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Showing posts from September, 2014

Stadium review: Docklands

One fine cold winter day in the late nineties I was picking my way through some rotting sheds by the decrepit wharves of the former Victoria Dock. Sun streamed in through the broken walls, lighting the filth on the floors; and rats, fat on inner city detritus, grinned out of the shadows like petty criminals. The firm I worked for had been invited to submit a proposal for the naming and design of a new city development. A couple of Ian Stewart drop kicks away, a tangled mess of construction had already started. It looked like a bombed rail shed then, but it became Docklands Stadium two years later, known more commonly by its various sponsor names, currently Etihad Stadium. Until last Sunday, I had never visited the stadium, despite being a Melbourne-born football tragic, and notwithstanding it being Essendon's 'home' venue. I preferred suburban grounds, such as the one within walking distance from here. So the boys spent most Sunday afternoons this winter kicking a ball ar

Little film lost: laconic actors lend murky realism to 1970s man vs nature tear-jerker.

Actors Jack Thompson, Ray Barrett, John Jarratt and John Hargreaves have starred in every movie ever made in this country. The federal government legislated in 1972 that no film could be released in Australia without these actors playing roles. It also legislated that they play the same characters in every movie. In comedy, disaster, costume drama and period romance, Thompson, Barrett, Jarratt and Hargreaves play the same laconic grass-chewing check-shirted semi-neanderthal ocker farmer/barfly/shearer characters, with minor variations: even in 128-minute art house films in which nothing actually happens. This has led to some truly innovative and creative Australian cinematic moments, which Hollywood has dismally failed to replicate. Also, titling services in Australia are much cheaper than other markets because the editor only has to change the font; the names stay the same. 1978 saw the launch of Little Boy Lost on to Australian screens. It played to vast audiences nationwide, some

Diner-style café found in Coburg arcade.

Sunday, midday. The café was long, like a bus, with a row of tables down one side and the servery on the other. A mirror ran along the wall and wrapped around the back, giving air to an otherwise claustrophobic space. Some tables spilled out on to the arcade, and there was an old coin-in-the-slot tractor for toddlers to sit on while their mother calms her nerves with a coffee. It's like something out of the 1970s; the very concept of a café in an arcade is dated. But there are no hipsters, and that is a huge advantage. Hipsters want a street frontage and a view while they yap into their devices and eat buffalo cheese and sweet tomato compote out of ramekin-like vessels. Eddie was on his own. Staff are expensive when there are no customers. So far, we were the only customers. That is; me, Tracy, William, Thomas, Alexandra, and Erin. It was father’s day. I was being taken out for lunch on the cheap. We ordered. Eddie got busy. An old, short Greek man and his wife drifted in, l

Once upon a time in Spain.

I'd been walking all morning, down from the mountains, and I crept up on a town built on the side of a hill crowned by a cathedral. It was close to midday, and bright and hot, and the streets were empty. I opened a heavy door in the cathedral. Inside, it was dim and cool and lonely. I stayed long enough to cool down, and went out again into the harsh light. I walked on. The claustrophobic streets were confusing, winding back on themselves and lined with tall, narrow houses. From some, laundry hung out over the street, high up. Caged birds twittered from open windows. Dark doorways lay open to allow the passage of air. I passed them. Every now and then an escalier – or whatever the Spanish call those narrow stairways that connect streets at different levels – ran upwards or downwards, scores of steps disappearing in the blinding midday sun. I followed one down. I was lost, but I didn’t care. I had all day; all week in fact. I was free that year. I was also hungry. The descent

Potato-free mash.

Nothing wrong with potatoes, but sometimes something different works wonders for a jaded palate emerging from a long, cold stew-filled winter. The following mash is sweet and sour, nutty and salty, smooth and unctuous and is easy to make. Swede and carrot mash with pine nuts and prosciutto. Take half a kilo each of swedes and carrots. Cut into chunks and cook in salted water until soft. Meanwhile, lightly toast some pine nuts in a pan. Chop a few slices of prosciutto into pieces and crisp these in the same pan. Drain the vegetables, retaining a little of the water. Mash, adding salt, pepper and a little nutmeg and place into a serving bowl. Shower pine nuts and prosciutto flecks over the top and serve as a side dish with ... anything, especially eye fillet chargrilled quickly so it is still rare inside, drizzled with garlic butter. * Oh look! It's September! Spring! Football finals! Warm weather! Right now it's raining fit to flood the Merri Creek.