DILEMMA

by SH

Last night we had a bunch of rather happy guitar-playing, passion-pop-drinking, singing girls and guys colonise the Brunswick Beach. Although Rich and I have always envisaged the beach as a place for everyone to use as they wish, we both wondered (as beach slowly transformed into beach party) how the presence of Bob Dylan-singing, rowdy and hot young people affected the space. We had good chats with them to start off with and I was pretty chuffed to see the space so enlivened, but after an hour or two everyone was too drunk to be coherent and two members of the party kept breaking out into swearing matches. We managed to make an enemy of one of the owners of the Retreat next door, who was mad at us for letting them drink in a public space. This is a shame, because so far we’ve had good relations with our neighbors John from the Mechanics’ Institute and Kathleen and Clint from the Retreat. I was worried about our visitors’ effect on the father and his two kids who, relegated to a corner of the space, attempted to build a sand castle. Passers-by no longer interacted with us, which defeated the purpose of the beach project.  To extrapolate this a little, the hedonism of a select group of people undid the good for the rest of society. But they had a fine time!

As the night wore on they disappeared and we cleaned up the mess they left behind. Rich and I both felt the beach had become a play-space and a spectacle rather than a reclaimed common ground where people could sit and speculate about the uncertain future.

I suppose, in a sense, the “going down swinging” feel I associate with a documentary I once saw on the Titanic sinking is perhaps the best allegory for the impromptu beach party we unwillingly hosted. The beach may sink below sea level at some stage; party on! I wonder if it will happen again tonight.

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