Digital valium? Cold turkey!

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paytv1

 

After nine years, our Foxtel pay TV service has been disconnected.

There are a number of reasons …

One is, I simply grew weary of haggling several times a year with Foxtel staff on the phone – quite often after extended wait times – in order to get our fees down.

Our wants were simple – your basic service + sport.

No, no, no – I do not want IQ, HD, an AFL package or any other of your bells and whistles.

We have an old-school television that cannot handle HD and we have no interest in recording programs for later viewing.

For years, even though it’s been a pain in the you know where, I have been able to talk our monthy payments down from $55 or $60 to $45 or even (late last year) $35 – which we figure is about what we should’ve been paying.

But such arrangements have only ever run for a few months – after which I have had to repeat the whole tiresome process.

Every time I got on the phone to Foxtel, I was aware that I should not be merely be playing a game of bluff – that I really did need to have the determination to disconnect if a suitable pricing arrangement could not agreed upon.

And so it came to pass … when the Foxtel employee with whom I was dealing could not, even after consultation with his supervisor and then with the supervisor’s supervisor, offer me any deal at ll.

That’s it – disconnect!

But there are other factors …

As much I’ve enjoyed endless, low-cost access to an endless parade of of NRL, Super Rugby, A-League, cricket and much more, for the past year or so having pay TV has started to feel a bit like a prison.

I’ve felt tethered to the sofa.

On one night last week, for instance, there were four games on at once – yet I can hardly claim to have enjoyed the evening as I was channel surfing the whole time.

All this, of course, means big changes in our household.

No pay TV means no TV at all.

One of the most attractive things about having a pay TV package is never having to have any truck with the banalities of the laughably self-described free-to-air channels.

So – no, no, no, a millions times no – we will not be buying a set-top box or a new telly simply so we can have the privilege of watching A Current Affair or reality TV BS.

Books – oh yes, there is going to be a lot of reading.

And music – which, to quote Duke Ellington, has always been my mistress, above and a long ways beyond anything on a TV screen, including sport.

There will be a lot of music – a lot more music.

I’ve always felt that regardless of its ownership status, that Sky News in Australia plays a straight bat on political matters.

But the signing up Andrew Bolt for a nightly show, joining the equally Rightist Chris Kenny and Paul Murray, is another very good reason to pull the plug.

What are they thinking? They can, of course, have on their channel whoever they please – but I’m not sure pushing the commentary team so far to the Right is a smart move.

I have some big plans for Consider The Sauce formulating in my brain – hopefully now I will stop dreaming and start doing.

It’s never been about the money – in fact, even $60 seems pretty reasonable for the service we received.

And now it’s gone, Bennie and I may step out for the occasional Socceroos or Victory game – any one of which will cost more than an entire month of pay TV.

As well, we may also step out to see vintage movies and the like that turn us on, at ACMI or the Astor.

It remains to be seen how we will cope without pay TV … but for the moment not having it feels liberating.

Wait – what’s going on?

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supa3

 

A few years back, Consider The Sauce was bemused to note the rise of the Deliberate Wait.

This involves certain eateries in the CBD and elsewhere deliberately and on purpose running their no-booking operations with built-in waiting time for incoming customers.

This way, the reasoning seems to go, the punters can spend some time cooling their heels – in the bar spending money, on the stairway and even out on the street – in such a way as to sharpen their appreciation for just how lucky they will be when they eventually get to eat in such fabulously fashionable establishments.

Whacko stuff.

Or so it’s always seemed to me.

But nothing to do with us, our friends, our readers and eating in the west.

Lately, though, I’m not so sure.

Stories of extended wait times and queuing, many of them provided first-hand to CTS or witnessed by ourselves, continue to arise.

Mostly, though, they’re concerned with different kinds of delay than the “make ’em wait – we’ll build hipster cache” school of thought.

Though I suspect the hour-and-more wait times to get into a certain new CBD dumpling joint certainly fall into that category.

I have a friend who waited more than hour for food at a barbecue festival.

More recently I’ve been told that wait times for the new Willy Friday night food trucks extended, in some cases, beyond 40 minutes.

Surely anything beyond 10 minutes for a bowl of noodles or some such from a food truck defeats the very purpose and ethos and fun of food trucks?

On a more prosaic level, I regularly spy weekend groups of people waiting on the street for tables at a groovy inner west cafe, the coffee of which I find undrinkable.

And over in Kensington, I regularly see a dozen or more people waiting in the foyer or on the street for a table at Laksa King – early evening and early in the week.

Terrific food, indeed, but …

As Bennie has pointed out, we do indeed sometimes wait for a table – but only very, very rarely does that extend beyond waiting for a recently vacated table to be cleared.

Mostly, we’re very happy for ourselves and our fellow westies that waiting – be it for five minutes or five days – is simply uncalled for.

“If one place is busy, go next door” is our default rule of thumb.

Last weekend, I visited one of my very favourite places only to find it more crowded than I had ever before witnessed.

“Uh oh,” I thought. “I’m going to be waiting forever …”

However the staff assured me I’d get my lunch within 15 minutes – that’s OK then, I can live with that!

As things eventuated, I got my goodies in 10 minutes.

Later, I asked the co-proprietor – a man with much experience not only in running this particular cafe/shop but also of coping with the demands of markets and festivals – about long wait times.

For him it’s simple: It’s all about prep work – or lack of it.

And he stressed how important it is – he wants customers to return.

So while this kind of madness continues to pass us by, I still do wonder about whether punters who cop it have some sort of masochistic streak and whether some operators simply haven’t got their act together.

Either in terms of getting customers seated or in providing them food in a timely manner …

Hair? Yes. BBQ? No.

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lina2

 

Meet Lina.

She’ll do you a do or a haircut with a smile and skill.

Lina’s Hair Salon is at 1/7 Kinnear Street, Footscray.

 

lina1

 

What Lina cannot do is provide with you with a lunch or a dinner – or even a snack – of barbecue.

Which is quite at odds with a recent listing on Urbanspoon.

Whatever the origins of this mystery, Lina is being a good sport about.

She is, however, fielding phone calls from barbecue fans wishing to book tables.

But at least I know where to go to get my next haircut!

 

lina3

West Footscray and the winds of change

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wefo2

 

It seems unlikely at this point that the possibility of about 200 apartments going up on the site of what is currently 501 Receptions will generate the same kind of uproar that greeted the developmental threat to the Dancing Dog building.

Still, doing a story about those plans has seen me engage in a number of interesting conversations about urban living and planning.

No one I’ve talked to is opposed to development – but that support usually comes with a proviso that new buildings be of high quality and intelligently designed.

There’s the rub …

One intensely interested West Footscray local also brought into focus for me the fact that the 501 Receptions proposal is just one of many changes taking place within a very small area.

I had been at least subliminally aware of most of them, unaware of others – but taken as a whole, they certainly signal a neighbourhood in transition.

What is driving these changes?

Is the demand really there for so many apartments and townhouses – or is there always an element of guesswork in such investments?

I wonder, too, if there is a cadre of long-time landlords and property owners who have been passive investors for decades but who are suddenly feeling the inclination to cash in.

If so, why?

On Barkly Street – between 501 Receptions and Dosa Hut/Dosa Corner, and amid much commercial activity of various kinds – there is a surprisingly high number of residential properties.

I wonder what their future is in a time of neighbourhood flux.

 

west9

 

Likewise, how secure is the future for the old Barkly Street churches?

 

west5

 

Opposite 540 On Barkly stands what can accurately be called a paddock.

It bears a “for lease” sign.

 

west4

 

Further along, and opposite Ovest, is another vacant lot, this one not so big and without signage.

 

west6

 

There’s another paddock on the corner of Clive and Russell streets, behind Dosa Corner.

What was once a funky ’60s-style church is now definitely earmarked for apartments, I’m told.

 

west7

 

Further along, opoosite West Footscray Vet Clinic, stood for many decades a neighbourhood mechanic.

I’m told that one minute a few weeks back it was there and about 30 later it was gone, the land destined for … apartments and/or townhouses.

According to the vet clinic folks, “people who have been bringing their animals to us for years had been taking their cars there for years”.

 

west8

 

Back in the village, the two shops between Dosa Hut and the paint shop are to become townhouses, six of the eight already sold, according to the sign.

 

west3

 

According to a post on the Barkly Village Facebook page, the defaced property next to the laundrette is all set to become an amusement parlour – “primary use seems to be for billiards and games machines”.

 

west1

 

Also in the village, GM Manchester is adorned with “closing down” signs.

 

west2

 

The short-lived Akshaya Indian street food enterprise is giving way to a WeFo branch of Biryani House.

When I have a peek, they look like they’re just about ready to roll …

198 apartments for Barkly St, WeFo?

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wefo1

 

More than a year ago, I tried to sweet talk the proprietor of 501 Receptions in West Footscray into letting me do a story on his operation.

Specifically, I wanted to spend a Saturday night at 501 Receptions taking in the go-to-whoa of an event such as a wedding – taking in along the way the staff, the kitchen, the food, everything.

Nothing came of my idea – even after a mutual acquaintance, someone who is something of an elder statesman of western suburbs food, tried to ease the way with 501 Receptions on my behalf.

Now I find that, under plans before Maribyrnong council, the future of 50 Receptions is very much up in the air.

 

wefo3

 

According to a story by my Star Weekly colleague Benjamin Millar – read it here – council is considering a development proposal that would see the property home to 198 units in twin five-storey blocks plus eight retail tenancies.

I am not automatically opposed to such a development but such a plan certainly raises many questions.

The plans show carparking spaces to the tune of 201 while, according to Ben’s story, council guidelines would require a minimum of 260 spaces.

According to Ben’s story …

“A traffic assessment by engineering consultant Cardno found ‘anticipated traffic volume … is expected to have no significant impact on the surrounding road network’.”

Hmmm … I wonder what data and/or methodology they used to reach such a conclusion?

 

wefo2

 

As anyone knows who regularly drives on Barkly Street, West Footrscray, or on Rupert or Cross streets, which run parallel to the railways tracks, the traffic situation in the area can get quite intense even with the current housing/resident levels.

And it would seem the revamp of West Footscray station is rather timely – but are there, or should there be, limits?

I’m interested in hearing from anyone who regularly uses either West Footscray or Tottenham stations as to whether either is nearing or already at peak capacity, especially in peak hours.

And on top of Banbury Village, what would such an apartment block plan mean for the area more generally in terms of what is often referred to as “amenity”?

The Black Devil, exterior feline

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boris31

 

In the end, it happened suddenly and by accident.

Bennie and I were doing routine housework on Saturday, when I heard a despairing cry …

“Dad, dad!!! Boris has escaped!!”

Just like that, Boris became an outdoor cat.

And what a very excellent thing that has turned out to be.

Look, we tried really, really hard to adhere to the advice given by cat-lovin’ friends and readers – that keeping Boris inside was all for the best for various reasons.

But as the ramifications of his new lifestyle become apparent, it is clear the full-time indoor life was never going to be sustainable for this particular cat in this particular (small) house.

Within 24 hours of his “escape”, all ours lives had been transformed.

 

boris32

 

Bennie and I have not been scratched or bitten since.

We no longer have to worry about powers cords and other electrical leads being rendered useless.

Maybe we can unfurl the blinds and drapes, as they no longer appear under threat of terminal shredding.

My paperwork is no longer being turned into confetti and maybe we can remove the layers of foam rubber from beneath the couch.

The several months it took us to get to this point since his arrival appear, however, to be serving us well.

Boris knows where home is, who are his humans and where the food is at.

He appears to mostly be respecting the four fence lines of our property.

But he is happy and very stimulated.

He’s coming running when hailed, even if that means taking some time out from his Very Important tree-climbing crusade.

 

boris33

 

He is being a little on the aloof side, at least for the time being – coming inside every couple of hours to make sure everything is as should be.

His face is frequently adorned with spiderwebs and other crap from under the house.

And he has made a start on getting to know – and reach some sort of accommodation with – the numerous local cats.

When I awoke on Monday morning, there was no sign of him.

“Uh oh, he’s gone …”, I thought.

But he was waiting on the veranda when I got home from work.