many people escape from the zeitgeist and those that do are mostly too
old and infirm to adapt, I reflected. I was sitting in the sun outside
the Heritage Café on Macquarie Street, sipping a long black while
I waited for the solicitors.
fine place to feel the pulse of Sydney. Teams of lawyers from firms
with names like Malleson Stephen Jacques come and go. Politicians and
power-brokers pass by, and the TV media scrum lie in wait for the innocent
and the guilty.
chauffeur-driven black Mercedes with tinted windows pulled into the
curb and John Marsden got out. He was wearing a beautiful grey suit,
a sharp and shiny dark grey shirt and a jaunty yellow tie. He looked
overweight, but remarkably good, considering.
glanced down at my old brown trench-coat, with the cider stains and
the frayed cuffs and felt distinctly grungy, like a drug-runner from
B-grade gangster flick.
there was something called Fashion. It died decades ago and nobody mourned
its passing. Now there is only Style and everybody seems to dress in
some regional drug pusher style: the rich in the manner of Wall Street
coke dealers and the poor like ghetto crack pushers in lurid tracksuits
and back-to-front baseball caps.
Street is full of sleek kids in urban charcoal grey, acting cool like
the local ecstacy man, and gay men who look like white-trash hash peddlers
from Nashville. Walk down Homer Street Earlwood on Saturday night and
you'll be passed by a parade of third-generation Greek youths in hotted-up
Hiroshima Screamers with the windows down and the stereo blaring gangsta
rap, trying to make out they're street-level heroin dealers from some
was a grim reverie, but you start to think like that after spending
days tailing Korean loan sharks for the casino inquiry.
is nothing inherently stylish about Star City. It broods over Darling
Harbour like a 50s suburban hospital with a moving neon light show up
the front, a seedy monument to political cynicism.
McClelland inquiry will tell us nothing about what goes on in the place
that we didn't know before they built it. Everybody knew what would
happen. It'd be used to launder drug money, we said. The politicians
demurred. It would be strictly controlled by a Casino Control Authority
they said. It would raise money for schools and hospitals and there'd
be special programs to help the hapless losers. They knew we knew they
were lying, but it went ahead anyway.
casino didn't try to keep the drug barons out, they actively courted
them according to Mark Wells, a former casino executive who is singing
like a bird to the inquiry. He entertained heroin boss Duong Van Ia
and his associates to lunch and did whatever was necessary to get them
to try their luck in the high-roller room.
Casino Control Authority didn't turn a hair when Mr Duong bet more than
$20 million in a few months. Hell, he was just a small businessman who
ran a Cabramatta roast duck shop. Everybody knows roast duck is popular
when Four Corners asked Kaye Loder, the Carr Government favourite
in charge of the Casino Control Authority about the Duong business,
she thought about it and said she was sorry to see the money go out
Carr was officially outraged of course. Ms Loder was shuffled off to
some public service gulag somewhere and McClelland QC was appointed
to tell us what we already knew. And they wonder why people are cynical
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000