Hard News by Russell Brown

Old rockers

There was much talk of a bold new era at last night's launch of TVNZ's six-part local rock 'n' roll history, Give it a Whirl. And even though most of the people doing the talking - Tony Holden included - have been around for ever, it just might be true.

It's hard to imagine a series like Give it a Whirl being made even five years ago, let alone it being screened in prime time on TV One. A group of old hands (lately more often employed on makeover shows and the like) has converged on this project as a labour of love, and, judging by the 15-minute trailer shown last night, it really looks the business.

The previously-unknown rock 'n' roll film from mid-50s Wanganui - the first known footage of Johnny Devlin - is a real taonga. (Wanganui, although you might not know it, has a certain cult status with rock 'n' roll obsessives, having spawned 60s garage rock outfits The Top Shelf and The Cresendos, as well as the contemporary would-be Datsuns, The Have. The town also had a song named after it by Croatian surf rock aces the Bambi Molesters.)

Further suggestion of change comes with this story from the Dom-Post. Ignore Murray McCully's well-worn allegations - if the odious house style at "our" One News really is being slashed back then I'm all for it.

Meanwhile, in our "apparently" section, a free trade deal with the US is off, according to a US trade official, and it's all Helen Clark's fault, according to the Opposition. Leaving aside the current American petulance (that's the "angry drunk" approach to trade and foreign policy again) the greater problem actually appears to be that the US Congress will not buck its vested interests in big farming. Perhaps someone in the local press could explain to us exactly what good a trade deal would be to us without agriculture? That is, what other tariffs or barriers currently apply to our non-agricultural exports?

And anyway, official US opinion on anything to do with trade - or economics for that matter - is nigh-on incoherent at the moment. New Zealand's dollar soared earlier this week, along with a number of other currencies, including the Euro, largely because of a slide in the greenback prompted by comments by US Treasury Secretary John Snow indicating a relaxed attitude towards the weakness of the US dollar.

This was an apparent indication that the "strong dollar" policy is no longer considered sustainable in the face of America's deepening deficit problems. But no! Evidence to the contrary, first the White House, then the US Treasury subsequently insisted that there had been no change at all to the policy. But neither seemed to be able to offer any explanation of exactly what a "strong dollar" was. On recent form they will probably continue to insist that black is in fact white for the foreseeable future...