Monday, March 05, 2007

It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world

Which well-known blogger will be having this week's edition of About Town framed? I can exclusively reveal to you that friends of the fragrant Pamziewamzie, star of Red Confectionery, are positively littering the society pages of the Sunday Star Times lifestyle supplement. The shy and reclusive Pamziewamzie is not pictured herself, but a sizeable portion of her social coterie is shown posing at Boy George's concert at the St James.

Why does Bridget Saunders, About Town gossip columnist, this week quote extensively from a rather uninteresting blog post by Cactus Kate about the very uninteresting Charlotte Dawson? Did Bridget not have enough tittle-tattle to fill the spaces between the photographs? At least she has the good grace to flatter Kate by describing her as an evil genius, when Kate is obviously neither adjective nor noun.

Must every gossip column in New Zealand mention Rachel Hunter? Why did no-one tell her that naming her swimwear range Lola is inadvisable, given the song by The Kinks of the same name about a boy who gets off with a transvestite?

When did Ms Saunders, the former lunch partner of Don Brash, start believing she is Joseph Addison? Take, for example this piece of political wit:
"John Key (rhymes with Vote 4 ME!) even did a fashion shoot for Remix magazine the other week!"
Or is she employing teenage staffers, as the txt spk, ignorance of scansion and overuse of exclamation marks suggest?

Could those cryptic and irrelevant bits of gossip in the We Live In A Small Town section be motivated by a fear of defamation lawyers? Why else would we be asked questions such as
Which cheerful local celebrity's motto may as well be "Accentuate the positives, medicate the negatives"?
Go on Bridget, tell us who it is. After that, tell us how many syllables are in the word "medicate."

Does Bridget Saunders think of herself as a political insider when she writes:
What on earth was Taito Phillip Field thinking when he invited a certain attractive MP, who has posed for a calendar (with lifesavers in swimming trunks), "to come out of the closet"?
So what are you implying about Lockwood Smith, Bridget?

Does Bridget employ teenage subs, who don't know where to put quotation marks or when to use capital letters?

Should this section of About Town be renamed "We Have Small Minds?"

About Town has always stuck in my craw, not just for stealing its name from the site where I got my first blogging job, but also for being consistently air-headed. Recently, however, it has been upstaged in the froth department by Sunday, another of the many advertising containers that so easily fall out of the SST into the nearest bin. Whilst About Town makes no pretension of being anything other than puff pastry, Sunday has delusions of journalism. Not only does it have feature articles on such compelling topics as the hen night and the girl crush, it has an editorial, which summarises these in-depth investigations for readers who do not have the stamina to read Deborah Hill Cone's eloquent prose.

Sunday also has a letters column. Amazingly, readers bother to write to the Editor and, more surprising still, she publishes their ramblings. Unfortunately, the readers cannot write. Here is an example which continues to perplex me:
My letter ["Sunday - a love story," February 18], subsequently printed, referred to the Braunias-Simpson relationship. It lost context when Emily took leave.
I can only assume this is some sort of code. At least it reminded me that Sunday has Steve Braunias as a staffer. New Zealand's funniest writer is now serving time with a back page article that is a cruel shadow of his Page 94 in the Listener. Readers will no doubt remember that Braunias had been removed from the Listener and replaced by an utterly unfunny writer called Joanne Black, as part of new Editor Pamela Stirling's descent-into-bathos policy. I assume he has now offended someone else; or perhaps being a good writer is a quality the SST management now feels deserves punishment.

I suppose this ersatz magazine is designed for women who are presumed to find reading the broadsheet SST too tiring on the arms and taxing on the brain. Instead they are comforted by articles about shoes.

Perhaps it is all an in-joke, designed to encourage the useful idiots in advertising to spend more of their clients' money, while having a good laugh at the readers' expense. Evidence for this thesis comes among those crushingly pompous letters to the editor, where a glimpse of the fourth wall being broken can be seen this week:
Your mag is utter rubbish, along with the entire Sunday Star-Times. I have persisted for years to keep buying same, but no more. There is no substance in anything you write and it is an insult to the media in general. From now on I will just read a good book.



Anonymous said...

considering Joanne Black's husband is John Key senior advisor Grant Johnston her right-wing ranting his hardly surprising. and considering the Listener business columnist is David Young ('former' Business Roundtable PR man), and the poltical columnist is Jane Clifton (Murray McCully's partner) - even teh insipid influence is Pamela Sterling would do little to change it from being a generally shit shadow of its former self.

johnny john john said...

I think you're not giving Clifton enough credit here. Her articles are often insightful and she never seems to hold back on the shit-giving to any member of the political spectrum.

Black, however, is just plain dreadful.

johnny john john said...

PS Paul -- the title of this post is missing an apostrophe. Surely intentional?

Paul said...

As Captain Mainwaring used to say, I was wondering which one of you would spot that.

This is what comes of commenting on somebody's punctuation. It also comes when you post at 6am after no sleep. It comes again when you cannot think of a title so you go to a lyrics site and copy a line.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

JJJ - yes Clifton is careful to appear even-handed in her cynicism. but in actual fact if you look closer most of her Nat criticism are quite weak and tantamount to the 'yes my greatest failing is i work too hard and am too conscientious' type of criticism, or else only happen when a Nat fuck-up can't be ignored because of its magnitude. Meanwhile the anti-left criticisms are invariably more vicious and less justified on the grounds of fact.
Read her more carefully over the coming weeks and you'll see that her column is unlikely to cause much tension in the bedroom with Murray. (yurrgh)

johnny john john said...


Rose Hoare said...

So true. Women are so dumb. They shouldn't try to write stories or edit magazines or pretend they can read newspapers with their stupid, weak little arms and brains. What’s Steve Braunias doing over there? He shouldn’t be surrounded by women...

Paul said...

Rose, that was satire.

woppo said...

Airheadedness is a grand Auckland tradition, which transcends political creeds. For example, Bruce Hucker's stint as a columnist with his earnestly dreadful Peeping Tom effort back in the 80s was a prime example of left-wing airheadedness. However, the last time I perused the terminal witterings of Cackass Kate a few months back it did cross my mind that Hucker might have been possessed of a low-level form of genius. Once I'd clicked over to Public Address the notion evaporated. If you must live in Auckland then all I can suggest is that you laugh your frock off at such trifles.

Craig Ranapia said...


Oh, FFS... and did you know the Prime Minister's chief press secretary - and used to RNZ's chief reporter - is not only *shock! horror!* a LESBIAN, but the partner of Maryann Street (no relation, thank the Gods) - MP, unionist, 'close friend and political ally' of the Prime Minister, and member of the vast lesbian conspiracy that secretly rules the world?

This might surprise you, but it's 2007 and women are allowed to think for themselves and hold jobs without a signed permission slip from Daddy/hubby/life-partner/whoever she happens to be fucking at the moment. Now grow up, because you're as tiresome and sexistly patronising as the morons of the rabid right.

Craig Ranapia said...

And one more thing, Anonymous: If you really think Black or Clifton give National an easy ride because of their partner, then I'll introduce you to some National Party folks of my close acquaintance who would vigorously disagree with you.

Sanctuary said...

Well the Listener's circulation is currently in free fall - down 11% I believe.

I have no idea what the insipid right wingers who have taken over are trying to do, except maybe act as a Trojan horse to do what all right wingers do best - take over venerable institutions with fine reputations and traditions, "modernise" them and then preside over its collapse, all the time blaming a lack of market purity for their failure.

Honestly though, if the dreadful musings of the Range Rover set are your thing, buy North & South and leave the Listener to the liberal left.

Craig Ranapia said...


By Marx's flowing chin-dreads, are you for real? I don't really follow the inside goss in the mag trade, but I thought everyone - even the beloved and vastly profitable food snob/gastro-porn bible Cuisine - had seen sales and ad revenue tighten up over the last year or so. I didn't know it was part of the vast right-wing conspiracy to pull down the magazine once facetiously dubbed the Alliance Newsletter - and their paid circulation was rat-shit too, not because it was 'liberal left' but because it was too often all but unreadable.

The thing about magazines is that they're highly discretionary purchases - if you've got to tighten the belt a bit, the magazine subs, and impulse buys at the supermarket checkout, are going to stop long before you stop eating or paying the mortgage. Worthy but dull doesn't really cut it.

Keith said...

Craig: Is it the "vast lesbian conspiracy" now? Those poor gay men - they didn't last very long up at the top.

But I agree with you, though - it's pretty patronising to assume that the women can't hold their own. I think what Anonymous picked up on is the fact that Clifton - like may other Beltwayers - are pushing the underlying line that the current Labour government is old, stale and hyper-cynical. It's not particularly anti-left, as it's not on policy grounds, and if National had two terms in office, she'd be probably be saying the same thing about them.

It's not anti-left, but it's probably fair to call it an anti-Labour lens through which everything is being viewed. But the press always swings against the incumbent - eventually.

And of course, keep in mind the one perpetual nightmare of the Press Gallery: The disintegration of the National Party. Can you imagine how hard and how utterly crap their jobs would be if they didn't have a half-decent opposition to feed them dirt? Sure, it'll be fun for two months, but then, it'll be like Labour's first term all over again - forever.

Okay, I'm pushing the hyperbole a bit here, but I think there is a desire to see a National Party that's fit to govern again.

Keith said...

... and that has nothing to do with bedroom politics.

Sanctuary said...

Craig: Everyone knows that Marx was clean shaven and probably dark. You are just perpetuating an 20th century mythologising of the man. In fact, he was most likely a she.

When it comes to Jane Clifton, she is just another example of talent that ran out of ideas years ago but which has been kept on because in our shallow talent pool there isn't enough competition to dump her for someone better, brighter, and more connected with the national zeitgeist. Ms. Clifton long ago began confusing cynicism for sophistication (a particularly virulent New Zealand disease) and now lives in a vulgar political fantasy worrld which actually believes Wellington has a beltway.

When it comes to Joanne Black, I suppose one shouldn't visit the sins of the husband upon the wife, but I wonder if maybe people who presume to offer opinion pieces ought not to disclose potentially compromising personal relationships. I can't see why it would be a big deal, and it would inject a healthy dose of honesty. The right though seems to make a virtue of black/grey propaganda, as it it doesn't seem to have enough strength in its convictions to believe it can sell its arguments through honest debate.

The other aspect of such cosy (literally) journalist/politician relationships that abound in NZ is the loss of touch with reality that must entail. Senior journailsts in this country lose touch with reality with a speed that is alarming, given how small NZ is and how easy it is to be deflated in our two degrees of separation society. Joanne Black is probably no more or less guilty than any other member of our overwhelmingly white, well connected and middle class media in her disconnection and alienation from the world well over half of her fellow citizens actually live in.

Pamziewamzie said...

Shy and reclusive? No, I just kept getting separated from my friends the whole night! Not because they don't like me, but we were all just a bit tiddly. I'm at though ;)

I like Jane Clifton, even if she admitted to voting for United Future once.