My husband does most of the food shopping but occasionally, if he is not pressed for time, he lets me tag along. I slow things down because I am sidetracked by packaging, the patterns and shapes of a display, fresh flowers, the rows and rows of deli goods, and the novelty and multitude of the items that we neither need or want. There is a newish grocery store near us that recently provided a much-needed afternoon diversion. We bought broccoli, leeks, bread and strawberries, and along the way I stopped to check out the typography of seafood.
I’ve seen this pub sign many times before, but on Saturday evening, when my friends and I, replete from a delicious and satisfying dinner, emerged from the chatter and clatter of the restaurant into the buzz and hum of Enmore Road, the drama of the scene caught my attention. The large freestanding letters against the sombre backdrop that swallows up the green light exude a noirish atmosphere that reminds me of Edward Hopper’s painting, Nighthawks, and for a moment, in my imagination, I was transported to that diner.
There’s a building in my neighbourhood, an old corner store, that has some particularly nice ghost signage above the front door, but today I was walking by rather than driving and was rewarded with this side view. It’s more subtle, more complex, more painterly and printmakerly than the more obvious front door sign. It’s hard to make out all the words here, but there’s a ‘choo’, which, in conjunction with the ‘first grade’ below it, most likely makes it a painted advertisement for Lan-choo tea.
We recently had a visitor from California. She was in Sydney only for a few days, but it seemed to me that her tour group managed to fit in quite a lot, doing things that I wouldn’t have thought of, like going to the Queen Victoria Building (it’s a great building, but it’s just a shopping arcade) and the koala park. I’ve never been to the koala park, but every time I drive by I glance up at the trees hoping to catch a glimpse of a koala or two. (No such luck, leading me to question the veracity of their existence.) When our visitor showed us some of her photos, it pleased me greatly to see that, rather than being predictable tourist pictures, they were of signage and words. She was particularly fascinated by the instructions posted on restroom doors, the likes of which I had never seen until yesterday when, myself playing tourist for the day, I visited Echo Point in the Blue Mountains.
To my eye, this is an interesting collection of type and textures. I especially like the horizontal red slats butting up against the concrete pillar with its worn and weathered paint. Bar 35 is reputedly home to ‘incredible gourmet fusion pizzas’ (I haven’t tried them) and a choice of 200 beers from twenty countries. Perhaps that’s why there is a sign for taxis right next door.
How our perception of a word can change by such a small adjustment to the way it usually looks! Turning Sandwich into Sand Wich totally confused me! OK, so I can read it and understand it, but it’s not enirely satisfactory. It’s quite possible that the food truck, on which this banner is so gloriously gaffer taped, has made a pun rather than a typo—the truck was parked at a beach after all—but I’m not so sure.
A hukilau is a centuries-old Hawaiian method of fishing. When the time to catch the fish is right, a large number of people, sometimes the entire village or community, gather at the beach to participate in the event. They would work together to cast a large net from shore, and the resultant catch provided food for everyone. Hukilau Beach is in La’ie, on the northeastern shore of Oahu, and is so named because of the hukilaus that took place there until around 1970. The Hukilau Song was written by Jack Owens in 1948 after he attended a hukilau at La’ie, and has since been covered by many Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian musicians. And the first hula I learnt was the Hukilau, played and sung by Uncle Sam and taught by Auntie Malihini on Maui.
Luckily I’m not the type of person who can’t function without my phone close to hand at all times, but when you’re in rural areas and out of range for hours or even days at a time, you realise how useful those pesky devices are, and how much you use them for instant access to, well, almost everything. This notice is posted on a tree in the parking area of a property on the outskirts of Bermagui in NSW. Certainly not the sticks, but remote enough that reception is patchy! I didn’t want or need to make use of the phone coverage here, but the sign was hard to ignore, especially with its pleasing background of spotted gum bark and accompanying cobwebs.
It’s views like this that make me love the city so much. I have passed this building hundreds—perhaps thousands—of times since I have lived in Sydney, but on this day I was walking towards it from a particular direction at a particular time of day with particular light conditions, and I saw, for the first time, the sideways neon sign in the window and the reflection of the M. It’s not just the pool room sign on the reflection of antennas that I love, but the shape of the windows, the rich colours, and the beauty of the architecture despite the fact that the building has seen better days.