public spaces can be okay

In the children’s hospital recently, there was a man in a suit with a straight back and pointy shoes rushing to catch the lift. He was clutching a large stuffed meerkat. With their straight backs, big eyes and anxious expressions, he and the meerkat seemed related. He patted it absently in the lift, but caught himself doing it and stopped. One floor up, a kid with a prostethic leg got in. “I really like your meerkat,” he said after a minute. “Thank you,” said the man. “You’re welcome,” said the kid. “Nice eyes.” Public spaces can be okay.

Lorin Clarke in The Big Issue #535

i’m not really a straight-cut potato

“I’m not really a straight-cut potato, I have a couple of curves to me. I also had a few difficulties growing up, but it’s always about never giving up. I’ve always thought that if you look at the brighter side of life and focus on something positive; you might be able to work out the answer to a tough situation.

Thankfully I don’t have any addictions. I try to help people going through homelessness and addiction by giving them support. Sometimes reminding them to look on the light side will help them out. Once you care for people, the goodness that it brings out of them – the kindness and respect – shows. Once you show love it mirrors back, it’s pretty cool.”

Jacob S sells The Big Issue on the corner of Pitt and Bathurst Streets, Sydney

bitter and negative

I got really pissed off this afternoon when the RBA cut the official Australian interest rate by a full 1 percent. It means that K and I won’t be able to save as fast anymore because our savings won’t compound as much, which is really annoying.

After work it was still bothering me when I decided that I should stop worrying about it at all, and I should stop being so negative. I’m really passionate about housing (un)affordability, but I think lately I’ve been coming across bitter and negative, especially towards some speculative property investors who I work with.

So I decided to do something nice, but lo-fi, tonight, to take my mind off it. We went to Kangaroo Point cliffs with a picnic and sat and watched the river and the city. We listened to Radiohead’s OK Computer which I, remarkably, had lost over the years.

At home we then watched YouTube film clips of heaps of the songs we remember from growing up. My favourite was ‘She don’t use Jelly‘ by The Flaming Lips.

In bed I started to read my Big Issue from yesterday. Straight away I saw a Hearsay quote I loved:

“You can’t keep money around for ever. It’s like saving sex for your old age.” ~ Warren Buffett

Then I read Editor Alan Attwood report that The Big Issue street sales are suffering because of the current economical climate:

“The general economic malaise has made it harder than ever to sell magazines on the street.” ~ Alan Attwood Editor, TBI 314

I couldn’t sleep. I decided to get up and re-read Instructions for Life. I then thought about writing this blog post.

But maybe dropping interest rates today wasn’t such a bad thing. It might finally free up some cash for people to actually buy a copy of The Big Issue off Greg, or one of the other street vendors. Or maybe they’ll just use the freed cash to buy some more shit for their MacMansions, or worse, to feed those hungry hungry pokies. But I’m just being bitter and negative again, aren’t I?

the big glossy issue

I look forward to every second Monday because it means I get to buy a new edition of The Big Issue off my street vendor Greg. I’ve been reading it for a while now so I was surprised on Monday when I opened it up and immediately realised that something was different; it was glossy, like a new iMac.

The Big Issue 310
The Big Issue 310

I was a big fan of the old matte print. It was easy to read and didn’t have the same print feel as a lot of the other magazines available in Australia which are typically high gloss, possibly designed that way to attract the attention of consumers when sitting for sale on newsagents stands. Most vendors I see selling TBI use a glossy clear plastic sleeve anyway, so why the need for gloss?

I looked through the magazine trying to find some mention of this new print style but I couldn’t seem to find anything. I could only find that the paper is still 20% recycled. The only place I could find any mention of the new printing style was three quarters through Editor Alan Attwood’s vendor’s introduction speech in Melbourne on YouTube. Thankfully he says they’re making some changes to the printing style and that it may not be permanent and could change again soon.

I just hope that the new glossy paper is not radioactive.

the 9th may is the big issue do a favour day

The Big Issue is kicking off its first Do a Favour Day next Friday in Brisbane. They are holding a free breakfast in Queen’s Park, George Street from 7am.


Participation involves doing someone else a favour next Friday. Suggestions include:

  • Buying a wristband from The Big Issue Vendors (now on sale – $4);
  • Buying The Big Issue (if you don’t normally);
  • Organising a morning tea at work with gold coin donations to The Big Issue;
  • Opening the door for someone;
  • Making your partner breakfast in bed;
  • Paying for the car behind you at the toll booth;
  • Doing the washing up even if it’s not your turn;
  • Catching up with an old friend; and
  • Calling your parents.

You can also do The Big Issue a favour by making a (tax-deductible) donation to:

The Big Issue Brisbane
Brisbane Homelessness Service Centre
62 Peel Street, South Brisbane, QLD 4101

This is what I am going to do.

the big issue is 300

It sounds strange, but I really look forward to every second Monday. Not because pay day is imminent, but rather a new issue of The Big Issue comes out. I was surprised then to see a new issue on sale in Brisbane today: the 300th issue.

Big IssueΒ 300

I think it’s the best magazine you can buy for five six bucks. It’s actually my favourite magazine at any price. There’s something about it.

I’ve spent time reading the last few issues trying to figure out what that something is. It’s hard to pinpoint, but I think I worked it out: it’s not pretentious. I originally thought that pretentiousness was about money but it’s not. A free magazine can be pretentious, the Big Issue is not.

Keep up the good work The Big Issue. Keep it real and unpretentious.