Brooklyn Everywhere

I’ll miss you, Australia.

I’ll miss you, Australia.

MANIFESTO: THE MAD FARMER LIBERATION FRONT

MANIFESTO: THE MAD FARMER LIBERATION FRONT

Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay.
Want more of everything made.
Be afraid to know you neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery any more.
Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something they will call you.
When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute.
Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace the flag.
Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot understand.
Praise ignorance,
for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium.
Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear close,
and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world.
Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap for power,
please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head in her lap.
Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and politicos can predict the motions
of your mind, lose it.
Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go.
Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.”

-Wendell Berry

Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Selected scenes from the Great Ocean Road

Girl I can thrill you more than any ghoul would ever dare try. (at Gong Cha Swanston)

I woke up this morning on a friend’s baseball coach’s couch, and am now falling asleep on a pile of blankets (next to a Dutch veterinarian and a chick from Chicago) on a Malaysian man’s living room floor in the Melbourne suburbs.

This has been a weird Easter.

Shouts From the Stands: Why Swimming Never Leaves You

(^that me)

Love locks, Yarra footbridge, Melbourne

I am bad at giving advice.

A lot of things that I do end up working out for me, but are the opposite of what a responsible person does, so I often find myself in an unhelpful “do as I say, not as I do” type of scenario. I don’t mind eating heaps of free toast, Campbell’s Chunky, and 30 cent mcdonalds ice creams for most of my meals, so I can’t tell you how to save money on food, unless you also have the palate of a homeless pregnant person. I’m not bothered walking EVerywhere, even when it takes hours, so I don’t know where you can buy a tram ticket either. And yes, there are creeps out there and yes, you should be more careful than I am but sleeping in the homes of internet strangers has really just always worked out for me.

I don’t really love hostels. In my experience, it’s usually a very particular scene that I am moderately bored by – typically dominated by box wine and tape-recorded conversations about where everyone’s been, where everyone’s going, and yeah it really is crazy how many Germans there are in Australia. That fact, combined with my aversion to spend  $30 a night on a 10-bed dorm room, I’ve turned to Couchsurfing. I’ve done it twice before – in Sydney, with a gay young high school teacher who invited me to a Chaka Khan concert, and in Brisbane, with a sassy middle-aged divorcée. Both were lovely people, so it was worth another try in Melbourne.

That’s how I ended up at Zed’s. I thought I had a place to stay when I got into the city, but it fell through at the last minute, so I scrambled through my emails in the airport trying to figure out where I would sleep that night. After fielding a creep or two away (I am not SO naïve), someone called ZDog offered me a couch, and, like Joseph and Mary at the stables, I shrugged and headed toward the only place that would take me.

My first impressions when he met me at the tram station were of Pitbull - the rapper, not the dog breed. He even had the vest and sunglasses to complete the look. If Pitbull were Serbian, he would play guitar in a one-bedroom apartment in Australia’s second biggest city, instead of crashing all over the most boring minute of every single pop song. Zed lived in an apartment called Parkvale Mansions, and it looked exactly like the kind of apartment complex that would name itself Parkvale Mansions. There were white walls and old-school white wooden banisters, and the entire apartment, hallway, and staircase was covered in red carpet. He had ornate gold-framed mirrors on his walls, and over the mantle, a giant painting of a six-year-old girl crying that looked like it had been picked up from a thrift store in 1970. Miles Davis was playing on the radio when I walked in, which, when added to the red carpet, felt like a move, but Miles Davis was playing the whole 48 hours I stayed there. He just had good music taste. But before I knew that, flags were raised.

Looking at that painting and listening to jazz as this strange man walked into the kitchen and answered that no, he didn’t have any roommates, I experienced the only only fleeting moment of unease I’ve had in all my Couchsurfing experiences. I was instantly reminded of the part at the end of the horror movie, when the lone survivor finally finds refuge from all bloodshed at the kind old recluse neighbor’s house, only to look up slowly from her peppermint tea with a knowing look in her teary eyes, going, “…I don’t think I said anything about the basement, Mr. Jenkins…” and that is the moment you know you’ve got less than two minutes until that knives and blood and rolling credits.

But that lasted for a fraction of a second, and only because I am ridiculous. This guy was a lamb. I’m slightly relieved that I can still have defenses up – I’ve been told that in general, I am far too trusting of people I’ve never met – but they were unnecessary. He made lattes and talked a lot about Jimi Hendrix and gave me plenty of privacy, and I like him a lot more than the Spanish Pitbull.

I know people are going to see this as a cautionary tale, or at least cluck their tongues with an “ah, but there but for the grace of God go you” kind of reminder, but that’s not what I have experienced. Of course you have to be careful. Of course there is a possibility that I overestimate my own physical strength and ingenuity when trusting myself to get out of disastrous situations if the need arises. But the majority of people in the world do not want to do bad things to other people, and often want to do good things for them. I know there are exceptions, but I have been lucky enough not to have run across them.  And what’s more, I can’t buy into the strange notion that people we have not met are inherently more dangerous than people we have. Most people seem to have a weird sense of security about people they know, like somehow the good people in the world have condensed toward their own bubble, outside of which are landmines of thieves and rapists. This just isn’t true. In my experience, Couchsurfing is the kind of community that attracts hospitable, friendly, honest, curious people. 

Plus Tinder exists, so there’s really no need to prey on wary backpackers if that is what you’re after.   

Look at these baby grandmasters oh my god I am going to kidnap one

Look at these baby grandmasters oh my god I am going to kidnap one

South bank, Melbourne

South bank, Melbourne

Melbourne is cool. As traitorous as it is to admit, it’s definitely got more or better nightlife, art, music, and culture than Sydney, if only just slightly. Because of this, it’s also got a disproportionate, almost Williamsburg-level hipster population. Fling a brick from a third-story window anywhere in Brunswick or Fitzroy and you’re bound to hit a string-bean banjo player or someone with an ironic beard. But this is an occupational hazard of a lively metrop. that attracts interesting and creative people, and as a city, Melbourne is probably the best this continent has to offer.

But no one comes to Australia for the city life anyways. Sydney beaches slay St. Kilda, Melbourne’s main sorry little bay, and it rains all the time here. If I just wanted good cafés and cool architecture, I wouldn’t have had to leave the states. Sydney is less pretentious, and less fancy, and probably happier, and I will always be family-level loyal to it. My allegiances are not so easily swayed.

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure , risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.

Nassim Taleb, Antifragile

Melbourne is cool. As traitorous as it is to admit, it’s definitely got more or better nightlife, art, music, and culture than Sydney, if only just slightly. Because of this, it’s also got a disproportionate, almost Williamsburg-level hipster population. Fling a brick from a third-story window anywhere in Brunswick or Fitzroy and you’re bound to hit a string-bean banjo player or someone with an ironic beard. But this is an occupational hazard of a lively metrop. that attracts interesting and creative people, and as a city, Melbourne is probably the best this continent has to offer.

But no one comes to Australia for the city life anyways. Sydney beaches slay St. Kilda, Melbourne’s main sorry little bay, and it rains all the time here. If I just wanted good cafés and cool architecture, I wouldn’t have had to leave the states. Sydney is less pretentious, and less fancy, and probably happier, and I will always be family-level loyal to it. My allegiances are not so easily swayed.