One of the many things I do is make maps. Sometimes I post my maps on my Sydney exploration blog Mirror Sydney, other times they accompany a 1990s tour of Newtown, and now you can see one in the Museum of Sydney: my map of 1950s and 60s Bankstown is in the new exhibition Suburban Noir, which runs until April 6th 2014 and features artwork in response to postwar crime scene photographs.
From the treacherous crime scenes of the south west to wild beasts and waterslides in the Sydney suburbs – my map of Sydney Theme Parks of the Past, Present and Future has been published in the latest issue of The Lifted Brow, available here and always good company. The African Lion Safari is just the start.
Start styling your quiff, get through the court case section of Autobiography, give The Queen is Dead a spin for the thousandth time, and get ready to join Junior Gazette and I to celebrate all things Morrissey on November 17th, when Junior Gazette becomes the Salford Lads Club and it’s okay to go and stand on your own, or eat a slice of toast while writing a Christmas card to Morrissey, or dance around with a bunch of gladioli. You are safe here. Others may try to destroy your flower-like life, but not here my love, not tonight my love. (Help me, the Smiths lyrics won’t stop!)
As I am waiting at the traffic lights at Beach Road – which is far from any beach – I can see in the distance a woman wearing a t-shirt with a slogan on it. I take a t-shirt slogan as seriously as a street sign, for surely whoever is wearing it thinks the message important enough to carry around with them wherever they go.
I can read the first part of the slogan, which is an “I” and a big green heart, but I can’t read the word below it, the focus of her adoration. She walks closer, her blue plastic bags of groceries swinging in time with her step. I love… I can tell the lights are about to change… I love… I can almost read it, and in these moments it can still be anything: frogs, Tasmania, Midori.
The traffic lights change to green and I must advance, but just before I have to turn my eyes back to the road, she is close enough for me to read the message.
I Heart Zombies.
Yesterday I was on the 428 bus when I noticed a man across from me reading this book:
I immediately felt self conscious as I was reading this book:
I hoped to catch his eye, to acknowledge the somewhat coincidence. But he didn’t look up, engrossed in the Civil Wars. I looked back down and continued reading. “Whatever detains the eye is understood by no one…”
The Canberra Zine Emporium were kind enough to invite me to launch Ninety9 in Canberra at their last event for 2013, which will be a launch party and a zine party, at Smith’s Alternative Bookshop on October 22nd. There’s a lucky door prize and the CZE will have a zine stall, and I’ll be reading from Ninety9 and talking a bit about zines in the 1990s.
So please do come if you’re reading this from Canberra, it will be lots of fun. When I was thinking about writing up my zine news tonight I went in search of Canberra souvenirs in my house – which is, for those who don’t know me very well, so full of op shop objects it is like an op shop itself. I came up with two, both Telecom Tower related. I need to top up the snowglobe water…the moment I realised you could do this was a lightbulb moment for sure, but the operation is beyond my tired self right now. It was either write a blog post or refill snowdome, and lucky readers, you know which I chose.
Back in Sydney on the 26th, I’m going to have a stall selling some of the op shop stuff overflow at Hyde Park Barracks as part of the Garage Sale Trail. It’s billed as the city’s biggest garage sale where according to the City of Sydney website “you’ll find some of Sydney’s most eclectic collectors, treasure-keepers and professional hoarders” – well, all those things describe me.
Also on the 26th is the next meeting of Zine Club at the Rizzeria - the Halloween edition (with fab Miss Helen coat of arms as shown below). I’ll be heading over there after I’ve finished my garage sale-ing for a chat and an ice vovo and maybe a bit of a bash on the Olivetti Dora. It’s a good chance to check out the Rizzeria Pop-Up shop too.
When I was in Melbourne recently for the launch of the Disposable Camera/YOU split zine I had a chat with Sticky for the Fahrenheit C3100 podcast, which is now ready for downloading. Go for a jog/take a bath/slice up some onions and listen to me talking about zines and the 90s and the Housemartins and losing shoes. It’s available for download here.
Also coming up in split zine land is my split with Alex Wild (who is the author of this amazing book The Constant Losers as well as many excellent zines) which was meant to surprise me in the post but was reviewed here before I even laid eyes on it! It’s still on its way to me so I don’t have copies yet, but it’s coming soon.
That’s all for October, I’m off to refill my snowglobe.
For the Newcastle launch of Ninety9 I made a reconstruction of my teenage bedroom. I liked the idea of doing a reading from bed; I spent a lot of time in bed when I was a teenager. At the launch someone said to me, when I started to explain this, that it’s “the dream of being able to do everything from bed” but this wasn’t my number one motivation. I was thinking more of Proust writing In Search of Lost Time from his bed.
Simon found the single bed frame on the side of the road, and we put our skimpy air mattress on it when there was no way of getting a proper mattress to the gallery. There were vague plans to tie a mattress on top of a car and drive it in, but I could forsee disaster with this plan. I would precariously balance on an air mattress instead. When I tried it out, pre-launch, the slats underneath me collapsed with a loud series of cracks. “I’m alright!” I yelled to the art students who were working in the gallery; the woman painting landscapes beside me, a girl who had watched me blu tack my pictures to the wall while eating asparagus spears out of a tall jar with a plastic fork. We reinforced the bed with boards and a milk crate so I wouldn’t fall through it while reading.
A number of people commented that it was too neat for a teenage bedroom. It’s true, my teenage bedroom had a path that led from the door to the bed and the desk between all the mess. But I am not Tracey Emin. Mostly it was about the pictures on the wall.
I’ve kept these pictures in suitcases and tins ever since the 90s. Although it might seem that I’ve kept a lot of stuff from my past I threw away a lot of my teenage things in my 20s, happy to be clear of that time in my life. I kept the tapes and the pictures, a few pieces of clothing and photos. There seemed no good reason to throw them away when they weren’t taking up much space. I didn’t keep a proper diary when I was a teenager and wrote Ninety9 from memory and these remaining objects.
In making my teenage room recreation I photocopied all the pictures at Officeworks. The originals were fragile and I liked the idea of making copies of them, making them new again. I listened to endless awful songs “I’m a little drunk and I need you now…” (followed by ‘Horses’ by Daryl Braithwaite) playing in the store and arranged my old pictures on the copier. Shreds of the fragile paper from old Spin magazines dropped off and onto the laminate floor of Officeworks. Beside me, a woman copied knitting patterns and we tried to make it look as if we weren’t trying to spy on what each other was doing.
The launch was on a hot afternoon at the end of the festival. People came into the gallery and sat on the floor as I read about my first band T-shirt, a Cure shirt, underneath the Boys Don’t Cry poster I’d bought from Red Eye records a few months ago. After I bought it I went to a friend’s art exhibition and she was so delighted I’d bought a Cure poster she kissed me on the cheek. I read the story of the “We’re Behaving Like Insects” t-shirt, as I’d made a recreation of this shirt using a white out pen the night before I travelled up to Newcastle, to wear at the launch. I read the story about the first National Young Writers’ Festival in 1998, and how Vanessa Psychobabble was a different version of Vanessa Berry, and it was hard to know which one to be when I was at the festival.
After the launch I took all my pictures down from the walls and deflated the air mattress, packed all the pieces of the room into my car and drove to the beach to drink a pineapple fizzy drink on the concrete steps above the sand. I thought about 1993, 1998, 2003, 2013. At no time throughout the writing and publishing process with Ninety9 have I wished to return to being a teenager but a lot of the time I don’t feel that much different to how I was then. I’m much happier and more confident and wise these days but I’m the same observer I always was, watching every moment as well as living it.
I’m involved in a number of events in Newcastle this weekend, for Critical Animals as well as the National Young Writer’s Festival but I’d like to invite you to one event in particular: I’m going to be constructing a version of my 1990s teen bedroom for the launch of Ninety9 on Sunday afternoon. Come and visit me, I’ll be in my room.