Solving the homeless problem

homelessTHE differences between Sydney and Melbourne are many, but one of the most prominent features I noticed on my recent trip south was the sheer abundance of charity cases trying to stop people on street corners, buskers (both good and truly appalling) everywhere and homeless people.

The first two didn’t really surprise me – in many ways Melbourne is what I imagine Sydney would be like if  people from Newtown were in charge. Cultural? Maybe – but at what cost? How many dreadlocks does a city really need?

What I didn’t expect, though, were the homeless people. Maybe up here they’re all residing in their tented communities in the middle of parks, but the number in Melbourne at any given time were astounding. They sit there, inert, often asleep, with those poorly written signs on damp cardboard that they know we’re not reading beyond the first line.

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Assholes on a Train IV: All Stations to Bastardville

train

How about YOU shoosh, lady

It seems like every trip I take on a train of late fills me with inspiration for these posts.

BOOKENDS

Allow me to set the scene – you’ve boarded your peak hour train in the morning or the afternoon, ready for a long day or just coming home from one. You meander up or down the steps of the carriage with the faint hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a seat. From your spot on the second step of the staircase, lo and behold, you see one of the three-person seats, WITH ONLY TWO PEOPLE SITTING ON IT. Oh happy day!

You stroll on over and ask (sometimes without actually speaking, more pointing to the vacant spot and raising your eyebrows inquisitively) if you can join the party and help the seat reach its maximum capacity, letting it fulfil the purpose for which it was made. What you’re met with is a tense, resentment-filled and thinly-disguised eye-roll as the person on the end, instead of just sliding over, picks up their belongings and stands in the aisle so you can take the middle seat, giving you an air of “if you must” – YES I MUST – FUCK YOU!

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Assholes on a Train Part II: Assholier Than Thou

pennoI honestly didn’t expect the first instalment of my contempt for pricks on public transport to receive much attention, but it got more than anything else I’ve written for about a year. It helps to know that I’m not alone in my unabashed hatred for these public transport pricks.

Did you honestly think that there were only two types? Ha! I present to you now the long-awaited (2 days) sequel, featuring even more of those fuckwits we all love to hate.

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Assholes on a Train (and ways to deal with them)

train

The gates of hell (Photo: Daily Telegraph)

It’s the start of a new year, and after a decent break I’ve re-entered the joyous population of commuters forced together in the close confines of a train to get to the jobs that Clover Moore doesn’t think exist for people from the Western Suburbs.

Living a further 20-30 minutes out West than I used to both sucks and has its advantages. Yes, I get a seat, and the ride gives me a bit of extra time to go on rants such as these. Sometimes I’m even lucky enough to get the single seat so I don’t have to endure the constant struggle for leg and arm space we all enjoy when sharing a seat with someone else.

But of course, this return has seen a re-invigoration of my contempt for people at large. It’s only been a week but I’m already painstakingly aware of these people and why it is they should be put to death, or at least heavily sedated.

I don’t want you to think I’m just a petty whinger. I am, but I’ll also offer solutions to the problems if you feel remotely the same as me. Continue reading

Soundwaving Goodbye

Soundwave-2015-Sydney-Yael-Stempler

Photo: Yael Stempler

It’s official, it’s over, and I’m sad. No, I’m not talking about Jose Mourinho’s tenure as Chelsea manager – I think that’s hilarious – I’m talking about the other significant termination that’s happened in the last 24 hours; Soundwave.

While people continue to die or get hospitalised at rave-dance-festivals like Stereosonic and Defqon, the headline casualty of Australia’s last big alternative festival, Soundwave, is the event itself, cancelled due to poor ticket sales. I’ve seen some people revelling in the news, calling the organiser AJ Maddah a host of names and criticising his personality while seemingly disregarding the fact that this bloke did everything he could to deliver world-class line-ups that this country wouldn’t otherwise get.

I’d imagine it’s comparatively easy to bring tens of thousands of munted deadshits to watch some DJ’s perform at festivals like Stereosonic; the equipment and production costs are insurmountably smaller, there aren’t full bands, tonnes of equipment and crews that need to be hauled from state to state, and let’s face it – every one of those artists gets mainstream exposure, from Top 40 radio shows to ads for cars that you’ll never drive, which increases advertising opportunities and helps ticket sales. These factors ensure that the aforementioned festivals will stay around for a while and be replaced by carbon copies under a different name no matter how many people overdose.

Soundwave now goes to the festival graveyard with the likes of Big Day Out, Livid, Harvest and more, festivals that were committed to bringing out actual bands – which has always been no mean feat for a country as expansive and isolated as our own.

So while the haters revel in the fact that we lose another reason to go out and catch some awesome bands this summer, I’m choosing to remember the festival fondly, and the whole host of bands I might never have had the opportunity to see live (because I don’t like going to gigs on week nights anymore) had it not been for Soundwave and AJ Maddah. Continue reading

Lessons in Stereochemisty

stereosonic5_055

Hands up if you’re on pingers! (Photo: Rukes.com)

In the wake of last weekend’s Sydney leg of the Stereosonic festival, the family of 25-year-old Sylvia Choi must now come to terms with her death after an overdose of what the media are calling ‘ecstasy and MDMA’. It was the fifth death by overdose at an NSW music festival in the past year.

Once again the rest of us will hear the lament of police about how not enough is being done and how stupid festival-goers are, the reports about what a bright and normal person Sylvia was, commentary on the problems of recreational drugs in society and the social media posts from people who’ve never taken drugs asking why people feel the need to do so at music festivals.

Sylvia’s death, just like all the others, is a tragedy. A life cut short is never a good thing.

What confuses me is the invisible line between idiocy and misfortune, where someone who is apprehended by police can be called an idiot, but if they get in, take the drugs and die, they’re a victim and a tragic loss.

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Dave’s Origin Story: Game One, 2015

Not bad seats, hey?

Not bad seats, hey?

If you were born on the East Coast of Australia, anywhere more northerly than Albury, there’s a chance you’ve embraced the State of Origin concept at some time in your life. An interest in sport helps – but without one there’s little chance you’d be reading this anyway.

Growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney during the early 90s, rugby league took centre stage. The Sydney Swans were a joke team in the AFL and the Western Sydney Wanderers wouldn’t exist for another 20 years. When Origin time rolled around, club preferences were put aside and we all united behind the State.

The early years were spent on the lounge room floor of the family home, watching some of the historic names of the game – Langer, Fittler, and even my personal favourites Brad Mackay, Rod Wishart and the Chief. I was awestruck by the spectacle of a game that both united and divided, and nearly always delivered an exciting match (that NSW typically won).

As the teenage years came around the Origin spectacle remained, but instead of being with the family at home it was time to watch it with mates, indulging in pizza and booze, cracking up while listening to Roy & HGs The Call on the radio.

Then came my 20’s, where much time was spent working in hospitality. Origin nights were quiet in the restaurant, but there was always work to be done, and my investment in the series seemed to correlate to NSWs chances of winning, which grew smaller and smaller each year.

I love Origin, I embrace it when I can – but I had never actually been to a game. Ha! And I call myself a New South Welshman!

All that changed this year. Continue reading