Archive for April, 2012

Underutilised

April 28, 2012

Latish on a weekend afternoon (later in summer, earlier in winter), if it hasn’t been raining, I like to drive across to South Coogee to put in a few laps at Wylie’s Baths.

It’s a peaceful place, enlivened with some marine life from time to time (all welcome other than blue bottles) and depending on the tide and the sea, a gentle or sometimes turbulent swell.  If you pick your time right, you can swim without risk of crashing into speedsters coming in the opposite direction.  You can usually get a park.

If I can’t get a park, then I will go to Clovelly.  There the marine life is more interesting and admission free, but the changing rooms are fetid (underventilated and sharing airspace with the urinals) and there is only cold water in the showers.  Wylies has hot showers for 20 cents and the changing rooms are well ventilated and kept clean.

A few weeks ago when I was there, the pool was closing early for a wedding.  There’s been a bit more of that recently.

Some canvas was pinned to the wall next to the top entrance.  I flicked it aside to reveal some pretty poisonous graffiti, directed at “Tony” and “Janice.”  I won’t repeat it here but it was clear there was some pretty deep animus.

The next week the graffiti had gone.  I noticed that there was an advertisement for a new manager which by its tone seemed to forebode some increased emphasis on turning a buck for the baths.  That sort of thing usually indicates a shake up is afoot.

What’s going on?

Now I read in today’s SMH that Andrew Crabbe, who runs the cafe at Bondi Icebergs, plans to take up the franchise at the baths.

Mr Crabbe has confirmed to the Herald that he is to take over the catering lease at the baths, and is waiting on approval from Randwick City Council. ”It won’t be five-star dining … but I do want to raise [the venue’s] profile,” he said. ”It’s a gem of a spot but it’s underutilised.”

Apparently the trust that runs Wylies has embarked on a push to raise more revenue and this is the way it is to be done.
Oh dear.  It’s a crowded world.  That’s the attraction of seclusion.

But for somebody else, I guess it’s just a good business proposition.

Kafka-esque

April 13, 2012

Since last I posted:

  • I went to  Behzod Abduraimov’s recital for the Sydney Symphony on 26 March.  Yet again I found myself next to a fellow-blogger.
  • I heard Stephanie McCallum, Darryl Poulsen and Goetz Richter play some trios for violin piano and horn at the Con;
  • I ran into the same fellow-blogger at the Anne-Sophie Mutter’s concert with the SSO.  Unfortunately, we weren’t next to each other.  If we had been, then perhaps I would not have been next to the man who spent the entire concerto breathing noisily through his nostrils.  It was very distracting and also quite bizarre – he wasn’t overweight or anything else which might normally be expected to lead to heavy breathing, and I bet he was totally habituated to it.  Oddly though, just occasionally, at moments where I think he began to concentrate more carefully, it did stop.
  • I had a quiet Easter.  I missed S*.  Easter was a time when we quite often caught up with each other, and some of those occasions over the past 25 years came to mind.  I am still deeply saddened that S* chose to get out early.
  • I went to Sydney Chamber Opera‘s production of In the Penal Colony by Philip Glass.  This is based on a story by Kafka.  The set reminded me of the set for Thyestes – a kind of wide-screen box.  Is this a new trend?  I can’t say the subject matter was very cheering and the work itself is profoundly undramatic.  If this was representative of SCO’s other productions, I have the distinct feeling that there is a fair bit of boosterism in the journalistic reception of this company.  It seems to me that people are keen to encourage anyone other than Opera Australia.  This is perfectly understandable but a chamber opera such as this is a very different proposition from the sort of thing that OA can do.
  • I did not go to La Traviata on the Harbour, though I toyed with the idea.  At $85 it seemed quite good value, especially compared to $60 for a chamber opera. A young man not long out of school employed by my chambers went.  He enjoyed it but said he found himself among the “Andre Rieu crowd.”  People around him talked – as I suppose many people will do in an outdoor amplified entertainment.  He thought it was worth the money and he will go again (ie, next year, I suppose) but that next time he would spend more for a better seat where he hoped to be amongst a better class of audience.
  • I heard the grandly titled Australia Quartet (a piano quartet) in the Bon Marche studio at UTS.  This is an odd venue for classical music.  I don’t think that the combination of a concrete floor and being close to the back wall was particularly flattering for the piano, which could also probably have done with a tune (unlikely given that the concert was free).
  • Last night (Thursday 12/4) went to an art event in the “mushroom” building, in fact the CTA club.   his was part of the 25th Kaldor public art project.   The evening event included some music, some talks, a chance to make a cardboard model of the club’s above-ground building, and a screening by Kino Sydney, a no-budget film organisation.  All of these were deep underground in the retr0-funky but surprisingly dated (in comparison to the building’s modernist exterior) interior of the club.  There were lots of excitable young people.  Upstairs on level 4 was an installation by Thomas Demand.  Demand’s work featured a series of photographs installed in the single bedrooms, which had some association (exactly what association I couldn’t always make out) with a short story by Louis Begley about one Gregor, a commercial traveller from Prague who came to stay at the CTA.  At the end we learn (just in case we don’t get the reference) that Gregor previously dreamt about a large insect.