The Circuitous Route to Colombia: Week 209

chappie-poster-teaser

“Give me my computer; I’m going to uninstall Hearthstone.”

Barret resolutely grabbed his laptop, flipped it open and then hesitated. “Damn it. I don’t know if I can do it. It’s got me by the balls.”

Hmmmmph. Barret walked out of the room. Ten seconds later he walked back in.

“I’ve got to do it!”

Hearthstone is an online card game created by Blizzard. It’s meant to be a casual counterpart to the ‘massive multiplayer online’ games like World of Warcraft, but it still sucks players in for a lot longer than they’d planned. Barret hadn’t seen a problem with that until he started researching productivity strategies. That got him into a right funk.

“God- should I do it?” He called out to me. “Potelllllllllllll?”

“I’m so unproductive.” Barret continued. “I’ve got to do it.” He forlornly poked at a few keys and sighed again. “I don’t know how to do it. Well, I’m just going to move it to the trash… Here I go.” He looked up at me. “What are you typing?”

Before I could reply, Barret interrupted. “All right. Hearthy’s gone. I didn’t even get through Blackrock Mountain.” He suddenly remembered his previous question. “What are you typing?”

“Everything you’ve been saying.”

“Oh God.” He laughed as he stood up to look over my shoulder.

The decision to delete his Hearthstone account might have come out of the blue, but there was a reason Barret was suddenly concerned with productivity. In fact, a lot of things had lined up which encouraged us to get a bit more creative- our house lease ending, my job ending, our graphic novel project, and Chappie being released.

A few years ago Barret spent some time at the studio that did the visual effects for Chappie. The movie’s release was a nice reminder that his dream job was within reach and also a sign that if we were serious about an art sabbatical, then we’d better get to it – which is why I applied to teach English at a technical college in Colombia. The plan is that while I’m working, Barret will dedicate his time to our graphic novel.

Shortly after I had my first interview we bought two tickets for Chappie and a bottle of bubbly. (That’s the great thing about movie theaters on this side of the world- bottle service comes with a free large tub of butter popcorn.)

Cheers to chasing a crazy dream and an awesome two and a half years in Sydney!

Kirribilli Market: Week 208

Secondhand clothing stalls at the Kirribilli Market: Sydney, Australia

Sydney loves its weekend markets. I have been to quite a few so far, but since I live on the south side of the harbour, I don’t make it to the north too often. That’s probably the reason why it took me two years to discover the Kirribilli Fashion Market.

It was established in 1974 and it takes place on the second Sunday of every month. The location couldn’t be better either- a grassy park that at the foot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I arrived there in the late morning and the place was already buzzing with fashionable women with money to burn. The clothing stalls closest to the bridge were more formal booths with sun canopies and business cards.

Secondhand clothing stalls at the Kirribilli Market: Sydney, Australia

The plots further out on the lawn were cash-only operations run by hip college students with crooked racks of clothes and beer-money dreams. Their school friends clustered nearby in felt hats and platform sandals and rolled their cigarettes. These kind of booths were the best to bargain with late in the day.

Kirribilli Art and Design Market: Sydney, Australia

There was also an arts and design section of the market that was held in a massive tunnel under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. All of the food carts were located close to this area, which helped keep Barret distracted while I browsed.

Kirribilli Art and Design Market: Sydney, Australia

I could have stayed longer, but I didn’t bring my hat and I could tell the top of my head was getting too much sun. However, I didn’t leave empty handed- I bought a pink work blouse for work and a sea foam colored silk cape for I have no idea what. I’ve just always wanted a little cape and this is also attached to a vest- sounds like I got my money’s worth.

How to get to the Kirribilli Markets: Catch the T1 North Shore line to Milsons Point. Exit the station in the direction of Bradfield Park or Luna Park.

Perth & The Giants: Week 205

The Giants - Little Girl on a boat: Perth, Australia

Hey!” An older woman called out on my right. “Don’t push me!”

“I’m TRYING to walk!” A grumpy old man yelled back. Beads of perspiration dotted his bald scalp.

“So is everyone else.” The woman replied. “That doesn’t mean you have the right to push.”

“Aw, shut up you old cow.” 

The woman laughed, incredulously. The old man continued pushing through crowded Barrack Street and into a father with a newborn baby in his arms, then he stepped on a kid’s foot.

Don’t you trample my son!”

“Aw, shut up.” The old man yelled over his shoulder.

“Just because my son is little doesn’t mean he deserves to be pushed around and stepped on. Get some manners.”

The Giants - Diver: Perth, Australia

Barret and I had come to Perth over Valentine’s weekend to see The Giants- two massive marionettes that walked the streets of Perth thanks to a French troupe called Royal de Luxe. The production was the highest-attended public artwork ever in Perth and it was the showpiece of the Perth International Arts Festival. Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the downtown area and at times it felt like the festival was suffering from its own popularity.

The Giants - Diver taking a drink of water: Perth, Australia

However, The Giants did not disappoint. From their costumes and props to their eerily human gestures- it was magical to watch. They stopped at intervals along their routes to do things like remove rain jackets, jump on cars for a ride, or take a cool sip of water. The diver had a glass plate on his helmet removed so he could quench his thirst with the help of a vintage fire engine.

Salvation Army Building: Perth, Australia

When the massive crowd became too much to handle, Barret and I headed back to a loft we found on AirBnB. It was inside an old Salvation Army building in the heart of Perth’s CBD. We took a shower, changed into our evening clothes, and wandered over to William Street in Northbridge.

Polaroid of Chinese shop window in Northbridge: Perth, Australia

The neighborhood is packed with good restaurants and nightlife. It’s such a diverse area that within a few blocks we went from a back alley Kung Fu studio in Chinatown to a South African restaurant named Baby Mammoth which serves curry just the way my mom makes it- sliced bananas on top. Breakfast at a paleo cafe and a nightcap at the hidden Ezra Pound. Our Vegas IDs always get a comment.

Polaroid of Perth architecture: Curtin House

Because the local university is also on William Street, we found a popular and affordable late night café. The Moon was filled with students and an instrumental quartet led by a micro-managing Peruvian. The music was pleasant, restrained, and unfortunately not loud enough to drown out the conversation behind us. “I like ketchup on everything.” Same person: “I don’t get it. How can you name a song with no lyrics?”

Barret and I shared a pizza, two glasses of the finest boxed wine, and settled into one of the many overstuffed couches. Around one in the morning we plucked ourselves out of our comfortable seats and went outside to hail an  airport taxi. We had a redeye flight to Sydney and a full day at work ahead of us.

Polaroid of black cockatoo street art: Perth, Australia

I had been feeling quite ambitious when I booked this trip. Barret and I packed a lot of walking and not a lot of sleep into two full days- but you know what? It was worth it. The Giants were stunning and the city did not disappoint. My only regret is that I did not have more time to spend in Perth.

The Giants: Perth, Australia

About: Perth International Arts Festival

About: The Giants

The-Giants-Hanging-Girl

How to get to Baby Mammoth: 2/305 William Street, Northbridge WA 6003

How to get to The Moon: 2/323 William Street, Northbridge WA 6003

How to get to Ezra Pound: 189 William Street, William Lane, Northbridge WA 6000

Glebe Town Hall: Week 204

Phia performing at Glebe Town Hall for High Tea: Sydney, Australia

For most people high tea is a sugar-filled, decadent afternoon treat. For Sydneysiders in the know, High Tea is also an invite-only folk music event that happens twice a month.

The musical headquarters is located inside a small loft in Surry Hills. The street-level entrance leads people through a graffiti-covered passage, up a few flights, and out onto a walkway that is curiously squeezed between two buildings. It’s a bit of an urban rabbit warren.

Because the venue is so intimate, it’s not always easy to get tickets. You have to follow the High Tea Crew Twitter account so you know exactly when the event list has opened. The event fee is payable at the door and, as always, a table covered with tea cups and hot kettles awaits guests at the entrance.

High Tea at Glebe Town Hall: Sydney, Australia

If the tea fails to excite, there is no charge to bring in your own bottle of wine. There aren’t a lot of chairs but there are plenty of cushions around the room. The lights are low, the candles drip, and the large art deco windows front a twinkling nighttime city landscape.

The only difference this time around was that for the season opener, High Tea was being held at Glebe Town Hall. This historic venue was built in 1880 and the main hall fits up to 200 hundred people, which is a lot larger than the loft in Surry Hills. Although the Town Hall lacked the quirky layout of the usual venue, the table of tea was still there and I suspect the program organizers spent a lot of time tracking down more cushions.

Glebe Town Hall: Sydney, Australia

High Tea kicked off with Phia- an Australian/German loop pedal and kalimba playing songstress. She was classically trained on the piano and is the first to admit her parents weren’t too happy when she first ditched all that training for the kalimba. Her boyfriend is the only other member of the band and is probably the most timid musician I have ever seen on stage. He looks a bit like a lost puppy- which I mean in the nicest way possible. It was the second time I’d seen them perform and I liked them even more than the last time.

The Maple Trail closed the program and as it got close to the end of their set, I lay down, closed my eyes, and listened to the music. The group sounded a lot like The Wallflowers and it reminded me about my childhood in Florida and the excitement of owning my first few CDs (which obviously included The Wallflowers).

While I’m guilty of enjoying a bit of nostalgia, I’m lucky enough to be simultaneously happy about the past and the present. And where I am- inside the Glebe Town Hall with friends and tea and wine and music- is pretty darn good.

About: High Tea

How to get to the Glebe Town Hall: 160 St Johns Road, Glebe NSW 2037

About: Phia

About: The Maple Trail

Tabac Rouge: Week 202

Tabac Rouge at the Sydney Theatre Company

She laughs and babbles like a madwoman. Then she leans her head so far backwards that when she puts on a jacket all you see is a decapitated body in repose. This is the physical embodiment of Thierrée’s opium addiction.

Not that James Thierrée really has an opium addiction, but his character in Tabac Rouge does and when it hits him, he jolts back in his armchair and drifts across the stage. A cloud of smoke and a spry contortionist trail along in his wake.

Tabac Rouge did not have an intermission, so at the end of the show it took me and Barret a couple of minutes to digest just what exactly we had seen.

What had we seen?

Tabac Rouge at the Sydney Theatre Company

The centerpiece of the show was a grimy, massive mirrored wall. On the reverse side was a labyrinth of pipes. At the end of the performance the mirror fell into separate pieces that spun like a shattered disco dream.

There was a small troupe of dancers whose movements alternated between mechanical precision, epileptic seizures, and rolling waves.

Then it all ended with the floor swallowing up everyone on the stage.

Barret and I had our own ideas about what it all meant, but all the reviews I read seemed to lead in another direction. The only thing we could agree on was that Tabac Rouge was truly out-of-this-world.

Tabac Rouge at the Sydney Theatre Company

About: Tabac Rouge

How to get to the Sydney Theatre Company: 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay

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