The Eye of the Fish

February 19, 2010

Carnivals and Festivals

Every year, around this time, Wellington comes alive with festivals and carnivals. Last year it was the Cuba Carnival, when we blossom briefly into a Latin lovers paradise for one brief weekend, complete with dancing girls, massive gaudy floats, and the almighty Batucada band. We blogged about that somewhere – maybe here. Note to self: must start planning for massive Fish float for next year.

Perhaps combined with the Film Archive, sitting on one of their new Aeron chairs, and being pulled along by a school of massed sardines. Something like that, anyway.

This year of course we have the Festival, which is really two – the Fringe, on now, and the International, which is about to start soon: 6 days and 14 hours away. Every year, like most Wellingtonians, I forget to buy tickets until its too late and the best events have sold out. But then again – how do you know what tickets are good, unless they are selling out? Go to their award winning website and find out. We’ve also got Homegrown coming up this weekend, and Tom Jones on Monday, although sadly all his tickets are gone except for the back row, putting him well out of reach of my knicker throwing potential. Lucky for him. But his voice is so powerful, we should still be able to hear What’s new Pussycat? without a ticket, as his songs escape the MFC and echo around the rooftops of the inner city.

Around the world, this time of the year is Carnivale Time, which makes a lot more sense if you’re Catholic and from the northern hemisphere. There’s a Lent thing going on, fasting for Easter, echoes of Fertility rites, issues of spring goddess birth and rebirth, giant eggs, gold lame costumes, nudity, hilarity, and a fair bit of procreation due to all the exposed flesh. We miss out of that here in NewZild due to our inbuilt Scots prude heritage, although the slappers of Courtenay Place do their best to make up for it. But we do also miss out on the masked elegance of the Venice Carnivale, where elegant costumed revellers cavort behind bejewelled masques, with the somewhat bizarre origin of being a method to stop men dressing as nuns from entering nunneries for a bit of How’s your Father. Well dodgy, those Venetians (although, in terms of Urban Design, quite good…). Speaking of good urban designers, we farewell today Gerald Blunt from the Council, who is leaving to set up his own Urban Matters consultancy, after a decade or more of excellent urban design guidance in Wellington. Fantastic work Geraldo, and thanks for keeping Wellington such a tight urban unit. And good luck to the rest of you.

Continuing on with the Carnivals, we also miss out on the earthier delights of Rio’s Carnivale with the massed rump-shaking booty-call of Brazil’s finest breasts and buttocks, and even getting downright dirty with the mud cavorting of the Bloco de Lama in Paraty. While I would no doubt do well in the Bloco party, slithering away in the mangroves, I’m very envious this year of an urban designer friend of mine who has gone to Rio expressedly to see the Carnivale and experience the Urban highlights of a city that really knows how to party. Kevin, if you’re reading this, send us in a picture or two.

But the greatest festival of all, is surely the vast un-organised madness that is Burning Man in the Black Rock deserts out of Nevada. Normal rules of law seem not to apply – neither the laws of gravity, nor the normal prudish morality of clothing. It sounds great – days of anarchy, culminating in a giant statue burning: drugs, debauchery, artistry on the edge of madness. But a fish in a desert? I’m afraid I can never go….

19 - 02 - 10

I love this blog.
But I love the old version of this blog.

This one is so not user-friendly.
Where are the comment numbers?
Where is the oh-so-friendly front page?

It just seems too much like hard work….
The other blog was easy. Turn it back.
Change for the sake of change is not a good thing.

21 - 02 - 10

You forgot to mention the Art Deco Weekend in Napier – New Zealand’s biggest and best small town festival. It’s not just about the Art Deco architecture, of which the city is full, but about the cars (over 200 deco-era cars in the parade) and has, most of all, become about the people.

There is a huge amount of dressing up – there are bands playing in the street, people dancing in the street, oldies in their finest, young children getting into the spirit and dressing up as well – even the PM was there dressed up in a deco blazer. All quite extraordinary – but definitely one of the best festivals around.

21 - 02 - 10

Aaah, yes, the Art Deco Weekend. Not really into dressing up – I prefer a good dressing down myself. But you’re right about the people getting into the spirit of the weekend – and the times – although the argument could be levelled that Napier is stuck in a bizarre time warp, becoming cocooned in a Deco-style medley of real deco buildings and fake deco people.

And while the children getting into it is fine, it does seem to be an almost exclusively pakeha thing, no? White, middle class, very anglo kind of thing? There’s a reason that the Art Deco weekend doesn’t really work in nearby Hastings isn’t there?

21 - 02 - 10

mobsta – thank you, both for the haiku – both the compliments and the criticism. Hopefully Philip will be working away trying to get the comments thing working – I agree that some notification of latest comments – the simplest the better – would be really useful. It does, currently, look a little white and unfriendly – no sign whether anyone else has commented since you last had a look – and also no sign of the day or time that they commented. Personally, I quite enjoy it when you see the record of a continuous interchange of comments – ie at 4.02 person A said that, and 4.08 person B replied etc. However: that’s the young Mr Belesky’s department – he is very good at that stuff, whereas I haven’t a clue, and just write and push the button that says publish.

So saying, did you see that the Fish got a page in the latest copy of Urbis, with a lovely picture of the very photogenic Philip, and of course no sign of the elusive Maximus / man / woman / person / fish. I rather like the anonymity – both from blogger and commenter – – I’m presuming that you are an architect, but haven’t got a clue who you are or who you work for – and that’s ok. A bit of mystery goes a long way.

22 - 02 - 10

And Webstock – don’t forget Webstock ! I thought you’d e blogging about that?

22 - 02 - 10

I haven’t the time for a haiku, although I have more than enough syllables, andI don’t want to seem churlish about the new layout – I just changed my office around at the weekend for similar reasons – but I have to agree with Mobsta. I miss the comments count and I liked the old columnar front page. You don’t have to change it back, but could you possibly change it forward?

22 - 02 - 10

Starkive, jcb, mobsta, thanks for your comments. Dates and counts will definitely be returning.
I’m planning a post on webstock, and all things techno-archi-urbany. If anyone wanted to share their experiences (particularly those that went to the street as a platform workshop) then be sure to get in touch.

22 - 02 - 10

Without Starkive and I appearing like a mutual appreciation society – I agree with him wholeheartedly.

The thing I really miss about this blog (apart from a bit of functionality) is the columnar (great word!) front page.
With the old format you got a single column and at least one image.
This was the image that drew you into the rest of the article.
Based on the above post it would be the fishmobile (a great image) or if you wanted to take the populist route you could have moved the gold (ahem) carnivale dancer up the post….

The current format doesn’t draw me into the articles.
Just lots of words on a boring front page.

Remember that most of your readership are visual-based architect / designery types.
Give us some visuals.

23 - 02 - 10

Why no coverage of the biggest urban design story in town? The rumour is that WCC has fired its urban design team, does not want them back, and legal action may follow. What’s going on?

24 - 02 - 10

We’re not in contact with anyone at the Council on a regular basis except for the occasional email sent our way by the lovely Richard Maclean, but like you, we have noticed the ads in the paper. They’re repeated in the paper today.

I haven’t got a clue what is actually happening at the Council, so am unsure whether it is a headless chicken or a well oiled machine. But there do seem to have been a large amount of restructurings over the last couple of years and all for what? We’re unsure. All the people I have met at Council over the years seem to be hard working and passionate people when it comes to planning Wellingtons future, so I really am unsure what is happening or why. Perhaps someone could enlighten us? Fred ? Richard ?

Trina Saffioti
18 - 03 - 10

Hi Maximus
Apologies for the tardy response, I have persuaded the lovely Richard MacLean to take some annual leave which is why you haven’t heard from him. Unfortunately the story is nowhere near as big as you might think. Like any good business, the Council’s Urban Design team has taken a look at its services, priorities, processes and the forward programme of Council commitments and said – how do we maintain delivering excellence to Wellingtonians and this great City?

Thinking and delivering improvements is what our community and Council expect from the team. As part of this, the team has thought through its relationship with others and how to play an influential role in the Council’s and City’s future. The emphasis of the team will be on:
leadership and advice
positioning Wellington for success
research and performance frameworks.

The Urban Design team has not been fired. The roles and needs of the team and Council have shifted and this has meant roles have been updated.

Trina Saffioti
Wellington City Council