Hard News by Russell Brown


Word of the Year 2014: #dirtypolitics

A transient political scandal which has been dealt with, resolved and thoroughly moved-on-from with no hard feelings at all has somehow been named as the Public Address Word of the Year 2014.

"I honestly can't understand how this has happened," said a flabbergasted Public Address owner Russell Brown. "But #dirtypolitics won this year's reader vote by a country mile. I mean, Jason Ede and Phil de Joux have new jobs, Judith Collins has a newspaper column, David Farrar has returned to his familiar role of providing an internet platform for scary racists and bigots -- and confused, mendacious Taxpayers' Union press releases are being  pasted into newspaper stories again.

"Sure, you probably still wouldn't want to touch Carrick Graham with anything not double-wrapped in latex, but when Cameron Slater can walk free with no fear of left-wing death squads, I think we can fairly say the nightmare is over. And really, hasn't the Prime Minister wasted enough time attempting to explain himself?"

Those explanations have themselves drawn tribute from readers of Public Address, New Zealand's most brutally liberal blogsite. Two of John Key's contributions to the lexicon feature in the Word of the Year Top 10: the poignant, wistful "At the end of the day" was number two on the list and the playful, almost poetic "Not as Prime Minister" came in fifth.

"The seventh-ranked word, textual relations, was, of course, attributed to Mr Key," said an increasingly hysterical Brown, "but was actually made up by a journalist. Which I think you'll find is just bloody typical."

#dirtypolitics is, of course, the hashtag version of  Dirty Politics, the title of a book by screaming conspiracy theorist Nicky Hager, whose insistence on pursuing his rights has currently brought the entire New Zealand legal system to a halt. The aftermath of the book's publication also gave rise to Whaledump (third) and Rawshark (eighth).

"I can only suppose that a hacker has penetrated the special Google voting software," said a near-comatose Brown. "I've asked Pete George to investigate."

John Key was not the only government minister to capture the imagination of Public Address readers. Steven Joyce's "pretty legal" explanation of National's stance on intellectual property rights placed fourth in the vote and has now been adopted as the rallying cry of disenfranchised EZTV users.

The Top 10 was rounded out by swearwolves, a neologism from the controversial Wellington vampire documentary What We Do in the Shadows and ebola, a word.

"I think all of those associated with the other winners can now fairly describe themselves as 'better than ebola'," said a levitating Brown.

Further controversy was generated when it was announced that notorious Marxist intellectual Giovanni Tiso had won a Christmas hamper by being the first to nominate a version of Dirty Politics for the vote.

"How could Tiso possibly have known?" said a by-now liquefied Brown. "Unless ... Tiso is Rawshark. Yeah, I said it."

Another Public Address reader, James Keating, also won a hamper by having his name drawn from the list of Word of the Year voters.

"Yeah, I got nothing on that," said a vaporous, almost ethereal Brown. "But I can only encourage everyone who didn't win a delicious artisan hamper from Farro Fresh to go and check out the full list of delicious artisan hampers available online from Farro Fresh. And don't muck about, because it's nearly Christmas"

Brown also had a final statement for New Zealanders.

"Thanks for the beer," he said, before turning on his heel, walking into a lamppost and staggering away muttering something that sounded to bystanders like "Peak Cray"."



1. #dirtypolitics

2. "At the end of the day"

3. Whaledump

4. "Pretty legal"

5. "Not as Prime Minister"

6. Peak Cray

7. Textual relations

8. Rawshark

9. Swearwolves

10. Ebola


Friday Music: Everybody Loves the Sunshine

More than most music festivals, Splore stages its lineup announcements in such a way that the "wow!" factor is as likely to come in the third or fourth release as the first. Well, they've outdone themselves this time, with the news that funk, soul and jazz legend Roy Ayers is coming to Splore in February.

It's not just that Ayers has such a significant body of work, it's the way that work has flowed into genres and scenes far removed from its origin. Any number of dance scenes have been enlivened by 'Running Away' and 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine' -- and dozens of his records have been sampled into even more dance and hip hop records. The sheer breadth of his presence in the dancehall is remarkable.

Normally, if you got to see someone like him in 2014, it would probably be in a nice, well-behaved all-seater theatre. The chance to dance under the stars to him and his band really is quite a thing.

The lineup also includes the Phoenix Foundation, Kid Koala, JStar, Race Banyon, SJD and Mr Scruff. This is looking good.

It's not all about the music, though. There's family entertainment, yoga and fitness activities, water ballet(!) and ... this thing I'm doing.

Having been hipped rather belatedly to the joy of Splore (I've been to the last two) I've been feeling the desire to actually play a role in the thing. And I'm not, you know, doing anything else in February. So I pitched an idea to the festival organisers and they went for it.

With the assistance of Luka Hinse, who ran the Pecha Kucha talks at the last Splore, I'm curating The Listening Lounge on the Saturday morning. It's a spoken word session that will include a half dozen short Pecha Kucha talks, Matthew Dentith doing a version of his boffo TedX talk on conspiracy theories and a concluding panel discussion called 'Imagining Auckland', featuring smart urbanists from TransportBlog, Generation Zero and elsewhere. The discussion is scheduled at the end so people can carry it on over lunch if they like.

I'm also planning a session with a kind of secular church vibe on a different part of the site for the Sunday morning, but I'm still working out that idea.

Meanwhile, a little Roy to be going on with. 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine' on Soul Train in 1977:

And thanks to Jeremy Jones for the pointer to this DJ Pete Rock hip hop tribute mix:


Earlier this year, Canadian produer Ryan Hemsworth launched Secret Songs, a Souncloud-based venture which sees him post a new tune by a promising producer every two weeks. All the tracks are downloadable, none of them suck and some of them are basically really great.

This is the current track:

And there's also an "album" culled from the first batch:

But what also happened last week was that Hemsworth was talking to Australia's Triple J about the project and shared 'Light Shines Through the Dust', the Lontalius track I posted last week. That led to the posting of this video of the song being performed live in studio. I didn't know Eddie went to school with Lorde ...


I was sad to hear this week of the passing of Neil Spence, guitar player for the late, great Androidss. Like the rest of the band, Neil was a diamond geezer with a nose for trouble, and he was always good to us when we were just kids in Christchurch all those years ago. I will forever remember him gleefully encouraging me to drink far too much kava that year at Sweetwaters. RIP Neil.

It's not like we need an excuse, but this seems like a good time to revisit the intriguing document of Queen City nightlife that is 'Auckland Tonight'.

As luck would have it, some personal history from Androidss-era Christchurch has just turned up on Audioculture. My good mate from back in the day, Gordon Bartram, took along a camera to quite a few gigs -- and it turns out the the pictures he took then and has been revisiting and scanning recently have added greatly to the very scant visual record of what was a lively time for music in the city. He wasn't a pro photographer, just a guy with a camera, but that's actually the charm of these pictures: they're a sort of folk history. His Audioculture page, Gordon Bartram's Christchurch 1980-81, features shots of the Androidss, the Playthings, the Newtones and the Gordons.


This is intriguing. A little thing with bagpipes and stuff, currently at number two on the chart at TheAudience:

Right behind that, a tinny recording but a really nice tune from 3 Guesses:

And some moody electronics from Wellington:

Further afield, I am freaking loving this taster from the Teen Idols compilation from Sydney's Future Classic label, which is out next week:

And, finally, this week's kitchen-dancing special. There's always room in the digital crate for another take on 'No Diggity' and this one from the Dutch DJ Beat Fatigue, all fuzzy bass and bottom end, is quite a cracker. Free download too!


The Hard News Music Post is sponsored by:



Word of the Year 2014: The Vote

The discussion has been had, the words have been nominated, and now it is time to put them to a vote. I've trimmed the list of nominated words and phrases to a manageable size and, as usual, you are invited to rank your top three choices. I'll announce the winning words -- and the Farro-hamper winning readers -- next week. Choose wisely, vote with abandon and tell your friends.

RIGHTO -- THE VOTE IS CLOSED! Results tomorrow morning, once I've written the usual amusing press release.

The first reader to suggest the eventual winning word will receive a glorious gift hamper from Farro Fresh, as will a reader drawn at random from all those who vote.

Massive props to the award-winning Farro Fresh for supporting the conversation. If you're after an ideal Christmas present, check out the full range of artisan food hampers at their online store.

(Thanks also to Beer Without Borders . My current advice is that the law now prevents us promoting any alcohol as a prize, but you can be sure that Hadyn Green -- who coded up the voting form above -- and I will be enjoying a sneak preview of beers from San Diego's Modern Times brewery, which launch here in January.)


Public Address Word of the Year 2014

It's that time again! The time, that is, when Public Address readers nominate, debate and vote for their Word of the Year. What winning word or phrase will emerge? Will it come from the hurly-burly of the weirdest general election ever, or from another part of the culture?

As ever, the Word of the Year 2014 will unfold thus: in the discussion for this post, readers will nominate their favoured words or phrases. Then, after a few days of fussing and fighting, I will draw up a short list of nominated words for voting.

Last year, "metadata" beat out the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year, “selfie”, in a final Top 10 that also included "Lorde and "berm". (Disappointingly, Lorde did not then go on to record a hit single caled 'Berm'.)

In 2012, “brainfade, “Marmageddon” and “Planet Key” were the key words (and the the case of the winner, the John Key Word). To be honest, it wasn’t a great year for words. 

In 2011, the word “munted” found its its destiny – beating out popular memes “nek minnit” and “ghost chips” for the top slot.

In 2010, of course, Public Address readers bypassed the news and opted for a neologism – the great ungendered insult that was “twatcock”. In 2009, the list was dominated by words involving Michael Laws and an “h” and  in 2008, “credit crunch” came in ahead of “rofflenui”. In 2007, another coinage, “Te Qaeda” topped the poll and in 2006, the big word was “unbundled”.

How will 2014 shape up? Well, that’s up to you.

Te recap, the process is this:

- Words are nominated in the discussion for this post. If you want to join in, you'll need to register to comment, which will only take a minute.

- Eventually, I’ll compile a list of finalists for voting.

- Everyone votes.

- We have a winner!

Well, more than one winner, actually. The first reader to suggest the eventual winning word will receive a glorious gift hamper from Farro Fresh, as will a reader drawn at random from all those who vote.

Massive props to the award-winning Farro Fresh for supporting the conversation. If you're struggling for an ideal Christmas present, check out the full range of artisan food hampers at their online store.

(Thanks also to Beer Without Borders . My current advice is that the law now prevents us promoting any alcohol as a prize, but you can be sure that Hadyn Green -- who codes up the voting form -- and I will be enjoying a sneak preview beers from San Diego's Modern Times brewery, which launch here in January.)


Some reprehensible bullshit

EXCLUSIVE, trumpets the Herald on Sunday's front page lead story today, HIDDEN ROOMS IN MAYOR'S NEW OFFICE. 'What secrets are concealed in Len Brown's flash new office?' the headline inside demands. A better question might have been: is anybody really proud of this nonsense?

The story is billed in the paper as a "Herald on Sunday special report". It's actually a ridiculous beat-up constructed around a Local Government Information Act request made by Councillor Cameron Brewer and brought to the HoS. 

As reported in 2012, Auckland Council has purchased the former ASB tower in Albert Street to bring under one roof all its CBD staff, who are currently scattered through seven buildings, some of whose leases are expiring. The building cost $104 million, but an official analysis found the move would save ratepayers about $100 million on rents, ownerships costs and travel over the net 20 years.

That might be an ambitious estimate, but I don't see anyone seriously contending that it's not a cheaper and more efficient option. Apart, of course, from Brewer, who told the same Herald on Sunday reporter back in July that the move was a "waste of money", but provided no numbers to back up his claim.

The "secret rooms" are not actually a "secret" in any meaningful sense of the word: their presence, design and, fittings and budget are literally a matter of public record. They are a dressing room with a two-seater sofa, an ironing board and a wardrobe, and a small ensuite bathroom. But, in what would seem to be a bid to blend the office's ceremonial and practical functions, the door between the formal office and its ensuite has been designed as part of a bookcase. That's it. That really is the sum total of the scandal.

The HoS does not suggest exactly how a door with books on it makes the room any more likely to hide bad deeds than a door without, given that everyone knows the ensuite is there, but you know what's coming:

And eyebrows have been raised about the secret rooms, given Brown's past indiscretions.

During a two-year affair with Bevan Chuang, the pair had sex in the mayoral office and other council rooms.

The graphic with the story goes to farcical ends to try and wrench more out of the mundane facts. The mayor's office will not have blinds like any other office, but "blackout blinds", and the wardrobe will be a "full-length mirrored wardrobe". They've even Photoshopped Bevan Chuang into a picture with Brown, dutifully noting that the picture has been "digitally altered".

The rest of the story is padded out with inane quotes from failed mayoral candidate and leader of the deranged "Stand Down Len Brown" protests Stephen Berry, and four of the five council dead-enders who got crushed by their peers in a vote over Brown's censure motion last year:

Last night the hidden rooms were labelled "inappropriate" and "a really bad look".

Councillor Sharon Stewart said she had not seen the new office, but "I don't think it's a good look ... I don't think he should have secret rooms in light of what's gone on."

Councillor Linda Cooper said the mayor had a perception problem. "When you've been caught before ... you've got to be wise about your actions and how they'll be perceived by the public, given your history."

Affordable Auckland leader Stephen Berry said hiding rooms behind a bookcase was "highly inappropriate and a really bad look".

"Didn't he learn from the Bevan Chuang incident?"

Councillor Dick Quax said the rooms sounded too elaborate for a city mayor: "A mayor requires working places, he doesn't need play spaces."

You know, if I was building myself a "play space", I think I'd do better than a two-seater couch and a dressing mirror. But Brown actually seems to have had no role in the design. Which make sense, given that the office is supposed to house mayors for at least the next two decades.

Brewer, as usual, gets more space to blather inanities than the others:

Brewer said most would see the bathroom as "more James Bond and probably better suited for the general manager of Hotel Versace".

"Given these are times of austerity according to the mayor, I don't think communities facing local project and service cutbacks will appreciate this kind of showing off."

Is he fucking serious? The bathroom cost $10,000, including tiling. Anyone who has renovated their own home will know what a $10,000 bathroom looks like, and it don't look like much.

But everyone involved here knows that. The editor, the reporter and the rentaquote councillors all know the story is bullshit. For the latter, it's another chance to have a crack at Brown and for the paper it's just more cheap clickbait. If Bevan Chuang gets used yet again -- and Photoshopping her into a picture really is quite the sleazy touch -- that's just what happens to women who have sex, right? 

Is this what you people got into journalism for?