What a good phrase that is: ” Mean Streets “. It suggests crime, edginess, dirt, poverty, vice, and distress – all the stuff you go on holiday to the Third World for. In my case I went to Melbourne.
You can’t get much meaner than free public transport, and if you are prepared to stay within the CBD of the city, you can ride their trams for free. Choose your time and route and you can be rewarded by overcrowding and public odours. Stay on the tram long enough and you can provide that odour yourself.
If you venture out a little bit on the tram you can select corridors of grot like Fitzroy to do your sightseeing. If your taste runs to hipster cafés and drinking holes plus crap shops and /or public housing, this is your paradise. The denizens are startling but harmless. The food is actually edible, and there can even be surprisingly good stationers and book stores in the main streets.
But there are any number of corners and places that suggest that things are dirtier and more useless than they really need to be. In a city that is always looking for better housing and shopping, it is surprising that this sort of remnanterie can still exist. Served as it is by transport, sitting where it sits, and taking into account the decrepitude of the building structures, it is surprising that Whalen hasn’t been through it and some new shops erected. Perhaps it is beset with historic preservation orders or perhaps no-one is game to open the drains.
But there are charms. The kitty seen in the picture was sleeping beside its bed in Gertrude Street in a very hot window on a very hot day…but in the manner of all cats may not have wanted to admit to the discomfort. I admire the stamina and the bed.