Cavallero, Birdman Eating, Lentil as Anything reviewed; Beer haiku

Reviewing is a difficult art. There are certain constrained forms I particularly like. The obituary. The chess column. The restaurant review. All so constrained by the necessaries, requiring clever use of what little room there is for the decorations. The English tend to do them best. Zia Mahmoud does the most with the least with The Guardian‘s bridge column. Haiku fascinates me. The very word puts me on edge. I hate haiku about as much as shakuhachi music, but at the same time I love it about as much as a good egg breakfast, a short speech, photos of Japanese taking photos of cherry blossoms with unbelievably expensive cameras (snap thanks to a great photographer, Mark Alberding), and the way sacred cows get in the way of traffic in New Delhi. Short is good. Less is more. Small is beautiful. Metre is a useful discipline for the poet’s natural tendency to ungrammatical excess. Some of the most elegant writing going around today is to be found on this website. I particularly like: Continue reading “Cavallero, Birdman Eating, Lentil as Anything reviewed; Beer haiku”

Dante’s Maria buys Glasshouse

Gertrude St is my preferred east-west bike artery into the heart of the city, but from time to time I find myself wandering along Gipps St, one block north. It boasts the Laird O’Cockpen Hotel which in my imagination might conceivably be the place that erotic poet and Liberal parliamentarian Bruce Atkinson visited out of professional obligation, as well as Nicholas Dattner‘s emporium of super expensive wooden tables (did you know his old man was a British spy on whom Trevor Howard’s character was based in the 1949 zither music-rich The Third Man, one of the most famous films of all time?). It also sports the Glasshouse Hotel. I thought it was standing vacant, but I found out a year or so ago it was doing a roaring lesbian trade on certain evenings, and always had done. Now I find Maria from Dante’s in Gertrude St has bought the place. A little online pamphlet named Same Same says of the development: Continue reading “Dante’s Maria buys Glasshouse”

Terminus Hotel, Alison Whyte, Fred Whitlock

Today’s Good Weekend has a “2 of Us” profile by Bernadette Clohesy of the pair who own the Terminus Hotel, 39 year old Alison Whyte, and 41 year old Fred Whitlock. It’s certainly changing. Upstairs is the now mandatory fine dining restaurant, but there’s also a big party room giving out onto a large deck. Haven’t tried the restaurant, but the pub grub is superb. In fact, it’s a great pub. The place has a website which I have just discovered. Its history of the pub, which the pair purchased in 1996 — 11 years ago — is entertaining. It reveals that the original third partner is the bloke who bought and presumably did up the Healesville Hotel, another great pub, though mainly for the well heeled, unlike the egalitarian Terminus. I signed up for the mailing list so as not to miss out on events such as the 7 Culinary Disasters from the 70s for $70 dinner just gone.

Since the profile of the Whyte-Whitlock combo doesn’t seem to be available online, here are the bare bones, the bits at least not already covered by this newspaper (here and here). Whyte’s from Tasmania, Whitlock from New Zealand. They met at the Victorian College of the Arts. The class of people who transferred from Duntroon to the VCA might conceivably number one: just Whitlock. They have three children under 6: Rose, Milly and Atticus, and live in the Yarra Valley. That seems to have something to do with Whitlock getting stabbed in the head by a local: Continue reading “Terminus Hotel, Alison Whyte, Fred Whitlock”

Collingwood and Northcote Historical Societies; the history of local pubs

The Collingwood Historical Society now has a website. It is fairly minimalist for the time being, but no doubt it will grow. Their main event from the public’s point of view is the annual history walk, which I lamented missing last year.  I discovered that there is an out of print book published by them, “Hotels of Collingwood”, which I must get a copy of: anyone want to lend me one? Though I must confess I still haven’t exactly read cover to cover J.M. Freeland’s The Australian Pub or Larkins and Muir’s Victorian Country Pubs or Griffin’s John Wren; A Life Reconsidered or Dr Kovesi’s book about the Abbotsford Convent’s Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Pitch Your Tents on Distant Shores.

Then I found the Darebin Historical Society’s website, which has a fair bit of stuff on it, including this little pamphlet on the earliest hotels in Darebin. And the pictured book seems to be in print and for sale for a mere $9.90.

The Collingwood Historical Society has put up 6 historical plaques, including this one on the front of what used to be the tobacconist which was the front for John Wren’s Tote in Johnston St.

Brewery admonished for turning water into beer

I can’t think of a more noble activity, but those hounds at the Hun have come over all sanctimonious about the amount of water the throbbing heart of this suburb uses in the alchemic conversion of water into the 1,500,000,000 litres of working man’s pleasure produced by the Abbotsford brewery per annum. Another article in the Melbourne Leader shows just what lengths the
hopmeisters have gone to in order to turn less of the Yarra into more of the bubbly good stuff, halving their water use in 10 years in fact. The two articles yield up a few tidbits worthy of sharing: Continue reading “Brewery admonished for turning water into beer”

Dickins, Dylan Thomas, beer, chips and fags

At the last minute I remembered it was the night to go hear Barry Dickins at the Collingwood Library. It was all very librarianish: the Arnott’s biscuits, the tea, the coffee. A couple of casks of wine would have been far more appropriate, and maybe the party would not have dissolved so quickly had the red wine not been absent. But to listen to Dickins was a great pleasure. He sat behind a table and chatted to 60 people without hubris, but without any affectation either. Many rhetorical questions were asked. Audience members answered them to themselves under their breath, or sotto voce. He is a man with an obvious affinity for the criminal, a fascination with low life, drawn to the world of the prison, a man who has been laid into by police. He dressed scruffy, but poem crept into his speech from time to time: he sketched an old taxi driver bearing a straw hat and popped “held together with helium and string” in there. The cabbie professed to be the gentleman who drove the cab which conveyed the mortally wounded Squizzy Taylor to St Vincent’s. Continue reading “Dickins, Dylan Thomas, beer, chips and fags”