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1959

Since the Mondrian Brothers (plumbers to the Cubists) renovated the Pig’s Arms toilets, traffic had picked up in the water closetry du maison des porcs.   There was some speculation that the queues were the result of the toilets being probably more visually interesting and certainly more comfortable than the front bar.

When Eddie O’Bad’s limo ground to a halt in the Pig’s Arms car park, Hedgie and Gez were sitting in adjacent cubicles, strides around their ankles (less anyone might accuse them of loitering).  Gez was reading his copy of Art Quarterly and Hedgie was reading his copy of Rolling Stone on his iPad and listening to Lou Reed’s last interview.  Difficult and poignant, thought Hedgie, but certainly not Vicious.

“I was walking up Australia Street, the other day” said Hedgie apropos of nothing.

“Hmm” said Gez without breaking stride through the article on Jeffrey Smart’s retrospective”.

“It’s quite a long road, Gez” said Hedgie.

“My word”said Gez.”He was a poofter, you know.”

“Yeah” said Hedgie.”Quite long, but ultimately a dead end. A cul-de-sac.”

“But he could damn well paint” said Gez. “He was a master of composition”.

“So I gather” said Hedgie. “I think it’s sad that a street with such a promisingly patriotic name should turn out to be a dead end”.

“Dead end” said Gez. “I particularly appreciate the way he places solitary figures in the landscape”.

“It’s a very inner west kind of streetscape” said Hedgie.  “Long, thin, houses cheek by jowl, lean and hungry”.

“Sometimes fat and overweight” said Gez.  “One of his most famous paintings has a one-armed fat man standing at the entrance tunnel to the Cahill Expressway”.

“People park their cars right up each other’s arses” said Hedgie. “The street is so narrow”.

“I don’t think you’re allowed to park on the Cahill Expressway” said Gez. “That’s why there’s no cars in the painting”.

“The people who live there paint their houses really shite colours” said Hedgie. “If they bother to paint them at all.

“He uses really striking contrasting primary colours” said Gez. “And his contrasts also run to placing urban objects like roadworks, factories, giant housing blocks, right out in the countryside”.

“It’s ironic that the houses are painted so shite, because there’s a paint shop on the corner of Carillon Ave” said Hedgie. “I can’t believe that they manage to make a quid”.

“His paintings sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars” said Gez. “and they hardly ever come on the market”.

“It’s fuckin’ amazing how expensive these pissy little houses are in Australia Street” said Hedgie. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars”.

“Hundreds” said Gez. ‘Probably more since he’s carked it”.

“Who ?” said Hedgie. “Who’s carked it ?”

“Jeffrey Smart” said Gez.

“Does he live in Australia Street ?” said Hedgie.

“No, he’s fuckin’ dead !” said Gez. “But he was living in Tuscany before he died”.

“But did he come home to Australia Street to die ?” said Hedgie.

“I don’t think so” said Gez.  I think he died in Tuscany”

“Well, they have probably have shite health care in Tuscany is why” said Hedgie. “Not like they can take a dash up to RPAH for a kick start”.

“He was fuckin’ 91” said Gez.

“And he was still painting houses ?” said Hedgie.  “That’s amazing”.

“I put it down to good Italian tucker” said Gez.

“Speaking of tucker” said Hedgie.  “I’m done with staying up to date with the music scene.  What about a jar and some grub ?”

“Yeah, good” said Gez. “I heard something huge crushin’ the gravel in the car park.  I reckon the provisions are in”.

“Yeah, good” said Hedgie, wondering how he was going to stand up since his legs had gone to sleep from reading on the dunny for too long. “See you downstairs”.

“Wash your hands” said Gez.

“Yeah. good” said Hedgie.