Republic of Moreland

March 24, 2010

Practising what we preach

I’m conflicted about vege2go in Lygon Street, Brunswick. The food is okay, the prices are somewhat okay, the place is clean and pleasant. And the folk are very nice and they’re kiddy-friendly and all. But while they preach saving the earth, with Peter Singer sermons plastered over their walls, the place whifs of petrochemical excess. Not only are the chairs and tables plastic, but their smoothies and juices — even ‘eat-in’ versions — are served in plastic cups with plastic lids. Half the cutlery is disposable plastic, too. You may as well be eating at McDonald’s. And much of their produce is out of season, and so would’ve accrued lots of fossil-fuelled food miles. I’ve seen melon & berries in their winter fruit salad, for example. And the pantry stuff on their shelves is all imported.

And when the vege2go folk preach good nutrition, perhaps they might reconsider zapping their food in the microwave. Several studies show significant nutrient loss from food subject to microwaving. And perhaps they should reconsider selling the coloured lolly-water posing as health tonic.

Compare and contrast with Each Peach, just a few shops up. The folk there source local produce, would not at gunpoint even consider microwaving their food, and they sell home-made pantry goods. Their furniture and adornments are reused and recycled stuff. And their walls don’t preach saving the planet. They’re just doing it, in their own delicious way.

Perhaps vege2go just has more mainstream appeal, which is good. Different strokes, I suppose.

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December 12, 2008

Hellenic Republic

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food — Kath @ 9:47 am

I was thinking of going there tonight, but here is a customer review of Hellenic Republic from ador dining out reveiws . For $95 per person, I think I’ll wait for other people’s responses before going. Here is the review:

Overall: 3.0   Food: 2.0   Environment: 4.0   Service: 3.0   Cost Per Person: $95.00

“We were a group of four people and opted for the set menu for the first time there, we were disappointed with the food for a number of reasons. the first was the mezza was very oridinary especially the marinated octopus which was quite mushy also the bread was sliced rye and had nothing to recomend it, with the mains the meat was orginary and there was only one average size piece each.

We finished with a fruit platter also very small portions and not very appertising in presentation. We expected it to be more authentic Greek/Cypriot cuisine with that flair the Greeks have of making fairly plain food tasty.

In order to improve the food little things like the bread and food portions need to be addressed.We were there on the first night it opened and we hope it was only a glich.

I have been to the sister restaurant The Press Club many times as it is a fabulous restaurant and I have recommended it to many people, and I was looking forward to a Greek restaurant in the Taverna style, and felt if anyone George Colombaris would be able to achieve this, so in all fairness I would go back to the Hellenic Republic again in about a month and order individual dishes and see if the food had improved.Until I do this I would not recommend it because as a group of four we were disappointed.”

August 13, 2008

Each Peach

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,Lygon Street — Kath @ 11:44 am

A very positive review of Each Peach appeared in yesterday’s Age. I admit given the owner’s background with the superb Loafer Bread I had the impression it was a a bakery rather than a cafe, so thus far I’ve been disappointed with Each Peach. But by all other accounts it’s a fine little establishment.

Here’s an extract from the review:

Home-made ginger beer, a three-citrus squeezed juice, an organic hot chocolate and a little “cup of foam” join the coffees. There are toasties of ham and melty Italian fontina cheese, or a selection of sourdough panini using bread from Zeally Bay. Like much on offer here, it’s organic.

The panini arrive crunchy, burny-fingers hot, and filled with fresh, pleasantly understated combinations such as thick seams of snowy ricotta and sweet, chunky pumpkin with Coburg pesto – so named because it is made from basil grown in a local back garden – or milky sour goat’s curd with meaty rough-cut green olive tapenade and a wad of rocket. They are very good.

June 13, 2008

“Green” eggs show their true colours

Our chooks have gone off the lay for winter, and I find myself furious.

When it comes to buying eggs, ‘free range’ can of course mean anything from a vast grassy pasture to an undersized concrete run. And the wholesome-sounding ‘barn laid’ claim, which the RSPCA has — to its eternal shame — endorsed for a tidy sum, is a euphemism for those noisy, cruel, putrid concentration camps in which thousands of debeaked chickens compete for space.

To be on the safe side, I avoid those notorious Pace Farm eggs, and to go for certified organic. But just recently, I learned of ethical Green Eggs. My beloved, trusted Sugardough Bakery (left) in Lygon St uses, recommends and sells them, so I thought I’d give them a whirl. “You can’t get fresher than that,” is the Green Eggs motto, and the company has won many awards as an ethical, sustainable free-range enterprise.

But when broken into a bowl, these Green Eggs eggs collapsed into a slimy sludge. Their yolks were so pallid that when scrambled, they came out not so much yellow as a pale beige.

Our home-laid eggs, on the other hand, have yolks so rich they’re almost burnt orange in colour, and when scrambled, remain an intense sunflower yellow. Our home-laid eggs never collapse when broken: their whites hold together in a firm ring and their yolks sit upright and high.

I’m convinced this is partly because our chooks eat a good mix of high-protein unprocessed grains, but more importantly, they eat greens every day. Cabbage and lettuce leaves, grasses, weeds: whenever we go for a walk we come home with green bounty from Coburg’s nature strips.

Chooks need and love greens, and the greener your chooks’ diets, the richer their eggs’ yolks. All eggs aren’t equal when it comes to nutrient density. (And as Michael Pollan so elegantly puts it: “You are what you eat eats.”) None of the commercial brands seems to have decent-coloured yolk: a good indicator of chook health, as well as the nutritional composition of the egg. It seems no commercial egg farmer is giving chooks the greens they require — not, it would appear, even at the pastured ‘Green Eggs’ company.

June 10, 2008

Lurking in Lygon St

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,Lygon Street — Faithh @ 1:08 pm

Our local chunk of Lygon St has generally been a bit dull. Unless you’re into gambling and McDonalds followed by a bit-of-a-hoon in a motorized wheelchair that doubles as a Jason recliner, in which case you might well enjoy it. I don’t to get to do any of this stuff any more since the four-year-old came along.

However things are looking up. At least for me.

Artisan Espresso opened recently at 438 Lygon St, down near the tram stop opposite CJ Fabrics. One of the owners, Marinus Jansen (of appetite food store, North Melbourne) has paired up with Josh-the-coffee-roaster-Bailey to provide a little piece of heaven locally. What’s great about the place is they do coffee and ONLY coffee. Well, Ok, they do other beverages, but no food. Soon there will also be a retail coffee outlet opening there from where you will be able to buy your beans. And they are in the process of moving Josh’s roaster onto the premises so soon I’ll be able to tend the chooks and wrangle the vegies (or is that the other way around) while the heavenly aroma of roasting coffee comes wafting up the laneway. Now thats going to be good for productivity! The house-blend, Padre is a great all-rounder and has become our coffee of choice at home with good reviews from all of our vistors. Meanwhile at Artisan Espresso itself you can regularly try the various beans as they are roasted and experimented with.

It gets even better. Just a little further up, where the wool shop used to be, an organic bakery and cafe will be opening. The owner is a pastry chef who previously worked with the guys from Loaf of Bread in Nth Fitzroy. Now I’m looking forward to that!

And if you want real unsubstantiated gossip, the old cheesecake shop is currently undergoing extensive renovations and the rumour-mill insists that it is all being done for George Calombaris of The Press Club. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen but it certainly adds to a sense of rejuvenation in the strip.

Vegie2Go also opened in this strip of Lygon St late last year and while the franchise-style doesn’t do much for me the Italian based vegetarian food is always delicious. Handy as a take-away alternative. Can’t quite come at eating there.

Lush is another new addition; an enormous place (three shop frontages I think) packed full of furniture, clothes, jewellery, and thingies all of a very lush persuasion. Again I have to admit it’s not really my style so I can’t vouch for the place but if you suspect ‘lush’ is what you’re after then it would be worth a look.

pict0421.jpgAnd of course there are our old favourites, the record shop with a picnic set for sale in the window, the Organic Grocery Store, Casa Della Pasta (who now also make fresh organic pasta), Nabil the hairdresser, (love that waft of patchouli everytime you ruffle your son’s hair) and a fabulous Indian herbs and spices store where you can also pick up the latest bollywood DVDs.

Foodworks mind you, I could live without. For the handfull of things I do buy in a supermarket you still can’t go past IGA in Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

April 9, 2008

Meeting in Brunswick to discuss proposed freeway

The following is from the Moreland Greens’ Mike Puleston:

Moreland Council will be sponsoring a Public Meeting on the proposed East-West Freeway at Brunswick Town Hall on Sunday April 13 at 2.00. This will follow the Cyclovia, [pictured] when Sydney Rd will be closed to motor vehicles from Bell St to Brunswick Rd for the morning.

The Greens are opposed to the proposed freeway for a number of reasons:

1. The project puts motor vehicles at the centre of a transport strategy that should be looking first and foremost at public transport in this era of climate change. For example, motor traffic would be greatly reduced by construction of a light railway from Doncaster along the Eastern Freeway to link up with inner city public transport – this railway has been on the books since the 1970s.

2. Provision of freeways is massively more expensive than public transport options. The billions earmarked for the East-West Freeway could be better spent on public transport, including better rail connections to outer suburbs.

3. The freeway would funnel even larger numbers of motor vehicles into inner suburbs. Even though Eddington does not have off-ramps into the City in his report, there is general agreement that the project’s financial backers would not accept a lack of off-ramps. The increased congestion would not only affect suburbs such as Collingwood, Fitzroy and Carlton. It would also cause slowdowns to trams coming from further out, and greater risks to cyclists.

4. The freeway would cause massive disfigurement of Royal Park – which has already suffered from land grabs in recent years.

And so it goes on.

It would be good to have a strong turnout of Greens members and supporters. Please bring your Greens triangles – there will be triangles available if you do not have one.

Brunswick Labor MP for Brunswick Carlo Carli is showing uncharacteristic energy on this issue, and will speak at the meeting. It is hard not to think that Carlo’s rare burst of vigour has been largely promptly by the threat to his seat posed by the 30% Greeens vote in 2006 – the highest in the state. With a few more % in the primary vote and favorable preferences, the Greens will take this seat in 2010, as we will take Melbourne, Richmond, and possibly Northcote.

Although Carlo may speak out against the freeway, he is a small cog in the Brumby Labor machine. When it comes to voting in Parliament Carlo will toe the Party line – to do otherwise would be political suicide.

We need more Greens in state parliament to ask the questions others are afraid to ask.

February 14, 2008

Local and or general

I’ve decided to try and incorporate more indigenous plants in my plans for the garden. This started off as a way to encourage local frogs into our pond and grew from there. It’s not that I plan to get rid of everything else, just to inform myself about what the indigenous possibilities might be. Towards this I was planning on going to a talk on indigenous plants of Moreland at Coburg library recently.

Alas, like most good intentions it was lost somewhere between the coffee breaks and urgent internet-browsing. Luckily Ceres has a range of plants indigenous to Merri Creek and surounding areas and recently I discovered (only in the virtual sense so far) the Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Cooperative (VINC) at Fairfield which looks like it would be worth a real-life visit. The Keelbundora Indigenous Nursery at Latrobe Uni also looks very interesting.

This morning however while indulging in the sort of internet-surfing that meant I missed the original talk in the first place, I found Gardening with Indigenous Plants in Moreland, a 16 page booklet produced for Moreland City Council by Merri Creek management committee with an extensive list of plants and trees complete with illustrations.

Armed with this and the Moreland Nature Strip Beautification Guidelines how can I go wrong?

Trash and treasure

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,environment — Faithh @ 1:44 pm

Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Here in the southern states of the Greater Republic of Moreland (Brunswick, that is….) the annual hard waste collections are about to start. I’m just as excited as those who engage in Boxing-Day-stampedes and am busy clearing space in the shed, down the side of the house, on the roof and under the house while my husband is threatening to host a support group for men-whose-wives-trawl-the-streets-and-laneways-and-drag-home-junk.

Mind you it’s not all mindless consumption; I am planning to get rid of a few things. Last year we watched bemused as one of our neighbours scoured our castoffs and triumphantly bore away a rotting compost bin. On the other hand it’s the discarded, and gorgeously rusted, corrugated iron from their back verandah that now adorns the front of our home-office. As they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Maybe even more so when that man is a woman.

July 29, 2007

blue

Filed under: Brunswick,crime,Sydney Road — Kath @ 8:45 pm

Yesterday I visited my beloved hardware store, a family business, a dusty vestige of old Brunswick, where they greet you by name, serve you from behind the counter and sell nails by the kilogram.

I was there to buy a tap and pvc pipes and elbows for our new tank. From behind me a small voice said, in a broad Australian accent, “Whatya boyin them for?”

I turned and saw a slight woman. A blue woman. The skin on her face was blue, her hands were blue, her limp, mousy hair had blue streaks, as did her synthetic tracksuit. In the few seconds that followed, some possibilities flipped over in my mind. She’s a performer, perhaps a mime artist, perhaps a circus player. Or else she’s got that peculiar skin condition some Vietnamese people suffer, where blue-black freckles appear as you age.

But these weren’t freckles, and this was a most unnatural electric blue. No, vibrant, aquamarine blue.

I said something and looked away, but I noticed that the bluest region of her face was around her lips, and when she spoke, the pink fleshy insides of her mouth looked almost obscene against it. And then I saw what she was buying: three cans of vibrant-electric-aquamarine-blue spray-paint.

She sniffs it! I whispered to C——, one of the storekeepers, as she took me up the back to choose some threaded pipe fittings. C—— told me: I know, I know, but what can we do? We’ve called the police, and there’s nothing they can do, either. Then C—— said: It’s terrible. I’m hard, you know, but I feel sorry for her. And she has kids, too.

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.

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 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?

May 22, 2007

“It’s very new Brunswick”

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,Lygon Street,Sydney Road — Kath @ 10:11 am

It was very new Brunswick to see the feature in today’s Age, called ‘Backyard Barista’. I can’t link to it, cos it’s not online: but apparently this obscurity is precisely what makes things “very new Brunswick.”

I nearly spluttered my very new Brunswick Fair Trade Organic Coffee when I read the double-page spread by Cheap Eats editor Nina Rousseau. In an otherwise good roundup of the best Brunswick cafés (including A Minor Place, El Mirage, Ray’s, La Paloma, Sugardough), Rousseau’s account slumped into ethnocentric journalese when she attempted to capture the local cant. Quoting no-one but her own publication, she wrote:

The Age Cheap Eats 2007 describes A Minor place as “new Brunswick” and you’ll often hear the term dropped meaningfully into conversations — “It’s very new Brunswick” —to describe something more than cosmetic. It’s becoming a style; a term to describe a particular look and demographic… To open a “new Brunswick”-style café anywhere in Melbourne you will need… cool indie tunes, resident funksters…”

Now call me insular, but I’ve never heard any ‘resident funkster’ [ahem] drop “It’s very new Brunswick” into conversations at any of these cafés. Maybe because I don’t mix in the real estate and market branding circles that Nina appears to. But I suspect this is not so much ear-to-the-ground, word-on-the-street reportage as… well, something else. Cringeworthy, made-up puff, perhaps.

But I’m happy to be proved wrong. If anyone, anywhere, knows of a conversation that “meaningfully” incorporated “It’s very new Brunswick,” please record it here.

___________

Postscript: I just googled “very new Brunswick”. Lo and behold: The Age reviewer Matt Preston also used it in a review of A Minor Place: probably the very same review as in the Cheap Eats Guide. He also writes that café is frequented by “art school lesbian” types and “older locals who look like hip, SBS-watching teachers”. Don’t these (apparently Eastern Suburbs commercial tv-watching) Age reviewers ever get out?

May 17, 2007

When ‘science’ is bought and sold

Filed under: Brunswick,food,health,politics — Kath @ 2:31 pm

Brunswick Labornet reports a science and maths boost for public schools around here. A good thing. And timely, considering Australia’s Chief Scientist Jim Peacock has just come out and said that our brightest students are avoiding science.

But considering some other wild things Jim Peacock claimed this week, and considering the Bracks’ governments’ apparent closed shop and done deals on important science issues, I’m wondering what sort of science will be encouraged in our schools. Will it be evidence-based science? Will it be science that serves the needs of people? Or will it be the sort of science endorsed by our Chief Scientist? His website doesn’t, as you might expect, endorse “Empirical, disinterested science that meets the needs of society”, but “An independent perspective, based in industry and science”. A big difference when you think about it. And note that industry comes before science.

(Also, don’t you love that euphemism “independent”? As in “independent schools”, aka “commercial learning shops on the corporate welfare gravy train”?)

Here’s how the Bracks government decides on GM food issues. It doesn’t consult the 80 per cent of farmers who support a ban on GM food crops; nor does it consult the majority of shoppers who don’t want it. In all polls taken by industry and AC Neilson, and all media polls, the majority of Australians reject GM food. (This majority, according to our Chief Scientist Jim Peacock, are in fact “self-serving” “unprincipled minorities”. So much for empirical science advice. And a bit rich, coming from someone who probably stands to gain from his current lobbying to overturn GM bans.) Nor does the Bracks government consult with our overseas markets that reject GM produce; nor with those independent scientists who oppose GM foods.

gm-for-vic.jpgInstead, it holds closed-shop meetings at Parliament with the industry lobbyists, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). Now, from its history, it would appear to me the IPA doesn’t endorse empirical science. The IPA has a history of lobbying for the tobacco industry, and I’ve got a nice little collection of climate-change denying and GM-promoting literature from them. They’re famously secretive about their funding sources, but they’re reportedy sponsored by Monsanto and other multinational giants.

Now, with the ban on GM food crops up for review, since members of the Victorian government are happy to hold meetings at Parliament with whacko industry lobbyists, will it hold meetings with those whacko citizen-supported groups like, say, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Conservation Foundation, the Network of Concerned Farmers, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace and GeneEthics? After all, these independent (of industry funding) groups, unlike the IPA, have widespread electoral support. In a democracy, you’d think that counts.

But somehow I don’t think so. I had a word with a couple of these groups this morning. They tried to RSVP to go to this closed-shop meeting, but they were told they couldn’t.

So come on, guys at Labornet, defend this one.

April 11, 2007

Extreme lawn bowls

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,op shops,Sydney Road — Kath @ 12:20 am

Today at the Salvo’s in Coburg, I bought some lawn bowl trophies that were really just liquor glasses with gold trim. Each had “trophy” embossed underneath a gold emblem with ‘Moreland Bowls Club’, ‘Coburg West Bowling Club’ and so on.

I bought a dozen or so, all from Moreland suburbs, but the store has plenty still from Elsternwick bowls and elsewhere. Must be from an enthusiast’s deceased estate, and I couldn’t help picturing the whole set (around 40 glasses) having pride of place in a glass cabinet next to the gas heater in a geezer’s lounge-room.

To end up sitting on the bargain shelf of an op-shop. I paid a handsome 50 cents for each, but felt I was pilfering someone’s title.

There’s a supposed resurgence in lawn bowling (naffy George Negus, without irony, has said “suddenly the game has become groovy — so groovy…”). Particularly since 2001, when the lawn bowling community took the radical, visionary step of permitting women to compete on a Saturday, with the blokes. More radically, now there are extreme lawn bowl sports. But I haven’t yet drummed up enough interest to go.

Still, I’ve got a kind of theme happening. Out of nowhere, an accidental collection emerged: our household boasts two vintage bowls bags, a bowls mug, a bowls cup-and-saucer, and now bowls liquor glasses.

Like campervan interiors, lawn bowls has a peculiar aesthetic that resonates with my inner retired geezer. In many other scenarios, lawns are objectionable (you know: the class values they represent, the petrol they waste) but stroll me past a green like The Grove’s Moreland Bowls Club, and I’m anybody’s it makes me irrationally content. The decadent expanse, the chalk, the measuring instruments and paraphernalia, the scoreboards, the quiet clacking of balls, the behatted nods and murmurs and squints, the ‘Madam President’ parking sign, the uniforms, the club rules and repressed competitive tension… so civilised. So Coburg. I feel privy to another era.

Unlike other lawn sports that evolved from the great estates, participation in lawn bowls seems more egalitarian. (Yet what would happen, I wonder, if nearby churchgoers were to park in front of the ‘Seceratary’ or ‘Madam President’ sign in The Grove?)

These are the reasons it worries me that The Grove club will sooner or later be under great pressure to succumb to real estate development. Or so a reliable colleague (involved in such things) reckons. And they ain’t building new ones nowdays. Bloke on The Avenue also thinks it’s only a matter of time before lawn bowls suffers the fate of Melbourne’s own trugo.

March 21, 2007

Time to outlaw petrol-heads

I’m starting to be a bit of a fan of Moreland author and stand-up comedian Catherine Deveny. She has an oped in today’s paper which, despite its meandering, is spot on:

HOW about that Grand Prix, eh? One look at the racing fans is all it takes for me to realise that some suburbs should have fences around them. Knuckle-dragging petrol-heads, anorexic bottle blondes marinated in fake tan and middle-aged blokes with man boobs and pimples on their arses paying exorbitant money to watch cars go fast…

I’m sure the parents of terminally ill children suffering rare diseases that there is no funding for researching will take comfort in the fact that the State Government has probably spent $30 million on loud, polluting cars while their child dies. They’ll be at peace knowing that Bernie Ecclestone has pocketed a $20 million licensing fee. (more…)

March 19, 2007

Priorities

Filed under: Brunswick,politics — Kath @ 12:08 am

We received a notice last week urging us to help Little One’s primary school working bee today. It requested that we bring a wheelbarrow and broom and rake if we can. I love this kind of thing. As a friend of mine often remarks, schools are centres of communities, and Little One’s school is a particularly good centre. But as Bloke on The Avenue asked, what kind of government doesn’t give our schools enough for very basic maintenance? What kind of government sponsors carbon-emitting tossers to hoon around Albert Park while schools like Debney Meadows PS have to create new classrooms by squashing kids up and separating existing rooms with a row of lockers? (Meanwhile, Wesley builds boatsheds for its new elite fleet.) As Helen so adroitly puts it today: ”it’ll be a fine thing when the Defence department has to put on a cake stall to buy a fighter jet”. She’s just warming up:

why should I cough up for a raffle for a private school which, to all accounts, I’m already unwillingly supporting with my taxes, on top of the fees they collect? Haileybury is already “(a) major beneficiary of increased funding from the Federal government“, and I don’t think it should be. The public system needs a mighty injection of funds right now to bring its resources up to scratch and pay teachers properly. Instead, my taxes get spent on making Liberal mates private businesses wealthier… we have abandoned the right of all children to a decent public education and are diverting my taxes so that schools like Haileybury can spend on marketing and extra sporting facilities.

March 15, 2007

Brunswick music festival

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,events,music,notices,Sydney Road — Kath @ 9:15 pm

starts today. Dunno what to go and see.

Coburg lanes get a pasting

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,food,gardening,health,neighbours,recipes — Kath @ 9:50 am

Having moved house this year, we don’t have a quince tree. But we harvested far more quinces from Coburg’s laneways than we ever managed to grow on our bug-infested Brunswick tree. This is just part of our harvest from an afternoon walk, during which we collected apples, pears and quinces. There were also grapes, lemons and figs overhanging the lane, and remnants of hundreds of plums gone to waste. Coburg lanes are like Victory gardens.

I was determined this year to avoid quince paste recipes. Most are so goddamn convoluted. Aside from the tedious peeling and coring and processing and straining, there’s the relentless stirring. All that for a lump of paste from two dozen quinces. No wonder the stuff costs forty to sixty bucks per kg, depending on whether you go to the Vic Market or DJ’s food hall. (As an aside, I’m boycotting DJ’s because of their corporate thuggery towards the Australia Institute. Arseholes.)

I like the recipes that tell you to chuck in pips, cores ‘n’ all. And instead of stirring for hours, after stirring for about half an hour, I let the paste thing happen over a couple of days. You spread it onto trays and put it first in the oven on low heat, during which time you repeatedly mesh the crust that forms into the rest of the sludge. Then, when it starts resembling soft paste, you put it in the hot sun under a tea-towel and do same. Stephanie Alexander writes of one chef who puts the sludge on a tray in the back window of the car until it goes lovely and leathery.

After that, it’s divine quince paste with soft white cheese. Mmm… paste.

March 10, 2007

Fair enough or “ludicrous overreaction”?

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,crime,Pascoe Vale,politics — Kath @ 9:40 am

In a move described by the Law Institute of Victoria as a “ludicrous overreaction”, our local member, Shadow Attorney-General Kelvin Thomson, has been forced to quit the front bench because he unknowigly wrote a reference for notorious gangster Tony Mokbel seven years ago.

The Age this morning reported that Kevin Rudd was tipped off by an anonymous source and that, given that Smearfest 2007 is in full force, Thomson had to resign. Apparently Thompson didn’t know Mokbel, didn’t remember the reference, and the reference was “a pro-forma”.

The LIV president Geoff Provis said there was no evidence that Mr Thomson had done anything wrong, and that the use of “past associations” to damn politicians was approaching “McCarthyist America”.

I’m fence-sitting on this. I kinda agree with Provis, but still, politicians shouldn’t be writing references for folk they don’t know or haven’t checked out.

March 6, 2007

Playing with TMcK

Filed under: Brunswick,events,music,notices — Kath @ 10:43 pm

This notice comes from Helen of cast iron balcony. She’s performing with Tess McKenna at the Brunswick Green (313 Sydney Road) every Saturday afternoon this month, 4:30 pm. Helen reckons: “They make a bloody good bloody Mary!” Just the ticket for folk like me who simply forgot all about the Sydney Road Street Party. FREE for all ages. Having never seen Helen play, I can’t vouch for her musical skills. But if her playing is as spicy as her thinking, you’re in for a treat. And you can hear McKenna here.

February 18, 2007

Online petition to save Brunswick Baths

Filed under: Brunswick,environment,notices,politics — Kath @ 10:10 pm

is here.

UPDATE: Interesting to see  Cr. John Kavanagh’s response to this petition here.

mmm… cakes.

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,health,recipes — Kath @ 9:20 pm

Bloke on The Avenue is one of these geezers who doesn’t believe in healthy treats. Try as I might to put as much fruit, fibre and unprocessed sweetners into baked goodies, he reckons if you’re going to have a treat, go hard core industrial grade. (more…)

February 17, 2007

Moreland needs your brains

Filed under: art,Brunswick,environment,events,Sydney Road — leonaaardo @ 10:57 am

storm-over-the-burbs.jpg Storm over the Burbs (more…)

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