Posts by BenWilson

  • Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West, in reply to Dastardly Bounder,

    Lamenting the loss of culture in a now gentrified suburb seems to be a global modern dinner party theme (Hackney, Harlem, The Castro, Berlin’s Graefe), but to me it’s akin to saying there’s no been no good music since the ‘insert decade here’.

    I’m not saying it was the best of all worlds back then. Far from it. I’m saying that it’s not going to happen again like that, which would also be true about music too.

    I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about your comment, and Amanda’s, that are annoying me so much. It’s like you’re trying to invalidate the lamentation of any change with the observation that change is inevitable. Well of course it is, but sometimes it’s not for the better, and then it is certainly lamentable. If we, for example, had unemployment rise to 20%, you could use your argument to say that I’m just hankering for the good old days of low unemployment. Which would be silly.

    But in this case it’s hard to see how it could have been different. It was quite a strange set of circumstances that created that culture in the first place, a time in which for some reason the proximity to the city was highly undervalued by mainstream NZ. I’m happy for the people who went from rags to riches in property in those areas, my own parents not least. But that particularly golden opportunity is not there any more.

    ETA: ...and I think that is a loss for the artistic and intellectual culture of the city.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West, in reply to Dastardly Bounder,

    The ‘cool’ aspects of yester-year’s inner west are achievable elsewhere, they just need your involvement.

    Some of the aspects can be achieved in isolated spots, yes. But I don't see that particular combination happening again. Times have changed. Maybe in another city, or perhaps a satellite city it will be like what it was here, but in Auckland I think it's just going to be very different.

    Put on free events in your local park, meet people, campaign for the change you want at your Community Board meetings…

    I appreciate the positivity in that, but I still have the opinion that despite even the best efforts of many people far more competent than myself, that this will never be the new old Ponsonby. It'll be the new new Ponsonby a whole lot sooner, and we'll be lamenting that there used to be mini takeaway shops selling fried chicken where the KFC now stands.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West, in reply to bob daktari,

    Not overly surprising as our street since we’ve moved here has been prone to the buy, lick o paint, bung in rental furniture take photo and sell again syndrome with a few houses changing speculators hands 2 to 3 times in the past year

    Yup, a good friend of mine did exactly that, there. He moved to Ranui. Now, I seldom see him. Presumably this is what happens when you move to Ranui.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Sounds like a Nightmare…… :-O

    I'm sure Ranui is nice enough in it's own way, and the economics of the idea are great. I can see why people do it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West,

    As for the general lament of the changing nature of the city, I've got plenty of sympathy for it, without having any particular ideas about what to do about it. It does seem less cool than it was, whilst at the same time being much improved in most material ways.

    I remember the character of inner west Auckland from my youth, since that is were I grew up. Now I couldn't afford to live there, but I also wouldn't want to. Apart from proximity to the CBD, it's got little that I want (at the price I'd have to pay for it).

    It's now a place for older people, much as I remember Remuera being when I was a teenager and commuted to school on the east side. The inner west was predominantly young people - even in Herne Bay we were surrounded by young families. But there was a particular vibe that was different to where I am now, still surrounded by young families. I think there was a real dynamism, a sense of people actually in control of their society and shaping as they liked. They consciously chose to live in poor areas and improved them because the liked something fundamental about the character of the areas, as well as liking the prices.

    I don't know how the change came about, though. I think a big part of it isn't that young people were squeezed out so much as that the young people who liked it then are now old people. If it's not cool, that's because it's hard to stay cool as you age and slip into easy middle class prosperity. Where you used to fight the horrible establishment, now you are the establishment.

    But that loss of a place where a perfect storm of many cultures colliding, youth getting educated surrounded by the working classes, and life being affordable enough that raising a family as a student was actually normal, rather than being virtually impossible the way it is now, is something I do lament. Those demographics, as they shift away from the center, become more diffuse. I don't think it will ever come back, not in Auckland. The changes to the University of Auckland, in which I have now completed 2 undergraduate degrees separated by 20 years, are indicative of the changes to the city in which it rests. It's become a much more business oriented place. Student culture is almost an oxymoron now - you'd barely be able to tell a student apart from anyone else in the street, because what they sign up for now is mostly vocational training, rather than a process in which their entire outlook is transformed in a wild exposure to ideas and a love of learning for its own sake. It just doesn't serve the same function any more. I don't look to social transformation coming from them any more. I don't see any kind of character suburb forming around them here ever again. Mostly they can't wait to get out and get a job and all ambitions of any kind of property ownership are gone. Not one student I've spoken to in the last 3 years has even expressed an interest in owning property, so far out of their cognizance has that idea become. What on earth would be cool about buying some remote place in the sticks, nowhere near anyone they know, on a deposit that costs three times as much as their entire student loan, so that they can commute 20 kms every day to an underpaid job?

    I told a lie. One student was trying to buy property. But she was 30, nearing the end of her doctorate, and in a long term relationship with a guy on very decent income. But they still couldn't afford it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West,

    I had an estate agent door-knocking, hoping to sell my Avondale place and suggesting I move to Ranui. I'll be charitable and put that down to her noticing many people of my apparent type doing the same thing rather something about me screaming of a desire to escape the big smoke and all the brown faces.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Elm St is a pretty primo location in Avondale, though. It's quite literally next to the racecourse, almost in the shops, by the library, and it's a cul-de-sac. That it could be subdivided into 3 residences is gravy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Hager saga continues, in reply to WH,

    Losing elections? Not worried. Economic policy? Not really an issue. 9 years of National? Sky not falling.

    Yes, that is how democracy works. It's also spilt milk - National will get their 9 years controlling the NZ economy. It would have been nice if for the first time ever Labour had been able to restrict them to 6. That would have been historic.

    Are you even a Labour supporter?

    I'm a swing voter. I've voted for Labour more often than any other party, but not exclusively for them, and not for the party in the last 3 elections (although I've supported the local candidate consistently). So the answer is "it's complicated".

    I think we’re done.

    That's up to you. I've been debating here for a bloody long time so don't expect me to be going anywhere. Your positions that I've read are mostly compatible with mine except for appearing to be a lot quicker to suggest jettisoning viewpoints. I prefer to just argue strongly with them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Hager saga continues, in reply to WH,

    That’s a remarkably flippant way of dismissing the democratic objectives of the Labour movement.

    It's just putting your comment that the sky is falling because it's been 6 years since Labour had power into perspective. I don't want National either, but this is not even a slightly exceptional place to be. In my life, we've been here twice before, and both times, the next government was a Labour one.

    My own view is that the next Labour-led government should look something like the Clark/Cullen years.

    And the All Blacks should bring back Buck?

    Okay, I think we broadly understand each other’s positions. Shall we leave it there?

    Sure. I'm still going to challenge any statements that the only way forward for Labour is to give away ideology, though. But if you agree to stop making them, I'll stop challenging them. It certainly isn't my vision that the only way the Left can make progress is to make businesses that outcompete the current Masters of the Universe. It's so packed with contradictions that it's scarcely worth addressing. The Left isn't going to go getting a haircut and starting up a small business with an eye to a 250 year comeback, just because that would be convenient for Labour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Hager saga continues, in reply to WH,

    But there’s a lot of space between being a perennial also-ran and selling out.

    There is. Labour is in little danger of being a perennial also-ran, having been the government periodically since the 1930s, and it's also not really time to worry about the shocking length of time National's been in government, since they've never once had less than three terms in power since then. But fears that Labour could sell out are a little better grounded, since they've done it before, and there are plenty of people clamoring for it.

    It's hardly like they need much pushing. We are talking about rich, powerful people, after all. The forces driving them to sell out are way, way more powerful than anything I will ever be able to bring to bear. But what little I have I'm going to use as my conscience dictates.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8599 posts Report Reply

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