Hard News by Russell Brown

Rocking out

So I'm in the crowd, the D4 are firing out maximum rock 'n' roll, it's getting past midnight, and I'm thinking, first thing in the morning I have my US visa interview, and then I'm interviewing Murray Deaker. I should go home

So we missed the last half-dozen tunes in the D4's set and headed home. And it was, of course, fine in the morning. Going to the US Consulate was interesting: like everyone else in the queue, it seemed, I found the security rigmarole a bit nerve-jangling. I cheerily declared that I had no other electronic equipment than my mobile phone, and then a search of my overloaded bag turned up a long-forgotten AAA battery. Whoops.

It didn't matter, of course, and everyone there was notably polite, and I was duly found to be a fit and proper person to enter the United States of America. I understand why they have to do this, but I'm still a little bit miffed at the fact that I'm a journalist means I have to go and be interviewed.

I'm going to the US at the end of the month for a whistlestop week of looking at new mobile communications technologies. I've blagged a laptop and intend to be blogging from the road, which should be fun. I'm most excited about a planned tour of Bell Labs' Murray Hill campus, where I will doubtless sink to my knees and utter a small prayer of tribute to the Gods of Unix. Does anybody know how far the New Jersey Apple Store is from Murray Hill and Whippany?

But more of that anon. From there, it was off to interview Deaker about his new book, Just An Opinion, for Mediawatch. I'm not a huge fans of Deaker's shows, and I disagree with his views on any number of things, but he's an admirably forthright interview, and I found myself really liking him. I got him to sign my copy of the book, which he did, in two places.

But anyway, it was a great night out. The Checks have, with the move from the high school rehearsal room to grimy rock'n' roll pubs, picked up a good deal of grunt this year - and appear to have set aside their twitchy little pop songs in favour of some dazzling instrumental freakouts. Don't be surprised to see them signed by a well-known foreign record label some time this year.

The D4? They just rocked, a lot. They have a new album in the bag and fly out today to play an international garage rock festival in New York, at the invitation of the organiser, Little Stevie from The Sopranos. On last night's evidence, they ought to impress.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Athens Olympics will be competing for headlines with whateverthehellishappening in Iraq. Al-Jazeera has had some frankly alarming headlines in the past 24 hours: most notably the announcement by the deputy governor of Basra that his and two other southern Iraqi provinces planned to secede in protest at the military action in Najaf - and would close Basra's port and block oil exports to make the point. He escaped an assassination attempt almost immediately afterwards. Meanwhile, interim Iraqi government officials are resigning. What next?

Hopefully the world will actually have the opportunity to goof off and watch all those wonderful bodies in action. And did I mention how cute Sarah Ulmer is?

Also, of course, the weekend's sport extends to the All Blacks do-or-die Tri-Nations match against the Boks. Spencer and Williams are out, Mehrts and Maling are in, and Sam Tuitupou, cracked rib and all, has been detailed to smash the ball up the middle. It'll take a major rediscovery of vision to win this game with the necessary bonus point, but, well, I think we can do it …

Anyway, enough prognosticating. I have lunch any moment with Graham Reid, which is a fit thing for a Friday, is it not?