Sporty Nation & The Unholy Girls

Hostels, where expats get started, baked and rejected. It’s like a 50-first-freshmen-week of sorts. Sinful behavior and enlightening lessons learned the hard way. The eyes open to a brazen new world. Fear for danger takes a back seat to the fear of regret.  Wanderlust and junketeering* prevail.

Melbourne is considered Australia’s sports capital. Not sports I knew very well, mostly Aussie Rules, which is a mesh of American football, rugby and soccer, for as far as I could figure. “Rules” as a noun and as a verb fails to make contextual sense. This conundrum didn’t bother Aussies the way it bothered me. A testiment to Aussie ways, I suppose. The other beloved sports are Rugby and Cricket. I didn’t have enough interest to understand either. I was there for sport, but not those.

I quickly understood where the women drank and the people partied.  A testament to American ways, I suppose.  The day-to-day was dreamy. Nuances, like color coded money made it all feel surreal. This was good for the soul, bad for the wallet.  The real joy is in the journey, no matter the tribulations or conditions, right?

The lovely pleasure of wandering through a heavy rain with new friends, and nothing but a hand drawn map and conflicting gut instincts.  That’s what venturing a foreign land is!

The beer, the women, the exuberance live on limitlessly.  A misconceived slice of humbling unicorn pie, I might add.   Heaps of happy and nice people.  We chat, we laugh, we split ways and forget each other just as swiftly as we met each other.  But, if we exchange social media handles, we will know another forever.   Seriously though.

Seeing new arrivals in a hostel is like watching a new bud in college about to blossom. You root for ’em! Hope they plant their feet and catch a clue; once upon a few days ago, that was you!

I am plopped and sunk into a cushiony couch of the hostel’s TV room, still Melbourne, Australia. I lift my eyes from Bill Bryson’s book to scan the room and find 8 backpacking ladies now in my presence.  No men, strangely and awesomely. They don’t all know each other, but they’ve all something in common.   Where was Aussie Andrew with his rooting whit?  Just eight young German girls and Soja Rebelution singing a mellow morning ambiance from the corner stereo.   Is there anything more to dream for than eight international adventurous, suddenly-appearing women?

These women have a special love for the world, and the world returns love, especially to lovely women.  The hostel girls are their own species of women, they do it different, they do most better.   They don’t notice I need to shave, they just notice I “speak like the movies”.   They love hiking, swimming, canyoning and hate expensive restaurants.  Clever, loving, cunning, resilient!  It’s easy for them to say “fuck make-up”.   They do not know where they will sleep tonight, but they do know where they will eat and drink tonight.   They balance a sensible amount of fear with a courageous amount of curiosity.  They don’t know utter defeat, and hopefully never will.  They know they are young, and won’t be forever.  They are dumb enough to try to see the entire world, but smart enough to take their time.  God’s grace and everything great!

We have a responsibility to humanity to put good out into the world, always.

No matter how hard, mad or mischievous a man looks, he is but a man. He breathes the same air as you.  It could be that all he needs, to keep from leaping off the next building he sees is eye contact and a nod.   Remind him this cruel world will not conquer the human spirit, no matter how shit the day gets.  And you’ll walk on and never see, hear or think of him again.  But that bode of reassurance, or at least the memory of, will live on in our character forever.

Or will poison if that’s what you spit.

A HEART FULL OF LOVE AND A PAIR FULL OF MIGHT CAN CONQUER ANYTHING

JOE MECCA

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Parallel Universe: The Big Down Under

Australia is a parallel universe of America. Or, some time-warp combination of modern technologies, set in recent years passed, but with a hip British beguiling.  Everything is recognizably familiar, just with a twist, a hint of wackiness, a smidgen of magoo.  I love it!

The obvious [slight] differences are:

  • the left side driving
  • clockwise water draining
  • half-day time difference
  • high octane yabbering english
  • reversal of seasons
  • reversal of climates for the north and south
  • and, the animals.

This inside-out theme recurs, endlessly.  I found sushi rolls for $2, and a hamburger for $23 on the same street. Everything is about as expected, except downside up or backwards.

The continental US and the continental AU are about the same geographical size, so it’s easy to conceive distances. Boston to Chicago is about Sydney to Melbourne, New York to Los Angeles ~is Brisbane to Perth.

Historically, we’re vastly similar, too. British explorers came, settled, slowly but surely afflicted the natives with disease, arms and arrogance; pushed the people to the verge of extinction, declared regret, and offered too little too late.  Despite vast inadequacies in both continent’s explorers, America’s were a roo hair less incompetent.  Bill Bryson does a inspiringly comical explanation to Australia’s explorative beginnings in A Sunburned Country.  

The Australians got a lot correct.  Namely, they know public toilets are a human right, and they know how to live.   Not live large, or extravagantly, though some of them do, but at a comfortable pace.   This will never serve as an economy stimulator, but as my 5th cousins in the old country do, or, 6th cousins in Southern Indiana, America’s Charming Cross Roads, do, they enjoy life.

Without diving deep into these murky waters:  From vacation days to health care, Australians work to live, rather than the reverse.  The AU also has the gumption to pride themselves in themselves, loudly.  It is different patriotism than America.  Not that everything in America is done with excess, but much is, and patriotism toes the line.   Australia emphasizes their uniqueness.     From Aussie Rules Football and Cricket to vegemite and meat pies, Australia slams their flag deep in the dusty terrain and claims their weird culture.

Australia’s Influence on American pop Culture

I must.

Americans love Australia, it’s just terribly difficult to keep track of.   Beyond it being antipodal, we’re a nation obsessed with pop culture and wealth.   The last TV series to gain any worthy traction was Chris Lilley’s Summer Heights High. The show was but one season, with just over 3.5 hours of programming. That equates to a single Matrix movie, which is the only other notable production from Downunder, that I can think of.   By the way, parallel universe theory thickens.

Gotye’s music will light up a crowd.  Iggy Azalea is white hot, for now (Thanks to TI and iHeartMedia).  Nicole Kidman acts mostly with an American accent and is peeping 50.  The memory of the late, great, Steve Irwin “Crocodile Hunter” slowly fades.  Ask children if they know who he is…. They are more likely to know The Wiggles, instead.   AC/DC packed a massive punch in the world of Rock ‘N Roll, but most people don’t know them Aussie, and the real impact is with an audience in the third/fourth quarter of life.  TV show, FRIENDS, becomes less relevant by the day, but for a while Joey had a smoking hot Australian roommate.   Super models, they’ve got no names, every face looks the same.   Ugg Boots?  Murdoch.  I think we’ve exhausted Australia’s influence on the US in two hundred and forty four words, including this sentence, and the title.

The US media gives very little coverage of Australia.  For:

  • a massive plot of land, where they speak English
  • have wildly lethal animals roaming free
  • are Earth’s biggest island, and, essentially are their own damn continent

you would think we’d cover more.  But, it’s far, the economy has relatively little impact on ours, and again, their pop culture just isn’t as cousin-like as Great Britain’s, as romantic as Italy’s, as historic as Europe’s, as sexy as Latin America’s, as coy as the Caribbean or as sizable as Asia.

Australia has a great thing going on Downunder.   Amazingly, we know the seemingly far-away land of AUS is fantastical, but, mostly, we aren’t adventurous enough try it.  I feel like a teenager again.  Or, it’s just too damn far.

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