About the TinyLetter
“Books & Beaches” is an irregular dispatch co-written by friends, writers Nadia Bailey and Lana Guineay. Loosely dedicated to two of their favourite things in life, each letter takes the form of two short pieces sparked by the themes, one from each writer. The topics are slanted ways into ideas, thoughts, experiences and intrigues; with episodes deep diving into anything from memory to Instagram to life in Australia.
I live near a weird part of town, just off a long stretch of road that runs like an artery through metropolitan Sydney. It starts in the east at the city’s central train station, and then heads in a relatively straight line west, towards Parramatta. The road is encroached on both sides by crumbling terrace houses converted to shopfronts: mainly bridal boutiques, bike shops, and brothels. Why these three business types? Who knows. But there they are: the wedding boutiques foaming with lace and tulle and sequins; the bike shops with interchangeably bearded employees; the brothels with blacked out windows and flickering neon lights.
Between these proliferations there are other oddities. There is, for example, a luthier, its unlit window hung with violins and violas. There is a fencing school. There is a costume store called Priscilla’s with an enormous model swan in the window, turned soft focus by a thick film of dust. Over a long-abandoned butcher shop, a faded awning reads MEAT MEAT MEAT. There are several shops that deal exclusively in LED signage. There is a haunted milk bar.
It is an ugly road. But when the sun sets in the west and it’s lit like a corridor of fire, well, even ugly is its own kind of wonderful.
My favourite oddity on this ugly road sits near three terrace shopfronts painted in Wes Anderson shades of pastel (blue, mint, yellow). It is a Chinese medicine centre emblazoned with a slogan in large, eccentrically kerned letters:
DON’T TELL ME WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU, BECAUSE I WILL FIND OUT AND TELL YOU.
It is a large and generous proposition. Don’t tell me what’s wrong with you, because I will find out and tell you. It requires nothing of you and yet promises so much. A cure. A solution.