Saturday, August 6, 2011
Day 25. The Blocks (Colloquially: Da Blox)
*A day dedicated to documenting the life directly outside these Iron Curtains*
Around 5AM, on cue, a choir of car alarms rouse like the rooster all the sleeping sapiens bunkered in The Blocks.
As if an orchestra of primary aged orphans tootling on recorders, all out of time and tune, have taken camp underneath your windowsill, the alarms bloop and bleep until you crush the pillow against your scalp in moaning.
Whether hit by a falling leaf or a flying vodka bottle, the hair trigger systems appear to be tied harmoniously into the cycles of the day: as they will only choose to sound either deep in the dead of night, or, as mentioned, together in unison at the bleating of the dawn.
Soon, the clopping of heels, the swishing of soles against sidewalk and the little pip-pips of car key buzzer beepers to open their caterwauling car doors contribute to this otherwise unfathomable salad of sound.
Then cometh the bagpipe of all street noises: the baby. More specifically, the baby wail.
Training for the Accadacca Achievement Awards, these baby Bon’s could certainly stir up the levers on some seismographs.
I’m not sure what they are doing to them out here. Neither am I interested in finding out.
But, for all awaiting the results, the author has decided the Victoria Park Centrelink orifice in Perth is no longer the Capital of Early Morning Baby Bawling, after existing four months in The Blox.
After this, amid these early hours, as hot teacups gently allay the shaking of frayed fingertips, various arrays of moustaches and dog chains shuffle past. A particular highlight comes in the form of Mr Potato-Head’s crossbreed with Jeff Bridges, as he staggers by on his morning stroll, always wearing the same t-shirt, brandishing him as the “Easy Dude.” (Take it easy, Dude, wherever you may be).
Almost foaming into the footpath, the rally course utilised as a parking station causes no end of grief to the many mufflers driven in, over and inevitably, away from, The Blox.
As if caused from a series of spent landmines, the potholes and ditches patterning the sandy lot exceed any auto-mechanics wet dream. The stationary vehicles which pile up within it, featuring a catwalk of flat tyres, cracked windscreens, dented fenders, and grumpy stickers on twisted bumpers, contribute to the air of a way-out-west wrecker’s yard.
Scrap metal collectors too, rise with the screaming of the alarms. They know within their scabbing hearts, an hour will pass and a dropped number plate, a hurled off hubcap or, even, for the true purveyor of metallic monetary value, a coathanger aerial, could be awaiting the scrummage of them, the scavengers.
As the morning kicks into rhythm, so too do the elderly washer-women, unchanged in their working routines since Einstein discovered atoms. Pegging linens with crab-like virtuosity, alongside moo-moos, and a mysteriously wide variation of undergarments, they reveal a display which will float for the day like flags in the wind.
Centring the all-seeing eye of the Blox, a petite slapdash set of pylons called a playground sits, which within it, among potential glass hazards and other spiky spinnerets, play the offspring of dozens of Blocks inmates. Charging at each other, the tykes transform into an imaginary army. The puny-partisans frolic for their freedoms clutching on to a fragment of fibro or an amputated birch branch as their weapon. Lurking stealthy behind an archway, in a sleek spring motion, they slip out like a sniper for a series of POWPOWPOWs at their peers.
A slim few of their ‘fathers’, though not all may agree they distinguish this title, adhere to the strict diet of bad parenting: slug booze back, lay back like a slug, then slug kid.
This may appear judgemental, if not just plain mental, but paying attention, you notice a couple of the mini-mites sporting omnipresent markings of blood and blisters on their filthy ice-cream covered faces in the local canteen, as daddy buys another plastic bottle to transcend his morning into midday.
Communities of crows and pigeons dig at discards from the green trash train of dumpsters which centre The Blocks like grim monuments. Another unfortunate scrounger soon swooshes the devilish birds away with his fist, so he can make sure they haven’t made off with his lunch.
Raking through the remnants of awful off-cheese parcels and scooping out slurps from an unfinished yogurt, either a stubbly gent who won’t look you in the eyes, or a scarfed ancient widow who dreamed once of different things, do their duties on a daily basis.
A stoic lone local heaves a single-blade lawnmower, the type on two wheels, over a hectare of daffodils and beanstalks threatening to surpass him in height.
Two chatterboxes crouch and gesticulate in expressions of grandeur next to the bench, long lost chums apparently regaling the treasures of some heroic weekendly experience.
The Blocks themselves, relics of the Russian occupiers, are made up of around eight to ten twenty by twenty people drawers, shelving units to fit the many squadrons of humanity, particularly, unfortunately, the poorer bracket, within them.
When you lazily pace the grids of granite and grass acting as thoroughfare between The Blockish buildings, one is struck immediately by the dozens of trailing eyes, watching from their windows. Historical generations with nothing left to do but gawk, abstractly, as the day shuttles slowly by.
An autistic girl gets home from school. As if locked in gallows she hollers to the hills, almost as an animal, turning at her mother, who walks beside her in such practiced patience you would believe she was either a saint or drugged beyond the heavens.
As the sun marches lordly over the Blocks, come mid-arvo, pillars of glass, large windows centring each individual block, reflect laser flashes of syrupy gold on to the passer-bys.
The washer-women’s daily rituals bring her back to her line by now, to collect her husband’s tainted trousers, clicking them off with her peg-like fingers.
Balconies, with their rusted palings, brown as toothpicks and nearly as fragile, harbour jungles of potted ferns, plastic umbrellas, cigarette ashtrays and Donald Duck towels which hang over their precipices, as if looking to escape back to Disneyworld.
The Block buildings vary in sizes: from the minute five storey to the granddaddy twelve. Each has her own shadow which carves over the puddly ground during the dusky segway to sunset.
Light lingers like a vagrant in Lithuanian summer, dallying over the inscape of the Blockades as would a spider over a large and fruitful fly.
The worker’s waddle homeward now, once again clopping heels, shuffling shoes, carting shopping bags slinging from sleepy sleavecuffs.
She, the grandmother, her face a map tracing the paths of fabled seafarers, her skin the bumpy tides, the waves of wrinkles, bends to tap the pooch upon his hopeful head.
Doctor, the Belarusian neighbour, ambles home in his acrylic jacket, appendicitis victims on his ailed mind, as usual, distancing him from the window watchers, the omniscient onlookers.
Easy Dude meanders down his straight arrow line, back the other way, as if Waylon Jennings blasts in his aura wherever he may forever wander.
Munted mufflers rattle back into the vicinity, slugging out up Mt Blockmore, into the wildebeest grazing zone of the pot holed paddock carport.
Dusk continues to settle over the ogreish oblongs, painting them a thin tone darker.
Individual bricks lose their borders in the sundown, and the Blocks become one uniform mass of material.
In the twilight eyes still twinkle at their watching perches, as they ready for bed and or to depart and transfer their furry views to the television.
The Blocks, these Space Odyssey Monoliths, sink down beneath the darkness now, as night slips in and cuts off the visuals of their life.
A stunning transformation here occurs: like approaching a city coated in blackness while looking from an aeroplane, rows of lamps in individual interiors switch on in steady flows. The huge black monsters are lit intermittently, one by one, flicking on, in a dazzling electrical display.
And here the Life of the Blocks privatises each member out to their own luminescent little worlds: to live and love and get ready to be ripped from sleep by the clamour of the car alarm choir, one more round, at the friendly hour of 5AM tomorrow.