Monday, September 27, 2004

Miami cont'd

PART #2: Miami Quotes

On disposable cameras:
"It says 'Don't expose to extreme heat or moisture', so we take it to *MIAMI* and go swimming in a *POND*!" (snaps, irritably)

Definition of irony:
After a hard day on the tourist circuit, the two girls sip cocktails at a poolside bar. Still jet-lagged and disorientated, one comments on how long the last twenty four hours have felt.
"Will this day never END?!" Comes the response.

On reasons for a change in South Beach's patronage from one day to the next:
"Maybe they've evacuated? *cups her hands over her mouth in an impersonation of an announcer* This is a hot guy evacuation: Will all the hot guys please leave Miami. Women and children remain."

"Ugly guys'll start to impersonate hot guys..."

"How do they do that? Wear Birkenstocks and smear on the fake tan?"

Overheard in an elevator:
"Its a nice day to evacuate."

When darkness descends on South Beach:
"Uh oh..." (ominously)

"What?" (raising her head off the towel)



"The storm..."

"Oh Cassy, the sun went behind a cloud, ya idiot!"

Miami--A Mid-Semester Escape Saga in 2 Parts


First, let me explain. I'm not an Usher fan. Far from it. In fact modern, so-called R&B is one of the few musical genres I have no love for (as hip hoppers say in the U.S ;)) Free travel on the other hand? Mad for it.

So that is how a rock/ reggae fan and JJJ listener came to be on a plane bound for an R&B concert in South Florida one Tuesday morning in September...


Thanks to Arena TV on Foxtel I won return economy airfares, return airport transfers, five nights at the Winterhaven Hotel on Ocean Drive, tickets to an Usher concert at American Airlines Arena and return limo transfers to the concert for and I and friend. We were supposed to meet Usher too, fortunately that didn't pan out(!).


Ocean Drive is a spectacular neon streetscape in Miami's South Beach. Versace owned the street's only residential home until he was shot on the steps outside it some years ago.

If you glance out your left window on the way into South Beach from the airport you'll spy an island populated by splendid mansions. That sandstone building used to house Al Capone. Just a few doors away is Gloria Estefan.

I mentioned neon: it's something of an obcession in South Beach--where gorgeous Art Deco design and pastel shades make the entire town look like a cartoon set--at night many of the buildings change colour before your very eyes: now its purple, now its blue, now its pink.

Miami has one of the most concentrated populations of spunky blokes in the free world.

Miami has a huge Cuban population. Their presence manifests itself in the form of countless eateries about town--specifically in Little Havana and Espanola Way. In the inclusion of empanadas and mojitos--a lush, refreshing cocktail of rum, lime juice, soda water and mint leaves--on menus. In the "Cubans Do It Better" tees displayed in the windows of adult shops. In latino music blaring from hotted up cars. The massive Cuban population is also a significant contributor to Miami's status as one of the most concentrated populations of spunky blokes in the free world (see above).


Americans get a bad rap but for the most part, they are *not* their government. Those I spoke to, at least, think they had no business in Iraq (or Vietnam for that matter); that health and education are under-represented in government policy; that George Bush is an idiot... in fact, all the obvious tenets of a compassionate, civilised society.

Americans boys are far less inhibited than their Aussie counterparts and will not hesitate to approach and proposition you at every opportunity. If in doubt, feign jet lag and leave early.

Apparently, we Aussies have a different way of *walking*. Don't even try to blend in.


Took too many photos on our first day (when we braved a tropical downpour like true tourists and set out about town), and not enough on subsequent sunny days.

Drank too many mojitos.

Lazed on the the beach and watched the beautiful people play.

Dined on shrimp at a poolside bar.

Ate empanadas.

Shopped in the "presidential" streets: Lincoln and Washington.

Honed meditation skills while trapped in an Usher concert.

Fled in the wee hours of what was *supposed* to be out penultimate morning, after being issued with a mandatory evacuation notice at 10:30PM the night before, due to Hurricane Jeanne.

Escaped on the last plane outta Miami the following afternoon.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

"The weekend's here hip hip hooray/ To make the blues just go away..." (Blur)

Another spiffing weekend in merry Melbourne.

Beginning circa 4PM as I emerged from the underbelly of the Arts Centre into bright sunlight and laid eyes on Federation Square (which I will never get used to) There were some groovy sounds coming from alongside the Yarra so I detoured that way on my way into ACMI. Found a Greens rally, a band, lotsa stalls, and dreadlocks attached to hemp-clad hippies... ascending into the "heart"of Fed Square I was assaulted with repetitive bass and capacity crowds as an arvo rave rook place... moving ever onwards I spied The Gurge trapped in a glass bubble. Quan--the formidable frontman, sporting spunky new facial hair--shredded his guitar while producer Magoo looked on, draped in a Brissie Lions scarf in honour of the prelim match about to take place that night. I found my way into ACMI from the street entrance and spent the next few hours providing moral support for buddy Dianne--whose job it was to stand guard over the shrieking teens who came to watch the Overly Coiffed One and the Googly Eyed One of Australian Idol fame host a video request show. When that wrapped up we headed out for dinner--cripsy chicken and egg noodles yum yum!--and a couple of bday bashes in a couple of trendy Melbourne bars with odd, one-word titles, overpriced drinks and mood lighting. Next an English pub with daggy music from yesteryear to sing along to--loudly and off-key--followed by a late-late night venue called The Pony, when the pub closed. Stumbled home at 4AM, going via the bubble to see what The Gurge were up to (Sleeping, oddly enough). Posted a note scrawled on the back of an ATM receipt through their mailbox and laughed at how witty we were.

A rally, a rave, a bizarre publicity stunt/ performance art project, live telly, a footy match... all in one afternoon--I love Melbourne.

Its like the Googly Eyed One said: "How can one city contain so much excitement?"

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Top 5 Things To Do Before I Die

I do love a list.

Earlier this year, Adam and Wil inspired me with their 10 Things To Do This Year list. Today I am gonna go with the slightly more manageable 5 Things To Do Before I Die list, as taken from the You're Drunk team on SYN FM (Wednesdays from 9...)

Here's mine:

1. Skydive
2. Get a novel published
3. Own a terrace house with a wall to wall library and a wheely bookshelf ladder to get to 'em
4. Appear on a game show and win big!
5. Holiday somewhere with sand and have a bondafide Summer fling

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

"I heard the news today, oh boy..." (The Beatles)

A huge storm named Ivan assaults the Caribbean islands, one by one...

Mt Etna overflows...

And a man fleeing police slows his car down just long enough to throw a baby in a car seat out the door before speeding off again, eventually crashing the car and killing himself.

Got me thinking about how --- if at all --- trauma affects a baby that young. Whether we do have access to memories that "old", so to speak. And about my own, not-quite-so-traumatic foetal experiences in my mother's womb during a bank robbery. She was a teller while pregnant with me and made to lie face down. Once a homeopath told me that I had suffered a trauma while very young which caused my stomach problems, or some food allergy or other, but he totally fished for the information.

Idea for a story? A young baby suffers some unimaginable trauma and, as a result, is treated slightly differently his or her entire life. Eventually learns about his/ her past but, paradoxically it is the treatment of others' resulting from the trauma that causes him/ her to come undone in some way, rather than the event itself.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

"Nostalgia is all I've got to look forward to in the end..." (Custard)

I'm looking forward to finishing this damn essay

I'm looking forward to the weekend

I'm looking forward to Monday, circa 3PM when my last class presentation for the year will be over

I'm looking forward to shaking off this cold

I'm looking forward to the other size of an excercise regime, when the sweat is over and all that's left are the results

I'm looking forward to the Norwegian summer, and to exploring another place I've never been before

I'm looking forward to sunny days, hair sticky with sea salt and sand in my lip balm

I'm looking forward to long walks and the smell of freshly mown grass

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Grinch Who Stole *an elective subject which will remain unnamed*

I may as well start here.

I despise that man. Here's why:

  • He frequently praises George Bush in class. Even confesses to dreaming about him. Uses the Texan cowboy to illustrate philosophical principles(!) And if THAT wasn't bad enough, he is scathing and derisive about anyone who disagrees with him.
  • His new thing is snide remarks about gay marriages. An oxymoron, he called them in the last class I bothered attending.
  • He doesn't seem to think preparing for classes is in his job description. He just turns up and blathers for the entire length of the two hour seminar, usually without any logical advancement from one topic to the next. Often stopping mid sentence, clearly forgetting why he is telling us this junk in the first place. Sometimes we get twenty minutes or so of him waxing nostalgic about ye olde days of him teaching this particular subject.
  • He scrapped the original course--which involved study of numerous European philosophers over a period of history--in favour of ONE current American philosopher. He essentially shrunk the entire scope of the course into the tiny realm of his own personal interests.
  • He doesn't tolerate opinions that run contrary to his own.
  • He has a head like a squashed melon
  • He wears sneakers with his suit every fucking day. Who the fuck does he think he is? Jerry Seinfeld?!
  • He has a disgusting, perpetual cold and insists on perching on the edge of people's desks to conduct the class; often mine.


So much to tell you...

Well there is. I knew I'd be no good at regular entries; I can't manage those in my "old-fashioned" paper journal either. You know what would be cool? If I could figure out hyperlinking on this thing. Then I could do something like this:

Right now there's something else I should be doing (of course), but the butchered curriculum of a particular elective course I'm taking this semester is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I'd rather think about next weekend, when I'm heading into the city for a couple of birthday bashes (and inevitable bar tabs) and plan to pay a visit to The Gurge in their bubble in Federation square. Or the trip I won to Miami. I'd even rather think about the strange conversations you overhear working at close quarters with strange types in a call centre. I could wax remorseful on foot in mouth disease. Or talk about the disappointingly ineffectual anaesthetic properties of three quarters of a bottle of Michelton riesling before bed. Yes, anything would be better than starting homework for that elective.

Now imagine that where the font appears in bold red above you could click on a phrase and follow that particular train of thought. Be more interesting that the unimaginative alternative I'm about to embark on. But sadly, I lack the technological smarts. We learned hyperlinking in a digital media class I took at RMIT once, but that was within the same essay: pointless. Like digital television. And like digital teevee theory, I forget what we learned about it anyway.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Postcard from another wasted weekend...

Weekends. Where do they go?

I had a training sesh for the AEC call centre job of Friday. I have a feeling this gig is going to cost me a lotta petrol and patience. Then I remind myself why I'm doing it: to save for next year's Norway exchange (and the inevitable side trip) and somehow it all seems worth it. I dunno if that's a good thing: that two times in my life when I can say I most profoudly experienced purpose were in the planning stages of trips to faraway places. But hey, we take what we can get in this life, right? :)

Norway should be fantastic. Summer, mountains, hiking, the Arctic circle, the midnight sun, Vikings and other Nordic gods... bring it on! If I had to name one thing I was most looking forward to it would be that whole twenty four hours of daylight thing--I can't get my head around it: a whole month made up of one endless day...

In my dreams of travel to faraway places, it seems my only decision of consequence is whether to spend a few days in Edinburgh or Amsterdam before heading back to Oz afterwards. Visiting just one country on an overseas ticket is a WASTE when you live in the antipodes, I say! The lure of Amsterdam needs little explanation (no, I'm not just talkin' about hash ;P It's the...vibe, man. The laid-back nature of the place, the sunny greens where people meet, the guy who wheeled an upright piano for miles to busk in a park (a scene recalled from a travel doco), the beer, the cheese, the tulips... and OK, the fact that you can buy ganja tea in cafes--more because I like the IDEA of that than the accessibility :))

But Edinburgh is a tempting possibility too. I am absolutely in-lust-from-afar with Scotland, always have been. I blame the accent. And the landscape. But mostly the accent. And if I'm not mistaken August is Fringe Festival time in Edinburgh. Which is like gathering up every festival Melbourne has ever hosted --- film, comedy, writers, fringe and the non-committal "arts" festival held in October --- herding them into the eternal, glamourous spiegeltent and towing them north to Scotland, cannae you imagine?! I'm a huge afficianado of that lower strata of arts'n'culture--not high enough to be high brow, not so low brow as to be pop (in the Big Brother/ Kylie sense of the word). One of the things I love best about Melbourne is its festivals and one of the festivals I've alwaysalwaysALWAYS wanted to go to is Edinburgh.

So, what to do? After the course wraps up in Norway I won't have a lotta time before semester 2 of my final (I hope) year begins back home. I think I'll end up letting the travel agent decide for me: whatever's cheaper and logistically neater and tidier But I'm havin' fun thinking about the alternatives in the meantime... ;)

** Its already looking like I'll have to take a flight with three stopovers to get to Bodo, because its $600 cheaper than the alternative. And I promised myself that I would neverNEVER do that again, after our nightmare flight back home over the Pacific from Canada *shudders* Twenty-six hours, four flights (including one uttery fucking STUPID stopover where we had to disembark, re-check our bags and walk through an entire airport in Honolulu to get back on the same fucking plane because of paranoid American security measures)... and as for the obese, overly-gassy passenger who slumbered in the aisle seat preventing escape or even bathroom visits for six hours of that nightmare trek home--well, I still don't wanna talk about him...

Thursday, September 02, 2004

taptaptap... Is this thing on?

*clears throat*

*cracks knuckles as if preparing to play piano*

Ah, the maiden blog.

This is pretty cool, I must admit. Beats the Target excercise book journal of last semester. I've just had a fiddle around with the control panel on this thang and I have to say, you're unlikely to see any whizz-bang technology from me here. Multi-coloured fonts is about as exciting as its gonna get, kids, get used to it. (An aside: I wonder if I've faux pas'ed already by using an adjective as trite and piss-weak as "whizz-bang" in a writing assignment?)

Now what's the deal here? Do we workshop our work here, only to have it stolen by some unscrupulous hack(er) who's hard-up for ideas? Do we rant about the Aussie medal count at this year's Olympics (I don't give a flying fuck...) or the upcoming election (my high-flying gig as a call centre employee for the AEC prevents me from "being seen to engage in..." well... such things). Do we review gigs? (I'm supposed to be seeing Something For Kate at the Prince of Wales tonight, but I had a pretty nasty fall a couple of days ago and I don't fancy the idea of a crowded pub right now, where any punter's stray elbow could come in contact with bruised flesh and cause me severe pain. Admittedly there's never a lot of movement more threatening than lackadaisacal head-nodding at a SFK gig but I'm not willing to risk it).

That leaves poetry then. Or shopping lists.

One day in Autumn
Alien warmth shows itself:
Postcards from Summer

I know: lame. But that takes care of this week's ALW102 homework :)

Best stick to shopping lists...

paper towels
dish washing liquid
low fat yoghurt