Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Meeting at Melbourne Central instead of Flinders Street

Melbourne white people gave up on Flinders Street Station in 2004 when Transport opened at Federation Square. They will never go back. The goths and punks, the evangelical Christians (every Friday night), the overwhelming police presence, the short skirts and muscle tops, the lack of bike parking areas, the "Metro Safety Announcements", the cold, the alienating architectural form and the proximity to Crown Casino, make Flinders Street the station for the wrong types of white Melburnians.

Melbourne Central Station (hereafter MCS) is a lot better. It's inside so you don't have to worry about the cold, and it's close to the state library so you can update your status about how you're studying at the library. There's even a giant clock so white Melburnians can still meet under one and not feel like they are betraying the spirit of their city.

But what the preference of MCS over Flinders Street demonstrates is the alternative geographies white Melburnians use when navigating their city. In the white Melburnian mind, the southern border of the city is Bourke Street, its western perimeter is Elizabeth Street\Royal Parade, its eastern side ends at Punt Road, and it's bounded by Alexandra Parade in the north. Imagining the city of Melbourne in this way incorporates Fitzroy and Carlton into the CBD, relegating Flinders Street to the status of a suburban train station and eliminating King Street from the discussion. White Melburnians are trying to recreate Melbourne in their own image.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Quirky lists

One of the best ways to judge a person's character in the internet age is by reading the lists they write in online profiles. For those of you who are new to the international network ('internet', for short), this was not always so. In the nineties, getting-to-know-you question-and-answer lists circulating via electronic mail ('e-mail') on the intra-planetary lattice, or 'worldwide web', were mostly concerned with whether or not you ate the stems of broccoli. Hence their ability to convey to the reader the character of the person responding to the questions was quite limited. Because of social networking sites and web logs ('blogs'), more accurate assessments of character, such as delineating between wrong and right types of white Melburnians, are now possible. The wrong type of white Melburnian takes the act of list writing literally. To them it is just a list, not a work of art. Lists of interests displayed on the web profiles of the wrong types normally look something like this:

Hot showers
Watching movies
Going fishing with my Dad
Sleeping in
Catching up with friends

There's nothing wrong with this list of interests except that it's just a list of interests. Therefore it could not have been written by the right type of Melbourne white person, whose list of interests look more like this:

The donuts at Footscray station
Making lists
Frankston savers
Breakfast burritos
Marieke Hardy
World's End Press
Going off on tangents
Bad puns

White Melburnians believe a list of interests should be used to reflect intellect, cleverness, self-deprecation, humour, worldliness and competence. If you are about to write your own list of interests, remember that one of the most important features to convey is cleverness, but done in a cautious way so as not to totally overwhelm the reader with how clever you are. This is best accomplished by inserting into the list something self-referential like 'awesome alliterations'. The trick of list writing is to make the whole construction of the list appear effortless but expend a great deal of effort to accomplish this - which is a central feature of white Melburnian culture.