Saturday, July 31, 2010

Give it to the Soft Boys

Mr Wilder said he had taught the teenager - who transferred from nearby De La Salle College last year - and planned to talk to him about his faith.

"I must say when it first happened I wondered what God was doing and then I suddenly realised he performed a real miracle," he said.
God is a funny chap, isn't he? In a very real sense. What is He trying to tell us, by performing the Miracle of the Apartments. Is He telling us that it is more holy to attend a private Anglican school than an Integrated Catholic one? Or is He gently chiding the boy's parents for having a denominational bob each way? Or for living in Manukau City? He moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform, does God.

But then, what of the other boys at King's who were not favoured by God? He clearly was not feeling very wonderous when that boy was falling from the overbridge. He was not in a miracle mood when the other one was drinking himself into a coma. And not only did He allow that third boy to be killed by a rare virus, but He created the virus in the first place.

Yet, there is consolation. It is not just boys at private schools who suffer so. In fact, God is far more unsparing to the children of the poor, many of whom suffer hunger, disease, abuse and early death. Just the other side of the walls of King's College is the vibrant and underprivileged community of Otahuhu. Just over the road from Decile 10 King's College is Decile 1 Otahuhu College. Despite the strong Christian faith of many of its students, they have a far greater possibility of suffering disease, disadvantage and premature death than the boys of Kings's College.

And (here comes the twist) when God moves in such mysterious ways as to snuff out the lives of the poor kids, the New Zealand Herald hardly notices.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Island life

After the impact, which left him with a lump on his head and needing to see a chiropractor for a sore neck and back, the boy stumbled backwards into a small tree while still clutching the chihuahua.

"I turned around and said 'you can't hit a child on the head with a stick'. He said 'it doesn't matter because it will never hold up in court'."
Chiropractor, chihuahua, small tree... it's not exactly life on the streets is it? No, it is life on Waiheke and it held up in court. Interestingly enough, not so long ago Mr Ceralamus was served with a trespass notice, by Woolworth's. I am sure Uroskin will be able to explain all this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A short post about mining

The announcement from Brownlee and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson represents a major defeat for Brownlee, who first floated the proposals last September, initially encountering only muted opposition.

However, the leak in March of proposals that included mining on Great Barrier Island and Coromandel Peninsula spelt their death-knell.

Brownlee announced instead that the government would now pursue aero-magnetic surveys of mineral potential in Northland and the South Island West Coast, both areas where communities and local councils are believed to favour the extractive industry developments.
They will have their revenge. Aero-magnetic surveys will be conducted. Minerals will be found and extracted. You have been warned.

It is at times like this that I regret not having more knowledge of the Fantasy genre. I am sure there must be many a saga in which an enormous, hideous creature seeks control of mineral resources. If you, gentle reader, know of one such creature, do tell.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The First Brutalist

As early as 1871, in a debate on concrete at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, Sir Arthur Blomfield advocated off-the-form surfaces without the need for plastering. He stated that construction joints and formwork marks should be used to give colour and texture to the concrete surface. His ideas were advanced for the time and went unheeded for the next 60 years.

Thornton, Geoffrey G.
Cast in Concrete :
Concrete Construction in
New Zealand 1850-1939.
Auckland: Reed, 1996. p10

Cut your hair

He's also extremely funny, as evidenced by the piece from which the book takes its title. It contains the following advice: "Never follow an artist who describes his or her work as dark"; "No band does anything new onstage after the first 20 minutes"; and "The band with the most tattoos has the worst songs". He nods: "It's the sheer volume of tattoos that's the problem. It's not like the old days, when maybe someone from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band would have maybe an anchor on his bicep. It's full body now. So obviously the bands are in the tattoo parlour a lot. I think they should be in the practice room."
Robert Forster writes, and sings:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's time to get a hat

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

With thanks to Mr Dentith, who writes like Oscar Wilde.

Dream in beige

As Rod Serling might say, you have just entered the Learning Quarter:
Auckland's Learning Quarter is a world-class centre for education, research and commercialisation and the key to fuelling Auckland's future success.

Across the globe, governments are joining forces with their learning institutions to stimulate economic growth and help shape local and national development. Here in Auckland, AUT University, Auckland City Council, The University of Auckland and Committee for Auckland have formed The Learning Quarter partnership to stimulate learning, research, cultural and business experiences in the city.

Through The Learning Quarter partnership and the development of The Learning Quarter Plan, the partners are committed to working jointly and sharing and leveraging resources to attract high-growth businesses, investment and talent.

Located in Auckland CBD, The Learning Quarter covers the city campuses of The University of Auckland and AUT University. It is a great asset for Auckland to have two of the country's high achieving universities located in the CBD. This makes The Learning Quarter a cornerstone in Auckland's attraction to local and international businesses, potential students and residents.

The Learning Quarter is a vibrant place with a stimulating environment, rich heritage, a strong history of achievements, significant open spaces and landscapes (such as Albert Park), unique cultural facilities and a diverse range of events and activities.
To facilitate the engagement of the time-poor, I have highlighted the most obvious examples of corporate flannel in a pleasingly retro shade of beige.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

City of Facades

Perhaps, on reflection, more could be said about Mr Paul Holmes and his opinions on the sheds of Queen’s Wharf.

You will recall that Mr Holmes recounted how he was living for a few months in an apartment on Prince’s Wharf from which overlooked the sheds.. And the mighty Paul Holmes looked down upon these works and despaired.
They are pointless. They are nothing. They are not something anyone is ever going to drive past and gape at in wonder, crying out, "what foresight our forefathers had in designing and building such celestial constructions". I accept there might be features within those buildings that are worthy of conservation. Certainly, the Historic Places Trust, whoever they are, think so. I imagine, however, that its members are the kind of people who look down their noses at rugby and the delights of the common people, generally. I may be wrong but I have very keen instincts.
The members, all 25,000 of them, might be feeling a little uncomfortable. But they will be in good company. My keen instincts tell me that many of us, in the next twelve months, will be accused of hating on the rugby and the simple pleasures of the good keen ordinary kiwi battler, whenever we suggest that perhaps things are getting a little out of hand. It will be the local equivalent of the question that Tea Partiers ask liberals: “why do you hate our troops?”

Look, we need to maximise the human, commercial and tourist advantage of the last great world-class sporting event we will ever be able to afford, and if that means spending millions on a temporary building that will be obscured by cruise ships parked either side of it, then we should not die on a hill. Nor should we muddle on saying no to possibilities. Is that clear?

And what about those flash architects, then? Where the bloody hell were they? Probably they were skulking in jazz clubs, listening to be-bop, taking uppers (and downers), reading poetry; or building high-rise slums.

Wait, there’s more. What about those Auckland politicians, then? They were offered wondrous possibilities: a stadium that appeared at night; that would float miraculously on the water, while thousands of boats and yachts watched its great moments on television.

But then, because of the deliberately designed lack of impotence and decision paralysis of the divided nature of the conurbation, and because all of the local bodies became suspicious of each other, they became suspicious of everything, it was a structure that caused our governing bodies to look for the angles, not the opportunities.

It all makes perfect sense. Of course, had the likes of Mr Holmes devoted a little more of their time and effort to talking about the state of our city, then perhaps the high-rise slums might not have been built and some of the treasures might have been kept. I'm just saying, as they say. All of a sudden, the fate of a couple of sheds on a wharf has assumed national significance, because we are worried about what people from Overseas might think about us. But had we spent a little more time talking about our buildings, we might have a little more to show them. We could have shown them Broadcasting House in Durham Steet (not Lane), from where Mr Holmes made his breakfast broadcast. It was, as Peter Shaw describes it in his New Zealand Architecture from Polynesian Beginnings to 1990, "Auckland's finest Modernist building." It was also "inexplicably demolished in 1990." We might also have been able to show them a little more than the facade of the Jean Batten Building, which is all that remains. The destruction, of a Category 1 listed buiding, was done not in the bad old days of the 1980s but in 2008, and with the cooperation of the Historic Places Trust. Yet scarcely anyone paid any attention. The replacement building, the Deloitte Centre, also occupies the space where the Victoria Arcade once stood.

A couple of Comedy Festivals ago, I was in an audience at the Classic with my friends Ben and Heather. The Australian comedian on stage did the usual round of asking people what they did for a living. When it came to me, I told him I was an architectural historian, a response which would throw most stand-ups. But he had seen the Queen's Head across the road, and the blue glass po-mo tower built on top of it. He wondered why we did this to our old buildings.

I had no reply.

Here's some old Australian buildings:

Kathryn says the darnedest things

So, on Nine to Noon, Kathryn Ryan is talking to Lloyd Spencer Davis, an renowned expert on penguins, about his Search - for meaning and the like. And she says to him "your Search isn't black and white."

Today's in-store special: the Spencer Davies Group; spot the penguin.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Closely observed trains

I worked with a young man once in the UK who made it his business to have on his computer the entire British train timetable.

He was a newsreader. Not only did he keep a record of the times of train arrivals and departures anywhere in Britain but he learned them off by heart and could recite them. Like Robin Bain, he never washed and he stank, too.
How might one respond to the lastest stream of unconsciousness from Mr Paul Holmes? One could prepare a comprehensive rebuttal of his many and varied utterances; or one could post a photograph of a bottom, such as this one taken from Jiri Menzel's Ostre sledované vlaky.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The joy of slacks

Though she was a tiger lady, our hero did not have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at his Mr Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her. That noble styling sure soothes the savage heart! If you would like your own doll-to-doll carpeting hunt up a pair of these he-man Mr Leggs slacks.
Slacks! Sexism! Sixties! A none-too subtle reminder that the Sexual Revolution had a sexist reaction.

On a brighter note: here it is – the Man-from-Mars Radio Hat. And here are some A-bomb test dummies. And here are the forts of the Thames Estuary. All this and more from Pour 15 Minutes d'Amour.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Men in belted sweaters

And you kids wonder how we wound up with Margaret Thatcher for the next decade.

From Retrospace Zeta

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

That Seventies shirt

Mid-week quiz, chaps and chapesses: without reading the copy, what do you think the 'very French' reason for wearing the Brigade Shirt could be? Might it be an interest in Gothic architecture, a desire to pose casually, or an interesting desire for shady redheads?

Answers on une carte postale to the usual address.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The summer we discovered Speed

The latest Coddington, with the peculiar title "Don't get heavy on fat in slamming the skinny:"
And here's my point. Why is it open season on skinny women? I know eating disorders are terrible diseases, but they're caused by more complex issues than young women merely gazing at thin models. I know also eating disorders don't cause nearly as much of a drain on the health budget as obesity-related health issues.
You couldn't make it up, could you? Neither could Coddington: she took most of her copy from a Margo White piece in North and South, including the killer conclusion:
"Fashion models are good at being thin and have a right to be. Einstein was good at being a genius, but nobody told him to keep his theories of the universe to himself because it undermined every other physicist."
In between, there is something for everyone, so much that I am not even troubling to argue. Anyway, I like Rosemary McLeod's drawings as well, not that it has anything to do with my argument or, for that matter, Coddington's. So, instead I will illustrate the point I did not make with this adorable magazine cover, which I found on the rather corking Blimey! It's another blog about comics!

Baudrillard 1 Banham 0

What does the term “fair-faced concrete” mean? Officially, “fair-faced concrete” is taken to mean concrete surfaces that fulfil the appearance requirements of DIN 18217 “Concrete surfaces and formwork surface”. Interestingly, this Standard neither mentions nor defines the term “fair-faced concrete”, nor does it set out any precise rules or guidelines for it. The reason given for this (by the German cement industry association “Bundesverband der Deutschen Zementindustrie”) is that there are a number of influences that cannot be foreseen or controlled with absolute certainty in the course of manufacture and on-site job execution
Oh dear. My fellow friends of Brutalism: it seems the concrete we love so dearly for its truth to itself is not true. It is not classified by its own classification. The material which marked the triumph of Modernism turns out to be a simulacrum.

It is all very confusing.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Underwear of the rich and famous

Then, on Friday, it is understood Sally was told her plans for a 10-day cruise around Europe had been cancelled. The trip was to be funded by the Hotchins, who were treating "the people who've been good to him" with a holiday, according to a source. The source said they cancelled the invitation after discovering she had been telling people the couple were paying for her and her children to holiday with them. Sally has recently had to cope with her underwear company, James and August Ltd, going into voluntary liquidation in May.
Pants. It has been a rough week for Sally Ridge. Still, if she is not going anywhere, perhaps she could pay a visit to these Hanover Finance investors:
After losing $80,000 in the failed Hanover finance company, an elderly Auckland couple decided to become guinea pigs in a medical trial to earn some "pocket money". The retired husband and wife earned $300 each for taking part in tests of a new flu vaccine for people aged over 65. The 71-year-old former teacher, who did not want to be named, said she and her husband agreed to the trial after hearing about it from friends. They were given an injection and had to monitor themselves for a week before reporting back to medical staff. "It's a bit of pocket money. Every little bit helps," the woman said. "We have a lot of friends who have lost money but it doesn't matter to them because they have lots of other money. But in our case it was fairly important. " The couple will probably have to sell their home on the North Shore, which they call their "retirement project", to make up for the Hanover losses.
Well, there's a funny coincidence: the Hotchins also have a property on the market.
The seven-bedroom mansion has been a lightning-rod for criticism of Hotchin after Hanover Finance, the company he co-owned with Eric Watson, was frozen in 2008 owing $554m to 16,000 investors. Sorensen said his clients would sell once construction ends later this year."It's no longer appropriate for Mark and Amanda to occupy the house. People can draw their own conclusions why they're selling, but most of them are fairly obvious." The property features included a games room, car wash, two swimming pools and a tennis court.
Obvious reasons – you mean they decided that the car wash was a bit ostentatious, that in these troubled times they could cope with just the one swimming pool? Or perhaps they are worried that the Allied Farmers might turn up, carrying pitchforks:
Allied Farmers is considering “substantial” legal claims against directors, owners and officers of Hanover Group in relation to alleged breaches of duties prior to its controversial debt for equity deal last December. In a statement filed to the stock exchange this morning, Allied Farmers said it would not pay Hanover $5 million due today under a contractual agreement for the purchase of Hanover Finance and United Finance assets in exchange for debentures.
Anyway, back to underwear. Here is another coincidence. Mr Hotchin's business partner, Eric Watson, has another business partner, Dov Charney. Together, they own [TRIGGERING - CONTAINS HIPSTERS] American Apparel [possibly NSFW as well]. This fairtrade hipster haven has its critics:
The marketing of American Apparel is unbelievably misogynistic, and not wholesome in the slightest. Basically every company has a human representation of their product, Nike has the athlete, Macbeth has the punk-rocker, American Apparel has the coked out adolescent who may or may not have an eating disorder.
What's more, they make really awful underwear. And the staff wear this stuff. And the company chooses staff based on their appearance. And the company grooming guides encourage male staff to dress like dorks and female staff to look natural and available. On the positive side, American Apparel is broke.

American Apparel is not Mr Watson's only underwear festish: he owns Bendon and he was once married to an underwear model.

So, in shorts, every day is pantytime for Mr Watson; for Mr Hotchin, every day is a holiday. For the people who lost everything to Hanover Finance every day is hell; but that's limited liability, folks.

At home with the Johnsons

I don't know how you wasted your weekend, but I spent much of mine in Retrospace; there I found many horrors, not the least of which was this advertisement from the Seventies (younger readers will be amused to learn that the Seventies was once called 'the decade that taste forgot,' by The Face magazine in the Eighties – yes, I know).

Fortunately, the Johnsons of Redditch did not set a trend. It turned out that Heinz Salad Cream was just for salads; HP sauce was for breakfast. What's more, not long after this photograph was taken, the English discovered mayonnaise. Then they discovered that there is more to a salad than a bowl of lettuce topped with quarters of tomato. Not much later, they bought those Philippe Starck juicers which long like googie spaceships and which do not work. At about the same time, they bought the River Café Cook Book and started cooking with a blow torch. Later still, they discovered crostini, but did not realise that it is the Italian for toast. Futurologists predict that it will not be long before the British learn to make a decent cup of coffee. Of course, futurologists are usually proven wrong.

According to Wisegeek,
The popularity of salad cream has waxed and waned. At some periods in history, it was viewed primarily as a condiment for the lower classes, and an alternative to mayonnaise, which tended to be more expensive. Middle and upper class families at one time avoided salad cream because they did not want to be perceived as members of a lower class, but this is no longer the case today, although salad cream sometimes pops up in parodies of lower class life in the British media.
More culinary horrors can be found at Misguided Efforts in Cookery. It might not be coincidental that Johnsons of Redditch are the town's Volvo dealership: younger readers will be bemused to learn that the Volvo was the staff car of the English middle class in the Seventies.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Mothers of invention

This I had to share: Seventies rock stars at their parents' homes, parts one and two