Hard News by Russell Brown


Done and Blended

If I say so myself, I am quite a good judge of talent. And I'm so glad I went with my hunch and did what we had to do to keep Mr Brown in the country long enough to have him appear at last week's Great Blend events.

He was probably a bit better in Wellington, where he was standing at floor level and closer to the crowd, but I think everyone who heard him got the point of Mr Brown. He has harnessed the personal power of the internet, stuck his head above the parapets and declared: "I am Singaporean -- but in my way, not in the way you tell me I have to be."

I think that in the long run, he'll be considered a cultural hero there.

We got better use out of Dr William Cooper in Auckland than in Wellington, where the panel format -- not aided by AV problems -- was a bit lumpy. I knocked off a 30-minute onstage interview with him in Auckland, before he had to catch his plane, and I'll hopefully have that for you as part of this weekend's Public Address Radio.

We largely covered the themes of last week's New Futures conference: rights issues; the internet and TV merging in various ways and where the money is going to come from.

Interestingly, although Vodafone's revelation at the conference that it has launched an "adult" channel in Vodafone Live made headlines last week, everyone seems to have missed TV3 programe director Kelly Martin's comment at the same event that Media Works also isn't ruling out an adult channel as one of its Freeview offerings.

Also of interest: last week, Steve Maharey introduced a proposed change to the Broadcasting Act that would allow NZ ON Air to fund content apart from broadcast programmes -- ie: mobile or internet stuff -- as a "secondary" activity. My guess is that that will mostly mean funding cross-platform features for certain programmes.

Oh, and another story that hasn't made headlines: the Beehive website was hacked a couple of weeks ago. For about five hours in the middle of the night, it was displaying the infamous goatse image as a trophy. A screenshot exists, but don't expect to see it.

Anyway, back to the Blend: My head's still spinning from the music I got to hear on Saturday night. The crucial Warriors game thinned out the crowd a bit for the L.E.D.s, but everyone who stayed got to hear a great band. Their onstage line-up is bass, drums and two vintage Korg synthesisers. Afterwards, I asked Blair from the L.E.D.s why I kept hearing guitars on their album and he told me that there are guitars on the album, just not on stage. Ah.

Afterwards, a bunch of us walked over to the PR Bar on Ponsonby Road for what turned out to be a very special evening. Bill Direen was playing a gig with a pick-up band in a lounge-sized room at the bar. It was magnificent.

Bill's songs are carefully-plotted and literary, but he moves almost instinctively within them; they're alive to possibility. And he took requests. "Play 'Red Sky'!" I yelped from the back. They played 'Red Sky'. They played 'Wanganui with a White Face', 'Inquest', 'Bedrock Bay' and 'Moderation' (more than once, I think). I've had an extraordinarily demanding past three weeks, with a bit of ill-health to complicate things in the middle, and I was in the mood to relax. Yes, I was a bit drunk, but I was very, very happy.

APN's Gordon White had a wee bit about the Wellington Blend on his new person blog site, and Jarrod and Jo also had coverage and Don Christie and Robyn Gallagher had nice things to say.

Thanks so much to everyone who appeared, helped or just came along. I think I'll have a rest now …

Meanwhile, is this the cleverest way ever to give a nudge to a name suppression order?

And why is someone betting billions of dollars on world stock markets tanking just before September 21? Is that when the US bombs Iran? Is there another terrorist attack looming? Or is this just a random manifestation of market chaos?

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