In conversation with Cecelia Ahern

This Friday, Feb 17, I'll be interviewing Cecelia Ahern, one of the youngest and most successful authors in the world.

Check out the details at http://www.writersatcomo.com/ and come along. It should be a lot of fun.

The media has been full of terribly boring interviews that focus on how young she is and how she's the Irish Prime Minister's daughter and her brother-in-law is in pop outfit Westlife.

Quite frankly, I think someone who's published 3 novels by the age of 24 probably has a lot more to offer than the bullshit that's been pritned about her. Hopefully I'm right because I'm basing my session on that assumption.

Entertain

Last Thursday's Sleater-Kinney show at the Corner was nothing less than rock as it should be. Janet showed further evidence of being one of the best drummers in the biz while Carrie performed some great windmills and Corin hit all the tough notes while screaming earnestly.

While the songs from the latest album, The Woods, translated perfectly live and gave the band a chance to show off their segue skills with some great stadium-rock style improvised moments, a few more songs from their back catalogue wouldn't have gone astray.

Still, as good as Sleater-Kinney are live and on record, one of the great things about seeing a band live is getting a chance to check out the support band. I don't see as much live music as I used to and as a result I miss out on discovering all the new bands who maybe haven't made it to radio. Sometimes these bands disapeared into nothing, like The Silver Surfers did, and sometimes they make it huge and support Supergrass on a European tour, like Rocket Science did. There was something to be said for taking that small risk and forking over ten bucks for a local pub show. I just don't have it in me any more. Maybe I've just become the old, grumpy, hard-to-impress man I never thought I'd be.

Anyway, new bands for me are now relegated to the support acts for those touring. Still, I've discovered a number of my favourites by getting to a gig early. In 1994 Magic Dirt supported the Smashing Pumkins and in 1998 The Avalanches came across my radar as the first support for JSBX (they were followed on stage by Kim Salmon who, as good as he is, could never compete with what I had just witnessed). These are the sorts of acts that make you want to go out the next day and get their EP and play it 5 times in a row. I remember that the Avalanches didn't even have an EP, just a 7-inch. I bought it even though I didn't have a turntable at the time.

I walked into the band-room at the Corner just as The Grates started their set for the night. I didn't realise until their last song that they were responsible for Message, one of my favourite songs off radio over the last couple of months. That lack of realisation, however, didn't stop me recognising almost instantly that they have what it takes to get into the members only nightclub of my CD collection. They were simply amazing. They're touring the UK from next week. If you get a chance there should be no question about checking them out.

**Thanks to Adrian for convincing me to go along early and also for one of the best birthday presents a friend could give. You rock 100%!

Alas 2nd Ave Deli, I Knew Thee

One of my favourite eating establishments in the whole world shut its doors for the last time at the beginning of this month. The 2nd Ave Deli has vacated its premises and seems to be no more. It's a crying shame and it is no way to be considered progress.

We saw a similar situation happen in Melbourne a few years ago when The Continental closed after a battle about the rent. A long term tenant of its Greville St premises, the landlord decided to increase the rent by a ridiculous amount, pushing the Marios out of their south of the Yarra building. Since then the building has featured a number of different restaurants, none of which have had the success of The Continental.

I predict a similar thing will happen with the building formerly occupied by the 2nd Ave Deli. Other delis will come and go and none will match its success.

There are just too many memories tied up in the walls of that building. For me it will always be remembered as the place we went to after a gig at CBGBs. 3 years ago I sat at the counter and savoured the last serve of half a sandwich and soup I'd have for years. My plane flew out of JFK two hours later and I was too full to eat anything until well after the NY to LA leg was completed.

There are other Delis but there was something about 2nd Ave that captured everything I wanted from a restaurant: the atmosphere, the food, the service, the complimentary pickles.

Nothing will ever come close to it and the world is a poorer place for its loss.

Acland Street is Dead to Me

Last night I travelled down to Acland Street to try the newest of the ice-cream palours there. The ice-cream was less impressive than I anticipated and anyway it could never compete with the rancid taste left in my mouth after I saw that ticketed parking was to be enforced in the Safeway carpark.

The carpark was always free and restricted to only 90 minutes. It was the last of the free, casual parking in the area. I don't know when Safeway intend to start charging but from now on they can get fucked. There is nothing I need in Acland Street that can't be obtained more easily and for better value elsewhere.

Congratulations to all involved on killing what was once one of Melbourne's finest shopping/social strips.

Why did it take so long?

Searching through iTunes Music Store I found this page that mentions all the details of the iTunes store for Australia. I was interested to note that the date at the bottom of the page is 27 April!

This begs the question: Why did the store not go live until October? Why were we strung along for so long?

OK That's two questions. Really, this is just a point of interest... but what interest! Have a look at the page for yourself.

What is that pink thing? Eels in concert.

Last night I saw the Eels perform for their third visit to Australia.

Each time, thus far, has been a unique and wonderous experience. Mr E, leading the band through its revolving lineup, never disappoints and always knows how to make an entrance. Last night he was dressed in 20's European attire, entering with a walking stick in his right hand and puffing on a fat ol' cigar.

Mr E, as always, was hilarious, balancing out the heartbreaking lyrics. The other members of the Eels, this time, consisted of The Chet on every instrument imaginable (including a long stint on the saw), Big Al on double bass and four women on strings ranging from cello to violin.

A ten minute noise segue into Novocaine for the Soul had most of Hamer Hall wondering what happened to that pretty music show they were watching. Me? I love that shit. It's self-indulgent and noisy and fun. The highlight came when the cellist (Anna) put down her instrument and picked up another one. It was pink and made a clicking/whirring noise when she pressed it against the microphone.

Is that what I think it is?

Yes, I have seen vibrators used on stage but never like that!

While I dismiss the notion of performance art as bullshit I love it when performance becomes art. In the end the songs became secondary to the band's presence. Ask me tomorrow which songs were covered and I couldn't tell you but ask me what happened on stage and I will detail the performance blow by blow.

Everybody should experience an Eels show at least once in their life. I'm lucky enough to have witnessed three and I'd gladly go back for a fourth.