Be a tourist in your own city

There are certain kinds of people who I never see using the buses around Auckland city. Really skinny women with long blonde hair who wear their sunglasses on top of their head are one of those kinds.

I went down to the Viaduct Harbour. I object to that name for the simple reason that the viaduct no longer exists. I remember back when the road stretched across the entrance of the harbour, and there was the part of the road that lifted up to let boats pass, but at some stage most of the viaduct was removed. Now it’s just a regular old harbour.

I walked along to the end of Princess Wharf. It’s very stark, but I think that’s deliberate. At the end there’s a balcony on the first floor of the Hilton Hotel. There’s no sign saying so, but it’s actually a public balcony, so instead of getting magnificent harbour views standing at the end of the wharf, you can get magnificent harbour views a couple more metres up, and within ear range of the drunk people lunching at the Hilton’s restaurant.

Despite being in the middle of the city, it was actually quite peaceful. From my deluxxxe viewing platform I could see a young lady tourist put her digital camera up on a car, set the timer and take a photo of herself posing with the harbour behind her. An old man wandered along and she got him to take a photo of her.

Back at the Viaduct Harbour, I saw a few of the Cow Parade cows. The idea is that artists get these lifesize fibreglass cows and paint them, and it creates fun public art and raises money for charity. The cow outside the Loaded Hog had a sign asking patrons not to sit on it. What’s the fun in having cow statues if you can’t sit on them? The cow statue in Hamilton has been sat on many times. So has the sheep.

There was one cow statue that I liked the best. It was one that wasn’t trying to be a pun or a parody; it just looked good. I walked around the other side and saw the artist’s name. It was done by Otis Frizzell, a.k.a MC OJ. Actually, now that I think about it, that cow was painted like the van in the KFC ads. Maybe Otis did that too?

Rounding out my journey downtown, I had lunch in the foodcourt in the Downtown mall thing. It’s just an average foodcourt, but at the far end there’s some seats overlooking QE2 Square which is currently being designed. So I sat there and watched a guy in a digger scooping up piles of dirt and dumping them on the other side of the rectangular hole he was in.

I’m not entirely sure what’s happening, but I do know that that part of Queen Street is going to be opened up to traffic again, but only buses. I think that’s ok. I mean, there are some pedestrian malls – like Cuba Street in Wellington – that work really well, but QE2 Square has always seemed really cold, bleak and gloomy. I think the new plans are going to put more stuff into the place, break up the big area into smaller chunks and have some much-needed shelter.

It’s all part of the Britomart redevelopment. I remember back in 1999 when the old Post Office had all the plans in the design contest. Now the winning entry is being built and it’s going to be opening later this year. Yay! A real, proper central transport terminal. Yes, I am genuinely excited.

This also means that the downtown area, specially east of Queen Street, is going to eventually be redeveloped. Does this mean that all the strip clubs and massage parlours down Fort Street will be turned into cafes and bookstores? Not that getting rid of a redlight district is a good thing. Decades ago lower Greys Ave (where the back of the Town Hall is now) used to be filled with houses of ill repute. The solution was to condemn all the buildings and pull them down. K Road is slowly getting gussied up. The infamous pink bits have recently been sold and are currently being done up (I will miss the “JULIE’TS” sign). That leaves a handful of adult stores and the Vegas club. Paranoid South Islanders will have to find themselves another cliche.

Inorganic Rubbish Collection

When I first moved to Auckland and was looking for a flat, I was disappointed at the large number of horrible-looking suburbs. Driving along streets I noticed piles of rubbish stacked up on the front verges of many properties. What sort of horrible city was I moving to?

Then I discovered it was the magic of what is known as the inorganic rubbish collection. Some cities don’t have inorganic rubbish collections because they think it looks messy. Those places are missing out on all the fun.

In Auckland, it only happens every two years, so when it does take place it’s a very special time. People get really excited about it. It’s the time where if you don’t live in a shitty neighbourhood, you can pretend you do as your neighbours fill up their grass verges with piles of old crap waiting to be hauled away.

Back when I lived in Mount Eden, there was a nearby street with almost all cheap flats down one side of it. Walking along that street to work I would often see old fridges, washing machines and unidentifiable rusty, twisted metal sitting out on the grass waiting for someone (who?) to take it away. Because the city rubbish contractors don’t take that sort of thing, it would all just sit there and gradually fall apart.

But now all those old mattresses, falling-apart couches and failed papier mache works of art will have a place to go to. Soon the yellowed grass will see the sun as the inorganic rubbish collectors come and do their thing.

One of the cool things about inorganic rubbish collection time is the scavengers. People go out looking for stuff they can take. This is especially common in wealthier suburbs, where people throw out stuff that would be happily used by others with less money (I saw a newish-looking lounge suite – a couch and two chairs – stacked up outside one place). It’s a great thing to see someone suddenly stop, pull over and squish an unwanted couch into the back of their stationwagon.

I’m pretty much keeping myself confined to the house until all the rubbish has been collected. On multiple occasions I have been out walking and seen a chair or table and thought, “hey, that’s actually in pretty good condition. All I’d need to do is sand it down, give it a coat of varnish, and reupholster the seat and I’d have a perfectly good chair!”

Of course, this fails to take into account the following:

  • I have no garage or suitable work area.
  • I have no sandpaper or painting equipment.
  • I do not know how to upholster.

In reality, the chair would probably sit in my lounge for a few weeks before it started to go mouldy or smell and I’d sneak it out on the front lawn in the middle of the night waiting for someone (who? The inorganic rubbish fairy?) to take it away.

Footpath

I walk these city streets, man. I see things. The pavement under my feet, it tells a story. Oh bollocks, the only story the footpath tells is “Hi, I’m really dirty and I have a bunch of chewing gum and cigarette butts on me.”

What this is really about is various amusing anecdotes that have occurred to me as I’ve trod down the many footpaths of this city. And places that the footpaths lead to. (And other non-footpath related things, but it’s nice to pretend there’s a theme).

Tablecloth
I was in Wendys and there was this really fat – obese – family eating at a table near me. There were three huge women, probably two sisters and a mother. Running around and eating was a bunch of overweight children. One kid packed a mental and one fat lady smacked it. Fat gran was wearing a t-shirt and what looked like a table cloth wrapped around her waist, although I doubt it was because surely table cloths aren’t made that large?

Funny Boat Name
I saw a boat down at the wharves with “Scandinavian Reefers” painted on its side. Ja møn.

The Lame Side
You know what there’s too much of? Cartoons in the style of Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” cartoons. One panel, a picture of something kind of wacky, and a caption like “Mildred did not remember leaving a squid in charge.” The difference being that Gary Larson’s cartoons were funny where as the crap copies aren’t. If someone gives you a birthday card with one of those cartoons on it, hate them.

Accidental
There’s that ad for RNZAF recruitment and in it one of the happy Air Force members says “I joined the Air Force by accident, but it’s no accident that I stayed.” I’ve seen that ad many times at the movies and every time there’s always been someone in the audience who says “How do you accidentally join the airforce?!”

Reinvention
Arse to the concept of reinvention. Whenever Madonna gets a haircut and wears new clothes people say, “Oh, she’s reinvented herself again!”. The concept of reinvention seems big with women in their 40s. Once the divorce is final they change their name from Shona or Margaret to Rae or Lene, take up yoga, switch to soya milk lattes and organic foods and join the exciting world of real estate sales.

Comedian
Overheard in Atomic Cafe, Ponsonby Road: “I’ll always remember this woman in Paihia who said, “Oh, you’re a comedian. My son went to school with Michael Havoc!” because he’s a comedian!”

Glitter
Madam, do you approve of your eight-year-old daughter dressing like a fa’afafine?

A Man
There are those women’s magazines like Cosmo and Cleo who have articles about how to get “a man”. Not a boyfriend, partner, husband or lover, just a man. Adult male, that’s all that required. Do you know how to pick the right man? You’ll know ‘cos he’ll have this indescribable quality (i.e. he cried during that movie you saw) that makes him The One. Magazines then set out to describe what you need to do to get you a man (i.e. not be a fat slag who dresses bad). There are also articles about freaky mutant couples (“He’s a 37-year-old street sweeper, she’s a 19-year-old tax accountant. It was love at first site.”) Go away.

Cornwallis
It’s 3.30 pm. It’s so cold my hands are numb. A mere three months ago it was so hot that me and my flatmates jumped in the car and headed to Cornwallis Beach. It was a lovely afternoon. Cards, potato chips and beer. The warm water of the Manukau harbour washing upon the gold and black sand. Cool things, like driving past the water reservoir dam on the way there, and the noise of the aeroplanes taking off at the other side of the harbour. I need something the opposite of that to do on a day like today.

Zero
During the bright pink and hap-hap-happy Hero parade, where everyone kept reciting the “Love who you are” slogan, I thought it would be choice to have a Zero parade (to which no one shows up, of course) with the slogan “Be mildly disgusted with who you are”. So true.

Chamber of Silence
I went to the Auckland University sound lab once when they had an open day a few years ago. We went in two rooms. One was The Chamber of Sound, which had all concrete walls at funny angles, and it was so noisy. It was excellent to sing “The Banana Boat Song” in there. The other place was The Chamber of Silence, which was covered with foam wedges. Above the floor was a metal mesh, so below that there could be wedges. We all sat down on the floor and the guide turned the lights off and it was so black and so very very quiet.

Bi
There was a sign outside a strip club that read:

Sexy men
Hot women

And in little letter above “men” and “women” someone had chalked in “bi” twice. Obviously just being sexy and hot were not enough to get the punters in.

Wicked
Overheard in David’s Emporium (a legendary Hamilton bargain store): “The prices have gone up something wicked! The screws are ten cents each!”

Joules
Two women were sitting near me at the movies. One skinny, one fat. The fat one was eating from a bag of family-sized lollies. The skinny one was sipping on a bottle of flavoured mineral water. That’s how it works.

Drug Bores
You know what’s really lame? People who brag about drugs they’ve taken. “Ya ya, so I dropped a tab of acid and then the ceiling turned into symphony of love.” I was at a party and there was a bunch of people just sitting around talking about how many rad drugs they’d all taken. Then my friend and I started mocking them, like, “Oh yeah, I snorted five grams of marijuana, and I have tractor marks on my arm cos I’m a hard core E user, eh?” In conclusion, shut up about your groovy drug experiences because a) no one cares and b) you sound like a boring hippy.

Critique
Upon leaving the theatre after seeing “Hannibal,” I overheard two girls having this conversation:

“That freaked me out cos it challenges your definition of evil.”
“I thought it sucked.”

One Liner
Also, you know that movie “Chocolat”? Plotwise, it’s just like “Footloose”, but with chocolate instead of Bacon. (Ha ha).

Zoo
You know how people talk about how zoos have improved so much since the bad old animals-in-concrete-cages days, when animals were put on display for the amusement of humans. And how it’s so much better these days, because they are in natural conditions and can partake in breeding programs. Well, um, y’know most domestic cats have more room to move than the lions at the zoo do. And what is natural about transporting animals halfway around the world to a different climate? It’s still the same. It’s just animals put on display for the amusement of humans, only with better conditions. Tee hee! Look at the funny monkeys!

Education
Also, why is it deemed so important that children learn about animals? Why do parents and teachers have this obsession with exposing kids to animals? I grew up on a farm. We had cows and chickens. I hated it and I wanted to live in the city. You know what it taught me about life, etc? That people kills cows and eat them. Yeah, you can say I had a fairly hardcore upbringing.

Arse
Also, this was from the entrance to the Auckland Zoo aquarium:

“Our liquid planet glows like a soft blue sapphire.”

a) Someone wrote that.
b) Someone else approved it.
c) Someone, a human being, wrote that, with no apparent sense of irony or expression of shame or regret.

Culture Jamming
In the “McDonald’s Rainforest” there was an info board with “Who Causes Deforestation?” and under it “We all do!” but between the two lines some crafty culturejammer had written “McDonalds”.

Waitemata Plaza
There’s an area down by Freeman’s Bay/Viaduct Basin and the walkway along it is called “Waitemata Plaza”. I think that sounds like a suburban shopping centre. The sort of one that would have been built in the early seventies with the best intentions, but the neighbourhood went downhill and all the shops have roller doors now. And no one ever calls it “Waitemata Plaza”, it’s just “the shops”.

Small Print
“I bought it without really reading the label. It says it should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat. But from the ads, I got the impression that you could eat as much of it as you like.”

A fellow sitting near me at a food court discovers the horrible truth about a low cholesterol spread.

Destroy
I was walking down the steps in Myers Park. On a flat, terraced part someone had spray painted “DESTROY CAPITALISM” and the anarchy symbol. Coming up the steps towards me were two bros. One stopped and looked at the graffiti. “Anarchy…. Destroy Capitalism….,” he said to the other. “Well, I know what destroy means, but I still don’t know what capitalism is.” And that, my friends, is why the revolution will not be taking place any time soon

Shortland Street

For the past seven years or so I have heard people talk a lot about Shortland Street. Apparently it’s quite popular, but no one will actually admit to liking it.

Well, I’m a big fan. I dig Shortland Street. A lot’s gone on over the years, and I’ve made a fan page to show my appreciation for “The Street”.

Your ship sails into the harbour and onto a bay where anchor is set. You get in a row boat and row to shore and alight onto the wet, sandy beach of what is known as Commercial Bay. A small township is in front of you, behind it the land rises up into hills.

Straight ahead of you a road meanders out before rising up into the hills. This road, named after the sovereign head of the country, follows the path of a creek of water. It’s wet, muddy, slushy and smelly, and not at all pleasant to walk down.

To your left a road rises up a fairly steep hill. It leads up to a large piece of headland where a military fort has been established. At the top of this road, another road, named after the spouse of the monarch, runs off to the right leading to military barracks.

You choose to walk up this road as, even though it is steeper than the other road, is much drier and more pleasant. As you walk up the road you notice the large number of grog shops. “Har har!” you think to yourself.

Well that, my friends, is what Auckland was like in the early-mid nineteenth century. Queen Street was the muddy road, Commercial Bay is now the land from Fort Street down to the waterfront. The headland, Point Britomart was chopped down to be used as landfill. The road going along to the barracks is Princes Street, and the road with all the grog shops going up the hill. Why yes, its the one and only Shortland Street.

At one time Shortland Street was Auckland busiest street. Shortland Crescent, as it was originally known, was the centre of Auckland’s business district. However a fire in 1858 destroyed much of the buildings in Shortland Street and businesses chose to relocate to Queen Street whose creek had since been piped underground.

The street itself was named by Mr Felton Mathew, the first surveyor general. He named it after Lieutenant Willoughby Shortland. Lieutenant Shortland came to New Zealand to be the police magistrate dude, but became Colonial Secretary when the New Zealand government was started in 1841. He was a wanker. No one liked him.

At one time the ocean-side of upper Shortland Crescent was more or less a cliff edge. There was concern that people (possibly patrons of one of the many grog shops) could fall off it. Today we don’t have that worry as there are a number of buildings, including the inspirational studios but more on them later.

The street was originally a crescent and indeed it was crescent-shaped as it extended down the piece of road that is now the western half of the Emily Place fork.

Incidentally, the little triangley-shaped park called Emily Reserve was once the site of St Paul’s church. At the time it was built it was about half a kilometre away from the sea. Then Point Britomart was chopped down and suddenly the church was on the edge of a cliff. Uh-oh. So it was eventually pulled down and a new church built on Symonds Street. The space left was turned into Emily Reserve and more cliff was chopped away to form a road that ran down to Customs Street. Anyway, I’m guessing that when this happened Shortland Crescent became Street.

One good thing about Shortland Street is it has a lot of cool old buildings. There’s the dark brown brick studio building. Formerly radio, then TV, now it’s owned by Auckland University and is going to be turned into a performing arts school type place (“You got big dreams? Well Shortland Street costs, and right here is where you start paying – with sweat.). There’s that choice big building on the corner of High Street and the foxy Jean Batten State Building on across the street. On the other High Street corner is De Brett’s hotel.

In around 1960 De Brett’s was refurbished by Dominion Breweries. To celebrate this a booklet titled “The Saga of Shortland Street” was published. It is an interesting read, especially when the author keeps whinging about how steep Shortland Street is:

“I put off visiting the site of the old St Paul’s for several days before finally I squared my shoulders, popped an anginine tablet into my mouth and set out from the Hotel De Brett to make the climb to the top of the hill. With frequent stops to regain my breath, I reached the tiny park in Emily Place in about 12 minutes, grateful that over the years the hill has been graded to more reasonable proportions[.]”

To which the comment “you bloody whinging slack-arse” must surely be appropriate. I’ve walked up Shortland Street before and I didn’t require any anginine tablets (whatever they are) and I didn’t bloody well need to make any stops along the way. I timed myself walking up the street and from Queen Street to the memorial at Emily Reserve took me just over four and a half minutes. That author also asserts that Shortland Street is nicknamed “Coronary Hill”. Lies! Dammned lies, I say!

As well as cool old buildings there are also cool new buildings, the best being the newish Royal Sun Alliance building. It’s big and the top of the building has this big blue ring of light. It looks choice.

And the beloved grog shops. In 1842 a fellow by the name of Robert Graham wrote of Shortland Street:

“[T]he first shop is a grog shop; the next is Mr. McLennen’s; the third is a shoemaker; the forth is a baker; then a grog shop; next a pork stand; and then another grog shop. There seems to be a grog shop for every three of all other trades put together.”

Today other trades outnumber grog shops, but there are still a few bars along the street.

Shortland Street is a very pleasing road. I heartily encourage everyone to take a walk up or down it. And it’s not steep. It’s sloping. City Road is steep. Kitchener Street is steep, so stop complaining.

Now for a quote from one of my favourite bands, Mobile Stud Unit:

“All my friends live on Shortland Street.
Shortland Street! Shortland Street!”

APEC: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the police.

The APEC summit. Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation. An excuse for a bunch of world leaders to come to Auckland, hang out, and talk about stuff.

I was there, right in the eye of the storm.

Monday 6 September 1999

On the way to work I counted all the manhole cover seals. Most of them were little black squares with numbers on them, designed to tear if they are removed. Smaller manholes and maintenance lids had smaller white stickers.

I was walking home along Vincent Street which is where the Auckland Central Police Station and one of the hotels at APEC people will be staying at is located. I was disturbed to see the normal skanky worn out grass verge suddenly become lush, green grass in a mysterious grid pattern.

Upon closer examination I discovered that the normal skanky grass verge with its bald patches was being covered over with pre-grown grass squares.

It’s so all those APECkers will think “My, what lovely green grass verges New Zealand has. Minister Chiang, let’s remove the trade tarrifs!”

Tuesday 7 September 1999

Walking home past the Carlton Hotel I saw a metal detector in the hotel lobby – the kind where you put your bags on a conveyer belt. The best bit is that from the street I, or any other passing pedestrian, could see the screen that shows the x-rayed bag. What if you were looking and saw a gun or something on it?

Apparently the city of Hamilton is promoting itself as the place for Aucklanders to go during APEC to escape all the madness. Go to Hamilton because nothing major is happening there.

This is a big contrast from the “Hamilton: Where it’s happening” bullshit I had to endure when I was livin’ there.

Wednesday 8 September 1999

I had lunch at Food Alley, which is across the road from the pink hotel on Albert Street where the Americans are staying, but I can never remember its name. While I was there a few guys with APEC name tags came in. Should Bill Clinton want a curry, he could sent one of his fellows across the road to get one.

There are lots of cars with APEC stickers on them around the central city. Some of them are nice new Fords, but others are miscellaneous older vehicles. Some of the stickers say “PROTOCOL”. I don’t really know what that is, exactly, but it sounds really cool.

Thursday 9 September 1999

Walking to work past the Carlton hotel I saw a policeman step out into the road and stop two lanes of on-coming traffic. A car parked by the side of the road then did a u-turn. I thought it was really funny and laughed and the cop looked at me, like maybe I was laughing at him. I am obviously in the wrong line of work. No one stops traffic when I do a u-turn.

When I left for lunch there was a motorcycle cop standing on the corner of Victoria and Albert Streets. An hour later when I came back he was still there. He was just standing there, looking around. His bike was parked a bit down the road on the footpath.

A fire engine pulled up outside Whitcoulls just as I was going in it. When I came out about 10 minutes later there was a cop being interviewed by a TV1 camera crew and a few other APEC-accredited press standing near with notebooks and tape recorders. No apparent fire engine-worthy ruckus could be seen.

According to the Herald the next morning, someone had let off a smoke bomb in the Science Fiction section of Whitcoulls, but there was nothing to be alarmed about.

I saw a movie after work and as I was walking home I saw an old man standing on Mayoral Drive across the road from the Carlton Hotel holding a sign. There were two candles burning and a wooden cross on a stand. The sign said “While you dine, others die”. He appeared to be wearing religious robes of some sort – possibly Catholic. He said he’d been there for a few hours, and wasn’t about to go home yet. He also said he didn’t care if Jenny Shipley didn’t see him. He was happy just standing there.

Further up the road were two cops guarding the perimeter of the Aotea Centre. One was from Taupo, the other from Mount Maunganui. They were both nice fellows. We talked and they said they spend eight hours a day standing around. They did rotate around the perimeter. There were designated spots, marked with letters of the alphabet. They were on the G spot. Hur hur hur.

We talked about violent protesters, about how the secret service and all the foreign diplomatic security people have diplomatic protection, so if you shout “Ha ha, Mr Clinton, I have got a bomb in my pants!!!” they will shoot you.

Friday 10 September 1999

This morning I stopped off at Starbucks and got a grande low-fat hazelnut latte. It was free cos they were giving out free vouchers on opening day. I drank it as I walked to work. I went down Greys Ave and there’s a hotel down there with APECkers in it. There were heaps of Ford Transits parked on the footpath and some cops standing outside. I was approached by a policewoman. The first thought that went through my mind was that she might have thought the coffee was some sort of terrorist device, but she wanted to know where I’d got the coffee from. So I gave her directions to get to Starbucks and she thanked me.

There are a lot of white and orange barriers waiting at the side of various roads for the numerous road blocks. Some of them are provided by a company by the name of “Barricading Solutions”. “Hi, I have a problem, I somehow need to stop cars from driving down certain roads? I can’t think how to do it!” “As a solution, how about putting up some barricades!” “Yes! What a great idea!”

Saturday 11 September 1999

The first day of big road closures in the central city, so I had a walk around town. There was a protest of a few people chanting “APEC go home!”. New Zealand is part of the P in APEC, so, er, to what home to the New Zealand delegates, go to?

Outside the Civic theatre there was a huge mural. A collection of photos of New Zealanders taken by Amnesty International. They photos were cut around the sentence “APEC leaders must put human rights first”. One of the photos was of a girl I went to school with. I hadn’t seen her for seven years. Spooky. It must be, like, fate or something.

I didn’t venture any further down Queen Street, but if I had I very well may have seen Madeline Albright doing some shopping. My flatmate saw her and her posse. He said there were also secret security guys trying to disguise themselves as people hangin’ on the street, but they gave it away by looking around all the time.

Sunday 12 September 1999

I was a bit tired of all the action in the central city so I ventured out West to Waitakere City and enjoyed the novelty of open streets and not seeing a cop on every corner. However the lure of the city was a-callin’ so later in the day I went for a walk in town.

The usual city streets were closed off and police were standing guard in their regular places, so for a bit of excitement I ventured further down Queen Street where it was closed off.

Outside the City Life hotel a group of police were standing around. When they saw me and some other people approaching, they quickly formed a line and requested that we cross to the other side of the road.

From the other side I could see that some important looking Asian people were coming out of the hotel and getting into cars. A late night McDonald’s run, no doubt.

I then walked up Albert Street. As I approached the Stamford Plaza (the big pink hotel where the American President and his posse are staying) a policeman and a secret service guy stepped out. The secret service guy was wearing a black overcoat and was really short. He looked more like and actor playing a secret service guy than a real one. The police officer asked me to cross the road.

I briefly considered saying “Why should I? It is a free country, bloody fascist oink oink piggy boys” but my survival instinct took over and I said “Fair enough” and crossed over.

Then just regular normal blocked off streets and police on corners. I went through a brief period of thinking that a helicopter was following me, but my ego trip soon ended when I realised that it had just been circling over the area and it then took off in the opposite direction.

Monday 13 September 1999

There were pretty much the same road closures as yesterday, but it was meant to be hugely inconvenient due to the fact that people were working. It was sweet for me. I walked to work as I always do. I had a lot less traffic lights to wait at and the only thing inconvenient was the rain which was only really annoying because my skanky shoe started leaking.

Walking past the casino I saw two buses with “Washington Press Corp” signs on the side. Given that the chance of me seeing Bill is pretty rare, I will instead bask in the glory of seeing the transportation of the the people who follow his career.

A few shops were closed because the shopkeepers couldn’t be bothered going to work. Bloody slack arses. I made it to work, walking through the rain with a leaky shoe. This country has no intestinal fortitude.

I was impressed when the police on point duty stopped traffic and signalled for pedestrians to cross.

Apparently police on point duty have been abused by angry drivers. Most of them are from out of Auckland, so they’re going to go home muttering “bloody Dorklanders”.

The promised battle royale between protesters and police yesterday didn’t happen. So it seems that instead of getting out with placards and chanting down Queen Street, the de rigeur form of protest is road rage.

People who haven’t planned ahead or even bothered to take road closures into their travel plans are getting angry and yelling at the police officers. Like the police woke up this morning and said “Hmmm, what can we do today? I know, let’s inconvenience motorists to the point of anger and frustration!”

I think the road-ragers are most angry because it’s not easy to run a stop signal when there’s a person standing in the way.

14 September 1999

A dreaded sunny day, and everything is more or less back to normal.

The streets are again filled with happy shoppers. Shopkeepers are complaining that no one bought anything on Monday, except the Auckland museum gift shop, who sold lots of stuff to Mr President.

The streets are open again and single-driver cars make their way to work. A few APEC-stickered cars are among them.

Aotea square is open home again to the usual assortment of folks who like to hang out there. A couple of park benches nearby are again home to two men.

And it’s all over. My excuse for collecting amusing anecdotes is conveniently gone, but it was lots of fun, and I’m saving up to go to wherever the next APEC will be held next year.

Wanktropolis

There’s this big ass building thing called “Metropolis” being built in Auckland, the city where I reside. So Bayleys, the people in charge of Metropolis took out a full page ad in the 15 March Saturday edition of the New Zealand Herald saying how fabulous Metropolis is.

I read the ad and the first thing that occurred to me is what a wanky load of bollocks they were talking. Here is what pissed me off.

The ad first spouts about how the ancient Greeks built the Parthenon on a high place where it was a central part of cultured life and how great minds used to hang out there and do great things at the “hub of the civilised world”. Then it talks about Metropolis.

“Not surprisingly, when we sat around philosophising about the perfect site for New Zealand’s first five-star apartment hotel, we took a tablet or two from their book.

“For a start, our location also had to be in the very heart of the city. Ideally, it should be set amidst natural beauty, yet a stone’s throw from where all the action is.

“It should be a breath-taking focal point around which poets, artisans and luminaries would gather freely to debate the salient issues of the day. It should be accessible to great coffee (one area where we have it all over the ancient Greeks).”

That last paragraph, particularly, makes me almost violently ill because it is such a load of crap. So they really think the all these “poets, artisans and luminaries” are going to hang out in their little building and talk about the “salient issues of the day?”. And they’d be drinking their coffee, which is more than a sign of western civilisation, it’s a state of mind blah blah blah.

The ad also mentions that the site borders “stately Albert Park”. Stately? The last time I was in Albert Park it was full of people with tattoos, piercings, and lovely young men and women playing in the “stately” fountain. That’d raise property values…

I think the Metropolis ad is such a huge load of crap that it should be renamed “wanktropolis” to more accurately reflect what it really is.

Great North Road vs New North Road

There can be only one winner

There are a lot of cool roads in Auckland. Two of them are Great North Road and New North Road. I was thinking, if I had to chose between both of them, which one would I chose. Like if a gun was pointed at my head and I had to make a decision, which would it be? Great or New?

Great North Road

Let’s start by looking at Great North Road. It starts at the intersection where Karangahape Road intersects with Newton and Ponsonby Roads. It goes through a commercial area, which looks really good at night. Then it’s a strange area wedged between MOTAT and the zoo and the North Western motorway. Next it crosses under the motorway, and enters the suburb my AA Street Directory lists as “Waterview”. Next it works through Avondale. The next suburb is New Lynn where it passes Lynn Mall City. For all your bogan supplies. It goes on to the horrible suburb of Kelston, then onto Henderson where it stops in the heart of westie land. And so ends the Great North Road journey.

New North Road

Now onto New North Road. New North Road starts at the intersection of Symonds Street and Mt Eden Road. It goes down, then through a sort of concrete, uh, thing, then emerges in a light industrial area. Next it goes through really cool old buildings of Kingsland/Morningside. Then, keeping parallel with the railway line, it goes through Mt Albert. It finally ends when it intersects with Blockhouse Bay Road. However it should be noted that very close, connected only by St Judes Road, is Great North Road.

So which is the best?

Well, I think the answer is obvious. New North Road. Not only does New North Road have much cooler houses on it, but, unlike Great North Road, it doesn’t go to Henderson. Therefore, it is the best.

But, I hear you say, what about Great South Road? Whilst Great South Road is really long and straight and more South and the two Norths are North, it should be noted that it goes through some really horrible suburbs and ends up being a great big rural road. And the think that is what the Southern Motorway is for. Also, there’s no New South Road, so there’s another reason to not like it. And also, driving down Great South Road takes you that much closer to Hamilton, which is something to be avoided.

So if, in the near future, you find yourself wanting to go somewhere from the city to a sort of north-westerly direction, take New North Road. It rules.