Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm sick of staying...

The other day I had a, I'm not sure what you'd call it... maybe a 'realising how lazy I am experience'. I was sitting down with my good friend Steph, who lives a mere 20 minutes away in Maroubra, and she began talking about her area. As she was talking about the suburbs nearby, I realised I actually knew nothing about that part of Sydney. I mean I know there are beaches around there but apart from that I drew a blank.

I then started thinking about how much I knew about the other areas of Sydney apart from my inner west bubble. Again... blank. 

I'm sure many people are in this situation no matter which city you live in. For some reason we just don't travel far outside our home ground. We like things at our home ground, that is why we live there. One reason for this could be the absolute annoyance of public transport (ever seen that scene from Seinfeld where Elaine is on the subway screaming in her head, that's me) but another reason I know I, at least, don't go far is because it is just such an expensive, tiring hassle.

Source: To Start a New Thing

My friend Amanda and I used to get all ready to go out for girls nights, hair did, dresses on and then somehow we would end up drinking and smoking on my balcony and then falling asleep. We were wild ones I tell you! It was just such a hassle.

But then thinking about this I asked myself, so what? Which evidently is one of my Mums new catch phrases, apparently it stuck.

So I typed into Google, "Why do we stay?" A number of things came up:

  • Why do we stay in boring jobs?
  • Why do we stay in abusive relationships?
  • Why do we stay in overcrowded cities?
  • Why do we get wrinkly when we stay in the bath? (not sure if this one relates)
  • And the most elusive - Why do we stay the way we are?

Well, apparently we are all just a big bunch of stayers (even if it means getting wrinkly).

So I've made a decision, now that I am on holidays for the next month I'm going to be a non-stayer. Oh yes you heard right, I'm going to go against every fibre of my being and purposefully do things and go places. Is that gasps and shocked faces in the audience? Yes, I'm kind of scared myself.

So below is a list of the places in my OWN CITY that I never go but WILL go over the next four weeks, anyone is free to join me to anyone of these places should the mood strike you:

  • Paddington for coffee and a bookshop peruse 
  • Kings Cross for a night out
  • The North Shore for... well I'm not sure what happens on the North Shore yet
  • Maroubra to see Steph's apartment
  • The Gallery to see the Archibald Prize
  • Blacktown or Cabbramatta to get some yummy food
  • The Blue Mountains to go for a bush walk (this one's a little crazy I will admit - exercise?)
  • Bondi Markets
  • Catch the ferry to Manly and have an ice cream on the beach 
  • Watch the buskers at Darling Harbour
  • Walk across the Harbour Bridge (not climb over it, I can't afford that)

So there you have it, I know it's a pretty generic list but that's the point of the whole thing. Now I have put it out there for people to see I better do it or things could get awkward. I'll let you know how it goes.

Also if anyone has some suggestions for things to do that I have left out leave a comment at the bottom of the page, if you want to do any of this with me then awesome, let's go, not stay.

Go New York!

Just a quick note to share my joy at the passing of a legislative bill over the weekend legalising same-sex marriage in the state of New York... it's about time!

I hope everyone who worked hard and continues to work hard for the equality of rights for all people are celebrating this win. Hopefully this is only a step in the road that will lead us to a more loving and equal future, without the gross violation of simple human rights.

Source: Silent Owl
Congratulations to the couples who are now legally able to show their love.

Hopefully this will serve as a kick up the arse of the Australian government, who through their lack of human rights, manage to deprive thousands of people in a secular, first world, democratic nation of their access to equality. With countries like the Netherlands, Nepal, South Africa and Spain all leading the way for equal marriage, it is an embarrassment we still deny these simple rights. It is not acceptable.

Yet in my optimistic hopes, the world is a-changin' and as long as the Liberals stay out of office I don't think it will be long before the tide turns here as well. With nearly 60 percent of Australians surveyed saying they supported equal marriage rights and in a separate poll 64 percent of Labor voters supporting equal marriage, hopefully the Gillard office starts to take action.

To give us a triumph like that in New York, you can access numerous petitions online to show your support for same-sex marriage like this one here.

However, the best thing you can do is turn up to the Rally for Marriage Equality which is to be held in response to the ALP's conference which will discuss the issue in December. For more details on this rally visit the Facebook even page - Rally for Marriage Equality.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Flash Mob - On the bus... again!

I was on the bus today (everything happens to me on buses) coming home from work and in my glazed reverie I heard Celine Dion playing softly on the radio up the front. Now, I am quite the Celine Dion fan, having choreographed many dramatic scenes to her music in my tween days.

As I sat there listening to the soundtrack of my overly dramatic childhood, I could hear the lady behind me singing softly to the song under her breath, a few moments later the man next to me started to whistle mindlessly to the music while he held his daughter. Could it be, is it possible, was I about to be in a flash mob sing along?

Yes, that is exactly where my mind went straight away. And so reveals my supreme joy of synchronized things... Dancing, singing, diving, water ballet you name it; it's much better synchronized, trust me! 

Now for those of you who don't know what a flash mob is... WELL, do you have a lot to learn!

Source: MultiCultClassics

A flash mob is basically a group of people who assemble all of a sudden in a public place. They then proceed to do something as a large group like dance, sing, applaud, or any other out of place act. Usually the whole thing has been organised and the word has been spread through social networking sites like Fackbook and Twitter. I think the whole thing is simply fantastic!

A quick research about flash mobbing however returned some interesting facts about why they were started. The first flash mob was organised by the senior editor of Harper's Bazaar, Bill Wasik as a social experiment. In May 2003 multiple groups gathered in multiple places around Manhattan in an attempt by Wasik to make fun of hipsters and their want to be part of the next big thing, resulting in conformity.

The funniest, I believe, of these was the group of 100 who gathered in Macy's department store around one rug. They convinced the shop assistants they lived in a commune and were shopping for a 'love rug', explaining all the gatherers were there because they only made purchase decisions as a group. Imagine!

Wasik's idea has certainly evolved from the idea it originally was, with thousands of flash mobs taking place all over the world, from dancing and silent discos to an international 'Pillow Fight', the largest flash mob ever, which took place at the same time in over 20 cities. Since then flash mobbing has been used for a whole lot of reasons, from advertising to a tribute for Michael Jackson.

International Pillow Fight Day - Melbourne

I don't care if these people are insisting we use acid as toothpaste, they make me smile and I love them. I'm sure it has at one point in everyone's life been a fantasy to break out in synchronized dance, and I mean really, if it hasn't, what is wrong with you?

So, did my whole bus suddenly break out in the harmonious tunes of My Heart Will Go On? Sadly no, but they definitely did in my head.

One of the most famous flash mobbing video's on YouTube took place in Antwerp's Central Station, where over 200 people danced to a song Do Re Mi from the The Sound of Music. 

I hope this makes you smile too!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jealous of the Moon

So today, I have decided just a quick post because I am meant to be writing an essay. I thought I would share a short video, which is one of my favourites.

It is a scene from the movie Basquiat, about the 'graffiti' neo-expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. I love this movie, I love Jean-Michel Basquiat's work and this scene also has my favourite cover song in it 'Its All Over Now Baby Blue' by Van Morrison. I think it's a cool clip, and depending on what mood you're in can make you feel very happy or very sad.

So this is it...

"He says he's jealous of the moon, because you look at it. He's jealous of the sun, because it warms you. He says, I feel you, even when I'm not feeling you. I talk to you when I'm not talking to you. I love you, even when I'm not loving you."

Untitled (Skull) 1982 - Jean-Michel Basquiat

"I don't listen to what art critics say. I don't know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is." Jean-Michel Basquiat

Untitled 1983 - Jean-Michel Basquiat
One of the things I always found interesting about Basquiat's work was the way he used vile words to describe humans. I also like the way he crosses words out. Some have thought the idea behind this was to make the words more prominent and important in their absence, I think it works well.  We all want to see things we're not supposed to see.

Anyway, my sister and I discovered Basquiat when we were quite young and bought calendars to hang in our rooms. We thought we were so cool for knowing this, out there, artist and treated it like he was our own discovery. I didn't really understand why I loved his work maybe it had to do with the bright colours or maybe it had to do with the fact it wasn't a form of art our mum and dad had ever shown us. Either way both of us still love him and we both still have our calenders.

If you want to look at more of his artworks you can here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Antony Makhlouf


Have you heard of this man Antony Makhlouf? Well you should have, he has been shamelessly plugging his artworks which are entered in a competition called Art Takes London.

I'm more than ok with this, because, frankly his works are amazing, and damn it, we should be voting for him.

Source: AntonyMakhlouf

Makhlouf is a photographer from Sydney who has lived in Beirut and New York and draws inspiration from these experiences in his depiction of self-identity, race, religion and memory. With an educational history that includes psychology, art theory, photography, studio lighting and digital imaging, he is challenging the world with informed creativity.

To check out his work visit his website: Antony Makhlouf

Remember to vote 5 stars for him in the Art Takes London competition and give a brilliant Sydney artist some support! Vote Here - Antony Makhlouf: Art Takes London

How to give

For a while now I have been very supportive and excited by the idea of female empowerment as a long term and viable option in alleviating poverty and violence. This all started when I read the book Half the Sky: How to Change the World by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, two journalists trying to spread the message of empowerment and education for women as a means to combat many of the worlds social and financial problems. To learn more or order the book go to their website: Half The Sky Movement

The problem many people, particularly students, face is that we want to help or support charities but let's face it, it's rare we have much money or time left over each week. I don't believe this is selfish, it's just the way humans are. From the time of the caveman we have been conditioned to preserve and store our food / money / tools in case of drought, famine or flood, it's a defense mechanism we've used to survive through centuries.

So I know how it feels when you're walking down the street and you see the smiling faces of yet another bunch of charity collectors making a beeline for you. Quick avert eye contact, pretend to answer your phone or run across the other side of the street (yes I have done all these). Personally the reason I find this form of giving so intrusive is, basically, I'm on the middle of the street, I'm going somewhere, I don't know you. Do I want to give you my credit card details, no. Do I want to sign up for an indefinite amount of giving each month, no. I'm not sure if i can pay my rent next week!

Instead I read the above mentioned book and it provided me with a great number of resources for giving what I can, when I can. Another great thing about many of these charities is you can choose the cause or person you would like to give to; I most prefer to give to educational causes for girls, fistula medical treatment in rural areas or micro-lending in Afghanistan which helps numerous people build themselves up financially and socially.

These are some of the best I've come across:

CARE a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, places special focus on working alongside poor women.

Global Giving connects people who have community and world-changing ideas with people who can support them.
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Another issue is that nowadays, it is perfectly natural to be skeptical of how much of our money is going to people who are in need and not just to administration and overhead costs. Many companies (and some of the most well known) are notorious for providing less than 20c per dollar donated toward people who actually need support.

There is now a great website called Charity Navigator which is an independent financial evaluator of over 5000 charities. The basic idea of this website is that they track where donated money is spent within charities and provide detailed information to would-be donator's so they can make informed decisions on where they would prefer to help out. It's a great way to know your money is being used in the best way possible.

The Happiest Refugee - Anh Do

In preparation for an essay on race and sexuality in comedy, I decided now was as good a time as any to read The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do. I had heard the country was a-twitter (figuratively and literally) with nothing but praise for the memoirs of one of Australia's most smiley comedians.

Initially, I thought it would be a rip-roaring read of comedic value, witty prose and hopefully a great reference for my essay, however, I was in no way prepared for the heart/mind/life on sleeve of this man who does little to make anyone assume he comes from a life of hardship.

Don't get me wrong the book provided me with many laugh out loud moments (awkward at times as I was on a train) yet, it also had the most tremendous story of someone who overcame things in life many of us couldn't even dream of being a reality. It twisted the stomach and wet the eye sockets on more than one occasion, providing a glimpse into a situation completely unknown to me. It made me think about the things I would do for a chance at freedom and security.

Source: Slanted Magazine

Anh Do uncovers the shroud of naivety and unknowing which has surrounded the very prominent issue of refugees in our country. He writes with a give and take; he takes from you your pious attitude surrounding the issue and gives meaning and voices to the countless images that flash up on our television screens nightly.

I could not put this book down, I mean really, I finished it in a day. This book is so relevant for the current climate of our political stance on refugees and also our societies stance on assimilation and cultural divide. Not only that but it also does that really great thing, it pulls you back to reality and makes you realise things aren't so bad in our hectic bubble lives.

I insist everyone read this book, if for no other reason than it does what is says on the back cover, 'it makes you laugh and it makes you cry', to me the sign of a truly well written story. In the words of Anh's father "There's now and there's too late."

Smiles on the 428

It's Monday morning and I'm having the usual battle in trying to get out of bed. I can’t muster much enthusiasm. I’m feeling weighed down by the gloom of the looming week ahead.

I walk from home to the bus stop and like me, everyone else looks grumpy. Our movements are hurried, we’re avoiding eye contact. Annoyingly, there are one or two people who look chirpy as hell, and I want to kick them. Hard.

The daily wait for the bus begins. Thirteen buses pass by, none of them the 428, 412, or 413 that will get me to class. According to my timetable all three are supposed to pass by our stop at intervals during the last 20 minutes.

I squint and spy in the distance the 428 rumbling towards us. It pulls up and there is obviously no room to sit. Uni students are jammed together in the aisle, folders in arms, bags anxiously trying not to hit anyone.

I scramble aboard juggling my folders, my ticket and my iPod. A voice breaks through the song in my headphones, Yazz’s The Only Way Is Up. “Hello! Good Morning!” the voice says brightly. A man about 55 years old is smiling broadly at me from behind the wheel. I throw him a quick hello and push into the crowd.

Around me the other passengers are all grinning. At first I feel self-conscious: is there something on my face? But then someone points at the bus driver. I turn down my iPod. The driver is talking, to no-one and to everyone. I catch bits and pieces of what he’s saying above my music.

Source: City Lights and Colored Brights

“Now most of you are students here,” he says. “When you’re in a position of power – when you’re lawyers and politicians – remember to come back and walk among the real people.

“Those lawyers and politicians sit in their offices not doing much but consuming tea, biscuits, and every now and then a warm cream bun,” he says. As he drops passengers off on City Road he yells a cheery goodbye. “This was your captain George,” he announces in an authoritative tone.

This isn’t what I expect from my journey on the 428. I turn off my iPod. The man standing across from me smiles, like we are sharing a joke, and a girl near me makes eye contact and grins as we all turn our ears toward George.

He doesn’t skip a beat after saying goodbye to the alighting passengers. “On your left is the lovely Seymour Centre, where you could catch a great play,” he says. “Unfortunately I am not performing tonight, but I am doing a live performance on the bus, right now!”

“On your right is Sydney University, the most beautiful university in Sydney, the most beautiful university in Australia. Sadly I have not been inside. No, never been in a class room.” He pauses for effect and continues. “Which is probably why I’m driving a bus.”

Everyone laughs, and so does George. He pulls up in front of the university. It seems he’s saved a special goodbye for this stop, because he loudly proclaims to everyone: “This was your captain, George. Have a great day, remember what I tell you, and be happy with your life.” He repeats the words for the stragglers getting off last.

I watch the students go. People who didn’t know each other before this morning walk together and wave goodbye to George. Those of us still on the bus smile to ourselves, and one lady loudly proclaims, “Good to have you on here today, George.” He waves back at her in the rear view mirror.

I look around me. Everyone is happy. Two scary looking young guys jump up to give their seats to an elderly couple. A lady with a pram gets off helped by two men. I no longer want to kick them for being chirpy on a Monday morning. I’m feeling pretty chirpy myself.

George may never have been inside the halls of a university. And as he put it, he may just be driving a bus. But he’d managed the seemingly impossible: he’d made a lot of people feel great, all before 9am on a Monday.

I’d like to see those lawyers and politicians do that.
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