Summernats 19

Presentation of Gand Champion Award

Just got back from Canberra and Summernats 19. A few very interesting things cropped up for my dissertation research. The main thing was the focus on Chic Henry and Summernats being only 19 years old.

“Wait!” I hear you exclaim.

“Didn’t Chic take over what was called the Street Machine Nationals in 1986-ish only to create a new event from its ashes in 1987?” You astutely question.

Yes, I do believe it was something like that.

“And were not the other car magazines incredibly suspicious of ‘Kerry Packer’ (ie ACP) taking over the event through primary sponsor Street Machine Magazine?”

Yes, I do believe they were.

Talking cars, becoming-together?

Other observations:

There was a crash last night.

During the presentation ceremony of some of the main trophies, Geoff Seddon (current editor of Street Machine) said, “For as long as the Summernats exists, Street Machine Magazine will be proud to sponsor it.”

The bumper stick I bought for $3 says “Not Just a Car Show, A Way of Life.”

Gary Myers' Street Machine of the Year

The the singularity of Street Maching and the ‘stream of singularities’ that define Summernats are: “Boobs, Blowers, and Burnouts.” What is a singularity in this context? Anything that will turn heads. (Or put differently: 1) a heteronormative ‘Aussie’-cum-‘Bogan’ masculinity and resultant ‘pack mentality’ objectification of women, 2) the symbolic excess of efficiency technologically embodied in modified vehicles and performatively displayed hrough ritualised practices of automobility, 3) and the related collegiality of enthused spectatorship enthralled while others display their ability to build a modified vehicle and drive it demonstrating the vehicle’s ‘excess’.)

I did, they boo'ed me

I should have been more Sun Smart ‘slip-slop-slapping’.

The Armygeddon revhead woo’er propoganda machine for the Australian Army broke on the burnout start line. Suck shit. It was talked up so much by the announcer. Everyone had a good laugh and I don’t think any youth fellows were impressed enough…

Is there much difference between Summernats and other Australian revhead festivals?

Difficult question. On the surface of things, not much, but there are two main differences. The first is mostly in scale. Narrogin Revheads is a good example of something that has almost the exact same offering only at half or a quarter the scale. The second is the way the event of Summernats is not just contained to 4 days in January, but contniues on and is differentially repeated at various social levels organising Street Machine culture and correlative enthusiasms. A good example of this is the way Street Machine magazine gets at least 2 or 3 issues and most feature cars from the event.

Dirty. dirty, dirty... This is a Dagwood Dog and Street Machine Magazine will almost certainly have a photo of some girl or, as it has been recently, some guy, with this about to go into their mouth cock-sucking porno-style.

Here are the rest of my photos. A mix of relatively high quality (digital camera) and low quality (mob-phone snaps). [Still updating]

The Elderly and Memory

Matthew over at Esoteric Rabbit discusses some of the hassles he and his family have found with his nan and her ‘lost’ purse.

While I was home over xmas my family was quite distressed about my Nan’s impending move. They were about to begin the process of moving rooms in her retirement complex to a room in the ‘extra care’ wing of the centre. ‘Extra Care’ sadly is almost as sinister as it sounds, because it is for people who become violent and upset. I am not sure how much ultra-violence can be perpetrated by a 101 yo woman, but it must be enough for her nurses to get worried! Anyway, her memory is also quite shoddy. Once she even forgot who her daughter is (ie my mum), which was very distressing when it happened.

My mum was worried that she (my nan) would become ‘confused’ during the process of the shift. My mum’s evidence of the impending state of confusion was based on a comment that my nan repeatedly made (including in my presence when I went to see her) that she was “in a nice room, because it has plenty of light.” I thought this was quite interesting for a number of reasons.

On a superficial level, having conversations with my nan can be quite arduous because she often repeats herself, ie the so-called goldfish syndrome However, I see this as a blessing in disguise. The process of exchange and communicating involves something of a shared sense of the conversation. This is pretty obvious in everyday situations, but when you are 101 and in a retirement complex with little external stimuli there is little to engage with and/or ‘share’ the event of conversation. The topic of the conversations I have with my nan are themselves relatively meaningless, mainly because she will forget them in a few minutes (or less), but what is important is that she feels like she is sharing in something.

Now getting back to the problem of the state of confusion precipitated by the shift. I am not sure yet how it has turned out because I have come back to Sydney. However, relating to the issue of how much light there was to be in the new room, I have a feeling my nan discussed how ‘good’ her room was (and how ‘good’ the food is and how ‘good’ the retirement complex is) to enable this process of sharing in (and/or belonging to) the event of conversation. Her previous room had two windows and most rooms in the complex only have one. The extra light coming into the room was something that was obviously evident. While the light in itself certainly would make one feel nice (depending on the weather), the obviousness of the light also could serve as an immediate point of conversation.

There is another thing that I thought of regarding the windows. Forgetting Proust’s madeline and Barthes’ punctum for a second, there is an immediate viscerality to the presence of the light passing through these windows that does not come with something like a cultural object such as a photo or some text-based object (which she couldn’t really read anyway). In fact it is probably closer to Proust’s little cake than anything else, but much less ‘objectified’ (if that makes sense?). Light does not have to be remembered by our brains because our bodies already know it. It reminds me of a documentary I saw nce about light architects who work in the extreme northern countries who find themselves under the cover of darkness. Could techniques used to combat the ill mental effects of continual physical darkness be used in cases of ‘memory’ darkness?

Anyway, the sense of familiarity, so craved by elderly people as the rest of the world seems to slip by, is thoroughly embodied in the light-based architecture of the windows and the limited number of configurations in which my nan could find herself in her old room. Either she was in her bed or sitting down and there would be a window to the left and right of her. Her body would perceive the sunlight before her mind did. There was a perpetual state of familiar spatial reconfigurement akin to the tug of gravity, but produced by the light that shone through the windows.

There is a terrible sense of sadness experienced by an elderly person’s loved ones as they fight with them and on their behalf for some sort of repetition of familiarity during last parts of their lives. Hence, I was racking my brain to think of something portable that could serve the same function as the two windows, both discursively (to have something to organise conversation around) and spatially (to organise the familiarity of her immediate spatial configuration), but I couldn’t think of anything!?!?! Anyone got any ideas?


The best thing about going back to my family’s home over Christmas, besides seeing my family of course, is that it forced me to interact with relatively normal people for a while. None of the people I interacted with would know who Deleuze was and most barely knew what the hell I was writing about in my dissertation.

It is good having them in my mind, so fresh, as I am writing my dissertation. It relates to the best piece of advice I have been given so far during my three years of PhD-ing, which is to pitch the ‘tone’ or ‘level’ to that of an intelligent second year undergraduate level. I couldn’t remember what it was like to be an undergrad and I have often found myself escaping wormhole-ish Sliders-like into my own little universe.

Must finish this bloody thing!