Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Theatrics of an ALP Conference

I am not normally given to burst out laughing in public, but I was reading the paper over breakfast in Prahran this morning, and I burst out laughing.

ALP conferences are at times fascinating theatre performances and I thought this Age writer, Katherine Murhpy, captured it very well. The full piece is here, but let me grab some snippets from it.

On cue, the humans arrived, in fluoro lime and orange and hard hats, with their drums, union banners and snarls of outrage. Well-heeled punters at a Darling Harbour luxury boat show looked at the parade with interest.

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A bloke with tattoos handed me a sticker that gave a one-fingered salute to the loathed Australian Building and Construction Commission.

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Thickset men with bushy beards practised their invective. The union officials in chinos and suit coats roamed the aisles and made nice with one another.

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The comrades had one clear message for the pantomime next door: We coughed up $20 million for you in 2007, and you haven’t done enough in return.

The mob booed when a picture of Greg Combet — the bloke who convinced them all to cough up for Kevin — flashed on to a screen.

They booed when Julia Gillard’s name was mentioned.

There was a second’s hesitation when someone mentioned the Prime Minister, then they threw caution to the wind and booed him too. (that was where I laughed)

ACTU president Sharan Burrow played Jerry Springer — or Oprah, or someone — interviewing a group of retrenched workers about what it felt like to be devoured by the running dogs of capitalism.

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Dave Noonan from the construction union let fly with fighting words before producing Andrea, a petite woman who lost her husband in a building accident.

Once the widow was produced, you could hear a pin drop. ‘‘I’m begging the ALP,’’ she said, ‘‘to get rid of the ABCC now before it’s too late.’’ The hard hats all swallowed and dabbed their eyes with hankies.

The conference is being held at the imaginatively named Sydney Convention Centre. That would be the building at Darling Harbour that seems to be all carpark and no centre.

Shopping at QV

There is a place in our city I love to hate, and that is Melbourne Central. I can never work the layout of the vile place. If I want a train, I get lost. If Chadstone is the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere, then I wish it would grow some more by moving Melbourne Central there and attaching it. Not only is Melbourne Central not user friendly, it is ugly to boot.

Contrast it to the marvellous Queen Victoria shopping centre. It is hard to describe, even though it is simple to find your way around. It is made up of straight right angled walkways, some covered, some not. While it is heated and cooled, it is open to the fresh air so it never feels oppressive.

In Melbourne Central, I might want to go to Coles, but really there is little else to attract me. In QV I visit the newsagent, the chemist, the post office, Woolworths supermarket, Big W, Officeworks, Harvey Norman, the hardware store, Dan Murphy, Domayne furniture, Brumbys Bakery, a place that sells nice soup, The Wedge for good coffee, KFC if I am feeling wicked.

So while essentially it is a shopping centre, it seems to have the best aspects of one, and yet still it feels a bit like street shopping. It can get quite crowded at times, whereas if you took all the people out of Melbourne Central who were catching or just arrived on a train, it would be pretty empty I reckon.

Someone at work asked me where we shop and although it is mostly Prahran, we are nearly as often at QV.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Venturing North

Time after time after time I do this. I thought I knew where the Rathdowne Street bus went from and I was wrong. With an arrogant confidence, I did not check any details. Yes, it runs along Lonsdale Street, but does not stop outside QV. The stop is on the western side of Swanston Street. I ignored this and walked to the next stop, over Russell Street.

Hang on, isn't it supposed to go up Russell Street and follow the old cable tram route to Rathdowne Street? I made a mistake there too. Anyway the 250 bus turned into Exhibition Street and quickly I was staring out the bus window at the beginning of Rathdowne Street. It is a lovely street with many two storey terrace houses and the western side of the Melbourne Museum and Exhibition Buildings.

I spied the Carlton Clinic, which I had heard of. I bet Mutant thought that visiting the clinic was the purpose of my visit. Wrong. It is in what was an old pub. Seems to be rather a lot of old pubs now being used for another purpose........just like Lonsdale House could be.

There are some nice bits of parkland along the way. Not too big, but friendly parks. There was a huge cleared site and I don't know what is to be built on the site. I am guessing it may have been where there were low rise housing commission flats? It is not part of the monster College Square is it? Is that what protesters were on about a few years ago?

I did what I had to do in Rathdowne Street and decided on brunch in Rathdowne Street. I walked past a few cafes before choosing one called Paragon. I had a breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast and coffee. It was alright, but not great value really. Why are such places always so mean with butter? There was not nearly enough for two large slices of toast. A meal could be otherwise perfect, but I would leave feeling annoyed about meanness with butter or dips or whatever.

Paragon probably had a surcharge on its menus for the ambiance of Rathdowne Street. It almost felt like being in the country, not a mere kilometre or two from the heart of Melbourne. In the country, I find the noise of cars very intrusive, but I did not find them at all intrusive, although there were enough of them passing by. I took a few snaps and headed towards Lygon Street to catch the tram back to the city. I deviated a bit on my way to Lygon Street.

The contrast Between Rathdowne and Lygon Streets is dramatic. Lygon Street feels busy and noisy, from Carlton through to East Brunswick, yet it is five minutes walk between the two streets.

Back in town, I took snaps of Londale House and then entered the horrid Melbourne Central to catch a train. Actually I did not really enter Melbourne Central. I was checking out a laneway murals and found a door to slip through and get in. I am suddenly interested in some of these hand drawn bits of artwork, stimulated by Girl in Melbourne, Beth in Newcastle Upon Tyne and Fitzroyalty.

Eventually I found the station. Now why do our City Loop trains never go in the direction I want them too? I studied the screens carefully. Here we go, Glen Waverley train is going straight to Richmond via Parliament. Three minutes. I made my way smartly down to Platform 4 and along it came..........going the wrong way. Well it was right, and the screen on the platform indicated so, but the one high above at the gates said it went via Parliament. I resigned myself to a trip around the loop and a wait at Flinders Street. It came to pass. Then I still had to change for a train to South Yarra. If it wasn't for the bum steer from the display screen, I would have caught a train directly to South Yarra, via the Loop.

While I was waiting for the bus in Lonsdale Street, I noticed the Princess Mary Club. Odd name, and I took a snap to check it out later. I have no idea what it is about, but then later when reading the paper on my way home I saw a reference to it and that it is to be demolished.


As you can see in the photo, Rathdowne Street is very wide. Where the central median is, cable trams would have rumbled past before turning into Elgin and then into Russell Streets before terminating in Lonsdale Street. Great to see some old verandahs still intact.


Now if your house is made of decorative polychromatic bricks, do not stucco over and paint them. You are liable to be shot, perhaps by me.


This multi dwelling building also has polychromatic brick work, but I don't like it too much. It is harsh looking and better suited to an English climate.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lonsdale House, again

I would quite happily be told a good reason or two why Lonsdale House needs to be demolished. In spite of reading much, I haven't seen a good reason, apart from rampant capitalism.

Not even a trade off to get rid of that horrid glass projecting walk way from Myer to the vile Melbourne Central.

The dark brown building in the photo is old too. It is kind of an old building streetscape on that side. Not for much longer. When will the avaricious property developers ever be reined in? Not by Planning Minister Madden nor the Brumby State Government.

Everyone now knows to click on pictures to see them bigger, don't they.

Get 'em Out

Taxis off Swanston Street


Looks like I have to have another crack at Facebook to join up and I'd better do it. It is worthy. Swanston Street is a nightmare for everyone, except taxis. Read the blurb visible when you click on the link. There is no reason why taxis can't stick to the east west streets.

Name that train

I am already starting to forget names of our bits of public transport system when it was initially privatised. I better get them noted down for old age, lest I forget.

Let me see now.

We started with the government owned trams and trains and some buses. PTC, Public Transport Corporation and then there was MET too. Did PTC run the MET? What was MET? Metropolitan ???

Before the running of the system was privatised, it was divided into two entities for trains and two for trams. We had Hillside Trains, pretty well east west lines and Bayside Trains, more north south.

These were rebranded post privatisation into Connex and MTrain respectively. MTrain took their bat and ball and left the field and all trains became Connex

With the trams, similar. East west was ??? and went on to become Yarra Trams and and north south Swanston Trams and became MTram. MTram no longer wanted to play either and the trams all became Yarra Trams.

Pretty messy really, and now the trains and trams are going to change names again. Does anyone really care what brand is on their train or tram apart from the need for a name to use when writing a letter to the newspaper?

Correct me where you will, or add stuffs.

Now it would take a better person than me to work out the hundreds of maintenance companies.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Going Northside

Tomorrow I need to go to Rathdowne Street, Carlton. I read something somewhere that a cable tram travels along Rathdowne Street. Sounds like fun. Ah no, does not run anymore, so Jayne informed her readers.

Ok, the easy option would be to get a tram to an adjacent street and walk five minutes. Lygon or Nicholson Street would do. But that would not learn me anyfing. If there was a cable tram along Rathdowne Street, there must be a bus now. If there was bus along Rathdowne Street that replaced a cable tram, then it must have been a governement bus. While it would now be a private bus, the service standard must be quite good if the private bus replaced a government bus.

So I just need to check where to catch the bus to Rathdowne Street.

Someone could give me the quick gen, or I will look it up tomorrow. Pressing the favours a bit, but I need to get to South Yarra Station after going to Rathdown Street too, interupted by needing to go near the corner of Lygon and Princes Street. If you are all unhelpful, I will just drive the motor car. Now that will be an exciting post won't it. Driving to Carlton and then South Yarra, not.

Blog Style

I consider my blog is ok. It ain't a masterpiece but it is not a dog either. I am happy enough with it.

Your opinions on my blog style as against my blog posts are welcome. I will carefully consider what you say before dumping your opinion in the trash folder.

But there is a question I would welcome some thoughts upon. I label any photo I publish at the top. Most people label at the bottom. For some reason, I think top is better. Maybe because you read down a webpage and you need the information about what you are about to see first, before you see the picture.

But as I said, convention seems to be label photos at the bottom and I had pretty well decided to change. Reinforced by an email from someone requesting some info about someone in one of the photos from last weekend's party. He/she got the name wrong in the email because he/she read caption at the bottom of the photo.

However, then I came across another blog person who labelled the photos the same as I did. I did seem a weird to me, because I am not used that method, even though I do it myself. I am in a quandary.

So, should I top or bottom?

The Opposition Misses the Train

Finally Melbourne is getting some new trains. Read a sensible and informative post on the matter at Daniel Bowen's website. My post is anything but.

We have four different types of trains on Melbourne's system and once the new lot arrives, perhaps five, although some very much older ones should and probably will be retired. These are not just different models, they are totally different made by different manufacturers.

Now people are getting into a bother about the new trains being restricted to certain lines. I see it as sensible that they run on same lines as the same brand of older trains. The government agrees and it will make maintenance simpler than if they were spread over the system.

Now, why have we got so many different types of trains? Because back the 1990s when the train system was being privatised, it was divided into two separate companies. Each company went out and bought their own trains, one lot bought from Germany and the other lot bought from France.

Now having trains so different from different countries does not make much sense to me and it has been shown to behind operational problems many times.

And yet State Opposition Transport Spokesperson Terry Mulder could be seen on tv news last night jumping up and down about an incompetent government and Transport Minister for only proposing to run the trains on the lines that the trains by the same manufacturer run on.

Mr Mulder, there is an awful lot you could be criticising the State Government over but in this case I suggest you have a word to one of your parliamentary collegues and ask why we have the absurd situation of having two different train types, bought around the same time. Yep, that is right, it happened under the previous State Liberal Government, the party you are now a transport spokesperson for. Idiot.

Mulder, I have held off so far, but next time you try to blame the government for something your party was responsible for, essentially because of privatisation, and you have done it before, I will write another post, and then another.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lonsdale House

Planning Minister in State Government is a difficult job. The Minister gets hated by many people and I am now a hater too.

I think it was Sunday when I was travelling down Swanston Street in a tram and I noticed graffiti on the eastern wall of Lonsdale House. How brave are the bad lads who risk life and limb by hanging down from a roof to paint their idiotic illegible nonsense on sides of buildings.

It occurred to me that I had never seen graffiti on Lonsdale House before. Why suddenly now? The answer came the next day when I learnt that Planning Minister Justin Madden has approved the demolition of what is a wonderful art deco style building.

It is an old tactic used be developers. Allow a building to become an eyesore to the extent that the general public will be pleased to see it knocked down. Just watch how much worse it will quickly become.

Regardless, it is a done deal. Lonsdale House is to be demolished unless their is a huge wave of public opposition. God, we have few enough old buildings left, let alone an Art Deco example. What a shame to get rid one more to be replaced with something that no one will protest about when it is demolished in thirty years time.

Madden, you are a soulless prick.

Photo courtesy www.melbourneheritage.com

Barbie Party

One of our dyke friends turned fifty last week. She and her girlfriend really know how to hold parties. It is not just about a constant flow of drinks and food, there are also always entertainment interludes.

Pretty well the full gang were there, only missing Dame M. Myself and R, our brother friends, that is Chi Chi and ChaCha, The Boarder (Dame M's) aka Jasmine, the Hairdresser, the ex policeman and NT politician and his Fijian Indian b/f, the Brighton Antique Dealer, sans her toyboy and the Mountain Women, along with our two dyke friends, one whose it was her fiftieth birthday.

It was held at a cafe in Inkerman Street St Kilda, it being closed for the night for the party. The guys there did a great job and it was an inspired choice of location to have the party. The venue is called Inkr7 and we will certainly return for a bit of nosh one day soon.

I had to work the next day quite early so it was a sober and early night for us. Not so for the Mountain Women, and as they live in the Dandenongs, we felt obliged to offer to accomdate them. However, there was no late night call to be let in, so don't know what they did. Maybe slept in the car. It was pretty cold though.

As Barbie has just turned fifty, so has our dyke friend, so that was the theme for the party, hence the collection of Barbie paraphanalia to give as a birthday present. What do you give someone who has everything?

It was strongly requested that guests dress up as Barbie or Ken. I hate doing this stuff, and so I made a token effort. R went as Hawaian Ken, a lea, flower in hair, coloured hair and a hawaiian shirt. I printed on a tee a photo of Barbie next to a photo of our dyke friend with the lines underneath, Both are fifty. One has been re-invented many times. The other is fabulously original. It generated interest, although it was hard work sucking my stomach in as people wanted to read the slogan.

In the modern way of things, at least half the crowd were straight. Now if I see one more platinum blonde wig, I think I will throw up.

The birthday girl's girlfriend cut a fine 60s figure.

Now which pair of feet belong to a real woman.


Chacha.

Atmosphere, with Jasmine almost visible.

Monday, July 27, 2009

MIFF

MIFF reads a bit like MILF. Do your own research on MILF. MIFF stands for Melbourne International Film Festival. Among the dross at MIFF, there are often gems. MIFF is a great thing in Melbourne. So many people dressed in black queued up to get into to see films. Very Melbourne.

Normally at MIFF time, it is botheration over censorship or what is deemed to be a controversial film. Not this year. The big guns are out.

The Chinese Embassy has been on the dog and bone, protesting about one film they did not like and which they thought reflected badly on China. The organiser chappie took no notice and the film remained in the schedual.

Then three Chinese made films were withdrawn, the makers no doubt under the influence of the government.

A British bloke withdrew his film because Israel funded travel to Melbourne of one of the Jewish film makers. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all have sympathy for the Palestinian cause but really, does he not know that the film festival audience is made up entirely of Palestinian supporters anyway?

To the credit of MIFF, the boss bloke has said to them, youse can all get fucked (paraphrase). It is my film festival I will do how I want.

Seriously, if Film Festivals start pulling movies because of political pressure, they will have lost their way. This time China and a Palestinian sympathiser. What next? We may not like what is shown, but it is up to the selectors so long as they judge by the standard criteria.

Of course the publicity generated by the telephone call from the Chinese Embassy to the film festival director has ensured a full house performance. China has a bit to learn about publicity.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Business Blog

Now, there will be an accountant or tax knowledgeable person out there, so answer me this.

If I allow ads on my blog, that means it then becomes a money making blog, a business. I would then need to do the paperwork to make it into a business.

I will pay high tax on any profit (haha) as it my third source of income, but can't I offset any losses incurred in producing my blog against my tax payable, or is that only for shares and property?

What expenses? Well, I need to produce content. I need televisions, sound recording, travel, that is local, interstate and international. I need an office, computer equipment, heating, lighting.

Clearly I am going to make a big loss and with horrendous depreciation, offset against my taxable income.

So what am I missing?

Clearly I won't do this. My blog is for fun, not to make money from, but just curious.
Laughter, tears, parties, good times, fights, drunken moments, raging husband, house full of machinists, tenants, boarders.........the list is long. The house is now bare and cold and the upstairs tenants above gone. No nick nacks, no glowing warm timber furniture and Persian carpets, no paintings, no silver.

Dame M is not behind her bar pouring herself a drink. She is not sitting at her kitchen table illuminated by several lamps to read by. The smell of cigarette smoke has gone, just the yellowing paintwork remaining.

The blinds were never open. It was always lit by lights, warm and welcoming. The Boarder has gone, taking with him many of Dame M's possessions as he was entitled too. The battle with the will goes on.

Dame M has left the house. Gone. Sad, but she has gone and not even her ghost left behind.

If you are newish to my blog and you want to find out about who she is, Cast List
http://highriser.blogspot.com/2007/05/new-cast-list.html
The funeral http://highriser.blogspot.com/2008/03/dame-ms-funeral.html
Dame M at 81 http://highriser.blogspot.com/2006/10/dame-m-81-take-two.html
Dame M on skates http://highriser.blogspot.com/2006/02/another-dame-m-tale.html

There is plenty more there. Put Dame M into my search facility. I am surprised at some of things I am rereading.

Lousy photos by the real estate agent.

$1,200,000 Plus
5 Bedrooms, 4 Bathrooms, 4 Carspaces
Huge & unique 2 storey dwelling converted into 3 vic apartments with scope to enhance. Live in one, rent the others out, subdivide (subject to council approval) or convert into a family home. Apartment 1 & 2 have been converted in a massive home with period features, charming entry hall, funky 60’s bar, 2 huge bedrooms, gigantic living areas, 2 bathrooms & original kitchen facilities. Apartment 3 & 4 are both 2 bedroom apartments loaded with period detail in deco style, verandahs, open fire places, high ceilings, good sized living rooms & leafy outlooks. Also offers off street parking for several cars, large courtyard & established gardens & sep l'dry facilities at the rear. Good-sized allotment of approximately 616 square metres. An excellent example of style & grace from yesteryear & close to Albert Park Lake & Fitzroy Street.