Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Astor posters

The idea of the Astor is so much better than the reality. Rare films from around the world, hidden gems by well known directors, alternative classics instead of Citizen Kane and Gone With The Wind. A year-round film festival with an affectionate cat! But the reality - movies as predictable as the Vegie Bar menu (how many times do we need to see Baraka, Scarface, Apocalypse Now, Grindhouse, Princess Monoke and Pulp Fiction?). Then there's the uncomfortable seats, the choc tops with their safe flavours, and an indifferent cat. But their posters are an easy way to liven up a bathroom or toilet. Nothing says Melbourne more than an Astor poster. You'd have to stick up Melway pages to get more Melbourne. This is why Astor posters are the white Melburnian equivalent of Australian flags. When a white Melburnian moves away, they bring an Astor poster with them to decorate their new place in Brooklyn or Berlin. It helps break the ice with their new housemate from New Jersey or Romania, while reminding them of home and all of the movies they could have seen, but didn't. Thus for white Melburnians, the Astor becomes a lot like Antarctica. They'll never go, they're just happy knowing it exists.


The IGA business model is so adaptable. An IGA can be a 24 hour convenience store at a BP service station (Caulfield South), a 24 hour bottle shop (Windsor), and the only supermarket in the Daintree rainforest (Far North Queensland). But what makes the one on Best street, North Fitzroy so special? It has an Italian name! But white Melburnians are not obsessed with IGAs, they're just obsessed with Piedimonte's. White Melburnians need to shop there because it makes them feel less guilty for indulging in the cheap milk at Safeway. In the nineties, proto-white Melburnians would cite whatever remnants of ethnic heritage they had as a way to justify their presence at Piedimonte's. But people soon tired of hearing about great grandmothers who were one-eighth Italian so this gave way to tales of adventuring around eastern Europe (which were actually just day trips from Berlin). Because of Piedimonte's, white Melburnians have an excuse to tell you about the time they ate a spinach and fetta borek at an open air market in Sofia. This is a big deal for Melbourne white people as they are used to eating Bulgarian fetta from Safeway.

So if you're new to Melbourne, do not describe the location of your place in terms of its proximity to Zagames. Use Piedimonte's. It's a culturally appropriate spatial reference point. It doesn't matter that Zagames is very prominent or the fact everybody knows where it is. It doesn't even matter that Piedimonte's is fast becoming redundant as a spatial reference point because everybody claims to live nearby. Use it anyway! You might get lost, but you'll still have friends.