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Melbourne, March 2011


Vale Bungalow 1996 - 2010

She was a strong fille - Stronger than many. Sturdy and loving. She was warm and she had heart. She was self contained, vibrant and reliable; with ne’er a second thought she provided haven for the lost, the drunk and the afflicted, accepted and endured their decadent abuse, custom to her own mistreatment for the greater good of the times. When there was nowhere else to go, people came to her. We breathed her in, lived in her presence, filled her with song, and moments, and memories. She showed us the good, the great, the rotten and the confused.

…she will not be forgotten.
RIP. Bungalow (nee’ Bongalow)
4 Lily St, Fairfield, 3078


When I was a kid, I had the greatest bedroom.

Mum, Von and I bailed on Croydon in 1996 and packed up shop for the far off lands of the inner suburban north. The shift was made to a quaint Californian bungalow in the suburb of Fairfield where the night air smelled like cooked cardboard and the mornings sweetened with the waft of fresh bread loaves and danish. My experience of life thus far had been confined to the far east, where two-dollar shops thrived in duplicate and bogans festered in high numbers. Nights there by comparison smelled like fast food and rubber. Anything beyond the Maroondah electorate was foreign ground to my sheltered perspective and Fairfield was as foreign as it got for my thirteen-year-old eyes.

Our new abode had an ugly stick charm. It was a dark olive green joint with thick poo-brown carpet, held together by a blend of 1970’s-inspired faux-wood d├ęcor. The yard was overgrown with shrubbery and vine, the fence, a rickety piece of patchwork that had never been replaced. Our neighbour, from what we knew, seemed welcoming and friendly, though we would later know him as a diminutive pervert assclown - that story, perhaps, for another time.

In the hum and whirr of those early December mornings it felt extremely nice to be the newest residents of Fairfield. Not especially laden with open fields, let alone fair ones, it was away from sprawling nowhere, close to the energy of civilization and had a giant trojan dog by the station. It was somewhere exciting and fresh, the beginning of a brand new chapter in life for all three of us. Four years prior, Von had sacrificed his formative shagging years to commit to a lady and her chubby ten year old, forfeiting his bachelor habitat in trendy Fitzroy for a thoroughly unglamorous life in Croydon. Thank God for him, for it was he who knew of the glory beyond, and we probably never would have gotten out of there without him.

Our new home had charm, and what it lacked in pizzazz it surely made up for in potential. Above and beyond, the deal sealer for me was that amidst the forest of creeper and dense jungle of that overgrown backyard lurked a corrugated granny flat with my young name scrawled all over it.

The bungalow was a huge room, bright and inviting, with secluded side access and privacy to boot. There was a private bathroom with a dunny and shower, and a little walk in robe to hang clothes and over time hoard my mountains of shit. It was my palace, my domain, the envy of every schoolmate. I don’t remember too much about the early bungalow years, other than perhaps that it was a lot cleaner and nicer to live in than the cesspit I eventually let it metamorphose into once school was finished and I assumed the domestic life of a decadent degenerate.

It was when school finished that the bungalow came into its own. The champagne years, you might say. The band was playing gigs every weekend or thereabouts, and nights would run long, the crew would head back through the overgrowth down the side of the house to my HQ, and liquid would flow, much of it ending up on my long suffering carpet floor. The bungalow was a debaucherous den in those days. The red lava lamp suggested it, the interior coated from floor to ceiling with a patchwork of posters and photos, musical instruments strewn everywhere, and a smell that grew with the years that we fondly named ‘dank’.

The carpet, more than anything in that little house copped the brunt of our mercilessly hazy soirees. Stains on the floor became landmarks, signposts and artifacts of the big nights, the memorable ones. “That big one wide one near bookcase – remember? - that was where Corno mashed the bucket system in 2002… and that curvy, dense blemish by the desk…yep, yep, that’d be where Tock plunged a fresh stubby into the ground after losing motor function back in that night back in September. Good times. Good times…”

You get the picture. Pro Hart would have been proud.

When I eventually moved out of the bungalow in 2005, Von boldly got the carpet steam cleaned. The water that came out of the steam cleaner was thick, and it was black. Distilled elixir from years of party.

Now, in my late twenties, I often catch myself daydreaming, forever casting memory back to the early noughties. There’s often a flicker of an image of an indefinable moment that lurks around in there - whether it’s one moment, I’m not sure. It’s probably the product of multiple similar memories. It’s a tender breeze flitting the vines around my side patio, a summer squall inviting itself through the mesh wire door, rippling the poster of ‘The Castle’ hanging down from the ceiling edge where the blue tac got dusty and gave up it’s ghost. There’s rock n’ roll pumping through my mounted wall speakers, the heavy Sony ones that hurtle to the ground when the volume goes past ‘28’… and it’s the chorus to ‘Hercules’ by the Oils, Tenacious D, or Long Beach Dub and Sublime, and that Manfred Mann vinyl of Kev’s with the psychedelic organ solo, Jethro Tull ‘Thick as a Brick’…something fresh, something old newly discovered. My sax sits on it’s stand in the corner near the blue beanbag by the bookshelf; the piano motionless by the door, the couch faded and worn, with sponge pouring out of a gash that has grown larger from another bender the night before. My unkempt hair is damp still from a late morning shower, adding weight to my head mired in thought about all these precious days blending into one. Momentarily I’m irked; one frustration in a life so free and so light of burden. I don’t want the days coming and going like this. Why can’t I sup and savour and live each day like it were a whole week. The moment is golden and perfect. I read a book in the hammock, ring the guys and get a session going, crack open a $27 slab of Draught with the old labels, maybe hit up the Darebin mound and watch life happen. It’s a drug-like buzz of pure freedom sending sparks down my ethereal, burgeoning soul with an intensity unbalanced - borderline dangerous - a high I’ve yet to understand, yet to control, an addiction I’ll pay for when it comes to plunge back into me, and I realize yet again – yet again that this sartorial sentiment of youth never sustains – never can, and isn’t supposed to. I won’t learn that for years to come. I open up the top drawer of my black desk and prepare a smoke, locking myself into an indulgent world where it’s just me and no one else. And then, in that streaming sunlight I float through a wild, surging cocoon, insulated with single-minded elation, a pseudo suburban shamanistic trip. I flick the switch to my amp, strum my Gretsch with the gain on high and lose myself in a land of power chords and offbeats. The world goes on around me and everything is electric.

The halcyon days of the bungalow and everything attached to it – day, night, inside and out - were incredibly special, and indelibly bittersweet. Bitter because they will never happen like that again, sweet because they were many, and truly fucking wonderful. I will never begin to bring myself to be able to distill the magic of those coming of age years into words that elicit anywhere near the emotions associated with the events of the bungalow era. Still, I try. They were something unbelievably intoxicating that they blinded me to how anything would ever match or surpass such heights again. All these memories I had - maybe they had me. When I let them through the gates to my forefront, they creep and cosy into my nooks like silence through the back door on a brooding autumn night.

But all this is years passed.

A few months ago Mum and Von decided to get the house renovated. In extending the back of the main house, the bungalow was earmarked for departure. So spelled the end of my once dearly cherished domain.

Destroying the bungalow of 4 Lily St Fairfield is more than just killing a few sheets of corrugated iron and twelve square metres of loveless carpet; it is the physical end of a spiritual home. I’d long since made peace with the nostalgic pull of the years delineated by that sweet comfort zone, so the blow was soft. In memory of, and to pay final respect, on the eve of the bungalow’s destruction, I sat on my tiny shitter and gave my beloved ol’ abode one last loving purge.

As I sat on the John, that deafening autumn breeze filtered in through the mesh vent above the wind-out window as I peered as I’d done every day for nine years at the uneven bathroom tiles and black murk around the sink edges. A vortex of sense memory returned - nods to the wintery chills of the past; seashores of memory lapping fragments and shards and swirling imagery of life in our wild youth, getting on it, getting off, and slowly turning the carpet to a rich black.

It’s pretty wild where your mind will go to when you’re letting one last one go.


Vag Mong

After an extraordinary amount of deliberation on how to kick the doolblog back into gear, I figured last night’s inspired viewing of the Vagina Monologues at the Butterfly playhouse was as good an impetus as any. Back on. Straight in.

The Vagina Monologues, acclaimed byproduct of interviews by playwright Eve Ensler with over 200 women about their experiences of sexuality and identity has become an unparalleled expression of female power since it’s virginal showing in Greenwhich Village in 1996. Some stories wrench the heart, others breed chuckles - all are inspired and empowering in their own measure.

Ensler's word continues to spread; tonight's adaption of vag mong is another call to arms for female-kind, a frank exposition and an overdue dialogue to prize open minds, hearts, sexuality, and of course, vaginas.

Victorian terrace-gone-cabaret-salon the Butterfly club is every bit the swanky labyrinth it purports to be, and we're instantly charmed by the promised intrigue and kitsch delight. Thin hallways, skewif staircases and lounge sports mustachioed busts, dust-caked prints and a cache of hundreds of figurines and dolls clustered atop an open fire with stunning OCD scrupulousness. A mischievous barkeep with afro mushrooming from his modest sized head supplies me with a chilled Boags instead of a signature vag-mong ‘Shanghai Butterfly’ and dubs me ‘beard-man’. Heavy on the vajutz vibe, patron gender tonight sits well over a six to one ratio. I surmise that a deficiency of manly camaraderie has enamored the barkeep of disproportionate follicle with my rugged ranga beardliness.

Before too long we are ushered into a quaint playhouse, finding cosiness in the form of pre-war brown leather antique pews. Attention is immediately usurped by the thirty-eight miscellaneous plaster vaginas surrounding us on the walls like playful eyes– hairy, sleek, pert, wide, lush, long, fluffy and lazy - a plethora of pussynalities, gritty, raw and real. Not unlike the soliloquies of the ‘Vagina Monologues’ themselves.

In place of lead Vee Cybulski, opening night understudy Mel Calia treads the boards early and proves her class in spades; director-lead Hayley Deutrom kicks the show into gear with signature chutzpah, while effusive Nina Vallins’ no- bullshit, boisterous sass charms the pants off us all. Heartwrenching, pensive and profound, Ting Cheng’s 'comfort women' stirs at the depths, while Grace Travaglia’s retrospective 'My vagina is my village' is vehement and utterly devastating. Powerhouse Tereza Jancar, plunging fresh zest into a delicious deconstruction of the word ‘cunt’, may well have stolen the night.

It is an unseasonably balmy South Melbourne night, the lone ceiling fan sputters it’s best attempts at ventilation and we find ourselves overcome by a sultry, sweaty vibe, feeling every bit as if encased in an actual vagina. Credit to the production team for consistency of context. We’re not only hearin’ it, man, we’re in it.

On this night, the Mother Noose cabal proves itself a class act, crafting Ensler’s feminist holy grail to heartfelt climes, a credit to the directorial panache of Deutrom and passion of producers Cybulski and Jancar. Holding a weighty candle to the cause, proceeds from the shows head to beneficiary non-profit Project Respect, dedicated to the empowerment and support of women in the sex industry and a world where prostitution and female exploitation need no longer apply.

Mother Noose rocked out with their vag’s out and left us hanging for more.

If my vagina could talk, it would surely say ‘bravo ladies. bravo’.

The season is short so get in if you can. In any event check out the awesome Butterfly Club and say yo to brother follicles at the bar when you do. Tell him beard-man says hi.


Camino Chicago


Here's a bit I wrote on the Camino De Santiago picked up by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Life is smooth and swell in the land of 10,000 Lakes

Minneapolis, MN


Have Beard; Will Travel

Alright guys, it's been a juicy pleasure pumping out the odd harangue and onslaught on this sucker for the past couple of months.

Alas, the transformation underlying the recent eclipse season has completely overhauled daily life over here in Woodside. People are moving, shifting and altering their patterns left right and centre. And, in line with the trend, we're packing up for a couple of months and getting the heck outta here.

Destination: the secluded woods of Minnesota.

Whereas people who go to 'Montana' to live in a cabin turn out to be the Unabomber and whatnot, cabin fever in Minnesota is generally a far less criminal escapade.

New York has been a phenomenal time; wild, electric and transforming, sometimes a little too much. Having 14 planes scream over our apartment roof en route to LaGuardia between the hour of 10 and 11 in the PM gets a little overbearing after a while.

The plan is to get away from the big city madness and counter it with a rendezvous with the natural world in a cabin on a secluded lake.

Stargazing, soul nourishing, writing, painting, creating, guitaring, blaring sax through the woods, zenning out, fishing and - judging from Sarah's father's proclivity towards firearms - a decent few rounds of shooting.

It's a recipe for a good life.

So consider this a little breather from regular proceedings as i get all Bon Iver and lock myself away for a while.

The beard is rife and ready for the challenge.

And Remember: Life's too short to not be making love, making art or making a difference. Free your Henri Lee...

I'll be back when i'm back.


Mullets in Cricket

Nuggets of Australiana continue to be a welcome diversion to shake oneself from the oft over-politically-correct and irony-bankrupt American consciousness. I have my good pal the Rev to thank for this one. Knowing all too well my penchant for long, luscious neck blankets and 80s ear party moolays, this contribution focusses on the illustrious and much romanticised history of the mullet in cricket circles.

Mullets are reasonably rife here in Queens, a hotbed of hispanic ape drapes. The rest of New York, not so much.


Claymation Manboob

Ten years ago i wrote a tune called 'Captain Manboob', expounding the goodwill adventures of a superhero whose weapon of choice was a mammoth set of breasts, housed in pink spandex, adorned with yellow cape and menacing standard issue hockey mask.

The Manboob anthem was 99% Fat's early showstopper, the culmination of our early 35 minute sets at Skabar, regularly accompanied with by the visual spectacle of our mate Jim circumscribed in hot pink lycra, showering the first few rows in beer . (Thanks again to the lovely Nae for the laborious sewing and ongoing mending of that fine, one of a kind costume).

As these bones and britches get older, relics from the past seem to pop up with fury from out of nowhere to thrust me back into a world of nostalgic reflection.

I was thrilled to find recently that our old buddy Al, of Al and Bushy fame (iconic Melbourne ska fans circa 1999 - 2004) has stuck up a project from his animation course years ago on YouTube.

The claymation visual accompaniment to the Captain Manboob tale.

For posterity, and nostalgia...enjoy...