Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Straight Eye for the District Court Guy

I said a while ago that I'd try to get round to posting about a brilliant morning spent at the District Court.
It comes highly recommended by this attendee, combining as it does two of my favourite interests: absurdity and strife.
The visit was occasioned by some over-exuberance on the job from a doorman I used to work with. He excluded someone from the bar, was called a 'nigger faggot" and gave the smartmouth guy such a slap that the Police came back hours later to see that they hadn't left behind any fragments of his jaw.
Just another night in hospo.
Anyhow, in the presence of many witnesses something had to be done and unfortunately for the very good, but occasionally too handy for his own good, man in question, they arrested him.
And so in a moral support capacity, although the morality of heading along to support that is questionable, I found myself for first time at the District Court.

It was absolute gold from the moment of arrival. Two very harried looking court officials were manning (personing?) a metal detector. Just like in airports or Dangerous liaisons or whatever that god awful film with Michele Phiffer in the badass school was called.

Anyhow, after losing my belt, contents of pockets, etc to clear the quite seriously taken security I found myself in a building that managed to personify (buildingingfy?), well epitomise maybe, 'drab'.
Everything was shades of awful. Impersonal scale, escalators like bad shopping malls from the seventies, the soul and countenance of begrudgingly provided public goods, the kind of place where ugly and unwanted shades of brown go to die.

And it only got better. Accompanying my escalator ride were the battle cries of the soon to be sentenced but resoundingly, and kidding-themselvesly, indifferent.
"Eh whatever, eh. Fuck da system, fuck da piggies, fuck da judge, can't do shit to me cause I'm keeping it real, I'm living the thug life"
Honestly. It was awesome, I haven't heard the like of it since Mt Roskill Grammar School and even then most of it was self-deprecating.
Not this guy.
Talking to, I hope, himself, because otherwise it was me, and streaming soon to be absolutely disproved bravado. If it wasn't the exact opposite about to happen to him then what was he doing in court, looking for all his life like this was the most presentable he has been in years.

Which was the other fascinating thing about the place. Every single person there was doing themselves a real disservice by how they tidied themselves up for their big days.
We are talking about a bunch of the roughest looking dudes trying to look Sunday best and ending up looking worse for it because it makes it all too apparent that if that is the best they can do then they really are bad-eggs indeed.
Now I'm not trying to do a queer eye for the off-the-straight-and-narrow-guy, (let us call it then a straight eye for th........) but these guys need help.
I saw, as an example of what constituted as dressed up, a Maori man in his late fifties, obviously homeless, missing all his front teeth, wearing tight-as black jeans, a well worn out tee-shirt, boots older than me and a cap. This was all with that distressed look that may well be fashionable right now but generally not if you achieved it by sleeping rough. But that was not the worst of it. For a homeless person to turn up to court is fair enough. The man has enough problems without having to attain sartorial accomplishment while on the hunt for food, cardboard boxes and got-a-dollar-bros. That I grant him. Problem was he set off his look with a single nod to surroundings: an electric blue tie. The most incongruous eighties fluro tie I have ever seen. It made, I am sad to say, my day. I am a bad person who will in future try not to laugh at homeless people, even privately, unless they are at least as funny as this guy was.

But he wasn't the end of it. Every defendant there came off looking worse for the fact that they had tried and failed. It made all of them that little bit more intimidating too, like the nine-foot Tongan guy who was staring at me with a just-you-think-about-smiling-about-my-too-small-dress-shirt-tucked-in-to-my-too-big-dress-pants-that-are-still-two-feet-too-short-for-my-legs-so-you-can-see-my-whole-socks-rising-out-of-my-Burgundy-winklepickers-just-you-think-about-smiling-and-I'll-break-your-neck-look. Add to that the fact that he looked just like the guy who killed Murray Stretch and I didn't even think about smiling. Not even now, safe at home.

Cause some things aren't funny. Which is completely not what the kids there with their fuming parents were. They were hilarious. Angry, angry, angry mothers and 17 year old sons trying to explain that they thought they were allowed to paint on that fence and take the car-stereo -'the car was not even locked mum."

The worst presented, and ultimately scariest person in this whole scenario was this one guy wearing a polyester suit so shiny it was actually reflective. To top it off he was wearing big black and purple basketball shoes with big shock-absorber type things at the heel. He was running around madly, so we called him Speedy. At one stage he ran off without a tie and came out of the toilet with one on, inexpertly tied. Thing was that now his belt was undone and flapping everywhere, and as he circled the waiting room again I looked on in interest to see if any of his clients might point it out to him. That is right, clients. This man, looking after no less than six of these poor souls, was a legal-aid lawyer, a very real Lionel Hutz type ambulance-chaser-looking lawyer.
The very saddest thing of the day. Apparently no-one worth their salt looks after minor legal-aid cases because they earn a third of their normal wage.

My friend got his case put off for another day, and as we left I noticed that the metal detector that we had all filed through, that they had taken so seriously just an hour before, was gone. Vanished completely.
A funny day, unless Speedy was defending you. I like my legal professionals to pay attention to detail, little things, like whether their pants are slowly coming-down, as his were, exposing more and more of his novelty xmas boxers.

Monday, September 27, 2004

New Look

Nice aye, new design so that comments are available. And I've now worked out how to post photos - such as this test one below,............ So please feel free to comment on all back pieces too... most are still relevant.

Me, Kareoke-ing.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 23, 2004

News Digest

This first goes out on bfm on Friday Morning........

Now for this week I thought I’d have a quick look at a couple of papers for rather different reasons, the Guardian Weekly and the NBR.

First up, because it is always good to start with something positive first thing in the morning, The Guardian Weekly, that fine and venerable English institution that, in good news, is now being printed in Australia and as such has become both affordable and timely.
In the old days you had to shell out a packet for the air-freighted edition or wait an age for it to arrive by snail mail, by which time of course the writing, no matter how good, was well out of date.
Ironically now that we can get our hands on it so readily we don’t need it so much because of the excellent Guardian website, but surely these great sites will soon start to cost moolah so I guess we’ll just have to enjoy them for free while we can.
Although, no matter how good a website is it can never replace that satisfying feeling of having a good newspaper in your hand.
And my, it is a good newspaper. Nice compact size and packed full of well-informed stories, commentary and debate – as only the most influential left wing weekly could achieve, hailing as it does from the home of the great newspaper tradition – mother England. And, incorporating as it does the best writings of the Guardian Daily, its sister paper The Observer and also Le Monde in France (thankfully for those like me without a wide ranging classical education, it does so in English).

Though this publication never started life as an establishment creature. Indeed for the first, many, years of its life it was known as the Manchester Workers’ Guardian, and was far, far, far left of where it rather respectably sits today.
And also surprisingly for a venerable left wing institution it is missing the standard Achilles heels of the left. Instead of being humourless, sanctimonious, preachy and totalitarian as most leftist publications are it is, in fact, lightly cynical, slightly knowing, genuinely concerned and does not advocate class-warfare as a solution for everything from student-loans to the common cold.
Not of course that the vast majority of right-wing publications are any better but we’ll save that scorn for a couple of minutes until we put the hooks into the NBR shortly.

Sooooooo. In this weeks Weekly we can find a host of interesting and illuminating things. One of the best packages I’ve picked up in ages.
For example, there is a wee story on the Fathers4Justice Batman guy who scaled Buckingham Palace to raise awareness for Father’s rights to visit their children. Turns out that this pompous git in the silly costume and the ill-fitting speedos is so enamoured of his, admittedly often valid cause, that he has no time to see his own kids and his last girlfriend left him, taking their child, because he was always out protesting and never at home with them. Classic. What a nonce.
And that is not the worst of it, there was another little cracker tucked away amongst all the serious worthy stuff that most people would buy it for that just made my week.
The European Union, newly enlarged, and the corresponding European Parliament are, it reports, buckling under the pressure of translation duties. The 25 current members are spending a billion Euros a year just on trying to understand each other and apparently are failing miserably. This latter-day tower of Babel is in a real mess which is only getting worse because in three years Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria are going to join and they haven’t a hope of finding enough interpreters in time. It is always pleasing to a bad minded bugger like me to see a paternalistic and prescriptive organisation buckle under the weight of its own bureaucracy. But that’s just me. I also like to think what Bulgarian or Czech scrabble must be like – they probably all sit round going – oh shit, I’ve only got vowels.

Anyway, as so often tidily happens with these radio things, it just so happens that the Guardian Weekly and the mighty b are pooling some resources. At the moment it is to the pretty small level of them sending us two free copies a week (at a not to be scoffed at saving of $4.95 an issue) and us getting access to their journalists in the field. So watch this space, the opportunity to tap into some of the best writers in the world at the scene, so to speak, is a great coup.

Annnnnnnd soooooo the NBR. Another weekly and about as far away from the Guardian as you get. Known to a large degree to the non-business reader for the high calibre of some of their stable, in particular Deborah Hill Cone and David Cohen, and also for the annual Rich List, which is sort of a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous for accountants. In short the Review is kind of like a paper of record for business establishment views. To say it is right wing is boring, but in the limited sense most people understand right wing, true. It is very economically dry and no friend of the Labour government, and, until Dr Brash’s ascendancy, no great friend to National either.
And now the NBR has squarely landed in the broader public view for their frenzied character assassination of Auckland Mayoral hopeful Dick Hubbard.
Now Dick Hubbard was never a fellow traveller to this paper. Goebbels once stated that when he heard the word culture he reached for his revolver. Similarly, the NBR is the kind of organ that reaches for the revolver when it hears words like sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. But it is also not the kind of rag to immediately jump into bed with someone who made their millions peddling something so airy-fairy as bee-pollen supplements, as in the case of incumbent John Banks. So why did the paper effectively weigh in behind Banksie by devoting nine stories to discrediting Hubbard?

I suppose that to the NBR Banksie is the devil they know, and by now, as he certainly has an odd car-crash charm, quite like. Well whatever it is one thing I do know is that it has led to the running of such an ill-conceived, vaguely hysterical and overall grasping hatchet-job on Hubbard in the latest issue.

The importance of such an all-out assault by what is in effect a minority reach paper became apparent to this speculator only yesterday. It turns out, and perhaps I really should have known this already, that businesses also receive a vote in local body elections, excluding District Health Boards. Once again, if you already knew this readily available information please do excuse me but how fascinating.
The logic goes, as I found out from David Smith, Chief Executive of the eye-poppingly innocuously named Society of Local Government Managers, that as businesses pay rates they should get a say in how councils are populated.
Again, fascinating. Were this entirely reasonable-sounding logic extrapolated out to the General Election then Businesses, as taxpayers, ought also to receive a vote. I know one-person one-vote is not going to be replaced quietly but it is not too far fetched to foresee this kind of argument creeping in sooner or later.
So anyway, so as to try to adhere to some sort of traditionally understood democratic ideal if a business owner is also a resident voter in a local body election they are supposed to proxy their vote to a nominated staff member who lives outside the area…….. but they can still, I’d imagine, direct who that vote would go to. It all sounds remarkably murky to me, a smoke and mirrors approach to transparency.

But finally, in light of this, it makes a lot more sense to me that the NBR would try so strenuously to have a go at Hubbard’s credibility. If, as the respected business paper, they get behind a candidate then the business vote may very well swing the election his way.

Interesting huh. Though I still can’t for the life of me work out exactly why the NBR are so keen to back Banks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

King Canute

This is my take on David Irving. It was written for Fuse, but by a quirk of their deadlines will not appear till next Thursday. Hard to stay relevant with a week and a half between writing and printing -they didn't make it easy for themselves......

So David Irving is not allowed in the country and another inbred moron desecrates a Jewish grave, odd how actions in Los Angeles and Wanganui can be seen to be linked.
It was in Los Angeles that Irving tried to board a plane and our immigration department’s fancy new unwanted-visitor software alerted the officials that he wasn’t welcome. Not that I think for a second that it was really only left up to the computer program, but that is beside the point. The important thing was that this man, regularly, no - invariably described as the Holocaust Denier was deemed too incendiary to be allowed in the country.
On the face of it he was disallowed because of a safety check in our immigration law that allows us to turn away people who have been deported from a country. Because this is rather a broad provision that does not take into account the circumstances of the deportation its use is optional – that is the government of the day exercises the right to exclude someone by not exercising the right to overlook it. Sounds circular but simple really. Say a journalist was deported from an evil country for revealing evil truths, as the stock example goes, then they would be allowed to come here, regardless of that deportation. David Irving however is not a journalist and is most certainly not associated with truths. Though what he is associated with is ugly; ugly ideas, ugly methods and ugly results.
The oddest thing about Irving is that if his ideas that the Holocaust was not a systematic attempt to wipe out Jewry and that Hitler had no idea that it was carried out and that the numbers were much, much smaller than accepted were, in fact, correct there was no-one in the world in a better position to introduce them. Just ten years ago David Irving was one of the most respected writers on the Second World War and the prominent players like Churchill and Hitler. He was a bestselling author who also enjoyed kudos from academic historians for his unparalleled knowledge of the German archives. He was a media darling and the very picture of establishment credibility having helmed the definitive Churchill biography, volumes of which he is still working on, and interestingly were the actual reason for his desire to travel here to work on New Zealand war Prime Minister Peter Fraser’s archives (the invitation to address the National Press Club came later).
But even from this position the bulk of his revisionist views and assertions have been rubbished and his good-name, reputation and livelihood destroyed. Answer enough as to their validity, well to anyone but him.
Because still he fights, writing history no longer for our generation he says, but for the future. As a self-styled battler for free speech his fight now includes the New Zealand Government as adversary following from the rebuff at LAX. And to his ever-decreasing circle of well-wishers every moron in Wanganui who smashes a grave stone is seen as further evidence of that great Jewish conspiracy – to them it is not some redneck, unemployed, bored, drunk and stupid who smashes the headstone for attention, no it is Mossad fermenting discontent so Irving may not travel.
In the end free speech is the most important thing and the only way to stop hate crimes. Simply put, if Irving was allowed to come and his views warranted the scant attention needed to discredit them then no stones would be smashed and no ill-minded bigots empowered.

Talking to Irving was one of the most interesting things I've had the chance to do and has had interesting flow-on effects.
Like appearing here as Simon Pound ? and also on this site, a well known anti-Israel clearing house. Uncomfortable lodgings but at least the unflattering interview appears in full - unflattering to those positions at least.
If you'd like to check out the interview try it here I recommend it as it is by far and away the best interview I've done. If you listen to it and don't like it then may I also recommend you stay away from bfm on Thursday afternoons - you'll like my normal standard less again!

Like Canute and the sea, you can't stop free speech. Corny I know, but when will Helen lose the Crown.........It is this infernal fear of collateral damage to her Government that leads to these acquiescent weak decisions. Let the man in and he'd have far less attention payed to him - you are feeding his possible persecution delusions otherwise.


This appeared in Fuse - though the buggers scrapped the last, and only funny, line.

Imagine this: first up we’ll presuppose that you’re all-powerful, and for the sake of argument your name is Helen. You have a son, lets call him Air-Force – not so catchy, but being all-powerful means you can call him whatever you like, anyway he has a whole lot of planes, which you own but he controls – some are really cool - they go real fast, look mean, can blow stuff up and they impress his mates, and some, well some are purely practical - slow, noisy, dowdy and boring.
Now, imagine that you scrap your son’s cool planes, with the result that none of his friends want to play with him anymore. And then, to really rub salt in the wound, you demand more lifts from him in the crap planes that make Air-Force feel like a dick when his ex-mates see him driving his mum.
Sounds pretty pants really, well at least if you’re the son. But as Helen knows, another thing about being all-powerful means never having to say you’re sorry.
Right, done with the imagining now, I’m sure you get the picture.
Back in the real world the Air-Force really are unhappy, and that decision by this Labour Government to scrap the Air-Combat wing must be one of the least thought through moves they’ve made.
Although, to be fair, in terms of economy they have achieved a great deal by the simple act of abandoning the combat wing; they’ve pissed off Australia who feel we are not keeping up our end defence-wise, further alienated America as we aren’t buying more of their planes, diminished our world-class reputation as pilots and provided an exodus of talent to the RAF, and in the process have incurred near $9 Million in storage costs as they wait to find a buyer for the rejected Skyhawks –which, believe it or not, they are now mooting the selling of for scrap. That certainly is a lot to achieve with one decision, but it probably isn’t quite what they had in mind.
And now, on the back of this brilliant planning, management and treatment of the Air-Force Helen really has expressed a wish to get more rides in their remaining (crap) planes. It makes you wonder why they bother.
Perhaps I’m biased by the fact that I like things that look cool, go fast and blow stuff up, but I reckon that it’s bad form to take away all the fun toys and then expect more rides. But on the flip-side, this being all-powerful thing looks like a sweet deal. I’m beginning to understand why the Fijians like coups so much.

I post it here because I was approached at a party by someone who had read it and I was lambasted for advocating a combat wing. Which I didn't, I didn't really advocate anything - 400 words doesn't allow much persausive language. What she should have had me up for was the juvenile and laboured metaphor - but then again she was either wasted or as thick as pig shit. Actually, perhaps both. Anyway....
What I would advocate would have been the gifting of the skyhawks to the Australians and the continued joint use of them by NZ and Aussie pilots.
To mothball and sell them to the detriment of a cosy status quo of shared training with Australia is churlish pursuit of idealogical policy.
If the chips ever go down the first people we throw our lot in with will again be Oz. Simple really.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Missionary Golden Arches

Been a bit quiet of late. Suffering from a fair whack of the old financial imperative. And as a certain Damian Christie pointed out, blogs are little idea factories and when your thoughts are elsewhere, like on finding dinner, they atrophy.
To this end I'm on the job hunt.
As a result I've had an interesting visit to a recruitment agency and have whored the old CV around. The bites are coming, most humorously in a new gig as kareoke MC at Shadows on a Wednesday night. Humorous for my occasional singing, and my not knowing a single song a punter chooses. Hero? Linkin Park? Who are these people and why could 6 separate Indian men sing it so well? Disturbing to say the least. As a weather vane for how the world is going the console has only one song by David Bowie (China Girl) and six (!) by Jessica Simpson (who cares what they are).

Had a brilliant visit to the District Court, which deserves it's own post, in the fullness of time. It is highly recommended as a pick me up.

Anywho I submitted this as my weekly Fuse flagellation. After the whole affair is over I might explain my motives for submitting to the much reviled mag. In the meantime it would look unproffesional. I told Matt Nippert, maybe he'll out me........

Apparently the Pope has criticised New Zealand for becoming too secular. Symptoms of our degeneration, according to his Holiness, include The Civil Unions Bill, the Decriminalisation of Prostitution, the domination of Sundays by entertainment and sport and, most seriously, the decline in numbers attending mass.
Although fire and brimstone are traditionally attached to those first, rather commonplace, laments it is really the attendance they are worrying about. These words, or warnings, can perhaps be seen as little more than an advertising ploy, and what better spokesperson than God’s voice on earth?
Thing is, without bums on pews the church loses its most important strengths: numerical legitimacy and financial power.
Those masses are the time when people come together before god, and the collection plate is passed around before the people. Lose that customer base and lose those cathedrals.
Financially the Catholic Church is still sitting pretty in NZ as a result of some impressive property speculation while the Country was in its infancy, so there is not too much to worry about yet. Except, perhaps, the legal troubles that have a nasty habit of following on from when infant beings are placed in the Church’s care.
No, it is less the loss of money they are worried about, more the loss of market share.
With little things like liberalism, science and freedom of expression having taken the sting out of the Church’s traditional hold on consumers they are flailing around trying to turn a famously closed-minded, written-in-stone kinda entity into a responsive, relevant creature.
Interestingly, the concerns of this aged and tarnished brand are not dissimilar to the position held by that other great cultural institution, McDonalds.
McDonalds and the Catholic Church are two of the worlds leading property owners and cultural Trojan horses, and while serving burgers and salvation may seem far removed, that isn’t quite so. Both are petrified about losing market share. Both once benefited from near monopoly positions. Both aggressively target and grow new markets. Both offer a standardised product. And both face increasing difficulties from lawsuits and changing consumer attitudes and awareness toward nourishment.
The problem that both these venerable institutions are facing, and have never had to face so before, is that the ‘rocks’ in our lives can not change too readily or their flocks are left confused.
Then, if all this follows, it is maybe through this comparison that we can best try to understand the new Healthy Choice menu. It is simple really. McCafe and the Healthy Options menu are McDonalds’ Vatican Two.

I was just warming to it as I ran out of words. 400 doesn't give you much.

The starting point came from this article. Which contains some of the funniest lines I've seen in print:

"Prime Minister Helen Clark today told reporters the Pope had strong religious views and he was entitled to express them."
phew - enlightening stuff that.

"She was sure the pope had people on the ground in New Zealand and they made their views known to him."
yes - the people on the ground are known as Catholics - must be the SIS earning their wages making sure our PM knows what is going down - 'on the ground'........