Signs of Sydney

sydney opera house

Welcome to Sydney, Australia, home of Jørn Utzon’s 1973 Opera House,i the first British colony on the continent,ii kangaroo prosciutto, and the most hilarious signs this side of Best Korea.iii

While most of these will be obvious to even the most casual visitor of this fair,iv  clean, and charming city,v the signs and the stories they tell reveal another layer yet. So let’s peel, peel, peel and see what Sydney really has to offer!


What better way to start your visit to Sydney than a quickie! I can attest to the skill of the Thai foot masseuses, but as I can afford an entire hotel room for an entire night, and an entire woman for a hell of a lot longer than that, I’ll have to assume that “CAGE STYLE ROOM 4” is as fun as it looks.

The best signs of all are those of a home-away-from-home, those of kosher, grass-fed, made-on-premises, gluten-free beef sausages. This was taken in what I’ll affectionately call “Little Israel”,vi a lively little section of the Bondi Beach area. This butcher is, if the hand-painted signs are to be believed, one of the eight best butchers in Sydney.vii How quaint!

Less quaint but considerably more lulzy was this ice cream shop. In the heart of the bustling Chinatown, mixed in with the bubble tea restaurants, nail emporiums, #1 Cafés, and fake Ugg boot hawkers was this sorry excuse for a wannabe Häagen-Dazs. This mimicry, so typical of the Chinese, is exactly how you end up with Shuanghuan CEO. Unfortunately for those of us laughing, it’s all fun and games until the Chinese imitate to the point where they actually make a better product. Ok, I can’t think of an example of this actually happening either but it totally could, right?!

Sticking with our Asian theme while also demonstrating the breadth of Sydney’s multiculturalism: a Uyghur restaurant! The Uyghurs number about 10.5 mn globally with about 10 mn of that in China’s northwestern Xinjiang province, which borders Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and just a teensy bit of Russia. This predominately Muslim people is a thorn in the side of the People’s Republic; they’ve been responsible for a number of suicide bombings in recent years. The menu at this restaurant was notable for offering both lamb’s feet and lamb’s tongue. The food of the resistance?

Just three years after it IPO’d at $20 per shareviii, Groupon’s green signs still shine brightly in central Sydney. Their pinner of an office was oh-so-depressing for a company with a market cap of $4.87 bn, even if they are useless, non-existant ponzi bucks. Peeking inside the shop after-hours, it wasn’t at all clear whether the company still paid rent there. The desks and walls were bare. All that remained were a few empty iPad stands.

This chippy sign is much like the “Bah mitzvah” advertisement I saw last time I was in Sydney and also signals something else: the sheer mouth-breathing, bib-wearing, ear-biting insanity of the bezzle in this town. But why is everything in Sydney so goddam expensive? Hm, let’s think about this. Maybe it’s because the minimum wage is $18.70!!!!11. Motherfuckingchristonacross how stupid is Sydney’s city council!! No form of money on grows on trees, and most especially not the state’s magical plant-it-and-hope-it-grows-into-load-bearing-stalks-that-whisk-you-into-the-golden-fucking-clouds variety. If you raise the costs of inputs, the costs of outputs will also rise. There’s no free lunch in economics, just as there’s only really fucking expensive lunches for everyone in Sydney. Of course, more expensive lunches beget more optimal stock because the God has a sense of humour and sees fit to punish morons, and particularly social “progressives,” for their fucking stupidity. Let them eat plastic dirt until they abolish the minimum wage (like in Singapore) or set it at, I dunno, 0.1% of the median lawyer’s wage or something. Godfuckingdammit!!2 there’s no forgivable reason why Sydney should be more expensive to eat in than Berlin or London.ix


This level of bezzle has the unsurprising consequence of more cash-only restaurants and businesses than I’ve seen anywhere else in the Western World, if we can call Australia part of that club, which I think we can. Aussie business owners aren’t stupid, certainly not as daft as their “socially responsible” elected officials. No less than 1/3rd of restaurants in Sydney are cash-only and pretty much any business that accepts a credit card charges a 1.5-3% surcharge for the privilege. Having the credit card fee borne by the customer, much like having GST incorporated into prices rather than being lopped on at the till, would floor most any North American and plenty of Europeans, but it really makes several kinds of sense.


Speaking of surprises, these monkeys are perfectly suited to this old Bank of Australia branch on George Street. The banks are, well, aping these chimps when it comes to Bitcoin. Because playing dumb is easier than dealing with reality. Just as it’s always been.

Excuse the rain drops from the window of the bus, but I couldn’t pass up this picture of Russki’s Deli. Isn’t it priceless how “cool” Lenin et al. are with the hip kids?x But yea, socialism totally didn’t just pack up and move West 25 years ago.

tree failure

Speaking of failure, funny how people think that it’s nature that “fails” when we’re dumb enough to get in its way while it’s doing what it always does. Instead of, y’know, recognising our own personal failing and attributing it to our own fucking actions. It’s the polar vortex’s fault that our centrally planned economy sucks!xi Obviously we need more planning and more safety to protect us when nature fails. Derp.

And thus concludes our tour of Sydney’s signs.

I hope you enjoyed the trip.
___ ___ ___

  1. Though Utzon won the commission in 1957, the design and construction process was mired in drama of every sort; cost overruns, political manoeuvres, you name it, the Sydney Opera House had it. And yet it’s perhaps the most important and influential pieces of architecture of the last 100 years. Funny how right things can end up when plans go awry.
  2. Hence, the first outpost of civilisation on the continent. The 11 ships that arrived in Botany Bay in 1788, carrying 775 convicts and 645 crew, marines, and their families, represented a starkly different birth of a nation than, say, Canada, which began as a trading outpost and, well, still is.
  3. On my last visit to Sydney, the best sign I saw was at an Italian restaurant that advertised its catering services for “weddings, anniversaries, and bah mitzvahs”. Speaking of accents, the best sign I saw the last time I was in Japan was on a restaurant menu that listed “Austrarian beef”.
  4. Fair in the sense of weather, even though it rained most of the time I was there, and also fair in the sense of “rights” and shit. For more, see photo #7.
  5. The architecture in Sydney is quite something. For a city as young as it is, it’s preserved its older building stock admirably. The guidance of the former British Empire staved off the upstart arrivistes to the benefit of everyone who lives or visits Sydney today.
  6. I also stumbled across a Little Lebanon or sorts, though it was far, far away from Bondi in a far, far less desirable neighbourhood.
  7. At some point in time, at least. That having been said, one can only assume that this categorisation dates from a time before every self-important Gawker turd gave out “awards” like candy to every other self-important turd “blog”, who in turn gave out similar awards to he who gave them an award, and so on and so forth.
  8. GRPN is currently trading at ~$7, because fuck the dummies who thought coupons were some kind of app innovation 3.0.
  9. London has a minimum wage of £6.50 for workers over 21, Berlin is €8.50.
  10. But totally not Stalin. Except… well, it’s been a few generations now and no one reads Solzhenitsyn, and, well, maybe Uncle Joe wasn’t so terrible after all. He seemed reasonable enough in my junior high social studies textbook so Soviet Russia must not have been that bad.
  11. This misattribution of failure is also seen in “independent” women who judge, criticize, and otherwise denigrate the “gold-digger” for her “failure to get a job” while they’re the ones who couldn’t hack it and marry rich. If you can’t marry for money, might as well marry for love, y’know?

8 thoughts on “Signs of Sydney

  1. […] condos to each other and start our own futuristic super-economy! We’ll all be rich and have a minimum wage of $19! […]

  2. […] the surface, and as far as a tourist is reasonably concerned, Australia is a lovely little island. Sydney has a sense of humour, Canberra is built for bicycling, Melbourne has real computers, and the areas […]

  3. […] things off in Sydney, the city of signs and certainly the country’s most diverse and intriguing architectural landscape, is One Central […]

  4. […] we see it again and again in health care, central banking, minimum wage laws, and on and on and on. Because […]

  5. […] bezzle, I still earn it and use it to buy dress shirts for nights out and plane tickets to far-off lands. And up until recently, I even drove a newish car, MY2012, despite it having all the build quality […]

  6. […] Wage. Right… So which country are we going to use for this calculation then? As I discovered first-hand in Australia last month, minimum wage is not only arbitrary, based on broken reasoning, and ultimately […]

  7. […] the same Groupon with the dead empty office in Sydney and probably a boatload of other dead empty office in other major cities around the world (how […]

  8. […] capital city didn’t quite have a parallel last I checked but its most populous city certainly did. Weird innit. […]

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