What do they know of Bondi?

Bondi  2005  Adam Gibson

What do they know of Bondi?
only Bondi knows

We who have seen the bulldozers come and go
seen them push sand back down
the beach after storms
seen them push concrete up in buckling improvement schemes
seen the nor ‘easters come and blow
we who whisper into schooners about the
way salt rusted into the walls of The Ruins
about late night lamingtons at the Flying Pieman
about late night raids to the Nirvana bottlo
(when there wasn’t the threat of being assaulted)
about loud nights up in the Rasa
about early mornings in the Beach Club
or the Orchades
or North Bondi Surf Club or the Sandbar,
pre-homeboys

We who hide in the brick veneer valley
afraid of the traffic backing up
down on the beachfront
afraid of the diners crowding into the
viciously Bondi cafes
furtively doing banking in Hall St
bumping into stools outside Gusto
tripping over unleashed dogs with bandannas
around their necks
wanting to buy a thickshake from Bates
but that’s gone now too
looking for a familiar face
perhaps an old girlfriend
a mate from school
a girl from the surf club

I care not for bitterness,
I care not for the snarling remembrance
of better times
I only care for the realm of real Bondi
that I know and I don’t apologise for

But you have to be open
you have to hold the last laugh
in knowing that everything
the new colonialists are buying into
is something that
among friends
we already owned
what do they know of Bondi?
only Bondi knows

Before John McGrath got a look-in
before Lend Lease arrived
before the Packers annexed the headland
before the surf clubs were sponsored
before the cult of the café
before the actors bought up
before the Regis attracted such stylish clientele
before the Icebergs became a backdrop
for photo shoots…

It’s not that we’re looking backward
with the easy like of time
it’s just that I’m desolate
with the feeling that someone’s nicked
something of mine

Up in the backblocks of Scum Valley
no kids play in driveways anymore
the DINKS have replaced the dinkys
the brokers have replaced the billycarts
the ghosts of screams past fade
with each new renovation
we are living in the new Paddington

When the nightclub with strict door policy?
(check)
how long will Margs/Bills Milk Bar last?
(oh, gone)
how about BBs Wine Bar?
(ditto)
Chapel By The Sea?
get rid of it,
slip in a casino
knock up some flats
sort out that carpark

What do they know of Bondi?
only Bondi knows…

My Grandma couldn’t understand
people paying for breakfast
me?
I’m too seedy to ever do so
so I can’t understand it either
I’m over the myth of this
I’m over Bondi becoming Byron
now that the market smells the same

I offer no apologies if this sticks in the throat
rather I look forward to everything moving onward
and if I need to move out
then I’ll go out blazing
not meekly packing up
and moving to Kingsford or Scott’s Head
but shouting at the gym-buffed boys
and the chop-haired girls
and the pony-tailed squirrels
that they can keep their Sydney Confidentials
that they can keep their
lingering lunches with decorative salads
and their wine bars
and their “eateries”
and their malibus in loungerooms
and diligent shopping trips up to Westfield
and cool print shirts
and slumming it experiences in RSL clubs

The new lad thing
the tough girl thing
the tattoo thing
the long neck beer thing
the pastel short Rayban thing
the accepting bongo drum thing
eagerly deriding ‘Khe Sanh’

Among friends
some gone long ago
faded into the mist of Valis’s or Guido’s
or locked up in Long Bay
now or dead
or trying to get that next break
get off the “rock ‘n roll”
get off the “Government surf team”
but as long as there’s some dope around
and as long as there’s waves
and as long as there’s beer and chicks
they’ll postpone TAFE
and go on into their 30s
and good on ‘em

Among friends
the desert of the beachfront at night
of revving cars and broken bottles
of chewing gum trapped in the neon footpath
of the wide bouncers of the Bondi Hotel
where we grew up and threw up

Among friends
we can do what we want
for what do they know of Bondi?
only Bondi knows

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