Many years ago, circa 2006 I estimate, I had the great idea of moving to the UK. The idea was put into my head by Mum, as she had recounted how my Uncle Ken had saved to move there when he was 19. I liked the idea of being somewhere different, and it would be pretty easy for me to get an Ancestry Visa as Granddad is Scottish.
Like most things in my life to that point, I never went through with it.
Aside from being terrible with money and not earning enough to save whilst still being financially unsound, I was living with friends, in a long term relationship, and generally things were alright. It was even a time when I used to say “yeah, I’m easy, I’ll just cruise through life” and had no career motivation — oh my how things have changed.
Sometime in 2008 I committed to travelling to South East Asia with a friend, for three weeks. I was still terrible with money, my job was alright, and I was still in the same relationship as the prior events.
It was fantastic, what an eye opener for a country-bred, ignorant, white male, who was at that time unable to use chopsticks. I still remember sitting outside a hawker center in Singapore, on Geylang Rd in Kallang, fumbling with chopsticks. Everyone, myself included, was laughing at me.
One of the countries we spent some time in during the whirlwind tour was Hong Kong. Hong Kong was awesome. It was the busiest place I’d ever been to, the food was off the charts and available everywhere, and at any time, and it’s culturally fascinating in so many ways, bamboo scaffolding is of particular note.
So at some point after that my plan was then to move to Hong Kong. It was a loose plan at best. Sometime after that my long term relationship came to a grinding halt, I moved out by myself, had to furnish an apartment, and generally had no money.
And though things weren’t great they were still alright. It was a good opportunity for me to actually move to Hong Kong, I’d heard that three month Visas were a piece of cake to get for Australian citizens, just do a border run, no worries! An employment strategy was to get a TESOL qualification and teach English, but I never wound up doing that.
I got into a fair bit of debt that year, 2011 it would have been, so that was stopping me from doing basically anything I wanted to.
Over the course of 2011 though, things started looking up. I got a new job, paid off debts, and eventually moved back into an apartment with a very good friend of mine. And 2012 just saw things go up and up, I lost weight, got into decent shape, fell in love with cycling, and started to save money for the first time in I don’t know how long.
Then I got a new job around the middle of the year, working remotely for a US company. I asked if they’d mind if I moved to Hong Kong, and the answer was “no problem” — I had it made.
In early 2013 my friend and I went our separate ways in terms of living arrangements, he was to move in with his girlfriend, I said no worries at all, I can work from wherever so do what you need to do, and I’ll do what I need to.
My plan was to move back to Bendigo on a short term basis, to get belongings into storage, and then to go to Hong Kong. Seemed like it’d be easy enough, but of course, there was a hitch.
I found that if I wanted to move there I would need to have a degree. I’d never needed, nor wanted, a degree, so this was quite the roadblock.
After consultation with a couple mates, Mum, and some people I consider mentors, the decision was clear — go to university now while you’re 27, there’s never going to be a better time. Research lead me to believe that the correct, most constructive, easiest path, was to study project management.
Therefore I applied to Charles Sturt Uni, not knowing what to expect, other than it being hard. Applying to uni is quite simply fucking awful. The amount of work that’s required is phenomenal, it took me six weeks to get everything in order.
In the time where I was waiting for them to say yea or nay, I got drunk one night and convinced myself they’d say no, and booked flights to Europe. Mostly for a work conference and to meet some guys I work with, but also because I’d never been, and the price was right, oh so very right. $1650 return, Melbourne to Amsterdam, can’t go wrong.
Then of course CSU got back to me and said “sure mate, we’d love to have you here” so I enrolled in one subject because the idea of study and travel sucks.
Two weeks ago, almost to the day, I started. The first thing I learnt is that I really don’t like project management. I persevered for eight days, with the 8th day being Monday 22nd July (six days ago), before realizing that it just wasn’t for me. The only topic that’s consistently held my attention for the last ten years is programming, I’m just not awesome at it.
So there I was, enrolled in a course I loathed so much that it caused me great anxiety, living in Bendigo, and not sure of what to do.
After talking to a friend on the fateful Monday I knew that I had to withdraw from study. It was a huge kick in the guts because I wanted nothing more than to see the world, the degree was somewhat of a key, and the idea of having a degree is nice as well.
Then I realized that hey, you know what, I should just travel anyway. I have a great job that allows me to and supportive managers, one of which does just that, globetrots.
I made a short list of possible countries I could go to that had working holidaymaker agreements with Australia, and that I was interested in. Taiwan, Norway, and Malta being on the shortlist.
I chose Taiwan. The reason is because I felt like it.
I’m finally at a point where financially, and professionally, I can do this, and it will work. Taiwan will give me a great opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese (I did try to learn some time ago), it looks like a great place to ride bikes, the food will be amazing, and it’s pretty warm all the time.
I leave on March 1st 2014, at 1:25am, and I’m taking my bike with me.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love Punk Rock. It’s certainly no secret.
I remember, being a teenager, listening to Metallica, yeah, not punk, I know, but it was the beginning.
From there, it was bands like Soulfly, and Pantera, but eventually, it moved over to Punk. even with a two or three year hiatus to electronic dance.
Unfortunately, I missed the golden eras of a lot of bands that I now love, respect, and greatly appreciate. Even the Gimmes, a band that are strictly covers, but a band that helped me realize what I needed to do in a bad situation.
I got into these guys really, really, really late. Given I was already listening to bands like NOFX and Lagwagon, it’s absurd it didn’t happen earlier. I loved their work, particularly the middle of their career so far.
And as with most bands I like, I do some research, try and learn who is in it, so I did that, but I never looked deep enough.
On 31st July, 2012, Tony Sly died, aged 41, leaving behind a wife and two children. This is when I started to look deeper into the ‘who’ of Tony Sly. Fat Wreck wrote in memoriam of Tony,
It is with great sorrow that we must say goodbye to Tony Sly of No Use For A Name. We received a call earlier today of his passing, and are devastated. We have lost an incredible talent, friend, and father – one of the true greats. Fat Mike had this to say: “One of my dearest friends and favorite song writers has gone way too soon. Tony, you will be greatly missed.”
A shame, on so many fronts. For his family, his friends, and his fans.
I tried to find out why he died, but there wasn’t much information on the internet at the time. After some time I wanted to know why, so I set out to find out.
Tony Sly had been working on his solo career for a couple of years, releasing two albums, 12 Song Program, and Sad Bear. It proably goes without saying that the latter was a very sad record. In particular, there was one song that really got me thinking, Homecoming.
I’m not sure why, but it struck a chord with me. The whole album is sad, but this song in particular, wow. It feels weird, but after looking into it, it feels obvious that it was about to happen.
Then there was also another band he was in, Scorpios. They’re great, but check out the album cover, he looks… not so great I’m afraid.
So, as mentioned, I was looking for information and answers. From what I can find on the internet, I can reasonably deduce a few things
Tony Sly played an acoustic show with Joey Cape a few days before his death. Very, very fortunately, a fan, who drove three hours to see it, managed to record it. Tony even dedicated a song to him and his wife’s anniversary. Here’s the playlist for the show.
However, the final song was Linoleum. It’s almost a little surreal that two best friends, and massive shapers of the punk scene, were to perform an amazing, almost eerie cover, of a song by a band that had the same influence. Here it is, and in any case I hope you enjoy it, because it’s amazing.
He was a great singer, and an amazing songwriter.
I am sad that it happened, of course, even a little upset. It’s really quite sad, and it’s weird to be effected by the detah of someone you’ve never met or never known, but here we are. It really fucked up Fat Mike, Joey Cape, and NUFAN, his family, friends, but also, so many fans. One guy even said he met Tony at a show, thanked him for his music, that it got him through a hard time. So Tony gave him a hug and cried on his shoulder. It must be amazing, but maybe even a burden, to know you helped so many people in such a way. It’s still amazing, no less.
I can’t even imagine it.