What is Sterne all about, you ask? We are all about fostering community spirit, and how dare you doubt it.
Melbourne town is a sprawling old place, once you get away from the CBD, and if you haven't ventured too far outside your own area, well who can blame you? I can, that's who. How dare you sit and stagnate in your own little pit of a suburb, you lazy fuck, when there's a vast city to explore, tens of different districts - each positively oozing with unique charm (and occasionally raw sewage), each full of interestingly disgusting human people whom you've never met. How, how!? are we supposed to build a society when its various components - and yes, I'm looking hard at you - refuse to get up off their chunky, parochial arses and make an attempt to learn about the rest of Melbourne. Here's how: Sterne will do it for you. In what should be, barring boredom or forgetfulness, a weekly series, I will venture boldly into the hinterlands of the state capital, and present a frank but fair assessment of a variety of different suburbs.
In other words, I intend to heap shit on a bunch of places. Today, I begin with an old friend/enemy: Frankston.
Who was Frank, and why? About 50 years ago, Frankston was a sleepy sea-side resort town, which the good people of inner Melbourne would make the long journey to for their Christmas holidays. There were a few little huts on the beach painted in bright, primary colours; a couple of cheap hotels, each run by a relentlessly friendly being of apparently indeterminate gender, named Doris. And that was it - dull, but, well...dull. These days, the first thing one sees upon entering Frankston - now well and truly part of the greater Melbourne area - is a large sign, declaring "Brothel For Sale - fantastic opportunity for first time buyer". This is modern Frankston in a nutshell: class.
In Frankston, everyone spits. Everyone. Everywhere. A bylaw was passed sometime in the early 80's, I think. Teens spit. Children spit. Respectable businessmen, old ladies - they spit. Even vicars spit. Usually on the old ladies. The main thoroughfare positively reeks of freshly expectorated phlegm, and traversing it requires the use of a sturdy pair of wellingtons, just in case one breaches the crust of hardened mucus that serves as a footpath and sinks into the swamp of saliva beneath.
Due, I'm told by those in the know, to the boom in high-density low-cost housing in the area, Frankston is home to a significant population of crazy people, junkies, and crazy junkies. Every second person you see there will either ask you for any spare methadone you might have about you, or ask you if you are a tree. In both cases, they person in question will call you Jimmy. Bonus points if this is actually your name.
Central Frankston appears to consist largely of vomitously decorated shopping malls and adult entertainment venues, although there is a large, well-kept library on the outskirs of town. If you are a highly literate capitalist pervert, Frankston may be the place for you.
Climbing the hill that Frankston squats beneath like a malignant toad gives you a genuinely pleasant view out over the bay, and if you don't mind the strong wind, it's a nice spot to sit for a while. From up there, you can see a certain slow-motion friction in action: Frankston proper is still very much attached to its roots as a country town, and as such is full of red-necks and oiks; however, as one travels from the centre - towards the beachfront - the houses quickly change from being packed together like small, salty, tinned fish into large, multi-storied, yuppified affairs. There is a cold war betwixt up-market, upper-class new Frankston, and sleazy, grubby, spit-filled old Frankston. And I'm not entirely sure yet which is going to elbow the other aside.
Whilst I was sitting up on the hill above the beach, watching the sun set over the suburb and comtemplating this post, a well-heeled young couple approached me. One, tugging self-importantly at the lapel of his sports coat, said, "Excuse me, but did you realise you're on private property?" Embarassed, I could only reply, "Oy, Jimmy - have ya got 'ny spare change? The government's in me head." Would that I were always so eloquent.
Frankston: one-and-a-half loogies out of five.
What shithole will I visit next week? Will I insult your home town? Stay tuned, find out! Try not to wet yourself with excitement.