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Giving Controversy a Voice: The Festival of Dangerous Ideas

We’ve heard it all before – never discuss religion, sex, ideology or politics if you want to keep the peace and avoid violence at the conversation. But let’s face it – for those of us who are passionate about such issues, they’re all we WANT to talk about. So what if someone gets punched out? It’s all about stimulating the MIND, my friend.

Democracy’s Worst Example: Australian Marriage Equality and the Fight for Same-Sex Marriage

For most parents, their natural inclination is to tell their children that they can grow up being anybody that they want to be, that the opportunities are limitless and that nothing can stand in their way. It’s a wonderful theory, but is there any truth in it?
If you grow up to be gay, then the idea that you’ll be able to live the life you have always dreamed of is as of today a sad fantasy in Australia. The quest for love, marriage and the white picket fence that is on practically everybody’s birth registry remains high on the to-do list for most people even after they reach the point where they are able to think for themselves. It’s a longing carved as much out of society as it is out of the core of individual yearning, sitting right up there with that fundamental right to happiness that everybody’s supposed to be entitled to when the umbilical chord is cut.

A Contradictory Examination: This is How by MJ Hyland

In her novel This is How, MJ Hyland describes the struggle of a seemingly innocuous middle class young man trying to find his place in the world. Patrick Oxtoby wants to escape the pain of heartbreak and a stifling family, but he quickly learns that there is no running away from things - they will always find their way back to you. He wants to connect to others in a meaningful way, but finds it frustratingly impossible to do so.

Okay, so it all sounds like a terribly, self-indulgently, soporifically typical search for identity. But in this case, This is How will dump you on unexpected, shocking ground.

Surry Hills Street

Jon is the poster-child for the way fashion-forward men should dress in the city. His perfectly-styled look is always tinted with a hint of Europe’s streets – a most welcome influence for Sydney! If only there were more of this to go around…

Jon Evan Hewitt, 30, General Manager at Paul Maloney Fashion Agency.

shirt: Alexander McQueen.
cardigan: vintage.
bowtie: American Apparel.
hat: Kangol.
pants: Dr Denim.
shoes: Swear.

words: Seema Duggal

Returning down the M5, near Kingsgrove

photo: Seema Duggal

A Hot Spot for the Rest of Us: Cochin Restaurant

It’s classified as French/Vietnamese fusion, but I don’t understand what that means, exactly. Where does the French part come from? I don’t see any baguettes or snails. Whatever it is, all you need to know is that it tastes good. Affordable, inviting and delightfully fresh, Cochin Restaurant in Surry Hills is the perfect place to catch up with an old friend on a Friday night, because if you run out of things to say to each other there’s enough background noise to drown out the awkward silence. Tiny and a wee obscure, it’s fulfilled all the criteria for the “Hot Spot” category, and the best part? Your stomach will be happy AND you’ll be trendy!

Switching lines for the right design: Canvas Group

If you don’t believe the saying that the universe will open doors to you once you shut the ones that are holding you back, Jorge Castillo’s story might force you to see things in a different light. After 13 different positions across advertising, design and web agencies, he got so fed up with complaining about his job that he decided to go ahead and LEAVE his job. One thing led to another and he now co-directs one of Sydney’s leading creative agencies, Canvas Group, which just goes to show that sometimes you won’t get anywhere without a giant leap of faith.
Of course, you might not want to bother taking that leap of faith unless you’re supremely talented. Canvas Group’s portfolio of print and digital media is a visual delicacy, and it’s not just our eyes that feel that way, either. With multiple awards gathering dust behind the keyboards, Jorge, his wife Rosemary and his sister-in-law Alison were able to strike gold because… well, they were able to produce gold.

As Jorge puts it, it all started because of one simple, unarguable fact:

“I was a terrible employee.”

”I worked on many campaigns across different industries – some of those included brands such as Sony Music, Columbia Tristar, Cathay Pacific and Westfield. Looking back now I think this was a huge advantage because I was able to make lots of contacts and develop a range of skills, which definitely helped us to set up our own company.”

the Canvas Group website

They are quite excellent, my dear Watson.

You know how there are some bands you feel like you are just not meant to see, regardless of how much you want to? For most of this year, that band for me has been indie folk-electronica darlings Sherlock’s Daughter.
I was first recommended to them by a friend, but through a series of misfortunes, bad luck and poor organisation, I managed to pretty much miss every show they played. Lucky for me, I finally got my shit together and caught the band when they performed a support slot for Tame Impala down at Beach Road. Their live show was everything I had hoped for, though it was mildly depressing in that ‘why is everyone on stage tonight ten years younger than me and ten times more talented?’ kind of way.

Breaking through the Sound Waves: Lauren Horton

Listening to Lauren Horton sing makes it hard to believe that she wasn’t really interested in music until about four years ago, because to any unassuming ear it seems as though she’s been doing this forever. She is one of those artists who doesn’t necessarily fit into a distinct genre, but it fast becomes obvious that her sound need not tick all the boxes of others who have come before her. Fusing elements of sexy jazz, French-pop and quirky folk, Lauren is one of the few people who can say she merely experimented with her voice to see what it could do and the sound didn’t make people run away.

The Crooked Nun Whispered

Tabitha’s gaze is directed at the blue flicker of the television, but it is a gaze with all the warmth and life of an abandoned rundown house at midnight. The kind that packs of local kids dare each other to enter only during the safety of a sweaty, luminous mid-afternoon summer. She reaches for a tall glass of tepid water from the cheap, aluminum card-table beside her. A dampened doily sticks slackly to the grimy glass as she drinks. As Tabitha places the glass back onto the table, it clumsily topples over with a loud metallic clank. She glances at it sideways but pays it no attention.

Happiness in all its forms: $9.99

To begin with, let me say that I’m not a huge fan of the animated film oeuvre. I like some, sure, but in general, it’s not my first choice. $9.99, however, is a stop-motion animated film that charmed me.

$9.99 is a thoroughly Australian film. Well, sort of. It has an Israeli director, Tatia Rosenthal, and writer, Etgar Keret. But the producer and the entire cast are Australian! And it’s set in Sydney! So let’s just call it Australian.

American Apparel Street

Who says you have to wear more than one label to look good? But then if you work somewhere like American Apparel, I suppose it’s pretty easy to look good…

Stiele Hagens, 20, American Apparel Retail Assistant

blouse & pants: American Apparel.
belt: vintage.
shoes: from the States.
bag: Witchery.

words: Seema Duggal

Looking down Liverpool Street

photo: Bobby Reynolds

White Walls for All: Ambush Gallery

An open white warehouse space in which to house your office isn’t all that easy to come by in Sydney these days, and we all know that open white warehouse spaces are the places where your inspiration wants you to seek when it’s playing hide. But it seems that when Bill Dimas and John Wiltshire reached into the lucky dip, they got exactly what they were searching for – and what everybody else is likely dreaming for. It turned out they were happy to share their wealth, so they turned their strike of gold into part office/part gallery for emerging artists.

Pristine beauty in a world that is never as perfect as a magazine’s pages: Imogene Barron

One glance at Imogene Barron’s work and you’ll immediately want to throw out your wardrobe and start over. Not that you would be able to replicate her looks even if you tried – as one of Sydney’s most prolific stylists, the way she puts an image together almost always has you stand back and ask for more. Her ability to think outside the standard, ever day editorial that has become all too common today is exactly the kind of inspiration aspiring trend-setters should look to when they contemplate what to wear in the morning – oh, and how to stand, where to turn their head and what to have in the background. Perhaps most well-known is Imogene’s work for Yen, where issue after issue, Imogene’s flawless styling had people aching for pristine beauty in a world that is never as perfect as a magazine’s pages.

Imogene refers to her foray into fashion as “inevitable”, with a long family history in the industry, but it was the iconic imagery of the world’s greatest photographic legends that captured her passion.
“To be honest I was most inspired by photographers and the imagery behind it all. Some of my favourites early on were Corrine Day, Juergen Teller, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Peter Lindbergh and Mario Testino. To me, the images made the garments look beautiful,” she says.
“There is a whole driving force behind [fashion editorial].... The creative union of teams which bring everything to life.”

The Kids Are Alright

The guys behind Brisbane-based band Hungry Kids of Hungary obviously don’t subscribe to AC/DC’s ‘long way to the top’ adage, considering how quickly they’ve creeped into the local music scene.

Putting to shame my own slothful lifestyle, the band has already recorded two EPs since getting together two years ago. The latest, Mega Mountain, was recorded in Brisbane in just four days and released nationwide in April this year.

Struggling to soften the dividing line: Amnesty International

Many years ago when I still had enough idealism to believe I could change the world and had not yet realised I was far too emotionally unstable to do so, I took up a semester-long internship as a refugee caseworker at the Sydney office of Amnesty International. It turned out that the melancholy stories and crushing defeats were not my cup of tea – personally, I enjoy mine with milk and a little bit of honey – but the magical spirits of those who work there stayed with me, and I’m willing to bet that’s the case with anyone who comes into contact with them. Well, except of course maybe Amanda Vanstone.

Morning on Oxford Street

I caught Sunny when he was on his way to work, and I just loved the composition of his outfit. The cardigan + the bag + the SHOES = perfect!

Sunny Burns, 22, Journalist with the Sydney Star Observer

cardigan: from Hong Kong.
shirt: Club Retro.
jeans: Cheap Monday.
shoes: Reebok.
bag: from Hong Kong.

words: Seema Duggal

Poverty on the flip side: the brilliance within White Tiger

By far one of my favourite books I have read this year is White Tiger, a novel told from the perspective of an Indian servant. I love stories that make you look at things from a different viewpoint than from the outside in – Requiem for a Dream, for instance, but that movie just makes you feel high in a very paranoid way. On that note, DO NOT WATCH IT WHILST HIGH. Bad idea.

The Power of the Pretty Dress

I wrote this a few months ago when I was working at a fashion agency and did something rather stupid. I’m recycling it from my personal blog because I want EVERYONE to know what a dickhead I am.

One of my clients came to town today, and she just happens to be one of the greatest designers in the world, so naturally, when I got dressed this morning, it was my mission to look my absolute best. I mean, I HAD TO IMPRESS THIS WOMAN. So it was unnegotiable to wear anything other than the best dress I owned, and people, I’m telling you, I own a lot of dresses. It was of course one of said designer’s pieces, complete with frills, ruffles and the like, and it had the ability to make even a horse carcass look pretty, if put on the right way of course. I completed the look with my Marc Jacobs studded boots, packed my bags, and set out into the world.

A hidden gem on Oxford Street: Moku Boutique

Owner Lin Lin chats with Side Street, Sydney about what makes her shop Moku so special.

Capturing our nostalgia’s selective amnesia: Kareena Zerefos

Kareena Zerefos

Kareena Zerefos
is the kind of artist school students say they want to be when they grow up. The 25-year-old has found herself starting to get the kind of recognition people only dream of, and unlike that of most people her age, it’s entirely deserved. With art getting more and more avant-garde than ever before, it’s nice to have someone take us back to the daydreams of our childhood, when the simple things in life were all we needed to ignite our imagination and stimulate our happiness. This is, incidentally, exactly what Kareena’s work does – it warms your insides up like a pot of chai on a winter’s day, and reminds you that the best things in life are far away from the fast lane that consumes so many of us today. As you flip through her drawings, you may as well be picking up faded postcards from your nostalgia’s selective amnesia, making things appear more innocent, more beautiful and more exquisite than they actually were.

A silver screen with a difference: Sydney Underground Film Festival

Sometimes you just want to sit in the dark with a drink in one hand, gummy bears in the other, surrounded by like-minded people who are about to be entertained. You want something a little off-the-wall, something surprising, something, dare I say it, underground. The long and short of it is that you want to be cool. Not in a Tarantino-nerd kind of way, more in a Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin kind of way.

Hitting the music scene with two sets of drums

In a total bastardisation of the ‘boy next door’ cliché, I’d like to lay claim to Gideon Bensen as my very own ‘musician around the corner’. Back in the day you see, Gideon was less like my latest musical crush and more like my local barista. While his chai skills are nothing to be sneezed at, these days it’s his talent as a singer/ songwriter that’s holding my attention.

One of the new breed of up and coming independent musicians in Sydney, Gideon has been spreading his talents around town, playing as both a solo soldier and teaming up with other, equally as talented muso friends.

When opportunity meets the gold-hearted

It doesn’t exist on our doorsteps any more, nor on those of our Western neighbours. It’s a long-forgotten evil – one reminiscent of cotton fields and Toni Morrison novels – and it is hardly spoken about in casual conversation, because its reality seems so far away. But for people like Matthew Darvas and the rest of the crew at World Vision, they seek to combat its presence everyday. Because they know that slavery is still very much alive and kicking – and more prevalent in our lives than we might think.

Matthew Darvas is the New South Wales co-state director of Vision Generation, World Vision’s youth arm. Aimed at people between the ages of 15 and 25, the group’s mission is to campaign relentlessly for those who are not able to and to be the generation which makes poverty history.

Sunday Evening Street

Okay, I'll admit it. I had no time over the week and therefore tragically left scrounging around to find someone stylish for this section much too late. I’m talking LAST NIGHT late. And I’m sorry to say it, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone looking beautifully extravagant in Sydney on a Sunday night. I found this girl as I was on my way home, fed up with it all, when I realised – you don’t always have to dress to the nines to look good. Sunday night or Friday night, the most important thing is not what you’re wearing, but HOW you’re wearing it. I took a few more pictures on my hunt last night, but this girl looked the most comfortable with herself, and her outfit is immediately relatable. Sometimes, a knit and jeans are all you need – with heels, of course!

Linette Shahinian, 25, Marketing Professional

knit: Sach.
jeans: Ksubi.
shoes: Country Road.
bag: Furla.
bracelet: Manly Markets.

words: Seema Duggal
photo: Bobby Reynolds

Like Watching Poetry: a review on one of our all-time favourite films, Brick

Freedom. It can be a beautiful thing, but it can also poison the writing process. When I was given the freedom to write about my favourite films of all time, I jumped at the chance. After all, what aspiring film critic doesn't crave the opportunity and space to harp on about the films that have truly effected their lives? My list of favourites is many and multiple, spanning decades and genres. In truth, my list (yes, I'm actually that anal I have them written down) includes more that 50 films, each which I love and champion for one reason or another. However, I can’t say I can single just one out, so I won’t bother. Instead I intend to write about them all (eventually) in this treasured corner of Side Street Sydney.

To kick-off the segment I figured I’d write about one of the most amazing films I have ever seen, and one I fear not enough people know about. It’s called Brick, and was the debut film by 32-year-old American filmmaker Rian Johnson. I know, not the most appealing movie title, but thankfully I don’t see movies based on title alone.

The Day Social Media Ate the World

Today began like every other morning: I procrastinated for the first 20 (ahem) minutes of work by checking my email. But little did I know an insidious evil lurked within. An innocuous missive from my chums at Twitter HQ informed me that I had a new follower. Could be a Yay (multiple exclamation marks), or it could be a Nay (outright disgust). That depends of course on whether said follower is interested in reading my daily attempts at puerile pithiness, or is intent on selling me some kind of neat tool to ”increase my social networking profile by marketing the message in a bikini just for you” - or some such nonsense.

At first I’m unsure if it’s someone I know, or know of, as I don’t recognise the obscure photo or the username. With guileless innocence, I click through to my new follower’s profile to be greeted with a rather horrifying realisation. It’s not a freaky fake porn peddler or an apparent sales & marketing prodigy. It’s my mother.

Just like a second home... with wine!

We’ve heard it all before, and there certainly is a lot of truth in it – Melbourne has great bars. There, I said it. But the thing is, we used to have little to defend ourselves with…USED TO being the key term. The recent change in liquor laws has swept a metamorphosis over this city once dominated by massive pubs and watering holes where nobody knows your name. Also known as the meat markets for pissheads, there wasn’t a lot of choice for those of us who stay away from such places with a 10 foot radius at all times. But our time has finally come, and Bondi Beach’s Shop and Wine Bar is the diamond ring we’ve been waiting for all along – and didn’t even know how much we wanted.

Thinking everywhere but inside the square.

Sure, the thought of a music festival often conjures up memories of fun times and bladder control, but seldom will you look back at one as the day which changed your life forever. But that’s exactly what comes to mind for Angelique May Bennett, who conceived the first sprouts of hot Sydney label myPetsQuare with second-half Vicki Lee on one such rainy, beat-filled afternoon.

“Vicki was working at the festival, and was giving away shirts so she gave me one to keep warm. We instantly liked each other,” says Angelique.
Like is an understatement – the ladies not only found in one another a new friend, but also a business partner.
“We officially decided to do a label together in 2007 - but I decided the minute I met her,” she says.
“I have always 'adjusted' my clothing to meet my fashion visions, and Vicki has one of the coolest dress senses I've ever come across!”

Style sisters: Vicki and Angelique

The Real Guitar Heroes: Josh Pyke & Busking for Change

I had a very delicious dream last night, where Josh Pyke, Tim Rogers (You am I), Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon), Tim & Dave (Dappled Cities) all made a welcome appearance. I have been prone to a celeb dream or two in my time, which apparently means I’m thinking about an idealised version of someone in my life. Or it means I’ve got a thing for guys with guitars. I suggest the latter is most likely.

Think I’m just an over-excited fan-girl? Okay, maybe, but it isn’t just for their pretty faces and seductive lyrics. It’s not just that they can sling a guitar and hold a sweaty room of punters in the palm of their hand. These here are nice boys. How do I know this you ask? Well, let me tell you.

Growing up under city lamps

Late at night on the steps of Town Hall, they’re swigging whisky from water bottles and bopping around to a beat that simply isn’t playing… on audible speakers, anyway. The city below isn’t merely the destination of their paycheques or the side of the board game where their favourite bar is situated – it’s their school, their cafeteria and their auditorium, and sometimes, it’s their dance floor. Seemingly unrecognisable amongst the lanes of cheap gift shops and Chinese takeaways are hundreds of young people, whose primary address is none other than The Streets, Sydney.

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