Recently I was asked if I had ever been in a band, and in the way of the longtime memoirist I thought “I’ve written something about that”. I dug through the big pile of zines I’ve made over the years until I found a newsletter I wrote in 2007 which answers this question.
While I guess I would have liked to have been in a band that released records and played shows, my musical life has continued in the hypothetical. To the above list I can now add Lolly Cake, from 2010, a duo of Simon and I that sound like the White Stripes if the White Stripes had been teetotallers from Dunedin (named after my favourite NZ sweet). The debut and only Lolly Cake 7″ is Atoms and Evil b/w Albatrocity. I put the 7″ art we fabricated into a plastic 7″ sleeve and it looked remarkably authentic. Just add music!
That brings us up to date. Things have been quiet on the imaginary band front over the last few years – perhaps now it’s retrospective time and a Pack of Fags needs to get back together, even though we never got together in the first place.
I have made a mix for the excellent Australian literary journal and bunch of raconteurs The Lifted Brow. It includes such Vanessa favourites as the Shop Assistants, The Clean, and a wild version of “Get Off My Cloud”. It’s a good accompaniment for most activities, ones I have identified include going on travels, getting things done, staring out the window, and dancing around the kitchen.
The excellent Alex Wild and I have made an award-winning split zine about the perilous world of used cars and our adventures with them and the dubious characters we met along the way. There’s crime, romance, mystery, chance and sensible hatchbacks, in Auckland and Sydney. An ocean separates us but we have curiously parallel experiences.
It has been a while since I’ve made an I am a Camera but it has risen again, this time with a story about Sydney. I’ve been doing a lot of writing about the city on my blog Mirror Sydney over the past few years. The city that I know is different to the one that most often gets written, so that’s the kind of story you can find in this zine. It’s about three eras, the 1980s, 1990s and the present, and includes maps I’ve made of these times.
The zine made its debut at the Other Worlds zine fair and is now listed on my Etsy shop if you’re interested in buying one, I will also be stocking it with distros and stores soon. This zine was written and drawn painstakingly over the last year, printed on The Rizzeria and put together in the living room of a fibro house in the inner west of Sydney while half-watching monster movies and drinking Earl Grey.
I’ll be at the Sydney Writers’ Festival this year for a few events relating to Ninety9. First of all I’m running a teen memoir workshop called “Puberty Clues” on Saturday May 17th at the State Library, in which I will tell you all I know about writing a coming of age memoir. The next Friday, the 23rd of May, I’m on a panel about music and memoir with Emma Ayres and Omar Musa, “A Life in Rhythm“. It’s on from 4:30 – 5:30pm at Pier 4/5. Later that night I’m reading at “Mixtape Memoirs“, hosted by The Lifted Brow at the Festival Club. This jolly event will be from 7:30pm and features writers reading stories about an important song which changed their life somehow. This song will be performed live by the house band, and there will be accompanying visuals from comic artists – something for almost all the senses! What song have I chosen? There’s no fun in me revealing it now, but I will say that it’s usually listened to alone in a darkened room, or when emerging from the dry ice on the dancefloor, swishing your cape around.
There’s a new zine fair in Sydney this May, set up as an alternative to the annual MCA zine fair. It’s on the same day as the MCA fair, May 25th, from 11am to 4pm, on Level 3 of Central on 28 Broadway (the future-building with the living wall and the heliostat where the brewery used to be). I’ll be there debuting my new I am a Camera zine which has been moving glacially towards completion since mid last year.
Here’s a quote from the organisers explaining how the Other Worlds Fair came into being: “The MCA is sponsored by Transfield, a corporation that operates service contracts in the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. Transfield derives brand value through its association with the arts, and it derives considerable profit from the extra-judicial incarceration of asylum seekers. By participating in events that are sponsored by Transfield we add value to their brand. We, a small group of zine makers from Sydney, inspired by the current campaign to boycott the Sydney Biennale over its relationship with Transfield, have decided to boycott the MCA zine fair in 2014. We do not want our zines to add value to a corporation that profits from the Australian government’s indefensible treatment of asylum seekers.”
Find more information about Other Worlds here.
Along with Leigh of Hello Bookcase, I’ve been organising a fundraising exhibition for East Sydney High School. It’s a school in Darlinghurst for disadvantaged kids who can’t access mainstream education and is in a big old building on William Street – this is where we’re having the exhibition opening on Saturday 29th.
The exhibition is of transformed found artworks – Leigh and I have been on the lookout for abandoned paintings by the side of the road and, as with many things, once you start noticing them, you see them everywhere… There’s more information about it on the Re:make website if you’re curious to know more and the Facebook event page for it is here. The exhibition has some of my favourite Sydney artists in it: Sarah Goffman, Emily Hunt, Garry Trinh, come and see what they’ve done with the abandoned landscapes, unwanted portraits and found photos from Sydney streets.