Tuesday, May 20, 2014

MONA - Prepare to be offended

The Museum of Old and New Art - Hobart, Tasmania.
My favourite installation: A mind bogglingly huge projection of meaningless data changing and flickering at an incomprehensible rate accompanied by beeps.

Here's what I do. I talk about going places and doing things, and I talk about it for years, but I don't take the first step.
Everything I've done, I've done because Sandra has bought my ticket, put down a deposit, signed me up.
And so it was with MONA. I first read about David Walsh and MONA in the Weekend Australian when it opened in 2011.
I instantly, badly wanted to go. And have ever since.
Sandra lined the whole thing up in secret and had to stop me from making climbing plans for the weekend. She went all out, we stayed at the most fabulous Henry Jones Art Hotel on Constitution dock, I've always wanted to go there too.
Check in.

We got an amazing room.
The bathroom could have been bigger.

I had read the reviews and I was prepared to be challenged or even offended by the exhibitions. I had concerns that perhaps I would find myself to be conservative, or that I would agree with 
Michael Conner that  "Mona is the art of the exhausted, of a decaying civilisation . Display lights and taste and stunning effects illuminate moral bankruptcy."
I didn't.
I wasn't offended. I was inspired, amazed, intrigued, uplifted, soothed.
Half an hour of commercial television will offend me. That's where I find my evidence of a decaying civilisation. That and question time in parliament.

I took photos at MONA but I won't post them here. MONA asks us not to. And anyway why spoil surprises?

Lunch at the Salamanca Markets
They were supposed to disperse and flutter gracefully. They dumped on her.
Wandering around the docks.

Sandra doing her share of the heavy lifting. 
From our window we kept an eye on the changing light catching the Antarctic Supply Ship "Aurora Australis". The news on the way home said a new ship would be commissioned, this time not built in Newcastle, but Europe.

Let's make Zinc!
They do along the Derwent river.

Listeners, you know I love Jazz. Not Swing, not Bossa, not Trad nor smooth, not neo-be bop, dixie, rag, Kansas City, nor Vocal. But arse-out self indulgent, cliché free make-the-shit-up-as-you-go Jazz.
So I was in a deep state of pleasure arriving back at the hotel bar to find these guys noodling away in their own augmented 13th world.
Here's a quick Jazz playlist I knocked together if you are in the mood. For 15 hrs.

OK, just one shot inside MONA. But strictly no art!

So here's where I'll slag off at MONA.
We booked the full degustation lunch at "The Source" restaurant above MONA, I thought why not go the whole way, we may never be here again. The moment I walked in I knew I'd made a mistake. It was a fucking bore.
The only good thing was watching Sandra get hammered in 20 minutes flat trying to keep up with the sommelier as he matched a bucket of wine to every bite. She got rowdy.
I was burping those little pickled carrot things till dinner time. Awful shit. Four hundred bucks worth of dead boring.  But so funny. Just go to the cafe or the fab wine bar instead.

I rode a cow to MONA. True.

Thank you Sandra and Willow and Lotus. It was THE most fabulous weekend ever.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Robbie Phillips - Call of Duty

Robbie's Climbing Visa application asked "what is your intended purpose for this visit to Australia?"
he ticked the box:

Shred in every State and Territory, fill every page of my climbing passport with coveted hard ascent stamps, and charm the pants off the little Aussie battlers I find in the caves and cafes along the way.

Tigercat 33/8c
Punks in the Gym 32/8b+
Evil Wears No Pants 30/8a+
The Don 31/8b
Lord of the Rings 31/8b
Flying Duck 32/8b+
The Singularity 32/8b+

I got off the plane from China and fought off the drowsiness of a night in economy class, robbed of access to chocolate for my sin of ticking the "vegetarian meal" box, and drove straight up the hi-way to my local crag, Coolum Cave, to meet Scotsman Robbie Phillips and share a lap on an old fav of mine.
Call of Duty 28/7c+
I've done 50 laps on this route. Robbie hadn't touched it.
To be fair, he got the beta. Rob Saunders worked it first.
I did a lap and hung at the anchors, peeled off my kneepads and shoved them in my leg loops to stop my legs going numb, pulled up the camera and captured some moves in the presence of greatness.
Here's what I saw as Robbie flashed "Call of Duty"

Not a great deal of contact at this point.

 Rob Saunders of belay.

I'm not alone. Everyone loves it when some traveling crusher comes to their local crag and sends their favourite route in rock star style. It's like we get to show our familiar holds and footers to the world. The details of texture and shape and sequence so intimate and local to us, get to be carried around the world in the mind and enthusiasm of another. And no better vessel than Robbie Phillips.

That's the crux right there. Study it. Try it. Then show your respect for this flash.

 I think Robbie is taller than me. I didn't mean to take the higher ground.

Follow Robbie: 
Instagram: robbiephillips_

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Into the Sunshine - jjobrien, the movie

A rather special thing happened.
A professional Director/Videographer tracked me down and made an interesting proposal.
I hadn't heard of Matt Raimondo, I have to admit to being dubious when he emailed me.
We spoke on the phone and he gained my confidence.
Queensland Tourism had commissioned him to make a series of short films. In their words:

"Into the Sunshine is a series of short films that takes viewers into the lives of some remarkable Queenslanders and showcases their powerful connection to the environment.

In this episode, renowned rock climber John O'Brien recalls his childhood fascination with the Glass House Mountains and how a poster once pinned on his bedroom wall grew into a dream to conquer the craggy volcanic remnants that rise from Queensland's Sunshine Coast hinterland (70 kilometres from Brisbane)".
It goes on....I daren't repeat. Blush.

We forgive QT for the "conquering" thing. It's what people like to dream into climbing.
So pull up a bouldering mat and settle down for 2:14 minutes of stock post rock soundtrack and glorious coastal views.
Hit Play

Or open the link http://youtu.be/Vte30_UoN7k 

Matt Raimondo shoots on a special camera with a thing attached to the back that you look through.
It costs a lot. I tried to understand.
 Photo - iPhone: jjobrien

Matt Fingleton (in all honesty, probably the better climber of the two of us, and easily more handsom) assited M1 on all three shoots, and was my dependable belayer.
In these iphone shots he follows me up Pitch 4 of "The Ricoh Destruction Test" Tinbeerwah, the first route I ever put up. (Home of climbings' biggest U-Bolt)
Thank you M2.
 Photo - iPhone: jjobrien

Can you see the pain in my eyes? I could barely walk that day.

I have to say I'm feeling very spoilt. Having such a craftsman create a flattering portrait of oneself feels a little bit rewarding. Thank you very much Matt for the kind angles.

Matt Raimondo        
Brisbane, Australia.
Matt is an Australian, Brisbane based director with a diverse range of skills including film making, photography and motion graphics. Inspired by the outdoors Matt is focused on producing compelling adventure, travel, and lifestyle content.

Thanks also goes to:
Red Chili
Sterling Rope

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I lost my head for choss.

Lee sent the new big project this weekend. That picture is from last weekend.
He didn't think he would. I wasn't convinced.

 That's about where I got to. The cave rest at 3/4 height. But that's not me. It is my T-shirt though.

So last weekend the alarm caught me dreaming at 4:45am, I snuck out without waking the grand daughter. I stayed at their place in Brisbane.
Arriving some hours later at the walk-in to the new Crossroads Crag out in nowhere NSW, I shoulder the lightest pack I can get away with.
Industrial harness (for back support), camera, and shoes, just in case. It's a photo trip.
Walking is difficult, not too painful if I don't have to re-balance suddenly. Back injury again, not as bad as last time, or the time before, but bad enough. Steep rocky bush walking ahead. I squeal and whimper consistently, annoyingly.
On the Monday before I never thought I'd climb again. On Tuesday I committed to going to Crossroads.
Anyway, back to the proj, it's a 40 meter monstrosity of stinking, decaying choss.
"An over-hanging freshly ploughed field" I've always remembered those words, by Silvo Caro  about something, somewhere.

It would be a despicable pile of pus if it wasn't capped with a few meters of the most perfect, steep, impeccably featured stone.
But back to my head for choss.
First shot, second weekend. I went first and beat my previous high point by a mile. I was going to give this rig a good shake.
Lee went next and sent it. I should make that the headline. But it's my blog.
Second shot I took a hang down low on the route. It took the fight outta me. By the time I hit the steep choss I could not convince myself the cliff could handle my weight on it. I seriously could not believe the whole thing wouldn't come down on top of me if I hung on it. I thought the bolts would rip great truck loads of rubbish from the wall if I loaded them. I lost my head for choss. It happens.
Third shot was a bit better. Choss brain heals itself with time, and sandwiches.

Duncan sent that:
Duncan Steel on the first ascent of his route - un named. 
ps. He called it Giant. He gave it 19. In human grades that's a round 28.

 I reckon we should get crag jackets. Black satin frat jackets with that on the back. Your thoughts?

All the while my Facebook wife, Sandra, has been in Hong Kong for a couple of weeks, so she won't find out. I've hardly been home.
Why would I?
In my absence, and hers, the real estate agents have been doing their best to make my lovely home look like an abandoned crack den, there's piles of their brochures and sponsored newspapers around my letterbox.

Without Sandras' clerical support at work this week, I have faced, alone, the Food Safety Program auditors, the council compliance officer, over the lagging operational works progress, the building certifier, the hydraulics engineer, the pest controllers, the business owners, and QFRS breathing fire down my neck.

Without her at home I've organised:
*The tiler.
*The waste water engineers - apparently I have to submit a report to council once a year. It's been fourteen.  So sue me.
*The electrician - Of course I tried the electrics myself first. Mistakes were made.
Hey, how long can a goldfish live without food? Never mind. Rhetorical.

The tanks are full despite currently suffering through what could turn out to be the second worst drought in almost two and a half years across the Sunshine Coast.

The letter box was stuffed full.
A gold envelope arrived for me. Ooo, what could it be?
St. Leonards 100 years school reunion, it turns out.
I'm not that old.

The Urbenville pub is open again, maybe permanently, if Big Dazza's ex-wife will sign over the lease. Live right Dazza. So it was a Vesuvio Pizza on the way home again, to cap off a high carb - high peanut butter day at the crag.

Slept in till 6:30 on Sunday, play with the grand kids, make brekky, drive up to Eumundi in time to help my brother battle a wave of customers at the cafe. Cook, buss tables, pull coffee, wash dishes.
Drop in sometime.
104 Memorial Drive Eumundi. Look for the blue Merlo umbrellas at the North end of the main street.
3:00pm I'm in the car heading for home, I really should vacuum the house and sweep the drifts of dry leaves off the roof, when suddenly it occurs to me, I'm not done with this weekend yet.
I throw the tiller leeward and set a course for the low-ethic safe-haven of Coolum Cave.
The Atmosphere was high on  arrival, the send train had been running, notably, Shannon Keys got Gasoline Rainbow.
I stretched my back on lap 160 of the cave trade route Wholly Calamity.
Home, vac, sweep, cook, blog. Midnight.

Time for Soundcloud.    
Track me johnjobrien. I'll be there all night.

But I'm rambling.  jj