31 October 2008

Heat. Like nothing else. Navigating the backroom of an art supply store cum student gallery. It's done up like a maze, garbage bag lined walls, blocked out windows, low ceiling. Sweat palpably pouring down the sides of my head. I duck into a corner when I see a girl that went to my high school, she was in the year above me and once we went to art camp in Adelaide. Her posse were all tall girls with big hair, lazing around in the bathroom smoking joints. I thought I was bad to the bone for my hip flask of vodka and packet of Marlboro lights but you learn. Catastrophe. That is what this exhibition is called. I hit my head on the chassy (sp?) of an installation vehicle... shit. Looking at 3d paper cut outs of ferris wheels and tennis courts with big earthquake holes, UV lights, darkness, glowing teeth of people walking by, smiling and drinking sangria. Heat. It is 7 o'clock Thursday night, bright city outside with hot wind blowing occasional fat rain drops.
Next gallery. Goths standing up on the pavement outside the basement. The exhibition is called Ossuarium by Julia De Ville. The first thing I encounter is a stuffed rabbit, flesh removed from the neck region, bones plated in silver. The rabbit has jewels for eyes. There are necklaces made of the bones of birds and lots of taxidermy. Heat. We climb up to a rooftop near a theatre and drink imported beer as it becomes night and the cool change comes through. The city crawls with people, lights go green. The next train arrives at Parliament.

20 October 2008

Auburn Grove 2

Much time was spent enjoying the classics of cinema at the house on Auburn Grove. This we would do after perusing shabby-looking video cassette cases all over Armadale and South Yarra. Our world was filled with 'spunks' and 'real men' like Paul Newman, Montgomery Clift, Clark Gable, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant and ol' Blue Eyes himself all flashing by us in ageing celluloid- mid century pastel colours, deco browns…We'd sit in the dark, shrouded in blankets against the cold night, Despina with her pinkish rimmed coke-bottom glasses that made her eyes appear comically large and which we were fond of teasing her for. Invariably, there was much sugar consumption and interruptions from the boys for watching 'that shit.' Another favourite pastime was going out for coffees on High Street. There were several hotspots. Georgio's was one- though we disapproved of the satanic-looking sculptures in their front garden, like bronzed idols, horned and soulless like the one seen in 1956 The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston (kind of a spunk, more a real man)… Honolulu on High had excellent Mississippi mud cake. And then there was The Deli, a tribute to early 90's excess and architectural fear of colour. Black and white everything and carpeted, the type of eatery that would now have a sign saying 'Under New Management' at the front while the décor was ripped out and taken out back. Possibly our preteen stomachs suffered from coffee consumption, maybe we ate too much cake but we enjoyed telling Mary and Des- our adoptive aunts, that we were constipated. We'd see who was brave enough to say it the loudest at The Deli, then mooch upstairs to the toilet. Mary and Des would exchange horrified looks at what our little childish brains could plot, the pranks we could pull. On one such occasion Mary was warming up her car's struggling engine outside her house when Nastya spotted a 'spunk' leaving a neighbouring house. Opening her window she bellowed for the whole street to hear; "Mummy! Mummy! Is that Daddy?? I thought you said he ran off with our cleaner!"

Body of Lies

The movie, directed by Ridley Scott (based on the novel by David Ignatius) is a knock out. Action, political intrigue and human nature collide in the Middle East with Leonardo Cappuccino (ok, diCaprio, sorry I still don't forgive him for Titanic) as the CIA operative looking for the Big Fat Terrorist. The drama moves from Iraq to Jordan and here's where it all came back again. Palestinian refugee camp, market places, dust, garbage burning, tiled houses... immaculately dressed Jordanian intelligence officials (maybe not quite that).

Fat Arsed Russel Crowe berates Cappucino for wanting to stay on there "to get sunburnt and eat cous cous."
Something compels Cappucino to stay on and I don't think it's just a pretty nurse. There's some kind of primal magnet there, dragging humans back to their birthplace. To where civilization began and will probably end.

Thu, 23 Oct 2003 02:44:21 +1000

right now it is 6:20pm and the muslims are singing in their towers as usual, it's an inferno of heat here, must be this room. when you look out past the houses of el eizriya which is really like a small town close to jerusalem there is just desert and you can imagine ali baba flying around on his magic carpet. i got a heart attack today, you know how i have to write that huge essay for uni? well anyway i was doing some research in my room reading all these interviews with palestinians who had been attacked last year during israeli incursions into jenin when i heard what sounded like gun shots right outside my window, i counted the blasts and there was six... argh, i will just tell myself it was a car backfiring or something. you see guns everday here, mostly the soldiers who carry uzis (a lot of them are russians, they have brought over russian snipers). so today i did all the laundry for the 14 kids who live here and then i washed the nun's cars and swept up the balconies and stair cases and ironed a million shirts. there's an american chick here, she's 22 and she is staying in the room across from me but i don't know what the deal is yet but she's more like a guest than a helper, so while i slaved away she was on the internet and reading her books about norse mythology. but that's cool, she's a nice girl anyway.

16 October 2008

R.I.P St Kilda, Viva La France

St Kilda has long enjoyed a place in Australian popular culture and in its very psyche. The 1985 Paul Kelly song ‘From St Kilda to King’s Cross’ praised and immortalized the beachside suburb; Kelly states that he is willing to trade all the land and water of Sydney Harbour for that ‘one sweet promenade.’
And no wonder. It has been a home to the homeless as well as the famous, a place where the melting pot of Melbourne converges in the most contrasting and colourful of ways. Artists rub shoulders with sun-starved Brits, Yentas walk their poodles, sex workers slink around on Grey Street, children build sand castles in front of the Sea Baths as a thousand yachts glint spectacularly on the ribbon smooth Bay.
Not long ago, the ominous clouds of progress darkened the palm tree-lined streets. Seemingly ancient establishments like café Sheherazade closed up shop, Jews and Eastern Europeans evacuated to Caulfield and beyond, leaving chain stores to proliferate. At moving-out garage sales in St Kilda you hear the inevitable lamentation that the town has become generic. One lady was even sailing to China.

(pictured left, carousel at Luna Park, St Kilda)

As a local, it was with a negative outlook I arrived at the Kookai store opening on Acland Street. Kookai is the equivalent of French fast-food in the fashion stakes, the Francophile version of Target (albeit, they have runway shows). For what seems like more than a decade, they’ve been flogging the same cotton tees with round necks available in a variety of cute candy colours. Traipsing up the red carpet into the ensuing din I recognized the Kookai staples; sales assistants as slight and effervescent as Perrier, tutti frutti hues of cotton and jersey and sample sizes in 6-8. A VIP sample sale soon descended into a snatch and grab affair. Luckily I reacted in time and picked up a crocheted necklace I was eyeing, eliciting a cry of defeat from a middle-aged lady. Onto the Napoleon Perdis make up chair to recover and an ‘almost’ graduate make-up artist gave me a Hollywood complexion. I liked it. Also I liked a ‘black widow’ handbag, almost like a vintage Chanel except in patent leather with a jewel spider. The dresses that the models paraded were also rather lovely, feather light like puffs of meringue.

R.I.P St Kilda. Viva La France.

12 October 2008

Favourite Photo

The Romanov girls slept on camp beds and wore hand-me-downs to instill humility and altruism in them. They were brutally murdered by the Bolsheviks. As a child, I watched a documentary on this and the communist investigator admitted that those who walk into the room at Ipatiev house where they were killed- cannot remain unmoved. There is evil in the air.
Of course, this photo appeals to me not because of the obvious tragedy of regicide and revolution. It reminds me of my three sisters- we are all only a year or two apart like Olga, Tatiana, Marie and Anastasia. This photo is painfully beautiful; fragile. The eyes of the younger girls seem knowing of future bloodshed. The hard darkness of the room behind them suggest the yet unknowable and then such fine lace and pearls making the girls more ethereal.

10 October 2008

Le-olam (shake up)

Walking outside; it's a Jerusalem kind of night, leaving the fridge-buzz and television drone, out into warm air. Cyprus trees framing the front doors to our apartments, slightly cooler garden environs and the streets are fire cracker, singing, star spangled all Lulavim and Etrogim signs selling. Which I just figured out why- it's the Jewish festival season Sukkot. Sukkahs and Schach all decorated in tinsel and plastic fruit. There's a house, a two-storey Deco where the faithful adherents stomp and sing not altogether in tune and I'm taken back to the Gethsemane Garden years ago where I spent a kind of Sabbatical of my own. Up on a hill -we were looking down at the Dome of the Rock Mosque as night fell. Dust laden blue skies. Singing again, an Arab wedding in Al Quds. Jerusalim old city, walled and divided into Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Armenian quarters. Running round and round at night after a service at the Holy Sepulchre...
My knuckles are grazed from a fence and kind of bleeding. It's a Jameson and dry night. Floating. Funny town by the sea here. Italian groceries, Bagelries, Anglican churches, Russian bakeries where you can buy Napoleon cakes and Moskovski khleb. Down the street, Anglos celebrate the end of a week at work drinking at bars with friends, coffees in cafes that put the chairs up on the tables tactfully, they wave at yellow cabs and go home to outlying suburbs.

In the Ring 2

In the red corner is Ida Maria, the brunette bangs to the platinum wiglet bangs of Lady Gaga. Norwegian-born and rock solid, with Grunhilde-type arms that could lug a Steinkrug over the likes of our little New Yorker and swing a full bodied jazz guitar straight into teeny-limbed Miss Disco Stick. And with her honest, cigarette-smoking, flawed English she still writes more convincingly than the 'Just Dance' abomination. (I must admit here that my imaginary ring-fight between two very different female performers is silly- how long can I keep up this charade?)

I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked-(http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=cySmUjQB05I) is like a catchy preteen movie 'make-over track' (picture squealing 12 year olds discovering Nad's hair removal cream and being more Lolita than a roomful of Bill Henson photos). Here I can't work out if Ida looks more like the sublime Anna Karina of Jean Luc Godard films or the Vicar of Dibley, Dawn French.

Vicar what??


I would like to say anyone can write bitchy little nothingness. I know nothing of these people. Pop culture is trash kids. Go read Webster's Dictionary followed by the complete print-edition Encyclopedia Britannica (circa 1967). Put. Down. That. Cheap. Magazine.

In the Ring

Popsicles. Pop sickies. Who hasn't wanted to be a pop singer? Granted, my last attempt to join this oft-ridiculed pantomime was a decade ago -after writing very bad songs for a hastily assembled all-girl singing troupe called the Assassins. We all had alter egos and associated colours; I was Cheri and my colour was red. Nothing makes me cringe faster than re-reading the lyrics of our abysmally penned songs. Enough said. In fact, too much said, if I crawl away now I will leave a trail of whizz fizz and Miley Cyrus-type weeping teen videos (7 things, anyone?)

Lady freaking GaGa enjoys far too much popularity in this country. From the New Zealand Herald: " Stefania Gabriella Germanotta - aka Lady GaGa - is desperate to be famous. She openly admits she has deliberately and calculatedly plotted her rise to prominence - "
Maybe it's the way she pronounces "Dance" (D'AAnce) in her sleaze-drip song, "Just Dance"
or the lyrics "Wish I could shut my playboy mouth (oh oh oh oh) How'd I turn my shirt inside out? (inside out babe) Control your poison babe, roses with thorns they say And we’re all gettin’ hosed tonight (oh oh oh oh) " or maybe it's the S&M disco stick she waves around suggestively in her video... I can't put my finger on it, but I'm getting closer. Perhaps it's how she's humping around on a blow-up animal in a wading pool in the above mentioned video. Desperation. Clearly.

09 October 2008

Guba Shlyop

To all my Russian friends. Thank God you were born Russian. Instead of being arrogant and egotistical because of your outward appearance and God-given talents you are self-deprecating and altruistic. Hopefully.

Karl Lagerfeld is an absolute drop-kick, a tiny-waisted modern German fashion fascist. Whilst admiring his propensity for producing stylish garb, the publishing house he runs and his famed iPod collection; the mind struggles to behold this absolute ridiculous being parading on the planet. He is six foot tall and weighs 60 kilos. When he dips below that number he eats a piece of toast for dessert. He was known to chew and spit rich food "Für einen kleinen Geschmack" for a little taste.

08 October 2008

auburn grove

Vassliki used to greet mornings and me with Milo and kourabeides; while still in bed, propped up on one elbow, I'd chomp into the diabetics delight. Sometimes it was Salada biscuits with vegemite spread so thick which I daintily nibbled the corners of and left the rest, and she'd make gallons of hand-squeezed orange juice. We woulda woked up the boys otherwise, screeching down the still-dark Victorian corridor, barefoot with nighties and oversized cardigans. The garden was so quiet even though the city loomed large just beyond it, faint tram rattle just audible. The tomatoes grew to the size of Phar Lap's heart it seemed and there was that earthy smell of compost and sunshine-warmed loam. Vassiliki would water the garden dutifully and we would twist and fall and pirouette and fall, soiling our borrowed nighties as best we could.
V couldn't speak English very well, in fact I recall her miming and whispering peasant Greek only but somehow she managed to relate to us her childhood in Thessaloniki and living at a monastery and there being a prince there and having to walk 5 miles to fetch water for the nuns and embroidering. Her hands were stiff; I wondered how she managed to squeeze the orange juice and she had Type 2 diabetes. Sometimes I'd ask her to also test my blood sugar with a Sleeping Beauty-esque prick to the finger and a perfect blood dot squeezed out onto a disposable cardboard strip.
I learnt how to read Greek menus and newspapers not that I understood much. We were always taken home before the clouds of words set down patterns and meanings. We learnt just enough, "Asto!!" stop it! and something like "thelo na kimetho" - I wanna go to sleeeeeep!!!!
My sister, always pushing the boundries once ripped out "tros skata" to the dad when he attempted to affectionately wake her one morning. Always the tyrant with his own children, here some pseudo grandchild tells him to eat shit and all he can do is turn his face like he was slapped. After being at the Greek's house, ours seemed so small and bright, no 100 year old newspapers in the roof cavity, no breakfasts in bed- we looked after the little ones and went to boring shit Aussie school where the sandpit had toads in it and the kids didn't own perfumes and lipsticks like our Greek girls.

06 October 2008

все будет хорошо, я точно знаю

eh. Still haven't legally changed my name. Will keep it for writing purposes. My maiden name sounds Chechen - Karypova in its proper spelling (it's actually Ossetian). My great grandfather Karypov was a Cossack- the last proper one. His son, my deda was three when shit hit the fan and their nomadic, ancient lives were no more. Last night at a fundraiser my dad was talking about The Limitations of Reason when it comes to Faith. He described his grandfather (good at drawing) asking him to draw a goat when he was six. Never having seen one, my dad drew what he knew of goats- horns, four legs, ears and took a little artistic licence with the rest. His goat ended up feathered and his deda was furious that he'd never seen a goat.

.... can't believe i ever felt the way below. so busy now. glad i missed the deadline for RUSSH (more correctly, cocked up communication with editor) and never finished writing it.

Taking Young Wives

Murky half-light filters into the hotel room; Charlotte lifts her head from her pillow, frustrated and sleepless, and glances over at her soundly sleeping husband. Outside, Tokyo snores and rises, cars move determinedly, traffic lights are obeyed. She crosses her arms over her chest.

There is something alien and alienating about being a young wife today. Having been married for one month at the age of 24 I empathise with Charlotte, Scarlett Johansson's character in Lost in Translation. Charlotte cuts a melancholy figure; a vague girl in a foreign landscape, bored and playing second fiddle to her husband's career. We young wives inhabit a dusky world with few attractive role models, with no one to give us hints about behaviour and expectations. Just like Charlotte, I am occasionally lost.
All of a sudden I have time; fat, wide hours of it every day after work and sometimes it stretches inexplicably becoming elastic and taunting. There's more time to miss my husband who works late into the night. I am not spending a few blessed hours alone; I am reluctant to admit, I am almost, well, lonely.
Incoming phone calls and invitations have halved ('Leave the newly weds to enjoy their time together.') Male friends are awkward where they were once light hearted. When I meet with girlfriends they stare at me from their five year long relationships wondering how and why I did it all under a year. I shrug.

For a decade we've been shown the glamour and the freedom of the single girl. From her heels up, she's an image of self sufficiency and success, style and substance. We've stopped pitying the single girl- no longer a spinster but a hipster-we've started to celebrate her.

02 October 2008

The 9th Annual Melbourne Millinery Collection

The Regent Theatre took a break from its Wicked* trade to serve canapés and champagne to bewitched hat aficionados among its gilded and frescoed halls. In low amber lighting, fantastical figures danced and flickered along the walls as the scent of Dior’s Hypnotic Poison on bejeweled grand dames wafted past. Several patrons came decked out in little artistic bijoux of a different order; feathered, veiled and perched atop careful chignons and silvering perms.
In the foyer, 20-odd Australian based milliners displayed their wares; part head architecture, part status object, 100% art. Conversations twittered before the official runway; there was a palpable murmur about the impending Spring Racing Carnival and discussions abounded about this year’s inspiration for Melbourne designers. Without a doubt, the Art Deco exhibition hailing from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has made an indelible impression on Melbourne- something like two hundred thousand people have journeyed to the National Gallery to behold this celebration of opulence and glamour. Unfading style and hedonism (what impending economic crisis?) are champions of Art Deco and this translated to the majority of the Millinery Collection too. From its opening act where the milliners showed off their flights of fantasy creations to the appearance on the runway of current Miss Australia, Laura Dundovic -the show did not disappoint. Cocktail hour hats; small and of woven classic black jostled with pill boxes, plate-like creations serving up sharp pheasant feathers and somber veils on classic brims. A favourite of mine was a silver hat – if you can call it – which caressed the side of a model’s face like a curved brush stroke before leaping up into a feathered turban with a sequined flower by the ear. Perhaps because of the intoxicating atmosphere of the theatre ‘corridor’ the show was housed in, I envisaged Salome in her operatic rendition- all drapes, dancing and violence and the eastern smoke-curl intricacy of Ballet Russe backdrops circa 1916. Thickened blood reds, purples and burnt orange along with classic black dominated the colour stakes. Like any good piece of art, a millinery masterpiece must ride out a season -true glamour endures.

- Varia for StyleMelbourne.com
* R.I.P Rob Guest- who died yesterday after suffering a stroke on Tuesday night. He performed his final show as the wizard in Wicked on Sunday night. Possibly why the collection was moved from Plaza Ballroom to Regent Theatre next door and Wicked wasn't showing that night.

hats, ladies and lovers

Abbotsford convent is amazing. As is the Regent Theatre. As is life.
One day I will wear this hat. Spring now, all sun and floral notes on sea breeze. Poppies in vase have wilted and bent almost double. I am married and I am young.