Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Street Brawls, Kiwis, and Party Invites

The 5am drinking got me 2 phone numbers of 2 girls- both of whom worked at Public Bar (the dodgy one below my hotel). I headed into town and searched for a phone store to get a local cell phone, bought souvenirs, mailed myself a kangaroo, and gawked at Australian businessmen. People really dress up for work in Melbourne. I kind of half expected to see everyone running around in khaki shorts and Crocodile Dundee hats. Heck, I didn’t know what to expect. I met a shopkeeper that had a son who played for the San Diego Padres. I couldn’t remember what his son’s name was, but he was thrilled to meet an American in his shop.

I managed to squeeze in a museum trip at the Victoria Museum. They had an Aboriginal exhibit where they had some stone reliefs and shields. The shields had images of the Phantom (yes, I’m a nerd- remember?). The Phantom is a comic book character with a mask and a purple skin tight suit that goes around and fights crime and bad guys in Africa. Apparently the Phantom or the “Ghost that Walks” has been in existence for 400 years and was made into a comic around the 1930’s. How he ended up on Aborigines shields, I’m not really sure, but I thought it interesting and entertaining.
That night I called Fleur, one of the bartenders I had met. She invited me out with a couple of her girlfriend for some dinner and drinks at Federation Square. Fleur is a university student and aspiring model and her friend was a makeup artist that looked like Nelly Furtado (sorry guys, I forgot to take pictures). Both of them are dating Greek guys and thought it was normal to pay $500 for brand name jeans. They were very nice and fun to hang out with. They filled me in on Hardware Alley and loads of great bars in the city. I drank with them during the early part of the evening and then I started to feel the crash and burn from the night before. I asked them who the heck was David Hicks. I took a picture of his name on the side of an old church in the city. I didn’t read carefully and I thought it said Justice David Hicks. I thought it tacky for a politician to post his name on a church. The girls were very serious when they told me that David Hicks was this poor Australian fellow that was being tortured and held prisoner without a trial by the evil American military at Guantanamo Bay. I kept my evil American thoughts to myself about that one. I am not a huge political activist type person. I have different opinions on different issues, but I’m mostly middle of the line. I read up on this David Hicks guy and he was no angel. He was at Guantanamo Bay for a reason but they did end up sending him back to Australia. I will just leave it at that.

After dinner I hopped on a tram back to the hotel. I figured if I was going to pass out, I could crawl back to the room. I stopped by the Public Bar, of course, for a beer before calling it a night. The bar is split into two parts. There’s the loud, rowdy, dodgy part and then there’s the gay part. The gay part is the oldest gay bar in Melbourne and has been open since World War II. I really didn’t feel like dodgy, so I sat on the gay part and enjoyed the quiet. As I was drinking my beer, a guy approached and asked if I would like to have beers with him and his friends. Looked over by the window and his friends were two gay men that looked homeless. I shrugged and said, “Oh why the hell not.” The guy told me his name was Ed and he was from New Zealand. He looked very ethnic. My friend Bernell told me later the guy was probably Maori. He was very nice and told me about his divorce and his two kids. He moved to the Blue Mountains near Sydney to get away from home and he was in Melbourne now doing construction. They all offered me beer, which I refused politely. We watched in interest, as a ruckus brewed outside the window. A man was yelling and choking a women and an Asian taxi driver was yelling at the both of them. Quickly and quietly, the bouncers out of Public pounced on the guy and kicked his ass. They had him on the ground within minutes. We all laughed as the taxi driver lectured the guy about being so drunk while he lay on the ground unconscious. It was great. After the brawl, one of the waitresses, Rachel, came by and saw me. She eyeballed the Maori and the gay dudes and called out my name. She asked me if I was interested in going to a warehouse party in Chinatown Friday night. I said, “Sure, why the hell not?” The Maori asked me if she was a friend of mine. I told him that I had just met her. He laughed and shook his head.

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