Monday, July 27, 2015

What I’m Reading #128

Jay Rayner in the Guardian excoriates London’t latest steakhouse, Smith & Wollensky:
We order the bone-in ribeye. The char is feeble and the overwhelming taste is of salt. Worse is the texture. It’s floppy. Part of this, I think, is a cultural difference; Americans like to celebrate steaks based on tenderness, as if being able to cut a piece of dead animal with a butter knife is an aspiration. I think that if you’re going to eat beef, you want to know it has come from an animal that has moved. This steak slips down like something that has spent its life chained to a radiator in the basement.
Staying with food, Ron Paste on what happens when you put a photo of poet RS Thomas on your Tyrells crisp bag. A Twitter storm ensued. Quote unquote:

Via David Thompson, Katherine Timpf in National Review on ethical and responsible vampires:
Sociology researchers are now insisting that we as a society start accepting people who choose to “identify as real vampires” — so that they can be open about the fact that they’re vampires without having to worry about facing discrimination from people who might think that that’s weird. The study, titled “Do We Always Practice What We Preach? Real Vampires’ Fears of Coming out of the Coffin to Social Workers and Helping Professionals” was conducted by researchers from Idaho State University and College of the Canyons and the Center for Positive Sexuality in Los Angeles. “Most vampires believe they were born that way; they don’t choose this,” said Dr. D. J. Williams, the study’s lead researcher and the director of sociology at Idaho State. The study is based on the experiences of eleven “real” vampires — which, by the way, are different from “lifestyle vampires.” [...]
Williams explained that no one should be bothered by a person wanting to drink another person’s blood because “it is generally expected within the community that vampires should act ethically and responsibly in feeding practices,” and it’s not their blood-drinking that’s the real problem here — it’s the fact that they have to worry that other people will judge them for their blood-drinking.
James Joyce cracks the China market with Finnegans Wake thanks to translator Dai Congrong. Quote unquote:
So the 41-year-old professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University was incredulous when the translation became a surprise bestseller in China after hitting shelves last month. Backed by an elaborate billboard ad campaign, the first volume of “Fennigen de Shouling Ye” sold out its first run of 8,000 copies and reached number two on a prestigious bestseller list in Shanghai, second only to a biography of Deng Xiaoping. Sales of 30,000 are considered “cause for celebration” according to Chinese publisher Gray Tan, so 8,000 in a month has made Joyce a distinctly hot property. Ian McEwan, for instance, is considered pretty buzzy in translation, but the print run of Atonement was only 5,000 copies
English vegetarian Tom Cox writes:
There can be a tendency to force your mind open when you eat a thistle, prepare yourself for it tasting surprisingly different to your preconceptions, but what it actually tastes like is a thistle. At best, you might say it tasted like a fibrous, angry cucumber, which doesn’t really work for me as someone who’s always believed cucumber to be redolent of many of the most disappointing parts of British life.
Rolling Stone says that a documentary about Frank Zappa, who died in December 1993, is “in the early stages of development”, so don’t hold your breath. Also that there is a new album, which it calls both Dance With Me and Dance Me This. Either way, it is his 100th official release. Quote unquote:
“Historically, musicians have felt real hurt if the audience expressed displeasure with their performance,” Frank Zappa told Rolling Stone in 1968. “They apologized and tried to make the people love them. We didn’t do that. We told the audience to get fucked.”
Which brings us, regrettably, to New Zealand poets. Ashleigh Young, author of Magnificent Moon (her debut poetry collection is fantastic and you should buy if there are any copies left: try Unity Books in Wellington), blogs occasionally at EyelashRoaming. In her latest post she discusses how writers react to criticism. This is especially interesting for me because as a book editor and manuscript assessor my job is to dish it out, and as an author my job is to take it.

Ashleigh writes:
In terms of how well I weather criticism, I have a very thin skin. I have the skin of an Antarctic krill. An Antarctic krill doesn’t have skin exactly; it has a chitinous shell from which it sometimes ejects itself to use as a decoy against predators. The krill leaves this tiny ghost self behind while it makes a getaway.
She proceeds to elicit responses from writers, musicians and even a comedian. Let’s hear from poet Tim Upperton:
I haven’t had many reviews, so I should be grateful for the ones I get, I suppose. But I’m not. I remember a sentence from a review of my first poetry collection: ‘Heavy poems can leave a reader with an intense grimy experience.’ I guess that means something, but what? What’s a ‘heavy poem’? Are my poems insufficiently uplifting, for his taste? I quite like ‘an intense grimy experience’, but I don’t think the reviewer does. Fuck him.
On a more positive note, poetry-wise, Simon Armitage is the new Professor of Poetry at Oxford. Good. He is from Yorkshire, like my mother, who is from Halifax. The Guardian interviewed him in May, before the appointment. Quote unquote:
On stage in London, Armitage introduced another poem. “I think every poet at some stage in their writing life should try and write the definitive home-town poem. With Huddersfield, that was difficult. I didn’t really know what to lock on to as a coordinate. I eventually felt that the one thing that was most authentic were these synthetic – sort of Tudor – coffeehouses.” Laughter. “They’ve even proliferated into Halifax.” The laughter built. “There’s a drive-in! Ye olde drive-in coffee-house.”
Next time I go to Halifax to see my cousins, I know where to go for coffee. Despite what some may say, poets have their uses. So here is kd lang live in 1993 with “Black Coffee”:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Waikato Times letter of the week #55

This is from the edition of Tuesday 21 July. As always, spelling, punctuation, grammar and logic are exactly as printed in the Waikato Times.
Harper Lee book
So, at last we see Almighty God’s forthcoming intervention in the perverse and wicked generation in which we all live and have our being!
Confirmed by the interesting ‘sign’ from the Bible, from Isaiah 21:6 – “Go, set a watchman, (Harper Lee) let him declare what he sees.”
Though having not read the book yet myself, (and leaving it to one side for a moment) the title is really all that matters in the declaring of the “all I have seen” area over the last 10 years or so concerning the decadent moral collapse of this country’s condition – not to mention the global scenario!
No doubt, the general public will look for the relevance of this book’s title and character in relation to that scenario as it applies to New Zealand, but the rest of the Biblical passage should ring a few bells amongst those who have at least a modicum of intelligence, and are able to discern the present shambles our civilisation is in!
My usual ending is very applicable I feel: Food for thought?
Glywn McInnes

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lookalikes #3: Jerry Garcia and Ayatollah Khomeini

One (seen here in 1981) was the lead guitarist in the Grateful Dead, a peacenik American band. The other (seen here in 2015) is the president of Iran, a not-so-peacenik Middle East country. Spookily, the Grateful Dead called their eighth album Blues for Allah. Coincidence?

So here are the Grateful Dead in 1991 as backing band for John Fogerty with his Creedence Clearwater Revival hit “Proud Mary”. Yes, really:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Harper Lee in New Zealand

Page & Blackmore Booksellers (254 Trafalgar Street, next time you are in Nelson) posted on their Facebook page this startling news:
Rumours are rife that Harper Lee wrote a third, even earlier book, an Ur-novel set in New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands, in which an elderly recluse, Scout Finch, looks back over the circumstances of her life that led her to turn her back on the intransigently unjust society in which she grew up. Apparently her editor advised her to rewrite it – twice.
So here is the cover:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Waikato Times letter of the week #54

This is from the edition of Tuesday 14 July. As always, spelling, punctuation, grammar and logic are exactly as printed in the Waikato Times.
TV pronunciation
I want to talk about just a few things that are annoying. It seems some kids might be confused about how to properly pronounce things which TV presenters cannot. Such as Samoa – not as they say it (sarmoar). Also, Whakatane is not fakatane. Maybe they should go back to school and learn proper English. Also the discussion on climate change may be or may be not the thing nobody talks about: that all the atomic tests could have knocked the Earth off its axis by a fraction of a degree, which would alter our weather patterns. Also, the moon might have moved, which would alter our weather. But it seems you can’t make money out of saying that, as the world is greedy.
P Lyon

Lookalikes #2: Patrick Macnee and David Cameron

One died recently at 93 and was a beloved star of the TV series The Avengers. All the press has been about the series with Diana Rigg, 1965-68, as the “coolly kittenish” Mrs Emma Peel. It was fantastic but some of us remember even more fondly the earlier series, 1962-64, with Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore in the Bond movie Goldfinger) as Cathy Gale. Scorchio.

The Daily Telegraph has a brilliant obituary of Macnee. Quote unquote: 
He decided he was too old not to have a proper job, a conclusion reached when he came home to find he had been replaced in the affections of a much younger girlfriend by a French thief and his team of huskies.

That is not even the third-best sentence in the obit.

The other is a 48-year-old English politician. Yes, English. Prime Minister of the UK, but English as, despite his Scottish surname. Nothing wrong with that.

They went to the same secondary school – Eton, obviously – but only one of them was expelled for pornography and bookmaking offences. Can you guess which one it was?

So here is an hour with Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Waikato Times letter of the week #53

This is from the edition of Saturday 4 July. As always, spelling, punctuation, grammar and logic are exactly as printed in the Waikato Times. (I wish I had kept a copy of the letter mid-week complaining that the writer’s previous letter had been mangled in the sub-editing process, thereby proving that these letters are in fact sub-edited and so have passed whatever sub-editorial and proofreading tests the Waikato Times applies.)
What values are left?
We now have so many changes taking place in the values of what is acceptable and unacceptable. Legal changes have all come down to what’s good and what’s politically acceptable? Religion in schools, marriage (same sex), euthanasia, abortion etc.
We have the flag and what it represents to the country, we have the monarchy also in question, and whether or not we should teach Christianity in schools. The police and all authorities are in question at the moment. What values are left to look up to? No laws. No values. We have a few serious values we can look up to anymore?
Next we have the spiritual side of life. Religion, the ten commandments and spiritual values which have been the basis of our country are being disregarded.
We don’t have many actual values left, so what is next to change, I wonder? There is definitely a question on what tomorrow is going to offer? It seems to me the tail is wagging the dog and not the majority being represented.
Ken Weldon
So here are the Beatles in 1967 with “Tomorrow Never Knows”:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Two threesomes

In the adult fiction category of this week’s Nielsen Weekly Bestsellers Lists there are three by the same author. I don’t recall this ever happening before. Two by the same author, yes; three, no. The author is Graeme Lay and the books are his Captain Cook trilogy The Secret Life of James Cook (2013) at #9, James Cook’s New World (2014) at #10, and this year’s James Cook’s Lost World at #2. I assume that with the success of the latest novel people are buying the first two volumes to read them in sequence. Good.

The other thing these novels have in common is that I edited all three.

Spookily, of the 10 novels on the longlist for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Awards for NZ crime fiction, I edited three: Paddy Richardson’s Swimming in the Dark, Tina Shaw’s The Children’s Pond and Paul Thomas’s Fallout.

Three must be my lucky number. On the other hand, I am lucky in the authors I get to work with.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Merry Isaac on Tony Fomison

The 80th in this occasional series of reprints from Quote Unquote the magazine is from the March 1994 issue. I haven’t been able to locate the writer, Merry Isaac, to get her permission to reprint: I hope she doesn’t mind. The image above is one used to illustrate the article: Portrait of Tony Fomison (1986) by Mary McIntyre, who knew Tony well. 

The intro read:
With the major retrospective exhibition Fomison: What Shall We Tell Them? now showing at the Wellington City Art Gallery, there is new interest Tony Fomison’s life and work. His close friend Merry Isaac recalls the days leading up to his death on Waitangi Day 1990.
Tony and I first met when we were teenagers at Canterbury University School of Fine Arts. He was an honours student and I was a first year. We were all jumping around on Murray Grimsdale’s bed laughing because Tony was confessing that he had once murdered his grandmother’s budgie. Tony was jumping too and laughing. I caught his eye and he stopped laughing and lowered his eyes and looked startled and sad at the same time. We seemed to recognise something about each other. He was acting a kind of imp and I was the pretty art student that the boys wanted to get into. Maybe he saw I was more than this. I left art school wearing a pair of his jeans which he’d given me. We were the same size, very skinny, and he came with my other friends down to Lyttelton to see me off on the boat.
I heard stories about Tony but didn’t see him again till 1977 when he came to Wellington for an exhibition of his paintings. We found we had been in the same mental hospital in London, Banstead, a few years apart and we had been in London at the same time.
From 1977 we saw each other more often and when I left my husband in 1980 I went to his house in Auckland and he came back to my hotel for dinner and stayed with me most of the night as I had been arrested that morning and just avoided being put in a mental hospital and was still very frightened. I was catching a plane to England. We watched an old cowboy movie and drank ouzo.
Later, when I settled in Russell, we kept in touch. The last two years of his life I was often in Auckland and saw him a lot. He came to stay in Russell in April 1989 and I saw him each time I was down in Auckland. Early in 1990 I asked him to come up and open my exhibition and to go to the Waitangi celebrations. Five days later he was dead.
Tony was an exceptional friend. He saw through the shit. He could be an old wise man, a father figure, and almost give a lecture and ask me to behave myself. Other times he would be drunk and high and we’d talk and gossip and wonder about the future of the human race. I would watch him paint and he would discuss his work and the technique he was using. Then we’d get his stuff together (he carried everything “in case” in a large grey bag which had to be watched all night regardless of where we went).
Sometimes he would snarl and misbehave at art openings. Once we smoked a cigarette together in the Auckland City Art Gallery sitting on a huge leather sofa staring at the McCahons across the balcony.
There was a dark side to Tony. Like all unloved people he got love where and how he could. But he was also a gentleman and found me seats and opened doors and rang me when he was concerned about me.
The day I took my daughter to meet him he was waiting at the door expectantly, his hair brushed and clean clothes on, the best tea cups ready to make tea. My daughter brought the tea into the studio and Tony and I talked and she sat politely and listened. Occasionally Tony spat into a tin especially there for the purpose.
Afterwards, going down the street, my daughter turned to me and said, “What a disgusting man. Why did you take me to meet him?”
I said, “You’ll remember this visit one day, Gwennie.”
“I sure won’t forget it,” she said.
But at one point, while Tony and I talked, she had toured the room gazing at all the paintings and looking at Tony’s easel and tools. Five months after his death she mentioned Tony. “What a nice little man he was, Mummy. You must be missing him.”
The spitting didn’t matter any more.
Since Tony died I have done 30 paintings depicting his last days. I have been to San Francisco and back. I am here in my house in Russell and often I want to phone Tony and hear him answer the phone, “Ah, gidday, it’s you, Merry. How’s things?”

Saturday night 3 February 1990
The barmaid from the pub phoned to say Tony had arrived. I was cooking dinner and half expected him. I had rung him on the Monday to ask him to come up and stay and open my exhibition and come to Waitangi for the celebrations. He had sounded asleep or drugged or drunk and I wasn’t sure if he understood me so I sent him a letter and an invitation.
I ran down to the pub and looked in the public bar and then tried the bistro. Tony was sitting at an outside table and when he saw me he stood up smiling and put his arms out. We kissed and hugged and he looked very frail. He was with Fiona McLeod who had driven his car up. I bought wine and a jug of beer and we sat under the coloured lights. I wondered how I’d get him up my steps. Loulou arrived grinning when he saw Tony and we all decided to go home.
When I saw him in the light I was fearful.
He had dried blood on his mouth and looked grey and exhausted. I finished cooking the meal. One wiener schnitzel which I managed to spread around the four of us by frying all the vegetables I had in the house with it a la Chinese and served with rice. Tony ate his standing up and then went straight to bed.
Loulou and Fiona stayed and talked till 3am and then I put them both into their beds.

Sunday 4 February
I was up at nine and we sat around upstairs and talked. Then I made a pot of tea and served Weetbix and stewed plums. Tony stood looking out the window and ate a huge plateful as fast as he could. Loulou and Fiona went out in the car and Tony went back to bed. He curled up in the foetus position and slept so deeply he hardly breathed.
Aloma came and took me shopping. I left Tony a note. We took all the stuff around to the Adobe Cottage where I was having my exhibition. And then I came back.
Tony still slept. Finally I woke him to see if he was still hungry but he wanted to keep sleeping so I said I would wake him at 4pm.
I got dressed and when he woke I showed him my outfit and asked him if I should wear the bone tiki. He said, “Yeah! Wear what you like!” So I took it off. I was nervous about the opening...
[At the exhibition opening] we had a few jokes and a few wines. Someone gave Tony a joint to puff. He stood up holding one side of his nose and smoked it like a professional. I was embarrassed. He said, “I must open it now, Merry.” S0 I called out to everyone to come inside ~ lots of people were sitting outside in the sun drinking wine, my paintings forgotten.
Tony stood up and said, “This speech is about artists. There are lots of artists. Some have talent and some don’t. Merry has talent but she has more than this. I call it 5050 » not 5O percent, but made up of two things. Ethics and morals. And this sets her work aside.” And then he sat down abruptly and looked at me.
“Thank you Tony,” I said and then went across the room and kissed him and he laughed his short grunt, and I got him a wine. He drank it straight down. “I want to lie down now,” he said. So I took him the back way to Peter’s bed and rolled him in it... ‘

Monday 5 February
Tony and I made a plan for the day. We first drove to the shops and bought fruit juice, plastic glasses and wine, which Tony paid for and I bought cheese, fruit and cracker biscuits. I drove us to Long Beach and parked. We stumbled down the sand hills laughing and paddled in the sea. Tony took his shoes and socks off and let the water rush over his legs. His legs had dark bruises on them. He grinned at me. We sat on the sand and talked.
“Why don’t you stay a couple of months 7” I said. “We’ve got the car, we could even go up to Cape Reinga.” I was very enthusiastic.
He was smiling and pleased by the sea and stared at it as it rushed backwards and forwards towards us. The land on the horizon, green in the white sun. Blue sky, blue sea, green land and white sand, the light as sharp as a knife. The sea water ran over Tony’s feet. He rubbed at huge dents near his ankles where his socks had formed permanent ridges into his skin...
We started walking up the track to the meeting house. It was cooler under the trees and I held Tony’s arm. We arrived at the PR hut and went inside. We looked at a facsimile of the treaty and Tony explained how the chiefs signed using their mokos as a signature.
We walked around and Tony discussed each chief as if they were personal friends.
He didn’t mention the bad painting. He looked at the kauri roots at the door and patted them. “Oh yes,” he said...
We walked down towards the wharf and sat down near it. Tony immediately lay down looking dead. A Maori man sat on a rock opposite us and kept an eye on us.
I saw the ferry arriving. I pulled Tony up onto his feet. Lots of people were crowding up to catch the ferry. We smoked cigarettes and joked. It was 6.30pm. We all pushed and shoved to get on the ferry as this was the last one.
Tony wanted to sit upstairs. I pushed him up the stairs and we stood at the top. People stared at us and at last I found him a seat. I hovered over him, standing. A Maori man came and took photos leaning on my shoulder to steady his camera, his head close to mine. Tony started up a conversation with the men sharing his bench. They made room for me. We all shared a wine from the cask. They were from Tonga. Tony and the one closest to him had a cheerful conversation. Everyone on the boat was talking to everyone else and happy. The sun was slowly receding. We walked down the wharf and I retrieved the cameras from the pub and drove us back to the house. Tony went straight to bed and I cooked dinner and said I would wake him.
I woke him at 9.30 and he got up to eat. He sat at the table and took one mouthful.
“Yuk! I can’t eat this.” I apologised and said I was sorry but I had to make a large meal because I didn’t know what Loulou and Fiona were doing. It was mince made into bolognaise. Even I didn’t like it much.
Suddenly out in the sky above Waitangi fireworks started exploding. I ran out onto the deck calling out to Tony to come and look. He turned in his seat and watched them through the window. It was an amazing sight and his mouth fell open.
“That was just right,” I said. “Just long enough. It was like cells dividing.”
“A pattern,” said Tony, slightly disgusted. He went back to bed. And I cleaned up. 
I went upstairs to bed. I looked out the window at the night. The stars were shining so brilliantly their rays seeming to shoot out at each other, touching each other, communicating.
The whole universe is centred on us tonight, I had told my mother on the phone earlier. And it seemed true. I had never seen this phenomenon before.
I heard Tony talking in his sleep and called out to him, “Are you okay?” 
“Yeah,” he called, “I’m okay.” But he kept chanting and talking in his sleep. I came down the stairs to check on him and he lay in bed curled up like a tiny grey foetus. “Are you okay?” I asked. His eyes opened. “Yeah, I’m okay.” ‘
“You can’t die in my house, Tony. I’m going to ring Hilary, you need a doctor.”
“No I don’t. Don’t ring Hilary.” ‘
“Well Tony, you can’t die here.”
“I won’t, Merry.”
“Oh God!” And I kiss him. And pull the sheets up. And go back upstairs. And smoke a cigarette and hear him talking again. At least he’s not dead if he is talking.
Later I hear him snoring very loudly. I give up on sleep at 5am and get up and make tea. And get my stuff together for Waitangi.
We are leaving on the first ferry at 7am.

Tuesday 6 February, Waitangi Day
I woke Tony at 5.30 and gave him time to wake up. Out he came. “I think I’ll shave today,” he said. He drank some wine and ate some Weetbix and went back into his room to sort out his outfit. “I’m going to wear my lavalava,’-’ he called out.
“Today we must wear whatever we like,” I called back.
“I’ll wear my bone necklace,” he called.
“And a tiki,” I said.
He came out all ready. He had on a short T-shirt which was tie-dyed like a tattoo.
His own tattoos were displayed between the top of the T-shirt and his yellow ochre Samoan-patterned lavalava. The bone necklace was around his neck, painted orange and crudely made. Hanging separately was an ancient tiki....
[On the way to the treaty house] a friend stopped to talk. A lot of these friends who stopped to talk to Tony had modulated educated voices and were delighted to see him. They had trendy clothes and genuine glee at seeing someone they knew so far from home. Tony talked patiently, introducing me as I held him up and they as usual ignored me.
At last we were at the treaty house and walked in front of the audience packed into tiers floating above the grounds. Tony wanted to first sit in the tiers but I told him it was too dangerous if we wanted to leave quickly. Then he wanted to sit on the grass in front of them. I kept him walking. We crossed the grass and found a gap in front of the north tiers. We sat down on the grass.
We kept walking. We arrived at the bridge. Hundreds of people were milling around.
“I’ll sit here,” said Tony. He lay down under the tree close by. “You can’t die here Tony,”
I cried. “I’ll go and find out about the ferries, there must be one going back to Russell soon. Stay here, I’ll only be a moment.”....
We all helped carry Tony into the emergency tent. I could hear the band playing bagpipes. The doctor asked me to watch and squeeze the transfusion bag. I thought about the liquid not getting through and squeezed and watched it.
The transfusion bag was pegged with an ordinary plastic clothes peg to the cord above the bed. Tony lay there and sometimes looked up at me and slightly nodded his head. I suddenly found tears pouring down my face and I couldn’t control myself.
I wiped my face on my rainbow jacket. Then I recovered.
It was decided to take Tony down to Kawakawa hospital and I held the transfusion bag as he was lifted and carried to the ambulance.
The band started playing Cook Island drums as we left. “See,” I wanted to say, “they know you’re here.” But I realised how stupid that was... _
He lay back in the bed and put the blankets back around himself. And we talked.
He wanted to know when his sister was coming. He looked sad when he heard it was Friday. I would ring her again, I told him. “Tell her to bring the children,” he said.
He had the light on beside the bed.” We talked about the doctor and the nurses. I told him I had discussed him with the doctor and asked him how often the nurses came to see him. I said I must go to ring up his sister and the nurses’ hostel was locked up at 12 so I would ring his ward all night and they had promised to ring me. And I stood up and went towards him and kissed him on the lips. ‘
“Good night Tony,” I said, but in my head I said “I love‘ you.” But tonight I couldn’t say it out loud because it was true and I might cry in front of him.
I stood back and the nurse came in and began checking Tony’s transfusions and I said with a grin, “See you later, mate!” And off I went...

Wednesday 7 February
At 10pm the hospital rang the pub. Tony was fading fast. I felt terrible. I am having a nightmare and I’m awake...
I sat on my deck and looked at the stars and thought of, Tony fading away. If you can fade away you can fade up again. I was frightened.
What planet did Tony come from? I’d asked a Maori friend in the pub. “He was the last of a line, Merry, he won’t be back,” he replied.
But I saw him strutting in the night sky, younger, with a cloak swirling around him, a kind of Vagabond. I slept in the bed he had slept in with clean sheets. I kept the French doors open to the night. 
The telephone rang at 6am the next morning. It was the hospital. Tony died at 11pm last night and his family arrived at 11.l5pm.

Saturday 10 February
[at the funeral] I looked down at Tony’s body and face. He was lying encased by white satin, quilted and new. His lavalava on, exposing his tattoos. His tie-dyed T-shirt stretched over his chest. The orange-stained bone necklace hung around his neck. His face was wider and larger than before in life and the skin seemed stretched tightly over his bones, making -his face smirk in an evil grimace. He was lying rigid on his back and his hair had been combed flat. It wasn’t him. He had always slept, his hair in chaos, in the foetus position. This was a new Tony I had never met. I could not kiss him and instead stared, unable to speak. I moved away quickly and walked outside, leaving his mother beside him...
I thought of Tony being buried under the earth. But he wasn’t, he was talking to me, right then, inside my head. Go away, Tony, I said to my head.
I walked into the Downtown centre and bought a bus ticket for the next day back to Russell. And then I suddenly asked them to change it and bought a ticket for right then.
I wanted to go home.
In Russell I ate a bistro meal and walked home. The stars nodded a hello but only stating that they were there. My house was neat and clean from all the cleaning I had done before I left.
I lay down in the bed that Tony had slept in and left the French doors open. And this time I wept. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wanted: an editor for Metro

Bauer Media advertises at
Editor - Metro
Bauer Media, New Zealand’s leading magazine publisher, is seeking an editor for the METRO brand.
Metro is an award winning iconic brand that celebrates all things Auckland.  It’s a leading commentator on Auckland affairs and a vital part of the life of the city. Metro’s coverage of restaurants, schools, culture and the arts is pre-eminent, and has a raft of leading contributing feature writers and columnists.
The brand has two very successful websites, busy social media, an app, and hosts great events. But there is great opportunity to extend this brand into other revenue streams and the new editor would be heavily involved in these commercial opportunities.
We are looking for an outstanding editor who lives and breathes the magazine’s values.  To apply, you need to have journalism experience, writing for magazines and/or newspapers, with a commitment to editorial excellence and innovation. You will also need to have knowledge of what makes Auckland tick and what Aucklanders want from their magazine, plus a nose for a darn good story.
You need to be a creative, solution orientated brand champion who can expand Metro across the different platforms, in print, in online media and as other opportunities arise.  You will know how to focus on projects offering the best returns; have strong business acumen, and a proven track record of achieving commercial success.
You will be a comfortable and assertive project manager and be able to lead a small but highly motivated team. Your strong leadership of your team is crucial – you set the editorial vision, tone and themes for Metro. In addition to your print media abilities, you will need to be comfortable and confident as the public face of the brand: in front of a camera and in other media, hosting events, and working closely with advertising clients.
Your public profile will be an important driver of your magazine’s future success.
We offer a vibrant, energetic environment for people who bring passion and commitment to their work, and enjoy a culture where successes are recognised and celebrated.
If this sounds like you, please attach a current cv and covering letter saying why you’d be the best choice to lead this iconic brand into the future to

A smartarse young friend posted this ad to my Facebook page, saying, “Hey Stephen, have you ever thought about going back? Cause they’re looking for a ‘creative, solution orientated brand champion’ and of course those words immediately made me think of you!”

I have passed this ad on to friends who also used to work at Metro. Hilarity ensued, and not only at “working closely with advertising clients”. We also wonder whether applicants for the job will be made aware that the previous editor will be a presence. I am sure he is a very nice fellow, but this arrangement has not always worked out well before.

So here are Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention live in 1971 with “Does This Kind of Life Look Interesting to You?”: