Sunday, November 30, 2014

Victorian State Election 2014

Photo by Scott Barbour
There has been a change of government in Victoria as the Labor Party swept into power in yesterday's state election.  Daniel Andrews is now the Premier-elect of Victoria, but we will need to wait a few days for the final results as over 30% of people voted early and those votes won't start to be counted by the Victorian Electoral Commission until tomorrow. 

There are quite a few seats that are too close to call, many of them in the inner city where the Greens could pick up more seats beyond its historic win in Melbourne.  It will also be interesting to see how preferences flow in the Upper House as it's expected that a number of micro parties will control the Legislative Council.

Here is some analysis about the election result:
"How things went so wrong for the Napthine and the Liberal Party" by Josh Gordon
"Tony Abbott sweats as Victorian voters cast harsh judgement" by Mark Kenny

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Night Noodle Markets 2014

The Night Noodle Markets are in its second year in Melbourne, running in the evening from 14-30 November.  After it became a bit of a victim of its own success last year, the site was changed to the much more spacious Birrarung Marr, with a doubling of food vendors and food trucks as well.  Things are spread across three terraces, with plenty of tables and chairs and space to sit down if you wish.  Also, with the doubling of vendors it means you don't have to wait for an hour to get food.

Justin joined me last night after work to hit up a couple booths before he headed off to the soccer.  We started off at Roti Road, where I had the vegetarian curry puff, which was a Malaysian style home-made curry puff stuffed with potato, carrot and onion.  It tasted delicious and was a great starter to the evening.  Next we stopped at Thy Thy for our main meal.  I had the lemongrass chicken with Vietnamese vermicelli noodles, which tasted really good.  Charlie Dumpling was offering milk chocolate dumplings with raspberry and chili sauce, which I just had to try out.  They were more of a drop dumpling versus being in a wonton wrapper, so they weren't quite what I had envisioned in my mind.  My last stop was Gelato Messina, which was doing four unique 'pot luck pies' for the markets.  I chose to have the Phuc Khing Tasty, which contained a cinnamon scroll, coffee gelato, condensed milk pannacotta, walnut crunch and an Asian spiced cookie.  It was absolutely delicious with a lot of different textures to keep things interesting.

Friday, November 28, 2014


One of my favorite lunch spots of late is the Japanese restaurant Takumi on Bourke Street.  It's a hidden oasis in the middle of the CBD that you could easily walk by and not realise is there.  My friend Kat introduced me to the place (as she has many others at work).  My top dish is the Vegetarian lunch, which contains Japanese Agedashi tofu, deep fried gyoza, and is served with salad, steam rice and miso soup.  It's like a gourmet bento box due to the way the food is presented in all these beautiful ceramic bowls.  I love all the different little morsels of food, which taste so delicious and fresh.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Andy White- How Things Are Album Launch

Last night I headed to The Toff in Town to see Belfast singer-songwriter Andy White launch his new album How Things Are.  I first became familiar with Andy through his involvement in ALT in the mid-1990s, and it's been years since I last saw him play.  It was great to run into so many friends at this show- Fran, Peter, Mark and Rosemaree.  The opening act was a member of Andy's band, Alison Thom, who played a lovely set on acoustic guitar.

Album launches are great because you often get the opportunity to hear the complete album played live, which is what happened in the first half of Andy's set.  Jointed by the Antipoet Orchestra (which included his son Sebastian on drums), Andy played nearly all the album track by track.  Many of the songs focus on the break up of his 19 year marriage, and some of the tracks were just heartbreaking, especially "Band Of Gold," "All It Does Is Rain" and "Closest Thing To Heaven."

After a brief intermission Andy came back on stage for the second half of the set, which was a mix of tracks from throughout his career.  He played "Religious Persuasion" and "Promises Broken" solo, which I really enjoyed as they were the most folky protest songs of the night.  He finished the set with the one album track he didn't play in the first half, "Lennon," and then did "Jacqui" for an encore.

Here's a video introduction by Andy to the album:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Melbourne Street Art: AC/DC Lane

AC/DC Lane, a tiny laneway located off Flinders Lane between Exhibition and Russell Streets, is the home to rock music institution Cherry Bar and was renamed after the band by Melbourne City Council in 2004.  The street art down here and in the surrounding laneways matches the rock aesthetic of the location.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Songs Of Protest

I thought I had escaped right-wing, conservative governments when I migrated to Australia and left the Bush/Cheney regime behind, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party are proving to be just as bad as those two were.  During the 2013 Federal election Abbott promised there would be "no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST, and no cuts to the ABC or SBS."  One by one these promises are being broken, and when you add in this Government's denial of climate change and deplorable treatment of refugees, I feel like I'm back in the Bush/Cheney years.

Of course, extreme governments can lead to great art- especially music and songs of protest.  Two recent examples are as follows:

Joelistics' "Say I'm Good" off his second album Blue Volume is a fantastic take down of the current state of Australia, with a great video done by Oh Yeah Wow.  I love the lyric: "I don't buy the bullshit dreams of an aspirationalist modern Australia."

The Basics' "The Lucky Country" is a play off of Donald Horne's 1964 book of the same name.  It's a blistering attack on the age of entitlement in modern day Australia, with an animated video created by Andrew Mortlock (who also did the clip for "So Hard For You").  "Someone called this the lucky country, where our leadership is second rate" couldn't be a more apt lyric if you tried.

Monday, November 24, 2014

To The Left, To The Left

In the immortal words of Beyonce in "Irreplaceable:" To the left, to the left- why can't Melbourne pedestrians keep to the left?  As someone who walks everywhere it drives me mad that people can't follow basic etiquette on how to walk on a sidewalk.  You don't drive on the wrong side of the road, so why don't Melburnians apply those same rules when they are walking down the street? 

I feel like I'm running a gauntlet when trying to cross intersections in the city as no one will move out of the way.  It's like some giant game of chicken.  This behavior in any other city would have you run (walked) over or yelled at, so I was extremely happy to read in The Age today that the City of Melbourne is starting phase 2 of its Share Our Streets campaign to educate people and bring a bit of courtesy back to the CBD.  Hopefully people will get the message and pay more attention to those around them- and also keep to the left!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Millions- For Your Leisure & Pleasure Tour

Brisbane band Millions released their debut album Max Relax a few months ago, so it was great to get to see them play in support of it last night at the Northcote Social Club.  The opening act for the evening was Ballarat indie rock band Them 9's.  Although they were down a band member I was impressed by their songs and felt they had a bit of a special spark to them.  Next up was Sydney four piece band High-tails, who I thought were ok but their songs didn't really stand out to me.

Millions came out onto the stage with all the band members wearing long sleeve white shirts, with 3 of the 4 of them in matching turtlenecks.  They kicked off their set with "Slow Burner" from the Nine Lives, Six Degrees EP.  Unfortunately it was a disappointingly small and lacklustre crowd in the venue, which I think was due to the number of competing gigs on last night in Melbourne (e.g. I had two other shows I would have liked to attend).  While this seemed to frustrate the band, particularly lead singer Dom, they kicked things into another gear with "Champagne" and "Those Girls," which got the crowd moving and more involved.  Other highlights of the set included "Clementine," "Agony & Ecstasy," "Writing On The Wall," "Daydreaming" and a lovely cover of Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody."  By the time they finished the evening with "Nineteen" nearly everyone was dancing along.   Hopefully the next time they come to town they will be playing in front of a sold out crowd because they are too talented to be saddled with a half full venue.

Here's the video for the current single "Clementine" (note the matching white shirts):

Saturday, November 22, 2014


In search of a place to eat post-after work drinks last night, Onagh and I stumbled upon Meatmaiden on Little Collins Street.  A sister restaurant to Richmond's Meatmother, it has been open for a few months.  You enter the restaurant through a door with a woman's face painted on it and descend to the basement on some very industrial looking stairs.  The restaurant space itself is large with a dark, Gothic feel (axes seem to be a featured tool in the decor). 

The menu is American BBQ themed and reasonably priced for sharing.  We ordered the O’Connor pasture-fed flat iron steak, lobster mac and cheese, and side dishes of mash and rye gravy, and the NQA salad which had fennel, orange and pomegranate in it.  All of the dishes were really good, and the meat was cooked to perfection and quite tasty.  After a bit of time to digest our dinner we were ready to try a couple of the desserts: Crack mom’s apple pie with vanilla ice cream, and the Sundae diner with peanut brittle.  Both of those dishes were also very yummy.  We definitely left feeling full and satisfied and I look forward to returning to sample more of the menu.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Paul Dempsey- 3 Cities Tour

Paul Dempsey's 3 Cities Tour was initially just three shows in three cities, but he added a second show in Melbourne, which is what Mary and I attended last night.  This was the first of two sold out shows at the Corner Hotel.  The opening act was Alexander Gow from Oh Mercy.  Alex and Paul first met on the 2011 They Will Have Their Way: The Songs Of Tim And Neil Finn tour.  I was super excited when he was announced as the support act because it's been over a year since we last saw Alex play live.  His set list contained three new songs, including "I Am A Man," as well as old favorites "Drums," "Lady Eucalyptus," "My Man," "Deep Heat," "Get You Back" and "Keith St."  Alex closed his set with an impassioned cover of The Waterboys' "The Whole Of The Moon."

As this tour is just Paul solo on acoustic guitar it has allowed him to draw on songs from his solo catalogue, material from his band Something For Kate, as well as a few new tracks.  Paul was mesmerising to watch play as he sung his songs from the heart and was able to get so many different sound dynamics out of his acoustic guitar.  Highlights included "Private Rain," "Ramona Was A Waitress," "Bird In A Basement," and "Asleep At The Wheel."  Alex came out about half way through the set to join Paul for the Something For Kate song "Stunt Show," new Oh Mercy track "Cool Water" and a cover of The Motels' "Total Control."  Paul also played a cover of David Bowie's "Ashes To Ashes" as part of the encore.  Overall it was an amazing evening with two great Australian singer-songwriters.

Here's a little interview with Paul and Alex around the time of the They Will Have Their Way tour and their version of one of my favorite Crowded House songs, "Kare Kare."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kris Schroeder- Retreat Hotel Residency Week 3

Last night was week three of Kris Schroeder's residency at the Retreat Hotel in Brunswick.  The opening act this week was David Bramble, an occasional live contributor to The Basics.  He played solo on acoustic guitar as well as a bit of harmonica on a couple songs.  I thought he sounded good and I really enjoyed the songs which were written on a recent trip to the USA and Nashville due to their amusing story lines and country vibes.

It was a bit more packed this week as Kris played his somewhat loose set.  He has not had the best of weeks after his appearance on the Vote For Me! State Election: The Parties Bring It! panel at the Face The Music conference on Friday didn't go to plan and resulted in this opinion piece being published in  He made references to it during the evening but didn't really go into full detail.  The set list was pretty similar to last week's show.  Highlights were the new Basics songs "To Think Of You," "Tunaomba Saidia," "What Ever Happened To The Working Class" and "Every Part Of Me," which he played solo for the first time.  We got a couple solo EP songs as well as the Keep Your Friends Close album tracks "All Or Nothing," "Keep The Door Open" and an audience request for "What Do You See In Me?"  While he once again did covers of Neil Young and Yusuf Islam, unfortunately we did not get to hear his interpretation of Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald doing "What A Fool Believes" as was promised last week.  Kris did admit this omission may add to the number of people who currently hate him.  Next week is the last week of the residency so if you are free get on down to the Retreat!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Melbourne Street Art: Hosier Lane

Hosier Lane off Flinders Street by The Forum is probably the epicenter of Melbourne street art.  It is constantly evolving with new pieces to be discovered every time you visit.  Last year for the Melbourne Now exhibition they painted the whole laneway black and started from scratch.  Even within that time frame there are only a few pieces that still remain.  These are some photos from Hosier Lane and neighboring Rutledge Lane that I took earlier in the week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jam Drop Cookies

Jam drop cookies are easy to make and are pretty popular in Australia.  This recipe is one I got out of Real Living Magazine a few years ago.

- 180g butter
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1/2 cup jam of your choice
- raw sugar for coating

Preheat oven to 180C/356F and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

In a small bowl mix the flour and baking powder and set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.  Gradually add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture until a soft dough ball has formed.

In batches, roll the dough into small balls about 3cm/1 inch in diameter, roll the ball in raw sugar, and place on a baking sheet 5cm/2 inches apart.  Flatten each ball with the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass, then make an indent in the center of each with your finger.  Fill the indent with jam.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cook the next batch of cookies.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Myer Christmas Windows

The Myer Christmas Windows are in their 59th year at the Bourke Street store in Melbourne.  The theme for this year's display is the book Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno.  It's a Christmas twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears with Santa wreaking havoc on the three bears' home.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

C.W. Stoneking- Gon' Boogaloo Tour

It's been a long six years in between albums for C.W. Stoneking, so it was exciting when his new album Gon' Boogaloo finally came out a few weeks ago.  Belinda joined me for his show last night at The Forum.  We arrived half way through the set of opening act Fraser A. Gorman, a young singer-songwriter with a bit of a Bob Dylan vibe who was quite funny with his in between song banter.

C.W. Stoneking emerged on the stage wearing his usual all white outfit with a black and white polka dot bow tie.  He and his band played for nearly 2 hours with a set list that included songs from all his albums.  We got rocking numbers such as  "The Love Me Or Die," "The Jungle Swing," "Brave Son Of America," "I'm The Jungle Man," "The Zombie" and "We Gon' Boogaloo," as well as slower tracks "Talking Lion Blues" and "Jailhouse Blues" which had the audience singing along.  C.W. told many stories as he introduced the next song he was going to play, including discussing how some people messaged him to say they were disappointed he's not playing banjo on the new record.  To finish off the evening he went gospel with a cover of The Soul Stirrers' "He's Been A Shelter For Me."  It's good to have C.W. back on the scene after an extended absence, and I'm really enjoying Gon' Boogaloo.

Here's the video for "Jungle Blues" off his last album:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

G20 2014 Brisbane

Photo by Reuters
The annual Group of Twenty (G20) Summit is happening this weekend in Brisbane.  Made up of 19 countries and the European Union (all the world's major economies), the G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation and decision-making.  This afternoon US President Barack Obama gave a wide-ranging speech at the University of Queensland to 1,000 people.  He touched on the United States' commitment to the Asia-Pacific, human rights and climate change, where he pledged US$3 billion to the United Nations Green Climate Fund to help support developing nations dealing with the impacts of climate change.  Needless to say this is a much more proactive agenda than is currently being offered by the Commonwealth Government here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Basics- Carters Public House

Last night Mary and I got the opportunity to see The Basics play a benefit show for The Song Room at Carters Public House in Northcote.  The Song Room is a not-for-profit organisation that delivers tailored, high quality music and arts programs to disadvantaged schools across Australia.  The boys played a gig earlier in the evening at Melbourne Airport for AirPlay! so I felt a bit sorry for them as they had to lug in all their gear and set it up as the crowd built around them in the tiny venue.

By the time they started their set with "Three Cool Cats" the place was completely packed out, with an overflow crowd of people who couldn't get in out on the sidewalk listening.  The hour and a half set was about half Basics songs and half covers.  We got to hear new songs "The Lucky Country" and "To Think Of You" as well as old favorites "Hey There!," "Just Hold On," "My Baby," "She's Gonna B. Late" and "Second Best."  Tim was on fire with "Have Love, Will Travel" and "Hey Rain."  Kris gave a little speech about his learnings over the past few weeks with the Basics Rock'n'Roll Party (BRRP).  He said, half joking, "If you're ever thinking about it, don't get into politics."  The BRRP has both Kris and Tim running for the Northern Metropolitan Region Upper House seat, and candidate Jamie McCarney for the Northcote seat in the Lower House.

What really made the evening special, besides getting to see The Basics in such an intimate venue, was the array of covers they played.  We got to hear Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Long As I Can See The Light" and "Proud Mary," along with Neil Young's "Old Man" and George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set On You."  However, it was the end of the set that really showed off their musicianship and years of playing together as they tore through AC/DC's "Jailbreak" (dedicated to Phil Rudd), Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love" (with a bit of JJ Cale's "Cocaine" in the middle), The Beatles' "Get Back" and Cream's "Crossroads," which finished off the night.  It was such a great gig and I was really happy to get to see them play again as I will be overseas when they are on tour in December and January.

Here's the video for the new single "The Lucky Country" (you can buy the EP here):

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kris Schroeder- Retreat Hotel Residency Week 2

In Kris Schroeder's seeming quest to play at every venue in Brunswick he has organised a November residency at the Retreat Hotel on Wednesday nights.  This was the second week, and opening up proceedings was Louis Spoils (aka Jake Rush).  Mary and I arrived toward the end of his set and got to hear the last few songs he played, which sounded good.

It was a relaxed and casual Kris in shorts and sandals this week as he was plugged in on a borrowed electric guitar for his set.  Starting with "All Or Nothing" he played a mix of old and new tracks by The Basics.  I am still really loving the new stuff: "What Ever Happened To The Working Class," "To Think Of You" and "Tunaomba Saidia," which features on the newly released EP The Lucky Country.  An audience request for "Feels Like Love" was quite amusing as Kris alternated between playing the guitar and bass parts of the song to try and get through it.  He also played the solo tracks "I Don't Feel Safe" (Mary's favorite) and "Walk Beside White."  In addition, there were a few covers sprinkled throughout the set, including Yusuf Islam's (Cat Stevens) "Father and Son" and songs by guys named Neil: Neil Young's "After The Gold Rush" and "Out On The Weekend," and Neil Finn/Crowded House's "Not The Girl You Think You Are" and "Four Seasons In One Day," which closed the evening.  Kris is working on some Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald material for next week (we got a snippet of "What A Fool Believes") so that should be reason enough to come along.

Here's a video shot at Kris' Union Hotel gig a couple weeks ago of him singing "Tunaomba Saidia"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Morning Tea In The Gardens

I work in a division of people who love to bake, which means we will find any legitimate excuse to hold a morning tea.  Over the past year this has included many staff goodbyes and welcomes as our tiny division of 12 people has had 5 pregnancies (and six babies in total as one was pregnant with twins).  This morning we had a bit of a mother's group going on as four of our five new mothers came in to have morning tea with us along with their babies.  As the weather was nice we also decided to have it outside in Treasury Gardens.  There was our usual assortment of delicious food: pumpkin tarts, mushroom tarts, seven layer dip and tortilla chips, assorted pastries and caramel slice.  It was great to meet the babies and catch up with everyone as they will all gradually start to return to work next year.  This of course means we will have another series of welcome and goodbye morning teas!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

APEC Summit 2014

It's one of my favorite times of year- the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit where heads of government from the 21 Pacific Rim member economies come together to meet over two days.  This year's summit took place in Beijing, China.  Of course, the best thing about these meetings is not the announcements of trade agreements and other economic reforms, but the annual APEC Leaders' Family Photo.  The tradition involves leaders donning clothing that reflects the culture of the host member.  This year they wore traditional Chinese silk tunics in dark purple and aqua, which immediately reminded people of Star Trek and sent social media into overdrive.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
For Australians, this was our first opportunity to see if Prime Minister Tony Abbott would follow through on his threat to "shirtfront" Russian President Vladimir Putin over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which killed 38 Australians.  While there didn't appear to be any physical confrontation between the two leaders, they did meet briefly and Abbott reportedly requested for Russia to apologise and consider paying restitution.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Party Tricks

We're entering the second week of the Victorian State Election campaign but the tv version portrayed in Party Tricks has just finished.  Victorian Premier Kate Ballard (Asher Keddie) is in her first election campaign as Premier and heading to certain victory when the Coalition announces a shock new candidate- former tv reporter and popular media personality David McLeod (Rodger Corser).  The six part series, produced by John Edwards and Imogen Banks, follows the ups and downs of the election campaign as the candidates try to keep one part of their shared history private- a secret affair from years ago.

Party Tricks was great fun to watch as they did a wonderful job of capturing the realities of politics in Victoria.  The campaign slogans, posters and ads were spot on.  The show even created campaign sites for Ballard and McLeod as well as social media accounts for the candidates that mirrored what was happening in the episodes and on the campaign trail each week.  The outcome of the election was close, but we'll just have to wait and see if fantasy mirrors reality at the end of the month.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Stiffys- Kick Another Flip Tour

Melbourne's most positive and fashionable groovy boys, The Stiffys, played at The Workers Club last night to launch their new single "Kick Another Flip" off their upcoming EP Art Rock.  Belinda and I arrived after opening band Darts had started playing.  The five piece punk/grunge band included a cover of R.E.M.'s "Orange Crush" in their set.  Next up was four piece surf/rockabilly band La Bastard.  They sounded great and played a very entertaining set as the guitar and bass players kept coming onto the floor during songs throughout their set.

The Stiffys have moved on from their sailor suits and came out dressed in space suits with helmets.  They started their set with "Call and Response Song" and played the majority of songs off their two EPs The Stiffys and We Are Groovy Boys.  Highlights included "Champagne," "Gimme All Your Cocoa Pops," "Erection! Everybody!" and "I'm Really Good At Sex Because I'm Always Doing It."  A few songs in some punk guy climbed up the side of the wall to the ceiling and swung across the floor using the support beam as if it was monkey bars.  We got a bit of a preview of Art Rock with a snippet of the song "Space Blog" and the new single "Kick Another Flip."  Of course the climatic moment of the night was when they played "Boogie Boarding" and got an audience member to surf the crowd on a boogie board.  It was another fun show and all I can really say to sum it up is GREAT JOB STIFFYS!

Here's the video for "Boogie Boarding" (and a chance to see the old sailor suits):

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Jean Paul Gaultier and Saskwatch

Friday Nights at the NGV are back with the latest exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.  It features more than 140 garments from throughout Gaultier's career spanning the 1970s to today, in addition to photographs, sketches, stage costumes for tours by artists such as Madonna and Kylie Minogue, and footage from runway shows.  Each of the seven rooms has a different theme, which helps to group certain fashion collections together as well as themes that have run throughout Gaultier's designs.  There are so many amazing pieces on display, and projecting models moving and speaking faces onto the mannequin's faces made it look like real people were standing there modelling the clothes.  One room was set up like a fashion show with mannequins moving on a motorised runway.  There were so many highlights throughout the exhibition, but here are some of my favorite things:

After catching Rone's exhibition earlier in the week it was great to see his portraits of four of Gaultier's Aussie muses (Cate Blanchett, Gemma Ward, Andreja Pejić, and Kylie Minogue) on the walls in different parts of the exhibition.

After finishing it was time to watch Saskwatch perform in the Great Hall.  The nine piece soul band started their hour long set with "Give Me A Reason."  They played a mix of new unreleased tracks as well as selections off their two albums, including "Two Hearts," "Call Your Name," "Left Me To Die," "Born To Break Your Heart"  and "Keep Me In Mind."  Lead singer Nkechi Anele's outfit seemed a bit inspired by Gaultier, and I liked that two of the band members were wearing San Francisco Giants caps (they must have picked them up while in SF during the World Series).  The band finished their set with "Hands," which had everyone dancing and clapping along.  Overall it was a really great evening and I love that the NGV pairs their exhibitions with local and international musical acts on these Friday Night sessions.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Rone- Lumen

Street artist Rone is doing his first Australian solo exhibition in two years at an abandoned and soon to be demolished office building at 109 Little Collins Street in Melbourne.  Titled Lumen, the exhibition contains eleven large scale portraits as well as a 12 metre high mural on the building's ventilation tower.  In addition, there is a series of film clips you can watch of Rone doing his street art at various places around the world.  The portraits both inside and outside the building are quite stunning to look at, and doing his work on buildings about to be demolished is nothing new as he also had a beautiful large scale portrait mural that was done for Rue & Co, which is now gone.  Lumen runs until Sunday, 9 November so get down there quick to check it out!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

US Midterm Elections

As expected, the US midterm elections on Tuesday were a bloodbath for the Democrats.  The Republicans now have control of both the House and the Senate, which will make the last two years of Obama's presidency interesting so far as getting any policy or reforms passed.  It's disappointing that so many people chose not to vote.  I live half way around the world and I managed to vote and get my ballot mailed back in time.  Although I don't think compulsory voting like here in Australia is the answer, it would be a very different ballgame if politicians had to appeal to all voters instead of just the narrow band that are likely to vote.  In any case, this landslide could be a good thing going into the 2016 Presidential election, as the Republicans will have to be seen doing something over the next two years in Congress or they might experience a swing going the other way.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Gough Whitlam Memorial Service

Photo: National Archives of Australia
Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was remembered at a state memorial service today at the Sydney Town Hall after passing away on 21 October at the age of 98.  Whitlam was one of the great leaders of the Australian Labor Party, serving as Prime Minister from 1972 - 1975.  Although his term was cut short due to the 1975 constitutional crisis, he is widely remembered for his amazing social policy agenda which included universal health care, free tertiary education, legal aid and the termination of military conscription.

Today's memorial was the closest thing Australia would have to a US Presidential funeral.  All seven living Prime Ministers were in attendance and large crowds gathered outside of the Town Hall to pay their respects.  Two of the most celebrated eulogies were by actress Cate Blanchett, who spoke of how she has benefited from his policies, and Cape York Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, who spoke of Whitlam's vision for universal opportunity.

In addition, Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody sang "From Little Things, Big Things Grow" as a tribute.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Melbourne Cup Day 2014

Photo by Getty Images
Today is the 154th running of the Emirates Melbourne Cup and my first day off since the Queen's Birthday holiday in June.  While the weather is warm it is a bit overcast and windy.  There were twenty-four horses in the draw this year, but two withdrew before the race began- Sea Moon and Cavalryman.  The favorites going in were Japanese horse Admire Rakti, Fawkner, German horse Protectionist, Lucia Valentina and Derby Day winner Signoff.

My Ambivalent sprinted out at a cracking pace but was eventually caught by the pack.  As the horses reached the straight Protectionist broke free and won the Cup by three lengths, with Red Cadeaux finishing in second place for the third time, and Who Shot TheBarman finishing third.  Tragically the race favorite, Admire Rakti, finished last and then collapsed in the stalls and died.  Another horse, Araldo, got spooked by the crowd heading back to the mounting yard and kicked into a fence, breaking his pastern bone.  Vets operated to try and save him but he had to be euthanised.  It's a very sad reminder of the toll of horse racing- last year French horse Verema was put down on the field after snapping her cannon bone during the Cup race.
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