Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Unfriended by a Friendless Person Already!

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends, - Lennon McCartney 1967

Oh, Village Voice nothing
New Yorker nothing
Sing Out and Folkways nothing
Harry Smith and Allen Ginsberg
nothing, nothing, nothing - from The Nothing Song, the Fugs

It's nearly the end of a very eventful year. And what more of a fitting way for it to end than by being unfriended by a "Facebook friend".

It's not very nice to be unfriended. For starters, "unfriend" isn't even a word, let alone a verb! Having an ungrammatical thing done to one is disconcerting to say the least.

But all that aside, it's like being back in the schoolyard, behind the shelter-sheds in the early 1960s. Chewy-on-your-boot-I'm-not-your-friend-anymore sort of thing. But in the case of Facebook friends, you aren't even given a chance to say, "ASIF-I-care-I-never-liked-you-anyway-dickhead."

In Facebook, the unfriender has the last word.

A bit of me sort of wishes I'd unfriended this particular person first, several years ago in fact. But truth be told, I felt sorry for him, and like others thought I could help him. You see, his major gripe with the world appears to be that he has trouble making friends. And a bunch of us have been trying to give the guy some pointers.

But really, now I come to think about it, being able to make friends is not a teachable skill. We would have been better off steering him to Dale Carnegie's "How to Make Friends and Influence People".

I'm having a lateral moment! "Carnegie" - "Carnage". I just remembered - I was walking to my bus tonight in Manhattan and the movie "Carnage" was playing at a cinema near my stop. Its name was displayed on those neon tile things they put up on the outside of cinemas.

There was an out-of-town couple behind me while I was waiting at the lights. They seemed pretty knowledgeable and were obviously in New York to see a concert. I could hear them talking about Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, which was to be played at Carnegie Hall this evening by The New York String Orchestra. I was impressed! Until ...

"We'll never find it!" the woman was saying. I was HOPING she'd ask me "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" so that I could answer, "Practice!" but her husband suddenly shouted out, "It's here. We are here already darling. Look! (pointing at the cinema's tile display) C-A-R-N-A-G-E! Carnegie!!!"

End-of-Lateral_Moment and I kid you not.

Back to my tale. Yep, I was unfriended by a friendless person.

If I were a born-in-the-USA American I'd say "How ironic!"

But as I am not, I will just expand out in English words and say, "WTF!"

As Judge Judy often quotes, "No good deed goes unpunished".

I embedded the Fugs "Nothing Song" above, not just because parts of it epitomize the unfriender, but because of its humour. The Fugs, a New York band, a favorite of mine and of my brother.

So favorite, that their song "How Sweet I Roam'd From Field to Field" was chosen to be sung at his remembrance ceremony at Bear Gully, Australia, this month. I was fortunate enough to be able to fly out to attend.

As Tim's sons stood on the rocks at Bear Gully and sand William Blake's poem to the music of The Fugs I looked back. Only the immediate family were actually on the rocks. Behind us was a hill. The hill was literally covered with Tim's friends. They'd come to remember him.

Real friends.

Non-cyber friends.

My friends

Saturday, December 24, 2011

ObamaCare and the Bloating Think Cake

It wouldn't be cool or professional to count the eradication of smallpox as part of the modern condition..." From Saturday by Ian McEwan

This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor. Bernie Sanders (US Senator from Vermont) regarding the bailout of the U.S. financial system - 2008

St Kilda, Melbourne, OZ
I've recently come back from OZ. "OZ", Australian for Australia.

I spent just under three weeks there, and seasoned New Yorker that I am, I succumbed. Succumed to the appreciation - as I always do - of a caring state.

And even when I haven't just come back from OZ, it always puzzles me that the terms "ObamaCare" and "Nanny State" are meant to be derogatory. For my Australian readers, "ObamaCare" is a pejorative term refering to the healthcare legislation proposed by President Barack Obama.

What's so bad about a society that cares for the unfortunate, the disadvantaged? What is so bad about progress? The reasons people are unhappy with change has been analyzed and explained far better than I could ever write. But the difference in "care" between the two societies, Australian and American never fails to astound me.

Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Victoria Street, Melbourne
In On Not Being Fiona, just before I left New York in November this year, I wrote. "There's something about a place, any place, when you are about to leave it."

Too true, but now it is Australia that I have left.

Upon returning, people, New Yorkers, asked me the usual questions. This time, one of the most bizarre was, "What's the food like there?" Are you kidding? I thought - but was too polite to answer. Melbourne must have some of the best restaurants in the world. And though you can get nearly every possible cuisine in New York, there's nothing like Victoria Street Richmond in Melbourne, where Vietnamese restaurants occupy almost every inch of real-estate. So what if the spelling on the menus isn't the best; the food it to die for.

In my last post on leaving New York I wrote,

"The place, usually a city, appears to magically take on its best features, its quintessential being. And I wonder, "why am I leaving?" This is especially so when the city is New York."

And so when two weeks ago when I left Australia, I wondered, "What am I doing, leaving the place of my birth, my education, my friends, my family?"

Usually the period of adjustment, moving from OZ to the US takes a day or two. This time, it's taken longer. I wonder why?

Is it because I'm older? Because of changes in my family? Because of the threat of having Newt Gingrich as president of the US? I survived Bush; why not Gingrich? Well I know the answer to that ... but you know what I mean.


I'm here now, and Australia is too fast becoming a memory.

A memory.

A memory in need of refreshing.