The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
October 23, 2014

Santa’s little finger

A rare post this morning on an old friend of mine – the giant Santa statue in Auckland. Sadly, after a million years of him being tied to a central Auckland building (see: urban related discussion) the cold-hearted people of Auckland have decided that they no longer want a Santa in their midst.

Standing about a full 5 stories high, Santa was a defining part of my childhood. I can no longer remember the faces or the names of any of my childhood friends, but I do still remember the excitement of going as a child into central Auckland, and seeing the Santa statue. The whole family would cram into the aged Ford Consul, no seatbelts on the long front bench seats, and with Dad smoking furiously, filling the car with tobacco smoke, we would motor up to the tall towers of central Auckland once a year, in my mind specifically to go and see the Santa statue. There he was, astride a street corner, cloak glowing red, long before i had heard of Coca Cola’s corporate branding of my big-bodied hero. His finger curled and slowly animated, he beckoned us into his grotto, which presumably was somewhere in the Farmers building (nowadays a Heritage Hotel). I could stand on the street corner, presumably in short trousers, like a Fish out of water, and watch him curl that finger seductively. Apparently he also winked, but I do not recall that.

Yes yes, in retrospect it does indeed all sound extremely creepy, and the sort of thing any self-loathing paedophile would be proud to do: wink, leer, wiggle your finger seductively and promise small children some candy if they would sit on your lap… But that is looking at this through the eye of an adult. As a child, it was magical. I stopped believing in God long before I stopped believing in Santa.

Most importantly though, it gave me an urban experience, rather than a suburban outlook on life. Going into Auckland, we would drive down Grafton Gully, at that stage still full of mighty tall trees, instead of just 14 lanes of asphalt. We would pass the university, a lovely stone filigree of a tower, set in a delicate park like setting on one side, with the two-storied villas of Symonds St on the other side. There was no Skytower, no Metropolis, no PWC tower. There was just Neville Price’s superb slim tower for Singapore Airlines, the magnificence of the Dilworth building and it’s multiple modulation of the corner, still the best building in Auckland’s main Street. We would excitedly shout out “Pinhead” to the badly made statue of the tall Maori chief with the disproportionately small head who stood proudly aloof in the centre of the street (where is he now?), and we would get giddy from going round and round in the parking building, sliding from one side of the vinyl bench seat to another, unfettered, and with great glee, as Dad searched for a car park. Parking buildings! The height of big city sophistication! Well worth making the trip up country for.

$180,000 to erect a Santa annually? That works out at about 12c per person in Auckland, a tiny amount to warm the cockles of a small child’s heart. Come on Auckland, bring back Santa and his big fat finger. Auckland needs a good fingering.

m-d
23 - 10 - 14

Not part of my childhood, but here you go (the wink): https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderferret/306437527 (Dirty old Santa!)

m-d
23 - 10 - 14

Apparently the wink was turned off more recently, becasue of the noise it made! “the winking eye had already been turned off because of complaints about the noise from neighbours”

There’s an interesting history of him here: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/aucklands-giant-santa

Maximus
23 - 10 - 14

thanks m-d : great links, especially to the history page. Another chapter yet to be written….

re the pictures i’ve insertedf up top: the first one, sad santa, looks eerily like the late RObin Williams, who really was a sad santa. I wonder if that was deliberate? And the main image, the washed out photo from the 50s or 60s, is exactly how i remember my childhood. Blurry, indistinct, but always warm, always summer. Look at the palpable sense of excitement in the crowds – every floor on the parking building stacked to the gills. Fun for all the Fish Family!!

Maximus
23 - 10 - 14

the power of the Fish knows no bounds. Apparently the whole of Auckland was reading this post and went and protested, and look at the result:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10654571/Aucklands-Santa-saved-from-retirement
Hooray! As JohnKey says:
“Three more years!
Three more years!!!”

Grant
23 - 10 - 14

You might also like to check out this related story – it appears that the Civilian has been resurrected.
http://www.thecivilian.co.nz/surrounded-sex-offender-still-wont-come-down-from-roof/
“Whitcoulls managing director Ian Draper said that, if the man does indeed remain there, he would appreciate it if police took a more proactive approach to getting him down.
“I don’t think a lot of people realise, but business can be quite tough with him just sitting up there,” said Draper. “He scares away the kids, and that’s how we make all our money, really; from spoiled little shits getting their parents to buy them $40 books with about 20 words in them.”
Police are reportedly considering removing the man by force, but are unsure if there’s anywhere they can plausibly detain him.”

Sue
24 - 10 - 14

WTF is with you using an offensive antisemitic caricature as the second picture.

Did you not check what that was and where it came from ? If it is a deliberate choice then this is the last time I will read your blog and I am sure others will feel the same.

Maximus
25 - 10 - 14

Gosh Sue, you go off on a tangent fairly quickly, don’t you…? I would have thought that seeing the picture came straight after a description of sort of paedophilish activities, that you would pick up that I was trying to depict a leery old dodgy geezer In a Santa costume – which that picture certainly depicts. I just googled “bad Santa” but didn’t particularly want a picture of Billy Bob Thornton. As far as I’m aware, and as far as I’m concerned, it is just a picture of a particularly dodgy looking Santa. If there is more to it than that, then I’m completely unaware of it, and quite intrigued – i’ll have to go and try and track it down again and see what you’re on about.

But I am intrigued that you think I am anti-Semitic just because – presumably – he has a large hooked nose? I have several friends with large hooked noses, some of whom are Jewish, some of whom are not. Noseishness does not define an attitude to religion to me, although evidently it does to you. Or is this a particularly well-known image? If so, no idea. He doesn’t look in the slightest bit Jewish to me, although evidently he must do so to you? Anyway – feel free to leave this blog any time you wish – you’ve never commented before, as far as I’m aware, so I have no idea if you are a regular reader. If indeed you have been a regular reader for many years, it’s sad that the first and only thing you’ve said is a complaint about me apparently being anti-Semitic – which, I think you may be able to agree, is not a trait that I’ve exhibited. I’m actually pretty much anti all sorts of religion, so if anyone with any religious beliefs, or any kind of noses at all, gets offended, then happily remove yourself. Cheerio!

Maximus
25 - 10 - 14

Hmmmm. Further to my last comment, it seems that the picture is from a site for an Americana / Blues / Country band called Bad Santa. http://www.reverbnation.com/badsanta
No mention of them being particularly pro-Semitic or anti-Semitic either. But seeing as the USA is the biggest supporter of Israel in the world, then I’m presuming that it’s not likely to have been intended to be particularly anti-Semitic. It certainly doesn’t appear to come from anything that indicates anti-semitism to me. Does the fact that he is smoking a giant camberwell carrot not indicate that the reason he is unsuitable as a child-minding Santa is that he has an uncontrolled drug habit, perhaps?
Enough already. You do what you like, and think what you like, I couldn’t care less. I don’t want to pick up your nasty habit of judging people by their noses.

60 MPa
25 - 10 - 14

Also Sue, it’s the third picture, not the second so your faux-outrage is wrong again

When I fuck up I apologise. When you do it? – well that’s up to you, Sue

m-d
25 - 10 - 14

Sue can’t apologise, as she no longer reads the blog!

Maximus
25 - 10 - 14

Thanks 60 and m-d. Who would have thought a post about a fiberglass Santa in Auckland could get so out of control… I’d better write a nice, bland, non-religious, ethnically-non-specific post about architecture now. Hmmmm. And I thought I was going to have the weekend off…

Maximus
25 - 10 - 14

Well, that IS interesting. Unbeknownst to me, I seem to have stumbled across an image descended from an image used by one of the nastiest little Jew-haters in the world (not wanting to push further web-traffic his way, I won’t link him in). The giant spliff and the marijuana leaf motif in the background have perhaps been added in by the Americana /blues band noted above – I have no idea if they had any intention to deliberately stir up anti-jewish sentiment. The problem is of course, that I don’t make a habit of frequenting Neo-nazi right-wing white-supremacist websites – not even WhaleOil which is too gross for me – and so the whole politicization of the image skipped me by.

Just as an indication of the sort of nutter we are dealing with, his website has the following note about comments moderation:
“All you nation-wrecking Marxist Jews and Israel-Firster HasbaRATs, braindead White Multicults and FOX Kwans, sicko Sodomites and Lezbos, perverted Pedophile Molesters, freaky Gender-benders, greasy Illegal Mestizos, cocaine-crazed and criminal Negroes — or whatever bizarre combination of the above — all of you scumbags had better beware that commenting here risks incarceration in my SPAMblinka concentration camp!”

While I can agree with his dislike of SPAM (which incidentally has dropped away from the thousand a day of last weekend, and is now back to about 10 a day…), I think that I can happily assure Sue (wherever she may have gone to) that I don’t agree with any of his politics, and aren’t even sure what some of those things are.

diessoli
26 - 10 - 14

My first though upon seeing the image was akin to Sue’s, not because Bad Santa has a big nose (I have a big nose), but because it looks like a typical anti Semitic propaganda image. And you don’t have to frequent right-wing hate sites to have seen them. Just paying attention in history class is sufficient (at least in most European schools).

However I did not make the leap to thinking that you wanted to express anti Semitic sentiments but made the connection to your remarks re. creepy pedophiles.
And to be fair neither did Sue (see her qualifying ‘if’).

D.

Sue
26 - 10 - 14

Interesting pile on – but this particular image has caused issues before.

http://convincingreasons.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/the-tale-of-the-anti-semitic-santa/

The image is from a particularly nasty anti-semetic site and has been adapted many times and always to the bad but apparently its just me having a problem with it. And no, I’m not going to apologise for calling it out even when I count the pictures wrong.

Maximus
27 - 10 - 14

Thanks diessoli and Sue for your feedback – and for that excellent link Sue – I’ve learned a lot as well. Sorry for causing offense Sue – unintentional, obviously. After reading the link, and the ensuing comments, Apparently it’s not just the nose, but also the hair at the sides of his head, and the way he is ringing his hands that make him “Jewish” but all this just passed me by.

Bygones.

Moving on!