October 29, 2005

big zigzag

Awesome holiday:

- Ferry ride down through the Marlborough Sounds - there's always something comforting about going to the South Island. It's possible to put aside thoughts of bird flu and terrorism for a bit.

- Carousel gig at the Mussel Inn on the outskirts of Takaka. A beautiful concert, and the thought that these four people are getting funded by Creative NZ to play music all up and down the country in those kind of venues is pretty inspiring (not to mention Eli just having finished his PhD). I love acoustic strings just as much as I love jagged electric sounds, and the mandolin/guitar/cello/violin lineup was perfection, with warmth and elegance. And of the various amazing musicians from Wellington, Fran Mountfort's become a good friend. There is still room for a banjo though - it would fit right in tonally...

- Also great to talk with the locals afterwards. There was a genuine regard for good music, a warmth towards Dave Dobbyn, and another guy was into Karlheinz Stockhausen. So much for hicksville.

- We went to see some glow-worms after this.

- And the following day went out to Wharariki Beach at the base of Cape Farewell. Arriving there I had to step back and was momentarily blown away by the beauty of it. Must be sacred ground. I got a rush of national pride - and had my first swim in the sea for the season.

- Then I got a plane up to Auckland - looking at the country below like a map spread out. Couldn't see the mountains but Lake Taupo and the Taranaki bight were visible. Arriving in Auckland the shuttle into town took as long as the flight from Nelson - the tangled mass of traffic-laden roads looks like a complete mess compared to Melbourne which is bigger but functions properly (though driving there I did notice a lot of no right turn signs blocking off the routes I'd planned to take). Why can't there be trams every six minutes in Auckland?

- Diamanda Galas concert! More blues than opera, including a few songs that Johnny Cash had also done. Galas' piano playing really stood out, while her voice was a low growl more often than a shriek. She's in total control, and the audience loved her. She's the prototype that goths are imitating. And better than the Nick Cave gig I saw in Melbourne. I bought a copy of her La Serpenta Canta ('the serpent sings') album.

- I played electric banjo at Auckland's Vitamin S night on Wednesday. I was assigned to improvise with with a bass player and an electronics & clarinet guy. The first two pieces were good but the third merely repeated what we'd already done. The bass player was a bit 'busy', kind of like my free playing a few years ago, but as the out-of-town guest I got to do another set with another guy on electronics. I got a few compliments for my banjo playing - James Robinson who I'd bumped into at the Diamanda Galas concert thought I had an 'autistic energy'. A couple of years ago Antony Milton called me 'Wellington's master of pseudo-autistic intensity'. Hmm...

- Back to Wellington on the train down through the North Island - Tongariro National Park scenery much better than you see from a car.

- Work again at Kapiti Observer for another week and a bit to pay for the financial damage incurred by all the above.

- Then shifting to Nelson next weekend. First item of business there is to walk the Heaphy Track...

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October 22, 2005

guilty guilty guilty

Diamanda Galas plays in Auckland on Tuesday! I got my ticket (front row) today and will head up there over the weekend. It's also a chance for me to play some free improvised banjo at the Vitamin S night on Wednesday.

So everything's going pretty well for me, assuming I can find a summer job. I've got the journalism diploma now so fingers crossed that'll make jobhunting easier.

I'm also getting out of Wellington - I feel I actually left town in March, and having returned from Melbourne it feels like I'm just here on a visit. I'm moving to Nelson in a couple of weeks for the summer. Depending how the summer goes it might be worth spending next year in Nelson and doing a course at the school of music there, as a prelude to heading for Europe. I'm looking forward to spending more time outdoors, exploring Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes National Parks etc

We're also going to Australia, specifically Gosford, an hour north of
Sydney, for January which should satisfy my immediate travel urges.
The Stooges are playing at the Big Day Out! So that'll be worth
seeing. And I can record the second half of my 'Australian' album
After Maths & Sciences over there, it's got some quite different
sounds from my earlier works (banjo / computer / field recordings)...

The NZ Herald was interesting today - as well as discovering the Diamanda Galas concert I saw this article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/11/story.cfm?c_id=11&objectid=10351401

I had some leads on this issue but kind of lost my nerve on trying to follow up the story last year as I would have made enemies and failing shorthand was a bit of a psychological blow. But the story's getting out, as I knew it would.

There was also a 50-word brief in the paper last month about the recycling of polystyrene from the film sets into under-floor building insulation (though not asking questions about the health issues of working with polystyrene, or why they didn't recycle the vast quantites of polystyrene from Lord of the Rings).

It'll be interesting to see what happens if the unions pick a fight with Jackson... I noticed on his Wikipedia entry that 'Despite this perfectionism, he has a reputation for requiring a significantly smaller budget than his peers.' - I think
it's obvious that that's because of the relative cheapness of New Zealand crews, or 'Mexicans with cellphones' as they're known here. If the industry became unionised it could cause a major shakeup.

Anyway I've now passed shorthand so am eligible to officially register as a journalist. I even joined the union, after they were on strike at the Kapiti Observer this week and I decided not to cross the picket line and be a scab. Diane the editor didn't mind and the other reporters thanked me. I had Billy Bragg singing 'There is Strength in Our Union' in my head all of Tuesday...

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October 19, 2005

mixed bag

We got 50 or so people along on Friday, so almost covered our costs.
Everyone from Wellington loved Paekakariki, with the sense of openness
and sound of the sea. That was part of my motivation for putting the
event on, to bring people out to Kapiti. We watched the sunset as a
prelude to the concert.

Only downer with the weekend was I hurt my back on a trampoline (whiplash from landing on my front). I spent Monday recovering and reading George Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia'. My back was still a bit sore but much better Tuesday so I went out to work - but the reporters were on strike. I wasn't willing to be a scab so stayed outside with them - hope I haven't sunk my career already! Am heading out there again now...

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October 12, 2005

once in a while, something good happens

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I passed shorthand!!! The dark cloud lifts, massive relief etc. Now I'm eligible to become an accredited journalist. I feel like a human being again and can get on with my life!

Make sure you come along on Friday. Send me an email (fiffdimensionATgmailDOTcom) saying you saw it here and you can come to the gig at the 'mate's rates' price of $5. It is a bit of a trip out to Paekakariki from Wellington but there's a great beach, Queen Elizabeth Park nearby etc. Make a day of it, it'll be fun. I'll be able to celebrate...

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October 10, 2005

3 to go

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I was up bright & early this morning, full of confidence and having practiced shorthand every day last week... but the class this morning went as badly as ever. There was one passage where I came close to getting it, I was keeping up all the way, until I got distracted for some reason and completely lost the plot towards the end.

Two more attempts this week, then one more next week. I feel pretty low. The way the narrative's supposed to go is that I had my dark-night-of-the-soul period in 2003, then did the journalism course and was able to sort my life out. But instead I've swapped one kind of torment for another - feelings of frustration and low self esteem and failure. I've achieved almost nothing with my life, apart from a series of albums which hardly anyone has heard. Going around again in circles here. If I could pass the course it'd break the chain?

Looks like I'm getting out of Wellington for the summer, maybe leaving for good this time. This city gets me down. I'm incredibly fortunate to have an understanding girlfriend in Nelson - who's put in several hours helping me practice the shorthand, hope it's not wasted - so I can move down to stay with her for a bit. Get a job, play music in a less competitive & snobbish environment than the 'Creative Capital' (capital in the economic sense, thereby degrading the whole notion of creativity), try and get back on my feet. Cynthia says she looks forward to getting back the Dave she knew in Melbourne - I was much happier there, not having to think about shorthand, though living in a fool's paradise as I was only postponing it. It's just a miracle that she has the patience to put up with my current melancholic period.

I've been getting fat & unfit since coming back to Wellington, not enough exercise. Time to head off to the gym - right now, hopefully cheer myself up - and do some more study before bed. I'm not beaten yet.

Oh, and there's this gig coming up on Friday, in Paekakariki. Come along and see my good side...

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October 06, 2005

Come to Paekakariki next Friday

paekakariki flyer small.jpg

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October 03, 2005

all or nothing?

Less than two weeks to go, rushing towards some kind of apocalypse. I'm absurdly busy this week with shorthand classes in the mornings, out to work at the Kapiti Observer in the afternoons and trying to organise the Ascension Band gig in Paekakariki on October 14th.

I spent last week getting our funding application for Fringe 2006 ready, and then since I had work at Kapiti on the due date I had to delegate the job of finishing and delivering it... it went to the wrong office and so might not get accepted.

Shorthand classes are hell on earth, though not as bad as the worrying about it in between times.

Had dress rehearsal for the gig on the 14th last night, four hours setting up the lights & gear. Was good to have a band to play with, though whether we've been dealt a mortal blow by allegations going around about me remains to be seen. I suspect it's that that cost us the slot in the Punk Fest on Oct 23rd.

Have to leave to go out to Paraparaumu now. Can I hold on for another fortnight? Would be nice if the nervous breakdown can wait until after then...

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