One form of TV you can reliably assume will deliver less than it promises is the clips countdown. Well, usually. But I watched Karyn Hay's Rock the Nation: 100 New Zealand Music Moments on C4 last night -- and it's good!
The show is smart, it told me things I didn't know and -- from Devlin to D'Arcy Clay; from Sweetwaters to Savage -- it got the tone right. It even features Simon Grigg! I'll certainly be watching the next three episodes.
Coincidentally, Gareth Shute's new book, NZ Rock 1987-2007 (Random House) arrived at the front door yesterday. It's as functional as the title suggests: there are no grand theories advanced, there's not even an introduction -- just a crisp, comprehensive account of who did what, when, across 359 pages, with a big index. It's a reference book, and I think every public library, at least, should own one. I'll see if I can get some copies to give away.
If you like the sound of that, you may also wish to join us for the recording of Media7, 7pm tonight at The Classic in Queen Street. We're marking Music Month by taking on the music funding debate, with Brendan Smythe from NZ On Air, funding curmudgeon Gray Bartlett and
entertainment lawyer Chris Hocquard Real Groove editor Duncan Grieve. We can fit a few bods, but you'll need to hit "reply" below to let me know that you (and a friend if desired) will be joining us.
And the free stuff keeps on coming: we have one double pass to for each of HDU's shows at the San Francisco Bath House in Wellington (this Thursday) and the King's Arms in Auckland. Hit reply and email me with HDU in the subject line and contact details. HDU are playing in support of their new album, Metamathics.
Meanwhile, just so you know it's coming: expect the usual suspects to pick up on the revivedpanic about salvia divinorum, which is hitting the American media at the moment.
Salvia is a short-acting but spectacularly hallucinogenic variety of sage that has quietly been sold out of head shops for at least a decade. Several US states have recently rushed to ban it (some poor bastard in Dakota is facing years in prison after buying some on eBay and California is looking to make it R18 (which seems sensible).
The spur for the latest round of stories is a proliferation of user clips on YouTube, including good trips and bad trips. Now, frankly, the last thing you should be doing to anyone on a salvia trip is pointing a sodding camera at them, let alone putting them on YouTube (lying down in a darkened room is regarded as best practice). But kids like to freak each other out.
It's understandable that parents would themselves freak out after spending some time watching kids acting very munted, but the potential for long-term harm seems pretty minor compared with many other recreational substances, in part because it's not exactly recreational.
It's like being dropped into the peak five minutes of a very strong acid trip. Not everyone likes that; a few people find it profound.
I tried it a couple of times, years ago (and quite legally) in Amsterdam. A mum quoted in one of the above news stories says her son briefly thought he was a sofa, and then a door. Fair enough: I briefly thought I was some curtains (or, at least, that the difference between me and the curtains had become irrelevant).
I also spent a short eternity beyond time and space, before settling into a slightly psychedelic space for 20 minutes more. I certainly didn't dislike it (a smaller dose seemed to enhance my experience of the Van Gogh Museum), but I didn't like it enough to go back and get some more from the shop either.
Salvia had its turn in the local media when Pete Cronshaw had some on TV (what did I say about cameras?) and didn't dig it. I'm not sure whether the present panic in America will revive things, but frankly, I hope they let it lie. A moral panic is just going to market it to a mainstream audience, and there's probably no one who wants that, or for a whole new class of criminal to be created out of a few harmless people who want to explore their heads.