Departing NSW Minister for roads warns of extremism … in Newtown


My name is Duncan Gay and for the past six years I have served as the NSW Minister for Roads … and I have a grave warning.

I am off to retirement, thanks to that ball breaking cunning-as-a-dunny-rat Gladys Berejiklian – love, as I’ve said, building roads is not the same as buying a handbag!

I have achieved great things for many residents in Sydney, Westconnex being a cracker that everyone adores. But in the inner west, shrouded behind the chattering classes, lurks a great challenge that could undo all my work. Like Molenbeek in Brussels, Newtown is becoming the breeding ground of radicalisation, a recruitment centre for an ideology that opposes our way of life.

Cyclists are wreaking chaos on Sydney’s roads and communities. Often they form radical groups that deliberately lurk into the blind spots of our four wheel drives. They incite chaos with unsightly bulges in coordinated lycra. Others are lone wolves, riding off grid – onto the footpath. Such reckless behaviour on Sydney’s roads, that endangers not only their lives but those of others, can only be understood as a desire for the glory of martyrdom.

In the past, a minority of Australians had been involved in this hideous road fundamentalism. This minority had most likely engaged in the illicit activity of road cycling overseas, in places like the Netherlands, their brains addled by marijuana and extreme ideologies. But the scary fact is that many of those who are complicit in this road extremism are in fact radicalised here in New South Wales, presenting a new ‘homegrown’ threat.

This is all happening while that Jenny Leong, member for the Greens in Newtown, tries to distort the reality and pretend there’s nothing wrong or suspicious happening on her watch. In fact, I bet she’s sitting in a cafe, sipping a lezzo latte as I speak. Did she ever wonder how the grease trap in that coffee lounge actually gets removed? By truck, darling. By a big filthy honking truck that will smash your pretty little bike with streamers and a basket in one second, and smash your weird murals and coffees and every last hotbed of hipsters until there is just one, smooth and peaceful … Westconnex toll road …



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David Jones Birthday letter

David Jones birthday

Dear David Jones customers,

Especially DJs AmEx Credit Card holders!

We just wanted to thank you for all your support over the years as David Jones celebrates its 175th birthday. It has been a pleasure to offer you great little goodies since 1838. We have had a rich history, and we hope to have an even richer future – with your solid financial help.

To celebrate David Jones’s Birthday:

  • We are tackling staff snobbery head on, by sacking as many staff as possible without stores having to close. Who needs customer service when you have a DJs AmEx Credit Card? Shop online today;
  • We are having CHAMPAGNE SHOWERS in our head office for every DJs AmEx card activated, because we are spontaneous and because every card is securing us from any other million-dollar sexual harassment lawsuit – like the one involving previous CEO Mark McInness – that may be still lurking around level 8;
  • We are forcing as many clothing brands to become concessions as possible, so we don’t have to do jack and can just concentrate on the benjamins;

As you can imagine, this is a special day, our 175th birthday, where we celebrate continued success. And moolah. And credit cards, that rake in the moolah.

Here is a little photo of our Megan at our birthday party recently:

David Jones birthday

We don’t really care about Megan. We don’t really care about clothes, or any of that crap. However, we do care that Megan’s dress is blue, like the AmEx logo. That is very interesting and we suggest you dwell on that for a while.

Did you know that even back in 1838, when Mr. Jones established the company, he loved credit cards and wished one day that all his customers could use a DJs AmEx credit card?

We found a record of this “credit card vision” for David Jones in his personal journal, which is kept in our archives. Just call customer service in order to obtain a copy very swiftly. In any case, you don’t need to, because you can understand that this makes perfect sense – the logic is all there.

Do you know a fun fact? Miranda Kerr lurrrves Orlando Bloom. And her DJs AmEx Credit Card! You could be like Miranda Kerr too!

If you are a loyal customer since way back, or even if you’ve never been to David Jones, we don’t care. As long as you celebrate our birthday with us, by applying for a DJs AmEx card today.

We shall not accept letters, flowers or chocolates, or anything traditional. Any gift you send us will be just bullshit and insulting. We will stamp on it and then put in the bin.

Thank you,

Please fill in the attached “celebration” form,



David Jones

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Rooves in the CBD

Rooves of Sydney CBD

I find what’s happening on the rooves in Sydney’s CBD very curious. Maybe it’s just because I can’t see what’s happening on the roof – but that’s not to say something fascinating ISN’T happening there.

rooves of SydneyI have seen some rooves this week that unfortunately I have not taken photos of … but I have seen signs of people living on rooves with little gardens right on Pitt Street mall (for provincial readers, that’s very central!). But who are these people and what are they doing? Such OH&S-free lives …

rooves of Sydney

rooves of Sydney

Apparently, this guy on the horse [above Chanel, Castlereagh St] is a copy of l’artificier – the statue atop the Hermès store on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. Why Hermès thought it would be a good idea to plonk him ontop of a dull Castlereagh building is lost on me – especially without the secret Hermès garden. He is always looming out from here … who thought ‘oh, this would look nice here’?

Rooves of Sydney

By the way, I have just had a major spelling crisis – is the plural of roof roofs or rooves? Was taught rooves but now I look online and find that this is some old-fashioned Australian (???). What a sad dilemma I find myself entangled in (interpret that as you will). But the day we start spelling things ‘roofs’ is a bit like the day Prince Charles becomes King … such developments must be trampled on rather than encouraged.

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A side note to the new year


Sorry for not writing much recently. Aside from being very busy and important, in and out of meetings, I moved temporarily to a house with no internet and became smitten with a German. But I don’t want to give anyone excuses (even if this is a soliloquy). I just wanna say that I’m not backing down. No, I’m not. I was just preparing myself to rise to the occasion. And that Chinese New Year is approaching – the year of the snake – and Sydney is full of snakes. All good things. What could possibly go wrong?

Here’s a little introduction to the new year that is, in truth, all about Sydney – a very snakey Bollywood clip (excellent dancing, also so true that every women essentially is a snake, charmed by men):

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Refreshing perspectives on poison: Camden Chan


With the release of Camden’s new video, Too Pretty For Punk (see below), I asked Camden Chan this week if he ever considers poisoning people. ‘The list of people is endless, family included,’ he responded.

Camden Chan and I are both Sydneysiders of Chinese heritage and we both advocate poisoning people. I’m not sure if those two facts are related, but who is to say that they couldn’t be? I, for one, take inspiration from the Empress Dowager Cixi, who took a particular fancy to arsenic in order to ‘make things happen’. And in case you aren’t aware, she also was keen on getting eunuchs of the Forbidden City to shove unwanted people down wells, as was the case with the Emperor’s favourite concubine, the snarky Zhen Fei.

But everybody loves a story involving poison, and what’s the difference between a story and reality? Fine line. Clearly, the poison chalice is much more interesting than the chalice alone (although both hold their own in raunchiness).

Death by poison … glamorous?

I bring this all up as Camden’s new song features poisoning in the video clip and I guess it made me a bit pensive about a) how different Sydney would be if more poison was generally involved, and b) the cultural landscape of Sydney, because aside from poisoning people, Camden has other perspectives on Sydney life:

‘Sydney right now is being flooded & infected by American culture. Whether it’s the speak, the food, the ideas, the music … I don’t want artists emulating what they see overseas, borrow from it, but make it Australian and Sydney based … [This song] is about a generation lost, educated, well-travelled, stuck on ideals that 70s Australiana was our cultural peak … we are the new Australians, it’s time to forge a cultural identity.’


“Dipped in the fat of Sydney

The crown street thorns, pierce my brow,

Flights of tears,

Under a bridge, you drop your only copy of Coleridge.

So fill your boots, and come on in,

In this big town, you’re much too thin.”

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Guerilla stickers invade CityRail does not condone the activity of vandalism. But smirks at these stickers that are starting to appear on CityRail trains, which seem to have been inspired by the Guerilla Sticker movement on the London Tube.


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Sydneysider: Margaret Olley

‘He did ask me to pose naked, and I thought “will I or won’t I?” and I thought … no.’

What kind of octogenarian Sydneysider says that so casually? Marvellous Margaret Olley. She had just been talking about Ben Quilty, who won the Archibald Prize for his portrait of Margaret in 2011.

She passed away in July of 2011, at the age of eighty-eight, which Chinese would say this is a lucky age (despite the evidence) and Anglo-Saxons would consider a ‘ripe old age’ (ripe for what? Creepy).

Lots of people say she could be extremely charming.

But I remember the first time that I saw her was at some showing in the State Theatre of Bill Henson’s work. She seemed super grumpy. Her walking frame had a little bell on it like a bike, and if people got in her way, she scowled at them, looked for her bell and then started ringing it until the obstruction understood and swiftly made way. That night, she basically parted the Red Sea with that scowl and that bell.

But it is evident that she had a great passion for art, so running around with a bell on your walking frame is totally excusable and a chic, albeit practical, accessory.

She found her passion for art at an early age. At boarding school in Brisbane, she did whatever she could to be more involved in art.

‘At one stage, I went to the headmistress at school and said “my mother has written and given me permission to drop French and take an extra art lesson” … I don’t know why she [the headmistress] never asked me to see the letter, because my mother certainly didn’t see that.’

She described her passion for art as an obsession that she was blessed with. Not only is she now known in Sydney and overseas for her colourful still life paintings, but also for her philanthropy, having donated more than one hundred and forty works to the NSW Art Gallery collection – around $7 million. Slightly generous.

She has become a ‘Sydspiration’, if you like (yes, came up with that jewel myself) – one of those individuals that gives hope in what can sometimes seem a culturally bleak city. Lots of her work was here and her success and individuality is inspirational. She celebrated life in this city for what it is and as much as you can anywhere else:

‘The art of Margaret Olley is the art of deliberate choices. The same could be said of Olley herself, who dispels all theories of Australia’s isolation, repression of women and fashion following (…) she persists in painting that which is around her, one reason for this is loathing of pretence, of adopting ways of thinking that are not true to the reality of self,’ wrote Christine France in her biography, ‘Margaret Olley’.

Margaret Olley, painting at home

Her home on Duxford Street in Paddington had a particular reputation amongst artists and intellectuals as a place in which every room was a studio and in which all objects were grouped as if for paintings. It was a place of fusion: ‘My life and paintings are one and the same thing’, was what she used to say (to me, via youtube).

Currently, the Museum of Sydney is showcasing some paintings by Margaret Olley of her house. Just before she died, Ben Quilty had gone to her house and seen that she was painting like a maniac with about forty paintings on the go. And he asked, ‘what’s going on?’

To which she replied, ‘I’m like an old tree setting forth flower as quickly as I can before I die.’

Beautiful paintings, go see them.


Margaret Olley: Home – exhibition at the Museum of Sydney

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Front Yards

Sydneysiders, for at least some juicy part of their lives, are bored in the suburbs. This article, not to mention this whole blog, is probably proof of that (I really do hope this blog offers some sort of proof; to think that it all could have been done in vain!)

But it’s interesting (and also slightly creepy of me and of gardens) to see how the front yards of some houses express so much about who yo is.

  the gravel drive, Wahroonga

  fruit trees under nets, Chatswood

   ‘quand il me prend dans ses bras …’ Chatswood

  the lady with one hundred birds, Chatswood West

  ‘Palazzo Willoughby’, Willoughby

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How to become a GPS boy

[GPS - the'Great Public Schools' of Sydney, are a bunch of elite private schools for boys]

The ski team – a hallmark of an elite school [NB: IN AUSTRALIA]

Would you really say your high school education is worth less than $160,000? Well, good news, we don’t either.



Try to be born into a rich family, because if your family worry about the price of bread, they’re not going to like our ski trips. If you can pull off sentences beginning with ‘if my FATHER heard about this’ in public, then you’re aligned with our values.

However, if you don’t have money or aren’t the son of an old boy, we’ll probably immediately decline you. At bare minimum, have a pushy Chinese tiger mum.

‘it is sweet and fitting to faint for one’s school’ ~ cadets


Rich people like capitalism and capitalism likes power structures. In this world, you’re either a prefect, a captain, a head boy – or you’re a degenerate and a radical. In our schools, we like to start sorting the sheep from the goats straight away.

Call the teacher ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, let them call you whatever they bloody like.

And if you can’t sit still in class, we recommend you take pills.


If you want to live in the GPS world, appearance is everything. You think wearing high socks is funny? Elitism is always in fashion, and we cherish those times when our students were even more elite than you *boater enters stage left*.

First of all, you better set yourself apart from all those public school plebs. Wear a blazer and a tie, it’s classy. Remember; as long as you look like a 1920s gentleman, you can lord it over everyone else and boost your self-esteem.

Secondly, remember your place – that stripe on a tie could mean the difference between a small-fry and a prefect, or even his eminence, the dux. Throw in a latin motto somewhere, because people will think you have an appreciation of the classics or have something to do with old money.

Rigorous inspections of where you wear your garters (if at all) is necessary and could lead to punishment.


We like punishment, because otherwise, the earlier categories of being rich, hierarchy and uniform would not be successfully maintained.

Reasons for afterschool detention do vary. We generally like to push the boundaries of reason and especially relish giving detentions for ‘giving cheek’, ‘looking surly’, etc. Sycophantic behaviour could work wonders though.

‘yes, I know it’s big … but don’t worry, the parents will cough up – they always do’


all GPS schools are in a ‘facilities race’ –  if Kings is building a new grand stand, well then Shore better build a bigger one. We need the latest and greatest libraries/swimming pools/sports ovals (NB: plurals) in order to look good for our brochures. So be prepared to make substantial donations towards our facilities or we can just stunt your development.


Play at least two instruments, and if you aren’t good at sport, you better play five at a time with a harmonica in your mouth. We particularly relish instruments that are hard to transport, such as a Double Bass or a harp, as it shows your wealth, that you don’t need public transport and gives an opportunity for your parents to show off their Jaguar when they pick you up.


Try to pick a sport that somehow evokes aristocratic leisure, such as rowing or rifle shooting.

Rowing would be an exceptional choice, as it also involves excessive amounts of expensive equipment and accessories and gives us a good excuse to have a boat house in Gladesville. If you’re a runt, your only chance of not being shunned in a GPS school is to become a cox.

Make sure that you are at the rowing regatta every year (aka ‘Jewel of the GPS sporting agenda’). Winter sports such as skiing are generally well regarded.


Give your parents our brochures for our unique trips, which contain attractive phrases such as ‘a cruise along the River Nile will allow students to fully appreciate the rich culture’.

Our really unique trips overseas are routine, so you better have the money for them and participate, because otherwise people will think you’re middle class.


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Sydneysider: Jess Scully

    The ravishing Jess Scully on a Tuesday morning. Vladimir greedily took a photo (because I forced him to. Thanks, comrade)


Jess Scully is a spunky Sydneysider. However, this year she is also an ambassador for the Sydney Open, which is a biennial event that gives Sydneysiders the opportunity to explore the city’s architectural heart. To really rub it in, Jess is also the festival director of Vivid Ideas and founding director of Vivid Creative Sydney, amongst other things.

Q: How long have you been a Sydneysider?

A: All my life – I’ve also spent long periods in Vina del Mar (Chile), London, New York and most recently, Berlin, but Sydney has always been my home and first city love!

Q: If I gave you an elephant, where would you hide it in Sydney?

A: I’d let it loose along the Wakehurst Parkway, leave it to wander around Cockatoo Island or take it to Balls Head… mostly to confuse tourists on passing ferries.

Q: Current projects (brief outline):

A: I’ve just started work on the Ideas component of Vivid Sydney for 2013, I’m one of the curators of TEDxSydney and on the curatorial committee for the International Symposium on Electronic Arts, so I’m at the dreaming-up-interesting-issues and hunting-down-fascinating-speakers stage of my year… also trying to find time to finish some writing on the future of design and to do a few fun community-based projects in Sydney over the summer.

Q: What do you find completely ridiculous about/in Sydney?

A: Bad ridiculous – unreliable buses, annoying prepay-only bus zone, not enough bike-friendly-ness, high cost of living.

Good ridiculous – the greatest variety and quality of food in the world, incredible natural beauty, amazingly talented and open people, a huge number of cultural events and opportunities to get outside and enjoy the city. It all balances out!

Q: If you were a biscuit, which would you be?

A: I’m torn between a Kingston and a ginger snap. Also a big fan of Flats – they’re a Sydney company making incredible pressed all-fruit and veggie crackers, their apple cinnamon variety can take on most biscuits. I am also VERY into Dutch stroopwaffels – thin waffles filled with caramel, perfect for melting over a cup of tea – they’re basically the Dutch Tim Tam. Biscuits are a particular weakness of mine, don’t make me choose!

Jess is caught in a tustle between being a Kingston, a ginger snap and a stroopwaffel


Q: Which Sydneysider most inspires you, or, if you like, who is your ‘Sydspiration’?

A: This is a tough one! I’m inspired by a lot of people, here are two;

Levins, who runs Heaps Decent (giving disadvantaged kids music skills), cooks the best food at The Dip and puts on great parties;

Lianne Rossler, an incredible designer currently running Supercyclers and connected to great design, sustainability and community projects around town;

Q: Best building in Sydney [RE architecture]?

A: Such a hard one to choose! I like the old sections of Parliament House, it really feels like a slice of colonial history and shows us how small this State started out… I also love the old 1960s AMP Building at Circular Quay, the rawness of Pier 2/3 and Sydney Theatre Company, and I can’t wait to see inside 1 Bligh St. I used to work in the area when it was being built and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished space.

Q: And the biggest mistake [RE architecture]?

A: The square beside Town Hall just seems like such a wasteland of pebblecrete, and a real wasted opportunity to me. Railway Square also had the opportunity to be a useful/interesting connection point and instead is just a big pointy bus stop.

Q: Your motto?

A: If I had one, it would be from Bukowski. This could do it: ““For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

 Q: Any reccomendations for Sydney?

A: Recommendations for things that would make Sydney better, more interesting? More randomness, less rules. More street fairs and block parties and graffiti and food carts and buskers and movable chairs in public squares and ripping up concrete footpaths for community gardens and take-a-book-leave-a-book libraries and BBQing in the parks and just more free, social life on the streets.

 Q: If you could speak to one type of animal, what would it be? Justify.

A: Turtles – they live for a long time, travel constantly using the currents and magnetic forces of the Earth to guide them, and they move slow enough to notice everything.



The Sydney Open 2012 is happening first weekend in November. Presented by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, it’s not some event in someone’s backyard with a tarpaulin. But if it were, frankly, you’d still want to go. Running from Friday to Sunday on the first weekend of November, all those buildings you wanted to go in but the inhabitants said ‘get ya greasy mitts off!’ (#myexperience) magically will open up. See the site for details, batteries might be included!

 Who wouldn’t like to go inside Queen Victorias Dome?

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