Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's a mess. It's a start. It's a full work of art.

Take back the city for yourself tonight
Or I'll take back the city for me
Take back the city for yourself tonight


God knows you put your life in two a times
And it's both cradled you and crushed
But now it's time to make your own demands


All these years later and it's killing me
Your broken records in words
Ten thousand craters where it all should be


No need to put your words into my mouth
Don't need convincing at all
I love the place where I have no doubts


It's a mess, it's a start

It's a full work of art

You're a save, you're a call
Every crack, every wall
Make a sign, make a fight
Get your head, it's not right
We can sing, 'til you drop'
Cause the fun just never stops

I love this city tonight

I love this city always

This song, you probably recognise, is Snow Patrol's Take Back the City. Kristy had it on a CD she made for work, and it's been stuck in my head all weekend. It makes me think about place, and the way that surroundings can shape you. The city, for me, is Brisbane, pictured above. Some talented photographer managed to capture the colourful movement of Brisbane at nighttime, and made it appropriately lovely. I love the bridge that holds together the casual, natural (although in reality not so at all) vibe of Southbank and the structural aesthetic of the city. I love the Arbour in Southbank, which has blossomed into the canopy of colour it was intended to over the course of my high school life. Remember when the Arbour was nothing but intimidatingly bare steel, curved to unnervingly sharp points?
Going to school at State High, which is adjacent to South Bank, meant that I spent a great deal of my time after school trawling the book stores in the city. I especially loved Archives on Charlotte Street, and used to go there when it was raining, for some reason. It had an oddly old-world type feel. I think they've changed that back room, with its archaic chairs, now. Sadly.
I've spent many afternoons with Szilveszter wandering around the Southbank markets, pretending that perhaps there's something new this time, but always coming back to the same horrible cane toad wallets. For me, there's always a sheepish feeling when I arrive at Southbank, as though I'm not really meant to be there. A remnant from many illicit periods spent by the river from 2003 - 2007, perhaps.
Oh, the river. It's horrible, by light of day, is it not? The most hideous shade of acid green, dotted with the faded City Cats (which, incidentally, my mother always points out with too much interest, as though they are a rare and endangered animal - "Oh, look, everyone, a CityCat!" - and as if we haven't been seeing and riding them since before we could register for a ticket) and probably a collection of rubbish thrown from over the bridge. We all know there are, famously, hammerhead sharks in there, though I've never heard of anyone seeing one for an absolute AGE, and someone once told me, or I read it online, that there was once a cow's carcass found in there. Horrible. However, when night falls over our humble city, the river transforms from puce to jet black, and reflects with stunning clarity, the colours of the city it divides.
Recently, when I was on the new Brisbane wheel with Jess, the casino was lit up in an electric shade of magenta for support of breast cancer. The river mirrored this, as well as the luminousity of the usual street lamps and the lights from the suddenly graceful overpass. I was impressed with the river's ability to be both hideously polluted (is it actually?) and elegantly beautiful all in the space of twenty four hours. It makes the line, "I love this city tonight" all the more appropriate!
It is a mess - so many different atmospheres, all lumped together like a house with endless extensions. The class and old-fashioned sophistication of The Regent, say, compared with the pristine modernity of Broadway On the Mall.
It's a start - it represents to me the start of my relationship; my first day with Szilveszter as a couple, I spent with him in the city and Southbank. The start of friendships, solidified over chai lattes and a shared interest in literature at Borders.
It's a full work of art. Whether you shop, work, live, party, trawl, eat, read, or travel in the city, there's something beautiful about it that I'm sure you'll notice. The pieces that each of us identify as being beautiful combine, of course, to prove that this city, and probably every city, is a full work of art.



  1. Ohh my gosh you just made me love Brisbane so much more! I completely agree with the river looking terrible during the day but night time it's simply amazing! I definitely want to ride the Brisbane wheel. Be great for photos =)

  2. Ohh thank you! You should listen to the song, it's so good. Unfortunately it's actually pretty hard to get good photos, because the little bubble things are tinted! But that was at night. During the day it might be easier.