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Love, Sydney

Did you know that there was a sitcom in the early 80s called "Love, Sidney?" It starred Swoosie Kurtz as a single mom living in New York with her 5 year old daughter, and Tony Randall as her middle-aged gay BFF. This was WAY before "Will & Grace." It wasn't particularly memorable nor, sadly, any good. Randall's gayness was totally neutered, probably for the sake of the times, which is ironic because his iconic character of Felix Unger, in "The Odd Couple," could not have been more of an accurate portrayal of so many of the middle-aged gay men I know, including the presence of an ex-wife (Felix's ex, Gloria, was played by Janis Hansen.)

Here's the intro to "Love, Sidney" for those of you who don't believe me. Fair warning- it's pretty awful.

What that has to do with today's postcard from Sydney, Australia escapes me, except that part of this whole blog thing is supposedly sharing how I think. Scary, isn't it?

The Sydney Opera House, as seen from the Manly Ferry
Happy Birthday, Sarah!

What isn't scary are the breathtakingly familiar sights that hit you in the face pretty much everywhere you look in this stunning city that is at one with the sea and the sky.

How can your heart not swell from the sight of the Opera House? Viewed from one of the scores of ferries that traverse the busy harbor, it does exactly what it was supposed to do- provide Sydney with an indelible brand.

The last time we were here, I went there to see the Australian production of "The King & I" and it was terrific. It's killing me that we will be gone before Julie Andrews' production of "My Fair Lady" opens- which will feature faithful recreations of the original Cecil Beaton costumes and Oliver Smith sets that are part and parcel to American Broadway legend.

We took a ferry over to Manly, the deliciously honky tonk beach town that is dotted with souvenir shops and restaurants, along with everyday things like a supermarket and a surprising number of pharmacies. Apparently, Sunday lunch in Manly is the thing to do, especially with the 20-something young professional set. At Papi Chulo, a terrific place on the wharf, we came across a group of gorgeous, leggy blondes celebrating a 21st birthday.

Here's the thing- pretty much everybody in Australia is gorgeous. I have never seen more tall, fresh-faced, attractive people in my life- and they're all as friendly as they look. There must be something in the water- or the beer. I've taken a shine to Coopers Pale Ale, however I seriously doubt that no matter how much I drink, I will never, ever look like "one of them." It's depressing.

The bartenders at Papi Chulo were extraordinary, whipping up Espresso Martinis ("Wakes you up, then f*cks you up!" so they told me...) along with pretty much every craft cocktail that I've ever heard of and then some, all from memory. It was a sight to behold in so many ways.

Whoda' thunk that I'd ever get to Sydney even once, let alone twice? But here I am, writing at a desk overlooking this beautiful city. It's hard to properly describe a place that is an alluring mix of English charm, Asian modernity and California cool. Some say "London meets San Diego"- and that's pretty accurate. The only drawback is how far away it is from pretty much everywhere, and how long it takes to get here- 16 hours from LA or San Francisco- and a daunting time difference- 14 hours AHEAD of New York. I'll let you know how the jet lag goes when I get back to Milwaukee on Thursday. But no matter how bad it is, this is one destination that's definitely worth it!

Craft cocktails at Papi Chulo, Manly Beach.
The handsome bartenders at Papi Chulo, Manly Beach

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