Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Australia Day for Americans Like Me from Texas, North Carolina, New York, and California
As Australia Day on January 26th is the equivalent to the 4th of July for Americans like me, I wanted to celebrate Australia in a way to share with you, my Universal friend, who has taken the time to read this blog. And so, in a cozy blanket of sweeping generalizations, I attempt to frame my Australian experience for you, wherever you are coming from, in order of appearance. Whether you relate more to Texas, North Carolina, New York, or California, I aim to draw you closer to my current home.
For my Texas homies:
As Texas is the Lone Star State, Australia is the Lone Star Country. They call it the Lucky Country, but we know what they really mean. The two Lone Stars share the same pioneering spirit, and with it the strong work ethic of Texans. They have windmills, we have windmills. They have barbed wire, we have barbed wire. Where there is barbed wire, there is cattle, and where there is cattle, there are barbeques! While the 4th of July is centered around the fireworks, Australia Day huddles around "the barbie", and the real firepower seems to be in the advertisement to cook Australian lamb! A "lambifesto" if you will...
Like Texas, Australia has plenty of space (it's quite dense in the Metropolitan areas in both TX and AUS, but the open space mentality is inherently Texan and Australian) and like Texas, this allows a sense of accommodating anyone and the sense that you can get as close as you want to your neighbors, as there is always more space out there that you can put between each other. I love Texas, and as a Texan I love Australia for the same reasons I love my hometown of Lubbock. West Texas reminds me of the Riverina in New South Wales, home to Wagga Wagga, or "land of many crows". With every BBQ sparked up today to cook Aussie meat, I share with my fellow Texans a warm and hearty YEEHAW!
To North Carolina, my Ultimate Bliss:
North Carolina is my home away from home. My home away from home (away from home) is New South Wales. NSW and NC are like geological cosmic cousins. They both have mountain ranges in the west. NSW has the Blue Mountains, NC has the Blue Ridge Mountains. Both have healthy farmland and temperate climates across their heartland, located at about the same latitude, approximately 37º degrees off the equator. Both NSW and NC have appealing and unique coastlines. NC has the outer banks and signature lighthouses located on some of the most peaceful beaches I've known. NSW and the rest of Australia are peppered with beach paradise up and down the coast.
The blend of big city life and rural bliss (dare I say ignorance?) is evident in both places, and I love it all in the delicate balance that makes life interesting. I can't say much for North Carolina BBQ, (sorry), but I can say that North Carolina is light years ahead of other places in racial integration and how this affects tolerance in daily life. I'm mostly talking about Durham here (give yourself a hug, Durhamite!), but it's that racial integration that I want to bottle, sell, and import into Australia. Good on ya, Durham! Australia needs you!
Helloooo Brooklyn! Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten, from the Battery to the top of Manhattan:
Everybody wants to be a New Yorker, and in a sacrificial display of territoriality, I burned my brain cells in Brooklyn. Australia gave their island paradise a mainline injection of NYC highrise and financial business, and the Frankenstein's monster has survived the Global Financial Crisis like no other. Similar to the financial virility NYC will always wield around the world, Australia's highly regulated banking is wondering what all the GFC fuss was about. As New York was being settled between the Five Boroughs by Sam the Butcher, Melbourne was being settled by, get this, John Batman! That's right, the ORIGINAL Gotham City! The work hard / play hard mentality knows the names Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium, just like Moore Park is the central focus of the Sydney Cricket Ground and Aussie Stadium.
To all you New Yorkers, Sydney is your sister city. It's like Manhattan with more sprawl and better beaches. New York is the inspiration for a lot of what goes on around the world. Sydney is no exception, taking inspiration from where it is due, but Sydney does things in an inherently Australian way. There are more running festivals, charity events, and general "mateship" goodwill here than can be found in any other city of comparable size and influence.
California ... knows how to party ... In the city ... of LA
Cali has always held a special place in my heart. Commonly referred to as a progressive country all its own, California in the west represents the US to the political left! Australia's political spectrum has left and right. These political positions are found in the left side of politics in California. The rightwing in the United States stays distinctly east of the Pacific, while Australia, sharing the Wavy Gravy waters of the Pacific, takes our political left as their political right and keeps going left until you reach, well, Perth ;) We have both the iconic California Sun and the slightly more dangerous Australian Sun. Consistent with natural world in Australia, even the Sun is out to kill you! The beaches and hills and red tile roofs are ubiquitous in both places, and the Wine Country! Let us not forget about the Wine.
The Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley, and Yarra Valley are just a few Australian Wine Regions to make Australia the fourth largest exporter in the world behind France, Italy, and Spain. I don't understand it entirely, but California Wine would be the fourth largest global producer if it were it's own country (and a bankrupt one at that, Cali!) so thankfully it is not and makes up 90% of US wine production. Needless to say, there is plenty to enjoy in California and Australia and the "no worries" lifestyles are quite similar, in part due to California only waking up by the time New York has been busting ass for four hours, and Australia eeks out a living while the United States is either done working or sound asleep!