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Issue 16, 2017

Issue 16

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News

  • We Have Power Campaign

  • The United Future Tuition Trade Off

  • Garbage Patch Suffocating Marine Life

  • Ethical Investment for VUW

  • MPs Attempt to Convince Pasifika People to Care About Them

  • Not So Environmentally Friendly

  • A Precarious Position: The State of Abortion Law in New Zealand

  • Fire Don’t Walk With Me

  • Features

  • minimalism

    Stop Telling Your Poor Friends to Try Minimalism

    – SPONSORED – A month ago, my middle-aged neighbour disappeared, leaving all of his belongings in the house and locking the doors behind him. Yesterday, I watched out the window as the landlord gave up waiting, broke into the flat, and began loading clothes, CDs, furniture, and electronics onto a trailer to take to the […]

    by

  • ali

    Chopping/growing

    – SPONSORED – Apparently there is power in changing your hair, I was told by a friend it was like a magic trick. I stand looking in the mirror considering cutting my hair off as a way of coping with a current sad and stressful situation. It would be nice to feel powerful. It would […]

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  • dan

    When The Past Whispers… Wicked Things

    – SPONSORED – Black Sheep and the Villains of NZ History   Black Sheep crept up on me…. Not in a field or a dream — but on my phone, in my ears. No, not the weird splatter film of 2006, but a podcast, on “the shady, controversial and sometimes downright villainous characters of New […]

    by

  • facebook

    Next Gen Gentry

    – SPONSORED – In an increasingly secular age, we often look to technology as our salvation. In borrowing that narrative from religion, we treat every new development, from the steam engine to CRISPR, as either the Second Coming or the herald of an apocalypse. Social media is a complicated case of this. While it is […]

    by

  • minimalism

    Stop Telling Your Poor Friends to Try Minimalism

    – SPONSORED – A month ago, my middle-aged neighbour disappeared, leaving all of his belongings in the house and locking the doors behind him. Yesterday, I watched out the window as the landlord gave up waiting, broke into the flat, and began loading clothes, CDs, furniture, and electronics onto a trailer to take to the […]

    by

  • ali

    Chopping/growing

    – SPONSORED – Apparently there is power in changing your hair, I was told by a friend it was like a magic trick. I stand looking in the mirror considering cutting my hair off as a way of coping with a current sad and stressful situation. It would be nice to feel powerful. It would […]

    by

  • dan

    When The Past Whispers… Wicked Things

    – SPONSORED – Black Sheep and the Villains of NZ History   Black Sheep crept up on me…. Not in a field or a dream — but on my phone, in my ears. No, not the weird splatter film of 2006, but a podcast, on “the shady, controversial and sometimes downright villainous characters of New […]

    by

  • facebook

    Next Gen Gentry

    – SPONSORED – In an increasingly secular age, we often look to technology as our salvation. In borrowing that narrative from religion, we treat every new development, from the steam engine to CRISPR, as either the Second Coming or the herald of an apocalypse. Social media is a complicated case of this. While it is […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • Albion Place

    Over the last decade, Dunedin has established a rapidly growing and developing music scene, the most notable act to emerge of course being Six60. The international and local success the band found has created something of a new wave of music in the city, and at the forefront of this new wave is Albion Place. Releasing their first EP back in 2014, the band encapsulates the Dunedin student lifestyle, with a gritty but welcoming sound that resonates with the echoes of a day-long Castle Street party. Their latest single “Easier” follows the release of their self-titled EP earlier in the year, and sees the band adopting a larger sound while still retaining that essential Otago spirit. Ahead of their upcoming four date tour around New Zealand, I interviewed the band’s front man Micah Ray-Davis.

     

    The Dunedin music scene has witnessed such a great revival in the last decade with acts like yourselves, The Shambles, and Soaked Oats. Could you pinpoint at all where you think this new wave has come from?

    Strange you should say that, my mum was asking me that just last night. Yeah, it’s pretty sick, there’s so much going on. Shame there’s not many places to play, but there is a huge amount of musical output. In terms of tracking it down to a single moment, Six60 were definitely up there, obviously GROMz as well — their album just blew up on a national, even international scale, [and] people sort of realised what you can do. Dunedin has a rep for being pretty humble for the way people go about things, but then seeing someone go from nothing to something in such a short amount of time is crazy. And on top of that, Chick’s Hotel, which used to be a venue out in Port Chalmers, kind of converged into a recording studio recently. So, accessibility to things like that are key. But it’s just great to be part of it.

     

    Encapsulating the Otago student lifestyle seems to be one of the core ideas of musicians like you and your contemporaries. When articles come out disparaging this lifestyle, do you think it impacts the scene in anyway? Or do just you carry on regardless?

    It totally does, it’s not just the articles from Stuff — it’s the university itself. We tried to put on a show at Castle Street recently and it was pretty untimely. It was a year after the Six60 balcony crash. But we took a lot of precautions to make sure it was safe; we had security and made sure the flat itself didn’t have any balconies or anything like that. We got in touch with police and they gave us the thumbs up, we got in touch with Campus Watch and a few other stakeholders and we had the thumbs up from everyone. But then we had a meeting about half an hour before the gig was set to start and the university told us we’d be kicked out if we went ahead. So there’s a lot of pulling and tugging with the student centre authorities. But I don’t think it’s a “screw the system” kind of relationship, it’s more like “how can we celebrate this culture while keeping it safe?” We feel like we’ve definitely been on the exploited end of that on a couple of occasions. I guess it’s just recognising it’s an issue and trying to do what we love to do.

     

    The first EP came out in 2014, and the track “I Will Not Forget” seemed to just explode. Did you ever figure out why the track came out as virally as it did?

    Nah, I don’t think I really understand it myself! We were really young when we made it, so we had no expectations of the song. But it just seems like with Spotify nowadays, it makes it easier for songs to just blow up. So it’s all about the platform, and if people like it we’re stoked.

     

    Do you think streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have kind of helped detonate your career on the local and international scene?

    Absolutely, it’s a totally different environment to how it was even ten years ago, but I think for bands like us it can be beneficial and we’ve just got to make the most of it and use it for all its advantages.

     

    Your second self-titled EP came out at the start of the year and you managed to enlist Lyall Moloney [Australian hip-hop producer] to come and help work on the project. It’s a collaboration I wouldn’t normally expect because of the contrast in genres; how did you find the process of working with him? Was your approach quite different in terms of how you made music?

    It was great. It was real cool because we didn’t use an official studio; we just used someone’s house in Wellington and set up there. He was really experienced and he’s a great dude/character. It was interesting; we kind of used electronic drums and stuff like that which we’re not really used to, but it was interesting to see his approach to that, and we learnt from it and came up with something we’re stoked with. It was something we felt we could build on, which is something we’re doing with this next album.

     

    “Easier”, the latest single that has spurred this tour, is quite a notable pivot from your older work; it’s groovy but gives the instrumental a lot more room to move. Did Lyall help inspire this change, or was it just a direction you seemed to come naturally to?

    Yeah, he had some really interesting points to say about using the “less is more” philosophy, which is something I hadn’t really considered in great depth before. But it was great to reflect on that process and come out with something that I guess is minimal in its instrumentation. We’ve really enjoyed the process of making the song; it goes down a slightly different path, and a lot of the songs we’re writing on this new album are slightly different from that too. Because we just like making different kinds of music, aye?

     

    Have there been any artists or albums catching your attention as of late?

    Heaps heaps heaps. I’ve been listening to a lot of Paul Simon recently, I think he put a new album out last year, but it’s his early stuff I’ve really been getting into. In terms of more modern stuff, there’s a couple of guys. Nick Hakim, he just put out his new album which is absolutely fantastic and again uses that kind of minimal sound to create some mean grooves, and that’s something that this other guy from Australia, Jordan Rakei, does. He put out an album last year that’s kind of in the same vein, it just has a lot going on but you know, not much, and achieves a lot with a little.

     

    So, you probably find people like Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, etc. to be your influences for the most part…

    Yeah just kind of in terms their approach to music rather than their actual songs and stuff, just the way they see it is really inspiring to me. To be able to share poetry and emotion are just what I love about making music.

     

    What are the plans for Albion Place going forward from this tour? Any plans or ideas that you’re looking to explore?

    Yeah, so we’ve got our first album recording session next week. I think we’re going do it over two or three sessions, and do it slightly DIY at home as well. After that, we’ve got a few festivals lined up for the summer, and we’ll do another tour; I’ve started planning an Australian tour so it would be sick to get over there for the first time, do a few shows. It’s very early days in the organisation but it’s coming along.

     

    Albion Place’s latest single “Easier” is out now on any sensible streaming service. They are performing in Wellington at Meow on August 11.

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  • The Tomorrow People

    In the Adam Art Gallery’s current exhibition The Tomorrow People, Claudia Dunes and Rainer Weston’s work is on unsteady footing.

    Of other spaces (arch) and (drape) comprise two 32-inch screens: one mounted upright and the other lying down, as though asleep. Both show soft dirt, marred by heavy vehicle tyre tread. These are photographs used for computer-generated imagery, and the data embedded in them seems to effect lighting changes, so that the patterns pulse faintly. This oscillation makes me seasick when I look at it for too long, and I’m still unsure if there is any real motion here. Thick strips of vinyl are draped over both screens, a fraction of the images cropped out of view.

    I see myself in the vinyl, and in the tyre tracks. I am languid, liquid, reflective, at once there and dissolving away. Slippery — baby, I want to be a speed racerand yet static, tyre tracks just given up the chase.

    In of other spaces (arch) and (drape), Dunes and Weston locate our place immediately after something has happened, a truck rolling over a landscape, and before its traces are lost. Thus, their works exist in real time on screen, but also in the moment just before we look. Of other spaces (arch) and (drape) have always already occurred, and we have always just missed them. We are reeling, left behind in the uncertainty of inhabiting a space that wasn’t created for us.

    The exhibition builds on this feeling a lot; sometimes it teeters on the edge of cultural capitalisation. This is an unexpected discomfort that wriggles its way into small corners of the show. What are the implications of an exhibition that attempts to negotiate the unsureness of existing as a part of this generation, yet still hints at a gate-keeping that allows Māori and Pacific artists to be exhibited only in the context of youth, and for youth to be celebrated only in the context of its vulnerability?

    Fresh and Fruity don’t buy these tropes. They are both present tense and future, “a sexy new look.” An indigenous online art collective, their existence is primarily digital: a realm beyond fixed time or space, that doesn’t privilege the physicality of the gallery as white cube. I am a Pākehā woman, and Fresh and Fruity don’t need my words either. Their work, Manifesto vol 1: Fresh and Fruity is a sexy new look, is DayGlo pink and hot to touch.

    It’s the inclusion of artists and collectives like Fresh and Fruity that mean my apprehensions about the intentions of The Tomorrow People are mostly fleeting. It feels like something is being overcome with Hikalu Clarke’s Choke Point, a physical intervention onto the banisters that run down the stairs between levels. There is security in disruption that has been orchestrated for you, architectural anarchy played out against a historical stairwell. The bannisters jut too far, and bow too low, but there’s more support, more to hold onto now. This is crowd control for broken dialogues.

    The Tomorrow People is suspended in the hypothetical, a juncture between doubts, but this is not posited as the end point. There is space for humour, for anger and healing, and anger again, and transformation.

    I don’t feel as unsteady anymore.

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  • Minicry

    “A special issue of mini things,” Minicry brings together poetry, headlines, Tweets, and conversations in a tiny riso-printed, hand-stitched collection. Produced by the people who brought together Mimicry and Mimicry 2, the 24 teeny-tiny pages showcase works from emerging writers, such as Henry Cooke, alongside well-known New Zealand authors and poets the likes of Ashleigh Young and Courtney Sina Meredith.

    Minicry is far from being just a Mimicrylite — it does something quite different than its more serious older sibling. Capturing snapshots and fragments, each piece seems to flow seamlessly to the next, despite canvassing a range of artists. Minicry reads like a series of half-heard conversations, intimate snippets of the most interesting, most eloquent voices at the party. Guy Montgomery’s “From Email” encapsulates this:

    I had my headphones

    in, google maps

    open and no music

    playing: the perfect

    crime

    Illustrations by Kate Depree — a packet of soy sauce, a thimble, a Tangy Apple — punctuate the pages, further drawing the pieces together as a cohesive collection of small, but special, everyday moments. Kate’s doodles, paired with the handwritten nature of the pieces, highlight the intimacy of the collection — at times, the work is raw and self-conscious, more like diary entries than parts of a published collection. Uther Dean’s “Haiku” highlights this:

    panic architects

    designing the best places

    for hidden crying

    As individual works, each piece holds its own; but it is when presented together in this pocket-sized publication that they really resonate. Foretelling good things for Mimicry 3, which will be released in September, Minicry highlights the diversity of talent within New Zealand’s writing community.

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  • Dear Sugars

    Dear Sugars is the audio equivalent of snuggling up in your blankets with a cup of tea or taking a warm bath on a rainy day. The point is, it is the ultimate feel good podcast.

    The series began as an advice column where the anonymous “Sugar” would answer questions on love, relationships, and life in general. The column quickly rose in popularity, and in 2012 Dear Sugars was born.

    The podcast is hosted by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, the writers behind the original column. It functions like an advice column in that each week Strayed and Almond read letters from listeners and respond with their advice. However, let me assure you that the series is nothing like the cliché and often very unhelpful agony aunt columns typically found in magazines.

    Strayed and Almond don’t jump to conclusions or pretend to be all-knowing. Rather, they listen to the letters carefully and respond in a way that does justice to the complexity of human emotions and relationships. They also have an uncanny ability to read between the lines and get to the crux of the letter-writer’s dilemma.

    The greatest thing about Dear Sugars is that it is not afraid to care. The ethos of the series is “radical empathy”, a term I at first scoffed at because, let’s be frank, it sounds kind of dumb. But after binge-listening to several episodes, this notion started to make sense to me. Dear Sugars is a podcast that embraces feeling all the feels, and lets you know that it’s okay to care a lot about things. It assures you that you aren’t selfish for feeling overwhelmed by your fears, problems, or relationships.

    To put it simply, I love listening to this podcast because it is nice — two nice people trying to help others with their problems. When life is stressful and the world seems to be going haywire, this podcast reminds me that there are good people in the world.

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  • Feeling Blue

    In the exhibition Feeling Blue, Harriet Bright’s Kayte (2009) is surrounded by famous faces, hanging opposite Jenny Shipley and next to the Queen. Despite being unknown, Kayte manages to attract attention and assert her place among these powerful women. Kayte stares directly out of the canvas with a nonchalant expression, confidently returning the gaze of the viewer and inhibiting us from enjoying the comfort of staring at her undetected.  

    In this painting Bright acknowledges the depictions of female nudes that have dominated much of the history of painting. She presents her subject reclining without clothes on, much like the numerous goddesses and prostitutes who have been painted before her. However, instead of conforming to the sexism of this tradition, Kayte’s body confronts the viewer and challenges objectification. Like her gaze, her body is directed straight out towards us. Rather than posing so as to accentuate the curve of her hips or the pertness of her breasts, she sits so that her breasts hang to either side of her body, and her stomach forms a series of undulations which end in a glimpse of her pubic hair. The wrinkles on her face and short brown hair on the brink of grey reveal her age, rejecting the beauty industry’s infatuation with youth. Instead of being a sign of her sexual availability, Kayte’s frank nakedness and her assertive stare force us to accept her body as exactly that — a natural human body.  

    Kayte’s legs are stretched out towards us, propped up on the footrest of her La-Z-Boy. This large blue chair links Bright’s work to the others in Feeling Blue, an exhibition dedicated to the colour. It also serves to assert Kayte’s power over the way that we view her body. Her arms are spread apart, placed firmly on the arms of the chair, like a monarch seated on her throne. This powerful stance, combined with the the gendering of the very name La-Z-Boy, encourages us to view Kayte as a masculine figure. She stares out at us with all the power of the male gaze, subverting the long history of female figures rendered nothing more than sexual objects. Her portrait confidently asserts “I am here”, “I can see you”, and “I decide how you see me”.

    As this exhibition centres around colour, the portraits feature a variety of styles and subjects.  Kayte herself is a Blues musician from the Kapiti Coast, a fitting career for the subject of a blue exhibition. Feeling Blue is currently showing at The New Zealand Portrait Gallery and runs until August 24. Entry is free.   

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  • Ohney

    Ohney is the solo project of Auckland-based musician Leith Towers. Farewell Lester Square is the second four track album Leith has released this year, following Sweet Aromas which came out in April. Musically, both records are tricky to define, blending elements of electronic music, jazz, folk, and indie rock, all with a very proggy and creative mentality. I asked Leith where this sound was coming from, to which he replied “It wasn’t coming from anything specific, I’d just moved out of a flat that was heavily EDM-centric so my listening’s been all over the show.”

    According to Leith, the recording of the first album Sweet Aromas was all over the place.Parts of that album were just voice memos I recorded. Then my computer crashed so I only had the memos I’d dumped in my drive. Then I dumped them into my flatmate’s Logic and played with them until I finished something I thought was pretty interesting. A lot of the drums on Sweet Aromas was done with acoustic drums recorded on phones. It was the ugliest recording method, that whole project.”

    The latest album Farewell Lester Square came about when Wellington-based artist (and friend of Leith) Matt Pogson (aka Jim Essef) told Leith he was keen to mix some of his songs.“So I recorded them quickly as I could on my flatmate’s computer while he was at work. They were quite rough, it was all guitar pieces I had, and I fleshed them out into the full songs. Then I Mana bussed down to Wellington and spent a week hanging out with Matt and mixing the songs. A couple of the tracks were written for my old band and never made the cut like “The Kind of Thing I Usually Lie About”. But I added some synthesizess and stuff, and it was helpful not having other people to worry about (like in a band) so I could play with the time signatures a bit more.”

    I asked Leith why he has released the two Ohney projects so close together and as four track pieces rather than as a whole album.They weren’t really planned too stringently. They’re just things I’ve done in a year that’s been a bit of a tricky patch in terms of finding out what kind of music I wanna make. Trying to ease away from indie rock and that kind of thing. I wasn’t really too concerned about having a nice clean release. It’s been a learning experience more than anything else.”

    In regards to what we can expect next and whether or not we can expect to see Ohney live Leith explains: “It’ll probably stay a recording thing, I’m gonna do one more by the end of the year. The next ones are a lot more acoustic guitar and organ based, bordering on folky kind of tunes. When I’m at that stage of wanting to have my own band again I’ll have it with my own name and stuff on it, but right now I’m happy playing in a few groups.”

     

    Look out for Leith playing in bands like Dirty Pixels, Jim Essef, and an upcoming Auckland prog-pop project, but for now check out Ohney’s music at ohney.bandcamp.com.

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  • Titanfall Deserves Better

    It was one of the most anticipated games of 2014, a brand new IP from the team that made Call of Duty the juggernaut it is today. It combined fast-paced movement and parkour elements with giant mechs that really pack a punch. Its sequel built on everything the original did well, in addition to having one of the best single player campaigns in recent times. It showed the world that multiplayer shooters could be something more.

    So why does Titanfall get nowhere near as much love as it deserves?

    I picked up the original Titanfall when it launched on PC in March 2014, eager to try out what had been hyped up as an innovative next-gen experience that would change the way we thought about multiplayer shooters. I was almost instantly hooked by the speed of on-foot movement as a “pilot” (reminiscent of “arena shooters” like Unreal Tournament), and the adrenaline rush that came with calling down a Titan and rampaging through the map. The Smart Pistol was the game’s most iconic weapon, requiring good positioning and strategy to lock onto enemies for kills; while many argue it was unbalanced, I contend that the amount of time needed to lock onto pilots is much longer than just aiming with a different weapon. Regardless, I had so much fun, even with no single-player mode to speak of, and I begged everyone I knew to try it.

    Unfortunately, a number of factors conspired to make Titanfall fade into near-obscurity. While developers Respawn Entertainment had high autonomy, the game was published by Electronic Arts at a time when the latter company was especially hated. EA had been named the Worst Company in America as a result of numerous controversies, including the botched launches of SimCity and Battlefield 4, and while Titanfall had few issues at launch, the presence of a season pass for paid DLC maps did not help perceptions. The PC player-base evaporated to the point where the concurrent player count in the most popular game mode was often below 1000 three months post-launch — a death sentence for multiplayer-focused games. In addition, the game was subject to a console exclusivity deal with Microsoft, which quickly turned out to be a case of backing the wrong horse.

    These factors would come back to haunt the series once Titanfall 2 was announced. Everything related to this game’s late 2016 launch seemed like a desperate attempt to fix the perceived mistakes made with the original; not only would there be a full single-player campaign and no paid DLC at all, but the game would be on PS4 as well. Unfortunately, EA screwed up the timing and managed to launch the game in-between its own Battlefield 1 and CoD: Infinite Warfare, two of the largest game releases of the year. As a consequence, sales of the sequel were a fraction of the original, dooming the game to low player counts and potential irrelevance.

    Titanfall doesn’t deserve to become irrelevant. It is a series that has dared to shake things up, and hasn’t been afraid to make things purely about having fun rather than getting involved in a dick-swinging contest with its competitors. It proved that not every game needs to become an e-sport for players to find it compelling. Perhaps most importantly, and in light of its perceived failure, Titanfall proves that no matter how good your game might be, long-term success is not always guaranteed.

    Besides, it helps that the game is going cheaply at this point. I recommend picking up Titanfall 2 either during a sale or with Origin Access, where it will be available in the Vault.

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  • Grandma’s House

    Two hours deep into a Wikipedia black hole last week, I saw that the long-running music themed quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks had finally come to an end in 2015. Beginning in 1996, it seemed like a show that would just go on forever, a British stalwart as comforting as a good cup of tea. Formerly one of my favourite shows to binge watch on repeat, my interest petered off around 2010 approximately a year after Simon Amstell announced his retirement. During his tenure as host of Buzzcocks, Amstell became a very special comedian to me, whether he was serving up the perfect balance of macabre humour and pop culture banality, or berating D-list pop stars so relentlessly that they walked off the show. After his departure the show struggled to find a new permanent host who could reach Amstell’s high and abrasive standards, and I lost both hope and interest. If you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament, then have no fear because Grandma’s House is here.

    Grandma’s House is blisteringly awkward in the tradition of Peep Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm, made twenty times more uncomfortable because of how familiar it all is — think of every casual family gathering you were forced to attend growing up before you could fob them off with your more pressing adult responsibilities. With each episode taking place within his grandmother’s house, Amstell plays a not-even-very-exaggerated version of himself trying to find his place in the world. If you’ve seen Amstell on Buzzcocks before, it’s hard to tell if his performance in Grandma’s House even qualifies as “acting”, but instead an elaborate form of personal therapy achieved by recreating scenes from his life in a controlled environment and reacting to them on camera. The first episode begins with Simon announcing his decision to quit Buzzcocks, much to the dismay of his mother, whose only joy is getting to tell people her son is on television, and to the rest of his family, who enjoy using his B-grade celebrity status for freebies. When his mother announces her engagement to boring douchebag Clive, a hit-and-run driving alcoholic box factory worker, Simon’s desperation to know the meaning of life kicks into overdrive — does anything really matter, or is it just about living in a reasonably sized mortgage-free house with someone you can put up with 60% of the time? The following two seasons of Grandma’s House ultimately exist as the answer to “what should Simon do next?”, but without coming across as cringey as the kid who writes a speech about writing speeches in Year Eight English class. The supporting cast are infallible in their fully-realised roles as Simon’s family, especially Aunt Liz (Samantha Spiro), who can never do (or wear) anything right, and Grandma Lily (Linda Bassett), who specialises in blackmail with a purse-lipped smile.

    If I was ever going to make a television series it would be just like Grandma’s House; snappy, snarky, depressing, uncomfortable, and all about me (but without the handful of rape jokes; honestly, can we please agree to be edgy without that shit?). It’s a quick watch and in being so properly funny, only twelve episodes seems unfair — I laughed, I cried, I hid behind my t-shirt collar, and I commiserated.

    Fans of Amstell should also check out Carnage, his recent BBC mockumentary set in the not-too-distant UK 2067, where everyone is vegan and having difficulty coming to terms with their selfish meat-eating pasts as “carnists”.

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  • 10 Things to Defend: Why 10 Things I Hate About You is a Secret Feminist Masterpiece

    Now, I know what you’re thinking. 10 Things I Hate About You, that ’90s movie where the angry feminist gives up her whole identity to win lush-locked young Heath Ledger — how can that be a nuanced exploration of the struggles of modern day female freedom-fighters?

    Well. Let’s think about Kat Stratford (remember Julia Stiles with slicked-back hair and too much midriff?). At the beginning of the movie, Kat is, well, a heinous bitch. She bans her best friend from going to prom and apparently kicked a guy in the balls so hard he had to have them surgically retrieved. She disregard her English teacher when he asks why she’s angry that their prescribed texts are all by male authors, but not that they’re all white. Kat’s response to living in a patriarchal society is to reject it. Kat embodies many of the critiques of second wave feminism: while she fiercely stands up for her beliefs, she never acknowledges issues faced by those who aren’t white, middle class, straight women. As much as she is my queen, Kat is a somewhat stereotypical man-hating feminist.

    She’s different at the end of the movie, and yes, she gets the guy — but this doesn’t mean that she changed for the guy. Kat changes because she learns to function within society, a huge part of which is learning to have healthy relationships with other people — not just young Heath, but also her sister, her dad, and her Shakespeare-obsessed bestie.

    Basically, Kat learns to be a third wave feminist. She realises that existing within society often (always) means existing within the patriarchy. Feminism should be intersectional, and acknowledge the complexities it exists in. Kat spends most of the movie raging against her over-protective father, her personal reminder of the patriarchy. In the end Kat realises that even though her father is a male authoritative figure, he’s a parent and wants what’s best for her. Just because an individual occupies a position that is patriarchal, it doesn’t make them an enemy.

    Can the movie be feminist if in the end juvenile Heath wins her back by buying her a guitar?! To answer that, you must pay attention to that slightly dull sub-plot about Kat wanting to start a band. And now think with me — there was something significant about music in third wave feminism, right?

    If you went “wait, was that Riot Grrrl?” then ten points to Gryffindor. ’90s third wave feminism fostered Riot Grrrl culture, a huge part of which was centred around DIY music — the only way to stop the music industry being full of men was for women to make it themselves. Throughout the movie, Kat toys with the idea of starting a band but can’t quite go through with it. Teen Heath buying her a guitar implies that she’ll finally do it, and by accepting, Riot Grrrl culture will complete her journey from a second to a third wave feminist. Not only is baby Ledger encouraging Kat to do what she loves, he is symbolising his support for her feminism.

    So go on, rewatch 10 Things I Hate About You. Freak out at how much of a child Joseph Gordon Levitt is. Cry internally over the fact that my boy Heath went too soon. But please, don’t say that Kat Stratford gives up her feminism. Because the film is not that shallow. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.

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  • Aspects of Love — David Garnett

    David Garnett’s 1955 novel Aspects of Love (adapted as a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1989) is about a group of rich people of various ages sleeping around with each other while travelling through Europe’s postcard locations. This book is not merely a depiction of the shallow lives of rich people, but a warning to all of us if we pursue our desires unrelentingly.

    It’s a simple read, though you may be searching for something a little longer and fleshed out. This is the downfall of the novel. Garnett employs a technique where in each chapter, years have passed. I finally felt like I understood the characters, but then the book was finished. If the author slowed down a little, stayed in the scenes and explained more detail, the reader could connect with the story easier.

    The main character Alex is expelled from school and wants to join the army. He falls in love with a rich actress, Rose. Alex’s uncle, Sir George, falls for Rose as well, and drama ensues as the uncle and nephew become rivals for Rose’s affections. I was shocked by how easy it was for them to lie, to cheat on their partner, or fall into violence when they didn’t get their way. Rather than simply being melodramatic, these characters represent how we can compromise our morals and “lose ourselves” when we do not get what we truly want. Sir George at first hides his feelings for Rose out of respect for his nephew, but over time his own passions take over and he disregards any hurt feelings Alex may have. Garnett conveys this beauty and yearning for love among several characters. Whether it was an old man, a young soldier, or an aspiring actress, the characters feelings are real and tangible.

    It is a short book that took me two days to read, but it spans over 20 years. All the characters really do is sleep together in rich villas, argue about their sex lives, and go to expensive restaurants. We can look down on these uber-rich characters, call them snobbish and out of touch with reality. But Garnett is using them for a specific purpose. It is easy to read a book through our own prejudices and say “screw the rich, I want to read about reality.” This is, however, a device Garnett uses to create a vacuum. These people have all the opportunities in the world to relate to each other without the excuse of long days at work to fall back on. They may seem petty and shallow, but what made me care about them, and not just dismiss their issues, was what they show about the universal human condition. If we examine our own behaviour when it comes to relationships and not getting what we want, we can come across as shallow and obsessing over the trivial. What I liked the most about the characters was their honesty.

    My favourite moment of the book was the opening chapter when Alex, having watched every night of Rose’s performance on stage, asks if she wants to stay with him at his uncle’s unused villa in France. Alex’s uncertainty and nervousness when he asked her, and his excitement when she says yes, really set up the themes of the novel. Love can make us on top of the world, or can sink us right down to the very bottom. Right now in 2017 we are in an exciting period as we slowly depart the cynical postmodern scepticism of romance and emotional feelings. George Saunder’s Lincoln in the Bardo, longlisted for the Man Booker, celebrates the sentimentality of family love. Local Wellington writer, Pip Adam, also writes back against this cynicism in her new book The New Animals. It is great to be able to witness this exciting movement happen in our own time. Perhaps now we can read old books like Aspects of Love and examine them with respect towards the subject matter. Upon finishing the book you may feel like hosting a fancy dinner party at your flat or falling in love with a stranger at a bus stop. For me, I sat down and listened to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music. Michael Ball singing Love Changes Everything perfectly captures the insanity and all-consuming nature of strong romantic feelings.

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  • The Return — Roberto Bolaño

    The Return (2010) is a collection of 13 stories, drawn from two of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño’s earlier published volumes, Llamadas Telefonicas (1997) and Putas Asesinas (2001), and translated by Chris Andrews. Published posthumously, and following the earlier translated collection Last Evenings on Earth (2007), the title is felicitous.

    Reading the stories, in fact reading all Bolaño’s work, there’s the sense of being in the same night, with familiar shadows playing upon familiar objects. Each story, if topically and formally different, is a return to the same, potentially subterranean, world.

    In “Meeting With Enrique Lihn” we encounter the author, Bolaño, recounting a dream from 1999 in which he met playwright Enrique Lihn. The meeting takes place in a bar “in a city that could well have been Santiago, bearing in mind that Chile and Santiago once resembled Hell, a resemblance that, in some subterranean layer of the real city and the imaginary city, will forever remain.”

    The distancing between the real and the imaginary occurs in the stories carefully constructed so as to be told at a remove: the meeting with Enrique Lihn occurs in a dream; the narrative of “William Burns” is told to the narrator by his friend Pancho Monge who heard it from William Burns; “Snow” is recounted by a narrator who heard the tale in a bar in Barcelona five years ago. By failing to connect to the material world, the stories occur in a shadow land of memory, speculation, dream — one that is coherent in Bolaño’s thematic treatment of politics, sex, and violence.

    In “Detectives”, hurtling somewhere in a car, maybe nowhere, two detectives talk.

    “What kind of weapons do you like?”

    “Any kind, except for blades.”

    Their conversation proceeds, unsettled only by interjections about driving too fast, through the Chilean night and into the past and the cells during ’73. A political prisoner, Arturo Belano — another Bolaño — is taken by one of the detectives before a mirror which refuses to reflect: “I saw a swarm of faces, as if the mirror was broken, though I knew perfectly well it wasn’t.” The unsettled detective considers murdering Belano, but doesn’t, and the story ends.

    What is the point? Each story feels like a walk in the dark, finger-tips out, brushing objects which might help find a lightswitch. Each is a trip down a quaking path. “Invariably harsh. The path that leads into or out of hell.”

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  • Interview with Voe

    Local musician Rhys Stannard has been developing his solo Voe project with quiet determination over the last few years and has recently formed The Happily Headless with Douglas Kelly (Girlboss/Date Night), Mike Keogh & Isaiah Wilson (Kobra Club), Louis Reeve (Lilah/By A Damn Sight), and Jazz Kane. We caught up for a chin-wag.

    voe620

     

    How would you describe the current Voe sound in a nutshell to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?

    It’s hard to pin it down because I’ve alternated between different styles of music over the years. I get bored of doing the same thing over and over again so I’m always changing up the concept I want to pursue. I think mostly it is determined by what gear I have (or don’t have) at hand. I think the only constant things running through my material are multi-tracked vocals, and that I’ve always recorded digitally. In some ways I respect artists who are able to produce consistent material but mostly I get tired of hearing the same formula repeated. My friend Joe Sloane once called it “emo wave” but he makes house music so what does he know!

     

    I enjoy getting lost in some of the strange and dangerous sonic idiosyncrasies of earlier artists such as The Byrds, over highly polished sonic qualities inherent in modern music. How do you believe Voe’s sonic aesthetic straddles the line between the past and the present?

    Considering that the highest standards of production and latest technology are in contemporary hip-hop and pop music, other genres like “rock” and its various derivatives have been sounding relatively stagnant and recycled (of course there are exceptions… Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing, All Seeing Hand, for example). In New Zealand we have a strong cottage industry — i.e. an industry in which artists are almost entirely or completely autonomous and can create and produce music from their home or music space.

    It started out pretty low-key, but now we have access to more sophisticated sound equipment at lower prices as well as a rekindled love for old “redundant” gear so there are diverse styles of production being used all over. I personally just use what I have at hand, what I’ve heard about, and what is easiest. For the last few years I’ve been using drum samples in lieu of recorded drums which I find are far less time consuming and easier to get a decent sound. Lately I’ve been using basic drum samples to figure out song structures with the intention of playing songs live. The fact that I’ve used Roland TR-707 samples was purely because my friend Isaiah Wilson downloaded them on to my computer one day, not for any aesthetic quality. More recently I’ve been using Alesis HR-16 samples which have a heavier sound. You can download pretty much any of these samples off the net. I’ve never recorded in a studio, so I guess the aesthetic qualities of my music are somewhat defined by my inaccessibility to high standards of production. As far as intentional sound goes I guess I’m pretty interested in the continuity of music and the lineage that defines it, so I attempt to echo some of my heroes from the past while (hopefully) making it my own.

     

    Voe has been primarily a solo endeavour. Do you enjoy the merits of writing, performing, and recording independently from others, or has Voe as a solo project been more of a necessity to remaining productive thus far?

    There are pro and cons to both of course. As a way of being productive over the years working by myself has been absolutely vital. In my teenage years it was easier to be in a band because my friends and I had far less commitments and pressures. As I’ve gotten older it has become more of a struggle to organise a band over a long period of time because so much can happen — people move away, study, get “serious” jobs, lose interest, etc. A few years ago I began to question why I was still making music because I wasn’t really sure if it was necessarily relevant to what was happening culturally in our small music scene, and I knew I was basically convincing people to believe in what I was doing and to give up their time for me, even if nobody else or even myself seemed to care. Although thankfully now I feel more grounded with my own artistic identity. I have a lot of time for people who can manage to keep a band going for a long period in New Zealand considering the sacrifices you need to make.

     

    Is your aim for the live band to re-create songs from the forthcoming album or have you been writing material to adapt to a band setup?

    Currently I’ve put all my focus into playing with The Happily Headless.

     

    What is your outlook on the state of the music scene in Wellington? Who are some local artists that you respect and are there any that you would perhaps like to collaborate with?

    I think Wellington is in a really good place with music at the moment, better than it has been for a long time. The cost of living in Auckland has pushed more artists down this way, and it’s been really refreshing to see new bands doing their thing. In saying that I also think this question is a hard one for me to answer because I’m not as immersed in the social scene of music as I was as a teenager. I think there are great efforts being made to promote and organise music and recently when I have gone out to gigs it’s been nice to see younger crowds present. I know there are efforts being made to follow similar models that exist around the country (like Palmerston North) to put on all-ages shows which is great. I think the end of venues like Mighty Mighty, Happy, Puppies, and Bodega were a real blow as social and cultural spaces, although as a community we have endured will continue to do so. It has always been a bit of a numbers game here in Welly, and there isn’t really a large enough population here for a creative scene to fully flourish like larger overseas scenes. But this is also what makes it distinctive as well.

    Personally I’ve never felt there was any label support in Wellington, and most of the labels that do exist are very tightly defined or only have the interest of immediate friends or family. I think the lack of money involved in the pursuit/facilitation of music attributes to this (I mean even just to earn a living wage) and it leads many bands and artists to isolate themselves from each other or move elsewhere. The music “scene” is also a place I’ve never felt included in or entitled to claim. I think the smallness of wellington means that some bands will occupy a temporary custody of people’s attention, but I have no interest in this kind of work/politics/social manoeuvring. As far as collaboration goes, I’m open to anyone — some of the New Zealand Birds compilations have been good examples of things coming together nicely and we’re working on our third installment currently.

    Favourite wellington band of all time: Golden Awesome. I have heard on good authority that they will be releasing their second album sometime this year.

     

    What do you perceive to be the biggest challenges in getting your music “out there” and how do you aim to spread the gospel from here on out?

    Well I wasn’t picked up by Sony as a tween so I missed the boat on that one, just hoping to gain 2,000 Facebook and Twitter followers and confirm my New Zealand nationality in eight different ways. But seriously, from my perspective the establishment has always seemed like a smoke and mirrors kind of exercise smothered in self-loathing and shameless self-promotion so as far as getting my music “out there” is concerned I have no interest in playing that game. I can’t remember who said this but blow me down they hit the nail on the head when they commented that New Zealand bands that sound like whatever is hot overseas (i.e. Lorde) do really well in New Zealand whereas our own more distinctive and “New Zealand” sounding music tends to do poorly here but gain cult following overseas. I feel that to some extent this is changing due to the current wave of recognition that some of the older generations of artists are now receiving.

    I am an optimist.

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  • Sponge

    Sponge is a sparkling new New Zealand-Pacific online sci-fi journal. Having already published its first issue, Sponge is taking advantage of the online medium to reach an audience previously only accessible to print magazines. I got in touch with creator Lucy-Jane Walsh to find out what goes on behind the scenes.

     

    Why did you decide to start a sci-fi journal?

    For the most part, I decided to start Sponge because I felt there weren’t enough opportunities for science fiction writers in New Zealand. I have been writing science fiction myself for five to six years and have always struggled to get it published in mainstream journals. I was also interested in seeing what people were writing in New Zealand and the Pacific, and also how our science fiction might differ from the American and British science fiction we are used to. I felt that a journal would not only give writers opportunities to be read now, but also be a place to examine our history in this genre later.

    To the side of that, I have been making a career change over the last couple of years from a arts and heritage type job to software development. I got a lot of editing and proofreading experience in my first job (I even built an ebook) before moving into web development, which is what I do now. So I have this perfect combination of skills for an online journal. My friend Ivan built the site for me, but I have done a bit of development myself since. It’s nice being able to make changes myself and not have to rely on a developer.

     

    Did you read/watch much sci-fi before Sponge?

    I have always loved science fiction, although it took me a long time to think of myself as a science fiction fan. I read really widely as a child, but many of my favourite books were science fiction — I loved The Tripods series by John Christopher, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L‘Engle, and The Giver by Lois Lowry. My favourite movie for years was The Matrix, and then it became Children of Men in high school. I think I have always been drawn to dystopian stories for whatever reason.

    I had always wanted to be a writer but had never known what it was that I wanted to write. Around 2011, I stumbled across the book The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury at the local library. I was so floored and amazed by Bradbury’s beautiful writing and imaginative storytelling, I knew that this was what I wanted to write. For years I tried to copy his writing. I am now more interested in how growing up in New Zealand shapes my writing.

     

    What was available in NZ prior to Sponge in the way of sci-fi and/or online journals?

    From what I can tell, there weren’t any journals, although there are some really great groups to be a part of if you are a science fiction writer. SpecFicNZ has been around for a really long time and seems to be a really great community of writers. They hold their own competitions and are pretty clued up about what’s going on in NZ.

     

    Where did the name “Sponge” come from?

    I was with my friend Ben [Uffindell, of The Civilian] when I came up with the idea of making the journal, and right of the bat he suggested the name “Sponge”. It was just a joke but I actually really liked how it sounded — it reminded me of “the blob”, but it also has that ocean, sea vibe which goes well with New Zealand and the Pacific. At the end of the day, the name doesn’t really matter so long as it’s unique and distinctive. I figured it was as good as anything else.

     

    What has been your favourite piece submitted so far?

    I feel bad choosing favourites so early on, but I really like Xander Stronach’s “in /place/ where we(many) stand”. It’s got this weird grammar system in it (which you can see in the title) and is about a Māori boy struggling to connect with the ancestry that he left behind when he traveled to another world. It’s really clever and it feels distinctly New Zealand without seeming trite. I love how the strange grammar system makes it seem like it’s coming from somewhere in the future, or maybe somewhere so far away that the words have arrived slightly garbled or have been crudely translated.

     

    How has Sponge been received so far?

    Really well. Better than I could ever imagine. When you start something like this you always fear that it will just be some kind of vanity project for you, so it’s always surprising when people take to it well. I posted to Reddit about it and that got heaps of uptake. Someone even said, “how are you even funding this?” which I thought was cool because it means it looks expensive.

    People really like that there is audio available, as well as epub and mobi and a nice PDF. I put a lot of time into making it available in lots of different formats, so I’m glad that people are enjoying them.

     

    What would you like to do with Sponge in the future?

    I think for now I’m mostly focused on getting the issues out, but I would love to do a print version sometime in the future where there is more of a backlog to draw on. I would also love to publish some non-fiction about New Zealand and Pacific science fiction that has been published in the past. It sounds kind of soppy, but I’d love for Sponge to be a place that people can learn about NZ sci-fi as well as reading cool new stuff.

     

    If you’re interested in checking out (or submitting to!) Sponge you can find them at sponge.nz

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  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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    In Which a Boy Leaves

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