Hard News by Russell Brown

Golden Weather again

As the light now falling on the sorry history of bullying and abuse at the Waiouru cadet school finds its most grim artefact yet - allegations of pack rape - we should bear in mind that it is a mark of our times that these stories can finally be told.

Various lobbies, from the moral authoritarians at Maxim, to wistful interventionist lefties in academe like to believe that we have somehow lost a Golden Weather dream-time in New Zealand. Yes, once upon everyone had a job, everybody's kids walked to school and the official crime rate was lower than it is now.

And yet for such a long time, it was just a "domestic" when a man beat his wife behind closed doors. And it’s only now that we deal with Lake Alice and Porirua Hospital and Waiouru; or that we finally confront dioxins in the ground and in bodies. Next time you fume over the RMA or about prisoners being compensated for abuse, think about how you'd really rather have it. We are a more open society, and we face the problems that open societies face. There will be more saying-sorry to come.

End of sermon.

You can still donate to the civil unions newspaper ad here.

National apparently bitten on bum by history. It would be interesting to know where the Herald got its original tip about the Tuwharetoa airspace claim on Lake Taupo (which the government quickly claimed to be the direct result of National's "sloppy" deal with the iwi in the 1992 settlement) - because it looks for all the world like Don Brash was meant to walk straight into this one.

Bad news for Rush Limbaugh as a judge says prosecutors had a right to seize his medical records in investigating his "doctor-shopping" for prescription drugs. I'd feel sorry for him if he wasn't such a screaming hypocrite.

The final farewell from John Banks - spam. How appropriate.

And how odd that the first winner of a Little Brother t-shirt for the best email feedback should be such a naked attempt to win a t-shirt. But - notwithstanding a number of thoughtful commentaries on pressing social issues - that appears to be what has happened. So, please be in touch Garth Gregory:

Funny thing really. Until last week I had never heard of Little Brother. Well that's not quite correct as I do have a little brother ... but in actual fact he is more like a younger brother.

Anyway, I was shooting the breeze at one of the Wellington Ministries with the CEO's PA. We were talking fashion, cool brands and good Wellington clothing stores. Yes, they most definitely do exist. And we got around to Little Brother, who I had obviously never heard of...stoic Southern man and all.

Well, I was just flicking through the newly released FQ Quarterly for Men later in the week. And sure enough there was Little Brother clothes and what's more there was the mention of the Little Shit brand as well, the new kids brand.

And so, much later in the week I am standing on Dixon Street waiting for my bus, well any bus really. Across the road I am checking out the brand labels on the window of Area 51, which just so happens is the only stockist of Little Brother in Wellington. Of course...Little Brother beamed across at me. Tuesday morning back in the Ministry...and low and behold...Little Brother is back...this time on this blog. So I race over to tell my CEO's PA…guess what...Little Brother is up on a blog. And she has to ask...what is a blog?

It won't work again!

Not so far behind was Stuarts interesting memoir in response to the current silliness about drugs in the hospitality industry:

Lets freeze frame back to July 1984 when I moved into what was once called Rodean, part of the infamous White Heron Hotel complex. For a number of years beforehand, I had drunk (mainly on Sundays at the Pool Bar, home of drug/boat/car dealers/crook lawyers and socialites from the Inner Eastern Suburbs) and the famous Train Ride Bar actually a converted train carriage that was inserted through a wall into the upper lounge area just past reception.

I happened to live just up the road in Brighton Road from the early 80's. When I first moved into the Auckland urban area in 1968 I lived in Mission Bay for 10 years followed by a year and a bit in "Nappy Valley" home of Rachael on the dreadful (then) Shore.

Anyway, I needed to spread my wings a little and moved into the big white house which we used to call Southfork (remember this was the time of JR Ewing and crew). The other inhabitants of the house were various chefs from the hotel. Upstairs, there was a project manager from the construction crew from the then in construction Regent Hotel. Mr Ng (?) used to always bitch about the noise from below.

Me, I did not care. For 2 or so years I had been drinking with the staff at CATS club (caterers) in Albert Street and also the Entertainers Club in Fort Street (both totally illegal and open to members only). These clubs were open till around 7.00 in the morning. Anyway, not long after I moved into the hotel to live I spoke with the chef Rick Nielsen and offered to fill in helping in the kitchen if there was a staff shortage.

One night I was called in to wash dishes and this lasted right through till 1991. Oh, we drank (after work), we smoked weed and did all the debauched things that today would be regarded as either non pc or harrassing. I remember a chef (as a joke) one night dry humping a young chef who was antigay.

We also had this very strange Maitre D' who we used to call "teapot" God knows why. The waitresses used to be drawn to tears on most nights. Let's be basic, the hospo industry is a pressure industry and the workers or players in it need to let their hair down. Imagine the waitperson having to deal with awkward customers and also deal with surly/bad ass chefs, of course they are going in many, though not all, cases turn to drink or drugs to cope.

All the chefs I worked with in those halcyon days were either pissheads or mullheads. You could not get much of an intelligent conversation out of them, but their work quality looked pretty good. Today everybody and things are so protected and delicate …

And that's yer lot for this week. I've got a meeting later with the Newmarket connections (yes, there are some things that will draw me to that torrid strip) and a keynote speech to write for the eXpo Conference for Macintosh Computer Users, which takes place tomorrow at the Northcote campus of AUT (as far as I know you can still roll up to the door). Yeah, a keynote, y'know, like Steve does keynotes …

And, finally, whisky, of which readers will know I am quite fond. A wee while ago, a PR company sent me a bottle of the Grant's Sherry Cask Reserve, which I thought was quite agreeable. I figured it must be retailing around the fifty dollar mark. But no! I popped into a Grey Lynn bottlestore and bought another one (on the way back from seeing Auckland crash out of the NPC reckoning on Saturday night) and paid: $31.99! Crikey. That's easily the most convincing impression of a proper whisky at a budget price that I have ever seen. Keith Stewart thought much the same thing about the Grant's Ale Cask Reserve too. Good trick. Advertise with us! Or just send more …

PS: Voting has nearly closed for the NetGuide Web Awards 2004. I think the weblog category is judged, but feel free to pile on over, nominate us (again) and vote like crazy …