I’ve only had the one near brush with
celebrity and as it happens it was with Nick Cave. It’s not much of a story though it did have a curious sequel many years later.
I was living in Chicago at the time and my good friend Steve McGlinchey had bought us tickets too see the Bad Seeds. I think the venue was The Vic Theatre but I’m a bit hazy on that detail. Anyway wherever it was they gave an absolute blinder of a concert! Probably the best I’ve ever seen them. Mick Harvey and Blixa Bargeld were still in the band then and everyone was on top of their game. They’ve left since those days and if Nick had any decency he’d rename the band because they ain’t the Bad Seeds anymore.
After the show Steve and I trudged through the snow to Roses Lounge which was our favorite bar at the time. It was a tiny shoebox of a place, really little more than a wide hallway but it had a great juke box and an interesting collection of ‘Indie Band’ t-shirts framed on the walls. (Looking at the link, I’ve got the feeling it’s probably changed hands) but back then any remaining space was covered with a very impressive collection of kitsch art, religious kitsch to be precise. There were Glow in the Dark plastic shrines, cheesy tapestries of the Last Supper. Ornately framed prints of the Garden of Gethsemane picked out in l.e.d lights. Plaster Crucifixes, Three-D postcards, medallions. Just about every flavor of Catholic ephemera you could imagine.
Anyway we’d been there long enough to be well on our way to hammered when the saloon doors burst open like an out-take from a Sergio Leone movie and in sweeps Nick Cave with entourage in tow. They take up the full length of the bar and us punters are magically shepharded off to one side. Being the hipsters that we are everyone’s studiously ignoring the elephant in the room; but the elephants NICK fuckin’ CAVE for Christs Sake!
Well I could only keep the pretense up for so long.
As this is a Cautionary Tale, I’ll preface it with this proviso. For the socially inept, the ‘walking awkward’ as i was once described. There’s a lot to be said for plastering yourself to the wall occasionally; dulling your inhibitions (if you’ve got too many of them) can be liberating. But you have to accept the rules of engagement and the biggest rule is that for all the munificence that Alcohol imbues you with, It extracts it’s price, namely it steals your pride! Much like a Conjurer whisking the tablecloth away, whilst you are still seated at the table. One minute you’re poised, silverware in hand ready to tuck into the entrée. Next minute you’re face down in the vichyssoise. So all liquored up and bypassing that section of the brain that regulates injudicious behavior I stumble up to where Nick is seated at the bar. Trying to gain his attention I tap him on the shoulder but since good judgement has “got the fuck out of Dodge” (it could see where this was going to end!) I give the Good Son an Almighty slap on the back, causing him to careen, chest forward into the bar. Standing behind him, I can’t see his reaction but I do remember the faces of his posse as they swiveled around en-masse, much like those clowns heads you see at the ‘Side-Show Arcades’ (the ones you plonk the ping-pong balls in as they turn from side to side). It’s High Noon in Dodge now; Me vs The Cave Gang who are just waiting for the nod to beat me to a smeary pulp. The reptilian part of my brain has hastily slunk away under a rock as sobriety pokes its head above the hitching rail and I realise the full extent of my predicament. Scrambling for something that would engage Nick, I stammer out the first thing that comes into my head; I’d just finished his book (which was a load of ‘pretension’ but thankfully I don’t say that!) Like a moron I instead mumble will there be a sequel to And the Ass Saw The Angel.
Ohh! Yes! I’m quite the Jive talking juggernaut. Witty repartee just sweating out of my pores!
Nick extracts himself from the edge of the bar where I’ve lodged him and turns to fix me with a baleful glare. In that surprisingly high-pitched voice of his he says:
“Yeah! The Big Black Ass Saw The Angel, Now FUCK OFF”
Which I promptly did.
Fast forward to last year and I’ve ridden down to Phillip Island for the bike races. There’s a half-dozen of us, my mate Richard and 3 or 4 other middle-aged moto-gp tragics. On the Friday evening the talk turns to brushes with celebrities and I trot out my Nick Cave tale. It gets a small laugh and the conversation moves on as I get trumped with bigger and more cringe-worthy stories. The next morning we’d signed up for the Barry Sheene Memorial Ride which runs from Bairnesdale to the track. There’s maybe 5000 bikes on the ride, stretched over 5 km so it’s a pretty impressive sight. I’d set myself the goal of being the very last bike in and I’ll tell you I put just as much effort into jockeying for last position as Casey Stoner put in the next day to win the race IE: At one point I’m cut off from the main pack, behind the police back-markers, necessitating a quick overtake of 2 squad cars and 4 police riders at highly illegal speed to rejoin the main group. Probably the only time in my life I’ll be able to say I overtook ‘Mr Plod’ and got a wave for my trouble.
Pulling into the township of Kew before we start the last leg too the track Richard is waiting for me impatiently. Come on he says I want to show you something:
Apparently he’s 5 or 6 riders abreast, coming down the Strezelecki Hwy and he looks across to the Hayabusa next to him. The young girl being pillion-ed has a pair of leather Blundstones on with “Nick Cave Says Fuck Off” written in sharpie on the sides. Catching up with her at the lights he gets this picture.
Which you know is cool as all get out, I was impressed but not as cool as being told to Fuck Off in person.
Almost forget the Album 🙂
There were a few favorites jostling for position.
As I Sat Sadly By Her Side shoots for the moon and gets Oh so close. But it’s everyone’s favorite and I’m going to eschew the obvious and go for another standout.
Summer is just round the corner here in Sydney and Breathless has the lightness of a late afternoon breeze wafting in from the Harbor, perfect.
It was a close choice though: