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The Oz Journals VI

 article about automobile
You'd catch 'em surfin' at Del Mar

Ventura County line

Santa Cruz and Trestles

Australia's Narrabeen

All over Manhattan

And down Doheny Way

Everybody's gone surfin'

Surfin' U.S.A. Perth is a very automobile oriented culture, much like I imagine Los Angeles and its surrounding suburbs to be, albeit without the chronic smog problem (so far). There seems to be a great many similarities between Perth and what I percieve the Californian beach culture to be like. To my way of thinking, a surf culture, be it in Bondi or Big Sur, would be lost without the automobile ( just try getting to the beach with your surfboard on a ten-speed, because it ain't happening, Moondoggie!). So, in order to attain a more comfortable understanding of this alien lifestyle in my new home a world away from where I was born and raised, in my mind I have taken to thinking of it as "Californian", because, although I have never even been to California, I have seen enough Annette Funnicello and Frankie Avalon films and hummed along to enough Beach Boys tunes to have at least a passing notion of what the "surfie" mind set is all about. And it is quite simply all about cars. Here in Scabs, they surf all day (if they can) and screech their tyres all night (they can and they do).

Let's face it, doing just about anything anywhere requires the use of an automobile, and Perth is no exception to this rule. I have to cross an eight lane highway just to get to the instant teller here for Pete's sake. And the traffic lights here differ not one iota from their North American counterparts, in that they change to red when you are not quite three quarters across the street to safety. Whoever calibrated the timing on these suckers has never ever been a boy scout and had to help an old lady across the street. The little icon of the green man ought to be sprinting up there in that light, or rollerskating.

One major difference here in Perth is the automobiles themselves. The steering wheel is in front of the passenger! What's that all about anyway? The cars have funny names here like everywhere else nowadays. Whatever happened to strong, masculine names for automobiles? Names like Barracuda or Charger or Challenger? Does someone actually get paid to think up the names these new automobiles get hung on them? Names like Megane or Miata. No word of a lie, I saw a car here called a Getz, (named after Stan the musician presumably and not Bernie the New York City subway vigilante)I cannot imagine going into a car dealership to sign tens of thousands of dollars over to purchase a new car, the name of which, when read aloud, could quite easily be confused with a brandname of a feminine hygiene product or a haemmorhoid ointment.

" I see you are interested in the 2006 Monistaat 7 Minivan, sir. Would you care to take it for a test drive? Although not an import, it is very similar to last year's Anusol, manufactured by the Ichibum Car Company of Kyoto, Japan."

Like every other burgeoning metropolis on this planet, Perth is full of motorists with more cash than common sense. I have spotted loads of people in Range Rovers and Land Rovers. Now, call me cynical but I can't rationalize having a vehicle that is worth more money than the place I live in. At least when you own a house, you never have to worry about it getting t-boned and totalled by a drunk neighbour in an out of control semi-detached bungalow at an intersection on a Saturday night. The money people spend on these over-rated hunks of metal could feed a starving African nation for six months!

Helpful Hint: If the vehicle you're driving requires a ladder to reach it's roof, then you are spending way too much money on petrol.

Happy Motoring, everybody!



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