think it was
a misdemeanor. Or something along the lines of Causing Mischief, or Verbal Assault
- either way, if we had been caught, there would have been at least one night's
jail time, if not a hefty fine.
Kentucky Tavern was a pub with unlimited potential (located at a major intersection,
freeway ramps leading almost directly to their parking lot, lighted marquee seen
from the freeway and neighboring areas, ads in the major papers), yet which changed
management literally every six months. And it was this ephemeral management which
was responsible for the actions of our band, Gypsy Fire HMC.
HMC stood for Heavy Metal Cunts. (Does this give you even an INKLING of our diplomatic
stance on people who would choose to wrong us?)
Kentucky Tavern was dank, claustrophobic, urine-smelling, unholy, a feeling of
lost hope and abandoned dreams when one walked through the entrance - your average
rock and roll club. In those days in Sydney, clubs would pay bands enough to hire
a powerful PA system (from freelance PA owners) and have enough left over for
on PA owners: this unique animal was always either an unkempt, t-shirted, short-shorted,
hairy-backed palooka, or a balding, short-shorted, armpit-glazed geek. Either
way, he had no social skills whatsoever. I remember being trapped in line at a
McDonalds once, behind a rather well-known PA freelancer, Michael Orland - he
was the latter variety - and praying to the half-fish, half-goat gods that he
wouldn't turn around and start talking to me. Alas, the half-fish, half-goat deities
were frolicking in some Elysian meadow that day, far from the petitions of needy
musicians, for Orland recognized me as a Known Band Guy and launched into the
plaudits of his new super-dynamo tweeters and plasma-destructo crossover amps
with the flames comin' out the side, as I went into a fixed-smile stupor and tried
not to make any sudden moves.]
Fire had a gig booked at the Kentucky Tavern. We suspected something might be
awry when we arrived on gig night and our name was not on the aforementioned prominent
marquee. (Now as any Band Guy knows, a gig is not an isolated event - it involves
prior rehearsal, flyers, innumerable phone calls to organize rehearsals, to agents,
to fans, PA hire, ads in papers, changing strings, etc. so you've lost money before
a note is even played on gig night.)
here we are - ON GIG NIGHT - and a NEW manager at The Kentucky Tavern, Ray, tells
us he has cancelled all bookings made by the previous manager, taking pleasure
in our monetary loss and refusing to discuss further bookings - because "he'd
have to get a demo tape from us first" (- open-mouthed incredulity doesn't
even come close to describing our reaction, as - you know the punchline to this
one - the venue already had numerous press kits of ours - from all the past managers!)
Ray was an impotent, passive-aggressive, weak man with a small cock, who had no
real power, so reveled in the perceived 'power' he could wield over young bands
- just your average booker, really.
as deluded as most young bands are about their empirical greatness, we WOULD have
played for free (we had to pay the PA guy anyway) but Ray would not even have
Fire saw red. In those bygone days (before OJ Simpson and frivolous lawsuits)
we thought nothing of verbally threatening Ray openly. Then leaving his "office"
(which was in reality a cleaned-out closet with a ratty desk in it) and eschewing
actual bodily harm to him, we concocted something much more subtle - climbing
up to the Tavern roof, we arranged the one-foot-high letters scattered around
the rooftop on the lighted marquee, thusly: GYPSY
FIRE WILL GET YOU RAY SO RUN.
looks impetuous and impulsive, but one has to consider that we were up there for
about half an hour, in the dark and the wind, trying to configure a death-dealing
message out of the available letters: "Have we got another 'L'? Goddammit!
We can't say 'WILL KILL' then!" and other such phraseological decisions
And then it took us about ten minutes to insert the letters in the trackway (like
on gas station signs), while Ray and staff were completely oblivious downstairs
in the pub and 100 cars a minute passed by on the street.
marquee displayed that message for nearly two weeks - we took pictures of it the
next day! - which was a testament to how much attention any employee from the
Tavern actually paid to it, especially Ray, the knucklehead who should've been
trying to draw customers in with that advertising tool.
couple of months later: new management. And Gypsy Fire HMC took the stage once
more at Kentucky Tavern, the marquee being used for its intended purpose - NOT
to broadcast threats to bookers with small cocks.