I had planned to blog about our weekend, but that'll have to wait until tomorrow. Five minutes ago, I casually just clicked on the link to the Courier Mail - the newspaper for my home state Queensland and the headline screams 'Steve Irwin Dead' - whaaaat??!!
The first I ever heard about the crocodile hunter was about 10 years ago when an American friend of mine asked me if I could get him a crocodile hunter tshirt since I was Australian. I had never heard of Steve Irwin or the crocodile hunter. Little did I know Steve Irwin was already becoming a cult figure in the US with his show The Crocodile Hunter. I don't even think his show was airing in Australia at that time. It's one of those weird cultural marketing phenomenons like Fosters Beer. When you watch a Fosters ad in the US, the slogan is 'Fosters - Australian for beer'.....Um that's weird because virtually NO-ONE in Australia drinks Fosters - true story mate!
Anyways back to Steve Irwin. I like the Crocodile Hunter but never watched it religiously. Actually I've only ever seen a couple of episodes in full, BUT when I visited Australia Zoo (the zoo Irwin owns in Queensland) with my sister and her family in 2003 I was lucky enough to go on a day when Irwin actually does the crocodile feeding show himself (you see he's only there sometimes). I guess I sometimes thought he was a bit corny and over the top but to tell you the truth, he was thoroughly entertaining and I was enthralled the whole time. He was nothing short of awesome!
But my favourite crocodile hunter related story that I often tell people is something that happened to me while living in the US. A few years ago I lived in Oakland for about nine months and while I was there most people (from all different backgrounds and cities) couldn't distinguish my accent. The most common guess was British (not a bad guess), but I was once even asked whether I was from New York. Um, no. A little further than that.
Anyway one day I happened to be hanging out in one of those big sports warehouse type stores in Emeryville California. I guess I had lost Darin and the others and happened upon a young African American boy who was all of about 10 shooting hoops in the store. I asked him if I could join in and he welcomed me with opened arms. We chatted a little and he even complimented me on my shooting skill :) Cute!
After a short silence, he says 'You are Australian, aren't you!'
I was completely shocked. Flabbergasted. How could he know when even UC Berkeley professors couldn't even tell where I was from. So I asked, 'How did you know that?'
He nonchalantly replies, 'I watch The Crocodile Hunter'.
A priceless moment - that's for sure. After being slightly shocked that I even remotely sounded like the crocodile hunter, I revelled in the marvelous cultural tool that is TV.
So Steve Irwin - you were a great Australian who was dedicated to your cause and you will be missed.