RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season 3 recaps

The shadiest Drag Race recaps on the web. Get ready to death drop, queens!

RuPaul's Drag Race recaps

YASS, HUNTIES! Seasons 6, 7, 8 and a bit of 9 recapped for your reading pleasure. Let's get sickening!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adelaide, it's time to get out and walk

Hold onto your latte, Adelaide, because I'm about to share a great secret with you that will blow your mind.

Are you ready? You might want to sit down for this. Here it is: You and New York, you've got a bit in common.

Here, do you need a paper bag to breathe into? Are you alright? Now stop laughing, breathe deeply, and let me explain.

Obviously the Big Apple is much, well, bigger than you. Sure, it has a few more internationally famous landmarks. And I'm not going to lie, its nightlife is considerably more exciting.

But after reading the story online this week over the proposal to remove parking in Adelaide's CBD it hit me that there's one major thing you have in common with New York – and one major thing you could learn.

Here it is: both cities are very pedestrian-friendly, but only one knows how to actually encourage pedestrians.

Both cities are relatively flat, built on an easy-to-navigate grid and have pretty much everything one needs within walking distance (assuming you're sticking to one general area of Manhattan and not, say, attempting to walk from tip to tip).

The difference is that in New York people don't bat an eyelid at walking 10 blocks to get somewhere, even in the rain or snow. Suggest that kind of trip in Adelaide – say, from Parliament House to South Tce, and people will automatically reach for their car keys.

Is it because Adelaideans are lazier than New Yorkers? Probably. But it's more than that.

It's true that most New Yorkers simply don't have cars – on a tiny island crammed with 8 million people, it's practically impossible to even find a place to park one, so walking is something of a necessity.

However they do have one of the greatest public transport systems in the world in the New York subway. So why do so many people still choose to walk?

Here's the thing, Adelaide: walking is actually enjoyable. You see things you wouldn't see from the driver's seat, you interact with people, you feel the buzz of a place.

And for a small city that enjoys such great weather, wide streets, empty footpaths and picturesque views, it is quite simply crazy how reliant you are on the car.

You might say “But walking through Adelaide is boring, the only shops and cafes are on the major strips, and everything in between is dull.”

Maybe, but it's a vicious circle. More foot traffic through a neighbourhood means more vibrancy, more trade and more opportunities for business to thrive. It's no wonder Adelaide finds it so hard to develop new parts of town (the south west corner, anyone?) when no one will get out of their cars long enough to visit them.

This is why this whole kerfuffle over Adelaide's parking is so ridiculous.

The state retailers' association says the plan would kill retail in the CBD, as people would simply drive to suburban shopping centres instead where they can park their cars.

Er, isn't that already happening? Hasn't that been happening for years?

Maybe Adelaide should stop talking about how to accommodate more cars in the CBD, when it's patently obvious the suburbs are always going to win that battle, and work out what else it can offer shoppers. Like say, more footpath space for alfresco dining and better public transport – both projected results of, golly gosh, REDUCING PARKING SPACES.

Take a tip from the Big Apple: a vibrant city isn't about cars parked on streets, it's about people walking on them.


This article was first published in the Adelaide City Messenger on January 19, 2012.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Communal dining? Eat me.

“Do you have a Chinatown in Australia?” the woman asked, noisily slurping up wads of noodles from her plate.

We were in one of New York's most famous restaurants, a Chinatown icon renowned for its yum cha, or “dim sum” as it's called here.

I didn't know this woman, nor her five friends who also shared our table - all Americans of a certain age – and figured I must have misheard her over the clatter of steamer trays and Cantonese shouting.

“Pardon?” I said.

“You know, Chinatown – does Australia have one?” she repeated.

The rest of her party raised their heads from their bowls of fried rice and looked at us expectantly across the table.

I wondered how big they thought Australia was. Or if they were even aware it was a country.

“Yes,” I replied, as waiters whizzed past with trays of steamed dumplings.

“Australia has a Chinatown, one big one right in the middle. Everyone catches shuttle buses there once a week for dim sum, all 20 million of us. The waiters are kangaroos.”

At least, that's what I wanted to say. Instead, I held my tongue while my partner politely told the table that yes, Australia has many Chinatowns, located within its many major cities.

“I've been to Australia,” the woman continued, despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.

“Have you been to Adelaide?” asked my partner as I jabbed him under the table.

“Oh yeah – Uluru,” she said, shoving more noodles in her mouth.

Such are the joys of communal dining, otherwise known as “ruining dinner by sharing a table with people you probably don't want to talk to and never want to see again in your life”.

"Isn't it GREAT that we get to share a table like this?"

In a town where eight million people are frequently forced to cram into restaurants not much bigger than a walk-in wardrobe, communal dining is something of a cultural necessity in New York.

The first time it happens is a humbling experience. You and your partner will enter a bustling restaurant with a queue of waiting diners trailing out the door, but will miraculously be seated on a huge round table all to yourself.

You will congratulate yourselves on how obviously important you are, to have received such a plum spot in such a busy place. And then five minutes later another couple will be shepherded over and seated next to you.

You'll look at each other awkwardly, smile, and then each will spend the rest of the evening pretending the other doesn't exist.

I'm sure there are exceptions to this scenario - people who relish this sort of interaction with strangers as some sort of spiritual exercise, who see it as a way of expanding their world view and plugging in to a wider social consciousness.

But they're also probably the type of people who wear Birkenstocks and dreadlocks and say “dude” a lot. Or the type who wonders whether Australia has “a Chinatown”.

To be fair, I've backpacked solo around south east Asia and most nights dinner and a chat with strangers was a very welcome thing. Disclaimer: I also wore Birkenstocks then.

My point is that as with most things, it's all about etiquette. Reading social cues. You can't just plonk yourself down next to a loved-up couple trying to enjoy their dumplings (so to speak) and start quizzing them about Australian geography. You have your piece of table, they have theirs. Pretend the lazy Susan in the middle is Switzerland.

True New Yorkers know the rule about communal dining is the same as for the subway – sit down, shut up and don't make eye contact. And keep your dumplings to yourself.

This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail on January 15, 2012.