I do like the Panama Dining Room on Smith St. Used to be a pool hall, when the floor below was a Latin Band venue — The Stage — which used to go off, and where I had some of my best evenings. Now The Age is onto it, and here’s their review. In fact, they like it so much they reviewed it again. It has that up 2 flights of stairs, you have to know about it excellence, but unlike so many such places, it is an expansive place once you get up there. There is a free pool table, and apparently on Sundays they have table tennis. They only got a sign recently. This one will be with us for a long time, like Spleen, and The Lounge, and 20 Myers Place. The photo of the Room’s bar is by Ben Richards, one of the Crumpler crew whose HQ is not so far away from the Room. Here are some more of his lovely Room photos: Continue reading “Panama Dining Room”
The Age’s take on Kent St, the good Smith St Bar, is here. Our Melbourne daily has forgotten that the city side of Smith St is actually in Fitzroy, but who cares? It’s an odd review which does not ring true to the location for me. What is meant by this passage for example?
‘Behind the large roller door (which is a glossily bright shade of Margaret Fulton kitchen green), Kent St unfolds in a marvellously ramshackle fashion. Like Miss Haversham’s formerly grand abode, had Miss Haversham lived in an upstairs-downstairs townhouse near Number 96, the place is like a ’70s dream house gone to seed. You half expect to be greeted by a bunch of dust-covered ladies-who-(didn’t-make-it-to)-lunch in bell-bottomed playsuits clutching stale vodka stingers.’
Whether this is a reference to Miss Havisham (as is suggested by ‘dust-covered ladies’) or Miss Haversham from the BBC series ‘Upstairs Downstairs‘ (as is suggested by the spelling and the alusion to upstairs-downstairs), neither is evocative of Kent St, and how do we segue from either period to the 1970s?
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”