Dating Godot

I was alerted to a music show on National Radio last week featuring an interview with old friend and bandmate Andrew Spittle, now lost in the mists of the far north somewhere.

The half hour interview was great, and some long overdue coverage for the man who puts a new meaning to productivity. However the interviewer threw in a weird quote from an old Dead Weight article I wrote about Andrew, where I called him “one of life’s beautiful losers, a man screaming into deep space.”

If you read this Andy – you recovered well, man, after the first strangled choking noise you made. You’re right, the comment was made about your business acumen. The music stands. Or to quote from a certain movie “the dude abides.”


Purely by chance, later in the evening following the Chavez screening I got to see a rare live video of the last ever performance of New Zealand music group The Skeptics.

I have long regarded this group as certainly the most interesting band to come out of New Zealand. Their music is strange, dark, magical – in the sense of conjuring up strange half-felt emotions and responses. Their final recordings and songs show a much greater command of melodic expressiveness which combines powerfully with their earlier more oppressive and sinister moods.

Skeptics music evokes a wide range of responses. It makes my sister actively uncomfortable – not that she doesn’t “like” the music, just that it gives her the heebie jeebies. Others like myself have an almost cultish interest in this most grandly unlikely band of musical adventurers. Singer David D’Ath died of leukaemia in 1990, while other members went on to become sound engineers and pop stars (sort of.) It was a rare privilege to see this video – and an interesting insight into how black super taper jeans were big back in 1990.

Thanks to those who dug this one up from the archive.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Hugo Chavez documentary

After a busy few months, it’s been good to do a half-week of work and spend some time getting mind, body and soul together.

My friend Peter has been helping to organize screenings of videos and films at the Arc in Dunedin for Indymedia with some success so J. & I headed into town to check out The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – a documentary about the Chavez Government in Venezuela and the attempted army/elite coup in 2002 that failed.

It’s a fascinating documentary that makes no bones about its sympathies towards Chavez, which I share. The poverty of the majority of the people in this country is appalling given that it is one of the world’s biggest oil producing countries. Chavez wants to take the wealth and redistribute it to the people. Good idea, sure, except the small but powerful elite don’t like it so have been trying their damnedest to get rid of the elected President.

The documentary gives a fly on the wall view of what it’s like to be inside a coup – literally – as the documentary crew sit in on cabinet meetings, first of the Chavez government, then of the coup leaders, then of the reinstated Chavez Government. Even if you don’t share the political views, it’s an amazing spectacle – the total chaos and surrealness of the situation are incredible.

This would have to be the best documentary I have seen in years – a must see for all those who have a sneaking suspicion the world is being run by a bunch of greed-crazed fat cats but may need some more concrete evidence.

How low expectations mean Government’s can do what they like

It’s a constant surprise (and a disappointing one) how so many New Zealanders have such a low expectation of their collective future. The recent “Labour” Government budget was hailed as some kind of major breakthrough for “struggling Kiwis.”

How wrong can you be? After decades of right-wing, dishonest politicians saying one thing and doing another, it seems that any small offering of crumbs becomes a feast.

What New Zealand requires, like other countries, is a change of direction towards politics that works for the people, rather than for small elites and corporations.

Money needs to be spent on free education (tax funded), good public health, a hike in the minimum wage, housing, public ownership of major utilities such as power and telecommunications, secure jobs and ways of protecting the natural environment that sustains life on earth. Half measures won’t do it. Nor will waiting for things to improve in some distant future. The way things are going, there won’t be a future for anyone unless there is a new direction.

Here’s a link to an excellent short article by Alliance Party finance spokesperson Jim Flynn on the current situation in New Zealand in regards to our economic future.

Eye of Sauron versus Plan of Alpha

Yes, the rumours are true – the Alpha Plan have finally managed to crack the soundtrack game. New short NZ feature Bogans is a movie about three bogans (overseas readers – this is New Zealand vernacular for petrolheads/boy racers/young men with V8s) who decide to head to the Big Smoke (Wellington) to land work as extras in that most orc-tastic trilogy Lord of the Rings.

The Alpha Plan feature on the soundtrack with our song “Someone Else’s Air” (one of John’s numbers) from the dim dark nineties. Apparently Peter Jackson makes an appearance too . . .

Who know’s what will come next? A reformation? Invitation to play at the premiere of King Kong? Or perhaps just some more obscurity.


Media Lens analyses the Reagan funeral and associated media hysteria

I’ve taken this article below from the latest Media Lens website. It echoes some of my thoughts on the matter in an articulate and reasoned way. Death does not make someone ‘a good guy’ when their actions led directly and indirectly to loss of life, oppression, misery and bigotry – as did Mr Reagan and his quest to lead the United States into the pirate plutocracy (rule by the rich elite) that it is today.


Media Modes – 1 and 2

Mainstream media performance alternates between two distinct modes of reporting: the first, “fig leaf‚” mode presents a view of the world that is overwhelmingly biased in favour of the powerful interests that control, own and support the media, and of which it is a part. Within this bias, room is made for powerful nods and gestures in the direction of honesty and balance.

The second, “full propaganda”, mode involves straight forward, no holds barred bias. This is seen in time of war, on royal occasions, on the anniversary of great military victories, and at times when leaders pass away.

On these occasions, balance and impartiality are deemed unnecessary, disrespectful, unpatriotic, irresponsible, even treacherous. Because this mode 2 propaganda is regularly disseminated without criticism it creates a benchmark against which all other media performance is judged. Thus, by comparison, mode 1 reporting – involving instances of genuine dissent – seems impressively open and honest, convincing many people that we live in a free and open society. Mode 2 reporting, then, sets an essentially totalitarian standard against which public and journalists alike judge media performance.

The most powerful weapons in support of mode 2 performance are patriotism and shame. Questioning the morality and legality of ongoing wars, mentioning the crimes of dead presidents, questioning the absurdity of royal events, is attacked as a wretched betrayal of all that is “noble and good” about “our country”, or our allies‚ countries. This, arguably, is why patriotism is so important – it is a foundation stone of thought control.

The rest of article is at Media Lens


Horizontal sleet from south meets my window. Sole outdoors activity today – cutting kindling with a blunt axe.

Time for a reading list:

China Mieville (Perdido Street Station and the even better sequel/companion volume The Scar)

Iain M. Banks (Look to Windward was my scifi book of year 2003 – now I’m rereading Feersum Endjinn)

Jeff Noon (Pollen – not a plot book, but an ideas book)

Mike Davis (City of Quartz, a densely packed journey through the social history of LA from a strongly analytical socialist writer)

Philip Kerr (Gridlock, a good days entertainment in the vein of The Cube etc.)

Ice Land

A musical time lately in the Deep South.

We got to see the Verlaines play a few songs and spend what seemed like hours waiting around for the tv people to give them the nod at the ‘National Anthem’ down at Otago University on Saturday night. Still a great time had by all etc.

On Thursday night I got to get my own guitar out of the cupboard to join in the fun at Arc Cafe where Tristan Dingemans was having some kind of going away show before he leaves for Wellington.

Anyway, I got to join in a kind of free jazz/electronica session with a few people I’d never played with before. All very self-indulgent and great fun. The last time I’d played with Tristan was about ten years ago when we had a kind of hardcore band . . . maybe I’ll dig up one of those old tracks sometime and mp3ify it. TD went on to great things with HDU who are still rolling along by all accounts.

I didn’t get to see the Bats who were playing in the weekend, one of my very old favourites, as the movies called. The Day After Tomorrow – hamfisted, over the top, and probably just the right type of crude propaganda that could convert the wide-awake sleepers that elect the ‘Dubyas’ of the world to high office. But that’s another story.

King tides and howling winds in coastal Otago these days.

New mp3 . . . plus some thoughts on the future of rock . . .

I’m considering how to release my record. After doing the sums, it’s going to be too hard to do a run of CD’s. I’ve decided to release it online, on my site, as mp3’s. Just do CD’s for those who ask. Maybe do a few Geraldine singles, if the pressing plant is still going.

Is this the end of music as we know it? Perhaps we’re just seeing the end of ‘pro’ musos and stars versus ‘the audience’, and seeing a new type of music structure made up of prosumers, with small audiences and day jobs, but the ability to put together music themselves . . .

Well, theory aside, most of this prosumers tracks are mixed now, I just got a batch from John Guy Howell in Auckland, and are going to finish the last couple of tunes in Dunedin with Stephen Stedman (who recorded the thing back in the dark ages.)

I’m having a bit of trouble placing the record in the scheme of things. I’ve been listening to rough mixes for so long I’m not sure what I make of it.

One of my favourite mixes is the track that I’m going to have as the opener ‘Coasting’ which is an instrumental. Download here, it’s under three megs.

It was a good recording, just me playing guitar and bass and Piers on the brushes. John’s done a great spacey mix and I’m feeling quite happy about it.

The track itself was inspired by thinking about when I was growing up, in the small village where I came from called Warrington, near to Dunedin. I wanted to capture the feel of the quiet, long beach here and the marram grass in the summer sun. We’re on the main railway line here, and I always associated this place with the trains going through, which is why I got Piers to do the ‘train rhythm’ on the brushes.

Work ethic

So much for the big plan for a daily post on the blog. A tsunami of paid employment has swept through town lately, not that I’m complaining (much.)

I just wish I could even it out with those long months of dreary unemployment in my early twenties.

The last month my normally 3/4 fulltime job has become a 5/4 fulltime job. I’ve been putting together a anti-casualization campaign for the Maritime Union which has been good work for a good cause, but also busy as . . . so no time or energy for creative pursuits.

However light is on the horizon, and while I burn a pile of CDs in the background I’ve been wandering through some other blogs, including my favourite one so far Bob Mould – one of my favourite musicians who also turns out to be an excellent blogger.

Other news – John Guy Howell tells me he has nearly finished mixing my album of songs that I have been working on for years . . . (literally)

I’m considering doing an ‘online release’ only – that would be very C21 – but if I had the cash then I’d get it pressed.

Time to sleep now.

Channel surfing in Blandrovia

Returning from a journey to the north with the remarkable news: Christchurch is still there.

Personal events led to a visit at short notice to the city of the plains, coinciding with the Highlanders versus Crusaders clash – which meant every motel, hedge and hutch were filled by out of towners travelling in for the game. Observation: large numbers of jowly, 30+ males on the loose. Of course – the only people who can afford ticket prices to the national game. The result? Who knows. But rugby was the winner on the day.

Just as rugby is a game of two halves, so is Christchurch. A strange city, the hub of the South Island, of which I have visited and considered on many occasions.

It’s mid-grade suburbs are a lego land of stop signs, shopping centres, and concentric anonymity. Likewise the most polarized class structure in New Zealand. Bars, hotels and restaurants filled with a smoothly bland mix, ladies with bobs and gold jewellery, men in chinos with a implacable vibe of eighties nostalgia echoing in the air. In the streets, blank eyed teenagers shamble towards their own personal disasters or destinations.

We have to shell out for a fourth floor room at a hotel after driving in circles looking for a place to stay. Beneath the soft beige surfaces the sounds of the street drift upwards, screams and cackling, the obscene riproar of a supercharged engine, sirens and in moments of lull the sucking vacumn of traffic noise throughout the night skies. I can’t sleep and dream of zombie movies, of the breakdown of society, of being trapped far above the streets in this sealed room while chaos reigns below.

In the morning the streets are again clear and empty, as if the noise of the night before had been just another dream. At the cafe, a bedlam as the aspirational classes shovel down their Sunday morning brunch. A man with a radio announcers voice at the next table is blarping on about “Bob Jones new book – it really is funny.”

“He goes on about PD. No, PR. What do you call it? PC.”

Just another morning in Blandrovia. White, right and quite . . . frozen. As if time itself was in the grip of a certainty long gone. Blandrovia faces inwards, builds its polished staircase of social graces and ticks away like a well-oiled clock. Outside the city is once again in the grasp of 3/4 pants, four wheel drives and service with a smile.

I think of other times and other sights in this place. The simmering air of subterranean violence that drifts in the inner city air late on Saturday night. The beaten down fields of suburbs rolling out to the south.

Blandrovia: city of the plains, we leave you behind and accelerate towards the South.

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