Two of my favourite things, apparently

a) Reality TV is a crutch for people who can’t handle reality.

Cameron is the winner of UK Big Brother. Hooray! Unlike the Australian BB where one housemate was voted out each week until there were only two housemates left, the UK BB ended with five housemates. Oh, but Cameron is so nice. He deserved to win.

I was watching TV earlier and a teaser came on for “Australian Idol”. OMG yes! They’re doing it just like all the other Idols. Two nice judges, one blunt judge, hilarious auditions, and enthusiastic singers who denote emotion by going “woah-oh-oh”. Actually, I’m just guessing the last item, but I bet it’ll be like that.

b) Shitomart.

Today was the big public opening of the Britomart Transport Centre. I’m not sure exactly what was being opened because it’s not even close to being finished. It’s not like when the [entertainment complex that houses Village Queen Street cinemas] opened and they were still glueing down tiles and putting in a few remaining rows of cinema seats. There’s so much work to still be done at Britomart.

All around is blank concrete areas, sheets of wood covering holes, duct tape holding stuff together. The interior of the old post office has a very nice ceiling, and the stained glass dome looks pretty, but it’s just a big empty space with nothing actually built in it. Tomorrow it’ll probably be closed off again to the public until it’s properly finished.

The event was allegedly a festival. In true crap festival spirit, there was a sausage sizzle and face painting for the kids. Tired looking parents navigated bored looking kids around. But rather than it being an exciting new place for children to explore, parents were having to keep their kids away from all the unfinished areas. But I suppose even that can be an educational experience. “Look at the dusty glass slats, Ella!” “Look Josh, see how they’ve disguised the raw concrete with rented pot plants!”

It was hard to get excited about it because it wasn’t like, “Wow, what a great new transport centre!” It was more like walking around a building site where all the builders had been hurried away. I’m not even going to start to get excited until they bloody well finish the place. Until then I will fondly call it Shitomart.

Yes yes

I was heading down Queen Street to catch a bus home when I stumbled across the official opening ceremony of the Britomart centre. There was a rented tent with a bunch of men in suits milling about under it. One of those bango/double bass/trumpet bands (what’s that genre called?) were standing about 30 metres away from the tent and playing music.

Further behind them was a temporary fence keeping the general public away from the un-festive festivities. It had the strange effect of making the tent o’ suits look like some sort of strange anthropological exhibit.

The WBC had their video launch gig at their old stomping ground, the Safari Lounge. The crowd there was (and this is based on my highly unscientific calculations) was about one third rugbyhead (watching a game on the TVs, one third drunken hobag/munter regulars and one third w00da fans.

It was their first show with their new trumpet player. He’s cool and has some wikkid punk stylez. The best moment was during “Thick ‘n’ Thin” when the microphone cut out during the chorus, so no one could hear Matiu sing it. But it didn’t matter because all around me I heard people singing along. After the gig I was talking to st00 about it and he said it was like being in U2. Except without the whole saving the world bit, I’d imagine.

Tired/drunk/v. relaxed

Bing bong

I checked out the brand new underground train station. Having recently travelled on the Paris Metro and London Underground, I now consider myself to be a 100% expert on underground train stations and have made the following observations.

  • It’s cold. This could possibly be due to the fact that the Britomart centre thing is still under construction, so it’s likely that there are great big holes where cold wind can come gushing in. Either that or it’s just a really chilly building. 
  • Automated announcements. Every couple of minutes a pre-recorded announcement would be made. They were voiced by one of those voiceover guys who does television ads and sounds like the sort of person who’d rarely – if ever – travel by train. One message started with a cheery, but very white sounding “Kia ora!”
  • One of the announcements advised passengers that when a train is pulling into the station, that waiting passengers must step back one metre from the edge of the platform. Why don’t they just do what other train stations do and paint a line along the platform and write “STAND BACK” on the platform. Interestingly, that message was nowhere to be heard when the next train pulled in.
  • There were also live announcements from someone in the station. He was suffering from the same affliction that Air New Zealand pilots have, that is, the tendency to waffle on and on when all that’s required is a short and simple message. While repeating the destinations of a train for maybe the third time, one of the automated announcements came on, so there was a cacophony of polite yet unintelligible information echoing around the station.
  • The station’s decor looks like an old warehouse that’s been converted into a gay nightclub. I don’t mean that as an insult. I think it’s the most accurate way to describe it. There’s lots of bare concrete but also concrete surfaces that have been covered by a stainless steel mesh. There are a bunch of cone-shaped skylights along the middle. At the top of every cone is a silver ball, which resembles a disco mirror ball, just smoother. But the gayest thing of all is the lighting along the side walls. The bare concrete is lit up in the colours of the gay rainbow. It looks fabulous.
  • The station is missing advertising. It looks like there are spaces for ads. I think when the ads come in it’ll stop looking less gay discoesque. There are also no vending machines. These are essential for a good train station. But I suspect that there may be small shops opening that will sell drinks ‘n’ junk food.
  • There’s no “bing bong” noise before the announcements are made. They really need to get their act together and get a “bing bong” noise.

I suppose the next step for me is to attempt to catch a train.

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.