I arrived home from Adelaide to find Lord Mayor of Melbourne had been quoted as saying Adelaide should be ‘shut down’.

The feeling of oddness was still with me from traipsing up and down Hindley Street all weekend – sex shops and tittie bars (and cyber sex cafes – the point?); R&B-type slick and shiny clubs open at 9am and quite full; bogan beats cruising up and down the street; being kept awake all night by pop-rap crap and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and some guy yelling ‘woo’ until 5am … but pockets of delicious culture (bookstores, old buildings, the Format Fest and wider Fringe fest); and such enthused, lovely people everywhere – be it the Keno counter or the zine fair tables.

Isn’t the boredom of a small city and the way people amuse themselves of cultural interest in itself? A crazy man in the street stopped to tell us that the Hell’s Angels had taken over, treating Adelaide like a birthday party. He then jogged off, peering cautiously over both shoulders. Past the heavy-breasted women in windows my friends and I found two of the best comic book stores I’ve been to, and one of the most comprehensive and passionately-stocked antiquarian booksellers. Note my haul:

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That’s Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; Frank Moorhouse’s The Electrical Experience as I’m just in love with him right now; John Fowles’ The Magus (loved The French Lieutenant’s Woman and am told this is even better); James Joyce’s Ulysses (yes – I’m going to give the ‘great book’ a go); Edgar Allan Poe’s Forty-Two Tales (have read many – love the illustrations in this edition); my own copy of Alan Moore/Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen (I borrowed Gerard’s to read it); and in my search for a comic with a strong female character I somehow ended up with erotically-charged vampire story Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton. Oh well, it’ll be fun at least!

The Saturday also featured a zine fair as part of the Format Festival. Here’s my haul from that:

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My friends and I fell in love with Dave Roche, Texta Queen, zinesters Fetus and Amanda Panda, and all the work done by Breakdown Press.

On Saturday night we found a classy place called The Apothecary 1878 (which used to be just that) and had a sherry, darling, and then we moved on to an even classier joint, the Woolshed. Unfortunately we didn’t see the mechanical bull in action but we enjoyed gargantuan steaks (so fat and juicy) while shifting around Phil Collins, Supertramp, Little River Band, Fleetwood Mac, Bowie and co. on the jukebox. Sus, Sus, Sussudio!

The Sunday opened with large coffees after the night’s endurance of drunken shenanigans in the apartment above. Gerard and I ran our blogging workshop – too early for most people but a fun and fascinating discussion (I’ll bring up some points when I’ve refined my ‘on blogging’ post). Our Watchmen Read and Seen is coming soon too… I participated in three other panels – Indie Publishing, Writing and Activism, and Style Council. The intimate and engaged audience often joined in the discussions.

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Some points:

* People engage in indie publishing as a radical act (defying monopolisation), to innovate, break new ground and support emerging writers and art forms, but also because they just love it. There was so much goddamn passion in that venue.
* It was generally agreed that both nonfiction and fiction writing can have activist qualities, but it’s important not to ‘preach’ and alienate readers. Agendas must be presented with honesty and yet not forced. Nonfiction writing can be just as engaging and personal as fiction or poetry. The actual ‘acts’ of activism were discussed (many had worked/lobbied etc. on the front line) but all found there is meaning in everyday activism. One panellist was a poet but also runs her own shop – completely fair trade, environmental etc. There was much talk of subverting the norms.
* People wear animal hats. People are chameleons. People use fashion as a filter (if someone will judge them, they’re not the kind of person they want to be around). People wear yellow pants with elastic ankles and palm trees while hitchhiking in America. Women are still unsure what the whole leg hair things signifies. Style can be a signifier of mood, interests and personality. Muumuus can look hot with a belt. Recycling/swapping clothes is good for the environment.

It’s good to be back in the best city in Aus – but if the silly-buggers really were to shut down Adelaide somehow they might as well shut down all the other places I’ve been that have a whiff of the same character – Newcastle, Armidale, Canberra, Wollongong, good ol’ Coffs – one could go on forever. Sometimes we live in a vacuum in Melbourne or Sydney. It can all get a bit pretentious and wanky. Everyone needs to get bored and drunk and find themselves on the back of a mechanical bull, or emerging from a cyber-sex cafe to an aesthetically confused street, or pumping the bass from a hotted up vehicle once in a while.

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