Hard News by Russell Brown


They can see your house from here

It was a Tuesday Wednesday when Google came to our street, and we were not home. Yes, Google Street View has launched in New Zealand and they can see your house from here. And yes, it is a bit spooky. For addresses all over New Zealand (and not just the main centres) you can bring up Street View via Google Maps. Just now, I'm looking at the house we lived when I was six years old.

I haven't spied anyone sunbathing nude or sleeping in the gutter, but you should naturally feel free to try. Send us the picture if you like (just post the URLs in the comments for this post). We won't tell.


It appears that before the credit crunch guillotine scythed through council budgets for such fripperies as the environment and recreation, our local beach got a little treat. For several weeks now, fresh sand has been being piped in from an offshore platform, creating the disarming sight of tall sandhills on the edge of the Waitemata.

And now, just in time for summer, it has been graded into a clean, golden strip, 10 to 15 metres for the length of the beach. And so it was that, at 10.45 on Sunday morning, possessed of the need to rinse away the sins of the flesh in communion with Tangaroa, I had the first swim of the season at Pt Chevalier. And then rested on our brand new sandy beach, contemplating a tranquil sky. It was really good.

Indeed, so was the weekend. After a miserable week, antibiotics, early nights, vitamin C and a degree of willpower got me on my feet for the Headless Chickens on Friday night. I was reminded what a weird band they are. Who else would launch with a threatening drone that became 'The Ghost of Some Cold Street' -- and then later be able to play 'Juice', a song with a chorus that literally goes doo-doo-doo-dod-doo-do-do-dooooo?

Good bands often operate at the nexus of an interesting group of people, and that was certainly the case for the Chickens: that crowd wasn't necessarily in employment, or in perfect mental health, but it was never less than interesting -- and it was well represented more than a decade down the line at the Powerstation.

Also there: a member of the judging panel that gave them the Rheineck Rock Award in the 1990s 1987, occasioning outcry from the usual losers in commercial radio and some idiot at Metro magazine, because they were too "alternative". They went on to have three Top 10 singles, including the only number one by a Flying Nun band, and a double-platinum album. "We knew what we were doing," growled the judge to me.

The particular distinction of Chris Matthews' songwriting is his ability to create character: and he made no greater character than Ivan, the angry, impotent forecourt jockey in 'Gaskrankinstation'. That song also happened to be the highlight of the evening (half the room jumped in the air and shouted when the drum machine kicked off). I also liked 'Monkey Jar', 'Do the Headless Chicken', 'Donka' and 'George' ("this song's about you, Chris," Fiona McDonald advised her co-vocalist).

They certainly didn't nail everything. 'Cruise Control' came and went, 'Soulcatcher' was a mess, 'Expecting to Fly' didn't achieve its full aerial majesty and I wish I'd been standing in the same place as this guy who declared it "probably the best sound I have heard at the Powerstation" (the rest of the review is worth reading though). But I really enjoyed the show, and I would strongly recommend that you see them at the Big Day Out.

For now, here's Chris and Grant talking about the Rheineck thing at the time, plus the video for 'Donka':

Saturday was busy. I brought the crew together, inasmuch as that was practical -- all the bloggers (apart from Jolisa and David Haywood) and the other people who make things work, along with their significant others. With the help of Meola Kitchen, who made salads I wouldn't have attempted (pea and broadbean with mint leaves and goat cheese!) I fed everyone and we rested before Phase 2, which, through a curious sequence of events, took place on what can only be called a luxury launch. It was a blast -- and our triumphant re-entry to the Viaduct basin just on midnight, with Lionel Ritchie's 'All Night Long' blasting out of the speakers, will stay with me always. Irony. We were doin' it right.

212 responses to this post

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 9 Newer→ Last