I took these images over the weekend just gone in Hindley Street, Adelaide. Hindley Street is essentially the seedy end of that South Australian town, filled with a wild, almost out of control mix of cancerous fast-food franchises, strip joints, sports bars, wine bars, hotels (some posh, some not), and independent bookshops with a fair bit of street art, both permanent and ephemeral, thrown in for good measure. To spend a week in the street – so to speak – was a joy, especially for someone who comes from the right side of the tracks.
I was in Adelaide for a range of reasons, including attending the Fringe Festival (which was bloody brilliant – steal money from your grandma to see Australia’s own The Burlesque Hour and The Wau-Wau Sisters from New York) as well as for He Who Deserves The Best Bars and Restaurants Money Can Buy, because it was his birthday, well, it’s almost his birthday.
But since I’ve been back in the comfort of my own house and street and suburb and city, I’ve been thinking about the miracle that is a pulsing city street, one that’s human despite the threat in the faces of the people who live there, beautiful despite the ugliness, wanting despite the aloofness.
Tonight I’ve come across a quote from the British author and critic John Berger. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1987), he wrote ‘Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and, in this, hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman’.
I’m not from Adelaide but I’d call it an old-man wino in search of a cultural experience or a quickie in a laneway. And my home town, Canberra? A bored middle-class white boy speeding along in a stolen car hoping to crash into some meaning.
Your place – how would you describe it?