Greg Barila

Journalist. Editor. Social Media specialist.

Adelaide needs a good dose of crazy, an openness to weird ideas and alternative lifestyles

LAST week Advertiser food editor Simon Wilkinson captured touching video of an old bloke dancing without a care to the blues riffs of a street musician on Hindley St.
But if there was anything wrong with the moment it was the fact that something so sweet and innocent stood out as something so strange and remarkable in a city of 1.2 million people.
It is not the kind of thing you see here every day and yet, why not?
I think it says something about Adelaide.
That we’re a city still evolving, a city becoming cautiously more confident about letting its hair down but a city still more at home … well, at home.
I reckon Adelaide needs a good dose of crazy; a new spirit of openness; more characters who feel comfortable to express weird ideas and alternative lifestyles.
We like to boast about our socially progressive history and all the positive reforms of the Dunstan era and rightfully so.
Rundle Mall identity Johnny Haysman at a Test match at Adelaide Oval in 2001.
But for all the ways our society has become less stuffy, Adelaide remains sufficiently conservative that the sight of a fat bloke in a Wonder Woman costume happily strolling down Rundle Mall would still turn heads and feature on every TV news bulletin in town.
(We’re also still very iffy about certain kinds of art and have been known to rise up against silly T-shirt slogans).
I miss the madness of big cities such as New York where a person might have bats sticky-taped to their eyelids and no-one would bat an eyelid.
Some cities, such as Austin, Texas, have moved to fully embrace their offbeat culture, adopting the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan to help support local businesses and plastering the mantra on T-shirts and bumper stickers.
Websites curate weird weekend adventures in cities such as Baltimore, home to Edgar Allan Poe, the guy who patented the Ouija board (his headstone is a Ouija board) and the grandaddy of all things weird and gross, director John Waters.
Of all the cities in Australia, Adelaide, where it’s still possible to see men wearing happy pants, is the place to take the culture fully weird.
State Governments have spent much time trying to make SA like all those boring cities on the eastern seaboard.
It’s time to play the freak card and give our state a real point of difference.
And while they may be few in number, the city has had its share of offbeat pioneers.
Remember the gentle, fiercely individual, leotard-wearing Johnny Haysman?
How his legend grew with every rare sighting and how, just by being himself, he made Adelaide a more interesting place?
Remember when South Australia had a premier who actually wore pink shorts? When a giant tin spaceship weirdly broke up the uninspiring drive on the Port Wakefield Highway?
When Adelaide had a one-way freeway and giant poo mountain?
More, please.
I expect this column will force the Tourism Commission to convene an emergency midnight meeting to get the ball rolling in a weird direction.
Forget uranium, SA should be running on freak power.
Get it right and we’ll all be dancing in the streets.
Greg Barila is The Advertiser’s social media editor

This article first appeared in The Advertiser and on