12/05/2007

Toorak Squash and Fitness Club: The Seeds of Disease

As befits its status as one of of Melbourne's (and Australia's) wealthiest suburbs, the streets in Toorak are long, wide and tree lined. Like Haussmman's Paris, traffic flows through them as blood does the veins, and like the good Baron's boulevard's, the whole thing is meant to convey an ambiance of healthiness. Not the kind of pleasant healthiness that means a brisk walk in the morning and a glass of red with dinner, but rather the healthiness of the chest-pounding schizoid yuppie and the fanatical treadmill junky. That is, a healthiness of obscenity, which takes on a moral, political and ethnic dimension.

The wideness of these streets means that in the unlikely event of popular revolution they would act as a facilitator of social cleansing, allowing a smooth passage for suburban armies to defend their privileges against insurrection. Behind closed doors, middle-aged housewives long for the day when they can baptise these streets with the blood of their enemies. I envisage them hidden in their twitching curtains with shotgun in hand, like Flaubert taking pot shots at the Communards from his balcony, using his opera glasses for a sight (has there ever been a more dynamically bourgeois gesture?). These curious women already patrol and dominate the streets in their reinforced four-wheel-drives, all they require is a mounted gun and they can (politely) unleash carnage.



Given all of this, it is extremely satisfying that just past Toorak railway station, in midst of this aggressive smugness are the decaying remains of a fitness centre. Not only that but a squash and fitness centre. Squash, that most smug of yuppie fads, stinking of privilege and snobbery. And here is its decaying corpse, bang in the middle of all the hideousness it represents. A sign, announcing in nanny-style hectoring "Keep fit, play squash", is now surrounded by mould and pornographic graffiti. Windows, through which one might have once seen WASPSish dullards thwacking their balls, are now smashed in by blunt objects (presumably not squash rackets, though the thought that the yuppies themselves did this is intriguing).

It may simply be that better facilities have arrived but to me this incongruous aesthetic of the post-apocalyptic in such an affluent area is a strangely beautiful beacon of class aggression. It says, "yes, you aren't as healthy as you think are you? Renounce your faux-patrician heirs and graces and admit that you are as unhealthy as the proles you despise!"

It's not exactly a hoisted black flag, but it makes me smile nonetheless.

8 comments:

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Anonymous said...

I live in the area myself,
yet I have never known why it was shut down.
was there a reason?

buy generic viagra said...

I can not understand how this place have changed in the last years, I mean, when I heard something about Melbourne always was a positive reference, but now looks so destroyed.

Anonymous said...

You read like a burned out Marxist, it seems you are unnable to see the world, and the world's issues, outside of your stupid "class difference" glass. Instead of concentrating on the interesting fact that a series of ruins are to be found just next to an otherwise presserved middle/high class suburb, you sprout class bullshit.

I don't know how much experience you have with the middle and upper midle class urbanites, but I've had a lot of it with them and I don't see them eager to jump at an ethnic ceanisng with shotguns, on the contrary, they're amongst the most fragile and fear stricken people on earth.

Atomic Pom said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for the feedback. I wrote this about 4 years ago and would probably approach it differently now, but I don't think the focus on the class aspect is entirely 'stupid' as you would have it.

I wouldn't necessarily disagree that the people I referred to are fragile and frightened. In fact fear and fragility is surely what inspires aggression in most cases.

PS - If you reject my focus on class and race then what exactly do you think they are frightened of?

- MelbPsy

cialis levitra said...

It is splendid place to live, a friend of mine moved to Toorak a couple of years ago, every time I can I pay him a visit.

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