Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fonzo Journalism from The Village Idiot #2

(from the March Issue of The Newtonian -

Fonzo Journalism from The Village Idiot #2.
(This month a special report on Reclaim The Lanes.)

It’s strange when Reclaim The Streets (RTS) goes down a gear and becomes Reclaim The Lanes. Nonetheless the whole concept had been so sorely missed we were happy to welcome anything – Reclaim The Neighbour’s Driveway would have been an exciting venture back into Newtown’s bolder past. So we turned up, many a bit more jaded and world-wearing than we were at that original RTS over a decade ago when no-one had really known what to expect, just to meet in Camperdown Park. By day’s done we’d annexed Newtown’s arterial hub - the groin where King Street and Enmore Road jut out like hairy legs and the torso moves up towards City Road. We’d taken it all from the Dendy down and turned it into a street party, throwing in Wilson Street for good measure. At later RTS’ we’d taken everything from the street outside Villawood Detention Centre on one occasion to the whole of George Street on another, outside the Sydney Town Hall and Woolworths – turning the CBD into a little piece of freak culture. Sure a few times things got ugly with the cops, like when we took over the freeway below the Art Gallery of NSW, and said CBD endeavours. They’d manage to find some breach relating to rubber lesbian vampire nurse, nun or most dangerously police-drag, outfits.

While police-party relations were all cool this time a kind of reverse police drag is what I couldn’t help but notice as we stood in the Enmore back lane, a band competing with DJs in garbage bins and people of all hues dancing in day-glo Reg-Grundies. I spotted the strange occurrence of the feral cop. Later as I took a breather at the Queens Hotel so my enviro-photographer friend could review his work I got to examine pictures of this urban Sasquatch more closely. These were young, tall, lanky guys in dirty dungarees and Blunnies or Volleys, and raggedy worn-out t-shirts, like the civilians dancing around them, except that these cats had official NSW Police baseball caps and a utility belt, Batman style, with a radio and a large, black handgun hanging from it.

The sight was so odd that for a second I wondered if they were cops or just very militant ferals. I decided on the former. But where, I began to wonder, do they get these guys? Are some nice, clean-cut kids at Goulburn Police Academy trained up to pass as inner-city freaks?

“OK gentleman,” says the dreaded trainer, “now Smith has smoked some Lebanese Blonde and mixed it with the GBH. You’ll notice that suddenly the music of Squarepusher begins to make sense to him. While Johnson over here’s on hash-oil and MDA and is being really affected by his mother’s old Carpenters LPs. Now you kids, Digby and Wiggim, are taking a walk in the Anna Woods, so brace yourselves.”

Either that or the opposite occurs and they recruit students and hippies. Imagine an ominous knock at a share-house door.

“Hi we’re from the NSW Police and we’ve got a special offer for you kid. How would you like to protect young people. We’ll give you a walkie talkie, a baseball cap, and a big black gun with bullets in it.”

“Wow, intense. Can you get my Austudy renewed?”

“Done and done kid. We can even talk to that tutor you been having trouble with, catch him with a little Lebanese blonde thing in the teachers’ lounge if you like. Now what’s your Blundstone size?”

Either way it seems to be working. The only thing that wasn’t working in Reclaim The Lanes favour was Sydney’s new and greenhouse-gas improved monsoon season. By the time my friend and I dragged ourselves from happy hour we ended up losing them somewhere between the rain and the Bedford Street tunnel. But I’m sure they wetly ended up somewhere, perhaps reclaiming someone’s kiddie pool.

“It ain’t Reclaim The Streets,” my friend said, “but it’s a start.”

“As long as they were enjoying themselves,” I said, “and got some dancing in.”

“The kids?”

“No, the feral cops of course.”

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