finding your life aesthetic

Posted on August 31st, 2012

A few weeks ago I was in Vienna for a day, as part of a 38-hour haul from Greece to Denmark. And I had a great realisation.

When I’m in a new city I get enveloped by the aesthetic – the hair, the shoes, the subtle mannerisms, the turns of phrases – and find myself wanting to covet it, while feeling overwhelmingly lacklustre in my own “rustic” get-up.

This lady was very “Vienna”. She was very much thrown when I asked to photograph her with her al-foil doggie bag.

It’s an evolutionary thing. When you find yourself standing out from the mob, you get a survivalist urge to “buy into” the dominant vibe.

It’s a travel thing. The smells, sights and accents all feel so evocative. You get swept up in the new.

Well. I almost did, there in Vienna. Then I got a grip of myself. Vienna’s a good place for this.

At first I did my usual. I looked at the prim men in their crisp striped shirts and dapper spectacles with their neat hands and expensive tan moccasins. And the women with their curt little plimsolls and small limbs and cardigans tied over little shoulders and the contained way they sip at their coffees and peck at their pastries. I got absorbed by the way the quirky girl who I stopped to ask for “the best café to sit in for a few hours” blinked tightly as she answered me, with her bright fuchsia lipstick. And her kooky Mary-Janes.

I imagined their nice, tidy, un-dusty lives, listening to Mozart, eating strudel, sitting in parks and talking with Read more

a small guide to athens

Posted on August 30th, 2012

I love Athens. The craziness, the congestion; even in a heat wave the place leaves me pumped. It’s life in a petri dish. It’s so terribly, organically, inescapably human. I didn’t stay in Athens long. I was in transit to Icaria. Two days only. But this is what I tried (and which I’d recommend to anyone popping by).

Seriously, the view from The New Hotel to that big lump of rocks there on the hill…

* Stay here: I was booked into The New Hotel, near Syntagma Square. My mate Bill at thecoolhunter suggested I check it out. The place is designed by the Campana brothers, who’ve cleverly reinterpreted the former Olympic Palace hotel originally built in 1958 – they pulled it down, then rebuilt it using broken bits of the hotel as well as the retro furniture. They workshopped the project with design and architecture students from University of Thessaly. So clever. Took me a while to work out that the walls were made of old bed legs and the chairs were Read more

live out the confusions

Posted on August 29th, 2012

This is something I learned only recently. I wish I’d learned it early. It is this: no one on this planet knows what they’re doing. We’re all confused. Very little matches up (and yet our brains try valiantly to slot all the bits together in patterns).

And this is the salient bit: there is only one way through the discombobulation …and that’s through it.

I spent my childhood thinking no one else was confused. Everyone else knew when it was cool to wear two Cherry Lane T-shirts at once. And when to stop. And why to do so in the first place.

Then I realised they were just better at looking like they weren’t confused. Or they varnished everything in a coat of numbness. But that just clogs up the confusion, like bad foundation on toxic skin.

I spent my 20s and most of 30s thinking I could avoid the confusion. I travelled faster, hoping I could overtake it, circumvent it. Beat it. Read more