It's getting close to Christmas– no, it's not! It's not even Nijaween* yet!– so the ginormous Christmas warehouse behind our house has gone wild, employing a person dressed as a reindeer to hold a "Christmas Sale" sign on the corner and putting out the best of their displays. And these displays are really classy. I'm talking huge blowup Santa plus reindeer and sleigh. I'm talking monochrome trees, where the tree is silver and all the decorations are silver, and all the lights are only white (because who would want a little colour over the holidays, right?) And I'm talking some seriously terrifying Santas.
Like Santa is the bum who's gonna knife you--
I know this creepy old man doesn't have any presents in his bag-- more like some bottles of cheap whiskey and a wad of perverted pictures. He's got his lantern, and he's on his way to his dark, damp shed in the woods.
I've been busy lately. Along with the job, I've gotten heavily involved with Final Draft-- I'm even Executive Producing next week's Radiothon Show! Radiothon is basically our subscriber drive; it goes for two weeks and we need Sydneysiders who listen to the station to pitch in. If you've got $66 lying around, and you want to support community radio in Sydney, click here!
I also went up to Newcastle last weekend for an arts, music, theatre and writing festival called This is Not Art. It's an annual festival, at the beginning of October; I got a ride up with my pal Aidan and his partner Robbie. It seems like TiNA got started as a visual arts festival for cutting edge artists, but ended up spawning several festivals, including the National Young Writer's Festival, the Crack Theatre Festival, Electrofringe (I still don't know what that's about), and others, I'm sure, others.
Newcastle is about three hours from Sydney by train, an old city. Tons of people live there, it's got a great university, but the city itself is sort of a ghost town. For some reason, all the city shops are closed up and empty; it's nearly impossible to find a decent coffee. And that's weird for Australia, most of the cities are rotten with cafes. The city is being left behind for new suburban centres; apparently, the Central Business District itself has shifted away from the...centre. I felt like Newcastle was hollow; for five days, TiNA filled it with young festival-going weirdos and used the abandoned shopfronts to showcase truly bizarre performance art. But when we left, I felt like the city would just echo.
These two spent about five hours getting dressed up with fake eyelashes and the works, just for the performance of it. And this was part of the Writer's Festival. Wheatpasted all around town, fortune cookie wisdom hid in the small, unnoticed places, like an unused bathroom.
Another cool thing I got to see was the Hyperbolic Coral Reef. A very cool international project, founded in LA, the Crochet Coral Reef is just that, and so much more. It's meant to bring attention to the disappearance of the Great Barrier Reef.
There wasn't much light in the room, so the picture isn't fabulous, but still, it was an amazing sight. I can't imagine hand-crocheting hyperbolic coral forms. How do you do that?
Like any festival, parts were amazing, other parts were skincrawl horrible. But I saw some of the most amazing theatre I've ever seen in my life. Yeah, I know, I don't go to much theatre, so I don't have a whole wealth of experience to compare. But these guys are amazing. I couldn't stop smiling; their show thrilled and exhilarated and hushed and wilted. Watch the video on their website for a taste of their weird, dark fairytale style. Mr. Fibby was easily the best thing at that festival.
You want more? All the events at TiNA are free. If you can get yourself to Newcastle, find somewhere to stay, and pay for your food and drink, you can go to everything at TiNA, no additional cost. In fact, they even make accommodation cheap-- you can camp out at Tent City for only $10/night. I was camping, and I wanted to stay for the whole festival, but two days in, it rained. And it turns out my tent isn't waterproof. Saturday morning, I awoke to rain falling on my face, wet pillows, wet sleeping bags and wet camp beds. Miserable and cold, I packed up my stuff, hung out at the festival for as long as I could, and took the late train into Sydney. Coming back to town, seeing rainy slick streets lined with storefronts that I knew would be full of fruit and frames and records and furniture in the morning, Sydney felt alive and full, and I was on my way to getting dry.
*right, my birthday is on Halloween.