Tuesday, 29 September 2009

I Do Not Like Naming Bridges After the Go-Betweens

Oh, this one is going to be controversial.

Today, the Brisbane City Council announced that the name of the Hale Street link, the next bridge to span the Brisbane River, would be called “The Go Betweens Bridge”. Not only does this seem grammatically incorrect and somewhat confusing to say (inevitably, people will call it the Go Between Bridge*), I believe it is not the greatest choice. And yes, my foot is in the stirrup, and I'm about to mount a tall horse.

At first glance, this position may seem strange considering that a) this is a music blog that occasionally focuses on Brisbane music, the Go Betweens being ultimate representation of all that is good about ‘the scene’, and b) I am a fan of the band’s music.

I could go on at great length as too why I’m not inclined to the name, but to summarise, it primarily comes down to two reasons.

  1. It sounds plain kitschy. Not that I’m one for following rules and conventions, but in the context of ‘Brisbane Bridges’ it sounds strange. What are we going to build next? ‘The Beegees Bridge” or the “Savage Garden Motorway”. With a few exceptions, it looks out of place within the context of existing infrastructure.

    A better name could have been chosen. For example, I believe the ‘Grant McClennan Bridge’, a name that was originally put forward as the alternative to the Eleanor Schonell Bridge that spans the river between Dutton Park and St. Lucia, would a more fitting tribute. Might piss off Robert Forster (who knows?), but then again, McClennan always was the better songwriter! The reasons for this, I expand upon in my second point.

  2. The name fundamentally lacks cultural force, or risks confusing the populace as to the motivation behind naming the bridge after such a niche band. In general, most Brisbane people do not know who the Go-Betweens even were. They inevitably will assume that the name is in reference to connecting Milton and West End in a spatial sense i.e. people will ‘go between’ these two points. Thus, the cultural reference will be lost on most locals as well as most interstate and international visitors.

    If the name had been ‘The Forster and McClennan Bridge”, more cultural force could be attributed to the structure. One would assume that people will be motivated into finding out who these individuals are, and why they are so important. Who now remembers what the ‘Goodwill’ part of the ‘Goodwill Bridge’ refers too? (Before you ask, it was named in conjunction with the Goodwill Games being held in Brisbane around the time of construction).

    My essential point is that the motivation behind the name will lost amongst contending assumptions about that meaning, or through simple misunderstanding.

This may seem that I’m simply being a deliberate grouch. I accept it was a popular public vote, however that doesn’t mean I personally have to agree with it. Perhaps I will be proved wrong.

* This seems to be a point of confusion. I’ve seen it listed in the media both with and without the plural ‘s’ . The band was ‘The Go-Betweens”. If the bridge is the “Go Between Bridge”, then really it is not named after the band, is it?

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