"Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again." (E.M. Cioran)

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.

1 comment:

ATM said...

Yeah I remember China Joe too - and the "roaming academic" theory. He was often smiling and it was tempting to believe there was some kind of joke behind it. Just a ghost now? Or maybe he's at Yale publishing his PHD?