Archive for the ‘melbourne’ Category

It’s well documented that Fairfax, owner of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald among other things, has been struggling for some time. There’s even talk that those two papers might disappear with only their mastheads retained into the future. However, after Saturday night’s experience, Bruce and Fran believe there may yet be a solution: they just need to put the right man in charge.

For the time being, the right man appears to be wasting his time driving taxis around the CBD. Said man, complete with greasy mullet and forthright opinions (which should help the paper in its ongoing efforts to become more like the Hun), in the space of a ten minute journey displayed a knack for not only having his finger on the pulse but for finding snappy headlines. After a debate over the likelihood of Bruce and Fran’s Pies overcoming his Saints (the less said about this the better…) talk moved to CBD violence.

“It’s a load of rubbish,” he said when Fran rehashed the State Government / Police / media line on increasing troubles. “It’s no worse than it ever was.”

“Really?” said Fran. “So why is there so much being reported about it?”

“It’s a distraction. They want people to worry about something that isn’t there so they don’t pay attention to what’s really going on, like the way they’re treating taxi drivers in this city.”

He paused for effect.

“The headlines should be about the cuntsacks they’re doing to taxi drivers,” he explained.

With a tip and a wave, they sent him into the night and headed for yum cha enlightened. Give that man a job. What a way to start the week that would be:


I’d buy it.

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Rare are the times Bruce or Fran spend more than a minute on Smith Street without raising a smile or being stopped in their tracks by the extremes of humanity that parade there every day. They even know people who will travel there under the pretense that they’ve come for coffee when actually it’s just to be reminded how far the species has evolved (mutated) since crawling from the primordial gloop to the strains of Manu Chao.

Still, for every man carrying spray-painted rats on his shoulders, every dazzling old Mustang, every loon walking backwards while abusing the air in front of them, every member of the angry Village People tribute band that seems to call Collingwood home, it’s never coughed up a woman with a goatee, at least not in front of Bruce or Fran. So all praise to the East Brunswick Club, which last night presented them with a woman with not just a goatee, but a mightily impressive one too. In fact, she reminded them of an old American colleague of Bruce’s who liked to sport a rather thick version himself.

Truth be told, last night was a learning experience all round. Having got to know a couple of lesbians over the past few months – and forming a quiz team with them – they were invited to the Rosie Burgess Trio’s final Aussie gig before heading to tour the States. Being very openly lesbian and vegan (the band, not Bruce and Fran) they attracted a certain crowd. Now dykeling (or duckling as Fran prefers) has been added to vocabulary, Fran finally has an interest in sport having met the world’s number seven wheelchair tennis player (who hates sport – go figure…), they know what a faux chicken parma tastes like, Fran’s seen the Rosie Burgess Trio in various states of undress and they now understand that Smith Street by no means has all the answers.

In fact, after enjoying a thoroughly delightful set of bouncy, folksy numbers from the Trio, with Rosie’s beaming parents and her baby boy George sleeping in the arms of the other of his two mums, they learned that bearded and moustachioed ladies were quite commonplace around those parts. Fran, however, doesn’t really have the chin for it.

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Never one to trouble himself with being up to date, on the ball, fingering pulses or any such thing, Bruce has fallen in love several aeons after the fact. Driving through town listening to the RRR signupathon yesterday, patiently waiting for the presenters to shut up and play some tunes, he was rewarded with a truly sublime track – a remix of Noiseworks “classic”* Reach Out (Touch Someone) by RRR presenter Faux Pas. Some follow up enquiries were in order and now Bruce awaits with baited breath the announcement of a live show or two.

Until then…

* Yes, those are fingers in the air speech marks

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What with Victoria Park being closer to home and trains generally offering a quicker route into town (when they deign to turn up) Bruce has been somewhat neglecting the number 86 tram from Smith Street. For while trains might still offer moments of unexpected entertainment, there’s something about Melbourne’s trams that ensures a higher amusing overheard conversation / junkie / threat of violence / entertaining driver to trips taken ratio.

He was reminded of that today while passing along Bourke Street towards the Parliament building. Onto the seat across from him sidled a borderline clinically obese woman clutching a bag to her bosom. The grey hair pulled back tightly from her forehead was losing its battle to iron out the wrinkles and excess chins making a Blitzkrieg attack on either end of her face, but at least allowed Bruce to spot the sparkle of glee in her eyes.

Dammit! Series nine's rubbish!

Dammit! Series nine's rubbish!

The bag appeared to hold the key to her excitement and, sure enough, soon her mitts were inside. Her body tipped forward, the faded workplace identity card swinging from her neck nudging against the bag, so she could sneak a glance at her prize as it was retrieved. A smile spread across her face as she leant back; there it was: the complete series nine of Murder, She Wrote.

After carefully removing a strip of sticky tape (and folding it perfectly in half) her chubby fingers began clawing at the plastic wrap. As they did, her face became a study in concentration: jaw working overtime like a champion gurner OD’ing on MDMA crystal, tongue lapping at her lips like a dog anticipating Sunday dinner leftovers.

Sadly, the plastic proved a troublesome foe, although her cause was hampered by an apparent desire to remove it tidily (the late Angela Lansbury deserves to be treated with reverence, after all) and the DVD remained cocooned when the time came for her to alight. Still, it did mean she could go through the entire process again later in the day.

Other than reminding him of the joys to be had from riding the tram, it did leave Bruce pondering two questions:

  1. Isn’t Murder, She Wrote on all free-to-air channels in the Western world every day at 2.05pm anyway? Or is Columbo back in that slot these days?
  2. Had the poor wretch forgotten that the show entered a three-year slump after episode eight of series seven – ‘The Great Twain Robbery’ – only to recover midway through series ten (‘Love and Hate in Cabot Cove’)?

Oh dear. Would hate to be around when she realises her error.

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It’s not that often that Epicure, in Tuesday’s Age, dips its toes into the ever-giving world of Australian craft beers. Despite there being around 30 independent brewers in Victoria alone (comprising those with their own breweries, those that contract out and a handful of brewpubs), lovers of the grape can look forward to being indulged every week while those who prefer their booze formed from malt, hops and barley get little more than something with which to get the kindling burning in the open fires in the caves in which the editors must believe they still dwell.

After much banging of Bruce’s head against walls, a spot of attempting to wring blood from a stone and the loss of several pigs in doomed aeronautical experiments, a chink…

Pumping Randy at the Mountain Goat Brewery

Pumping Randy at the Mountain Goat Brewery

It’s not possible to link to the story as Fairfax, in their continued misunderstanding of the way the internet has changed journalism – despite their plummeting share price acting as something of a constant reminder that they’re clearly doing something wrong – continues to want to charge $2.20 each time you want to view a story on their website.

The story is, however, that Mountain Goat have installed Victoria’s first “Hopinator” – a cylindrical machine fastened to the bar that can be filled with anything from fresh hop flowers (as above where their organic IPA is being poured through a load of fragrant Galaxy hop flowers) to cinnamon sticks, coffee beans and fruit. Any of their beers can then be directed through Randy (short for Randall the Handle, apparently, after they stopped calling it the Hopinator out of deference to Holgate Brewery’s not-for-the-faint-hearted 7% Double IPA of the same name) for a last minute burst of extra flavour.

It’s only available at the brewery, in North Street, Richmond, where they also serve tasty pizzas and one-off brews, often matched with appropriate nibbles. It’s open to the public on Wednesday and Friday evenings, with one of the head brewers offering free tours of the brewing process on Wednesdays.

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First we had a graphic designer from South Melbourne spending months scouring Google Earth to find shapes that spelt out the alphabet in Victoria’s landscape, now thousands of eco-minded Melburnians have gathered on St Kilda Beach to spell out a call for action on climate change:

Photo by Andrew North of Cloud 9 Aerial Photography - www.aerofoto.com.au

Photo by Andrew North of Cloud 9 Aerial Photography - http://www.aerofoto.com.au

Today’s event was organised by LIVE – Locals Into Victoria’s Environment – the latest of their human sign protests.

One can only pity the Irish backpackers who would have had nowhere to dump their empty stubbies and fag butts for an afternoon.

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A while back, Bruce and a barman at Fitzroy’s Black Pearl entered into a late night / early morning conversation about creating a cocktail inspired by the Elbow single Grounds For Divorce. It went on to win Best Whisky Cocktail in Australia and will see its creator head to London later in the year to compete for the Best Cocktail in the World title at Diageo’s World Class event.

Said creator and the cocktail have now made it to the pages of the current edition of Beer and Brewer magazine. Hurrah!

Grounds For Divorce1

Could have mentioned Bruce by name...

Now to come up with one for The Flaming Lips’ Talkin’ Bout The Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues (Everyone Wants To Live Forever)…

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