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Issue 10, 2018

Issue 10 Volume 81: Drink More Water

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News

  • Guy at Party Convinced Childish Gambino’s “This is America” is About New Zealand

  • Queer Coverage

  • Updates on Kylie Jenner’s Baby

  • Britain’s Digital Economy Act Ruins Fun Nation Wide

  • It’s Not You, It’s a Cursed Printer

  • NZUSA Scraping Bottom of Barrel

  • Inaugural Opening of Student Art Exhibition

  • Clarke Gayford Exposed

  • We Got the Price Wrong

  • Victoria Students Dissatisfied with Counselling Appointment Wait Periods

  • Kushner’s Peace Plan for the Middle East Dies Along with 62 Palestinians

  • Taking On Letting Fees

  • Features

  • Website-Cover-Photo2-01 (1)

    The Majestic Shewee

    I recently got an outdoor job that didn’t have a loo. “Why?” I asked a coworker. He shrugged, and told me that they’d been trying to get a port-a-potty sorted for years, but the port-o-potty industry were dragging their feet about it. “Ok, but, then, how do I… you know, go?” “We have bushes outside.” […]

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  • Website-Cover-Photo1 (2)

    Six Stories of Assault

    CW: Descriptions of sexual assault We’ve got a great team here at VUWSA, including some strong women that I look up to and often turn to for advice and counsel. They asked me to write a lil something to make sure they know I back them, and I do. They’ve decided to share some pretty […]

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  • Welfare Advocacy in the District Court: Of Domestic Violence, Christmas Miracles, and Eight Law Students

    There are two centres of vulnerability in New Zealand. One is our public hospitals, the other is our District Courts. It’s 8:30 in the morning in Wellington District Court, and bedlam is slowly unfolding. A visibly homeless man shakes his leg restlessly while picking at a sore on his face. A father with a Black […]

    by

  • Website-Cover-Photo2-01 (1)

    The Majestic Shewee

    I recently got an outdoor job that didn’t have a loo. “Why?” I asked a coworker. He shrugged, and told me that they’d been trying to get a port-a-potty sorted for years, but the port-o-potty industry were dragging their feet about it. “Ok, but, then, how do I… you know, go?” “We have bushes outside.” […]

    by

  • Website-Cover-Photo1 (2)

    Six Stories of Assault

    CW: Descriptions of sexual assault We’ve got a great team here at VUWSA, including some strong women that I look up to and often turn to for advice and counsel. They asked me to write a lil something to make sure they know I back them, and I do. They’ve decided to share some pretty […]

    by

  • Welfare Advocacy in the District Court: Of Domestic Violence, Christmas Miracles, and Eight Law Students

    There are two centres of vulnerability in New Zealand. One is our public hospitals, the other is our District Courts. It’s 8:30 in the morning in Wellington District Court, and bedlam is slowly unfolding. A visibly homeless man shakes his leg restlessly while picking at a sore on his face. A father with a Black […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • Dear Daddy Dave

    It’s 11pm and I’ve just finished laying out tonight’s dinner — bangers and mash. The usual. I’ve laid the table with our plates, cutlery, and Veisguy wheat beer, when he knocks at the door. I rush to it, just as he enters. There he stands, his mouth slightly quirked in that adorable smile. Like he’s had some kind of stroke. Yes, even his mouth leans a little to the right. He’s so perfect. It’s a wonder he isn’t a hologram. But no, he’s real alright. He is so real.

    “Yeah, g’day,” he says, in a softer tone than his stance on taxation.

    “How was your day?” I respond, wincing at the harshness of my voice compared to his.

    “Struggling with Jacinda. The bloody Auckland Regional Fuel Tax impedes the freedom of the individual. 12c is just too much to ask, and she knows it! The good people of Epsom have it hard enough.” I  smile reassuringly, but I watch his face contort in anger.

    “But you represent them David. They are so thankful for that.” He pauses. His anger softens somewhat, and he gives a stiff thumbs up before moving through to the dining room. He sits at the table as I take a seat on the floor opposite. Much like the Act party itself, we only have one seat. I watch as he looks down at the meal I’ve made. Two burnt sausages rest on mashed potato more loosely formed than his performance pay for teachers’ policy. He smiles, and I melt.

    Oh, David. When will the good people of New Zealand realise that you are their redemption?

    There are 87 peas lying next to the potato, as always. They represent the number of seats that my Seymour deserves. I watch as he eats them, one by one. He respects each of them as an individual. When he reaches the last pea, I sigh to myself.

    “You deserve so much more.”

    “I’m sorry?” He responds, the final pea raised to his lips.

    “David my love. I don’t understand. Why are the people of Epsom the only ones who recognise your individualism for what it is?”

    “It’s alright poppet. Someday they’ll all be enlightened by their Charter School education.” He places the cutlery softly on the table. Reaching up to his shirt, he pops the top button loose, freeing the base of his neck. I watch his eyebrows twitch momentarily as he returns to his meal. Once he’s finished we place the dishes and cutlery in the dishwasher and head upstairs to bed. In our room, there are two single beds. David knows to respect my individual rights. He removes his checked maroon pyjamas from his drawer and gets changed, slowly. Once he’s finished, he puts his socks back on his feet before getting into bed. I do the same, and we lie there in silence. Staring at the roof. I listen to the rhythm of his breath and it matches that of my heart. I turn to see him clutch at his pillow, tighter than he does to the National Party. My consciousness wanders, and I sink into sleep, but just before I do, I hear him whisper: “Own your future…”

    and with those words I feel a warmth engulf me, as visions of his Dancing with the Stars victory emerge to carry me through the night.

    Salient is currently exchanging 600 words of David Seymour fanfiction for approximately $1,000,000 Dave Bucks. Expressions of interest can be sent to editor@salient.org.nz.

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  • The Weekly Planet

    I present to you verbatim, The Weekly Planet’s intro theme: “Red hot comic book movie news: shooting up your butthole! [DUNDUNDUNDUNDUNDUN] The weekly planet! The weekly planet!”
    The Weekly Planet was the 2018 winner of the Australian Podcast Awards Popular Vote category. I’ve been a fan for a few years so this made my frickin day.
    The typical episode, hosted by James Clement (also known as popular YouTuber Mr Sunday Movies) and Nick Mason “Maso”, begins with a conversation about the relevant movie/TV show news of the week, and sometimes random Australian news that is completely irrelevant, but somehow really funny, as they never fail to explain a little bit of context to their random patriot outbursts.
    The weekly themes range from a season review of a show, to a breakdown of a genre of film (their Westerns episode is pretty great), to a SUPERHERO/VILLAIN SHOWDOWN. These are rare events that any fans of the podcast will know to cherish, as they produce stellar conversation by James and Maso who will debate the winner of a fight between two (or more) comic/movie/TV characters. Is it as dumb as it sounds? Yes. Do I get disproportionately excited when I see that they’ve recorded a new one? Yes. this podcast has been the first thing I do for myself on a Monday, on and off for the past few years, and it sets the tone for the rest of my week. Listening to a silly conversation about which James Bond would win in a James Bond showdown (Daniel Craig would win), is fun, lighthearted, and most importantly, it’s not American politics, or politics of any kind. Seriously, they never talk politics, and I bloody love it.

    If you listen to an episode for its theme, you might be disheartened, as the news could go for a solid fifteen minutes. As a traditionalist for the art of red hot comic-book movie news shooting up your butthole (that’s right, your butthole), the news is golden and unskippable, but yeah, it does drag on if you’re just waiting for them to do the review on A Quiet Place and they keep talking about the upcoming Johnny English movie that no-one cares about. If the topic is a movie review, they’ll talk spoiler free for about five to ten minutes, depending on how spoiler-free friendly the film is. Being a YouTuber by main trade, James is in the habit of giving extreme ratings. The reviewed film is either the BEST MOVIE EVER or the WORST MOVIE EVER, and on very rare occasion does the film receive the rating of: it’s just a movie.

    A few of their best episodes include:
    194: D23 Baby Driver (with Edgar Wright) in which they interviewed Edgar Wright who had a cold at the time. James and Maso were really excited. Damn Edgar Wright is a cool guy.
    162: Fantastic Beasts and Where are They or whatever (in the case) where Maso is happy about finally seeing a Harry Potter movie that has competent magical adults.
    143: Dumb Movie Futures That Are Wrong one of the few episodes led by Maso, where he presents his list of old movies set in the future but which is now the past, and then they mock them for how embarrassingly wrong they are.
    These two guys are delightfully chill and (mostly) refreshingly objective in their reviews. Overall, they’re fans of good movie/show content, which will annoy any die-hard DC Extended Universe fans, but as far as their topic selection is concerned, they don’t limit themselves to one fan-base over another. I really, really enjoy this podcast, and try make an effort to listen to their weekly updates. My only complaint is that not enough people listen to them, and I’m stuck with no-one to talk to about one of my favourite things.

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  • Throwback T-Swizzle: Speak Now

    Taylor Swift: country music star turned pop princess, turned media controversy, turned dead, came back to life as… a snake queen? Bad-Ass Bitch? Culturally and sonically black-appropriating white girl? Maybe all of this is true, maybe none of it is. But the fact is, you know her, and you cannot escape her nor her music. So, she must be doing something right.

    Today I shall review one of my favourite albums of hers, arguably the ultimate favourite: Speak Now. Ahhhh, what can I say about old school Taylor Swift, one of my greatest musical loves of all. Her Speak Now album just reinvigorates my inner Stan and passion. SHE WROTE THIS ENTIRE ALBUM BY HERSELF PEOPLE (“If This Was a Movie” is a bonus track and doesn’t count okay). AND EVERY SONG IS GOOD… Yes, even “Dear John”, do not @ me. But that’s just my humble opinion. Swift even co-produced this entire album with only one other person, Nathan Chapman.
    Even without knowing she was the sole writer of each and every song, there is just such uniqueness to her lyrics, you just know every song is and was 100% authentic Taylor Swift. Many of the sides of Taylor that we love seem to be covered in the album. The dreaming, wide eyed ingenue in “Mine”, the regretful lover in “Back to December”, the anxious, lovesick, manic pixie dream girl in “Enchanted” (my favourite), dramatically crushed ex-lover in “Dear John”, shady mean girl in “Better Than Revenge”, and uplifting sovereign of Swifities in “Long Live”. There are also tinges of the Taylor the sexual being in “Sparks Fly”, and post-punk rebel teenager in “Haunted”, that deserve a shout out. Taylor Swift seems to have mastered the art of sonically mimicking her emotions in song, and I am living for it.
    While there are definitely more sides to Taylor Swift, both in real life and in the album, the heightened drama around each of these sides is exactly what we have come to love. Speak Now does what it sets out to do. It delivers hits that I am still not sick of after 8 years.
    So, in conclusion, yes, even though Taylor Swift hates the word, she really is THAT BITCH.

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  • Books to Films

    Quite simply, both the book and film are a delight.

    I do love a vivacious centralising voice, and Juliet Ashton’s voice convinced me not only that spending the length of the novel with her would be enjoyable, but also that I too could compile a enthralling and witty compilation of un-extraordinary tales with humour and a captivating narrative voice. The story follows Juliet, a moderately successful writer-journalist in the late 1940s, who travels to the British island of Guernsey off the coast of France, to find out more about a mysteriously named “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”.

    When I saw it was a post-war angle, I almost lost interest, not seeking a tale of dreary disappointments and stiff-upper-lip heartache. But without being dismissive or oblivious, this is as light and sweet as ever a story featuring war could be. The story of Guernsey’s occupation is told through the personal histories of the society’s members. Part of its spell is convincing you that you need to be either a writer or a pig-farmer in Guernsey. Or both.
    The secrecy that veils some of these stories was more exaggerated in the film. However, without the hook of the eclectic characters writing their own tales in their letters, I can see why the element of brooding mystery became necessary.
    This movie may not be your style, so avoid it if you a) dislike close ups of type writing and letters, b) don’t care for 1940s fashion, c) are bored by sweeping landscapes and pensively framed camera shots, d) despise Downton Abbey actors or e) hate reading books (you uncultured swine).

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  • Still Life with Chickens

    Still Life with Chickens is a little slice of Mama’s (Goretti Chadwick) life. Set in her garden where she seems most herself and most at peace (i.e. away from Papa, her husband), it’s a one woman show, with interjections from Papa (Ene Petaia) within the house, and also a rebel chicken which she names Moa, puppeteered expertly by Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson.

    The play opens on Mama burying her cat, Blackie. Throughout the forty-five minute play, we see Mama doing laundry, and eventually talking to Moa the chicken as well, revealing some dark secrets she’s kept for over fifty years. Mama talks frequently to the vegetables in her garden – her pumpkin will make a nice pie for her granddaughter, her spinach will make her grandsons strong – showing her pride and care for food and family.

    The play surrounded itself with themes of family, love, and loss but I felt these could have been driven home more. Furthermore, the role of the audience was never really defined. Shakespeare, for example, always included the audience, characters speaking directly to them during their soliloquies (and other dialogue). As a result of not having a defined audience, there was no flow of conversation, and I was constantly taken out of the world of the play, being reminded that I was in a theatre, watching a show. It would have made more dramaturgical sense to cast the audience as Barbara, Mama’s nosy neighbour, through lighting cues, seeing as the audience is indeed listening into Mama’s life and thoughts. However, the lighting was not sharp and presented a missed opportunity.

    Just as Hamlet speaks to Yorick, Mama speaks to Blackie and Moa. However, since Moa is her own character (as demonstrated by the way Fa’avae-Jackson was not dressed in theatre-camouflaging black) yet speechless, it doesn’t entirely allow for the emotional openness the audience yearns for, because Mama is preoccupied with the chicken and not herself. At one moment, Mama walks onstage in tears and spends a good few minutes crying before wiping her tears to focus on Moa – a missed opportunity for emotional truth.
    If the show engaged more with the audience, maybe Mama’s emotional reveals would have felt more natural and pulled my heartstrings more. This directorship by actor Fasitua Amosa makes for a light but ultimately forgetful show.
    Still Life with Chickens runs until 2 June. Tickets are available at circa.co.nz.

    by

  • Silicon Valley Season 5

    Despite coming into its 5th season, this is perhaps the best time for HBO’s continuously hilarious Silicon Valley to air. As Zuckerberg takes immense heat for the recent breaches of privacy at Facebook, the once positive societal response towards apps and tech companies, now basic components of everyday life, has began to deteriorate. The creators and writers behind Silicon Valley are likely more aware of this than most, finding themselves in a unique situation where they are ready to lampoon an industry just as everyone else is ready to laugh at it. Due to the changes to the industry in which the show operates, it seems this new season may have the capacity to focus more on denouncing and ridiculing its characters, rather than saving them.

    At the beginning of Season 5, Richard Hendricks appears to have finally succeeded in the tech industry. Now rich from the invention of a data-compression algorithm, and backed with plenty of funding, the show’s protagonist is now free to pursue his plan of creating a “decentralised internet”, unrestricted by firewalls, government interference, and data-mining. The show has moved beyond the frequent backsliding of Richard’s company, Pied Piper, and has now set its characters up in the unfamiliar circumstances of running an actual business with no oversight or influence.

    Most glaringly, it has given Richard’s character the chance to enter deeper into the moral ambiguity of the tech industry, particularly his mounting readiness to undermine others to get what he wants. Such renewed focus on Richard results from the unquiet departure of TJ Miller from the show’s line-up. While once a scene-stealing character who provided some of the bizarre plot progressions, and the largest laughs for audiences, the absence of a character of the magnitude of Miller’s Erlich Bachman allows the growing darker side of Richard to become a more central part of the series. This exploration of Richard and the tension he faces between his longing to succeed and his more philanthropic ideas means that viewers get to see Richard become his own worst enemy and the type of villain he initially despised.

    A new narrative direction and a revitalised focus on its characters means that the series is able to avoid being trapped by its same old jokes. And while in part relying on its established story formula and comedic sense that made and continues to make the show great, the creative team have thrown enough curveballs in each episode to maintain the series’ feeling of momentum and unpredictability.

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  • The Adam Portraiture Award is Anachronistic and Goofy and I Love It

    Every two years, the New Zealand Portrait Gallery solicits original paintings from the public. There were about 300 submissions this year, with first place winning a prize of $20,000.

    The prize went to Logan Moffat for Elam, a large oil-on-canvas studio interior inhabited by Jayden Plank and Harry Telfer. It’s a chaotic composition; the eye obediently follows the arrow along Jayden’s forearm towards his self-conscious hands, before pinging up to his and Harry’s stuporous faces. It’s Elam without much elan because Moffat is getting on with the work of being a real artist.

    I like Elam. The faces are full of character without being overwrought. The composition is complex enough to illustrate the painter’s considerable skill and prompt the viewer to further interrogate the work. How is that mobile constructed? What has “pearlescent curvature”? Can Jayden step out of those shorts, or must he peel them off, his lover tugging at the disgorged waistband while he slides the legs down his thighs?

    Given the open, egalitarian nature of the prize, it’s a little annoying that Elam is so explicitly a painting by a painter who paints. But it makes sense in the context of portraiture’s declining position in the art world, relative to its increasing position in internet art or on Instagram. As a form’s popularity declines, its exponents tend to identify themselves with it more ostentatiously. As Hera Lindsay Bird writes, “To be fourteen, and wet yourself extravagantly / At a supermarket checkout / As urine cascades down your black lace stocking / And onto the linoleum / Is to comprehend what it means to be a poet”. Portrait painters too, I suspect.

    Many of the works in the Adam Portraiture Award exhibition aren’t so explicitly about art, however. They’re about dogs. Second place went to Martha Mitchell for Things to do, places to be, a teenage boy with a dog in his lap that evokes ’90s shopping mall photo studios. It’s a hyperreal rendition of uncool.

    Another piece in the “Legs to hump, places to pee” genre is Marcus Ebbett’s Constable Rob Eastham with Ike, a work whose full-bearded, Holden-engineered menace is almost forgiven by Ike’s total disinterest. Ebbett depicts Eastham as you might see him shot for a newspaper. It’s objective, photorealist reporting, minus any hint of a headline as to why.

    Implicit in the decision to spend time painting someone is some sort of fondness the artist has for their subject, or, in the case of Katharine White’s Tanja and Anubis, that the subject has for herself. Tanja, chin raised, dominates the viewer and Anubis, with her hand tellingly close to his balls. She’s in control of him and the representation of herself, something she can further micromanage in the gold-framed mirrors clustered on her wall like a bank of security camera TVs.

    Is White deliberately drawing attention to Tanja’s narcissism? A friend I took to the show, a poet, saw the knowingness behind Tanja and Anubis as utterly obvious, but then again she saw it in almost every single painting. I’m not so sure. Portrait painters don’t think like poets. It’s SARDINES and ORANGES.* Sometimes people just reckon their living rooms are awesome, and what’s wrong with that?

    Gavin Chai, at least, did critically engage. His Big Brother seems totally surprised to be noticed despite his high-vis, which rouges his cheek in traffic-cone orange. There’s the beginnings of a story there about who we do choose to depict that’s befitting of the competition.
    The 2018 Adam Portraiture Award exhibition continues until May 27.

    * SARDINES and ORANGES is a reference to Frank O’Hara’s poem Why I Am
    Not a Painter

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  • Things Fall Apart

    Each month, the Salient books team are going to review the books on the program for the Vic Books 2018 Book Club. The third book on the list is Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe.

    Published in 1959, Things Fall Apart is regarded as one of the seminal texts in modern African literature, and Achebe garnered international acclaim for the book.
    The novel is set in southern Nigeria at the turn of the nineteenth century, and follows Okonkwo, an Igbo man who is a well-respected warrior and wrestling champion, and his family and village at the moment of their first contact with European missionaries.

    As a fan of literature that explores colonialism as a wider theme, Things Fall Apart was an interesting and engaging read from the beginning. By building up to the central moment in the plot of the first contact between the Igbo people and the Europeans, Achebe constructs an elegant piece of post-colonial literature.

    The first section of the novel is dedicated to exploring the customs, spirituality, history, and village life in Umuofia. Elements to this society are completely different to anything that I, and most other people, are used to or know anything about, so reading about things such as oracles, tribal politics, and ritual sacrifices, culminated in a total immersion in this strange and mystical world that the novel takes place in.
    The second half of the novel is where the first contact plot line begins. Europeans begin to arrive in the area, and try (rather aggressively) to convert the villagers to Christianity.
    Okonkwo is a character that is very easy to dislike. He is harsh, callous, violent, and aggressive, and in many places, it was difficult to push through and read moments of extreme violence towards his wives, children, or slaves. But there are moments when he is a caring and protective father, and he does a lot in service of the greater good of his family and village. As the novel progresses, the latter quality becomes ever more present, as he leads the the fight against the oncoming wave of colonialism to protect his village and way of life.
    The hardest part about the novel to read were the moments when gender politics and the role of women were bought up. Purely because of my own beliefs and modern reading, it was hard to reconcile this with the world of the novel where the women are subordinate to the men. The child marriages, slavery, physical violence, and multiple child deaths that the women have to experience in the novel is heartbreaking, and it was a challenge to get through those passages.
    However, while most female characters were secondary figures in the novel, Okonkwo’s second wife Ekwefi and her daughter Ezinma are more developed and interesting characters. Both are able to, and are allowed to, stand up to Okonkwo and are feisty, rebellious, and intelligent characters.

    Things Fall Apart is a pivotal text in African and post-colonial literature, and Achebe is truly a master writer.

    I have never read a book quite like it, and I am floored by its majesty and brilliance.

    by

  • Trump’s America: Eating the Entire Cake Store and Running it Too

    On 10 May the Chinese Government signed a deal that granted $500 million in loans to the “MNC Lido City” project. The prospective theme park resort just outside of Jakarta is to be licensed to the Trump Organization, featuring Trump branded hotels and a golf course. President Trump is set to be enriched personally by this deal, through both $3.7 million in licensing and consulting fees, and the “additional unspecified incentives” alluded to in the deal. Just 72 hours after the deal was made, President Trump tweeted ordering a bailout for cellphone manufacturer ZTE — a company owned by the Chinese Government and recently crippled by sanctions enforced by the Trump administration.

    Trump tweeted on 14 May “President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”. Trump’s own Commerce Department had originally banned the export of American technology to ZTE, believing the company to be violating sanctions against North Korea and Iran set by Trump himself. The ban was to be imposed for seven years and ZTE was looking at shutting down; Trump’s tweet came just a month later.
    Prior to his inauguration, Donald Trump vowed that he would not pursue any new foreign business deals while in office. After winning the 2016 election, Trump gave the control of his real estate business to his two eldest sons, but did not divest himself financially from the Trump Organization. As well as breaking that personal promise, the President is also in clear violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits a sitting President from receiving any profit via salary or gift from a foreign government. Board Chair of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Norm Eisen tweeted on 15 May “This is a violation of the Emoluments Clause. A big one. See you in court Mr. Trump”. CREW has previously sued Trump over ethics violations, citing numerous violations of the Emoluments Clause with foreign diplomats regularly patronizing Trump hotels and restaurants.

    The White House was questioned on why the President was attempting to relieve a Chinese Government-owned company from his own trade policies, if this decision was related at all to the half a billion dollar boost the Trump organization has just received from the Chinese Government, and how the Emoluments Clause was remotely being adhered to. Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah declined answering any questions on the matter, telling members of the press “I’ll have to refer you to the Trump Organization”.

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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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    Editor's Pick

    This Ain’t a Scene it’s a Goddamned Arm Wrestle

    : Interior – Industrial Soviet Beerhall – Night It was late November and cold as hell when I stumbled into the Zhiguli Beer Hall. I was in Moscow, about to take the trans-Mongolian rail line to Beijing, and after finding someone in my hostel who could speak English, had decided