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