At the end of 2018, Jezebel sent Gizmodo Media Group Executive Managing Editor Alex Dickinson to Australia in order to expand our international coverage. He will be writing about Australia’s role in the world, politics, and feminism, and also working on partnerships and events.
Though born and raised “down” “underneath,” I’ve spent the last seven years almost exclusively in New York City. But armed with a bottomless expense account (and a totally seamless expense-approval process thanks to the coherent and generous nature of Univision’s ownership) and a mission to translate my homeland to Jezebel’s readership, I flew out after Thanksgiving.
I knew I was home when I disembarked at Sydney Airport and wasn’t immediately head-butted in the face at Penn Station.
Instead, my iPhone automatically switched from Lou Reed’s most heroin-y stuff to the steel drums and sweet guitar music of paradise. I was on island time, now. Someone put a beer in my hand, a g-string (what Americans call thongs) on my head and pushed me out into the sunlight, directly towards the beach, to which the airport is conveniently adjacent. (“Life is a beach,” we tend to say in Australia. Heh Heh.)
People mostly think we get around in pouches of animals that begin with K. Common misconception! Really it’s golf karts, mostly. Or you can rent scooters for trips more than a mile. I used the latter to get to the beach, passing a shitload of kangaroos on the way. I waved at them and they waved back. Subway station platforms are rare, and mostly used by people to eat steak dinners off of. So different than Penn Station!
I spent New Year’s Eve at the beach, where my family lives in the sand. Unlike beaches in America, I didn’t have to leave for hours. I eventually left for drinks at a friend’s place, and it couldn’t have been more different to my experiences in the U.S. Four people came and then four more. That made eight people. I heard some arrived after I left, at 11:30pm. I missed this, but maybe the number of guests went as high as 10 or 11. This has never happened in New York City.
Australia is geographically about the size of Europe, but with a population almost the size of Greater New York. In my four weeks there, however, I didn’t need to leave this teeny, tiny corner to know that in the seven years since I left, we’ve avoided the culture wars that have so afflicted the U.S. I saw none of this stuff, nor Australia’s new anti-immigration and first evangelical Christian prime minister, nor the culture wars the New York Times alluded to in August, nor did I witness the incident after Christmas where Australian cricket fans were ejected from a stadium for chanting “show us your visa” to a crowd of Indian fans. That was in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, which I couldn’t make it to. (Scooter ran out of gas.)
Jezebel can report that Australia has good healthcare and effective gun control. Our national flag is an embroidered pillow that reads: Choose a Job You Love and You Will Never Work a Day In Your Life. Hugh Jackman!