The Big Issue : Edition 505
culture police Fiona Scott-Norman THEBIGISSUE19FEB–3MAR2016 29 ILLUSTRATIONBYGREGBAKES;ORIGINALPHOTOGRAPHBYMILESSTANDISH WHEN THINGS LOOK BLEAK, TURN TO A THREE-LEGGED FRIEND. Pet Power very important country taking Donald Trump seriously, or children in detention, or housing prices (jeezus), or, look, capitalism in general, or George Pell, or women being murdered and abused, or climate change, or the way that there’s hardly a species we haven’t pushed to extinction through carelessness, cruelty and indifference other than rats, pigeons, cane toads, bottom-feeding carp and cockroaches. Humans! We’re so smart, and we’re total idiots. But then I thought: no, bugger that. Stop banging on about loss, death and fear, even if it seems to be everywhere. Don’t be a Debbie Downer. So, this week I’m going to talk about cats. I know, adorable, right? Just look at the internet. And, excitingly, as of this morning, I think I’m getting another one. What with the chickens being massacred by Mr or Ms Fox, and my last cat, Frankie Pants, squalling with a possum and dying of a head injury, it’s been too quiet at Scott-Norman HQ. Pets bring heart to a home and, honestly, it’s lonely without some critters about the place. We’d been thinking of getting more chickens, and I’ve found myself scrolling through rescue dog sites and weeping (who doesn’t, right?). But then a friend signalled that she needed someone to adopt her cat. I hadn’t been thinking “cat”. Frankie trashed the brand by being aloof, mostly outdoors and moody. Look, he was charismatic and a terrific conversation starter (“Damn cat attacked my ankles again”, “Oooh, blood”), but he bolted at a knock on the door and saw humans as gatekeepers to be manipulated into producing food. Linda’s cat, however, sounds promising. Not only is his name Harry “the Wonder Cat”, he has three legs and is a “total charmer”. I could do with some charm. And a three-legged cat sounds intriguing. It also feels right. I bought fancy chickens for my second flock, and they turned out to be bullies. My Mini Cooper was crippling financially. My neighbourhood is on board the aspiration train. It seems like a good time to be giving a furry, displaced, down-a -leg feline a home. YOU’LL BE THRILLED to discover that you’ve dodged a bullet this week. I was going to write about how depressed I am that my local (exhaustive) DVD shop is closing, because it’s killing me. Video Vision is less of a rental shack, and more of a film library stocked with the history of cinema from go to whoa, run by dudes with knowledge capital that would rival Tarantino’s. By the time you read this, it’s dead. Decades of cultural and community capital just gone because of, probably, Netflix. And because people are getting too tired, insular and attached to their devices to leave the house. SOME OF US DON’T WANT TO DOWNLOAD EVERYTHING. Argh! And, AND, I was also going to write about how, relatedly, we’re in the midst of a great shop extinction, where any place with 10 cents of history, authenticity and giving weirdos a sense of belonging is closing down. For example, Melbourne’s Polyester Books – which for decades provided all things deviant, bizarre and esoteric to Victoria’s non- conformists – is about to have its counter-cultural beacon snuffed out. There should be some kind of heritage listing for independent, quirky retail businesses, because an entire social ecosystem is disappearing, like the wetlands, and being replaced by shiny frontages with bamboo fittings that promise “lifestyle”. We’re in the middle of corporate hipstergeddon. Then I was going to mention how I’ve been despairing, watching my neighbourhood go into a kind of gentrification death spiral, where every shop that was kind of kooky and eccentric – from the Jewish jewellery shop where I’d get my watch fixed by a cranky old guy, to the $2 Shop run by a Russian lady who specialised in costume party accessories – is no longer financially viable. All gone, or going. The $2 Shop is being replaced by a mega-chemist, which would be fine I suppose except our shopping strip already has eight of them. The clock repairer, whose shop was grubby and done out in dark wood, dust and glass, is now a Grill’d. The chains are gobbling everything. Where do the small people go? So I was going to write about all that, and how it’s making me sad and alarmed. I was going to throw in, perhaps, that I’m finding it increasingly difficult to listen to the news because it’s all so utterly dispiriting – whether it’s half a » For virtually more FSN, visit fionascottnorman.com.au or follow her on Twitter @FScottNorman.