Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Crashing Orientation, a Sideshow, and a Late Night

When I woke this morning and tried to fill in my journal about what happened yesterday I had a hard time tracing the events all the way back to the start. It was one of those days that is filled with enough interest to fill three totally fine days.

I woke to a spray of liquid on my face, instantly pulling the sleeping bag up to block out the possum urine. When I found out it was actually the sprinkler system in the gardens, I was almost happy. Making my way through the morning routines of breakfast, shower, email and heading out, I got on the tram to South Melbourne to do some touristing. On my walk to check out stop one I noticed what looked to be an activity fair on one of the Melbourne Uni campuses. The most interesting path between A and B is the one I choose, so I diverted. I was detained at a tent where they put ingredients for a smoothie in a blender and you affixed it to a stationary bike to blend. Smoothie in hand, I went to find a bathroom, passing through the café with buffet lunch in the process. On my way back out I jumped in line. It was new student orientation. Taking my cue from a nametag I’d seen a minute earlier and following the dance major in front of me, I answered the server’s question with photography. Plate in hand I sat down with Jim and got to know his backstory as I told him mine. My mom had moved here, and I had followed suit once I was out of Uni back in the states. Three years of work and I decided to jump into photography full force. We chatted for a while before I made my exit.*

Having talked about being a photography student for a while, as I walked off campus with my camera in hand, I started to own it. I saw interesting shots and I took them. I wandered through alleyways and into the Recital Center I had been headed towards, walking the lobby and taking pictures. I was confident, happy with art, and excited to be excited about taking pictures again. I lined up shots that weren’t obvious. I took pictures in the bathroom. And then I headed on to the National Gallery of Victoria for a free museum day. The collection was varied, the explanations accessible, and the flow logical. I finished off by laying on the floor in the stained-glass ceilinged atrium and listening to a few songs, letting the sadness of the words and the music and the significance of what those songs mean and who they associate with well up in small pools in my eyes, distorting the color field ahead.

After a dinner of sautéed veggies and a porterhouse back at the hostel (I’m getting very good at cooking steak here, and the dinner cost me about $3), I headed to The Freak and the Showgirl Present: Apocastrip Wow! The setup is a former Miss Exotic World and a phocomelia-affected “freak” (Thalidomide side effects) bare themselves in a combination side-show, girlie-show double feature. It was a strange combination, not in the pairing of deformity and sexuality, but in the pairing of the vulgar and base with underlying – and at times very directly stated – messages of love, acceptance, and being happy and confident with who you are. The show was completely over the top, but the message wasn’t lost and didn’t feel overly-forced. They even got volunteers from the crowd to participate at one point, and the people who got up there did so with the souls of performers. I don’t think the professionals were expecting anywhere near the level of exuberance that the amateurs brought up, but they ran with it and the memory is not one I expect to fade anytime soon.

I talked to the guy next to me who bought me a drink. As we drank, we joined another guy and decided to make a night of it. A cab ride later we were at Old Bar in Fitzroy. It was my second night there in three days (I’ll be doing it again for another Amanda Palmer gig tonight). The back area was a comfortable temperature, outside in the fresh air, packed with smokers and drinkers, friendly, open, and relaxed. Over the next four hours (wow, yeah, it actually was four hours) the three of us discussed out backstories, scoped out the room, met interesting people, drank, smoked countless cigarettes, and talked until we got kicked out at closing time.

Another cab ride later and I was on the couch of one of the two gentlemen from the night. He played a few recordings of the music he had written, songs that will be featured in a movie to be coming soon. It was fantastically lo-fi, stuff I would actually have on my ipod. He spoke of gigs back in the day. Nearing four am, we called it a night. Indoors, protected from sprinklers, on a couch that was more comfortable than any hostel bed I’ve found, I slept soundly.

* I did this mostly to see if I could (and because I was hungry). The lies were harmless. The food was abundant and soon to be thrown away. I don’t feel bad about it at all. I’m not sure if I should. I don’t think so.

One comment on “Crashing Orientation, a Sideshow, and a Late Night

  1. Steph
    February 25, 2012

    Hello! It’s Steph, from dress-up/taco adventures. I figured I would check out your blog whilst resting near a fan. Anyhow, wonderful to meet you today, and I hope your wanderings bring abundant gifts of fun accommodation and more.
    This entry was a great read… What a day you had! Also, don’t feel bad for taking food at O-Week; as you stated, there’s an abundance of it. They’re a great place to score free treats! Good on you for going with it and being the photographer.

    Looking forward to reading more soon (and yes, I really hope you don’t mind minor comment-spam; it’s not stalky, I just like reading :).

    Be well!

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This entry was posted on February 23, 2012 by in Australia, Victoria (Melbourne).

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