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Matt Nippert - imaginary axeman, Auckland

Friday, September 24, 2004

Three floors down in the bunker

How does fashion take hold? I'm not talking about constructed product placement or media-junket content fillers, but real spontaneous crazes that come and go in a flash. You know, skirts atop jeans, or trucker caps askew. Next season, if see you trackpants with the right leg rolled up to the knee, blame Scribe.

He wore the getup receiving one of numerous awards last week at the Tuis. It was one of the later ones, after he'd probably run out of spare outfits. I'd never have really stumbled onto this sartorial insight if I'd stayed in line, and behind the velvet rope while at the Aotea Center. But, as I'm sure Gareth from The Office would say, who dares wins.

The media room, three-levels below ground, had the feel of a bunker. 10 minutes before awards were announced, on stage and on television, the winners were announced to the eager scrum. A few present txted friends in the audience. I wished I had been running a book, almost as much I wished we were allowed to smoke indoors. Walking the stairs, to reach fresh air, to pollute your lungs, grated almost as much as the Fanta-derived cocktails being served at Belini, that architectural shipwreck, beforehand.

Caught up with Sen Thong, editor and founder of NZ hip hop bible Back2Basics. The first time we'd met, the circumstances had been similarly glam, but slightly more sober and equally vacuous: the 2003 Knowledge Wave Conference. He had a zine, and I was about to start my job at Salient. Now we're both moved on, but we're still committal smokers.

Regularly walking the stairs meant I almost missed asking the winner of best gospel/christian album Muse what they thought of Brian Tamaki. Or Ned Flanders. Or that episode of South Park where Cartman forms a christian rock band, winning the race to produce a No.1 single by changing 'bitch' to 'jesus' in RnB covers. Their answers were vague, predictable and uninformed. Nice boys though.

Shayne Carter was stoked, and deservedly. Considering the reputation of RIANZ, and the Tuis generally as leaning towards pulp pop, it's understandable he should be pleasantly suprised. Steve Braunias is obviously a fan, on Page 94 this week he takes a glowing gonzo tour down south with Dimmer. (Talking of Biggles, does anyone know the status of his IP? There's bound to be an old Trust, grimly wringing whatever they can from the estate of W. E. Johns).

But back to Scribe, smoking, and asymmetrical leg tans. Avoiding the stairs, Thong showed me where you would never be harried by the health-conscious clip-board bearers. "This room'll be sweet," says Sen, "I know these guys".

Every 15 minutes the guys with the names printed in bold on the door would return, Scribe and P-Money sorting out a new outfit to wear for the camera. The regularity of visits, and being less aware of proceedings as I should have been, led me to wonder how many awards he'd won. The small cabinet in the Aoetea Center makeup rooms wasn't really sufficient, trophies bulging and threatening to skittle the unwary foot when Sen checked the count.

Staunching himself before the mirror, Scribe made that fateful decision, reaching down and rolling up. It was like a fashion-conscious high-school girl going to seven formals in one night, a need not to be seen wearing what you'd worn before. It looked different, for sure. And, he got away with it on the night. For the imitators that may come, they won't have national adulation to dim the critical eye.

After a fistful of Port Royal, we left The Man to His Night. But not before this scrum question: "When you travel to the 'states, will you be West- or East- side?" His answer:"I'm East Coast.." followed a pause as blue and red bandanas sized each other up. Then the kicker, "Of the South Island!" Respect. You've made the music your own.

Talking of respect, caught up with a brace of Naked Samoans: Shrimp and Mario. Their show bro'Town is getting props all over the 'hood, even one from that dude who won heaps of awards. It'd be good to see it the show figure in the ratings and then start appearing in the great National Conversation. A successful animation hub would give cartoonists a career path other than, as Kerry Prendergast said of Wellington's artistic community recently, "part of the employees in our caf├ęs and restaurants". So support scribblers and watch bro'Town. It comes recommended.

And if animation goes well, cartoonists like Tim Molloy might have hope of avoiding service-work. Last Friday Molloy won best cartoonist at the ASPAs. Last year, reading "The Ground! It Rushes Upwards", made me hope he goes far, and it is good to see kudos being bestowed.

Of course Molloy won his prize at a more edgy and less produced award ceremony than the celeb-stricken Tuis. There's already been a spoof, and a good one too, of the ASPAs from Dog Biting Men. As I know from experience, spin doctors are often dizzy and unbalanced, and just wish to say I'm happy raising my goblet of rock - brakedancing is for trackpant wearers.

(MediaCow has news that Fuse editor Paola Ghirelli is going. She seemed lovely the only time I've met her, but I agree with the Cow in celebrating the fact the six-issue trial period has proved Fuse is stillborn. In fact, considering how rare wholehearted agreement with Mr. Young is, it's almost worth a wake. Greg Dixon should be invited.)

But, reliving the past, belately covering the ASPAs: Pssst! Alan, fresh from appearing in cutting-edge reality-TV sensation The Swan, proved apt jeerleader for his merry crew from Craccum.

Bar manager Johnny Walker would have been left feeling Blue, after professional junket hitman "Damn" Ian Christie scoped out the mark and led a merry tour of single maltland. Christie is due to start a column at the new Sunday Herald, opposite no less, his old nemesis Deborah Coddington. An inspired editorial decision, although off the opinion pages things aren't sounding so promising on Sunday.

Speaking from the Vatican, the pontiff (another Hot Fashion Tip: big conical hats with gold trim are so in!) recently gave stern warnings not to do much work on Sundays. Nevertheless "Ghandi" Collins and his merry union were still happy to revel with the students on that messy Friday at the ASPAs.

A fine effort by Patrick's crewd son, convenor, arch-plotter and noted smut peddler. Getting the ceremony underway, Mary Lambie to the podium, and Hamish McKenzie sober enough to speak must have taken some doing. Bravo.

Random Addendum: Black humour

One potential the internet has for journalism is the building of a vast public database, achieved by posting transcripts of interviews online. Often when writing a lot of choice cuts get lost on the editors floor, and vanish from collective memory. Although since scooping is a contact sport this game is all theory. With feature writing however, where sometimes the best stories are about nothing, releasing a writers cut becomes possible. Here's some fillet Stasi:
A phone call to the Stasi: "Hello. This is Comrade Maier. My parrot has escaped from its cage. Should you catch it please note I do not share its political opinions."

Three prisoners meet in a GDR prison cell.
Prisoner No. 1: "Where are you guys here?"
Prisoner No. 2: "I was always five minutes early to work so they charged me with espionage."
Prisoner No. 2: "And why are you here?"
Prisoner No. 1: "I was always five minutes late for work, so they charged me with sabotage."
Prisoner No. 1 to third prisoner: "I was always on time. That's how they found out I had a West German watch."

Question: Why is it that Stasi toilet paper is always double-layered, despite the strict regulations regarding waste avoidance?
Answer: Because they have to send a copy of all crap to Moscow.

Two men talking in the street:
"What do you make of the political situation?"
"Well ... I think-"
"That'll do, come with me please."

- GDR Premiere Erich Honecker visits a Kindergartewn in Karl-Marx-Stadt. The children have been properly drilled for this important visit.
- "Little boy, who is your father?" Erich asks little Hans.
- Hans replies, "You are, Uncle Erich."
- Erich is please with this response and asks again, "Now tell me, who is your mother then?"
- "The GDR is, Uncle Erich."
- Erich is pleased again and asks another question. "And what do you want to be when you grow up, little one?"
- "An orphan, Uncle Erich!" answers little Hans.

BIG CREDIT: to the fine services of Frances Griffiths, Monica Rogers and Ruth Strauss from the German language department at Victoria University. We got cut, and lost your translations. (I'll buy y'all a beer when I'm next down in Wellington.)

Closing thought: Do repressive societies generate better black humour? It makes you think. If nukes in the Carribean and McCarthy in the senate gave us Dr Strangelove, maybe satirist should wind up the doomstay clock, or our people tonight. As a hawker in a crowded market, what sort of Sellers is Holmes?