Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dangerous Girl in Dangerous Town

On Friday night we met up at Public Bar in North Melbourne to document the Melburn Massive Alley Cat. An alley cat is a bike race through a city, with checkpoints, at which participants receive the location to the next checkpoint. The people who race in these mostly bike couriers, and they're completely insane. And within this insanity is total awesomeness.

I rolled up still wearing heels, so I think I bought a little cred from the crowd, most of whom had started in on the first of many beers. Husband and I joined them, and for an hour and a half everyone continued to put 'em back. I was instantly struck by how friendly and inviting this group of kids was—a few of them knew Husband, but the fact that people came up and introduced themselves to me was really cool. I get really sick of the hipsters in this city, a lot of whom have to meet you five fucking times, and then assess whether they think you're cool, before they'll actually acknowledge you. Most of these people also happen to be total pussies. They are the cause of roughly 79% of my rage, which gets aggravated by alcohol (consumed at venues I have to share with them) and why people consequently think I'm a cunt.

So this was a total welcome change. Bike kids are not pussies. They are the opposite of hipsters. Pictured at left is Hillary, who is also a really awesome skater, and I suspect is not afraid of anything. As for me, I had a nice little buzz happening by the time the organizers decided to start things up. It was almost 8 o'clock, so it was completely dark at this point and starting to get really cold. Everyone scooped up their bikes and headed across to the Queen Victoria Market to begin. The participants had to lean their bikes up against a fence, then go about 25 yards away from them to learn the first checkpoint. Once they found out where they had to go, they ran over to their bikes, each grabbing a can of Red Bull from the ground, and they were off.

Husband and I had volunteered to man the second of the 5 checkpoints with a nice graphic designer/ex-courier dude. As we started to head over to our checkpoint, Husband said to him, "just so you know we're not like, awesome riders." I was so glad we gave forewarning, because as soon as we were off, the guy was weaving through traffic and jumping curbs at (my) top speed. If I hadn't had that alcohol, I would've been way too scared to keep up. As it was, I don't think I did too badly, and when we got to Telstra Dome, I tried to be cool about it.

It wasn't long before the first few started coming through, snatching the envelopes we extended out to them with instructions and directions. There were 25 racers altogether, so after giving out 21, we headed back to North Melbourne, where the winners were already drinking. The first guy through was totally crazy and won on speed, but the second guy through actually completed the tasks, so he was the real winner. One of the tasks along the way had been to bring a takeaway menu from a restaurant. One of the guys brought a whole sandwich board instead.
Everyone headed back to the bar and recommenced drinking, and prizes were given out: cash to the winner, bike shit to the guys who came in second and third, plus First Girl prize, which went to a girl named Sarah, a courier from Seattle. They even gave us a six-pack of Melbourne Bitter cans to thank us for doing the checkpoint. Such rad people! And all the amazing danger inspired me to ride all day yesterday. Score one for Safety Town.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dead Man Jaywalking

I haven't figured out yet why I haven't been hit by a car. In New York, pedestrians not only jaywalk, they hover around the edges of the streets even as oncoming lunatic cabbies threaten to slice the points off their shoes. People are like cockroaches, staying just far enough away, ever-encroaching, still daring to step ten feet off the curb in that crazed rush to get to the next place. If you've ever tried driving in Manhattan, you've seen this. A friend of mine was in the back of a cab once when a particularly brave little old lady stepped out into the street. The cab driver slammed on his brakes, stuck his head out the window and screamed, "you don't look like a fucking stop sign to me!" and proceeded to floor it through the intersection. In true NYC form, the old bag wasn't even phased by it.

In Melbourne, when you're waiting to cross the street, you stay on the sidewalk. Every time I step off the curb, looking up the street, watching for where I can dodge through like human Frogger, husband pulls me back and gives me that bitch is crazy look.

And apparently the authorities of Safety Town agree with him, because they've now instituted jaywalking blitzes across Australia. Blitz?! Like the fucking blitzkrieg?! So ... this is like, the fucking WWII of all Australian sting operations? Does this mean Australian cops are the Nazis and jaywalkers are the Jews?

Okay. It's on. I'm getting Russian on this sitch. (Husband is remaining contently Swiss) I hereby refuse to cross at crosswalks. Nein! I will stagger through the flow of traffic, leap toward moving trams, (Husband/Switzerland: you heard about the old lady who got chopped in half by a tram, didn't you?) and flip off that flashing dickless red man on the crosswalk sign.

Then, when the Nazis try to come for me, or my comrade (pictured), I'll bat my eyelashes, ham up my American accent, and pretend to be an ignorant tourist. Like I do when I'm getting out of tram fines. Shit costs money!

But once that's over I'll totally go to the bar and exaggerate my heroicism. It's the principle.

Come Here. I Have to Hit You.

This is so retarded I can't even think of something to write.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Australians are a Bunch of Sluts

I snapped this photo on the train platform during my recent excursion out of the city because I am really excited to be living in a place that isn't 100% retarded.

As a U.S American, this vaccine was not offered to me until I was already too old to get it, because certain religious groups caused a big ruckus over how giving women a vaccine against HPV, which leads to 75% of cervical cancer cases, is enabling and exacerbating whoredom.

Because, you know, it's more Christian to abstain from sex than to eradicate the second most deadly cancer to women! Oh and btw, I hope you also understand that if it caused prostate cancer this wouldn't be an issue. Women are just whores, and that's what we need to remember.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Double Dare and the Physical Challenge*

A lot of people from home tell me that I'm brave for moving to Australia. I guess they mean that it is brave to move so far away from friends and family; brave to commit myself so concretely to a different culture, one I didn't know much about before making the commitment. But it isn't brave. It's just inconvenient.

And sure, Australia is inconvenient in the obvious way, of being long-distant, but to Americans, the culture's inconvenience hovers around annoying. Take a deep breath, Aussies, I'm not dissing you or your country. I'm saying that constant cultural difference can be, after all the emotional and physical aspects of it, straight up exhausting.

When I was 22, I lived for a brief stint in France, and I remember being so physically exhausted at the end of the day because I spent every waking minute not only observing an everyday life that was so completely new and foreign--but also thinking, speaking, and reading in French. Translating is exhausting. Using that much brain power to do mundane tasks can tire a girl out. But all that was sorta expected--it's a country that has a very specific culture and a completely different language. Australia isn't supposed to be like that.

For the most part, it isn't, of course. They speak English here. And Aussies are laid back in a way that I daresay Americans appreciate far more than the monarchical motherland. The Westernized way of life is about the same age as the U.S.A., so even a lot of the surroundings look similar. Basically it's as close to living in the States as you can get without getting your socialized health care revoked.

So what's annoying is that it's so similar I let my guard down. It's all the same but slightly different. It's disconcerting, like Surrealism or a suspense thriller starring John Cusack. No no--it's like everything is labeled incorrectly--i.e., tomato sauce is ketchup--so you have to keep looking at it to see what it is before you can trust its contents. The best example is the grocery store.

Upon entering, everything looks basically the same. Celine Dion is wailing through the speakers, children are already giving you a headache. Check. But then there's a crumpet aisle. ?? might also find cookies? Wrong. Experience reminds me to go to the biscuit aisle, where first I find crispbreads (=crackers, okay, makes sense, crisp+bread), then there are sections for plain biscuits, snack biscuits, and chocolate biscuits. So while I did find cookies, I'd like to note that nowhere in this aisle will you find fluffy bread goods traditionally served in the southern states with gravy.

Nearby is a wall-size display of Vegemite which I steer well clear of. I then come to another aisle featuring a no-brainer: toilet rolls. Okay, I can figure that one out too. But I need some sliced swiss cheese. There's no specific cheese section, just occasional refrigerated bays, so I circle all of them about 15 times and keep coming across Tasty cheese. I still have no idea what this is, but it comes in "extra Tasty." It's always capitalized, eluding to a proper noun, but I'm afraid of food with such ambiguous descriptions (see: Chinese food offering the choice of 'brown' or 'red' sauce), so I give up on that one. I also pass a "cordial" aisle. I'm venturing into foreign territory as somehow I've ended up back in the produce section, which has all kinds of Asian vegetables (yummy, but I don't need them today) but no corn.

Getting my ass to the grocery store is hard enough without obstacles, but when I have to get there by walking through a place that looks exactly like K-Mart but is instead called Big W, the frustration sharks start circling. I decide to get hand soap for the bathroom. I gaze up at the ceiling, toward the section signage. Big Dubbs has one section for haberdashery which I always thought was a ye olde word, but apparently not. It also has a section entitled "Manchester". This means sheets and bedding. I wander over to a section that looks vaguely soap-y but am told hand soap is in Health & Beauty.

No, it isn't. There is shower gel but that isn't the same thing. ? I guess I'll wander around this aisle for 10 more minutes until I realize what I'm doing and get so frustrated that out of the sizeable list of shit I needed to get I can only find 3 of them in 15 minutes' time. I'll spend my whole life here if I can't navigate this shit better, I start thinking, and this song sounds like some kinda Evanescence black hole and it would all be much more amusing if I didn't actually need anything from this place, or if I could buy it all and send it to people who would also find it funny-cause-it's-different.

But I live here now. And aside from being a foreigner, it is my home.

*The title is basically irrelevant to the content of this post.

Monday, September 3, 2007

No, Kylie, I Won't "Do" the Locomotion. (Whore.)

On Sunday, I ventured out to a suburb by myself for the first time. I have been on the train several times but I don't ride it often, so I've missed out on some signage I'd never noticed before.

I was immediately entertained by the icon of the person falling through space, next to a separate icon of stairs. This is not a very efficient way of saying "slippery when wet". My favorite part about this sign is how the pigeons are sitting on top, waging a big eff-you coup against safety.

Once I was on the train, I got a little lost in the pretty scenery wooshing past me, and before I knew it, I was only one stop away from the Ascot Vale stop (so quaint sounding, right??!). But just then, a red-haired retarded girl sat uncomfortably close to me and put her book up in front of her face. It was one of those murder paperbacks. Apparently she didn't realize that the book was covering only half her face and that I could see her staring at me with a gigantic scary smile on her face. I got up before she could drool or pee on me and got off the train.

Speaking of drool and pee, this was the first sign I saw:
Another thing I noticed when I arrived at the station was that the waiting room did not smell like pee. It smelled like soap. I was all ???! I don't understand why it smells clean?

Anyway, enough about pee. Just like inner-city safety town, out in the 'burbs there were signs everywhere, courtesy of Connex, and like the "slippery when wet" one, they were laden with superfluous icons. The one at left says to me:

1. No bottled milk a la the 1950s. Get a Red Bull like everyone else and join this millenium, bub.

2. If you're sitting on a barrel, don't try and roll another one in front of you. That's just crazy.

3. Sliding atop many marbles is not a superior means of travel to our fine locomotives. Plus we don't like competition.

4. If you have a unibrow, please refrain from frowning.

See, Connex hasn't really mastered the diff between safety and manners. I think they're trying to just boss people around in general. Even on the inside of the train, they mixed it all up:

Smoking isn't so much dangerous as bad for your health. Feet on the seats? Just rude. As far as littering goes, unless it's marbles or a banana peel, I just don't see the harm. No indecent language or alcohol? What are you gonna do, ground me?

Forcing open the doors is the only thing on this sign that's legitimately unsafe. I can see their point there. But just remember: they're watching you.

Deep Thoughts, by ecs

I don't really know how this is unsafe, per se, but the door to this ticket booth at the very fancy theatre on Collins Street was open, so, much like other open doors I see on Collins Street, I went in and made husband take a picture of me being an asshole. That's me going, "my job is exhausting!"

In a Land Without Mexicans, NASCAR

As indicated above, I can no longer afford Budweiser and Corona. These beers, aside from PBR and various who-cares-what-it's-called-it's-cheap-Mexican-beer brands, were the go-to grogs of my 20s.

I shed a tear, oh bottle of piss, and pour out some Coopers just for you.