The Eye of the Fish

February 22, 2013


What a week it has been. On one hand you could argue that nothing much is happening to the Urban scene in Wellington, although there are a few stirrings that we really must attend to one day as they grow. But on the other hand, in other cities, there is drama and plenty of it. Headlines never stop. Instead of just having one pope, we’re just about set to have two popes, and goodness, the Vatican is agog. How will they ever cope? Will the old pope influence the new pope? Will the old nuns have to move out of the convent before the old pope moves all his gear into the upstairs flat?

The Americans seem to get on OK with having a President and an ex-President, and so far they don’t necessarily require one to be dead before they choose a new one, so perhaps some lessons could be learned there. And besides, there is actually already more than one Pope. The Coptic Church of Alexandria in Egypt elected a new Pope just last year, and they’ve been doing the whole Pope thing much longer than those Johnny come lately Roman Catholics. Since the Beginning of Christianity, pretty much, in fact. Pope Theodorus II is their latest bloke, if you don’t believe me.

And the Ethiopians have a Pope as well, I believe, who also died / was replaced last year. So – lots of popes to go around. You too could be the pope, as long as you’re old, male, and well into religion.

But why worry about Popes, when we have Paul Holmes, who has been treated with almost as much adulation recently. He’ll be beatified up there with Mother Teresa and Lady Di before we know it. And now Kevin Black has passed away, and even Philip Leishman is very ill. Popes and newsreaders falling like flies. Whatever next?

We’ve had a major asteroid do a near pass between the moon and the Earth, half the size of a football field, one of which size dictates that if it actually hits us in future years, we won’t need to worry about global warming too much, as there won’t be anything left except cockroaches for years. Meanwhile, in a meteor that we did get to see, a meteor half the size of a footballer lit up the sky over Russia, and blew out a few thousand window panes – which in Siberia in mid-winter can’t be a good thing.

Closer to home, it sounds as though we have a major schism happening with Te Papa, under the new guidance of the former Welsh national museum. Shakeups are required! Museums must be daring! Splits are proposed! Radical changes are afoot! Who knows, in a desperate effort to drag in more punters to see the art, we could be going down the route of the Leopold Museum in Vienna, which has just had its first all-nude evening tours, particularly of a show where all the artwork was nude as well.

Yawn. They’ve been doing that for years now in Tasmania. Can’t actually see that happening in NZ though, as we seem to have an aversion to nakedness. So instead of having a good tour of some dodgy art, or a dodgy tour of some good art, we’re apparently going to get No Art at all, and another children’s playground called Museum of the Future.

Still, at least we are not going to be getting a Casino. There is, already, something incredibly dodgy about Casinos and Convention Centres, and why we need one in Auckland and one in Christchurch has never really been explained satisfactorily. The Casino in Auckland is already obscenely large, as is the Convention Centre there, so the prospect of having another 500 or so Pokie machines just makes my skin crawl. Not so the skin of our revered Prime Minister, who seems quite at home dealing with trading rights consisting of dealing Convention Centres coming free with every Pokie hand out deal.

Apart from the obvious anti-social hell of the Pokie Hall at the Casino, where no one talks to no one, too afraid to take a WC break rather than lose a winning streak of rapidly spinning lemons and diamonds… apart from that, to me there is just the standout ugliness and lack of sense of design of the machines. A cool piece of high-modern design surface, it is not. Instead, bells and chinks and whistles and kerchunka, kerchunga pierce the visuals and assault the senses.

No, for me, if Casinos were more James Bond and less John Bogan, we’d begin to be happy. If Casinos in our country concentrated on the cool green baize of the blackjack table, or the solitary spinning wheel of the roulette, rather than the untidy, noisy mess of the one-armed-bandit style Pokie, then Eye of the Fish would be much happier.

You’ve all seen the scenes where Mr Bond, surrounded by impeccably tuxedoed men with finely combed moustaches, and long lithely winsome women in improbably plunging neckline dresses all crowd around the heroes and villains as millions of dollars of ill-gotten gains are gambled away… Now that’s my vision of a Casino.

Not some dreary room with a thousand sad and lonely socially retarded grandmothers endlessly pulling the lever of a coin shuffling piece of electronic bling with bad taste graphics and tacky music. Have some class Mr Key, for once in your life, and aim higher with your dreadfully tacky bribes!

Addendum: Moller Architect’s proposed SkyCity Convention Centre

22 - 02 - 13

It’s not just a dodgy deal to build the Convention Centre. Turns out that it has been designed to sit on land that they don’t even own, and isn’t even for sale….

Seamonkey Madness
22 - 02 - 13

Not to worry Albeto.
A wink here; a couple of nudges there and BINGO!

Mr Grumbles
22 - 02 - 13

So, you have managed to incorporate stories and pictures about the Popes of three major churches, naked male appendages, and gambling all in one post. You have excelled yourself in tastelessness this week!

22 - 02 - 13

Seamonkey – drum roll and cymbals clash to you !

Mr Grumbles – not entirely planned, but yes, I see that i have. Apologies to anyone truly offended…

Alberto – that seems really odd. I always just assumed that the Convention Centre would be planned for a block adjacent to the existing pointy skytower thing – and i thought that TVNZ were down the other end of town. Mind you, there is that monstrous big empty block opposite skycity at present. Surely that can’t be tvnz land too?

22 - 02 - 13

I’m not sure how far up Hobson St you’ve swum lately Max, but the TVNZ mothership is directly over the road from Skycity. Presumably the semi-vacant site next to the Network Centre is the one at issue. It is not entirely clear what expansion TVNZ might be planning that would require it, however. Perhaps a Shopping Channel Mall?

22 - 02 - 13

Good grief Starkive – you’re absolutely right. My mental map of Auckland is clearly based on something dodgy like iOS and is moving entire city blocks in cyber space. Either that, or i just mentally block out large swathes of Auckland city. That TVNZ building is, from my (obviously) vague memory – damn hideous / alluringly attractive in a glitzy POMO manner. I’ve found a picture too, which I’ll post up, although it still puts me no further ahead.

60 MPa
23 - 02 - 13

Although they are playing Texas Hold em in that scene from casino Royale due to reasons of popularity, once the clamouring masses are slung aside you will find that Bond plays Chemin de Fir aka French Baccarat.

23 - 02 - 13

If the state seizes land without knowledge or compensation, it’s called communism. If a private company does the exact same thing, it’s called, well…

23 - 02 - 13

Zut alors, 60. Must be my week for pedantry.

Chemin de fir? It’s chemin de fer. Some kind of light rail I imagine.

24 - 02 - 13

Chemin = route. Fer = iron. The route of iron? How that relates to cards, I do not know.
But yes, it does sound like a light rail option… More so than James Bond.

There is a great article in the latest Listener, by Jane Clifton, where she gives the National Government a well deserved spanking over this. She notes that it is “almost a Faust bargain by proxy. Although not a direct party to the deal, the hollow-eyed addicted gamblers who feed money into slots will be the ones to part with their souls, while the more functional sectors of society enjoy the benefits of the convention centre’s boost to commerce. Except, of course, that it’s ultimately the Government, courtesy of the taxpayer, that pays for the poverty and misery caused by problem gambling. So it becomes a veritable soul train, in which the Devil gets to clip the ticket all the way around, with the exception of Sky City. Once again, the house wins. Or, to put it another way, there is such a thing as legalized daylight robbery.”

24 - 02 - 13

DeepRed, while I agree that your naming logic is impeccable, somehow I just can’t believe that the grand Capitalist pokermachine market of SkyCity would be reverting to Communism at this late stage of the day. I reckon there is more of a story yet to be told, with a winebox full of documents to be found in later years, where Don Key et al were found to have bartered the rights to the bed of Lake Karapiro or some such, in exchange for the deeds to the Casino, after a late night getting smashed on vodka with the remains of the politburo.
New Zealands fine reputation as the most pure and unsullied of countries takes another hit. We are not 100% pure any more.

And 60 – I’m surprised that you’re such an aficionado of the arts of the green felt table. I had thought you were a hairy arsed builder. Clearly, if you have lots of money to spread around, you must be a plumber.

25 - 02 - 13

Max>Except, of course, that it’s ultimately the Government, courtesy of the taxpayer, that pays for the poverty and misery caused by problem gambling.

The government owns a chain of betting shops and a television channel devoted to supporting that gambling. It runs a national lottery. The last Labour government increased the subsidies to the horse gambling industry in order to buy NZ First’s support. Scratch cards, lottery ticket sellers, and pokie machines are everywhere. I can’t get excited by a handful of extra pokie machines in one location if it means the government don’t have to borrow to pay for a convention center. Especially since the total number of pokie machines has reduced over the term of this government. So well done National… I’m not convinced a convention center makes any sense, but at least I don’t have to pay for it.

I have a relative in Auckland who thinks Key is sponsored by the gambling industry. I assume her view is also because of the “poverty and misery caused by problem gambling”. She and her bloke own a cafe that sells alcoholic drinks. It’s like an irony free zone.