Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Summer of The L.e.d.s

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  • Simon Grigg,

    Wellington feels like a proper city: the sort they have in other countries. In comparison, Christchurch and Dunedin are merely towns, and Auckland is just an oversized suburb.

    I have to beg to differ, Auckland does feel like a city. As a voluntary expat who sees a lot of big big cities, most cities I travel to are chaotic, sprawling and essentially badly planned. Think NYC, London, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Sydney, LA. As they grow, they sprawl

    Whilst I might not think that it looks as it should in places, its the only town in New Zealand that can really make a claim to being a city in global terms. The chaos (which is not that bad....traffic? What traffic...try Jakarta or even Denpasar) is part of what defines it as a big city.

    I love Wellington but its a polite large town.

    And, frankly, sit on North Head on a sunny Regatta Day and try to tell me that it is not as astonishingly beautiful in every direction as any urban area anywhere. Even the bloody container wharves, bless them....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Muriel Lockheed,

    Love that track by the L.e.d.s. Now at the risk of exposing myself as an ignoramous how do you say that name is it Leds or L e d s or in the age of the web L dot e dot d dot s dot? I ask because......

    Years ago I worked in Melbourne for a milk company. We were running a competition on the side of the milk cartons to go in draw to win tickets to attend the concert of well known Aussie band. I attended a meeting with all the big-wigs in our company and had to report how many entries had been received etc. When asked I said the promotion was going well and entries were high, then (foolishly) added that as a kiwi I had never actually heard of the "inks". There was a audible gasp and then utter silence, deafening silence and then a couple of twitters. Slowly the lights began going on in my head, flamed faced, sweaty palmed, heart pounding, rushing sound in my head, I came to the realisation that the band was infact INXS. And, of course I had heard of them, I mean who hadn't, I had just never seen it written anywhere before.

    If you think sheep shagging jokes get old, you want to try working with a bunch of Aussies for a year being ribbed mercilessly and unendingly about INXS and that other great band the Inks...........

    Wellywood • Since Nov 2006 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    oh dear, Muriel! Been there, done that, I think we all have at some stage.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Helen Greenfield,

    ahem, at the risk of appearing narcissistic, but in the interests of correctness and avoiding public embarrassment to possible future l.e.d.s fans:

    l.e.d.s is pronounced 'el eee dees' and not leds (as in rhyming with heads)

    Muriel, I know how you feel regarding the whole Inks/INXS thing- heh heh

    Christchurch • Since Jan 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    And, frankly, sit on North Head on a sunny Regatta Day and try to tell me that it is not as astonishingly beautiful in every direction as any urban area anywhere.

    North Head was just what I did with my little girl as a "tourist" a couple of weeks ago. Only it was AmCup boats racing. Awesome and spectacular, especially with dark rain clouds hovering in the not too distant skyline. I also wish we had time to look at Western Springs and join the picnickers there. We did have to re-evaluate our Auckland prejudices somewhat (although the zoo *is* overrated, and what's with the 'voluntary' $5 dollar donation for the museum?). The suggestions above would really change the city for the better. Linking the domain to Albert Park to the water front.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    The zoo is over rated? Are you mad? I LOVE the zoo. And that's all I have to say!

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    And, frankly, sit on North Head on a sunny Regatta Day and try to tell me that it is not as astonishingly beautiful in every direction as any urban area anywhere.

    True, but I think that what would make that beautiful is not what makes it an "urban area", but the opposite. To me, a beautiful urban area would be the Rockefeller Centre with its ice rink, or the back streets of Spitalfields on a foggy night, or Vieux Nice during the Fete de la Musique, or looking from Frank Kitts Lagoon across Civic Square while there's a concert on the water, or just about anywhere in Venice at any time at all. The beauty of an urban area is due to its buildings and people, not yachts and hills and sparkling water. That can be beautiful, sure, but beautiful despite the city rather than because of it.

    I have to beg to differ, Auckland does feel like a city. As a voluntary expat who sees a lot of big big cities, most cities I travel to are chaotic, sprawling and essentially badly planned. Think NYC, London, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Sydney, LA. As they grow, they sprawl

    I think you have a different view of what constitutes a "city": I'd hardly count LA as one. London and NYC may sprawl on their outskirts, but at their centres it's possible to walk for hours among dense urban areas, and through distinct neighbourhoods, without ever feeling that you've strayed into the suburbs. If Ponsonby, Newmarket and Parnell were contiguous with Auckland CBD, maybe it would feel the same, but at the moment I don't think it does.

    I love Wellington but its a polite large town.

    I guess its "politeness" might depend upon which circles you move in, but I'd say it's definitely a small city rather than a large town. As of 2001 (still awaiting the equivalent 2006 census data), Wellington's CBD had slightly more workers than Auckland's. That means that Wellington, while undoubtedly a small city by world standards, has a CBD equivalent to that of a "metropolis" of 1 million. Add to that the fact that you can walk to the entertainment and bohemian quarters without crossing through residential or light industrial zones, and that it has all the civic infrastructure one expects from the cpaital of a sovereign nation, and you'll see why I characterise it as feeling like a small, but nonetheless "proper" city.

    You'll see that my perspective is that of a pedestrian, and that my definition of a "city" is unashamedly Eurocentric and old-fashioned: I dont have that much experience with Asian megacities and I don't like the sprawling car-dependent western US conurbations. There's a phrase that Rem Koolhaas and his students used: they were working on a "Project on what used to be The City", and I think that characterises the "chaotic, sprawling and essentially badly planned" metropolises that you mostly mention. Unfortunately, that's what "the city" is becoming in much of the world, but it's not what I (or presumably David) would call a "proper city".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    The zoo is over rated? Are you mad? I LOVE the zoo. And that's all I have to say

    I guess it got off on a wrong note when having just paid a hefty entry fee I forked out another two bucks for a crappy map of the place that I had assumed would be free as it was available under a tent marked "Information".

    The Zoo is not bad...just a bit fussy a I suppose, not quite what I had expected. I like more open spaces of Wellington Zoo and we *had* just spent the morning in Auckland Domain which is about as open as spaces come. I wished I had spent the money on the MOTAT next door. Next time, maybe.

    By all means, feel free to continue loving your Zoo :-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Fannen,

    I agree that Wellington (despite being small) feels like a proper city. In fact it reminds me a little of Hong Kong (big city squeezed between a mountain and the sea).

    I'd defend Auckland though - it's architecture has improved over the years and the CBD looks much more modern (or rather new) than Sydney's.

    What it IS lacking is both decent public transport (proper cities have more than buses!) and a CBD with retail (Auckland CBD is souvenir shop hell).

    Sydney's CBD is a joy to visit with major stores and malls - Auckland at least used to have Farmer's and now all we have is Whitcoulls and Borders and the coolness around High Street/Vulcan Lane. It could be much improved.

    Maybe a way would be to fix the other shortcoming - it's lack of decent public transport. Apart from anything else, it would help drag people to the central city. Proper cities have rail - period. Sydney has ferries that are an extension to the buses and trains - your transport ticket pays for it. Other countries have light rail and trams - and the excuse that Auckland isn't big enough is bull - lots of European cities have trams and their populations are about 1M people.

    Just DO something - put a light rail line in where the Eastern Highway was supposed to go. Put a railway to the airport. Build light rail lines at the same time as motorways - in the same places - no excuses.

    Rant rant. Hmmmmm........

    Warsaw • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Fannen,

    PS: I like the zoo too. I went back with a friend and her kids a couple of years back and it is a small treasure as is the Auckland Museum.

    Reminds me of when I was young and not cynical too!

    :)

    Warsaw • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    Auckland at least used to have Farmer's and now all we have is Whitcoulls and Borders and the coolness around High Street/Vulcan Lane.

    Yes, the whole High St/Vulcan Lane/Lorne St was my refuge when I lived in Auckland: now that feels like a city! That and bits of K Rd, though it may have changed a bit in the last ten years and I'm not sure whether that counts as CBD.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Yes, the whole High St/Vulcan Lane/Lorne St was my refuge when I lived in Auckland: now that feels like a city!

    Actually, a small part of it was made to pass for New York City when Mick Jagger filmed his cameo for 'The Knights of Prosperity', which recently debuted on US TV. There's one shot in his "luxury apartment" (ie: Metropolis) where you can totally see familiar High Street buildings out the window. Freaky.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I think you have a different view of what constitutes a "city": I'd hardly count LA as one

    perhaps so, but having lived in London, and spent long periods in NYC I would counter that you perhaps you are confusing the idealism of what you would like a city to be (as you hint at later in your post) with the reality.

    I suspect the idealism of "what used to be a city" is just that...London, Paris and much of old Europe were little more than populated sewerpits for most of their existence. The city ideal, if it ever existed may have been for a brief moment in the thirties.

    London, I lived there for three years and know it well, has great physical beauty in places but often only street deep. The essence of London, and the part I actually enjoy the most exists beyond the tourist facade, away from Piccadilly, or even Soho, in places like Brixton or Mile End or Hoxton..you know, where the people live and exist and the day to day fire of the city comes from. These places are not always pretty, and they sprawl. NYC, too, is not downtown or midtown Manhattan, although thats a part of it. I've found as much, probably more, excitement in the ramshackle streets of The Bronx or Brooklyn...not pretty, but, damn, thats a city.

    I'm not sure what the CBD figure really is meant to prove. Most Aucklanders would say the city doesn't have one. I would hazard that Jakarta, which is one of the ugliest cities on the planet (although I love it), with some twenty million, has a very low "CBD" worker total...its so spread out and, like Auckland has about half a dozen centres (and thats not including the smaller cities it's gobbled up), but it's a huge metropolis, a city by any definition. Auckland is not that, but its the only place in New Zealand that really has any claim to be a throbbing twenty four hour city, albeit a small one.

    Denpasar, quite close to me, has a daytime worker population of about a million, but at night drops down to about 400,000, and that to me still feels like a big town, which in Asian terms its only just.

    This is not meant to be a criticism of Wellington, I, like most Aucklanders (I might not live there but claim to be one even though I spent much of my youth in Wellington) don't really buy into, or really even notice the vitriol that flys north. Its a non event...of no consequence and always feels like a pointless waste of energy, so I'm not trying to buy into a reversal of that.

    The common complaint I hear from native Aucklanders when they venture south, or even tourists, is that, after three days in Wellington there is nothing to do. I don't buy into that argument at all, as a city or a town is about knowing where to go, what to do, knowing the nooks and crannies..and so it is in Wellington when you are with someone with local knowledge. And so it is in Auckland....Ponsonby rolls into K Rd, into the city into Parnell and to me it seems like a continuous journey with thriving interacting organic communities in each direction. People live, work and exist in all these places and they function as parts of the whole.

    BTW...if you've ever had the unpleasant experience of having your wallet lightened by the Irwin families famous Australia Zoo, you really appreciate Auckland's.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I would agree with Simon that it's about nooks and crannies. I'm a fifth generation Aucklander. Born and brought up here, and apart from 4 years spent at boarding school in Wellington, and 4 years in the UK and Europe, this has always been my home. I'm not really about architecture. I'm about the people. I love Auckland because it's in my blood, it's my roots, my family is mostly here, my friends are mostly here.I don't like certain parts of Auckland, certainly. One need only drive down Great North Rd towards Glendene to feel the life force being sucked out of you. I get the feeling that the urban sprawl only happens because people fancy a bit of green around them, which turns into more people fancying a bit of space, which turns into a suburb. On a civic level, there are certainly things that could be done to improve the place, and I believe that those issues are being addressed slowly but surely. I'm not sure though about arguments that talk about what makes a vibrant city. I know people who live in Melbourne, Sydney, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Berlin, and on and on. All of those people live in those places for various reasons, as I have mine for living where I do, and you all have your reasons for living where you do. Every place could operate more efficiently day to day - but I don't think that people choose to live in places because of their infrastructure, or even their architecture. Surely it's the people that make a place vibrant? I could be entirely wrong, and I'm not entirely sure that any of that makes sense to anyone but me, but that's the way I see it.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    London, I lived there for three years and know it well, has great physical beauty in places but often only street deep. The essence of London, and the part I actually enjoy the most exists beyond the tourist facade, away from Piccadilly, or even Soho, in places like Brixton or Mile End or Hoxton..you know, where the people live and exist and the day to day fire of the city comes from. These places are not always pretty, and they sprawl.

    I agree with the first part, and what appealed most to me there is not what most people would call "beauty", but the messy everyday reality, the people, the mix of cultures, and the layers of history; and certainly in the sorts of places you mention rather than the cold orderliness of Whitehall. That's why I mentioned Spitalfields, as that was my neighbourhood for a couple of years not long ago. Not "pretty", but endlessly fascinating and to me, beautiful.

    However, I can't agree that "places like Brixton or Mile End or Hoxton", while they go on for miles, "sprawl". You have to go a long way out of central London before you find anything like Albany, or even inner-city Auckland suburbs. Would that Auckland, or anywhere in NZ, have that sort of density! You say that "Ponsonby rolls into K Rd, into the city into Parnell and to me it seems like a continuous journey with thriving interacting organic communities in each direction", but I never felt them as that organically connected when I lived there: the lively bits were always separated by residential streets or light industry, and unless you were in a car, it wasn't exactly easy to "roll" between them.

    But I guess there's the nub: to me, a proper city should be encountered on foot, or at least by good public transport, and any city that makes it almost impossible to live without a car doesn't count for me. I don't buy into the whole anti-Auckland thing either, adn I'm certainly not anti-Aucklander (I've much more in common with a flash Ponsonby or Vulcan Lane type than with a South Island farm boy), but I just loathe the thought of a place without a CBD (and the critical mass it delivers - that was my point) and that forces you into indivudal metal boxes just to live your life.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I agree with the first part, and what appealed most to me [about London] is not what most people would call "beauty", but the messy everyday reality, the people, the mix of cultures, and the layers of history; and certainly in the sorts of places you mention rather than the cold orderliness of Whitehall. That's why I mentioned Spitalfields, as that was my neighbourhood for a couple of years not long ago. Not "pretty", but endlessly fascinating and to me, beautiful.

    Part of London's glory is its centres of power. The other part is the vitality of its margins. So much seemed to spring from marginalised or even actively suppressed cultures there. That's where the cultural energy came from.

    It was interesting returning to a somewhat gentrified Brixton in 2001, 10 years after I left. A row of restaurants on the Frontline!

    One great thing in London, especially south of the river, is the big parks and commons - home county custom that became urban planning by default, I guess. OTOH, probably because I never lived there (southside for life, etc) parts of East London were always a bit stark and desolate for me ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Fair enough Tom, although just as a last thought, I, when in Auckland love to walk and I do it for miles. Always have..

    Last time I was there in November I took a stroll along k Rd from the top of Queen Street, stopped in at couple of second hand record shops in the wonderful St Kevins Arcade, saw a couple of friends further down the road. Turning into Ponsonby Rd I bought some olives at the Italian Deli, had a coffee with half the musicians in Auckland and Marcello at Santos, where I also spent time with the iconic Tim Murdoch, had another coffee with Roger Perry and a couple of the George FM crew at Il Buco, bought a Mojo at Magazinno, wandered further along, seeing countless people I know, when I saw Graham Hill / Humphries and talked at length with him as we've not seen each other for quite a while...he was in a sidewalk bar..then strolled to the Belgian Beer bar at 3 Lamps in the old PO to meet my wife..took a couple of hours or maybe four. And believe me, it all rolled together and was a joy....its my 'hood to turn a phrase..all of it

    Auckland can be a wonderful city to walk in.....as a city I love that about it.

    And the council estates in Brixton / Stockwell and the like...seemed to sprawl for miles to my eye...ugly as sin...

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    Point taken: it's certainly possible to walk from the CBD to Ponsonby, or to Parnell or Newmarket, but it always seemed to me that no-one did. I lived in Grey Lynn and walked to the city at times, but people always looked at me oddly if I said I walked anywhere. Maybe things have changed in the last 10 years, and I guess it's as much about the circle of friends and cultural activities you move in as it is about the city itself: the people I knew were scattered everywhere, and walking around and bumping into them was inconceivable.

    There are still a lot of things I miss about Auckland (St Kevin's Arcade, bits of the Vulcan Lane area, the cultural diversity), but I've never felt at home anywhere but Wellington or perhaps London. I don't think there are many cities in the world as small as Wellington that I could live in, and even if it's not a megalopolis like London or Jakarta, it feels a lot bigger than it should for its population. Now imagine Auckland's population and diversity with Wellington's compactness and concentration...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Turner,

    I'd still quite like to know more about the concertina....

    Since Nov 2006 • 212 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Marcus Turner wrote:

    I'd still quite like to know more about the concertina...

    I honestly don't know if there's much more I can tell you, dude. Did you see my reply the first time you asked this question?

    Assuming that you're not taking the piss, I can tell you that it's a 'Jack' concertina designed by Wim Wakker in the Netherlands. It was purchased here:

    http://www.concertinaconnection.com/jackie-jack.htm

    It's actually extremely pleasant in tone -- not that I can play a note on it myself. To me its lower range sounds rather cello-esque, although it's clearly not an instrument designed by optimists. I’d never realized quite how mournful a light-hearted ditty such as My Shining Hour could become in the hands of a skilled concertinist. Judge for yourself here:

    http://www.concertinaconnection.com/my%20shining%20hour.mp3

    After two months it's still working well -- but other than this, I'm not sure what else I can say! But if you do have any other specific questions then you're welcome to email me here.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

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