I had to go to Burwood yesterday, for a ridiculous bureaucratic meeting. It was a public office, understaffed because of budget cuts by successive governments, Labor as well as the current Lib/Nat admin. Its attitude is characterised by my verbal exchange with the gorilla security officer, who, when I asked him where the lavatory was, barked, “only for staff”. Outside in the lane-way that led to the staff car-park was a sign that read “This area is not a toilet”.
There were several homeless people on the pavement begging. The previous day in the CBD, one guy was crouched in a foetal position, with his forehead on the ground in front of him, and his begging cup in one hand that was bent backwards & resting on his back.
I had not been to the CBD nor to Burwood for a decade, which makes me sound housebound. Two days before, I had to get to Martin Place: there was the Lindt cafe boarded up. The city felt bloated, over-weight, I simply felt no affinity for it; it seemed re-made, re-shaped.
My friend & I went to a Sicilian cafe for a pasta lunch then bought some of those exquisite aniseed/almond green cookies that Italians make so well. I also decided to have a haircut. The barber was Lebanese & I was 3rd in the queue. The guy he was working on had specific ideas: short all round & a tuft at the front. If only his eyes didn’t look so full of hatred, he was after all part of the future. What both the underclass and the establishment fail to realise is that ALL of our young people will together form the future culture of this country. Peter Fitz’s doco about Race Riots on SBS tried to make that point.
Yes, there is an element of dispossession in the behaviour of the young. In Melbourne currently, Nick Henderson is organising an exhibition of Gay Lib material from the 1970’s; that’s before Paul Foss & David Mc Diarmid went north & colonised Sydney. Were we that angry then? We had the issues of police corruption, the Vietnam war, the trade union mobilisation against rampant urban development, as well as swathes of changes to youth culture to concern us.