Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Wall and the Paper

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  • JackElder,

    Ever seen a Sea Monkey (tm). With the naked eye?

    Yup. Sea monkeys are just brine shrimp, which get to about 1cm long if you take care of them right. I've grown them, and while they're not the most exciting pets, they're perfectly visible. Though I can confirm that they don't do much in the way of living in little castles, driving little cars, etc, as my childhood recollation of the ads would seem to indicate.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    His long-form pieces in North & South on various “small towns” in New Zealand were often so funny, sympathetic and strangely revealing that I was reminded how much I missed his work in the Listener. Jane Ussher’s too, her photography for those pieces was equally evocative. He really should anthologise those articles, they’re among his best writing, which is saying something.

    I have a feeling they might make up part of the book on New Zealand he's working on, the one he got a Copyright grant for last year -- something like 22 observational essays about NZ. Yeah, they were fantastic.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 646 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to 3410,

    I can still do it in 3 days, last time I checked.

    Not that muscle.

    But what about that mini-submarine? That must have been real.

    Heh, was it radio controlled? So they could save money by just explaining afterwards why none of them ever come back.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Ray Gilbert,

    On a similar note to SST - how about this piece of meaningless reporting from the Herald today

    tTwo-thirds of 323 Aucklanders surveyed support turning busy Queen St into a pedestrian mall.

    Sixty four per cent wanted more pedestrian access to Queen St, with either no traffic at all or shared by pedestrians and vehicles with business in the area, such as delivery vans.

    UMR Research said 33 per cent of those wanted Queen St closed to all traffic and made into a pedestrian mall, 31 per cent preferred a shared zone and 32 per cent wanted to keep the street as it is.

    The margin of error for the Auckland part was plus or minus 5.5 per cent

    Start by lumping together 2 different opinions as one. Then quote a 5.5 margin of error with 3 opinions with only 2% between them.

    Lies, damned lies and statistics

    Since Nov 2006 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to JackElder,

    they're perfectly visible.

    Yes, I just had a batch of them recently. They're not an outright lie, you do get animals. Charles Atlas was also quite big, supposedly from flexing in front of the mirror (for years, and eating all the right foods, and possibly having a physique that responds the right way). And if you you're actually able to land a roundhouse kick on a bully's head, you might be considered unbeatable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to recordari,

    ‘Ms’ Gracewood is a well-known radical who is at the forefront of a campaign to destroy the New Zealand way of life.

    Spooky. Dr Haywood's satire is almost word-for-word what someone wrote in a letter to Metro last month. Just add "literary" before "life". Is he ghost-writing for disgruntled NZ authors now?

    (I deny both accusations, of course. But then I would, wouldn't I).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1432 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Jolisa,

    (I deny both accusations, of course. But then I would, wouldn't I).

    I think if one has that sort of power, one should wield it with impunity.

    It must be days since anyone posted the 'I'm not here to make friends' clip. Days and days.

    Of course that is in relation to that other stuff, cause we're all friends here, OFAIK.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    If Auckland Council’s graffiti prevention adviser Rob Shields is really going ’round applying some sort of political acceptability test to Art on private property, well, that’s just not acceptable, I’m afraid.

    I’d appreciate hearing from the mayor or councilors as to whether or not this is official policy.

    AND

    Oh, I’ll be cynical enough to guess Len will be cheerfully playing “blame the officials” with the best of them.

    Wearing my elected rep hat, I say the following (but these are my views, not those of the Mayor or anybody else):

    I too am appalled and upset at the 'greying' out of the Poynton Tce artwork. It would be immensely preferable that things were 'gayed' out and not 'greyed' out.

    I don't think that there is any written policy that Mr Shields is following, other than the very obvious policy of deeming any surface painted with a spray can as being tagged, and painting it out. Far from it for me to bag officers, but I suspect that this unwritten policy leads to very unfortunate and un-intended outcomes. I will be recommending that this policy at the very minimum be amended to recognise that the use of spray paint does not necessarily mean that there is a tag.

    This issue has been raised internally by me in Council and I have been told firmly that it will be handled by officers as they consider it their mistake, which is good of them to acknowledge.

    However, on speaking to Cut Collective on Saturday afternoon, I am disappointed to learn that possibly this space will be under the control of Council who will 'oversee' what goes up. This is not the right approach in my book. It's a private wall, and for goodness sake, not that visible to the public, so I particularly don't mind who paints the artwork, or what the subject is.

    As for the cheap shot at Len, if he had that much oversight then I'd expect the flowerbeds in parks to be changed to include his favourite flowers. In this instance, he can genuinely blame the officers.

    Whipping off said hat...

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    As for the cheap shot at Len, if he had that much oversight then I’d expect the flowerbeds in parks to be changed to include his favourite flowers. In this instance, he can genuinely blame the officers.

    I recall that within weeks of Mayor Banks being sworn into office, even before he was sworn at in office, having the policy of wild flowers median strips and verges on highways reversed. Having them replaced by nice, middle class, inoffensive shrubbery.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    but isn’t “heritage” all about political acceptability applied to private property? Seriously interested in where people draw the line.

    Restrictions on altering heritage property are defined, I think, in the district plan, which has to be adopted through due process. Enforcing those restrictions again requires due process.

    I suspect that a general requirement in an NZ plan to make painting a building a controlled activity would meet with some opposition.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4501 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    I think where-the-line-is-drawn is actually the nub of this issue. What powers does Shields have, what policy was he acting under, what are the damn rules anyway?

    Wearing my stylish elected representative hat (in recognition of fashion week coming up):

    Valid questions. AFAIK Mr Shields has the power to paint out graffiti on Council property, and powers to offer the same services to private landowners where the walls/fences etc face the public road or space. I don't think that there are necessarily any rules, but I'll find out for you.

    In general, the issue of council officers’ power vs. that of elected representatives is worth discussing in the Super City.

    A valid issue. Under the old regime, powers of Councillors in control were extraordinary, which is why $5m can be diverted from the general Auckland City Coastline budget of $10m to one site, Judges Bay, Parnell. I do not query the outcome of this, merely point out the powers of elected representatives can be quite large. However this is quite fluid, and on other issues, officers generally ran the show. In general, about 70-80% was decided by officers, and the remaining part by elected representatives.

    As a mere Community Board chair under the old regime, officers generally and politely ignored me, so I had little power, other than the power of argument, which I exploited to the hilt as officers had, and still have, very little time in their work-lives to actually think.

    In the new regime, as could be imagined, everyone is busy grabbing whatever power they can, including Local Boards. Time will tell how much power each part has (Council, Local Boards, officers, CCO's). It is still early days and I dare not risk making a call.

    I am struck by the dissonance between the public's perception of my power and the actual field of power in local government. It used to annoy me as the public expect elected reps to wave a wand and make things happen. It never happens like that due to the diffuse and diverse nature of that power.

    It’s also politically useful that those despised bureaucrats can’t (and shouldn’t) respond to with the international sign for “dude, I’ve seen sceptic tanks less full of crap than you.” (If you’d like to make one at home: Take one clenched fist, then fully extend your middle finger. Repeat until you feel better.)

    I agree, it's not helpful for officers to 'flip the bird'. They just do it in other more subtle ways; delaying things, not responding, or outright lying (there have been three instances where officers have lied to me - not because they wanted to, but because the lie was better than the truth and much less painful).

    Who gets to decide what colour you paint your house?

    In the Waitakere Ranges, Council does. It depends on the issue. If it’s critical that control of colour in the ‘wild’ of the Ranges be had to prevent say, bright pink being used, then the District Plan is amended. In other parts of the city, Council doesn’t control such issue (and why should it?) – control is usually exercised by NZ House and Garden, and other magazines of that ilk.

    doffing said hat...

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to Sacha,

    Who gets to decide what colour you paint your house?

    When I built a home over here in Oz I was astounded to be given a list of "approved" brick colours, told I could only have a tile roof, told I was only allowed to have the fences at the side of my property as far forward as the front wall of the house, and even handed a list of approved plants and trees I could put in the front lawn.

    Generously, I could plant what I liked in my own back yard and could extend the range in the front yard after three years.

    It's all about "estates" now, you see. The developers pay for the roading, drains etc and in return get to place all sorts of caveats on what you can do so as to create "little boxes on the hillside" which apparently sell better to Australians, who must have a fetish for homogenity, or something.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    I recall that within weeks of Mayor Banks being sworn into office, even before he was sworn at in office, having the policy of wild flowers median strips and verges on highways reversed. Having them replaced by nice, middle class, inoffensive shrubbery.

    If you are referring to the wildflower strips all along the southern part of the motorway just before the Bombay Hills then I'm afraid you are incorrect. This land is NZTA land, and even there, Mayor Banks had no control. I understand that the wildflowers were replaced due to maintenance problems.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    It's all about "estates" now, you see. The developers pay for the roading, drains etc and in return get to place all sorts of caveats on what you can do so as to create "little boxes on the hillside" which apparently sell better to Australians, who must have a fetish for homogenity, or something.

    In other words, a gated community minus the actual gates. All made of ticky-tacky and they look just the same.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    If you are referring to the wildflower strips all along the southern part of the motorway just before the Bombay Hills then I’m afraid you are incorrect.

    I was referring to City Highways ie. St Lukes and Balmoral roads as well as a few others.

    I understand that the wildflowers were replaced due to maintenance problems.

    Because wild flowers need so much maintenance, how would they survive without us, eh?.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Ahhh, well then, it is entirely possible that Banks did order replacement of pansies with sensible and macho griselinias.

    I don't know what the maintenance problems were, other than the use of that phrase tends to be code for 'it was too much trouble and we couldn't be bothered'.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to DeepRed,

    In other words, a gated community minus the actual gates

    Yep. I was amazed to find things like "residents only' swimming pools, hidden away in parks behind the house. From the street you're driving past rows of look-alike homes, not realising that the space between them is actually larger than you expect and behind them is a little enclosed enclave.

    And the truly freaky thing is that this isn;t just a recent phenomenon. I shared a house that was clearly around 20+ years old, and it turned out to be part of an "estate", just not as obviously as the recent ones, which usually have one road in and out and a large brick feature wall with the name of the community on it.

    I always think "that's where the gate will go when it all hits the fan". And these are the rule now, not the exception. If I wanted not to live on an estate I'd need to buy or rent in an older suburb, very close to the city (and thus very expensive).

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    I don’t know what the maintenance problems were, other than the use of that phrase tends to be code for ‘it was too much trouble and we couldn’t be bothered’.

    Well, yes. It is so hard to keep the little blighters in line, in neat rows as it were. It's so much easier to do with people. All you need is riot shields.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Heh!
    That raised a giggle from this cold-flattened person - thanks Steve B!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to DeepRed,

    In other words, a gated community minus the actual gates. All made of ticky-tacky and they look just the same.

    Sounds like vast tracts of Europe to me, only more modern. Perhaps it was just sentimentality but after my first world trip, I wept when I flew over Auckland at the beauty of the cacophony of roof colors and odd section and building shapes. It seemed like something precious about my home town after seeing 10 or so drab cities with miles upon miles of identical roofs on identical houses on identical streets.

    I did notice that Euros often make up for it with their interior decorating, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Susan Snowdon,

    Because wild flowers need so much maintenance, how would they survive without us, eh?.

    Actually, wild 'flowers' do need a lot of maintenance. They flower over summer, go to seed, and die. Then other things, generally weeds and grasses, take over. If the wildflower seeds survive they can't compete with these now established plants. To look good the wildflower areas have to be cleared and re-seeded every year, and that's really expensive on a motorway scale. If we considered assorted weed 'wildflowers' to be ok, that's fine (I know, a weed is just a plant in the wrong place), but they're not the pretty flowers most people have in mind. Our real wildflowers are flax, cabbage tree, manuka etc. Motorways have lots of those.

    Since Mar 2008 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Regarding the various discussions here (SST, Askew etc), I highly recommend tonight's Media 7, where Our Russell gives the editor of the SST a right bollocking, and Len Brown a lighter bollocking.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2348 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Regarding the various discussions here (SST, Askew etc), I highly recommend tonight’s Media 7, where Our Russell gives the editor of the SST a right bollocking, and Len Brown a lighter bollocking.

    Looking forward to that. Also, speaking of things TVNZ 7: the current season of The Good Word is, er, good too. All three critics this week (Braunias, Ward-Lealand, Bill Hastings) gave Bret Easton Ellis' recent Imperial Bedrooms a bollocking also.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 646 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Susan Snowdon,

    It's good to finally hear a decent reason for it. I did like the flowers, but wondered why it's so seldom that you just see wild fields of them. So the answer is "they need maintenance"?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Regarding the various discussions here (SST, Askew etc), I highly recommend tonight’s Media 7, where Our Russell gives the editor of the SST a right bollocking, and Len Brown a lighter bollocking.

    The mayor was certainly a bit more bollocking-proof. He's been paying attention at media training, I suspect.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

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