Women’s March, Trump Protest, Trump Rally in Sydney

A few weeks ago I saw a sign in Newtown advertising a Trump protest in Hyde Park on January 21, 2017. I knew I had to go check it out and interview some people. I contacted the organizer and she said she would be glad to talk with me. A few days before the protest, I learned that there was going to be a Women’s March in Sydney, also beginning in Hyde Park, and then marching to Martin Place in front of the US Consulate (That is where it got interesting).

Women’s March at Hyde Park

I woke up on Saturday morning, got on the bus and headed to Hyde Park. I really had no expectations but had a feeling it would be a lot of people because lots of Aussies I have met have asked me about Trump. When I got to the park I came across thousands of people. These people were mostly there for the Women’s March, but many were also protesting Trump. The Trump protest from the sign was on the other side of the park. I told the organizer I would meet her later.

There were lots of signs, some serious, some funny and some outright bizarre. I spoke to many of the people and asked about why they were there. I also asked why they were against Trump, if they thought a Trump presidency had any direct or indirect implications on Australia and if they felt a Trump presidency and Brexit could give rise to people like Pauline Hanson and the right in Australia. The answers people gave were not that different than the answers you would hear in United States. The most common criticisms were that he was anti-woman, anti-immigrant, etc… The words racist, bigot and xenophobe were used a lot. Many people were also concerned that Trump did not think climate change was important and were worried about the implications on Australia if it worsens. One girl, holding a sign saying Trump Doesn’t Care About Polar Bears, told me, “Climate is worldwide,” and felt the Trump administration was going to ignore it for the next 4 years.

Many of the people I spoke with were also concerned about the rise of the right in Australia but maintained they did not think someone like Pauline Hanson would be Prime Minister. Some, however, were concerned that the election of Trump and Brexit could signify that global attitudes are shifting to the right. One woman told me, “When America sneezes, Australia gets a cold.” One thing that impressed me was how informed and articulate most of the people I spoke with were. Many of them also had a good understanding of the American political system.

I went to go meet the organizer of the Trump protest as the thousands of people at the Women’s March headed towards Martin Place. She voiced many of the same concerns the others did and added she thinks Trump is a racist, bigot and does not care about people. She also said he is just an elitist billionaire who only cares about other billionaires. The Trump protest was much smaller than the Women’s March so I decided to head over to Martin Place and catch up with them. Little did I know what I was in for.

I have to add in that I will never forget a hat and sunscreen again in Sydney. The sun here is killer and I got sunburned after walking around for 4 hours. 

I found the crowd assembled at Martin Place. There was a series of speakers and the crowd was really excited. I met an American who has lived in Australia for 14 years. He was against Trump but added that he agreed with him on his position on trade and being against the Trans Pacific Partnership. Up to this point I had not seen any police. Everyone was relaxed and things were peaceful. Keep in mind there were thousands of people participating in this march. When I got to the top of the plaza I noticed a wall of police blocking the road. I asked one of them if there was a counter protest. He told me there was and it was across the street. I headed that way and came across a pro-Trump rally with around 60 people. They had American flags, a Confederate flag, a Gadsden flag and others. If I had no idea where I was I would have definitely thought I was in the US.

Pro-Trump Rally at Martin Place

These people were totally surrounded by police. I tried to get access so I could talk with them but was denied by police. I did not understand what the problem was and initially thought the police were there to stop these people from antagonizing the others. I was wrong. Soon after I arrived a small group of the anti-Trump crowd approached the pro-Trump people. They started screaming and yelling things like, “Fuckin Nazis,” “Fuck you,” “Fascists,” among many others. The pro-Trump people were responding with things like, “You are the fascists,” “We won,” and “End globalism.” As more anti-Trump people approached it began to get more intense. Eventually the police were able to push them back.

Once things calmed down I was able to talk to some of the pro-Trump people and one of the organizers. They told me that the police were there to protect them because the left wing always does what I witnessed. I later spoke with the police captain and asked if that was accurate. He confirmed that it generally is the left wing people that get aggressive and antagonize the right wing people. The Trump people I spoke with told me they are happy to let the other side march but the other side does not think they should be able to. I will add that the anti-Trump people that came over were a tiny fraction of the total group but were very loud and aggressive.

The pro-Trump people I spoke with said they were tired of the global elite and were worried about open borders, refugees, bad trade deals and the disappearing middle class. Interesting to note that people on both sides voiced similar concerns about big corporations and the corporate elite. During the election I had told many people that I thought Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders had very similar domestic messages, albeit much different ideas on how to implement them. Many of the pro-Trump people feel the right wing is rising in Australia and cite Trump’s election and Brexit as a signal that Europe and Australia will be next. Like the other side, I was impressed with how informed and articulate these people were.

It was quite a day. I thought there would be a lot of people but did not anticipate the sheer size of the crowd at the Women’s March. Australian people are easy going and generally willing to chat. I was glad to have spoken to so many people and thought it was great how polite everyone was, on both sides.

Whether or not you support Donald Trump, it is clear that his campaign has divided people. Maybe the division was always there and now it is just more pronounced. But the fact that so many people in Sydney, Australia came out to either protest or support Donald Trump is telling. It is also clear that global attitudes are shifting. Both Germany and France will have presidential elections this year. The results of these elections will have global implications. People look to the United States as a world leader and what our president says and does can and does affect the rest of the world. The next 4 years will be interesting, both in the United States and around the world.

Lions and Tigers and BEARS, oh my!

Australia sure does have their fair share of weird animals, but no lions or tigers or bears. Contrary to the name, the koala is not a bear, it is a marsupial. Some of the bizarre animals include the kangaroo, emu, platypus, as well as all kinds of snakes and spiders. But many Aussies sure do seem to like bears, and not the animal kind…

Urban dictionary defines bear as:

 

I fit that description pretty well and have had no shortage of bear comments or references made back home in Alaska. But it has gone to a next level in Australia. Back home the comments came from friends or people I know. Not so much here…

I have been here a month and have 3 unique stories bear related stories.

The info booth:

When I first arrived I was staying in a place called Kings Cross. After I checked into the hostel I went for a walk to explore. I came across an information booth. I stopped to ask the guy some questions about Sydney. He was super friendly and when I told him I was from Alaska he got really excited. He said he has been there before to photograph the northern lights. He also mentioned an upcoming trip to Wyoming. Then he said, “I just love Alaskan bears.” I was 50/50 on the wildlife or the urban dictionary definition. So I asked him what kind? He said, “Your kind…” I told him he was not the first person to refer to me as a bear. He went on to tell me his husband is a bear but I am definitely his type. I think he was a bit let down when I told him I was not gay. We had a nice chat and I went on my way. I think he wanted me to stay longer.

Roommate friend #1:

My roommate in Newtown is quite the character. She has some really cool and interesting friends. Recently, one was at the house. After chatting a bit he mentioned what a cute bear I am. Here we go again. He then invited me to “Bear Night” at a local gay bar. I have since agreed to go to that. Stay tuned for that blog post.

Roommate friend #2:

Yesterday, I came home and saw a strange van parking in our spots. I looked at the guy and just figured he made a mistake or was a friend of the roommate. A bit later they came upstairs, he is a friend of hers. After a bit of chatting he also commented on my bear looks. He then added that when he saw me walking up to the place, he told the girl he was with, “Look at that big, beautiful bear!” He then showed me a picture of a bear friend of his that literally looked just like me. Apparently I fit the role well.

Why don’t ladies like bears as much as gay men do? If only that was the case. Stay tuned for the “Bear Night” post.

Soccer in Sydney, Jeff Style

So one thing happens when you travel a lot, are very outgoing and love people, you meet lots of new people and enjoy lots of adventures. How I came to watch my first soccer game in Sydney was no exception. First some background and then the story.

Background

Ten years ago while traveling throughout Europe, I met two Aussie dudes in Munich, Germany. I meant to stay there for a day but ended up staying 5, and drinking more beer then I ever thought I could. We kept in touch over the years and I ended up visiting both of them for the holidays right after I arrived in Australia. There will be a separate blog post about all that later. This is relevant because one of the guys, Andrew, has a brother, Stu, who I met and stayed with when Andrew picked me up in Newcastle. When I told Stu I was here on a work visa and looking for a job in IT sales he told me he had a buddy, Mike, who works in IT and may be able to help. Mike is also British, remember this part.

Mike and I

The Story

Soon after I got back to Sydney after the holidays I contacted Mike. I told him I knew Stu and that I was looking for a job. At first I think he was thinking who the hell is this guy? Once he realized I was not some nut job calling him he told me he would be glad to help. I said it would be cool to meet up for a beer sometime. He contacted me soon after and invited me to a pub for some beers before a soccer game. I assumed it was them playing on a club team or something. I assumed wrong.

This pub, Cricketers Arms, was in Surry Hills, not far from where I am staying in Newtown but not close enough to walk. So I called an Uber. A nice, older Australian man picked me up. This was interesting because of all the Uber rides I have taken in Sydney, he was the first Aussie driver I had. Once we got near Surry Hills we came upon some kind of demonstration. There was a crowd as big as you could believe and police everywhere. Police on horses, police on foot and police in cars. Traffic was not moving. I asked how far the bar was from where we were, he told me not far, just follow the road and turn right at the end. I wish it was that easy.

Some beers at the game

I got out of the car and approached the mob. I was not sure if it was a political demonstration or what. Many of them were wearing the same color jersey so I figured it was just a sports thing. After talking to some people, I learned they were there representing the Western Sydney Wanderers. They are part of the A-League, a professional soccer league in Australia. They were thousands of them. They were yelling out cheers and they had drummers, it was pretty intense. I finally got past them and started on my towards the pub. I was having an issue with my phone and data was not working.

After 20 minutes of walking down the road, I started asking people if they knew where the Cricketers Arms was. No one really knew. Finally some guy told me it was pretty far up the road. After another 10 minutes, the mob caught up with me. I asked a group of Wanderers fans if they knew where it was, thankfully they did. They told me to follow them. They asked where I was from and when I said Alaska they were like wtf are you doing here? I asked about the big march and the police. The one guy said, “Man we are from western Sydney, they don’t like the non-whites here too much.” He then told me they were playing the Sydney FC, their big rival, and added they are all yuppies! At this point I thought maybe this was the game Mike was going to. I wondered what team he was for.

I finally arrived at the pub after 30 minutes of walking. Mike was there with his friends, all awesome people. Mike confirmed they were going to the game and they were all Sydney FC fans. I told them about the Western Sydney fans I met and what they told me. Apparently there is some class issues between the people in western Sydney and the people in the main city. I really wanted to go to the game but they said it was sold out. One of Mike’s friends gave me a club card and said it might work. We walked to the stadium, which holds 45,000 people! I tried to get in with the card but it did not work. I told them I would try to get a ticket and meet them inside. I tried to buy a ticket but they were in fact sold out. I went to the club card office and tried to hustle my way in, unsuccessfully. They did tell me if I buy a club membership for $150 I could get into this game and the next 6. Sold!

I went back to the stadium and got in. My phone had died so I was not optimistic I would find them. I spent 10 minutes searching the general admission area, this was like finding a needle in a haystack. All of a sudden I felt a hand  on my shoulder, it was Mike! We found the rest of the group and had a great time watching the game. Unfortunately the score ended up being 0-0. The fans were loud and intense, it was quite a first soccer experience. My club card and Sydney FC scarf should arrive in the mail soon. So I guess now I am a Sydney FC fan. Looking forward to the next 6 games.

Oh, after the game Mike and I went to some bars in Surry Hills. Correction, tried to go to some bars. We were greeted by very large bouncers at all of them who continually refused us entry because we looked drunk. We did have some beers but were not drunk. We finally got into the fourth place by acting real cool.

Aussie Police

So I have been down under for a month now. Of all the things I have observed here I have to say my interactions with the police stand out. First, the female police here are the very good looking! Second, the police here are very friendly and approachable. I have generally had good interactions with police in America but I would say when on duty and in the public they aren’t nearly as friendly. I once called the police in Anchorage at 1 am while at the Taco Bell drive-thru when the drunk idiot behind me slammed into my car. He could barely talk when I approached him. When the cop arrived I got out to tell him what was going on and he immediately yelled at me to freeze and get back in my car, hand on his gun. I told him that I called the police but he just got more upset. Eventually when they figured out what was going on they asked for my statement, never bothering to thank me for calling it in.

I was riding a train to Newcastle and I inadvertently sat in the “Quiet Carriage.” I did not know there was such thing. While talking to the guy next to me some ass looked at me very upset and told me to shut up so he could listen to his music. I told him to calm down. He then started rambling about the quiet carriage and got more aggressive. A very attractive female cop told him to calm down and said, “This is not the silent carriage!” She then told me to try and talk a bit quieter and proceeded to roll her eyes and said don’t worry about that guy, he’s just mad at the world.

Last night I came across 4 police officers in the street. It was a busy Friday night but they were happy to talk with me. I asked for a picture and said I would post it on my blog. The 3 female officers did not want to. One said she doesn’t want anyone drawing dicks on her face online haha! The one guy was cool and agreed, apparently he is transferring to the country next week.

I’m not sure but I think the police are generally less apprehensive here because there are far fewer guns around. I don’t blame American police, especially in states like Alaska with high gun ownership, for being apprehensive when talking to people. Police everywhere have a hard job and I respect people that become cops. Everyone in Australia just seems to be more laid back.

Suffering in Sydney

So there has been a heat wave this week and it has been hotter than hell. It got up to over 37 degrees C (100 degrees F for all my American friends). The air conditioner in the place I am staying is not really working which has resulted in me opening the window and hoping for a breeze. Definitely headed to the beach tomorrow. Planning on meeting some ladies there. The recruiting job I thought I had did not end up panning out. Something about my personality test not returning the results they were looking for. Guess they don’t want a highly driven and high energy guy! I am going to continue the job search next week and go from there. If nothing ends up happening by February I think I might go to Melbourne or way up north.

Here is a pic of me enjoying some drinks and all you can eat tacos with some friends. Notice the extensive perspiration, that restaurant was like an oven!

Christmas Party Fail

This may be the most Landfield story of 2016. It occurred right before I left Alaska for Australia.

My friend Doug invited me to a Christmas party on December 10th in Anchorage. I was leaving for Australia on December 11th so I was happy to see a bunch of friends before I left. Doug lives way up on the Anchorage hillside in an area where Google Maps doesn’t yet work. A friend of mine gave me a map. This same friend, Viktor, told me it was an ugly Christmas sweater party (remember this part). The party started at 6 but I did not get up there until around 8. I had not been to Doug’s house before. His street was off 166th Avenue and I was having a hard time finding it, no one was answering the phone. Finally, after driving way up the street I was on I found his street. There were cars parked all around so I was glad to have finally arrived.

I walked up the street and up the long driveway. I was thoroughly impressed with the sheer size of the house. I arrived at the door and saw a group of people. I knew one of them, a pretty high up person at ConocoPhillips. I think it’s safe to say she is not a fan of me. She also lives in the district I ran in for state senate. I asked her if she was coming or going, she said going. I said, “Well I am just getting here, Merry Christmas!” I then opened a door that must have weighed 2,000 pounds. I walked in and saw a ton of people, none of whom I recognized. I was really impressed with all the servers wearing very professional uniforms and even more impressed with the spread! I knew Doug was successful but this was next level.

Doug is in the resource industry so I just assumed it was a bunch of his friends. Keep in mind I am wearing a sweater with 4 polar bears playing with each other, some say it looks like they are fornicating. I was a bit puzzled why no one was wearing ugly sweaters, in fact they were all dressed very nicely. I figured Viktor was messing with me. I asked some guy if he had seen Viktor, he said, “Yeah he’s around somewhere.” I then asked where the booze was, he told me down the hall and at the bottom of the stairs. On the way down the hall I stopped in and had a look at the library, very impressive!

When I arrived downstairs I discovered a bunch of gentlemen drinking Scotch or Brandy. I went to the bar and asked for a Coors Light. The bartender asked me if I wanted a glass, I said a can was fine. She cracked open my beer and I enjoyed some really delicious peanuts. I still had not seen anyone I knew so I grabbed my beer and started checking out this pretty incredible stuffed zebra. I did not know Doug was into hunting. It never occurred to me I was in the wrong house. Suddenly, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “This is a private party, what are you doing here?” I said, “No, I was invited.” She said, “Who the hell invited you?” I said, Doug Smith!” She said, “No, Doug lives up the street, this is a private party for ConocoPhillips. You need to leave.” I told her it was an honest enough mistake, same road, Christmas party, cars, honest mistake. She did not seem amused. I was encouraged to leave the house and not finish my beer. She escorted me to the door. On the way back to the car I told some people what happened and they were dying laughing.

I then drove up the road and found Doug’s actual house. I made sure to check the address this time. I told everyone the story and they were laughing hysterically. Apparently the ConocoPhillips Alaska party I crashed was held at the home of Joe Marushack, President, ConocoPhillips Alaska. No wonder the house and party were so nice!

A few hours later Joe and his wife came up to Doug’s place. I started talking to him and telling him about what happened. He told me that the lady who kicked me out was his secretary. He said she came up to him and said, “Jeff Landfield is here.” He said, “Who the hell is Jeff Landfield? Is he one of my guys?” She replied, “Absolutely not!” And added she was going to kick me out. I really don’t blame her, I would have probably kicked me out too. He asked where she booted me and I said downstairs by the zebra. He asked me how the hell I got down there? I told him I asked where the booze was! Him and his wife were really cool and we all laughed about it. His wife actually knew me from when I used to fill in for Dave Stieren and from running for the state senate. She said if she had known I could have stayed for a while. I also told her how awesome her library was. Turns out Joe used to be head of ConocoPhillips Australia. His wife told me about some cool places to check out.

I think this kind of thing might only be possible in Alaska. I’m sure I was the talk of some of the higher level folks at Conoco after that. I still can’t believe it never occurred to me I was in the wrong house.

First Russian girl in Sydney

I love a lot of things, Russian girls are definitely one of them. I dated some Russian girls while living in Alaska and made a lot of Russian friends there. I have spent a lot of time in Russia, Ukraine and many former Soviet Republics. I managed to learn to speak Russian during all of this. I guess you could say I am a Russophile.

When I got to Sydney one of my Russian friends in Alaska, Dasha, tagged a Russian girl on one of my posts. I figure it was one of her friends living in Sydney. I was correct. After a brief Facebook stalk, I sent her a message. Turns out she went to high school in Russia with my friend in Alaska. I decided she would become my Sydney guide and invited her to show me around. No one was surprised that I found a Russian girl on day 2 in Australia.

We met in downtown Sydney by a trash can. She asked I don’t use her name so I will call her Wednesday. Wednesday has been in Sydney for a few years studying at university. She proved to be a decent guide but I don’t think she should consider it as a career. She can be classified as a mix between Catherine the Great and Wednesday Addams, she knows what she wants and seldom shows emotion. She showed me some great Sydney landmarks like the Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House. She also likes to walk, a lot! I think I walked more in a day with her than I had in the last month in Alaska. We met up several times, always at the same trash can. We were supposed to go to a movie one night but she bailed last minute. We did hang out the next day. After hours of walking in the heat I told her I was hungry and thirsty. She told me, “Ok, I know a place, just 10 more minutes.” After hearing 10 more minutes 10 more times I began to get a bit frustrated.

Like most Russian girls, she “kind of has a boyfriend.”

She is definitely a unique character. I look forward to hanging out with her more.

Vegas reunion in Sydney!

I met some awesome Aussie chicks 3 years ago on a trip to Vegas. They were there for a bachelorette party. They were in the cabana next to us and were very awesome and high energy! I stopped by their cabana and asked them if they needed anything and let them know that I had literally hundreds of dollars in my account and very good cholesterol. Some of the pics we took were part of the famous #SpeedoGate scandal when I was removed from a commission that the governor of Alaska appointed me to, see below articles. I kept in touch with some of them and when I got to Sydney one of them just happened to be having drinks with friends and invited me. Had to do a reunion photo with Rochelle!

http://www.themudflats.net/archives/45637

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alissa-fleck/alaskan-senate-hopeful-sp_b_8119176.html

My first blog post! New Zealand and Australia here I come.

Well, this is my first blog post. I left Alaska a month ago and have had quite the adventure so far. I flew into LA on the red eye and spent the day with my sister and her husband, after a nice nap. I then flew to Auckland, New Zealand and spent a few days there. I really enjoyed it. I met a cool guy from Israel who just finished his compulsory military service. We spent a few days together exploring Auckland and talking about Israel and what is going on there politically. He is traveling all over SE Asia and New Zealand for 4 months. I also got a random Facebook message from a former Alaska friend. Asya and her husband Andrey lived in Alaska and are friends of friends. They recently moved to Auckland. Asya picked me up and showed me around Auckland and also took me to a cool after work meeting of expats where I met some awesome people. New Zealand is definitely a place I want to see more of.

After my brief time in Auckland I flew to Sydney. My plan was to spend some time in Sydney and then heard north and look for some fun and adventurous Aussie style work. I reserved a hostel so I had a place to go when I got here. A week of that was enough! I have stayed in plenty of hostels in my travels but being over 30 in a place full of people in their early 20’s was a bit weird. That and staying in a room with 5 other people, one who snored so bad I think he needs to see a doctor. I was able to find a place in Newtown on this website flatmates.com.au. Newtown is a vibrant and hipster part of Sydney. The lady I am renting a room from has a clothing store downstairs and is a bit of a gypsy. She also loves feeding her magpies in the morning and they love waking me up. She is definitely my kind of person and a cool roommate. One thing I learned quickly about Sydney is how expensive it is. Rents are also weekly instead of monthly. Believe it or not $300 AUD a week is a good deal!

Anyway, after spending some time in Sydney and meeting some awesome people I have decided to stay and try and find a professional job. I got here right before the holidays so it was a bit slow but I managed to send my resume around. I got some good leads and am following up on them now. I hope to have a job here by the end of January. Stay tuned for more posts about my Australian holiday adventures.