Texas and TEKS: Remember the Alamo! How about Civil Rights?

June 13, 2010

“… ex-hippie parents had better accept that their children look like becoming yuppies. And then Republicans…” Christopher Ricks  Dylan’s Visions of Sin. 2003

It’s not taxes in Texas that’s the hot issue; it’s the future of History. Conservatives want to revise the Texas History curriculum in order to “amend” teaching about slavery, the civil rights movement and America’s relationship with the United Nations.

The State Board of Education has legislative authority to adopt the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each subject of the required curriculum. SBOE members nominated educators, parents, business and industry representatives, and employers to serve on the review committees. That’s where the fun started earlier this year.

In regards to the American Civil Rights Movement the student is currently expected to, among other things, “identify significant leaders of the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr.; and identify changes in the United States that have resulted from the civil rights movement such as increased participation of minorities in the political process…”

This latter trend culminated in the election of the present White House incumbent and was all too much for some conservatives who, in their curriculum submissions,  insisted on using the President’s full name Barack Hussein Obama because of its negative connotations. Using the middle name is not the usual style when referring to presidents. George Bush Jr only got a ‘W’, though unkind commentators maintain this was his History grade.

Educators argued that some of the proposed TEKS History amendments would politicise education. Conservatives no doubt argued that they were merely rebalancing what was for them an overly liberal retrospective world view.

 History was refracted through a different lens earlier this year when Bob Dylan performed his classic song “The Times they are a Changin’” at the White House Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement*.

You can’t imagine George Bush Sr or Jr hosting such a gathering. Right wing Republicans have a long history of demonising folk singers like Pete Seeger as reds who were not only under the bed but jumping up and down on the mattress in an unseemly and public way. Members of The Weavers, Seeger’s group, were redlisted during the McCarthy Era in the 50s.

In the 60s, Seeger re-surfaced in public scene as a prominent singer of protest music in support of international disarmament, civil rights and environmental causes. He was most responsible for popularizing the spiritual “We Shall Overcome” which became the emblematic anthem of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement.

It was also recorded by Joan Baez and many other singer-activists. Baez was literally instrumental in helping to bring this song of Seeger’s (and other countercultural 60s songs by Dylan, her sometime boyfriend), to the attention of the nation and the world, though in retrospect he is a reluctant figurehead of the social and political unrest he chronicled.

As a song writer, Seeger is perhaps best known as the co-author of the poignant “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”  Interviewed on his 90th birthday*, soon after performing at Obama’s Inauguration Jan 2009,* Seeger said that he was a fan of small things and small people.  He could have added- and of demonstrating how non-politicians can have an effect by demonstrating.

Bob Dylan didn’t get on the presidential stage at the inauguration but he had the opportunity to reprise one of his most most famous songs at President Obama’s 2010  White House function. He first recorded The Times they are a-Changin’ a month before John Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. This was in his eclectic  pre-electric  folk stage. It’s hard to find an early version by Dylan of The Times on YouTube (but easy to find scores of covers, both amateur and professional). Dylan is diligent in controlling his own recordings, but the White House gig made it to YT.*

The rendition is rather strange at both the start and the finish: before he gets into his musical stride Dylan takes his hand off the neck of the guitar several times and reaches behind him- to what? Adjust his guitar strap? His coat?  A hidden amplifier switch?  At the end there is an awkward half minute after the initial applause. Is Dylan waiting for an encore, a message from the President or someone to relieve him of his guitar? Mercifully, eventually a stagehand eventually does.

It’s still well worth viewing and reviewing. In the words of literary critic Christopher Ricks: “Once upon a time it may have been a matter of urging square people to accept the fact that their children were, you know, hippies. But the capacious urging could then come to mean that ex-hippie parents had better accept that their children look like becoming yuppies. And then Republicans…”

And helping to rewrite the Texas History curriculum?

In the spirit of revisionism I suggest some updated song titles for the Presidential 2011 hootenanny state function: A Hard Oil’s A-Gonna Spill, If I had a Jack Hammer, Slow Train Wreck Coming, The New York Times they are a-Changin’, Rupert the Hardnosed Remainder, Bowling in the Wind, Bye Bye American Piety, Where Have All the Powers Gone? and  Return, Return, Return?

 #Lyall Lukey 13 June 2010 

http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz

*BLINKS Pr-print    Vid-Video   So-Sound   Mm-multimedia

http://www.discovertexasonline.com/  Pr
Kindergarten – Grade 5   The amended draft Pr
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGPBLkZggXI  Remember the Alamo   Kingston Trio Vid  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XevzVyjCtEc    A 2008 cover by Tony DeSare, with photos, of Bob Dylan’s  1963 song The Times they are a –Changin Mm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr8PZ3ajEWo Bob Dylan reprises The Times… at President Obama’s  White House function  February 12, 2010 Vid  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfXSlmWI_7c  Peter Seeger at 90-still singing his great songs. Vid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5KnYADCSms&NR=1  Pete Seeger & Bruce Springsteen  “This Land is Your Land”  Obama Inaugural  19 Jan 2009. Vid
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovuP3vJO8lI&feature=related Seeger leads the crowd in “Amazing Grace” at his 90th Birthday concert, May 3, 2009 at Maddison Square Garden.Vid
Buy, Buy American Pie   Satirical update of an oldie but goodie-with a reference to Fonterra’s dodgy Chinese milk partner. Vid


Kiri and Susan–Kirioke v Karaoke

May 23, 2010

 “Let’s get off that subject, move on. I’m doing something classical, not whizz-bang. Whizz-bang disappears. It goes ‘whizz’ and then ‘bang’.” Kiri Te Kanawa

Boyle’s law states that for a fixed amount of an ideal gas kept at a fixed temperature, pressure and volume are inversely proportional.

Both the temperature and the volume started to rise during the recent Radio Times interview with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa*. The Kiwi-born Kiri was quizzed about Scottish-born Susan Boyle’s talent quest version of I Dreamed A Dream* from Les Misérables, which she also sings.

Perhaps she shouldn’t have been so misérable but it is easy to understand her chagrin as a consummate, trained professional being mentioned in the same breath as a self-taught amateur.

It was as if the Queen-at least HRH played by Helen Mirren-had been asked to comment on the royal qualities of Betty Driver as the nonagenarian barmaid Betty Williams in Coronation Street.

Dame Kiri, who is holding a competition on British station Radio 2 with qualified judges to discover new operatic talent, said that she loathed the frenzy which surrounds popular reality TV shows such as Britain’s Got Talent.

The show’s producers are certainly adept at creating a viewing feeding frenzy. The 2009 Susan Boyle item* was carefully stage managed down to the last bucket of mock astonishment from the stage crew and judges and cleverly manipulated and amplified in both the old and new media*. 

Different uploads of the same item have had a total of well over 150,000,000 views on YouTube so far and climbing, compared with 204,104 views for the Te Kanawa rendition*.

 Of course, the two have to be seen through quite different lenses-the professional and the amateur. Kiri developed her remarkable talents with the help of voice training by Sister Mary Leo.  She has built up a wide ranging and multilingual performance repertoire from the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi, George Frideric Handel and Giacomo Puccini.

 Susan’s commendable DIY amateur efforts, with a hair brush standing in for a mike and her raw talent and passion for singing, have been on a different trajectory  outside the discipline of the opera or show stage, but many obviously enjoy the heart-warming  results, albeit in small doses.

 Kiri apparently doesn’t think much of Hayley Westenra either-nor of Andrea Bocelli* At an earlier interview she didn’t quite label the popular blind tenor Bantam of the Opera but she came pretty close.

Before she was well known and not long after she had been an occasional busker at the Arts Centre in Christchurch Hayley sang one of Andrea’s well-known recordings at our SmartNet 2000 event in Christchurch. This was more kiwioke than karoeke, with Hayley singing to a soundtrack, but it was a knock out, especially in the context within which it was sung.

 The theme song of the five annual two-day SmartNet workshops and Working SmartNet expos, held in the Christchurch  Convention Centre between 1997 and 2001, was the theme from “2001 A Space Odyssey” -Thus Spake Zarathustra. It played behind  the opening video sequence and theme for the year. In 2000, as the theme finished and before the official opening began, MC Jim Hopkins jumped off the stage, to be followed by the video cameras in the same kind of premeditated spontaneity as in the Susan Boyle item.

Jim then interviewed some young students who were helping to run SmartNet about their career plans after they finished university.  Virtually all of them talked about heading of overseas. Jim’s premeditated punchline, as Hayley Westenra came out from the wings singing the number made popular by Bocelli, was “if New Zealand companies don’t become more innovative, pick up on the skills of new graduates and use new technology, it will be Time to Say Goodbye to too many of our young people.”

 Since then, the export of young and growing poppies has continued apace with just a small dent in the last two years because of the global recession.

 A decade later Kiri and Susan are level pegging in Stuff’s Who would win in a fight? poll. It is absolutely great for amateurs to suddenly be given a ready made live, television and on-line audience  and maybe to even develop a new career of sorts. Good luck to them, but no one would seriously imagine that a democratic vote is an arbiter of musical standards.

Meanwhile, despite media reports to the contrary, Dame Kiri is not retiring. As the Radio Times interview demonstrated she’s neither the shy nor the retiring type and at age 66 she still has a lot to offer both via her own concert if not opera performances and via her work to nurture genuine new operatic talent.

It’s not time to say goodbye yet.

  #Lyall Lukey 23 May 2010 

http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz

      *BLINKS

Te Kanawa blasts Susan Boyle | Stuff.co.nz  

Video Clips:

Susan Boyle – Singer – Britains Got Talent 2009  93,102,839 views

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – “I Dreamed a Dream” – “Les Misérable …  204,104 views

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdxRmcgsKDQ&feature=related Hayley Westenra and Andrea Bocelli 7,483,066 views

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ90HZ_TDxI  Time to say goodbye  Hayley Westenra,  SmartNet 2000 

https://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/?s=Susan+Boyle  2009 blog post

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YngNR6y3URY  Lift off spoke Zarathustra


ANZAC Day-We’ll Meet Again?

April 25, 2010

“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.”  Ross Parker and Hughie Charles—as sung by Vera Lynn 

The poignant truth, remembered today on ANZAC day, is that too many didn’t meet again.

This morning I joined the huge crowd who turned out at the dawn service  in Cathedral Square, Christchurch  to remember fallen New Zealand servicemen and women and  to mark the 95th anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli.

After the ANZACs were landed on the wrong beach New Zealand lost 2,721 dead out of a total 130,784 dead on both sides at Gallipoli in what turned out to be a disastrous sideshow to the main theatres of war in Europe.

Later this morning there was an extra sombre atmosphere after the breaking news of the military helicopter crash north of Wellington, which claimed the lives of three service personnel en route to an ANZAC day parade flyover in the capital.  Military service can be hazardous in war and peace.

It is just over 70 years since Dame Vera Lynn, then 22, visited the Decca studios in London and first recorded We’ll Meet Again. The nostalgic lyrics became one of the best loved sing-along morale boosters during the grim days of World War II.

Voted the original “Forces Sweetheart” she travelled thousands of miles, often at great personal risk, to entertain the Allied troops.

Last year, at 92, she made history to become the oldest living artist ever to have a number one album: We’ll Meet Again -The Very Best Of Vera Lynn.

To make this triumph even sweeter, she even trumped the much-vaunted series of remastered Beatles albums to top the official charts. The moptops might have been more popular than Jesus Christ but they couldn’t knock Vera off this top spot. (When Dame Vera first sang of some sunny day 71 years ago John Lennon had not even been born. He died thirty years ago this December).

 Last November the newly annointed Forces Sweetheart at the Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall was Christchurch-born Kiwi singer, Hayley Westenra.

Hayley has been a staunch supporter of Forces’ charities since she shot to fame in the UK as a singer seven years ago and she was also recruited by the British Legion to be the face of their annual Poppy Appeal. 

Below is an early and rare video of Hayley Westenra and younger sister Sophie singing Up Where We Belong*  at our SmartNet workshops in 2000 to illustrate the theme of New Zealanders learning faster and working smarter to get Godzone  up the international rankings.

A decade later Hayley has formed a new personal entente cordiale with an unnamed French boyfriend. May the Forces be with her.

 #Lyall Lukey 25 April 2010  

http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz

*BLINKS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5uFzwzEVhQ     Letter from Gallipoli
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG48Ftsr3OI&feature=related   And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda 
We’ll Meet Again – Vera Lynn  With WWII  photos
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqsFoKMA1w0   Hayley and Sophie Westenra, SmartNet 2000


Conservatorium-The Sound of Music or The Sound of Silence?

November 2, 2009

“…Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.”    
       

                                                                       Simon and Garfunkel  

Will the nearby new civic halls be alive with the sound of music or will the University of Canterbury’s proposed National Conservatorium of Music at Christchurch’s unique Arts Centre be art garfunkled?

This is another Christchurch Sturm und Drang in a tea cup. It’s been depicted in black and white, but if the conservatorium goes ahead the outcomes are certainly not all black, as painted by some opponents, though they may be a paler shade of white than portrayed by some proponents.

I have been open, but with some reservations, to the concept of building the Conservatorium on the vacant Hereford Street site to complete the original 1873 vision of progressively building a university campus in a gothic revival style. This vision didn’t include the mock Tudor building now occupied by the Dux de Lux, for which we ex-town site students have so much affection. Owner and opponent Richard Sinke seems to have got his Dux in a row rather more adroitly than the UC and the City Council.

Perhaps it’s time to try to clarify some of the thinking behind the concept and to do some rethinking.

The proposal

The proposal for the Arts Centre site is for a building that will replace existing inadequate facilities for music at Ilam, to which the University of Canterbury finally decamped in 1974. Its centrepiece would be an auditorium: “Performance would be the focus of our programmes at the conservatorium. An auditorium would be necessary for rehearsals and performances by staff, students and others… .the School of Music would flourish as a centre of musical excellence with a focus on conservatory-style training in the performance of classical music, providing the highest calibre artistic education for gifted musicians, in particular in strings, piano and voice, and with the possibility of developing a specialised opera programme.”

There is obviously a major international performer behind the concept who fully understands the need for top class rehearsal and performance facilities!  So far so good.

Conceptual Confusion

 The proposed site is in the heart of the city’s cultural precinct, which attracts residents and visitors. The prospectus states: “Entry to the Performance courses (piano, organ, orchestral instrument, recorder, brass band or voice) is limited. Places are awarded on the basis of a School of Music audition held in October 2009.”

There are many professional and amateur performance opportunities in the city. Christchurch is home to a symphony orchestra and the country’s second biggest, if currently somewhat shaky, arts festival. There are also efforts being made to breathe new life into the opera scene.

But there seems  to be some conceptual confusion which stems from a blurring of the related but quite different dimensions of music education and music performance:   “Students would also be able to pursue their interest in a comprehensive study of music, including musicology, music history and music education.”

Music education and music performance are at different ends of the knowing/doing continuum and should not necessarily be lumped together. For example, UC’s Bachelor of Music prospectus lists six pathways available within a Bachelor of Music:  Composition; Digital Music, Sonic Art and Recording Technology; Music Education; Music History, Culture and Research; Musicianship; Performance (Instrumental and vocal).  Presumably all but the last are capable of still being taught at Ilam-as is all or most of a Bachelor of Arts in Music, which contains a wider range of subjects than just music.

We shouldn’t confuse a more general music education, as in Stage I Music, with performance imperatives for those who wish to specialise in music. Apparently  Stage I music lectures will still be held at Ilam, with some staff, not students, doing the commuting;  likewise other music programmes would continue to be offered at Ilam for the likes of students studying for a double degree.

Rectification of Terms

What is a conservatorium? The eighteenth century French origin of conservatoire, as in conservatory of music or theatrical arts, was the word for an orphanage.  Early schools of music originated in orphanages where a musical education was given. An orphanage detached from the Ilam campus is what some fear if the Arts Centre proposal gets the go ahead.
Confucius emphasised calling things by their proper names. Perhaps it’s time for the  rectification of names and for dropping the inflated term “National Conservatorium of Music” in favour of the more descriptive “UC Music Performance Centre”, with an appropriate stress on music performance more general music education. The Music Performance Centre would be something to which serious music students “graduated” to in their second or subsequent years. The School of Music, as the umbrella organization, would span activities at Ilam as well as in the Arts Centre. Some music subjects, not necessarily performance related, are useful for those pursuing education or other careers. 

Design

The overshadowing weight of the design of the four story building is a big issue. The “edifice complex” was one of the reasons why Elric Hooper wants to knock it out of court.

One of the FAQs on the UC website: “Q: Could it be smaller? A: The current size is considered to be necessary for a facility of this sort. Further, it is no higher than the surrounding buildings and the quadrangle it creates will be the largest of the quadrangles”.  

The “all Arts Centre” or “all Ilam” dichotomy is a false one and perhaps has led to the  building being overspecced, not in terms of rehearsal, recording and performance spaces but in terms of staff and administration offices.  We can’t tell. The design has been pulled from the UC Conservatorium website.

The university needs to avoid acting like a homing cuckoo depositing an inappropriately large egg in a rather small nest, thus destroying the organic ambience of the present centre when a more sympathetic approach would enhance it.  

I’ve been been involved in a charitable organisation which, just prior to pushing the button on a new building on an old site, saw the need to have an eleventh hour rethink about the function and design of the building after neighbours raised objections. Substantial design and location changes were made and produced a final outcome acceptable to all parties. Perhaps it’s time for UC to move towards the middle ground.

Finance

If following the Special Consultative Process, the Council resolves to proceed with the proposal, the recommended structure would involve the Council borrowing the funds required to build the centre ($24.355m million), leasing the land from the Arts Centre and providing working capital to Civic Building Limited (CBL), which would be responsible for the development.

CBL would then have a long-term lease agreement with the University, up to 200 years, which ensures lease payments are sufficient to Recover the whole construction cost of the building over 50 years, meet all maintenance and refurbishment costs, pay the interest on the required loans, repay the debt and ensure the structure is cash-flow (and rates) neutral to Council

The financing of the project is the only part open for consultation. Recent Council deals have raised suspicions about the consultation process, or lack thereof. In this case it’s limited to the funding modus operandi not the wider concept. Some previously concealed financial data, eg the price tag for the Conservatorium, has only just surfaced as the Council hearings began because the Ombudsman has once again prised the facts from a coy Council pleading commercial sensitivity and pursuing its own interests in the shape of subterranean staff car parks.

Sinke’s lawyer Margo Perpick says: “There is a strong indication that the city council has predetermined the outcome of the consultative process.” The Arts Centre Trust has already applied to the City Council for “boundary realignment” for six allotments on the proposed music school site.

 Despite all this, the financial arrangements appear to be a reasonable way to achieve a visionary mix of civic and university goals and bring some more life to the city centre.  

Promise and compromise

We shouldn’t fall into the trap of either/or thinking. It is possible and desirable to keep a substantial presence of the School of Music at Ilam, particularly the lecture components and some administration and to have a second hub, the UC Music Performance Centre, at the Arts Centre.

Having some music staff and students working and performing in the centre of town would add to its vibrancy, attract more visitors and provide significant spin-offs for businesses in the inner city. But not all UC music education needs to be in the new separate from the main teaching and learning Ilam family.

The creation of a performance focussed building at the Arts Centre site would, as proponents aver, provide a central city location for the University and be useful for other University events such as the UC in the City Lecture series and alumni events. “This location has the potential to maximise audience numbers and community participation at such events and also at School of Music concerts.”

A modified concept can still be aspirational without being overblown.

Let’s have high quality music in the Arts Centre-in the new auditorium, in the Great Hall and elsewhere throughout the city centre, with UC performers  sharing their talents in a mix of non-profit and commercial contexts.

The Arts Centre is already a showcase, a meeting place, a marketplace and a performance venue for theatre, film and music.  It is no longer an education facility and is not zoned for tertiary education. 

The cosy coterie of proponents  and lack of real consultation has aroused suspicions and raised hackles, but on balance, with some rethinking and redesign, I would support the concept. To make it work some of the more avid supporters might need to get out of their own way  and discard a take it or leave it approach – and some of the critics who have been trying to sink the proposal might need to open their minds a little to a vision still softly creeping.

A modified concept and  revised design offers the prospect of filling in the longstanding gap in the Arts Centre with a blended porcelain filling rather than a transplanted gold-capped tooth. It would foster town/gown connections and enhance the vibrancy of the heart of the city’s cultural precinct.

The Arts Centre “one of New Zealand’s most significant historic and cultural attractions” could then be renamed Christchurch Arts and Music Centre and be alive with the sound of music seven days a week.

“We want music seven days a week, seven days a week will do
Any more than this would be greedy, just so greedy, too true….”      
                                                                                                                       

                                                 Mark Walton  7 Days a Week

Lyall Lukey 2/11/09 

 http://www.lukey.co.nz/   http://www.smartnet.co.nz 

 BLINKS

http://www.music.canterbury.ac.nz/conservatorium/building.shtml

http://www.culturalprecinct.co.nz/

http://www.soac.org.nz/     Save Our Arts Centre from inappropriate development.

Heritage Alert  Graphically illustrates just how significant the proposed building will dominate the Arts Centre site and how totally unsympathetic the proposed new building will be in respect to the existing heritage buildings.

Sound Of silence – Simon & Garfunkel (live sound)

SevenDaysaWeek.mp3


Lottery musical/music lottery in Christchurch

September 27, 2009

   To inspire and nurture a love of music and involvement in music to all aspects of the community.”      Christchurch School of Music Vision 

In the world of musical entertainment most of us are passive spectators these days.

The parlour piano and Sunday night singalongs are faded history. The acoustic guitar and the banjo, like the ukelele, are largely consigned to the dustbin of history, though musical digerati can sing and play along with the Beatles via the latest audibly enhanced and synthesized example of Karaoke’s evolution.

 Good fun but not quite the same-and certainly not nearly as satisfying- as making your own music via Kiwioke and an acoustic guitar or ten. 

I went recently been to the New Zealand Premiere of Leonard and the Lottery Ticket, a wonderful new musical  by former Christchurch music teacher Mark Walton, back temporarily from  across the Tasman.  I also took up a public invitation to join the choir for a one–off performance and, after a one hour’s rehearsal immediately before the performance, I had the exhilarating experience of singing along with a choir of 500 in the Christchurch Town Hall. 

Leonard, a worried man in the tradition of the Kingston Trio, has just been made redundant–a victim of the global economic downturn- when he wins the lottery. Despite what his new found wealth can buy, as illustrated by the crasser Lotto and Big Wednesday ads, Leonard feels empty, sadder and alone with his new riches until he reconnects with the transforming power of music and the fellow feeling of a band, which he is instrumental in equipping.

At 2pm on the day of the premiere there was a public rehearsal for anyone who wanted to sing. There was only time to run through each song two or three times.  At 3pm, as the lights went down, the narrator Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker, walked to the microphone, and the fabulous Christchurch Youth Orchestra conducted by the reassuring Brian Buggy, started to play whilst the choir took a deep breath and prepared to raise the roof.

When the show finished at 3.45 everyone had had a wonderful afternoon of musical fun and discovery. No matter that the size of the crowd outnumbered the audience, which included our young grandchildren.

It was great fun and very satisfying to be conducted by a real conductor who managed to weld and meld genuine choristers, who had had a copy of the music before hand  and a CD, and the rest of us who started from cold and from scratch. Yet with little live rehearsal, to my untutored ear it turned out very well.

Viewing the DVD made by CTV may change my opinion but the audience was certainly enthusiastic and a 45 minute punchy production was a great way to introduce kids to orchestral music and a good storyline with a  point. All this was free, though there was a gold coin collection in aid of Canteen, the teenage cancer support network, to which donations can still be given.*

 Mark Walton  taught music at Cashmere High School in 1974-5 and Bob Parker, now working seven days a week as mayor, (and currently also a lead player in a different inner city musical mystery tour), was a pupil there the decade earlier, before embarking on a broadcasting career.  Both overlapped with my stint on the CHS staff and it was great to join them and the others in this feel good musical experience.

Meanwhile, in Mark Walton’s adopted Lucky Country, which has awarded him the Order of  Australia for his services to music, a fellow Australian who won a $A2 (NZ$2.48) million Lotto prize, avoided claiming his winnings for seven months until last month while he prepared himself mentally if not musically.*

The 48-year-old small businessman discovered his win on January 13, the morning after the draw, but he had been storing the ticket in a tin since then, which, for some when money’s tight, would really take the biscuit .

“There was something about claiming that much money that I wasn’t ready for, I had to get my head around it. I just wanted to prepare myself mentally before I put my hands on it.”  he said.

The winner, who did not want to be identified, said just having the ticket was comforting. At least, unlike Leonard, he gave himself time to adjust.

I wonder if, like him, he’ll take up music seven days a week and join the band? “Music, music, music, music makes you feel just great.”  

Meanwhile, across the Cultural Precinct from the Town Hall to the Christchurch Arts Centre, the proposed site of the less harmonious Music Conservatorium proposed by the University of Canterbury (different from the Christchurch Music School),  the wheel is still in spin.

That is, unless the City Council and the University are just going through the consulting motions.  They are Talking Millions.

*BLINKS

Download the words and recorded versions of Leonard and the Lottery Ticket and sing along.

We’reTalkingMillions.mp3

NiceKnowingYou.mp3

NiceGuy.mp3

Worried.mp3

Sadder.mp3

JointheBand.mp3

SevenDaysaWeek.mp3

CanTeen  The NZ organisation supporting young people living with cancer.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/2775165/Lottery-winner-psyched-himself-up

Kingston Trio – Worried Man – In Color!

    Lyall Lukey 27 September 2009  http://www.lukey.co.nz/   http://www.smartnet.co.nz/



Easy Rider Phil Goff-Born to be Mild

September 13, 2009

“You have a new leader and he has a different style. No disrespect to Helen, I think that Helen was a great prime minister. I do things somewhat differently.”  Phil Goff

10 years ago National was in disarray and Labour was on the cusp of political victory. This weekend was Labour’s first post-defeat annual party conference. How to capture the media’s-and therefore the public’s- attention when you are still swinging low in the polls?

Hardly a chariot, but the political vehicle of choice was soon plain to see. TV One’s news item* on the conference on Friday featured an anonymous black leather suited rider clambering onto a Triumph motorcycle outside the conference venue and riding into the distance.

 At the end of the news clip the motorcycle returned and the driver’s helmet was removed to show… Darth Vader?… a secret patchwearing gang refugee escaping the Laws of Whanganui?…. no…. Labour Leader Phil Goff, wearing a goofy grin because he was firmly in the saddle.

(Not on a Harley like Winston in 2008, but this was a big step up -or down- from the Heartland Bus. At least Goff displayed more agility than Don Brash managed in 2005 when he climbed into a stock car when he, too was the new leader of main opposition party and keen to shed his Reserve Bank reserve. For his good sportsmanlike pains Brash was put in the media stocks for all to mock.)

The other non-motorcyclists in Friday’s TV item were party members off to the conference most, seemingly, wearing black, open necked shirts– not so much displaying their Destiny as showing their solidarity with the keyless and tieless.

The themes of Labour’s 2009 conference were recant, regroup and reconnect with the people. New Labour president Andrew Little did not want to belittle Labour’s achievements during its  nine years in power but did want to pose the question: “…we might ask ourselves if sometimes in the last nine years, we got the priorities wrong”. This was hardly the breast beating mea culpas of the Russian show trials of the 1930s but it did display a hint of humility in the wake of a near decade of hubris.

 “We are going through a phase of listening to people at the moment, identifying what are the things that really annoyed people, or that people are really unhappy with,” according  to Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins.

Even if the young MP looks like he’s come down in the last shower, the light bulb-eco-friendly or not- has flicked on at least momentarily.  It is one of the ironies of politics that “listening to the people” is at its most acute when a party has taken a bath or an early shower and is years away from any realistic prospect of inhabiting the corridors of power. 

Easy Rider Goff has had an easy ride into the leader’s seat. Helen Clark’s handy United Nations assignment in New York and and Michael Cullen’s equally well timed resignation led to a pretty smooth political triumph with little noise and less blood on the floor then that  caused  by some of John Key’s Cabinet appointments.

However, the Labour leader is still politically between Rock and a hard place. His exit and re-entry were more about the election cycle than the motorcycle.

The big question is who’s still afraid of Steppenwolf?  Even suited up for a triumphal entry to his first Labour Party conference as leader, Phil Goff was born to be mild*.  Thunderbirds are go now, but how many more years before he’s on his bike- Goff and he’s off?

 *Blinks

http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/goff-hails-labour-s-fresh-approach-2987421/video?vid=2987429   

Born To Be Wild SPOOF

Lyall Lukey 13 September 2009   http://www.lukey.co.nz/

 


Woodstock 40th-Taking Stock

August 15, 2009

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly?
Was it something that I said?
                              

Noel Harrison, Windmills of your mind.

It’s 40 years ago today that Woodstock began.

When you stood in school assembly with freshly scrubbed pimples and sang “40 Years On”  it did, indeed, in the words of the song, seem afar and asunder. But when you look back and forgetfully wonder it does seem only a short chronological hop, skip and a jump back to 1969.

Promoted as an Aquarian Exposition of music and art, Woodstock attracted half a million young and not so young of the hirsute and hippy persuasion, as well as many clean cut college kids, to its 32 acts, which included Ravi Shankar Arlo Guthrie Joan Baez  Santana  Grateful Dead Creedence Clearwater Revival  Janis Joplin  Sly & the Family Stone  The Who Jefferson Airplane  Joe Cocker Blood Sweat & Tears  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix  

Many are still performing, living on the premium Woodstock added to their musical stocks. Others are gratefully or otherwise deceased. A sad few are musical zombies.

In August 1969 the modern pilgrims set off for dairying rather than strawberry fields outside of Bethel, N.Y. They came bearing pot and potpourri not frankincense and myrrh. They also brought the gifts of peace and love, though three quarters of a year later there was more tangible evidence of the latter than the former.

The festival itself was remarkably peaceful. Despite the bad weather, food shortages, and poor sanitation there was a sense of social harmony. After the concert  dairy farmer Max Yasgur , who owned the site of the event and had faced down opposition to it, (“Buy No Milk. Stop Max’s Hippy Music Festival”),  saw it as a victory of peace and love, with half a million people filled with the potential for disaster, riots and looting  until the cows came home, instead spending  the three days musically and peacefully: “..if we join them, we can turn those adversities that are the problems of America today into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future…”.

In the United States Camelot was long dead and buried together with the assassinated John Kennedy but idealism persisted, even in the face of gritty domestic and foreign realities.

 Richard Nixon was now President after Lyndon Johnson opened the door to the Republicans by deciding the year before not to stand for a second term. (Just before he announced his decision the Press headline was “Johnson stops bombing”. In fact it was the Vietnam bombing and the reaction to it that stopped Johnson).

The idealism of Woodstock soon evaporated in the cynical 70s. The musical Hair stopped playing, Gillette and Remington sales shot up, so did the sales of business suits and military uniforms as America got the corporate/military machine back on the rocky road.  But the tunnel vision of the North Vietnamese proved clearer sighted than the helicopter vision of the Americans. The last American chopper was to leave Saigon in 1975 dangling instant refugees. 

In New Zealand in 1969  Keith Holyoake was still Prime Minister and Robert Muldoon had taken over as a young and aggressive Minister of Finance after Harry Lake’s demise.  The conservative cocoon was starting to split. Decimal currency had been introduced the year before, together with the liberalization of drinking hours to permit 10 p.m. closing.  But the first oil shock and Britain’s jilting of the old Commonwealth in favour of the Common Market were three years in the future. New Zealand still went where Britain went-except for Vietnam.

New Zealand had a token military presence in Vietnam and suffered casualties. The ruling rate of exchange for supporting the U.S. was roughly a thousand sides of hamburger prime beef allowed into the country for every Kiwi soldier in Vietnam.  The country also supplied the main ingredient for Agent Orange, the nasty defoliant used in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Anti-Vietnam protests were de rigueur.  New Zealand’s association with American military overkill  provided a fresh cause sandwiched between the rugby imbroglios of the early 60s and 80s.   Senior leaders of the Labour-led Government 1999-2008 earned their political spurs on the anti-Vietnam barricades.  Outside party politics Tim Shadbolt,  the old gray mayor 40 years on, was just a young stirrer of bullshit and jellybeans.

Back in the USA, if you were a young American civilian male (especially if you were black or a non college student), there was a very real prospect of being shipped off to Vietnam and shot up. Woodstock was an attractive, albeit temporary, oasis that was a definite step up from annual kids camps in the freedom department.

But the festival was not just a happening- Woodstock was designed as a profit-making venture by four young men who add advertised thus in the Wall Street Journal: “Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions.” Rather than being counter cultural the organisers were inviting money from the bastion of capitalism itself.

As an early and unplanned example of free content, it became a “free concert” only after it became obvious that the event was drawing hundreds of thousands more people than the organizers had prepared for. In partial compensation the entrepreneurs  offered Warner Brothers a $100,000 deal to make a film about Woodstock on the basis that “it could have either sold millions or, if there were riots, be one of the best documentaries ever made,” according to organiser Artie Kornfield. The thousands who turned out in dank cow pastures, not dry cornfields, became unwitting extras (see excerpts below).

If many bands built their brands on Woodstock, others rued missed opportunities. Tommy James and the Shondells declined an invitation. Lead singer Tommy James stated later: “We could have just kicked ourselves. We were in Hawaii, and my secretary called and said, ‘Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.’ That’s how it was put to me. So we passed, and we realized what we’d missed a couple of days later.”

Joni Mitchell was in the original line-up but cancelled to avoid missing a scheduled appearance on TV. (She made up for it by singing Woodstock at the 1969 Big Sur Festival and many times since. Popular but unreliable memory would probably aver that she was there in person.)

It is hard to imagine Woodstock without electric guitars. Les Paul, who died this week, was literally instrumental in developing the amplified solid guitar played stunningly by southpaw Jimmi Hendrix to wrap up the three days.

Woodstock is widely regarded as one of the greatest moments in popular music history and was listed on Rolling Stone‘s 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll. It also indelibly coloured the lives of millions, whether they were there in person or saw the movie and listened to the songs.

But rolling about stoned gathers no moss and Woodstock memories, real or ersatz, are elusive. As Paul Kantner famously said: “If you can remember anything about the sixties, you weren’t really there”.

Either way, from this distance we can still watch the images unwind-and even have an occasional tilt at windmills.

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind.

Blinks

From the documentary Woodstock 1970 part 16/23

Bare facts  Woodstock 1970 part 17/23

Hendrix closes  Woodstock 1970 part 21/23 

Joni Mitchell – Woodstock (Big Sur, CA 1969)

A great Second Life cover, stunning visuals Machinima – WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND

Lyrics-Windmills of your mind  http://www.flickr.com/photos/ktlindsay/878061073/

Lyall Lukey 15 August 2009   http://www.lukey.co.nz/