THE differences between Sydney and Melbourne are many, but one of the most prominent features I noticed on my recent trip south was the sheer abundance of charity cases trying to stop people on street corners, buskers (both good and truly appalling) everywhere and homeless people.
The first two didn’t really surprise me – in many ways Melbourne is what I imagine Sydney would be like if people from Newtown were in charge. Cultural? Maybe – but at what cost? How many dreadlocks does a city really need?
What I didn’t expect, though, were the homeless people. Maybe up here they’re all residing in their tented communities in the middle of parks, but the number in Melbourne at any given time were astounding. They sit there, inert, often asleep, with those poorly written signs on damp cardboard that they know we’re not reading beyond the first line.
Of the city’s plentiful buskers, those without an instrument had resorted to being human statues. These people, to me, are the laziest of the lazy. At what point during your BA do you realise that’s all you’ll ever amount to? What do you tell your parents you do in the meantime? If you want to get paid for doing LITERALLY nothing there are plenty of government-funded options you could explore.
Yet among the violinists, bucket drummers and wannabe-indie musos, these human statues actually seem to do quite well. They draw a perpetual crowd of passers by who stand there and stare blankly for a while, despite having literally nothing to look at (if the statue is doing their job properly) – yet their hats are regularly filled in return for someone being able to take a photo. Of a person. Standing still. TOURISM.
With all of this in mind I can’t help seeing a solution – not just to the homeless issue but to the blight of people who are somehow profiting (albeit only just) from the alleged art form of being a human statue.
First, get rid of all the human statues. Revoke all busker’s licenses for the bastards. Tell them to learn an instrument if they want to continue their bohemian existence – or at least how to mime.
Second, go to Bunnings and get a shitload of silver, gold and copper spray paint.
Third, walk through the streets and give all the homeless people the spray cans.
Fourth, the homeless people cover themselves in thick layers of spray paint to give themselves a metallic, statue-esque hue. If they don’t do it willingly, assist.
Now when the homeless people return to the streets they can still do nothing but stare blindly ahead like always and now people will mistake them for human statues. They’ll be eye catching instead of eyesores. They’ll draw crowds instead of disdain – and most importantly, they’ll almost definitely earn more money than they are now.
You never see human statues sleeping by the side of the road, which can only mean that, somehow, human statues are earning enough to put a roof over their heads. The quicker we can get every homeless person in Australia doused in spray paint, the quicker we can finally put an end of the homeless problem, once and for all.