I was telling this story to a friend recently and she liked it, so I’ll share it with you. Before I permanently gave up the idea of being an academic, I was still writing papers and one happened to be seen by a ABC producer researching material for a science and technology chat show called Aftershock (156kb PDF). Hosted by Richard Fidler, it was fast, fun, full of ideas and exciting to watch.
It was even more exciting to be flown to Melbourne in May 2001 by the ABC, be provided with a room at the Tolarno on Fitzroy St in St Kilda, and to watch parts of one episode being recorded in the studio while the one I was to appear in was next in line to be recorded.
The day I arrived I got a taxi from the airport to St Kilda. I checked into the hotel then went for a walk down Fitzroy St, around the Esplanade, past the Espy and down to Acland St, then along it until I found Big Mouth cafe. I sat inside drinking a beer (something you couldn’t do in a Perth cafe at the time), reading the street press feeling very pleased with myself.
The street press told me that Jodi Phillis was playing solo that night at the Espy, which was a fortuitous coincidence. I’d seen her band The Clouds in the mid nineties at a campus gig and and had enjoyed her music. My plans for the evening were decided. I headed back in the direction of my hotel and ate a kebab.
When I headed out later for the gig I was amazed by the diversity of people in the Espy front bar. It seemed so different to Perth pubs – so much more energetic and eclectic. There seemed to be lots of metalheads there and soon after a metal band started playing in the front bar. I lingered for a few minutes then headed along to the Gershwin room to see Phillis.
When I came out another metal band had just started in the front bar, which was now full of people, and a crush of metalheads, punks and assorted freaks were slamdancing to the music. At some point the band played a song based on the dialogue of the character Frank, played by Dennis Hopper in David Lynch’s film Blue Velvet.
‘Don’t you look at me fuck! Don’t you look at me fuck! Don’t you fucking look at me! Don’t you fucking look at me!’ It was insane. The bar was heaving and I could barely move. Later I learned that the band was called Bigger than Jesus, and it was a shortlived project from former X member Steve Lucas.
Months later when the show was broadcast, I participated in a live online forum that the ABC had pioneered as a supplement to the show. Such things are common now but at the time it seemed so amazing. I sat on the floor of my living room of my house in Perth in front of my Apple G4 Cube participating in a discussion that was partially about my ideas. It was wonderful.
More great things happened to me in my first week in Melbourne, but it was this gig that made me want to move here. The feedback from the forum strengthened my resolve. Once I had moved here I managed to find a copy of the Bigger than Jesus album Killervision in Dixons on Brunswick St.