A Thousand Million Small Things

After being published in SQ Magazine in June, my story A Thousand Million Small Things has made the SF&F genre’s premiere review magazine, Tangent, Online Recommended Reading List for 2017. Yay!

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Fitzroy Soccer Lions

I grew up in North Fitzroy and have walked/trammed past Atherton Gardens Public Housing Estate for years. Last year, I got a chance to hang out there with everyone participating in the Fitzroy Lions Soccer Program.

Here’s a little clip I made about the program. The song Let a Brother Play is by the Flybz, also from Atherton Gardens.

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Your transaction is under treatment

ATM, Baj Boujloud, Fez.

I don’t mind waiting – a little bit – for a transaction treatment, whilst desert Zen lasts, that is. I’ll give it 7.6 seconds as opposed to 3 seconds.

I’ve just returned from 6 weeks in Morocco. For 4 weeks I was at Cafe Tissardmine on an artist residency… with NO Internet…

Erg Chebbi.

Ok, that’s a bit of a lie, we got desperate and did “wiffy hitchhike to the obelisk” for some desert connectivity (ok, so it was actually hitchhiking to a cairn for wireless modem connectivity but we liked saying the other thing)…

Safi smells the wiffy

What a residency provides, and this one more than most, is release from the day-to-day, from thinking about the next meal, the next piece of news: profound or prosaic, the next social event. The tirade of choice clears. When you’re in the desert, your decisions simplify. Will I:  1) go for a walk, 2) chat to someone, 3) have a nap, 4) do some work. I got a lot of all four done.

1) Going for a walk. When you do, it’s on what was, some 350million years ago, the Rheic ocean. These petrified coral reefs were pushed up into mountain ranges when the African continent moved closer to European continental plates. Ammonites. Trilobites. Belennites. Everywhere.

And, new stuff is mixing in with the old.

So, when you looked down, it was extraordinary. And when you looked up, it was spectacular.

2) Talking. The 5 artists at the residency were from 4 different countries. And most of them were tri-lingual. So, combined with Tashlehiyt the local Berber language, a mix of Dirija, English, French, Spanish and Japanese were spoken at most meals. There’s nothing like talking to people who are not native speakers of your own tongue to test your rigour with your own language.

3) Taking a nap. Is a wonderful thing.

4) Do some work. With all the clear head space, I got a lot done, albeit with sand as a constant companion.

I’ve put some photos on Flikr. A set of general Morocco sightseeing, and a set of Tissardmine and surrounds.

How long it will take for this transaction to process, I’m not sure, but I’m happy to wait more than a little bit.

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Light moments on the edge

I recently did some filming for a local parkour program. There were many beautiful moments so I’ve pulled some stills from the footage. Enjoy.

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A couple of weeks ago I left my iPhone in a cab. I left it because I got it out to fiddle with it. You know: check if I had messages, scroll through various social networks, maybe do a quirky shot of the taxi driver ID and Instagram it. Instead, I got talking to the cab driver about his uniform requirements and how often drivers get checked and what the fines are if they’re not in uniform. He seemed like a nice guy. I did notice that he looked quite different to the guy pictured on the drivers ID. But hey, I look pretty different to the picture on my license (if I still had my phone I’d take a picture of that picture and post it here).

I never put my phone back in my bag. I left it on my lap/ beside me/ somewhere close but not close enough. As soon as I got into the house I realized I didn’t have it.

I’m never going to see that baby again. I’ve tried to track it down, more out of interest in the process than actually believing I’ll get it back. Having backed it up 2 days earlier, it was after all, just an instrument. But… MAAAN, I miss that instrument! To be truthful, sometimes it aches.

I went to see Steve Poltz play a few days later. I saw someone filming with their iPhone. As an avid gig-filmer part of me was consumed by jealousy and longing, the other part was all: dude put your phone away and be in the moment, and: that footage and sound are going to be sooo bad, why even do it, are you ever really going to look at it again?

I do look back over my bad gig footage, that’s how I know it’s bad. I have a soft spot for it though, so I made a montage of it, a sort of eulogy to the this-is-what-I-saw-see-here-it-is mentality…

I will be replacing it. And yes, I’ll most likely take more bad gig footage.

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Tai Chi meets Giant Theremin

Tai Chi and a giant theremin. What’s not to love! Here’s a short and super sweet video I did the filming for:

Tai Chi meets Giant Theremin from Peter Ghin on Vimeo.

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Wedhus Gembel in Java

In September I traveled with Snuff Puppets to Java to document a tour of Wedhus Gembel, a collaboration between Snuff Puppets and some amazing artists in Yogyakarta, Tegal, Indramayu and Jakarta.

Wedhus gembel means two things: sheep, and, the poisonous clouds that issue from volcanoes. Here’s a video of some snippets from the workshops and performances:

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Hello stranger

I was asked to write a response to an early project brief for the Walk the Talk project. The project will run on October 2 as part of Melbourne Fringe. Participants are paired with someone they don’t know and take a walk in the Fitzroy Gardens for an hour. Information about the event is here and about the project here.

You can read my response here.

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When Old is New and New is Old: New York and New Orleans

“… the towering aggressive structures of industry and commerce are like the clarion calls of architecture, all about us. What to do? Man is not always strident, the soul is not always in haste…” This is what architect Whitney Warren had to say about the changing architectural landscape of 1920s New York. Warren designed the New York Yacht Club headquarters. I was there in March this year with my father when he received the Blue Water Medal:

The building is both grand and whimsical. The photo above (by Alessandro Di Benedetto) was taken in the Model Room, which is topped off (yes literally) by a Tiffany glass skylight:

More pictures are here. Warren’s comment is ironic given he was often employed by the Vanderbilts (whom he was a relative of), the Rockerfellers and Carnegies. These families – either championed as captains of industry or disparaged as robber barons – made their fortunes during the ‘Gilded Age’ (a term coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner) and through their fortunes were significant contributors to the changing landscape of New York and America at large.

The Guilded Age occurred at the end of the 19th Century and marked the beginning of the modern industrial economy. We’re now in the early stages of the ‘Information Age’, which is also linked to economic growth through population increases and technological development. Hopefully any corresponding economic downturn won’t be as severe.

I went from New York to New Orleans, arriving for Lundi Gras, the night before Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday being the day Roman Catholics finished their rich foods prior to Lent). New Orleans has a relatively large Catholic population and many people observe Lent. It’s the Evangelists, however, who are most visible on the streets… amongst others…

Staying in a friend’s beautiful 1815 Creole cottage in the French Quarter meant that much of the action was close to home. Festivals are a boon for the senses, and when I heard this through my bedroom window I had to investigate. Note: this clip is all about audio not visuals!

Mardi Gras in the neighbourhoods starts early and everyone participates: you don’t watch the parade, you are the parade:

A few days after Mardi Gras, whilst waiting for my friend, I got talking with a man. After a bit he told me he was “fresh out of 10 years in a concrete box.” He’d been shot several times and walked with a cane. Having just read Dave Eggers’s book Zeitoun I asked if he’d been caught up in the temporary holding of prisoners at Union Station after Hurricane Katrina. He said: “No, I was lucky.” We laughed.

Two days later, I was in Union Station. Eggers relates, via Zeitoun’s experience, how the station was turned into a martial zone. He describes this section of the mural, which Zeitoun studies as he ponders his fate and waits to be processed: “Zeitoun looked up at it, and though he had been to the terminal before, he had never really seen this mural. Now that he did it was a startling thing, a dark catalogue of subjugation and struggle… Just above him there was a lion being attacked by a giant eagle made of gold…”

The last time I was in New York I was there for the anniversary of September 11. A ‘live’ replay of that morning was running on television. It was an eerie experience. Waiting in Union Station felt similar. The ghosts of old felt very present.

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Where are the words

I’m now blogging over at Culture Victoria as part of my role as content curator.

I’ll still be posting here, but only occasionally.

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