Thursday, July 28, 2005

On young business power couples. Okay, so lately I've been catching the trams during peak hour. This has been a real eye-opener, because it's been ages since I've noticed the phenomenon of the young business power couple. You know what I mean. The girl will have on a conservative skirt suit, a well-cut wool coat, those really shiny sheer pantihose, and some tasteful and subtle jewellery. Her hair will be groomed into a nice ponytail, or cut in a modern but not too trendy way. She will have thick but skilfully applied makeup. She will have a quality leather handbag, probably black or brown or beige - the sort my mother would nod sagely at and say was a good investment before buying it from said woman at the Camberwell market and hawking it on eBay for roughly twenty times what she paid the bourgie lady.

As for the guy, he'll have a kind of pink, scrubbed face and will be wearing a nice suit with a carefully thought out shirt and tie combo. He'll probably mix up the patterns to show he's young and on the cutting edge. He'll have slightly directional shoes - maybe those Mario ones with the square, flat toes; or maybe boots with biker-style buckles or something. He'll be clinging pathetically to the spiked-up weekend hairstyle that looks so incongruous with the business suit.

I always seem to see them on the 59, so I fantasise about their executive lifestyle in Kensington or Ascot Vale. They'll live in a neat renovated terrace or a nice Californian bungalow with polished floorboards, minimalist furniture and fluffy rugs. There'll be a kitchen where they whip up Thai green curries, warm beef salads and the like, which they eat with a nice glass of wine while watching a DVD. The guy will have touch footy on Wednesdays and the girl will have netball or Pilates on Mondays. For some reason I am imagining their bed, quite low so you fall rather than sit on it, with little side tables, decked out in cool neutral tones of black, grey, beige and white, with heaps of plump pillows, most of which get thrown onto the floor when it comes to actual sleeping. The girl will hang up her coat, smoothing down the back where it's creased from when she sits down on the tram.

I don't mind it when I see these young corporate types individually. Mostly, they remind me how glad I am that I don't have to wear suits and work in office towers pushing paper about, fielding emails, enduring meetings and being bossed about by older, fatter doofuses. But something in me frays and snaps when I see them in couples.

There was one really high-res couple on the way home on Monday night, maybe late twenties. They looked like they ought to be in a prospectus pointing pens gaily at blank sheets of paper, or in a TV commercial for home loans, or in a posh restaurant making eyes over a power lunch. The girl was quite pretty, with buttery blonde shoulder-length hair. She had little pearl stud earrings. She was wearing a coat of an indeterminate pinkish, orangeish, reddish colour that I will call "hot salmon". It looked as though it were made of felt, and had ribbon details and fashionable raw edges on the collar and cuffs, although these were neatly cut and seamed. It was the sort of hip but conservative coat you might buy for a vast sum from some slightly offbeat shop like Rosemin or Fat. She also had one of those handbags trimmed with brocade, and nice, slightly fancy Mary-Jane shoes. She had a scar on one knee.

The guy was also good-looking, in quite an old-fashioned, wholesome sort of way. He had neat, 1950s hair, the sort of sandy colour that fair-haired little boys often end up with as adults. I couldn't get over how clean-shaven he looked - this was at about 7pm. He was wearing a charcoal overcoat over his suit, well-polished black shoes, and was carrying a backpack. When he smiled, several rows of wrinkles appeared at the edges of his mouth and eyes.

The two of them were chatting about the most banal stuff - they were planning to visit some friends in the country or something. I imagined their lives as a merry-go-round of visiting other young business power couples: for dinner and drinks, perhaps going out to a restaurant, visiting , or someone's holiday house for the weekend. They had obviously reached that stage in their relationship where they were thought of as a unit, and they'd get Christmas presents from the other one's family, etc.

There was another couple on my tram this morning. The girl was wearing a white wrap blouse with a navy business suit that needed drycleaning - there were dirty marks on the skirt. She had what I would consider to be too much makeup (heavy eyeshadow and lipstick, and a line between her mask-like face and her tender, naked neck below), and dyed blonde hair in a ponytail. She was reading a dog-eared book called I Know This Much Is True. (I Googled it when I got to work, and it seemed to me like a bargain basement The Corrections, but when I mentioned this to Mic, he said he'd read the book and it was quite good.) Worst of all, she was wearing sneakers with her pantihose. I am totally up in arms about this practice. If high heels are too uncomfortable, why not just wear flat shoes? You're a corporate gimp, lady. Deal with it.

Her boyfriend was a hot Eurasian guy, wearing a beautifully tailored dark pinstriped suit with a blue shirt and a pink-and-blue striped tie. Except when he turned around, he wasn't that hot - his face had that squashy, gone-to-seed look that hot young guys often get after a few years as a corporate gimp. He was reading last weekend's Good Weekend. Cos, you know, he was too busy on the weekend being arse-jammed at the law firm or the consulting agency.

The thing that really gets me is their intimate behaviour, sitting close together and holding hands. I don't know why intimacy in young business power couples bothers me. Perhaps it's a mingling of business and pleasure - the same yuppie couples aren't nearly as annoying on weekends in casual clothes. Perhaps I want to think of the corporate world as a temporary place - a place you go to perform a role, wearing a costume, which you then discard and become 'yourself' - but the couples force me to recognise how the corporate workplace is actually a way of life. And it makes sense that young business power couples meet their partners in this life, or at uni while studying to join this life, and they don't see the same disjuncture between 'work' and 'home' as I do.

Or rather, theirs is a different blurring of 'work' and 'home' than me and the people I spend time with. For me, work extends into home because I do my freelancing from here. But I also spend so much of my supposed 'leisure' time doing creative and intellectual work for which I don't get paid. Take yesterday, for instance - I worked until 6pm, then had a magazine meeting that went from 6-9pm, then I went home and edited articles for the magazine until 1am. I could tell similar stories on behalf of all my friends who make music, do comedy, theatre and film, are writers, academic researchers, etc. Yet, when I'm asked at a dinner party or family function what I 'do', this work has no meaning because it is unpaid and self-initiated.

I am pretty sure that Glen and Mel Gregg will have thought through these ideas more comprehensively and elegantly than me. Basically, a rage begins to boil up in me when I see young business power couples. And although I realise that it simply transfers my anger onto people who are only doing what society considers successful and prosperous for educated bourgeois twentysomethings, I enjoy the rage.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Save as. A while ago, someone (I forget who) was saying how great it would be if life had an undo command. That would be so sweet. Undo is probably like the most useful computer command. There have been times when I have edited an article down to 450 words and then Jane said, "Actually, it was meant to be 550," and I have gone undo, undo, undo to put back all the words I'd cut out.

This isn't the first time I've made analogies between life and computer files. But anyway, I started thinking about how computer commands are metaphors for human actions, just like computers use metaphors of desktops, files and folders as a user interface. Save as, for example, is about how we constantly re-imagine the world based on knowledge we've acquired or ideologies that shape our subjectivities. Paste special (the Bruce MacAvaney of commands) is about how our brains are selective archives. We can choose whether we remember things in their original contexts (keep source formatting), alter them so there's no cognitive dissonance with our existing worldview (match destination formatting), or analyse them so they're plain ideas (plain text).

Oh, I do love an analogy. I could stretch this out all day, except that I have a rotten hangover. My god, I drank a mink-blowing amount of alcohol last night. Leanne, Bo and I got through two bottles of Vin Rouge while playing board games ("There's another twelve bottles," Bo said reassuringly after we had finished the first one), then I had another glass at Phoenix, where I was meeting Will and his laydeez. The pressure was on to show the Sydneysiders the best of epicurean Melbourne, but David and Camy's was closed, so I took them to Wing Loong, which, happily, is licensed. I had another glass of vino at Wing Loong, then god help me, I switched to beer at Double Happiness. Me and Will were sharing longnecks of Coopers. I think we got through about three, or even four...

Where was I? Oh yeah. Basically, this entire post has been leading up to a cheap gag. When I was in high school, I used to amuse myself by creating Word files that made the computer ask inappropriate things. I believe this was around the time of the Lorena Bobbitt case, too, which explains but does not excuse the following:

ROTFL!!!11!1 LMAO!!!!!1!! BBQ!!!!111!!!11

It doesn't work as well these days. In Word 4, they didn't have the quotation marks around the file name, so the joke was better.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I want you to kiss me on the back of my neck. It's probably my terrible posture that makes me think this - an entire career spent in front of various computers in various ergonomically unsound chairs. It's probably my draughty old house that groans in this weather like a ship at sea, and the ancient floral shirt I'm wearing that gapes at its frayed collar.

But I would wilt under your lips. I would take my glasses off; I wouldn't need them. I would close my tired eyes and take a big breath that pushed apart my shoulderblades.

There are many things I'd tell you then.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Flashpost: Like a broken record.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

In defence of the Herald Sun. There is a class system to newspapers. Oh I know - hold the presses - tabloids are trashy sensationalist papers for plebs, while 'quality media' are bourgeois organs. This was really hammered into us when I worked at the Crider, and I quickly worked out the hierarchy of sources. The national Murdoch broadsheet The Australian and the Fairfax broadsheets The Age and Sydney Morning Herald were to be used as serious sources, as was the Financial Review, while the Murdoch tabloids were solely used for wacky crime stories and celebrity gossip.

Some people I know go straight to The Australian and don't even bother with the Fairfax press, arguing that they're elitist and locked in a spastic, futile rivalry with the tabloids. (The tabloids, for their part, don't really bother reciprocating, except to report that their circulation is caning the broadsheets.) Then there are states where the only other newspaper is one of the patchier tabloids (eg Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia).

What annoys me is that people accept these as truisms and build real self/other relationships into media consumption. I don't like the Herald Sun being referred to as the 'Hun' or the 'Herald Scum'. I don't like hearing about the Courier-Snail, the Aged and the Worst Australian. I am really weary of "journalism studies" and "media theory". I think that they, along with "cultural policy", are the most tedious "new humanities". But compared to the mouthdrainingly dry, blokey and insular rants by the same boring commentators about politics and capitalism, the media section is actually the most interesting part of the Crider. (Actually, the second most interesting - my favourite part is the gossip and the corrections and cock-ups section at the end.)

Although it's entirely predictable, it really pisses me off that the Crider perpetuates these unimaginative class ideologies about newspapers and their readership, based solely on largely arbitrary criteria of 'journalistic quality', 'reliability', 'bias', 'editorial independence'. The Crider assesses newspapers from the perspective of an educated industry insider. There is so little analysis of what people might actually find interesting. And 'entertainment' (banish the thought!) is basically a synonym for 'populism', which in turn is a synonym for 'bad journalism'.

I am intelligent, hold a higher tertiary degree and work in the media industry. And I really enjoy reading the Herald Sun. It's not ironic. Instead of all the disparaging nicknames, I like to call it the Hezza, or the Hez for short, because I relate to it like you'd relate to a slightly unhinged but good-value mate. ("Oh man, Hez did the funniest thing today!")

I really look forward to reading it over lunch or coffee. I read it like a book, from cover to cover, except for the sports section, which I skip. I like the way many small articles and pictures are laid out on the page so that my eye can skip from one to another. I like its mix of big national and international stories, social and cultural issues, little local stories and trashy celebrity gossip. I like the puns and the funny headlines (I doff my hat to the sub who got a headline through on Easter Monday about how the creator of The Beverly Hillbillies had died: "Here's a story 'bout a man who's dead".)

I don't feel the need to respond intellectually, except to ask my friends, co-workers and nearby baristas how they stand on some social or moral issue that the Hez is debating. I don't offer considered or intelligent responses to Andrew Bolt's spastic rants. I usually just check if he's ranting on a topic that interests me (humanities academics and popular culture), and read it with amusement.

Many people would also know that the bogan babies are my favourite part of the paper. Now, back in the days when I was all up in arms about the media representation of the bogan, I used to torture myself about this. I was all, "look at how I discursively constitute the bogan through interpellating it - how can I self-reflexively analyse my own speaking position?" Now I just enjoy my reaction to the bogan babies - a delicious horror at what could motivate someone to call their child something so baroquely creative. (By 'baroque', I mean something that repeats a motif with so many increasingly intricate variations that it becomes something distinct from the original form: Brianna becomes Breeana becomes Breyhanna becomes Breehannah becames Briehannah becomes Briieyhanah...)

As far as The Age goes, I don't enjoy reading the hard copy, and read the website instead. Even then, I have an MO: I look at the most interesting stories on the front page, and then navigate to other stories that catch my eye in the sidebar. Sometimes I open up particular sections and read through the latest stories there. I always check out the most viewed and most emailed articles - oh my god, there's that 'populism' thing again! On the weekend, I prefer the Fairfax papers to The Australian. I read the arts and culture supplements, especially my favourite intellectual journal, the Sunday Life.

I just wish that people would analyse actual modes of consuming media rather than focusing on these straw men of 'quality' and 'independence'. I really think it's possible to write entertaining things intelligently, and I think entertainment is something to be curious about, not despairing at the stupidity of the masses or trying to take a detached anthropological view of media 'events'. But I don't think it's enough to be celebratory, either. From the little I've had to do with the field of "media studies", I would like research to recognise the techniques and the affective possibilities of consuming newspapers.

And oh, okay, it has really been killing me that my new job doesn't get the Hez in - they only have The Age. I have actually been contemplating buying the thing so I can still read it at lunch.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nick-a-part, nick-a-part, nick-a-part, nick-a-part. Tonight I was minding my own business, like the mostly law-abiding citizen I am, when I got a call from Penny.
"Hey Brain, wanna come on a mission with me?"
"What kind of mission?"
"To Brunswick, to steal some car parts."

You see, Penny's car was missing the indicator cover and a few other things, and she'd been planning to go to Pick-A-Part to get them. But it really began to obsess her. You know how when you're in the market for a car, or are thinking about car-related issues, and you notice that particular model about as often as every second car on the road? Well, Penny drives a "Laser". She had been obsessively noticing how the indicator covers on Ford Lasers were usually white, but she wanted the yellow ones. She'd begun fantasising about stealing the cover in the dead of night. She actually staked out her street to see if there were any likely cars to strip.

So she showed up on my doorstep tonight wearing ugg boots and a stripey top like Burglar Bill. All she needed was a sack marked "Loot". For my part, I was wearing all black, including a windcheater that says "Road Hog: Born to Race." It was a deal; it was a steal.

Earlier that day, she'd found paydirt: an abandoned Laser in a Brunswick car park. It was about 9pm when we got there. We parked the Laser in a convenient getaway spot. Penny took a screwdriver from her bag.
"What will I say if anyone sees me?" she asked.
"Tell 'em it's your car," I said.
This was a pretty ludicrous excuse. The car had three wheels, the sunroof and number plates were missing, and all the windows were smashed. But the yellow indicator cover was miraculously intact.

I stood watch as Penny unscrewed the cover. But she couldn't get it off because the panel had been crumpled down, pinning it in place. She eventually prised it off as I tugged up the panel with all my puny girl strength. We walked very quickly to the getaway Laser, where Penny screwed on the replacement cover. It fitted! It matched!

It was the perfect crime! And 'twas not even metaphorical - 'twas completely illegal, to be sure!

We celebrated with Italian hot chocolates at Brunetti, which we accompanied with Cherry Ripe in honour of the old man hitting his dog between servings of snot. Penny said that we should brainstorm other ways that crime can solve your problems. I think she meant exciting crime capers and hijinks, but we could only think of dumb things like "I want some boots - I will steal them" and "I want good marks - I will hack into the university computer system."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The quicksand of shared tastes. On Thursday night I had one of those 'quick after-work drinks' with Saige that ended with me stumbling into a cab outside Charlton's at 2am. Saige is such a crafty minx: after I refused to go to Fitzroy with the Cinema Studies postgrads because it was out of my way, she got them to come to karaoke, because she knew I'd have no excuse - I love karaoke and it's in the city.

I did "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar, which is a great karaoke song and went down a treat with the drunken crowd. Later, I did "Jump" by Kris Kross, which was far less successful because nobody danced and I missed some of the lyrics because my mouth was semi-paralysed from many wanton encounters with both Beer and Vin Rouge. (I always judge how pissed I am by whether I can direct taxi drivers to my house without slurring: "Could you please take the next left, just past those billboards?")

Saige was trying to set me up with her friend Alex, saying we would have a lot in common because he also liked karaoke. When I talked to him, I realised that we also liked the same sort of songs. But is shared taste a foundation to build a friendship or a relationship, or a kind of chimera; a quicksand that seems solid but disappears?

For Pierre Bourdieu, "Taste is a match-maker, it marries colours and also people, who make 'well-matched couples' initially in regard to taste." (Distinction, 243.) In his comments on my pseudo-flashpost, Christian McCrea sums this theory up nicely.
Shared pop-culture tastes; like I said, good to get a glimpse of somebody, but hardly more. But there's lots of pop culture lives out there that are furiously intense. I'm a gamer; someone who is into the same games as me has potentially more in common than someone who has the same taste as me in television. Plus the whole concept of navigatory people comes into it - if someone likes this band, this show, this idea, this writer, likelihood is I won't find their worldview distasteful. I found my best friend even though we hated each other at first because of a shared love of a comics artist (Al Columbia.)
McCrea, who hates it when I refer to him by his surname because he thinks it makes him sound like a cop with anger management problems, implies a stereotypical use of tastes. A stereotype is a psychological shortcut - a way to form a speedy assessment of something or someone without having to deal with nuance. For McCrea, shared tastes act as a stereotypical 'map' - he can quickly assess whether he'll get on with someone by mapping his own cultural capital onto theirs. And he also points to the existence of multiple, meta-relational maps - the 'gamer' map; the 'TV' map.

We commonly understand stereotyping as a negative and reductive way of reinforcing power relations, eg: "Men are better at maths and science than women." In his postcolonial work The Other Question, Homi Bhabha theorises the stereotype as a fetish in the Freudian sense - a device that "vacillates between what is always 'in place', already know, and something that must be anxiously repeated" (66). Yet stereotyping also involves disavowal; thus granting the fetishised Other "an 'identity' which is predicated as much on mastery and pleasure as it is on anxiety and defence" (Bhabha, 75.)

If we tease the discursive operation of the stereotype free of its disciplinary content, Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital works similarly: social rank (or in my example, a 'matching' of friends or lovers) is produced by a fetishistic performance of cultural knowledge. It's a way of negotiating relations between the Self and the Other. But I want to draw attention to the way that this mapping of shared cultural capital, like the stereotype, produces 'truths' about people that simultaneously seem more powerful and are more illusory.

How many times have you felt a connection with someone because they liked the same things you did? Didn't you feel like the two of you had an understanding because of your shared tastes? Didn't you feel like you were meant to be together? Conversely, how many times have you felt angry, going "There's no way I could ever like someone who likes this thing I hate! They would never understand me!" or uneasy, going, "What will we talk about?"

Let's mention the song now, shall we?
You say that we've got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we're falling apart
You'll say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don't care

And I said, "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's?"
She said, "I think I remember the film
And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it,"
And I said, "Well, that's the one thing we've got."
Basically, this song is about a guy trying to paper over his doomed relationship by invoking shared tastes. Has the relationship died because they were too different, or because they had given up on it because there were no shared tastes to reassure them of their compatibility? You could read the chorus as optimistic, an attempt to resuscitate the relationship by finding common ground; cynically, as evidence of how fucked their relationship is that their only pitiful connection is this film; or romantically, that they're prepared to overlook the issue of shared tastes and find other ways to connect with each other.

I verge on the cynical; for me, this reveals how reductive it is to base your connections on shared tastes. Your girlfriend is trying to break up with you, for fuck's sake, and you're not even listening to what she's saying - that there's more to 'having stuff in common' than just shared tastes. McCrea also writes, "Who doesn't want to drown in quicksand with someone?" Well, seductive as the prospect is, I don't want to drown in quicksand at all!

Let's roll out another nasty early-90s song now:
Baby, seems we never ever agree
You like the movies and I like TV
I take things serious and you take 'em light
I go to bed early (and I party all night)
Our friends are sayin' we ain't gonna last
Cos I move slowly (and baby I'm fast)
I like it quiet (and I love to shout)
But when we get together it just all works out
Not that I am basing my argument on Paula Abdul or anything, but what about the principle of 'opposites attract'? More to the point, what is it about these people that attracts them to each other? Depressingly, I am beginning to think it's sex. Fuck - I've spent all this time trying to mount an argument and it all falls down at the end.

But surely there must be ways for people to connect? Surely people can be complementary rather than similar? Surely their loves can fill the emptiness of other people's hates, and vice versa? Surely there's more to conversations than just the pang of joy that comes from recognising a little of oneself in the tastes of the other, or the alienation of recognising difference in the other? And surely we can be imaginative enough to find things we love about each other that aren't pop-cultural tastes? What about your delight in small things? What about your curiosity? What about the way you hold my t-shirt down while I take off my jumper? What about the way you'll always repeat a silly thing back to me because you're not ashamed of having said it?

On Friday night, I met Amanda (and for a while, Sandor), and had a wonderful conversation that lasted for hours. It consisted of debates and discussions of ideas. I talked about the ways I've started to analyse my reaction to the London bombings (which I'm still too timid to post here), and they mentioned possibilities I hadn't thought of. Amanda talked about the brilliant, vulnerable workings of the brain and of the patterns of brainwaves as we sleep. We debated feminism, ethics, VSU, and many other topics I was too drunk at the time to remember now. Sometimes we had to say, "Well, we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one." It was great. I had a great night.

Badge of honour. Word has reached my ear that people in the English department are talking about me. My anonymous source, who was visiting the department, heard some postgrads thoughtfully analysing a "website" I have. I'm so flattered.

Hello, English department postgrads! Welcome to my website. Here's some Google Image searching I did just for you!

"I love you, Alain."

"I love you too, Giorgio."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Stand up for your love privileges. I am angry that people treat love and sex as a right, an entitlement. They take it for granted that they are attractive, loveable people and that they deserve to find someone wonderful to fuck. They wear their attractiveness like an old jumper and don't even cherish it; and they are fussy and dismissive of the people who are attracted to them. I'm sick of people moaning about not getting laid and counting how long it's been; and then when they do get laid, they're not even grateful. They're moaning about the person they're sleeping with not being 'right' in some relatively small and insignificant way, and how they're going to ditch them and find someone better. Because, you know, they deserve better.

I, by contrast, feel that love and sex are privileges. I feel privileged when someone wants to sleep with me, and I treat their proposition as something rare and precious, because I know what it's like never to be liked back. Whenever I tell some guy I like him, he demotes me to friendship. Yes, it's a demotion - despite all the blah-blah about the 'value' of friendship, that's not what I wanted from them. And it doesn't make me feel valuable at all - instead it makes me feel cheap, like all I am is a resource for uncomplicated and entertaining company. Here, I would like to insert the exclusive A Wild Young Under-Whimsy sex diagram.

This diagram illustrates my belief that attraction is a fleeting thing. It grows rapidly from the point of first getting to know the other person. But as you become more intimate and spend more time together, this attraction quickly wanes and is replaced by a platonic affection. This is because people like mystery. It makes the other person seem much sexier when you don't know the boring details of their life and must concentrate on visceral things - the way they laugh; some perfume they wear; their dancing style. Here is where I usually shoot myself in the foot, because I don't believe in this mystery bullshit, plus I am disadvantaged because my personality is the most attractive thing about me. Thus, my relationships quickly descend to the dreaded just friends point. I remember how bitter I was about this last year.

It's hard actually to identify the dreaded just friends 'point' at the moment you reach it. It's more a retrospective thing, where you realise, "It would just be really weird and uncomfortable if we were to kiss." And the problem with unrequited crushes is that the person with the crush equates the increased intimacy with increased likelihood of getting it on. The exact opposite is true - the other person is busily descending towards the dreaded just friends point. So my rule of thumb is if I haven't got together with someone within a few months of getting to know them, it is never going to happen and there is no point humiliating myself by trying to force the situation.

I realise that some people may be thinking to themselves right now, "But what about ______ and ______? They were friends for ages before they got together!" My theory is that for some reason, these two people were always attracted to each other, but something got in the way - they already had partners; it was a bad time in their life; they lived far apart; they were housemates. In this case, their 'friendship' is basically a surrogate relationship - a drawn-out courting that only really kicks into the pattern described in my diagram once the obstacles are removed.

Friends do sometimes get it on. So I've done up another diagram that illustrates how this usually works.

Why does it 'get weird'? Because the pattern is wrong. As Billy Crystal explains in When Harry Met Sally:
It's just like, most of the time you go to bed with someone and then she tells you all her stories, you tell her your stories, but with Sally and me we'd already heard each other's stories, so once we went to bed, we didn't know what we were supposed to do, you know?...I don't know, maybe you get to a certain point in a relationship where it's just too late to have sex, you know?
I didn't really intend for this to descend into a spastic When Mel Met Nobody post. My point is that you simply cannot assume you are sexy and lovable - instead you have to realise how random and fortunate it is to find someone. I feel like I'm the only person who realises this. You should pick one or the other. If you're always picking up, then you shouldn't act all surprised that you've managed to pick up some duds. And if nobody you like ever seems to like you back, then when you miraculously do get some action you should shut the fuck up and enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pseudo-flashpost. I was writing a flashpost about how angry I am. This post covered my feelings of rage and rejection surrounding the first Crider email, which I received this afternoon; my anger that people treat sex as a right, whereas I treat it as a privilege; my anger at the retard noises my housemate makes when she watches The O.C. (and her assorted annoying habits); and my anger that friends and lovers build their intimacy on the quicksand of shared pop-cultural tastes. ("So I said, 'What about Breakfast at Tiffany's'?")

But then I realised that the post was not cathartic - in fact, it was making me more angry and unhappy. My mother was just showing me an ugly jacket she bought that was reduced from $70 to $14, and it was all I could do not to shout, "For god's sake, that doesn't make it a better jacket!" Also, I realised that the post would alienate most of my readers. So let's get back to our regular programming - Mel's spastic musings on tame pop-cultural subjects that everyone can read without feeling threatened.

I spent a lot of money on CDs today. I bought Amerie's Touch, Destiny's Child Remixes, M.I.A.'s Arular, a double CD of rare-groove 'classics' (only $10!), Sean Paul's Dutty Rock (also $10), and because I am insane and enjoy throwing money away, Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi. In other spending, I bought a black jumper with silver thread, and a green jumper.

Monday, July 04, 2005


"Eat my booger, doggie!"
Last night Jeremy was in fine form. We were in the 7-11 and he said that Cherry Ripe is changing their package design, which disappointed him because he has always liked the way the man in the picture seems to be picking his nose and offering it to his dog. (While beating him with a stick, I observe.) This made me laugh a lot.

But Jeremy wasn't finished there. When asked what culture he embodied, he declared, "I've got the streets in me, honey!" He then proceeded to tell a story about how, growing up on the mean streets of Brooklyn, he was once hit in the head with a frozen egg. "I felt this pain in the side of my head and when I touched it, it felt wet and sticky, and I looked at my fingers and there was blood on them, and I thought, 'My god, I've been shot!'" Basically, the frozen shell had broken Jeremy's skin, but the rest of the ooze was the yolk. Jeremy quickly revised his attack: "My god, I've been yolked!"

This precipitated a hilarious tangent on drive-by eggings. Among the things said by Jeremy, while we cried with laughter, were:
"This is some free-range shit, baby!"
"Don't give me none of those white eggs - I'm all about the brown."
"When I say scramble, you better beat it!"
"Don't make me get Humpty Dumpty on yo' ass!"

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Showing how funky strong is your fighter. Yesterday I came across a blog documenting a "performance art" event in New York. Basically, over eight days this woman has decided to teach herself and two dancers the choreography to Michael Jackson's "Beat It" in some kind of public marquee, then they'll teach it to anyone else who rocks up. On the 4th of July, there'll be a massed performance with everyone who's learned the choreography.

For me, the "Beat It" video represents a time that most people have forgotten about - a time when Michael Jackson was hip, at the top of his game musically and in the field of music video, and icily sexy. I still find the video quite exciting to watch in the same way I get excited listening to a great new song (Melly Meldrum says "do yourself a favour" and check out "Trapped in the Closet" parts 1-5 by R Kelly) or flipping through a hot fashion magazine. He should never have had any more plastic surgery. I would also like to draw your attention to possibly the coolest t-shirt ever:

So I can totally understand why someone would want to recapture this halcyon period. But for me, the project falls down when it's treated as a serious cultural endeavour. Gawker was predictably - and rightly - scathing about its pretensions. I think instead that the most interesting aspect of this project is its use of the body in motion.

Some of you may know that my cultural research, such as that is, has been interested in the idea of "body talking", and in my spastic way I've been trying to theorise fashion and dance as languages. I have been finding conversation analysis - the things that are revealed and elided by the process of conversational turn-taking - very useful. Rather than trying to analyse fashion and dance semiotically, you have to consider them linguistically. You consider the ways the body occupies space and interacts with other bodies as turns in a conversation.

So I'm interested in the way that this project actually spreads a kind of body knowledge. This really caught my imagination last year in the film Suddenly 30 (which was inexplicably known as 13 Going On 30 everywhere except Australia). Jenna (Jennifer Garner) has spent hours teaching herself the choreography to "Thriller" from MTV. She puts on the song to liven up a boring corporate event and begins the dance to encourage people onto the dance floor. Improbably, everyone else also knows the choreography, and they simultaneously do the entire ludicrous routine.

At the last Nerdy Blog Night, two bloggers performed a wonderful re-enactment of the knife-fight-dance from the "Beat It" video. This was another example of conversation through shared body knowledge.

The synchronised bodies have a satisfying affective relationship. When I was in prep, every student in the school was lined up in ranks in the playground and made to do the Nutbush, which was piped through the PA system. This now seems more than a little weird and fascist to me, like Nazis doing calisthenics filmed by Leni Riefenstahl, but I remember how satisfying it felt at the time to be part of a corporeal machine: my body sharing knowledge with those around me.

So, what knowledge is shared in the synchronised Michael Jackson routine? Well, first of all, it's nostalgia - a way of remembering the once-coolness of Michael Jackson, and of recapturing one's own childhood. Second, it's a generalised knowledge of the corporeal vocabulary of music videos - the postures, the gestures, the facial expressions, the uses of body to higlight specific musical moments. Third, it's a stylised knowledge of danced conflict. The video is meant to be about gangsters, but really draws on traditions of danced conflict - from capoeira to breakdancing contests to the campy West Side Story-style narrativisation of conflict.

But you know, all this analysis is just sugar-coating my raw desire to do this myself. If I were in New York I would totally get down to this tent and get down. And it makes me want to re-challenge Bo to the "Thriller" dance-off of last year. I was so competitive that I actually bought a Michael Jackson DVD so I could secretly learn the routine and blow his ballerina arse off the dance floor. But I'm not sure how we would organise this renewed dance-off, given that Bo no longer has Bourgie as a stage for our ridiculous contest.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter