Something Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

SPOTTED ON SPOTIFY: An endless stream of music

24 May 2012  |  2 min read  |  1

The hills – and elevators, supermarkets and doctors' waiting rooms – are alive with the sound of music. Yet despite being assailed by often unwanted Muzak, most of us still want music in our lives. And more of it judging by the success of iTunes, iPods and the download culture. You can add to that list a new player in the New Zealand market, Spotify, which brings you essential... > Read more

10 MORE SHAMEFUL RECORD COVERS I'M PROUD TO OWN

21 May 2012  |  6 min read

Further to the previous selection of bad taste or just plain awful album covers, comes this batch . . . kicking off with PIL playing the old Magritte card with their album That What is Not. Rene Magritte was the Belgian surrealist who painted a pipe and added the words "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a pipe), the point being it wasn't a pipe, but a painting of a pipe.... > Read more

Polar Bear Stomp

FISTFUL OF VINYL: Records ride back over the horizon

16 Apr 2012  |  4 min read  |  1

A true coincidence? Within half an hour of speaking with my son in London about some wonderful on-line world which allows streaming access to what seems like a billion songs, a familiarly shaped parcel arrived at my door . It was of the kind the iPod generation probably knows very little about. It was a 12'' record in a beautiful gatefold sleeve. This was music – the... > Read more

Maggie May

Scratching the surface: In praise of old time music

9 Mar 2011  |  3 min read  |  1

I confess to being a hoarder. Nothing embarrassing like bottles, matchboxes, or beer cans. I collect art objects. Well, records actually. Over the decades I've scrounged through junk shops and school fairs looking for that first Sadistic Mika Band album, things by Sam the Sham and Pharaohs, Japanese psychedelic rock from the early 70s, spoken word albums from the 40s, Gracie Fields' singles... > Read more

GETTING OLDER (2010: A greybeard still here

15 Aug 2010  |  5 min read

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to the movies and, for the first time, I took advantage of what I am calling “Senior Discount”. The polite young man behind the counter laughed when I went to get out my driver's license as proof of age and said, “Nah, it's all right. You don't look it, but I believe you.” This was flattering on the one hand, but of... > Read more

Trade . . .Me? A story of failed entrepreneurialism

5 Jul 2010  |  3 min read  |  1

The new poster boy for entrepreneurs is 26-year old Canadian Kyle MacDonald: he’s the guy who traded a red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen, then traded that for a doorknob, that for a barbeque and so on. He’s still trading up and some weeks ago looked set to get a house out of his on-line trading skills. My negotiating abilities are such that the other day I was prepared... > Read more

HATE MAIL RECEIVED, ACKNOWLEDGED AND IGNORED: And The Horse You Rode Into Town On

8 Jun 2010  |  6 min read  |  1

It has been some time since I had hate mail, and while I can't say I miss it I always used to read the letters with interest and thought about what the people had to say. Then I chucked them away. Hate mail wasn't that common when I was at the Herald, but every now and again someone would fire something off, usually intemperate and you felt you could smell the wine on their hot breath as... > Read more

PAULY FUEMANA REMEMBERED (2010): Once in the land of plenty

31 Jan 2010  |  5 min read

I wish I wasn’t writing this. I wish it wasn’t humid and raining. I wish I could bring myself to put his album on right now. But – and I really don’t know why – I am overwhelmed by grief to learn that Pauly Fuemana has died. Many, many others knew him – or will now claim to know him – better than I. In truth I did not know him at all... > Read more

The Nightmare from Down Under: Paying the price for gluttony

5 May 2009  |  1 min read

The small city of Melaka two hours south of Kuala Lumpur is considered the cuisine capital of Malaysia, and my happy task there for a few days was to sample then write about the various foods -- notably the highly-spiced Baba-Nyonya style for which Melaka (aka Malacca and other variants) is renown. But with so many styles still to be sampled I decided to stay on longer and, to save money,... > Read more

Looking at Ourselves: the film New Zealand, in cinemas now

23 Dec 2008  |  3 min read  |  2

I honestly thought that the new Keanu film The Day The Earth Stood Still was the worst movie I had seen in decades, then last night we saw Australia. Far be it from me to be a spoiler -- and please go see it, if you must -- but we thought it the most trite, sentimental, predictable, cornball, overblown epic ever. And I've seen some clunkers from the Fifties -- which stand up better... > Read more

Life in a leaky building: a survivor's tale

26 Oct 2008  |  3 min read  |  1

Just before Christmas 2005, we fell victim to the pandemic sweeping across Auckland. You know how it is: you always think it’ll affect someone else and you’ll be okay. So we were ill-prepared. We had just carried on as if nothing would ever happen to us. And anyway, we are people who like to think of ourselves as survivors. We have lived through the Y2K scare, SARS... > Read more

Come, feel the noize: A true story from the suburbs

23 Oct 2008  |  2 min read  |  3

A question: is female orgasm the satisfied whimper at the end, or the 40 minutes of moaning and groaning which my neighbour does loudly at 2am? Or at 6am. Living in a block of townhouses brings with it a certain unwanted knowledge of your neighbour's intimacies, although I am a little unsure as to whether they are unhappy about us knowing. She once said, "you've probably heard... > Read more

More to life than cars and girls?

29 Sep 2008  |  4 min read  |  1

A couple of weeks ago a strange sound came from our modest Mazda Demio so I confidently popped the bonnet. As I stood looking at the unfamiliar coils of metal and rubber it occurred to me it had been over a year since I had needed to peer into that mysterious engine -- and probably four decades since I knew what I was looking for in there. When I was at school -- approximately the time... > Read more

Stayin' Alive: The fitness phase (2005)

26 May 2008  |  2 min read

When you are over 50, becoming fanatical about exercise won't undo years of happy hedonism. For a year I have occasionally waddled to the nearby Health and Fitness Centre (their description, not mine) and – alongside lithe young bodies, walking-wounded Blues players and sometimes monstermen like the Tuaman – I have worked out. More correctly, I have ridden a bicycle to nowhere... > Read more

Auckland City, Where The Past is Present

10 Aug 2007  |  4 min read

I just caught a glance at him out of the corner of my eye when I heard him shout “Why don’t you keep quiet”. Or words to that effect, with unprintable expletives included. He was dressed in a lawyer’s suit, had close-cropped hair, had those mad staring eyes like Chris Dixon, and was wound tight as a drum. His fist were tight balls and for the life of me I thought... > Read more

The Day The Sky Fell In

10 Aug 2007  |  2 min read

The day that the Sky digital network crashed and deprived 550,000 subscribers -- us included -- of programmes two curiously ironic things occurred for me: that very morning I tried to buy a transistor radio, and in the afternoon I looked out my wind-up gramophone. It was coincidence, but it was also as if I had known that hi-tech would fail me sooner or later so I was into forward thinking... > Read more

Shadow in the Glass: A short story

13 Jul 2007  |  13 min read

Campbellhad a directness that Dennis had once mistaken for the dourness of the Scots. “You’ll be wanting home, then?” “Yes, just for a fortnight . . . perhaps three weeks . . . I can pass on the Peebles brochure to Meg and the old Strathaven history could go on hold until I get back . . . Iain has still got something else to add anyway so there’s not much... > Read more

A Small Fire: a short story

8 Jul 2007  |  13 min read

The coincidences that brought Frank and I together again were like something out of a bad 19th century novel, and perhaps that’s why I have thought about it so often since. Maybe it was what went down between us all those months ago too. Either way, I’ve been thinking a lot about just how our lives can go. Lani had gone away up north that morning to stay with Janet, and the... > Read more

Good Morning, America

6 Nov 2006  |  1 min read

Good Morning, America (2005) wake early that is the time to see the other America . . . the young men picking through garbage collecting cans bagging bottles for refund money and the old women talking to invisible companions piss-stained pants swollen feet in torn slippers the old men shuffling to empty... > Read more

THE POLYNESIAN PANTHERS REFLECT (2001): Three decades on from the dawn raids

22 Jun 2001  |  9 min read

For anyone who lived through the period, the iconography and images still resonate: the clenched fists in leather gloves, the lines of civilian-soldiers in empowering uniforms of black polo-neck sweaters, impenetrable shades and black berets. The language was of black pride and the images defiant and confrontational. The times they weren't a-changing, they'd changed - and in the early... > Read more