Searching for Sugar Man, Beach Burrito Co and Hop Thief

Just see it

At high school in the early ’80s, one of my friend’s had a 10 year older brother who owned some pretty cool records. One of those was Cold Fact by Rodriguez. A bunch of us all owned a cassette of this record and it’s successor After the Fact. We played those cassettes to death. All of Rodriguez’s songs are now on my iPod and a week wouldn’t go past where I don’t listen to at least one of his songs. My kids have grown up listening to his stuff – it’s second nature to them. It is amazing that a bunch of Sydneysiders are still listening to an album that was released in 1970 to absolutely no acclaim whatsoever in the US. What’s more amazing is the story of Rodriguez and how huge he is in South Africa and his re-emergence as a live artist.

Newtown streetscape

Hopefully far more people will become aware of this bloke, his music and his fascinating story now that a documentary called Searching for Sugar Man has been released. Bizarrely made by a Swede and produced by a Brit, it tells the story of how a 2nd generation Mexican born and bred in Detroit, made an amazing record in 1970 that sank without trace, but was somehow picked up in South Africa, became huge and led to the ultimate rediscovery of Rodriguez. Rather that go into much detail, you’ve simply got to see it. I had some idea of the Rodriguez story, but my 18yo daughter who saw the doco with me was just blown away. There’s no better soundtrack going around.

Burrito menu

Aussies have always gotten Rodriguez and he toured Australia in 1979 and 1981 apparently (even supporting Midnight Oil). A couple of the schoolmates and I actually saw him in 2007 – and it might have been his first visit since 1981. The crowd was all abuzz and when he eventually emerged on stage everyone wents nuts. The bassline of “I wonder” rippled out and everyone went more nuts. It went down hill from there. The gaps between songs were huge and he just didn’t seem with it. No-one got too upset – we were just pleased to have been able to see him – but I’m amazed to see that he is now playing really regularly.

Oompaloompa and Sixto

The documentary was shown at a cinema in Newtown, which is a great inner western suburb of Sydney near the University of Sydney. It was great to share a stroll down King Street with my daughter who is now a student there. It is the same , but different. Like most of Sydney, there are burrito shops abounding. Mexican food is hotter than a habanero right now in Sydney. Melted candles, skulls, ponchos, guns etc decorate the walls and tequila and Mexican Beer is on every menu. We popped into Beach Burrito Bar for a quick snack before the movie – and whilst this place had the look down pat – the food was pretty underwhelming. The menu said green chili – but I think it was placed next to the burrito – not in it. The tequila menu looked solid – but I’m not qualified to comment.

Mexican (mostly)

In my university years I spent some time at the Cooper’s Arms (formerly the Shakespeare Hotel). It used to be owned by a mate – and it was our post basketball game bar in the early ’90s. I was blown away by its appearance. Renamed The Cooper’s Hotel, the years and probably a shed load of coin have been kind to the Cooper’s. Its roof top bar is phenomenal. It is not a place to explore new beer experiences, but on a sunny Sunday in summer – there could be worse places to be.

Hop Thief at The Cooper’s Hotel

The James Squire Limited Edition Hop Thief is pretty functional. There’s more taste than most of the macros that were on tap – but if Mr Squire did knock off some hops – he wasn’t able to get away with very many. The hop taste is subtle and thin and doesn’t really permeate for very long. Not unpotable, quite sessionable, but unremarkable.

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