Saturday, July 31, 2010


I have returned home from Melbourne, with twelve CDs, five jackets, three shirts, two pairs of shoes and one pair of pants more than I had when I left. I strained the muscles in both of my arms lugging it all to the airport, but now that I'm home I can put on some Quincy Jones, slip on my velvet smoking jacket, and reflect that it was all worth it.

In reviewing my time away, I've come to the conclusion that Melbourne is an odd place, at the same time both cooler and daggier than Perth.

The coolness is quite evident. I've almost doubled my number of vintage leather jackets (one can never have too many), I've heard innumerable musicians of exceptional talent performing in dive bars, and I've seen art and design in the most ordinary places that makes me stop and stare.

On the other hand the dagginess is less evident, but once you notice it you can't stop seeing it. The most obvious example was as follows: despite the fact that I was hanging out with folk musicians, artists and poets, and lurking in the bohemian inner city cafes of Fitzroy and Collingwood, I've got to say that I've never heard so much talk about Masterchef in all my life. In Perth it's just a popular reality TV show that one might discuss, if one watches it, around the water cooler at work. In Melbourne it's a cult. People with ironic facial hair and lip rings, who no doubt view Perth as parochial, shallow and jejune, were nevertheless speaking of little else as they sipped their espressos on the footpaths of Brunswick Street. I could almost guarantee that wherever I went, I'd overhear someone banging on about their favourite contestant.

Any community that gets obsessed, en masse, by a reality TV show is not as elevated as it likes to think it is, despite their excellent vintage stores, crowded live music scene and delicious coffee. In this we parochial, shallow, jejune Perthians can take a degree of satisfaction.


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