Melbourne Italian Festival

italianfestThe Melbourne Italian Festival began a few days ago and runs until June 7. According to their website, this is the 5th year running yet I can barely recall this being on in years past.  It seems to be a decentralised Italian recognition festival focussing on the arts.  Locations for the festival range from Epping to Lygon Street and include music, dinners, and even Sunday mass thrown in.

The epicentre of the festival, called Festa della Repubblica, is being held on the 31st of May at Piazza Italia, otherwise known as Argyle Square park before they decided to brick half of the park. There appears to be music, dancing, and of course an array of food from local restaurants and cafes.

Some other interesting events on the lineup:

Italian Beer and Food Experience
May 30, 3.30-5.00pm
Beer DeLuxe at Federation Square

When most people think of Italy, they probably think wine but I guess there must be beer beyond Peroni.

Spaghetti Western Festival
June 6/7
The Grande Boutique, Hepburn Springs

A couple of classic Eastwood films on display.


Melbourne Italian Festival

Now until June 7, Various Locations


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University staff go on strike for a new contract

Redmond Barry's statue bearing an NTEU flag

Redmond Barry's statue bearing an NTEU flag

The picture is of the statue of Redmond Barry – the quintessential aristocratic buffoon, and the man who sent Ned Kelly to the gallows, forever standing outside our State Library. But the flag he’s holding? Apparently after death, Mr Barry has become involved in the union movement!

It’s an NTEU flag, and the National Tertiary Education Union has called a strike today after several Melbournian universities failed to sign new contracts for many of their staff.

University managements have been mis-managing Australian universities for some time – there’s no dearth of academic articles analysing various aspects of this mismanagement (that’s the problem when you mistreat wordy-types), and various issues came to a head as the NTEU called it’s strike. I spoke to one person who has been kept on casual contracts with no job security for the past five years; one speaker referenced a friend who had been in that position for the past twelve. And I know academics who work far more than eight-hour days to keep their work going, and yet are paid part-time. These sorts of stories have become commonplace in the modern Australian university, and there’s little sign that things are going to change.

Interestingly, NTEU members seemed far more radical than the union leadership supposedly representing them, and it seemed that the strike rally ended rather abruptly, with no general call for a Speak Out – something which would certainly have kept most of there for another couple of hours!

I helped out at the RMIT picket lines today, and found that many people where generally sympathetic. Those crossing the picket line did so apologetically and with some awkwardness, a minority tried to tear down our posters and generally make nuisances of themselves, but such people are always in the minority. What was most heartening was that quite a few people i spoke to decided to turn around and take the day off, and i convinced some to come along to the rally later on.

All in all, the support from the ground up was far more impressive than the support from the top-down. If this had been announced further in advance, if those in the various ALP-aligned student unions had been willing to support it more fully, if the NTEU leadership had encouraged a speak-out and allowed the membership to dictate what happened, it could have been huge.

TAC Ad – Pictures of You

picturesof-youThe TAC has run some pretty emotional and effective ads in its time.  “Pictures of you” has to be one of the saddest in my recent memory. The TAC has set up a website where you can find out more about each story featured in the advertisement. What’s really interesting is the choice of song for the ad and a little bit of Melbourne history behind it.

“Pictures of You” was originally sung by The Cure at a much faster tempo. Local artist, Angie Hart was commissioned by the TAC to do a remake of the song. According to her blog, when she first saw the video she cried (and that’s without the sad music).  Her bio on Wikipedia is an interesting read:

The family moved to Tasmania while Hart was still a baby where they lived in a Christian commune until she was 10 years old. They then moved to Melbourne to join another commune where they remained until Hart was 15 when, with the separation of her parents, the family left the church altogether.

It was this family disruption which led Hart to the Punters Club, a live music venue on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, one of Melbourne’s eclectic and bohemian inner suburbs. She frequented the venue to play pool and drink, though she was still under the legal drinking age. It often fell to bartender Simon Austin to eject her from the premises. Hart’s older sister was also bartending at the Punters Club in 1989 and when Austin, a guitarist and songwriter, mentioned he was starting a band and looking for a singer, Becky Hart suggested her little sister Angie.

The Punter’s club hosted many famous Australian bands in it’s time including Augie March, Jimmy Eat World, and Powderfinger. In 2002, it closed down and has been running as Bimbo Deluxe.  Most recently, the owner of Bimbo Deluxe, Cornerstone Hotels, has been put into receivership putting into question the future of Bimbos as well as a few other famous pubs around Melbourne.

By having my computer next to my television, I’ve learned a lot more about Melbourne today. Angie Hart is playing tonight at the Toff in Town.

Angie Hart

Youtube: The Cure-Pictures of You

Youtube: TAC Ad-Pictures of You

TAC: Pictures of You

Happy Birthday Buddha

BuddhaIf you are in Fed Square this week and want a bit more enlightenment than Carlton vs. Collingwood, stop by at Buddha’s Day and Multicultural Festival. I pose the question again to festival namers, why so long of a name? Was it necessary to put multicultural festival in there? I suppose they could have made it the Melbourne International Buddha’s Day and Multicultural Festival but I digress.

I accidentally attended this last year and it was quite a humbling festival.  I was given leaflets with information on the Buddha and the crisis with the Chinese earthquake as well as  a candle to participate in the light offering ceremony. According to their website:

“The offering of light extinguishes darkness, it symbolically represents the way in which wisdom dispels ignorance. “

But of course, what would a Melbourne festival be without it’s food.  Throughout the weekend, chefs will be preparing their best vegetarian dishes to demonstrate that vegetarian food can be tasty. Happy Birthday buddy!

Buddha’s Day and Multicultural Festival

May 16 & 17, Federation Square


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ING Savings Week

freeApparently some financial services companies still have money to spend on promotions. All this week in Melbourne, ING will be offering freebies. Monday, they were serving free public transport and today they are offering free coffee.  Tomorrow they will be offering free shoe shines and massages, followed by Thursday where they are giving away free lunch (or $5 off) at certain cafes in the CBD. So if you are in the city this week or lucky (or unlucky) enough to work there, go get your freebies.

ING Savings Week [via Ozbargain]

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Frost Levi

No, that’s not the sequel to Frost Nixon.

It’s the thin layer of frost that settled on my Levi’s jeans and all my sundry that were strung out last night.

Is this normal in April? According to The Age, it’s not.

Guess we’re all part of history. And some of us slept through it.


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Comedy Festival Redux: Bea Arthur


Bea Arthur at the Melbourne Comedy Festival / Credit: David Knox

David Knox from TV Tonight posted this great picture of the late Bea Arthur at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Bea Arthur, who played Dorothy in The Golden Girls, died last week aged 86.

Back in the 90’s, in the heyday of The Golden Girls, Bea toured around the country including a show at the Comedy Festival. She came back in 2002 and performed again in Melbourne.  How did we pull such a big comedian back then and now we can barely get B list American celebrities? Kudos to a funny lady. Might hit channel #bittorent for some Golden Girls episodes.

TV Tonight: Remembering Bea

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Melbourne Awards 2009

melbourneawards08logoThe City of Melbourne runs the Melbourne Awards every year to honour individuals, businesses, and community groups that contribute to making Melbourne awesome. Unfortunate for us, that doesn’t include blogs but it does honour people who really go above and beyond to promote our city. Judging is done by a panel but nominations are done by the public via their website.

Looking at some of the past winners, they all seem to contribute to groups that help the underprivileged or the environment.  Some  interesting mentions from last year are Flexicar (the community car share program), The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival,  and the Chill On Ice Bar, a bar that I’m amazed it is still in business.

The nomination process seems like a daunting process involving up to 5 pages for your submission,  a 150-word overview of the project,DVDs, supporting materials, and industry testimonials among the many things recommended but is probably worthy of a good cause. Nominations close Friday May 15.

City of Melbourne: Melbourne Awards

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Google Maps Typography

alpha-map670Rhett Dashwood sent me a very cool Google Maps mashup he made of typography around Victoria.  Rhett spent time between October 2008 and April 2009, clicking through Victoria searching for places that look like letters. I recognise J and O but it’s pretty amazing that there are that many places in Victoria shaped like a letter.

Google Maps Typography


A reminder to all, if you want to send me an email, you can send it to image or follow me on Twitter.

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Costco Melbourne

Melbourne's Costco A couple of months ago, I had a bike ride on the Capital City Trail. The trail loops from Carlton North  through to Flemington down to the Docklands, and along the Yarra back up north again. On the way down to Docklands, I spotted a sign for Costco. Costco, for those not in the know, is a huge bulk buy store for food, alcohol, clothes, electronics and everything in between. Why buy a half litre bottle of tomato sauce when you can buy a 5 litre bottle? When I travel to the US, I make a point to stop by a Costco to pick up pain killers (96 for a few dollars) and gum in bulk.

According to the AAP, Costco Dockalnds will open in July and the company plans to open up a Sydney store at a later date. Any shakeup to the duopoly of supermarkets in Australia is great for competition and will hopefully mean lower prices for Melbourne.  When I first heard that Costco was going to open in Docklands, I thought it was not going to work due to lack of parking and accessibility for cars. I stand corrected as it has positioned itself in an area with ample parking located on Docklands Highway just near the Citylink on ramp. Incidentily, it happens to also be on the Capital City Trail. At least if they can get Costco open it will make up for the debacle that is the Southern Star Observation Wheel. .

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Tram Woes and Myki

The media loves to jump on a good public transport bashing, even when unfounded. Yesterdays article in The Age, was about Melbourne’s 59 Combino trams having major cracks that needed to be repaired.  So you assume it’s going to be like our train systems, and trains will have to be canceled, people left waiting but…

“The cracks pose no risk to safety,”

“Siemens will fix the trams at no cost to the Government.”

“An increase in maintenance scheduling by Yarra Trams means that no tram services will be cancelled while the trams are being repaired. Two of the 59 trams have already been fixed and a third is under repair.”

So, it won’t affect services, it won’t affect safety and the government doesn’t have to pay for the repairs. Where’s the story?

“Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said the repairs raised questions about whether the trams should have been bought.”

Sure, but if they are going to fix it for free then who cares? Speaking of Daniel Bowen, he recently tried out the Myki system on one of the buses down in Geelong. Watching the video he took and reading some of his observations, it seems that this system still has a long way to go before it is ready to be deployed. The scanning system seems remarkably slow and at a cost of $1.3 billion, you would have thought they would have developed something better.


The Age: Latest model trams found to be cracking up I got a Myki, and it only cost $1.3 billion

Comedy Festival: We’re halfway there

comedyfestposterWell, we are half way through the Comedy Festival and I have mixed feelings on this year’s festival. It’s sort of like asking halfway through the season last year about the Geelong Cats. Most would have said, they are great and are going to win the premiership. You can’t say the same after last year’s Grand Final. With sporting teams and comedy festivals, your impression can be changed by the last thing you saw them do.

I started out the festival with seeing Steven K Amos and was not disappointed.  The comedy was simple. Steven K Amos and a microphone on stage, telling us stories, interacting with the audience, and even talking about the current events of Melbourne.  The entire audience was continually laughing. I laughed so hard I cried. That is good comedy.

The great thing about the festival is its ability to give anyone a chance. The whole city turns into amateur hour for a month. This is great and has seen many comedians excel in comedy. Unfortunately, there is no licencing or guidelines for comedies, and what you can get is a mixed bag.

So due to different sets of circumstances, I ended up seeing Jokey Joke Time and Accidental Identity. I had the same feeling for both shows: is this the Comedy Festival or is this the Fringe Festival? JJT was well presented in the courtroom of the Melbourne Gaol and featured  Eric Hutton performing standup comedy mixed in with the occasional rap, saxophone playing by Jennifer Wong, and pictures/sketches to accompany some topics. As a presentation or something fringy, it was good, as a comedy it failed to make myself or the audience laugh. It reminded me of  PowerPoint presentations I had to do at uni with myself making the speech and my partner controlling the computer. An ability of a good comedian is to connect with the audience and while the content of the comedy was funny, I don’t feel like the audience or myself connected with him. He did make me realise one thing; it really grosses me out when someone talks with a mouth full of food.

Accidental Identity was definitely far from what I expected from the comedy festival. This was a full length play with an intermission, that happened to be in the comedy genre. As a comedy I found some parts of it amusing but as a play I found the show very interesting and well acted. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of plays in fact the only thing resembling a play I’ve seen in my years is the Lion King.

Maybe I set my standards too high? Do I expect too much to just see either standup or improv that can make me laugh? Has Youtube ruined me? Maybe, but I think you have to keep it simple. The most sucessful comics at the festival are people who can connect with audience, who can talk about things that relate to the audience, and appeal to people of all ages and interests.  But what do I know? I would have picked “Man getting hit with Football“.

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Buy one get one free!


Hello readers,

after a short hiatus, I’m back.  As I sat in front of my telly yesterday evening, wondering how I could re-introduce myself back into the Melbourne Metblog fold, I chanced upon this wonderful ad. In light of our dire spending power in the last six months, it couldn’t be more apt!

Paul’s Sports Warehouse has just one outlet in Victoria. Now there’s the good news and the bad. The good? It’s in Melbourne. The bad? It’s in the western suburbs. If any of you west of the Maribyrnong or south of the Yarra fancy a free pair of runners and are willing to dust off your flak jacket, bring your life policy along with you and check out what the wonderful deals available. If anything, purchase them runners and hit the track. Lose the weight before the brunt of winter beckons!

Paul’s Sports Warehouse is located in 77 Wright Street, Sunshine, VIC 3020. To come at the safest time where stabbings or shootings occur the least, make an appointment with them at (03) 9310 2044. If you truly believe the western suburbs are as dangerous as the media makes it out to be, you’re an idiot.

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Beware of Putpocketers

weird letter
In all of my years in Melbourne and beyond I have never been pickpocketed. I never flash my cash anywhere and I try to be keep a close eye on the contents of my pockets. That said, I experienced a putpocketing at a pub this Monday night. A putpocketing, is the opposite of a pickpocket where someone puts something into your pockets. No, unfortunately it wasn’t money but a anonymous blackmail attempt against a random male patron in the form of a folded up index card.

Whilst getting ready for work the next morning, I changed my pants and thus emptied the contents of my pockets to put them in the wash. This is where I found this lovely note next to my mobile phone. For the record, my left pocket is strictly for mobile phone and keys, never have I put a receipt or anything else in that pocket. Whoever put the note in my pocket was banking on the fact that my significant other would go through the pockets in my pants thus creating a possibly not so fun situation.

Everything about the note screams inflammatory and vague. There is no “To:” name , good for slipping into anyone’s pocket.  “Happy 9 months”, a long yet short enough time period into which a suspecting partner can analyse.  The majority of the note makes it sound more than just a fling but a full fledged relationship, probably worse than a fling if you had to compare it.

So there ya go, word to the wise, watch out for people slipping things into your pocket in crowded situations. There was no benefit to this person doing these things, other than some weird hatred of the male race (perhaps she got cheated on).

Happy 9 months baby!
It has been the most challenging and yet rewarding nine months of my life.
I cannot wait for our very bright and promising future together.
I will always love you.
Your Jess xxx .
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Exclusive John Brumby News

<i> Credit:</i>


I really would like to get out there and report on Melbourne things first hand but like most of us, I have a job and other commitments loosely known as a life.  I’m in awe of other blogs who go out there everyday and take pictures, report on issues including interviewing stakeholders in stories, for free. Bravo.

Well, I have a John Brumby scoop that no other press organisation has…where he shops for underwear. Yes, I saw the premier shopping at David Jones, Bourke Street for some underwear. What was more surprising was how well he blended in with DJ’s customers.  Sorry, I rarely see any Megan Gale looking people at DJ’s but rather people who look like they belong in the Long Room in the MCG.

While I did briefly consider quizzing him on some pressing issues this city is having, I’d figure he probably just wanted to be left alone to do his shopping. Although, I could have let him know that Target is having a 20% socks sale. Maybe next time.

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