Today’s Australia cultural notes

Posted: December 17, 2007 in Uncategorized

1) Australians love them some bowling. And not just lawn bowling, which they do enjoy, and frankly they way they do it, I can’t blame them. Lawn bowling here is essentially an outdoor party on a nice lawn with lots of beer and food, chucking some balls at each other. But ten-pin, as they call what Americans usually know as bowling, was apparently THE thing 15 years ago, and seems to be making something of a comeback. Only, since they’re building the facilities from scratch, gone is the ancient, faded carpet, lingering smell of decades-old beer stains and cigarette ash, and patrons who probably left the stains and ash, back when their clothes were in fashion. Instead, the lanes are built out like dance clubs, with swanky leather seats, blacklight mood lighting, well-dressed bar staff, and even private karaoke rooms in some.

Also, almost everyone’s remarkably good at it. For every frame we played but one, I got my ass soundly handed to me.

2) The current fashion here is something of a travesty. Tight, pastel clothes and faux hawks on the guys, baggy belted things on the women, and massive sunglasses for all. It’s like the runoff from the 80s has pooled, congealed, and been recycled. Not to say that everyone dresses like that, but it’s painfully prevalent downtown at night, when the tragically hip come out to play.

3) In the two weeks I’ve been here, the movie Gladiator has been on TV no fewer than 4 times, along with at least 3 Nichole Kidman films, and that’s just in the evenings I’ve been home with the TV on. We get it, Russel Crowe and Nichole Kidman are Australian. Civic pride and all. But I somehow doubt Austria plays Schwarzenegger films constantly. Who knows, maybe they do. Lord knows the US does.

4) Even Sydney has hippie suburbs. In my search for a futon, I stepped off the train into a wave of organic fibers, dreadlocks, patchuli, and organic food stores. I imagine the way people here say the word “backpackers” with a smirk probably means the sheer number of roaming college kids on holiday helps form these hubs of rather smelly liberalism. Oddly however, the unwavering presence of adult book stores seemed undaunted by the prospect of waging “sex sells” against “free love”.

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    I guess it really is a foreign country after all
    Enjoying your reports from down under. It is so tempting to think of Australia as not really foreign at all, kind of like visiting Alabama: they speak the same language and much looks the same, but as you really experience all the nuances that the life-long residents are not even aware of because they’ve never experienced anything else, you begin to realize just how distinct a place it is.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I guess it really is a foreign country after all

    Enjoying your reports from down under. It is so tempting to think of Australia as not really foreign at all, kind of like visiting Alabama: they speak the same language and much looks the same, but as you really experience all the nuances that the life-long residents are not even aware of because they’ve never experienced anything else, you begin to realize just how distinct a place it is.

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