Pitch – nearly perfect

I went to the Pitch Music and Arts Festival last weekend with a certain amount of trepidation. It is a newish festival – this year being its second. I was worried that the festival would like Rainbow Serpent and Babylon be full of aggressive, wasted bros. I was hoping that best case, it would instead like Strawberry Fields be attended by unfriendly, wasted schoolies. I had zero hopes that it would have the engaged, friendly and clean crowd that attended Tanglewood.

Fortunately, what I found instead was that while predominantly young, the crowd was there for the music. That meant that they weren’t wasted (you can’t really appreciate the subtleties of your favorite artists performance if you are wasted) and keen to talk about who they were going to see next and why. Rubbish was still a problem when compared with Tanglewood (close to zero rubbish on the d’floor and campsites) and Burning Seed (zero waste everywhere) – though not so much as Rainbow and Babylon which were frankly write-offs as far as audience waste is concerned. However at Pitch, while nowhere close to perfect, I saw many incidents of people picking up after themselves often not even their own rubbish.

The music was great – the acts they selected represented the new wave of dance music, acts that were committed to exploring and discovering new ways of expression. For the first time, I felt like I was actually at a music festival and not just at a very long party.

I will certainly be returning next year. And I am hoping that the bros will not start going there too.


Bye bye van

After sinking way too much money into my third car, a 2002 VW transporter van, we’ve decided to finally get rid of it. It felt like a cliched bad relationship, where the errant partner promises to behave given another chance only to let you down a few months down the track. Before you know it, the best years of your life has passed. And as with most of those scenarios, the van looked so good on paper – a diesel engine with 230k km, an engine we reconditioned with a new pump. All of  it should have seen us drive it easily for the next 250k km. But instead, it just kept getting worse with a mysterious starting problem (it only starts when the engine is cold) that saw us spend another lot of money on it in a hope of finding out what is wrong. Fortunately, nobody could – so we’re getting rid of it as is for a tiny amount.

I can’t wait for electric cars to become more affordable and common-place – their mechanical simplicity  should make them much more reliable. In the meantime, we’ve bought a toyota hi-ace – the byword for reliability here in Australia. Of course it is second hand and of  course it came with a mysterious check engine light error that the mechanics think are to do with the dual fuel conversion. So it’s not the best start.

Anyway, this van follows in the vein of all my previous two: expensive, unreliable and almost the cost of the purchase price in mechanics bills.  We’ve decided to put the car into my partner’s name. She’s had much better luck.

Midnight Blue

Sometime in the late nineties, I bought the Kenny Burrell album “Midnight Blue” on CD. I didnt have a lot of CDs at that time – they were very expensive and there was always the problem of trying to figure out which one to buy. Laying down twenty odd dollars for an album just because it was by an artist you’d heard off was risky. The Penguin guide to jazz was useful but idiosyncratic. There was a whole lot of ECM records that I could never get into.

Anyway, I hadn’t really listened to Midnight Blue for a long time until through the magic of Spotify, the title track came on via a Afro Cuban Lounge playlist in which it clearly did not belong. The track took me right back to my late twenties in the front room in a shared house on Faraday Street in Carlton and my emotional landscape at that time: excitement, confusion, fear, sadness. I was alone in a way I hadn’t really understood could be possible.

Looking over my backyard at the forest reserve beyond, I realised how often I felt like that in my twenties and thirties and how long it has been since I’ve been in that state. And I was glad of it and grateful.


A workmate of mine was talking about how happy he was that he and his young family had moved into a rapidly gentrifying pocket of Coburg. His neighbors and the people in that area were good people.

I knew what he meant. Pockets like this have appeared all over inner Melbourne. They are filled with white young educated left-of-centre middle-class professionals who have started a family. In those neighborhoods, they grow vegies, share their extra produce, have a little free library somewhere, plant out their verge gardens and have kids that pop into each others houses. It’s entirely possible that they have cargo bikes which one of them use to ferry their kids to and from school.

Listening to him talk about his community and how it was changing the school population of Coburg high, I wondered what it would actually feel like to be living somewhere where most people not only shared my values and my socio-economic class but also my lifestyle and appearances. I wondered how it feel to have that level of connection with so many people. I wondered how it would feel to belong.

I’ve written about belonging/not belonging within this blog and in other writings. It’s not as much of a big deal now that I’m closer to fifty that I’d like to be. To a certain degree, I’ve found my own community but it’s a community brought as much together by their rejection of the wider mainstream community as it is by their shared interests and activities: outdoor music festivals and the parties that happen around them.

But it isnt the same.


The Last Rainbow

That’s it, I’m done with Rainbow Serpent Festival. I’ve gone to probably 10 or so of them since 2006 and it’s unlikely I’ll return. The catalyst was another festival I went to at new years: Tanglewood. It was small, friendly and clean – attended mostly by hippies and outdoor doofers. They kept themselves nice and just as importantly, they picked up their rubbish and left a clean site. The contrast when I went to Rainbow a month after was enough for me to understand how much the crowd has changed for the worse. Also, looking through my previous blog posts, it seems that Rainbow has quite often been an iffy prospect for me and yet I still keep going.

Not anymore.