Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rozelle Tram Depot

The abandoned Rozelle Tram Depot at Glebe is one of those places that you would have entered as a child with an ear-to-ear grin, begging your parents to stay for 'just five minutes more'; the type of place that makes your eyes light up. I was lucky enough to go there today with two of my mates - Lucas and Nicholas.

This particular tram depot is the largest of its kind in Sydney. At peak capacity, it ran approximately 200 trams from1918, to its closure in 1958. Since the depot was abandoned, it has become a haven for the homeless, a hot spot for vandals, and most astonishingly, a virtual sanctuary for street artists. There are still five trams in the depot, as well a bus. All of these vehicles have been heavily vandalised, however, this vandalism is undoubtedly quite stylish and aesthetically-pleasing. Take a look at what I mean:

OK...maybe the trams aren't that aesthetically-pleasing on the inside, but from the outside, they are quite something. But it isn't just the trams that stand out in this amazing place. There is graffiti all over the place - not just crappy tags, but some impressive pieces of art. 

I was initially worried that it would be hard to get into the depot. It is owned by the NSW Harness Racing Club, so I thought that there may have been security, or that all entrances would be blocked. That was not the case, and entry was as simple as walking through a set of massive gates. There is even graffiti on the building's exterior. Lucas and I were awestruck when we entered through the gates. Nicholas didn't really care that much. Lucas loves street art and photography, so this place was a goldmine for him. As for me, I also like street art, and I also enjoy exploring what I like to call 'hidden relics' of society. I've always enjoyed exploring unfamiliar places with interesting histories. There are spray cans scattered around the floor, as well as plenty of broken glass (windows from trams/the bus and the building itself). Some areas are moist and have plant life, whilst some areas are dangerous to walk on, due to missing, creaky or broken floorboards. What makes this place so exciting to explore (besides the art) is the vast amount of rooms it has, or the size of it as a whole. What's strange is that the toilets/shower block actually smells bad. It's quite creepy around that area. Believe it or not, there's still a bar of soap lying in one of the soap-holders! It isn't difficult to judge that the tram depot has been lived in, or is currently being lived in by squatters. There are food wrappers, empty bottles, clothes, mattresses...EVEN PORN! 

Lucas, Nicholas and I weren't the only ones inside the tram depot today. There was a group of people in there who were filming a video. It turns out that the video was being filmed for Oprah Winfrey, and will be shown to her when she visits Australia next month. It is hoped that Oprah can promote the Rozelle Tram Depot as a place of heritage and community, and stop the local council from building apartments on the land. How do I know this? Because I was asked to say a few words about the place. The woman who approached me to be in the video seemed very friendly and down-to-earth, so I was more than happy to help her out. Lucas declined a role in the video because he didn't want his face or name on TV, and Nicholas refused to participate because he actually wants the apartments to be built on the site. So, I gave the Rozelle Tram Depot a decent plug, and it was all honest, too. I really do like the place.

Once we had thoroughly explored the place, Lucas, Nicholas and I decided to bid it farewell. We took some 'souvenirs' with us, which were empty spray cans. A woman who was passing by with a baby in a pram asked us " [Have you] been vandalising the place, as usual?" Lucas told her that we were just taking photos, which is the truth. I didn't like that woman. She had an elitist mentality, probably because she lives in an affluent part of Sydney. I walked along a rock ledge to get past a padlocked set of gates (not the ones we entered through), and when I landed on the concrete, I hurt my toes, and yelled out "FUCK!" I found this to be funny, because the woman and her toddler were still very close to us. Hilarious.

After spending a couple of hours today at the Rozelle Tram Depot, I can definitely tell you that it is a spectacular place. It's tucked away, and not often heard about, but don't let that deter you from checking it out. If you have an interest in street art, Sydney's heritage sites, or just like exploring wide open spaces, then I recommend this place to you. I may even be going back there as soon as next week! I took 53 photos today, and you can see them on my Facebook ( Lucas took over 200 photos! Some are already up, but the entire set will be up by tomorrow.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Year 12 Formal and Pat's After-party

"I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad goodby, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse."

~ Holden Caulfield (protagonist of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye)

Thursday, November 18, 2010. What a memorable night that was! As memorable as it was, it seemed to go by so quickly, which is generally the case with such nights. As I said my final goodbyes to some people last night, it really dawned on me that I may never see those people again. I don't think I truly realised this while I was at school, but I will indeed miss the vast majority of the Class of 2010 at Patrician Brothers' College Fairfield.

So...where do I begin? Firstly, I'll tell you all what my formal attire consisted of. My shirt was aqua, which wasn't a popular choice of colour amongst the grade. I chose that shirt because aqua/turquoise is my favourite colour. The rest of my attire was black. Black trousers, black jacket, black skinny tie and black shoes. Oh, and a black belt [if you care to know]. Black socks [if you REALLY care to know].

Before the formal, I went to Lucas' house for a 'meet-up'. Here, I met up with Lucas, Diego, Marbo, Mendoza, Garreffa, Jordan and Nicholas. We took a few photos and had a pre-formal beer. A nice way to break the ice...if there was any at all. Jordan drove himself to the formal in his Mazda ute. You've gotta admire the guy's honest and unpretentious choice. Mendoza got driven by his mum...I think. Everyone else but Marbo and I went in a Chevy that Lucas hired (at least I think it was a Chevy. I'm hopeless when it comes to cars).My brother drove Marbo and I to the formal in his V8 Holden Commodore. His friend, Daniel Grech, tagged along in the passenger seat. My brother did speed a little...because he likes to show off, but it suited the occasion. He did a small burnout around the corner from the venue of the formal (Conca D'oro at Riverwood). Surprisingly, he beat the Chevy to the venue, even though the Chevy left ten minutes earlier.

The venue itself wasn't as nice as I was expecting. The exterior is too dull, although I didn't really have a problem with the location of the venue, like some others did. Some people didn't like how it is surrounded by shops, but I liked it, in a way. It gave the night a real suburban touch. I felt that it was too dim inside the venue, that more lighting would have been nice. Also, as many others expressed to me, the place was a bit too crammed. I felt constricted in my surroundings at times. I was on table 4 with Marbo, Lucas, Rahul, Aquilina, Garreffa, Nicholas, Mendoza and his girlfriend Tanika. There was some slight controversy with the seating arrangements, with Mr Walker telling me I had to move tables. I showed him something that I didn't show enough of during my days at school - defiance.

The food that was served to us was a bit of a mixed bag. There were two entrees available, although we couldn't choose which one we got (just like all the courses on the night, but that's understandable). I got this:

I had no idea what it was when it was put in front of me. Mendoza said it was a Caesar salad. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought, although it became too messy towards the end. The other entree was something that looked like bruschetta. It didn't look that nice at all. The main course was rather nice. I was given the stuffed chicken with potatoes and beans.

The other option was veal. For dessert, I was given a chocolate mousse tart. It wasn't that great - the pastry was too hard, and the mousse had an air of artificiality to it. 

The other option looked like a cheesecake of some sort (perhaps lemon, caramel or vanilla). Not everyone ate their dessert, since they were too busy on the dancefloor. Oh, as for the dinner roll, it was rather hard - perhaps the hardest dinner roll I've ever eaten. A part of me died when someone (I think it was Lucas) took my glass halfway through the night, so that I didn't have anything to drink from for the rest of the night.

My level of social interaction wasn't the greatest last night, but I was far from being reclusive. At first, I felt socially awkward. I wasn't willing to get onto the dancefloor; I was sitting at my table - keeping quiet. I was thinking "Boy, this is gonna be a long night." As the night grew older, I found myself more willing to enjoy myself. So, I made my way onto the dancefloor, and at first, stayed near my friends. After all, I remember how eager I was to dance at my Year 10 formal, and so I didn't get why I initially felt reluctant to dance last night. I was actually surprised that no-one dragged me onto the dancefloor when one of Kesha's songs or Like a G6 came on. Cresta gave me a piece of his wisdom when I told him I was hopeless at dancing. He said "Don't worry about it. The way I see it, people may think you look stupid, but they aren't aware that they are doing the same thing." So, I moved my arms and tapped my feet like everyone else, despite not liking the music. But hey, even I will admit that there are certain occasions where up-tempo music is required. But you know what? Last night wasn't about the music; it was about celebration, and feeling good. I didn't care for what I heard, but I cared for the way it made me feel. When ABBA's Dancing Queen came on, some of the boys, including myself, formed a circle around Miss Penna - we dedicated it to her. It was a memorable moment. However, the highlight of the night for me was singing along to Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer. It provided a chance for Dom Quaranta and I to show our love for proper music. I was sweating all over, and shouting rather than singing, but I was having the most fun I'd had in a while. A truly euphoric moment. When the formal was over, my ears were ringing, and my voice was rather raspy. I didn't actually stay around to say goodbye to people, although Mr Morizzi shook my hand when I was on my way out. This surprised me, as we never really spoke that much.

Lucas' dad provided a lift for Lucas, Marbo, Diego and I to Pat's after-party. We stopped at Lucas' house first, where Lucas and I got changed into some casual gear. I had taken casual clothes to Lucas' house when I went there earlier for the meet-up. My first thought when I arrived at Pat's house was "Fuck, what a steep driveway." My alcohol consumption was very limited, as usual. Just one Corona, and a small sip of some strong vodka that Garreffa had. I felt pretty talkative and open at this after-party. I didn't feel shy or awkward, like I do at most other social gatherings. I felt like what one should feel like at a party. Hanging with Jake Cartwright for most of the night was a funny experience, especially because he kept denying that he was drunk. To his defence, he wasn't smashed. But, he was a bit tipsy. I had a good chat with Fadie, Dean and Garreffa about modern music, and how it compares to older music. I gave Brandon Tran a hug, because I may never see him again. He told me to keep up my blogs...don't worry mate - I will! I had two Red Bulls. I discovered that everything is funnier when it is sung, a theory shared by Diego. I told Joe Ida that he featured in one of my dreams the other night. Antonio said that he would try alcohol for the first time ever...but I don't think that he did. Dean was...kinda flirtatious with someone of the opposite sex (perhaps I said too much). Mendoza popped a tyre. Cresta went to go and check it out, but stacked it while jumping over Pat's fence. In Pat's basement, I mistook a bra for two surgical masks that were stuck together - embarrassing.

Marbo, Lucas, Diego and I left the party at 2:30 A.M. When I got home, everything seemed so silent. I usually stay up until 2:30 - 4:00 each night, but it never feels that quiet, or as lonely. And then I thought, the silence and the loneliness was so apparent because my night had been one of social interaction and noise. The music at the formal, the casual chit-chat at the after-party - those were the things that amplified my life for several hours last night and early this morning. Once I was home, I had no-one to talk to. My mum and brother had gone to sleep, and so I was left alone with a mind full of bittersweet thoughts, and a pair of ears that were ringing. I put on the graduation DVD that was given out at the formal, and I smiled at some of the things that I saw/read. I went to bed at 5:30 A.M.

The truth is that I enjoyed the Year 10 formal more than the Year 12 formal; however, as far as nights go, last night was a bloody good one! If I was Holden Caulfield, I would not be disappointed, because I felt like I was saying goodbye to a place last night.

A special thanks to:
- Danny Nguyen and Andrew Chea, who took the images of the food used in this blog.
- Sebastien Khouri, for putting together the graduation DVD by himself.
- Joe Maganja, for getting me to and from places last night.
- The teachers who made last night possible, in particular, Mr Walker and Miss Penna.
- Every student from the grade who made my night so enjoyable. I'm gonna miss seeing your faces.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Some Things are Better Left Unsaid

“We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.” - Winston Churchill

Lately, I've been doing a bit of self-assessment, and have come to the realisation that I frequently voice many strong beliefs and opinions. Some would say that having an opinion and voicing it is a good thing, while others feel that opinions should be kept to oneself, because letting them out may create tension. Personally, I don't mind sharing my personal views on things, however in the past, some people have taken some things I've said in the wrong way. A lot of these things are my attempts at humour. For those of you who have ever watched Good News Week, you would be familiar with the dark humour that the show fosters. Many of the jokes told on that show are said with the intention to shock, and are centred around current affairs, or things that shouldn't be joked about. Yet people still laugh. There's an old saying that goes "Comedy is tragedy plus time." What this means is that a tragedy can be made into a joke, as long as enough time has passed since the tragedy occurred. Most of the time, I don't allow an adequate amount of time to pass, and I will say something that may be controversial, even if it's about a recent tragedy. People may take offence to what I say, but I brace myself for all kinds of reactions before I say something controversial. You may have heard me make jokes about religion before...not only religion itself, but God, Jesus, etc. Let me just clarify that religion is not above criticism. Just because some people consider religion sacred, and integral to their daily lives, doesn't mean that every individual must treat it with reverence. Anyway, that's all I'll say about religion, because too much criticism of religion will create an uproar. It always does. Now, some would say that my words on religion were accurate, and that they should have been expressed. Others will say that I said too much, and that I should have kept those things to myself. Personally, I think I said just the right amount of words on religion. I knew where to draw the line.

The reason I say a lot of things that may seem 'harsh' is because I know that others are thinking it, but are too afraid to say it. I value the truth, so I'm always happy to provide 'the other side of the story'. I really don't like when things are sugarcoated. People will believe anything they read in a newspaper these days. They will blindly conform to the latest trends. I'm the voice in the crowd who says "It's not as sweet as it sounds" or "You are wrong, and this is why..." Some people may look at me differently because I say such things, but it's the real me, so I'm not gonna sacrifice my true self for their approval. Despite this, there are times when even I realise what's right to say and what isn't. For example, if a young child presented me with a drawing of a house, and asked me if I liked it, then I would say yes, even if the drawing looked horrible. Young children have very fragile emotions, so saying something like "No, it looks like utter shit" would completely devastate them.

When looking at the phrase "Some things are better left unsaid," we must establish what is meant by better. Generally, it's better in the sense that no-one gets offended, or that everything remains calm. Some people may be physically assaulted over just a few words. Indeed, there are numerous negative consequences that could transpire due to words being spoken. Conversely, what happens if we keep things bottled up inside of us? Brooding thoughts gnaw away at our consciousness. We become distracted from various activities because we cannot focus on anything but those pensive thoughts. Or, as I have learnt, we may erupt in a fit of rage, and spit out all of the things that we've been bottling up. Last of all, we are gifted with the right of free speech. It may be a cliched thing to say, but it's true nonetheless. We shouldn't hold back just because a few people might object.

Fundamentally, it is up to the individual to decide what he/she discloses and what he/she keeps bottled up. There are advantages and disadvantages to both choices.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Andrew's/Jimmy's Combined 18th Birthday Party

About twenty minutes ago, I arrived home from my third party of the year - Andrew Tran's and Jimmy Nguyen's combined 18th birthday party. On the whole, it was a fun night, but I couldn't tell you how it rated as a party, since it's not often that I go to parties.

When I was having a shower earlier today, I analysed the various situations that could arise at the party. For example, I thought about whether I would prefer to stand up or sit down at the party, and decided on ways to relieve any awkwardness and ease my way into conversations. I know that most of you don't think about this stuff before a party, but oh well...this is what socially inept people think about.

My ride to the party was supplied by Adrian Ossa's brother, with Adrian and Peter Jewo tagging along. Upon arrival, I was faced by two security guards, who needed to check if I was on the guest list. I showed one of the guards my name, and continued through to the backyard. My immediate impression of the backyard was that it had a real Western Suburbs homely feel to it - the type of backyard you'd love to run around as a little kid. I was torn between which group of people I should say hello to first, but eventually decided on Domenic Leonello and his mates, since Domenic was the first to call out my name. Then, I went over to Antonio, Ralph and Dean, who were preparing food on the barbecue. After a few more handshakes from people I knew, I began to feel comfortable with the atmosphere of the party.

The first proper conversation I had (and perhaps the only real conversation I had all night) was with Domenic. We are a lot closer than most people would suspect, and we share so many idiosyncrasies. We kept changing the conversation topic, depending on what came to mind. My night pretty much consisted of standing around (or sitting around as it got later), and chatting casually to others. There were a few times where I said nothing for five minutes...I find it hard to open up at parties. I got to meet Larisa and Brenda - two followers of my blog. They're nice girls; I felt comfortable around them. Brenda gave me the nickname of Santo, and remarked that I would mention her in my next blog...and well, I just did. Larisa claimed that I was "so serious," and I wanted to prove to her that I could have fun...that I was a normal person. Don't worry Larisa; your comments didn't offend me.

It was a pretty tame party, in the scheme of things. There were perhaps only three or four people who were totally out of it (off their faces). There were quite a few happy drunks, most notably Kyle Wilson and John Giang-Nguyen, who provided their fair share of entertainment. Nguyen Bui was great company on the guitar, and I was treated to the amazing singing of Larisa and Ralph. Andrew Tran ripped his pants. The kitchen floor was slippery. Artiene Tatian is naturally funny. The bathroom was practically always occupied, which made me think that people were using it to make out in. As is usual for me at parties, I kept my alcohol consumption to a very, very small amount. All I had was ONE beer, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I just don't get the hype over alcohol.

From a social perspective, I didn't do a lot of talking, and didn't talk to anyone I didn't know. I mean, I spoke to a few people that I didn't know, but it only lasted for a few seconds, and didn't count as conversation. I didn't feel as awkward around girls tonight as I usually that's a plus. I'm just not a party person. I don't like party music, and can hardly recognise any songs that are played at today's parties. I don't see parties as a place to 'chat up chicks'. I hardly drink any alcohol, and seeing people who are really drunk disturbs me. In saying that, I like going to parties because it's a chance to have a night out, and a chance to interact with people I feel comfortable talking to. All of the things that I dislike about parties are cancelled out by what I call the 'party trade-off'. That is, I do not have the right to complain about what goes on at a party, because someone was nice enough to invite me to it in the first place. If I was to hold a party, there wouldn't be dance music playing out of loudspeakers. Hell, there may not even be music at all! But the party trade-off gives the host control over what goes on at the party. The guests should respect the host's choices because they wouldn't be at the party if it wasn't for the host/s inviting them.

My brother, who came from the nearby Santo's Pizzeria, picked me up from the party. A few of his mates bet him that he wouldn't find his way to the house, located in Togil Street, Canley Vale. Just to prove his mates wrong, my brother quickly passed by Santo's on the way home, where his friends were seated out the front. He yelled out to them "I'm going home now, but I just wanted to say I FOUND IT!" He left the scene in style by chucking a burnout. He does that from time to time.

Oh well. Another night dissolving into nothing but memories.