Sunday, November 30, 2008
The other day I sat outside at a local cafe, sipping coffee, in the Fitzroy district of this city. Fitzroy, for New Yorkers anyway, would remind one of how Greenwich Village was in the 1970's, BEFORE the encroachment of Gentrification. It was on Smith Street, which is a street with a lot of character that has old fashioned trolleys whizzing along and, where one could find everything from eateries to fine restaurants, mom and pop grocery stores, newspaper shops, liquor and hardware stores, where this short but, testy conversation took place. On Smith Street, believe me, there are plenty of colourful characters that stroll around, giving the boulevard the aura of a parade. It was there, at the Kent Street Cafe where a man sat at a nearby table under a large umbrella. He looked scruffy, unshaven and, a bit dishevelled. He was downing a third beer (I later found out) in mid-afternoon, as it was not quite 3 pm. At his table sat a young woman from Canberra, Australia’s capital city, who I had met some days ago at another coffee shop. This new transplant was searching for a place to live. She recognized me and, it was there that the conversation began.
I was introduced to "Andrew," who immediately recognized my American accent. The usual questions of what part of the USA I called home is what started it off. I said, "New York City." Andrew said, "Yeah, I've heard about it. But, it is a place that I have no interest in visiting. Ever." Okay, that was part of it. But, then, the discussion soon turned to politics and, he expressed how he felt that the leaders of the USA used Australia as a lap dog and, cannon fodder, for their war efforts. I pointed out that I was no fan of the current occupant of the White House and, that we were allies in the First and Second World Wars and, that, our two countries were not about to fight one another now..... Or Ever. Then, other derisive comments were made by Andrew about those war efforts of years past with, according to him, the TRUE feelings of Australian soldiers of their American Counter-parts. In short, American military types as, "Overpaid, oversexed and over here." I thought that funny and, it made me think of the Grade B 1970's-era film, YANKS, of the American military presence in Britain back in the 1940's. That's where I had heard that phrase the first time.