Tiny Answers (part 2)

@Omar asks:

If you could live inside the head of any living person for an hour, and only an hour, which person would you choose, at what hour, and why?

Jesus, this is a hard one. My first thought was my brain’s hero Noam Chomsky but my own brain would be so overwhelmed by the Chomsk brain, I’d probably have brain failure for the both of us (HEAVENS FORBID).

My second thought was Terrence Malick, because I’d really like to know if there are dinosaurs up there and whether it’s just one giant wheat field. I then thought I would choose to enter Obama’s brain at the hour when he went to George Bush’s opening of his museum thing and gave that speech about this being an admirable man. Hahaha. Nice joke Obama, but what are you REALLY thinking here?

While we could almost easily imagine what was going on inside George W Bush’s head (tumbleweed, fat midget on a swing, dancing monkeys), we have absolutely no fucking idea what’s going on inside Obama’s head and that is pretty scary. Not even Daniel Day Lewis can work this guy out, although I’m sure he’ll try.

Obama is a charming enigma. I’d like to go inside his head and see if he feels remorse for his drone program, which routinely kills ‘terror suspects’ and innocent civilians. Does he feel bad about that whole escalating the war in Afghanistan? What’s his next move? Is he really going to ‘intervene’ (read: invade) Syria? Probs, why not, it’s been a while since the US publicly declared war on a nation.

WAIT. This just reminded me. Can I go inside George W Bush’s head as well? To that exact moment when he’s reading to the little kids and someone whispers in is head about the Twin Towers being hit by planes?

Spoiler alert: more tumbleweed. Not a whole happening up there on planet Bush brain.

Thanks for the (surprisingly difficult) question Omar! We’ll be back next week for more of ‘Ask Tiny’.


Surround yourself with the best people:


‘When I was a girl about town I used to steal all of Barbara Streisand’s lines from her 1970s films…like ‘writing a note saying…This is so and so….from the bed’.


*leans in close* a girlfriend of mine did the costumes for Gatsby and she had to measure Leo and let me tell you, she blushed! She blushed when she saw it…*mouths* ‘so big’.


‘I saw a rat on a man’s shoulder this morning! Just sitting there, all casual, yeah here’s my rat’


‘….so yeah, you can’t sit at the bar with a baby in Australia, what the fuck’s up with that?’

Tiny Answers


@madeleinewinter asks:

If you had to choose between having a pineapple for a hand (no cuts offsie) OR only being able to eat pineapple forever – which would you choose and why?

This is the question I’ve been waiting for all my life.

Sure, a pineapple for a hand sounds like fifty varieties of nuisance. Of course it would be. In lieu of fingers, you’d have spiky leaves! WHAT’S THAT ABOUT? And it would be heavy. Pineapples are heavy mofos. And you kind of…need your hand for stuff right? Like lifting things (drinks) and playing badminton.

But to eat pineapple forever. Well. Pineapple is great and all. But fuck. Nothing burns more than eating too much pineapple. Can you imagine? I can, because I always do it, I always eat too much pineapple and the acid burns my tongue and I hate it and want to curse the tree that borne it (do pineapples come from trees? No really, where do pineapples come from?) and then I can’t eat anything else because my tastebuds have been decimated. Oh wait, if I CAN’T eat anything else, then maybe this option isn’t so bad…except I would destroy my tongue completely after the first week.

Oh and I love food way too much to limit my choices to a yellow fruit. I would rather be a spiked monster than sacrifice cheeseburgers. This is such an existential cheeseburger crisis. But I opt for the heaviness of the pineapple hand. Because at least this way I get to have my pineapple hand and eat it too (wait can I eat my hand? I can’t…okay…but I can eat other non-hand pineapples?) I don’t mind trading in my current hand. It’s hurting from writing so many words and it gives me such grief at the best of times (see here).

I choose pineapple hand. I really hope this is a hypothetical question.

Thanks for the question madeleinewinter



‘prejudice always obscures the truth’

Juror #8 in 12 Angry Men (my #1 film):


Juror #8: It’s always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don’t really know what the truth is. I don’t suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we’re just gambling on probabilities – we may be wrong. We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don’t know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that’s something that’s very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it’s sure.’

And on that note I introduce you to one of the few sane voices of reason out there, the Atticus Finch to my Juror #8, Glenn Greenwald, as he asks why is this terrorism?


paraphrased: 'shut yo mouth bish, he innocent until proven guilty'

paraphrased: ‘shut yo mouth bish, he innocent until proven guilty’

curled up inside a boat

Haunting extract from Randa Jarrar’s essay in The Rumpus:

“Boaters,” I’ve heard young Arab-Americans call their parents and their parents’ friends in Dearborn, Michigan. “Ten years in America,” the younger Boston bomber had once tweeted, “I want out.”

When they finally found him, out of all the places he could have hidden in Boston, he was curled up inside a boat.


The other day I saw a news headline about X amount of people dying in X foreign country and I felt nothing (was it Syria? I can’t remember). I saw it again today in another X foreign country and I still felt nothing (US bomb kills 30 people at an Afghan wedding, 175 children killed in US drone attacks, 50 killed in Iraq, probably).

I have seen that headline every other day for more than a decade. I say nothing because I feel nothing. I am numb to it from the ground up. All I feel is quiet guilt and if I say nothing, surely it will stop one day?

And then, something different. Today it happened in the specific part of the world where we’re supposed to feel something (they control the universe).

And yet. I feel nothing.

Because essentially it’s the same headline, telling us the same thing. Somewhere, somehow, a bomb went off and people died. These words have no power over me anymore.

And in the vein of the tradition of saying nothing when faced with daily human massacres, I continue it today by saying nothing again.

So here is my response of nothing.

And I will say no more than that.

and the winner is…

Bondi sunsetYou should know straight up that everything you thought you knew about Sydney is probably wrong.

Unless you’re one of us.

By ‘us’ I mean the small gang of people convinced that you don’t live in the same city that we inhabit. You don’t breathe the same air or see the same things. There are people who declare that Sydney can be defined by the people who inhabit it, but it is one of the few places in the world that almost has nothing to do with the people who live there. Sydney’s casual indifference to the often intoxicating mess of people who abuse its beautiful face, is what sets it apart.

Some people see this big, sprawling mess of a city on the surface and judge it instantaneously. But have you ever swum in its harbour beach embrace at 4am in the morning? Walked through the canopy of Hyde Park trees at midnight searching for the taco truck? Have you even seen the cemetery of white crosses on the Clovelly Cliffside overlooking the ocean? Or casually perused the leafy streets of Bourke Street by way of bicycle? Have you ever water taxied your way to a floating bar, sipping honey whisky from a red and white candy striped straw while staring at the Opera House?

We’re all crazy, mad; deliriously in love with the place.

Sydney has always been home, with a few excursions out of it here and there, from anywhere between a day to a year. I grew up in a Catholic migrant community in the north-western suburbs in the safe, sheltered confines of a private school bubble, where the biggest drama was usually found in girls not wearing their hats or failing to save the world from every social justice issue.  I found my way out of that altruistic, hat-wielding nightmare and took the express train to CITY TOWN, DESTINATION: UNIVERSITY and soon Sydney started to expand and conflate into a giant rubber duck of new areas and new people who lived in places I had never heard of and believed were made up, forcing me to stare inquisitively at everyone I met, particularly those opting to wear hats indoors (I did a writing degree).

It became a drawn out quasi-nightmare of long, sticky train commutes, running through underground tunnels to get to class in time. We cruised through house parties in ridiculous suburbs like Bronte, Coogee or Marrickville depending on wherever students dwelled. There were hotels and fancy dress parties and far too many questionable fruit flavoured alcoholic spirits. Generally I really hated it, but this might have had a lot to do with the fact that I never really lived in the one spot, had zero to no money and often had to walk everywhere, dodging crazy old man stalkers in my Grandma’s suburb where I lived for a time.

I left Sydney for a whole year and forgot about it for a while but not for long. I was caught up in the tiny, winding laneways of Europe that would eat you up in a heartbeat and callously spit you back out. I discovered love and urban bicycle transportation. I’d buy bread every day and never sleep, only dance on broken glass and dodge smoke clouds in bars. I avoided near death experiences in Valencia, Pamplona and Ibiza and famously fought off a street attacker in Raval. Barcelona and Europe were great but it was never really home. We dreamed too long of Pad Thai and fresh air and diversity that didn’t include naming convenience stores after the ethnicity of the people who predominately worked in them (‘let’s go to the paki’ they’d say cheerfully in Spanish).

The return made Sydney into a kind of surreal painting. Was it always this painfully beautiful? Why is it torturing us by being so expensive while we, so poor? The uni days dragged on, marred by red bull and endless all nighters. By now we had lost any last shred of discipline, barely handing in assignments and not even showing up to class, unless they were creative writing classes or film screening lectures.

Sydney started to emerge from its slumber in the most formidable way. While Clover was busy bringing in small bar laws that would radically change the nightlife scene, we were finding alternative things to do on our own accord, like underground poetry readings which were actually above ground in random squatter buildings, walking up flights of stairs covered in graffiti to get to them and then letting old poets speak to us in lyricial verses. We kept ourselves busy during the day with second hand bookstore-turned-cafes like Gertrude and Alice. The unique, well thought-out, impeccably designed and super little cafes with perfect flat whites started popping up everywhere, culminating in the greatest cafe name to date – Fleetwood Macchiato.

When we were ready for them, the small bars emerged like tiny saviours in the field of dreams. We became friends with all the bartenders (who were all friends themselves) and we would stride in like seasoned regulars. Speakeasies were the flavour du jour and had lines every single night (and some still do after years). Old decrepit pubs were being turned into classy bar/restaurant hybrids or late night dive bars open until 6am. Fake hot dog stands were actually a secret entrance for underground dance venues.

Friends would host galleries and exhibitions in laneways between CBD buildings. The Art Gallery of NSW still to this day hosts old school love films free of charge. Clover threw a spanner in the works for angry cars everywhere with the greatest urban development I’ve ever seen – bicycle lanes everywhere, prompting me to name my bicycle after her (Clomo).

It was all familiar and a little too small, running into people everywhere, realising all the friends we now had in common thanks to all the social media ways. Little communities began popping up everywhere and then actual pop ups began popping up everywhere, starting with the first of its kind, Table for 20, allowing people to eat a home cooked meal side by side with complete strangers on an ad-hoc basis and culminating in our friends hosting their own floating Harbour pop up bar called The Dispensary for 3 weeks, accessible only by way of water taxi. Food trucks came to the rescue of hungry revellers everywhere with anything from tacos to Tetsuyas on offer. Our friends started the Sydney Harbour Bathing Society, a chance to recreate the harbour baths from Sydney’s past at secret locations.

Then there’s the Sydney I can’t even begin to picture, the one I hardly know, the one with the mosques and the legendary folklore of restaurants like Jasmine’s Lebanese Restaurant in Lakemba or El Jannah’s chicken in Granville (okay that one I know). There’s the Cabramatta I’ve been to twice in my life, once to source cheap fashion materials for a dressmaker and that other time to attend a Russian Orthodox Easter mass (an intense six-hour affair with everyone standing up and the women braiding their hair). There are so many Sydneys, so many types of places, that it’s difficult to understand them all. The suburb I currently live in was a complete anomaly to me before I lived there. Now it’s my whole world.

Louise Hawson nailed it when she created Sydney’s 52 Suburbs. 52 and counting, surely. It feels like a mosaic that few people can piece together.

I didn’t realise how far in over my head I was with this city until my Spanish ex came to visit the country for the first time. He declared very openly in the first few weeks that he did not like Sydney.
‘It’s boring’, he said, scrunching his face up at all the large, savoury brunch options on hand at Clipper Cafe in Glebe and questioning why the coffee wasn’t sweet enough.

‘It’s pretty, but where’s the life?! There’s no life here’, he said, perusing the quiet, beautiful, tree-lined terrace housed streets of Paddington.

I thought of Waterloo and Redfern all of a sudden, how the locals just hang out on the street talking to each other while the kids play in the street with hula hoops. I remembered walking through the streets of Darlington at midnight and calling out to the guys who work in the local cafe and them stumbling into a little dance routine. I remember eating Mexican outside on King Street, drinking from cheap BYO and spinning around deliriously. I remember sitting outside on my friend’s balcony one night as Fleetwood Mac played on her vinyl player and someone from below called out ‘IS THAT FLEETWOOD MAC?’ with genuine glee in their voices. I remember sixty friends going from bar to bar for their annual 12 bars of Christmas (sorry everyone in Sydney at that time of year). I remember the picklebacks and the house parties and the Florence and the machine and the passing out with arms wrapped around disco balls and I wonder what that word ‘boring’ really even means because I can’t remember it anymore here.

I was walking through Darlinghurst on a sunny day with Messina gelato in hand and a well groomed elderly woman holding hands with her gentleman friend, called out to us inquiring, ‘oh please tell me, are we close to the gelato place?!’

Yes, it’s just around the corner, and I smiled, the sun on my face.

This must be the place. It was now that Sydney finally started to dance on its heels, maybe it always had been spinning but we just weren’t there, stoically standing beside it like a loyal stead with pride and conviction. But now we are right there with it and there’s a hashtag to prove it (#sydneyiloveyou – follow @ccsyd).

hyde park

Trees Sydney