Small bars and satirical senators

In summer 08/09, I filled in for Peter Fitzsimons’ Fitz Files column for six weeks… this is instalment #1

A big boost for small bars

I keep expecting to stumble upon hidden laneways buzzing with impossibly cool holes-in-the-wall, like they have in Melbourne, but six months after the laws changed, I have yet to discover a single one. Apparently the delay is the fault of an absurdly onerous approval process, with the Community Impact Statement requirement forcing bar owners to go door-to-door, begging for approval from every single narky neighbour – an impossible task. Well, the Rees Government has now dramatically simplified the consultation process, with a requirement only to display a notice on the premises for some venues, so with a bit of luck our city will finally get a broader range of drinking options.

Also deserving of a pat on the back is the removal of the requirement for councils to approve public performances, which will either provide a huge shot in the arm for local singer-songwriters, or dramatically increase the number of awful cover bands.

Now the only disincentive to starting up a small bar is a little thing called the global financial crisis, which has slashed everyone’s discretionary spending and made the banks far cagier about offering business loans. Still, let’s hope some plucky entrepreneurs open their doors, and give us a few new venues to drown our sorrows as global capitalism crumbles around us.

It only remains for the Government to dump its self-defeating new curfew requirements, and we’ll have genuinely sensible liquor laws for the first time ever. It took Melbourne only three months to discover that lockouts only increased the violence they were supposed to stop, so stay tuned for the Premier to realise that better policing of the existing laws is the solution, and draconian rules only make drunk people angry.

A satirical Senator?

Some may be surprised to learn that the US election is still going in Minnesota, that charmingly eccentric state that gave Fargo its mangled vowels. Republican Senator Norm Coleman is now a handful of votes behind his Democrat challenger Al Franken, a former Saturday Night Live star who’s responsible for two great books on politics and the media that are well worth an Amazon order. The first, Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them, is naturally about Fox News, while even the title of Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot is deeply satisfying.

While it looks like Franken won’t be producing more amusingly-titled books anytime soon, the idea of a political satirist crossing the line is an intriguing one, as the dull proceedings of the US Senate could certainly use some snappy one-liners. Perhaps we should convince John Clarke to do the same thing here? His interviews would be a lot more entertaining than Kevin Rudd’s.

What summer?

Sitting sniffling after yet another week of icy winds, I was starting to wonder whether summer had been cancelled, and we never got the memo. So I rang the Bureau of Meteorology to find out, and they reckon that while rainfall might be a little higher over the next three months, but that the temperature outlook from January to March should be normal. I’m still sceptical, but given how awful the weather’s been lately, we should probably be thankful it wasn’t a white Christmas.

The folly and the Ivy

This Christmas, the place to be is apparently the pool bar at the Ivy, Justin Hemmes’ new headquarters of hedonism on George St. All the beautiful people go there on Sunday afternoons to frolic in the sun and admire each other’s toned bodies. Or so I hear – I could only sneak in on a rainy Tuesday night after a function downstairs, and despite my best attempts to impress one of the managers, she correctly adjudged that I wasn’t cool enough to score a membership card.

So where can us non-beautiful people head to enjoy a refreshing outdoor dip and a classy beverage? Well, North Sydney Olympic Pool boasts far better views, and its Aqua restaurant serves great cocktails. Plus, pool entry is only $5.80 – less than you’d dare tip for one drink at Hemmes’ watering hole.

A real Test

South Africa’s victory in the First Test was met with much soul-searching about our depleted cricketing stocks, but we should be grateful to the tourists for delivering a suspenseful summer of cricket. For once, our beloved Sydney Test might not be a dead rubber, and while Brett Lee’s career might be coming to an end, he’s always guaranteed a position in the Indian singles charts.

A beef with the snaparazzi

I’ve known Andrew O’Keefe since he was the star of the Sydney Uni law revue and I was a dorky kid trying to look inconspicuous in the corner of the stage. I mention this mainly to impress you with my awesome celebrity connections, but also because he’s a great bloke who didn’t deserve his treatment this week. Now, everyone with a cameraphone and no respect for privacy is going to try to make a quick buck by ruining celebrities’ nights out. This must be stopped, lest people in the TV industry be forced to endure the Logies sober.

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