So fuckin’ angry..She really should have gone to rehab

July 25, 2011

Amy, Amy, Amy. Addiction, talent, sex, drugs, rock-n-jazz.
Fuck it. You’re dead.

“You know that I was trouble”

A dark ‘martini’ in your honour.

When I say “dark” and “martini” in the same sentence I am reminded of Frank Moorhouse and Monsieur Voltz’ “crazy drinks“.

This is the “espresso martini”, if you must here’s the so-called “recipe”. Just one, but wash it down with something citrus.

Ingredients:-

coarse brown sugar (also called raw sugar or turbinado sugar)


1 shot freshly brewed espresso
1/2 ounce Kahlua
11/2 ounces Stolichnaya Vanilla vodka
3 espresso beans for garnish

How to make:-

Dip the rim of a chilled martini glass in cold water, then in the sugar.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Make a fresh shot of espresso and pour it into the shaker, over ice.
Pour in Kahlua and vanilla vodka.
Shake well for 45 seconds and pour into glass. Float 3 espresso beans on top for garnish.
Makes 1. [CookingAge]

Voltz is right, this is a sweet abortion of a classic and does not deserve to be called “Martini”, but tonight, there’s no way you won’t want one of these.

Tonight I make an exception. Drown your sorrows and wake up with a fucking monster headache, at least you get to wake up.

A cribbed toast:

“You’re so beautiful, before today,
put it in the box.
Frank’s in there, and I don’t care.
Take the box

I really love you”

But at the end of our binge mourning, we know who’s no good and it’s not Amy Winehouse

And from MOAC and the Kiwi Amy…but not.

Gin Wigmore who didn’t know this would be a tribute.


A singer must die – sometimes; or at least leave the band

May 12, 2010

We have a Canadian colleague (and now friend) staying at Chez WhiteHirst this week and she brought with her the sad news that Steven Page has left the Bare Naked Ladies.

I know sometimes news travels slowly and I seriously thought this was something that just happened, but no; Google tells me it occurred in February 2009.

That says more about my interest in fandom than I’d like.

However, MC also went to JB and bought Moac and me a copy of the “new” Bare Naked Ladies CD, All in good time, which features a track (You run away) in which Ed laments the betrayal of a friend. It seems to refer to Page.

Where's Mr Page? Exit stage right.

The speculation when Page left BNL was that it had something to do with his cocaine bust in 2008.

Whatever the cause it seems that both Page and the band have moved on. All in good time is a pretty good BNL CD, the vocals and arrangements are similar, but perhaps without the band’s famous sense of fun, except on one or two tracks.

Page has an album out too; a collaboration with a funky and contemporary group of classical musicians called Art of Time Ensemble.

Page’s record with the ensemble is a series of covers, including this classic, ‘A singer must die’, from Leonard Cohen.

I really like ‘You run away’ and the first time I heard it – in the car on the way to work – I had to wipe away a nostalgic tear. I love BNL and I like Steve Page too, I will be going out to get A singer must die later today.

And, I would argue that this is still martini music. Rock for grown-ups to be enjoyed in a cool bar, or even at home. But remember, it’s not the drinking, it’s how we drink and I would be careful with the martinis here. Too many and you could get all maudlin and pine for the past. Tears before bedtime, not good.


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.


Holy Smoke – Martini music and local Gin

February 27, 2010

I love Gin Wigmore. She’s a real talent and deserves to be played at any party where Martinis are being drunk. Holy Smoke, released in September 2009,  is a great debut album. Some really good tracks, a great overall feel, Gin’s interesting and strong voice and some pretty fine lyrics.

Gin’s backing band The Cardinals, used to work with Bryan Ryan Adams [tx Mark] and they provide a great beat and smooth melodies with some musical magic thrown in. For me the standout tracks are’ One More Look’ and ‘Dying Day’. Her work with Smashproof on their award-winning single ‘Brother’ caught my ear last year too and Holy Smoke shows that she is an artist with a future – great maturity and insight for someone under 25.

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Martini Music: punk-folk-protest music survives

February 19, 2010

Alistair Hulett, 1951-2010

There is something admirable about those people of deep political conviction who, in their youth, rail against the unfairness of the world and maintain that rage for the rest of their lives.

The great Scottish-Australian folk singer Alistair Hulett was a gentle man with a wonderful sense of humour who never deviated from his deeply held belief in the essential decency of the working class and the exploitation of those workers by capitalist elites.

So it was appropriate after his death in Glasgow from an aggressive cancer at the age of only 58, that his wife, Fatima Uygun, would describe Hulett as a “singer, songwriter, international socialist, revolutionary, ecologist, community activist”. He was also a man who had and deserved the admiration of his fans.

[Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald 18 Feb]

Alistair Hulett was a friend and comrade. But what I didn’t know is that he had grown up in Christchurch. Alistair wasn’t a martini drinker, but we’ve shared a pint or two on many occasions. His musical talent was legendary and internationally recognised.


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.


Three strikes = bad policy: mortgaging the future for a root

January 20, 2010

Let’s face it, the Government’s “three strikes” legislation is bad policy, but good politics.

It might also get two little Hitlers a rub’n’tug from Laura Norder.

Getting tough on crime is pure populism. Criminologists are united in arguing that it doesn’t work for a bunch of reasons, but that doesn’t deter the little Hitlers.

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Whale-watching: Interesting Names and SHAME

January 19, 2010

The fiesty blogger Whaleoil has ramped up his campaign to reform New Zealand’s name suppression laws by launching a (so far) online crusade called SHAME.

It’s a shame to mix up Whale’s campaign for justice – ie. his legal defence – with this campaign to reform name suppression laws,which has a focus on sexual offending, rather than the broader debate about name suppression. There has to be more intellectual rigor around any campaign to change suppression laws, rather than the simplistic and moral-panic inducing call to expose alleged and/or convicted pederasts.

The Whale is also publishing “interesting names” on his Gotcha blog. They are mostly convicted and registered US sex offenders who have been arrested on serious charges in the last few days. The exception is Scott Ritter – former UN weapons inspector – who was recently arraigned on charges laid after a police online sting operation.

But for at least one of the Whale’s “interesting names” there’s more than one prominent individual at the top of the Google list. An indication of how releasing and publicising common names can also create accidental victims.

Whale is probably trying to make the point that NZ suppression laws prevent the establishment of a public sex offender registry like those operating in many American states and nationally, such as Family Watchdog. In Britain there is The RatBook, Unofficial and the no vigilante disclaimer seems a little hollow in tone and intent.

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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.


Whale-watching: S(hit)nitches get st(orm)itches

January 17, 2010

Shitstorm to&fro

It’s late, it’s Sunday, commonsense comes with the (I don’t like) Monday(‘s) (morning blues)…meanwhile…Martini music

Keep going