Dick’s Rant

You might be struck by this quotation - struck, stunned, and a dragged away to be devoured at the leisure of whoever says it to you - upon going into many shops. Certainly fashion stores, jewellers, and boutiques might draw forth this response. And trinket shops. Also think of the stores that sell beds and mattresses - they are doing nothing more than abetting idleness and sloth - if they are good bedding stores. Is there no morality in retail trade? No severe work ethic that couples noses to grindstones effectively? Where is the old pioneer spirit of sad utility and want when we need it? Well, you can still have it when you go to the right places. Air compressor shops, for instance. They may be very good ones - the one I frequent is - but there is no singing or dancing. Lots of agencies and offices sell hard work, too, and their employees know it. But not Wanderlust. You might go to the Murray Street or Stirling Street shops of Camera Electronic and engage yourself in workaday purchase and supply...

When I was young, being the new kid in town generally got you beat up. Thus was sometimes a formal process, with the local bully stopping you on the school playground to establish dominance as soon as possible. Most times it worked, as that is what bullies are good at doing. In some cases that one time was all that was needed and the place settled down again as the pecking order was re-affirmed. It might be the same with commercial premises - a new shop in town might be set upon by others in an effort to establish the old order - but the process would be different. I have read of new enterprises being afflicted with commercial complaint designed to shut them up. Other firms might engage in undercutting or try to prevent supply of a new shop by influencing wholesalers. Even the denial of permits and licences has been used. But not with Perth. Not now - not in the face of empty premises and economic hardship. Not with projects virus-stalled on the top of money-squeezed. Opening a business...

But then there are a lot of things I did not know until this year: a. How happy I could be to be healthy. Reading the news is no fun any more - bank robberies and page-three girls have given way to grimmer things. Seeing the troubles that have afflicted others this year makes me ever so more grateful that it has not hit my home city or state as hard. That's the background to a lot of the days now. b. How much money is worth. A lot, when you see it disappearing, but not a lot when you see that it can buy comfort and enjoyment in bad times. Not ashamed to say this - sometimes you can't buy happiness or stave off sadness with a purchase...

And not those kind of toys. I mean the ones that you can shop for openly, bring home proudly, and play with out in the open air. When you are a kid, every toy shop is magic, and you want to pay with everything. When you're a teenager, you're too cool for toys, and you are careful not to seem interested. When you get older, and past that painful stage, you get to play again...

I presume we all know what a Zoom meeting is by now. Those of you who have not experienced one yet during the virus lockdown period please put your hands out on the table. My assistant will move through the room hitting them with a claw hammer. Most zoom meetings feel like this, but not as nice. You can see why I was a little hesitant to sign myself up for the Leica zoom meeting last night. It was advertised as a launch for the Leica Q2 Monochrom camera - promised for several weeks with proper registration and code numbers an everything. I signed up as a matter of reporter's interest and got in a cask of cheap wine in preparation for the ordeal. Leica Australia were good enough to send email reminders that it was coming up, so I had no excuse. The day dawned, the hour rolled up, and the code went in. Lo and behold, the screen opened up on a chap from Leica speaking about the camera while showing the new device next to its colour - capable sister;...

  Some years ago I was delighted when my friend Warren visited the shop and bought a small camera bag. As much for the social contact as the sale - it got pretty fraught on Friday when the point of sale computer program refused to cooperate and no help was offered. I was glad he had cash as I could not have faced another EFTPOS incident. As a passing comment he mentioned that he wished the manufacturers of little digital cameras would make some that resembled older film cameras - the bellows types or box cameras. Warren is a re-enactor and part of his role involves capturing images while in character. An "old camera " new camera would be perfect for what he does. Come to think of it, it would be perfect for what I do as well. I could eschew housing Fujifilm X-series cameras in wooden boxes and haul them out in the vintage world openly. It raised the question in my mind why the Japanese or Chinese firms have not jumped on this little bandwagon straight away. After all, we have seen no end of weird...

Fool that I was, I thought it would be easy. I had seen pictures of travelling photographers at American re-enactments of the Civil War who had marvellous wet-plate cameras and dark tents and customers lined up for miles waiting for an expensive ambrotype photo. I figured I could do that in Australia and make a mint*. 1995. End of the Old Tyme Studio craze in the theme parks - and pretty near the end of the theme parks - and just before the big rise of digital photography. I bought a 150mm Schneider lens, a ratty old Nagoka 4 x 5 camera and a box of film holders. Then a dark bag, and travelling case, enough wood to make a tripod, and an HP Combiplan developing tank. Then...