Monday, October 06, 2003

San Quentin, I hate every inch of you.
I ended up watching two tv programs this weekend featuring prisons. Friday was Breaking the Silence: Truth and lies in the war on terror, a documentary by journalist John Pilger (thanks to the NZ Herald for thoughtfully renaming the show The War is a Fraud, just in case you weren’t familiar with Pilgers leftie leanings), and the other was Johhny Cash Live at San Quentin.
Pilger set about examining the war in Iraq, backgrounding the reasons given by the American and British leaders for the war. He picked apart their flimsy justifications, til there was nothing left but bones. It was very depressing.
He showed more of those sickening images of the prisoners of war, or 'enemy combatants' as the US calls them, held in shackles, blindfolds and masks in Guatanamo Bay. The 641 detainees have no rights under the Geneva Convention, as the US doesn't consider them POW's, and they haven’t been charged with anything. They’re in limbo.
He interviewed such US neo conservative hawks like William Kristol, who wrote the document for the right wing group Project for a New American Century suggesting Saddam's removal(supporters include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, John Bolton). When Pilger asked him about Americas new role, in attacking solid democracies, he said they have never done that. Pilger corrected him, noting that America has intervened in other countries 72 times since the Second World War. You really don't try and play fast and loose with a journalist of the calibre of Pilger; he does his homework. Kirstol responded by saying that Pilgers claims were ludicrous. Cut to a list in alphabetical order, scrolling down your tv screen, naming all the countries. When he interviewed US Undersecretary of State John Bolton, after the interview finished, Bolton made a dig at Pilger, saying “Are you a member of the Labour party?” Pilger shot back, “no they’re the conservatives in my country”. “You must belong to the communist party,” replied Bolton, laughing. Yeah, funny.
A former senior CIA officer and personal friend of George Bush senior said that when Bush senior was in the Whitehouse, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld were commonly known as ‘the crazies’. That’s what the Whitehouse thought of them, then. Now, they’re in power. Pilger dug up footage of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam, back in 1992, when the US was supplying Iraq with chemical weapons.
Watching this made me think how can powerful men live with themselves, when they appear on my tv night after night telling lies to maintain their status quo? Pilger’s final words talked of there now being two superpowers, the US government of George W Bush, and the rising tide of public opinion. He talked of the battle between these two forces, closing with the observation that "If we remain silent, victory over us is assured."

And there’s the late Johnny Cash, singing "San Quentin, I hate every inch of you..." inside San Quentin, to the prisoners, back in 1969. You wouldn't get away with that today; the powers that be woudn't allow it. They'd want to vet your material, check your lyrics first. The modern equivalent might be letting Ice T into a jail in LA to sing Cop Killer.
Cash's performance is amazing; what a brilliant storyteller. He talks about a song he wrote, about getting arrested in Mississippi for picking flowers, and spending a night in jail. "Imagine what they'd do if I'd picked an apple!"
The latter part of the film is intercut with prisoners telling their crimes, and it comes to one prisoner who tells about going to a party, making a pass at a girl, and at the end of the night there's just him, the girl, and her 12 year old son, who was in bed asleep. He and the woman were on the couch, the son comes in and says what are you doing to my mother, and the guy ended up strangling them both - he didn't know why he did it. He got taken to court, found guilty and the judge sentenced him to death. The rest of the film switched between Johnny Cash's performance (including the first public performance of A Boy Named Sue), the prisoner, shots of the gas chamber, and a guard describing the routine of a condemned prisoner. Sometimes I despair for this world, and then I just get angry. Hats off to Bruce Springsteen for saying impeach the President.

I went to the Auckland vs Northland rugby game at Eden Park on Saturday - watched Auckland run out onto the field to my song R U Ready, for the second time. As they ran out I turned to the field, and there they were - half a dozen of those agile young women for the Auckland Sky City Cheerleaders on the sideline facing the stands, dancing one of their routines.... to my song! It doesn’t get much better than that, aye.
Auckland won 50-17, moving up from 8th to 4th in the NPC championship. I wanted to get there earlier, as the Black Ferns (NZs world champions womens rugby team) were playing a World XV - I saw the last ten minutes. There was absolutely nothing about the game in The Saturday Herald, and the Sunday Star Times had no coverage of the game either - good on you, tv news for covering the game. The Black Ferns won 37 nil. They are seriously good.

Thanks to the Guardian’s list of the top 40 bands in Britain today, I now know that there is a band in the UK called Selfish Cunt. For some weird reason, the Sugarbabes sit at number 14 while Mr Scruff is at number 38. That is just wrong.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Paul Holmes has not left the building
Its just come out that Newstalk ZB rejected Holmes offer to resign earlier this week, and has set in place a number of measures, including getting him to write a letter of apolgy to Kofi Annan. Newstalk ZB's General Manager Bill Francis has said Holmes' offer to resign was refused for several reasons, including Holmes' 16 years with the station. "It has been outstanding in a whole lot of respects including humanitarian help in all sorts of areas outside the public gaze." This is the second time Mr Francis has made mention of Holmes' humanitarian gestures out of the public gaze - yes, he gives to charity. So what? So do I, so do a lot of people. Whoop dee do.
Francis said that the company was.... "adopting a policy for its staff, who were in the position to lead and shape opinion, that judgements based solely on race, colour or creed were offensive and would not be tolerated." Its incredible that they didn't already have such a policy in place.
Some Holmes trivia from the NZ Herald...
152 Broadcasting Standards Authority decisions have named Paul Holmes.
May 2003: On his radio show, Holmes relays a barrage of jokes about the French and German military, including: Why did the French plant trees on the Champs Elysees? So the Germans could march in the shade. Complaint not upheld.
September 2002: On his radio show, Holmes called the Catholic Church "rotten to the core", and the Pope "a pathetic old man". Complaint not upheld.
May 2001: On his radio show, Holmes described Ariel Sharon as a "dreadful beast" and as "mad, cynical [and] Arab hating". Complaint not upheld.

On a lighter note, Paul Holmes step-daughter Milllie is alleged (by that tabloid site) "to be engaged to a young man named "Dawg". Millie Holmes (15) is understood to "be over the moon", said a friend of the teen couple. Millie has told college friends that Dawg has romantically proposed to her and given her a ring, allegedly purchased with money earned from pawning off another ring."

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Watch your back
Quote of the week - Mike Puru, host of TV2's 'yoof' news show Flipside, after a news item on the revival of Its In The Bag with Havoc and Newsboy... 'yes, Its in the bag, now there's an oldie but a goodie, bit like Havoc."

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Mike King is a cheeky darkie
Okay, he called himself that, all right? I watched Mike King Tonight on TV last night - yes, its a blatant ripoff of Letterman, but so what? Its not like TV here is reknowned for originality - look at all the other copies of overseas formats we have on at the moment - from Changing Rooms to that ripoff of Fear Factor. It's a very funny show. No, really.
Mike King knows about timing, and he keeps the interviews snappy, and devoid of waffle. Last night, interviewee Lana Cockroft was wearing a GE Free March t shirt, and King commented on it, saying he was into that too - "I'm GE - genitally engineered" and quick as a shot, Lana says "so that must be why everyone calls you a dickhead!" King put his hands on his head and said "You got me". Too right, mate. The NZ Heralds Greg Dixon didn't get some of the jokes... "(King) got his laugh, but this kind of lowest common denominator joke panders to one audience while making the other switch off - can a chat show afford to do this?" Hell, its late night TV, who cares?

Pop star Moby is angry, bless his bald little head. One of Moby's fans is being sued by the RIAA, and Moby is less than impressed...
"personally I just can't see any good in coming from punishing people for being music fans and making the effort to hear new music. I'm almost tempted to go onto kazaa and download some of my own music, just to see if the riaa would sue me for having mp3's of my own songs on my hard-drive."
He's also been thinking about procreation...
"Now, for the first time in my life. I want to make babies," the 38-year-old said. "If anyone wants to make babies, let me know."

Tokyo is cool - now you can take a taxi that's done out in Hello Kitty decor....
"TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- How's this for a relaxing cab ride: slide into the back seat of a pink and baby blue sedan with two Hello Kitty characters painted on the side, sit on a Hello Kitty blanket and listen to Hello Kitty music piped in through the sound system.
This mobile paradise for fans of the popular kitten character is the latest service offered by a Japanese taxi company, Kanachu."

Monday, September 29, 2003

Kiwi battlers!
So, New Zealand music is bigger than ever, just look at the charts, shout the PR hacks. But what about some diversity? Well here you go - heavyweight drum n bass duo Concord Dawn released their latest album recently and lookee, there it is this week at number 9 in the national charts! That is some seriously cool sh*t right there.
"Earlier in the week we'd been told we were likely to be higher than that. When we heard we were No 9 it was like 'Stink, we're not at No 3'," a not entirely crestfallen Evan Short of Concord Dawn says. Think he's taking the piss? Concord Dawn licensed songs to over a dozen different drum n bass record labels around the planet last year. They sold,50,000 records - that's vinyl. Go you good things!

I spent 23 and a half hours in Wellington on Thursday - flew down for a gig there, took my man MC Word Perfect. Had fun wandering thru town with him - he lived there for 3 years before moving up to AK. So every ten feet he saw someone he knew, from graff artist Otis to Pacifier bassist Karl Kippenburger to the folks behind Manual and Staple magazine, both excellent publications (check out the new issue of Staple, it's choice!). That's one of the things I love about visiting Welli - the central city is a friendly place to hang out, whereas central Auckland is a wind tunnel full of suits.

Still can't understand why Newstalk ZB hasn't disciplined Paul Holmes after the darkie comments. His stupid comments have now travelled the globe, reaching Ghana, and Mr Annan. World media describe Holmes as "one of the New Zealand's top journalists" or "New Zealand's most prominent journalist", although Australia's ABC referred to Holmes as a "shock jock". Mediawatch has some good links on the story. The NZ Herald has overseas reactions, such as this...
Maxwell Yifusu, a spokesman for the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, said the national radio station had been inundated with outraged calls. "It shows total disregard for the world's highest-ranking public official and is an insult to our country."
Newstalk ZB's General manager Bill Francis defends his wayward employee, noting that "...Paul's radio show has always had a strong element of comment, heavily laced with satire. Regular listeners know and understand this. He writes his material close to deadline - there's no luxury of lengthy contemplation over its worth." So why did his producers allow him to call Mr Annan a darkie repeatedly - 7 times in 45 minutes? Did no one tell him to shut the hell up?
The latest is that the Holmes Show has lost it's sponsor, Mitusbishi Motors NZ from tonight. The managing director Paul Leighton said the apology from Holmes the following day did little to appease the original complaint. "There are some things you can't apologise for and I am afraid some things when they are done, they are done. They cannot be undone by simply saying I am sorry. That doesn't undo the damage."
What I want to know is, why Paul Holmes said those things? He's made apologies left right and centre, but offered no explanation as to why he said them.

Oh, and let's not mention the rugby - Auckland aint doing so good. Sigh.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Paul Holmes aint no nigga hata II
And yet again New Zealand is the laughing stock of the world's media. Last time it was the Fart Tax that made world headlines, now its one of our top broadcasters mouthing racist jibes at Kofi Annan.
So there's silly old Paul Holmes on TV One's news last night, struggling desperately to remove his foot from his mouth, and he says that he's beyond regret, its not how he thinks (but you opened your mouth and said it, Paul), and that "it was just something to toss off in the morning". Paul Holmes, tossing off in the morning. He said it. (Anyone else thinking of Kevin Spacey in American Beauty? Ewww!)
And the worst part is that Newstalk ZB say that they will discipline their top employee, and its an internal matter. He'll get a gentle slap on the wrists and that's that. Maybe a fine from the BSA for a few thousand dollars. How about someone hit him where it hurts - take him off air for a week. Watch him wither, away from the bright lights of celebrity. What a bunch of hicks, silly old New Zealand. Quick, someone mention the All Blacks to distract us.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Paul Holmes aint no nigga hata...
"That Kofi Annan, I have got to say to you, he has been a very cheeky darkie overnight," Holmes said. "It is all very well giving a darkie that secretary general's job. We will only take so much, I am sorry. We will only take so much. We are not going to be told how to live by a Ghanaian."
Paul Homes on Newstalk ZB this morning. Seems he didn't agree with Mr Annan that the UN had kept the peace for 58 years. Holmes thinks the nuclear bomb kept the peace. Sigh. He earns enough money (a rumoured $700,000 a year), you think he could pay someone to get the bug out of his arse.... hang on, does this make him the most highly paid racist in the country?
Change the record
Less than a week ago, President Bush distanced himself from his vice presidents ramblings on the unproven links between the Sept 11 terrorists and Saddam. Now he turns round and comes out with this gem in a speech to the UN...
"The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction." Cultivated ties to terror - I take that implies Saddam supported terrorists like Bin Laden. It has been suggested in many quarters that Saddam's regime was a secular one, and would have nothing to do with a religious group like Bin Ladens.
Bush's speech at the UN followed earlier rebukes from French President Chirac and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, 'who warned that pre-emptive unilateral military action without the authorisation of the United Nations risked leading to the law of the jungle.
"My concern is that, if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification," Mr Annan told the assembly to sustained applause.'
No one applauded during Bush's speech. They just sat there in silence.

There's a page of reaction from various political analysts in the Herald, including this one..
Lee Feinstein, Washington Director of the Council on Foreign Relations:
"Kofi Annan gave the speech George Bush should have."

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Iraqi women are no better off now than when Saddam ruled Iraq... "In many ways, Iraqi women are worse off than before U.S. forces ousted Saddam Hussein and are too afraid to play a big political role for fear of being a target of extremists, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday."

Monday, September 22, 2003

Go you good thing!
Given that Auckland rugby decided to use my song R U Ready as their theme song this season for the NPC, I thought I better go along to Eden Park and check this out for myself. So I head off to the game on Sunday, thinking I'll slip along incognito, and watch Auckland run out onto Eden Park to my song. The plan was good, except for when I was walking down the road to the game along with all the other fans, some clown leans out of their flat and starts singing "Are you ready, are you ready" at me. I look up, and I am so busted. Its Hugh Sundae - bastard! He knows exactly where I am going and why. Damn.
Anyway, I get my ticket and find my seat, two rows from the front, near the players entrance, munching on some hot chips. Ah, salty goodness.
Finally, 2.35 rolls around and Southland run on to the field, to Salmonella Dub, very laid back. Then... here comes Auckland! The chorus of "R U Ready" blasts out of the PA as the Auckland team run out, and I'm grinning from ear to ear. Its a very surreal, very funny moment. That's my song, at a rugby game. How weird, and yet also very cool.
Anyway, Auckland scored one minute into the game, great start, except Southland scored off an intercept two minutes later. Half time was 22 to 7 to Auckland, by the end of the game it was 42 to 19 to Auckland. A solid win, but not without some holes in Aucklands defence, and their attempts at conversions off their tries were appalling, some terrible kicking - one attempt barely lifted above the ground. Gosh, I sound like I know a a lot about rugby - how'd that happen?
Hats off to the ground presenter, especially when one of the Southland players got into a bit of a scrap with one of the Auckland players - out blasts Tim Finn singing "theres a fraction too much fiction..." nice work.
Next home game is October 4, against Northland - see ya there!
Dub is the new Rock.
Friday was the annual madness that is the BNet Music Awards, the alternative to the official NZ Music Awards, or the Tuis. Having attended a few of these loose affairs (The BNets), I was curious to see what they came up with this year.

Last years was hosted by Otis and Slave, who were great, but had the unfortunate handicap of a minibar on stage, which slowed them down significantly as the night wore on. Drinking spirits will do that to you.

This years host was dapper young man about town Hugh Sundae (or as one talent agency lists him, Huge Sundae). He arrived being lowered from above the stage at the Bruce Mason Theatre, holding a guitar miming to God Defend New Zealand done Hendrix-anthem style. How tasteful.

Then straight into the first live act Shapeshifter, with guest vocals from Warren Maxwell (Trinity Roots/Fat Freddys). The quality of the live performances during the night was exceptional - you get the sense that the bands chosen to play at this event know that they're playing to their peers, and they pull out all the stops to make themselves noticed. The Mint Chicks leapt around with punk rock fury that was charming, Dimmer battled with gear problems, which nearly defeated Shayne Carter, but he rose above it, delivering a blistering guitar attack on Seed, once his guitar roared back to life. Scribe and P-Money blasted into their tunes, including the number one single in the country last week, Stand Up. Sola Rosa noodled away, and the D4 tore thru two songs before pausing for breath, long enough for Dion to blurt out "we're the D4 - thanks for coming - good night" and BANG - straight into Get Loose, absolutely ferocious. I'm lukewarm on the D4 on record, but live there's no denying that they kick serious ass.

There was a live cross to John Peel, a fan of the BNet, which someone said was very CNN, but didn't really work due to poor audio, but Hugh's MC battle with the Decepticonz (sitting at a table down the front) was hilarious. He was getting heckled by Savage of the Decepticonz, and Hugh took to him, getting DJ Logikal to give him a beat, and off he went, in most impressive form, rapping something about "Think you know more than me? Bet you don't know Scribes out the back with the chick from Lucid Three." Then he passed the mike to Mareko (NZ's best freestyle MC) and then it was all on. Mareko dropped a line about "Hugh Sundae, who you tryin to fool? You probably think I named my album after you" (Hugh was wearing a White Sunday Tshirt), and Hugh grabbed the mike and said "You wanna see how white this sundae is?" and turned to face the back of the stage and started to drop his trousers! Thankfully, he spared us the full glory of his naked butt. I mean, people were eating, after all.

So, some people won some awards, Concord Dawn made a terrible joke - Matt says "I was told if I got up here I had to tell a joke so here goes - how do you turn a triangle into a straight line?" Answer - "Shave it". Oh, very nice. Still they get 'mad crazy props' for showing off Evan's Shore boy tattoo - MSA tattooed in large gothic letters across his back - Shore boys representing, apparently. MSA stands for something like Milford Society of Alcoholics.

Rhombus won lots of awards, proving that Welli dub is taking over the country. The Datsuns won a few too, and, oh, I don't remember it all, but it was bloody good fun. Aussie Michael Gudinski of Mushroom Records presented the International Achiever Award, and told the assembled musos to "Get off your arses and get out there" - good advice, but he gets points off for mentioning his own company twice while presenting the award. Nice to see Karen Hay up there too, presenting. Brent Hansen from MTV Europe was in the room too, lending some prestige to the event, not that anyone there really cared about that - they were more concerned with where the next drink was coming from.

As I headed off to the car, I ended up following the Mint Chicks loading out their gear. One of them was singing something, going la la la la, sounded like Clav Dub by Rhombus, while one of the other members suggested that maybe they should change their name to the Dub Chicks. Smart marketing move boys, but Punk rock is coming back into fashion any day now. Honest. Its really big with hairdressers.


Grant Smithies in the Sunday Star Times described the event as... "Louder, scruffier, more arty and underground than May's New Zealand Music Awards industry shindig, this is essentially the "alt.Tuis" and the punters love every minute of it. Each year they laugh, they cry, they drink too much and bemoan the profound suckyness of mainstream radio."

But is mainstream radio that sucky, given that many of the bands winning awards have also had mainstream radio success, like Salmonella Dub, Nesian Mystik and Golden Horse? Industry mag Median Strip picked up on this one...

"Music fans voting for the weekend's 2003 b.net NZ Music Awards demonstrated just how blurred the line between 'mainstream' and so-called 'alternative' music have become recently, by sending some of the year's biggest 'commercial' stars up onto the b.net podium.... The mainstream industry has taken some strides to the left in recent times, picking up music which only a few years ago would have been entirely the domain of the b.net.

But equally, the public voting for the b.net awards seems to dicate the 'alternative' audience has moved a million miles or so to the centre since the first awards in 1998. (Or, perhaps more explicably, not everyone who votes for the b.net awards necessarily listens to the b.net)..."

Friday, September 19, 2003

He aint the sharpest tool in the box...
US Vice president Dick Cheney has been spouting off about the alleged link between the Sept 11 terrorists and Saddam Hussein.
Mr Bush distanced himself from Cheneys comments, noting that ""We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in September 11." And yet, nearly 70% of Americans think there is some link, according to a recent Washington Post poll - perhaps because their leaders spent the last 18 months insinuating there was such a connection, so they could justify invading Iraq. Rumsfeld is reported as wanting to invade Iraq as far back as September 12, 2001. What a bunch of trigger-happy cowboys. Bah!

I've been enjoying the newly relaunched Real Groove magazine. I think the new format and paper stock is a definite improvement, making the excellent content look less crammed on the page. There's always been plenty to read in it, if you're a mad keen music junkie like myself, but now its much easier on the eye.
David Cohen of The National Business Review is less than impressed with it. He has a few issues with the content, and the supposed originality of it...
"The magazine's rank misdemeanour, if that's not too light a term for it, can be seen on page 22 of the current issue of Real Groove, in a column appearing under the byline of one of the magazine's flagship contributors, Sarah McHendry, and titled "My last ever column 'bout 9/11."
Alas, whether this really is her last column 'bout the events commemorated around the world last week to be published in Real Groove, the authorial rights to the piece assuredly do not belong to Ms McHendry or anyone else in New Zealand. As a matter of fact, vast swathes of the work have been lifted, virtually intact, from a number of articles already in existence overseas, most notably ­ but not exclusively ­ a well known series of conspiracy orientated weekend commentaries written for the Toronto Star by the Canadian-based journalist Michele Landsberg." Nasty.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Not Happen Inn....
The Listener's Diana Wichtel on that train wreck of a tv show, The Big Night In...."There's a defiant meaninglessness about the whole exercise that could just see it go down in history as a Kiwi television classic."
Bang - hit the nail on the head...

Monday, September 15, 2003

Man in black
Johnny Cash died last Friday. The Chicago Sun-Times called him the original punk rocker. I remember playing a song of his with my old band the Hallelujah Picassos -we were playing at BFM's Summer Series around 94, I think, and each band playing that day had to cover a Johnny Cash song (as it was near his birthday). I dug out Folsom Prison Blues, and sampled some of the vocals, and we dropped them over a menacing dub reggae tune of ours called Marshall Law dub. "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die..." accompanied by gunshots, part of the Marshall Law track. I have no idea why it worked, but it did.

World famous in NZ? - Not really, but I did get namechecked by Russell Brown in Fridays Public Address post....
"So the Auckland NPC team is now running onto Eden Park to the strains of 'R U Ready?' by Dub Asylum (aka occasional Public Address contributor Peter McLennan) - does this mean we have finally departed the era of risible radio jingle-rock as a rugby accompaniment?"

On a similar note, I am happy to report that Auckland beat Taranaki convincingly on Saturday, 24 - 13. Suddenly I have a vested interest in rugby. What a surprise.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Nine eleven, rugby, and the Fun Lovin Criminals.
America has been bowing its head in remembrance of that awful day when terrorism shifted from the Middle East to Manhattan. Ex-pat Kiwi Jolisa Gracewood has written a fine piece on life in the Big Apple, over at Public Address. She mentions the cover of the New Yorker magazine that came out a few days after the twin towers. That magazine's covers editor is Fran├žoise Mouly - her husband is comic artist Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus.

Jolisa writes: "Art Spiegelman's cover for the issue of September 24, 2001, printed barely a week after the towers fell, was a masterpiece of understatement, a flat evocation in black on black of the stunned feeling that pervaded the city. It looked like a field of unrelieved mourning darkness, until you noticed a thin line slicing through one of the letters at the top of the page. Tracing back down, you discovered that the line was the radio mast on top of one of the buildings, both of which were imprinted on the page in a barely distinguishable, marginally lighter shade of black. You looked and looked and you could almost see the towers; one minute they were there, the next gone, and then there they were again, in a disappearing and reappearing optical illusion that echoed the way the mind struggled to comprehend their sudden absence."

Spiegelman was at the heart of it all... "On September 11th my wife and I had just stepped out of our lower-Manhattan home. Those towers had been our taken-for-granted neighbors, always picture-postcard visible a mile south of our front stoop. That morning, out of the very clear, very blue sky, a plane roared right over our heads and smashed into the first tower. The scale of the disaster was at first unclear—as many have since observed, it seemed "surreal"—and we had to get over our stunned disconnect to realize that this was no movie, and that our fourteen-year-old daughter, Nadja, was in the heart of the growing pandemonium." Her school was below the towers.

On a,lighter note the Auckland Rugby team will be running out onto the field this season to the tune of R U Ready by Dub Asylum, aka yours truly. This is very, very cool. I'm also dj'ing tonight with the Bassteppa Sound System, up at Khuja Lounge, which is a fine way to end the week.

And remember, its bad form to speak ill of the wack - Huey of the Fun Lovin Criminals explains ....

Do they think the likes of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park have cashed in on their rap/rock/sampling mixture? "Naah," says Huey. "I don't want to speak ill of the wack, but they don't have any concept of anything other than what their penis wants to do. We do something a little more refined, I think."

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Kiwi musicians get rich! Part 2
Murray Cammick has written more on the current foreign adventures of some New Zeland bands (see Wednesday Sept 3's post for more on that). Making It in the USA. He's got some more sales numbers, this time for NZ albums in the UK...
"The darlings of the NME the Datsuns lead the NZ garage rock field in the UK with their self-titled album at 74,729 sales. This is a Silver Album in the UK. The D4 follow with their album 6twenty selling 13,436 units so far... Sony NZ have achieved UK releases for their two biggest current local signings with Bic Runga Drive scoring 6,222 sales while Che Fu hardly makes a dent in the UK with Navigator at 155 sales."
Several comments appeared at nzmusic.com after the first part of the story was published there, with some responses being pretty dubious. Take this one.... "There's no mention of Steriogram anywhere. I heard that they're bigger than the Datsuns and the D4 in the States. They're actually Capitol Record USA's highest selling overseas act currently." As Murray points out,how can they be Capitol's highest selling overseas act when they haven't released their album yet?
One of the more interesting resonses posted was from US Producer Joe Berman, who is involved with signing Steriogram in the US. He says that "Unlike other territories (UK, NZ, etc.), the USA music industry is very "radio driven." Unfortunately The D4 and The Datsuns radio campaigns were pretty lackluster, and there was no "set up". With little or no radio activity, it's extremely difficult for US labels to get "excited" and prioritize a new artist. The USA video channels (MTV and VH1) also play key roles in breaking new artists, but with weak radio reaction, it's very hard to get added at these channels. Another problem that I have seen with Intenational artists on USA labels is that USA (artist) management is imperative. A band signed to a major USA label needs to have someone who can communicate with, and bulldog various label department heads, and make sure nothing "falls through the cracks."
Murray also caught up with Tom Larkin from Pacifier who told him that the video for their song Bulletproof off the Pacifier album cost $US 350,000 - more than it cost to record the album. This is the 'lets throw lots of money at this record and that will make it sell heaps' theory. Go figure.

My watch is running perfectly. I managed to figure out how to set the date - you wind it forwards to 6 o'clock, then forwards again to 12.30, then back to 6 o'clock. Keep doing this til you have moved the date to the correct setting. Each time you do the above procedure, it moves one day forward. Its a slow process and my finger and thumb were a bit sore after....

Monday, September 08, 2003

Whats the time, comrade?
Last week a parcel arrived for me - it was the Russian watch I'd bought over the internet. Its a beautiful metallic beast, made in Russia by Vostok, the company that made watches for the Russian military. They still sell watches featuring Soviet tanks, Mig fighters, submarines, even the KGB model. An enterprising Englishman is selling them as Russian Watches International. The prices are very reasonable, compared to the overpriced inelegant lumps I looked at in the watch shops around town recently. So what if Tiger Woods or Cindy Crawford wears that watch, its still butt ugly.
Some history: "The Vostok watch making tradition dates back to 1941 when one of the Moscow watch-making plants was evacuated to Chistopol - a little town located on the Kama River in the central region of Russia. All manner of Defence equipment was made at the factory during the war years. As soon as the war was over, however, they started to make mechanical wristwatches - the main production ever since. In 1965, the factory became an official supplier of the Soviet Union Department of Defence."
Now I've got one, I really want another. The military ones feature a red star instead of the number '12' at the top of the dial. Is it retro? Old fashioned? I don't care - these are beautifully made, solid-looking time pieces. The one I got, Century Time Modern is an automatic model - its self winding, as long as you wear it regularly. Best thing - hold it up to your ear, and it doesn't make a sound.
William Gibson studiously avoided the internet for a mighty long time, until he got hooked on searching for mechanical watches on Ebay. "I went happily along for years, smugly avoiding anything that involved a modem. Email address? Sorry. Don't have one," he says. But ...
"Then I found eBay. And I wanted to go back. Because eBay is, basically, just a whole bunch of stuff. Stuff you can look at and wonder if you want - or let yourself want and then bid on. Mechanical watches are so brilliantly unnecessary. Any Swatch or Casio keeps better time, and high-end contemporary Swiss watches are priced like small cars. But mechanical watches partake of what my friend John Clute calls the Tamagotchi Gesture. They're pointless in a peculiarly needful way; they're comforting precisely because they require tending."

So whats happening in watch auctions at Ebay right now? Someone is auctioning Mike Tysons diamond-encrusted, 18 karat gold case and bracelet, Rolex. For real, bro. The former heavyweight champion and ear-biters watch is going for $US22,500 if you want to buy it now. Seems Tyson bought it in 89, and parted company with it prior to his jail term in 93. Lots of lovely pictures, and so many diamonds, but god its an ugly looking thing. The current owner lives in Las Vegas. Surprised?