26.4.10

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.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sad news, rip my old friend... The womb of whati have become, you have been and always will be missed - Corn

Mel said...

R.I.P - Many good times and many Savoys eaten. Fond memories always.

Anonymous said...

Dool, sad to hear it, and beautifully written. Your words flooded my head with memories of parties, Zang times, and hazy nights discovering new music. - Goon

Anonymous said...

All I can say is THANK YOU. To that beautiful building for housing my decadent degenerecy for years on end. And THANK YOU to Cam for writing this and reminding me of it all. I was in need of this Tonight!!! R.I.P. Bungalow.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous = Sheep BTW

Anonymous said...

I would have payed money to pour just a little more stanky water on her carpets.
May she rest well, and her speakers brain a stoner in heaven. Amen.

Nice farewell Dool!

Tock.