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Category Archives: Miscellany
This vintage Melbourne travel map was passed on to me from the collection of a relative, and I thought Melbourne map buffs might find it interesting. Produced by the Victorian Railways in November 1939, it’s a small booklet that folds out into a double-sided map. This is the front cover when folded, showing the central city from the banks of the Yarra.
I just discovered that my great uncle, Fred Mitchell, is selling his photos as prints on RedBubble. Fred’s photos have been a source of admiration in my family for years, but it’s nice to see them readily available somewhere that a wider audience can view and order them.
While his collection is very wide and full of good stuff, it’s his photos of mid-twentieth century Melbourne that I keep going back to: in addition to their intrinsic attractiveness, they are fascinating for their portrait of daily life in 1950s Melbourne. (One of his products is a calendar collecting together many of the best).
The purchase of Instagram by Facebook the other week interested me, if only because I have been noodling around with the service myself in recent weeks. This fits my long-standing pattern of being just enough of an early adopter to leap on board something at the exact moment it becomes passé. At one level I can understand the incredulity about the price (a billion dollars is a lot to pay for a service thats only revenue plan seems to be “get purchased by facebook”) and about the merits of Instagram itself (Jon Stewart epitomised a widespread perspective when he described it as a “thing that kind of ruins your picture.”)
While its value to Facebook may seem dubious, I can see the merit of Instagram itself from a user’s perspective. It is true that at one level those filters are, at worst, ruining your picture as Jon Stewart says and, at best, just adding a cheap veneer of artiness. No doubt people will sneer at the Instagram aesthetic, driven as it is by gimmicks like the graininess, ersatz tilt shift, and old-timey colour filters in the image at the head of this article. Yet while the Instagram effects are in a sense cheap tricks, they are also doing something real, which is stripping the naturalism from the photo and making us see it with fresh eyes. I like that something so popular is making people look differently at their images, and stirring the realisation that even that naturalistic look from a good camera is not a neutral aesthetic choice.
In my continuing attempts to help my film readers who aren’t interested in my urban planning stuff, and vice-versa, I’ve also created separate mailing lists that cover just my film content and just my urban planning content. These are also in the right hand column, or alternatively here:
Hopefully these will be attractive options for those who have no interest in one or other of the major “streams” of my content. (You can also view the site at category specific URLs: www.sterow.com/film and www.sterow.com/urbanplanning).
Tim Minchin’s Christmas song White Wine in the Sun is now pretty well known in Australia I think – or at least no longer obscure enough to seem novel when posted on a website like this. But I want to post it anyway, and I figure it will be new at least to any overseas readers who haven’t been chased away by my articles about Victorian urban planning. What I like so much about it is that it so completely and comprehensively rejects two of the cores of traditional Christmas iconography – the religious underpinnings and the northern hemisphere winter imagery – but gets instead to the core of what Christmas is (or should be) all about.
While I’m posting Christmas clips from YouTube: another favourite of mine is this duet by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, recorded for television in 1977. It’s such a strange juxtaposition of talent, and very corny, and yet it works. There’s something about Bing Crosby’s voice, in particular, that evokes Christmas in a very profound Pavlovian way for me.
I occasionally feel self-conscious about the weird mix of content on this site, with film reviews sitting alongside detailed discussions of urban planning issues. While I think some of my planning stuff (like my essays about the town of Seaside, or the urban design and planning of Disneyland) might be of interest to a broader readership, some of my posts are pretty technical and I appreciate must be annoying to the readers that followed me over here from my old film-related site, Cinephobia.
For this reason, I’ve now made it slightly easier to skip to just the content you’re after by creating subdomains you can bookmark for each of the two main threads of content. The two new addresses, which should be self-explanatory, are:
This site has a page on facebook, which has for the past few months not been updating; it seems the import blog function simply doesn’t work (and nor does their bug-reporting system). However, with my post on Disney World this morning I have confirmed that my work-around (updating the page through Networked Blogs) is working. So if you find it convenient to receive page updates via facebook, you may want to give it another go.
I was googling myself the other day – I know, I know – and stumbled across this page squirreled away on the Age website, where Jason Hill had blogged about my Planning News article on SimCity (which is reproduced in full here).
What made my day was this comment underneath by “RealityCheck:”
Stephen Rowley is quite obviously a drooling, mouth-breathing moron.
“OMGZ, no MS Flight Simulatorz, who willz flies all de planes!?” … retard.
On a sidenote, this article does explain the absolutely horrendous state of australia’s capital cities.
Love ya work Rowley.
Today saw the delivery of the last issue of Planning News for which I was co-editor, and my last post to the magazine’s facebook page. So I guess we really are done. I hope you can excuse a few self-indulgent thoughts.
It has been a privilege to work on the magazine. No other Australian state has a monthly planning magazine; Victoria is very lucky to have one, particularly since it also sustains the three-times a year VPELA newsletter as well. It is a tribute to the establishing editors of the magazine that they had not only the vision to see how important monthly publication was, but also the persistence to ensure that it happened. All the subsequent editors owe them a lot, as they proved the monthly turnaround could be done and established Planning News as the key channel for debate in the Victorian planning industry.