Hard News by Russell Brown


Music: Shayne Carter – you gotta have soul

Most of this somewhat delayed music post is the following interview Alexander Bisley conducted with Shayne Carter about his new album, Offsider, and life and music in general. I'm very grateful to Alexander for the work – RB.


Dimmer’s There My Dear, You’ve Got to Hear the Music, and I Believe You Are a Star is one of the 2000s’ great, formative Kiwi music trifectas.  

With Dimmer, Shayne P Carter built on his Straitjacket legacy. Like Dunedin Sound classics such as ‘Down in Splendour’, Dimmer songs including ‘Don’t Even See Me’, ‘Getting What You Give’, and ‘Case’ still resonate. Frank and personal, both incendiary and reflective, Carter’s music has soul.

In 2016 Carter continues to push himself, with new album Offsider, influenced by classical pianists. He’s performing nationwide this month with Don McGlashan. Carter is a thoughtful, engaged interviewee. We talked humour, stalking, and WINZ.

 “A very funny guy. Shayne’s got a very dry sense of humour, comes up with some hilarious things,” Mu told me, smiling insouciantly. How important is humour to survive in the Kiwi music industry?

Humour is important for survival fullstop wouldn’t you say? If you didn't laugh you'd cry/ comedy is tragedy etc. It's a great comfort, a relief, and, probably, a defense. Buckle up where you can man! All my favourite comedians were/are generally troubled people. Funny that. I come from a family with an excellent absurdist sense of humour.

In my modest acquaintance with Chris Knox, he was a generous man. What did you learn from Chris? And how was it working as his caregiver after his stroke?

I've always respected Chris for being unafraid in what can be such a straitlaced, square society. He was inspirational like that. I love him and his whanau. I was his primary caregiver for two years after his stroke. It was good to be able to give for/to a friend. I thought that was a valuable life experience. But to be honest it was pretty tough too.

I loved experiencing There My Dear, You’ve Got to Hear the Music, and I Believe You Are a Star live. Songs including ‘Don’t Even See Me’, ‘Getting What You Give’, and ‘Case’ still resonate. Any Dimmer songs moving you this month? What dimension does performing live bring?

Well cheers. I like ‘Case’ too. Its subtlety. I played a little house party a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed ‘What’s A Few Tears To The Ocean’. The lyric. Sorry everyone but I nailed that sucker! Playing live is The Dimension. You're a musician. Playing music is what you should be doing, not loading squiggles onto a computer screen.

Is Otis “The Greatest” Redding still in your thoughts? Your music has soul.

Well cheers again. If any musician performs with absolute conviction, that's usually enough for me. You can tell what's true and what isn't. Otis Redding has soul. People on American Idol generally pretend to have soul or do some imitation of what they think is soul. Usually hysteria and vocal gymnastics. It ends up meaning nothing.

“Shayno—gee, he’s written a lot of great songs hasn’t he? Hard to pick one. ‘If I Were You’ [Straitjacket Fits], that is a really great song: stalker song [sings some ‘If I Were You’]. I quite like writing those songs too. I’ve written quite a few stalker-songs myself, because it’s not appropriate to be like that in real life, but when you really have a strong feeling for someone that’s how you feel, you want to wear their clothes and steal their friends, just be psycho and love them in psycho ways. But you can’t, so you write a song about it. It’s cool, it’s really intense. I like intensity,” Anna Coddington told me. Does ‘If I Were You’ still speak to you?

Yeah that's one of my better ones. It was originally a different arrangement with different lyrics. There's a live version of that old version from Australian TV floating around somewhere. But we did a new musical arrangement when we recorded it and I had an afternoon to write a new lyric so in this case a deadline really worked. The lyric has a nice ambiguity to it that I try to incorporate in a lot of my work. On this new record I deliberately used very simple words so nearly every line has a double meaning. I guess people are never going to notice that but it was important to me.

“Rock n roll has taken me everywhere from the Winz office in Dunedin to the Arista offices in New York with both locations providing their own oppressive ambience,” you say. “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs.  There’s also a negative side,” Hunter S. Thompson puts it. “Bang on. Haha,” Dolf De Borst adds. Further thoughts?

Yeah the music business can be a really shitty and cruel place to be.  Artists are generally sensitive people and that kind of stuff can really knock you around. The judgement. The disposability. People way less talented than you deciding your affairs. Power to the artists! But music's not shitty and cruel. In fact it's completely the opposite. It's a powerful spiritual and social force that makes me feel better every fucking morning.

What should every aspiring creative person know about WINZ?

 To be honest I haven't been on the dole for a long time but it always used to make me laugh when they'd be saying "So this music thing is all very well but you need to get a real job " and you'd be sitting there thinking "What, like yours?"

“A lot of artists complain about the limited space they have, rather than trying to find ways to say what they want within that space,” the Saudi female filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour told me. Comment?

Well there's a lot to be said for a limited palette. Is that what she's saying? Too many choices gets confusing. I've always liked minimalism and the idea of quintessential truths. It's all in the editing. It probably goes back to what I was saying about Mozart earlier. Cutting away the dross and finding the essence. Or if she's talking about the oppression or conservatism around her. That can be a very inspirational thing to react to as well.

Schubert’s lieder, Chopin’s Nocturnes, Debussy’s neo psychedelia, Mozart’s pristine classicism, Beethoven’s cosmic exploration. I agree this stuff is amazing. Can you expand on the essential influence and inspiration of one or two of these artists on your new album Offsider?

The fact their music could reach out and touch me across the centuries - I found that really profound and moving. I was also fascinated by their work processes, and how they produced so much. They were so young when they died - Schubert was 31, Mozart 36, Chopin 39, but they were mind blowingly prolific. I could go on for ages about these people. Schubert was a big influence. My album title is half a reference to the character in his song "der Doppleganger" or the figure of The Wanderer in "Wintereisse". Two of my favorite quotes - someone writing about Bach and saying how his note changes were "unexpected yet inevitable". Any songwriter should put that on their wall. Or another description of Mozart's music being like a deep crystal pool with no fake profundity muddying the waters. I'd put that on the wall as well.

What do you hope Offsider’s impact is? What do you want it to accomplish?

Personally just finishing the record and having it say what I intended it to say is the accomplishment for me. I can't predict or control beyond that. I suspect it's not music that gives itself up straight away but it's got depth and I guess I'd hope there were listeners with the patience and time to discover that.

How do you keep your edge? What’s your current philosophy on experimentation and adventure? 

Keep moving. Try not to become an imitation of yourself. Try to find new angles to stay excited and passionate about what you do. Without that you're lost. I've recently played a bunch of improv shows with my old pals Michael (Morley) and Robbie (Yeats) from the Dead C. Sometimes we were flailing about but sometimes we hit these grooves that were utterly transcendent that you could never plan or write. It's all grist to the mill. It all informs my own stuff. I've done extracurricular things that range from singing backing vocals on a Bic Runga album to playing two hour jams with the Dead C. It's all music. Somewhere in any of that I can find a pocket where it feels good and I know that what I'm doing is true.


Base FM has joined Artweek Auckland this year wth Cover Story, an exhibition in which more than 80 of its DJs present their most prized record sleeves and the story behind their affections. It runs from tomorrow until November 5, at  Studio One, Room 10, 1 Ponsonby Road.

There's a launch at the gallery tomorrow evening which you can sign up for via the Facebook event page.

For now, here's a taster. Peter McLennan (aka Peter Mac of Saturday morning's Ring the Alarm show) talks about his choice ...

'Chains', by DLT featuring Che Fu (yes, Che Fu was guesting on it, and if you are one of those eggs who credit it as being a song by DLT and Che Fu, you are forgetting what a huge landmark it was for a DJ to make his own album here) is the greatest song ever to come out of Ponsonby.

Then there’s 'Chains Remix' (including Mighty Asterix and Ras Daan), with its killer opening lines that burst thru from the pounding drums (DLT tunes always had great drums!)…

“Well I grew up in Ponsonby, they take the Gluepot now they coming for me, but hell no, I won't go away, Ponsonby, where I live, Ponsonby where I stay… I never asked you to put a cafe in my street…”

That’s some deep history right there. That is connected to what BaseFM is all about, and the changes we live thru. That’s the greatest song ever ABOUT Ponsonby.

I remember DJing that Chains Remix once at an afternoon gig at the KA a few years back, and two cats turned round and instantly started singing along. They were both BaseFM DJs. Shot.

Chains emerged in July 1996 and blasted to number one on the singles charts, at a time when there had only ever been one other local hiphop song to achieve that feat - Hiphop Holiday by Three The Hard Way, in 1994. Like that song, Chains arrived amidst a musical landscape where local radio programmers still thought rap music was a fad that would die out, and radio stations here had slogans like ‘No rap, no crap.’

This stinky notion ain’t a million miles away from the ugly 70s rantings of the ‘Disco Suck’s’ campaign led by the old white rock dogs - go look up the Disco Demolition Rally to see what kind of special brand of stupid rock radio DJs are capable of (as if you didn’t know that already - insert contemporary local example/s here).

The song came out in July 1996, only two weeks after Che Fu had been kicked out of his previous band Supergroove. Chains stayed at number one for 5 weeks. Must have been pretty stink for Supergroove to see that guy you just kicked out of your band at the top of the charts every week. Bet Che didn't feel stink tho.

Meanwhile DLT wasn't seeking out the limelight, going out to clubs going "Yo, I'm here, what's up?", instead he stayed home with his family and giggled his head off. "Every morning I woke up... 'It's still number one! Hee hee hee...'. (Quotes from Hiphop music in Aotearoa, by Gareth Shute - go buy that book and school yourself).

And that wicked chorus? Che made that up on the spot. In a 2005 interview with DJ Sir-vere for Back2Basics magazine, Che revealed how it came about…

"DLT was doing his own album and asked me to do a track. So I turn up at the studio to do this track. As far as I knew I was just going to bust a rhyme on one of his songs. I go in the booth and he says 'You got your chorus ready?' I was like 'Chorus?' I didn't want to look like I didn't know what I was doing, so I said 'I just have to go to the toilet.'

"I go into the toilet and am like 'oh my god, oh my god! He thinks I'm doing a whole track.' So I stand there, in the toilet, and came up with 'Come break my chains come help me out...' I went straight back to the booth and sung it even though I had made it up 30 seconds before!"

Che had never told anyone that story (apart from his manager and his lady) before that interview.

The other great story about Chains is that his label A & R at BMG, Kirk Harding, kept sending DLT back into the studio until he got the version that satisfied him. Apparently he sent them back to the studio THIRTEEN times. I’ve heard some of those other mixes. They are freaking awesome. Such great drums. That man knows his beats. True School represent!

Ironically, given the theme of that song, Base is facing a move away from its own Ponsonby HQ, which has been marked for development. And, as this backgrounder explains, the station doesn't have a lot of time to find a new home. You can chip in to their Givealittle fundraiser to help with the costs associated with the move. This video explains why it matters:


Another music-related Artweek Auckland event: as part of the Changing Lanes project, Paul Woodruffe and some of his Unitec students have printed huge versions of Jeremy Templer's photographs from the scene around the seminal Auckland punk club Zwines, which will be affixed in Durham Lane, where Zwines used to be. A Simon Grigg-curated exhibition in The Bluestone Room, the old Zwines site, opens today and has more of Jeremy's work from the time.

You can see some of Jeremy's pictures here on his website.



Rocknrolla Soundsystem go a new way with their latest edit – taking on Oasis! (Free download)

Hamilton's Terrorball comes through with a sweet little electropop-disco instrumental:


The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant


Friday Music: After the King's Arms

No one should be at all surprised at this week's news that the King's Arms property has been put up for sale. That was the clear implication of the pub and its carpark being designated as a Special Housing Area back in April. You can read my post about the fairly confusing series of statements made in the days that followed the designation.

The upshot of it all is that Maureen Gordon, the formidable publican who has owned the King's Arms business and building with two partners since 1993, was clearly considering her future. And fair enough, too. She's not getting any younger and she owns a very valuable property. As the property listing says:

“It is zoned Mixed Use, and under the Auckland Unitary Plan, this benefits from an additional height overlay allowance of 32.5m. This is one of the most favourable height overlays in the city fringe.

“The proposed new 32.5m height limit is considerably higher than the current mixed use zoning which has a maximum height restriction of 15m.

That's up to eight stories. So what happens now? That's a little complicated. Unless the developers who applied (with Maureen's permission) for the original SHA designation have applied again to have it extended as allowed by a recent law change, the SHA (which also includes two neighbouring properties, 11 and 13 Karaka Street) will expire a year after it was granted –ie, next April.

The new Unitary Plan zoning actually offers the right to build two stories higher than the SHA designation did. But assorted nimbys have filed court challenges that could delay the Unitary Plan being coming into force for up to a year. So there could yet be a gap between the site being sold and the new owners actually being able to develop it.

Whatever happens, we are, sooner or later likely to lose a live music venue that is important to multiple local music communities and also works for a certain tier of international artists. The current licence would be sold with the building and the older part of the pub is covered by a pre-1944 demolition overlay which makes the demolition of the building a discretionary activity. So it would be the subject of a resource consent application which the council may approve or decline.

It's quite possible that the heritage part would therefore be preserved in some form, but I don’t think that it would be likely to continue to operate as a venue for loud music. It would more likely return to its original status as a neighbourhood corner pub:

Because, let's not forget that until the motorway junction drove out as many as 30,000 people, this was a residential neighbourhood. That's the KA circled there (thanks to Patrick Reynolds for the pic):

A lot of people lived in Newton and we are going to see some of that residential population return in the next 10 years. That is not a bad thing.

The forced relocation of so many local residents in the 1960s and 1970s had another effect: it spelled the end of Karangahape Road's identity as a mainstream department store destination. And when the motorway split K Road, it stranded the west end of the ridge. It was pretty much a disaster for the existing merchants – but it led to the red-light era and thence the edgy, bohemian K Road we know and value today.

I think we need to start having a serious discussion about cultural infrastructure as residential building returns to this part of town. Because it's quite possible that this isn't the only venue at risk. The Powerstation only opens for shows three or four times a month. It could be used more often, but its owner-operators, Muchmore Music, demand a pretty substantial room hire fee, which isn't economic for many shows. They seem committed to running a venue, just not very often.

But when the City Rail Link opens in five years time, the venue will be just up the hill from the redeveloped Mt Eden station. It's going to be an attractive place to live and it's easy to see the owners being tempted to sell up for residential development.

What the King's Arms and the Powerstation have in common is that they are reasonably large rectangular boxes, which makes them ideal rock 'n' roll venues. That's a hard kind of building to find – and an even harder one to build – in the current environment. While the Wine Cellar and Whammy have done a good job of making the most of their space and Galatos seems to work well, the only real "big box" on K Road is The Studio.

Let's be honest about The Studio: it's a former nightclub that really has its drawbacks as a live music venue. It  needs its insides ripped out to remove the irksome bottleneck that makes it such hard work to be at sometimes. Can its owner, John Grant, afford to do that?

Here's the thing: Auckland got another new theatre last week, the $36 million Waterfront Theatre in the Wynyard precinct. More than $4 million for that facility came from Creative New Zealand, with further contributions from ASB Bank, Foundation North, AUT and many private donors. It's a marvellous achievment for the Auckland Theatre Company, which has been without a home for 10 years.

Is it time to start thinking about taking music seriously as culture too? The person in the local government scene who is currently talking like that is mayoral aspirant Chloe Swarbrick. She has an Arts, Culture and Nightlife policy with some good ideas in it. The simple fact that she's saying "culture" and nightlife" in the same sentence is pretty special in itself.

Barring a monumental upset, Phil Goff will be Auckland's next mayor. There's not much chance of him suddenly becoming Groovy Phil the Nightlife Mayor. But I'm seeing a job for Chloe right there.


Meanwhile, here's some good news on the music venue front: REC is a record shop and venue cooked up by Connor Nestor and Samuel Harmony. It's not uptown but downtown – at 38 Customs Street East – and it opens to the public on Friday October 14, with a show by Cut off Your Hands and Yukon Era. Scuba Diva and Purple Pilgrims play the next night and there's a record fair on the Sunday. That's an excellent first weekend!

Connor tells me their "ultimate goal is the make this a space where people can hear music in context. Artists have a brilliant time and people enjoy themselves." He sounds pretty excited about the Martin Audio Wavefront sound system they're preparing to install.


In case you were wondering, this weeks music post isn't late because I went to the Apra Silver Scrolls after-party last night (although I did), but because some monster scheduled me a 9.30am board meeting.

But last night was pretty special. The returning host John Campbell was relaxed and eloquent and the show itself felt quite different to last year's slightly strained anniversary award. Back then, he was between jobs. This year, he was the face of a public broadcaster that continues to reinvent itself in interesting ways. Perhaps we're all in a better space.

I've never seen the honouring of a Hall of Fame recipient become the keynote of the evening in quite the way that the celebration of Moana Maniapoto did this year. From Hinewehi Mohi bursting into tears before she could even begin her tribute, to Moana's own soulful speech (including a fine and graceful shout-out to her ex-husband Willie) to the remarkable scenes when she returned to the floor of the event, it was the centrepiece of an evening that was, more than anything, a celebration of Maori creativity. There was quite a lot of crying going on for quite a long time.

Here's the Audioculture profile of Moana that went up yesterday. And here's the speech:

I also thought it was remarkable that the musical tribute to Moana, both in te reo Maori and English, was performed by Soccer Practise, a band from quite a different tradition to that from which Moana emerged:

Oh, and I think my favourite of the finalist cover versions was the "supergroup" Oystercatcher, who played the Phoenix Foundation's 'Give Up Your Dreams'. I don't think I've ever seen Steve Abel shimmy like that!


Earlier in the week I went along to to Sony Music NZ's artist showcase at Brothers Beer. Firstly, let me say that I thoroughly approve of launches being held at Brothers Beer. Mmmm. Beer.

The showcase was facsinating too. It was essentially a look at how artist development happens now. It makes more sense for labels to sign and develop individual artists rather than bands, and so it was that three young men were presented.

The first, Mitch James, was signed while he was away trying his luck (and kind of starving) on the streetcorners of Europe, off the back of YouTube videos like this.

Yes, doing cover versions of hit songs and posting them on the internet is a reasonable path to a recording contract these days. He's got the patter and the vocal projection of a busker too, which doesn't hurt.

Next up was Benny Tipene, who is both freakier and seemingly more comfortable with himself than he was when we first heard of him on a TV talent show. Like Mitch, he's been co-writing some songs with Dave Baxter (aka Avalanche City), who is signed to Sony/ATV for the pubishing that represents the bulk of his income. They're good, sound pop songs and I wonder if this is the start of a little bit of a hit factory.

Last up was Thomston, who is quite a different kind of artist – less identifiably Kiwi, sort of alt-pop-R&B. He's managed by Scott Maclachlan, Lorde's fomer manager and was the subject of quite a scramble to sign him last year – he eventually went with Sony Music Australia. He has already built up quite some momentum in advance of his debut album, Topograph, which is out today. I think he's a significant talent.


Also out today Electric Wire Hustle's new album The 11th Sky. Here's a YouTube sampler:

Streaming and buying links are all here.


So, speaking of music and culture, Anything Could Happen: Strange Echoes of the Dunedin Sound got announced this week.

Anything Could Happen is a performance, music, and multimedia immersive environment that reimagines moments from the legendary early-80s Dunedin music scene in a way that celebrates the city’s current crop of culturally diverse artists. The project will unfold over three days at the historic Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics' Institute, with satellite events in Christchurch and two popular arts venues in Los Angeles, California.

 The aim is to appeal to those who are already familiar with this wonderful music, while introducing a broader audience to the magic of the Dunedin Sound. The event will also spotlight the present-day and emerging artists in theatre, music, video art, dance, photography, and new media who are keeping Dunedin a vibrant cultural centre.

It goes down next year and there's a Facebook page you can like to keep up with developments.



The 2016 Apra Silver Scroll winner ...

So Spotify is preparing to buy Soundcloud. Soundcloud has really been needing something to happen and perhaps this might be a good thing. But for now, this practice of posting "previews" of tracks on a music discovery site that currently offers no compelling case for a paid subscription to unlock them is just really irksome ...

New Jagwar Ma:

And new A. Skillz!


The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant


Friday Music: Getting Festive

Splore's first lineup announcement was made this week – and in keeping with the 2017 theme of "Family Reunion", it's headed by some notable returns. Dub Pistols are back after a cracking show this year, the Ragga Twins just can't stay away – and Splore whanau Pitch Black are back!

Pitch Black have a new album, Filtered Senses, available here on Bandcamp. It's an internet-enabled project, or as they put it, "songs created via remote control through pipes of light between Piha, NYC, Toronto, London," meaning that apart from a two-week mixdown in hackney, Mike Hodgson largely worked on the tracks in London and Paddy Free was all over the place.

It's a work of spacious techno dub for which you'll definitely want to connect the subwoofer. You can get a taste of it in their album preview on Soundcloud:

Also of note at Splore – for me, anyway – is the announcement of the brilliant Detroit DJ-producer Tall Black Guy. There will be another couple of staged announcements, but I'm pretty happy with things so far. (Also, go and sit in front of the video on the Splore home page and tell me that doesn't look like fun.)

As I noted last week, the Laneway 2017 lineup announcement is out too – and, as per tradition, it's full of artists you probably haven't heard of but may well be gaggin' to hear by January 30. The general tone seems to be shifting even further towards indie electronica, which is fine by me. I've been working through Bob Moses:

And Tourist:

And budding neo-soul queen Nao:

I'm presuming there won't be as much nudity on stage as there is in the videos.

But before all that goes down, there's a different kind of festival. Mokonui Music is staging its second Lettuce Inn festival in avocado grove on the Liberty Growers’ hydroponic lettuce and herb farm in Katikati on October 22 (ie: Labour Weekend).


It looks really nice. And affordable – family tickets are only $35. More details on the Facebook event page.

Meanwhile, Auckland Council is putting on a gig in front of Britomart Station from 5pm today, to make you think about voting.


Not strictly music content – but it uses music really well. Friday Night Bites, by Roseanne Liang and the Flat 3 crew, is arriving in snacked-sized pieces on TVNZ Ondemand every Friday for the next few weeks. And the first episode, Slutwalk: The Musical – a spirited discussion of rape culture through the medium of song and dance – is really something else.

Update! Looks like the episodes are going on YouTube after a week on TVNZ Ondemand. Good call. Means I can embed this:

Meanwhile, Roseanne's guest post about TV and diversity made the front page of Angry Asian Man. This is its conclusion:

Talking about diversity is easy. Practicing diversity is hard. You might get a few wobbly performances. You might have to spend longer developing the talent. There are a few good Asian actors out there, compared to a legion of good white and brown actors. If more production companies placed an emphasis on casting diverse, imagine how rich and varied a legion we could grow!

We make this silly, fun, sex-positive, thoughtful diverse comedy because we need it. If we don't do it, we don't know who else will. We work hard and worry our mothers, because they taught us about focus and work ethic and not quitting. We just want four things-to be good, to see ourselves on screen, for people of all walks of life to watch us and relate, and for our work to be sustainable. That's it. That's all.

Alan Yang is right. We've got a long way to go. It's going to take a lot of hard work. I know it'll happen. I just wish there was some kind of exam we could ace to get there, now.


 Tourettes has been building to his album Feel Like Shit, Looking Great for what seems like – actually is – all year. The album, with music by Abe Kunin, is on Bandcamp today:

But the audio is only half the story. The Bandcamp page also has a buy link for the related lyric book, designed by Roy Irwin, which, it says here, "documents Dominic’s journey through the health system, searching for meaning in a neo liberal theme park and the quiet madness and beauty of the New Zealand countryside."

The book will also be available at proper record shops and the launch gig is tomorrow night at The Wine Cellar.


Promising new artist Leonard Cohen, 82, has an album on the way and this is a deeply savoury taste of it:

Early Husker Du demos incoming.

You'll soon be able to tour the Paisley Park Museum.

And on Audioculture, Arthur Baysting rounds up New Zealand songs with geographical namechecks.



Biggie Smalls' much-remixed 'Party and Bullshit' gets the drum and bass treatment. It's noisy as fuck! (Free download with Hypeddit palaver.)

If you like a little disco dub (reshare to download) ...

And a lovely Dr Packer rework of a Stevie Wonder oldie (Artists Union palaver for the free download):


The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant


Trump's Dummkopfs

While the world holds its breath over a prodigious narrowing of the polls in the US Presidential election campaign, it's hard not to wonder sometimes about who these people are. His prospective voters, I mean. Who can merrily ignore his constant lying, his dubious alliances, his ghastly temperament, his habitual misogyny and his manifest unfitness for elected office?

Who are the people who write comments like this under the latest installment of the Washington Post's meticulous examination of the long-running scam that is the Trump Foundation?

WP, there you go again (as one of our best presidents used to say". Dicing Donald Trump, attempting to get HC elected. Stop this controlled Russian style journalism, please. It is sickening that this nation no longer has free press.

And this?

I no longer believe what the press reports, the reports coming out of Obama's DC, or whoever or whatever investigated the Clinton Foundation. This has become a tragic country. The children and future generations are to be pitted.

Well, The Daily Show's Jordan Klepper went and met some. Have a look. I know that mocking these idiots doesn't really help and that I don't have a vote in this race. But it makes me feel a little better to mock them. And besides, we're due a US elections thread ...


Excited for Auckland!

As my social media attests, I was pretty excited when I got home from last night's Orcon IRL: Vote Auckland event. Not just because we'd defied the elements to put on another swingin' conscious party (emergency action to empty overloaded rain canopies turns out to be quite the icebreaker with audiences), but because I felt I'd caught a glimpse of Auckland's future and it was good.

In wrangling panels for this one, I'd been determined to do two things: reach beyond the central Auckland bubble, and recognise the key role of local boards in the city's democratic set-up.

That led me to Efeso Collins, who for me was the standout of the evening – he's such a strong figure in person. He was elected to the Ōtara-Papatoetoe local board three years ago and became its chair. This year, he's standing for council proper in the Manukau ward. 

I was also impressed by Paula Bold-Wilson, who manages the Waitakere Community Law Centre and is standing for the Henderson-Massey local board and Matthew Cross, a 29 year-old former Army officer who is standing in Howick, where Dick Quax and Sharon Stewart, two of the worst councillors of the current term, were elected unopposed last time.

But here's the thing: as The Spinoff's Auckland voting guide points out, Manukau is "sparkling with talent", more of it than can be elected. At Henderson-Massey, Paula is one of an unprecedented four Māori candidates seeking election to the board. And in Howick, Matthew is one of 10 candidates where last time there were two for two seats on council. (The Spinoff picks Matthew and the Green Party's Julie Zhu there.)

What I think we're seeing is that there is an abundance of strong, new leadership in the city's South and West – it just needs to get itself elected. (The same may be true of parts of the North Shore too – we rather carelessly left out the north last night.) Until such time as we get STV voting, that's left to electors in individual wards.

And in town, there's Chloe. Chloe Swarbrick continued her roll last night: keen to take every question, confident, articulate and informed when she did so. Bill Ralston basically endorsed her on the panel they shared last night and earlier in the day Phil Goff declared that were he not standing for the mayoralty himself, he'd vote for her. I asked her whether, should Goff win and offer her a job, she'd take it. She said she'd consider it.

The reality is that Goff will win – he has huge support in the South and West, where people trust him, and that's fair enough – but a vote for Chloe is a vote for what she represents. She's not perfect (I have some misgivings about the head-butting on Twitter that Charlotte Ryan asked her about) but would I want her involved in steering Auckland? Oh, hell yes.

All the above seem to embody a much better vision than did Morning Report's tedious, incoherent and Chloe-less mayoral debate. And than that offered by some of the time-servers taking up space on the current council.

To be fair, there is still a place for greying white men. Peter Haynes, who chairs my local board, is skilled at and invested in the kind of resource management work that local boards are charged with. Ralston wouldn't be terrible if he was elected and had to own decisions rather than idly mock them. And not all of the youngsters are ready – Chang Hung is full of beans but a little underdone yet on last night's performance. (To his credit, he emphasised his commitment to trying again in three years if he's not elected to the local board this time.)

But yes, there's something good there within Auckland's grasp. Ward voting means that any of us can only play a small part in reaching out to it, and some of us still don't have any great choices. But I think there's cause to be excited for Auckland.


Anyway, pending an edit, here's the raw video from last night's Orcon IRL (note that Cathy Casey was unable to attend as advertised, having been stricken with the flu, and Peter Haynes was her stand-in). You can either scrub forward to about 56:40 in the embedded video below or click this link to go straight to that point in the video on YouTube. Enjoy.