Cracker by Damian Christie

Perfect Bound

A couple of weeks ago a few of us at bFM received a little brown envelope in the mail. It was the same type of envelope in which the wages from my first job used to arrive, and it brought back a flood of memories of those days in the music shop. Meal allowances, smoking in the shop, time and a half for Saturdays, double time for Sundays, automatic pay rise when I passed 6th form cert, and a princely $4.80 an hour. For one reason or another, and for better or for worse, each of these concepts is now consigned to history.

That was only 1991, and yet already it has joined such tales as "we used to have to stand and sing 'God Save the Queen' when we went to the talkies" and "we used to buy eels from the Maori family down the road, three for a ha'penny". Not that I'm getting nostalgic for the times when I used to earn less than a fiver an hour. Similarly, there was very little appealing about having smoke blown in my face while trying to explain to an irate bogan why the fact his Razor's Edge tape had chewed from constant usage wasn't really my fault.

But what was in the envelope? Glad you asked. A badge, the pin-on variety, the single word 'Staple' against a denim background. I was excited, not so much because of some strange badge fetish, but because last time I was the subject of this kind of teaser marketing I ended up with a free camera phone (cheers, Vodafone).

Two weeks later, nothing had turned up, and the badge had been all but forgotten about, tossed in the bottom drawer along with everything else that will Come In Handy One Day. Should you be interested, the items which are the most optimistically so-categorised are an Adam's Apple, Wrenched Ankle, and Writer's Cramp, the only remaining pieces from an Operation game. Having said that, we live in a global economy, and a quick Google shows me myriad contributors to the underground and much-maligned international trade in plastic bodyparts.

Long story slightly less long, this Sunday just been I was at the dairy on the way back from my more-often-than-perhaps-is-normal weekend browse at Jansen's. (More fun than the zoo, and free). Looking at me from the shelves, slightly to the left of Kylie Bax's right breast, was Goldenhorse's Kirsten Morrell, on the front of a magazine named Staple.

Staple is a new magazine from Wellington, and judging by its debut offering, is going to be worth keeping an eye on. Unlike Loop, Wellington's last attempt at a lifestyle magazine, it's not Absolutely Positively Parochial. It has crisp clean design, the text is refreshingly readable, and the articles similarly so. The quality stock gives it tactility. It even smells nice, in the way that fresh paper can.

In issue one there are features on Goldenhorse, photographer Blink, migrant artists in NZ, our leading vocalist wahine, and a beautifully-shot black&white photo essay on the Ngawha prison issue, as well as a plethora of columns, reviews, fashion spreads and the like. There's even, (and I didn't even notice this until I started writing this column, no mutual back-scratching going on here) a mention of Ours Truly in an article about the wide world of blogs.

What strikes me most, and the reason I'm writing about it, Staple seems to have some depth. Not five page articles of faux-erudition sans pictures 'depth', like its predecessor, but a sense of awareness, of being part of something, rather than just a collection of words and pictures. All that and make-them-yourself Fluff Cuffs.

Despite being somewhat limited, the magazine market in NZ is notoriously difficult to survive in, and some promising titles have dropped by the wayside over the years. For as little as $8.95, you can help show your support for a fledgling magazine.

(In case you were wondering, it wasn't until a day later that I got the connection with the badge. I guess I was still hoping for something free...)