Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Agenda Piece.

This is the script of my media piece that appeared on Saturday on Agenda. All transcripts and a very good feedback area are also available on the site. Go there.

Obviously it is better if you watch it, but this may give an idea.

Whatever happened to the Catholic media?
Agenda, March 26

Thirty-three years ago the influence of church press, and New Zealand in general, was very different indeed. It was the year of the Kirk Labour Party landslide, and in the weeks leading up to the election the prominent Catholic organ, the Tablet, threw its weight behind Kirk with an unprecedented editorial entitled ‘Time for a Change.’

“It is the firm belief of this paper that the time has come for a change in Government in New Zealand, that the destinies of the nation for the next three years should be committed to the Labour Party and that in Mr Kirk there exists a man with the potential to give the country the leadership that has for too long been lacking”
Tablet editorial excerpt, November 15 1972

Many credit this stand as galvanizing Catholic support for the still red-tinged Labour Party, and, as a contributing factor to their victory.

But that was 33 years ago. The Tablet, after over a hundred years publishing as a national magazine, closed its doors in 1996. It reappeared shortly after as the Dunedin-only Diocesan news it is today

Is this story of the Tablet symptomatic of the wane in influence of the Catholic media in general? Well, we’ll have to check on the other patient – the Zealandia.

At around the time of the Tablet’s endorsement the Zealandia was a weekly newspaper with a circulation of around 28,000.
In 1989 it moved with the times- and declining readers- and shifted to a monthly glossy magazine format under the name New Zealandia. It attracted up to 10,000 readers in its peak.
In 1996 the decision was made to shift again, this time to fortnightly editions under the name NZ Catholic. Today the paper draws upwards of 6,000 purchasers.

This publication, in its many guises, has attracted strong writers and contributors including award winning journalist Pat Booth, known for his work on the Arthur Allan Thomas case and Mr Asia.

Today Pat McCarthy is editor of the NZ Catholic. It is based here at Auckland’s Pompallier Diocesan Centre. McCarthy has been with the paper since ‘96 and is well placed to give us an idea of what state the Catholic press is in.

Simon Pound: What does NZ Catholic provide to its readers?

Pat McCarthy: Our aim is to keep the New Zealand Catholic s up to date with what’s happening in the Church, in the community, in the world. We cover all six New Zealand dioceses, we have a wide range of overseas news and we have a broad range of opinion as well.

Simon Pound: So, providing Catholics with all the information they need to make their own decisions, but nowadays, fewer and fewer people are reading religious papers – why is this?

Pat McCarthy: Well, since the heyday of John Kennedy’s tablet there has been a tremendous explosion of media in New Zealand television, radio, weekend newspapers and the internet, so all things considered I think we are doing pretty well.

Pat McCarthy is right about the fragmentation of the media. Even the Catholic Media.

Tui Motu is a contrarian Catholic publication that is at best left-leaning, at worst left-capsizing.

Around for some years and sold in an amazing twenty countries, it is continually surprising, especially considering that a good deal of what they say could have them excommunicated.

Take a look the cover of November 2004, for instance. We need go no further into the mag to find its stand. Equal space is given to a dissident theologian and the very Pope that stripped him of his title. This may not seem particularly heretical but 500 years ago they might have burnt you at the stake for this sort of carry on.

Thing is, the Catholic Church is still a very top down organisation, and does not take kindly to the kinds of suggestions that Tui Motu regularly sends back to Rome. These are on matters as varied as allowing married clergy to equating YWYH – the letters God gave Moses to describe himself – which mean ‘I will be who I will be – to a god given sanction for homosexuality.

Another point to note alongside the growth in alternative Catholic Publications, like Tui Motu, is the growth of Church Newsletters. The ability to now cheaply print, and closely aim newsletters at a congregation’s concerns is another factor offsetting the apparent decline in the Catholic press.

In fact, the Catholic Church can be seen as an unlikely example of this new media people bang on about. This decline in heavyweight titles coupled with the growth of targeted information and niche publications is the very picture of new media.

Well there you go – glad to see that the Church press isn’t taking Easter lying down.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Getting Kinsey With It.

This is a story that I wrote for Remix. It was truncated a wee bit. Probably for good reason.

Sorry I've been quiet Sage, but I really do think that you are the only person reading! I'll be posting a lot more as I start doing these Agenda media pieces.......



Fifty years ago the extent of sexual advice available in the public sphere was minimal. There were no self-help sex books, no Sex therapists and certainly no Cleo sealed sections. It was a very different landscape, one where America was scared of sex, where the Kama Sutra was considered pornography, one where they talked seriously of American as apple pie.

And certainly not the American Pie apple pie you may be thinking of. Well at least on the surface it was. Underneath her prim puritanically influenced exterior, under the skirts as it were, America had what these days we’d call a full and varied sex life. And it took a zoologist who had spent his early life researching gall wasps to break down the taboos and get the world talking about sex, acknowledging life’s second biggest reality.

The first biggest reality being bad café art.

A cursory glance over a newsstand confirms that this Dr Alfred Kinsey character did a pretty good job. Sex, once the unmentionable now permeates every aspect of our public life, well and truly out of the realm of the unmentionable. J Lo’s butt. One night in Paris. Michael Barrymore’s pool parties. Certain TVNZers and glass coffee tables. Charlotte Dawson at play. E-mail accounts full of invitations to ‘pound black ass’ and ‘enlarge that member, size matters guys’.

It would appear that all we really need help with nowadays is cutting down our diet of free and frank sexual discussion. A revolution that our man Kinsey brought about through two not-so-radically entitled reports; "Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male" (1948) and "Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female" (1953). Hardly sounds like the kind of material that would turn America on its ear but you really do have to watch the quiet ones.

Which is exactly what Kinsey the man was before he embarked on his project. Some say that it was his inexperience and quite startling lack of knowledge about the most basic and instinctual of human needs that led him to his life work. A process that changed the straight-laced son-of-a-preacher-man type scientist to the extent that he went from not knowing how to approach sex on his wedding night to enter into a world of wife swapping and homosexual experiences.

For although our generation may have house music for this, Kinsey had to blaze his own trail against the weight of an entire culture that just didn’t talk about sex, baby.

The two matter of fact titled books were reports on sexual activity of Americans. These were based on thousands of interviews about subject’s sex-lives and habits, proclivities and practises. And the stir they caused cannot be overstated. The findings of the first large scale look into the bedrooms and closets of American sexuality have been described as the first shots fired in the sexual revolution.

More than ten thousand men and women were interviewed and the end findings challenged the prevailing ideas of abstinence and heterosexuality as the norm The thing is that Kinsey unearthed, and meticulously recorded, a secret and prolific private sex life occurring all around him. Ten percent of all men were found to be exclusively homosexual and 80 of the other 90 were found to have at least a certain lean that way. 25% of married women had had affairs. And it was at this stage that one of life’s certainties was confirmed. He worked out that the only people who told him they’d never masturbated were lying.

As, in his carefully constructed and watertight confidential interviews, he would soon turn up that everyone treats themselves now and again. As you can imagine this didn’t go down too well. The disturbing depth that he went into won no friends either. Even today one can safely assume that the information he gathered on, for just one unsettling example, the length of time it takes to achieve climax in under 12 year old boys still wouldn’t find a receptive audience. The research in that category was, for your interest, conducted by a paedophile who kept good records.

This entire process of looking under the societal rock and letting all the many-legged truths scurry out brought Kinsey into contact with many undesirable elements. It is an ethical question well beyond most peoples’ reckoning or desired contact as to whether it is better to accept data from a man interfering with children or conduct the research afresh.

Either way fifty years later we are no closer to answers about how to approach the curly questions this survey threw up on the subjects of child sexuality and sexual orientation boundary lines. Aside from changing sex-habits from the least to the most discussed taboo this issue with categorising sexuality is perhaps the most significant effect of Kinsey’s work on our outlook today. Prior to his study the idea of having to categorise oneself as gay or straight was not an issue. If the possibility of a range of preferences is not officially acknowledged then the problem of having to gather people into camps simply doesn’t arise, so to speak.

Kinsey changed all this by proposing a scale, which had ten percent of all men as purely homosexual and ten percent as purely heterosexual. All men between these points were a mix of the two leaning in degrees more towards the one than the other. The scale runs from 0-6, where zero is exclusively hetero. The Kinsey Scale has long since fallen out of common knowledge and usage though could be due for a light-hearted revival. Meterosexuals, say, could be said to sit around the 4.5 mark. In any event whereas before it was implicitly expected that men where straight or gay, and very brave they had to be to be openly gay, though that is another story, the idea that there were shades can maybe be seen as responsible for all the aftershocks of identity politics and other such sociological afflictions and arbitrary categories. One can’t pick up a magazine without amateur analysis as to whether his wearing a pink shirt and having a hairy chest makes him, this week, a reterosexual, a fauxmosexual or simply a tosser.

All this exposure to new things can have unforeseen effects. For Kinsey some of the research went well past the interview process. One of his research assistants became the lover of both Kinsey and his wife, mutually and separately. Photographic records of Kinsey’s sexual encounters with subjects were recorded. When revelations about the extent of the bent to Kinsey’s methods came out it was quickly decided that one mans deviation is not in fact another mans sexual habits survey. Making swinger home movies is always going to be making swinger movies.

Which leads to the other major problem with his work, the sample that was interviewed. Many were volunteers and those who volunteer to speak about the unspeakable in a society are quite obviously going to be freer. Some candidates well and truly occupied the sexual fringes, such as paedophiles, and they were included and found through secret networks, not random no matter how you squint.

The most glaring problem though would have to be that one in four respondents were prison inmates. If prison inmate sexual activity is being used as the measuring stick for a societies' habits the findings may get a little skewed. Skewed prison style at that.

There is a wonderful legend about Winston Churchill drawing up the new borders for the Middle East after World War One. Having indulged too heavily at dinner he was drawing a straight line when affected by a hiccup. A change that has been there ever since and has no rational explanation. The resultant bump in the line helped to separate Kuwait from Iraq, so in part brought us Gulf War One.Well Kinsey provided a similar redrawing of our collective boundaries, simply by starting to map out what was occurring behind closed doors. And like that hiccup it was an imperfect approach that still affects the very topography of sex.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I have no morals

No really.

According to this test.

Check out these answers....

Your Score
Your scored 0 on the Moral Order axis and 0 on the Moral Rules axis.
The following items best match your score:
System: Socialism, Authoritarianism, Conservatism, Liberalism
Variation: Moderate Socialism, Moderate Authoritarianism, Moderate Conservatism, Moderate Liberalism
Ideologies: Social Democratism, Social Republicanism, Capital Republicanism, Capital Democratism
US Parties: Democratic Party
Presidents: Gerald Ford (86.74%)
2004 Election Candidates: John Kerry (84.07%), Ralph Nader (73.12%), George W. Bush (68.75%)
Of the 54863 people who took the test:
2.3% had the same score as you.
30.9% were above you on the chart.
57.3% were below you on the chart.
27.9% were to your right on the chart.
60.3% were to your left on the chart

pretty interesting huh. how could you be all those things at once I wonder?

thanks to the PM....

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Rules to Avoid Banishment From Grey-Lynn: No 2

Rule Number Two: Do Not Believe in the Importance of a Viable Defence Force

For some reason believing it is really important that our tiny underpopulated unspoilt country should be able to defend itself is particularly unpopular. This I do not understand. What could be contentious about defence?

Right now New Zealand is woefully equipped. There are simply too many areas we fall down in to mention, and to single any out for special praise would not be fair to all the other failings. For this reason, and to try to stem the feelings of vulnerability a good look at all our gaps inevitably raises, we’ll only talk about axing the Air Combat Wing of the Air Force. At the same time we also appear to be doing our very best to distance ourselves from our natural and historical allies. It does not strike me as a particularly good idea that we should be doing things like removing our Air Force combat capabilities and drawing away from our mates who do have Air Forces at the same time. Surely it is a case of one approach or the other.

In fact, what should we call the Air Force now that we have stripped it of its Force? The “Air Ask Really Nicely” perhaps? The problem is that although that seems ridiculous we have not been asking these questions. What the hell are we going to do if we need an Air Force – we can’t very well borrow one.

It puts me in mind of the Albanians. They took defence very seriously, as you would if you were a country that had five or so different owners during World War One and about 100 over the centuries.

In the late 60s they split from defence arrangements with Soviet Russia and then the Warsaw Pact altogether. So, after losing the deterrent value of these friendships Albania had to protect herself. It was decided that the best way to self-reliant defence was to build pill boxes in backyards and issue rifles to every household. So it was that 750,000 bunkers and pill boxes came to be built. The idea being that if anyone invaded then the entire citizenry would take up positions inside these boxes and the invader would have to fight for every inch of the country. Mad maybe, but effective. Point being that if we are going to break off our good relations with our allies – by doing truly stupid stuff like bailing out of ANZUS – we’d better have a plan B.

Because bailing out of ANZUS was truly stupid. If the shit ever hits the fan again we will go running back behind that banner as quickly as possible, all high-minded moral positions on Nukes will disappear faster than Chief Executives at Maori TV. And we’ll be damned lucky if they take us back: twenty years of looking down our noses at the most powerful nation on earth and of not keeping up with regional defence responsibilities with Australia will not be forgotten or forgiven easily.

The only argument that is ever wheeled out for the way we have let relationships rot and our services atrophy is that we don’t need them now. Rubbish, crap, baloney, bollocks bollocks bollocks. And bollocks again. Are we to believe that for some reason after millennia of conflict humans have decided not to have any more wars, or at least if they do they will leave NZ out? Unless we have that in writing somewhere I’m not buying it. Preferably in writing that means more than, say, the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.

Thing is that all this talk of benign strategic environments is rubbish. It is about as clever as declaring peace in our time. Just 60 odd years ago we were at war with half the world. We were fighting Germany, even though after the First World War they had taken steps to ensure that that wouldn’t be happening again. On what evidence have we decided that there will be no eventuality where an Air Force might come in handy? That being matey with the US might not be useful, even vital?

It boils down to something that sounds a bit boy scouty, just without the lawsuits:

You can’t be sure things wont happen, but you can be prepared in case.

And why this viewpoint is anathema to Grey-Lynn I truly cannot fathom. From the reactions I used to get, before I learnt to keep such opinions private, to, say, advocating keeping our military strong and up-to-date you’d think I was suggesting that we should use said imaginary military for whale hunting and permanently getting solo-mothers off the DPB.

It is incredibly un-PC to realise that we are vulnerable without protection. This is odd as that statement and belief is as self evident as saying ‘water is wet’ or ‘Brian Tamaki does pretty well out of that God racket’. It is a simple truth, yet somehow this ill-informed flower-power hangover means prioritising defence is about as popular in these circles as supporting George W Bush.

Which Brings me to the next rule, don’t support Geeorge W Bush (this rule is particularly important)………

Friday, February 04, 2005

How to become a pariah in Grey-Lynn

Steps towards the hopeful end of left and right wing.........

There are a few sure-fire ways to spoil a nice Grey-Lynn dinner party. I’d say that there are four topics that are certain, certain, to upset the mood and leave fellow guests thinking that you are a baby-eating, male (a term often wielded as an insult) right-wing cunt.

Unfortunately for my social standing in respectable left-wing circles I am guilty of all four transgressions regularly though do not identify as right-wing, in fact I don’t think the terms left and right wing mean a thing anymore – lest of all to the people who throw them round.

As it is much easier to point out how you can avoid the social ostracization I faced until I discovered these rules than it is to actually get a left-wing person to define what left-wing economics entails, or even to provide a definition for progressive taxation, I thought I might share these guiding suggestions for the benefit of all.

Number One: Don’t, for godsake do not support Genetic Engineering.

Many a coffee in Verona has been irrevocably changed by the meekest pro-GE utterance. When it comes to tampering with nature and putting fish genes into tomatoes I’m all for it. In fact I thought it the height of wit to remove the ‘free’ from the ‘GE free NZ’ stickers.

‘Fucking go for it’ would be my sage advice to all aspirant Dr Frankensteins.

I’ve found myself having to explain myself to kaftan-wearing advertising executives and washed up pop stars (who really should join Rotary or volunteer with City Mission, I mean if they insist on having a mid-life social conscience crisis I can’t help but feel that the least they could do is play it out privately and constructively….) anyway, you know the types.

To assuage these people my reasoning generally runs that I feel that the biggest lunacy of our age is the way we produce and protect food. It reminds me of the situations we scoff at now – things like feeding the ill Mercury (the kind of thing that these people suspect right-wingers still want to do today) or insulating homes with asbestos or, and this is my favourite folly, using lead pipes to pump in drinking water.

All of these things, thanks to scientific advancement, are now known to be harmful. I can’t help but think that in maybe just one hundred years time you’ll hear conversations like this:

“You know what they used to do with food back in the 1900s? They used to spray poison all over it as it grew to keep the insects off!”

“You’re shitting me? Spray poison on their own food – they can’t have been that stupid.”

“No really, they called it insecticide probably hoping no-one would notice that it was also humanicide.”

“And they wonder why the Cancer epidemic hit, fools”

Or something to the effect.

Trick is that GE is part of that same imperfect scientific advancement that now lets us know not to do stuff like treat a toothache with leeches.

It is true that we don’t know yet what GE might produce – which is, as far as I can tell, the closest thing the ‘anti’ movement has to an intellectualised opposition. I agree, we don’t. The part we diverge on is that I reckon we should be doing our best to find out, while they advocate sitting there – with brand new access to the coolest tool-shed ever – and doing nothing.

I figure that the most likely way to safely and sensibly feed and, in the long run, medicate and protect all humans is to be found in Genetic Engineering. And I’d really prefer it if wives with health plans, royalty cheques and far too much time on their hands would stop impeding the arrival of such a time.

In fact I’d go one further and say start the inevitable process of turning the technology onto humans. With any luck they could cleanse from our make up the ability to confuse fear and ignorance with morality and the protection of mother-nature, man.

Not that I don’t have reservations about the intellectual property on genes being corporatized and the likely emergence of higher and lower classes of human, in fact about the countless possibilities of abuse I can imagine. I’ll contend that I probably have a much better informed full list of concerns than the vast majority of people who consider themselves anti-GE. I believe, however, that we’ll stumble through the problems and that on balance GE is an historically unrivalled treasure trove.

But you’d be astounded how badly such an optimistic outlook goes down in these circles. Apparently it is reactionary to believe in revolution and safe to believe in the status quo. I reckon that alone might say more about the state of the trendy left these days than anything else more pithy. How on earth my position on GE can make me, as it was levelled, ‘more right-wing by the day’ I am unsure. Yet, I hope, not nearly so unsure as the leveller.

In any event in fifty years this whole discussion will be as irrelevant as the near exact arguments that raged against the adoption of chimneys and electricity. It’s the march of progress, or some such cliché.

Three more rules to follow – if there is demand for them. Let me know and I might get around to writing them.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Becuase People Really Care What I thought Of the Big Day Out

This was meant to end up in Rip It Up but you will probably see why it didn't......

There was one act that I was burning to see at the BDO: Le Tigre. Strolling through the gate at a tremendously leisurely hour I managed, indeed, to catch the last bars of their performance.

Thus was the tenor set for the day, both The Hives and Le Tigre missed I re-jigged my priorities around the beer tents.

It was a funny old line-up with no other must must must sees. This being so my compatriots and I shuttled our way from reclining beer to reclining beer, steering in the main well clear of any crowd or, in fact, act for the entire day.

Ignoring all warnings from St John we ate as many party, or otherwise, pills that we could get our hands on and spent a blissful day in the sun people- and munter-watching and doing our very best to hold it all together, thank you very much.

We were all terrified by the crowd for SlipKnot. Terrified because any group that big of people with taste that bad should always be avoided – that is how religions and riots start, and while I like riots I'm petrified of religion. Though it would make a good'un, what with the masks, ritual costumes and sacrificial virgins (at least I figure they must be sacrificial, what woman would enter that crowd voluntarily?).

It was good to see Shihad rocking out, and brought back many happy memories of Powerstation concerts and illicit drinking.

The day was rounded out with watching the Beastie Boys from the top beer garden – the very furthest point from stage, and that was ex-fucking-zactly what was needed. For a bunch of aging politicised vegetarian types they rocked out pretty well we reckoned.

After popping our heads into the Boiler Room for The Chemical Brothers and removing them freshly sweat-soaked, though not with our own, we decided against braving the crowd which resembled nothing so much as Long Bay High on the burn.

A highlight would have to have been the far too many, far too hot and far too young girls, and so it was that we headed home with jokes that Statutory Rape should be renamed Introductory Sex in our ears and a solid recovery session in the pipeline.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Australia's Generosity

Three words I don’t often find occasion to put together: Good on Australia. News is that they have pledged One Billion Aussie Dollars to help rebuild Indonesia in the wake of the Tsunami (sorry a pun that is both tasteless and irresistible).

This is fantastic news on a bunch of fronts, and tremendously, staggeringly good politics on a bunch of others.

Australia, and Howard in particular, are often accused of trying to play the America of the Southern Hemisphere type role. More bitingly they are often referred to as America’s sheriff. This has been for their tendency to ape (sorry) Dubya’s tough guy swagger and stances on matters of foreign policy, most notably the Iraq war.

What we are seeing now are the first steps of their emulating the very best international intervention isolationist America ever made – the Marshall Plan.

The Marshall Plan was the huge assistance provided by America after WW2 to war-ravaged Europe. You can still see the affection and gratitude from Europe for this unilateral action of goodwill that was integral in getting the continent back on her feet. Actually you can’t, but that says more about the French and German mindset than anything else.

For years though you could, at least in places like West Germany, and the stark difference between quality of life in American influenced Europe and Soviet influenced Europe served as the world’s best argument for American inperialism.

This action set America up as the power it is today – you can’t grow rich off trade if everyone else is too broke to buy your product. And also those who have a greater interest in trading with you to grow rich themselves are less likely to invade you.

So to Australia and this Billion-dollar gesture. Should it actually work as a defusing gesture, and influence grabber, for their extremely stressed relations with Indonesia it will be the best Billion Dollars ever spent by a government. Sound over the top? Not so at all.

Remember East Timor. After decades of Australian, and for that matter New Zealand, gutless co-operation with the barbarous Indonesian military occupation in East Timor we all switched sides and pushed for East Timorese independence. Good for us.

This selfless act really got up Indonesia’s nose. The same Indonesia with 200 Million mainly dirt poor people. The same Indonesia with a massive and itchy military with way too much sway over national politics. The same space-poor people-rich Indonesia on the doorstep of people-poor but space and resource rich Australia.

Turns out however that this selfless stand for civil rights was nothing of the sort. As soon as East Timor was cleaved from Indonesia under the watchful eye of the UN the Aussies made a surprise claim for the massive oil fields just off East Timor. Imagine the East Timorese’s surprise.

It is safe to say that the Australians would not have pushed this claim as hard as they have if it were still Indonesian territory. In much the same way it is safe to say that Helen Clark was not elected on looks alone.

The Australian’s have become expert at redrawing International Maritime Boundaries Law to suit their own ends. Special credit for the slippery redefinition of great swathes of Australian territory as ‘not really Australia’ in the event of boat people landing on it but ‘Australia proper’ for all other intents and purposes.

Now, with this claim on the East Timorese oil fields their very crafty lawyers are basing their claim on the fact that even though the fields are way out of their territorial waters they do happen to share a tectonic plate. It does not take much imagination to see that around the world the adoption of such a standard for ownership would cause some difficulties. The whole of Europe, for example, shares one tectonic plate.

Not that you hear much about this. We are all still so busy patting our backs for saving those poor Timorese from the our erstwhile friend ‘the oppressor’ that we are not worrying that we’re sitting by and in effect keeping those poor East Timorese, well, poor.

And you can bet that that oil field is worth a hell of a lot more to the Aussies than this billion dollar photo opportunity. It is, if you can look at it dispassionately, a work of back-handed genius. That money from the fields was the big reason Indonesia did not want to lose East Timor in the first place. Oz snatches it, in the process painting Indonesia as a big bad wolf in the international court of world opinion, then they give them back a paltry amount as aid a couple of years on.

This aid too, of course, buys them responsible global citizen status – priceless after their miserable treatment of their unwanted boat-people arrivals, their pacific solution, their abysmal record of treatment of the Aborigines….. the list goes on.

The best billion dollars ever spent then. Good on Australia indeed.

Although if that billion dollars does buy modernisation and westernisation of one of the most populous and backward countries on the globe then I’ll be well pleased. It just pays to look at Australia’s generosity in the proper light.

Monday, December 13, 2004

True Love

Righto - sorry to have been so quiet. I've been having fun.

This here is a story I did for the lovely folk at REMIX, you should buy their magazines.

In the next issue I have stories on Kinsey and Simon Gault, which will end up here in the fullness of time.

This story below was given to me to write whilst happily in a relationship and written while rather unhappily not in one, so that may explain the tone.....

True Love

How does one define true love? Can you, as with light and dark, define it by that which it is not? Or can you find it through examination of how it failed? What the hell are we looking for?

I’d like to know. My stories are probably just like everybody else’s, well maybe a bit dirtier. Like most people of our generation my tilts at true love have been a series of cycles of search, then destroy. And then on again to that process of pouring yourself into a person to try to see if this one is going to be ‘it’.

More likely however is that it will end like the last ones with custody battles over the toaster and a whole bunch of her friends who still won’t talk to you after they found out that you not only told her to lose weight, but that you thought her mum was hot. Anyway. Most times, most often, it isn’t true love and it doesn’t work. But it is as gamblers we stay in spite of this. Lower odds than lotto but we keep plugging away.

I reckon, having given it the odd go myself, and having found brilliant, varied and brutal disappointment, I reckon that the very best relationships are when both parties are high on compromise and low on expectation. In fact, I reckon that looking for true love at all, or believing it can be found, is simply a recipe for disappointment.

Although, I have thought before, ‘I’ve found it’. As often we do, in that first stage of mutual fascination and infatuation, when everything is going fast, so fast and neither of you are even thinking it might have to slow.
But then, inevitably, there is the period when you realise that she isn’t perfect. And every fault and obstacle and niggling concern eats away at your confidence that ‘this is it’.
And then, well then things get messy. Boundaries emerge then boundaries are broken. And with them those last romantic feelings. The battle of optimism against odds is lost, and the best idea is to make sure that you are not the one left holding more stakes in the lottery.
So why do we keep doing it? To what possible advantage do we endlessly put ourselves on the line in order to disappoint or to be disappointed? What is this true love that we expect to find?

The very notion of true love has changed considerably, and our generation is the first to feel the effects. So, as with many modern neuroses, lets blame our parents.

When our folks and their folks grew up things were different. Back then through a combination of social, legal and religious mores there were very few divorces. This difficulty in-changing-horses-during-the-race coupled with the fact that populations did not move so much meant that most kids fifty years ago grew up in a two-parent home and in one, or, tops, two places.

These complimentary forces meant that the kids grew up thinking that the ‘big idea’ was to find one person and stay with them. It also meant that all families lived, to degrees, a constant compromise to maintain it. Some compromises these relationships made obviously were worse than others, as in the less-easily-reported-and-escaped domestic abuse of the past, but it is also arguable that it was this greater willingness, or, depending how you are looking at it, obligation, to compromise that kept these relationships together. And together longer, more often, than we see today.

Because today nobody compromises. You are not meant to put up with anything. Fat? Don’t put up with it, take Xenical. Sad? Don’t put up with it, take Prozac. Wife not putting out enough? Take your secretary. Husband doffing the secretary? Don’t compromise, take a lover, then take half.

The whole culture is geared towards having what you want when you want it. You know, all that ‘not taking no for and answer’ and ‘always doing what is best to number one’; it is how we live.

Which is fine, in the worlds of make-believe, of marketing and philosophy. But in relationships, in our ideas of what is true love, and if we need it, there are costs.
The thing is this obsession and sanction for the never-ending new that is our legacy, passed down from our parents who blazed this trail, is having its costs, taking its toll you might say. This lifestyle and this unattainable ideal of true love are unsustainable.

The problem is that although the new and the self-indulging are exciting and alluring, are shiny shall we say, the problem is that relationships and love affect other people: they are zero-sum games.

A zero-sum game is when whatever is taken by one partner is therefore lost to the other. So, in love and relationships, the more things are favoured toward the interests of the self, the less is available for the benefit of the other. And, if you extrapolate it back out to that family situation, this indulgence of the self will come at the expense of the interests of those you are (technically) caring for.

And this is how the world has operated all our lives. This is how we have grown up observing the world, receiving our cues and following our role models as how to act, interact, love and most significantly for our generation, how to leave.

Our parents were the first generation to break in these rules. And at quite a cost to themselves, because they have the more immediate displacement of feeling that they are missing the lives they thought they would lead, those like their parents. Instead they have been the first to live in a time of emotional flux. It is now, in direct opposition to the norms of our grandparents, commonplace for a family to move often, a far away proposition than the rigid self-regulating communities of their day. It is normal to not adhere to religious codes of conduct that prohibit divorce. Indeed it is normal to divorce. In fact, oddly, it is now normal to have both these world-away scenarios of fifty years ago happening in tandem – a divorced family living across two houses in different areas, perhaps even living with other divorcees.

Just thirty years ago this idea that families might be split and then two split units might merge was so odd they made a sitcom on that premise –The Brady Bunch. And because divorce was so taboo they were split families because of death, not choice. Yet now it is not the slightest bit unusual to us. It is our normalcy.

Which is why true love is like a regressive gene, it is like, and about as welcome as, baldness inherited from your grandfather. It is a hangover of another time. The idea that there is just one person for you, that you will find them and you will be happy is merely the passed down illusions and delusions of another world. The world of fifty years ago.

The very notion of ‘true love’ is a romanticised ideal. It is an idea that conjures up ideas of solidity, ease, constant and continued bliss. The thing we look for, because we will know when we find it, and if we do find it because it is true it will be perfect, will seamlessly fit with our lives. Nonsense. Every word of it. Nothing good is easy. Nothing that comes without work and effort is lasting or rewarding. Everything has its opportunity cost.

Opportunity costs are the possibilities that become closed to you when you choose a certain path. In economics they are very easily stated, as in by choosing to spend your ten dollars on cigarettes you no longer have ten dollars available to buy drink. It is something we are all aware of, even if we don’t use that term, as all the time we make decisions knowing that by doing one thing our opportunities to do other things are shut off. But this reality is constantly being subverted. At the risk of sounding like a Sociologist, which thank God I am not, media and advertising really do work very hard to try to make us forget that our resources and time are limited. We are always being implored to have more things, even though every further small item we have stops us from attaining the larger items we wish for. Manufactured demand is what bores call it.

And we can see this in the way we today approach relationships, the search for true love. We have forgotten that in order to have true love we have to forgo other opportunities. It is the cost of tempered happiness. If only that illusion of an easy and uncomplicated love did exist. It does not, and that is why you are never going to find true love unless you are ready to compromise, ready to accept the opportunity costs of being with only one person.

And that is the hard thing. One person. That is our traditional idea of true love. What if you want simultaneous true love with multiple partners, what if they do? Potentially every trip to the dairy is riven with temptation. What if all of them are my chance at true love? See, it is rubbish. Show me true love and I will show you ten reasons that it is true, mutually beneficial compromise. But it doesn’t have quite the same zing to it does it?

So, seeing that we are the first generation to grow up thinking of true love as something that happens only in a Meg Ryan movie, how on earth are we meant to find it?

Well we find it exactly the way that our parents and theirs did. But now when the lustre dulls we don’t keep trying. We quit. Like magpies we keep chasing the shiny things, and like magpies we build, briefly protect and then discard nests, ever moving to the next one.

Now, with a shift in simile, if you don’t mind, the danger is that while we endlessly burn through and move on, like GIs in Vietnam, we leave no houses that can harbour things. And when the glow dies down in your relationship, and you head out to reclaim the fun, to try to find again with someone new what you once had when the two of you first started, you lose the whole house and everything it contained, everything that belonged to the two of you.

But that is how we do things these days.

We find true love, if we are lucky enough, and then we let it go, to see if we can find it again in a way that might suit us a little better. But it is better this way, no compromising see. Careful though, with true love, unlike all the other things that we continually make obsolete, there is no guarantee a new one, a better one or a shinier one will come along. Although, apparently, these days in our consumer world we are conditioned to discard. Not our fault like, why should we care what we throw away?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

And coming down from the roof like Sting..........

Aaron Bhatnager and Lyndon Hood are having a ruckus.

But what piss poor job they're doing of it.

There are no verbal fireworks, no cutting or incisive insults, no gore, no money shot. Just pomposity from the only man capable of being voted out in the one ward in the country where having a rich dad is an advantage, and, on the other side, drivel from Lower Hutt.

Matt Nippert did a better job and he can't even wash.

I wouldn't have thought, Aaron Bathhater, Auckland Political Activist that you would be so active these days, what with the being voted out and all. Sorry I wont mention it again. (Loser)

And Lyndon, stick to web design, Aaron Barklater had a point: it wasn't funny.

But for fucks sake Aaron Bathjelly what do you think you are doing?

This is the tip-top that AB could muster in response. Although he may wish to be Churchill, what with Churchill's ability to be voted out (sorry) yet still get back in to office, he may have to work on the old wit.

Lets run through with notes shall we. I'll be in brackets.

Lyndon Hood - part two

Lyndon Hood, who I described as a self appointed tit in a previous blog posting (self appointed perhaps being slightly better than not elected?) has taken umbrage (nice word, or with my comments and launched into a spectacular Fallujah like offensive in his most recent blog posting (Yes, just like Fallujah). Except he's on the insurgent side (there I was figuring the insurgents were those without, say, office?(sorry)). And like any fanatic, he appears to desire his own being slaughtered (if even metaphorically) (If even metaphorically????? what the fuck - please point out all your radical language tricks in case we miss them like you missed the seat(sorry)) by choosing to respond to my criticism. (lets see how Aaron takes him downtown - looks promising doesn't it?)

He accuses me of not seeing the joke he was trying to make (to be fair he does look like he is squinting a bit in his photo, maybe Lyndon was concerned). He is right. This would have presupposed that his posting was funny. It was not. It was, in fact, an amateurish collection of dipsomaniacal (more nice use of ramblings - an imagined conversation between himself and Rodney Hide. At least I hope he was drunk at the time. There would be real concerns if he imagined such conversations while sober (real concerns indeed, in fact the thought of a conversation with Rodney is, in itself, enough to make me want to get drunk). There was nothing particularly humorous about the posting, except that for all his efforts he repeatedly spelt Rodney Hide's name incorrectly. Riotous. (Riotous Bathwater, just like the way you are totally wasting him real-funny-guy, you're, like, totally metaphorically slaughtering him dude)

We can no doubt look forward to the feverish and deluded recollections
of his polemics with Don Brash, his affair with Winston Peters, and perhaps even
imagined recollections of his transvestite experiments with Peter Dunne. We
shall wait in earnest for the tales of these hallucinations - and pray, Lord,
how we shall pray that his humour becomes more apparent to us mere blogosphere denizens.
(I'd say something about how lame and pompous this excerpt is but I reckon that it is so apparent that such a move would be redundant, much like Aaron (sorry))

Still, his response shows that he has some spine. I like that. It looks very nice on my home office wall. (What does, his spine? You barely even tickled his stomach. I'm fucking shaking myself, and have a few reference books handy in case you reply and provide me, too, with a metaphorical slaughtering.... I just hope the Marines are doing a better job with the insurgents in Fallujah than you are with the ones in Lower Hutt.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Honesty in Advertising

A certain publication that I hadn't worked for in this capacity asked me to review a film this week.

I imagine they wont be asking again. The film was Open Water and this is the unprintable review...... fair enough really.

Open Water

Open Water was heralded around the world as the new Blair Witch Project, and after riding in on the wave of such hype has managed to deeply disappoint audiences everywhere.

Not this reviewer though.

Such a billing as ‘Next Blair Witch’ was enough to let me know what I was in for; cheap production values, artificial suspense, hammy characterisation, and sweet fuck all actually happening in an overlong movie malnourished of content.

Deep breath time. The scenario is easy enough, and based on a true occurrence – the leaving behind of a couple from a dive trip in shark-infested waters.

This is all the movie is – a quick scattershot approach at characterisation at the beginning where all the clichés of money-rich time-poor successful American power couple types are wheeled out, then the being on the Island and then the being left behind.

How it ends for them cannot be divulged because the resolution of that question is the only thing likely to keep you in your seat as this thoroughly dislikeable couple bob in the water for a full two-thirds of the film.

I’d tell you their names or their jobs or their hopes or their dreams, but I can’t. I really just didn’t care enough to write them down. Never a good sign for a character driven dialogue film.
After so much time with such disagreeable characters, seeming as they do to have fallen out of a bad bad bad Starbucks commercial, one thing you can say is that you hope some sharks turn up quick.

The only shining lights in a film rife with poor camerawork, repetitive suspense techniques that lose their punch somewhat after the fourth outing, paint-by-numbers scene setting, secondary characters so obvious that they may as well have had cardboard cut-outs with signs on them denoting their roles and all the rest of the problems in this overlong undergood film is that the dive instructor was alright.

Really, that is about the best to be said of this film that plods through its excessively obvious and formulaic first third into a devastatingly boring ending.

But then again if you liked the Blair Witch Project maybe you deserve to see this film.

anyone else feel like getting the worst-tempered reviewer in the world on board - I quite enjoyed demolishing a film..........

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Investigate the editorship

This is the extended, untidier script from my Agenda media thing three weeks ago...

Investigate Magazine is one of those absolute gems - a self-styled home for true hard-hitting investigative journalism, a bastion for the truth, and, incongruously, the home of very conservative Christian values.

Editor Ian Wishart is well known for his investigative journalism and best-selling books looking into solid public-interest topics like the machinations around the sale of the BNZ.

Of late though he has become better known for his conviction in his Christian beliefs, expounded through his radio shows on Radio Rhema and Newstalk ZB. And also of course through Investigate Magazine.

This magazine is always worth a look for the shock value alone. All manner of otherwise contradictory values sit alongside each other, as with that other prominent Christian values proponent - United Future.
In the same way that United Future manage to be the Hunting Fishing Shooting Gambling Smoking and Drinking Christian Party, in this same all over the place manner Investigate Magazine manages to combine; hard hitting investigations into serious material like organized crime in New Zealand, Prime Ministerial character assassinations, bible lessons about everything from personal morality to the reality or otherwise of Noah's flood, discussions on, in fact almost a preoccupation with, intelligent design as a theory over Evolution or Darwinism, Business stories, conspiracy theories and, in the kitchen sink capacity, film and DVD reviews.

Wow, a bit all over the place.

Investigate really hit the headlines with their Nov 03 Helen Clark is a Lesbian Issue. The story combined very amateur Freudian analysis with a bunch of bare-faced and unsubstantiated 'secret friend' claims that our Helen was, aside from legislating the downfall of western society, engineering a secret homosexualising of the public service and country as a way of getting back at New Zealand for her having to bury her true sexuality.

No really. That was the story.

In an interview on bfm with Noelle McCarthy about the article Wishart pronounced that he knew the PM was gay. How? He just knew. Investigative journalism at its best.

The evidence amounted to something like look at her mates, check out her haircut, she didn't even want to get married and her fondness for wearing trousers - or some other list of similarly flimsy arguments, but the media splash was created.

Helen had the magnamanity not to sue them, though I'm not sure her doing so would have served to discredit them more than a cursory glance over their publication would.

The religious right sits very uncomfortably in easy going NZ, yet still they bang away at it. Investigate Magazine is a conspiracy theorist theologian mag. Kind of aliens stole Elvis because he was against abortion and man those homosexuals are ruining society.

Other notable stories have included a detailed look at why the moonlanding never happened, which to be fair left the jury out, campaigns against the Civil Unions bill and the Decriminalisation of Prostitution and the continued advocacy of Intelligent Design, which is kind of like Creationism in drag.

Well, what else to say about an Investigative Magazine that quotes the Old Testament to explain truths to readers? Buy it, I guess is all I can say. it is the most unintentionally entertaining read around.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


stole this link off NZPundit tag board. Bob Hawke off the wagon.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Agenda Piece

This is the extended script from which my Agenda piece was culled for last Saturday.

There was a little something that I reckon was overlooked when the decision was made to enlarge our existing papers and to set about publishing another weekend paper: We don't really have the content to pad out the advertising.

It is a problem peculiar to NZ. We have one of the most crowded radio and print environments in the world. Over 4000 magazines. More radio stations in Auckland per capita than anywhere else in the world (or at least it was 5 years ago, not sure now). 6 major weekend papers.

Which is great. Except with only 4 million people that means the talent pool is spread pretty thinly. Conversely it also means that we must have the best advertising sales managers in the world.

This situation may explain why our Sundays see us having certain columnists inflicted upon us.

The Herald on Sunday, in a candid and souless fashion, came right out and said it - advertiser pressure was one of the reasons for its existence.

How else can you explain, living in a civilised country steeped in Christian-traditions, on a weekly basis our having Rosemary McLeod, Michael Laws, Mike Hosking and Frank Haden, to name but a few, inflicted upon us on the Sabbath.

Nothing personal against this lot, of course, talented and wonderful etc. But well, the weekend read in England is what they save the cream of their talent for. Writing of note about people of note.
In NZ however, it is a different story. It is a dual indignity too, for some reason we aren't simply happy with our tendency to examine our public figures through Celebrity Treasure Island as opposed to insightful profiles, no, on top of this we also get to also read their innermost thoughts on our day off.

You can't help but be reminded of that old joke - first prize one week in Sydney, second prize two weeks in Sydney, third prize - well, you get the idea.

The trick is that personal musings are much cheaper and easier to fill the space between ads with than investigative pieces or even worthwhile profiles and essays.

Perhaps if we look at three of our columnists to illustrate- Michael Laws, Mike Hosking and Colin Meads.

Michael Laws is now a bonafide media guy. From enfant terrible of NZ politics to talking head in ten years. Still it could have been worse, it could have been five.

Laws wrote one of the best books on politics here, The Demon Profession, but has spent the intervening time espousing NZ First heartland attitudes through all mediums and undoing that original good work.

It is quite fitting, I guess, that a man who left politics for being inventive with words, through that forgery kerfuffle, is now a wordsmith in the Sunday Star Times.

Still, there is something disquieting about getting up on a Sunday and reading about his sex life, as so often happens to be the case with his column.

Perhaps the real problem is his talking about sex, in mildly misogynistic and never-quite-got-his-head-around-women terms, considering that he bunks down on that page with Rosemary McLeod.
Something about the juxtaposition can really throw me off my weet-bix.

Laws also examines the issues of the week, and after a whole week of trying these out on talkbalk land, through his radio....... show, they are turning into Garth George-light offerings.
Thank god, one Garth George heavy is quite enough.

For ample examples of these twin problems you only have to look to last Sunday's offering.

He manages to get a sexual reference in by line twenty "ready for bed, but the difference is that these days it is for sleep", and even before that, just ten lines in, he sets up a mental picture of himself naked, cellulite and all, in front of a full length mirror.
All that in the first two, short, paragraphs, and this is by no-means a record.

The term Florid doesn't do the writing justice - "....the problem with post-modern liberalism. It gives out like a whore but considers itself Mother Theresa".
A sentence that overburdened on both axes really needs a fulcrum, and probably ought to look like a see-saw.

The talkback honed simplicities soon emerge too. Talking on the Burqa case, they come thick and fast - "Much the same argument, presumably, runs through the minds of Muslim Fundamentalists who can fly jet planes into buildings, kill children in schoolrooms and incinerate Aussie partygoers with car bombs."

All in all, and about the only thing you can say charitably, is that it would appear that the only shades of grey Michael Laws sees these days are in his hair.

Moving right along then, to Mike Hosking.

I'm slightly concerned as to where to start with Hosking. After undergoing the most public mid-life crisis in New Zealand's history everyone has had a shot at him. His columns in the Star-Times come second only to 'About Town' in the much bagged but even more read category.

My only real concern is his frequent mentions of his twins - up there, almost, with Linda Clark. As an aside what is it with media personalities and twins - Mary Lambie, who must be milf to the nation if Judy Bailey is mother to the nation, has just popped some out also....
Anyway these mentions come after the costly and emotionally taxing case he took through pretty much every court in the land to stop New Idea publishing paparazzi pictures of them.
Because, he maintained, he wanted them away from the public eye.......Yet on a number of occasions there they are.
Still, as their father it really is up to him, though it does look a little funny in light of the cash that pictures paid for of the twins bring in as opposed to papparazi pickings.

Right - so his Wine column.
Hosking describes it as being written from the position of enthusiast rather than expert, and this allows it to be free of jargon. Refreshingly free of jargon. Unfortunately it is also mostly free of content.

My personal favourite must be the one in which he mentioned a recent mid week 2? day trip to San Francisco. A trip taken on a whim. How does one afford to do something like that, you have to wonder, how is this in keeping with the idea of a non-elitist wine column? It did serve to make concrete my jealous suspicion that it was criminal that he should be paid to write such garbage.

The real danger with wine writing is the trap of pretension that encircles the entire pursuit. A trap Hosking continues to stumble into. Columns are peppered with mentions of long lunches at trendy establishments, offers being put to him, junkets, in fact he doesn't so much write them as effuse them. Your average Joe might find them a bit painful, though Hosking goes to some lengths to assure us that Central Otago Pinot Noir, aside from being delightful, is not out of reach of the average man - he should just buy less and better. Thanks Mike, I'll put that cask down on your say-so.

The final straw for me really was the column talking about the increasing use of screw tops on wine. I paraphrase here but you'll get the drift - 'Tradition is being ignored' thundered the man formerly famous for being prematurely fuddy duddy, before his hip, gay-Sydney make-over. 'If ever', he finished the column by saying, 'Mouton du Rothschild, that wonderful French winemaker were to use a screw top then I would take my own life'.
Aside from the vaguely hysterical reactionary pomposity it put me in mind of a very funny scene - a French postman struggling under the weight of his mail sack - it has to be a man - this is France ok - making his way up to the Mouton du Rothschild vineyards.
On reaching the door he collapses, the owners come out and can't work out quite why their postman expired bringing them a full sack of letters from New Zealand.
'Nouvelle Zealande?'
And every single one, for some reason entirely unfathomable to them, asking that they produce a screw top vintage for New Zealand.

Enough of that before it gets silly - now perhaps Colin Meads.

Pinetree is known for a great many things; bravery, stoicism, taking the Cavaliers to apartheid South Africa, strength, investment advice. He is the only NZer alive that can be mentioned in the same breath as Hillary in icon terms.

What he has not previously been so widely known for is his writing.

The Herald on Sunday have fixed this by getting him on board as a rugby writer. And a very good idea too, as when Meads has commented on things of late, before getting the column that is, he has always been classic.

My favourite would be his pronouncements on what was ailing the John Hart era All Blacks. What they didn't need, according to Meads, was all of these sports psychologists and media managers and personal assistants and dieticians and all the other modern day soothsayers. No opined Pinetree, they didn't need all that clap trap. What they needed was more mongrel. And the best way to get that was from more red meat.
- ok so maybe they did need dieticians but only of the Meads variety.

Absolutely brilliant. When I heard he was getting the column I was really looking forward to seeing what Meads would have to say about the new look metrosexualised david beckham influenced sports stars of today.

Surely the man who played on with broken bones would have something to say about the All Black wearing eye-liner, or Daniel Carter's grin and package adorning everything from buildings to bus shelters, or Carlos Spencer's variations-on-roadkill hairstyles.

But sadly no. Thing is that Meads comes from a school of manly manners in which taking a bloke down a peg in public isn't on. Much to our loss.

Instead his columns have been real meat and two veg stuff, no flourishes, just non-egotistically dispensed advice and gruff opinions.

I really enjoy the easy blokiness of his writing - "He's a tremendous fella and I bet he and Richie McCaw are great mates". Great stuff even within the brief remit he has set himself and by far the best thing in the Herald on Sunday.

So there we go. Perhaps, just as a thought, this little review would have been a lot rosier if we'd been looking at the returns these papers must be making, rather than looking at the returns to the reader for a Sunday morning spent on them.

Tourism and Pure NZ puffery

This first appeared in an Australian business mag that has since gone under before paying me. I do hope the appearence of this limp puff piece and the demise of the rag are not linked.

I have two or three gold stories, of getting in a fight, appearing in a dating show(!) and perhaps the tale of the music video-making, to be posted later this week, so do excuse my using this as a recycling bin.

The Australian government have just released the Tourism White Paper that allocates $235 million to market ‘Brand Australia’ internationally over the next four years. Australia’s trans-Tasman occasional adversary New Zealand has had such an over-arching approach in place since 1999 under the auspices of Tourism New Zealand; their approach and results are of especial interest.

Before George Hickton was appointed CEO for Tourism New Zealand in 1999 he had worked as a manager in a number of Government Departments, and, immediately prior, as Chief Executive of the TAB, New Zealand’s betting agency. Which was appropriate, as in one of his first moves with the Board he put all of their chips on just one project.

Before the introduction of the 100% Pure NZ campaign five years ago Tourism New Zealand had funded many different campaigns in many different markets. Each campaign was devised and administered in conjunction with an agency based within the Country targeted. Although this allowed for a great level of specificity, it also led to excessive duplication of costs and a severely fractured message. It quickly became apparent that this sending of mixed-messages could not be sustained in an age of increasing globalisation and utilisation of the Internet as a marketing tool.

So taking into account these twin international trends the need was identified for a campaign that could span markets around the world and provide a unique internet presence; or, as George Hickton concisely says “a consistent positioning campaign.”
Now all creative work is done in New Zealand through M&C Saatchi on the basis of exhaustive market research, both of those who have visited or intend to, and of the wider public in their many target markets.

This attempt to cut down the clutter led the Board to a single, unifying idea – 100% Pure NZ. The decision was made not to market the culture of the cities because the research clearly identified that visitors came for the landscapes. The customer research continually turned up the same themes; scenery, environment, authenticity, purity. The choice was simple - people felt that their greatest experience – the feeling they were left with - was the purity of the landscape, and so a campaign was devised around this theme.

To add to the universality of the campaign it has been, and is now, primarily image driven, with landscapes playing a much larger role than activities. In certain markets, those that respond well, elements of Maori culture are stressed. Maori culture features to a larger or lesser extent in all campaigns as it is so vital to the experience, essence and perception of the country. Purity and authenticity are closely related concepts.

New Zealand was recently provided with an unparalleled opportunity to increase its international profile as a tourist destination on the back of the success of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The films were shot in the Country, with the scenery playing a significant supporting role. Interest generated by the films was such that a guidebook to locations used in the film, written by Wanaka author Ian Brodie, has sold over 200,000 copies worldwide. While Air New Zealand, the national carrier, was quick to brand itself as the ‘Official Air-Line to Middle Earth’ the Tourism board saw it as a chance to turn the increased profile into increased recognition of the Pure NZ brand. George Hickton explains, “with something like LOTR it may raise our profile, but the role of the tourism board is to capitalise upon it. So in a time of heightened awareness we have to push our core messages harder.”

The relationship between the Pure NZ campaign and the National carrier is important. Air New Zealand is the natural partner in many things, but, as in the case of the divergence over branding in the case of the Film Trilogy, it is vital that the two retain differences. To this end Pure NZ and Air New Zealand share strategy and ensure that their separate advertising schedules, where possible, complement each other. The overriding focus for Pure NZ is to keep promotions as simple as possible so all players in the tourism industry can rally behind the banner. Throwing their lot in too heavily with one group, even such a significant one, would alienate other parties and undermine the efforts to have an all-encompassing brand associated with the country.

In order to maintain a single-vision rallying-standard approach the Pure NZ campaign is entirely Government funded, a project of Tourism New Zealand. The organisation, set up in 1901, is the oldest state-funded board in the world. CEO George Hickton believes that it is crucial for the industry’s success that such a body is operating. “The tourism industry is different to any other. If you do not position your country appropriately you will simply be advertised as an airplane destination and a hotel room.” Without an overall branding in place he believes you miss the opportunity to attract tourists as “people do not come for these reasons, they come here to see our landscape and our environment.”

Which comes back to that central theme identified by extensive research – it is the natural beauty, the environment that brings people to New Zealand. Even when faced with the international downturn in international travel following September 11 2001 the importance of keeping the message clear and simple was not compromised. No moves were made toward touting New Zealand’s isolation, stability and relative safety. Hickton made that choice and firmly states that it was the right decision. “The campaign was appropriate and we needed to stay focused. As a result, in the end, we recovered better than most other regions.”

Tourism New Zealand are very happy with the results of the approach. The official tourist information websites are attracting ever-growing numbers of visitors, exceeding the stringent targets set down as conditions of budget provision. They believe that the current campaign, already five years advanced, has a further three to five years to run before significant changes have to be introduced. It is assessed continuously, always being refined and refreshed, but George Hickton and the Board are determined not to mess with success. “What normally happens is that marketers get sick of a campaign before the customer. All the people we work with offshore say ‘just don’t change this’ – people understand it now and associate it with New Zealand.”

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Well Meaning Goats

Ta Dog Biting Men. Remind me to get a job at the Herald on Sunday so I can repay you all fittingly.

This thing here first goes out at 8 10am on 95bfm, or it would if my weak chin and I could be bothered waking up.

With the entire world’s attention focused on the American election it is pretty interesting to look at how the rest of the world views what is, in fact, purely up to the Americans.

Survey after survey shows that the rest of the world wants John Kerry, while the polls, and the smart money, say Bush is likely to squeak back in.

The problem being, of course, that the only people with any say happen to be Americans, and look how their decisions have shaped the world of late.

That little obstacle is not something to stop the Guardian though.The Guardian, through their G2 supplement, devised a cheeky way for all the concerned citizens of the world to make known their horror at the idea of four more years of a Bush-led America.

They had, in a very clever and slightly smarmy way, worked out a one-way involuntary pen-pal plan whereby our concerned citizens could join up and get the home addresses of registered independents in a place called Clark County, a small area in the incredibly important swing state of Ohio.

The conventional logic goes that whoever wins two out of the three of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania takes the election, what with that quirky and quite incomprehensible Electoral College Voting system and all.

So this plan to match up anti-Bush types with people who can actually vote really might make a difference. What hadn't been quite so well thought out was what kind of difference they would make, and if it was really their place at all to be making that difference.

Because of their strategic importance the people of Ohio have been subjected to more than sixty state visits between the two contenders, and one report states that more than 300,000 yard signs declaring allegiances have gone up.

Having ones’ State turned into an eyesore and media circus is small beer really, well at least when compared to the threat of receiving well-meaning letters from Guardian readers advising you that you shouldn't be voting for George W Bush in your election to choose your president.

Predictably, this scheme has gone the way of most paths paved with good intentions.

The backlash from America is classic, and, I'd say, deserved. Most of the correspondence back was negative to say the least with a lot of it reminding the Brits that the last time they meddled in American Politics it caused a little thing called the War of Independence. And although a wee bit of time has elapsed since 1776 they are no better inclined to English interference, thank you very much.

The other big theme was teeth, as in this very funny reply

Have you not noticed that Americans don't give two shits what Europeans think of us? Each email someone gets from some arrogant Brit telling us why to NOT vote for George Bush is going to backfire, you stupid, yellow-toothed pansies ... I don't give a rat's ass if our election is going to have an effect on your worthless little life. I really don't. If you want to have a meaningful election in your crappy little island full of shitty food and yellow teeth, then maybe you should try not to sell your sovereignty out to Brussels and Berlin, dipshit.
Oh, yeah - and brush your goddamned teeth, you filthy animals.
Wading River, NY
And so on and so nastier.

It would appear that the only thing that got the Guardian to back-peddle was the fright it caused Kerry's campaign, who wisely and quickly worked out that letters from foreigners advising Americans how to vote were really not going to help.

Well, they should have known better. Sending missals into fortress America was never going to be a good idea. Perhaps they will increase the specifications for the Son of Star Wars to also include left leaning letters……..

Because really, no matter what the world wants it isn’t up to them. That is the thing with democracy, as the saying goes: people get the government they deserve. So as with Wanganui having Michael Laws as Mayor, maybe the US deserves Bush.

That last line was stolen part and parcel from David Farrar. Ta for that, perhaps I will one day grow fat on other peoples wit.

Also - I found all of the links there off aldaily - where I find near everything I enjoy and just wish I could take credit for.

Although I did feel pretty clever finding this site - I hope you like it too!!!

And if you find yourself near a TV at ungodly times on Saturday morning watch Agenda. Some funny looking guy with a brand-new chin-complex might just pop up. I love the charter - they'll employ anyone to get that local content up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

State of AIDS in NZ

This also first appeared in REMIX - and once again you should buy this months issue.

Aaron found out he had HIV almost by mistake. About two and a half years after contracting the disease he was being tested for a blood condition, and after they narrowed down the likely causes it turned out to be HIV. He was diagnosed in January 2001 and was in his early thirties. The initial stages of infection – which often take the form of a flu-like illness – had gone unnoticed – so at 31 Aaron suddenly had to adjust to life as an HIV positive man.

Aaron had been active and out in his city’s gay scene since the late 80s. As a gay man he was aware of the risks and assiduously practiced safe-sex. At some point in the mid-90s Aaron says that he “became complacent and stopped practicing safe-sex and that led me to become HIV positive.”

Last year over 150 people in New Zealand received the news that they were infected with HIV, the precursor illness to AIDS. This is a larger number than any other year, and of that 154, more than a third were infected heterosexually. As the numbers are rising and the statistics starting to disprove any notion that AIDS is a homosexual affliction HIV/AIDS ought to be in the news. But instead AIDS education and reporting seems to be taking a lower profile than at any time since AIDS was first recognised as a problem in New Zealand in the 1980s. But what is the situation? Have we forgotten, or have we stopped taking AIDS seriously?

AIDS is still seen by some as a predominantly gay disease, but the numbers around the world do not bear this out. Internationally AIDS is 75% heterosexually transmitted. In NZ however it has traditionally been prevalently homosexually transmitted between men. This is still the case here with the majority of new cases arising as a result of unprotected sex between men, and the majority of these occurring domestically. In the heterosexual category 90% of the new transmissions in the past year were contracted overseas. Although this shows that the highest risk group remains as it has been – men having unprotected sex with men – it also suggests that as more heterosexual people carry the disease in New Zealand the likelihood of heterosexual transmission is rapidly rising. Although it will be some time until New Zealand has anything like three-out-of-four cases originating from heterosexual contact we are getting further along that road with every year. The real danger is that the entire pool of HIV positive people in New Zealand is increasing. This year saw the highest numbers of new cases ever. Also this is only reported cases. The New Zealand AIDS Foundation estimates that up to a third more people are infected without knowing it. As the pool increases so too does the risk to all sexually active people.

Why then as things are becoming more serious does the media not seem to make AIDS an issue? Steve Attwood of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation believes it is “more difficult to get mainstream media to pick up stories on domestic AIDS these days, they just do not seem to pick up on it unless there is a heterosexual angle.” So while it is still prevalently a minority concern it appears that is where it stays in terms of media coverage. No matter that if you are sexually active you are much more likely to contract HIV in any given year than you are to be murdered by a stranger. Stranger-danger rules the news while the more real and pressing dangers stay on the fringe.

Attempting to address the inequalities in coverage and to lift understanding of the situation we face with HIV/AIDS in New Zealand is Steve Attwood’s job. He hails from the NZ AIDS Foundation, a registered charity that is funded by the Ministry of Health but is also reliant on donations to continue their work. The Foundation grew out of a gay community organisation, originating out of gay men’s response to the illness. It now provides support, testing and care to anyone living with HIV/AIDS. But interestingly, considering the changing state of AIDS, they are only funded for gay specific campaigns for the prevention side of things – advertising risks, educating about the dangers and all other ambulance at the top of the cliff stuff. They are funded to target the biggest risk group, men who have sex with men, and no one else. The reason that the advertising is so narrowly focused is a simple case of best use of limited resources. Bang for your buck as Steve says “the biggest risks are to those having unprotected sex with many partners.” And to get across the message to these men “we focus on gay media because we are able to say things that we might not be able to say otherwise to people we might not otherwise reach.” Even considering what is a small pool population-wise a number of strategies are employed; packages at saunas or cruising clubs, print advertising, editorial contributions and brochure distribution. But on top of this Steve maintains that “it is important to be responsive – we are now coming up with ways to target Internet cruising and to get messages about safe sex out there in what is a relatively new high-risk activity”.Although no one is disputing the efficacy of targeting the most high-risk sector through these outlets it is also important not to leave the rest of the population without campaigns to publicise risks. “There is a role for mainstream media in this, and we are working towards this.”

But when this happens will depend on funding. Dr Doug Lush, Acting Director of Public Health is the man who oversees this funding. He is entirely supportive of the work the NZ AIDS Foundation is doing. “They are very effectively targeting where the burden of disease is.” But he also sees the importance of wider campaigns targeting other at-risk groups provided by specialist organisations. To this extent the Ministry of Health funds “the Prostitutes Collective, Migrant and Refugee Services and Family Planning among others.” The 13-18 year old group is also about to be addressed with a large campaign to try to cut down the overall rate of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS of course is targeted as part of this education and prevention campaign. Dr Lush and the Ministry are not taking AIDS lightly and reject any suggestion that HIV/AIDS are any less of a priority “it is of great concern, it is becoming of increasing priority and this is one of the reasons for the safe sex campaign that is coming up.” His concern especially rests with the increase of cases amongst older men who appear to be disregarding the safe sex message. He warns against a relaxing of vigilance against infection. “We have to be careful to retain these messages and avoid things like condom fatigue and viewing this as a less dread disease.”

The dread associated with AIDS in the 1980s has left the issue to a large extent. This benefits people living with the illness by reducing prejudice and stigma. But a lessening of the fear must not lead to a lessening in care taken regarding sexual activity. New Zealand has some of the worst rates of STIs like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea in the world and an increase in care taken needs to be seen across the board if we do not want to see AIDS become a more serious problem. Steve Attwood has noticed this relaxation in attitudes and his organisation has found that advertising risks in a way to capitalise on anxiety does not work. “We can not run fear based campaigns as fear can not be faced by people for long before it becomes normalised.”

Everyday is difficult when living with HIV. “It affects your whole life in many areas, mentally and physically.” For Aaron it involves taking 22 large pills a day. The added danger is that you have to take your medication on time every day or else your body can build a resistance and the medicine becomes useless. Even if you follow the proper regime you will develop a resistance over time. In New Zealand 13 medications are funded. And not all of these may be compatible with patients. If you run out of medicines you run out of options. Side-effects and toxicity of dosage are further concerns. Nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting are standard, diabetes is a common side-effect. “But there is no choice, you have to take the tablets if you want to remain well.”

New Zealand is lucky to be where it is. By dint of its geographical isolation we have managed to keep our overall numbers low. But as more and more cases come in from overseas we will see increasing rates of infection in all communities unless safe-sex messages get across. Steve Attwood sounds this warning “thanks to medical advances there may not be so many people dying of AIDS as there used to be but we haven’t cured this virus, we’re never likely to. It still is a very serious life length and life quality reducing illness. People live under the constant threat of discrimination, prejudice and the death threat of the medicine not working. People must not forget that.”

Aaron, in his early thirties, has no idea how the illness is going to affect him next, how many more medications he may go through or what science might turn up. One thing, however, is certain “my life is not the same as it was. My life is not as good as it was. I am not as well, I sometimes struggle to get around, I often feel weak. It is hard to live with every day.”

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Buena Vista Tinted Glasses

If you are quite so stubbornly ill-read that you enjoyed the Motorcycle Dairies film read this.

On seeing the film I felt sick at the sentimentality, and left bruised after having been beaten over the head with blunt messages and supremely simplistic characterization.

The only thing the film had going for it was the scenery.

I vaguely thought that I'd run through and compare the film with the actual diaries and Che's later accomplishments - then again few publications in New Zealand would be interested.

Now I don't have to, this is fantastic, so read it. Especially if you have reservations about the cult of Che. But more so if you are a fan.

I would go slightly further than the author and also point out that Guevara died taking the Bolivians a revolution they did not want and dwell more on the murderous crimes and extracts from Che's writing. I might also have observed that every thing they gave Che to run in newly Communist Cuba he did such an abysmal job that even Castro realised he was incapable - quite a feat in the kind of 'utopia' with no accountability.

Friday, October 22, 2004

REMIX pieces

There is a new REMIX out that has an excellent bfm co-presented Indie Rock CD for free with it, also it contains 6 stories by me in there so I reckon you should all buy it and help keep me in employment.

These pieces below appeared in last months issue.
In My Father's Den comes highly recommended - an actually excellent NZ film that is not tourism calender writ large or sentimental pap (sorry Whale Rider - you suck)
The Moore thing, although not bad, is now hopelessly out of date - but I post it here because, well, I can.

Michael Moore

Michael Moore is a man who has made a career out of being the guy people cannot ignore. With his ample girth, ever-present cap and scruffy average-Joe persona he has become an unlikely counter-cultural hero, forever jamming himself and public debate where the powers that be would rather they weren’t.

And far from being the voice of dissent out in the cold Moore has succeeded in bringing the world-according-to-Michael mainstream.Moore’s latest offering, the political documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, has broken all of the records his last documentary, Bowling for Columbine, set. The film has cleared US$100 Million just within America, picked up the Palme D’Or at Cannes and is going a long way toward setting the agenda for the upcoming American Presidential election. All unprecedented stuff for a documentary, especially in a country where only half the population bother voting.

Michael Moore has emerged as a new kind of patriot for an America weary of seeing their boys come home in body bags and disheartened by the cost in blood and money of occupying Iraq. At least that is the image that he has carefully constructed for himself. More and more people are questioning his motives and even his honesty. Although there have always been critics of Michael Moore’s style and politics the severity of the current anti-Moore backlash is something new.

Michael Moore’s last film, Bowling for Columbine, won the best documentary Oscar at the Academy Awards. Soon after it was the focus of a campaign to have that award stripped. It turned out that Mr Moore had played hard and fast with the truth in certain parts of the film. Even the title, which referred to the belief that the Columbine High School killers went bowling prior to their massacre, turned out to be based on a falsehood. In spite of, or perhaps because of this controversy Bowling for Columbine went on to gross more than any other documentary ever had at the box-office, and helped make docos cool again.

But while it was accumulating receipts, Michael Moore was accumulating detractors. Nowadays for every standing ovation he receives at Cannes there are articles and entire web communities dedicated to discrediting him. But how did it all get to this? Can we trust the guy?
As a response to the debacle over detail in Bowling for Columbine Moore has set out to make sure this isn’t about to happen to his latest offering. Moore has gone so far as to claim: "Fahrenheit 9/11 is the absolute and irrefutable truth. This movie is perhaps the most thoroughly researched and vetted documentary of our time.” All the same a database of 59 deceits has been compiled by David Kopel, research director at the pro-market Independence Institute. Michael Moore’s war room has responded to many of these claims but, regardless of which side has more points in this slugging match, the question remains: with all this smoke around are people missing what Moore is actually saying?

The criticisms Moore levels at the Bush administration in Farenheit 9/11 are in many cases the same as those he makes in his two recent bestselling books Dude Where’s My Country and Stupid White Men. In the main the material may not be new but the power of the big screen and the attendant media circus certainly is. Often, however, the reporting only focuses on the associated hoop-la, the wars of ego and the claims and counter-claims that follow the film. Mike’s messages are lost amongst all this white noise. And he does have some powerful, and some, by now, well canvassed messages.

Some you’ve heard often – Bush stole the election with a rigged Supreme Court, claiming to go to war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction was dishonest, that big business has close ties to military spending and the Republican Party. These reasonably well known points are artfully made, and rarely is political propaganda this entertaining. The parts Moore excels in are those where he uses his selective editing to make very funny character assassinations – he rips into Bush for his manner, work-ethic, business acumen, eloquence and overall ability to run the show.
The best sections are those that show the extent of Saudi Arabian influence in Washington. Although this section is riddled with factual errors the overall points stand absolute. Saudi Arabia’s powerful families, Osama bin Ladens included, have long and deep links to Washington’s elite, especially the Bush family, and this needs scrutiny. And scrutiny is exactly what Moore delivers. Not air-tight, not masterfully- exposed-for-the-first-time, but brought to the public eye in a way you can be assured Bush would rather it wasn’t.

The film never purports to be objective or balanced, and in reality it need not be. It is a political polemic. Point-of-View filmmaking writ large. As long as it is not treated as gospel or picture-made-truth, then it is a valuable and necessary addition to the political landscape. Although, of course, it helps if you have a balanced diet. In the film Moore presents mainstream media as incompetent and cowed, unable to bring the truth as he can. And this is really the whole root of the Michael Moore conundrum. If you look at the mainstream media as junk food then Michael Moore would be like cashews – delicious, natural, more-ish. But you have to remember that a diet of junk food and cashews will make you just as sick, or just as ill-informed in this sense, as a diet of only junk food.

In My Father's Den

Emily Barclay looks at once excited, drained and surprisingly different to her character Celia. Last night, lit-up two stories high in Auckland’s Civic Theatre, Emily enchanted the audience for the New Zealand premiere of In My Fathers Den.
In a film laden with heavy intensity, dealing in the way dark histories seek people out, Emily provided, through Celia, a moving shaft of light, innocence and hope. And last nights premiere had gone very well indeed. Prime Minister Helen Clark helped introduce the film and every creative trough-keeper and drawer was in rapturous attendance.

Not bad all in all for a film full of firsts. In My Fathers Den was the first New Zealand film chosen to open the Sydney film festival. It was an honour that is of special note as it is the first feature film from director Brad McGann. The film, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Maurice Gee, is also the first major film lead for Emily Barclay.

Not that this is a case of overnight success for the 19 yr old Aucklander. Emily has always wanted to be an actor. In learning and honing her craft Emily has run the normal gamut of New Zealand TV work with parts in Spin Doctors, and Mercy Peak and also, in what is fast becoming the other mainstay of New Zealand’s acting community - bad American TV work.

So although comparisons can be drawn between recent kiwi success Whale Rider and In My Fathers Den - both are adaptations of books by iconic New Zealand authors and both rest largely on the performances of their young female leads - they are different in that Emily was not plucked from obscurity like Kiesha Castle-Hughes. In fact she has been working towards a role like this for years. “I fell in love with acting when I was thirteen and have wanted to be an actor since” although the roles aren’t always as good as the one writer/director Brad McGann wrote for this film “I’d rather people don’t see some of the early stuff, if they’d like to think I’m an unknown that’s fine by me.”

The scale of the film snuck up on Emily. “At the time of the first audition we were not told it was a joint New Zealand/British production” but she did know she wanted to be involved, “I was really impressed from the start with how well written and fully constructed the characters were.” Work ended up involving extensive auditioning, rehearsals, a semester away from University study, two months filming outside of Otago, a trip to Sydney for the festival there and now the publicity gauntlet.

But it was the character that drew her in “I loved the fact that she wasn’t your typical on screen 16 year old girl - she was strong, interesting, intelligent - it was really important to do her justice.” Emily plays Celia, an outward-looking, yet isolated girl with a number of secrets to be discovered. Celia and the den of the title are central elements in a movie full of mystery; they bind everyone, and the film itself, together. To say how would be to say too much, and in playing the role Emily never gives anything away. It is a controlled, tight performance - similar in a way to the small town setting and mindset that informs so much of the film.Emily was able to bring an understanding of this constriction - even being a very free and open person herself. “Living in New Zealand many people have the idea that they want to get away, see the world, just living in NZ, in a small country, gives you an insight into a small town mentality.”

And were there similarities between you and Celia? “She had a strong sense of who she was, Celia is a character that it is easy to empathise with because her situations are real and the things she deals with are prominent issues in our society” further than empathy though, Emily was “attracted to the brightness, but the darkness underneath, the thinking about things deeply and the frustration of trying to break out and understand the world.” There aren’t many roles that want all this from a 16-year-old female character, and there aren’t many actors pulling them off.

To a large degree the movie depends on the relationship between Celia and Paul Prior (Matthew McFadyen), an international war photographer and one time boyfriend to Celia’s mother. Paul, back in New Zealand for his father’s funeral, accepts a request to teach at the local school and has Celia in his class. Their friendship, while seemingly familiar - with the male older teacher/younger female student - steers clear of cliché or easy categorisation and is the richest element of the film. “With the relationship with Paul it was important to avoid the Lolita type relationship - we needed to show the complexities of her character, being a 16yr old girl in a small town of course she will be drawn to him but it was more than a girl’s crush on a man of the world. That might be there but more importantly it was an intellectual connection and an intellectual escape route.”

Being able to tap into a rich acting tradition via this cast of accomplished international players was one of the highlights of working on In My Fathers Den. Matthew McFadyen comes in for special praise and is a pick for big things to come: “ Matthew was so supportive and inspiring. The ability of very well trained actors to keep so much going, and to carry the whole film with them, but to stay natural take after take was an inspiration.” Look out for Matthew in future, word is that is “he has been cast as D’arcy in a remake of Pride and Prejudice” and with the general predilection for D’arcy among women he is sure to go far “I mean how else do you explain Colin Firth?”

In a way, and without giving anything away, Celia in the film embodies many of New Zealand’s guilty secrets. The film is a beautifully rendered nightmare, a picture-perfect recrimination. It manages to be populated with things rather ignored but stays well clear of being prying, sentimental or sensationalist And much of this is because, according to Director Brad McGann “Emily brought a whole lease of life to Celia, although they are different Emily managed to make them one and the same.”

And finally, what next for Emily Barclay? Having loved acting for 7 years are you still going strong? “Yes, basically I want to keep being involved in the creation of films - jesus I hope that doesn’t sound wanky - but I figure I’m lucky to have found something I love doing”

- thanks to REMIX Media - where these first appeared.