Friday, March 30, 2007

Walking on the tracks

I had a chance to go to the CarriageWorks on Wilson Street for the first time tonight. I heartily recommend it as a venue, as a historical record and as a backdrop for arty photos.

The old railway tracks have been incorporated into the building, inlaid in the concrete floor. It's beautiful.

Still on the subject of Wilson Street, I've had reports from both Tamie and Dezza that another downcast girl can be seen on a wall as you drive off the Harbour Bridge towards the Anzac Bridge. Maybe this is the spot where they should erect a "Gateway To The Inner West" sign.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Birkenhead schmirkenhead

Newtown isn't renowned for its factory outlets. It fact, you'd probably think it doesn't have any at all. But you'd be wrong. How could you go past this one, for example:

Imagine the array of grey shirts and trousers! Or you could really go wild with an orange reflective vest!

And then there's the Dairy Bell ice-cream factory on Australia Street, which makes enticing claims outside:

But upon entering, you discover an odd little room which seems suspiciously like your family's lounge room circa 1978, offering up a paltry selection of ice-creams which you didn't even know were still available on the market, like that multi-coloured rainbow one. Pah.

A factory outlet which will never disappoint, and which this whole post has been skillfully building up to, is the magazine place on Alice Street. It has no name, and I have no photo of it, and it opens only on Saturdays between 11am and 3pm. Which makes it sound like a very exclusive brothel. But it's actually a room piled with magazines, all recent issues and many air-freighted, all of which cost $10 for three. They have the most incredible selection, including amazing art and design titles, most of which have still got seriously hefty price tags from places like Ariel. You can literally get hundreds of dollars worth of magazine for around $30. And you will, from this day on, literally make scoffing sounds as you pass by newsagents.

The place makes money by acquiring recently outdated stock from publishers and sellers, packaging them into little bundles of hand-picked titles, and supplying them to swanky hairdressers, doctors etc who have swishy-pants waiting rooms (I personally have never attended a waiting room with anything other than tatty New Ideas from 2005, so I can only imagine the calibre of such waiting rooms). Ingenious.

It's opposite the little corner shop about half-way down Alice Street.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

More boobies!

The blue-footed variety, painted on the fence of a house.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bolt boobies

They're not at all a new appearance, but they need to be documented.

I could make a 'riveting' pun, but that would come too soon after my prick pun, and lower the tone of the blog.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spooky truck update

The spooky Mad Max truck on my street has gone.

But it has been replaced by an even spookier Mad Max truck.

This one has some kind of crane on the back. And undeniably spooky decals.

What are these trucks for, I ask you? I keep daring myself to leave an inquisitive little note on the windscreen for the owner. But then I freak out. So I'll keep nervously lurking about the place trying to gather evidence.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hopscotch spotting

Trafalgar Street, Enmore. This hopscotch is so well-positioned on the footpath that it's impossible not to find oneself involuntarily hopping up the street.

Francis Street Park, Enmore. A multi-lingual, animal-themed mosaic hopscotch. What more could a person want?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nosey takes an interest in finance

I had the day off work today to go to the RPAH Allergy Clinic in Camperdown. Thankfully tests showed that I wasn't allergic to cock.

Maybe that's why they call it a prick test. Tee hee hee.

Actually, 'cock' apparently refers to cockroach. I told them they should have splurged to get the extra letters added to the stamp.

Having the day off work meant I could finally accommodate the opening hours of the Newtown & Enmore Starr-Bowkett Co-Operative Building Society. You would have walked past this place, just opposite @Newtown, many times.

And maybe you've even stopped to look at these signs in the window.

I have long been intrigued by this place. They offer interest-free loans via a ballot system in return for paying a monthly fee to the co-operative, which you start paying even before your number has come up in the ballot. This seems to be an extremely novel and ye olde worlde way of obtaining a loan, which appeals to me greatly. Starr-Bowkett societies were started in 1862 by Thomas Edward Bowkett, a radical philanthropist and unionist who wanted to emancipate the working classes from the 'trickery and deception' of the loans schemes offered by 'artful money lenders'. Here here. In 1984, the Newtown-Enmore branch paid out more than a million dollars in ballots.

Now the Newtown-Enmore branch is the last one operating in Australia, but sadly, as they told me today, they're not accepting any new members. They're simply paying out the loans that are still in the ballot, and then closing down. Financial deregulation has squeezed them out of the market. It's a real shame, as you would think that in the current anti-bank climate, they could undergo a revival. Think of the PR opportunities in this:

In 70 years Starr-Bowkett societies in NSW have suffered a total loss of less than $4,000, and in 100 years of operation, the Newtown-Enmore Starr-Bowkett Societies have never had to call in a mortgage, as the personalised knowledge inherent in the Society has allowed repayments to be rescheduled to meet the member’s changed circumstances.

I've always thought when walking past this place, 'Gee, it's amazing that it's still going', so I guess I can't be too surprised that it's not. I once met a nun who said they were no longer accepting new members of her order; it would just end once all the existing nuns died. I often wonder about how that last nun would feel, having given her life to something that no-one wanted to replenish and that would have no legacy.

I feel the same kind of nostalgic hopelessness about the Starr-Bowkett place. Now every time I walk past the sign in the window I'll be wondering if it's the last ballot results which will ever be pinned up.

Quotes and info on Starr-Bowkett societies sourced from a paper here. Amazingly there is no Wikipedia entry on the subject.

Monday, March 12, 2007


A brown vinyl bag, branded by hand in white paint, and artfully abandoned outside Ausscrap. Situationist art with ironic detournement and a touch of social statement.

Name of a house in south Newtown. Hopeful, yet humble.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A walk in the park

It was such a lovely sunny day today. The local brothel was taking advantage of it to dry their washing. It's good to know they maintain high standards of cleanliness.

It was also a lovely day for the community open day at Sydney Park.

I had a splendid time. There was a kite flying demonstration.

And also free plants, free lunch and free presents for dogs.

The City of Sydney was giving away free things in return for input from the public on their proposal to develop a kick-arse playground. They had posters showing the possible features of the playground, and you could vote on them with dot stickers. Funnily enough, no-one was voting for the mysterious labrinthodont.

So I did. Because he's clearly an integral part of the design.

Sydney Park is all about hills. It must have one of the best hills-per-square-metre ranking of any park. They're quite windswept, but they've got a great view of the airport, are perfect for launching any kind of flying object, and lend themselves to rolling and cartwheels.

But the best thing about Sydney Park is the dog watching opportunities. The dogs were out in force today, probably to claim their free gift.

There were the cheeky-but-cute ones, like this little fellow who had taken himself for a dip in the wetlands.

And those who appreciated the park's amenities.

Having completed my civic duties, I went to the Dragstar yard sale and picked up a red version of my most favourite black dress, reduced by $165. It was a great day.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

No longer friend, nor food

The poor cow didn't last the rain, as someone has memorialised.

Funnily enough, the felt cupcake remains intact.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Eyewitness transondy elecommuincation

I was standing on King Street, chatting to Sonia and Mel, who I had just run into, when a man came up to us and showed us a piece of paper.

Having lived in Paris, where you can't go anywhere near a tourist attraction without someone approaching you with a piece of paper that says 'Do you speak English?', and if you answer in the affirmative, another one that tells how they're a deaf mute needing money, I was ready to dismissively say I didn't have any change. But I was more than happy to give over my payment to Peter, which was his name, after reading his note and asking for a photo of it. Unlike his Parisian counterparts, he is actually deaf, and he mimed to me that I seemed cold, which, based on his note, seems to be a particular interest of his. I walked away thinking about CB radios, which I hadn't thought about for quite some time.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Garden Party

It might not quite technically make it into Nosey in Newtown's geographical domain (although it is the Enmore side of Stanmore!), but the Quiet Enjoyment Garden Party must be mentioned for being such a wonderful idea.

Anywhere that accepts cake in lieu of payment is already a hit in my books. I made dark chocolate petits moelleux, excited by my first opportunity to gain entry to an event thanks to baking.

The hosts of the event have a giant, leafy backyard, which filled with lovely people watching lovely bands, including The Desks.

There was punch, and planes overhead, and parents of the performers mingling with youngsters. It was all so darned civilised and communal and sunny, and made me wonder why anyone would ever want to see a band in a horrible smoky pub. It warms my cockles that there are cake-loving people in my neighbourhood who organise such things.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Everything you ever wanted to know about letter boxes

I spent the morning delivering campaign material for the Marrickville Greens, which soon became an in-depth study of letter boxes. There's the ones with creaky little flaps and crappy little slots which aren't actually large enough to accommodate a letter. There's the ones built into doors, so stiff that it takes all your finger strength to push them open, and then you have to use your pinky to jam in the mail, and quickly pull your fingers away so they don't get scissored as the slot snaps shut. There's the ones where the mail easily glides in then glides right out the back. I felt sorry for postmen.

This was the saddest letter box I saw. Left to fend for itself in an overgrown front yard.

This was far and away the best. Stylish, but functional. Which was important to me by the end of the morning.

This was the best house number.

The position on junk mail is, of course, one of the features of a letter box. Some are more insistent than others.

Some are clearly owned by students.

And some are science students.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Flightless bird

There was a dying magpie on the footpath this morning. I wrapped him in my cardigan and took him to the Erskineville vet to get put down. They said he had probably been hit by a car. It was a demoralising start to the day.

Fittingly, I noticed another downcast girl has appeared.

The other one has been painted over already. While I was taking this photo, a man on a bicycle passed by and said to me, 'They're great, aren't they?'. I felt better about the world.