Monday, November 20, 2006

Are you still the same person you were 10 years ago?

It is so nice to sit at my desk and listen to Ben Lee, thinking to myself, what a beautiful world we all live in, I have been so many places, experienced so much, although “blissfully unaware of dangerous surroundings” would be an overstatement of my position today.

It is difficult to believe that some 12 years ago, I was running around with future music production stalwarts, ARIA award winners, numerous successful band and orchestra members and some meagre average musicians (myself included), yielding hand-held percussion instruments we raided from the music store room while our teacher was off crying in her staff-room, again.

I believe one male class-mate’s rousing rendition of “Simply The Best”, by Tina Turner was a show of the confusion the mid-90’s had for confused Jewish-private school-collegians (dare I ask), how a man can perform a song, by an undisputable diva, re-packaged to promote rugby league, following a bassoon concerto played by another student, bound for orchestral achievement was simply too much, even for the teacher, despite the student’s desperate attempts to reach out for anyone to listen to his misunderstood state.

Of-course singing Hare Krishna songs with these percussion instruments outside the Jewish Studies classroom also managed to highlight the wonderful disciplinary measures that can be taken by a Jewish school in today’s society.

On Saturday night, I had the distinct pleasure of attending my 10-year high-school reunion.

My previous thoughts before attending the promised gala event were along the lines of:
“I see everyone I would want to talk to anyway”.

This then migrated to:
“There will be a couple of people I would be interested in seeing”

Finally, I settled for:
“Maybe some people have actually changed”.

Well, after deliberation on attending, I even managed to send in an updated profile for our updated yearbook, with only limited smart-arse questions in it – Note, my favourite question was asked about who my high-school crush was, with my response eluding to losing all my former heart-throbs to the South African invasion. For some reason my responses were not published, the Moriah conspiracy against my family continues…

Arriving at the Paddington Bowls club, already warm from our pre-drinks session (who could have a Moriah function without pre-drinks), I was excited to get there, but then remembered that being a former student, on-time is early, so we just ended up at the bar for waiting there for everyone running late to get there on time.

I could dwell on the fact that our teachers weren’t invited (or were and didn’t attend) or the fact that non-kosher was a catering (and tastier) option, but choose not to.

My favourite observation were the people that had changed and had become “real”, these people were of all mixes. There were cool people who were now loners (from a school sense only), loners who were now cool and people who had clearly spent some time listening to Stan Zemanek or Alan Jones and were just telling it how it is.

I witnessed one guy try and pick up a girl and get knocked back without even realising it. I believe this specific instance was a weight related issue, but she was just being honest, and not trying to actually put him down.

I noticed that aging has graced some of us, but not all of us, but that is allowed after 10 years.

My favourite question was “So Rich, what do you do for a living?”, unfortunately I didn’t bring any business cards that I could lick and stick to my forehead before conversing with those people that I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

Despite everyone’s world travels, rites of passage-led university degrees and mandatory minimum of 3 days in Amsterdam to satisfy the rebel in all of us, we still have our inhibitions well and truly intact (once again, myself included).

I think for me there were only two real disappointments from the night.

I am not going to attend
For these people, I will preserve a real disappointment in their lack of attendance. In most cases, there were good reasons for not attending, another function on, living in another city, or in the worst cases, there were real painful memories of their attendance at our school. Some of these people were kind enough to put in responses about how much they had blossomed since leaving the school, I believe them, but I would have loved to have seen it.

The problem is, I still feel I am the traditionalist trapped in the good-Jewish boy body that used to put on the navy-blue kippah and was proud of his 12-minute record of leading a full morning prayers session as I had not studied for a Business Studies assessment and needed to sap knowledge from my fellow collegians. Change would have been welcomed and embraced by me.

I am still so fantastic

I noticed that some people hadn’t changed, and in most cases, this was a troubling phenomenon, there were a lot of people in my year that I liked and am still friends with. There were others who I didn’t like (assuredly I am sure there are no photos of me on their bedside table’s either).

But I reserve special mention for those who used the event to show everyone just how into themselves they actually are. I witnessed one person, who on numerous occasions gestured her importance by using her mobile as an excuse to get away from conversations with people, not worthy of her appearance, (I still see her do it outside of the reunion too). These people are happy, no doubt, I will never dispute that, but not unlike the ice-bergs floating off the coast of the South Island of New Zealand, no-one can really estimate how deep the ice goes beneath the surface.

A key observation was people were there who are happy, sad, satisfied and still crying out for help, have we changed that much in 10 years?

I don’t think so.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Tall Poppy Down Under

Australia has always been a relatively easy place to understand.

In our sunburnt country, we have always made things simple so that all who grace our shores can obtain an idea of what we are on about. This was highlighted by the Fosters advertising campaign during the Sydney 2000 Olympics, referring to Australia's icons and their simple names (our largest reef, the Great Barrier Reef, our largest desert, The Great Sandy Desert, our snow-capped mountains, The Snowy Mountains etc).

One thing I never really understood was the concept of the "Tall Poppy Syndrome". This term is a familiar Australian phrase that I can remember hearing about so early in my life that I think Trisha and Big Ted may have taught me on Playschool before she became a self-confessed ecstasy addict (I knew the new-age Ritalin fad had deeper, more subliminal roots).

My understanding was that this was just an excuse to turn our best entrepreneurs into criminals thus paving the way for younger entrepreneurs to do the same thing to, continuing the cycle of life and almost rites of passage for some.

However, I have now realised that this is not the case. It took 3 weeks away in South Africa (of all places), to realise the true definition of the "Tall Poppy", so here it is, explained for you in simple terms....

In Australia, we are all bastards to one another.

Sound straightforward?
Sound familiar?

Why do we all continue to attack each other from the workplace, to our closest groups of friends, to random John and Janette's walking down the streets? It is simple, because that is the Australian way (for further Australiana references, see Shtine's Blog).

That is what the “Tall Poppy” is all about, we feel the need to chop others down, in order to promote ourselves, have a laugh or cover up insecurities that we may have.

I have only come to realise this recently, and I am no angelic figure on this one (but it has been established that I can look good in white (or at least resemble my former UK cheeky-monkey-self).

So now that I have finally figured out the true meaning of the Tall Poppy, what should I do about it?

Well, for starters, I am certainly not going to apologise to all of those people I have attacked in recent years. I still have those same insecurities, and if I hurt you psychologically, well then take comfort from knowing that I did it to make me feel better about myself or look cooler to new people.

On top of that, I sure as hell shouldn’t be nicer to anyone than I currently am, trust me folks, it takes a lot of effort to be this nice.
So, while I sit here and scratch my head, removing pieces of Biltong from my scalp, a fitting legacy from 3 of the most relaxing weeks of my life, I come to a simple conclusion.

If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it…

Friday, December 02, 2005

It is better when you don't eat the cheese

What is it about a single guy and a single girl heading to a party together - it seems to serve as society's magnet for random events.

In what is quickly becoming a newfound hobby of mine, attending industry launch/Xmas parties that I have been invited to as a 'handbag' type, this week, I was fortunate enough to head to a "White Xmas Party" for all of these Media types.

The party was held at the Beauchamp Hotel in Darlinghurst, a bar that only recently re-opened, and it is a pretty suave venue.

Other than my friend, I did not know a soul, and I must say it showed on arrival, imagine me, almost speechless. Being at a white party, I donned a white polo, white headband, white wristbands, cream pants (had to cheat somewhere) and white loafers (thanks Spotty, we all know they are big shoes to fill).....

Walking in, all I had in my mind was the constant reminder from other people that not being properly kitted out, I would be ignored by everyone else, but judging on my previous post, it was an outcome that I was more than prepared for. So naturally, the first port of call was a typical Eastern Suburbs boy's Vodka Lime & Soda at the bar (too many hairy experiences on the Scotch & Dry).

I ended up feeling quite alone for the next half an hour or so whilst my friend was mingling with industry, so I was walking around this place being confronted by 70 year-old men wearing polar bear suits, a couple of guys having a “I look more like Maria Sharapova more than you do” competition and a whole bunch of headband/wristband/white-hat Pretenders, of which I was clearly one of (there was a guy in white bike shorts though, that took balls).

Note - cool bar and scary man in polar bear suit...

Eventually, we settled down and started drinking, my friend, the cheap drunk that she is (no offence) started opening up conversation with others based on the pungent Thai fish cakes that were being carted round on Noveau-Western, stale white trays.

On top of that, there was a cheese platter on every available surface. Now this is a nice proposition for most, but people who know me well have a pretty good idea what cheese does to me, so instead of eating it, I admired it from a distance (for once).

The next part of the evening became a little hazy for me, Vodka settling in my memories are based on a business contact that my friend had made, who had decided he was more interested in banking for the night instead of his usual media job, much to the (initial) shock of my friend, but I saw it happening from a great distance, almost tempted to whip out the mobile and place the “Evacuation Call” through to my flat-mate.

Other events of the evening involve getting involved in numerous photos with wondrous fiends and a really, really, really good night, with lots of drinking, talking and random. So what was the secret of the evening? –

Simple, admire the cheese, don’t eat it.

I am sorry Dairy Farmers, but I shall consume white no longer, just wear it.

My only loss for the evening was a wrist-band that was dear to me, if anyone finds it, please return it…

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Am I Boring or Are You?

I talk a lot.

I probably talk too much.

People can definitely vouch for that....

One thing I have noticed after being away for a substantial period of time is that there are a lot of people around who I barely know, which should be an enticing challenge to alleviate the same conversation patterns here.

But maybe I am boring. I am one who gets uncomfortable with mundane level of conversation. I like people who talk about things they are passionate about, whether it is butterfly pressing, mute-sheep impersonating or bare-back horse riding (note: although I have been known to do a good mute-sheep impersonation, this is not one of my hobbies or passions).

So, the trick is how do you get to that level of conversation with people? Meeting new people is the hardest thing I have ever had to do - I feel everyone starts with the same story to a point, and then if you meet their criteria, you can hit the next level of conversation.

The truth is that when the criteria Version 2 was released, I clearly wasn't on the distribution list. I have spent some time trying to get my hands on the new Version, but all I can come up with so far is:

1 – If you want to talk to me, then ask me a question
2 – I might be nice to you, but that doesn’t mean I want to know you
3 – If I do ask you a question, that does not mean I like you

For those who are making conversation with people of the opposite sex, the additional rules apply:

1 – If you are talking to me, you must be interested in me
2 – If you aren’t interested in me, then piss off, I already have enough friends

Finally, for those who are speaking to someone who either has a “relevant other” or is actively seeking one:

1 – “Hey, pay attention, I am over here”, go and chase later or don’t bother talking to me
2 – I am happy to talk to you, but my partner isn’t, so please accept this apology for him/her having visuals of causing you grievous bodily harm until the urge becomes too strong and I will promptly end our brief exchange

I am still trying the old method of communicating and not getting past the initial phases. Now I finally know how the "Scissor-style" high-jumpers felt when the "Frosbee flop" was born.

Looks like I just can't get the height anymore.