Urban Affairs: L.Ron Lives on in Melbourne

Just a short 15-minute drive out of the city, where suburban bicycles meet tram cars, you’ll now find Melbourne’s new Scientology  Headquarters. It’s hard to miss. The church stands on a 19th century estate, bought from the Catholic Church for $7 million in 2005 and has been renovated at an estimated cost of $20 million. Inside the massive compound, sits a large chapel, a public auditorium, course rooms and a multimedia public information centre. It’s a state of the art product.

Former planning minister Justin Madden was there for the opening:  ” it’s  as Melbourne as Melbourne gets,” he said. It’s drawn criticism from Victoria’s premier Ted Baillieu when he stressed, “I, like many Australians have concerns about the role Scientology has played in the past.”  When Mayor Robert Doyle  said “In no way was this any affirmation or support for the religion or the church,” after he attended the opening and cut the ribbon, one might suspect the new property has left an imprint of mixed emotions amongst Melburnians, after its grand opening recently.

If you happen to shun its existence, here’s the bad news:  the Church of Scientology is here to stay in Melbourne.

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Social Etiquette: Angst of a communal path

The sandy path I run on right beside the beach in Mordialloc breeds pockets of idiotic cyclists, walkers, family congregations, teenagers with their iPods and dog walkers. It’s such a convenient path, only 50 metres from the apartment. By the time the weekend rolls around I’m on it.

Unfortunately other people are on it too.

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Social Etiquette: Neighbours – why are we afraid?

It’s the slamming of the doors and endless nattering in the hallway of the apartment block, from my neighbours,  that sends shivers down my spine. Not because of the noise but knowing they are “out there” makes me retreat and delay any plans to avoid a bumbling confrontation. It all seems a bit suspicious – my behaviour – on the surface and indeed a little green eyed.

But when one gets burned by a neighbours aloofness it’s easy to see why people retract into their shell like a Horseshoe crab.

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Technology: My new lomo

It’s raw and spontaneous.

I just developed my first roll of film using a fisheye lomography camera. As I walked into the store to pick up my batch, the photo technician said one of the three rolls did not turn out at all. It’s par for the course when dealing with film, when dealing with lomography. What you see is not necessarily what you get with it. Artificial light plays a big role in transforming mundane colours into vibrant hues. Shadows and shade also add another eerie dimension. As the technician was packing the bundle of photos up over the counter, she said “Sometimes this happens with film,” referring to the lost roll.

I quickly left the shop, stopped and  stood outside briefly to browse the results.

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Music: Top Ten 2010

For me, I think this year will be remembered by the large amounts of “surf” bands that exploded onto the scene – Beach House, Wavves, Surfer Blood, The Drums, Best Coast – the list goes on. From memory, last year when I nutted out my top ten I found it easier to pick ten great songs, but struggled for quality albums.

This year, not as hard.

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Miscellany: The Penny Bunger

My father is a great storyteller. Whenever we have a spare moment together he often delves into tales of childhood nostalgia. Like the time he fired a lit bow into his backyard Willow tree while playing cowboys and Indians with a neighbour.

It’s the delivery and the excitement in which he tells it that makes his stories come alive – as if I was there.

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Miscellany: The Kidney Stone

It was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.

I had crawled into bed just before midnight when the uneasiness started in my stomach. It felt like a hot air balloon filled with sharp bricks floating around inside me. It was only soup and a salad for dinner that evening, meager by my standards and hardly a cause for a stomach irritation. I tried to shut the queasy feeling out by listening intently to a passerby’s conversation coming from outside my window, but it didn’t work. I begrudgingly got up and went to the bathroom. Maybe a mouthful of water would wash this knotted rut away?

But that’s when my torture began.

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