The incoherent blathering and deranged rantings of the self-styled Guru Bob...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Get into history

Finally finished Tom Wolfe book called 'I am Charlotte Simmons' on the weekend which was actually pretty good. I have waded through a few of his more recent tomes and supposedly he is the master of observation or some such nonsense. However you could claim some link between him and JB because I think he was one of the instigators of 'new journalism' (along with the madder then mad Hunter S Thompson) with books like the Electric Cool Aid Acid Test and other looks at 60s sub-cultures.
However seeing as the long weekend was all about commemorating the landing of the first colonists in Australia some many years ago - I hit a few historical books over the weekend as well.
I had picked up a couple of books that have recently been published by Arcade Publications about some aspects of local history. One of the great things about Melbourne is the support given to small publishers and these guys are small publishers who make small books (quite literally as the things fit into a trouser pocket) about the history of Melbourne. One about the eccentric bookselling genius E. W. Cole whose enormous old house is around the corner from my place in Essendon. The other was about 'Making Modern Melbourne' and was a great little condensed history of the city.
I actually finished both of them really quickly and then moved onto another book Flavours of Melbourne: a culinary biography which gives you an insight into the different foods of different eras of the city - from pre-contact through to colonial days, the gold rush, Marvellous Melbourne and I am now up to the Great Depression era. Each chapter outlines how people lived, the food they ate at home, where they went out to and concludes with recipes from the era - so if you want to know how to cook kangaroo steamer, devilled sardines or mock turtle soup - you can start there.
Finally on Oz Day after a traditional barbie of flattened tandoori chicken where I managed to set fire to the BBQ - we relaxed with some beers and watched episode one of The First Australians which should be compulsory viewing for everyone down here in Oztrailya...
So now I feel a much more well rounded human being and know some more stuff about my new hometown and the land of my birth.


  1. Unfortunately you don't have someone doing a history of the dodgy aspects of your city. We have JB's Leviathan.
    I agree, its sometimes good to reflect on what made your city the place it is today. First Australians is one of those series which you watch and then think "Fuck me. Should have been made fifty years ago."

  2. The Arcade guys next book will be about the notorious 19th century brothel owner Madame Brussels so it ain't all beer and skittles.

    Actually if you want to read about sordid parts of Sydney history pick up a book called 'Razor' about the razor gangs in 1920s adn 30s Darlinghurst. That is good reading.

  3. GB: Yes, I was (am) a HST fan and read Wolfe as being to one side side of that, then later in the early 90s when Felafel came out, I saw it as a sort of heir to the gonzo tradition. Not sure how Birmo feels about that, I guess I forgot to ask him ;) Shall have to one day

  4. I am looking forward to the Madame Brussels stuff as I have a work coleeague who loves to go there (the new drinky place that has been overlad on the old brothel).

    Not to forget The Sparrow's 'Radical Melbourne' which charts the spirit lifting successess and depressing, continual defeats of the left in Melbourne.

  5. Yes that reminds me i have to get the DVD of First Austrlaians as i missed it over the xmas break.

    Therbs, 'Leadbelly' is pretty good for modern history of sin City!!