Walking Arcadia part One

When I was a kid, my parents always went out of their way to watch an extremely boring British soap opera named Howards Way. This was not because they found it particularly compelling, but because it was filmed in the vicinity of the Hampshire village resided in by my Aunt. As such any given episode would feature glimpses of places they knew, with an outside chance of spotting someone they’d met walking past in the background.

The idea that we all eventually turn into our parents is a cliché, however the problem with clichés is that they only become clichés in the first place because they’re true. As such I now find myself in a similar position, making room every Thursday night to watch the ABC’s The Heights, solely because it’s filmed just down the road.

(Excuse me for a minute, I appear to have been bitten on the wrist by a spider or something and have to go put some cream on it. If I never post again you’ll know why.)

Anyway, yes, The Heights. Needing both some exercise and some direction in life I decided yesterday to go on a walking tour of Heights shooting locations, and take some photos along the way.

My first stop was Arcadia High School, which is actually the Mount Lawley TAFE college on Lord Street. I caught the bus down there and arrived just as it started to rain.

A short walk through the drizzle to East Perth train station and an equally short train trip bought me to Arcadia Hospital, which funnily enough is another TAFE college, this time the East Perth branch at Claisebrook. Along the way I realised my camera lens was filthy and cleaned it – hopefully making subsequent pictures a bit sharper.

The fact that it’s directly across the road from Perth’s ABC headquarters is surely a complete coincidence…

A short walk along the reconstructed Claise Brook – which doesn’t seem to have had any maintenance in the last 10 years, seriously, can we do something about that? – takes us to the steps that I think are where Shannon got bawled out for arriving late for community service. It was certainly somewhere along Claise Brook anyway.

Following the steps upwards takes us to the old Boans furniture factory, home to the apartment inhabited by Claudia and Sabine.

By now the rain was starting to get serious. I had plans to walk down to the river and take some shots of the parks and bridges which often show up in episodes, but instead decided to stop in somewhere dry and have some lunch. I had a quite decent pizza at the Royal while drying out and reading the latest Fortean Times, then considered my options.

My original plan included a trip down to Trinity College (AKA Embleton) then across to Wellington Square (location of many open air scenes), hitting up the Towers themselves just behind the Old Mint, then getting a bus across to Iris’s store near Hyde Park. But the weather didn’t look likely to improve much, so I decided discretion was the better park of valour and I’d be better served by taking a quick jaunt directly to Wellington Square, see if I could grab a long shot of the towers, then head home. This turned out to be complicated by massive roadworks all along Wittenoom street, and work being done on the square itself but I did my best.

And thus ended my grand day out.

Sooner or later I’ll get around to some closer shots of the towers, the river parklands and Iris’s store. In the meantime I did take some shots last year covering the old Perth Enterprise Centre that serves at the exterior of the Railway Hotel, and the mural on Moore street that’s often seen as an interstitial with trains rushing past it. I stepped in an actual human turd (the city really needs to do something to support the homeless population) getting these pics, so appreciate them!

And that’s your lot! Be sure to tune in to ABC at 8:00pm Thursdays to see these places on air. Or not, I’m not your dad.

Do You Believe in Life After Frud?

Channel 10 News should really take a look at their closed captioning.

While I’ll happily support “Family Frud” taking over from the banal and pointless Family Feud any day, I’m not so sure about tomorrow’s predicted “60% chance of a Cher or two”.

I mean, one would be bad enough…

Truth, Justice, Freedom and a Boiled Egg

The big thing in WA politics at the moment is local council amalgamations. The State Government – in its wisdom – has decided that there are too many councils these days, and intends to force a bunch of them to amalgamate for reasons of ‘efficiency’. This despite the fact that it’s only twenty years since a couple of large councils were broken up, also for reasons of ‘efficiency’.

The local councils themselves are having none of this, presumably because it means they’d have to share, and have whipped their rate payers up into a state of open rebellion with claims that fees will go up, and services go down.

I have no idea who’s right or wrong in this debate – my interest in the affair is limited to the fact that the mooted amalgamation of South Perth and Victoria Park is to be named “South Park” after the Government were dumb enough to listen to a number of thoroughly trolled online polls, and in the rather interesting anomaly revealed when the official maps of the new council boundaries were revealed the other week.

The plan as laid out is that the City of Perth will be expanded to encompass (among other things) all of Kings Park and the University of Western Australia – presumably so the PCC can have easy access to kangaroos and sweet, sweet student cash. To the west of this expansion the swanky suburbs of Mosman Park, Peppermint Grove, Nedlands, et al. will be forced together into the newly created and rather poorly named City of Riversea. Where the fun lies is that the east border of Riversea doesn’t quite meet the west border of Perth, resulting in a strip of land along Hampden Road with no council at all.

The Government insists that it’s going to fix this in the next version of the proposal, but as someone who happens to work in the disputed zone, I say nay and hereby seize the territory in the name of the People’s Republic of Hampden Road! No more Local Council tyranny! We shall have Truth! Justice! Reasonably priced love! A lack of parking fines and (if we have time) a boiled egg!

As Benevolent Dictator I hereby seize the assets of Spices Supermarket, Jester’s Pies, Baskin Robins, and the Burgermeister. Citizens are directed to assemble upstairs at the Byrneleigh for the first meeting of the Revolutionary Council, where we shall use materials collected from Educational Art Supplies to construct a flag and suitability official uniforms. Then it’s to the barricades brothers and sisters! For Liberty! Fraternity! And a certain measure of strictly controlled Equality!

(Please note that anyone singing songs from Les Miserables will be shot, and I need to get home in time for Lost Girl, so we’ll aim to have the Revolution done and dusted by 8:30 at the latest, OK?)

Later: Hmmm, It looks as if I may have been a bit too eager with my territorial ambitions, as the Zone of Alienation apparently only covers the east side of Hampden Road. As such, seizing the supermarket, pie shop and Educational Art Supplies would constitute an act of war against Riversea. I must therefore reluctantly relinquish my claim to these businesses, and we’ll have to make our uniforms and flag with what we can get from the newsagents opposite instead.

On the plus side it looks as if UWA and the new children’s hospital fall within our borders. As does the Yacht club, so I’ll have somewhere to keep the Presidential Schooner.

For the Emperor! Supanova 2013

Headed over to the Supanova Con on Saturday with Ryan, Paula, Bek and Bek’s daughter who’s name I can never actually remember. It was a pretty good day overall. I didn’t get any autographs or photos – I’m always starstruck to the point of imbecility when meeting celebrities, so there’s really not much point, but I did enjoy the panels with Karl Urban, Alan Tudyk and (of all people) David Hasselhoff.

Yes, I went to see the Hoff. Mainly just so I could say that I saw the Hoff. I actually enjoyed his panel, mostly I suspect because I expected him to be a complete train wreck, and he wasn’t. He could in no way be said to be a humble man, but he had some interesting stories, and I was surprised to discover that he can actually sing pretty well – perhaps those Germans aren’t quite as crazy as we all thought.

Karl Urban was fun. He started off his talk by awarding Judge Dredd badges to audience members who could identify movie quotes. This didn’t go terribly well at first, until he clarified that they weren’t specifically quotes from his movies. After that he answered audience questions in a highly entertaining fashion, did a Batman voice, and threw in some good natured trash talk about the Wallabies 🙂

The final panel we went to was Alan Tudyk, who was a complete riot. The hall was completely packed out – standing room only – happily Paula and Bek had got a place in line while I was seeing the Hoff, so we got seats halfway up. Notable incidents included someone asking him to say his “leaf on the wind” quote – which he delivered as “I’m a leaf on the wind, watch me GHURK!” – a self admitted fangirl asking him if he were her and he were still him what he as her would ask him as him – which completely threw him in a most entertaining manner – and a story which he reckoned he’d never told before about how he found himself identifying with a Billy Joel song while working in a racist bar before he got in Juilliard (he knew it was a racist bar because he threw a customer out for saying abominably racist things, then got told off by management).

He also did some Karaoke at Deville’s earlier in the week. Awesome! 🙂

Apart from the guests we had a good look around the stalls. I had finally given in to the inevitable and dipped my toe into the waters of cosplay by wearing my Commissar hat (a few people even requested photographs!) and found an amazing replica chainsword for sale. Unfortunately it was priced at $215 which seemed a bit excessive for a piece of painted foam, so I had to leave it. Bek got a friend’s block mounted Star Wars poster signed by Carrie Fisher, and just about died of excitement at meeting her. We also did a lot of sitting around watching cosplayers.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to Supanova, but I was quite surprised by the quantity of Adventure Time cosplayers. You couldn’t have throw a rock without hitting four or five Finns. A bit of aiming would have easily brained several Fionas and Princess Bubblegums. There were at least two Ice Kings doing the rounds, one Flame Princess and a Marceline and Marshall Lee with actual guitars. On the 40k front there were some generic guardsman and at least two other Commissars, but they had much better uniforms than me, so I stayed out of their way lest I be accused of Heresy ;D

All in all, an excellent day out!

Common Decency

Proof – if any were needed – that acting legally and acting decently are not necessarily the same thing.

When Clyde and Lesley Bevan were told the $6500 gold and diamond bracelet they had lost months ago had been found, they were delighted and grateful […] Their happiness turned into incredulity when the finder told them he now owned the jewellery […] He said he would give Mr and Mrs Bevan the bracelet but only if they made a claim under their insurance policy and gave him half the payout. […] The finder was a clergyman, the Rev. Terry McAuliffe, of St Paul’s Anglican Church in City Beach. — The West Australian, June 26th 2013

Proof also – if any were needed – that being a minister of religion is no guarantee of being a decent human being.

Sightings

I saw a UFO this morning.

At this point people are probably going “Oh god! Don’t tell me he believes in UFOs! He’s insane! I’m never reading this blog again!”. To which I say “Of course I believe in UFOs! I’ve seen a number of them over the years, I’d be mad to not believe in them!”

The point of course is that when you say “UFO” you probably mean “alien spaceship”, and when I say “UFO” I mean exactly what it says on the box – an Unidentified Flying Object.

Now I suppose it’s possible that any given UFO could be an alien spaceship, but – as a person with a decent grasp of both interstellar distances and physics – I wouldn’t be holding my breath. While I’m of the opinion that some UFOs may turn out to be anomalous – which is to say they are examples of a phenomena currently uncategorised by science – common sense dictates that the vast, vast majority of sightings are perfectly ordinary objects (such as aircraft, birds, stars, clouds, planets, meteors, etc.) seen from funny angles or under unusual conditions. I’m sure for instance that what I saw this morning was a plane either taking off from or circling to land at Perth Airport, which is only five or so kilometres from the site of my observation, Bayswater Railway Station.

What I saw at 8:33 this morning was a shining, slightly ovoid disc traveling from right to left across the east-north-eastern sky for between 30 seconds and a minute. It kept level at about four fingers above the treeline, and covered a distance of about four fingers before passing behind a cloud and vanishing. A mass of thin, whispy dark cloud was blowing across the sky from left to right, and the object was passing behind it, occasionally vanishing behind pillars of cloud – I was careful to note that the object was moving relative to the ground, not just to the cloud. Its level of brightness varied up and down, but remained constant for the last ten seconds of observation.

There were a large number of people on the platform at the time, but no-one else seemed to notice the object – or if they did they just assumed it was a plane. Which it almost certainly was. I considered taking a photo, but really couldn’t be bothered 🙂

So there we are. UFOs buzzing Bayswater. Tune in next week when I tell you about the thylacine I saw down by the river!

(Note: I have never actually seen a thylacine down by the river or indeed anywhere else :))

Urban Folklore

Here be dragons

This comic from Subnormality pretty much says it all.

They say maybe these are just good stories, as opposed to good facts. Just versions of old themes. But maybe those themes are old for a reason. Maybe there’s always been a city, and it’s always been kind of a drag at times, mundane and predictable, and as your comically brief window of existence ebbs away maybe it’s always kind of helped to pretend. To think about good stories as reality lumbers past, its cards all showing, its hills all flagged before you were born, its every expanse and signed and bathed in ceaseless light, nothing undiscovered.

That’s how I feel a lot of the time. I want there to be mysterious places, unsolved mysteries and strange phenomenon hiding just out of sight in the everyday landscape. I want there to be dragons, serpents and secrets just round the corner. And if there aren’t any, I’ll damn well make some up.

This was the impetus behind a project I came up with many years ago called The Secret History of Perth. It was to be a book full of completely made up rumours tied into the history of the city. Roman coins found during the construction of St Mary’s cathedral, strange cyclopean tunnels that put paid to attempts to build an underground railway system in the 1920s, Phoenician carvings in Bedfordale, a Japanese Midget Submarine in Melville Water and – oddly enough given the first panel of the comic – an illegal nightclub operating in the city’s storm drains in the 1970s.

As with many of my projects it never came to fruition. But there are actually a quite a few mysteries and urban myths around Perth without me making any up…

Platypuses – Platypuses are of course not native to Western Australia, but every now and then someone will claim to have spotted one in the streams up in the hills. Conventional wisdom is that they’ve just seen a native water rat, but rumours have persisted for years that at some indeterminate point in the past some indeterminate person released an indeterminate number of platypuses up there for indeterminate purposes.

Funnily enough, a few years back someone actually did the research and discovered that a breeding pair of platypuses were released into the hills back in the (I think) 1930s as part of some kind of deranged ecological ‘improvement’ scheme. One of them turned up dead a week or so later however, so it’s unlikely that they produced any offspring. As a result, the rumours now focus on some mysterious earlier release (possibly in the Victorian era) or subsequent, undocumented releases in the same program.

Japanese Sea Planes – During World War II rumours were rife that Japanese sea planes were using the dams up in the hills to pick up and drop off spies. Mysterious planes buzzing the hills at night were the black helicopters of the day. It’s almost certainly untrue, but it’s not completely outside the realms of possibility.

Secret Tunnels – It’s claimed by some that there are underground tunnels linking the Supreme Court building in the city to the Old Perth Mint. As the buildings are almost a kilometre apart this seems unlikely, but the rumours persist. Slightly more likely are stories of tunnels linking to the old Treasury Building across the road from the Court. There may also be a 1920s style public toilet entombed under the intersection just outside the Court – an underground toilet certainly existed there once, the question is whether it was demolished or simply sealed up when the authorities decided to close it.

The Boya Quarry – The old Boya Quarry up in the hills was supposed to be the site of all kinds of satanic rituals. These days it’s a rock climbing centre, but when I first visited it back in the 1990s it was full of junk and heavily gratified with pentagrams and the number 666. How much of that was down to genuine cult activity and how much to people who’d heard the rumours is open to debate.

The QV1 Building – Perth claims to be the most isolated large city in the world (it really depends on how you define ‘large city’). We have a population of 1.6 million and the nearest population centre with even 500,000 is a good 1,300 miles away. In the 1990s the QV1 skyscraper was constructed in the central city as a hub for telecommunications and internet firms and – so the rumours say – every communication link to the outside world was routed through it. Result? Blow up or otherwise disable QV1 and Perth would be completely cut off from the rest of the planet.

There’s another rumour about QV1, which is that its architecture is a tribute to Marilyn Monroe. The main north and south entrances resemble the skirt scene from The 7 Year Itch, and the building’s footprint seen from above resembles a pair of pouting lips.

Trilobites – Back in the 80s it was claimed that living, giant trilobites had been discovered in the city’s storm drains. It turned out to be a weird combination of rumour, hoax, and very hot summer with no other real news to report. An old tyre cut up to look like a giant bug was alleged to be involved.

So there it is. Perth has it’s own dragons.