Monday, September 1, 2008

Sandy Bay Death Trip



So I'm sorry for starting this post with a Youtube clip - the last thing I wanted to do was get lazy in my old age and just find cute cats to put up, since writing this blog is essentially now a discipline (if that makes sense, if I don't post one day it's likely to be another 8 months before I post again as I go and find practice spuds to mash, but I thought it was an important video, since I've referenced a few of the ads in previous posts - now, the girl in the Centrepoint Jeans ad, the kid that went to my school (the one aforementioned busted in the porn saloon) claims he went out with her, and I vaguely remember someone else had a huge crush on her, but I didn't like her attitude, nor her lack of commitment to "raging" - she later grew up to be Alix, the girl in the Mercury. Tasmanian historians may wish to enjoy the brief Wendy Kennedy cameo in the Devilmania ad. For what's it's worth, I've felt a little bit like Andrew Symonds today, I really fancy a trip fishing, if only because I've never caught a fish and most of my attempts at fishing have collapsed into moody silences. Fishing probably means that I'd have to get onto a boat anyway, and there's no need for that. In fairness, I've probably felt just as uncomfortable on boats as I have on buses (you should hopefully know by now my fear of buses) since a particularly awful Christmas party when one of our colleagues turned purple and threated to hit a woman over the head with a chair, WWE style, because she had taken a bread roll from our table. And then, we had to sit there for another hour, while we cruised festively on high, in almost total silence, awkward, pure total silence, with only cheap spirits to tide us over. And when we got off the boat, I dropped my wallet on the ground and sent about 250 bucks in 10 dollar notes scattering around the wharf...just like the ones we used to know...

As uncomfortable as I am on boats and buses, the place in Tasmania I am the most uncomfortable is Sandy Bay. Weird things follow me to Sandy Bay. It's probably no surprise, considering Sandy Bay has the casino, Mykonos and the uni (a place I really should visit one day, considering I was enrolled there for two years and did absolutely no work), three of Tasmanias most bizarre places, especially with the casino has the Birdcage. However, one of Sandy Bays oddest places has shut down - the last Mom and Pop (yes I've done that joke, I won't do it again) local video store. I can't think of anywhere else now in the South apart from (ugh) Video City or Blockbuster that rents out DVDs or video cassettes. The last time I was in that video shop though, I stumbled in about 10pm after a night out chatting up bored uni students at The Metz, or at least trying to (my friend didn't help by continually claiming my Scottish accent was fake and tapping me on the shoulder asking for help with his "fake accent"). I went into the video shop at 10pm, munching on a Chiko Roll, and the guy behind the counter greeted me with an incredibly bizarre "Oh! You! You were the guy who got the wrestling tape out!" - was that me? Are you sure? I certainly didn't want to join the anecdote at the end - possibly, I did get out a wrestling tape, and in fact, on reflection, I had, about five years before, an AWA wrestling tape with a womens wrestling battle royal, but how did he remember it? Rainman style? And why did he chuckle? I was thinking at the time something really weird and creepy was going on, after all, I hadn't got out the equivalent of the infamous tape I told you about before in Scotland - the one that was just a tape in a blue cover with XXXX written on it in pen (my local video shop in Scotland is the only one I've ever seen with a pool room). Maybe he just saw it on the computer - this is where my theory that if you get Bambi and Deliverance out at the same time, your permanent record bans you from the store for being a freak. Mind you, Deliverance would take some explanation to the bored gum twirling twelve year olds in my local video store in Kingston, but I still believe it to be true, and much like my dare to go into a Penguin pub and play Barbie Girl 10 times in a row, no one has been taken me up on the challenge...but I was still staggeringly uncomfortable to be known as "the guy who got out the wrestling tape"...what if I had got out Cop and Half with Burt Reynolds? Would the angry villagers chase me with torches? God help anyone who got porn out from the shop in Sandy Bay, you probably are on an Internet register....

That was my first taste of the particular brand of weirdness that I've always found in the Bay - the second was one night when I had come out of Coles Supermarket having bought some bottles of water from the charming blonde girl who was clearly trained in the same competent and pleasant manner that I was in Burnie (that's a very hilarious joke if you know Coles Burnie). When I started walking back towards town, I instantly felt uncomfortable, weird, claustrophobic. The air was really thick and heavy, clouds rolled in from the left, and it was that uniquely Tasmanian kind of dark, mostly because there's no street lights in the place. As I stood shivering and feeling disgusting and panicked, I looked across into the Chickenfeed (Tasmanian speciality cheap shit store - not as good as Maggies Bizaar, but a good place to get pegs) car park. Illuminated by the slough of human despondency, and the flickering lights of a closed store, was a typical Tasmanian scrag fight, two girls, one flailing and helpless man, rolling around feebly and dignity free on the concrete of the Chickenfeed concourse. So far, so humdrum, except when I looked, the two girls were wearing Burger King style paper crowns, and the way the man chose to break up the fight was by poking the smaller girl, inevitably swinging wildly from the deck, underneath the bigger girl, with a plastic sword. "Come on Karen! Get up!" he was encouraging, but Karen was going nowhere, no matter who hard she shook. Eventually though, she gave the bigger girl a Roddy Piper style poke in the eye and sprinted off in the opposite direction, towards the Mayfair, and luckily not in my direction (you just know I'd have ended up copping one in the mouth). Two ripped paper crowns slipped down the street, swept up in rainwater and heading for the gutter. The bigger girl summed up the situation with a poetic "Nerfuckingback", while the man threw his plastic sword to one side, kicked angrily at the air, and threw his head back. "Chickenfeed," he said, gesticulating to the bigger girl, "you know we can never take you to fucking Chickenfeed" - and in fairness, on the evidence of the evening, you really couldn't...

This one night, I was walking through Sandy Bay with a friend of mine, and we weren't doing a lot, maybe throwing rocks at roofs or pushing each other around in trolleys or discussing the future prospects of Ammonia as a chart band, when we came across this house. The house was clearly in the grip of some dry cleaning girl style "raging", rocking a massive light show, some mid 1990s Sneaky Sound System style thumping bass, clearly audible voices, and people milling around the window, and if I remember rightly, a smoke machine billowing white smoke into the street. For what it's worth, this house was owned by someone Tasmanians would know quite well. During the middle of our Ammonia based discussions, I noticed that every single other house in the street had it's lights off and no movement, so I figured this house was in the middle of a giant Lisa Left Eye Lopes style block party, and indeed, the addition of a much louder bass line and the noise of people talking seemed to confirm that indeed, people were jumping and a thumping. So I said to my friend, we should totally crash this party, and maybe steal a Cubano from the fridge, maybe get our groove on - she looked at my like I was mental, and put her hand across my chest to stop me from going any further. "Don't you know anything?" she said, wagging her finger. "That person, he always pretends like he's having these giant parties, but he's really just sitting in the house on his own, he hasn't got a single friend, everyone knows that!" - naturally, this was worth a bet, and we snuck up to the window, and sure enough, sitting in a beige armchair, surrounded by a series of cardboard cutouts, with a stereo pumping and a smoke machine idly sitting on the carpet, was the worlds loneliest man. He was slumped, dejected, eating beans and toast from a tray, while everything else was designed to give the impression that, Wamdue Project style, he was the king of his castle. I really felt sorry for him, as he idly fiddled with various remote controls, and let out a massive heavy sigh. On closer inspection, we noticed that he was sitting watching the Bill on TV, while at his feet, his dog chewed at his slippers, and his face was a mask of middle aged self loathing. At that point, it was best not to intrude anymore on this particular private hell...

Still, as much as I've mused on Sandy Bay, I can't help but wonder if the dry cleaning girl has learned to wash and iron yet...

4 comments:

Rita said...

Who is this guy, sitting with the people cutouts, in his lounge, pretending? You are hugely wasted here MM. I love reading your "diary". Keep it up.

Kath Lockett said...

I knew someone who lived in Sandy Bay once. Boy am I glad she's dead.

Kris said...

I lived in the (upper) ‘town house’ right next door to Chickenfeed in Sandy Bay for five years. Mind you, it wasn’t a Chickenfeed in 1996, it was a “Mama & Papa” grocers then.

Back when the Uni Bar had gigs, and Regines was in operation, it was quite the strip. Pissed idiots up and down Sandy Bay Road doing the Regines/Uni Bar/Mayfair/Nicklebys/Dr Sytax/St Ives (Club Surreal) route eventually onto Salamanca. By Christ there were a lot of scrag fights and messy breakups.

Two favourites:

3 am Sunday morning shrieks and shouts wake me up. A girl wails, a guy shouts. She screeches: “I don’tloveyaanymoredarrenyafuckencunt!” He wails: “butifuckenloveyayafuckenbitch!!!!!” This went back and forth for a good twenty minutes, when eventually she left him outside Chickenfeed and headed up towards Nicklebys saying that it “was over”. He alternated between “I LOVE YOU!” and “YOU FUCKEN SLUT/WHORE/MOLL!” and “I FUCKEN HATE YOU! I WISH THAT YOU WERE FUCKEN DEAD!” and then again “BUT I FUCKEN LOVE YOU!” It really was quite beautiful.

The other involved a heated discussion right outside the front window that similarly involved a break up, only with this guy bawling his eyes out and uttering a line that I shall never forget: “But darlin’, didn’t I stick by you? Didn’t I love you even when those FUCKEN SLUTS was givin’ ya shit about BEING A FUCKEN WHORE! Didn’t I stick by you after THAT CUNT RAPED YOU! I did, didn’t I!?! EVERY FUCKEN TIME!”

I never did find out what he was referring too, but my brother and I (I was living with him at the time) speculated that the “fucken sluts” perhaps informed this fellow that she was perhaps acting unfaithfully, to which she claimed to be an unwilling participant. On a number of occasions. And this fellow stuck by her, every time. Truly a modern day tragedy.

Miles McClagan said...

Thanks Rita - can never officially say who it was, lets just say he's still on my radar.

It could be argued if you live in Sandy Bay, you are dead. Allegedly.

I think most of people seemed to have from Burnie...I think I've heard every single one of those conversations, especially outside that little hot dog stand. "Nerfuckindickhead" was probably to me what certain lullabies are to people, sweet compelling childhood memories. Nothing says Tasmania like that particular way a bogan says "cunt"...