Hello Again, Sydney

One Sydney-sider's experiences moving back to Sydney after a long absence overseas.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

These are the breaks

Yes, the incredible Krafty Kuts is coming to Sydney for Parklife this weekend, along with the Stanton Warriors, Coldcut and a whole bunch of others. These guys would never have played where I was living before, and if they did, it would have been somewhere dire, like a football stadium. This one is on at Centennial Park and we were going to take the little guy down, at least for a while, but it's turned out to be too difficult. How cool would it have been for him, when he grows up to know that he saw these DJs? Well, actually, probably not that cool by then. I'm sure he'll get deeply embarrassed when I play any of this music, and will practically die if I start dancing to it.

In other news, congratulations to my mates Greg and Zöe who are going to get married. Still a lot of planning to do, but G is talking about organising the wedding to coincide with Glastonbury. Now that's one that would be brilliant to do as a family.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fuck, normal again

It happens faster than you expect - the fresh view fades, the old bad habits return. When you arrive, in those first few days, you know you're different, and you carry that knowledge around like a gem in your pocket. But as time passes, there's less and less to distinguish you from an ordinary 'Aussie'.

"Yeah, we just came back from overseas."
"Oh, really?"

... 2 months later ...

"Yeah, we recently came back from overseas."
"Oh, that's nice."

... 6 months later ...

"Yeah, we used to live overseas."

... 1 year later ...

"Yeah, once we lived overseas."
(talking to the air around me)

Of course there's nothing to stop you hanging on to that feeling of being special, is there? Or as one joke email put it: never forget that you are unique, just like everyone else.

Monday, September 18, 2006


So here's the rub: organisation has its pros and cons. On the downside, you can't buy loose cigarettes for a pittance and you can only get on the bus at bus stops. On the upside you've got public toilets.

The general standard of public toilets here in Sydney is very high, and many places have dedicated rooms for changing nappies. In one of these toilets (in IKEA), they even had colourful toys, posters and free nappies. It's a far cry from the unisex broom-closet in my old local, where you had to do the limbo in order to take a pee standing up.

Meanwhile summer's coming, this time for sure - 27 degrees today!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Rubén Blades vs Wolfmother

I know it’s not a fair fight, and more to the point, music is not a fight, not an either/or. But whatever, Wolfmother are ‘it’ right now on the Aussie scene. Good tunes, from what I’ve heard. But like most Australian music, the really striking thing is how little they have to say.

Then the other morning I put some salsa on and marvelled at how Blades can get away with an opening line like this:

I was leaving the hospital, after visiting my mother, fighting against a cancer they can’t cure.

So straight up, so devoid of irony, and so spot on. The lyrics get me every time, but so does the music, and this applies to most salsa. Even the songs without any real lyrical content (I’m thinking lluvia con nieve) have something that is so unflappable, like the sound of someone dancing in the face of a storm – a force-ten, jaws-of-hell type storm. It’s that storm that we’re missing here in Australia.

Used to be that I’d get annoyed when we out to clubs and they always trotted out the old standards. Why don’t they ever have new stuff? Suddenly I’m in Sydney, washing dishes on Sunday morning, listening to salsa and crying into the sink, and realising that they play the old songs all the time because they’re still fucking great. If it’s not broken.

I’m still very keen on the idea of going back after three years, but three years … man. We’ll probably finally have ourselves sorted out by then and the idea of pulling up stumps all over again does not appeal. Very tricky.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Our heads are expanding

Well, since I was talking about news... death by stingray, Steve Irwin and all that. It’s absolutely everywhere at the moment. There’s a fair amount of eulogising going on in the news. Others argue that he was a bit of a boofhead.

At work, the news spread across the office quickly. People made phone calls to friends and family, checking the details on the net, though I think this had less to do with the impact of the news, and more to do with it being three in the afternoon on a Monday. There were no tears. I wonder if the mobile phone companies and ISPs have graphs of network activity and can explain the spikes after the fact based on world affairs. Probably already happens, eh? One thing I've learnt from doing this blog is that depressingly, whatever idea you've got, someone has already thought of it, and they're smarter and better-positioned to do something about it.

Here in Sydney, people are a lot more switched on about what's going on in cyberspace - the posibilities and the implications and all that. It really is tremendously exciting, but it's only since I've gotten back that I've taken any notice. Little things become easier - like looking up open houses at realestate.com, that was a massive help in the apartment hunt. Then there's stuff like digg, myspace and flickr, and anyway, I'll stop embarrassing myself with my lack of knowledge in this area (see above point). What I mainly want to say is that there is a real head-expanding vibe about it in Sydney.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


My father buys the Sydney Morning Herald every day, so for a while there I was right on top of current affairs. It's funny reading the papers again, in Australia, where as my best mate Rich put it, there are too many journalists and not enough news. Some of the front-page headlines I've seen since getting back include: Paul Hogan's tax evasion scam, Ian Thorpe is fat, interest rate rises, and the Howard/Costello leadership battle. All vitally important stuff. To me, reading the SMH is like slipping on an old glove, and feeling an all too familiar numbing comfort. It's a glove that badly needs an extra middle finger sewn on, if you get my drift.

The sports section is reliably plump, and the real estate section is positively obese. It's a weird combination of going for the lowest common denominator and then advertising commodities that are out of the average person's reach. Or maybe I've just been gone too long and half a million dollars is a reasonable starting point for a first home buyer.

I propose a new feature, called alquilar or whatever rent is in French, or any language that makes it sound sophisticated, with profiles of people's places who are renting. In our case, I'd wibble on about the floral frosted light fittings and how they combine with the stained white brick facade and astroturf on the balcony to invoke a timeless, delapidated chic ambience. The furniture? It has been painstakingly pieced together from all of the bits and pieces our friend had in storage. Then there's the ceiling, with the lunar surface, old school-classroom feel, that makes you want to get out a biro and a rubber band and shoot ink cartridges up into it.

But really, we're very happy here. Today we were down at Clovelly with the little guy, and I can see it's going to be brilliant in summer. He's starting swimming classes in October, and I had a dream last night that he was already freestyling, very well, and very quickly.