Saturday, June 4, 2011
During the week, I had a farewell with a friend in the city. We went for lunch at a well to do pub called Mr B's which had excellent Japanese and Thai food (fyi: we had agedashi tofu, gyoza, emerald duck and katsu don pork). Before becoming a pub with all dark interiors, fine lines and middle of the week business crowds, Mr B's was formally The Mandarin Club, a run down betting/drinking establishment (largely populated by the local Chinatown community). On it's second floor, they had a ballroom that was hired out for parties and small local bands often played there. I saw a bnch of shows there of bands I can't even remember the name of - some great, some awful but all committed to their craft. There isn't really any venues like that in the city centre. While there are numerous pubs catering to the backpacker crowd with acoustic duo + drum machine playing all the hits you know and loathe, the small venues where small bands could play original music seem to be drying up - a victim of the evolving city and skyrocketing property value no doubt.
When I first arrived in Sydney, there were about five or six second hand record stores on lower Pitt Street all within walking distance selling quality vinyl and rarities. My lunch mate used to work at one of them and I'd come in on a Sunday and play records and hang out. That store is long gone and as we left Mr B's we looked at the corner where two of the record stores have been replaced by a single pub. As I walked by I looked at the the suits tucking into their lunchtime beer and pies where the indie and hip hop racks used to stand. I know everything changes but when that part of town was cheap, nasty and possibly dangerous, there was a culture of being able to walk from store to store, records in hand looking for that bargain record the shark second hand dealer had neglected or missed. Everything changes I guess but a little part of me misses that part of town. Goddamn I hate nostalgia and I hate getting old and talking like this...