Hard News by Russell Brown

A History of Violence

Reader Andrew H directed me to this intriguing history of the car bomb, which apparently debuted in 1920, with a detonation on the corner of Wall and Broad streets, New York, targeting the J.P. Morgan company - but was put away until 1947 when the Stern Gang adopted it as a handy way to kill Palestinians, "a creative atrocity immediately reciprocated by British deserters fighting on the side of Palestinian nationalists."

This week's suicide bombing in Israel, carried out by Islamic Jihad, isn't intriguing; just horrible and depressing. Mahmoud Abbas condemned it; Hamas described it as a "legitimate" act of "self-defence". The interim Israeli government is, apparently at the urging of the US, refraining from direct retaliation against the Hamas government.

Monsters & Critics has an interesting Arab press roundup. No one seems to be greeting the attack as anything other than an alarming development, but most seem to regard it as a long time coming:

Lebanon`s an-Nahar said the Tel Aviv bombing was the 'last thing the Palestinians need now' because it offers a 'model pretext' for the West to justify its 'collective punishment' of the Palestinians.

The mass-circulation daily condemned the attack and insisted it should be condemned by all Arabs, especially the Palestinians, but that its condemnation should not rule out its reasons. It said the West has imposed crippling sanctions on the Palestinians to punish the Hamas government that was democratically chosen by the people in free elections, leaving the people without food, medicine and money. In the meantime, Israel is launching a 'fierce onslaught' with daily raids and air strikes on mostly civilian targets.

It complained the toll last month stood at 28 Palestinians killed, including 7 children, and 195 injured, mostly civilians, while the first half of April left 21 Palestinians -- including 14 civilians -- dead and 100 others injured. The Lebanese paper said it was natural for the Tel Aviv attack to shake the sentiments of the world, but asked what the world was doing to stop the continuous killing of the Palestinians. It called on the international community to quickly deal with the repercussions of the Tel Aviv bombing if it wants to avoid total security collapse in the area.

I've been a bit remiss in not alerting you till now to a good new New Zealand satirical site: The Daily Minion. I like the Rodney Hide story, but I can't shake the feeling I actually read this column in the weekend papers.

Minion proprietor Simon Bidwell leaves today for a six week trip through Columbia and Peru (that sounds interesting), so it won't be updated so much for a while. I think I've previously noted here the way that the Internet has revived the noble art of satire. Everybody reads The Onion, and, of course, your sense of irony has been tenderly caressed here by Messrs, Reid, Slack and Haywood.

And some more Rolling Stones business. Andy R had:

A solution to dullards who thought they were at Christmas in the Park - be trashed, as we were, and you didnae even notice.

Bruce Thorpe reckons the ninny problem isn't new:

A section of the Rolling Stones' "following" has always been there. I recall at Western Springs in a scorcher, would that have been mid- 70's, yelling over my shoulder "It's rock 'n 'roll, not a picnic!" You're reading like you've been to a good show.

Roy Billing had memories too:

I first saw the Stones at the Auckland Town Hall in the early 60s, second on the bill to Roy Orbison. Then at the Civic Theatre in Auckland in the slightly later 60s, with Brian Jones still alive and Mick Jagger crawling over the plaster of paris lions that used to be (might still be) at the front of the stage (bestiality?), later at Western Springs on a very hot weekend afternoon in the early 70s when Mick wore his sparkly turquoise jumpsuit, and they appeared late, and for a short time, and didn't do an encore. Then later in some concerts in Sydney, the last being on Apr 11, 2006 in the company of nearly 60,000 other mere mortals. Never, ever, have I been able to sit in my assigned seat, or refrain from obscuring the view of family picknickers after hearing the first chord of any Stones song be it SATISFACTION, JUMPING JACK FLASH, PAINT IT BLACK, BROWN SUGAR or whatever. The body goes into uncontrollable stand-up mode. Ya luv em or ya hate em. And if you don't love them don't try and have a picnic at a Rolling Stones concert. They are not the WIGGLES!

Turns out it wasn't always that flash in the pricey seats either, according to Sharon:

We were fortunate enough to get free tickets to the gig (yay - a night out without the kids!). And yes - we were in the seated section on the field. Personally, I think you would have got a better view from the hill - I am way too height impaired to see the stage. I briefly got up on one of the seats (there being no one behind me whose view I would be blocking) but that was a definite no-no. As was moving too far into the aisle - you know - to see or dance or something. Why have seats at all down there? It just seems wrong (and I am a middle class girl from the suburbs!).

Thoroughly enjoyed the Stones though - and I want some of whatever Mick Jagger is on! I am confused by the complaints about noise though. One of the things I usually hate about concerts is that they are too loud for me to hear the music (call me a wimp - or a girl from the suburbs). I thought they got this one right, noise level wise - I'm quite sure I have heard much louder...

I agree. It may well have been the best stadium sound I've ever heard, but it was hardly deafening. What alarmed the natives of Carrington Road was the fact that the northeasterly wind blew the sound straight at them. (Although I must say, seeing the noise control officer gamely pointing his device over the fence from someone's backyard while drunken youths cavorted around him was pretty funny.)

Beatrix Coles had a terrace report:

When we went to buy tickets, on Visa cardholders only day, we could only buy tickets for $175. We decided to go with it, being a special event, and wound up sitting in a sea of old people (and not in a 30+ kind of way, actually grey-haired), while ushers patrolled to make sure that no-one danced too wildly or *gasp* stood up on their seats (and yes, I can see the point but sometimes we got a little swept up in it). Having said that, it was great being able to swan in, not having to see Nickleback, and seeing an amazing gig from the Stones.

Megan, on the other hand, found a party down the front:

Enjoyed your blog but sorry to hear you were hassled by some arsewipes up on the hill. What is it with some people?

They probably could've done with the hash cookies a mid-50's friend indulged in prior to arriving at Western Springs (however, restraint is not in her nature and she spent the entire concert in the St John's sick bay - the term "wasted" has never been more appropriate!).

We managed to get excellent seats down the front at the last minute. There were quite a few corporates and middle-class bores in these $350 seats and I assumed they'd behave the same way as the folk behind you.

However, my prejudices were thrown in my face as the majority were a bunch of groovers. Right from the off, people were on their feet, singing along, cheering and dancing. It seemed that only the true elders there (65+) remained seated but none, as far as I could make out, complained about their view being blocked. They just enjoyed the music and atmosphere. Perhaps the advantage of a seat makes for better manners but I was really impressed with their enjoyment of the event, and quiet patience in getting out of the grounds (while the 20 and 30 somethings rudely pushed and whinged). I will remember them as an example every time I feel a self-righteous sense of entitlement coming over me.

The manner of the exit from the upper slopes was quite impressive too - and that was a situation that could have turned nasty if people hadn't been patient. We talked shit with the people around us, some of whom had also had ninny troubles. You could have recruited for the Anti-Ninny League, I swear.

And Matt Bowden had this:

If you paid $100 for a Stones ticket, you were supposed to get past the grassy bit thru the fence and onto the terraces, but [through] a monumental fuck up on the part of the organisers or Ticketek [NB: It wasn't Ticketek running the show here, but its competitor, Ticketmaster - RB] the banks were crowded and the terraces empty - hence the call for people to work with the police and make some space. If you went to the [Ticketmaster] office and complained (estimated time over one hour round trip) they apologised and exchanged you a ticket to the terraces, or if you were dressed really nicely and spoke with a nosey enough accent they gave you a seated ticket at the front - has nobody else spilled the beans on this yet?

Lots of people deserve a partial refund.

This sounds bizarre. I thought the $100 GA tickets were strictly a hillside job - some friends paid $175 for terrace tickets (and even then weren't allowed to go to the ice cream van a few metres in front of them on the level ground). But I do wish I'd tried my fancy-ass accent at the terrace gate …

UPDATE: David Cranwell backs up the ticket-swap story:

I had $100 tix did the swap for terrace tix then, (and very proud of it), managed to jump into the front field - the trick was to jump in the exact middle and at the exact momnent that the floodlights went off and the stones struck their first note - everyone looks and noone sees you droppin 12 ft to the dirt and sprimping (sprint/limping - something any fence jumper can tell you about) to the safety of the masses. my mate just blagged a guard about an hour later...

Conclusion: Ticketing was clearly a shambles. And reserved seating kills rock 'n' roll, but the Stones were great anyway. I thought the nicest part of the evening was the curtain call, when tens of thousands of people (apart from the ninnies) simply delivered a long, long standing ovation; a gesture that felt as if it was not only made in appreciation of the show but of the very fact of the Rolling Stones.

Meanwhile, Michael Stevens thought he was in a better place:

You should have gone to Sigur Ros last night mate - they were amazing. Icelandic poetic symphonic glacial art metal or something. But amazing.

And, er, telecommunications is coming …