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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

Clayton Lin: Weighing In

Dangerous Perth

Andrew Ryan

It is official. Perth is a dangerous city. It is as dangerous as Raqqa, where the Islamic State reigns supreme. It is as dangerous as Caracas, where riots between pro-government demonstrators and anti-government ones explode into violence. It is as dangerous as Kiev, where a civil war is still occurring. It is as dangerous as St. Louis, where gangs would settle scores with 9mm and 5.56x45 rounds. It is as dangerous as Mogadishu, where the concept of government as we know it does not exist.

We are apparently dangerous due to our rising methamphetamine problem- a scourge that they say fills hospital wards, destroys families, makes our city streets extremely unsafe- all of which is true, and should be addressed seriously (a very difficult problem with a concrete solution being nigh-on impossible). But the kind of tone reminds me of this mock ad from the Gruen Transfer where they were pitching on how to dissuade tourists from coming to Australia- and the ad was advertising how great the Outback is for hiding a dead body- hinting at well known murder cases in rural parts of the country)- no wonder this notion is met with laughter and ridicule, although in traditional Perth behaviour, we seem to have equally embraced it with jokes and pop-cultural quibbles.

All according to that objective, factual newspaper that is The Sun.

Perth is as safe as any place in the first world, though unofficially the proud owner of that label would be your average Japanese city, where it is said that one could clock off work, full suit, gold Rolex and briefcase all, head off to a karaoke bar, get extremely drunk, pass out in the middle of downtown and wake up with your clothes and belongings intact (anecdotal, but there’s a kernel of truth in any anecdote). Now that said, there’s still parts of this city that is dodgy, whether it’s actually true, or just driven by baseless rumours and a little parochialism, but by and large if I can walk home from the train station in Clarkson (one such suburb rated as pretty dodge) at close to midnight, in total darkness, with absolutely no one around- though once I was stopped by a cop- they were looking for someone else of a similar description who was apparently screaming and shouting in front of a property, and I was walking home alone at 1 in the morning in a black hoodie.

As daft as the Sun is, but maybe they express a correct point, if albeit with an altogether different intent.

Perth can be dangerous in a way- in the sense that it’s comfortable, boring and certainly content with finding contentment and mediocrity, and it kind of seeps into you. This is more telling if you harbour artistic ambitions (or some other lofty goal)- and the inevitable of one’s exodus to the promised land of Melbourne (or in some cases, Sydney), and sometimes the homecoming, like the prodigal son. This belies the platitudes that have been heaped over the city for years- from being mocked as a Dullsville a couple of years ago to being the amongst the most liveable cities on the planet (and way above Melbourne and Sydney), but the platitudes disguise some old habits. Its much vaunted isolation that helps foster a tight-knit creative scene that punches well above its weight and becoming an extremely valued export commodity where bands like Tame Impala and Tired Lion are just killing it overseas, but the city on a whole also seems to never be moving forward, always playing catch-up, and now that’s a dangerous place to be at.

And I say this because I think this city of ours has much more potential and be damned the nay-sayers.

But there’s an inescapable feeling about this all- hard to put in the words. In the sense that you look at the grimy parts of the inner city, and seeing things that used to be there, closing, one by one, and I’m not even sure if that space will get used again, or whether I’ll be still here in the near future.