Republic of Moreland

June 25, 2007

Outing Moreland’s filthy kitchens

Filed under: cafes & pubs,Coburg,crime,food,health,Pascoe Vale — Kath @ 12:42 am

2006 was the year of renovating, and consequently the year of takeaway dinners, many home-delivered. One morning, it occured to me that I always get the runs (sorry) after eating a meal from a particular Coburg Indian restaurant. Not an especially good — or even moderately good — Indian restaurant (are there any around here?), but a cheap one. At beer o’clock after renovating, almost anything will go down.

I thought little of it. But one evening, sitting down to orders from said restaurant, Bloke on The Avenue and I noticed a hair in our dinner. Deal with it, you might say. But this wasn’t any old hair. About 7cm long, it was exceptionally thick and coarse. It could only belong to an animal like a goat, or a camel. Or a llama, or mule, or wild pig. Then we noticed a second, and a third, and then dozens. We could only imagine what was going on in that kitchen.

We complained to Moreland Council, and played a little phone tennis before we gave up on the matter.

I’d had a very different Council experience not long beforehand. On a sweltering day, Little One and I went to the Queen’s Park Pool in Moonee Ponds. The pool was closed. Now, any parent of a preschooler knows disappointment on outings is to be avoided if you want to keep things nice. So I hastily offered to buy Little One a gelato at Queen’s Park’s ice-cream van. Something I’d never done before, because we’re principled about the kind of treats we encourage. Until that day, Little One knew ice-cream vans only as ‘music trucks’. (And don’t get me started on the crap listed on “kids’ menus” — as if kids are incapable of selecting the real food they’ve enjoyed for centuries. And don’t get me started about the thoughtless parents who succumb to this poisonous marketing.)

Anyway, as the man was scooping pink gelati into the cones with no serviette wrapped around them, I noticed his hands were covered in scabby sores, some weepy, and his fingernails were FILTHY. It was sickening, but I had one of those moments where it would seem embarrassing to make a fuss. And nor did I want to disappoint Little One yet again, no Sir.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to poison my child, either. So I paid for the cones, noticing that the van’s interior, too, was grimy, and I swiftly suggested a game of throw-gelati-at-the-seagulls. Thank heavens Little One thought that was much bigger fun than eating them. We came home unsullied and I called Moonee Valley City Council, which promptly undertook an inspection, and the next week told me they’d suspended the poor man’s license.

I have so many Moreland food stories, including the one where Sydney Road’s Three Stooges Café (now under new management) served a scone carpeted in mould. So it was interesting to read the article in yesterday’s Age about the limitation to Councils’ power to publish results of health inspections. Lord knows there are many that wouldn’t pass the test in Moreland. What was more interesting was the push to give:

councils the power to name premises that have been successfully prosecuted.

Overseas studies have demonstrated the health benefits of naming foul premises. After Los Angeles introduced a public grading system for restaurants in 1998, the number of food-borne hospitalisations decreased by 13 per cent.

Surely, then, there’s a public interest argument here?

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June 20, 2007

The perils of multiculturalism 2

Filed under: Brunswick,food,Lygon Street,mischief,nonsense — Faithh @ 10:16 am

A while ago I walked into the little Italian pasta shop on Lygon St, the one where you can buy fresh pastas and sauces they’ve made themselves. While not exactly regulars (we are capable of whipping it up ourselves), we have shopped here before on several ocassions without mishap. The old guy shuffled out into the store and I asked him for some bolognese sauce. He looked slightly bewildered but shuffled out back where he vanished for a very long time. Far longer than usual. When he came back he was holding a dozen eggs! Which he had apparently taken some trouble to put together. They don’t even sell eggs!

pict0421.jpg

He had been gone so long and I was so flabbergasted and intrigued by this complete miscommunication that I didn’t correct him. I then picked out some cheese and spinach ravioli from the freezer and asked again for bolognese sauce. He shuffled out back and quickly re-appeared with bolognese sauce. I went home with ravioli, bolognese sauce and a dozen eggs.

Something similar happenned to me once before living in an area very similar in many ways to Brunswick, just one of the quirkier joys of multiculturalism. Has any one else had similar experiences? Would you have tried to explain you didn’t want the eggs? And if so how? Strange theatresport moments as you try to act out ‘egg’ in the negative? My gut instinct has generally been if I stuffed up such a simple message then maybe it’s best to leave it.

June 8, 2007

Kick!

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,films,neighbours — Faithh @ 9:53 pm

About five days after we moved into our Brunswick house, we were accosted by a location manager from Storm productions who cheerfully informed us that our street was about to become “the Ramsay Street of Brunswick”. I don’t think speechless horror was quite the reaction he’d been looking for. Anyway, the result, Kick, will premier on SBS on Saturday 9th June at 8pm.

I’m not sure how much I’ll watch — it seems marketed to 13-year-old girls, and pink features heavily in the trailers. Our street and those around it have of course been renamed; Hope St and Love St, which may sound corny, but the original proposition was for Wog St, so I think we got off lightly. Just so you know, it’s Albion St that sports the name Love St, or Lerv St, as we now like to think of it. (Instead of doing the Albion St slalom we now go ‘gliding down Lerv St’).

Virtually all of the series was filmed around Brunswick and Coburg, so it will be fun to watch just for that alone.

Just to give you an idea of the premise, here’s how it starts out:

“Miki Mavros, a beautiful Greek-Australian performer, owes a whopping three thousand dollars in parking fines, so she’s forced to seek refuge at her parents’ place on multicultural, working class Hope Street. It’s nothing flash but it’s home. “

Multiculturalism is of course the theme. The Age focused on this today.

I’ll have to wait until I see the series to be sure, but it did strike me at the time that it was a rather clichéd multiculturalism. I don’t think anyone in the series will be heard to drop It’s very new Brunswick meaningfully into any conversations. The characters are of Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Serb, Vietnamese, Indian and British descent, virtually all of whom are represented in our street, along with a few more, but when I think about the diversity that attracted me to Brunswick it’s more than this. If we think of culture in a broader sense, there are quite a few not represented in the series, but well represented here. There’s the old-school Aussies (pre-immigration, endangered species that they are), the students, the greenies, the heroin dealer, the token ‘skip’ (that would be me) and let’s not forget the resident funksters!

The multiculturalism I enjoy is all of this in combination with the diversity of nationalities and ethnicities. (And okay, I wouldn’t mind if we lost the heroin dealer).

I’d be interested to hear what anyone else has to say about multiculturalism in the greater Republic of Moreland. Is it about time we redefined it to go beyond references to nationality? And I’d love to know what you think of the series if anyone gets the chance to watch it.

As for me, I’m really looking forward to telling people I live on “multicultural working class Hope St, just down the road from the resident funksters in Lerv St. It’s very new Brunswick!” In the meantime here’s a trailer with some nice views of Brunswick and Coburg.

Yes, I know that’s not my nature-strip

Filed under: notices — Kath @ 9:35 pm

To those who emailed me to exclaim what hogwash I’m posting on the interwebs (“That’s not your nature strip! You don’t even live in that street!”), may I point out that The Republic is a group site? Try as I might to dominate and bore people senseless by banging on about my obsessions, Faith also makes posts here. (She’s ‘Vaguely Specific’). Leonaardo makes posts here, too, but he’s hybernating awhile, while he gets his exhibition together, which I’m sure we’ll hear about. To determine who wrote the post, just check the grey byline at the top of the post, next to ‘filed under’ 🙂 Fanks.

June 5, 2007

The grass is always greener

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,environment,food,gardening,gardens,mischief,neighbours — Faithh @ 11:11 am

As promised, oh so long ago, I took some photos of revegetated nature strips I’ve stumbled across (sometimes literally). There are actually a lot more than I was expecting, once I started looking for them, so I’ve created a spot for them on flickr. This also means others will also be able to upload any photos they have that they think are worth sharing. If you go to http://www.flickr.com/groups/republicofmoreland/ you can see the ones I’ve uploaded, upload your own, and also start other topics relevant to the greater Republic of Moreland. Of course what we really need is some photos of guerilla planting in action!

What I can show you right now is my own first tentative steps in nature strip revegetation. Our street doesn’t actually have nature strips, just some holes in the asphalt where the council planted trees several years ago. Discussions with the neighbours reveal that almost every tree without exception was trashed by, well, they got a bit vague at this point, but it finally came out that it would have been by their sons and friends. The sons are now older and I think even they would look down their noses at tree trashing these days. One neighbour has planted an olive and donated one to me so I have supplemented it with some grasses from my front garden. I plan to imperceptibly extend the boundaries of my ‘nature strip’ until the breadth of our house has been ‘greened’ without anyone having really noticed it. I’ve also promised another neighbour that if she provides a tree I will plant it and then provide all the grasses she needs from my garden. If you are interested in Moreland’s Naturestrip Beautification Guidelines (!) you can download them from here.
its a beginning

June 4, 2007

Passive-aggressive notes

Filed under: art,books & writing,nonsense — Kath @ 12:27 pm

This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Moreland, but I just couldn’t resist. I don’t normally take much notice of WordPress’s most popular site list, but over the last week a blog called Passive-aggressive notes from roommates, neighbors, co-workers and strangers has topped the list. This site rivals Brunswick’s Mrs Washalot blog for originality. It’s hilarious: take a look.

June 2, 2007

Moreland Council “targets populism over longer term responsibility”

The Age reports that climate change will soon see expensive bayside real estate under water (I wonder where Andrew Bolt lives?). Meanwhile, in Moreland we’re sticking our heads in the sand. So say the Greens Councillors, Jo Connellan and Andrea Sharam, in a media release.

They say the Moreland City Council is not putting its money where its mouth is, and keeping rates low at the expense of its stated climate change targets:

“A key reason that the 2007/08 Council budget represents a slipping backwards from financial sustainability is that Council wishes to retain the rate rise at 6.5%.

The only responsible way to do that, and maintain the trends of the five year plan (ie to keep moving to a sustainable position), is to either cut service, or alternately increase rates to 8.5 –9%. By retaining all services and not ensuring adequate income (ie sufficient rates), the only option is to borrow from the future. The impact of this (as illustrated in the draft budget papers) is as follows.”

I for one am happy for rates to rise a little to meet climate change targets. But other steps can be taken, too, such as stopping wasting money on useless expensive things like the street steles. The authors continue:

“Keeping rates as low as possible is always popular. But there is also a level of responsibility that needs to exercised by a Council. The community rely [sic] on Council to make the best decision it can in keeping rates at a reasonable level AND at maintaining a financially sustainable level of operating over the longer term. The proposed budget not only reduces financial sustainability, it constrains future Council’s options. This occurs because there will be very limited capacity to deal with emergencies or to implement some of it’s [sic] capital intensive plans (eg renewing aquatic centres) as rates income in these future years will be needed to re-fill the cash reserves.

The proposed 2007/08 budget targets populism over longer term responsibility. It postpones the hard and unpopular decisions to the next Council. It should be rejected. It is in the best interests of the community to have a slighter higher rate rise in the current year rather than a significantly higher one in the first year or so of the next Council.”

What say you? Would you pay higher rates or rents to meet climate change goals? What cuts in services would you tolerate to meet these goals?

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