Friday, December 23, 2005


Things are so Latin-centric at the top end of town that a new bar has opened in Flinders Lane calling itself Tazio. It offers the three facilities: birraria, pizzeria, cucina. Much better than 'bar, pizza, kitchen', eh?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Going back home

  • Listing to Geraldine Dogue on Radio National Saturday morning discussing our favourite spots on the Thames
  • The Ashes cricket test as the major sporting battle of our time
  • Hearing Shane Warne's English accent
  • New Age column 'Eye on Britain' by British journalist Alan Taylor for the British editor Andrew Jaspan
  • Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    New haka

    There’s a story running about the new haka by the All Blacks rugby side. The new haka supposedly includes reference to the other cultures of New Zealand. They may try it out against the Wallabies in the upcoming match. When will Australian players develop a war cry?

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    White women from Africa

    There have been two films recently that celebrate the African value of forgiveness. The Interpreter with Nicole Kidman concerns a fictional African country Motabo and the culture of Koo who grant the family of a murder victim the opportunity to 'save' the life of the murderer. And In My Country, based on the book by Antjie Krog, features Juliet Binoche playing a journalist trying to teach an American about the African value of forgiveness in Ubuntu. Why is it that potentially liberating aspects of African culture are brought to our screens by these whiter than white heroines? Does this provide us with a door to Western intervention in Africa, seeing its core values represented best not by its black inhabitants but by its white women?

    Sunday, August 07, 2005

    Going Balanda

    L. Leichardt (1845) Journal Overland Expedition. They knew the white people of Victoria, and called them Balanda, which is nothing more than 'Hollanders'; a name used by the Malays, from whom they received it [Image of Dutch Masters exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria]

    Sunday, July 31, 2005


    In the Divehi language spoken by the people of Maldives, the word for white person is 'faranji'. This applies to most imported goods and those of non-Muslim beliefs. Among items forbidden in the Maldives are: alcohol, idols and dogs.

    Sunday, June 12, 2005


    A word for non-indigenous in Nigeria seems to be 'oyimbo', the source of complaint about the hardship faced by Nigeria migrants in the west: "Every day our doctors go there and end up washing plates for oyimbo because oyimbo does not think we study medicine right. Our lawyers go and drive taxis because oyimbo does not trust how we train them in law." Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Purple Hibiscus London: Harper, 2005

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005


    Michael is a recent arrival from Mozambique. He has perched on the edge of a craft market in Newtown with his hand-built architecture. His buildings are made out of grass that has been varnished and his housing block is made out of black cardboard. Michael is very particular about the way the rooms are planned within the house. He doesn't seem to have a definite plan of what he is going to do in Johannesburg. For the time being, he is eking a living making models of the architecture that he doesn't yet enjoy himself.

    Sunday, April 24, 2005

    It was difficult to imagine the degree to which people lived then in the shadow of poetry. It was a frenzied passion, another way of being, a fireball that went everywhere on its own. We could open the paper, even the business section or the legal page, or we would read the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup, and there was poetry waiting to take over our dreams. So that for us aborigines from every province, Bogotá was the capital of the country and the seat of government, but above all it was the city where poets lived. Gabriel García Marquez Living To Tell The Tale London: Jonathan Cape, 2003

    Sunday, March 27, 2005

    Where the fashion forward meet

    The date is set now for 31 March 2005 -- the location, Perth.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Fashion forward -- what next?

    The term 'fashion forward' seems to mean items that are ahead of current trends. It is used often as a label for newcomers to fashion, such as Hip Hop or technology. I wonder how long it will be before it is applied to the arts. Will we have 'art forward', to include works that are ahead of their time? Will 'Shock of the Yet to Be' replace 'Shock of the New'? The advance of art from traditional, to modern, to contemporary still seems to have territory to cover. Wait for the Museum of Forward Art.

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    Do a runner

    A survey last year by the New Zealand Herald found that one in three under-graduates plans to seek work overseas immediately after graduation, and that 66 per cent intend to leave the country by the age of 30. True, Kiwis have always loved to travel - many see the "overseas experience" as an essential part of their personal and professional development - but the question now is how many of these graduates will ever return home. The 2003 students' association report found "a clear link between going overseas and student loan debt, as non-resident borrowers have significantly higher average student loan debt than resident borrowers".

    Stuart Dunn  'Graduate debt? Do a runner . . .' New Statesman  (7/02/2005)


    Forecast for Melbourne Issued at 0505 on Thursday the 10th of March 2005
    Fine apart from an early morning light shower or two. A mostly sunny afternoon with light southerly wind and seabreezes.
    Max 22

    Saturday, March 19, 2005

    How hard can it be?

    Pause for thought at the traffic lights this afternoon. Under the railway is an ad for Puma shoes. There's an average looking Aussie kid holding a football, admiring the Apollonian image of the football hero. All this is familiar enough, except that the setting looks more like Havana, than Hawthorn. There's a Cuban looking old man sitting on the step, and the wall in the ad is worn with time that no surface in Melbourne would be allowed to acquire. Interesting that the very element that makes us look down on Latin countries -- the seeming hopelessness -- here is the source of a romantic aura. It suggests that rags to riches glory that is more possible in a country were there are still rags, than one like Australia where is seems less reason to struggle.

    Saturday, March 12, 2005

    Those whose ears reflect the light of the sun

    An excerpt from a recent South African novel uses one of my favourite phrases for non-indigenous person: '...that part of kwaXhosa that had been conquered and settled by the children of Queen Victoria -- they whose ears reflected the light of the sun -- continued to eat.' Zakes Mda Heart of Redness New York: Farrar, Strauss & Young, 2000, p. 74

    Colombians at the market

    At the south corner of the Victoria market, there is normally a South American band playing folk music, as you find in markets and malls around the world. This morning, a couple of Colombian guys were unpacking some terracotta ceramics which they had imported from their home country. It was a revelation to see some real craft emerging, given the cheap factory crap that is everywhere else at the market. Of coure, they didn't have a permit and had been sternly spoken to my the security guard. They innocently said that they would try somewhere else to show their work. Pity there isn't room for the street in Melbourne.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    Wear it out

    The National Australia Bank is running a series of ads featuring a man and woman wearing the new 'mini' credit card as jewellery. They are quite curious images. The man and woman look almost identity, with bold Roman profiles that shroud half their faces in chiaroscuro. But credit cards as jewellery? While it is a tongue in cheek campaign, it does reflect the increasing use of capital and ornament. Like the labels on underwear that were exposed above the waist. Or the sexy mobile phones to carry around. All this does suggest some sort of implosion, where the medium of capital becomes its central message, and as consumers we identify not with the objects we buy but the cards we use to make these purchases.