I’ve always thought airports and weddings were great places for people watching… well they’ve got nothing on the Bathurst 1000!
This year marks ’50 years of Awesome’ (as it says on the official ticket) and sees more than 200,000 people descend on Mt Panorama. These folks literally live together for 5 days in what has to be the world’s most tribal sport. I wasn’t entirely sure it’d be my cup of tea but after seeing the collective passion, ingenuity, and excitement of these people – I just couldn’t resist.
Always best to get the lay of the land from a chopper
200,000 people camp in and around Mt Panorama for the big race
Looking down the bends from the top of the rock
In the pitts
Best seats in the house at Telstra’s Big Blue
50 Years of Awesome
The grid girls enjoy their 5 days of fame
* ALL PHOTOGRAPHY SHOT ON MY BLACKBERRY (NOT MY REGULAR CANON 7D)
I love New York City and lived there for 7 years (1996 – 2003). I spent most of those years below 14th street so I’m going to focus my observations mainly on that area. Last week was my first trip back to New York since 2009, which I guess is a long time between drinks but I’ve observed some drastic changes. I’m keen to see if anyone else agrees or has noticed.
Please allow me to do a quick roll call of the old haunts:
SOHO – It’s like a box made from glass and steel that’s literally full of expensive home wares and masstige fashion that no real human being needs. Yep, it all glitters but none of it’s gold.
NOLITA and Little Italy – These once uniquely carved out characters now basically blend into SOHO. John Gotti would be rolling in his grave.
Lower East Side and DUMBO – What used to be downright hardcore is now flaccid at best. I actually think I saw a dude wearing a bum bag and a pair of Crocs whilst walking a pug.
NOHO – Dead (aside from Supreme… still gets a line around the block when they drop a new collection)
Greenwich Village, Chelsea and the Meatpacking district – Probably the hottest areas in Manhattan these days. Feels like everything’s gone west. The abattoirs and S&M clubs have been replaced by the island’s best bars, restaurants, and retail stores (the Highline is an absolute stroke of genius).
Midtown – Less of a wasteland than I remember but now totally homogenized and ‘the same’ as its surrounding areas.
Upper East and West Sides – Caught in a time warp. No change to speak of.
So what’s missing?
In a word – DIVERSITY
In a list – artists, struggling creatives, gay people, street rappers, real world Seinfeld characters, skaters, mom & pop video stores, stoop hangers, park performers, jaywalkers, soap box talkers, dive bars, non franchised hole in the wall eateries, pickup ballers, ‘bad’ areas, and all the sole trade pockets (diamond district, garment district, polish district, meatpacking district to mention a few).
Have the diverse people and places been priced off the island? Or have the powers that be ‘cleaned up’ the city so much they’ve washed away the very stuff that made it the best city on the planet? I think a bit of both.
New York City has lost its edge (for now).
Chris Savage and his post inspired me to post this piece I wrote whilst in India. I’ve resisted posting it for nearly a year now and I have to say I’m glad to finally push it out to the world! Chris’ post is about not letting ‘the conditions’ become your valid excuse for failure and I guess that’s exactly the type of resolve and positivity I witnessed in India. It’s what keeps India going. I wrote this piece to sum up my experience with the Indian people and their attitude towards daily life.
India in abundance
Welcome to a country where anything is possible. A land of constant reinvention and rejuvenation. To say India is a work in progress would be a serious understatement; this country is permanently ‘under construction’. The problem is, no one person, religious group, or government seems to be running ‘project India’. From my observations, India is the people’s project and everyone from the humble chai wallah to the regal Raj is involved and playing their part. It’s organised chaos, it’s important, it’s life threatening, it’s breathtaking, and it’s all for fun. I’ve never seen so much urgent work being carried out in such high spirits. Forget ‘whistle while you work’ these people sing and dance.
Once you spend a little time with the locals you soon realise that India has an amazingly cheeky sense of humour. I didn’t recognise it as humour at first, mainly because I’d never seen this strain before. It’s fun loving, naughty, down to earth, forgiving, empathetic, inclusive, and altogether welcoming. I don’t think sarcasm exists and the notion of self-deprecation is assumed and automatically implied. No, this is a jolly humour steeped in humility and acceptance. No wonder everyone is smiling in India.
I’ve never witnessed so much concentrated excitement in my life. You can see it bursting behind their eyes and dancing across their lips… Indians have no poker face.
India is safe; in fact, I’ve never felt safer walking the streets of any country. Sure, people want your money but they don’t want to take it, they want to earn it. Indian’s are always on and they’re always selling. Marketplaces are like a giant party where you have two choices – You can either stand still in the middle of the dance floor and wonder why you feel out of place and pushed around, or you can grab a partner and join the dance. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had conducting everyday business and I just hope I can bring some of its essence back to my agency in Australia.
I love the way local people make you feel in this country – instantly part of the fun and in on the joke. The idea of family is sacred and ruthlessly protected yet completely open to new members, friends, and ideas. It’s normal to be invited into a stranger’s home, offered chai or lunch, and engaged in deep and exploratory conversation. The concept of small talk doesn’t exist here. Indians want to know who you really are and what makes you tick. They are curious, knowledgeable, and endlessly enthusiastic… just like a child prodigy.
The whole world may be looking at India from an economic, social, and cultural point of view but let it be known that India is looking at the rest of the world too. The average person on the street in India has incredible general knowledge, instinctive mathematical skill, and a flair for understanding human nature. I’m constantly blown away by the intelligence of India.
There’s an amazing gift waiting for you in India but first you must loosen your grip on normality, dilute everything that you think you know, and eventually submit yourself to the people. India will love you when you let her.
We were in Rio De Janeiro last week and it quickly shot into our top 5 cities in the world. If you’ve been you’ll know why, if not, imagine a beautifully dilapidated city on the beach, in the jungle, surrounded by mountains. Simply breath taking.
With the World Cup Soccer coming up in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, I guess it goes without saying that Rio is on the way up! And that goes for the real estate prices too – Rio is quickly becoming unaffordable for locals with even the newly reclaimed favelas being bought up by rich investors.
We were lucky enough to make some local friends and they put it like this:
“Rio has been tomorrow’s city for way too long… now is our time to grasp it and become today’s city”
Their perspective on Sydney was also insightful:
“Sydney is the Rio that worked”
Here’s a bit of love from Rio.
On a recent trip to Uluru, aka Ayers Rock, my girl and I were faced with a serious dilemma… to climb or not to climb.
Surprisingly, the guides (local Australians… not Aboriginals) we met out there hadn’t climbed it, which I found incredible considering they spend a large portion of every day walking tourists around its base. Aside from the unenthusiastic guides, you’re also faced with a large sign at the bottom that reads:
“Our traditional Law teaches us the proper way to behave. We ask you to respect our Law by not climbing Uluru. What visitors call ‘the climb’ is the traditional route taken by ancestral Mala man upon their arrival at Uluru in the creation time. It has great spiritual significance. We have a responsibility to teach and safeguard visitors to our land. ‘The climb’ is dangerous and too many people have died while attempting to climb Uluru. Many others have been injured while climbing. We feel great sadness when a person dies or is hurt on our land.”
Yes we thought about it but as you can see from the photos below, we climbed it. We felt like the best way to learn about Aboriginal culture was to actually experience it. We wanted to walk in their shoes, or lack thereof, and do so with respect. By walking in the path of the Aboriginals we were able to appreciate the beauty, significance and power of this natural wonder.
I’m so glad we did.
We climbed the rock in the early morning of a perfect day. It was much more difficult than we’d expected and it took us a good hour to ascend but like most things in life that are challenging, it was well worth it. Like two lizards in the desert we lay up there completely alone, with our bare feet on the warm rock soaking it all in. They say Uluru is the heart chakra of Australia and I can now understand why. It was a surreal feeling to be up there and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get a little closer to Aboriginal Australia.
When I travel overseas I always aim to join the local culture but I often forget to do so when I’m traveling in Australia. Climbing Uluru allowed us to literally connect with the cultural center of Australia.
Here’s a little taste of the rock itself – and by the way, the shots below are raw images… no retouching, no colour grading.
As a side note, we stayed at Longitude 131 which is nothing short of amazing!
We need inspiration to be creative.
Without inspiration and cultural context most people struggle to have an original thought. For me it’s about bringing two or more seemingly irrelevant things together to form a fresh platform upon which new ideas can be born.
Some people like to read books, others go to art shows, and many just google whatever subject they’re interested in. Maybe I’m a slow reader or just not that good when it comes to theory but I have to get out there and actually participate. I find it hard to absorb a subject from arms length.
My practice is immersion and it’s often about doing things that I don’t otherwise understand or like. I guess it’s a mind stretching technique. These are some of my recent experiences that I’ll share over the next few weeks:
- Mentoring inmates at a maximum security prison for young girls
- Hanging out with the Delhi flight club
- Participating in an advanced NLP course
- Teaching at a slum school in Mumbai
- Sinking my teeth it someone else’s profession
- Infiltrating the Church of Scientology
As always, feedback welcome.
My plane touched down last night at around 2am. As I looked out of the window to see the ‘normal’ ground staff activity I was surprised to witness three kids playing with a stray dog right on the edge of the runway. 24 hour hours later and the surprises just keep coming. I’ve never witnessed this much raw humanity in my life. The people of Mumbai, at least the ones I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, are so present and in tune with human beings. As a tourist, they look into your eyes and read you like a badly art directed pamphlet. They strip you back to the core as you surrender in their generous and forgiving smiles.
Words just don’t cut it so here are a few highlights from my first day in Mumbai.