I’m going to be LATE for the museum

May 23, 2010

LATE 04
Innovate: Media
Thursday, 3 June 2010

This month LATE at the Museum asks what a rapidly-changing digital landscape means for broadcasters, policy makers and of course us as audiences?

The evening will ask what is happening, and what needs to happen, to ensure the independence and profitably of content creators in the age of ‘open source’ media.

Is the Internet the friend or enemy of today’s broadcasters and journalists, and how can we sustain quality programming and reporting at a time when newsrooms are shrinking and people expect to read, hear and watch content for free?

Smart Talk

The evening features a panel discussion with Associate Professor of Journalism at AUT University, Dr Martin Hirst and Brent Impey, ex CEO, Mediaworks NZ (TV3, TV4). The discussion will be moderated by former editor of the New Zealand Listener and award-winning columnist Finlay Macdonald.

Great Music

Entertainment on the evening includes Little Bushman who return to the Museum for an encore following their spellbinding performance at our inaugural LATE, plus Jeremy Toy (Opensouls) with special guests.


Martini Music: A funky jazz comparison

May 2, 2010

My dream gig this week would be Sharon Jones with Hollie Smith. The big question: Who would headline?

If you’re reading this outside New Zealand you might not know Hollie Smith, but if you’re a fan of Jones and the Dap-Kings you will like the Kiwi singer too.

Smith’s voice has a deeper bass note and her music is not quite in the same danceable be-bop/funky groove as Sharon Jones, but the jazz-blues roots are there and so is the lyrical and musical weight.

They are modern divas of soul and both have new-ish albums out (as of Feb/March 2010).

Smith’s Humour and the misfortune of others is a hard-hitting mix of ballads and jazz-influenced rock-blues  that move the soul and lift the spirits, despite being written to express Smith’s emotional roller-coaster existence through 2008-2009. The lead track and first single is “Mamma”.

The stand-out track for me is “Let me go”, it has a soul choir that wouldn’t be out of place in a Memphis tabernacle.

Jones and the Dap-Kings are based in Brooklyn, but they too have some bluesy roots and have got the funk-soul thing down to a fine art on I learned the hard way, their fourth studio album.

And they’d bring the house down live.

Jones is super cool, check out this interview from South by South West earlier this year.

There’s a 30 year age gap between Jones and Smith (alias Smith & Jones), but I’m sure they would get on and certainly they’d fill the stage and the auditorium if they were to gig together in New Zealand.

If you’re a promoter, get this double bill together and give Kiwi audiences a real musical treat.


Martini reading: There’s joy in the art of everyday drinking

January 23, 2010

Moac and Em are blessed with some very good friends; the sort who buy you really good books that they know you’ll enjoy.
Over the holidays I’ve been lucky to have friends who care for me and want to help me on my quest to build a good library of drinking books.

I’ve already mentioned, several times, the excellent Martini: A memoir, by the Australian writer Frank Moorhouse. His stories of martini-drinking and avoidance of the dreaded crazy drinks are a real pleasure.

I haven’t mentioned so often the great little book about whisky, Raw Spirit, by Scottish writer Ian M Banks. Banksy is usually known for his sci-fi, or humorous and fantastic novels, but his whisky book is a good read and a handy primer on some of the finer single malts available to the serious tippler.

Raw Spirit is as much a travel story as it is a serious guide to drinking good Scotch. Banks and his fellow-travelers move around the various distilling areas of Scotland in search of the perfect dram. They have fun doing it too.

But this summer my reading has been a little more eclectic courtesy of Kingsley Amis and Victoria Moore.

Amis is well known to most adults who’ve ever read a book in English. He was a British novelist and essayist of some note and one of his most treasured pass-times was sharing a glass with pals. Amis wasn’t a fussy drinker. He pretty much would drink anything, but he hated stingey hosts with a passion.

In 2008 three of his less famous texts on drinking were published together for the first time in one volume: Everyday drinking: The distilled Kingsley Amis. What I like about this book is that it is unpretentious. It’s not all about the most expensive French wines, or the finest Cognacs (though they do get a mention).

This is a book about everyday drinking: the sort we like to do with friends on a Friday after work, or on a weekend. In daylight hours, during the evening, late at night and into the early hours of the following day.

But of course, I’m not advocating binge drinking. Let’s remember, it’s not what you drink, but how you drink that counts.

Amis is advocating educated drinking, without it becoming a form of one-upmanship. Though his tips for how to shill your guests if they overstay their welcome is priceless.

The other great part of this book is the recipes, most of which are not available in modern cocktail books. One that I tried a few times over the Xmas period – with a dozen Clevedon oysters – was Black Velvet. This is a heady combination of champagne and stout. Delicious, refreshing and so, so good with ice-cold oysters on a warm summer evening.

I’ve never been one for self-help books, but Victoria Moore’s How to Drink, was on my Christmas list (thanks Moac) and I’ve really enjoyed it. How to Drink is an updated version of Amis for the noughties. It has recipes too, but the main difference is that it also has sections on coffee, tea and soft drinks. It’s not a soak’s progress, it’s a serious (well, semi-serious) guide to modern drinking etiquette and some historical stuff about gin, brandy, various teas and coffee blends and the all important Armagnac V. Cognac debate.

I don’t have a position on that yet, but I bought a bottle of armagnac this weekend and I’m sure I’ll be comparing notes with Ms Moore soon enough.

Just so you know how things have changed since Kingsley Amis wrote the material that has been collected in Everyday Drinking. If you want to keep up with Victoria Moore, you can join her Facebook page, or follow her blog at The Guardian.

Mr Amis would be growling into his porter, right about now…punk, soul brother, but that’s for later.

Tonight I’m having an Empire State of mind.


Supreme irony

January 18, 2010

I’ve learned something from Whaleoil; he often describes the MSM as “repeaters”. It’s a nice term. It has a touch of the William Gibson and Neale Stephenson cyberpunk about it.

Today we had a good example of repeat-a-news with the awful, fawning coverage of the royal visit to Wellington.

We heard in driveling detail, about the prince’s dinner plans, his tussle with an iconic endangered species and saw far too many cougars and simpletons dribbling over the limp royal wrist.

The republicans and the Ministry of Justice proteters were the (repeat) sideshow.

Justice workers stage pay rally during Supreme Court opening

The protesting workers belong to the Public Service Association. They’ve been taking industrial action to support their claim for fair pay and a fair pay system since October 14 last year.

“This was a peaceful protest to let the public know that the workers who run our justice system are being underpaid,” says PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“The government has spent $80 million on the new Supreme Court while the workers who run our courts are paid 6.3% less than the rest of the public service,” says Richard Wagstaff.

NZPA covered this, so it’s now on repeat, but it should have had more play in the TV news, rather than meaningless grabs with Prince-groupies; “It is understood” (repeat).

The Republican Movement was also there, but complaining that TV(repeat after me)3 got it wrong:

Supreme Court Opening: Its Time For A Republic

“Prince William might be a nice guy, but it should be a New Zealander, chosen by New Zealanders, opening our highest court of appeal”  said Lewis Holden, chair of the Republican Movement.

“It has cost New Zealand taxpayers $200,000 to bring Prince William out to New Zealand. Monarchist claims that this figure has been paid off with free advertising are nonsense.”

Sign me up!

And get me one of these.


Martini Music: something old, something new, something funk, something blue

April 25, 2009

It’s time for another dose of Martini Music. This month an eclectic collection – what else would you expect from EM?

I bet you wouldn’t expect a CD of 80s Hollywood soundtracks, though Van Morrison you might and what about Billericay Dickie?.

When drinking martinis you need to have sophistication in your surroundings and sophisticated music. That is why Chez WhiteHirst is so special. Our Casa Refugio with its own rhythm and blues and occasional punk sensibility. In fact there’s an 80s symmetry to some of this play list.

Tonight I’m sitting in the dining room with a Perfect 10 and some Clevedon oysters, at the moment we’re about 8 tracks into this afternoon’s first CD,  Hollywood, Mon Amour, released in October 2008.

One of the stand-out tracks for me is Skye (ex Morcheeba) singing Blondie’s “Call Me” which was apparently used in American Gigolo.

You can download the track list from MySpace, keep an eye out for “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky III by Katrine Ottosen and “This is not America” from The Falcon and the Snowman, sung here by Juliette Lewis.

The combinations on this CD should not work – crap 80s films, some classic tunes and some weird remix moves by  Nouvelle Vague – but it’s a great way to relax into a Saturday night.

Read the rest of this entry »


Martini Music – a party-time playlist

February 1, 2009
Amy Winehouse drug-free? Hollywood Gossip

A drug free Amy Winehouse - Hollywood Gossip

Update 23 October (over the dateline)

A drug-free Amy Winehouse? I’d love to see that.

But here in Aotearoa we have a saying that is captured on billboards advertising Tui beer:

A drug-free Amy Winehouse: “Yeah right!”

So it’s not surprising she went crazy at the Q Music awards yesterday. [26 Oct update]

Still, her dad Mitch says she hasn’t taken drugs for a year. Do you believe him?

Hollywood Gossip thinks otherwise, though it seems her boob job went well.

I”ve been meaning for sometime to write a note about Martini Music. In particular I wanted to mention Amy Winehouse.

Yes, I know she’s a walking disaster zone, but her musical talent is all too obvious. I really hope she doesn’t kill herself with whatever grizzly cocktail of drugs and fucked-upedness floats her boat. There’s a lot more Martini music here too, just skip the updates if you’re not an Amy fan.

Update 10 October 2009:

I have no idea if Amy’s had a boob-job and frankly I don’t care. I think it’s great that she turned up on Strictly Come Dancing to support her 13-year-old God-daughter. Maybe, just maybe, Amy’s making a recovery. She was reportedly straight back into rehab after the performance, but her 3rd album is due to drop sometime next year.

Personally I don’t think these recent photos show anything except that Amy’s looking better than she has in a long time, but then again, I’m not sure I’d know the difference between a 32B and a 32D anyway. If you look at earlier photos, she’s not that different.

Photo: Gossip Center

Photo: Gossip Center

Read the rest of this entry »


good bars gone bad

July 19, 2008

Our friend Billy is visiting, so last night we decided to drop into our local bar (it’s walking distance) for pizza.

On previous visits we’ve been charmed by it’s quirky hole-in-the-wall feel; the friendly staff; the hot, crisp and tasty pizzas and the reasonable wine list.

The drinks menu even featured an apple martini. I didn’t ever try this, but I knew it probably meant Marty (barkeep) could mix a drink. I took him up on this and had an acceptable gin martini one evening.

But last night was a different story. As sometimes happens when a venue changes hands it goes into some sort of death spiral.

I spotted a bottle of Bombay on the counter and after a couple of domestics earlier at home, I was in the groove and thought “Hell, why not, I’ll have a martini while we wait for the pizzas.” I knew things were not going well when the barkeep went into the tiny kitchen and came back with a jar of kalamatas.

Read the rest of this entry »


Martini Meanderings

March 30, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I was in the Brooklyn bar with a few colleagues when Paul mentioned a cocktail called a “wanker” that was based on tequila. We got chatting and I mentioned that I’d been wondering about a tequila-based martini. Paul agreed to try one with me if we could come up with a recipe. So we “invented” ourselves the tequila martini “wanker”. After drinking it, much to the disgust of one or two of our companions, we altered the recipe slightly and got to the “tosser”. Read the rest of this entry »


Drink made a liar of me, again

April 25, 2007

After deciding to go home and nurse my cold with paracetamol, I got waylaid (of my own volition) and went back to the Brooklyn Bar. Wayne, Gillian, Katherine and Helen were there. I was going to have one martini, it turned into several and then dinner at Tanuki’s Cave. What fun.
I met Alex and Yvonne at the Brooky, I noticed they were drinking martinis too. I’d never seen that before in this bar, so I had to interview them for Ethical Martini.
Yvonne said that the first martini they were served was a) not cold enough and b) had way too much vermouth in it. But their disappointment turned to joy when Shaun offered to remake them.
Apparently the second round was much better.
Yvonne was drinking vodka martinis made on Absolut. She said that her view of “dry” is the same as Winston Churchill’s: “take the top of the vermouth bottle and bow in the direction of France.”
Yvonne was very pleased with the service in the Brooklyn Bar, so am I. The voluble and expressive Ms Sissons dropped two martinis with her waving elbows, right into my lap and Wayne’s. Not only did Shaun clean it up, he made two fresh drinks. That’s dedication to bar tendering. Thanks, mate.

Getting back to “dry”, I can’t really see the point of not putting a liberal amount of vermouth into a martini. Afterall, if you want to drink gin or vodka with an olive chaser, do that, just don’t call it a martini.


No Martinis this week

April 24, 2007

I have come down with a nasty flu bug that requires antibiotics. Damn! No more martinis this week.
I did have one in the Brooklyn yesterday evening with Helen, it was excellent, not too cold, nice and dry and two olives. Your standard gin/vermouth model. It hit the spot, but now I can’t have another until I’m feeling better.
Here’s a picture of my next Martini:

Blue Martini

White Space

Ingredients:

1 Part(s) Sky Vodka
1 Part(s) Blue Curacao
1 Part(s) Sour Mix
1 Garnish Lemon Twist

Instructions:

3/4 oz vodka, 3/4 oz blue curacao, 3/4 oz sour, shake well and lightly mist, serve up, preferably in a double martini glass, garnish with a lemon twist.