Tuesday, August 29, 2006
An Evening Walk
It had been a while since doing so, when I walked down Crown Street, Surry Hills on Saturday evening (not the western, hilly side that descends toward the city, but Crown Street, north of Cleveland and to its east.) Wow. Things sure have changed.
At risk of sounding painfully nostalgic (too bad!), I felt as if I may as well be in Paddington. Every last pub in the area appeared to have been gentrified into sterility. Every person I saw looked primped and decked out in designer gear - women with that ubiquitous highlighted blonde, blow-dried hairstyle, designer jeans, bags and shoes, and guys with that typical 'yuppie about town' thing going on.
I remember when this area was lively with colour and contrast - struggling people and wealthy alike. And I especially remember `China Joe'. Whatever happened to him? He was a derelict, supposedly alcoholic Chinese guy of indeterminate age, who wandered around lower Crown Street and Cleveland Street all day and evening and slept in the street. He looked kind of crazed and was often laughing to himself. He usually carried a bottle - inside a paper bag most of the time - and sat with his hand outstretched, begging for money. He didn't seem to be able to speak any English at all. I heard numerous theories about him - how he'd ended up there, that he was actually an academic doing research etc. etc. Who knows.
But slowly the area was sterilised and that's pretty much when China Joe disappeared - along with the mystery.