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And a Happy(er) New Year

Dear good people of the world (especially those who live in Sydney),

I have been trying to think of what to write for a Happy Holidays message to you all, but everything I have come up with has made me come across as a bit wanky. And so, as a forewarning, I should inform you that this letter may come across as a bit wanky. Admission is the first step in recovery, right?
Also, I like the word wanky. It’s funny.

This year has, by many accounts, sucked balls, and I don’t know too many people who are sad to see it end. We started with a bang, which for the most part was the sound of the global economic system falling to the cement pavement from about 100,000 metres high. Then all of us were scared we were going to lose our jobs, scared our house price was going to fall, scared of evil Oompa Loompas lurking in the distance. Or was that last one just me? Either way, it seemed like we were scared of EVERYTHING, and do you know what feeds off fear? FEAR.
Don’t be too proud of yourself if you got that right. It was kind of a no-brainer.

And so there we were, all scaredy-pants and whathaveyou, when our personal lives had the nerve to start reacting, too. There was some sort of universal domino effect going on, climaxing with the death of Michael Jackson and producing after-effects in the forms of Daul Kim and Brittany Murphy. For those of us who lost real people as well, this was all too much. Something had to give.

In my case, it did, by way of this little website, which I love so much I kind of want to dress it in tiny little slippers and carry it around with me in my handbag, as one does with babies. I was in the middle of loathing everything when I thought, wait a second, my life is kind of crap. And so one thing led to another, obladi oblada, and then bam! I quit my job so that I could concentrate on doing what I loved: writing. Also, I wanted to wake up in the morning with a reason NOT to hang myself.

Side Street, Sydney was part of my remuneration package when I traded in Surry Hills salads for tinned spaghetti, and I have to say, I am much happier for it. And at the risk of sounding even wankier, I really like you, dear readers, and I hope you like Side Street, Sydney, too. I have nothing but big, MASSIVE love for everyone involved in this site (thank youuuuu!) and I adore all the people who have been featured on it so much I feel like I might pop. After all, one of the hidden motivations behind creating this was getting cool people to talk to me. I have succeeded.

I suppose the point of this rambling is to say hi, have a wonderful silly season, marry me. We’re off for a few days because we fear the computer is about to create a vortex and suck us in, so this is the last post until the 2nd of Jan. I hope you all get a chance to peel your eyes away from the screen and focus on the things that matter, too, and if you’re looking for a New Years Resolution, here’s a tip: in 2010, do what makes you happy. Faith is the opposite of fear, and it pretty much always helps to do things in the spirit of it, despite how scary they may be. Nothing is impossible, but it’s up to you to listen to your beating little heart. It may be contrived to say, but it’s true – life’s too short to do anything else. Particularly if you have a thing for prescription drugs.

Fairydust & Schweppervescence on you all (how GOOD is that ad),
Seema xx

photo by Lisa Zhu

Subconsciously Riding High: Red Riders

A combination of guitar-driven melodies and shoegaze pop delivered in a high octane post-punk style, Red Riders delivers music that owes a bit of debt to classic indie bands but manages to maintain its own character. Much of the band's disposition comes from its front man, Alex Grigg, whose unmistakable vocals and delicate balance of self-deprecating humour and nervousness are crucial to its aesthetic. I recently sat down with Alex to discuss the Sydney quartets’ sophomore album, Drown In Colour...

Bright Lights, Big Cities: Dappled Cities

One would expect an interview with a total stranger to start with awkward introductions and polite chit chat, but that was hardly the case when I spoke to Alex Moore from Dappled Cities. Clearly sharing a similar disregard for accepted social etiquette, we somehow managed to cover burning warts and kidney infections all within the first two minutes. Be still my heart.

Luckily (for those not enjoying the off kilter banter), we also managed to squeeze in a word or two about the band. With descriptions ranging from art rock to oddly bent pop, Dappled Cities have been building a name for themselves in the local and international music scene since they first got together in the schoolyard back in 1997.

Clouds, Glitter and Pink Ribbons in Your Cereal

It’s that day.

When you wake up tired, groggy, and usually you are happy, a gentle joyfulness that washes over you for a few seconds, because you don’t know yet know where you are, or who you are. You’ve not yet had the time to remember. It’s the amnesia of all the daily pains and bruises that you take with you to the left and right side of your bed each night.

But this time you’re not happy because of your temporary amnesia, but because, even with the shrieking of the alarm and the darkness shielded by thickly skinned curtains, you’re recalling something good.

Something you’ve been cradling in your arms all night and here with eyes wider open, you see is still here; unmoved, right beside you; as the morning light begins to splinter and make a day of the slow dawn upon your cheek.

Where Death is So Becoming: The Book Thief

I've been contemplating disowning my sister. I mean, she's fun. And when we're not fighting like passionate sisters do, we get along like a proverbial house on fire. But she didn't rate The Book Thief, and that's just not on as far as I am concerned.

Sister or otherwise, I'm not usually one to insist people like the same things I do. But the thing is, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is...ahhh, how do I put this?...the best piece of literature in the history of the world.

Yes, the history of the world.

All-Day Preparation Style

photo: Margaret Sevenjhazi

St James Station

photo: Lisa Zhu

An Art Hub Multiplex: Hardware Gallery

Lew Palaitis has been directing Hardware Gallery for so long, he isn’t quite sure when his youth ended and his career began – an enviable transition, to say the least. Now based in Enmore, the gallery just celebrated its 10 anniversary and is about to host a party to mark the end of what was, incidentally, its best year yet; a feat not many can lay claim to in 2009. Boasting two exhibition spaces, a shop front, a record room and a framing centre out the back, Hardware gallery is like four separate locations in one, and for artists and art lovers, this can only mean good things.

Into the Future, With Pleasure: Gary Bigeni

Gary Bigeni is one of the first designers people point to when they’re asked to list Australia’s most defining fashion players. His collections inject a potion of innovation into classic sculptural pieces, and allow women to mesh class with style in truly perfect form – one that appears to be miles ahead of the static cardigans and maxi-dresses lying in their long-forgotten wardrobes of yesterday. If this is the future, then Gary Bigeni has presented futuristic fashion at its finest; collections that would have made the style set far and wide fast track the clock if they could have predicted them. There is an element of surprise in nearly every piece of his range, one that draws in the eye and makes it never want to leave… and forever begs the question of why it wasn’t thought of before. Such sentiment is proof that Gary Bigeni is a designer who can truly be called an artist.

Adventure Time for All!: Flash Mob 2009

What’s cooler than an event where people who like photography can get together and go on a little adventure to CREATE photography? Not much, obviously. Matt Hodges decided to make such an event happen. You can thank him on Saturday.

On To A Winning Thing: Ted Noffs Foundation

For those who become addicted to drugs and alcohol at any early age, life often turns into a continuous battle between will and desire. Opportunities slip away, chances become forgotten and choice is no longer dictated by freedom. It is the aim of the Ted Noffs Foundation to help youth regain their self-management before the ability to is lost entirely.

It's On! Twice: Friday Night Battles at the Chauvel.

I’m a massive fan of the double-feature. It used to be the norm back in my parents day, and now it’s like a special occasion thing. No fair. There’s just something so satisfying about settling in for an entire evening as opposed to a measly 120 minutes. A packed meal and a thermos full of something warming (vodka) are not out of the question, but I’m by no means implying that you SHOULD take vodka with you to the cinema, ‘cause that would be naughty.

Floral, Meet Leather

photo: Margaret Sevenjhazi

Carlton United Brewery on Sydney Road

photo: Lisa Zhu

Default Place, Not Default Flavour: Ramen Kan

I don’t know about you, but I have a default restaurant: the place I go when I want to get out of the house but can’t be bothered thinking about it too much (and this is often followed by a spur of the moment movie). For me, that place is Ramen Kan in Bondi Junction. So beloved is it that if nearby friends discover that I have been without them, I am sternly reprimanded.

Where Superheroes Go for a Bit of Self-Reflection: Numskull

For the artist formally known as Numskull, the social guidelines that come with the birthright of human conditioning are merely a playground in which to challenge them. For the past decade, the suburban-bred street artist has been creating work which satirically portrays the hypnotic commercial saturation we are confronted with from the time of our youth. He cleverly extracts the exact same elements which have become ingrained in our consciousness (whether we realise it or not) and twists them in a way that makes us confront just how much icons and advertising stay with us long after we turn off the television and move away from the billboard. His work can be humorous, disturbing and sarcastic, and often all at the same time. It sometimes appears as though it is more conceptual than the artist even set out for, depending on the viewer and his or her own experiences. Whatever the case, Numskull’s work is certainly art with a message.

Prolific Without the Altar: The Church

For someone with scant religious inclinations, a declaration of love to The Church may sound somewhat blasphemous, but as I’ve never been too concerned with political correctness hopefully we can let that slide. Given this infatuation, you can imagine my excitement when A. said band released a new album and B. a delicious six degrees of separation scenario gave me the chance to interview guitarist Peter Koppes.

Help! I’m Having a Mid-Career Crisis.

You have a job. Perhaps it pays well. It’s an okay job; you don’t hate it but you don’t love it, either. You daydream about another life. One where heels and business suits and hairdryers at 7am are but a distant memory. In this other life, you see yourself in a different career. One that requires you to use your creative self. Does such a thing exist, you ask yourself? And if it does, how do you know if you’re any good and, more importantly, whether it will pay enough for you to still afford Christmas gifts for your friends and family which don’t contain craft glue and pipe cleaners?

Better Than Fiction: Affection

Australian author Krissy Kneen is obsessed with sex. Her book, Affection: a memoir of love, sex and intimacy tells of a stifled Catholic childhood in the somewhat less refined parts of suburban Sydney and an adulthood of unbridled experimentation when she escapes to university in the city. Sex infuses and consumes everything she does.

Krissy Kneen

Black & Tiger

photo: Margaret Sevenjhazi

Miami Horror @ the Oxford Art Factory

photos: Lisa Zhu

Sydney’s fashion capital: Capital L

Located just off Oxford St, Capital L is a treasure chest full of hand-picked fashion gems from the crème de la crème of Australian designers for guys and girls, as well as their affordable but adorable in-house brand, pleaselouise. The line-up includes Marnie Skillings, Shakuachi, Lover, Saint Augustine Academy, MyPetsQuare, Something Else, Life with Bird, Andrea & Joen footwear, Karen Walker sunnies and Elke Kramer accessories, to name a few. Testament to its coolness, Kim Gordon even picked up a dress or two there during Sonic Youth’s last Australian tour. Really, you can’t argue with that. We chatted to the owner, Louise.

Romance in all its Forms: Gail Sorronda

Okay, okay, so we know she’s not from Sydney, but once you’re an Australian in Paris, you could be from anywhere, really… plus, it’s hard to resist the chance to interview one of the country’s best designers. Originally from Brisbane and back in her hometown for a short stint until next year’s Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, it’s no wonder why designer Gail Reid of Gail Sorronda is keen to return to the land of romance. Her clothes are the visual representation of the story Paris would tell if it could, saturated with unyielding femininity and extravagant fables from an unspoilt world – one that, incidentally, only exists in the imagination. Gail extracts her own reveries into each collection she delivers, allowing such fantasies to exist not only in the mind, but on the body as well.

Exploring the space between the lines and the shadows within them, Gail’s most recent collection for Autumn Winter 2010, Black Chalk, is a play on volume, line and texture. Girlishly elegant and elusively sensual, the collection defies the notion of classic shapes and broadens the bracket with a redefinition of exquisite figures and silhouettes. Staying true to the label’s black and white aesthetic, Black Chalk proves clothes don’t need colour to be elaborate.

Guilt-free prettiness: Finders Keepers Markets

Nerds, homebodies and 20-something grandmothers, rejoice: it is finally cool to be kitsch. With the resurgence of homemade craft, teakettles and kitties (among other cute things), old has indeed become new again, and abandoned boxes have fast turned into treasure coves of materials and inspiration. High up in the category of “those to thank” are The Finders Keepers Markets, the weekend-long independent art mecca for people who want to fill their home with pretty items which are not only affordable, but good for the world, too! With each stall dedicated to new and emerging artists, the markets are at the top of the listings under ethical consumerism. Combine that with the fact that they are supporting new talent and really, buyers totally deserve whatever they purchase.

Bonnie Poplar

Where the Beat Goes On: Poetry Slam

When one thinks of poetry, it often conjures up images of dusty professors, tortured navel-gazers and angsty teens. A poetry slam, on the other hand, couldn’t be further removed from this bunch of bone-creekers. Throw in a few beers, some hip hop and humour, a wack of punk attitude and a desire to the command the stage and own the audience… now THAT’S a little more like a poetry slam.

Life Without Lunch Money: A Tragedy.

For me, high school was a means to an end, the end being The Real Life or an early death. Either one was bound to be better.
Not that I didn’t have a little bit of fun in high school. I did have a little bit of fun, in the same way that I have a little bit of fun when I’m sitting at a funeral. Nothing’s THAT bad, right? No no, because everything will be OVER at some point.

I was able to survive the period because I was told, repeatedly, that, “high school isn’t even a microcosm of the world.” It was the sentence that reassured me, allowed me to continue moving on with the force of life, enabled me to resist playing in traffic. But recently, I realised something: HIGH SCHOOL IS A TOTAL MICROCOSM OF THE WORLD. It really just prepares you for the fact that drinking copious amounts of alcohol isn’t always going to be the answer to all your problems, because that would get way too expensive.

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