1. Excerpt from The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries — the new book from Justin Heazlewood
Friday August 13. Launceston. Hotel New York.
Crowd vibe: 3.4 Venue treatment: 5 Band morale: Medium to low.
When touring, a good taxi driver can make a big difference. Salt of the Vegemite cab drivers, a dying breed in the big cities are a welcome change in the regional zones. This geezer used to run a music pub in the 70’s and bombarded us with tales of getting his teeth knocked out, holding a granny auction and putting talcum powder in the lead singer from Hot Chocolate’s towel until he chased him around the pub. Anyone who still makes mother in law jokes should be put in a gallery for schoolkids to study.
We strolled into Launceston airport, where a steaming pile of street press emblazoned with my Hipster-goof head greeted us on the floor. Nature Boy was bemused.
‘People who have never seen you before are going to assume that’s what you look like.’
‘Yep,’ I said, skin prickling from the needles of local haters.
The first thing that struck me about Hotel New York was the smell – somewhere between a bourbon distillery and the inside of a pig’s stomach. The dance floor was covered in swirls of gluey residue. What I thought was a build up of spilt drinks was actually the result of the carpet being ripped up and adhesive left to fester. The band room was a bunker of bar parts, zombie fridges and the kind of couch bikies do cocaine off. Mad Max meets Cocktail.
‘Low self esteem,’ I thought, retreating into myself like a snail.
The bar manager was curt, in name and attitude. They were preoccupied opening up another venue Hotel Manhattan across the street. I wondered if New York has a Hotel Launceston with walls adorned with cricketing paraphernalia, homophobic number plates and a pro-art style application of cigarette juice and Jagermeister over the floor. What a joke.
We ate Indian for dinner. It took a long time to be served. I was poor company, still recovering from a break-up and riddled with pre-gig anxiety. Mad Dog asked what kind of fish was in the fish curry.
‘Nice fish,’ came the reply. After picking up the extravagant, unitemised bill, we asked for a print out. It included two bottles of wine we hadn’t ordered. Sonsofbitches.
I don’t like Launceston. It has a darkness about it. Men with narrow eyes. Misshapen girls with miserable faces. Diseased monkeys in an enclosure. I get stuck in a guilt loop of judging the place negatively, then reprimanding myself for being a snob. Being reduced to this adolescent turmoil makes me resent it even more.
The gig was poorly attended. By the time we reached the stage, a drunk guy was running amok on the dance floor, getting his friends to take photos of him while skylarking in front of us. As far as I’m concerned, my shows are martial law. If the audience want to go on the attack, then they’ll be met with full artillery. I unleashed a barrage of swearing, stating that it was my gig, I’d worked very hard and I wouldn’t be letting tools like him ruin it. To the crowd’s delight, the New York security dragged him off, I reassured everyone that he was my autistic brother Christian and this wasn’t the first time.
Nine songs later he returned during Northcote, enlisted another bloke and swinging about wildly. He then approached one of the few hipster looking girls, her ironic flannel shirt a red rag to the Boags bull, and put his arm around her. I snapped. During the Northcote solo, I strode onto the dance floor and shoved him in the back. He turned around, shocked and bemused. Hiding in the Northcote character I screamed at him to just fuck off. My band mates watched on, terrified. He was a big guy and could have easily flattened me. While I’ve done plenty of yelling at audiences over the years, this was the first time I’d laid a finger on anyone. Grinning in disbelief, he was once again dragged off by security.
‘Christian, come back!’ I yelled. ‘I’m sorry, it was the only way.’
Later, he was overheard outside plotting a revenge attack. I hovered by the bouncers.
Hitz opted to walk back to the hotel. On the way he was approached by a van of men saying ‘get in, we’ll go to a party.’ After he refused, they climbed out of the van. Hitz hot-stepped it back to the venue, eventually catching a cab. I lay on my hotel bed, almost in tears, wanting to call the girl I no longer had. In the hallway a newly released prisoner berated his defacto over the phone.
From the awesome new book The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries by Justin Heazlewood. Illustrations for feature image by Leigh Rigozzi.
Avail. as an E-book through Affirm here: