Not so Stranded in Paradise…

A million miles from New Orleans
Drinking a can of beer

I think about Memphis and Detroit  City 

I hear you ladies there are young and pretty

Will there be rhythm and blues on the radio?…

 ‘No movie stars or really big deals,

Me and the band just need a place to play

What more can I say?

This is a record  with pictures from New Zealand

This is for Kiwi Music Month. Street Talk is a band which has been kind of forgotten, or overshadowed some of the higher profile bands of the era. They had, in Hammond Gamble, one of the most distinctive lead vocalists of all the Auckland bands of the late ’70s, and some great original songs, but they didn’t have the decadent, squalid glamour of Hello Sailor or the brattish bad boy image of Th’ Dudes.

At least one of the key lines from this album track, “Stranded in Paradise” lives on in the title of John Dix’s great history of New Zealand rock music. Street Talks’s two albums appeared, without any real promotion, on itunes about a year or so ago.

I recommend them as examples of good, ballsy, meat and potatoes rock/ r&b from the time. I just wish the non-album single, ‘She’s Done It Again’, was also available.

And I love this song, as much for the overall feel of it as for the playing (especially that great keyboard work and lead singer Hammond Gamble’s gruff, bluesy singing).

we got a band that’s been milkmen
and taxi drivers
and truck drivers and
postmen too

accountants and door to door men, believe you me:

we got jukebox heroes just like you.

All very wistful and pleading. There was always a feeling, in New Zealand, that anything that mattered happened elsewhere. I think that’s the big difference in mood in the past 15 years or so.

Yes, New Zealanders are still big travellers, and we will continue to be so, I think. We still look energetically and often a bit excessively overseas.

But more of the younger generation of godwits, I think, will return.

And I think, now, we’re less prone to assume what we do here does not matter as much, or isn’t as good, somehow.

Rugby, New Zealand, and a civilised sense of perspective

A bunch of blokes tossing around a ball in an impromptu game of touch; a few people resting on the edges of Chaffers Park, reading and picnicking, while behind a jazz band played in the produce market. Over towards Te Papa, the fruit & veggie market was in full swing, albeit a bit quieter than it is usually at this point on a Sunday.

A long weekend, with some folChaffers Civiisationk away; plus a few more regulars grabbing some extra zeds after getting up early to watch the All Black vs. Springbok semi, all played their part, I suspect.

The general atmosphere is one of a chilled out, civilised and relaxed Kiwi Sunday.

I’d like to think the scene this morning – and, more importantly, the general mood around it – would have been the same if the ABs had lost.

Perspective is all.

Edge of the seat stuff while the game is on – and today’s game was a traditional All Black-South Africa match in that it was incredibly intense, quite scraggly in bits, and not all that pretty at times.

Oh, and we’re bitching about the reffing.

The more the ruck ball rules changes, the more things stay the same.

The French should come up with a saying about that, though perhaps it should be rendered partly in Afrikaan & partly in Welsh.

New Zealand is into the final, against the Pumas or – more likely – the Wallabies – but I hope that whatever the result next weekend, we’ll take it in our stride.

British author Kingsley Amis used to rekkin a bad book review might ruin hs breakfast but he wouldn’t allow it to ruin his lunch.

It’s a good rule which I think we should apply to All Black losses – even if I don’t quite believe Amis took his own advice (oh, and one of the reasons he might not have allowed it to upset his midday meal was his lunch was generally of the alcoholic variety).

But it’s the principle of the thing.

Win or lose next week, New Zealand will still be the relaxed, civilised country we can, at our best, be.

 

 

 

 

Ferry from Massey Memorial

Marvellous-ish years, seething energies, and the trick of blogging upright

There is an elephant in the room – this computer,
an evolutionary change happening in our lifetime,
reducing our customs to fossils and converting
our children to new formats. As the Digital Age
powers on, I look wistfully at my books,
pen and notepad, and see that language is mutating.
Now the Web is a field of seething energies,
ready to extend and pool consciousness, is this
the transformation of the world to a unified virtual mind
or merely another noisy playground and marketplace?…

That is Roger Horrocks on the effect of the digital world on books, writing, literature, culture – and, ultimately, identity. The full piece is here and it’s well worth a read.

He doesn’t come to any conclusions – sensibly, I think. We’re in the middle of a revolution right now – and for once the word ‘revolution’ is not hyperbole – and it isn’t at all clear what the outcome will be.

Horrocks isn’t sure whether to be optimistic or pessimistic. Personally, I’m tentatively optimistic.

New Zealand has always had a very “thin” cultural scene – it is a function of our small size and distance from everywhere else. The internet has broken that down and will no doubt break it down further.

My optimism lies in Horrocks comments about the ‘field of seething energies, ready to extend and pool consciousness.’

It is in the process of wrenching our notoriously parochial cultural scene out of its small-town-ness: it is also breaking down hierarchies and – dare one say it? – the ivory towers of universities.

Technology is breaking down both distance and walls and this has only just begun, I believe. It makes our small size less telling, provides easy access to a more global perspective and ideas and, obviously, helps ideas get around.

History is also deepening. The passage of time itself is helping, of course. But there is, I’ve noticed, a real hunger to talk, argue and occasionally throw things about New Zealand’s history, amongst the generation coming through.

As for the choice Horrocks outlines in the last line quoted above: I don’t think its a choice. It’s both.

The trick is going to be making sure the extension and pooling of consciousness happens along with the noise.

While I’m doing the Kiwi Music Month thing… the Chills at the Gluey, 1990

One of my favourite lyrics of any NZ song. Captures something of the great Kiwi OE, without being too overt about it.

Sitting in a foriegn setting,

Bands in backgrounds always play

Their phoney lonely cacaphony,

It didnt have to be this way

Some place alone,

And noone known,

So far from home here.

I really didnt choose to leave you,

To tear myself away so long,

To travel and unravel all the fabric we’d sewn,

So now somethings wrong,

And the world we used to know has gone,

Some place alone,

And noone known,

So far from home here.

Years of awkward confrontation,

I’d like to set your mind at ease,

I’m stuck here in these muddled ages,

I find the words won’t please.

Where could we dwell

Within our past alive and well?

Escape from all thats hard to bear

To where the child as you were creeps near

Without fear?

Scary things arent always clear

To hide in fiction and nostalgia

Can be eerie too

You cannot drive and steer rearview.

Someplace alone,

And noone known,

So far from home, here.