An Ode to a Couple of Grimy Beer-Selling Music Venues I've Loved

I’ve been working at a pub again the last few months. A few months of working a few nights a week after way more months of not doing anything for significant money except signing government forms and snapping some photos. Job is good. Job keeps you off the dole because no one can live on the dole, not really live anyway, because it is demoralizing. It’s demoralizing because all the dole offices are ugly and all the lighting is stressful and all the seats are uncomfortable and all the staff are overworked and the money you receive when you are incapable of earning your own is not enough to not feel shitty about whatever situation you may be in at that point; demoralizing.

Being on the dole long term is only an acceptable life you can smile often with if you don’t have to pay for food, or you don’t have to pay for rent, or you don’t have to pay for things that will lead to you getting off the dole and contributing to that economy proper. Flawed system. Give ‘em that extra 50 bucks a week you big class-warring meanies. Give ‘em more. Shitty confidence boost programs in shitty offices with shitty trainers does nothing towards people on the dole helping themselves get off it long term because its all just fucking demoralizing. Fuck.

Anyway, so this pub job: I’m working at a music venue in Collingwood. It is a place I used to frequent regularly when I lived close-by, I’ve taken a lot of photos in that place, I’ve had a lot of conversations in that place, I’ve had a lot of shots of whisky there too. I guess it’s pretty good to be behind the bar of that place, workin’ like a little trooper for around minimum wage because it’s the only place that would have me and I wanted OFF THE DOLE DAMMIT, a place of community and adopted family, a place I feel totally comfortable in when there are friendly faces from a few years ago around, smiles and stories about what they’ve been up to between drinks.

Those networks we art types create around our drinking holes, it’s a thing we have to do, and it ain’t too bad. We gather to drown our stresses and sorrows or to celebrate our successes and achievements with the drink and the chats and the silly jokes, and we chat and we share and sometimes we end up doing cool stuff with other art types or with music types or just get inspired to make things based on that environment and that crowd and that area. We have to do it, because we do it, so it happens.

When you work in that kind of place, you get to watch it all go down, get invited in to the discussion simply because you’re standing there with the Jameson bottle in your hand, smiling warmly in appreciation, or staring out the window lost in thought; whatever it is, if you’ve got that bottle of Jamo in your hand, I think everyone who likes Jamo likes you a little bit more because of it, and you don’t mind so much because you like them more for smiling at you with that bottle of Jamo in your hand, they appreciate your service and you appreciate their custom, it’s a nice exchange, far better than grievances or snobbery or disrespect or being on the dole.


All kinds of things are funny, but perception is pretty high on my list at the moment. Recently, I took a test set out by the university of Swinbourne and their automated response based on my answers recommended that I talk to my doctor about what they said are possible chinks in my perception amour or something. I don’t know if my perception is confused, as such, because I’ve watched enough documentaries about quantum physics to be totally aware that reality is pretty hazy, really, and how can we be sure of anything if subatomic particles aren’t even anything until they’re looked at, anyway? Pretty sure I’m not crazy, pretty sure it’s just new knowledge about the world around me that I have absorbed in to my perception of it. That pub I’m working in, it’s not real, but it is at the same time. My version of what that pub means is not real, but it is at the same time.

When I first started working there, some people gushed to me that it is an important place to be involved in. Others scoffed, being more inclined to trash the joint. A lot of friends originally from Perth flock there for the good gigs, and sometimes comment on similarities between this pub and the old Hydey in Perth. The other night Perthian Max Ducker’s band Mutton played a great show to a sizeable and appreciative audience. The last time he was in, I played his old band Mongrel Country.

over the speakers in the main bar- a band I must have seen play at least once in some drunken haze at the Hydey years ago. Every time I looked at him he was smiling and my heart said “Aw man, I’ve known that guy for ages now” and he is great to bump in to.

It is not hard to feel a sense of nostalgia in that pub I’m working at, its history is plastered in posters on walls and ceiling, distortions and reflections of all the posters plastered on the minds of its frequent patrons. It’s kind of filthy. It’s kind of dingy. It’s too loud when it’s full of people and sometimes the ceiling moves so much you think it’s going to collapse, and sometimes it’s a fucking awful time to get people to leave at the end of the night, when they’re all attached to place somehow and they’re keen for a lock in so there ends up being an 8 person dance party behind you when you’ve finally finished cleaning up after them and you just want the chance to offer the vibrations of Ufomammut through the big speakers to the ancestors in the land squashed under the building you’re sitting in for a little bit… just for a bit, before it gets too late for loud music… one of those places where, slightly more than occasionally, artistically minded people who don’t feel like going home end up when they’re a little bit cashed up.

Not all pubs and bars are like that, but this one is, and I guess they’re nice to find when you don’t feel like going home either.