Wise Words Indeed #4 - George Bernard Shaw

11th May, 2011
 Many photographers are as equally eloquent of thought as they are in capturing the most mesmerizing of street images. One who's witty written word insight somewhat dwarfed his efforts with camera in hand (or more likely on tripod) was master Irish playwright, 
George Bernard Shaw

Shaw was an enthusiastic amateur photographer during the earliest years of the twentieth century and counted master lensmen Alvin Coburn and Frederick Evans as close friends. 

In a letter to the photographer and historian Helmet Gernsheim, Shaw explained how he'd come to photography - 

"I always wanted to draw and paint. I had no literary ambition: I aspired to be a Michael Angelo, not a Shakespeare. But I could not draw well enough to satisfy myself; and the instruction I could get was worse than useless. So when dry plates and push buttons came into the market I bought a box camera and began pushing the button ..."  

Shaw collected over 16000 photographs in his lifetime and wrote extensively on the medium, unfurling the following  
Wise Words Indeed…  

"A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic" 
- George Bernard Shaw

Self Portrait - George Bernard Shaw

"The photographer is like the cod, which lays a million eggs in order that one may be hatched"     - George Bernard Shaw.

Sidney and Beatrice Webb - by George Bernard Shaw

"....there is still far too much of the sort of work that can be seen for nothing in the shop-window, not to mention one or two examples of "retouching" which can only be compared to the pipes and moustaches with which portraits of the sovereigns of England get decorated in school histories.... Retouching claims to be an art within an art; and doubtless it is so in much the same way that conjuring as applied to table-turning is an art within an art. All the more reason for it to be artistically done. It ought, however, to be excluded from a photographic exhibition, on the simple grounds that it is not photography..."   - George Bernard Shaw

Self Portrait - George Bernard Shaw
 "Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will" 
  - George Bernard Shaw 

Photograph by George Bernard Shaw

"A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education." - George Bernard Shaw

Arabic Child - by George Bernard Shaw

"I would trade all the paintings of Jesus for one photograph" - George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Photography & Place

3rd May, 2011
Photography & Place ... Australian Landscape Photography, 1970s Until Now
Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) until 24th May, 2011.

Truth be known I shuffled around this display like a plain clothes Taoist Monk craving spiritual succour at the power tools end of Balgowlah Bunnings

For without wishing to sound aggressively unkind, Photography & Place is uninspiring; weighed down by the usual AGNSW millstones of politics and the incongruous brief. 

The exhibit blurb opens boldly, stating that “The work of the 18 artists included in the exhibition represents a shift from more than a century’s thinking about the depiction of landscape in Australian photography.” And so you can just imagine, poor poor me bounds in like a labrapup sniffing out a fruity sandshoe – I guess I was expecting a kind of Ken Duncan meets the revolution vibe – you know red dirt under well chewed toe nails dragging across the wide brown linoleum to a clicking of shears and the dulcet tones of warbling Wowness. 

The punters peruse Photography & Place ... Photo - Andrew Stark
A visual experience set to pick me up and fill my heaving chest cavity with the physical vista of a deeply insightful Australianess. But nah … didn’t happen. This is after all the AGNSW. Instead I got Maralinga, post modernism, indigenous self indulgence and of course, Bill Henson.

…has there been a group exhibition of photography at the Art Gallery of NSW post 1979 that hasn’t featured Bill Henson? Think not. You know, I even have a vague recollection of this institution including Mr H, along with Tracey Moffatt in a street themed exhibit back in the 1990s. 

Wesley Stacey's series was a highlight
 This sandstone encased doyen of all things conceptual has treated the pointy end of realist photography with an intolerable contempt for well over a quarter of a century now. Remembering, this is the public gallery that represents the home state of Trent Parke – an internationally fated artist for whom (at time of writing) has had but the single work collected for inclusion in the AGNSW permanent collection (a pic of a backyard swing set taken in Queensland during 2003).

The late Ingeborg Tyssen was a wonderful street photographer and her images of the undergrowth included in this show are kind of pretty, yet the sparse highlights of Photography & Place are Wesley Stacey’s long line of pharmacy processed road pic’s and Ian North’s Canberra burb-scapes. Both these contributions strip away the call for overt pretence – they are subtle yet fresh … sprigs of wattle in a paddock brim full of bleating show ponies (or should that be neighing billy goats?).  
Rosemary Laing's "after Heysen"
Rosemary Laing’s “after Heysen” was so traditional it brought into direct play the nepotistic Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome that so haunts worthwhile appraisal. A large take on the work of German/Australian landscape painter Hans Heysen; this image is included seemingly for no other reason than it is a work by Rosemary Laing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite lovely and yes pictorially presents like a 19th century watercolour yet there is certainly  no “shift away from more than a century’s thinking about the depiction of landscape” here, in fact if anything it offers an old school embrace. This photograph could be seamlessly coupled alongside works by postcard darlings Steve Parish and the afore mentioned Ken Duncan without jolting anyone’s stylistic rhythm. And yet Parish or Duncan with their capitalistic sensibilities shall never be permitted to wander across the Domain toward the rarefied ambience of this castle of whispered wisdom – no matter how relevant to the topic their snaps may become.   

Ken Duncan
Steven Parish
        The front wall blurb goes on to say that, “In the 1970s a more politically and conceptually informed approach emerged” … aint that the truth I grumbled, as I horseshoed my way down the staircase toward fresh air and home. Perhaps however someone should acknowledge that within the AGNSW this same approach has hog tied their photographic perspective to a kind of narrow, Marrickville Greens branch meeting predictability; left wing jingoism that recycles to a grooved mantra of fleshy, upper middle class self flagellation … or something !  

Why no Narelle Autio ?
Photography & Place is a theme that should have ignited the richest tapestry of Australian art. And whilst pyromaniacal vandalism is to be universally frowned upon, I ask - where was the curatorial spark of ingenuity that might have included …
Peter Dombrovskis' Tasmanian wilderness series, or Trent Parkes epic Minutes to Midnight. How about Marco Bok's Bondi Beach grabs or Narrelle Autio’s birds eye view from Sydney’s iconic grey arch. Tim Hixson’s Holga view of the northern beaches, Rob McFarlanes Seven Up style jetty pic’s from Brighton or even LM Hemsworths much acclaimed, Lonely Thoroughfare  series would have livened this presentation markedly (these are not all landscapes I here you scream - well I'm just trying to shift from more than a century’s thinking about the depiction of landscape in Australian photography.  .

Sadly this display is tired and uninspiring.
It has a thrown together from the downstairs vault feel.
Yes, I think that’s a fair summation.  
Kathy on Brighton Pier 1964 & 1973
    Why no Robert McFarlane ?


Old Man's Valley

Photo - Andrew Stark

28th April, 2011

 …and then I happened upon Old Man’s Valley.

Who’d have known it was tucked away in suburban West Hornsby, you know just down from the Chinese takeaway on Dural Street.

Down, down, down … I staggered, soon arthritic knees grinding toward dust; in search I guess, of the much heralded Old Man River… which one might assume would be found flowing through the Old Man’s Valley.

 Ol' man river,
Dat ol' man river
He mus'know sumpin'
But don't say nuthin',
He jes'keeps rollin'
He keeps on rollin' along.

And yet, like the fly sitting on the tongue of the Venus – I realized too late. It was the eleventh hour of all belated cognisance and this was a strictly ‘No Return’ trail. The rutted spiral thoroughfare grooved into Mother Earth like a shiny black stallion, nostrils flaring, earning his keep at that wet n wild thoroughbred stud up near Stroud. Remnants of grumpiness lined the corkscrewed track as hirsute ear canals flourished within the otherwise decaying corpses of baby boomers who’d never quite made it out.

Luckily my bush skills align a natural flair for well perforated philately*, and I’d soon mulched myself up a small compote of myrtaceous genus gum leaves inside the pouch of an unsuspecting rock wallaby. Whistling ‘Breakfast at Sweethearts’ in an unfamiliar key to keep the marsupial from bounding, I equally bided my time encouraging the marauding North West Sydney bull ants to nibble my temporarily earth bound knees in an attempt to both heighten my level of Myrmecia toxin levels and also to sharpen concentration. Once the Eucalypt concoction had fully festered I buried my face deep into the hirsutely hallucinogenic mix … and before the blowies had any chance to settle upon the conjunctive corners of a madly spinning middle eye, I was up and away, flying off out of that dark and sinister valley like a Ken Done plumed lorikeet atop the chiaroscuro’d chasm of a pallidly mortal chill.

Twas a close call; an experience many trumpet as ‘near death’. And it has awoken in me a realization that time is of the essence, you know in a fleeting kind of, can’t rely on tomorrow vibe. So yes, I must stop pontificating; find myself a new camera … and work.

*For years I went under the misapprehension that stamp collecting was called philanthropy and not philately. And you know back in the autumn of 1992 it got to ridiculous levels when I actually joined a local philanthropic organization; craving a bit of first day cover action. I quickly became frustrated however when despite my best efforts at sparking up a bit of Penny Black, 1840s revelry  my fellow members only ever wanted to chat about poor people and who to make the cheque out to …

Aussie Street - Heroes Just For One Day

21st April, 2011

"I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim
Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, for ever and ever
Oh we can be heroes, just for one day"

                       - Bowie

Street Reverb Magazine has a curious little feature about Australian Street Photography and the Dolphin Effect.

Thanks to Phill Hunt, Bryan F and some dude called Stark.

Konica Heads For Shady Pines

16th April, 2011

One of Konica's most popular efforts
Photo -Andrew Stark (and Konica)

Me and Konica, well, we've been a street duo now for close on 30 years. Everything I've seen out there on the crumbling bitumen she's seen too and occasionally, just every now and then you understand, we've combined to nab a half decent image or two. Now Konica, or TC as she's colloquially known has no fancy airs and graces, you know there's no motor wind, the light metering consists of a moistened finger held up to the breeze, a whole bunch of electrical tape has sutured up a cracked base for neigh on a decade now - yeah, it's fair to say we've faced our challenges ... but lately good readers it saddens me to report that things have deteriorated markedly. TC has got so gunged up she now struggles to see the light. And lets face it, an SLR who don't suck up light is gunna have to have a hell of a personality to survive. In recent months I've had to uprate TRI X to 2 stops just to get a bright sunny day response and yeah, we're talking about Aussie light here, the harshest most melanomic sunshine anywhere on the globe.
Show some compassion man and use a flash I hear you shout, well yes, despite hating flash photography almost as much as I despise State Rail Transit Officers, I would gladly countenance that option if it were not for the busted hot shoe and the dead as Dickens side socket.  

TC looking sprightly in her youth
This is a most difficult time and yet I need to glance, perhaps a little selfishly toward the future.
I'm going to need a ----, oh, this is hard to write.
I'm going to need a replacement.

Having no real finances and even less idea, I'm asking you knowledgeable folk out there, what do you suggest ? It needs be a film camera and if I do decide to go with the flow and steal a Leica - which model would you suggest ? Or perhaps a Contax is preferable, I don't know ... but at this difficult time, I do know with all my heart, that you're feedback would be greatly appreciated.      

Street Photography - Trailer Style

John Chiara

7th April, 2011

 Whilst leaping Lee Friedlander shoots famously from the well cushioned drivers seat of his car, there's this Californian chapee called Chiara who does it from just in behind his own cumbersome conveyance (take photo's that is).

Using a camera big enough to house a family of four, John Chiara exposes directly onto mural sized Cibachrome positive paper, dodges and burns during the picture taking process and develops in an old sewage pipe. The end result is purely aesthetic in nature - you know, big, limited edition of one, moody vistas fit for the discerning inner city feature wall.

I would probably love JC's work however haven't had a drink now in 53 hours and the head, well it's just a tad too unfuddled to swoon. See I reckon work like this needs accoutrement - and without, well it's like spag bowl without Parmesan - the magic I think lies in the coupling. So the next time I tumble from the wagon I'll head straight for Chiaras monoliths and experience the holistic hubris in it's heightened hentirety.

And the big trailer camera thing did have a definite Crocodile Dundee correlation...

Pondering Chiara quite favorably, my train of thought, despite being on a bus was abruptly truncated. Two adolescent females boarded with full metal trinkets jangling and a collective swagger brazen enough to undo any baggy panted Italian Prime Minister. Sprawling themselves just in behind Nowhere like some public performance piece for the latest Lolita lounge pose, I instantaneously lost control and felt my 'big camera' thought bubble pop ... arrgghh teenage girls - the scourge of the mild mannered, middle aged contemporary male. You see I was traveling south from Manly on the 143 last Sunday morning when the pair of semi naked 'like' parrots began leaning aggressively into my curious head space. A tinny noise maker up on high began cranking it's aural outrage - spitting the usual misogynistic, African American bling rant from it's shameless cathodes, you know the stuff ...

"Bout my giiirlll and the dark streets of her inner boottee,
 Huh huh, hee hee, yaaarrr,
 Haven't smiled since grade skool,
 Huh huh, hee hee, yaaarrr,
 My momma was a user my dad a real tool,
 Huh huh, hee hee, yaaarrr,
 I'm cut like a God aint nobodies fool,
 Huh huh ... etc"

And as the bus crawled through the rapacious avenues of Neutral Bay, the hood looked kinda shiny, a mean 150K the word on the tree lined streets. The musical interlude was accompanied by continual convo's shouted into the non crooning phone ... "Yeah so like f**kin get to like Chatswood ya mole - you like banned from Chatswood ? Well like f**kin get there ya bitch !"

Nowhere Man gritted his splintered incisors knowing far better than to take issue. Gripping the arm rest I stared out towards an imaginary mogadon dispenser, my mind drifting to mass murder, Victor Meldrew and ultimately Dostoevsky's Idiot,     

"He was in a state of nervous excitement and perturbation; he noticed nothing and no one; and he felt a craving for solitude, to be alone with his thoughts and his emotions, and to give himself up to them passively. He loathed the idea of trying to answer the questions that would rise up in his heart and mind, 'I am not to blame for all this', he thought to himself, half unconsciously."

Hopping off up beyond the Crows Nest, the ordeal had finally pushed into the annals of the past tense. Naturally I headed straight for Facebook to vent my kidneys and the lower half of a somewhat addled pancreas, reasoning soundly, 'why should ones spleen be the only organ fully aerated ?'. Before sundown I'd joined the worthy Facebook groups -

"I can't stand teens who play music (no wait) noise at the back of the bus"
"The I can't stand teenagers playing music on mobile phones on the bus group!"

The latter of these included an insightful quote from Lidja Peel of Dorset who noted, "this week there were two chav girls playing the new Rhianna song over and over and over and over ... as well as talking really really loudly ... I wanted to slap them !" 

Photo - Andrew Stark

Des & Molly Jones Vote Conservative

30 March 2011
Ar-achna-dee, ar-achna-daa, life goes on, brah !...
Lala how the life goes on …

Well, to a certain extent I guess it does …

I haven’t found the enthusiasm nor the desire in recent weeks. Pulling Konica from the darkest reaches of the back pack seems about as nonsensical just at the moment as does being excited by the outcome of last Saturday’s democratic brouhaha, stoush, political mugging … you know, the weekend of the little red pencil and that bland chorus line of pleading boxes held about every four years to determine control of Australia’s most populous state…   OK, for anyone out of the loop, here’s the latest breakdown

2011 NSW State Election Results –

*Blue blooded right wingers who live in mansions with long crunchy sounding driveways   - 69 seats

*Power hungry right wingers who’ve been in control for 16 years yet didn’t bother returning from their 2006 summer hol’s     – 20 seats

*Left wingers  – a few crumbs

*Lunatics - tba

Photo - Andrew Stark
… I think the local schoolkids had it right – stick em all with funny eyes and pour BBQ sauce down their chins… yeah, I’ll vote for dat.   

Another Day in the Sun

24th March, 2011.

Photo - Andrew Stark
Now you see … this tall, bark n handsome arborists fancy fainted and fell forlornly across Sydney’s main northern rail line this morning killing no one in particular whilst creating only minimal disruption to the unkempt sod sitting in the sun up on the temporarily undernourished platform 2. Said sod was of course I, topping up on vitamin-D whilst pondering hard my decaying degrees of flailing domesticity. I wondered woefully, an overriding heaviness pulling at my karmic aura like lead lined spiritual gravity, for the home front just refuses to chill. Hooked at the foot of my dishevelled crib hangs the recurring rap sheet, a stern document  proclaiming boldly that one …

*Doesn’t earn enough money
*Doesn’t do enough around the house
*Is not affectionate enough
*Is a terrible role model for the children
*And has an annoying habit of withdrawing when under siege… etc  

A whimsical little asteric sitting at the toe of the page, signalling a droll counter to the effect of –

“* Apart from all that you’re Mr Right adorned in chivalrously shiny armour, clutching a tasteful bouquet of pinkish posies whilst sporting a super sturdy lance of multiple intent (yeah, I wish)

And as I drifted sentimentally toward a contemplation of the ye olde phallic jousts of yesteryear, my train of thought was broken brusquely by a one legged seabird with what appeared to be a cleft beak. He was giving me one of those, “What the hell are you looking so glum about” looks, before hopping away with attitude toward Old Toongabbie and the hope of a golden, Cheezel dust afternoon.

I was left yet again with nothing but broad spectrum existentialism and the eternally unanswerable question -

Does any of it really warrant effort? 

I furrowed, “Bro, why not just sit in the sun and drink”; my imaginary friend of clichĂ©d street culture tedium, smiling inanely whilst sticking an arthritic middle thumb in the general direction of GOD.

Photo - Andrew Stark

And I’m here to tell you that street photography is the same. In fact street photography is more than the same. It’s a tedious repetition, a form of OCD - a habit to fill the waking hours; mental illness guaranteed by sundown. I mean will you look at that Bruce Gilden clip where the beanie clad highwayman does his New York thing in Derby. Geez, Gilden in Derby – sounds about as mad as Chris Killip in Egypt, or Max Dupain in Mexico or how about Boris Mihailov down the main drag of Dubbo

Bruce Gilden: 'Head On' - Trailer from Olivier Laurent on Vimeo.

Now as we all know, Gilden is like a Leica rock star, a big name with a big reputation – and yet the guy just continues to chuck the same net out every day before hauling it in the very same way every day - year after year – nothing creative – he pans for gold and every so often finds a speck of glittery pay-dirt. 

Photo - Andrew Stark
Bail em up from close range with a full on flash and a slightly uptilted perspective … yeah I’ll do that for forty f**king years! That’s a life well spent. It’s all the same and there’s no point to any of it. It has no intrinsic worth … why I ask myself doesn’t he just rip that dopey beanie off and sit in the sun and drink? 

Now I’m not singling the wiry, bearded one out for a singular f2.8 rollicking. No, Bruce is being used merely as an example of a malaise most rife. For the tiresomeness remains bullet sharp with no discernible grain structure, all the way from here to the horizon – nothing under the fiery yellow ball is new, and if it were – would it matter anyway?

Digging in the garden this afternoon I uncovered a nest of deadly funnel web spiders. At time of writing,  the well swung shovel had performed with verve and the front porch scoreboard reads,  

Nowhere Man 4 
Funnel Web Spiders 0

Using the halftime break to research the logistics of my battle half won, I’m alarmed to read an on-line story from just up the coast near Newcastle  telling of an elderly lady who uncovered 30 of the black beasts living in the one nest between her beloved hydrangeas and the rusting Hills Hoist (which is probably full of the equally deadly Redback). 30 minus 4 leaves an army, an angry army who all witnessed my flashing blade as it butchered their loved ones in a frenzy of violence not usually seen outside the prime time slots on free to air TV. 30 minus 4, and these black, hairy, eight legged killing machines know exactly where I live … and what time the lights go out each and every night …

Photo - Andrew Stark

 By my calculation, 
the sun will be out for another hour or two –   
think I’ll just put the shovel down, peel off the shirt and have a drink … 
you know, 
kind of make out like I’m enjoying the remains of the day...                      

A Sporting Lament...

21st March, 2011

Upon the bold, burgundy hued blog banner to be found immediately north north east of this very sentence sits the all-embracing addendum… “and stuff”.

Please be made fully aware that this post falls squarely, with a hefty phallic thrust into the freshly dug “and stuff” ditch of higher street photography irrelevance. This wad of text is a sporting lament, for a fact little known beyond the foul and paltry shores of Hen & Chicken Bay is that Nowhere Man also photographs a game called rugby…   

Once upon a time a medieval historian said of the exceedingly gothic Chartres Cathedral in the well rivered French hinterland, that it is best appreciated as a spiritual rather than a religious building… and as present day rugby stutters through the haze of a mulish half-light it is a cross purpose sentiment both starkly relevant and achingly required.   

For the game they attempt to play on the well gossamered playing fields of Greater Heaven has lost its way with a completeness not comparatively witnessed since the 17th century medieval Christmas game of Roi de la Fe’ve found its pudding bean fatally usurped by the shimmering promise of a well baked gold sovereign.

In a recent independent study undertaken by the Jasmine Institute of Upper Stroud it was found that the average period of game time afforded players between the plethora of well whistled punctuations  occurring on the paddocks of contemporary schoolboy and/or club colts level rugby is remarkably down to a paltry 11.26 seconds. Ruckus Interruptus is threatening to re-categorize rugby; taking it from the once proud sport played joyously by fun loving native children in and around the Buddhist Temples of Laos, and depositing it despondently toward the dry and furrowed brows of beigely humourless high disciplinaria.

“Your entry into that ruck young man was both recklessly obtuse to the perpendicular and a good nano second post any reasonable interpretative summation of an initial contestial ground grapple having been formed”

The shrill of overt pedantry is squeezing the life force from each and every mid winters Saturday afternoon (that an the price of pies). Our contemporary game having evolved into a cacophonously bittersweet symphony, verve being consigned to the haemoglobic blood bin of a clot less carnage. Rugby has become a verdantly staged production of liniment flavoured calculus. The literal interpretation is killing our code, and in the very process it is making rugby league look cultured, Aussie Rules appear skillful and the option of staying home with a good book quite comparatively aerobic. 

“Flanker, that’s a yellow card. Please take the allotted down-time to brush up on the eight man scrum teachings of Schopenhauer with particular focus on the relentless willing and doomed failure of wheeling for personal advantage … oh, and get a hair cut!”  

Surely the rules and regulations governing any worthwhile sport are set down in an earnest effort to best serve the core objectives of that pastime. They should not define from on high, nor constrict the efforts of those well tapered lads blessed with an ability to tuck the Gilbert and shimmy with panache, forcing them conversely into some gaffer taped world of Orwellian bleakness. Put simply, if the rules get in the way you’ve got a problem. And yes, Rugby has a problem. 

One must ask how on earth we have progressed (ironic use of the word) from the glorious anarchy of a UK schoolboy named Ellis scooping up the pill and free-styling at will toward a state of unfettered gay abandonment. For when did we loose that unbridled joi de vie? When did discipline smother the athletic exploit? And when are the rule book rationalists going to appreciate the game for the collective stream of consciousness that it truly is. For rugby in its purest form is a tapestry of high expression, a Buddhist journey … a poem.

 So just why has this ideal been left lying dormant, smothered below layer upon layer of crusty inconsequence?

To be found at the coalface of our outrage are those learned gents parading buffed and natty in canary yellow (with a touch of robin red and a sliver of wren blue) who have become so manfully proficient at blowing, pointing and then looking quite stern. The modern day rugby union referee has pushed beyond the categorization of mere vocation; he has leap frogged the hedge of celestial calling. No, the prototype rugby ref has become a self contained Jungian personality type. Starchy, white collared, outcome driven pillars to whom ambiguity presents as some foreign form of Arts Council myth. They are Plato’s Guardians in a Republic of recycled phase envy. Purveyors of statutory verbosity who force the hemlocked chalice of 3.15 tedium upon the withered lips of anyone foolhardy enough to gaze game-wards from the tiered seating of a vacant sporting curiosity. 

“If we keep blowing to the letter of the law – they will eventually learn”.

Whilst it is undeniable that most rugby fans do love a good logarithm or two before bedtime, few memorize the volumes entirety before lights out, and even fewer feel the need to double check the accuracy of the author’s handiwork using a set square and a pair of Cartesian callipers.

“We mean our guardians to be true saviours and not destroyers of the State”.                                     
          - Socrates to Adeimantus (Plato’s Republic)

Rugby referees are clearly a different breed. And yet blame must push past the apparent to rest more accurately at the feet of the feeders of these curious creatures … for yes, as unbelievable as it may seem … someone up in the well carpeted crows nest of Rugby House is nourishing and cajoling this linearly, anti-game behaviour. It is almost as if a directive has been issued to make the sport so visually inaccessible as to guarantee a shedding of everyday followers. A spite your face snobbery so extreme as to burn and pillage wannabe devotees; exclusivity set up with a secret handshake and a Pythagorean captains run across twickers@twilight.org. Legendary All Blacks half Justin Marshall renounced the game a bore back in 2004 and little has changed for anyone honest enough to open up and vent deep seated, oval shaped personal truths.

“As entertainment some of the matches were about as pleasant to experience as a root canal procedure – something has to be done”
                                                   - Spiro Zavos (Rugby Heaven. Feb, 2010).      

And yet peering into the sugary world of the dummy half scooter and the mock scrimmage (i.e. rugby league) we find the exulted ‘Book of Harriganism’ with its paradoxical belief in an” Authority Unannounced”. The scriptures (published by News Ltd with a forward by Phil Rothfield) tell of marquee contests played out before feverish crowds in which but a handful of noted infringements befell each and every contest. Legend has it that King Bill orchestrated theatre of a pure athletic magnificence, providing maximum flow using but the vaguest raising of a well trained right eyebrow. The pace was frenetic; the entertainment supreme. And whilst this is a markedly different culture, it is undeniably a game whose origins grew and were moulded directly from that of our own.  

 The bean counters would argue with paradoxical fervour that they are penalizing in an effort to speed the game up - especially in relation to the breakdown. Yet the IRB Law Book to be found on The Laws of Rugby Union website is a document weighing in at a whopping 4.5MBs. And in the name of thorough research I did attempt to open this puffy file on the high powered Dell down at Woy Woy’s Spike Milligan Memorial Library but was alas timed out; the reasonable expectation of a modern world succumbing darkly to yet another rugger stoppage.

“The law makers have been drinking too much South African white wine”
                                                     - Eddie Jones. 2009 (former Wallaby coach)

Rugby is not a mathematical equation. Neither should it be seen as a relentless historical homage to July 1893. The game in its current form is floundering hopelessly, in dire need of much right brained: Aquarian, existentialist thought … it needs find relevance, a point, a purpose … perhaps even an enjoyment factor … a soul.

For rugby circa 2011 has been reduced to little more than the tired cheese soufflĂ© of angular frustration, unable to rise due to the continual opening and closing of the oven door by men with mitts, perfect teeth and chronic OCD. Fussing, continually fussing they ferret with spatula’s half empty until all that is served up to the spiritually crushed troupe of loyal lunchtime aficionados, a motley mound of sods known popularly as “fans”, is but a small china dish awash with cheddary free range swill and the profuse aroma of a hopelessly concentrated uncertainty.

“That’s me in the corner. That’s me in the spotlight losing my religion…”
                                                                      -  REM

“Advantage Over!”

Snaps from Sydney on E Bay

10th March 2011

My somewhat surly and wholly unkempt alter ego Andrew Stark informed me during a recent late night bout of schiziod verbosity that he has hoisted a rare copy of his 2003 book, Snaps from Sydney up on e bay to be auctioned to absolutely anyone that cares. Now despite this clearly being the photographers best work I greeted this somewhat self indulgent filament of news with a shrug of sinewy scapulas before pulling one of those  'whatever' grimaces made internationally famous by the 1943 game show ace Colonel Klink.  Said book is apparently signed (I presume by the author) and the following Photofile Magazine review may enlighten the unsuspecting potential buyer (and just to the left there's an equally informative blurb on one of Bill Henson's publications).

  The electronic marketplace awaits good readers, and do be sure to bring along your well swung little hessian sack, brimming to the pull-string with clinking currency -  Maltese Lira, Kuwaiti Dinars, Cyprian Piastres, French Polynesian Centimes ... hell, they'll even take luke warm Aussie currency on e bay (absolutely no standards).
So for anyone with a cacophonous clinking of loose change in the side pouches of their lower covering - here's the link to visual gratification

iN-STore Book Review #3 ... Bill Stott - "The Crazy World of Photography".

 8th March, 2011

As the biblio-behemoths Borders and Angus & Robertsons stumble and crash like a Subbies tight head at the call of 'Last Drinks', Nowhere Man figured it might very well be a good time to attempt the third in his sneeky series of in store book reviews. The reasoning being that those pesky store detectives with their Dirty Harry ways may just be internally consumed, distracted perhaps with whether or not they're going to be corporately diddled out of their severance pay.. I mean why, at this time, would they be bothered with a disheveled, middle aged guy just trying to shield his person from the dark ceiling bubble of Orwellian intrusion... and possibly attempting to write a little note or two on the sly... beats me, but what can I tell you, I was wrong, I was very wrong - the estimated review time narrowed to a skinny 67 seconds and the resultant interrogation period was both willing and aerobic. Dancing with the A to Z pressed hard up against my kidneys, yellowy tom toms to an alpha dude jam session in which the guest (that's me) got to howl the blues with tremendous conviction, whilst a little wire bound notebook tucked surreptiously into the withered elastic of a slightly soiled left sock housed the hurriedly scrawled notes on the selected book ... 

"The Crazy World of Photography"

This A5 sized book of witty pen & ink observation opens to a beautifully purplesque inside cover before you are lead gently by the funny bone through 80 or 90 photography themed cartoons by the *droll* Englishman Bill Stott. First published in 1987 and printed and bound in Budapest, many of these works initially graced the pages of the photographic magazine, “Camera Weekly” where readers must have guffawed and thigh slapped fulsomely between bikini clad Minolta XG-1 advertisements and sound advice on the perils of reciprocity failure, drying marks, dodgy extension rings or the like…

The collection begins hopefully with the depiction of a baby in it’s high chair receiving a gift of a brand new camera from his dad – and concludes a whole bunch of pages later with appropriate pathos and metaphorical grist as we share the abject frustration of a frazzled (dare I say defeated) photographer and his wife, confronted tragically by the trauma of an exploding SLR (something of course we can all identify with – an acquaintance of mine actually lost an arm back in the risky Ricoh period of 1991).

I must admit that I found these concisely drawn little slices of the photographic life to be as amusing as Slocumesque reruns of “Are You Being Served”, however unlike Mr Humphries, this book is not ‘free’. If you hunt around on e bay - $4.50 + shipping seems a fair sort of price, although I've been alerted to the fact that it's going for as cheap as $2.99 from Awesome Books USA

  This volume is a must for all serious collectors of the photographic book (as it may just help alleviate some of that pesky seriousness). The “Crazy World of Photography” contains not a single photograph and yet manages to impart all the wisdom & light hearted entertainment of a Leonard Cohen/Nick Cave duet. I recommend you purchase this book, settle back into the brightly coloured bean bag and relive the carefree and gloriously nonsensical days of the pre digital age.   


* Whilst using the word 'droll' in this review, Nowhere Man would like to acknowledge the assistance of legendary Australian documentary photographer Robert McFarlane. 

Robert kindly incorporated the word ‘droll’ into a recent e mail – awakening me to the possibilities of this five lettered gem which in recent years, I must admit, in a purely vocab’ sense, I’ve shamefully overlooked. Droll deficiency (like Droll dependence and all things Droll really) is no laughing matter. Rest assured however, supplements and/or boosters shall be immediately employed to remedy this descriptive imbalance. And you know I really do enjoy all facets of the word, from its literal definition, right through to the audio sensory tone of its somewhat sardonic deliverance. I think a case could almost be mounted for borderline onomatopoeic categorization. And furthermore …if I were to ever follow in the mono monikered footsteps of high profiled single taggers such as Weegee, Pink, Basquiat etc, I’d more than likely secure the name, ‘Droll’ all for myself. Hell, it might even be worth looking into setting up a philosophical grouping of fellow – faintly amusing, quietly strange people – and calling it The Drollness Society. I mean can you just imagine an army of understated volunteers rattling on the nation’s front door knocker throughout the annually designated ‘Droll Toll Day’, exclaiming hopefully from behind somewhat wry expressions, “Hi, I’m from the Drollness Society … could you possibly spare any loose change … or barring that, a mildly amusing personal anecdote?”

… Yeah, probably not.