Russell Brown's HARD NEWS

15th January 1999

Copyright © 1999 Russell Brown

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and greetings from Ericsson Stadium, the cellphone-sponsored redoubt of rugby league that this day is host to the late-90s be-in they call the Big Day Out.

Only a couple of hours from now, the gates will open and in will pour hordes of pre-millenial hipsters, toting their tribes, their tattoos and their television-inspired ironic understanding of the mass media.

They, we, all of us, will spend the day and on into the night wandering around, sitting down, standing up and queueing. I must say, I do worry for the state of all that goth makeup by the time Marilyn Manson hits the main stage. Maybe they'll come prepared for a quick touch-up in the loos, so to speak.

Some of the people who come to this event will be in possession of illegal substances which they will go on to consume. Myself, I'll rely chiefly on a capsule or two of The Bomb, which isn't illegal, but possibly ought to be. I remember when you got your ephedrine from mislaid asthma medication, not over the counter at the Verona.

We can only hope that the warm weather so far this summer has not finally broken. It's been "yes, we have no La Ninas" so far, with not a sighting of a tropical cyclone over the traditional holiday spots. Campground operators are now out for the blood of Augie Auer and his weather forecasting chums, whose predictions have not yet taken hold. But I suspect they will. Just not today, hopefully.

And anyway, what is it with the weather? Last year was the hottest here since records began. Some climatologists are talking about key primary industries having to up and move to different parts of the country in the next couple of decades - Kiwifruit in Canterbury, no less. Was El Nino the messiah of global warming or just a naughty boy? I guess we'll find out.

Anyway, apart from the nice weather, the holiday break was notable for a welcome absence of politics. There were those slightly unnerving pictures of Jenny and Burton at play, but mainly they all just shut up.

Shipley has now of course flown out to the the winter-seized wastes of North America, where she will get to meet President Clinton. This, we are blandly assured by the media, will be a "PR coup". I would think it's the least she's due, given the brownie points she's racked up lately.

We could hardly have bent much further over for the Americans, what with blocking labelling of genetically-altered foods on instructions from the Clinton administration, which is substantially funded by that fun-loving pesticide giant Monsanto.

Then of course we stood behind the US bombing of Iraq - even thought it's now clear that the Americans were in fact using UNSCOM for what most people would recognise as spying. I don't mind the Americans spying on Saddam. Fine by me. Kill him with an exploding cigar if you want.

But I do mind them compromising the United Nations, lying about it and then killing a bunch of people to cover up the lie. I want no part of that and I don't want my country endorsing it. Guess I'm out of luck.

The chief exception to the no-politics rule at home has unfortunately been Act. In his annual state of the nation address - no, I didn't know he did one either - Richard Prebble presented an alternative budget and appeared to suggest that his party would support the government through to November.

What's been completely stupid, though, is Act's Ken Shirley visiting the area of yet another Tame Iti publicity stunt - this time around ... where the locals have received some mock eviction notices, and a bit of council land has been occupied. Shirley declared that it better not get out of hand.

Which it hasn't. But that didn't stop him sending a "report" from the scene to the acting Prime Minister, Wyatt Creech. He'll no doubt hang in there hoping for more cheap populist mileage out of the Maori occupation. How desperate can these men get? Very.

The summer has also brought us 10 days of excellent test cricket, which will hopefully be enough to kill off thenever-ending whinge about the team - and maybe enough to kill of Martin Crowe's horrible Cricket Max. Cricket Max is cricket without nuance - and cricket without nuance, sir, is not cricket at all.

On the downside, for some unaccountable reason, the road death rate has blown out to more than double last year's. People have been crossing the centre line and wiping themselves out so badly that we can't even tell why or how they did it. Shudder ...

But let's not let that spoil the music, which is why we're here, the local article as much as Marilyn and Courtney. I'm amazed by how good and how varied the home shit has been in the past year - from Ermehn and Che Fu to Voom and the Kog Transmissions guys. It all, in a non-gerenic and all-encompassing huggy sense, rocks.

And mind the puddles ...


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

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