Friday, November 27, 2015

Crime wave in Cambridge #5

As mentioned here previously, people often ask me, “How do you find living in Cambridge, population 18,400, after living for so long in Auckland, population 1.5 million?”

Here is the full police report from this week’s issue of the Cambridge Edition:
Wednesday November 18
There was a car vs power pole on Kaipaki Rd, there were no injuries but the driver will go to court for careless driving.
A Cambridge man has admitted to tagging places in Cambridge with the word “gherk”. Investigations are continuing.
A man from Tokoroa was caught shoplifting at The Warehouse.
A large B-train (truck and trailer unit) drove over the Hydro Rd Karapiro bridge, damaging the barrier and two wheels on the vehicle. The driver will receive a number of offence notices.
There was unlawful interference of a boat on Keats Tce.
Overnight there was a burglary at a farm workshop, police are waiting for a list of items.
Friday November 20
A Cambridge woman was arrested for shoplifting.
Two 17-year-old boys from Te Awamutu advised police that they were involved in a fraud. They will be interviewed this week.
Overnight there was a burglary on Shaw St. Police are awaiting a list of missing items.
Saturday November 21
There was a family violence incident on Vogel St.
There was a burglary on Bruntwood Rd. Crates were stolen from an asparagus farm.
Someone drove into a wrought iron fence on Taylor St, damaging the brick work.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Metro and murder

I bought a copy of the November issue of Metro, out of kindness I suppose. Also to see what Anthony Byrt had to say about art, and what Courtney Sina Meredith had to say about “Urbanesia”.

As a former magazine person, I looked at the masthead, which only magazine persons do, and discovered that Metro has a new editor, Susannah Walker. Nobody told me. She must have answered this ad seeking a “creative, solution orientated brand champion” and fitted the bill. Good for her.

Her bio says:
Walker survived a childhood in Inglewood, the Taranaki town once known as NZ’s Murder Capital
Ahem. Credit where it’s due: Inglewood was dubbed New Zealand’s murder capital by me, when I wrote the intro to Graeme Lay’s article “Murder in Moaville” in Quote Unquote the magazine in May 1995. In that article he referred to Inglewood as “the psychopath centre of New Zealand”, but I suppose Ms Walker preferred the soft option of “murder capital”.

So here is Emmylou Harris with her Hot Band singing Townes van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty”:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Waikato Times letter of the week #59

From the edition of Monday 16 November. As always, spelling, punctuation, grammar and logic are exactly (you have no idea how carefully, how many times, I check this) as printed in the Waikato Times.
These strange times
It seem that everything is in a state of flux and change. In the home and in the world from politics, local institutions to the oceans of the world and outer space. Surely there must be somewhere in this world that is not in conflict. So everywhere we have some disagreements.
History doesn’t look as violent now when you look and compare today’s problems. The ocean disputes in Asia, e.g. South China Sea, Russia and China, Russia - border disputes.
I’m beginning to think that humans are not such a peaceful race but find so many ways and means of creating struggle and skirmishes. Then you have the family partnerships and politics that keeps the world spinning.
Ken Weldon
So here are the Simple Image with their July 1968 #1 hit (in New Zealand) “Spinning, Spinning, Spinning”. They were our Tremeloes.

Friday, November 13, 2015

My night with Rob Muldoon

My night as Rob Muldoon, I mean. Tomorrow night is a family 50th birthday party. It is a fancy-dress party. I hate fancy-dress. We have all been assigned characters: Hamish, an athletic type, is to come as Bart Simpson; Jane, who is very attractive, is to come as Hilda Ogden from Coronation Street; Kate, who is slender, is to come as Dolly Parton (or as she puts it, “Dolly fucking Parton!”).

My wife is to come as Helen Clark, which is OK as Helen is an old friend of mine so I have been able to offer costume tips. However, I have to come as former prime minister Rob Muldoon. Which is a problem.

How does one signify Muldoon? I could get drunk, I suppose: 

But somehow I feel that more of an effort is called for. I could go around chatting up all the women, which would be in character but perhaps get me into trouble – Cambridge husbands tend to be large. I could say over and over, “I love you, Mr Lange,” but this might be misconstrued as well. It is a problem.

On the bright side, at the end of the evening I get to go home with Helen Clark.

(Photo credit: The Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library. Also see Mary McIntyre’s painting Mickey Mouse and Robert Muldoon, based on this photo, here.) 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Wintec Press Club: Heather du Plessis-Allan edition

The Wintec Press Club lunch is held three times a year by the Wintec School of Media Arts and is hosted by Steve Braunias. The star-studded guest list always features big names in politics, media, entertainment, sport, business, law and the arts. This time they included Sasha McNeil, Matt Nippert, Hugh Sundae, David Farrier, veterans of the Waikato Times and what seemed like the entire staff of the Spin-Off website (where Braunias runs the books pages), former Speakers of the House Sir Kerry Burke and Dame Margaret Wilson, current MPs David Bennett and Tim McIndoe and the odd novelist, alongside past and present students of the Wintec media course.

The speaker is always a person of interest: this time it was Heather du Plessis-Allan, co-host of TV3’s current-affairs show Story. (Her co-host is Duncan Garner who spoke at the Wintec Press Club in May last year.)

Steve Braunias spoke at some length about the “crisis in news”, here and overseas, with reference to newsroom staff cuts and the desperation of news websites for stories that exhibit clickability. He talked about the previous speakers at these lunches, singling out November 2014’s speaker Pam Corkery as “a generally unconvincing argument for sobriety”. He handed out the 2015 Wintec Press Club awards.

There were some minor awards for Writer of the Year, Sentence of the Year and other trivia, but what everyone in the room really wanted to know was: who would win the coveted Best Friend of the Year award for “the person outside of Wintec who has provided the most outstanding support for journalism students”?

Reader, it was me. For, the citation said, my “entertaining and almost certainly libellous chronicles” of these lunches right here on this blog.

Braunias began his introduction of du Plessis-Allan by explaining, “We’re in a hurry today because as you all know Heather has a jail sentence to catch.” He insisted that the Chatham House rule applied to her talk: if she happened to call TVNZ a bunch of c***s, no one was to mention it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or a blog. So if she did, I’m not saying. (She didn’t.)

He extolled her track record and reporting skills along the lines of the advance publicity where he wrote: “Heather’s work on the Saudi sheep scandal this year was one of the best scoops of 2015. Heather is a dogged and determined reporter – and her decision to leave TVNZ for TV3’s news roster has restored some credibility to the network after its idiotic decision to lose John Campbell.”

She began by saying, “That was really generous of you, because I know how mean you can be,” which got a laugh. But as Wittgenstein would of said, of the rest I cannot speak so thereof I must remain silent.

One thing, though: she advised the students and by implication other journalists to set up Facebook pages. She said she got “so many stories that way. People don’t email any more, just find you on Facebook.” Pro tip.

'Three more things: she was briefly rude about the Wellington thinker and Twitter disputant Giovanni Tiso, which amused the three of us in the room who had heard of him. In response to a Braunias witticism, she said, “Ha ha. Fuck you, Steve.” And later to Barry Soper, her husband, after an amusing exchange, “I’ll make it up to you later. I’ll buy you something.”

She was great: funny, full of good stories and, more important, good advice. What was really striking about her talk, and her replies to the questions afterwards, was the passion for serious journalism that came through. It must have been inspiring for the students and recent graduates present. It’s pretty dismal out there, what with all the job cuts at the big media organisations, stories from Fairfax’s print editions appearing (and staying) on the Stuff website only if they have a high click-through rating, and other depressing industry developments. It must be hard for keen young journalists to stay motivated.

On the other hand, nobody looks at Rachel Glucina’s ridiculous clickability-driven “entertainment + celebrity news” website Scout, so there is hope. Faint hope, but these days we’ll take what we can get.

So, in light of HDP-A’s possibly precarious position legally gun-wise, here is Warren Zevon live in Boston in 2000 with “Lawyers, Guns and Money”: