So i’m back from a couple of weeks in Australia — Sophie and I went out for my old school friend James’ wedding, which was generally lovely, and we spent a couple of weeks drinking beer and eating excellent food and generally living a sort of pseudo-socialite life of lunches and dinners and evening drinks. Which, y’know, sounds awesome, and in many ways it was. But it also got to the general experience of Australia — a sort of privileged bubble that exists in isolation from the rest of the world and the rest of humanity.
And honestly, it’s good to be home. I’m under no illusions that I don’t live in a privileged bubble in NYC — I mean, shit, I live in Bushwick, which by anyone’s standard is undergoing a rapid gentrification, and I get paid to write about music, for fuck’s sake. But still, there’s a sense of… realness, I guess, that characterizes this city — you catch the subway every day and you can’t help but see every aspect of the people who populate this world.
There were two moments in Aus that really emphasized this for me. The first was walking along Carlisle St on the way to get coffee, wearing a t-shirt that I got from the Danny Says Kickstarter, which features Dee Dee Ramone in a pair of y-fronts and a t-shirt emblazoned with “SUGAR DADDY.” As I was walking down to get coffee, an old-ish dude — maybe 50, 55ish — passed me, and stared at my shirt with undisguised disgust. You could almost hear his thoughts: kids these days, back in my day, looks like a fucken poofter, etc.
A couple of days later I was making the same excursion for coffee, and wearing my favorite striped t-shirt and jeans. This time, a taxi pulled up and some dude leaned out of the window and said, “Hello sailor!” It was a pretty exemplary instance of the larrikin humor we so revere as part of our national mythology in Australia — but the more I thought about it, the more I felt, well, y’know, fuck this. Underpinning both reactions is a sort of parochial judgementalism, a discomfort with anything that diverges from a pretty narrowly-defined norm.
And here’s the thing about NYC: literally no-one cares. No matter what you do, there’s someone weirder than you. In this respect, it kinda reminds me of my time in India — you can do whatever you want, so long as you don’t hurt anyone else and you accept responsibility for your own actions. Clearly, things aren’t really THAT utopian, as anyone who’s dealt with the NYC cops can attest — but the point is, no-one’s gonna judge you on something as superficially ridiculous as the goddamn t-shirt you’re wearing.
I left Australia because I felt I’d outgrown it. Two weeks back in the country, and I don’t regret that decision at all. All I care about is making good work, and doing the best I can to be a respectful and considerate and open-mnded person, and living and loving and learning as best I can. I spend my money on alcohol and drugs and culture and travel and life. I love my girlfriend and my friends and my workmates and my cat. And I don’t care about anything else. And this is the place for me. It’s good to be home.