A 24-hour liquor license means more than simply allowing the unhindered purchase of alcohol. It is an assertion of liberty, a refutation of mealy-mouthed wowserism, an affirmation of the vigorous frontiersmen values that made this country great. Frequently the clientele of such establishments have an equally libertine outlook, and have done throughout history. From the spittoon-filled saloons of the Wild West and the blood and sawdust pubs in rural Victoria where the Kelly brothers bided their time, to the Mos Eisley cantina where Obi Wan saved Luke’s ass: taverns such as these have slaked the thirsts of the dangerous, the desperate and the foolhardy alike. The Judgement Bar, in Sydney’s Taylor Square, is such a place.
Frequented by those at society’s margins, and those who just like to watch, it has been the scene of countless events too tawdry to mention. Its very name is an affront to God. But until that promised day of reckoning comes, we who hide from the light will be drawn to it like helpless mariners to a pitiless shore, dashed upon its jagged rocks then washed out onto Oxford street – the flotsam and jetsam of humanity.
And while we sit there, eyes squinted against the pale dawn, we will listen to what must truly be the devils music: the Judgement Bar jukebox, and we will confront the most challenging question ever asked of oneself: what the fuck am I going to listen to?
Make no mistake, it’s no easy task. Many an hour has been spent staring grimly into its barren recesses. More than one contender has been moved to tears by the ordeal. I have resolved, then, to use the judgement jukebox to probe the darkest reaches of the human soul, to test the mettle of those who claim some knowledge in these matters. In short, to give them $2 to put in the machine then tell me why they chose what they did and, more importantly, how the hell they can live with themselves.
Artist, programmer, doll-maker, and weapons-designer: Alex Davies is a maverick by anyone’s definition. He has made his own unique mark on the art-world while never pandering to its politics. More than once he has ruined an occasion by wading through the crowd drunkenly brandishing one of his many sabers or flails. His monthly newsletter ‘ The Gilded Trough’ is a confused and libelous rant based round his rabid right-wing beliefs and warped sexuality. He divides his time between Sydney and Austria for taxation purposes.
1) Men Without Hats ‘ Safety Dance ( Video juke)
‘ A bit of a judgement bar classic, always seems to come on at a ridiculous time of night when the alcohol has addled ones brain. This was one of the first pop songs that I remember being enchanted by. I am still perplexed by the bands preposterous name and the film-clip is a true classic including medieval dancing dwarfs’
2) Duran Duran ‘ Girls On Film ( Video Juke )
‘This is not my favourite Duran Duran track, I would have preferred Hungry Like the Wolf. Nevertheless a good catchy pop song, and more importantly a truly adventurous filmclip for its period in which scantily clad females bludgeon each other with pillows’
3) The Clash ‘ London Calling
‘Sheer dismay has forced this track due to the overall decaying selection of good music and contemporary plop. Perhaps it is my current grueling sobriety in this place. Again not one of the most charming tracks by this group but still a delight.’
Beverage of Choice: Laudanum
Rick Bull, or ‘Deepchild’ as he’s known to his followers, is a cult leader masquerading as a contemporary electronic musician. Hidden within his music are backwards-masked subliminal messages calling on all that listen to follow him unquestioningly. He spends much of his time at his heavily guarded compound just north of Sydney, where it’s said he keeps a zombie army and a retinue of willing nubile concubines. His latest album, ‘Chocolate Dubs’, is out now on Dumphuck records and can be found wherever good music is sold.
1) Stevie Wonder – Master Blaster
‘summer, sensuality, longing, hope and faith. Unexpected Grace. Sounds even better on gritty vinyl’
2) Michael Jackson – Billy Jean.
‘Disco essence in its finest form. Zen and the art of beat maintenance. Classic, catchy, booty-shakin’. I challenge you
not to get excited about all that pop can be after listening to this.’
3) Bob Marley – Is This Love.
‘The small reminder of the impact that Caribbean music has made on the world. A quietly subversive hope that in every pub, alongside Cold Chisel and AC/DC, is the voice of liberation, longing and unquenchable integrity. Seemingly innocuous, with a deeper current that seeps into the consciousness of even the most cynical piss-head with a dollar to blow on the video-duke.’
Beverage of Choice: Guinness