Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sydney…old friends return, comedy rant, and mirror worlds.

This is my third visit to Sidney since the early ‘90’s, and where I met my long-time friend. We met up in San Diego, at the beginning of this trip, again in New York, and then in Paris. She met me at the airport in Sydney and after a four hour easy business class flight out of the vortex that was Fiji; it was so good to see a friendly face.

Read a great book by William Gibson called “Pattern Recognition” about the new world of PR and globalization. He expresses this idea that some places are like mirror worlds of other places. Like England is a mirror world of America for his character, Fiji was a mirror world of Maui for me, and Australia is another mirror world. Places that are like the place of origin, but just enough not like that place, with subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences, to make you feel like you are looking in a mirror of where you’ve been. Gibson expresses, and I agree, that it’s stranger than being in a completely foreign exotic place like India or Laos, because you are expecting difference in those places. What you don’t expect is someplace like, but not like. The mirror world throws off your balance more, in some ways, then the radically different place.
So in Sydney, I know they are speaking English but frequently cannot understand a word they’ve said, and they frequently don’t understand me. The money is like our money, but not. The rules on the road are like our rules, but not. Drivers remind me of Mr. Toad in the Wind in the Willows, and I frequently feel like Miss Mouse and want to cover my eyes. Sidney is a big city, which I was not used to before this trip and am only a bit more used to now, but the mirror world feeling gets me anyway. Home, but not home.
Here’s a quick recap of things I did in Sydney:

Went shopping in Paddington and bought a wonderful wooly silver jacket sweater at a recycle shop for $20 (AZ) which was great for the nip in the air. Then I saw this pair of boots in a shop window that sang to me. I just had to have them. Luckily, they had my size and they were wonderfully comfortable. They are black short boots with low heals. Very Kool. Of course they cost way more than I’ve spent on a pair of shoes in probably my whole life, but I bought them anyway. And the wonderful thing is, after I got back to the flat and was agonizing about how much I spent, I got an email that my condo had rented out for the most money ever the last month and the money was already in the bank. So the boots were a celebration. 

Spent a night at the Sidney Opera House for a spectacular production of Turandot. I enjoyed it much more than the opera in Paris. I love the Sidney Opera House. This is my second show there. I saw “The Mousetrap” there in a small theater in the ‘90’s. It’s just a great place to see productions, I think because there is something grand and yet homey about the interior. The opera was better for me because I could read the translation in English (instead of the French for Salome) and the opera itself was more interesting to me, being a fantastical love story instead of a story with biblical overtones.  I also thought the scenery, voices, and overall production far surpassed the production in Paris. The creative use of costumes, and overall set design was very impressive, and the oriental theme was elegantly expressed in set and choreography. Of course, I know nothing about opera, so that’s just my layman’s opinion. I used to know quite a bit about theater, having been involved in college and community theater productions years ago but like most of what I used to know, that was years ago and that’s just my two cents.  I especially loved the singer who played the slave girl. Her voice was angelic, and her performance brought me to tears. The whole theme of love expressed through sacrifice was pretty close to the bone for me, and I had a few thoughts during the performance about the pain of making the sacrifice only to lose your love in the end. It was a powerful experience for me.

Had a great bowl of Pho in a Vietnamese place, and a wonderful chat with a friend of my friend.  Talked a lot with my friend about all the advantages of living in an urban area; access to the arts, dining options, transportation, availability of extra-curricular education, and of course…shopping!

We went to a Comedy Club to see, Judith Lucy, a popular Aussie comedian. It reminded me of going to clubs in San Francisco in the late ‘60’s, early ‘70’s before I left the States for Europe. They even had a big blown up picture of Lenny Bruce on the wall or I think it was Lenny Bruce, although it could have been some Aussie performer. It’s interesting to me that, although American culture is familiar all over the world, American’s are not exposed much to culture from other countries. Of course, now with the internet we think we are so much more in touch, but even now America is filled with stuff made in America and there is very little interest or access to anything else for most people. 

Ms. Lucy had a loyal following in the audience, and had been around for over twenty years. There were some very funny bits, and she had a very professional grasp on her material. Some of her mannerisms did remind me of Edina Monsoon, the dark-haired character in Absolutely Fabulous, especially when she got worked up, shook her dark curly hair around, and her stuff got really dirty. My favorite bit was the one where she did a dialogue of two seventy year old ladies talking trivia about fixing an air freshener, and in the midst of the dialogue she does a tickticktick of their life clock ticking on while they are wasting time with this bullshit conversation, and at the end she shouts out that they should “oil themselves up, find a twenty year old, and “take it up the ass one more time” because their time, their time!! is fucking running out…or something to that affect. 

Although she was funny, she did not knock me out. To be honest, very few female comedians have recently. I find most female comedians to be too strident, too bitchy, or too pathetic. Some of them I don’t think are funny at all, like Tina Fey.  I just don’t get what’s funny about her. She reminds me of about a hundred snotty, sarcastic, bitchy office girls I’ve worked with in the years since working my way through college.
The only female comedian I’ve ever really loved to pieces was Whoopie Goldberg. She made me laugh out loud. I loved that she was insightful and critical, but not mean. I’m so over the whole bitchy thing going on in media today. Teaching people to talk bad to each other, be mean to each other, and treat each other nasty. What is the up side to that for any of us? Sometimes, because I look on the surface like a simple old lady, I get some of this attitude from random sources (who will remain anonymous); and I think to myself, if you only knew who I really am, where I have really been, and what I’ve done, you’d be a bit more careful, because I got here after a long climb up from a very deep nasty ugly hole of a place that has nothing to do with the pretend televised tough “cool” place you guys have created in your heads.  It’s all such bullshit! Wow!…not sure where that rant came from, but believe I’ll just leave it in for your enjoyment. So, back to female comedians and popular culture in general; some of it is interesting, but a lot of it sucks. This lady didn’t suck and her natural improv with the audience was wonderful, but she was not brilliantly funny for me. Could be I just haven’t got my funny back yet, so maybe it will take a few more comedy clubs for me.
So that was Sidney, mostly. It was sunny my first day, but then turned rainy with a nip in the air. My clock was still off, so I spent a few mornings just sleeping in. Again, was nice to be in a home instead of a hotel. Thank the universe for my gal friends all over the world. They have been so generous opening their homes to me, and it has been a trip saver having these breaks from life road. I could not have done this long a trip without these breaks. A special thanks to M in Holland, S in Hong Kong, L & S in Christchurch, and S in Sidney!...Love you guys. Hope I have a home for you to visit sometime in the near future. You are all most welcome when I do.

I had originally planned to go to Tasmania with my friend, mainly because Kent had always wanted to go. While I was in Fiji I decided I wasn’t ready to Tas for Kent with anyone. If I went, I’d have to go on my own, and it turned out I wasn’t ready to do that either.  I had also planned to go to New Zealand, which is someplace Kent and I had planned to visit. I wanted to check out the Barrier Reef. It turned out that was a lot to do in the four and a half weeks I had, and when I got to Sydney the weather conditions were very bad. There was major flooding throughout Australia, and the train from Brisbane to Cairns was not running. I didn’t relish snorkeling around the reef in the rain, so I made a choice to buy a rail pass and fly to New Zealand for a few weeks.

Just for fun…I wrote most of this in the train station at the National Park in New Zealand waiting for the train to Wellington while sitting in a comfy big leather chair sipping hot coffee and listening to great sounds up on the top of a sacred mountain; every writer’s dream place. Really, for all my side stuff, my life couldn’t be better. I am truly blessed to be having these experience/insights, and to possibly be making THIS my new life. I added some stuff on the train from Picton to Christchurch, on the South Island. 

Another PS: University of California at Stanford sent me an email today that my application for their Writing Fellowship was denied. I’m not sure if writing is what I should be or need to be doing, and I wish some kind of crack in the wall, light in the tunnel, or hint from the gods would let me know what direction I should go in. I ask my friend what I should do, and she said just write. Kent used to say, “writer’s write”. So until I get some direction I will just continue to write. It is the one thing I’ve done longer than anything else in my life, and it is the only thing that hasn’t disappeared in the mists of the past.

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