Monday, October 20, 2008

Week Eight

Caulfield Cup Day may have cost me $120 for platinum-level entry, $245 for food, drinks, bets and transportation, $315 for a new suit and $79 for a new shirt, but 41-1 odds later and I still made a profit. Twenty dollars on lucky number eight and I finally won something greater than $5, dinner, or pride. Yes, the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, a 50-day-long festival of fashion and horse races in the Melbourne area, kicked off on October 1st. The first big day, however, was Caulfield Cup, where approximately 51,000 fashionable Victorians weathered 32 degree heat in suits and dresses for one fantastic day-long party. It was fantastic.

But Caulfield Cup wasn't the only posh event here in Australia over the weekend. Gabriella Cilmi, the just-turned 17-year-old from Melbourne, was the big winner at yesterday's 2008 ARIA Music Awards, Australia's version of the MTV Awards or Grammy's. For the 99.92% of the world's population unfamiliar with Cilmi, there is no need to toggle over to iTunes or Google to find out who she is or how important she is. She isn't. To many Australians, particularly the large population of Italian-Australians, she is a bonafide superstar, which illustrates Australia's lack of musical talent as effectively as a season of Australian Idol. When the biggest names at the country's biggest music awards are Sam Sparro, The Veronicas and The Living End, you realize why every other song on the radio is America's B-Artists Miley Cyrus or Jordin Sparks.

In fact Orange County, one of the smallest counties in California with a population 27% smaller than the population of the city of Melbourne, likely has more musical talent and a richer music history than the entire continent of Australia. Orange County can claim some of the most influential musicians of our time, including No Doubt, the Offspring, Rage Against the Machine, Sublime, The Mars Volta, Stone Temple Pilots, the Vandals, Jeff Buckley, Reel Big Fish, Sugar Ray and Matt Costa. Australia can claim Men At Work and this guy.

Now I admit, I've definitely done my fair bit of Australia-bashing and America-praising over the past few weeks, and to the two Australians that actually read my blog, I apologize. As the election nears two weeks from today, many Americans, including I, have a renewed sense of nationalism. As I've said many times, one of the best reasons to live abroad and immerse yourself in a new culture is to learn more about yourself and who you will be years down the road. It provides context and gives you perspective.

I am an American and I realize that I'm actually proud to be an American. Canadians and Mexicans may be close geographically but that is all. They may have great food and significant landmarks and beautiful trees and people and birds and sports but they don't have our taxes. They don't have our police. They don't have our government or our diversity or our educational systems or our media.
Having said that, I admit our country has suffered for the last eight years. I absolutely want us to regain our swagger, and that will only come from a better economy. As New York Times columnist/Pulitzer Prize winner/The World is Flat author Thomas Friedman said in a recent Australian interview, the world should stop worrying about the U.S. having too much power and start worrying about the U.S. not having enough power. The world is watching our election because it affects us all. And to Paul Kelly at The Australian, the Australian model is not superior to the American model - it is dependent upon and formulated from the American model.

I do love Australian carnivals, pubs and chips though.

Well, the Official Greg Robinson Should Be Fired Stance is on week number six following another blowout loss. The Ducks are one of the worst teams in the NHL and the Dodgers and Angels are watching the World Series from their couches. It's all ok though when you win $820 and look good in a new suit. Happy Birthday Megs!! Eight weeks down, 44 to go.

Week Eight Summary:
Weather: sunny and hot and cloudy and cold and sunny and hot...
New observation: Australian fashion is actually quite nice.
New activity(ies): Caulfield Cup, The Saint
New food: Australian tacos
New word(s): We get along like a house on fire.
New people: 51,000 beautiful people at Caulfield Cup!
What I miss: The Cellar, hockey games, spicy food, gay people, Cholula, talking smack to Red Sox/Patriots fans

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