Brunswick Street, Art & Revolution :
Play the video for song and highlights of the book
Click here for a small sample of the book.
LAUNCHING BRUNSWICK STREET
by Sue Ingleton,
The Provincial Hotel 20/2/2017
Honoured to be the one to do this as there are many, many more of us still around, we who were there!
(Name people I see)
put up your hand if you were there?
You’re in the book. All of you are in the book!
So many of us are not here tonight, they’re stuck in traffic or they’re quaffing pinot noir in some Heavenly Restaurant at the End of the Universe… Bless!
Only someone who was there at the beginning could possibly have had enough hutzpah to write and encode a book about an era of history that belonged to so many weird, wonderful, talented, egocentric, revolting & revolutionary, legends in their own lunchtime, creative, freaks and geniuses.
Maz and Anne were there; they danced the dance, stepped over the line, climbed the mountain and fell through the cracks until eventually they stepped into another river, which we call Time and drifted on to their next journey. Some of us have the perspicacity to see that the past must be recorded before the memories fade, even though the street is still here & original enterprises still remain yet the Brunswick Street of this book has gone as it must- we, who know Melbourne have witnessed quite few roman candles burn brightly then slowly fade until ‘pop’.
But memory can be the very devil as Inga Clendinnen wrote:
one appreciates the depths of its character defects- its unreliability, its affront at being questioned, its rage at being impugned, its incorrigible complacency even when caught out.
(She’s not referring to Tronald Dump whose does not actually have a brain let alone a memory) but as with many epochs in history one person alone cannot record accurately every little nuance of the time.
So they came back with their goal clearly focussed- and they set to work, excavating the people, the minds, the moments and they let them have their page. It’s their words and their memories and I for one wouldn't dare to question any of it.
How do we explain this phenomenon! Before Brunswick Street crashed through the light barrier I see it as a dark basement harbouring an energy that when the time was right or the call came—like cicadas emerging from a deep sleep— burst forth like as if there was an underground river where the gods had deposited all their brilliant ideas, daring the poorest to find them.
All new life must begin in the DARK.
And often it pokes its head out a little too soon and has to retreat back down for a little more germination but then its ready and it releases itself to the light and to manifestation and sometimes holds its breath, or enters laughing, sometimes it vomits forth its inspiration or more often, silently sways into the milieu.
There happened to be a street in Melbourne that lay across this cosmic basement, this underground gallimaufry of compressed ideas, of fingers desperate to grasp the brush, the keyboard, the pen, the clay, the microphone, the audience!—And on this street lay a tramline: Number11—This in numerology is known as a Master Number—the 11 is the most intuitive of all numbers. It is instinctual, charismatic, dynamic and capable when its sights are set on a concrete goal. The 11 is the number associated with faith and psychics.
When its focus is not applied toward a goal, the 11 can be extremely self-sabotaging, stressed, conflicted and scattered.
And so, just over 36 years ago with that number eleven rolling on top of them these crazy, beautiful creatures broke through the ground and emerged into the extraordinary light—where they found that coffee was waiting for them.
Christ how blessed were we?
My journey in the Street began at T F Much Ballroom-I think. Then around 79 I ventured from Carlton to Pinder’s Bakers café, which sat in a rather neglected streetscape but that Pinder’s psychic ability. Ahead of his time. T F Much, Flying Trapeze and the Last Laugh. The streetscape reminded me of my student days in Carlton where 1963-66 in the Tower where later came the APG.
Let me take a description of that Brunswick street from the Book.
Jeff Raglas, musician, painter, designer (We were all mostly triple talented) wrote:
I’d have to say Brunswick Street seemed like it was from another place and time …back then it reminded me of a forgotten country town.. The faded grandeur of old Victorian era shops and buildings, most shops looked deserted or barely open, quite a few had their windows painted over with some sort of pale green paint, with Greek lettering or perhaps the words ‘tailor’ or ‘manufacturer’ but most looked like nothing had happened for quite a while. Old trams rattled up and down .. hardly anyone on them. It was kinda cool and romantic.
I’d returned, 7 months pregnant with my partner from UK. The first gig we got to go to at Collingwood Town hall, Jeff Toll was singing a song called, Dingoes eat babies in Australia and we didn’t have a bloody clue what he was talking about. Later we got the appalling story, appalling because the press were in a feeding frenzy and I’d forgotten what it was like to be a woman in Australia..
1981 I was due to give birth in July. We moved back into my house in Clifton Hill and prepared ourselves for a homebirth but I was hungry for the stage and the idea of performing hugely pregnant was pretty fascinating.
Rod and Mary and co were running The Comedy Café used to be the Flytrap in what was still the dead end of Brunswick St, where there were cavernous op shops and nowhere to get a latte. Can’t quite remember how but I found myself signed up for a show there. About 2 am one morning a few weeks later I sat at the bottom of the stairs and wrote the script of From Here to Maternity, channelling this appalling man who called himself Bill Rawlings.
He was the universal Aussie male, who quite simply sees it as his birthright to be superior to the entire female sex.
So there I was in the Comedy Café 8 months pregnant, huge, everywhere, slow, often in the show I admitted to having lactose poisoning of the brain, when I would just stop! People loved it. People love it when you stop and look at them.
It was a triumph and after the birth the after birth- a bit later I came back to perform upstairs in the Banana lounge- Mothers Courage where I took the audience thru a blow by blow description of the birth & painful slide show including a picture of the placenta—a Margherita Pizza—I think the mother has some Italian blood in her, a nappy changing competition. Etc. Outside the trams were going down the road they were going down the line, like a coal seam –bad analogy there sorry- like a bloodline, an artery DOWN to the place where the drums were beating! Brunswick street. What the fuck was happening DOWN there?!!
I’ll remind you of what was happening down there. The discarded jewels of the heavens had been born again out of that basement. For me in later years with all my shows at the Universal theatre Brunswick St became very familiar, and even now there’s little patches left- Mario’s, Scally and Trombone where I once donated a pair of earrings to Mary Lou. Sorry about that. I know no one would’ve ever worn tampons dangling from their ears. But she put them in the window just the same!
No one has actually yet collated or codified, studied or explored the sociological, cultural phenomena that happened in the eighties through to the nineties IN ONE SUBURBAN MELBOURNE ROAD—Brunswick Street—except for Anne Rittman & Maz Wilson, two women who without any financial support have worked their beautiful arses off in a project which we Australians are usually very bad at doing—recognising that we create history and change in the most extraordinary places and most importantly through the creative minds of artists!- not through wars and death and destruction do we come with this creativity to make history and change the world
WE come through our hearts and minds and our most creative of all tools—our hands. Show me your hands! Now put them together for these two women and for this work which is now—thanks to Black Pepper Publishers—is now launched!
GRANT reads his poem B STREET to ANNE at the Launch
B Street—What a treat—
a kaleidoscope o extremes—
all tha multi-coloured Punks &
drunks, artists, poets & musos.
We drank an got together on
tha corner o Kerr & B Street
each day, sometimes buskin—
an at night there’d be exhibition
openins at ROAR Studios, Rumberallas
an other galleries where there’d be
free booze—friends an lottsa ART
an then there’d be ROCK & ROLL
bands in tha BARS
it was a ROLLERCOSTA RIDE—
Polyster Bookshop an Fetish
were always the place ta stop,
have a yarn—
an tha locals would always
greet ya with their charm—
an still do.
I’ve been on B Street fer 25 years,
an things have changed, with
BMWs, Mercedes, an Toorak Tanks
gridlokt lookin for a parkin space
cause they’re late for their lattes
B Street should be CAR FREE—
people should be at ease ta walk tha Street
leave ya ipods & iphones at HOME—
AN ENJOY WHAT’S REAL!!!
Grant Alexander McCracken, 9th Feb, 2017
Lyn Van Hek & Joe Dolce providing the entertainment
The book featured in the window of the Brunswick Street Bookstore
Articles and Reviews
Celebrating Brunswick Street's glory days, heart and soul
by Carolyn Webb,
The Sydney Morning Herals 25/2/2017
Also appearing in The Age and Newcastle Herald
"For a few short years, this vibrant neon strip with an edgy mix of grunge pubs, retro cafes, art galleries, comedy clubs, experimental theatre and bookstores was the hottest ticket in town."
This was Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, in its heyday, as described by author Maz Wilson in the foreword to a new book. Nowadays it's a different place altogether. Brunswick Street: Art and Revolution, which she co-authored with Anne Rittman, tells how cashed-up entrepreneurs and fashionistas moving in, and tourists from the suburbs, have quelled the street's bohemian spirit.