Reb and NRT have already blogged the multicultural celebration rally thingamee, and the National Front March. I didn’t hang around for the violent bits, but before that did go down to take a couple of pics of the stand-off preceding the violence, which involved people from both sides yelling at each other. Not all of the “scary fairies” were dickheads. A bunch of them just waved wands around and threw glitter, and shouted a few slogans, like “hey hey, ho ho, racism has got to go.” I didn’t see any of them doing anything violent or stupid during the time I was there. I didn’t see any of the NF do anything violent either, though some of them were yelling things like “fucking faggot” at anyone from the MCA side. I don’t see the point in not posting photos where people are identifyable, because if the NF are going to find someone to pick on they’ll find someone to pick on, regardless of whether photos haven’t been posted. Plus there’s already a bunch of photos on Scoop. They even put names.
Frankly I had much more awesome, terrifying and beautiful things going on all weekend, so don’t feel very motivated to rant about the NF thing.
In the Rainbow Room yesterday we wrote letters and drew pictures to send to Ahmed Zaoui. One of the kids wrote a beautiful poem. I’m going to bundle it all up today and send it off, and a letter to the PM too. It only takes a few minutes, so if you haven’t already put pen to paper, check out the Amnesty site for info and suggested actions.
Russell Brown has blogged about “the astonishing case of the private voter registration firm, funded by the Republican party, which has been soliciting registrations, and then shredding the forms of those who registered as Democrats. It gets worse: a Republican state judge has said that those whose forms were shredded cannot re-register.” Check out this and more madness here. The Pentagon seems to be doing everything they can to make life difficult for overseas voters too. Well, their behaviour appears to be justified; one survey shows that showed that voters with passports support Kerry over Bush by a margin of 58 to 35 percent. The world is such a depressing (and frustrating) place to be.
Public Address is having a party! But unfortunately it’s the same day as Hinemoana’s CD/Book launch. Unless I use up my airpoints to fly up after the launch… I guess I’m not going. Sigh. Cheap booze and complimentary coffee. And poetry, even. Sigh. Never mind, I’d only drink too much, and that never ends well.
Russell also blogged about Mary Cheney. I can understand some of the fuss. I’ve never liked the word lesbian. I came out as bisexual initially, because I couldn’t bring myself to say the L word. And then it turned out that I could have good times with boys as well as girls, so that was ok. I’m remembering Sir Ian’s enthusiasm for outing people, which I’m still dubious about. Though it seems to be irrelevent in this case, as Mary is quite happy to be out when it suits her, or daddy’s campaign. What I really hate is when people are in a position where they can get on with their lives, happy gays, lesbians, bisexuals, living a normal life, nice job, circle of friends, house with a white picket fence. And they forget. They turn a blind eye... to the kids who are getting kicked out of home. The guys who are being used as human punching bags. The people taking a daily battering of hateful words. Losing their jobs. Being raped. Seeing their kids taken away from them, or not being able to hold the hand of their dying partner. Wake up Mary, and smell the oppression.
The high school I went to was the most liberal and safe in the town. There, I found some sort of pseudo-acceptance; though really, it was tolerance at best. The third formers used to call me names, but the senior students weren’t openly homophobic. The girls were scared of me (that I would come on to them? That they would be seen as lesbian by association?) and they avoided me like the plague. The guys thought it was great that I was a lesbian… as long as I looked at soft porn with them, and dressed in a way that they found attractive, and entertained their fantasies about two women having sex for their own pleasure… then they were just fine with it! They all seemed to think I would need a man to truly make me happy. At the end of 7th form I was raped by a guy who was “proving” to me that I wasn’t really a lesbian. All I needed was to be fucked by the right man.
Things are so much better now. I am surrounded by friends who truly accept me. I have a great job in a workplace that is utterly supportive. I don’t even need a white picket fence to fit in – the greenies and hippies and queers I surround myself with are cool with most of my queer quirks. But I know it’s not that easy for everyone. For kids still in school. For trannies and queers not quite managing to pass. Not quite fitting into the nice little squares. I just have to go with my tranny tendencies, put on a suit and moustache and walk down Lampton Quay, to be reminded how painful the world can be. Take a step outside the box and feel the hate.
“Until all are free, we are all oppressed…”
Destiny et al. have actually done us a favour. See, there is a weird paradox created when gay/lesbian/bisexual people gain a level of acceptance. Because when opposition diminishes we lose the benefits of community. A community is defined by its boundaries – alliances tend to be based on similarity of oppression. The gay and lesbian community is defined by what it is opposed to – homophobia. There isn’t a heterosexual community as such, because there is no external threat or opposition to form against. A reduction of oppression is accompanied by a loss of community.
If the more equality we gain, the less community we have, is there a point at which the two reach a state of equilibrium? Do we get to a point where there is still homophobia, but not enough for anyone to bother doing anything about it? We have come dangerously close to that point, but perhaps the current hostilities will be our wake-up call. Bishop Vercoe, Pastor Tamaki, the Presbytarian General Assembly... perhaps they will turn out to be our saviours, after all.
My voting paper arrived yesterday, for Tippecanoe County, State of Indiana. “Vote for no more than one” it says. Bush, Kerry, or who the fuck is Badnarik? What a choice. I don’t get the US voting system. “Write-in” candidates? Huh? So I can vote for people other than those three, if I write it in? Surely that puts the write-in candidates at a huge disadvantage. Geez, it’s crazy, and we haven’t even got to the Electoral College yet... WTF?
Down by the Basin Reserve there’s a new Tui billboard that says, “It’s a church, not a cult. Yeah, right.”
I had so much to tell you but I’ve lost it all…
I don’t get it. I so completely don’t get it. Indiana has 11 votes in the electoral college… but if the majority of Indianans vote for Bush, then all 11 votes go to Bush, is that right? SO WHAT’S THE BLEEDING POINT?! And how do they work out who actually goes on the ballot paper?? It’s bizarre. Totally and utterly bizarre. Someone said I was “half-American” yesterday. I’d just like to point out that although half of my passports are American, I am kiwi through and through and through. I just think the whole world should have a say in the US Presidential elections, and since I’ve got the opportunity, I think I should take it. For what it’s worth. Which appears to be a whole lot less than nothing.
And check out the “curiosities” of the electoral college system. “Far from being flaws, then, the historical oddities described above demonstrate the strength and resilience of the Electoral College system in being able to select a president in even the most troubled of times.” God bless the divine democracy of the US of A.
Rumour has it that 1800 Wellington votes got "lost" and have not yet been counted. How do you lose 1800 votes?
Update: No, not lost, just “a processing error". Still. Woops. And it’s going to be a long wait for those who are close to the margins…
We’ve been playing 4000 Years constantly for the past four days – sometimes all dancing together in the kitchen, sometimes with it playing quietly, out of sync, in our separate rooms.
It’s so beautiful, the music, and the exquisite art-works by Tom Henry. The CD is encased in unbleached cardboard, in Loop Green Room styles. And a cute sketch of the band that is more fitting with the new sleek image than the old sketch that used to grace the posters.
Yup, they’re starting to seem like real rock stars – in a folky kinda way. But hey, appearances on Juice TV and Nightline, big window displays in some of the record stores, a snazzy website, and some spunky photographs.
I hope they remember me, when they’re world famous, coming back to Aotearoa after their umpteenth European tour… I’ll still be trying to convince people that the “Fionaigh McKensie” mentioned in the notes to their first album is really me…
No, but really, I was so touched by the mention... hence the showing it off here (there and everywhere).
Anyway, if I can stop myself from raving about the band for a moment… I went to see In My Father’s Den yesterday. With my girlfriend. (Sorry, just had to casually slip that in – hee!)
Gawd, why are NZ movies always so damn dark and tragic. What must the world think of us? This one is brilliant, Emily Barclay is gorgeous, beautiful dark interiors contrast with the wide open Otago landscapes, and though it is a mystery story, it’s very character based. And literary. I cried. Only a little bit. And then I got home and bawled my eyes out.
Go see it.
I dreamt you like a firefly dancing in light I said let you play
Yes I know tomorrow you’re going away
Hey don’t cry now just cause I’m sad
Once bad things have happened they don’t seem so bad
& I’ve loved you, only for half a moon, as much as I ever had
When I see you dancing on that mountain in summer, I’ll be so glad
I see you like pounamu blessed by the river, should I let you lay?
- Tommy (Jewls)
Apparently Kelly Osbourne is fat. I'm not sure quite what that makes me, and I'm not going to think about it. I have an appointment with a dietician in an hour, who will hopefully give me some tips on what to do when weight gain is a side-effect of half a dozen drugs you’re taking…
We’re stuck with Kerry (Prenderghastly) for another three years in Wellington. But seven of the Heartbeat city council candidates were elected, and an eighth still might get in on specials. What does this mean? Well, hopefully they'll keep her in check. There's the bypass fass, but then there's other nasties, like locking up homeless people to "clean up" the city for movie premieres. Here’s hoping that is of the past.
Veni, Vidi, volo in domum redire
Getting away from it all. Leaving
the dry echo of her laughter
like leaves, scuttling down
bare autumn streets.
(Don’t blame her, really,
unemployment and isolation are
minor evils. She’s leaving this rat race
city, perched on a faultline, Transit
bulldozers breathing up our arse and the Xmas
advertising machine, already kicking into gear –
She’s leaving, she says.
A batch up the coast, a place
in the sun
Ātārangi has been chucking her gears into the boot, but she takes a break and we go for a wander, stop on the bridge that joins the two halves of the Bolton St cemetery.
I can tell something’s on her mind. I wait. When she’s ready, she’ll spill.
Once the Kumutoto stream flowed here,
as women worked on the banks, harvesting
thick blades of harakeke.
Now there is only the glint of glass, and the roar as traffic
swarms into the city.
I lean against the side of the bridge,
concrete sun-warm against my back,
“This ain’t no place
for a people of mana.
They don’t show respect
for our tikanga.
I’m stone broke
and they can’t get enough –
fines for this, fees for that…
I’m out of here,
before I trade in my mountain bike for a mobility scooter
I’m heading back
where Takitimu touched the shore
and Rongomaiwahine changed
history with beauty.
So hāere ra Wellington. The suits
can have this place, all their
wheeling and dealing,
smooth talking tax-evaders.
Once these guys were the runts
of the playground. Now
they run their own puppet show
pulling the strings of the beehive Pinocchios,
these are the knights
of the Business round table.
And what can I do
in the global marketplace?
I never learnt how
to lie. If a dollar for me
means a child’s life enslaved,
I cannot accept it. The earth
will not feel new pain
by my hands.
to become an accomplice
in the orgy of capitalism.
If a man is rich in today’s world
you can be sure there’s blood
on his hands. Not all the golden sand
washed seaward from Oriental Bay
is worth the price you pay, racked
by insomnia, as your tipuna weep
And for what?
To see it all
with the next swing
of the stockmarket?”
(She pauses, for a moment, as a large truck rumbles under the bridge,
with its load of high sugar intoxication, the sides plastered with Coca-cola indoctrination)
“And don’t get me started
on the Cocacolanization of Aotearoa.
I can’t stand
the rise of the billboard,
the mediaplex, the harbour
clogged up with burger wrapers.
The country is measured out
by miles to the nearest McDonald’s.
Our tipuna should see
what this land has become,
land of the long, white, complicity…
The strippers on Courtney Place
with their mermaid pools and their
stars and stripes bikinis.
What would Kupe think
if he saw the young guys
with their Nike sneakers and their
mud-streaked rugby shirts?
Guys from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga,
aiming now for a mansion like Jonah’s.
Quick with the hands, unlimited verve, gift of the grab
a professional contract, courtesy of Adidas…
he’s a jack of all trades,
autobiographer, all-rounder celebrity
visits kids in the cancer ward…
Tell him to score and he sidesteps his opponents,
dashes a hundred metres in ten seconds,
charges through another six players
and soars over the line.
“When men like this parade
down the LOTR red carpet,
with purple-shirted directors
and Hollywood starlets,
while we are pushed to the back
of the crowds - we,
who first drew breath on the spines
of these slumbering taniwha
We who were norished on ripe
Tiwhatiwha te pō, tiwhatiwha te ao.*
“‘Out of those front row seats,’ we’re told.
‘Your incomes are far too small.”
And so, my bro
is once again the object of pity and disgust
with his grubby blanket around his shoulders,
the thick skin on his feet. ‘Out of the streets,”’ he is told.
‘It’s an important day, and we must look our best.
The law’s the law, and you’re under arrest.
Make way for some Hollywood bods
with ragged clothes and hairy pods.’
Such were the fruits of that pokokōhua
Kerry’s Public Places Bylaw.
And there’s applause as a herd of hobbits
swarm up the bucket fountain
pissed as skunks
and urinate right from the top,
a really spectacular display splashing
from the upturned red buckets .
“And while we’re on the subject of pokokōhuas,
let’s talk about university management,
like that grey-haired bedell
and all his vices.
He graduated with first class devices
in cellphone management
and sleeping with sheep.
Now they’re running rings with their
a tenth circle added
to the bureaucratic inferno.
Here an academic, free-born,
must spend his lunch break in the dark recesses
of the library, making markings on the
stickered spines of un-cost-effective books
making room, making way, saving money…
Why not sell the books
the building and the view
declare an end-of-day profit and
never have costs again?
“Politics is just the same.
If Te Rangi Hiroa were to have a say
before the select committee today…
If Apirana Ngata were to take a stand
on his ancestral land, the foreshore
little respect. The questions would fly
‘How many Harleys does he ride?
How many Armani suits, how
Each man’s word is as good
as his greasy hair or his
What poor man ever gets given a Harley
or his own political party?
Nobody finds it easy to get to the top
unless God’s on his side.
the rent of your scummy flat,
your benefit seems to shrink
with every passing week. And yet,
if you were to wake up out in the wops,
you’d be happy enough, and no one would care
if you wore your ug-boots and hoody
down to the shops. Even the kaumatuas
need no better gears than a baggy tracksuit.
But here in Wellywood, we must toe the line
of fashion, living beyond our means
on student loans or the DPB.
“What small town hicks ever bargains on his
house being demolished about his ears?
Such things are unheard of in sunny Tolaga Bay,
or Nuhaka, nestled amongst the humps of
ancient whales. How can we sleep
secure when our homes are poised like
houses of cards, destined
to collapse before the bypass bulldozers.
“If you can face the prospect
of no more film festivals and flat whites,
find your own place in the country.
What it will cost you is no more
than you pay each year for some shabby
moldy flat. A veggie garden out the back,
and a short walk to the beach, enough
kai moana to feed the whole whanau
and then some.
“Stress causes more heart attacks amongst
city dwellers than any other factor
(the most common complaints
are high blood pressure and stomach ulcers,
brought on by over-working.)
How much sleep, I ask you, can one get
in an apartment with paper thin walls, the traffic
thundering past, the pounding beats from
the nightclub downstairs.
“If a rugby game summons the PM, she
speeds there by police escort.
There’s plenty of room inside the limo,
she can read, or go over her speech notes
as she races along. Meanwhile,
we’re crammed in a bus
or queuing at the gates.
Some lout swings
a beer bottle, another tries
to score with me,
steps on my toes.
Do you see all those catering staff,
bustling to and fro, keeping the bigwigs
fed and watered, their hangers on
getting their free booze in the corporate boxes.
“Outside the stadium, on park benches and under
motorway bridges, street kids sleep, and a homeless man
sways along, fallen off the wagon again. If a carload
of drunken rugby fans swerved off the road, what
would be left of his body? Who could identify bits
of ownerless flesh and bone? The poor man’s flattened corpse
would vanish along with his soul. And meanwhile, all unwitting,
the folk at home are busily chucking the pizza boxes into the bin
and grumbling about the biased ref, and the bloody Aussies.
The homeless man stumbles into death,
no spirits guide him to rarohenga,
no one wears the pōtae tauā , or calls
a last karanga, as he makes the lonely journey
to leap past the red fuzz
“There are other perils in Wellington, of various sorts,
what with earthquakes and gales,
windows blowing out all over the town,
So pray and hope that nothing worse
than pigeon poop
falls on your head – not
a window pane or a piece of a roof.
“After the game
some wanker in a flash suit
surrounded by admirers
walks straight into the choicest club
but the bouncer blocks my way
“Stop” he says.
I have no option but to obey –
what else can you do
confronted by a thug
twice your size? Walking home
under the watery glow of streetlights,
a wanna-be punk, reeking of hash
pulls a knife on me. “What are you looking at?”
he sneers in my face.
And what’s the point of calling the pigs
They’ll probably say
I brought it on to myself, f’ing nigger.
New prisons rising up all over, bulging
at the seams with my bro’s and sisters.
Even the cop’s early forebears
made sure the only prison stood
on marae land,
keeping us in line.
I could go on till the cows…
but it’s getting late,
and it’s a long way to Mahia (a long way to go)
don’t wanna get stuck in the rush hour jams
ka kite ano,
e hoa. Don’t lose touch.
Whenever you cruise home to Turangi
invite me over to share your lake and mountains,
watch your cuzzies ace the kapa haka champs.
I’ll put on my warmest woolies and make the trip
to those chilly heights – and listen to your rants
if you think I’m worthy…”
No hugs, no painful fairwells, “No tears bro.”
She just turns to face the road
smudge of her car
until it can be hidden
still raised in farewell
behind a finger
with her rants
down an empty street.
I pin them down
sketch their bright markings
in a heavy book.
I leave them
between the leaves.
Pieces. So many pieces, lying around… A piece of an hour, a name, a jersey… I bring them into existence, then leaving them gathering bright sparks of cyber-dust. Nothing is whole. Nothing is new. I have nothing new to give you.
At the end of the month applications are due for the MA course next year, and I have no idea what I’m going to submit. Poetry? Non-fiction? Probably not fiction unless they will except YA or children’s. But I have nothing new to offer. I don’t know if I was turned down last year because my application wasn’t good enough, or because I didn’t have a degree, or something else altogether... gawd, it’s such a horrible process. This whole “industry” works in horrible ways. I’m falling into love-hate. But I want to have time to write, and stimulation, others around me, feedback...
Sorry for the absence of blogging lately. I’ve been sick. I’m always sick, but I had a nasty stomach bug on top of the usual assortment. Turned my insides out a few times. Must have been an odd number of times because the right bits still seem to be on the inside.
Hey, Wellingtonians, have ya’ll voted? Last chance… And then to celebrate our first STV style vote, why not head down to Indigo to join in launching Tommy’s CD, 4000 Years. I’m told they’ll be on at 11pm – not 2am this time. Don’t know how accurate the source is though – Tommy himself has been hard to get hold of lately. Apparently I’m mentioned in the thanks but my name is spelt wrong. I’m chuffed anyway. Course, it could be that someone with a similar name to me is thanked...
I hear that Listener is sending one of their newest young darlings to Thailand (you know the boy, apparently he’s having a “full-blown affair” with Russell Brown. Or something). Anyway, he’s off to Thailand. Something about a potato… er… sorry… grain of rice. He was in our writing workshop, turned up late if he turned up at all, and his work… well, I probably can’t quote any of it, confidentiality and all, but my memory of it is of everything involving alcohol. Anyway, he dropped out, too many other commitments, blossoming journalism career… it was a shame, because a lot of people apply for the course, only twelve get in, and that year we were one down. One person missed out. And all of us had one less unique perspective. Anyway, ignore me, I’m just bitter. I mean, Thailand! I should write more drinking stories.
Notice how I’m so far into the blog and I still haven’t mentioned the Sunday Herald’s piece on That Man talking about his cure for homosexuality. Nor am I going to discuss it. He’s been given enough attention already.
I’m listening to The Green Room 003: (EAR)TH as I type. The only track I really like is Tommy’s. I think I’m too un-hip for the rest. Not that I’m saying Tommy’s un-hip! Just more accessible for me…
Anyway, speaking of pieces (what do you mean who was speaking of pieces? I was, just a minute ago, aren’t you paying any attention?) I’ve put some pieces of old poems together with some pieces that hadn’t found poems yet, and tried to make a sort of a sequence. It’s probably crap but I don’t know because I can’t seem to tell what is “good” anymore. So tell me. Whatdya reckon?
Listening to Ligetti
Prediction is difficult, especially about the future.
- Niels Bohr
The wind has dismantled the magnolia
petal by petal,
white scales cling
to the wet grass.
If we know the position and speed of the sun and planets
it should be possible to predict the onset of spring
and the series of events
that will lead to the fall
A good theory
makes firm predictions:
I have a theory
there will be no more flowers
the river freezes
within the ice flows.
You bring me
the first impatient strawberries
sour and full of seeds
I leave the flowers
in my chamomile tea.
I notice your hands, a world
away over the table.
Strings curl away from slender fingers
threads dance at the end of a bow.
I find myself touching
the outlines of words.
Between the notes
there is music.
I picked up my violin today
I thought my hands were broken
but the notes were exactly
where I left them.
A late frost had burned
the soft tips of the spruce
my feet left dark
bruises on the lawn.
Leaves of music turn
yellow in a closed drawer.
The composer turns west, retraces
the slow fall of the river.
cool spring waits
We speak in clouds
Life blooms from our lips.