Monday, November 24, 2008


Crowbar My Heart Issue Two
Issue two of Crowbar My Heart (the world's greatest squatting zine) is now out!
It features a sub par article by myself, as well as great articles by Jase + Fez about their squat, an interview/article about Melbourne's SHAC, howto's on composting + squat gardening as well as pigeons, notes, reviews, cartoons and more!
Issues can be got from Comrade Crowbar, if you email at comradecrowbar [at] yahoo [dot] com [dot] au! Submissions including pretty pictures are welcomed he says.

her zine that came into my hands recently was the first issue of Makeshift, with the rather broad theme Alternatives. The broad theme being a great thing as the Zine, full of creative writing, was able to spread out into different areas.
The stori
es are about housing, kings cross, a anti-hero superhero, an elderly relative, religion and the universe. To get copies or make submissions contact Makeshiftzine [at] gmail [dot] com. The theme for the next issue is Baffle, though submissions have closed for that, so contact the above address and find out what you need to write about!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kulnura; Up in the Clouds

Empty buildings in Sydney are no rarity. Every time i realise that a particular building is not suitable for squatting, it rarely takes me more than a day at most to find another to consider. You've heard the statistics before I'm sure, 120,000 of these wasting beauties lie in wait around greater Sydney daily, about 7000 of them in the city alone.
Though generally we think of small shop fronts and empty warehouses, orphaned bungalows and terraces - not realising that there exists lonely CBD sky scrapers. To put on the Realtors glasses for a moment; some of these buildings are upon the most valuable land in Australia, and between them would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
But where a
re they?

Well a personal favourite would have to be Key College House, located on Wentworth Avenue. This place looks amazing, i can just imagine all the squatters hanging banners out it's bay windows as a stirring black flag flies from the roof. Standing at 9 stories, this place could house so many people, within such an accessible distance to amenities.
It would be perfect for the less mobile or elderly who otherwise have to travel for considerable times on public transport (of questionable suitability) for certain services.

Like Key College House, and also on the same road the Griffiths Teas building is owned by Sydney Couple Isaac and Susan Wakil. The pair own about $75 Million dollars of property in Sydney - all of which is empty except for their headquarters. The Griffiths Teas building is massive and could probably house a large portion of China's teas, or (for a more revolutionary idea!) a lot of people! Susan Wakil remembers seeing her father dragged off to a soviet gulag for being a "capitalist landowner" when living in Romania, though probably has little time for those in Western Sydney increasingly being made homeless by rising rents.
Photo of Griffiths Teas from here. Other great photo's there also.

If you were to stroll further up Wentworth Avenue and continue onto College street you would eventually encounter a twenty story monstrosity of a building that also has remained empty for years. The building was at one time the former headquarters for NSW Police, though now sits empty with nobody coming nor going. Once again this building is located a convenient zero minute walk to just about everywhere, and right across the road from Sydney's well known Hyde park (A cheap imitation of the slightly older London, Hyde Park).
I believe the building is owned by the Gov, and therefore would be a perfect place for some inventive housing affordability protest - after all who likes the government?

Then there
is this fantastic 8 story building on Clarence street. This is almost exactly where i catch a bus from often. The only difference being that when i want to catch the bus it is preceded by a 15minute walk, a 40minute train trip and another 5 minute walk. From this empty nest i could forget about the first walk and the train trip, and dream dreams for almost another hour. This place reminds me a little of Key College House, but only cooler, sweeter and cuter.

And when you thought that was it, just a few blocks away at 82 Sussex St there is a quaint little warehouse space, again of about 8 stories. It stands defiant, confident in it's history as thousands of sheets of glass approach it from both sides and construction rumbles just across the street. I can only imagine how many people could paint, sculpt, write, think, draw, play and live inside the unused walls of this building.

And these are only the ones i know about. Most (if not all) were found here.

And of course if any of you out there have fantastic idea's for these buildings please comment. Comment even if you don't.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Being Realistic

When you first decide to squat, nothing could seem easier.
What is there to it after all?

  • Find an empty building.
  • Get in.
  • Inflate your airbed.
  • Raise your flag.
This is almost how easy i first imagined it would be. And yet months after beginning my search for affordable and subversive housing i am still squatless, though immensely lucky in that i do have a home.
Now it's not as if the issue is a shortage of abandoned properties, but vacancy is only the first tick on a long, and changing check list of favorable attributes. And each building has its own unique issues and quirks that only become obvious once you've made contact with that particular building.
The first building i intended to squat was a two storey terrace in Surry Hills. Being the first building I had staked out, I was more or less incompetent. The majority of my first mission was spent across the street gazing into its cloudy windows repeating to myself "It's definitely empty", as I worked up the courage to cross the street. When I did, I peeped through the mail slot to see an awful lot of junk, and walking around to observe the back entrance, saw more and more junk piled up in the windows. At this stage, I was under the impression that some junk was probably a huge inconvenience, after all I was still working within the frame work mentioned in the dot points above. And for the time being, that house was written off.

The second house I considered was a single storey, single bedroom terrace near my campus. It was cute, it was secluded, it was definitely empty and definitely unloved. I was doing it a favor!
One evening a friend and I planned to enter and change the lock.
Once again, this was preceded by long moments standing across the street in anticipation, waiting for a break in the steady stream of professionals returning from work. We had anticipated some difficulty entering as the door was obviously locked, and the only other entry was the front window which was broken and boarded up. Though as it turned out, the board was loose and moved with the wind, and I was able to slide in the broken window (cutting my hand, and not caring), to take my first steps within, what i thought at the time
to be, my future home.
This building had a few inconveniences also. Namely no glass in any windows, no electricity nor gas, and many repairs to do. Though by now, i was beginning to understand that this squatting would not be as easy as I had imagined and that these were reasonable tasks to undertake.
Over the next few weeks as i began doing some cleaning and planning, the landlords decided that they would prefer their house to remain empty and rotting, and screwed the door to the frame. A perfect waste.

As well as these, there was a key cutters in Sydenham, which turned out to have a pending Development Application. A small place in Hannam street which despite appearances, was for lease. A petrol station in Rozelle that would have provided a bizarre and inspiring home, that sold years after sitting vacant, and only weeks after entering my plans. A terrace in Darlinghurst that on the day i had planned to liberate, turned out to be owned by someone with a vague connection to me. And of course there were countless other empties spied on walks, for which plans and research were never begun.

Which brings me back to the first building I intended to squat.
The junk no longer seems like such an inconvenience. Though I've not been inside this house yet, and am yet to see the full scale of the mess. Though still, all these months later (on top of all the years before), it sits empty. In a nice part of town, neglected and seemingly of no consequence to anybody but myself. And I find myself thinking about it again.

Despite all the obvious set backs, and what has quite honestly been heartbreak. I'm pleased with the way things have gone. As the person who I love pointed out, it has developed my skills of researching buildings through the various beaurocratic avenues (one way streets and stop signs!) that exist. And I've also gained a more realistic understanding of what it is to squat. The next thing to do? Well, squat of course!

And a note to would be squatters; be prepared for dissapointment and frustration at the hands of the jokers of beaurocratic capitalism.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

£6m House, 30 Rooms, One Careful Anarchist Collective.

An Anarchist/Artists collective called the Da! Collective, have opened up a beautiful house in one of London's "Poshest" areas according to this ^^ photo and this report. Amazingly, the article does not incite the lynching of the squatters, rather it just seems to see them as a curious oddity, which i suppose ain't half bad.

It is one of London's most exclusive addresses. Michelin-starred restaurants are just a block away, the American embassy is around the corner and Hyde Park is at the end of the road. To share the same postcode ought to cost millions.

But the new residents of 18 Upper Grosvenor Street, a raggle-taggle of teenagers and artists called the Da! collective, haven't paid a penny for their £6.25m, six-storey townhouse in Mayfair.
"If anything, we are improving the building by mending leaks and things like that. The building is listed so English Heritage might be interested to see how the owners have let it disintegrate."

Don't do this at home; but it helps if you've got a home!
And for some more English squatters, check out this video I've recently uploaded to youtube. I've had it sitting around for some time, and thought it was as good a time as any to upload it now, so i have.

Also, if this weekend goes according to plan, there may be another home improvement post very soon!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Soulwax, Coldcut + Tv Sheriff

Soulwax - NY Excuse:

Coldcut vs. TV Sheriff - World Of Evil:

Oldies, but goodies.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What's the G20?

Dubya is supposed to have asked "Revin" Rudd. Although where others have called them "Some of the world’s most brutal warmongers and economic rationalists", it's hardly the response I think Rudd would've given.
The libs have demanded that a federal police investigation be launched into who leaked the details. Rudd claims it never even happened. The libs also demand Rudd apologises to Bush, and now Rudd demands that the libs apologise to Obama. Wow.
The wonderful photo of the two rulers (above) is stolen from the terrorgraph, which I've included because i find it bizarre to have someone photoshop an image of the two together when photos like these (below) already exist:

And in news that might actually mean something to people. Sydney band Ghoul have released their EP. In fact they released it a little while ago, and I've just been quite late with this post. In keeping with awesomeness they have made the EP freely available for download, from here.
As the band is happy to boast, they have been described as "a young band with no hooks" by a "dude from bluejuice", and "a fantastic lo-fi(ish) band from Sydney with a definite haunting element to their sound" According to Polaroids Of Androids.

Apart from getting the chance the hear some awesome music, other incentives to see ghoul include;
- Free Ep Give aways at their gigs at COFA on the 26th of November + Oxford Arts Factory on the 27th.