Public Transport in Melbourne, and other stories of entitlement.

There’s something constant about public transport in Melbourne. When I first moved here, I found it remarkable. It was easy, convenient, widely accessible (for all the places i needed to go anyway) and reliable.

After two years in Melbourne, I have to admit I’ve become a bit jaded. I plan to catch the train or tram extra early if I know I have to be somewhere on time, just because something going wrong (delays and cancellations) happen so often. I try to altogether avoid traveling at peak hour times to avoid packed carriages and pissed off passengers. So yeah, altogether not so easy and reliable. Except of course, when it is.

Because you only notice something going wrong when something goes wrong. All the other times the trams and trains are on time go completely unnoticed. I’m not saying the system is without flaws, but there are a lot of qualities that we actually overlook because  we feel entitled to it anyway.  It’s like the internet in a certain way. We’ve become so completely immersed and dependent on the internet that when something out of the ordinary happens we completely lose our shit.

For example, I was writing a post about the City Circle Tram, a free service that runs around the CBD, showing you some of Melbourne’s most iconic spots. I had a video to accompany the post, a short film made by one of my friends about Melbourne’s public transport called The Loop. Except when I searched for it on Vimeo, I discovered it had been removed!

Now what? I had to ditch my post, rewrite something else – all because some one had the nerve to take their own creation off the net. The internet is for everyone! it’s meant to be permanent, with content that lasts forever. It’s not meant to be intangible and temporary! It’s the internet! \rant over.

Except when you think about it, it’s completely understandable. Because even though the internet and everything digital is meant to signify the ever-lasting, there is nothing less true. Yeah sure, you can copy and replicate, link and save. But how do you call something permanent, when in certain physical terms it doesn’t exist at all?  Whether it’s a crash that wipes your computer’s memory, or a friend deciding to delete their content, how permanent is digital content really? So it’s quite surprising we have this attitude of “forever” when in fact there is an infinite possibility of the “temporary”.

Apply this thinking to public transport again. There are so many factors affecting the time your tram arrives. From the mood of the driver that day, the weather, or that car that decided to run a red light – yes you should rely on public transport to an extent, but too much reliability in the face of so many external factors can only lead to disappointment.

So stop fuming about situations out of your control, and enjoy this little gem.

Don’t forget to validate your myki!

Not Everything is Pozible – But also, IRL Shooter and Patient 0 [ZOMBIES]

So have you heard of Pozible?
No, it’s not an event happening in Melbourne – but it does help.me Zombie event in Melbourne. It’s called Patient 0, and its run by IRL Shooter. Check out their website and Facebook page. This event was also crowd-sourced on Pozible, It’s a crowd-sourcing, fund raising website for all sorts of projects and shenanigans. You may remember a reference to it in my post about Zombies (Dash of the Dead Australia had a Pozible account). It’s tagline is ‘Crowdfunding Creativity’ and its based out of Sydney and Melbourne.

Now if you don’t know what crowdfunding is, it’s basically pitching an idea (for a project, event, product etc) to the online community who can choose to donate to fund your project if they like the sound of it. Where Pozible differs from other crowdfunding sites is that it provides the possibility of offering rewards to potential donators based on how much they give. It’s an excellent tool for broadening the market for ‘investors’ in all sorts of creative projects, as well as a great indicator of market demand for certain projects.

There are tons of success stories, but then there aren’t. For example, Dash of The Dead Australia recently announced on their facebook page that they were officially cancelling the event due to sluggish fund raising and not enough time and resources to effectively market their event. They had a Pozible account and aimed to collect AUD $20,000 in pledges, but they failed to even clear $1000. Now it’s not for a lack of interest in zombie-related events, because another on, Patient 0 (a live-action zombie game by IRL Shooter) was pledged over $200,000!

How were there such starkly contrasting outcomes for two seemingly similar projects? From just observing the Websites, Pozible and Facebook pages of the two events. Patient 0 seems to have been marketed much more aggressively, in addition to that it is run by industry professionals. In other words, they have contacts and know how to use them. Also it was marketed at a specific demographic of ‘gamers’ who have a tendency to manically support something they think is cool (sorry to generalize, but i live with three of them so I’d know).  It seems like the idea was well thought through before the page was launched. Contrastingly, DotD seemed a bit more amateurish – from the language, marketing style and websites. they didn’t have a proper team in place (they were calling out for volunteers on facebook and their website) and no proper details were given. Also, Patient 0 was marketed to all of Australia (even though they would initially start in Melbourne), while DotD could only promise an event in Victoria.

So had DotD Australia been a little more prepared and done some more marketing legwork, they might have been able to pull it off. Instead of just relying on a awesome idea and a Pozible page to pull it together. Hope they work it out in the future, because I would definitely pledge again!

For more information on IRL Shooter’s Patient 0 game, check out their website and Facebook page. |
To scour some projects on Pozible go here, and hopefully find something you could make happen!

Lost and Found in Melbourne Laneways

One thing you may have noticed about Melbourne is its love of art. Street Art is no exception. It’s pretty easy to lose yourself in the Graffiti filled laneways of Melbourne CBD, but how easy is it to find something?

Well here’s a challenge for you. If you like puzzles, scavenger hunts and exploring the city – then keep reading. Also, it’s free, so there’s that too.

I give you – Chazov-Dmytryk-Harkov treasure hunt.

Basically a series of visual puzzles scattered across Melbourne’s walls. Starting at Hosier Lane, the answers to the puzzles will lead you to your next destination. The first puzzle is in Bullens La, off Lt Bourke St (near the corner of Lt Bourke st and Russell st).

Here’s a link to the artist’s website here. and to his post about the ‘Deductive Logic Tast’ you’re about to embark on.

His advice is to;
1) Set aside atleast one hour – you WILL be walking around the city, so yeah – that’ll take a while.
2) Bring along some sort of smartphone to help you find your way around the laneways. This is not considered cheating (Although an oldschool map of Melbourne would be really cool). You could also use it to snap pictures of the puzzles, in case you realize you didn’t solve the previous one correctly, Saves you the walk back.
3) Bring a friend – because you may not be as smart as you think. Or as CDH points out, safety in numbers in case you get mugged. Laneways don’t have the best reputation for being hospitable and welcoming to lone strangers.

Good Luck, and happy art-hunting.

 

Laneway Learning – Higgs Boson and hugging bisons

If you’ve been to Melbourne, you’ve probably noticed the lack of places to get a good coffee. (\sarcasm)

Yeah, right.

More like the abundance of places – cafes, bakeries, bistros, restaurants and on and on. Try searching for “Best Coffee in Melbourne” and see if you find any definitive results. I didn’t.

So the difficulty to compete on just coffee and food in Melbourne may actually be a good thing – because it forces places to come up with outrageous and quirky ideas to get customers through the door. Or they just copy someone’s outrageous and quirky idea.

Take Laneway Learning at The Little Mule Cafe in the CBD.
They run a series of classes taught by a variety of people on different topics.When I first heard about it, I was all “What a creative, innovative and original idea.” but then I did some research and found out they were inspired by the Brooklyn Brainery in New York, which runs a similar concept of classes taught by ordinary people. Cheap, Accessible and Fun.
So Tom, the guy who initially visited the Brooklyn Brainery and brought it to Melbourne, talks more about the concept here.

But let me give you a sample of the menu;

Karate: Self Defence
Unconventional Baking
Wine: A One Night Palate Trainer
Urban Beekeeping
Citizen Science – Astronomy for all
Makeup and You

So I went to the class on Higgs Boson. It was, surprise surprise, very theoretical but at the most basic level. But if you check out their facebook page here, you’ll see pictures of more interactive classes such as Next Level Cupcakes and Steampunk.

When they say ‘Cheap classes on anything and everything’, they kinda mean it.
Classes run for roughly an hour to 90 minutes, but it depends on the subject. Prices are around $12 a person. And all classes are held on site at The Little Mule Cafe in the evenings. Classes sell out FAST, so get in quick. You can email them and request them to repeat a class, or ask to be put on the wait list in case a few people drop out.

The kitchen is still open during classes, so you can grab a soup or a cup of coffee whilst you contemplate the universe or learn how to pickle a tomato (do people even do that? I have no idea).

I think it’s a great idea. Even if it may not be “original” in some people’s narrow definition of the word, but it does provide a great example of how a good idea can be adapted and appropriated (even in this case it was pretty much just the geographical shift of the concept from New York to Melbourne) – but I don’t think the people at Brooklyn Brainery would mine. But even if they did, would Laneway Learning be in the wrong? I don’t think so.

If you’re interested in taking a class, check them out here – http://www.lanewaylearning.com/

Zombies of Melbourne

This is a post about an upcoming event. So get out your fake blood and tear up some old clothes because Melbourne Zombie Shuffle 2012 is happening this [UPDATED] October, on Sunday the 28th.

When zombies take to the streets of Melbourne – for no apparent reason (except perhaps to block city traffic and scare the living population of Melbourne).

I’m excited because I love costumes. I love Zombies. Preparing for events like these are half the fun in my opinion. I’ve already begun to ‘brain’-storm for original zombie costume ideas. But obviously I began by being unoriginal and googled images of some of the greatest zombie costumes I can find on the internet to inspire me, and hopefully you too!

Melbourne Zombie Shuffle has their own facebook page here. Make sure to like it if you want to keep up to date with any changes, also they’ll probably post up details on on where and what time to meet up on the day. From what I can tell, they seem to be planning some kind of Zombie pub crawl (“keep your evening free!”) or at least, I’m hoping they do!

Which brings me to another upcoming event in (the area surrounding) Melbourne – Dash of the Dead Australia 2013.

Yes. You read that correctly – 2013! So it’s quite a long way off, actually they’re still trying to raise funds for it – CROWDSOURCING. But it’s on theme with the zombies and is an awesome idea, so you should know about it.

Scheduled to happen sometime next February, the Dash of the Dead (DotD) is a zombie apocalypse themed obstacle course to take place somewhere in South Eastern Victoria. The basic premise is to run, run and avoid the wave of zombies that will be released 10 minutes after you. Dodge, deceive, and don’t get caught – if you do, you become a Zombie yourself, hellbent of catching the other racers more skillful (or luckier!) than you were.

DotD is based on an American event, and is currently trying to raise funds to run it in Victoria. If you would like to donate, buy a ticket (Spectator or Runner) or attend the pre-race Zombie Panel on how to survive a zomibe apocalypse then head here now –
or you can like them on facebook or visit their

Secondhand Melbourne

My best friend recently moved back overseas after a semester in Melbourne. One of the things she misses the most about Melbourne (besides me of course) is the number of decent secondhand shopping options. There are literally tons of secondhand and vintage goods around Melbourne, but you might need to know where to look if you’re new. Keep reading and I’ll tell you about my favorite places to shop for secondhand and vintage items, based on prices, quality and selection.

Lost & Found Market

If you venture a little further out of the city on Lygon Street, it’s probably very difficult to miss this one. A bright yellow building with “Lost & Found Market” blazoned over its doors, not to mention a tricycle and a dolls head (?). The place is packed with things! As far as layout goes it’s decently spaced out, enough room to move around, pull out things. They have a great selection of vintage bags and clothes (clothes are really pricey here though $60-$70ish on average from what I saw). I picked up a floral teacup for $6 to add to my collection. You can pay by card and cash.
511 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
website: http://www.lostandfoundmarket.com.au/

Camberwell Market

I’ll be doing a whole post about the Camberwell Market soon, because it’s one of my all-time favorite places to go in Melbourne. It happens every Sunday in Camberwell, from as early as 7am until about 12:30pm. If you’re into browsing odd and ends at a market, it’s worth giving up your sleep-in. It wins the prize for randomness, with heaps of stalls, all run by different people with all kinds of things to sell. Think vintage cameras from $700 to 50c clothes. Most vendors are open to bargaining and some of them radically slash prices from about noon. Bring cash! No one will take cards, although there is a Woolies around if you need cash out.

Retrostar Vintage

Hidden away in the city, this is one of Melbourne’s most well known vintage stores. The store has a very eclectic, with a carefully edited, but vast range of items. Prices can be quite high, because many of its items are originally vintage – however, check the back room for some cheaper items. The staff are really helpful and friendly (at least on the days I was there)
Nicholas Building (go up to the first floor)
37 Swanston Street, corner of Flinders Lane
website: http://retrostar.com.au/

Salvos

If you’re more into a bargain rather than unearthing a lost treasure, Salvos is pretty much unbeatable on price. The upside is you can find a Salvos in pretty much any suburb. The prices are low, the selection is vast and random and the shops are usually pretty organized. Plus you can use eftpos!
See also: Brotherhood of St Lawrence, Australian Red Cross stores.

Slutwalk Melbourne

So today’s post may be deviating a little from my usual format of fun activities to do, or places to go see in Melbourne. This is going to be about a protest march happening in Melbourne that I think may be of some interest to my readers.

Slutwalk Melbourne 2012

History of the movement

Slutwalk is an organized protest marches through the streets of people protesting against the cultures of victim-blaming and slut-shaming, particularly in the context to rape. The movement originally started in 2011 in Toronto after a police officer told female college students to “avoid dressing like sluts” in order to avoid becoming a victim of rape. The statement is problematic to say the least. It suggests that the victims of rape are in some part to blame by not working to prevent their attack better (whether this involves dressing more conservatively or not behaving in a manner that could be deemed ‘slutty’). Slutwalk essentially opposes this view, that the only one who is to blame for the crime of rape is the individual who made the conscious decision to attack another. The sentiment also suggests that rape is primarily about sexual attraction, while it is more about domination and control of another person – which would make the argument of sexually suggestive clothing irrelevant to the equation. The movement has garnered so much attention and spread to all corners of the globe – evidently, as I attended the one in Melbourne on Saturday the 1st of September.

The movement isn’t without its criticisms though. It’s been called out on its lack of ethnic diversity in participants and a movement that relies on white (or Western) women’s privilege to be able to call themselves sluts and walk on the road in skimpy clothing (in many countries, women wouldn’t do that as a matter of choice, rather than being forced to comply to religious or cultural expectations). Others claim the word ‘slut’ shouldn’t be celebrated, as it would only serve to perpetuate misogynist beliefs rather than challenge them. The movement (and its name) is open to individual interpretation and as a result, Slutwalk means different things to different people. Some march to claim back the word ‘slut’, a word that symbolizes feminine sexual promiscuity, as something to be celebrated instead of shameful.

I initially found out about Slutwalk last year, when a friend of mine posted pictures of her attending one in the States. Most of the information I have collected in relation to it has been through blogs, online news coverage and youtube videos. You can check out the website here, follow their tweets here.

Food, for thought – Lentil as Anything

So Melbourne’s got a pretty good reputation for being a foodie’s paradise. And if you’re into that sort of thing,  there’s a fair share of fancy restaurants serving fancy food, using fancy ingredients, inspired by fancy art. Lentils As Anything is a different kind of inspirational. It’s not just about the food you come here to eat, but the concept you become a part of. With branches in Abbotsford, St Kilda and Footscray, it’s safe to say it’s a concept people genuinely want to be a part of. 

When you sit down to eat here, you’ll notice the simplicity of your surroundings, the diversity of the staff and patrons, then you’ll probably notice that there aren’t any prices on the menu. And not because they’re too embarrassingly high to be there. This is one of the integral aspects of the Lentils as Anything concept – you pay as much as you feel your meal and experience was worth. 

DID SOMEONE SAY FREE FOOD? I admit, that was my first reaction. No, I’m not encouraging that you freeload off this generous, not-for-profit company – but, instead of a bill, you pay in donations. Some would argue it’s the same thing, but there is no rule saying how much you owe. That’s not to say there aren’t expectations though. Signs at the counter informed me to take into account rent, electricity, water and various other costs in running the business. 

I found the internal conflict (melodramatic, much?) I faced when forced to pay incredibly eye-opening. I found myself taking all things into consideration, including meal size, taste, quality of service etc. Looking back at it now, I remember all the times I never batted an eyelid at the bill, particularly when I’m faced with a decision that’s already been made for me. I won’t tell you how much I eventually donated -not because I was a cheapo, but because I wouldn’t want to influence the decision that you ultimately make for yourself. Honest!. Don’t let it scare you though, you just put the donation into a box, no one’s standing around judging you!

The menu consists of a mixture of South Asian, African and Australian cuisine. They only serve vegetarian food and have a mixture of a la carte and buffet serving style (depending on the location). 
The regularly updated menus can be found on their Facebook page here. For more information on the company and the people behind it, including a fascinating timeline of how Lentils as Anything was shaped, visit their website here.

Keep a look out for the wonderful projects they run – they’re always looking for volunteers!

Eat happy, Melbourne.