True romance




Bedazzling, the ancient art of sticking studs, rhinestones and other dazzling accoutrements onto clothes, wavers in and out of fashion. While there are those who would argue that adorning one’s jean jacket with sparking faux gems never goes out of fashion, it cannot be denied that there is currently an increase in popularity around the world of bedazzling.

Specifically, this is due to the innovation of vajazzling, the application of stick-on gems to the lady area, and its male counterpart, the pajazzle.

So that got me thinking – why stop at clothing and genitals? Why not extend the bedazzling principle to other things? So I picked up a few sheets of stunning stick-on gems and got to work turning some boring objects into breathtaking works of bedazzled beauty.

First of all I started with something really basic – a ’90s-era Sony microcassette recorder. I figured I could bedazzle it and then take it along to an important media event and make all the real journalists jealous.

Well, this was a bit of a disaster. The bedazzling on the speaker area blocked the sound from playing back, and the bedazzled micro cassette tape wouldn’t fit back inside the slot.

I was pretty upset at this and had a good cry.


I reached for some tissues to dry my tears, when suddenly inspiration struck me. Tissues are really boring, with their plain white fibres. I reached for my bedazzling kit and soon turned the dull tissues into stunning, fashionable bedazzled tissues.


Feeling buoyed and much more chipper by this breakthrough, I decided to go shopping for some vitamins. I was planning to take the bus into town, so before I left the house, I bedazzled my Snapper bus card.

The Snapper card has the cool fish design, but it’s a bit boring and not very fashionable. I soon bedazzled it up, emphasising the fish logo, but adding stylish new bedazzled dimensions.


Down at my local chemist, I picked up some women’s multivitamins. As I looked at the bottle, I couldn’t help feel that it was not very stylish or fashionable and could actually do with some bedazzling.

Out came my kit and I got to work on it, making sure to add a wee diamond to each pill in the bottle. I was pretty impressed with my ability to transform a boring old bottle of vitamins into a stunning, trendy bedazzled masterpiece.


But then I went to take a vitamin and came to a horrible realisation: I could not swallow the pill if it had a bedazzle stuck to it.

I looked at what I’d been doing and I felt like a bit of a dick. Bedazzling vitamins? What had I been thinking? I slumped into my La-Z-Boy recliner and discovered I was all cried out. There was only one thing for it. I needed to drown my sorrows in another kind of bottle.


The night visitor

vintage-birth-controlMr Stork: Hello, lady! I have babby 4 u!
Miss Lady: Shoo, Mr Stork! Shoo! Shoo!
Mr Stork: But lady, I have delivery of teh babby 4 u!
Miss Lady: I said shoo, Mr Stork! I am not wanting babbies in my modern inner-city apartment!
Mr Stork: But lady, I fly all the way here from babbyland and boy are my wings tired!
Miss Lady: Oh, now look, Mr Stork. My boyfriend, of whom I first met last night at Studio 54, has come to shoo you away too!
Mr Stork: But lady, your bf will surely make for a great daddy. He will raise this babby like it were his own and not that of which is fashioned from the noble seed of Mick Jagger.
Miss Lady: Oh, I suppose you’re right. Ok, drop it here. I will fashion a crib out of the steamer trunk I keep my marijuana in.

A special poem for all the special princess out there

Girl, you know I’ll treat you like a princess.
I will take you to the paediatric oncology ward to meet little children with cancer, like a princess.
I will arrange for you to open a centre for the homeless, like a princess.
I will give you a guided tour of the local prosthetic limbs centre, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and introduce you to amputees so you can learn how their prosthetics have changed their lives, like a princess.
I will show you around the new drug rehabilitation facility and let you hear stories from former addicts who have turned their lives around, like a princess.
I will introduce you to a choir of children from an inner-city school, including refugee orphans from war-torn countries, like a princess
And, girl, when you cry, I will not dry your tears. Instead your lady-in-waiting will do that because you deserve to be treated like a princess.

Grated ginger root

Donna swallowed hard, her mouthful of Special K and milk catching in her throat. Her eyes flicked back to the newspaper. Had she read that correctly? Had he really said…?

“Between 1985-1987, I would sleep with about three women a day, every day. I never said no.”

Donna remembered back to what had, only a few minutes earlier, been a fond memory. It was 1986 and the band was in town for their “Money’s Too Tight” world tour. Donna wasn’t even a fan, but a couple of her uni mates were going and dragged her along.

It had been a fun night – the band played their hits – and after the show the girls had staggered off to the Royal Arms for a wine cooler. Donna didn’t even recognise him at first. He was just a pale ginger guy who was asking to buy her a drink. But there was something about him – a strange sort of charisma.

The next morning her flatmates had mercilessly grilled her about her night of passion. “You could sell it the papers,” Nicky shrieked.

And so it had been her little happy memory. On those days when work was busy or Neil was working late or the kids were being demanding, she thought back to that one little moment where she had a night of sexy fun with a famous pop star in his fancy hotel room.

But now…

“I regret the philandering.”

Regret? Donna had never regretted it.

“Can I issue a public apology? I’m truly sorry.”

Sorry? What was there to apologise for? For the first time in 24 years, Donna felt cheap. She swallowed hard again, wiping away a tear.

“Mum, can you give me a ride today? Mum? Oh… are you crying?”

“Oh, just thinking about, um, Grandpa. It’s OK. Yeah, I’ll give you a ride.”

But before Donna left for work that morning, she removed one CD from the car stereo changer, never to play it again.

Minutes of the OGB AGM

Note: the Orcon Great Blend was a cool cultural shindig held in 2010. It was announced that tweets with #ogb would be projected on a wall at the event. I was stuck in Wellington and I thought OGB sounded a bit ’90s gangsta (ODB mixed with OG), so I formed a gang. This is what went down.

The following is a performance art presentation, a collaboration between @robyngallagher (ME!!!!) and #ogb

I’m calling to order the annual general meeting of my street gang, the notorious Original Gangsta Bytchyz. We will use the hashtag #ogb

Item 1: Fundraising sausage sizzle for Christchurch. The OGB is veggo – should we use veggie sausagez? What about food milez, yo? #ogb

Item 2: After the successful turf war with the Mt Eden 274, we need another suburban bus route to feud with. #ogb

Item 2 (cont): Suggested Wellington bus route to feud with – Miramar. Goes near Weta – has celeb potential. #ogb

Item 3: Motion to make the Original Gangsta Bull the official beverage of the Original Gangsta Bytchyz. #ogb

Item 3: Motion not passed. Official drink will remain as old school Diet Sprite. #ogb

Item 4: Props to the original OGB – Old Government Buildings, largest wooden structure in the Southern Hemisphere. #ogb

Item 4: Props to Todai-ji, the largest wooden building in the world. One day the Original Gangsta Bytchyz will pay respect 2 ur beams. #ogb

Item 5: Motion to get the Feelers to record a theme tune for the OGB, with a bangin’ remix, in time for the Rugby World Cup. #ogb

Item 5: Motion passed. Wait, what? That Feelers theme song thing was a joke! This is a disaster – not gangsta at all 🙁 #ogb

Item 6: Considering a team-building day to focus on maximising interpersonal synergies. I mean, N.O.T.O.R.I.O.U.S. synergies #ogb

Item 7: Let’s take a craft break and make things by cutting up the September issue of Metro and gluing together with sticky tape. #ogb

Item 7 [update]: Have subverted the dominant paradigm by gluing John Banks’ head to @ghetsum’s column. #ogb

Item 8: Concerned that the #nzntm entertainment television programme is drawing away potential members of the Original Gangsta Bytchyz. #ogb

Item 9: Considering fabricating a turf war between rival Wellington farmers’ markets, involving actual turf. Just to be controversial. #ogb

Item 10: Failure of pilot programme means the OGB will not go into drug dealing. Disastrous mixup between hash brownies and hash browns. #ogb

Attention: All 10 items on the agenda have been covered, and Original Gangsta Bytchyz has welcomed many new members tonight. #ogb

So therefore this concludes the Original Gangsta Bytchyz Annual General Meeting for this evening. Chur chur. #ogb


All the artists of the world: The case of Milli Vanilli

milli vanilli acceptance

Exhibit M

22 February 1990. The 1990 Grammy Awards, recognising the musical output of 1989. Young MC and Kris Kristofferson present the Grammy for Best New Artist. “This year, the nominees for Best New Artist are making all kinds of music,” the bespectacled author of “Keep It In Your Pants” says. “And each one of them expresses himself in a unique way that commands attention,” Young’s elder co-presenter concludes.

The nominees are announced, along with a video clip of a respresentative song. There’s Neneh Cherry, rippin’ shit up with “Buffalo Stance”; the Indigo Girls belting out some harmonious acoustic pop on “Closer To Fine”. So far the applause is polite and appreciative.

Then comes Milli Vanilii’s nomination, along with the braided pair singing, “Girl you know it’s true. Ooh, ooh, ooh, I love you.” And dancing. And staring with those needy eyes. The audience breaks out into screaming and rapturous applause. Yes, yes, Rob and Fab!

Back to Soul II Soul and a bit of their art/house/soul/pop song “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)”; and finally gravel-voiced rapper Tone Loc rounds out the nominations with his Young MC-penned track “Funky Cold Medina”.

The winner is announced. Milli Vanilli. The room erupts with screams. Yay!

Rob and Fab receive their award, and Rob makes this speech:

“We wanna say thank you very much, but we wanna say there are a lot of artists here in this room, there are a lot of artists outside in the world, who could achieve the same award that we achieved today. And it’s an award for all artists in the world. Thank you very much.”

That night, all the artists in the world gave silent thanks to Milli Vanilli.

Exhibit L

April 27, 2034

“Come here, my little ones. Gather around and I’ll tell you why we used to like the Milli Vanillis in the olden days. Oh, they were so pretty. It was like if you got Justin Beiber, made him brown, cloned him, gave him too many hair extensions, and dressed him in lycra bike pants, a jacket with giant shoulder pads and clompy boots. And how they could dance! They used to do this thing where they would jump up and spin around and their dreadlocks and braids flew about gaily. And that Rob, he had the most beautiful eyes.”


“Yes, child.”

“Who’s Justin Bieber?”

Exhibit K

November 16 1990. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences withdraws Milli Vanilli’s Grammy for Best New Artist.

The main point comes down to the vocal credit on the album specifically naming Rob and Fab.

But the awarded recordings themself hadn’t changed. Milli Vanilli hadn’t changed. It was just that the two fellows on the album cover and in the music videos and dancing on stage were different from the men who sang on the record.

But somehow that affected the recording.

Exhibit J

It’s a bit like Schrödinger’s Cat. It’s not until you lift the lid on the album that you can form an opinion on the music. If the cat is alive, there’s a couple of handsome singers on the album and it’s a great album; if the cat is dead, it’s ordinary looking session singers on the album and it’s a terrible album.

Exhibit H

January 1990. Happy new decade. I had a $15 record voucher from either my recent 15th birthday present and/or Christmas the week before. I’d recently purchased De La Soul’s debut album Three Feet High and Rising and was really enjoying it. Yeah, soundtrack of summer.

So I was feeling a bit adventurous. I wanted something a bit urban, a bit gritty. Something that would keep reminding me of my summer holiday in Auckland and not the impending return to rural Hamilton.

I looked around a forgettable record shop (remember, kids, this was the early ’90s, when record shops were all over the place and could easily be forgettable), but I couldn’t find anything that took my fancy.

Then I saw something on the top 20 rack of tapes. It was Milli Vanilli’s All or Nothing (US Remix Album). I’d heard their songs. They were ok. I bought the tape, listened to it a few times but it wasn’t very captivating.

One of the album tracks was “Girl You Know It’s True (NY Subway Mix)”. This suggests someone has taken the original “Girl You Know It’s True” and remixed it to reflect the gritty urban beat of New York’s public transport system.

In reality it’s like someone’s heard MARRS’s groundbreaking samplefest Pump Up the Volume and decided to apply a similar style to Milli Vanilli. But instead of using an experienced DJ, it sounds like they gave the work-experience kid a Fairlight and some Grace Jones, Sly and Robbie, Michael Jackson, and Deep Purple singles and let them have at it. With disastrous results.

If I really want to feel a stab of regret, I can remind myself that at the time, The Stone Roses album would have been out there on the shelves for me to buy.

Exhibit G

April 2 1998. Let’s try not to think of Rob Pilatus’ final night on earth, alone in a hotel room in Hamburg, an accidental overdose. Let’s try not to think of the drug rehab and the assault charges and the relapsing and the neediness and the depression. Let’s try to remember the good things.

Exhibit F

After it was revealed that Rob and Fab were not the people singing on the Milli Vanilli records or dancing in their videos, the public outrage made it clear – there is no room for lack of authenticity in pop music.

Yet, surprisingly, the Indigo Girls did not see their sales go through the roof in response to this newfound desire for musical authenticity.

A lesson was learned – cheat, just don’t get caught. Today no one’s quite so bold as to hire pretty frontmen for frumpy singers. But there’s Auto-Tune to tidy up messy singers. Or what about getting a great singer to record the demo, which the mediocre singer memorises, right down to the quirky phrasing. And the potential that ProTools offers for chopping and layering to disguise flaws.

But why are we still obsessed with authenticity in music? Why is it ok for some types of art to be polished to an artifical state of perfection, but not ok for others?

Exhibit E

We hide our love for Milli Vanilli. We disguise it as contempt for the ’90s, beecause the ’90s were awful. At the moment, at least.

Milli Vanilli gets filed away with Crystal Pepsi, biker shorts and giant hair – pop culture anomalies that will never happen again.

Because the past was awful and the present is better. Apart from the bits of the past that were golden. We cherish those.

But that’s not the Milli Vanilli bit. That’s the bit where we pretend we never bought a Milli Vanilli album. Or if we did, we thought it was awful.

We don’t remember all the songs that went to number one all over the world, or the joy people got from dancing to “Baby Don’t Forget My Number (NY Subway Mix)”.

Perhaps that actually happened in a parallel universe, where Al Gore was president and the World Trade Center still stands.

Exhibit D

Q. Do you like Milli Vanilli?

A. No, I do not like Milli Vanilli because I think that they are crap!!!! I mean, they don’t even write their own songs or sing on their records and they have those braids which look really STUPID. Also, they do those dumb dances where they go from side to side, which look really LAME. Plus they wear really weird clothes with giant shoulder pads. Shoulder pads are so mental. I like proper singers who are actually talented, like Margaret Urlich, Jamie J Morgan, Ngaire and Madonna.

Exhibit C

I mean, it’s not like they were the only ones doing it. Technotronic had blue-lipped fashion model Felly lip-syncing in their Pump Up the Jam video; petit Zelma Davis stood in for plus-size Martha Walsh in C+C Music Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat video; and it was shockingly revealed that Paula Abdul’s singing partner MC Skat Kat was not actually a streetwise cat, but was, in fact, two human males.

Exhibit B

Rob did the grunty singing and Fab did the rapping, but there always seemed to be a few more male voices in there too. And maybe there was even a voice of caution from the future.

It’s a tragedy for me to see the dream is over.
And I never will forget the day we met.
[Multi-platinum pop career], I’m gonna miss you.

Girl I’m Gonna Miss You

Exhibit A

Such a lovely place

I’m used to people getting to my website through unusual googles, but every now and then something comes along that manages to surprise me. And indeed recently someone got to my website by searching for hotel california lyrics about the hutt valley.

Now, at first glance, this would suggest a hilarious radio-station parody of the Eagles’ classic song with the lyrics changed to reflect the unique cultural nature of the Hutt Valley.

But it could also mean that the “Hotel California” lyrics are actually about the Hutt Valley. This isn’t about the dirty LA music scene of the ’70s. No, it’s about life in the Hutt.

I think the latter is the more likely scenario. Let’s examine a selection of lyrics.

The mist

On a dark desert highway

Dark – the high hills of the Hutt Valley mean that the sun sets earlier, plunging the valley into darkness.
Desert – while not technically a desert, there are parts of the Hutt Valley that do feel like a barren desert. If not geographically, then architecturally.
Highway – State Highway 2 runs the length of the Hutt Valley, and includes the road engineering marvel that is the Petone Interchange.

I heard the mission bell

This is actually when you get a text from your mate who says “wanna do a mish?” and you are all “kewl” and then you show up to his place and go real hard, eh.

And I was thinking to myself, “This could be heaven or this could be hell.”

The Hutt Valley offers many different types of experiences – the New Dowse gallery, the Lower Hutt civic buildings, the Upper Hutt Roller Skating Club, vast tracts of car-centric suburbs, gangs, Queensgate mall. These could be considered “heaven” and/or “hell” depending on what your hobbies and interests are.

So I called up the captain, “Please bring me my wine.”

The Hutt Valley is just over the Rimutakas from the Wairarapa, a rich wine-growing and grape-growing area of New Zealand. The “captain” this lyric refers to is obviously involved with the Toast Martinborough festival, and is about to pour a festival-goer a sample glass of pinot gris.

Welcome to the Hotel California

The Hutt offers a range of fine accomodations, ranging from budget accommodation, to four-star motels for the dicerning traveller. And there’s also that one with the steakhouse attached, which is quite good if you like steak but don’t want to have to walk too far to your bed.

Mirrors on the ceiling, the pink champagne on ice.

This is obviously a reference to the wide range of products available from Westfield Queensgate. You can go to the Warehouse and buy some mirrors and then No-More-Nails them to your bedroom ceiling. Then you can celebrate your handiwork with some strawberry Lindauer. Man, that stuff’s real yum. But you should make sure the No More Nails has set hard before you lie down under it, because if you were sitting there enjoying a Lindauer and one of the mirrors fell on you, that would be really annoying and you’d probably spill the Lindauer and then you’d have to go and change the sheets. What a blimmin’ hassle.

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

The Hutt Valley is a prison that will trap you for life.

High on the roof was a lonely Jesus sign

The future is a wonderful place

If I had a time machine I’d visit Marilyn Monroe in her prime.

That’s a quote from Stephen Hawking in a Daily Mail column on the possibility of time travel.

It sounds like something out of Insignificance (in which Marilyn Monroe explains the theory of relativity to Albert Einstein). But it makes me wonder what such a visit would be like.

1957. Marilyn Monroe is relaxing at the poolside bar of the Beverley Hills Hotel. Suddenly there’s a whoosh and a flash of light and an elderly man in a strange wheelchair appears in front of her. She’s a little scared, but yet curious because she didn’t get where she is today without a sense of curiosity.

HELLO, MISS MONROE,” the man says. Only it’s not his voice. It’s coming out of a small box on his lap and the voice sounds more like the voice of a robot from a B-grade motion picture. The sort of film she hopes she’ll never end up having to make.


She looks around to see if anyone else has noticed them. There’s only a barman and he knows to look but never to see.

“Oh, really! Tell me, what is the future like? Are we all living in the sky? Do I have lots of grandchildren?”

The strange man looks at her. Even though his face is contorted, she thinks she sees a sad look flash across his features. He starts to type something into his talking box. He then stops typing, looks at Marilyn again, then types something new.


I’ll just stare and hope you’ll care: ’90s-style angst

She: Hey, do you like Dinosaur Jr?
He: Yeah.
She: Cool. Just because they’re playing in Auckland at the end of March, at the Auckland Town Hall, and I was thinking of going up there for it. I’ve been asking around but, like, no one else seems interested. I mean, they’re all like ‘”Get Me” is cool’, but no one wants to actually pay to see them live. So, um, I was wondering if…
He: “You’re Living All Over Me” is the greatest album ever made.
She: Yes! I love “Raisans”!
He: “Tarpit”.
She: So… do you want to…?
He: Sure.
She: Great!
He: And I’ll see if my girlfriend wants to come too.
She: Oh, ok.