Itâ€™s a big old house divided into a warren of flatettes, in an increasingly desirable inner-westÂ neighbourhood. The last low-rent place in a street where the house next door was the first to hit the one million dollar mark ten years ago. It has its share of excitement â€“ the police, fire brigade or ambulance visit at least once a month, sirens screaming. Thereâ€™s often shouting â€“ in the house or on the street. There always seems to be rubbish piled out the front. Other people in the street mutter about how they wish â€˜those peopleâ€™ would go. But someone died there last month and someone cared enough to memorialise him on the footpath.
In an earlier guest blog, Bradley L. Garrett revealed his excitement upon discovering a pavement penis. Well, thereâ€™s a lot of them about. Â These examples are in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern, where encroaching trendiness has turned a closed-off street beside the railway line into an official bicycle route and a parking lot for cultural-industry workers and the newer type of resident.
Older established residents and their offspring may well feel resentful. I choose to believe that these alterations of official traffic signs express a local belief that the car parkers and cyclists are wankers.
Rows of triangular marks have just been planted on roads in the Inner West. I had to do a bit of research to find out that they are Dragonâ€™s Teeth. To date no fully armed warriors have sprung from the asphalt.
The lexicon of official road signs continues to grow. The rollout of this latest addition apparently began in mid-2009, when the RTAâ€™s press release was dutifully rendered as a news story in the Sydney Morning Herald. These triangular markings are meant to indicate to motorists that they are entering a 40 kmh school zone.
The indignant Mr Peter Olsen, on his School Zone Santa.Com blog, reckons that â€œthe Government has completely lost the plot on school zones. Static markings, including the proposed new â€˜dragon’s teethâ€™ achieve nothing because they do not distinguish between school zone hours and non-school zone hoursâ€, whereas if the school zone instead has flashing lights during the relevant hours â€œdrivers are instantly reminded and can slow down, but then of course the Government can no longer collect speeding fine revenue from themâ€.
Note to apostrophe pedants: Dragonâ€™s Teeth is the official New South Wales Government term for these road marks (see Technical Direction TD 2009 SR02). There is only one dragon involved. It is a particular toothy dragon.
If they wonâ€™t let you Reclaim the Streets any more, then Reclaim the Lanes instead. Itâ€™s a bit sad really. The RTL party on 13 February was small but kind of fun anyway, even if everyone was funnelled into just one lane not far from the starting point. There were balloons, bikes, and budgie smugglers. When it became apparent that the procession had come to a halt people started sloping off to the bottlo in Enmore Road for supplies. The music from wheelie bin sound systems was great. And someone stuck up their photographs of the Reclaim the Streets events in Newtown from 1999 and 2000 to remind everyone what it used to be like.
The back lanes of Enmore and Newtown are best known for their wall art, but there is stuff on the ground as well, mostly the signatures of artists who have done the wall pieces. I took photographs of RTL participants partying on the remnants of old pavement graffiti.
Sydney-based designer Dan Hill has been looking at the pavement. He is interested in capturing everyday examples of how the city assesses invisible or hidden characteristics of its infrastructure and he writes about this in his blog post Sensing the immaterial-material city. You can seeÂ Dan’s photos here. They include shots of people who appear to be sensing the city and he calls these people â€“ with their traffic cones and their fluorescent work jackets â€“ sensors.
Along with their various probes and surveying instruments, an essential item of equipment for these people is the spray can.
This January, edutainment was used by Waverley Council in an effort to prevent smokers from butting their cigarettes on the beach without resorting to fining them. As part of the campaign a chalk artist was contracted to draw pictures with messages on the promenade at Bondi Beach, complementingÂ theÂ official â€˜No smoking on beachâ€™ pavement signs. You can see one of these large yellow stencils in the background of this photograph.
Three days later, after a battering by weather and feet, the chalk artwork was looking a little the worse for wear but it had already done its job, attracting coverage in newspapers like the Sydney Morning Herald, and probably also being passed around on social networks via tourist cameras and mobile phones. Â Â
In an article recently published, I talk about the way in which old-fashioned street art is used by advertisers as a starting point to disseminate their messages across a wide spectrum of new media.
To my regular readers and to those just passing by â€“ many thanks for your interest, your comments, your emails, your tip-offs and your photos.
Best wishes for the year ahead and may you continue to enjoy finding surprises on the pavement.
To-dayâ€™s photograph was taken this time last year in Belmont Road, Mosman, NSW.
Todayâ€™s guest spotter is Richard Blair, a local history fossicker.
Recently uncovered by Marrickville Council during street plumbing activity under two Camphor Laurel trees on the eastern side of upper Metropolitan Road, Enmore, Sydney,Â are what appear to be sandstone cobblestones.
One expert opinion suggests these stones may have been part of a carriageway as they are in such a deliberate order. That would mean they may be linked with Enmore House which formerly stood on this site until demolition in the 1880s. However, one might expect a cobblestone carriageway to have been made from a stone more durable than sandstone, such as granite or bluestone.
Other views suggest the sandstone course may have been associated either with some early civil works project or may have been laid in conjunction with the arrangement of street tree planting.
These photos were taken in September 2009. The sandstone courses were still uncovered in November, but by December 2009 they had been (presumably) covered over with soil.
The Dictionary of Sydney was launched on 4 November 2009. Itâ€™s an on-line encyclopaedia of the history of Sydney with new material being added continually. The range of subjects is broad and sometimes surprising. Along with such conventional topics as, say, Governor Lachlan Macquarie or the Japanese Submarine Attack, there are such entries as Drag and Cross Dressing, and The Royal Commission into Noxious and Offensive Trades, and even (ta-da!) Reading the Roads.
â€˜Pokeâ€™ is one of the illustrations for that article. It’s an example where unofficial graffiti â€“ an advertisement for a dance party â€“ has colonised a piece of official pavement graffiti â€“ a zebra crossing. The photograph was taken in Newtown in 2003.
There is an ongoing battle between cyclists and just about everyone else â€“ motorists donâ€™t want them on the roads, pedestrians (like me) donâ€™t want them on the footpaths. The issue is a perennial filler for Sydney newspapers and has flared again this week in news stories, opinion pieces and letters to the editor.
In Australia, those who argue on the cyclistsâ€™ side point to the way in which cities in other developed countries have embraced the bicycle â€“ but itâ€™s not necessarily all plainÂ cycling overseas. Apparently one of the great battlefields in the war between bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists is the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.Â Robert Sullivan, calling for an armistice, writes in the New York Times: â€œThe stripe painted down the center of the elevated Brooklyn Bridge walkway, to separate bicyclists from pedestrians, has become a line in the sand. We need to erase that line once and for all.â€ Here is an example where the record of a territorial struggle has been written on the pavement itself.
Almost every sign, symbol, graphic and graffiti marked on the roads and sidewalks is a claim for territory. The two examples photographed for todayâ€™s blog record instances where pedestrians have had a victory over cyclists, officially at least, and probably only temporarily. The ineptly obliterated bicycle symbol overpainted with a â€˜Pedestrian traffic onlyâ€™ stencil was on the bridge at the corner of St Kilda Road and Flinders Street in Melbourne in 2005. The â€˜Give wayâ€™ stencils appeared in parks in the City of Sydney towards the end of 2008 after many complaints from pedestrian park-users.