Heading home; herewith more illustrated downundernotes, plus thoughts on crowded schedules and on retirement.

Victoria State Library · As the holiday wound down, a day presented with no social engagements. I suggested “Let’s make like tourists and do galleries and museums and so on.” The idea caught on, and Lauren said “First, the Library.” Which puzzled me a bit; we’re severely bookish, but few libraries attract tourists. Well, I was wrong; Melbourne’s Victoria State Library is worth a visit by anybody, anytime. It used to share a (very beautiful) building with the State Museum but has grown to occupy the whole thing; which means that there are not one but two monumental Reading Rooms, illustrated below:

The (former museum) reading room at the Victoria State Library
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The (renovated) main reading room at the Victoria State Library

The upper is appropriated from the former Museum; the lower is the historic Main Reading Room, just re-opened after renovation, but there’s still work to do. Pardon the diagonal presentation; I took a dozen or more snaps but this was the only one that came close to capturing the scale.

When It’s Over · That is, when I can no longer summon the passion to code or to write or to sell, or still can but can’t get paid for it any more, what comes next? My Dad retired very poorly and suffered for it. The Library, with its artful displays of interesting new books, brought home to me that I could spend some years happily propped up in such a place pursing a course of private study on The Origin of the Etruscans or Elizabethan Erotic Sonnetry or whatever.

And I must confess that in the last five years, given the addition of parenthood and ongoing to the life-mix, the time for reading and music has suffered severely, and I miss those things. But for now, what I’m doing is too much fun.

ACMI · That would be the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, our next stop, but first a word on Melbourne’s Federation Square where it’s located; a former eyesore that’s been turned into a fine public space by the simple expedient of stuffing it with good restaurants. We had an excellent lunch there at the Funkfish Café but there were lots of options. Also the aggressively-modern architecture pleases the eye, mine at least (but see that restaurant review).

Back to the ACMI, in whose basement is the Screen Gallery, currently hosting the transfigure exhibition, a splash of video/sound/presence ideas against a black but welcoming background; like anything contemporary and creative, some was crap, if perhaps not Theodore Sturgeon’s 95%. Reactions in our little tourist party varied but I found it magical. And then there’s the disorienting sensation, not like anything else, when you’ve spent some time in a carefully staged, carefully lit space dedicated to Modern Art, and then you take an escalator back to an ordinary streetscene which suddenly feels like a different planet.

MCG Round II · Another day, since it wasn’t raining, I took the kid and we made our second attempt to see some first-class cricket at the MCG— previously covered (warning, huge QuickTime) in this space. It was a five-day state-vs.-state match in the “Pura Cup,” the ticket cost me a princely A$5 and they said the kid was too cute to charge.

Shane Warne bowls to Tasmania

Inside, the home squad was giving the Tasmanians a pretty severe thumping; in the picture above, Shane Warne, legendary spin-bowler just coming off a drug suspension (yes, in cricket too), inflicts some pain. While we were watching he got whacked for a couple of boundaries, but the paper says he went 6-for-99 on 36 overs on the match—if you enlarge the picture you can see the ball in flight.

I thought cricket might be a little slow for the kid, baseball lover though he is, but had to drag him away kicking and screaming, to the vast amusement of the other fans, after about four hours. Baseball is first in my heart, but there’s something to be said for a few hours on a warm afternoon watching this game. Baseball is more intense if only because the hot action is at a corner of the field where you can get next to it, not off in the middle of a vast oval.

Closing With a Rose, and Thanks · Oz, well, it’s different, and I’m not enough of a writer to squeeze it into a paragraph; but here are a couple of distinctive pictures.

Australian speed-bump sign
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Australian podiatrist’s storefront
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Souped-up ute in Melbourne

And our hosts this trip were awfully, awfully good to us. Huge thanks to Victoria and Debbie and Gareth and Sarah and Isabelle and Peter and Sandra and Malcolm and Caitlin and Mitchell, and especially most of all to Sally; nobody could have been kinder or better.

Finally, this Australian rose is growing untended in a construction project; it doesn’t know that it’s beautiful.

Accidental Australian rose

author · Dad
colophon · rights

February 18, 2004
· The World (144 fragments)
· · Places
· · · Australia (29 more)
· Arts (11 fragments)
· · Architecture (1 more)
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