Pip Smith

The amazing Pip Smith, founder of Penguin Plays Rough, has written us a blog entry!

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

About three hours ago I was on the train coming back from the airport. At central, this guy in a suit sat next to me and started talking just as I was punching out a text. He said, “I have just realised my job doesn’t make me happy.” His eyes were slightly yellow, and i wondered if he had been drinking. I said, “what do you do?” “I look at discrepancies between shipping lists. Logistics. I work for a Korean company. I want to work for an Australian company. In Korea we have it all wrong. In Australia the emphasis is on being happy and relaxing. In Korea the emphasis is on being strong.” I said, “I’m not sure you got that right – about Australia.” At Wynyard, an elderly businessman sat next to us, so we had to squeeze right up against the window. I asked the Korean man, “When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?” He leaned in towards me and whispered, “a monk”, I said “sorry, what?” he said “a monk.” He lifted up his wrist and showed me the bracelet he was wearing. “I’m Buddhist. When I was younger, I visited a temple and saw Buddha’s face. It made me so calm. His face – it wasn’t warm or cold.” “It was neutral?” “Yes. Are you a Buddhist?” I said, “No. I’ve never really understood the whole ‘letting go of desire’ thing. It’s always struck me that desire can sometimes be a beautiful thing. Desire can motivate you. And attachment. Attachment to your children, surely that’s a good thing.” He said, “I see what you mean, but I think you’re confusing desire and compassion. Love and attachment. You can watch your friend die and you feel a great amount of distress. You watch a beggar die and…” He shrugged “maybe you feel bad only for a little while. You think your friend belongs to you, but he doesn’t.” I was stunned. How did he know Tim had just died? “So, what’s your major?” He asked “I’m sorry?” “What do you study?” “How did you know I’m a student?” “I can just tell.” The businessman sitting next to us shifted his newspaper, pretending to read it, but he hadn’t turned the page in some time. After a pause I asked, “Well, can you quit when you go back to Korea? Can you become a monk?” He said, “No. My family.” “Ah, I see.” “My family cause me distress.” “Distress??” “They want me to have babies. But I don’t want to marry.” I said, “Oh yes! I know about that.” And we sat in silence. At North Sydney the aisle of people re-configured itself with muted apologies. As we passed the next stations, he told me about the moon, that at the full moon you can attend tea ceremonies in temples in Japan – and that when you drain a cup, you clear your mind. He told me he’d studied martial arts in Hong Kong because he loved Bruce Lee and that he’d visited India and learned that they came up with the number 0. He told me that a mango grows the way it grows by a chance meeting of sun and rain and other things, and that it also starts from zero. That everything is a product of its context. We were standing by the pond at St Leonards station for about 5 minutes while he started telling me that we are cheated by the world because we can’t see the stars during the day, even though they are there the whole time. I’m not sure what he meant by this, but he was so illuminated by what he was saying I decided to walk with him in the direction of the place he was staying. Turns out he was also staying in Greenwich. He told me that heaven is right here, and that you shouldn’t turn the past into a cliche, and that our minds are full of the future so we miss out on the present. He turned and asked me, ‘do you believe in platonic love?’ And I said, ‘yes.’ And he laughed and said, “Ah! You understand!” When we reached the intersection of Greenwich Rd and the Pacific Hwy I had to leave him. We shook hands. He asked me my name, I said “Pip” He said, “I am Rocky. Rocky Mountain,” and he walked down Greenwich Road.

Rocky Mountain, thanks for the excellent conversation.

Friends in Unexpected Places

On the train home last night, I asked a young artsy man if I could take a picture of him. I wanted a picture of someone looking out the window, looking wistful, for the blog. I had realised from past experience that it was better to ask first. I have had my fair share of people getting annoyed or confused or thinking I was some sort of pervert. This stranger looked like a creative type, so I thought he might be willing to sacrifice a moment for the Arts.

The man obliged without a question. Then I asked if I could film him looking out the window.
‘You want me to play?’ He replied, gesturing towards the guitar that was sitting next to him.
I hadn’t thought to ask but encouraged him to do so. In between the few stops left he improvised a song. I told him about A View From Moving Windows and he told me quickly about the band he had just gone to practice for. The bands name was ‘Liam Gale and The Pony Tails‘. The band consisted of him, two girls (with pony tails) and four boys (one with pony tail).

It struck me as a wonderful example of how train travel can make us reach out to people we wouldn’t usually interact with. The fact that Liam happened to be a musician was a happy accident and trains are full of those.

Partly inspired by ideas brought up by Augusta’s interview with TheMusic.com.au, I wanted to urge those of you who are going to A View From Moving Windows to catch the train in. It’ll save you petrol and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have your own train travel experience. It is in these unexpected moments that we can find laughter, friends, new music tastes and find ourselves feeling a little more connected with the world.

 

 

Alternative Media Group of Australia

 

 The Alternative Media Group of Australia talked to Augusta about A View From Moving Windows. Check out the article here.

Miles Merrill

Miles Merrill is the creative director of the literary arts organisation, Word Travels. He is also a writer, performer, facilitator and event co-ordinator who combines poetry with theatre, experimental audio, hip-hop beats, stand-up and, occasionally, political confrontation. This is an extract from a three part group poem that was performed at The Riverside Theatre as part of a Sydney Festival show in 2005.

Train Wars

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

Part I

(Imagine us all crushed together on a train moving through the crowd as a clump, leaning when we turn.)

Every morning we form a multi-screen sightseeing machine.

From Home – (All repeating the following line together to a crescendo until Miles turns an imaginary nob) 

To Bossland- where the grey pigs play, living another man’s dream.  (All chanting like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory oohowee oh oooh oh)

In between is a network of clogged veins with a CBD heart.

I am a cell living in a vessel. Pump through the circulatory city on a peak hour vein.

My name stuck in the tracks

Written in the cracks

Rolling in the gap

Sea to city

Wombarra to Bondi

Parramatta to Kuring-gai

past Blue Mountains

I bust from a finger

a spray of blood into the bush. 

(Miles runs from the group as they spread in straight lines throughout the crowd.)

Every morning you ride a serpent

over the bones of buried people

their foreign words float in your ear

Wombarra-Wombarra-WomBombaderry-Nowra

Next Stop.

Ghosts haunt you through familiar suburbs

(Chanting) Baramada Baramada Next Stop.

Don’t these trains chanting place names

mock you?

If sorry is your only reply, guilt is implied.

Every morning a new trial to sleep through.

And here come the grey pigs (I sit and close my eyes)

Want more? Go to Follow That Sound next Friday ( if you can’t come to A View From Moving Windows opening night). Follow That Sound is a tour through the wild lanes and ancient gutters of The Rocks. Spoken-wordsmiths perform and magic happens! 

 

Melita Rowston

Melita Rowston is a playwright, writer and a director. She used to be a painter in Melbourne. She is about to catch a variety of trains through New York, Paris, Budapest and her most anticipated journey – from Dublin to Galway, to haunt a hundred year old stone hut on the Aran Islands and write a play about ships and love. She plans to make a website about herself when she gets back. Melita recently had her play Crushed on as part of New Theatre’s Spare Room Season.

The Experiment

He jerks me into his wet chest, slides his face across mine and kisses me. There’s the smell of his raw leather jacket, weed, beer and the taste of something chemical. Through the tangle of his hair, I can see the red headlights of the traffic on repeat as they plunge down Flinders Street. He pushes me away. The traffic revs its collective engine impatient for the lights to go green. He’s staggering like a rock star, the intersection his stage, but there’s nothing impressive about this performance. I glance at the station clock – nearly midnight.

‘We’re going to miss the last train!’

The chains of his biker boots jangle on the bitumen as he struts before the beast that is the restless traffic. The driver nearest us flashes his headlights. We could be at a disco. He lunges at the windscreen. The driver sticks his head out the window, his face an angry shadow under his baseball cap. Then the lights go green. And that’s when it really starts to get messy.

I try to drag him across the road. He pulls me back into him and growls into my neck, ‘Let’s get knocked up by the traffic. Let’s end it all now in a blaze of glory!’

The try-hard Goths watch us from the shadows of the Burke and Wills statue while Burke studies the map that failed him. The hands of the station clock hit midnight.

The experiment is failing.

We met on the last train to Frankston, as it hurtled past a string of stations from which girls my age had recently been abducted. I was cradling my dog-eared copy of The Female Eunuch and becoming appropriately angry at The Patriarchy. He was slugging bourbon from a Smurfs thermos and staring at the boobs on the front cover. We were both ignoring the guy behind us vomiting into a box of BBQ Shapes. Our knees rubbed against each other as the carriage took the difficult turns. When the train plunged into the darkness of a depression era tunnel, he put his hand on my thigh and said,

‘What’s a eunuch?’

I laughed. Because I thought he was being ironic.

I have a rule about trains. If someone talks to me, I pretend I can’t hear. I don’t talk back. I do everything I can to dissuade a chat. Trust me. On trains, the talking thing always ends badly.

He rolled up the sleeve of my flannel and traced his phone number along my arm until I knew it by heart. Surprisingly, I let him. When we came to his stop, I walked him to the door. He stood on the platform and stared right into me. As the train tried to leave, he held the doors open, looking like Axl Rose – but with Slash’s hair. Over the beeping and the shouts from passengers, he pushed a wet five dollar note into my stomach,

‘Here’s your winnings. ‘Cos I bet you won’t call me.’ Large eyes like storm water drains.

As the train pulled out of the station, I watched him walk into a cyclone fence and search for a handle as if it were a door.

A few days later I called him.

It was an experiment, see. I usually spend summer with the blinds drawn. Emerging at dusk when the garage door becomes cool to touch, I paint til dawn or when the Nescafe shakes set in. But the night heat was turning my oils to shit. So I’d taken to the trains on the air-conditioned lines, circling passages of The Female Eunuch with my red pen. ‘Women have very little idea how much men hate them,’ it swam in bleeding ink as he put his hand on my thigh. Yet there was something about those quietly desperate eyes…

I hate Top 10 Summer Anthems. I hate empty summer streets. I hate the way my dark clothes absorb the heat. I hate beach towels slung over balconies and front yards full of cars. I hate waking up on someone’s rumpus room floor listening to heated fumbling from Matt and Sarah or David and Kate. I hate this city in summer. Summer is when psychopaths get restless. I should know, I’ve ended up in the middle of Flinders Street with one.

‘You promised me a beer and a bit of Def Metal, not eternal damnation!’ I scream in his ear. So he collar ties me. And as the yellow clocks tick twelve ‘o’ five, the last train to Frankston pulls out of the station and the police arrive. I wonder if we’ll make the news.

Sometimes when a guy bellows ‘Boobies!’ at The Female Eunuch, I think of him and his dance of death in the disco that was the traffic. He’s there to remind me that I’m no scientist. And I should never ever experiment with talking to boys on trains again.

Marketing Fun at AADA!

Photo credit: Nicole Dimitriadis

Nicole Dimitriadis is to blame for fun with Marketing!
The students at Australian Academy of Dramatic Art are taking it to the next level.

Win Tickets to A View From Moving Windows!

Photo credit: Felicity Pickering

Want to win two tickets to A View From Moving Windows? Post us your favourite picture that relates to train travel or tweet us a train or Parramatta related microfiction (story in 140 characters or less). The winners get two tickets to the show! If you tweet the microfiction make sure you tweet it to @aviewfrommoving and use the hashtag #aviewfrommovingwindows .

Here are some of the great microfictions we’ve already received:

Tina Ngo @NgoTina

A sea of blue and white crowd a train, watching them cry over their loss. #winning #microfictions

Andy Pantts @AndyPantts

@aviewfrommoving Icecream hands. Shirt stuck to back. Burnt, pink skin. Crowded trains to the beach. Sand in my bed for months. Summer time.

Chris Comerford @ChrisComerford3

@aviewfrommoving My life on trains is like a Tom Clancy novel – long and repetitive.

Olivia Mayberry @omayberry1

@aviewfrommoving I’d made it to my stop. Unfortunately my bag hadn’t. I watched as it swept past me, the school boys laughing.#microfiction

Can you do better? Tweet it! You can also post a microfiction or leave a story on our facebook page.