Oh Melbourne Art Gold

Melbourne 2014:  Thoughts of an Uncouth Professional, is spawned.  

It’s gripping to realize how little we need. Clean undies, money, music, sunshine.   I suppose a passport to enter the next land.  Some quick whit to get by… Water to replenish the soul, flush out the booze, and wash off the satisfying grime that’s been built up.   Human connection is vital, may it be reality or virtuality; sharing is half the pleasure.  Is there much more we need?

Most material items just get in the way, promote someone else’s dream and consume our precious time.   Nothing matters like thyself.  We forget this too often…. too easily.

Melbourne has a big heart.   And, a big art scene.  Art has a complex dynamic, doesn’t it?  Almost naturally conflicted.   We seek self expression, reflection and actualization, by sharing with others…. Think about that.   Gut emotions surface through colors and shaped materials; those uncontrollable sensations that swell up and try to force themselves out.   We try to channel them.   We pier dimly down at the dark hollowness within and try to understand why, which is like to penguins pondering nuclear physics.  So, we retreat into solitude and blindly combat the invisible with monotonous art of no real measure.   It’s clearly paradoxical.  Simply absurd.   Vibrantly banal.   I’ve lost myself to abstraction::: ART.

Oh, Melbourne.

In the late 1840s, some dude, Edward Hargraves, was in California, shit out of luck striking gold during the “Rush”.  He returned to Victoria, Australia.   He noticed similarities in the terrain, suggesting gold Downunder, too.  He was correct, there was gold!  By 1854 Melbourne was of the richest cities in the world. Ed wrote a book.

Saint Kilda was the seaside Gotham East Side.  Well, not really, but in the sense that it was the cool place to be, unless you were too cool, and you proudly avoided Kilda.

Sophisticato Sydney

The flight touched down on Australian soil early Sunday morning.  Saturday was skipped.  Sydney was drenched in un-O-zoned, September, spring sunshine.  I was in a trance – absorbed by impending adventure.  As if the curtains had risen and I walked on stage!  Our bus driver’s accent was too think to decipher.  This doesn’t usually happen to me.  The luggage guy was of Chinese descent and his accent was Chinese-Australian.  This was my first clue that we had time-warped into an alternative universe.  I’ll explain later…  I walkingly* wandered Sydney for 9 of the first 12 hours.

Sydney’s airport does twice as many international flights than any other Australian airport. Syd’s step sister city, Melbourne does the second most.  The two rival, a lot.  Sydney is considered the gateway to the rest of Downunder.   From Sydney, you might visit Uluru, Melbourne, Brisbane, Alice Springs, Darwin, The Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Adelaide, Perth, and a ton of other place I’m yet to.   There is seemingly infinite terrain in Australia.  The landscapes can be beautiful or mind numbingly monotonous.  Over-simply, the continent is vast, baked and vacant, with a long line of coast, wildly lethal animals and a superior sky.

The First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson on January 26, Australia Day, 1788.   Colonizing in Australia happened about two centuries after colonizing happened in the USA.  The First Fleet, eleven ships, sailed from Great Britain through the tropics to Rio De Janeiro, with nearly 1,000 “convicts”.  They regrouped.  Then, sailed to The Cape of Good Hope, Southern Africa.  They stocked up on livestock and supplies, knowing they had only the lonely void of the Indian Ocean ahead.   15,000 miles and 252 days later, The First Fleet landed in the land they would name: Sydney Cove, named after Brit Lord Secretary Sydney.

This was on of the world’s greatest sea voyages!  1,487 people, most criminals, 15,000 miles, most in the immense and empty ocean, and only 3.5% people died.  All 11 vessels survived.  Despite being astonishingly unprepared, the colony succeeded.  Despite nearly no help from Great Britain they prospered, and the rugged, barren and distant island, is today a country, a continent and an inspiration.

I LOVE AUSTRALIA.  I’m also going to poke fun at it from time to time.   Like I do with my kid cousin, Anthony, who is brilliant.  I’m not trying to suggest Australia is brilliant, just Anthony.

Sydney-siders** think they are sophisticated.   I haven’t really grasped why they think this, and I’m not disagreeing.   I’m just saying that in my three days, I didn’t notice why.  I walked everywhere, ate to the brink of dullness and drank to the edge of elation.  I chatted with everyone that was willing to talk to me.  I casually supposed this would have been more people.   Didn’t they hear my awesome American accent??  I’ll emphasize the New York vowel splits.  Nope, still ice.   For the most part, hygiene, hair, clothes, all in good keep – this place is just weird.

You would think that you’d be safe from the deadly wildlife of Australia in a city like Sydney.   Then it turns out there are  FUNNEL SPYDERS, which are excessively venomous, native to Australia and prevalent in Sydney.   They are clinically and toxically often considered of the most deadly, on earth.  They’re also creepy-Halloween appearing.

New South Wales – the state Sydney resides in – decided, untimely, on the tightening of liquor laws.   The Siders clearly have no License to Ill and didn’t quiet fight for their right to party.  It felt as if every hour, on the hour, or half, half the party was eliminated.

12:00AM: No more straight liquor: IE you must mix this $100 bourbon with high fructose corn syrup, or fuck off

12:30AM: no more liquor, period.

1:00AM: Lock out, IE no more entrance of patrons, you’re stuck with this group of fuckers.

1:30AM: Last call…

1:30AM: Last call……

There were rumors of warehouse parties.  I never found them.

I wouldn’t call Sydney smug or snub, but it had a pomposity I didn’t expect.   They are the financial capital and a corporate center, which inherently attracts people too important to tell me the time.  However, I believe I didn’t connect with Sydney because we didn’t spend enough quality time together.

*made up word

**never actually used/heard this word when in AUS, but found it catchy, when I checked for the noun of a inhabitant/resident of Sydney in wikipedia

ALICE SPRINGS & ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS

Alice Springs:  Named after a women who never visited, and a spring that didn’t existed.

Shelton was our tour guide, born, bread and drenched in the rustic ways of Australia’s Red Center.   His knowledge ran deep, and he taught with slowed, twanged, purposed words.   Shelton had a very Aussie-cowboy way about him, real rural-man wisdom.   He also had a terrifically groomed, thick dirty blond beard and a dusty black outback hat.  I reckon he was a bit intimidated by our New York media purposes, at first, but I swear him the darn best guide in the Southern Hemisphere.   It should also be noted Shelton ate his BLT with a fork and knife.

Alice Spring is a come as you are town with an eclectic population of 30,000.  I wrestle with trying to describe the vibe, failing to figure how best to calibrate it against American understood towns.  Alice Springs can’t be compared, it’s not a mesh of what we know.  Alice Springs stands alone.

The casino was the black hole sun of the Alice Springs’ universe.   This was a horrifically superficial and fascinating place.

For the Aboriginals, the casino was a cultural collision course, where 60k years of primal, live-off-the-Australia-terrain, instincts met the gaudy, deceitful, flashy, abrasiveness of a casino floor.   Even if was a dusty po-donk-nowhere of Australia-sorts.

For drunkards, the casino was a messy ending.

For the hopeless hooked, the casino was a cheap haughty fix.

ABORIGINAL BRAINS & EURO-CAUCASIAN BRAINS.

Aboriginal brains tend to have a larger visual cortex.  This is the area of the brain than processes visual information.   Hunting, fishing, surviving? Aboriginals have significantly larger medullas.  The Pons-medulla oblongata contains the cardiac, respiratory, vomiting and vasomotor centers and therefore deals with the autonomic (involuntary) functions of breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. #Wikipedia

Euro-Caucasian brains tend to have larger cerebal cortical.  The cerebral cortex plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness.

The Aboriginals survived one of the world’s harshest terrains, and had the longest consistent culture in human history.  To put it into context.  Jesus was 2,000 years ago.   The Egyptian Pyramids were 4,600 years ago.   The Aboriginals rafted from Indonesia to Australia ~60,000 years ago.

To give you context of earth’s existence: If the history of Earth was represented by a single year, humans show up a few minutes before midnight on December 31st.

Euro-settling destroyed the Aboriginal culture in .5% of it’s time.   You can now experience the reminisce of Aboriginal culture, and offered attempt to make better the trecherous, when visiting Australia.   But, there is not much left – it was really a brutal fuck up, by one generation after generation the next, ever since since the band Governor Phillips lead Downunder in the late 1700s.  The Australian government is trying to make the best of a disaster.  Also, everyone is a bit too ashamed to really say sorry.   But, either way, it’s too late.   The US failed this way too with the Native Americans, just not as recently.

The Aboriginals are now fully assimilated into white-Aussia society.  They serve as a second class, minority, government-supported, misunderstood, pitied, saddened soul-sort in the new world order.   For as far as my investigating went, on land, and online, there are no more true Aboriginals left.  The last uncontacted tribe was the Pintupi people, in Western Australia, Gibson Desert.  In 1984 they were brought to settlement.  Something like Anheuser-Busch-Inbev’s “stabilizing” of purchased craft beers.  #SammyJ

Lots of words of bullshit, and a half-hearted, half-hollow, crack at redemption.

Sad for humanity – humiliating to mankind.

Yet – New Growth Cannot be Without Destruction of Old.

I forgive Australia.  But, DAMN.

Strangely Perfect

The hostel is such a beautiful place.  Yet, unwholesome and weird.  It creeps me into a joyless fancy.

Normal strangers come together.   People from different cultures all over the world.   We’ll sleep, eat, and explore, we’ll endure the elements, and change our lives forever, together, even if our time with each other is brief.

We connect – a sudden sense of camaraderie. Quickly, the deeply private is in the open and soon not so personal.   We’re but humans made of flesh and blood and feelings, learning about ourselves, humanity, and the world; this will, inevitably, probably, turn carnal.

The highway to her heart.

Walking wet out of bathroom 2B, clean teeth, fresh hair and feeling refreshed.  I grab the aluminum door knob to push the thin door open.   OH!  That lovely young French women.   From your dreams!   No.. better, from real life! She’s the one who woke you up from that early afternoon nap.   She and her feist woke you up.   Aurélie!  Ahh how good to see you, I smiled.

She smiled back.   It was perfect.

The sun shined in.   The table was set for either of us to make music.   Neither of us did, and the sounds of silence awkwardly lingered.  To my trusty backpack for clothes, so that I can cloth, I decided.  I rummaged into the backpack.  My first mate, the green backpack whom has carried all my day-to-day possessions these last 15 days.  What a good backpack.  Aurélie is laying on her back, flipping through her phone.   I took a deep breath of the fresh St. Kilda air on this charmingly crisp day, and neither of us spoke.   Everyone deserves pleasantly tense fantasia.

In this global jumble of traveling youth, fueled by muddled intent and tumultuous lifestyles, you’ve found each other. You’re together.  Same time, same place. Only the grace of fate to thank. For worse or better, today, you are together.  Wild, no?

It is a lottery only the courageously vivacious enter.  And, without daunt you share your corridors, tooth paste, and time.   No longer such strangers, but companions of sorts.

Soon, you catch a glimpse of each other – the true person – the self thy is discovering, too. Her true character, secrets, body, beliefs, spirit, ideology, whatever.   Maybe through curiosity, a mirror, the right question, the wrong moment; however, we are exposed.  It needs to be no more, or, no less, but whatever we wish.

Why do we force ourselves to live in such chicanery ? We choose to torment ourselves merely for the opportunity to continue the torment.   Ruinous, isn’t it?

And a toast to the perils of being free and thinking differently

The roads a lonely place.  But, with your new-found friends, you hang, chat, listen to music, tease, tell stories, visit the supermarket, cook food, easily compromise, learn about family, fears, childhood, sadness, dreams, and thousands of other nuances of the human spirit that seem to take infinitely longer to share comfortably in the real world.

She is everything I’ve ever dreamed of.    Of course I love her, I know nothing about her.   And I am her wish-come-true, too.  We know no better.

As you lay back in the wooden lounge chair, loving her madly, midnight passes. She rests on your chest.  She is tucked under your folded arms, as you breath in sync, and gaze into the night’s heavens, entranced.   Entwined, intoxicated, enchanted, but really nothing more than a reflection of the black blanketing sky above.  Darkness tells perfect lies, and every story comes to an end – the promise of our stars to one day burn no more.

GETTING TO THE OUTBACK: Hours 32—67

The hotel room wasn’t ready yet, but there was no time to waste! I was super stank. I needed a bath before the inevitable skieving planes give. But that would have to be ignored as wild-excitement had me scurrying zig zags around the city. I guessed at directions, smiling at every passing life. Including plants. Most people must’ve thought I’d forgotten to take my meds. But I didn’t care, I made it to Australia!

There is something satisfying about building up a filth. Basking in your own grime, as if the grunge proves that the standard of living routine society insists on is obsessive and unnecessary. It’s a rebellious, self-satisfying testament to primal manhood. I just relish in it. –Thoughts of an Uncouth Professional**

Perusing the streets of King’s Cross, me and my giddy smile gleamed more exulting and spritely than the  Southern Sun. I discovered an open-air café, and some amicable gent to sell me almond croissant and coffee. $13. Peculiar, but not of importance right now. I strolled some, following the sun, as it must be in the East, which will lead me to the beach! Good in theory, bad in practice, but today it worked out. I was lead downtown, to the Opera House and through the famous Botanical Gardens. I was heeding context clues.

I was told King’s Cross is well known for prostitutes. Apparently, prostitution is legal. I then asked what kind of chicks they were.

“Aussies, mate”, matter-of-factly and with a pinch of pointing out the obvious. For some reason that wasn’t apparent to me.

Food, drink, women, scenic views, dangerous feats, and local thought guided the majority of my curiosities.

I walked and talked with an elder fella who could be me one day, but only if this world was a little different.  Parallel Universe theory thickens. I paid mind to the morals of his short travel stories and he enjoyed my jubilance and questions.

I returned to the hotel just in time for Justin’s arrival. I finally had my shower, which was glorious, and cleared my earlier thoughts on hygiene. We walked Sydney for hours.  Finally, we commenced over dinner with our lesion to this land Downunder!  That evening, I crashed hard, almost on my medium-rare fillet and Riesling.

Before first light, I hurried over to Bondi Beach to watch the sun rise and take photos with my Cannon t3i rebel. It didn’t have a memory card in it. This was unbeknownst to me for another 3 days. It’s actually humbling and fun to fumble through life out-dumbing myself on the daily.

The sun rose over the coast, sparkling off the lapping waves. The beach sprinkled with morning athletes and Monday surfers.

I snapped some amazing photos no one will ever get to enjoy. I made a friend! He was the alternative universe’s Auggie, Athan! A proudly perched pup, watching the ocean, enjoying a good pant, oblivious to everything not obvious. I joined him watching the waves push their way to the sand, then drift away. I snapped an awesome profile shot id Athan with the city blurred in the background, waves glistening in-focus in the foreground and the gold sun rising behind.

I hurried back to the hotel by way of the subway, hit the ATM, joined my crew, and we hopped a taxi to the airport.

Uluru, sometimes known as Ayer’s Rock was a 4-hour flight, where Justin and I caught up on our vein affinity for thy selves, in a theatrical and snappy manner. We then concocted strategies for snapchat and our own personal profit.

It’s difficult to appreciate how barren the land down under is, until you fly above for several hours, seeing about as much excitement as you would over an empty ocean.  Most stunning was the massive rock, ULURU. We’d landed in the expansive, vast, impossibly infinite, Outback.  Only 67 hours from the time I left my Manhattan apartment. 17 thousand kilometers away.

*a made up word

**A working title of the chronicles to be released upon my fame, death, or never

GETTING TO THE OUTBACK: Hours 1—31

Took only 67 hours or so….

I landed in LA, from NY, just in time to receive a call from our camera guy, Justin, who was held up at check-in by emigrations. Visa issues. My fault? The Tourism board’s fault? Who can really be certain?

Besides, what kind of adventure would it be if it didn’t start with major troubles that that could suffocate the trip’s success? “Illegally entering the country”, just lurking and stalking in the faint distance for the next couple of weeks.?

We were hired by the Australia government and being held up by the Australia government….. Oh irony, how comical yet bitter you are!

I was assuring my team this was just a hiccup, nothing but some slight confusion. It will soon resolve.

I was lying. I contemplated the problem, and I felt like my back was against a wet, slippery, unclimbable rock wall, while wading in croc-infested waters. There was nobody to step in with a solution. The problems would surely domino. Tomorrow I’d be on AU soil, and the problem would be in LA. The government would be off-duty on a Sunday. The entire itinerary would be thrown into tizzy.

So, the problem needed to be solved, now…………….I ruminated in disappear. A pretty Aussie chick offered me Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, unobservant of my hysteria. I accepted the Reeses.

After an hour of agita, I conceded Justin wasn’t getting on the booked flight. Working with an off-hours government consulate and a hard-nosed emigrations, I pressed my own luck with the Virgin Airlines crew. I was making phone calls from the tarma, because, for heaven’s sake, I was about to be out of communication for the next 16 hours!

Therefore, I continued to ignore and annoy the host of this rapidlyn approaching 16-hour-isolated from civilized land, soaring far and above the Pacific’s expansive blue. It’s true what John Madden says about airplanes, “once the wheels go up, we are all hostages.”

It was time to fly. The stewardess fetched a higher ranked crew member to explain to me that my flagrant disregard for the flight’s safety was not going to be tolerated. Justin confirmed he was getting on a redeye to Brisbane and forwarded me a picture of the boarding pass. I smiled, shut my phone and thanked the flight crew for being so patient with me.

Joey – one. The forces of improvidence – ZERO!

The man seated next to me managed to look smart and interesting, even though he was neither. He gave me a pouty mug and explained that shutting the phones when told was “a matter of safety”. I decided not to tell him I didn’t give a single emu shit. I’ve never once heard of a plane crashing because of handheld electronic usage. Have you?

The two year old Indian girl next to me, Olivia, wanted to play and laugh. I had flashed her funny faces earlier when I was trying not to freak out. She and I played peek-a-boo and made animal noises for about an hour. Oh did we laugh! But, just like most women I attract, she wanted too much from me, I became jaded, and the relationship fizzled.

I’m going to AUSTRALIA’S OUTBACK!

[My mind drifted]

“Virgin airlines, a marvel of ergonomics” I thought, as I slumped into my much needed slumber. After sleeping but 5 of the last 48 hours, I conked out easily.

Justin ended up getting grilled upon arrival to Brisbane. As if we haven’t all been interrogated by the government in a new land.

20-something yo male, dark features, travels alone… Last name MECCA.  Yeah, I know the dance.

We landed early morning.  The city of Sydney drenched in un-O-zoned, spring sunshine. I was in a trance, absorbed by impending adventure. It’s as if the curtains had risen and I just walked on stage! Our bus driver’s accent was too think to decipher. This doesn’t usually happen to me. The luggage guy was of Chinese descent and his accent was  Chinese Australian. That was my first clue that we had time-warped into an alternative universe. I’ll explain later…