Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dear The Shannon Hotel: You've changed

This is an open letter to The Shannon Hotel. I can only hope that my voice reaches at least one sympathetic ear within The Shannon establishment, someone who will listen to my plea and seek to act on it, by whatever means are necessary.


Dear The Shannon Hotel,

As you know, I have been a loyal customer for many years now, even before I lived in Sydney.

I remember the days when I would come up from the "Australian Siberia" (what crimes saw me exiled to Canberra I of course cannot mention in decent company) for day-long meetings of the Central Committee of the Beer and its Role in Human Development; or Where Karl Marx Went Wrong in His Assessment of the Motor Force of History Society.

And, with the inevitability of one of those iron laws of history, The Shannon would be the port of call to recuperate from the intensity of the polemics and factional wars that mark any organisation dedicated to such an important cause.

In those days, a beer garden, free BBQ on Sundays, and a secluded upstairs area with pool table where all sorts of deals could be concluded in privacy — this made you the loved place you were.

That was before all the renovations.

They have taken some time, haven't they?

Not that I ever complained. Hell no! I stood by you. Because I believed in you and everything you stood for.

And when I moved to Sydney, I made you my de facto home.

The reasons is simple.

You, The Shannon, have been defined, more than anything else, by the absence of other people.

Whereas others recoiled in horror at that stench of urine that did pervade your premises for quite some time, I rejoiced!

Because, like any decent pesticide, it kept away forces that stink much worse — the scum of society.

Which, of course, is most of it.

The Shannon Hotel has been called many things, but a cool nightspot for young happening things has never been one of them.

Your chief charm was that, of the tiny numbers who knew of your existence, the majority went out of their way to avoid you.

Oh the peace and quiet! Oh the joy those days held!

You've changed, man.

I hate to be the one to have to say it, but it has to be said. Consider this an intervention.

These days, your "renovations" are pretty much complete. The place is officially "upgraded".

And, against all expectations, this move appears to be working in its bid to actually get human beings walking through the door.

Now, on any given Friday or Saturday, The Shannon Hotel is full of youths.

And good god, is it horrible.

When I started this blog, my very first entry was an ode to you.

Now, no longer can it be said that The Shannon "is a fucking great place for your modern alcoholic to get away from the mobs of marauding young people with their pierced toenails and stupid ring tones, and enjoy a decent drink."

I have nothing against crowds per se. The Phoenix Hotel down there in Hell, finest pub known to humanity, is often full.

But of the right sort of people.

The Shannon too, on rare occasions, would be packed out. But of drunks. (Or Irish people, as they prefer to be known).

But you invite the average punter and you invite in the average fuckwit.

You get drunken young men who proceed to sexually harass any female under 90 years of age within a 75 metre radius of them.

You attract people, you get scum.

We had to fucking flee your premises the other night, so harassed was a female friend when we were just trying to FUCKING PLAY A GAME OF POOL!

This was in The Shannon.

Hell, The Claire, just off Broadway only five minutes walk and full of students? Well what else would you expect?

But The Shannon? God help us all.

It isn't that I don't approve of attempts to make the place better. I like your new beer garden, I really do. It is quite pleasant out there.

And yes, I know. The Rose and the Lansdowne have more people on a Friday or Saturday than you do.

But that is not the point. (And, while we are on the topic, at least the Lansdowne offers a cheap $5 meal deal for it's customers. Apparently. So I have heard.)

But this is not about them. Seriously, if the Rose offered to jump off a bridge to attract the cool young brigade that take up space with their delusions that they aren't actually irrelevant pieces of shit that get in the way, would you do it too?

I don't blame you for seeking new custom. I understand. We've all got bills to pay.

But c'mon! Don't go selling your soul!

We had something. We never cared for the outside world. With the Guinness flowing and the dart board free, we fucking rocked.

Just think about that.

Yours in abuse of alcohol,

Carlo Sands

Fermenting revolution: How to drink beer and save the world

The following is a review by one Benjamin Dangl.

This gentleman, whose writings I have followed with some slight interest, has, until now, mostly concerned himself with the Latin American revolution, especially the social revolution that is developing in Bolivia.

I mean, for fuck's sake, as if the Bolivian masses, having survived 500 years of genocide without his assistance and now on the march forward against the imperialists and their assorted running dogs, actually need this diversion of Comrade Dangl's attention.

Now, finally, and to his credit, Comrade Dangl has turned his attention to the key issue that faces the proletariat within the imperialist nations: Beer.

His review below.

Brewing Trouble: How to Drink Beer and Save the World

By Benjamin Dangl

Review of Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World, by Chris O'Brien

Beer, like so many other products, is largely in the hands of giant corporations. Therefore, drinking beer can often enrich the same systems of power we as activists are fighting against. Fermenting Revolution: How To Drink Beer and Save the World by Christopher O'Brien is a book about how the people can take back the brew and join together in saying, "If I can't drink good beer, it's not my revolution."

... Interested in changing the world through drinking? Fermenting Revolution can serve as a kind of bible for the beer activist that's bubbling inside each and every one of us.

In Fermenting Revolution, O'Brien presents a people's history of beer, allowing the reader to feel connected to beer activists centuries ago ...

Full review

Bravo Comrade Dangl, bravo!

Carlo Sands approves.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The true story of why I have never been to Brazil

I get asked this question all the time. Especially from all my Brazilian fans.

Well, the true story is, I did once very nearly end up in Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro to be precise.

To start this story, I have a confession to make. I don't believe I have every made it before, at least not on this blog.

I know rumours have been circulating for some time. And yes, I can, with a heavy heart, confess they are true.

I did grow up in Perth.

And I can confirm that Perth is barely one step up from a graveyard when it comes to looking for a "good night out".

Perth pubs tend to divide into two categories: those that cater for rednecks (decreasing in number) or white-collar yuppie scum (taking over everything).

One horrible offshoot of this is that Perth has a sizeable Goth community, made up those horrified by everything else around them.

I understand their grievance, even if I cannot approve their solution.

I mean, I'm all for people's right to freely choose their own fashion statement/sub culture. But, I mean c'mon on, unless you look like a) Johnny Depp or b) Helena Bohnam Carter — and you happen to be staring in a film being directed by Tim Burton — I really don't see the point.

That aside, there is little in Perth.

If you live in Kensington, as I may or may not have (why the fuck do you want to know?), then sooner or later you will end up (unless you are one of those weird teetotaler freaks) at that bastion of faux-Irishness that is Rosie O'Grady's (South Perth franchise).

I may or may not have been drinking there one evening (you demand a lot of information don't you?) with a friend (or so I thought).

We got talking to some white-collar worker who hated his job and was drinking to forget it.

He was determined to buy us whatever drinks we wanted, as impoverished bums. (Art students, I think, at that stage of our degeneration).

My so-called friend was going through a weird "health kick" that involved not destroying himself with booze at every opportunity and left early because he had to "drive home".

(Last I heard this guy got married — you see where that sort of attitude leads you?)

Anyway, our new found friend (let's call him Jason because it rings a vague bell) was propped up at the bar and keen to adopt us as his drinking partners for the night, happily plying us without whatever booze we desired.

He was also something of a prat.

If, for example, racial politics happened to come up in the natural course of conversation and you happened to say something perfectly obvious like: "Well, I don't think Aboriginals are incurably lazy alcoholic scum of society, but I do think they are subjected to systematic oppression", he would reply with a drunken lean forward, a raise of the eyebrow and, on a number of occasions, a point of finger, as he declared: "Touche!"

He also regaled us earnestly with tales of his past life as a DJ on Adelaide FM radio.

I mean it hard to imagine anything lower on the social ladder than this (and he was in Perth drinking in Rosie O'Grady's) but he seemed quite proud of it.

He told us stories of the Beastie Boys coming into the studio and being completely obnoxious and smoking cigars — and just how cool that was (fair enough).

He also insisted on talking to us about Miles Davis and the significance of jazz.

Like I said — a fucking prat.

But, like I also said, he was buying the drinks.

With my so-called friend fleeing from the free drinks (for fuck's sake), the two of use were left holding up our respective end of the bargain. I laughed, oohed and generally fawned as required, and he kindly kept the gin and tonics flowing.

At a certain point he decided we should go and try and "pick up some chicks". (Insert vomit here).

This being Rosie's in fucking South Perth on a fucking Tuesday night, it wasn't exactly a likely proposition, but he was buying the drinks so I wasn't about to cause any trouble.

The inevitable disasters followed, but he never seemed disheartened. I loyally followed, looking embarrassed and awkward, but clutching my g + t with what was genuine gratitude.

The more we drank, the more the concept of just, you know, escaping from Perth. and all these petty things like jobs that pay rent, took hold of us.

He was determined to go to Rio.

I tried suggesting Amsterdam ("It's got everything you could possibly need!"), but it was the middle of winter in Europe and his heart was set on sun.

Plus, it was his credit card.

He was determined, "You gotta come with me, it's all right, I gotta credit card. We'll hang out on beaches, drink rum and try and pick up!"

After the pub closed, we retired to his apartment just down the road, where, on his balcony with Crown Lagers in hand, we sought to make our plans reality.

He actually called a taxi for the airport, with the plan of stopping of at my place on the way to pick up my passport. (As I still lived at home, this would involve not waking my parents, a difficult task given the state I was in).

We suffered our first setback when he realised his credit card was back in the pub, now well and truly shut.

We started planning our break in.

However, I think our plans were ultimately scuttled by him passing out.

Which, in hindsight, was probably for the best as he did have to go to work in just a couple of hours.

I think I slept on his couch for an hour or two, let myself out and made my way home.

And that is real the story of how I have never been to Brazil.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Carlo Sands has returned from exile

I am sorry to the legions of Carlo Sands fans out there for the delay since my last post.

Yes I got all of you desperate emails begging for me to return.

No it is probably best if I don't send any of you my underwear, please don't ask again, it is a little weird.

Forget all the media rumours and speculation (to set the record straight I have only met Amy Winehouse once or twice and she seemed a wonderful young woman).

The real story is I have only just got out of rehab with Ben Cousins.

And talk about media bullshit. Can they get anything right?

How wrong could they be about Cousin's infamous stay in LA at the end of last year? For a start, I am neither blonde nor a woman.

The real story of Benny's LA lost weekend remains untold, and it is a story I will take with me to the grave. Depending on the size of ACA's cheque book.

So anyway, I managed to get my passport returned and I am back in action.

So what has been happening while I was otherwise preoccupied?

There is a God!

Definitive proof has been found of the existence of a higher being.

It has come in the form of Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

As soon as I heard the full details of this film, I converted the nearest religious institution, which happened to be Jainist.

(Don't ask me what that is, I left as soon as I read their wiki page and saw them described as "the most literate religious community" — I mean who the fuck still reads things, don't they have DVD players?)

This is the film I have waited my entire life for.

Yes, that right, my entire life.

When I was born, my first words were: “When is Johnny Depp going to star alongside Helena Bonham Carter in a Tim Burton gothic horror musical set in 19th Century London about a serial killing barber based on one of the most famous penny dreadfuls — with Alan Rickman playing the evil judge? Coz That would be fucking cool!”

And it is.

My whole life, just waiting for a film with Johnny Depp and Helena Bohnam Carter playing both leads (Corpses Bride not withstanding — it was animated).

Add to it all the other factors and it was simply impossible this film could have failed. It was destined from its inception to be brilliant.

And it is.

Utterly brilliant.

There ain't no Devil there's just God when he's drunk

... as the Great Man once said.

In this world, nothing good happens that isn't followed by something horrific.

Love is followed by heartache. Drunkenness by hangovers.

And brilliant films and acting performances by NO FUCKING OSCARS!!!

That is right, at the 80th Academy Awards, Johnny Depp was robbed yet again!

What has this guy got to do? Greatest fucking actor of his generation and not one Oscar. For god's sake, Tom Hanks has won two!!!

Does anyone else spot the completely fucked thing in this picture?

What sort of world are we living in? Knowledge like this makes it truly hard to go on.

Even worse, Helena Bohnam Carter was not even nominated for best supporting actress. Did the judges even watch the film?

There is something very very wrong here.

The Academy should all be ashamed of themselves.

Carlo Sands does not approve.