The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, July 10, 2003  

A Row Down Under

I’m catching this row a little late, but apparently things aren’t so well down under. There’s contention afoot between Sydney and Melbourne, the spat sparked by comments from one Joe Hockey, an Australian lawmaker who recently characterized Sydney as “an old tart.”

Sydney Morning Herald columnist Richard Ackland agrees with that assessment. He writes in tomorrow’s paper (“Sydney, But You Really Are an Old Tart,” July 11):

But, returning to Hockey’s original point, whatever it is that makes Sydney so vibrant is a bit of a mystery. Concentrating just for a moment on the CBD [Ed.: The central business district.] area alone, what may be vibrant to 14- or 15-year-olds who invade the thoroughfares on skateboards is rather dreary for the rest of us. Frank Sartor’s once sparkling Olympic footpaths are now smeared with the oil of a million spilt [sic] milkshakes and hotdogs....

Anyone working back in an office at night, or living in the city, will soon discover there is nowhere a starving citizen can go for an inexpensive plate of something and a glass of wine. The most inviting establishments are the luminous and ubiquitous McDonald’s or convenience stores. The city is utterly bleak.
Generally, the market to which inner-city establishments cater is gilded youths or those who like “major events”. It’s a great place for skateboarders but for those who like a bit of civilization [sic], go to Melbourne....

Hockey is right. Sydney is so deluded that it can’t appreciate how ordinary it is.

Whoa! Them’s fightin’ words. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet visited Sydney, nor Melbourne -- I’m waiting for faithful reader H.F. of the latter to splurge for my fare! -- so I’ll have to stay out of this one, at least for now. Don’t I wish I could offer a first-hand assessment, though.

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