance routine from "Thriller", even though Bo can already do it better than me. This meme started with the movie Suddenly 30, which I found unexpectedly hilarious. I was sitting right behind Philippa Hawker in the media screening too. I wonder if her poor review was in any way influenced by my raucous laughter. But anyway, then on Friday I went to Kate's birthday party and she and a friend had decided to put on a performance of the routine. I enjoyed this spectacle a lot.

But really, as I was telling Stuart in a caffeine-and-goodwill-fuelled frenzy, the dance will only work if you have many people doing it simultaneously. That's the strength of the best Michael Jackson routines: the moves themselves are quite simple; it's the synchronicity that makes them great. I would really like to do some academic work on the choreography in 'urban' music videos, building on the stuff that's been written on Afro-Futurism. But this would entail getting into 'dance theory', and I don't know if it'd be a good idea to try and break into this idea. This is what irritated me about the panel I was put in at last year's CSAA conference, which was about dance as performance, whereas I was interested in the corporeal experience - the phenomenology - of dance (and I hung my head in shame at a recent throwaway remark by listserv king Danny Butt about phenomenology "in its usual cultural studies guise as 'that which cannot be theorised but I'll give it a go anyway'.").

As I think about this I'm also considering Tommy DeFrantz's idea about the "cool" face and "hot" body of hip-hop dance as opposed to the manic grins of competitive cheerleaders on ESPN. But I find it actually quite embarrassing when dancers have these utterly serious faces. I think you should have a lazy smile on your face when you're enjoying dancing, otherwise you look like a lame poseur. I also think that when you're playing amazing banging beats in your car at high volumes, you should get into it and tap the steering wheel and do the old 'chair dance'. Not sit there as though no music was playing at all.

If you read this before 4:30pm today, call me and we'll go and drink at Jimmy's or lie in a park. If you are a boy, I will touch your hair.

The Headtapes ... continued.

Monday 27 September

The Happy Goth - The Divine Comedy
The Ballad of Molly Malone ("alive alive-o, alive alive-o!")
It's a Small World
Out with My Baby - Guy Sebastian
Everywhere - Dizzee Rascal

Tuesday 28 September

Stand Up Tall - Dizzee Rascal
Baby Got Front - Incredible Melk
Popular - Darren Hayes
Fool's Gold - Stone Roses
Xanadu - Olivia Newton-John

Wednesday 29 September

My My My - Armand Van Helden
Snappy Tom - Incredible Melk
Allentown - Billy Joel
Out with My Baby - Guy Sebastian
To Sir With Love - Lulu
Stand Up Tall - Dizzee Rascal

Thursday 30 September

Secret Buff - Incredible Melk
Step By Step - New Kids on the Block
Lovely Day - Bill Withers
Wanna Be Startin' Something' - Michael Jackson
Thriller - Michael Jackson
I'm Coming Up - Diana Ross
Mo Money, Mo Problems - Notorious BIG

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A great moment from last night's show. It was a pretty disappointing show last night - I fucked up a lot and felt generally flat, and the audience was a really tough crowd who sat there stonily and didn't laugh much. But one great moment was in the first song. I said, "You know, I used to dream about this when I was a little girl..." and someone in the audience went "Ha!" and I went, "Oh my god, Shane's here!"

I'm really bummed that he had to come on such a crap night. He and Esther nicked off before I could get changed and say hi, too. I really wanted to impress him with my smutty puns and dance moves but I bet he went away thinking "Gee, that was lame!"

Guys and their hair. I have been thinking for a while how much I like observing boys' hair. I like it how proud they are of it and they don't like it when you ruffle it. And sometimes they forget to put hair product in the back, flagrantly disobeying the Fab Five's instructions to "tzuzj from the back". I also like it when they don't wear hair product at all. And can I just say that in my opinion, guys always look better with short hair than with long hair.

Some random guys I know and their hair:

A: Often lets me play with his hair and gets an expression on his face like a stroked cat. But lately he has been surly when I do it, perhaps because: a) he thinks I'm patronising him, which I'm not, I just love the texture of his hair; b) other girls will think I'm his girlfriend and will not go for him.

B: Has very fine, silky hair. Gets it cut really short and it feels like animal fur.

C: Was really hot when he had a shaved head. Now has a whitey 'fro. Not good.

D: Says "My hair has more days off than I do." Used to use a hair product that was pink and smelled like bubblegum. I still associate that smell with him.

E: Has a wonderful quiff.

F: Looks hot with hair pushed off forehead and not so hot with hair flat. But wears too much product, thus negating urge to run fingers through his hair.

G: Had really great hair. Then he shaved his head and looked like he'd been sent to military school. The one exception to my general "shaved heads are really hot" rule.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Musings in the Urban section of HMV. I never used to go to HMV, I was a JB Hi-Fi or at a pinch, Sanity, person. But Gemma's got me into it, and now I go in occasionally to see what crazy tunes the kids of today are listening to. Today I noticed the new Dizzee Rascal CD, Showtime, is in. I already have a copy of this, given to me by Chris and downloaded in an entirely 'legal' manner of course. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet because of the Melk madness but it's now loaded in my car.

Despite the tits-flashing low of his recent Melbourne gig, I like Dizzee Rascal. Not as the wunderkind mouthpiece of the London street as he is often made out to be; I envisage him as a slightly crazed animal that can't decide if it wants to bite you or rub up against your leg. His voice always seems highly strung, like he's about to crack, yet there's also something cold and unemotional to it. Maybe the production just influences the way I think about his voice. But anyway. I got that album already. Yee-ha.

Shane has already talked about Nelly's new albums. (To my mild dismay, a certain intellectual poseur and darling of the Cinema Studies department has commented on the post.) Gemma has also been very excited about them - last Saturday she told me about the "Flap Your Wings" video and then on Wednesday she played me the song. The first thing I said was "Is this a Neptunes production?" Course it is. You can tell from the chord progression on the electric organ, from the whispery phone-sex vocal samples and the slightly 'ethnic' syncopated percussion. It's good to see the Neptunes getting back to what they do best after the disappointing Fly or Die which was pretty much just a Seventies-influenced rock record - it reminded me of Chicago circa "Saturday in the Park" in parts.

So anyway, I was quite excited actually to see Suit and Sweat in HMV but was very disappointed that they're actually two separate albums that you have to shell out twice the money for. I had the idea it would be a Speakerboxxx/Love Below type deal - you'd get the two discs for the slightly inflated price of one. Jesus, now I have to buy both. Or maybe I could 'legally' download 'em.

But I had to leave the store in a hurry when I realised what a tool I looked like - you see, today I am wearing a large letterbox number 5 around my neck on a gold chain. It's all about context - tacky bling just looks dumb when browsing in the urban section of a record store.

Only tangentially related, but Gemma suggested that The Incredible Melk should perform on Channel 31's Chartbusting 80s show. She said "What 80s song would you do?"
I said "Push It."
She started laughing and said "Last night I was saying 'I bet Mel would choose 'Push It'."
I am so predictable.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

How to act Australian. I got an email me a few days ago from a German woman who writes for a trade mag for the makers of those naff crystal figurines and decorations for bogan brides' gowns you read about in the Sunday Hez ("Kellie wore a strapless delustred satin gown embroidered with _____ crystals"). Anyway, apparently each issue they dedicate to the workers of different countries in which the company operates, and now it's Australia's turn! Yaaaay!

But instead of, I don't know, maybe interviewing Australian employees, this woman turns to the internet and discovers my struck match of celebrity last year when I wrote that stuff about chicks in underwear promoting new forms of Australian identity. So now she sends me some questions to answer.

· Please name the first three attributes that appear on you mind when someone mentions „Australian“.
· (speaking about stereotypes) Is it anyhow possible to describe THE Australian? Could you also name some real-life situations where Australians can be seen acting Australian?
· Is there some kind of Australian way of life?
· Do Australians have certain values they believe in? Did they maybe change within the 100 years of your nation’s existence?
· National pride? Is there some sort of that?
· Do you like to be Australian? Why?

I haven't yet responded to these questions because frankly, they astound me. They're kind of designed to repel nuance of any sort. Yet being a contrary sort of person, I would also like to take the opportunity to write answers like:

Did they maybe change within the 100 years of your nation’s existence?

Since 1996, when John Howard's Liberal/National coalition government was elected, it has systematically deployed the idea of 'Australian values' to withdraw funding from health, education, indigenous groups and social services, to crush trade and student unions and generally to improve life for the richest Australians while making it grindingly difficult and humiliating for Australia's poor. The government has also used 'Australian values' to justify the demonisation of asylum seekers as 'illegals' and their indefinite imprisonment in desert jails, as well as on the territory of other nations as part of the unfortunately named "Pacific Solution".

National pride? Is there some sort of that?

Many Australians feel national pride at the international success of the country's massively overfunded and overglorified sporting teams and individuals. Others feel proud that Australia has been deemed politically important enough to participate in the unjustified invasion of sovereign nations. Still others feel proud when Australians become visible in the global culture industries as actors, musicians, directors, writers, et cetera.

Do you like to be Australian? Why?

Australia is an affluent, multicultural, secular, post-industrial country with significant natural resources, political freedom and stability and relatively little corruption, so I like being Australian more than I would like being, say, Tibetan, Sudanese, Saudi or Chechen. But most of the time, I think of myself as an individual rather than as the personification of a national identity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Triple J is coming to my show tomorrow night. So if you were considering going, and were wondering "Gee, what night(s) will I do it?" then do it tomorrow. You also get the preview price of $10.

If this blog has become consumed by matters of my show, that's because I, too, have become consumed by my show. There's no point doing Headtapes at the moment because they would all be Incredible Melk songs, except for Joe's "Ride With You" which I just can't get out of my head, particularly the lush bridge section "I wanna let you know/That ooh you're so beautiful...".

Just one last thing - on the topic of hot sales assistants, you should check out the spruiker out the front of the Better Book Shop on Bourke St. He's this American skater dude who is somehow stationed outside the shop with a mic extolling the virtues of el cheapo books. He's not conventionally hot but I like his dignity in the face of the situation in which he finds himself. Also, his wit: when I went past today he was saying, "And if you come in here you won't find any literary studies snobs like you'd find at Borders..." I raised my fist and went "Yeaaahhhh!" and he looked puzzled, which is the reaction many men have to me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Incredible Melk is now online! Expect some teething problems as I continue to sort out content and layout, but check it out.

It was so embarrassing last Thursday; Dougie caught me Photoshopping myself in the computer lab. It seems to me like a slippery slope from being caught Photoshopping oneself to being caught masturbating. Although someone else told me a better analogy is tweaking your resumé to highlight the good bits and not mention the dodgy ones. I won't reveal this pragmatist's identity in case he wants to preserve the illusion that the pictures he circulates of himself are untampered-with.

Monday, September 20, 2004

No sleep since Saturday night, thanks to PowerPoint presentation for show. Went to work today; had to write a story about the Russian oil industry. Here's an indicative sentence: "Russia has become an indispensable oil-producing powerhouse."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Until my website comes online, you can get details about my show at The Incredible Melk's Booty Pageant - The Blog. It's going to be an even more insane spectacle than originally envisaged, given that my backing dancers, the Orthopaedic Techniques, pulled out on me last night. The official line is that they sustained a freak Brazilian waxing injury. I will get into trouble for blogging about the unofficial line.

I got the costumes today from Supré. Oh my! There's a lot of pink satin hotpants, chiffon, and ra-ra everything.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Hot sales assistants. I always love a spot of friendly banter with shop assistants. Like, when they ask how I am or what I've been up to, I tell them the truth, and I compliment them on their clothes and accessories and ask where they got them, or what the music is in the shop. And when I come out of changing rooms and they ask me how I went, I tell them the truth ("it was generally pretty flattering, but there wasn't enough room for my tits and they looked all squishy.") Generally, I try and be cheery and treat them like human beings.

It makes me so mad when they don't step up to the plate. Here are some prime examples:

Mel: "I can't decide between the chicken and bacon burger or the chicken and cheeseburger. Which do you think is better?"
Red Rooster cashier (blankly): "I don't eat bacon."

$2 Shop man: "That'll be two dollars, thanks."
Mel (jovially): "Gee, you must say that a lot."
$2 Shop man (blankly): "Not really."

Mel: (notices poster on wall for an orange and chocolate-flavoured iced coffee and cannot resist saying) "That drink in the poster, is that an (raises voice gleefully) orange moh-ca frappuccino?!?"
Gloria Jeans barista: (blankly) "No, it's called a Swiss orange mocha."

But it is a particular pleasure to do this kind of bantering with hot male sales assistants. A while ago I was musing that perhaps the trendy youth-oriented stores deliberately hire them to lure teenage girls in and flirt with them to make them buy stuff, because I've noticed their numbers are particularly large at stores like General Pants. And Supré in Swanston St employs a very cute guy whom I dub "Bargain Basement Will Smith".

But anyway. Today I was waiting for my photos to be developed. I was wearing a particularly ludicrous outfit: a yellow singlet, blue denim jacket, a black miniskirt that wasn't even a skirt, just a singlet worn around the waist and anchored with a belt, lime green Dunlop Volleys and black and white striped legwarmers. I decided to kill some time in Melbourne Central and was drawn into one of those generic streetwear stores by the song they were playing ("The Choice is Yours" by Black Sheep - the source of the Crooklyn Clan sample from "Be Faithful" that goes "Engine engine number nine, on the Noo Yawk transit line...")

The cute male shop assistant said "What are you up to today?"
I said, "Well, I had a photo shoot earlier and now I'm shopping while I wait for my photos to be developed."
He said, "That's the best thing anyone's said today. Usually you ask what they're up to and they say 'Nothing much' and you know they are up to something but they just don't want to tell you."
I said, "What's your policy on people dancing in the store?"
"That's fine, bring it on," he said.

Then I thought I would ask him about these sneakers that Lucy and I have been drooling over for the last few weeks. They are pink and grey old-school Nikes. Lucy has been doing some price-checking and they are a couple of hundred dollars. But I wanted to check for myself, so I thought I'd ask the cute sales guy. He goes up to the back wall and pulls down these sneakers. They were really cool! They were white with grey bits and a bright pink swoosh and pink laces. And they were reduced to $59!

I don't need sneakers at all (I have six pairs: three pairs of Converse Chuck Taylors, one pair of black suede Pro-Keds, some grey industrial looking ones with velcro that used to be my "rave shoes", and the blue runners that I use for "proper exercise"), but imagining the look on Lucy's face when I waltzed into work on Monday wearing these sneakers was so damn delicious that I bought them anyway. Oh, it was so good - I sent her a gloating text message and it turns out that by some coincidence, she was in Melbourne Central as well!

But anyway. While he was ringing up the sneakers, the cute sales guy said "So, what do you have planned for the weekend?" I said, "Well I'm going to discuss my website and then tomorrow we're recording vocals." And then I had to explain about my show, and of course I just happened to have a stack of flyers with me, some of which I left in the store. "I'll definitely come," he said, studying the flyer. He won't come, but it was nice of him to say so. I like hot sales assistants.

Oh, and on the issue of me buying Nikes which as we all know are evil exploitative sneakers... I checked and they are not made in Indonesia anymore - they're made in China. Not that this is a more ethical sweatshop, but I was writing something for work a while ago about Chinese consumerism, and it was actually quite interesting: one source was saying that while in the West, keeping production costs low is associated with widening profit margins for the company, in China this is used to keep retail prices low, so that a family in China can live a comfortable bourgeois lifestyle on much less income than its American equivalent.

There are obviously still some ethical issues with the farming out of manufacturing, because I'm not sure about the free trade status of China (as opposed to the "free trade zones" which enabled the gross exploitation of workers in places like the Philippines). Maybe there is some discussion of this in that new movie The Corporation - I've heard good reviews.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Random musings. I have recently noticed the use of the phrase "two-way" to describe mobile phones. As opposed to "one-way" pagers. I have never understood why people would have a pager and a mobile phone - why don't you just have a mobile? I noticed this in that stupid song "Bounce" by Sarah Connor, which, to my delight, has a bridge with some faux-Nelly rap.

I heard a real-Nelly song yesterday. It was only okay, I was pretty disappointed. I heard a lot of radio yesterday because I had to drive to and from South Caulfield twice in as many days to get my MA thesis bound. I had it bound in turquoise with gold lettering. None of that boring black shit. Not that it will matter on the dusty shelf to which the thesis will be consigned for ever after.

I had the first half of my Incredible Melk paparazzi shoot last night. I got the photos back today but nobody except me is going to see them until I cull out the really bad ones. I have only looked at one of the six films and there are already some deeply embarrassing pictures. And I haven't even got to the roll where my tits fall out of my Donatella Versace costume.Certain other people have nothing to fear in the unphotogenic department.

There's a lot to be said for digital photography. I get so humiliated and imagine the photo lab staff laughing over my awful pictures and making secret copies for themselves to put on their "Wall of Shame". I could dismiss this as my own egotism, except that at my work we have a noticeboard of funny stuff cut out of newspapers and magazines. Some of my favourites are an ad for a dog-carrying bag ("Little Dogs Look Red Hot..."), and an ad for a hair-replacement clinic ("I Refuse to Go Bald!").

For the shoot, I had to get some clothing for the handsome young man playing the Melk's ex-boyfriend, Joel Sinclair of Hugo Boss Posse. So I went to Savers where I got some great stuff, including an excellent tiered full-circle skirt which I'm wearing now, with a black singlet over a white t-shirt, black footless tights and my black studded belt. Oh, and I'm wearing a black headband as a wristband, which makes me feel so street. Looks great on my mic hand. Word.

I also got some great early-90s compilation CDs with wonderfully ludicrous names like "Yo, Let's Go!" "Kool Skool" and "Let's Get 2 It". They have such songs as "Play That Funky Music", Vanilla Ice's follow-up to "Ice Ice Baby", both "Sexy Is the Word" and "Read My Lips", and other shit that I can't remember off the top of my head. But I passed up another CD that had "Spin That Wheel" by Ya Kid K, cos that's about the only good track on it. It really goes to show how ephemeral pop music is, cos even though I was avidly listening to top-40 radio at the time (and I like to think that I have a more extensive memory than most for particularly short-lived pop songs), I didn't recognise so many songs.

Also at Savers, I bought a neon red trucker cap, on which I used a black texta to write "Does my brain look big in this?" I was very pleased with this stroke of genius - almost pleased enough to wear it in public even though trucker caps are the work of the devil. I especially liked the way that PC looked avariciously at it last night and said "Ohhh, where did you get that?" Maybe I should sell them as part of my Melkwear label.

I also came up with a great couplet for the rap verse in "Stand Up/Sit Down" - I was so pleased with it that my chest was tight with suppressed laughter - you know when you think something is so great that you just want to tap the nearest stranger on the arm and tell them, just so you can tell someone?

With the addition of this couplet, here is my rap verse. I like it so much that I don't care if no-one else does.

There's something I forgot to tell ya
I'm the shyest chick in all Australia
I need a bad boy to break the cycle
I'll be your Kylie if you'll be my Michael
I've noticed that you've cracked a fattie
You can be Bert, and I'll be your Patti
But don't flush our love down the drain
I'll be your Kelli if you'll be my Wayne

The Headtapes... continued.

Monday 6 September

ABC News theme
My Favourite Things - from The Sound of Music
Scar - Missy Higgins
Keep It Down - Kelis
Never Gonna Give You Up - Rick Astley
Heaven Knows - Rick Price
Electric Blue - Icehouse
I'm Good - Blaque
Just the Thing - paulmac
Cars with the Boom - L'Trimm

Tuesday 7 September

Outrageous - Britney Spears
Somebody to Love - Boogie Pimps
Girls on Film - Duran Duran
Make Me Lose Control - Eric Carmen
Hungry Eyes - Eric Carmen
Touch of Paradise - John Farnham
Cradle of Love - Billy Idol

Wednesday 8 September

Scar - Missy Higgins
Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
Girlfriend - Alicia Keys
Fantasy - J-Wess
Strawberry Letter 23 - Brothers Johnson

Thursday 9 September

Blaze of Glory - Jon Bon Jovi
Little Collins Street Booty Ho - The Incredible Melk

Friday 10 September

Scar - Missy Higgins (oh, why won't this song go away?)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Well, it's been two weeks since my experiment. What do you think? Is the blog better without mentioning anyone I know? Do you only read this because you think I'm some kind of conduit for gossip? Because that's not what I intend. Anyone who has met me IRL knows that I like telling stories. A lot. And naturally, people I meet appear as characters in the stories - not necessarily in a flattering light, but in a way that makes me glad I know them. This, as you know, comes from a woman who embarrasses herself at every turn and then writes about it.

I constantly worry that I bore people with my stories. In the very first post, I said that I wanted to devote this blog to the stories that I couldn't get away with telling people: detailed descriptions of what happened to me on a night out (that when I try to tell my friends, they cut off halfway); glee about my shopping trips; my musings and rants about random bits of pop culture; my penchant for listmaking.

Anyway, I'm interested to hear. If the consensus is that you prefer "anonymity" on this blog, then I'll keep it that way. But also, just have a think about your own motives for reading.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

"I'm a fare evader." As some people will know, I'm a fare evader and I enjoy it. I used to fare evade by buying a 10 x 2hr ticket and validating it when I saw the Met inspectors get on the tram. This ticket lasted me from last November through to April, and then I went "screw this, I'm going to fare evade in a purer and more committed way - by not buying a ticket at all." And all the times the trams fucked up for various reasons, I would say to myself, "Thank god I'm not paying for this (except through my taxes which the state government uses to prop up the privatised transport companies)."

After a while, I began to fantasise about getting caught. When I told people about this they started making fun of me by parodying the scenario in breathy pornographic tones: *wah-wah guitar funk* "And then the man walks up to you in his dashing charcoal-grey uniform and you say 'Is there a problem, Revenue Protection Officer?' and he says 'Do you have a ticket to ride?' and you say 'Oh, I've been a bad, bad girl,' *more wah-wah guitar funk* and he says 'How bad have you been?' and you say, 'I'm a fare evader.' And he says 'You will have to be punished.'"

You know, that kind of stuff. It's a sad, sad world when the word 'fantasy' can't be bandied about without people thinking you're a pervert. Anyway, this is how my fare evasion fantasy actually went ...

I'm on a crowded tram, but not so crowded that people are packing the aisles. The Met inspectors get on and come up to me saying gruffly, "Can I see your ticket, please?" And I say pleasantly, "I don't have a ticket." The Met inspector says "Why not?" and I raise my voice so that everyone sitting around me can hear, and say triumphantly, "Because I'm a fare evader."

Oh, there were some exciting times! Especially last week when a bunch of them got on my tram and I didn't bat an eyelid and they didn't even ask for tickets. Although the wind was taken from my sails somewhat when it was pointed out to me that they probably weren't Met inspectors at all but mere tram attendants.

But I think there's a blitz on at the moment because they're everywhere this week, and apparently they've been having meetings about the old "Euro coin looks like a dollar coin" trick. Anyway, yesterday I was catching the tram to work because I was going to _____'s birthday drinks and I didn't want to drive. I got on the Latrobe St tram at William St because it gets to St Vincent's quicker than the Collins St tram - plus there are never any Met inspectors... except for yesterday.

I saw a bunch of them at the Swanston St stop outside the Hungry Jacks, and because the tram wasn't crowded enough to satisfy the environmental requirements for my fantasy, I decided I would get off the tram and get caught for fare evasion on a more auspicious occasion. But it turned out to be even less auspicious because the Met inspectors didn't even get on the tram; they waited at the stop and I fell straight into their clutches!

Now, it was my impression that there was a test case a few years ago which decided that it wasn't legal to corner people for fare evasion once they've got off the tram, but no doubt they've closed that loophole. But anyway. Instead of a packed tram, my audience for my fare evasion speech was a bunch of thoroughly unimpressed Met inspectors. But I pressed ahead with the dialogue anyway, including the insouciant "Because I'm a fare evader."

The inspector wasn't fazed by this. He just cut straight to the "well show us some ID then" bit of the transaction (and it really is a transaction). It would have been quicker to say "That'll be $150, thanks," and then I would say "OK, do you take EFTPOS?" It was all I could do not to say "Nice to do business with you," at the end.

Anyway, having been caught I was in a euphoric mood, but for some reason I still felt as though it would be inappropriate to get on the tram I could see coming up Latrobe St. So I pretended I was going to cross Swanston St and then I just bolted up Latrobe St to the Russell St stop. I was about to die of unfitness when I got on the tram, but worse still, the bunch of Met inspectors had all got on it, and they knew exactly who I was!! So even though my throat was on fire and I was about to pass out, I had to sit there with my mouth closed and my nostrils flaring like a racehorse, instead of panting with my mouth open like a dog, which was what I felt like doing.

And then to top it all off, another one came up to me and tried to catch me again! I proudly produced the business card ("You have been spoken to by an authorised officer who reasonably believes that you have committed an offence under the Transport Act...") that the first Met inspector had given me. And the second guy gave me a travel pass. How thoughtful of him.

Now for the maths:

5 monthly tickets (May-September) @ the audacious price of $93.80 (why, I remember when I considered $80 to be daylight robbery!)
= $469

100 daily tickets (May-September, allowing for 20 full days of transport a month considering that I drive a car and also walk to uni two days a week) @ $5.80
= $580

25 ten x 2hr tickets (May-September, assuming 50 two-hour trips over an average month) @ $26
= $650

250 2hr tickets (May-September, assuming 50 two-hour trips over an average month) @ $3
= $750

1 fare evasion fine for five months' public transport, plus the excitement of not getting caught in all that time
= $150

As you can see, it's cheap at the price!

Sunday, September 05, 2004

This article really enrages me. I've just read this complete pile of patronising crap from The Age in their Agenda section - you know, the one reserved for identifying zeitgeisty demographic trends like "bisexuality is the new lesbianism" or "people who have babies young" or "journalists who move to the beach and are soooo much less stressed" or "old women are sexy too" or other such crap that I usually end up having to write about for work.

Anyway, what's pissing me off right now is an article with the standfirst: "To generation Y, the world is an uncertain place - and for many of them, that's not such a bad thing." Here's how it defines Generation Y:
"a new wave ... aged 13 to 28, that is reshaping business and rewriting the book of cool. They are unsentimental and category-averse, a mind-set that means much of business is now working on an old paradigm. Social analyst David Chalke says gen-Y's focus is not on "being business-savvy", but on "being stimulated". This not only makes them a marketer's nightmare, but unmoved by ideas such as loyalty to a company."

I get so annoyed at stories purporting to lump people together in some amorphous 'generation' - haven't we all rehearsed these arguments that such categories are often constructed by marketers to sell us stuff? The supreme irony, of course, is that "generation Y" is defined by its suspicion of the very categorisation that gives it its existence. A lesser but infinitely more irritating irony is that this article sets out with fatuous certainty to describe the 'trademark' uncertainty of what it flippantly calls "Y-Gen".

The article itself is a grotesque hotchpotch of generalisations about what this "generation Y" is all about, based variously on statistical studies, interviews with 'representative' twentysomethings and half-hearted gestures towards ideas they might 'subscribe' to. Here are some of the passages that made me particularly angry.
"Like the edgy New York rockers The Strokes that he played loud in his office to kick-start the morning, Verginis is changing the rules."

The article then goes on to say:
"Like the DJ-driven music now so popular, [Generation Y] sample rather than settle. Nick Verginis may not wear the skinny ties and heroin mullets of The Strokes. But just as they ditched deodorised dadrock, he dumped the safe route to security."

Minkblowing! I don't know where to start criticising - perhaps the assertion that the Strokes are "changing the rules" or ditching "deodorised dadrock" - indeed, in an aside I would say that the Strokes and their ilk are precisely a throwback to R&B-influenced 1960s bourgeois-boy garage bands like The Who or the Yardbirds. Then there's the unexplained conflation of this ditching of dadrock with the "DJ-driven music" sampling that the kids of today are listening to.
"But he does not need to stage a demo to let you know about it. That is the thing about this new breed. They are low key and high resolution. They not only read books that parody propaganda, they find their own ways to locate authenticity."

And then - by now my mink is saying "No more blowing - ah canna tek it cap'n!" - the article says "it would be a mistake, however, to think of Nick Verginis as a rebel or an aberration." Oh my god - what are you saying? Are there more of these Strokes-listening, corporate-law-rejecting young 'uns out there?

There's genuine dismay in the article's description of the hapless Vanessa Richards:
"With a Merton Hall and Melbourne University education, she is articulate and employable. But rather than grab a real job, she is working in a shoe shop while she weighs her options. It could be going overseas, writing or studying. At 23, there is no hurry."

What? All that money on education, and no "real" job? Or, how about Sarah Austin:
"In her post-Ally McBeal world, nothing is taken at face value. Austin, who is studying at Melbourne University's School of Creative Arts, says she and her friends have been empowered by the language of critique. This is the post-modern tool that sets certainty aside by showing there is no objectivity. Instead of taking something like a TV show on its own terms, its innards are unravelled to see how it attains meaning. This can be fun as well as revealing."

Postmodernism for fun and revelation! Or perhaps Post-Ally-McBealism, whatever the fuck that is? But hang on - where do they get their wacky ideas? Maybe Nick Verginis, that dude who threw away a perfectly good law career to listen to some newfangled rock and/or roll, can tell us:
"It is hard to go through an arts degree, he says, without coming across a post-modern thinker, such as Jacques Derrida, who attacks the logic of identity. This is like attacking the edifice of boomer thought. ... Verginis is not bothered. Post-modern thinkers such as Derrida and Edward Said, the Palestinian writer who revealed the bias in Western notions of an "Orient", speak to him of uncertainty, and that is what he sees all around him. According to Bernard Salt, it is the way the future is heading for us all, which makes Y-gen's sampling style spot on."

It makes me realise how valuable an academic background is for a journalist. Even though I would never describe myself as an academic heavyweight, and even though journalism doesn't have the same logics as academia, when I write feature articles for these kind of weekend supplements I try to make my writing as measured and self-reflexive as possible. And I try to use interviews and other source material, not as "proof" that what I'm saying's true, but as texts to be read; as starting points for analysing cultural phenomena.

Of course there is no shortage of weird spazzos ready to tell me that I'm a shithouse journalist, but I tell you what - I can't help but feel that if Peter Ellingsen and Johanna Walden's work is the general standard of feature writing in Australian newspapers - no wonder The Age and SMH are full of fucking syndicated pieces from the New Yorker and The Observer! Also, I'm feeling pugnacious about my writing abilities right now because my gay footballers article is going to be included in a book called The Best Australian Sports Writing 2004, which is coming out (pardon my pun!) in October. It's published by the same people who do the Quarterly Essay.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Abject chocolate. As you might know, I enjoy collecting abject stories about myself and other people. I heard some real beauts this week, but of course under the conditions of my experiment I can't relate them. But I've had two recently myself, and they both involve chocolate.

In the first, I was over at Victoria Gardens (or Vicky G as it has somewhat alarmingly become known) getting lunch when I saw a Fantale sitting on the ground. I thought "Will I pick it up?"
"No, Mel, that's disgusting!" said the small, atrophied, rational part of my brain. "Most people stopped picking up random objects off the ground when they were three!"
"But it has a wrapper!" said the impulsive part of my brain. "It's still good, it's still good!"

I decided I would get a second opinion, so I stood next to the Fantale and said to two of my workmates, "Hey, check this out!" They looked at me like I had finally lost it after so much teetering on the edge of normality. But I decided I would put it in my pocket, just to give myself more time to think about whether I should eat it. That afternoon, back in the office, I unwrapped it and sat it on its wrapper, looking at it for a while, but I still stopped short of eating it. One of the chocolate sides was missing, exposing the caramel beneath.

But the next day, when I expressed my fear that someone had bitten off one of the chocolate sides and replaced the wrapper and left it on the ground in some kind of Punk'd-style experiment, and that there was probably a hidden camera watching my deliberations, another one of my workmates said "But you often get that with Fantales, that the chocolate's not covering one side. It's from when they dip them in chocolate."

And I was really hungry because I hadn't had breakfast. So I ate it. I ate a chocolate I found on the ground! And did you know that Celine Dion was unleashed upon an unsuspecting non-Canadian public thanks to recording the title track to the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast? Thanks, Fantales!

The second incident occurred just this morning, when I was rummaging through the junk in the back of my car looking for the piece of paper on which, in 2002, I had written down the lyrics to "Stand Up/Sit Down", which I can't remember anymore. And I found a large piece of chocolate. Score! I know how it must have got there, too - the time I drove some people, on a horrible rainy Thursday night, to see a gig at the Espy, and then my car ran out of gas and I had to limp to the nearest petrol station, which was the Sev on Victoria St, and _____ bought a block of chocolate which she shared round, and she must have dropped some when she was passing it back to ______ and ______.

Anyway, so I wrapped it in someone's Fringe flyer that I was given at the launch yesterday, and put in my bag for 'ron. I hope this doesn't herald a new diet based solely on foodstuffs I find by accident.

The Headtapes... continued.

Monday 30 August

Dry Your Eyes - The Streets
Secret Buff - The Incredible Melk
Stormy Weather - Harold Arlen
Loving You (Is Easy Cos You're Beautiful) - Minnie Ripperton
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
Apparently Nothing - Brand New Heavies
The Chicken Dance
Georgia on My Mind - Hoagy Carmichael
Desert Rose - Sting

Tuesday 31 August

Falling - Candice Alley
Careless Whisper - George Michael
Somebody Told Me - The Killers
Break - Jurassic 5
Don't Stop Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
We've Only Just Begun - Carpenters

Wednesday 1 September

Magic 693 station ID ("Maaaaagic.... sixninethreeeee")
Moondance - Van Morrison
Thriller - Michael Jackson
You Make Me Feel Like A River - Kasey Chambers
Stand Up/Sit Down - Incredible Melk

Friday 3 September

The Vatican Rag - Tom Lehrer
Werner Von Braun - Tom Lehrer
Ooh Na Na Naa Naa - Lil Jon et al
It's Your Duty - Lene
Keepin' It Fake - Incredible Melk

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Tim Finney does it again! I am an enormous fan of Skykicking, where I have been lurking ever since I read Tim's thought-provoking analysis of the relative masculinities and feminities of crunk and grime. (This is a total aside, but I really love the extremely pale blue background colour on that site: when it loads you think to yourself "Is that blue, or are my eyes finally exploding from too much sitting in front of various computers?") And I realised his true genius when I read about why Chingy's "One Call Away" is such a great "thug love" song. It was the best insight I'd heard since the inspired idea that 50 Cent in "21 Questions" was like the Terminator when he clumsily learns to imitate human emotions. ("I love you like a fat kid loves cake.")

But Tim has really outdone himself this time. I love the way he can evoke how a song sounds, and where it sits in relation to other artists and genres. I was so excited reading his analysis of "bubblecrunk", because he has perfectly captured why I love that stuff so much myself. Early this year I started researching crunk for an article I planned to write about "dirtiness" in pop music. (I was going to write about the paradoxical crispness and cleanliness of UK "grime", and the entire "dirty South" phenomenon, but it was too esoteric for any of the weekend supplements, and by the time I got around to turning it into "a profile of Dizzee Rascal" they'd already got some bollocks interview with the British wunderkind.)

Anyway, so I was listening to some Joe Budden and Lil Jon and David Banner and Ying Yang Twins and thinking disappointedly to myself, "Oh, it's so slow! I was expecting fun party music!" And when I first listened to "Yeah!" I didn't like it that much. But then I started to really get into it, and find the cheesy synth lines really triumphant and exciting. And I've always had a weakness for massed shouting, which is probably why I like Miami bass and ghetto tek so much. (With the latter two genres, there's also the vexed question of parodic intent and ironic reception, which I've gestured to before but want to explore in more detail.) Though I can't work out if it's a deliberately perverse analogy, I enjoy the way Tim likens bubblecrunk to tongue-kissing.

I don't know about Petey Pablo, though. I always mean to investigate artists raved about by people whose music taste I really respect, and so far my knowledge of Petey Pablo is limited to "Freek-a-Leek" which I heard on the radio one Sunday night and was a excited and disappointed by in small equal parts. Kind of how I felt about "Move Ya Body" by Nina Sky when I first heard that.

I also like the idea of compulsive get-out-of-bed tracks. It's interesting that Tim mentions Shakedown, because in 2002 I was addicted to "Get Down". Such a silly song. So addictive. Just on Sunday I had the most crashing hangover and probably wasn't thinking straight, which is why I felt a pressing need to put on some music in my living room to "wake me up". First I put on "Need You Tonight" by INXS (I think that would be a great song for a chick to sing, especially if you bent the lyrics: "There's something about you girl, that makes me so wet", "My knees are so raw, I've got to let you know"), then I put on Cypress Hill's "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That" because I enjoy bellowing along "I ain't goin' ouuuuut!" Then I put on Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover".

It's the way Tim inspires such connections of your own within the space of his own canny imagery that makes me such a big Skykicking fan. Here's my favourite bit:
Which is why the clash between Ciara's faux-refinement and the unrepentant
baseness of Lil Jon's production is inspired: totally undermining Ciara's claims
to respectability, the cheap and wanton groove leaves them resembling bad actors
in a sexploitation film, protesting in vain that they musn't, musn't give in,
all the while allowing their blouses to slip further and further.

Wonderful! Gold for Australia!

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