Hard News by Russell Brown

But will it be sunny for the Big Day Out?

Are we in danger of lurching into a debate about actual policy? This novel prospect looms today at a climate change symposium in Wellington. Labour will have another crack at having a climate change policy it can stick to, and we'll get to see the fruit of Nick Smith's evangelising on the issue within his own party.

I'm genuinely interested to see what emerges. I think it has a greater bearing on our future than Don Brash's letter to the police over the election-spending issue (whatever the merits of the case, it has a whiff of desperation) or Helen Clark's absurdly half-arsed apology ("people should consult their dictionaries") for calling Brash "cancerous".

No Right Turn ventures on the prospects for National going green.

I thought this was quite funny: this week, National declares that the extra $200m over four years the government has produced for elective surgery merely entrenches waiting list culls. A year ago, National declares that its own proposal to spend an extra $100m over three years will "slash the 20,000 backlog of those waiting in high priority elective surgical service categories." Elsewhere, Dr Brash has been exhaustively namechecking a cancer victim.

Meanwhile, the revelations that the Exclusive Brethren's colourful private investigators claimed would rock our political establishment like, um, "TNT times five million" appear to be receding. Latest update: we'll get back to you. Ben Wilson had an answer for my question as to whether all private detectives are as freaky as these guys:

You only have to consider for a moment the kind of people who become private eyes and what they do on a daily basis to realize your question "are they all this weird?" is answered in the affirmative.

They're selected from people who were cops but got kicked off the force, or possibly left for health reasons, or never got in in the first place, due to psyche or health profiles not fitting the Bill. They may have tried to get into 'intelligence' too. Quite probably they had a go at security work, but found it too boring.

Their job consists almost entirely in poking their noses into people's private lives. Not just to get a scoop, but to get proof, usually so a spouse can claim something from them. They are often working for people who are pretty disturbed themselves.

Because they work alone, they don't have the moderating influence of other coppers and a chain of command, which reigns in the force detectives who might be inclined to slide to the dark side.

Also, they can often become highly paranoid, since the very nature of their work involves hurting people in ways that would quite possibly lead to retaliation. In the case of PIs casing out politicians, there's probably quite good reason for paranoia, since the various services that protect politicians are even spookier than they are.

At least they should be, otherwise there's a good chance unscrupulous people will get to politicians with all sorts of threats, ranging from embarrassment to assassination.

And Shannon reported that he once worked in a bar where Lew Proctor was a regular and formed, shall we say, a somewhat unfavourable view of his character.

Further evidence of Republican meltdown in the US: Ben Gracewood notes that one of the regulars at RedState, one of the most enthusiastically crazy winger blog sites, is resigning in despair, declaring that he can no longer cheerlead for the Republicans. The ensuing thread is quite interesting, as the slogan-shouters run up against genuine conservatives for whom it is dawning that the party of small government has been on a spending jag for five years.

Dan Horne wasn't so impressed with the Bob Woodward interview on 60 Minutes, noting Arianna Huffington's observation that Woodward's revelations about the White House state of denial are hardly news to some people. Well, no, but I think it's pretty clear that Woodward saying this stuff - after having written two pretty cuddly books about the Bush White House - has a particular impact.

Robert Harvey recommended the Slashdot interview (with questions posed by readers) with NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen. I agree. I think it's compulsory reading for anyone interested in citizen journalism and the future of news.

Looking at another side of online media - the revenue side - this here is the blog associated with a new white paper on the online advertising market in New Zealand and an accompanying full-page ad in the NBR today. I'll read the paper and see what I think.

Swerving away from grown-up matters to rock 'n' roll now, Shayne Carter, who should know, pondered on the latest version of the Tui bottle opener award, as showcased here this week:

It looks pretty much like the old one but with sharper angles, so, yes, good for Jordan and his lion. Both models tho' are made of sturdier stuff than the old perspex/wood version. SJF won two of those in 1994. One got knocked off the table and snapped in half at the ceremony. They posted my male singer one to me in Dunedin and it too arrived in two pieces and has never been properly fixed. There was something symbolic in that, I thought...

Graeme Humphreys out of Able Tasmans had a very late entry for the Flying Nun lists discussion:

A certain deal of chuffedness here seeing an unusually strong Able Tasmans representation. Wow. Anyway, top 5 for me could well be 5 Skeptics albums, with special mention of If I Will I Can EP from the box-set, but for variety's sake:

Skeptics, Amalgam. Astounding sounds, astounding songs, no duds. I continually wonder what music they'd be making today if David D'Ath was still around.

Gordons, Gordons. Fit and unique and still punches harder than most things do today.

Bill Direen, Split Seconds. There are so many angular gems.

Great Unwashed, EP in that damned plastic wrapper that went all sticky but smelled really good. That a band as mighty as The Clean could benefit from Peter Gutteridge's input is incredible, but it's true (for me). Gutteridge rocks.

The Chills, The Lost EP. Terry Moore's contribution to The Chills is underestimated, but this is the release I like the most.

Songs? Can I?

'Mammouth', Skeptics.

'What's Going On?', Fetus Productions.

'Throwing Stones', Sneaky Feelings (David Pine)

'Wrapped Up In Myself Again', Double Happys.

'La Motta', Skeptics.

For new Able Tasmanic material may I point out that Peter Keen and myself have a new CD out called The Overflow, by Humphreys and Keen. Some people say it's really good.

Indeed it is.

Alex pointed out that Byrne and Eno are offering the original multitracks for two tracks from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts to anyone who wants to remix and mash them.

And then of course there was my provocation with respect to the announcement of Tool and Muse in next year's Big Day Out lineup. Yamis at Blogging it Real, who ranks Tool second only to Rage Against the Machine in the Rock firmament had words.

David Cormack told me this:

I hate Tool also, I hate Tool for the lack of irony and pretension.

But I love Muse. I love them for their lack of irony and their pretension. I think it's the fact that Matt Bellamy (lead singer) so badly wants to be Thom Yorke whilst Maynard James Keenan wants to be God.

Matt said:

Oh that's a bit harsh ...

I think for a certain age group, albums like Aenima and Undertow were pretty cool, and in my case partly bridged the gap between the charts and the alternative scene, and I'm not even a metal fan.

Plus I would argue a big portion of the overdressed indie/alt scene (well any _scenester_ i would imagine) is po-faced, at least from what I've seen of Auckland these days.

But I guess things were different in the raucous ol' flying nun days eh?

Well, gimme the Gordons over Tool, put it that way.

Jhonus quoth:

I'm really not trying to be edgy when I listen to tool. Honest. I find them to be an almost spiritual experience and they are in my opinion consummate performers, and consumate musicians. Perhaps you have the opportunity to see this at the big day out.

Anyway, good luck with those "edgy" comments bruiser. Now I shall go think up some almost witty stereotype about the kinds of people that listen to The Killers and Muse, then maybe i can crack a wee joke about their band name!!

*the sound of girls giggling*

Steven from Spare Room said:

Totally agree on the Muse thing - I blame Billy Corgan and Rocky Horror's Richard O'Brien for that indulgent twaddle. And Tool will prolly just whack up their H.R. Giger-influenced videos and get the strobes going.

I did notice that the Violent Femmes are coming, which may prompt the student's association to start orientation early next year.

Am also listening to Lemonheads (via emusic - thanks). Sounds like Lovey-era. Apparently J. Mascis sent his guitar parts in via email...

Hamish also emailed:

Say what you like, every drummer I know (and I know a few) are big Tool fans. IMHO that's a measure that counts.

And Muse? They rocked BDO last time they came. It's space opera for people too old for Emo, and that's a good thing.


Yes, apparently people like Muse. Including Jo from Hubris:

I like Muse. A lot. And yes, they are pretentious, but no more so than most other musicians, even if their arrangements can be a little more grandiose. Sometimes I'd rather hear classical piano and huge big orchestrations than people thinking they can change the world with a couple of strums on their acoustic guitar and a couple of slurred words. Bob Dylan, I'm looking at you here.

I suspect that they're no longer taking themselves as seriously as say The Darkness take themselves, and I don't often hear anyone accusing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' of being too pretentious. Muse aren't for everyone, obviously, and that's okay.

And who am I to contradict someone with the lady-cojones to take midnight panty-swims in Wellington Harbour at this time of year?

Thomas was a little bit angry with me:

In regards to your comments on the Big Day Out announcement, I just wanted to say that given I am a part of the target market for such an event (20 year old, white, well educated etc), your comments were fairly embarrassing. I like Muse, in fact I love them. They are one of the few genuinely creative musicians left in the world of banality that is commercial music today. Tool are also awesome, sure there fans can be munters, but for the people who "get it" (and you clearly don't), they are absolute geniuses.

My Chemical Romance? Get your hand off it Russell! Bunch of whiny emo crybabies complaining about the difficulty of being brought up in a nice home with nice parents. Still, at least they aren't Simple Plane.

The Killers? Meh, the lead singer apparently said their latest album was one of the best made in the last ten years. Egotism is only cool if your music is actually that good, and the Killers sure as shit aint that good.
In general I was very impressed by the line up. I just thought you should know, mainly because by writing this email I can avoid doing some actual work.

Anyway, I guess I will be seeing you on January 19 at Mt Smart?

At least Carmel agreed with me:

I could say that its because I'm the same age as you and not in the target demographic that I share your disappointment with the 2007 BDO line up announcement - however - I can't quite buy that explanation for the big let down. 2006 was so damn good - fantastic even - there wasn't enough time to get around all the acts, previous years were a mixed bag but always full of delights and cutting edge stuff.

So how can they get it so wrong this time? It's so well ... yawn ... uninspiring ... and hardly seems worth the price of the ticket. Hoping there are plenty of late announcements coming through given time. A very big let down so far.

And Paul Le Comte reckoned …

The big rumor of the BDO lineup hasn't eventuated yet - The Who.

Still, with them claiming that the Tool and the Killers as headliners, can't really see The Who warming up for Tool, can you?

Never mind, thanks so much for the heads up, I was actually looking forward to BDO and was going to shout myself as a present for finishing my Masters. Actually the line up is a little flat, where's the wow factor? Still there's hope for the dance line up.

Oh well maybe the next year will be my first BDO?

At least The Who are still on the cards for dates here on their world tour. I saw them at the Hollywood bowl 2 days after the Ox died, very weird, but fantastic.

Me, I'm hoping (although not very confidently) for Flaming Lips and Tegan and Sara (they said they'd come back!) for the alternative stage. The Pixies played the Euro festival circuit as recently as July, so they wouldn't seem out of the question, and the Arctic Monkeys rumour still seems to be a live one.

And, to conclude a very lengthy post indeed … I've linked to the clip of the Flaming Lips playing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' on a cruise ship before. And goddamit, I'm linking to it again. Because it's awesome. Also, a completely silly mash-up of the Velvet Underground and the Archies.

PS: OMG. New season of 'Lost' on the wires. Big night in for mum 'n' dad ...