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These Are The People In Your Neighbourhood: Justin Healey

May 8, 2014

It’s been often said that there is no place in the world like Philadelphia, and we largely agree. Philly is the quintessential American city, but yet there is no other city in America quite like it. We’re a population that wears our traditions and history on our sleeves, and we don’t necessarily care what anyone else thinks about it. We’re proud of who we are, but for the most we lack the soul-fatiguing egomaniacism that some other large American cities seem to foster.

Lately we’ve been wondering if there might be kindred spirit city out there – maybe even on the other side of the planet. Somewhere that embraces life, family, sport, tradition, and rock & roll with equal vigor. Another culture that stands up for what they believe in while also knowing not to take themselves too seriously. You see, Hog Island Press has recently made friends with some pretty rad folks from the continent of Australia, and what we’ve come to learn has us wondering if it isn’t a Philly parallel universe of sorts.

One of the Ausies that we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know is Justin Healey, an Australian tour manager and logistical ace from Melbourne. Justin has provided safe passage and thoughtful coordination to many bands touring his continent and beyond, all the while serving as a fine cultural ambassador of all that is good down under. He’s a Phillies fan that’s worked on a Queensland cattle ranch, and he’s introduced rock stars to koala bears. In short, he’s good people. Justin recently took a few minutes with us to talk about Test Cricket, The Dead Milkmen and combining Vegemite with scrapple. Without further ado we’d like to introduce the 1st international edition of the Q & A – take it away Justin:


Who are you?
I am Justin Edward Healey, from Castlemaine Victoria Australia.

What’s your favorite Philly sandwich?
Pat’s Cheesesteak with Wiz, mushrooms and jalapeno’s. Next time I visit I plan to find a better sandwich.

Cricket, Australian Rules Football, or Rugby?
All three. Test Cricket – none of the other variations of cricket are as pure to me as 5 days of test cricket. I know it’s confusing to explain a game that goes for 5 days, but its the tactical grind and the teamwork that it takes in Test Cricket is second to none. Aussie Rules is a brilliant game. Whenever I’ve taken people to a game for first time they instantly become fans. The atmosphere, the crowd, the high scoring, and the skills are better appreciated seeing the game live. The look on someones face when they first see the size of the ground, then the reaction when the team runs out onto the ground when they witness the first goal or mark (“mark” is the term used when a player catches a ball from a kick). It’s a fantastic day of entertainment.

Do you find that other Australians have any pre-conceived opinions of Philly? How accurate are they?
Oh no doubt, – I get “Why Philly?” all the time. Australians tend to only know of Chicago, LA & NYC, so they think of Philly as the place where Rocky & It’s Always Sunny is filmed. Therefore they just think it’s a town with dive bars and loud talkers like Charlie. It’s pretty naive to be honest. You get the odd person with some knowledge of Cheesesteak, but no one ever knows of the origins of a Hoagie.

How would you compare sports fans in Melbourne vs sports fans in Philly?
Very similar. Melbourne has 2 radio stations dedicated pretty much solely to Aussie Rules. On television there is a Pay TV station totally dedicated to AFL, a weekly Football-only newspaper and the two main newspapers in town are obsessive about the game. Because the town has 7 teams in the national league allegiances are divided, but fans of Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon & Hawthorn (only because they are good at the moment) are one-eyed (parochial). But nothing compared with the reverent fever of an Philly Eagles fan. Eagles fans are a very rare breed. In Melbourne when you meet someone or start a new job the question always comes up, “Who do you barrack for?” This means “Who do you follow?” Barrack is such a Melbourne word. I really like geographic specific words, like Hoagie in Philly.

AC/DC, The Saints, or Nick Cave?
I grew up where AC/DC was played to spur us on pregame for football or basketball, so I became sick of it. Then in my 20s I worked at a bar where AC/DC was played too often on the jukebox, so I became even more sick of it. I have kinda become desensitised to how great a band they are,  but the early albums with Bon Scott are just brilliant. The first record with Brian Johnston, Back in Black, was a massive party hit in my teens. Brian’s voice is so perfect for the rock & roll that AC/DC play. I never liked the Saints (yawn fest), though Bruce Springsteen was opening some of his Aussie shows recently with the Saints song Just Like Fire Would. It sounded great, and shows that Springsteen puts thought into the places he is playing. Nick Cave is a genius, and inspiring for different reason than AC/DC.  I’ve seen Nick many times and his shows are always great. I think we may need to add these acts to the list of Aussie bands: Hunters & Collectors, the band that gave Eddie Vedder “Throw your Arms Around Me”.  Hunters were a weird kind of collective – the bass player owned the PA, the front of house engineer was always in press shots and they were a brilliant & volatile live band.  Painters & Dockers were a brilliant, kinda punky party band. Part comedy part political.

Describe your perfect day in Philadelphia.
I usually stay with friends in Fishtown, so the day starts with 5 minutes on the toilet checking my phone and looking out the window over all the row houses then I shower. I then walk down to ReAnimator Coffee for a long black espresso. Maybe I should embrace the percolator coffee, but that’s just un-Australian.

I continue walking down to the L, and if I am in the mood for scrapple I go to that diner New Acropolis on the corner of Girard & Frankford. Scrapple & fried eggs on rye toast and a coffee. Just needs Vegemite to spread on the rye toast to be the perfect breakfast. I usually pick an area to visit and wander around, search the thrift or other stores.  I am have a pretty noticeable Australian drawl, so I often just get caught up in a conversation about Australia and what it’s like. After a day wandering around the best thing is to head on down to South Philly to the ball game. Nothing like a game at CBP, or if it’s football season then off to Lincoln Field to see the Eagles fly.

Who’s your all-time favorite Phillies player?
Cliff Lee seems to thrive on playing on the minds of hitters, he wants to be challenged. I like his non-committed approach to media interviews, it’s like he’s saying. “I pitch, watch me pitch and thats all that I need to say.” On the mound he controls the tempo of the game, he will decrease the time between pitches then walk off the mound and stretch out to unsettle hitters and opposition managers. He wants the hitters to swing because he trusts his stuff and the percentages are in his favour if the batters are swinging.

One other – ok you’all ready for this – John Mayberry, Jr. Why? Well he looks so relaxed when he pulls the ball, connects early in his swing and sails it over left field hard and low. I am partly saying this because for three years I have been saying to friends he is gonna have a break-out year. I really hope it’s this season. He could easily have a 25-30 HR season if he just settled and concentrated every time he was in the batters box. As I write this he is in the batters box and Larry Andersen just said it’s been over 100 innings since John has hit a HR.

Got a favorite Philly band?
Dead Milkmen – hilarious cheeky, precocious. They were the go-to band when getting ready to party in my late teens. In 1991 I was in Seattle and they were playing. I went to a record store buy tickets but they had sold out. So I immediately went down to the venue, The Off Ramp as I recall. It was around 4.00pm in the afternoon so I figured soundcheck would be on, it was so I walked in and watched. When Rodney Anonymous asked who I was I replied, “I’m Justin from Australia. I just got here, tickets are sold out so you’re putting me on the guest list.” Dave Blood and I went out had some dinner, Rodney had me saying phrases to listen to my accent and I drank a lot of their rider. I later sent Dave Blood some Schnell Fenster cds. He was a fan of The Swingers, a New Zealand band that had a hit in the 80s and members went on to form Schnell Fenster. RIP Dave.

What are some special itineraries or Australian “can’t miss” spots that you try to show touring bands when time allows?
In Melbourne I try to take bands or crew to an Aussie Rules game if the season is on. In Brisbane it’s usually Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. They can hold a koala, snake or small crocodile and have a photo taken. Staff at the Sanctuary really look after bands. In Sydney bands always want to go to either see the Opera House & Sydney Harbour bridge and take a tourist photo. Sydney’s harbour area is truly spectacular. One of the best looking city views in the world, hands down.  In Adelaide I tell bands to walk through the Adelaide Central Market. It’s a very small version of Reading Terminal Market that has a great cafe called Zuma Caffe – great fresh salad “Rolls” (what we call hoagies down here) and a Caesar salad that is excellent. In Perth, it’s Cottesloe Beach to grab some Fish ‘n Chips with a few beers to watch the sunset.

Got a favorite HIP design?
Don’t Worry Be Charlie.


So awesome, thanks for reppin’ us at the Sydney Cricket Ground (during a Sydney Swans vs North Melbourne Kangaroos, no less). And hey, we’ll be sure to introduce you to another Philly sandwich or two this Summer. Until then – enjoy your life, love your neighbours (no matter what continent they may live on), wear Hog Island Press.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Justin Healey permalink
    May 14, 2014 11:36 pm

    Thanks for the opportunity, Be Safe everyone have a good summer.

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