martedì, dicembre 14, 2010

Terra Promessa

While the F-word and I were in Calabria, of course everybody was interested in talking about Australia. Differently than you might imagine considering many of the people we were speaking to had never set foot beyond the confines of that most insular of non-island provinces. After all, they're a bunch of people who're used to seeing their families go somewhere, ANYWHERE else . . . Canada, Argentina, Germany, Ethiopia and Eritrea back in those dear dead fascisti days . . . Oceania is old hat to them as a destination concept, indeed apparently Adelaide is full of people with my last name, but not my 'sopranome', which is a topic for another time.

Anyways, only one of my cousins made much of the distances involved, concluding her speech with a rather bleak 'voi cercate la terra promessa et non la troverete', a sentiment I decided to ignore, on the basis of it coming from a woman who decided it was okay to marry her first cousin since she's now beyond child-bearing age (seeing him swing between calling his mother-in-law 'zia' and 'mamma' is something that will stay with me for years, despite my goldfish memory).

But she was right, we were looking for the promised land in Australia, and we haven't found it, indeed instead what I've found is the following:

1) There is no promised land

2) I have a personal sense of style.

To elaborate on 1). This country is fucking beautiful and the people are nice, even if they can't shut up about how much they hate Muslims, and I love it here already.

BUT. Outstripping Canada, indeed second to none in my experience, Australia is a land of funny money and a citizenry thrown to the privatization sharks as incredibly corrupt and incompetent state governments cash in. Services are EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE THAN IN NORTHERN EUROPE and inflationary rates are huge because there are no price controls on anything and monopolies are rife.

And the federal authorities are too chickenshit to do what they can to stop it because that would mean jacking up the interest rates so high property prices would fall, and everybody's investments, either in their super-annuation funds or in actual holdings, are in real estate.

The country has become a slave of its own bloated prosperity and if I wasn't being paid an absurd amount of money for my contract here I would insist we turn tail and leave; this isn't a place to scrape by. It has everything Europe doesn't - space, courtesy, natural beauty, pleasing weather (though what with La Nina it's now in the flood part of its flood/drought cycle - god, this is a stupid place for the sort of intensive agriculture they get so knicker-twisted about maintaining - but that's a post for another time) - but also semi-responsible government and attempts, however byzantine and annoying, to protect the common citizen.

Socialism as a concept here has been absolutely stymied over the last 25 years by a labour movement who decided to shut up the potential pinkoes by throwing huge amounts of money at them. It worked. It's really interesting.

To elaborate on 2). I remember when I was on a girly holiday in Dubrovnik, I could relax in an extra-relaxing way because the German tourists lowered the bar so absolutely in terms of personal appearance on the beach. Australia is like being on a beach with German tourists, EVERYWHERE. If you had told me two months ago that I had a personal sense of style and certain standards for how I dressed, I'd probably think you were just trying to get into my pants, or shared my philosophy about always wearing natural fibres so as to forestall the possibility of candida infections. Now I'd have to agree with you without reservation though.

The gamut of female fashion in most of rural Australia only has three points - uncomfortable professional (7%), whore (43%), and slob (50%). I'm fitting nicely into the slob category but this place does make me feel like I pull of 'slob' with a certain panache. For example, my mumus have waist ties.

Yes. Mumus. That's right. I live in the land of fuckin' mumus. That almost makes up for the corruption and pseudo-capitalism gone mad.