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Showing posts with the label Melbourne

Great Head for Radio

In the spruiking of the Big Trip, I've done a couple of fun radio spots. I was interviewed on the Peter Greenberg show, which was a phone hook-up with the host in Barbados. It zipped by in seconds and had me thinking I should only do destinations where I can tan. Another phone hook-up was with Travel in 10 with a great an excellent Canadian host. And I even got a guernsey on Life Matters with the smooth baritone of Richard Aedy. But none of these was as much fun as getting in the studio with RRR Breakfasters for a chat.
This month Breakfaster, Sam Pang, is off to Russia to cover Eurovision so the good folks at the Rs asked me back to give him some travel tips on Moscow. After much giggling, vodka tasting and scary mentions of Vladimir Putin's KGB career, there might even have been some advice for Sam (this file is 5meg and advice is in the last ten minutes - you've been warned). Mostly though it was just a yukfest with Sam saying I was just "doing a top five" of g…

Brack is back

John Brack made me move to Melbourne. His iconic painting, Collins St 5pm, takes you into his view of the city as he waited for his friend to knock-off work. But more than his bystander sketching you get a soap opera of faces - from the pinching at the eyes of the Henry Lawson lookalike to the plummy cheeks of the woman pushing behind him. And they're all grimly heading in the same direction.

The National Gallery of Victoria is currently running a retrospective of Brack's work that sweeps through his career. There's the brief period in 1956 where he headed out to Flemington to paint 'the sport of kings' but came back only with gargoyle jockeys and undertaker punters. He took on Barry Humphries cross dressing as Dame Edna Everidge and captures the strangeness of both.

On the walls is a quote from Brack himself about his charicaturing of people that makes them look sometimes like horror-movie ghouls and sometimes comic book heroines:
What I paint is what interests me mo…

Bookcrossing the Big Trip

After I leave The Big Trip on the bench, I hang around for a while. It's like a kid on its first day of school and I'll admit it can be a little hard to let go, to leave it to fend for itself in the world. Strangers walk past looking at it oddly, then move on. Two passing early birds from the gym see it point and I overhear one say something about "terrorism". And I'm thinkng if I don't get out of here soon my first experiment in setting a book into the wild will end alarmingly.
Bookcrossing (or BCing or BX depending on your street cred and character count) is a way to swap books with complete strangers and log them online to see where a book travels. It began back in 2001 when Ron Hornbaker decided he needed the shelf space at home and has been steadily building. In Australia, there's a small community of just over 1000 people dropping and collecting books from each other. But the network ranges as far as book finders from Brazil to Burkina Faso with tra…

Lameways, here we come

Melbourne is known for the intricacies of its laneways hiding all manner of dive bars, hard-to-find record stores, designer-owned fashion shops and enough coffee to drown the city. The St Jerome's Laneway Festival seems like a good extension of this - setting an indie soundtrack to the best back streets. But what do you do when it goes mainstreet?

The day started late as the gates didn't open until well after 12 which ate into the set of WA wunderkind Tame Impala. Leaning heavily on their fuzz pedals, the Imps were Deep Purple in shorts. With their time cut by 25 minutes, the lads did a playful cover of Blueboy's Remember Me at the core of their set that worked the crowd just right, but missed a great chance to get originals to a new audience on the large Lonsdale St Stage.
One of the more comfortable stages was well out of the alleys on the lawns of the State Library. It was also free so the crowd were a lot more relaxed than those who'd forked out for tickets. Machine …

Local or loca?

Recently I had lunch at the 100 Mile Cafe, which prides itself on sourcing all of its produce from within a 100 mile radius of Melbourne. I smugly enjoyed a Yarra Valley rainbow trout battered in local spelt flour, thinking that my food miles were taken care of for the rest of the week. Then in the bathroom a mural cautioning against over-flushing told me that it takes 500l of water to produce a single orange. Food guilt ensued.

But this is nothing in comparision to the angst that several locavores are enduring for an ABC blog. You'd think the Metrolocavores would have it easy getting to choose from grub from anywhere within a 160km radius of Australia's self-declared foodie capital. In fact there's been real trouble especially with coffee (Melbournians would have to be the most caffenated Australians), so they've adopted the 90% rule. This means that there's 10% wriggle room for the odd coffee and office cake or staff BBQ.

But even this is proving difficult. The tou…

Melbourne's all Lit up

Melbourne has officially been given the nod as the next UNESCO City of Literature. It will mean the establishment of the Centre for Books and Ideas at the State Library of Victoria.
But will my hometown be able to measure up to Edinburgh, the first Bookopolis? Does it boast fictional creations to measure up to Harry Potter, Inspector Reebus or even Begbie?

Nope, but we have got Andrew Bolt, who responded with his characteristic ascerbic charm that it was a victory for black skivvy wearers everywhere rather than great writers or readers.

For the restofMelbourne it's good news. Apparently Victoria's capital has more bookshops and buys more newspapers, magazines or books per capita than any other Australian city. And has more than a few lit classics up its sleeve from Power Without Glory to Loaded. I'm not sure how to compare its couple of hundred years of European writing with the long history of Auld Reekie, but it's got its share of page turners.

Other contenders were Van…