Hard News by Russell Brown

Fresh hair

So anyway, onto the other issue gripping the nation - shirts off at the vege shop: acceptable conduct or not? Hard News readers have spoken, and getting it off in a retail environment is not on.

Was I within my rights to be somewhat grossed out by my all-too-close encounter with a naked-to-the-waist hairy man while I was trying to buy a salad last week? Yes, said Heather McCracken:

Yes, it's wrong. Recently I had lunch with some workmates, at an inner-city cafe with a sunny balcony.

A couple sat down at the table next to us on the balcony and the man immediately removed his shirt. Just sat down and whipped it off.

He was flabby, hairy, and white as Gerry Brownlee, but that's not even the point - it's just wrong. People were trying to eat, though, thankfully, we had finished our lunch.

When did this become OK? Women manage to keep their tops on regardless of the heat. I don't see why men can't do the same.

Janette was appalled:

So wrong. Yuk. Even without the body hair this would be wrong, but unsolicited physical contact with slightly sweaty nude body hair is close to assault in my book.

Michelle said:

The chap with the shirt off has long been a pet peeve of mine (particularly as a 5'3" lass at concerts where young men seem to think they have the right to use you as their personal strip club pole!) - I think the perpetrators should be reminded that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should and that when it comes to shirts off in public the no touching rule should always apply!

Andrew Moore was down with the ladies on this one:

I mean, how tasteless can you get? "I'm trying to buy veges dude, not look at your hairy back!"

Ray Sumpter was concerned that Bear Guy's sexuality was the real issue, but honestly, it wasn't, although there was certainly a degree of showboating going on. Nonetheless, he thought that:

Shirts off in the vege shop is probably okay when the temperature falls. I suspect it is the sweatiness that offends. If he were blue and shivering you'd probably feel some degree of sympathy, but still secretly think he was a bit of an ijit.

Possibly. But it was more the inappropriateness of the environment …

I was planning to leave the race issue alone for a few days, but three things warrant a brief comment. (1) The government's u-turn. I guess if you're going to panic, you might as well panic decisively. I expect the promised review will turn up a few sacrificial policies, but will demonstrate that most of what aggrieves people is simply practical. The funny thing about the back-off on school closures is that that policy was probably well-founded too. It just pissed people off at a time when the government found it was pissing off altogether too many people.

(2) Andrew Smith was concerned about aspersions cast on Glenfield ("Hey, I live in Glenfield and I'm funky (in my own mind).") But I'm sorry, Birkenhead's definitely cooler.

And (3) is interesting: Jonathan Horsman went looking for the Maori youth-only skateboard competition in Gisborne that Murray McCully keeps claiming was paid for by a $1400 Te Puni Kokiri grant. (Yeah, I know, who cares, but stay with us …) Jonathan found this page, from the website of a local community group:

If you scroll all the way down to the 10 December 2001 (McCully must have gone way back in the archives for his example) it mentions the opening of the new skate bowl with a skate competition. So the grant (from the Lotteries Commission) actually went to pay for the skate bowl, which only by chance held an opening competition for it. Where does Te Puni Kokiri fit into this? I cannot find a link!

The community organisation Te Ora Hou "gave administrative and financial support to the redevelopment of the Kaiti skatebowl in 2001." Perhaps he got confused with all these similar-sounding productive voluntary Maori organisations helping themselves in their communities. Interestingly, Te Ora Hou claims to be a group of mostly Maori people, yet of all the projects listed on their site not one mentions racial exclusivity.

Yeah, yeah, I know. The drift towards separatism is a greater issue than all these pesky little facts that keep coming up. But if somebody's going to use my tax dollars to fan public resentment, I would expect them to do a bit better than this.

I see the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards is appealing against the R16 rating given to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. The film is brutally violent, but apparently it's okay for kids to see that because "these are historical facts".

As Christopher Hitchens points out in a great column in the new Vanity Fair, there is "clear Biblical evidence" that Christ was naked on the cross (rather than thoughtfully covered with a loincloth), but presumably showing Christ's historically accurate genitalia would be wrong and disturbing for children. What is it with these people and their faith that has to be so closely associated with explicit pain and torture?

It seems that Evan Dando's second night in Auckland last week was as good as the show I saw, but that the gig in Wellington was a bit of a shambles, according to my friend Simon:

To be frank it was very poor, amusing at times (especially the end -- its been a long time since I've been to a gig were the artist has charged off the stage to punch out a member of the audience ...), but musically very, very poor. Guy was just too out of it, especially at the beginning.

He did seem to find a rhythm there towards the end but it was not impressive. Seemed to be having a lot of trouble working out that if you don't stand in front of the mike nobody can hear you …

It appears that this might just be a risk you take when you buy a ticket to go to Evan. Dave Brem noted this report of a frankly bizarre gig, with the band, in Melbourne.

Over in America, Talking Points has a nice little story on the Bush campaign's response to wobbles over Bush's draft-dodging enlistment in the National Guard: just flat-out lie about it. Worth reading for an example of what you can say in public and get away with.

And if a secret report for the Pentagon says climate change is a matter for utmost alarm, does that change anything?

Hey, the debut Soane album, Tongan Chic (I promise I'll stop pointing out that your click-to-purchase there helps buy Public Address a drink or two in the future), just arrived in the mail. I haven't had a chance to play it through yet, but if 'All I Need' (featuring Boh Runga and Feelstyle) ain't a big hit then the country's in worse shape than I thought.