Master Blaster

Skip When Shuffling: Yes (it’s too depressing otherwise)

A few days ago I was listening to my iPod on shuffle on the way home from work when Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” came on. It’s a cool song. It was released in 1980 and is a feel-good tribute to Bob Marley, with the classic forget-your-worries-and-have-a-good-time theme.

But then the second verse came along and Stevie sang of one of his reasons to be jammin’:

Peace has come to Zimbabwe
Third World’s right on the one
Now’s the time for celebration
‘Cause we’ve only just begun

Oh no.

It’s hard to hear that lyric now without feeling sad. Back when that song was written, Zimbabwe had just won independence from the British and Mugabe was going to usher in a new era of strength, hope and, uh, peace.

Things weren’t supposed to go in totally the opposite direction.

Plastic Fan-frickin’-tastic

I was in at Salvation Army shop in Naenae, when I found a tape called “We Carry The Cup” – the official EP soundtrack for the 1986 America’s Cup campaign. It features the #1 smash hit song “Sailing Away”, which is probably the worst song ever in the history of anything ever. Ever.

I realised that someone born after, say, 1983, would have no memory of the magical time prior to 1986 when New Zealanders did not generally care about boat racing. They probably have no memory of cassette tapes either.

I showed various people the tape and one of the first things a lot of them said was, “Do you have tape player?” Yeah, I have a double cassette deck in my stereo (high-speed dubbing!). As totally obvious as it is, I didn’t realise that ordinary stereos don’t have tape players any more. They’re about as archaic now as a cathode-ray television. My stereo seems so old I feel like it should have doily on top of it.

Photos? Oh, why not!

Ignore him. He's just doing it to get attention.

Jesus of Naenae was such a staunch Housemartins fan, he shaved a cross into the side of his head.

Mothra Fail

“It’s a giant moth – a moth as big as Godzilla. If only there was some word we could use that would evoke both the scary sci-fi of a Godzilla-like creature and general mothiness. Oh, I know – Mothzilla!!!!”

Yes, we have those too

What, you mean your local copy shop doesn’t do laminating? Get with it!

The freedom of 5-0

(Please excuse the purple prose. I’ve been listening to too many television sports commentators and I’m too tired to use original language.)

The America’s Cup is funded by bored billionaires. Team New Zealand wasn’t the official team of New Zealand. It represented the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and was sponsored by a bunch of large corporations, most of which have foreign owners.

It’s not about patriotism. Loving New Zealand does not mean having to support all New Zealand sports teams. Patriotism takes in the wider picture. I think it’s about having faith and trust in your country and being proud of it no matter what sporting achievements have – or haven’t – occurred.

Victory parties and parades are nice, easy feel-good events that generate shitloads of goodwill. It’s a lot harder to lose. It doesn’t have to be graceful – being angry and throwing stuff is ok – but the way to lose is to admit defeat. To not try and blame, to just realise that a loss has taken place.

(I sound like a therapist)

The Cup is going. It’s going to be relocated on the other side of the world, far away from the ocean. What an enormous, liberating thing for New Zealand this will be.

Zuh vold

When I was down at the Viaduct (What Viaduct?) Harbour last weekend I used a public toilet. When I was washing my hands I noticed that the liquid soap was black. It seemed a strange thing – black isn’t really the kind of colour I’d associate with hygiene. But all was revealed today when I stumbled across an article on the Herald’s web site. It turns out that special black soap is being used at the moment to show support and loyalty to Team New Zealand. Yes, let’s associate Team New Zealand with public toilets.

I had a game of Monopoly against my parents. I went bankrupt first. It’s a vicious game, but that’s what makes the world go around.


Damn it.

“Before the match, Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker and syndicate head Tom Schnackenberg stressed that the [hull] was not the team’s ticket to success. But 3.9 million New Zealanders disagreed and were adamant that the Black Boat was a rocket ship.”

I wish the Herald would not write shit like that. I wish they would not make such gross generalisations.

When my mother was pregnant with me, she and my dad went out on a yacht. I think that’s the closest I’ve ever been to being on a yacht. I’m not interested in yacht racing and I can’t somehow attach extra value and meaning to the New Zealand boat solely because it’s run by New Zealanders. And conversely I can’t find space for hate for the New Zealand guy on the Swiss boat. I mean, here’s this guy who is so skilled an talented that he’s risen up and been offered a really excellent job that means he can do what he loves and be able to do so for the rest of his life and we’re supposed to hate him for that? No, that’s not right.

Loyalty is a two way street. If Team New Zealand want me to be loyal to them, they also have to be loyal to me.

Yo Ho Ho (Cup)

Where’s a pirate ship when you need one? The high seas, or even the low seas at the end of the street where I work are in need of some zest at the moment.

It’s supposed to be exciting, but quite frankly, Mr Skankly, I am finding it all rather dull and boring. Rock on. If it was a religion, people would be sending deprogrammers to get their children back. It’s one of those opiates of the masses. It’s supposed to be really good for the local economy, but no one seems to know exactly how.

It, the yacht race that dare not speak its name, is the America’s Cup. For all you Americans out there, the America’s Cup is a yacht race. The object of it is to win. The prize is a cup, but like those cups they awarded when I was at school, you can only keep it for as long as you’re the winner. If you lose the next time you have to give it back.

I remember when the New Zealand boat won the Cup back in 1995. It was simpler back then. Holy, pure, angelic Peter Blake and Team New Zealand, versus that dark, evil bastard Dennis Conner. People had it spelled out for them who they were to support. Ambivalence was a fate worse than death. People bought the allegedly lucky red socks because, not unlike a charity, Team New Zealand needed cash. It was not made clear at the time if the socks were lucky for Team New Zealand or the wearer of the socks.

Team New Zealand had the cup and it was decided that there would be no defender series, so that ruled out the Raglan yacht club getting a shot at it.

2000 came and oh-my-God, the Evil Bastard and his team didn’t win the challenger series. Instead some nice young Italians, the Prada team, did. They were a very popular win, too.

The nation was thrown into a state of confusion. The Prada team were charming and good looking. Much more handsome than the Team New Zealand blokes who are about as appealing as a bunch of bogan farm hands. Hating Dennis Conner was easy, but hating the Prada team proved to be near impossible.

People say that yachting is a rich white man’s sport. That’s exactly what it is. A game of football requires a group of people, a ball and some grass. A yachting race requires cash and lots of it.

It’s been sold to New Zealanders as a patriotic sport worthy of their love because New Zealand is a country that suffers from an inferiority complex and anything that can make New Zealanders feel a bit more important or special about themselves and their country is welcomed.

So if Team New Zealand wins there will no doubt be much merriment and celebration (“The America’s Cup is still New Zealand’s cup!”) and there’ll probably be victory parades up and down the country (Will there be a repeat of the 1995 parade in Auckland with the white parade watchers followed by the brown street sweepers?) And everyone will talk about how good this is for the country and people will try and work out how they can knight Peter Blake a second time.

If Team New Zealand doesn’t win there will be lots of introspection and a bit of “Oh well, they tried hard.” It’ll get blamed on the national sporting teams current alleged losing streak and a vow that they’ll be back.

It’s good for the economy, y’know. Har har!