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Archive for April, 2009

Simple really.

Do you want your daughter to become embroiled in real life sub-Jerry Springer escapades?

Answer yes – name her after a respected European make of car, a one-step guarantee of instant class. Volvo’s probably a little risque, Citroen a little tart, BMW too open to interpretation (and blackmail), Ferrari just crass, so how about Mercedes?

Well…

Ladies Corby and Johnston

Ladies Corby and Johnston

The best laid plans, hey.

In the blue corner, the foul-mouthed queen of the Schapelle clan; in the red corner, the sister of former Sarah Palin son-in-law-to-be and soon-to-be-sparring-with Sarah Palin in front of a Judge (Judy or otherwise) Levi Johnston.*

Hmmm… maybe Volvo isn’t that bad after all.

(* What’s an “s” between friends, anyway?)

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Q-Q-ca-choo

G’day, G’day does occasionally dip its toe into the world of food / bar / cafe bloggery, although most of the time it forgets.

Maybe one day it’ll catch up and be filled with a torrent of them (Gigi Baba’s – small, but exquisitely tasty portions, staff – hmmm; Woodspoon – what was all the fuss about, exactly?; Peko Peko – a much better Japanese bet; N&J’s Thai Cafe – your best when your budget’s tight and you can’t be arsed to cook; Grumpy’s Green – great local craft beer, lovely, lovely staff, superb little beer garden, dangerous coffee vodka; and so on…)

In the meantime, Bruce and Fran have been finding themselves at Provenance more than anywhere else in recent weeks, whether for coffee and pistachio-topped croissant, spot of brekkie or a tasting platter (mmm… diggin’ that cured trout, haloumi and black pudding) and glass of wine.

provenance-collingwood-platter

They’ll be attending Saturday night’s Quince this, Quail that tasting event (and are rather excited about it), which will no doubt be worthy of reporting back. In the meantime, here’s what a doppelganger has to say about it…

Quince this, Quail that @ Provenance

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There’s always someone in every family who professes to being able to belch the alphabet (although do they ever really manage “W”?).

Fran’s best mate who, on first impressions, is a very well brought up young lady – practising lawyer, house in a little town on the Thames outside London, holiday home in the French Alps, mother of one young girl, and so on – is a frightful belcher when the mood takes her (usually – although not exclusively – any time between rising at 6am and falling asleep later that night). No doubt there are people who can do it with other parts of their anatomy.

Who’d have thought there’d be someone doing it with their home state. Ladies and gentlemen, Melbourne creative director Rhett Dashwood…

“Over the course of several months beginning October 2008 to April 2009 I’ve spent some of my spare time between commercial projects searching Google Maps hoping to discover land formations or buildings resembling letter forms. These are the results of my findings limited within the state of Victoria, Australia.”

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Daniel Kitson turned up unexpectedly last night. And thank the Lord he did.

It was a night of music and comedy at the Hi-Fi Bar and had certain things in its favour: Bruce and Fran like music and comedy; Tim Rogers and Greg Fleet were on the bill; it was for charity – the Mirabel Foundation, which supports the abandoned kids of drug addict parents (or gives drugs to children whose parents are dickheads, according to Kitson to incredulous gasps of shock and horror from some woman standing nearby who needs to look up “comedy” before leaving her padded cell again); and Bruce and Fran got in for free.*

Against it were: the Hi-Fi is a tough venue for comics; Bruce and Fran are on a health kick so no boozing in the week; some comedians really should come with a warning, something like: “You are about to enter a lowest common denomintor zone, please leave all expectations at the door or, if your sanity and humour is something you value dearly, please just leave.”

No need to name names but, for the majority of the early show, the standard ranged from near middling to shooting is too good for them.

But then Kitson arrived, full of verbose abuse, masterful de- and reconstruction and intellectual flights of fancy, and laughter came with him. As does the point of this post…

1. Yes, it's twee. 2. Yes, Bruce was there with another man. 3. Yes, that is a copy of the Herald Sun. 4. But you're quite right, it was in Camperdown so choices were limited

1. Yes, it's twee. 2. Yes, Bruce was there with another man. 3. Yes, that is a copy of the Herald Sun. 4. But you're quite right, it was in Camperdown so choices were limited

Kitson has just started drinking coffee for the first time in his life. Likewise, Fran never used to drink the harbinger of twitches, sweats and seizures. Then she moved to Melbourne.

“Everyone goes for coffees all the time,” she complained not long after starting work at a city school. “But I can’t drink coffee.”

She could, but it would be followed by a period of manic hysteria: eyes wide open like a crack fiend closing in on the last few cents needed for her next rock; words flowing from her mouth like endless rain into a coffee cup; hands trembling; heart visibly pounding against its cage like John Hurt’s pet alien. Amusing for Bruce; less so for Fran.

Still, it didn’t take long for Melbourne to work its evil charms. Soon she was a card-carrying member of the skinny latte brigade and was differentiating between good and bad coffee. For the most part it was a strict limit of one a day, although there were exceptions.

Then she returned to the UK for two weeks in summer. And, while seeing friends and family was a joy, it wasn’t all that way. The recession has hit hard back home; it was a particularly grim winter (even by British standards); Bruce was watching Nick Cave and Spiritualized in her absence.

Worst of all, however, was the realisation she had become a coffee snob.

“I just couldn’t find a decent coffee anywhere,” she moaned on her return to Melbourne – quite a feat considering she spent most of the trip in and around London. “It was disgusting. I couldn’t drink it at all.”

What’s more, the snobbery extended to breakfast.

“They just don’t seem to do breakfast over there,” she said. “Well, unless you want a fry up swimming knee deep in grease.”

‘Mmmm… fry up knee deep in grease,’ thought Bruce.

What with the four-burner bbq, dented 3-litre Magna (complete with Bogan Bingo bumper sticker), Collingwood guernsey (and use of the word guernsey) and Bruce’s rapidly expanding beer gut, it would seem Australia’s getting the better of the intrepid duo.

Less than a year it took, Melbourne, you sly bastard.

*  *  *

* Don’t worry, we stuffed a note in the donations tin on the way out. Jeez, what do you think we are? Heartless?

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a3blog

Awaiting the arrival of their favourite country and western acid house freaks, Bruce and Fran were reassured that even 10,500 miles from their spiritual home in Brixton the 3 still attracted a motley crowd: grizzled men; grizzlier women; grey-haired dads bringing their sons along for enlightenment; fresh-faced (comparatively speaking, of course) newcomers unaware of their imminent conversion.

There was Rock Freebase chatting up a couple of young girls. Through the mob weaved The Spirit of Love, then back again. And then, hang on, if that isn’t Chopper Read… It is. With his wife and kid, the latter covering his ears as the Gun Street Girls tear through their warm up set. Should have expected it, what with harmonica player Nick “Harpo Strangelove” Reynolds having made a bronze “death mask” of him on the band’s last visit to Melbourne. But still, a welcome surprise.

Shortly afterwards, he reappears from backstage to take centre stage, resplendent in a pair of mirrored specs.

“Get ready to welcome the best fuckin’ band to have come out of the UK since the Rolling Stones,” he says, once the techies remember to turn the sound on. “Well, who else has there been? The fuckin’ Rolling Stones and these guys, the fuckin’ Alabama 3.”

The former standover man, more commonly seen these days wandering the streets of Collingwood with an ice lolly in hand or playing footy with his boy in the streets, thereby joins the likes of members of the Birmingham Six and Howard Marks as an A3 MC. As he leaves, the first bars of a souped up Monday Don’t Mean Anything To Me start up. And we’re off.

chopblog

Since the end of The Sopranos, the band seem to have got a second wind, whether judging by the quality of their last album M.O.R. or the almost constant touring, including appearances at every festival known to man; amazing what the loss of a steady income can do…

It’s paid off. The last time Bruce and Fran saw them in their white rhinestone suits at the end of the M.O.R. tour in the UK they were good but, at times, it felt formulaic. From the outset here, the spark seems to have returned. Throwing Hypo Full Of Love in second up is ballsy, but they back it up. Even Mao, surely the best acid house revolutionary anthem yet penned, is dispensed with early. Ain’t Goin’ To Goa doesn’t even get a look in.

With some of the songs reworked and every attempt to get the crowd singing choruses coming off, it’s a triumphant first Melbourne show for the full lineup. Jake is chipper – and audible, Devlin as soulful as ever, Orlando still the embodiment of the living dead but now with an added dash of ghoulish burlesque about him. He even takes his sparkly gold jacket and leather dog collar for a wander across the stage at one point continuing to look, without luck, for “Jane and Eddie”.

“Calm down,” chides Jake. “Get back in your corner.”

Now that Larry’s allowed his hair and beard to go the same way as his outfits in recent times there are moments, such as when he and Rock fight over a beer, where they look like the kind of rowdy geriatric drunks who would fit into Smith Street seamlessly – something to be encouraged in the world of popular music, surely.

By the time Chopper returns to introduce the encore, conversions are happening across the floor. That Peace In The Valley then makes an all too rare appearance is the ice on the cake before Larry, ever the charmer, thanks every member of staff in the building and launches into Sweet Joy.

As the crowd reluctantly departs, Bruce and Fran chat to folks who’ve travelled hundreds of miles to be there and hope Melbourne had put on enough of a show for a return trip to be planned sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Rock returns to take his girls from earlier backstage and The Spirit’s apparently fruitless search for Jane and Eddie continues…

*  *  *

A quick rant, if you will:

The Guardian (in particular Duncan Campbell) apart, Alabama 3 have been criminally ignored by the mainstream UK media for years. OK, there’s been the odd album review and some coverage of Nick’s death mask project, but little else. Yet here is a band whose biography (please be writing one, Orlando) could fill several volumes, who live the rock n roll lifestyle and support all manner of fantastic causes, such as the Miscarriages Of Justice Organisation.

Prior to this Australian tour, they received no coverage – not in the mainstream media, not in the street press – and efforts were made. OK, so the Age ran a piece on Chopper being shown his bronze mask at the Toff in Town before Tuesday’s acoustic show but it ran today – the day after their second and final gig – yet still included the line (later corrected online) “Read will introduce the band tonight when it plays at Richmond’s Corner Hotel”.

They don’t have major backing, are impossible to pigeonhole and are in all probability challenging to manage, but they remain unique, retain their passion despite adversity and put on the best parties going, whether stumbling incoherent through an acoustic set or playing to thousands at Glastonbury. If only the myopic could see it.

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It’s been there bloody ages, but old Bruce has taken even longer to work out how to get pictures off his phone and onto his laptop.

Hopefully, it’s worth the wait as, post-graf, post-stencil, post-posters, 3D graffiti comes to Collingwood. How pleasing that they chose a post with which to start the trend.

Balls to you too

Balls to you too

Yes, they did indeed have the good grace to include veins.

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They’ve only got about 12 pages left to fill every day after the latest round of culls, yet 150 words still get wasted on this?

The Age review of Reginald D Hunter’s show

Here it is in four words:

“I didn’t get it.”

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