Sunday, November 29, 2009
Naturally, I was primed with anticipation. There was a possibly unfavourable wind change in the afternoon so I aimed for the early morning session. I was nearly down to the bottom of the gravel road which ends at the surf break when a 4-wheel drive with 2 surfers in it came up the other way and gave me their verdict: thumbs down, as they went past.
I pulled up at the break, walked across to the beach and witnessed about 1'-2' waves breaking too close to the rocks on a full tide. Bummer!
But last night I attended an event called Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park which is an annual free event, all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza. It seemed like nearly every teenager in the city was there and they were all doing these hip greetings with the clasped hands and shoulder-bumping jive which I'm sure has been copied from MTV clips and other like sources of rap/hip-hop culture.
It made me think of the "Roman Empire" of the 20th and 21st centuries: America. How dominant has been its influence on global popular culture.
Admittedly, I am an old fart, but when I grew up in this small country in the 1960s, there was no high-fiving and all those other American affectations. A lot of it has sprung from the black urban culture of the USA. I'm a big fan, don't get me wrong. I love the fact that black America gave the world the blues, jazz, r'n'b, hip-hop, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, hell, even Eddie Murphy before he went all Disneyland and innocuous.
But Pax Americana has also swamped many cultures around the world. I would like to see the youth of Aotearoa/New Zealand embrace their own culture and give a Kiwi embrace when they meet.
Monday, November 2, 2009
I was checking the surf this morning (which is my daily habit) and it was glassy, windless and lucky to be 1 foot in height (also, sadly, more frequent an occurence than I like). So I headed home to do some gardening. We have a quarter-acre section or about 985 square metres, if you prefer. We call it "our work in progress".
I was driving from the sea towards our home which is not far, but as I came up a main road that runs alongside a river (our street runs off it), the sun was glinting on the river and I was looking towards the Southern Alps and there was still quite a lot of snow caps despite it being Spring. I just thought, it doesn't get much more beautiful than this.
Now, if only the surf would pump like Puerto Escondido in Mexico or even Raglan in New Zealand or Superbank in Queensland (minus the crowds), this would be close to Paradise on Earth.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Let us travel back through the mists of time (we don't need a TARDIS for this). It is 1992, Perth, Western Australia, about lunchtime (sorry, pinched that from Monty Python). It is June and I have just finished my first semester at Curtin University. My first wife (let's for the sake of her privacy just call her A) and I both realise that I need something a bit fancier than an Olivetti typewriter to write my assignments on. She spies a good offer in a shop near to our home and I become the proud purchaser of a Canon Starwriter word processor (for the young readers, a sort of precursor to computers or perhaps a love child of a typewriter and a computer). It is cool! It is groovy! Suddenly I can delete text, move it around, copy and paste etc.
Fast forward to the present day, 2009. 17 years later and my Starwriter is still going strong!!! I keep thinking I must write to Mr Big Boss Canon in Japan and congratulate him. By now I have heaps of data from my Starwriter stored on floppy disks: poems, stories, plays, articles, personal correspondence. And I really do mean a lot.
But floppy disks have gone the way of the dodo and the dinosaur. It is all groovy little pen-drives or flash-drives depending on which school you went to.
So far, so good, but then a few months ago one of my floppy disks failed somehow and I couldn't retrieve the data. Fortunately, I was well -organised and kept hard copy lists of the files on each floppy disk. Also, I found that I had actual hard copies of all the data that was important on that failed disk. So remember to do what they tell you, folks, and BACK UP, BACK UP, BACK UP your data.
But I realise that my poor old Starwriter has been well overtaken on the information super-highway so before it finally gives up the ghost, I must embark on this archival project to ensure that I have a hard copy of every important file on those many floppy disks.
In case you are technically-minded and are curious, the Starwriter has no hard drive so all data created on it must be saved to floppy disk. Only its actual functions seem to be hard-wired into the machine.
So today it starts and fits around all the other pieces of my life. I must cross-reference the files on each floppy disk against the hard copies I already possess.
Wish me luck. It's not as exciting as The Matrix, but then I'm not as wooden as Keanu Reeves.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
A FAR GREATER NOURISHMENT
Walking home alone on Saturday night,
social sounds spilling around me then
fading in my slipstream,
I round the corner of my street and
an image of your face rises
to combat the cold that searches for
the marrow of my bones.
Hope flutters like a wounded bird into
the pale sky of a vision desperate
Forgive my physical hunger.
You were right to deny it
because by morning
you had given me
a far greater nourishment.
Copyright Ben Hur, Thanks to Valley Micropress, a Upper Hutt-based international poetry magazine in whose pages this poem first appeared.
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There he is,
between the Siberian Tiger and the Maui's Dolphin,
Homo Mobilis Nullius.
She does not own a cellphone.
Text for her is the letters and words
that make up a book.
If he wants to take a picture,
he'll use a camera, thanks.
She doesn't want to download, upload,
girl, you've got to carry that load
of debt to the telco company.
He watches movies in the cinema
and he doesn't want to be hooked up
to the internet
or caught in the ever-widening net of commerce.
She's happy with the ancient ways,
songlines on the landline
lines on the land
where a woman can walk away
and hear only the ringing
of bird song,
lines on the land
a man can follow to the heart
of somewhere lost
and know only peace.
--- Copyright Ben Hur, reproduced with kind permission of Presto magazine, Christchurch in
whose pages this poem first appeared.