On classic era The Simpsons and the longevity of generation defining culture

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I’m sitting here, watching classic episodes of The Simpsons at work (don’t ask why, but it’s my job, this isn’t procrastination) and a thought came to me. People won’t remember these episodes in twenty years time. The next generation won’t have the attention span to watch them because of the archaic animation. When they look back at The Simpsons to see what it’s like, they’ll likely go straight for the latest episodes, the best looking, but the ones which are a shallow immitation of it’s glory days. Because The Simpsons has now been going so long, and been so milked, that it isn’t certain that future generations will be able to look back to understand why it had the cultural impact it did. Seasons 1 – 6 (and arguably up to 9, but I’m going to call 1 – 6 the classic period), between 1989 and 1995 is the reason for The Simpsons having such longevity. It’s where all the good plots, jokes and character moments can be found. But people won’t necessarily know this in the future, unless they’ve been guided, they’ll just cherry pick any episode-and a lot of people will choose the episodes with the CGI’d animation-and thus will miss any actual reason why The Simpsons was as influencial as it was. And if they do go to the old episodes, they’ll find them difficult due to the animation, just as I find difficult watching a cartoon from the 1930s.

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Not everyone will of course. Some future people will be able to look past the animation of the early episodes and find the classic material within. I’m currently watching episode 24 from season 6, the one where Bart and his friends go on a mission to retrieve their towns stolen Lemon Tree, a symbol of Springfields origins, from neighbouring Shelbyville. It’s hilarious for so many reasons and inspired this whole post. Any maybe the animations not too terrible, and that future people will be able to look past that. But I worry that instead the 20 years of crap episodes will over shadow the few years of classics.

They could always remaster/re-animate the first six seasons, and I almost think they should, if only to keep this classic stuff alive for future generations. I’m starting to think like George Lucas here but maybe he was onto something. If he hadn’t remastered Star Wars (and made the prologue trilogy), would it still have the same cultural impact to this current younger generation? Those guys are still playing with Star Wars lego, it was one of the most popular christmas toys this past season. Surely Lucas’ recent efforts, tampering with his classic series, as awful as they may have been, are probably a large reason for Star Wars staying relevant. So maybe we need to remaster more classic shows, in order to keep them relevent for future generations. Or perhaps just The Simpsons because those first six seasons are absolute gold.

But then again, on the other side of the coin (because I’m a libra and have to survey all sides of the argument) we don’t really want to defile classic animation and make it all CGI and shit, do we? The old animation adds to a good portion of the charm of the classic seasons. If they were to spend all that money on upgrading early Simpsons, they’d need to make a lot of profit in return. I’m sure they would, selling it off to networks worldwide and creating a new line of merchandise to go with it. That’s what capitalism does. I hate to go too far in this direction as well, but at the end of the day, all this entertainment, it’s just distraction for the masses to make profit for few. So should I really be spending my time mourning a forgetting TV show. Probably not.

With all this I’m ignoring the fact that the show isn’t yet forgotten at all. I’m sitting here preparing this episode, and dozens more, so that they can be re-aired on New Zealand television (ok, so I did tell you what I do at my job). Once again, classic Simpsons will take it’s place just as early evening entertainment for the masses, just as it did twenty five years ago. This could carry on for some time. But at some point the mainstream re-runs will end, the jokes will be forgotten, the show will become a relic of a past genenation, just like early shows with some amount of cultural impact such as Happy Days or I Love Lucy. These shows were hugely popular, resonate with a few generations, but not mine. Or at least I haven’t bothered to check them out, I’m not hugely interested, because they look not very aesthetically pleasing. Why waste my time on old jokes? This is the same indifference that I’m expecting future people to have to the culturally important things of my youth, such as The Simpsons.

The original reason I started this post was to discuss whether milking every last drop of potential revenue from a successful cultural item such as The Simpsons diminishes it’s relevancy in time due to the excessive amount of poor quality content overshadowing what made it successful in the first place. This, I suppose, is a predominantly American problem, with any show successful on US television getting renewed for a crazy amount of seasons until the writing is sloppy, key actors have left and the fan base has stopped caring. The Simpsons (and it seems other cartoon series such as Family Guy or South Park) can I suppose go on for a greater amount of time than non-animated television series, so long as the voice actors, or suitable replacements, are around to voice the characters. Writers can be replaced, show runners can change, but the studios can keep on turning out material and thus revenue. Long running non-animated shows, that eventually have to change actors, perhaps run out of steam quicker. I’m sure there’s plenty of arguments against that last point, but my main point is, wouldn’t it be more beneficial if studios didn’t constantly feel the need to milk their product, but make have a good few runs until the inspiration has left, before said show has jumped the shark, and then wrap the whole thing up and package it (and perhaps remaster it) to be consumed for future generations?

To summarize this ramble – classic era The Simpsons rocks. But we only needed about ten years of it.

Big Day Out Auckland 2014 Review

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Shiitttt. It’s 2014 already? Time flies when you’re… ..doing nothing.

My first Big Day Out was in 2006, since then I’ve been to four others. 2014 made it my sixth, so it had a whole bunch of other festival memories to compete with. How did the change of location to Western Springs hold up against the tried-and-trusted Mt Smart? Was it still a good day in spite of artist clashes? Would there be teething problems such as really long drink lines?

Well, Western Springs proved a successful replacement for Mt Smart in many ways. One of those ways included the ease that one is now able to move between the two main concert areas, with the main stages (now called Tui and Kowhai) and the other stages (now called Tamaki and Aroha) within but a wee jog of each other. So in spite of the clashes, if you were keen for a mission as I was, you were able to catch a bit of everything with no real problems. Though there were the teething problems I anticipated. In spite of four beer gardens-one for each stage area and one at the Chow Town eatery-the drinks lines were utterly ridiculous. One was forced to wait more than an hour in the spiraling vortex of the queues that forcibly ate up the precious time of anyone who was brave enough to venture within them. I was not willing to spend my festival hours waiting for the chance purchase a maximum of two beers at a time, so a sober Big Day Out it would have to be. (There was also large congestion in the only entrance way to the Lakeside stage, filling the role of what once was the boiler room.) Unless they figure something out for next year, the Western Springs BDO’s will be intoxicated ones only for those with a genuine interest in choosing queues over live entertainment.

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Stolen from David Farrier’s twitter

But the live entertainment was plentiful. My buddies and I arrived in time for Portugal. The Man on the main stage, whom played what seemed like a yawn inducing set, although we really only walked past on our way to get wrist bands, check our bags and get orientated. The first band of the day we were to watch in full was Tame Impala, whom eased the crowd into the day with their increasingly popular psychedelic pop jams. Half Full Glass Of Wine was the highlight until Elephant forced everyone to get their jump on. Songwriter/singer of the group Kevin Parker is growing into a pretty awesome frontman, doing all the rock star stuff required with a healthy dose of self-aware humour. Looking upon the front row he said “judging by the good looking faces in the front row, we must be the coolest band here” or something to that effect. I was amused at the time. Though perhaps it’s not that funny in hindsight. Well anyhow, their set was good.

A bit of a wait until Primus on the main stage, so skipping The Naked And Famous, we went for a walk, got a burger and checked out this and that around the venue. This was our first of not many attempts to purchase alcohol, we quickly gave up and took our place within the D-Barrier for Primus. Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and recently returned original drummer Tim Alexander soon appeared, kicking some ass and causing some mayhem. Circle pits emerged as the band opened with Those Damned Blue-Collared Tweakers off Sailing These Of Cheese, continuing with a set of other classics that I didn’t know very well because I’d only just realised how awesome Primus are in the weeks leading up to the festival. Perhaps predictably Jerry Was A Racecar Driver and My Name Is Mud were my highlights of the set with Jerry providing me with my first and only crowd surfing opportunity of the day. The band brought with them two giant astronaut props which was something nice to look at, but the entertainment came largely from gazing in awe at the stunning musicianship of all in the band and marvelling at Claypool’s singular wit and talents. It was almost a bit unfair for a band of Primus‘ status to be playing middle of the day to a probably largely apathetic audience apart from the front-most pile of people. But we can thank the failing of AJ Maddah’s Harvest festival for having Primus instead gracing the Big Day Out bill, and our New Zealand stages.

I was next wisked to The Hives, playing straight after Primus in the main arena, whom provided perhaps my favourite set of the day. I had a phase of listening to the guys back in 2004/05, so it brought me some nostalgic vibes to hear songs such as Walk Idiot Walk, Main Offender and Hate To Say I Told You So live. Most recent album Lex Hives was strongly represented in the setlist, and this wasn’t a bad thing – the sing along of Wait A Minute went down well as did Ramones style crunch of Take Out The Toys. Their stage presense is just so good – the band was fully dedicated to providing an kick ass experience, decking themselves out in Mariachi gear and even dressed their stage hands up as ninjas. Lead singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist is an incredibly entertaining front man-dishing out one hilarious concert monologue after another, jumping around and frequently throwing himself into the audience. He quickly had the crowd in the palm of his hand and while it’s easy to be cynical towards rock show cliches, when you’re in the moshpit, there’s nothing more fun than being encouraged to jump in time with twenty thousand others of your peers. The set ended with Tick Tick Boom, and Pelle Almqvist forcing the entire field to sit down, with most people obliging, giving a moment of rest before exploding into one last mosh (Major Lazer later repeated this trick).

A note here about the main stage moshpits – they quickly turn into a dustbowl with all the trampling and stamping feet. The amount of dust thrown into the air got worse as the day progressed and the dry earth fragments caked my throat, beginning with The Hives. Perhaps next year they could chuck some sort of temporary flooring in the moshpit to avoid this slightly irritating feature of Western Springs.

The next hour or so is a blur (the only blur of the day sadly) as I checked out a little of ‘this’ and a little of ‘that’. The ‘this’ was Mudhoney, who sounded nice a grungy and had attracted a large crowd that looked straight out of 1991. The ‘that’ was CSS, whose second announcement addition to the bill finally provided me with a chance to jump around to their 2006 hit Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above. And boy did I jump. So much so that my cellphone flew out of my pocket for the second time that day. If you ain’t loosing belongings, you ain’t moshing right.

Now without the ability to be contacted, I walked on over to Arcade Fire, having missed their first two songs searching the Lakeside dance pit for my phone. But I soon forgot about that, probably about the time Win Bulter and company busted out Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) . This is their year (or perhaps it was 2010 and I’m just catching up now) and the rest of the globe has got some good festival sets to look forward to judging by this performance. I do particularly like the Reflektor tracks live; Here Comes The Night Time with its frantic calypso beats and tempo changes had the dance floor going nuts (surprising all with an explosion of silver confetti in the final section of the song). Through-out the set the band are continually swapping instruments, with two drum-kits on stage, multiple keyboards and odd shaped guitars. They are clearly one of the most musical bands on the line-up, and they have the songs to pull it off as well. Win Bulter proved to be a great frontman as well, not above throwing himself into the crowd, and standing on top of the monitors project his already huge presence out even further. The older songs were great as well, ending with the huge singalong of Wake Up, but it felt as if they were just warming up and it was already time for them to leave.

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I was so satisfied after Arcade Fire, I probably could have ended the day there. Yet I still had ahead of me enjoyable sets from Ghost, Pearl Jam, Deftones, Snoop and Major Lazer. Not to mention some delicious baby back pork ribs prepared by Nic Watt of TV show Tasting the Menu bought from his Masu stand up at the brand new eatery installation, Chow Town. Followed by an NY cheesecake also from Chow Town, which I ate while watching part of Eddy Veddar and co.’s headlining set. After finishing my cheesecake and having one last look at the Deftones set, I rejoined the main stage D-barrier for Pearl Jam‘s encore. They energetically ended with a cover of The Who’s Baba O’Riley, after a two-and-a-half hour set of hits, guest appearances (Liam Finn), giant swinging lights and a flapping industrial bird, leaving the many Pearl Jam fans wanting more.

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Major Lazer finished up on the Aroha stage with a crowd so packed it was nearly impossible to get more than half-way to the front. I danced, and kind of wished it was Blur, but then didn’t really because The Hives and other such bands had been so good. Plus Major Lazer had giant streamers, twerking dancers, Lorde and an MC that managed to get a large percentage of the crowd naked.

A successful day I would say, perhaps the only disappointments being the forced sobriety and the fact that all the Big Day Out bucket hat’s sold out before I could buy one. A sober Big Day Out is not necessarily a bad Big Day Out, and my head probably looks better without a bucket hat. So bring on next year I say!

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Why does North America hold such attraction to adventuring Kiwis?

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In the past, the typical destination for the traditional Kiwi O.E. (overseas experience) was the UK, the mother-land, returning home in search of adventure, to see the world, and perhaps find a nice European to marry in order to gain dual citizenship. The last part might be unlikely, but pretty much, Kiwi’s went to the UK, got drunk, worked crummy jobs or in some cases good jobs and then came back with tales of their adventures. But being in the modern age where travel options are expanding and more countries than ever are opening their borders to international travellers to come work and stay for an amount of time, the UK OE is now not as definitive as it once was. Sure, loads of young New Zealanders are still embarking to the cold of the UK to get their overseas kicks, but more and more are choosing places such as Germany, Japan, Korea, Canada and the US to have their major overseas experiences. North America and particularly the US are becoming increasingly more desired choices, in the form of Camp America exchanges, the J1 graduate working holiday visa or contikis and other such short-term travel options. What is it about the US that is attracting so many of our youth to it?

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Perhaps there are several obvious dimensions to that question. I’ve already mentioned one of them, the UK was previously one of the few choices if you wanted to work overseas. I believe Canada had it’s borders open a few decades ago, but perhaps only for Ski-field work. Maybe the previous generations held more of a connection to Great Britain as well, as the further along we get in New Zealand’s history, the less of the connection we retain to our colonial forebearers and the mother land that threw them on the boats and sent them over here. For those that have not travelled greatly there is most likely still an attraction to seeing Britain, Scotland and Ireland, the castles, green fields and iconic cities such as London and Edinburgh but there is now just as much of an attraction to seeing the plethora of other worldly option available to us. Some want to see the sprawling cities of Japan, while teaching english and taking in influential modern Japanese culture such as Anime and J-pop. Others head to South America, get lost in Brazil, Argentina or Colombia, hanging out with frequently easy-going of friendly Latin Americans. Still more others want to volunteer or work in Africa, helping out those less fortunate and seeing the sights of the Sahara.

But North America and particularly the US is rapidly becoming a contender for the default destination for New Zealanders looking for an overseas experience over those other choices. Perhaps with the United States being the dominant worldwide cultural force, it’s no wonder that so many Kiwi’s are aiming their dreams towards it. We are surrounded by images of America in popular culture; New York being the city of dreams, Chi-town, L.A., San Fran, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., the settings of so much film and television we perhaps already relate to them as if we live there. American history has been taught to us from a young age, from The Simpsons or high school history classes; we know as much about their battles for independence, civil wars and civil rights movements as we do about our own history. We’re surrounded by their fast food, they set the dominant trends on much of our fashion (hiphop, grunge, hipster-ism). We want to experience this world of popular culture for ourselves, live some kind of American dream, albeit briefly.

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New Zealanders are going to the States in spite of all the political and economic unrest occurring the country. In spite of the violence, poor healthcare and economic instability, Kiwi’s are still taking up the chance to visit the States on one year working visa’s, or in some cases even trying for green cards. But economically, it seems most of the world is going to the shitter, so this perhaps is not deterring people as much as one might think it would. Jobs are hard to get everywhere, in New Zealand, UK, Canada and the States, so if the same challenges are facing us everywhere, why let that stop us visiting a desired country. As much as we hear about the tough economic times in our country and overseas, mostly everyone I know that has gone to the States or UK has found work, and in many cases career related work as well. Maybe that says something for the good reputation of the Kiwi work ethic internationally, or perhaps we’re just willing to go hard to make it in spite of the odds.

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There are still restrictions on getting working holiday visas to the States, you can only currently get one within a year of graduating, so this makes it difficult for many people to be able to stay there for a longer period of time. Many people choose instead to get the three-month visa waiver, see a bit of the country, go for a road trip and then move on. So while the US is becoming more and more a destination of choice, perhaps the restrictions will keep people spread amongst the various international alternatives. I myself nearly took up the J1 working visa but ran out of time, and I’ve now been pursuing other options for an OE, which include visiting the States. Perhaps I’ll get their and find the grass is not necessarily greener. Most people seem to have a fairly sobering experience once they get to the States or other international locations they’ve been interested in.

What are your thoughts on Kiwi’s looking to States as a potential OE location? Why does it have such interest for young New Zealanders? Have you got any personal experience of the States to shed light on the topic?

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Favourite Albums Of All Time!…The Chills – Soft Bomb

Finally got a copy of Soft Bomb by seminal Dunedin band The Chills, an album I love dearly but for some reason never owned a hard version of until now. I’d passed up on buying a vinyl copy from Tony at Tootone Records in North East Valley a few years ago, something I regret, especially as because on the day I was strongly considering purchasing it Martin Phillipps walked in, trading in some of his massive vinyl collection to Tony. Would have been the perfect opportunity to get the vinyl signed. Never the less, I didn’t want to appear the over zealous fan. If i was in that situation a second time around, I would most definitely not care at all about showing my appreciation to the man who created the music.

Soft Bomb is The Chills’ follow up to probably their most highly regarded studio album, 1990′s Submarine Bells. Submarine Bells is a classic of Indie Pop, featuring thoughtful and elloquent lyrics, catchy and inventive melodies and classic tracks such as the aptly titled, Heavenly Pop Hit. It’s a strong album, but not my favourite Chills album; that honour would go to it’s follow up, the slightly more sprawling Soft Bomb. Either that or Kaleidascope World, you can’t really go past the early singles for evidence of the magic of the peak of the ‘Dunedin Sound’, if I am permitted to use that controversial label.  

Soft Bomb was the big album that would break The Chills internationally. The Chills were now signed to States label, Slash Records, a subsidiary of Warner and the extra cash of a major label can be heard in the albums slicker production values, compared to earlier Chills albums and to other Flying Nun acts. Many Flying Nun purists possibly don’t feel the big studio production benefits the sound of The Chills and Martin Phillipps has told me he himself prefered the demo versions of these tracks to the final versions. I on the other hand love the huge drum sound and crisp, energetic guitars. It’s certainly removed from the raw, reverb-smothered vibe of Pink Frost, but Martin Phillipps also wrote great mainstream pop as well as atmospheric, rough post-punk. This is his great, slick pop album.

The songwriting is varied and of an extremely high calibre. Over the course of 17 tracks Phillipps explores many styles; piano ballads (Song For Randy Newman Etc.), brooding blues (Entertainer), dark thumping rock (Background Affair), hooky clever pop (Male Monster From The Id, Double Summer). Male Monster From The Id (check the video out here) is the album opener and also album and career highlight for me. It’s simple pop, but the lyrics are great, and the melodies incredibly infectious. Sleeping Giants is a two part epic, with an intro of accordian, piano and a reverby marching band bass drum leading into the energetic, punky second section. In the song he calls on giants to rise up and save people and their culture, influencing them and giving them direction to move forward. Here’s a section of the lyrics:

“For it seems all cultures dream
They have a giant who is sleeping
Or a king who will return in times of need
To fight for setting his people free

They teach the kids which fads to follow
So they’re unaware tomorrow
When another crippled culture
Dies in the shadow ‘neath the corporate vulture”

An inspired lyrical theme, with brilliant melodies to accompany it. I wonder if the corporate vulture line was inspired at all by his experiences being a cog in the big business machine in the States. Sadly I can’t link the song to you as it isn’t on YouTube, or Spotify. I will upload the song or provide a link when I can. It’s a shame that a song as good as this is as difficult to find as it is.

The album also contains several entertaining interludes, Soft Bomb I, II and III and there is no harm in trying and there is no point in trying. These interludes give the album some kind of arch and tie the seperate stories and styles together. A sprawling album in the vein of The White Album or Sandinista! yet held together in a much tighter and more thoughtful way than both those albums. To me, the album is in the same league as those classics.

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A high point of the The Chills career and of New Zealand music in general, it’s a real shame that Flying Nun have not done more to get these classics back out there in record stores. The album has not been re-released, is out of production and quite possibly caught up in some copywrite hell due to The Chills being dropped from US label Slash records soon after the release of Soft Bomb. It was by chance I found the second hand CD sitting in the NZ section of Real Groovy in Auckland. If you do find a copy of this album, and it will most likely be on Trademe or Ebay, I assure you that you won’t regret the purchase. Martin Phillipps and the pop gift and for a time he was on top of the world. This album is the soundtrack to that time.

Of course what goes up must come down, and although Martin Phillips and The Chills career after Soft Bomb continued, he would not have that level of international influence behind him to realise his visions again. Perhaps he prefers it that way, he can have total control, and doesn’t have to be a part of the corperate music world. He still plays excellent gigs occasionally around New Zealand, including a packed one just recently at the Botanical Gardens in Dunedin. I guess all that is another story however, for another blog.

The Chills Documentary 1992

Here’s an interview with Phillipps from 1992, which gives insight into the break up of The Chills as well as the many stresses and difficulties throughout their career. It is a refreshingly frank piece of journalism and includes interviews with previous Chills, who give some of the reasons for why Martin struggled to keep line-ups together. It’s a shame the drama following The Chills often overshadowed the brilliant music.

[Concert Review] Rodriguez (Logan Campbell Centre, Auckland, 17/03/13)

Images taken from http://13thfloor.co.nz

Most people know the story of Sixto Rodriguez by now; a Detroit folk singer who released two critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful albums in the early 70s, who disappeared from the music industry for thirty years to work as a labourer and pursue a University education, only to be contacted in the late 90s with the news that he was huge in South Africa. Those South African fans had thought him dead, and when he travelled to the Africaan country to perform some shows soon after, he had know idea the huge crowds and the star treatment that would await him. The documentary however left out the fact that he had a fanbase in Australia and New Zealand and had already toured down under in the late 70s. Never-mind, the documentary tells a good story and is largely responsible for the worldwide resurgance of interest in this once obscure singer-songwriter.


Some of his old fans and many of his new ones turned up last Sunday night to see the man, the enigma, the street boy in person. Rodriguez himself didn’t disapoint, offering versions of his classic songs delivered with a voice that sounds like it has not aged at all in the last forty years. Accompanying him were a group of New Zealand session musicians who provided authentic reproductions of the arrangements found on the original albums. Yet perhaps due to the musicians not being completely comfortable with the material, probably having learnt it only days or hours before, or perhaps due to Rodriguez’ increasingly frail demeanour, the concert did not explode with a terrible amount of urgency. This could have also been due to a fairly passive crowd, who largely remained seated for all 90 mins of Rodriguez’ performance, in spite of yells from many hecklers pleading with the crowd to stand up.

I myself wondered why they didn’t stand. As Rodriguez performed classic after classic off his first two albums, such as I WonderOnly Good for Conversation and Sugarman I could not help but rise and find a position in the aisle where I could dance and sing along. This could be a problem with seated gigs in general; or with concerts that attract a largely middle aged and over demographic. Rodriguez communicated with the crowd between songs by telling jokes, offering humourous wisdom and looked dapper in a black outfit and shades. Age may have taken away much of Rodriguez’ sight but none of his style.

While the audience gave a tepid response during songs, they redeemed themselves by expressing their enthusiasm as Rodriguez limped off the stage, helped by his guitarist and some of the road crew. After an extended standing applause, Rodriguez found his way back to the microphone to deliver two more songs. First a cover of Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, sung probably closer to the album version than Dylan himself will ever peform live and finally I Think Of You off the singer’s second studio album. It was a tender finale, and as Rodriguez cautiously made his way off the stage, I was left to wonder how the man’s career could have been different if he’d only have the chance to tour like this forty years earlier.


Back in the Daze music video shoot

Ended up shooting a video for a recent rap track made with my friends Harley Neville and Guy Pigden of Pigville Productions this Saturday just been. The video features much goofing off, with all three of us using the inspiration  of looking back at our youth to come up with visual gags and comedy skits. One of the skits included dressing up as future elderly versions of ourselves and attempting to engage in youthful pursuits such as skateboarding and basketball (influenced by the Beastie Boys video for Ricky’s Theme). Another involved Guy Pigden dressed as a nerd getting gangster up in a children’s playground.

We also found some pretty cool locations to rap in front of, both parodying rap clichés at the same time as paying homage to others. One particularly serendipitous film-making moment happened after pulling up to a graffiti covered dairy. I’d had the idea of leaning against the dairy playing the part of ‘street rat’ type youths and having a group of girls walk passed that we would check out in a suitably dodgy fashion. By luck there happened to be three South American girls sitting on a bench next to the dairy and with a bit of encouragement we managed to convince them to join out shoot, playing the part of the girls to be checked out. They seemed to enjoy the experience and with hope it’ll make an interesting part of the video.

The end of the shoot also featured me shaving my hair off for the Shave for a Cure Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand fundraiser. We decided to include this as part of the shoot as the opportunity to bust some rhymes while shaving my own head proved too perfect to pass up on. Whether or not it makes the final cut remains to be seen.

Below are some photos from the shoot. The video should be out in the coming weeks, but in the meantime check out the song on soundcloud - Back in the Daze.

Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

That Emmanuelle Riva was not given the Best Actress award for her performance in this film is criminal. The 85 year old plays Anne, a once highly skilled pianist and wife of devoted husband Georges who is faced with dwindling physical and mental health after suffering a series of strokes. Georges, payed by Jean-Louis Trintignant takes it on himself to care for Anne as he obliges her wishes of not to return to a hospital during her last days.

It is a theme that all of us can relate to in some way, either though watching loved ones fade away in a similar way, or through imagining our own challenges that are to face us in old age. For this reason as well as the film’s expert execution it is not surprising that the film has picked up such acclaim, with Michael Haneke recieving his 3rd Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes as well as the Best Foreign Film award at the 70th Golden Globes and at the 85th Academy Awards. Haneke directs his elderly actors through one demanding scene after another, particularly from Riva, who gives a powerfully dedicated performance as a paralysed stroke victim. I had become so immersed by the performance that it was not until I left the theatre I was reminded that I was viewing the work of an actress and not the actual fading of health of a person on screen. It seemed to me it must have been very demanding for an 85 year old to play a role like this with such conviction. Jean-Louis Trintignant should also not be overlooked, having returned to the screen after a 14 year absence to bring to life this performance of a man struggling to cope with the pressures of watching his life companion fade in front of his eyes while using much of his strength and sanity trying to do justice to her last wishes.

The film focuses on a more specific and tender subject matter than Haneke’s previous films, although is not absent from the dark and bleak. The film is still a tale, and in spite of the believability of the actors and the situation, the films finale (and somewhat it’s beginning) do fall into more melodramatic territory than what another director playing the subject matter straight perhaps would. Not to say that these events could not happen in real life, but they are at times taken to their most depressing and anguished extremes. Illness and death in old age that I have witnessed have never been as bleak as this, but then this is a film, not real life and a tale taken to such dramatic extremes as this does make one ponder mortality, old age, the treatment of our elderly and the nature of love. For a film to make one reflect on topics such as this, while being a gripping and expertly executed example of cinema, must deserve all the acclaim given to it.