Mt Eden’s escalating gang problem

Man, this whole Mt Eden gang thing is getting out of hand.

You may recall that, despite recruitment problems, I am a member of the N.O.T.O.R.I.O.U.S 630, a bad-ass gang who refuses to recycle and uses more plastic bags than is really necessary.

And then I became alerted to the presence of another gang, the Mt Eden 274, who stencilled their business on a wall and therefore started a public transport turf war.

Well, it looks like there’s a new kid on the block*. The successful Crips franchise have started up a gang in Mt Eden called the Eden Crips, bringing a touch of sunny Southern California to old Mt Eden, and have put up a sticker to announce their presence:

Eden Crips

I’m concerned – the 274 use stencils and the Crips use stickers, but my 630 doesn’t yet have a street art medium to announce my presence. Well, maybe I can just use the medium of the blog to mark my turf. Aw yee-yah, etc.

* It’s the block bordered by Mt Eden Road, Essex Road, Ngauruhoe Street and the park. That’s where all the street art is going down.

Dullness

Mt Eden Village is usually quite a dull place. Sometimes a wide-load vehicle will travel through at 3am with orange lights flashing, and that’s quite exciting, but it’s generally all goody-good in the hood.

But late this morning I was lying in bed when I became aware that a helicopter was flying somewhere nearby – circling, not travelling. Then I heard a few police sirens, so I figured that the po-po were looking for a criminal somewhere in the area.

I heard a man’s voice and a dog panting outside my bedroom window, in the backyard. I looked and there was a cop and a police dog having a sniff around.

Evidently there was no criminal scent around my place, so they moved on, and the helicopter flew away too.

This is really quite exciting, and I will be writing a gangsta rap song about how real my hood is, right after I finish the rap about the wide-loads rollin’ through da streetz.

Old management

I was down at the Mt Eden Village shops, when I saw a sign outside the Sierra Cafe proudly proclaiming that it was under new management.

Sierra’s an unusual cafe. It’s sort of part of a chain, but without the fierce franchising strictness of, say, Starbucks. There’s room for individualism within the stores, as well as local touches like exhibitions of flowers-that-look-like-vaginas paintings. (Bad cafe art exhibitions are one of my favourite things!)

Now, under old management, Mt Eden Sierra did a really nice range of sweet things. My favourite was their ginger slice. I’m a bit of a ginger fan, me, so it takes more than a generic ginger crunch to please me. But their ginger slice was tops. It was small but thick, and it had a dense, chewy base, with slivers of coconut, giving it a really satisfying texture, and it was topped with a thick, spicy layer of ginger icing. It was the perfect complement to a latte.

I’m a little wary of business owners who make a big deal of the business having changed owners. It assumes that a) the old owners were rubbish, and b) the new owners are better.

But what awaited me with Sierra’s range of sweet things under new management? Generic ginger crunch. A giant slab of crumbly, boring old ginger crunch. No longer a special weekend delight. I could buy this sort of thing from any old cafe. In fact, the entire range of delicious sweet things was gone, replaced with generic cafe slices.

It’s taken away the one point of difference that kept me going there. I might stick with Frasers cafe in future – they still do good sweet things, and have pleasingly bad art exhibitions.

But as for Sierra, I can only hope that the new management eventually becomes as good as the old management.

Gang warfare

Regular readers will know that I belong to a bad-ass gang, the N.O.T.O.R.I.O.U.S. 630, who roam the streetz of Mt Eden doing bad-ass things like asking for a plastic fork from the kebab place, even though the kebab guy knows we’re going to eat our felafel on rice at home and that we have our own forks there.

But the trouble is, no one else has actually joined my gang. I’ve held several recruitment drives, but it seems that Edenites are too busy going for power walks with their pushchairs and dogs to want to join my gang. WTF?

Anyway, my gang is called the N.O.T.O.R.I.O.U.S. 630 after the first three digits of Mt Eden phone numbers. This was pioneered by the good people of South Auckland, who took 275, the first three digits of most phone numbers in the area, as a symbol of pride. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that residents of a posh housing development wanted different phone numbers lest their friends think they lived in Otara.

So when it came to naming my gang, it seemed natural to call it after the 630 of Mt Eden.

Well, apparently I was wrong.

This morning I caught sight of some stencilling that that been sprayed down an alley. It was surprised and delighted to see that it read:

Mt Eden 274

That’s right – 274. It’s a devious bus-going gang.

274 is the number of the Three Kings to Britomart bus that travels the whole length of Mt Eden Road, taking people to and from the city.

There’s actually a 275 bus (which starts at the Roskill bus depot), and also a 273, (which starts from Balmoral Road) 277 (which starts in Waikowhai, and I do not know where that is), and – my favourite – the 270 (which starts at Mt Eden village at peak times, so it’s always empty).

So as there now appears to be a pro-public transport gang in the 630, I think I might have to retire my gang. I trust that the Mt Eden 274 will continue to keep it real.

Silence is golden

Mt Eden (the suburb, not the mountain) is allegedly the “home of arts”, though having lived here on and off since ’98, it seems to be more the home of lost tourists and wide-load vehicles.

But to celebrate this artfulness, every year there is this Artists in Eden celebration. Various events happen, culminating in an auction from art by local artists. This year’s auction took place today and for the first time I went along to see what was happening.

There were artists sitting at tables making paintings, and that was about it.

I had a look at the paintings that were going to be up for auction and noticed that about 90% of them were landscapes of Mt Eden Village and/or Mt Eden itself. It typical way of doing it was to paint the mountain looking like a green bread roll (hey, St Patrick’s Day was yesterday!), and also common was some lettering on the painting of Maungawhau and/or Mt Eden, or some variation – yes, that includes the Garden of Eden.

It all reminded me of the local artists of Raglan, who mostly seem to paint variants on the harbour and/or Mt Karioi.

The one artist who was doing anything different was an artist by the name of Simon Shepheard, who made a series of signs about noisy cars and then hung them up around the nearby streets (here and here). Vehicle noise is a major part of life in Mt Eden for me – car stereos, street cleaning equipment, sirens rubbish trucks, wide-load pilot vehicle horns, and the ever-present hum of traffic. His works said more to me about Mt Eden than all the picturesque landscapes on display.

The diagonal

I received this document from the city council today informing me that my flat has been classified as a “character-supporting building” of Mt Eden Village.

Initially this seemed quiet exciting, but after reading the document I’ve learned that all it basically means is that if I want to get Sky installed, I’d have to get permission for the dish to be installed on the roof.

It’s a strange document. It details the changes to the district plan that effect Mt Eden, then after every section it gives a brief summary in plainer language. However, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what this bit means:

The Residential 7 bulk in relation to boundary controls typically produce of “throat lozenge-like” or “tower-like” shape plan or a building angles diagonally to the street, hence, weakening the street edge.

Curiously enough, my (non-Formula-44-shaped) building is on a diagonal angle to the street and, therefore, does most diabolically weaken the street edge and also provides a nice little triangle-shaped shrubby garden for drunken youf to throw their empty Woodstock bourbon and cola or cranberry Vodka Cruiser bottles. I don’t see that being protected in the district plan.

Static cling, pocket fluff and other troubles

I don’t normally put stuff in the pockets of my jeans, but yesterday I put a tube of lipstick in a pocket. Then today, when I was gathering up my clothes to put in the laundry basket, I was distracted and just put the jeans in the basket without checking the pockets.

When I picked up my washing from the Chinese laundry, the lady showed me the delightful sparkling dark golden smudges all over my clothes. Oh crap.

I’m going to have to retire a couple of tops, but fortunately my jeans aren’t too badly effected. The glitter is easy to get rid of, it’s the greasy base that’s going to be harder. I’m glad it was mostly fair cheap or old clothing, stuff like my gym gear that would have been replaced soon enough anyway.

But it really sucks to have to deal with a basket full of stained clothing.

As a pleasant distraction from the troubles of this world, here is a photo taken down at the local fruit shop:

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Thank you, thank you.

I dreamed last night that Martin Scorcese wanted me to be his girlfriend. I was like, “but dude, you have a wife.” And he was like, “that doesn’t matter.” I wasn’t particularly attracted to him, yet I was thrilled by the idea that this excellent film director would want me to be his girlfriend. But then I kept getting him confused with Francis Ford Copolla and then I woke up. That’ll teach me to not fall asleep with my electric blanket on.

Progress has been made in the content manager search. I want something that will let me easily update my web site. I could use something like Blogger, but most blogging things create annoying URLs like www.secret-passage.com/2003/03/28/ or even worse PHP urls like www.secret-passage.com/secret.php?new.template. That’s horrible. I don’t want question marks in URLs.

So I was originally going to write something in PHP. “PHP is easy! It’s really easy!” all the geek boys said. But then I tried to start doing stuff with it and realised that it was a meaningless, confusing, brain-hurting mess. So then Dylzno said he was writing something for his site that I could also use, but he hasn’t done that. Now he’s going to be adapting a previously written blog thing that should work nicely and not have any bullshit URLs.

The church building across the street is (I think) for sale. The church has run out of money and is going to sell it and have the new owner remove it. Then a new building with shops on the street and a church at the back will be built. The local residents association got all pissy about it. Someone seriously suggested that the church convert the building into a cafe. Yes, because what Mt Eden needs now is another latte factory.

Apparently the church is lovely on the inside, but on the outside it’s white and nondescript and pretty boring. It doesn’t really add anything to the area. The really excellent part is that most of the people complaining about the church being removed aren’t regular church-goers. They just like the idea of having this eye candy of an old building down their street.

The 630

Across the road there’s a sign that says “MOUNT EDEN – HOME OF THE ARTS”. I’m not sure what arts Mt Eden is the home of, but the closest thing to an art supplies store here is a shop that sells bits and pieces for making scrapbooks.

I was just watching “Space” and author Chad Taylor was being interviewed. He said he lived in Mt Eden, and (something like) you kind of had to live in Mt Eden if you were a writer. I know of one other writerly type person who is representing the 630, but that’s about it. Perhaps I need to, uh, start hanging out with more local writers.

But regardless of how creative my neighbours are or aren’t, I’m happy here on this side of the motorway.

Letterbox things

When I lived in Mount Eden, I’d find all sorts of crazy stuff in my letterbox. Here are my favourites:

1. This letter turned up in my letterbox one Sunday afternoon. It was a little odd because it was hand written. The letter says that they had been unable to reach me at home, but I’d been at home all that day, so they obviously didn’t even try. The mysterious “B Evans” and his/her neat handwriting comes to the defence of the bible.

l-letter1

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2. One day I found a little pamphlet with four sets of before and after shots of people who’d lost weight, most of them looking like Hispanic Americans. No company name was mentioned, there was only a blank space with a name and phone number written in biro. I hope the guy’s midget friend is still mates with him after his weight loss.

l-weight

3. Another religious themed pamphlet, also in defense of the bible. It wasn’t as interesting as the hand-written letter, but I did dig the well-groomed gentleman engrossed in the holy word.

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4. Nathan wants to give you a massage – but only if you’re a man. Like the bible letter, this one is hand written, but surely it would have been easier to write out one notice then make some photocopies? Or was he so desperate for cash (or perhaps for manflesh?) that he wrote them all out by hand?

l-massage