Somebody Get Me A Book!
The place on Little Collins st that is now called Bony, used to be a total dive and beacon of the dammed and dizzy. It used to be called Pony. There was a time I and my friends would frequent that place so often it became a home. There were bands upstairs at 2am. I knew people who worked the bar and always got free drinks. Almost always. This one particular night I was very drunk and very lonely. I had been heart stomped and was doing what a lot of lost and lonely people in their mid twenties do. I was looking for love in a trash can.
He was wearing a Descendents t shirt and his hair was in a mohawk. I loved him deeply based on these two facts alone. I liked that band. I wanted to have sex with this person. I decided it as i watched him go down the narrow stairs to the bar and toilets down below the band room. I looked down at my own outfit and considered it acceptable attire to bewitch the object of my sudden and very deep affection: Ripped jeans, black studded belt, and white singlet. I had on some make up and my glasses. If he liked The Descendents he must like girls in glasses, right? I mean a person who is actually myopic and not wearing lensless frames. Who wouldn’t want to sleep with someone who looked like the lead singer of one of their favourite bands?
I waited for him to come back upstairs. The place was getting crowded at this time because other places closed at around 2am and all the desperate people came here in the hopes of getting laid or simply waiting for the drugs to ebb. Or to get more drugs. When I spotted his mohawk, it was time to approach. ”Hi.” I say. ”I love the Decsendents. I wish I could see them live.”
He looks at me. He is not super tall and I wonder if that was why he decided to get a mohawk, they do add height and a sense of stature. It was why I had my mine for a little while. ”Yeah. That would be pretty cool.” He says. Success! I think. ”Do you want a drink?” I say. ”I can get you one for free. I know some people working on the bar.” He has green eyes and a clean shaven face with quite good cheek bones. There are some tattoos on his right arm, but i cant tell what they are. I just want to go somewhere and listen to music with him really. I think as I make my way through the crush of hot sweaty bodies. He had shrugged and accepted my offer of refreshment. This was a good sign. When I finally get to the bar it is busy and the people working behind it are not familiar at all. Where are my friends? I think. It cant be that late. I grin up at the barmen looking at me. ”Two beers please.” I shout happily over the music and din. The guy shakes his head at me. ”I’m cutting you off.” He says.
”Don’t you know who I am?” Imagine a high bar that I can barely look over. Imagine my tiny but angry palm slapping the sticky bar in indignation and outrage. The handsome and bored barmen who is no friend of mine and no comrade to my cause. ”Obviously I don’t.” He says loudly. I stare at him with wide eyes and hope it will sway his decision. I’m not that drunk. I feel absolutely fine. I cannot believe I cannot find my friends, though. I wander back to the dreamy boy in the band t shirt and apologize for my inability to produce what I promised. He was sitting in the dark corner where people usually sit to make out or talk intimately over loud music or an incredibly loud live band. He shrugged again and seemed not to care. He also did not sit next to me for much longer. It should not be taken personally. I took it very personally.
If you go back to my uni days in Ballarat. You will find that it was a bit of a pattern for me. The pattern of thinking that punk guys liked punk rock music loving girls. They did not simply want a girl who like punk music. They wanted a girl who was conventionally pretty AND liked punk music. This is not the girls fault. It just proves that punk boys did not have the intellectual strength and imagination that was required to love and appreciate a girl like me. A girl who even if stripped of all her punk rock attire, would still be pretty fucking punk. With my scoliosis and kick ass 99 stitches scar down my spine. My shoulder blade that jutted out a little bit more than the other one. My thick glasses. Punk music made me feel very glad that I was such a weirdo. It made me feel far more empowered and happy than all the years of church and being prayed for or being taught to that my father in heaven for all my blessings. Punk music alLowed me to channel the anger and frustration that I felt about so many things, in a productive and creative way.
It would not be until later that I realized most of the punk boys I knew were not from disadvantaged back rounds. They had gone to private schools and grew up in large houses.I know. I know, living in the suburbs must have been tough in its way. Just not in the ways that growing up in rural northern Victoria was tough.
The music did not mean to them what it meant for me. Thats what music and art does it is open to interpretation and we usually bring our own back rounds and experiences to every thing we consume intellectually, artistically and emotionally.
I should have known it the day I saw one of my friends kicking around with his skateboard. I saw what he was wearing and the blood rushed to my head and I nearly blacked out from rage. It was 2002 and the trend had not reached peek stupidity yet. My friend was wearing black glasses frames on his handsome face and he had perfect vision. Those glasses were lensless and aesthetic. I strode over to him as he stood on his skateboard and did a trick. ”Take those off!” I shouted.
I know he meant nothing by it. It was a ham fisted nod to one of his heroes, Milo Ackerman of The Descendents wore glasses. If you asked Milo who he imitated when he was a young guy and standing in front of his bedroom mirror, he would have an answer for that (Mark Mothersbaugh from DEVO his ”role model for all things geek”).
Milo needed his glasses. He did not wear them to be cool. My god, the whole point of Milo and his band was to be dorky dudes who could not get girls. The point of them was to write the cutest punk love songs that sounded as good and catchy as The Beach Boys. Milo and his nerd herd did not get girls AND DID NOT BLAME GIRLS FOR IT.
When I got to him, my friend was standing and holding his skateboard with a grin on his face. I reached up and pulled the offending item from his face and threw them with all my might, across the carpark. ”You are not Milo. You are not myopic. Stop misinterpreting his music and ideology.” I say as he laughs quietly at my display. I regain some composure and stand up as straight as i can. I walk over to the gum trees in the direction I think the fake glasses landed. I find them and pick them up. I fold them up and hand them back to the owner. Before he can take them I throw them on the ground and jump on them a couple of times. My cheap generic converse shoes and my light weight body did not break them. It was still very satisfying.
Buddy Holly did it first, wore thick black frames and sang love songs. Every generation needs a cataract club leader who knows how to write love songs. Back then I had no notion that girls could wear glasses and write and sing punk songs. When I first heard Mass Nerder from the 2004 album Cool To Be You, I was no longer living on college accommodation. I was feeling pretty isolated and removed from friendships and fitting in. It just did not seem to come easy to me. I was living in my first share house in the town centre of Ballarat. I was in a transitioning phase of my life and the words of this love song to people who wore glasses for real and liked to read books, made me feel less alone as I sat in my tiny bedroom in the apartment that used to be a doctors office and was considered to be haunted. I listened to that song over and over on my cd player and day dreamed about meeting a cute dork who loved me as much as he loved to read.