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Posts Tagged ‘melbourne’

Only the most prude amongst us would deny one can take great pleasure in laying a cable / dropping the kids off at the pool / taking a dump*. So imagine if you were able to help some of the world’s neediest people while doing so – how awesome would that be?

Well, some Melburnians are on the case and plan to introduce non-profit bog roll that will fund sanitation projects in the world’s poorest places. Check this out:

Who Gives A Crap

for more.

And happy pooping!

[* Insert favourite colloquialism here]

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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:

“REVEALED: THE CUNTSACKS BEING DONE TO TAXI DRIVERS”

I’d buy 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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“There’s a couple of specials on this evening as well,” explained Pelican’s Kiwi waiter, before launching into lengthy and detailed descriptions.

One was a salad containing quince, roquefort cheese, walnuts and leaves, the second a rather fancy fish platter featuring lightly battered oysters with a rich aioli, scallops and a couple of slices of sashimi topped with roe. Both sounded the equal or better of the dishes on the menu – and would compliment Fran’s favourite Pelican dish: the Moreton Bay bugs with hot chilli and garlic oil dressing.

Soon afterwards, the Kiwi returned to take our order.

“We’ll have the Fisherman’s Basket,” said our companion.

Everyone stopped. The waiter looked at him in mock horror.

“Did you just ask for ‘the Fisherman’s Basket’?,” he asked incredulous, as the table conjured images of rubbery, deep-fried, heavily battered and breadcrumbed, unidentifiable fish pieces on a mound of chips.

“Er…” replied the companion, chuckling with embarrassment. “I ust heard ‘cheese’ and ‘fish’ liked the sound of both.”

As he cleared away the last of our plates (by this stage emptied of meatballs, saganaki, bugs, quince, oysters, baba ganoush and the rest, all of which went down a treat), the waiter was still shaking his head.

“Fisherman’s Basket indeed.”

Still, by this time three bottles of wine had been polished off (the Sauvignon Blanc proving superior to the Reisling, much to Bruce’s surprise) so Mr Pub Grub enjoyed the ribbing. What’s more, he and his partner were extremely grateful to have been introduced to the Pelican, in Fitzroy Street, something of a St Kilda institution with its scattergun approach to tapas, wide selection of wines and great location close to the promenade – one of the few places Bruce and Fran miss since moving north (Banff pizzas, Mart 130 and the Taphouse pub in Carlisle Street the other major notables). And, come 2.45am, he wasn’t the one dropping his trousers on the Big Mouth dancefloor like a grinning 16-year-old leaving Fran to explain to the very friendly, but thoroughly bemused bouncer that, yes, unfortunately this man was indeed her husband.

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Quite why Bruce and Fran hadn’t ventured inside the Birmingham earlier is hard to fathom considering the new owners placed a sign in the street declaring proudly:

NOT SHIT ANY MORE

around the time they moved to Collingwood. Perhaps it had something to do with the Eddie Izzard supermarket theory that shoppers are always guided into the fresh fruit section first rather than toiletries so your initial thought is “Everything here is fresh, I will do well here” as opposed to “Everything here is made of poo”. (Interestingly, when you enter the Safeway / Woolworths in Smith Street you walk into a wall of toilet paper and baskets of tuna – poo and smelly fish – hmmmm….).

Still, spotting a review of a band called The Parking Lot Experiments on Mess and Noise Bruce decided to break his poo pub duck on the strength that their name is taken from one of the Flaming Lips weirder moments. And, despite the fact the only non-crap tap beer (Cooper’s Pale) ran out after his first drink, it did appear to be quite NOT SHIT: comfy sofas; pool table; big slabs of art featuring legends of music; decent jukebox; handy outdoor area; lights turned down low enough to make a detailed judgement of NON SHIT-ness slighty trickier.

The band room certainly had character; coming so soon after the dining room at the Edinburgh Castle helped prepare Bruce: the old sofas, tatty wooden walls, kids sat expectantly on the floor and lack of a stage made it reminiscent of the back room at your grandparents’ – you know, the one they’ve never got round to decorating since the 60s.

The kids did eventually stand up once the band were playing (some even stood on the sofas – IN THEIR SHOES – which the grandparents would never have stood for, no matter how much they liked spoiling you) and revealed Bruce to be the oldest in the room by an aeon. Still, he was there wasn’t he, generation terrorists? So many appeared to be friends of the band that at times it felt like he’d gatecrashed a private party in a school common room.

ParkingLot

But what of the Experiments? Ramshackle in setup (the aforementioned lack of stage, amp stacked on milkcrates, drums sat on possibly more milk crates) and often also in sound (in particular the vocal harmonies that occasionally bordered on caterwauling).

Yet what tunes: from wistful freaky folk to pounding electro-indie that recall anything from the Lips to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, fellow Melburnians Kes and beyond. Impressive drumming on a sparse, unusual set up, entertaining playoff between the keyboard / organ and guitars, otherwordly lead vocals, odd lyrics, moments of yelping lunacy and boundless imagination. Exciting, weird, wonderful and bursting with potential.

Well worth heading there armed with five bucks for the final night of their residency next Tuesday (26/5). Might even try one of the Birmingham’s NOT SHIT $6 pizzas.

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“How would you like your coffee, sir? Rabbit? Swan? Pig?”

“You what?!?!?”

A Canberra barista lays down the gauntlet:

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Dave McCormack (r) and friend

Dave McCormack (r) and friends

Custard never made it in the UK (at least they never made it into Bruce or Fran’s headspace) but apparently there was a time when Dave McCormack played venues somewhat bigger and busier than the dining room of the Edinburgh Castle, in Brunswick. Apparently, he had a number of hits in the 90s and was a regular on radios across the land come Australia Day. Not anymore.

Instead, he wanders onstage in front of a few dozen people, a red velvet curtain, some wallpaper that’s seen off more appropriate decades and the sort of fake candle / chandelier-type light fittings your parents once thought added class to their family home back in the day.

At first, his uncontainable sense of humour – introducing and outtroducing his guitar solos, pausing midsong for comment, layering self-deprecation on self-deprecation – threatens to descend into end-of-the-pier parody. Thankfully, his joie de vivre, knack for a jaunty melody and witty way with words soon overrides any early misconceptions.

“Imagine how much better these songs would sound if he had a full band,” says Bruce’s companion – shortly after McCormack’s finished singing a number about sacking his band – revelling in a chance to see a performer he’d last watched as a 17-year-old.

Lo and behold, he invites a drummer and a couple of bassists from the audience onstage (consecutively, not concurrently) and they muddle their way through a few of Custard’s hits. Crowd participation ensues in the form of singing and clapping; one chap seated at a table in front of the stage is barely able to contain himself and spends much of the latter part of the gig on his feet punching the air as a one man moshpit.

McCormack, meanwhile, seems to be having a ball, even if an air of ruefulness punctuates everything – lyrics, demeanour, the acclaim – profusely thanking a friend for arranging the gig, which appears to have been set up at the last minute as he was passing through town (one can’t discount the possibility it was to raise the funds to get back to Brisbane).

But there’s something glorious about watching faded stars trying to keep their faint glow burning, fighting with humour and a reluctant acceptance against a dying of the light; not in the “Let’s reform a load of shit 80s bands and go on an arena tour for blue rinses and pot bellies” manner but in the “I’ll play any two bob hole just to keep on playing” sense (it’s working for Tim Rogers, after all, with people splurging $120 on this).

Talking of two bob holes, Bruce is rather enamoured with the Edinburgh Castle. On their first visit on Melbourne Cup Day, Fran won $77 on the sweepstake and they did their best to drink the pub dry of Little Creatures Pale. They failed (majestically) although were helped by the fact the staff had underestimated the thirst of their regulars over that weekend, which meant most of their interesting beers (3 Ravens, Buckley’s, Mountain Goat) had sold out by the big race day. They’ve now got far less interesting beers since doing a deal with the devil and replacing several with the likes of Carlton Premium Blonde (involuntary shudders again) although, to make Bruce feel at home, the Mountain Goat almost ran out.

With a large front bar where bands often play, a nice, big beer garden, the dining room-cum-venue for fallen 90s Triple J stars and auxilliary dining room where cards were being played – not to mention a table tennis table as well as a clientele that mixes the grungy with an element of Melbourne hipsterism, but without the “Look at me!” attitude found in many of the northern suburbs close to the city, it’s a great reason to head to the top end of Sydney Road (well, for those few for whom the Hustler strip club or the Lebanese pizzas aren’t reason enough already).

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