Sunday, December 23, 2007

Council heavies quash Barons action

An informal public action protesting the demolition of the Barons Building was shut down by Council heavies but not until it had made its point and a small crowd had enjoyed a bit of afternoon fun in the Roslyn Street park.

One resident had complained because he could hear music, apparently preferring a year or so of full-on construction noise opposite his flat.

Even the Police had come by and decided the volume was too low to merit interference.

The action was opened by Jill McKay, bar manager on Baron's first night ever (pictured below). She railed against the insensitivity of indiscriminate development and urged people to get others active, before being interviewed on community radio.

A revolving line-up of musicians then presented an impromptu concert featuring improvised songs about life before the Barons demolition, some soaring violin from Peter and a crunchy rock 'n' Roll set from Paul, with yours truly on percussion.

Since Council has decided to approve the demolition nothing short of mass public action is seen to have any chance of stopping it, and in these days of self-interested indifference there is little chance of that.

Also pictured are Peter, Chris Dussledorp and Vashti Hughes serenading the street.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gormly exhibits himself again

It's true. The kind folks at Gallery 26 in Milsons Point have given me a whole wall to exhibit works. It's a new gallery, run by a collective of artists. Several rooms over two floors are now full of a superb variety of paintings, stained glass, photography, sculpture (both metal and wood), etchings and dioramas.

I am featuring some new work, notably three from a new series Steel on steel which comprise large black-and-white prints on metallic Kodak stock and mounted on galvanised steel sheet.

There is also one piece from another series I am working on -- the Fractal Coast series which I plan to show in its own exhibition when I find the time and the right venue, and ANOTHER series, Gothic Sydney, which feature Sydney's famous fruit bats.

The images here show Corrugations from Steel on steel and Honeycomb dream from Fractal coast. The two others from Steel on steel have a Kings Cross connection. Resurrection in the lightwell of the Carousel refers to the still-missing Juanita Neilson, and The roof of the Bourbon with Darling Point in the distance shows a surprising perspective on this local landmark. 

There are also several smaller pieces from my neo-surrealist collection as seen on

The grand opening is this evening, 11 December 2007 at 26 Alfred Street Milsons Point (from the pedestrian or bike ramps off the Bridge, head down towards Luna Park)

Closing date for the exhibition is not set. 

Friday, November 30, 2007

Another late-night booze fest

Kings Cross IS going to the dogs with new clubs opening up on every corner. Tut tut. It looks to me as if the Cross is simply Sydney's premier club precinct and locals who don't like that will just have to live with it. Meanwhile sights like this Campari launch at Favelas in Kellett Way on a random Wednesday night provide some compensation. This is not the sort of thing one sees in Pymble. Shame the Barons Building opposite is about to be demolished. There goes the neighbourhood.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Crown Street building bites the dust

Last night the upstairs tenants and patrons of the Indian Chilli Restaurant on Crown Street near Foveaux heard ominous cracking sounds and called police, who evacuated several buildings and closed the street.

The whole building, next door to the construction site for Council's new Surry Hills Community Centre, had started listing, a large crack appearing between it and the next terrace.

Today a large wrecking crane tore the building apart, levering most of it into the excavation next door in a cloud of dust damped down by several fire hoses.

Speculating spectators surmised that the large hole council had dug next to it was behind the disaster but Council is not admitting any liability and dodged reporters' questions about compensation for the Restaurant.

The cost of the Surry Hills Community Centre had already blown out massively before it even commenced. It is billed on its designer hoardings (pictured below) as 'A benchmark in environmental design' with silhouettes of cute guys holding hands and glowing messages from Clover Moore. Part of the hoarding came down with the demolished building.

Environmental experts also challenge the 'environmental benchmark' label as there are several other comparable buildings in Sydney that are far more self-sufficient.

Still, it looks good in Clover Moore's newsletters and that's what counts. Here's the Sydney Morning Herald account.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I wonder why Sydney is turning to drink

It's almost amusing watching the public panic about rising alcohol consumption and associated social problems. Almost.

Here's a theory. All but the terminally naïve now know they can't bring happy, nonviolent drugs like cannabis or MDMA on a night out because there are too many sniffer dogs. The only alternatives are Friday night TV, meditation, stamp-collecting or alcohol.

Surprise surprise, liquor venues are opening everywhere, drinking is on the rise, the demographics of Oxford Street are going downhill fast. People are not stamp-collecting but drinking more, drinking stuff like a certain Australian rum about which it is said 'there's a bushfire and a bashing in every bottle.' What an un-fun city Sydney is becoming. 

The only allowable solutions are repressive -- from more police to residents pushing councils to restrict venues. Anything but address root causes.

I know regulated legal supply of more socially benign drugs won't be happening anytime soon but I can't help documenting the insanity of the conservative establishment.

Here's a story about MDMA we won't be seeing repeated in Australia.

The pictures below tell a story too, I think. Let's caption them 'Police exacerbating a problem that can't be properly policed because there aren't enough police'.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

UK heroin trial makes life easier for everyone else

A trial in the UK of three supervised injecting centres which supplied heroin and methodone clearly shows that regulated supply removes most of the problems of addiction and slashes the fallout and drug-related crime suffered by the wider community.

Ten percent of drug addicts commit three-quarters of acquisitive crime, reports The Independent. They are caught between irresistible cravings and a prohibited drug market that charges prohibitive prices. Crime is the solution for that ten percent, and the rest of us suffer.

Addicts in the trial received either methodone or pharmaceutical grade heroin under strict conditions, going a step further than the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Kings Cross. The drugs were injected on-site under supervision with no takeaways allowed.

Meanwhile back home we see Don Weatherburn, director of BOCSAR, saying 'If we want to get the most out of demand reduction... we have to inflict some harm.' (SMH 26 10 07). I'm sure the latest victim of a heroin-related mugging or home break-in would be pleased, especially after reading the UK story. I would love to debate Mr Weatherburn on on his belief that inflicting harm reduces harm. Prohibition brings many harms to the community, persecutes those who use drugs other than alcohol, diverts police from solving real crime and costs the taxpayer by locking up large sections of the population.

Prohibitionists continue to assert that regulated supply would not undermine and shrink the criminal drug supply chain but this UK trial (and common sense) indicates they are wrong. And re-directing drug addicts from the rebellion and glamour of an underground economy into a medically supervised environment removes the 'heroin chic' element from the culture while limiting the ability of existing users to initiate new users.

That refutes another prohibitionist argument -- that regulated supply will encourage more users -- and counters Mr Weatherburn's belief that inflicting harm is necessary to reduce demand.

Now watch the christian right ignore these facts and continue their hysterical and oppressive dogma. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's raining furniture at the top of the Cross

Yesterday morning the vase pictured on the kerb, along with a beer bottle, electronic equipment and a large glass tabletop, were thrown out of an apartment five or six floors above the Coke sign onto Darlinghurst Road, injuring two guys. The vase smashed through the rear window of this car. There is a baby seat installed and a bystander told me there was a baby in it at the time but I didn't see it.
A Pure Blonde beer bottle was thrown right across the intersection, landing on the footpath in William Street outside the small Kings Bar still operating beneath the Kings Cross Hotel, now under renovation.
Police, the Riot Squad, an ambulance and a fire engine attended.

Friday, September 28, 2007

'Silencing Dissent' – APEC photo exhibition in Kings Cross

With our new Riot Squad kitted out like a cross between Robocop and the Sopranos, Sydney life imitates a B-grade movie while the arms and security industry makes a financial killing out of protecting their own dealmakers during APEC.

As conservative forces continue to militarise the world, removing civil rights in the name of 'The war on terror', this exhibition marks a turning point in our history.

See 40+ black-and-white prints from APEC week, now showing at Bugden's Bookshop, 220 William St (near McElhone St, two streets below the Coke sign).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Silence-seekers get a blasting

Silence-seekers moving to a small town in France have been told to put up or shut up (click headline for link).

It relates to the same issue in Kings Cross where some residents create a lot of noise complaining about noise because they do not accept that they have moved into a red-light district and a world-wide destination.

Apart from extreme instances, the problem of course is really in their own minds. People with that mindset will complain about any noise anywhere, and not only in rural towns in France. There have been similar examples here in Sydney -- Oxford Falls residents complaining about people riding horses down a dirt road, West Pymble residents complaining about Koels starting their songs in the forest at 3am and Circular Quay residents complaining about trains sounding their horns as they enter tunnels (a primary safety practice).

As well as free dog-training lessons, Council might save itself a lot of grief by offering these people free relaxation lessons that include simple differentiation between external stimuli and and subjective reactions, and how we control the latter.

Even the most basic lessons in Buddhist technique teach that.

Monday, August 13, 2007

My letter published in the Wentworth Courier 080807

Well they published the letter pasted into the previous blog entry.

On Saturday night we noticed the sniffer dog patrol was out, trawling the queue outside Ladylux nightclub in their campaign to keep people out of Kings Cross. Interesting that the local whingers contributed to that club losing its development approval partly by claiming that the queuing blocked the footpath (shock, horror!). Yet there seemed to be plenty of room for the dog patrol...

To the advantages of entertainment saturation listed in my letter I wanted to add: That the incoming crowds create a 'critical mass' that is a party in itself. I LOVE the endless variety of people you see and meet around here when it's pumping. Of course the old bores don't even register this. It's all 'impact' and 'adverse amenity' to them.

The suggestion made by one local that entertainment venues should be spaced 100 metres apart would of course kill this critical mass while spreading Kings Cross alone over about a 20km radius. Smart.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Is Frank Sartor still kicking heads in Kings Cross?

Given the lockstep between Council and the Police in the war on Kings Cross, I was wondering where the state government push was coming from.

I got a clue from the Autumn 2002 edition of City News in which then Mayor Frank Sartor enthuses about 'civilising' Kings Cross using the zero tolerance techniques applied in New York.

'I was particularly interested in the use of multi-agency teams of police, fire inspectors, health inspectors and building safety experts to target issues ranging from prostitution to unauthorised signage,' said Frank, laying out his vision to 'civilise' the Cross.

Sound familiar?

'A key to the success of cleaning up key precincts has been the unrelenting attention of authorities to forcing out undesirable elements, backed up by major improvements in urban amenity,' he goes on.

Five years later the issues are identical but the Cross is suffering a stalemate between the social forces that create it and the relentless dead hand of Council regulation, the de-funding of the local arts community, raids on the adult shops, and police street searches and sniffer dog patrols which do little except scare people away from the place.

Far from 'civilising' the place -- as if a bully like Frank Sartor would even know what the word meant -- it's just the old story of middle class arrogance which always thinks it knows better than the rest of us how we should lead our lives. These types cannot bear to see one small precinct thumbing its nose at their suburban cultural cringe which worships moneyed, respectable sterility as the only good. Planning Minister Sartor and the supporters of the war are no more than tidy-town NIMBYs, albeit powerful ones.

In the same publication Frank outlined his vision for the extended Cross City Tunnel and the 'greening' of William Street. He claimed increasing the cost from $273 million to $410 million for the longer tunnel would be offset by 'extra toll revenue from additional patronage'. He was very, very wrong about that, too.

Reading about the late night trading issue in the Wentworth Courier, I felt inspired to fire off the following letter:


While we all support the idea of more Melbourne-style venues in soulless old Sydney, all the backslapping about 'curbing the late night booze festivals' in Kings Cross amounts to little more than a few old bores primping and fussing about young people having a good time.

Their mantra of 'over-saturation' is meaningless when applied to the Cross which has been 'over-saturated' with entertainment outlets for many decades. That's why it's popular. It's partly why I and all my local friends moved here.

The killjoys willfully ignore the many advantages of this 'over-saturation': punters can arrive by public transport and travel on foot among many different venues, making the roads safer than if they drove; Police response is famously fast as they need only a small area to cover; and enforcement of venue management standards becomes easier.

The Cross also acts as a centre for dispossessed and marginalised people, concentrating them where the services and outreach teams are while at the same time providing a safer environment than if they were pushed out to the suburbs.

Authorities have now spent millions and several years trying to kill the Cross but the issues have not changed. The war on Kings Cross is not working and if it does it will merely displace the problems to other suburbs less well-placed to deal with them. This is the shame of all NIMBYs.

Instead, we need to take off the regulatory screws, continue managing the problems and seek positive, arts-led solutions to changing the people mix and the daytime retail slump.

And if you can't stand the heat...

Michael Gormly, Kings Cross

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The rationale for the War on Kings Cross?

I've drawn an interesting line between current events. Call me cynical.

1. Council anti-cluster rules applied to KX sex industry

2. Police raid KX adult shops, confiscating X-rated material (presumably their staple stock-in-trade. If any go broke they can't be replaced by another sex - oriented premises because of 1.) Note: 'Child pornography' used to justify the raids but none found, yet undercover cops maintain the campaign.

3. Many of these shops are linked to brothels so if they go broke so may the brothels (who employ many drug addicts, thereby reducing drug-related crime by shifting users to another suburb).

3. A new condition on the four-year continuation of the 'trial' of the injecting centre is that if its usage rate declines to 75% it will be 'reviewed'.

4. A central reason for the location of the MSIC is its proximity to the sex industry.

5. Intended result: Kill the red light district, close the MSIC and all the drug addicts disappear into other areas and become less visible, less detectable and with less support. Problems of Kings Cross displaced to other suburbs. Social fallout and drug-related crime might rise but it will be further underground and less visible politically.

6. Kings Cross real estate prices rise. Developers and NIMBYs rejoice.

Items 1 to 4 are simply factual. Items 5 and 6 are my conclusions. I can't think of any plausible alternative explanations. If I am correct, there needs to be a debate between having a visible red light district or having those activities spread around other suburbs. It's between diversity and uniformity, as there would be less difference between Kings Cross and other suburbs. This in turn will only accelerate the exodus of all the interesting people from our increasingly boring city.

I am told they succeeded in doing this in New York, killing 42nd Street. Now all the same stuff goes on via Blackberry and email networks.

I know if I had a 15-year-old daughter gone off the rails I'd rather have her hitting the Cross to be picked up by the ubiquitous street outreach teams than locked in a suburban room being sold via Blackberry.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Oxford Street a casualty of the ‘War on Kings Cross’?

A claimed rise in homophobic assaults along Oxford Street has triggered a safety strategy from Council.

At the same time a story by Kim Shaw in the Wentworth Courier (27/6/2007) reports:
‘Locals had complained to the council that the demographic of Oxford Street had changed, bringing in more “straight outer-suburbs” visitors to the area in recent times.’

Is it possible that the police raids and pressure on adult shops in Kings Cross, preventing them from selling X-rated non-violent erotica, are displacing “straight outer-suburbs visitors” to the nearest sex shops -- in Oxford Street?

There was plenty of anecdotal evidence of the displacement of street people and drug users from the Cross to Darlinghurst a few years ago when Police and Council started their ongoing ‘clean up the Cross’ campaign.

Indeed, if you spend much time in both places you will see many of the same street people.

This observation challenges the vocal few who continue to attack the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, claiming it attracts people who are the sole cause of the retail slump along the Kings Cross strip -- a chicken-and-egg argument at best. The truth is there are many reasons street people come to the area and shifting the MSIC, or closing it, will not improve anything.

It also illustrates the idea that any oppressive action by authorities merely displaces the ‘problem’ rather than solving it.

In the case of Kings Cross, all the might of the Police, Council, NIMBY residents and the sycophantic Kings Cross Partnership is pitched against the whole set of social forces that creates red light districts in the first place.

The only achievement of this ‘War on Kings Cross’ is to create an uneasy stalemate. On the one hand the Cross is prevented from fully being 'itself' -- the raucous, lurid neon-lit home of extreme diversity that we so love. But on the other hand the strength of the social forces which create the Cross will prevent it ever becoming the ‘mother-and-child retail centre’ that the KX Partnership, Council and property developers explicitly fantasise about.

Like all such prohibition-style campaigns, the only result is a lot of pain and expense as ‘problems’ are shifted from one place to another. Seen in this light, Council and the Police are creating the very problems they are trying to solve.

Picture: Oxford Street or Kings Cross? Street people in front of a closed shop in Oxford Street doing nobody any harm.

Woman cured of 'unwelcome orgasms'

The case of a woman who suffered from involuntary feelings indistinguishable from orgasms headed this morning's segment by Adam Spencer and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki on 702 radio.

The woman went to doctors when the phenomenon started interfering with her life. No bus trip was safe for her with the 'orgasms' lasting up to two minutes. On one occasion she actually passed out.

Doctors discovered an epileptic centre in her brain which was triggering these events, and were able to cure her.

Spencer asked Kruszelnicki if there was a difference between having a real orgasm and an imaginary one, using as a parallel the example of referred pain which could be seen as not 'real' because there was no actual stimulus at the site of the pain.

Dr Karl replied with the question 'Is anything real -- am I imagining this conversation with you?'

I would have asked whether the same thing could happen to males, given the usual physiological symptoms that accompany the event. So if the guy sitting next to you in the bus seems a bit stunned and asks 'excuse me, do you have a tissue?' this could be the explanation.

Picture: Some bus passengers may not be as bored as they appear.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Landslide in McElhone Street

This landslide in McElhone Street Woolloomooloo fell on Friday night. Police at the site say no cars were parked underneath -- very lucky as this street, close to Kings Cross, is usually parked out on weekend nights. The hole above is within the grounds of a four storey block of flats fronting Brougham Street, approximately 1950s vintage. The cliff beneath is the site of one of Sydney's original sandstone quarries, dating back to the mid-1800s.

Then on Sunday a cyclist and a small white van collided in the same street -- it looked as if the car, facing the roadblock in front of the landslide, had turned right towards a driveway intending to turn around -- just as the cyclist was overtaking. The cyclist was standing as police attended -- although bleeding from the head. He was taken away by ambulance.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Juanita Nielsen's home on the market

Amid calls for City of Sydney Council to purchase the home of Juanita Nielsen (see SMH story below), the best hope seems to be Council approving 'adaptive re-use' subject to a 'comprehensive heritage assessment of the property.'

The starry-eyed idealists among us would like it to be made available for use by artists, who are finding Sydney too expensive for such luxuries as studio space. There have also long been moves locally to establish a Kings Cross Museum. The three bald-faced terraces for sale (including Juanita's place, 202 Victoria Street, just near the station) would be perfect for it. The basis of the museum would be histories of the various significant buildings around the Cross, presented electronically. Clover Moore was well aware of these moves but they seem to have become lost in the mix.

Council under Frank Sartor bought a 5-storey Art Deco building in the main street to house its one-stop-shop and the library, intending to rent out the upper floors and thereby help turn Kings Cross into just another middle-class suburb. The upper floors are STILL vacant, and Council is apparently now dreaming up ways to use the space perhaps by expanding the library with conference rooms etc and -- maybe -- a museum.

So buying yet more real estate in The Cross might be a difficult ask for Council. As for artists colonies? Forget it. Council staff would rather chop off their own big toes than do something so folksy and 1970s. They are impressed only by slick neo-modernist ventures with a techno and corporate feel.

It's exactly what the Cross needs, though. Write letters to Councillors, newspapers etc. 2011 Residents Association is on the case, but wider support will be necessary to achieve a result. The Historic Houses Trust is another possible player.

Even if the houses simply continued to be rented out at a reasonable rate it would assist the fast-disappearing low-cost housing mix in the area.


Sad irony as developers eye Nielsen's home

Robert Wainwright
Sydney Morning Herald, June 2, 2007

THERE is a loose brick in the wall of Juanita Nielsen's old bedroom. Someone has chiselled away the mortar between the bricks to create a nook big enough to have stored a clue to one of Sydney's most enduring murder mysteries.

Sadly there is nothing but dust, and neighbours fear even that might disappear if the workers' cottage once owned by the murdered newspaper owner and heiress is sold.

Expressions of interest have been called in the two-bedroom house at 202 Victoria Street and two adjoining properties.

It is a joint lot, and the sale is being marketed not for renovation but as "ripe for development".

It would be a sad irony if the building from which one of the city's most famous activists wrote her fortnightly paper Now, which waged war against the destruction of heritage by developers, is itself pulled down by a new owner.

At an open day on Thursday there was plenty of interest in the rickety building. None of the potential buyers stopped to notice the brass plaque embedded in the footpath commemorating its famous owner, nor that the council had misspelled her name, as "Nielson".

Inside, it is probably little different from the garish mishmash Nielsen left behind when she disappeared on July 4, 1975. The tile doorstep leads into a room of worn pine floorboards and exposed hand-fired bricks from the 1840s in which Nielsen wrote her fortnightly paper from an old Cutler desk.

The labyrinth of rooms leads to a rear patio of viper green tiles, while the bedrooms upstairs are lined with pine. The only 1970s colour missing is burnt orange.

Resident action groups are calling for the house to be placed on the state heritage register under a permanent conservation order, fearing the council protection that now shelters the building will not stop the bulldozers.

Andrew Woodhouse and Sue Hanley are leading the charge. Neither knew Nielsen, but believe it was her fight that preserved the street.

That is why most believe she was abducted and killed. "She saved this neighbourhood in life, so we owe her one in death," said Mr Woodhouse, who is president of the Potts Point & Kings Cross Heritage Conservation Society.

"Heritage doesn't have to be pretty to be important. This site contains her spirit and deserves to be saved. Her efforts are reflected in the high quality and amenity of this street that we all now enjoy."

Ms Hanley, president of the 2011 Residents Association, wrote to the Herald this week asking why governments had ignored the area. "Sydney needs King Cross to be restored as an edgy conversation precinct, not a brain-dead entertainment precinct," she wrote.

"This means taking the future of this area out of the hands of the liquor industry and big developers. It requires urgent action to adopt policies and plans that ensure the area is not an either/or - either very wealthy or desperately poor.

"Juanita, we need you now more than ever. The preservation of her home should be a catalyst for a vision of Kings Cross which is for cultural diversity, dissent and difference."

A City of Sydney council spokesman confirmed that the property was under a heritage order which accepted "adaptive reuse" but not demolition.

"The city would be likely to support listing the building on the State Heritage Register subject to a comprehensive heritage assessment of the property."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

ANZAC 'tailbackers' liven up the Cross

The hardcore spinners returned yesterday maintaining the tradition of Two-up in the Cross on ANZAC Day.

Cries such as 'We need a tailbacker for $80 or any part thereof' rang out before those coins marked with an 'X' on the heads side hit the fine gravel betting rings supplied by Council.

The games started in the early hours of 25 April as soon as the rain eased after midnight. They ran smoothly with bets as high as $300 plus changing hands.

The games were played under the awning near the station entrance until the trains started running at 3.30am and the early risers headed for the Dawn Service at Martin Place began trickling through.

The police then asked the players to move to the big ring on the corner of Roslyn Street where they could be seen carrying on again later in the evening.

Oxford Street was different again, with lots of in-uniform sailors (male & female) out in the bars.

There, impromptu art and messages had been posted. One cardboard sign taped to a smartpole said 'Aboriginals were soldiers too. Black and proud'.

A printed poster on the old Gowings building was titled 'Lest we forget' in a decorative script. Below was a portrait of a young soldier with the extended barrel of a handgun going right through his head. Below that, in the same script, was written 'And yet we do it again'.

Pictures: 'Five bucks on heads' and 'The spinner from Cobar'.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

War on Kings Cross continues

Kings Cross Police are maintaining pressure on the adult video shops in Kings Cross -- but nowhere else -- so the shops cannot stock any non-violent erotica.

The manager of one store has confirmed this, smiling ruefully among expansive shelves sparsely stocked with dildoes, frilly knickers and the like, which are apparently permitted by the uniformed guardians of our morals.

'What can you do about it?' he said.

Presumably all the customers are simply buying their porn in Oxford St , the city or their home suburb, not to mention the booming mail order businesses from Canberra.

We now live in a surreal world where the only place in NSW you can't buy porn is Sydney's red light district. And despite constant Police complaints that they don't have enough resources, they seem to have enough to maintain this farce and to sit around, presumably, watching thousands of X-rated videos in their search for child pornography.

Apart from the obvious stupidity and insincerity of this situation, it's a clever tactic when you couple it with City of Sydney's anti-cluster rule.

This rule forbids the opening of any sex-related business within 100 metres of another such business. You see the plan -- send one of these businesses broke and Kings Cross will be one step further towards the 'mother-and-child-friendly retail precinct' that Clover Moore and the sycophantic Kings Cross Partnership explicitly fantasise about.

The rule dates back to South Sydney Council before the state abolished it but with one crucial difference.

South Sydney, recognising that it's probably better to keep red light businesses in the red light district, exempted the Cross from the rule. After the initial forced amalgamation Lucy Turnbull, unelected within her new domain, applied the rule to the Cross just before the $20 million streetscape works turned the Cross into a customer-free war zone for 16 months.

Clover Moore, who received at least half her Mayoral campaign budget from Lucy Turnbull's Living City corporation, has maintained the rule.

However the plethora of empty shopfronts in the Cross suggests that if one of these businesses closes, we will be stuck not with happy mums and kids shopping but rather with another dead doorway full of rubbish and street people, bless them, or yet another bar much to the horror of some locals who campaign against them.

Meanwhile 200 injections a day continue to happen at the MSIC and Kings Cross remains the national destination for marginalised wanderers, backpackers and groups of drunken premarital bucks and hens.

A cheering street crowd was well entertained by Monday night's siege at the Astoria Hotel in Darlinghurst Road (see picture). It turned out the gun was only a cigarette lighter, but hey, that's The Cross. Why would anyone single out this environment for a mother-and-child retail precinct?

It's the place people go to party, a healthy pressure-relief valve despite the street fallout. Most locals live here because they LIKE it that way and those that don't like it should not move here, as several recent court cases approving more pubs and clubs have recognised.

Mother-and-child retail precinct? Please get real. Take the screws off and let The Cross be The Cross.

Yet the War on Kings Cross continues. Clover Moore, using Council money, has lost at least two court cases mounted against strip club spruikers and continues to lose other court cases as she tries to wind back the opening hours of pubs and clubs.

By contrast, she is letting the Barons Building be demolished on the grounds that Council might lose any court appeal.

Her actions in Kings Cross belie her funky gay-friendly image and show her to be as much witch-burning inquisitor as inner city libertarian.

They also contradict her empty 'City of Villages' slogan as she tries to kill the most distinct village in Sydney. 'City of middle class uniformity' would be a more accurate slogan. Do you think it would get votes?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New top cop cracks down on sex shops

The new Commander of Kings Cross Police is on fire, the latest man on a mission to clean up the Cross.

Word is there is a new crop of undercover police posing as drug dealers on the streets (a street person pointed two of them out to me).

Now the new Super has raided the sex shops, all of which have been selling X-rated porn for decades even though it is illegal in this prim little state. Suddenly the police seem to have noticed this shockingly immoral activity and have confiscated the lot. Now, one supposes, they will have to spend weeks watching it, all for the purposes of law enforcement of course.

The PR around the raids mentioned child pornography about 21 times (none has been found yet, though). The forensic examination of computers remains, just in case there are any pedophiles who think downloading porn in these places might be safer than doing it at home or in any other internet cafe.

Curious about the open display of X-rated porn in these places, I once asked a sex shop owner how they got away with it. It seems when the police make these raids they take all the porn and attempt to prosecute the shop owner. However they end up losing the court case because of legal technicalities around free trade between states, and have to return all the stock and continue turning the same blind eye they have turned in the past. You see, other states can trade in X-rated porn, notably the ACT which runs a booming business in mail-order porn.

Normally the NSW cops don't bother as it merely ties them up in acres of paperwork (and porn-watching) when they would rather be out there addressing the alcohol-related incidents and car break-ins which are the real problem around here.

Meanwhile all the porn customers will have to get their stuff as far afield as Oxford St or the city. That'll be good for the Cross... but the temperance union will no doubt be ecstatic. Oliver Cromwell rides again.