Russell Brown's HARD NEWS

28th November 1997

Copyright © 1997 Russell Brown

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Why did Paula Yates like Michael Hutchence?

Because he was so well hung. Thought we'd better get that out of the way. When I checked my email in Tuesday, there was message containing about 15 or 20 jokes like that. The headers suggested it had been forwarded and cc'd through a fair chunk of public-sector Wellington before I got it. We really are looking at a phenomenon of the Internet age.

It's sad about Michael Hutchence, of course. I never really liked his music, but he seemed clever enough and - after all the fuss about Lady Di - he arguably *was* hounded to death by the British tabloids. Even the day after his death, they did their vile worst - all running the story that he had died in the midst of some kinky sex game. They knew it wasn't true, but they didn't mind spitting on the corpse.

Hutchence's problem was that he didn't want to play any more. The tabloids hate that. He was Australian, too. The English complex about Antipodeans can tilt from neurotic to nasty quite easily, as the efforts of a few ex-public school pommy journalists are demonstrating while the All Blacks tour Britain.

Anyway, Hutchence did appear to have an excellent funeral, and I must say if I was going to have a funeral, I'd be delighted to have Nick Cave sing at it.

Speaking of Di, how pleasant it is to see Charles, Earl Spencer, up in court accused of being a complete and utter bastard. Charles, who you'll remember had the ear of the world at his sister's funeral as he lectured the Windsors on love and family values, is, of course, a faithless shit of some standing, and his current divorce proceedings indicate he's also callous, greedy and almost wholly appalling.

Further on the matter of celebrity, how weird is this Lauralee Martinovich business? Waikato girl goes all the way to runner-up of Miss World - but refuses to see her parents before the contest in Acapulco. They return angry and upset and claim her agent has stolen their daughter from them. The agent claims her parents threw her out on the street three years ago.

The parents come across as arseholes and the agent, who describes herself as having a "mother-like" relationship with her client, as just a tad strange. Lauralee, in an extraordinary poolside TV interview, goes with the agent. Wow. Perhaps it's all just a cunning stunt to get the women's magazines into a bidding war.

Speaking of magazines, Metro. Another month, another girly model cover. William Chen must get over this. Ditto for an apparent ongoing epidemic of the luvvies, manifest this month in Deborah Coddington's amazingly pretentious interview with a celebrity restauranteur in Parnell. It's not name-dropping, of course, because they're all his personal friends. Puke.

For real print media puke power, however, you can't go past Deborah Morris's guest column in the Evening Post this week. Judging by this mess, the Minister of Youth Affairs couldn't conjure a coherent thought to save her life. I wrote better essays than that in the fourth form.

On the local front, who noticed that two new political groupings set their sights on the Auckland City Council this week? The Labour-Alliance group launched quietly and will probably remain so until they have a slate of policies they can all live with, and a candidate for the mayoralty.

Such lack did not deter Auckland NOW, who are basically Act [] in drag - even the logos look the same. What they're doing is trying to emulate what the Alliance [] did a few years back, and make Auckland into a foothold for national success.

Like the Alliance, they can feed off dissent in a more established political party - in this case, Citizens in Ratepayers, some of whose members plainly think their own councillors are a bunch of idiots. Trouble is, it didn't work for the Alliance, and Auckland NOW are shaping up to be far less lovable than the Alliance were. Actually, I take that back, No one could be less lovable than Mike Lee was.

So is Christine Fletcher positioning herself to stand for the mayoralty as the Auckland NOW candidate? She must be considering it. There are rumours of a strong contender from the centre-left too. Given that Les Mills isn't even going to be in the country for the campaign next September, you'd have to conclude that he is, as Richard Prebble would say, dog tucker.

Speaking of dogs, gangs. And we now have the Harassment and Criminal Associates Bill. This legislation is a response to the "gang problem", and it gives the police yet more powers of search and surveillance.

It's also now an offence to belong to a criminal gang. A criminal gang, according to the legislation, is a group of three or more people with three or more serious offences between them. I think that would actually rule out quite a few families getting together for Christmas, wouldn't it?

So is the government really going to forcibly disband Black Power and forbid its members to associate? Apart from being stupid, that would be impossible. So presumably the law will be enforced at the discretion of the police. Laws enforced at the discretion of the police are generally a poor idea. Especially when offenders stand to go to jail.

Now, wasn't there someone famous who went to jail for belonging to a banned organisation? Ah yes, that's right. Nelson Mandela was his name. And yes it *is* the same thing. The principle is called freedom of association and it's kind of important in a democracy. Once you give up these things you usually don't get them back.

I'm 100% with the Alliance on this one, and good on them for refusing to support legisation which is really just a dangerous PR stunt.

It probably won't do Labour any harm to have been dragged into this by Moore and Goff, but that doesn't mean it's right.

Oddly enough, racist gangs were the subject of my very first media vox pop this week, after I was chanced upon by Bomber Bradbury and his cameraman in Lorne Street. The street was empty, so they had to pick me. I know that might seem a bit redundant, given that I here telling you what I think every week, but it was a wee thrill.

I'm all set to fulfill another media fantasy next week, when I turn in a sports story for a major publication - yes, I've been commissioned to write a fan's thinkpiece on the All Blacks. Choice. That'll teach those Sports Cafe bastards for not having me on.

Speaking of which, Graeme Hill's interview with Rolf Harris in this week's Sports Cafe turned into a fairly legendary piece of television, although they really should have sung 'Sun-Arise' and not 'Two Little Boys' if Graeme really had to play the didjeridoo.

Still, he's there, rubbing shoulders with the Men in Black, and I'm not, so I'll be shaking my booty at the Private Function than trying to get an hour or two's shut-eye before watching the All Blacks play Wales. Last time they beat us, the pubs all shut at six and the papers were just beginning to write about the recreational use of something called "the laughing weed". That was 1953. And some things don't change


    ==  ==      Russell Brown
  [ @ / @  ]                      
     /        ________________________________________
    (_)         "The views expressed on this programme
    ____)       are bloody good ones." Fred Dagg, 197?

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