Geek central, Melbourne

They say geek is the cool, right?

Geek central in Melbourne must be the corner of Elizabeth and Little Collins Streets.

Why? Because within a few metres are no less than three pop culture shops:

Firstly, there’s the Doctor Who “popup” (eg temporary, until January) shop. Actually it has Sherlock merchandise too, which probably makes it more of a Steven Moffat shop.
Doctor Who Popup Shop, Melbourne, Summer 2014-15

Secondly, a little further up Little Collins Street is this shop, which as far as I can tell, has no actual name. At least, none prominently on display. (Professor Google says it’s called “Critical Hit“.)
Collins Gate pop culture shop

Thirdly, that old favourite, Minotaur. I used to shop there in the 80s when it was in Swanston Street. Then it moved to Bourke Street, and more recently(ish, well, probably 10+ years ago now) to Elizabeth Street — the former Melbourne Sports Depot, I think.
Minotaur

Also nearby:

EBGames in Swanston Street (also a former Melbourne Sports Depot?) has opened a geek section in their basement.

The ABC Shop has moved to Emporium.

Where’s the community’s focal point? It’s the railway station.

Two sleeps until the election.

Apart from trying to get citizens out to a public meeting, where in the neighbourhood is the best place to meet as many people you can, face-to-face?

Judging from what the politicians and lobby groups have been up to, it’s the railway station — on weekdays, at least.

I’ve lost count of the number of flyers I’ve been handed at Bentleigh station over the past few months. Undoubtedly it’s due to being in a marginal seat.

Supporter of Labor, and independent candidate Chandra Ojha, handing out flyers at Bentleigh station

Public Transport Not Traffic campaigners (including myself) at Bentleigh station. Campaigner Tony (who worked harder than me that morning) is not pictured; he snapped the photo.

The Greens candidate Sean Mulcahy at Bentleigh station

The political parties and one of the independents, as well as various unions and lobby groups (including one supporting national parks, and also Public Transport Not Traffic) have been prominent at the station in the last few weeks.

Mostly they are in the morning. It’s easier to hand out flyers as you get a steady stream of people, and if the train isn’t imminent, they can stop for a minute to ask questions. In the evening few people want to linger; they’re keen to get home. Plus it’s harder to hand out to scores of people arriving in a burst, followed by minutes of nobody going past.

Chalk one up for the trains. Cleverer people than I might ponder if this helps skew policies. As the Liberals’ fake commuter newspaper shows, it certainly helps influence campaign literature.

You’re certainly unlikely to have a face-to-face encounter with politicians and their supporters while driving your car. Sadly those people who are unable to use trains because suburban connecting buses are so poor will also miss out.

On the weekends the campaigners tend to be elsewhere in the shopping centre, though sometimes at the station. The advantage for them of street shopping centres is I doubt they’d ever get permission from a Westfield or Gandel to set up in Chadstone or Southland.

Of course this week, they’re also at early voting centres, and will be swarming around polling places on Saturday. (The first inkling I had that Bentleigh was at risk of swinging from Labor to Liberal in 2010 was when I heard that then-Premier John Brumby had been seen at a local polling place, Mckinnon Secondary College. On voting day you’re most likely to see the senior pollies in marginal seats.)

I’ve been tracking the various flyers handed to me in person via Twitter at Bentleigh station. Here are a few instances of flyers and local campaigning from the past month or two:

PS. On Monday the PTUA put out its election scorecard. If you’re interested in public transport issues, and they’ll influence your vote, check it out.

Update: After the election…

Google Streetview car up close

Last night this Google Streetview car was cruising along William Street outside Flagstaff station. The driver waved back as I took the photo.

It’ll be interesting to see how long the photos it was (well, may have been) gathering take to get online. Last time it was over a year, but from what I hear they’re getting much faster these days — perhaps a matter of weeks.

Google Streetview car, William St, Melbourne

Olympic Doughnuts: new sign hopefully less trademark-infringing

As has been noted before, Olympic Doughnuts survived the rebuild of Footscray station.

Olympic Doughnuts

This was apparently so important that the Premier made special mention of it when the new facility opened:

The other area that I’ll make a brief comment on is I was out at Footscray this morning as part of the Regional Rail project. And one of the feedbacks we got from the Footscray community and the people who use Footscray Station was the enormous popularity of a local institution there: Olympic Doughnuts. And the feedback was, ‘Make changes to the station, but make sure you keep the Olympic Doughnuts and the man with the Olympic Doughnuts.’ So the Regional Rail team facilitated a new and more appropriate facility for Olympic Doughnuts to stay on the forecourt of the Footscray Station.

I finally got to partake in one of their jammy delights on Friday.

Somebody must have decided (possibly because government was involved in providing the new booth) that the old trademark-defying logo (the Olympic rings, upside-down) had to be adapted into something else. They came up with something quite neat.

Here’s the old logo:
Footscray doughnut van, 2007

Here’s the new:
Olympic Doughnuts

The new logo incorporates the Olympic rings, but in a less trademark-infringing way. The iconic dolphin, still used as the jam dispenser, is featured prominently. The date of establishment, 1979, is also worked into it.

Well done, whoever came up with this!

Shame the rest of the area is currently so windswept and desolate. Perhaps there is more development coming.

(Eagle-eyed customers may note that in the rear of the shop, behind a half-open door, the old sign is still sitting at the back.)

UFO playground – Clayton South

I was talking to my friend Andrew about this, and realised I never posted photos.

In Clayton South (The Grange, Osborne Avenue) there’s a playground with a UFO theme, to mark the day in 1966 where a large group of students at nearby schools spotted an unidentified flying object in the sky, seen landing and then taking off close to the park.

A recent Herald Sun article notes the view that the object was actually a secret military balloon designed to measure radiation, launched at Mildura but blown off course, part of nuclear testing at Maralinga.

In any case, for those with kids, the playground is recommended!

The Grange (UFO-themed playground), Clayton South

The Grange (UFO-themed playground), Clayton South

The Grange (UFO-themed playground), Clayton South

The Grange (UFO-themed playground), Clayton South