The Null Device

Melbourne (slight return)

I spent the past two weeks in Melbourne, visiting friends and catching up with people; it was my first visit in over two years. This morning, I depart for New South Wales, and thence to Sydney, Brisbane, and back to London.

Shortly after I had arrived in Melbourne, I got the feeling not so much of coming home as of visiting another place I had been before, much like the second time I visited San Francisco. As I was going through my storage locker, I got the impression that the things in it (CDs, household objects, books) had belonged not to me but to someone I had been years ago. It seems that there was more of a distance between me and Melbourne, as if both sides knew it couldn't last and were wary of getting too close. After about a week, this abated, and I get the feeling that were I to move back here, I would fit right back into the world I had left.

A few things I've noticed about Melbourne: the inner north is getting increasingly gentrified; the sorts of artists, musicians and young bohemians who used to live in Fitzroy and North Fitzroy now increasingly have been pushed out to Preston or Brunswick. There has been a subtle change in the institutions of the inner north; while one café I used to frequent still looks mostly the same, the music on the PA is now a bit more bourgeois (or perhaps "suitable for mature tastes") than some years ago, with more Nouvelle Vague and similar and fewer local indie releases. (Still, it being in North Fitzroy, it hasn't crashed through the floor to Coldplay or U2 or Starbucks-style pseudo-folk sung with a stylised speech impediment.)

On a more positive note, there seem to be a lot more Japanese eateries in Melbourne. The cheap, unpretentious (and generally quite good) takeaway sushi-roll bars are still largely ubiquitous in the CBD and inner city, but now they have been joined by a number of restaurants and diners (quite a few of them in Smith Street, Fitzroy/Collingwood).

In other news: two weeks is nowhere near enough time to return to a place one has lived most of one's life and catch up with it.

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