The first time I met Russ he was throwing me out of his party.
I was 15 years old with a bottle of cheap vodka and an orange Fanta mixer.
I deserved das boot,
because not long after I threw up all over a young Asian tourist
minding his own business on a train.
Never drank Fanta again.
Vodka, not so much.
Rusty and I would cross paths once again when he returned serve, rocking up to my 18th uninvited.
I didn’t kick him out, we had mutual football mates.
And while he was surely tippen’ ’em in I don’t think he projectiled over a tourist that night.
For the next Olympics worth of years Russ was like the older brother I never had, we went to the same Uni, play in the same football team and got on the same festival benders.
Russ, lived in a granny flat off the side of his parent’s home in Narara, five minutes drive from my parent’s place in Niagara Park.
For all intensive purposes he he had his own pad,
perfect to roll in hammered at all hours.
They were the best of times…
Often, we’d drink from Friday night through to Tuesday.
Friday, Saturday in pubs and clubs from Gosford to Terrigal, before playing football on Sunday for our Wyoming Tigers,
before heading back to our pub ‘the Grange’ till close.
Come Monday morning we’d dust ourselves off and jump in Rusty’s van, drive an hour and a bit north for Uni in Newcastle.
Russ an Architect in the making and me taking Journalism.
Class would finish and we’d hop back in the van, driving two and a half hours south (straight past our places) for uni night in Sydney.
WTF. I know.
Safe to say we’d stay out most of the night (there were no lockout laws then and Sydney was on 24/7) before we’d wake up on a floor in Coogee and drive back up the coast for training.
While I later ditched Journalism for a degree in media production and goon bags, Rusty was a little more serious about architecture, and rightly so.
When I’d go round to the Granny Flat, he’d have all sorts of miniature designs,. These crazy pieces that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with “architecture.”
Russ’s walls were blasted with graffiti too,
and not the shit you see on railway overpasses.
Inspired graffiti that influenced his architectural brain.
Russ wasn’t designing for standard, he was pushing a new paradigm. His mentors and heroes scattered throughout Europe where it sounded like a rogue architect like Russ could find his feet.
Later, he’d move to Germany — possibly the best place in the world for football, beer, parties and radical buildings— before delivering an exhibition in an abandoned warehouse with a skaters bowl built into the basement.
If that’s not Berlin, I’m not sure what is.
Rusty and I live in different cities now, he’s got a beautiful young family and continues to climb the ranks as rising superstar in architecture.
I attended his wedding a few years back.
Staying true to form, after the reception I spewed all over the wedding bus on the way back to our accomodation.
And hang on,
before you judge!
It was Red wine not orange fizz thank you very much,
because I’m an adult now…
As I woke up this morning I was thinking about what ‘I do’ with myself…
WTF do I do with myself?
I find it hard to define sometimes.
I used to think this was a weakness.
Now I give less fucks.
When people ask me what I do,
I change it depending how I’m feeling and what I’m gauging about the conversation.
But, what dropped in this morning as I woke wide-eyed was a combo of things.
The first: ‘narrative.’
The world is tied up in narrative at the moment.
‘Tied up’ seems appropriate right now, because a large part of humanity is being held hostage to the stories we are being told and the subsequent ones we’re telling ourselves.
But this isn’t a negative article.Fuck that.
We’ve spent too long jamming about designer partying.
The second: Architect
You probably guessed it by the title, but I’m not judging you either if you’re a bit slow on the uptake.
The long winded point I’m making is one about the potential we have to write new stories about ourselves and the way we wish to live.
And when I work up, it’s going to take ballsy architects of new narratives to make this happen.
I’m aware this may sound a bit wristy. AKA Wank.
A narrative architect.
But it feels playful right now, so long as I think about architecture in the same way that Russ does.
I enjoy designing systems as guides for people to empower new stories for themselves and hopefully the wider culture at large.
Just not the conventional type.
These are blueprints for people to check out over a strong coffee and disco biscuit, then write and design their own futures using it as a foundation.
Maybe they’re not blue, but flashingelectricgreenneonprints sold out the back of a panel van with R4DN3SS numberplates
I want to inspire new thinking in the way that Russ did which led him to dropping a set in Deutschland.
A ‘Narrative Architect’ with a German bass-line, perhaps.
At least for the next few weeks,
‘till I get bored and change my mind again.
And if I do.