Saturday, 4 February 2012

Visiting my home city

Yesterday a friend from interstate had a whole day to hang around until the thing he was here for started in the late afternoon.  I was thrilled to have a friend to play with on a week day (usually everyone else is working and I have to keep myself company) and then I started to think about how to fill a day.

We met at Southern Cross station and walked up to Hardware Lane for a late breakfast, coffee and general catch up.  The city working crowd had thinned by this time and we were able to sit outside and enjoy the gorgeous day.  My friend is someone I only see every now and then.  We met at Summersong a couple of years ago and collaborated to write a song in 2011.  It was over breakfast that he chose to present me with a gift for the day.  More on that later.

After breakfast we went to the State Library to see the Modern as Tomorrow photographic exhibition.  It was free and not crowded.  The conversation flowed around what we were seeing and what we love about black and white photography, especially when looking at the photographs on some album covers.  They really lent themselves to imagining what the people in the photographs were thinking.  Our stories became wilder and more imaginative as we were exposed to more stimulus from the exhibition and the people around us.  Walking out of the building we saw a man talking animatedly on his mobile phone.  He was sitting on a bench in the front garden.  It was his clothing (or rather, his colour palette) which distinguished him.  Apricot coloured shirt, apricot/dark salmon coloured pants, with hair dyed to match.  I admired his purple suede boots as we walked past.  He may have been a second cousin to the Mustard couple I wrote about the other day.

We set off in search of lunch with no real plan and were distracted by a trip up the stairs to Metropolis book shop on Swanston Street.  With its light, airy space and books sorted into categories like graphic design, architecture, typography it's easy to lose yourself in beautiful books and images.  An early Justin Townes Earle album was playing and that made me like it even more.

I struck up a conversation with the guy attending the shop about his choice of music.  He seemed happy to talk of his love for Justin Townes Earle:  "His first two albums ripped my heart out, threw it on the ground in front of me and stomped on it."

From the intensity of the statement I gathered that this was a good thing and nodded enthusiastically.  I was nervous about revealing my love of the third and most recent album.  The minute I did, he shook his head and the passion cooled.  I felt the need to justify my taste:  "I only discovered him through this third album and have gone back.  He's GREAT."  I kept my tone and facial expression carrying a suitable level of gravitas.  We were friends again.

Neither of us walked out of the shop empty-handed - I found two books about creativity from Keri Smith which another friend had tipped me off about and I'd been looking for.  One of my favourite titles was a collection of passive-aggressive notes by some pretty unhappy people - usually involving food in communal fridges in work places and share houses.  A book about paper engineering may require a return visit.  I think I have a new favourite book store.

For lunch I offered Federation Square or Degraves Street and we had Japanese share plates sitting outside at Chocolate Buddha in Federation Square.  On our way to the tram, we were lucky to encounter one of the Theo Jansen "Strandbeests" that is roaming around Federation Square at the moment.  They are amazing to look at, with a strangely organic, animalistic vibe - hard to achieve when you consider they are made out of PVC pipe and lots of cable ties.

Then it was time to get in the car and take my visitor to his event.

Spending time in your city with a visitor is a wonderful thing to do.  Apart from the opportunity to hang out with a friend,  I saw my city with different eyes.  There were little geranium covered balconies hanging off buildings I'd never noticed before, pieces of graffiti I'd never seen from that angle before.  And on the drive, the best sight of the day: a blokey looking bloke driving a pastel coloured 4 cylinder car while looking a little self conscious.  On the side of the car was a sign advertising "Jade's mobile waxing".  He looked like he wanted to explain what he was doing driving that particular car!  But maybe that's just my assumptions clouding the real story - why couldn't he be Jade, the waxer?  Maybe he's a floor waxer...

Anyway, my friend (who is a type designer) presented me with a wonderful gift over breakfast.  It embodies the things I think make a great gift - simple, meaningful in a way which tells you the gift giver has thought about what to give, memorable and unwrapped.  I held out my hand and was given a wooden uppercase  letter T (my initial).  I loved it instantly.

It's not perfect.  It's a little bit rough around the edges.  One side is dark and the other light. There's a splinter missing on the cross bar but it's a strong, true letter which can not be mistaken for anything other than a letter "T".  It suits me to a tee.

(c) divacultura 2012


  1. Now I want to come hang out in Melbourne with you.

  2. Come on down! Although you might want to check in with half of Nerds and Music to see how it was for him!