The Whole Story



    Enjoy Lisa Scott's reviews and blogs: guest blogger for NZBM 2009 as well as past blogs from NZ writers and commentators.

Dave is probably best known for his solo career as one of the country’s most prominent singer-songwriters throughout the eighties with the Pink Flamingos, formed with the late Paul Hewson of Dragon fame – and as guitarist and co-songwriter with Graham Brazier in the legendary Ponsonby band Hello Sailor. The band, with all original members, is still active in the music industry and is currently writing and recording material for a new album. Twice nominated for the APRA Silver Scroll (1981 & 1995) and 5 awards at the 1981 Recording Industry Awards, for the album Dave Mcartney and the Pink Flamingos, including Group of the Year, Album of the Year and Best Male vocalist, Dave has a BA in English, majoring in Renaissance poetry, and during the nineties taught in various institutions in Southern Germany. He is currently working on the definitive story of Hello Sailor and its adventures in the music business. If you’d like to make a comment on Dave’s blog, just click on the ‘comments’ link below.

  • The reconditioning of culture

    In London I visited my friend Sam Ford, who works in the painting restoration department at The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Sam took me on a tour of inspection of his basement infirmary, of hip replacements and laser surgery for the giants of the past 600 years of pictorial representation of culture. Sam informed me that there is probably not one painting in the gallery in it’s entirely original state, having been ‘touched-up’ painstakingly, and with regularity, with water soluble paint (so it can never be technically altering the original, in other words, it can be washed off if perhaps a successive doctoral restorer comes along and undertakes to do a better job), nevertheless, as in reincarnation, the spirit lives on and transmigrates, while the body dies in a dust cloud of cellular mutability.

    Sam is the ‘hip-replacer’, working downstairs in the frame renovation department, where they replace, among other things, the battens which criss-cross the backs of the ‘oil on wood’ paintings dating back to the 15th century, and which have been carefully fixed to prevent warping. Upon my arrival, he laid down his chisel and removed his gloves. What was he doing? I enquired. He was finely shaving the back of the painting (no power tools allowed) in order to render it completely flat in preparation for the new battens, which were in turn carefully selected from the centuries old wood pile of off-cuts, milled especially for the job, and stored in the bowels of the National Gallery. In his spare time, Sam makes furniture for his spartan apartment, and I guess, occasionally a piece of oak from Sherwood Forest ends up as an armrest or two.

    May I ask what the painting is, Sam? Oh, it’s a Rubens, he muttered, lifting it up from one corner so I could see for myself. I touched it and gasped, filing away the experience on the labyrinthine shelves of my decaying mind, this little brush with Rubens, getting up close and intimate with the air that he breathed.

    But, we don’t recycle in NZ. We can’t help ourselves. We’re just not a sustainable art culture. We gotta just keep churning out new records, un-robust new leaky-building architecture, pathetically oversubscribed weekly magazines which recycle the same old party-goers, yeah, and a thousand new artists a month in a proud new frontier most of all famous for the thinness of its feet on the ground. Ironically, a Richard Leakey – of Olduvai gorge fame, Nile Valley and the discovery of the first uprightly walking homo stupido – will never unearth this in archaeological times to come. It’ll be long decayed, like my brain.

    From one museum in the Old world, to another in the New World, Lopdell House, Titirangi and the occasion: the launch of 3 visual art pieces, books of paintings and photographs. To the Harbour, by Stanley Palmer, a collection of monoprints, a memoir of the Manukau Harbour; Out West, by Chris Hoult, a photographic journey through the West of Auckland; and, Book Cover Designs & Prints, by Sarah Maxey. 3-in-one. Is that celtic ‘y’ thrifty or what? Reeds did it nicely though. You had unlimited bottles of pretty decent Coopers Creek Chardonnay, and lots of classic Westie identities, like John Madden and John Gardner and John the Electrician. I was the only Dave. The other one’s been banned.

    Actually, in former times, when I was a bona fide westie, I learned the art of entertaining in the westie fashion (you know, home brew, pool at the Raza, famous fishing trips out of Cornwallis) from Chris the photographer, whose book was the standout for me, especially the awe-inspiring shots of the coast around Whatipu and the entrance to the harbour, which you should know, is the oldest European settlement in Auckland. Out West. You could say, scattered throughout those fortunate hills, an eloquent explanation, subdued, but eloquent, of the state of the heart of West Auckland. Outrageous it is not, that is why it will grace coffee tables for centuries to come, as long as the coffee tables aren’t constructed of custom board.

    But, hey! for our little cultural backwater, where the tall poppies we’ve all bled for, they now may as well be crouching oyster shells, ready for the nick of a lifetime on the heel of a painter treading heavily through the tidal shortcut toward infamy; through the mud of history and the slime of rejection. It is you I salute, oh brave frontiersmen of the new world of corrugated iron art and Chardonnay diplomacy.
  • Of the Visual, Audio, and Sensual - TransWorld Express in 30 days

    What is it about man’s connection with this earth? I truly believe we are walking with angels and cosmic energies stream down into our brains and down to our feet. Ancestral connections, and the feeling of having arrived home when first putting foot on England’s ancient soil, have spooked many a colonial returning. But a lot has to do with our intrinsic connection to culture; what is created, and who created it. Man doesn’t only leave behind oil slicks and empty coke bottles.

    And, thank you, Kevin Ireland! ... I was in Paris recently, gazing at Rodin’s Kissers and Picasso’s big-hootered ladies and the outlandish big-uddered goat, and then on to the basement of Galleries Lafayette, shopping with my 15 year old daughter. Jeune Fille, as the name implies, is the whole area devoted to her, and moi – I am the Beleagured Male Shopping Companion – a BMSC , new word, a Bimpsk, that’s me!

    Back on the Metro, squeezing past lanky Italian teen-models hunting assignments in packs of two; out at St.Paul and up to The Marais and footsore by the time I applied a sneaky gaze at the classic Parisienne hookers on Rue St. Denis. All that jazz; the dazzling Max Factor complexity of the lives of this ancient city’s inhabitants and time passing unnoticed by the buildings and food…..till you get to the Père Lachaise cemetery and it’s monstrous erections to all the prominently dead Parisians, with Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde thrown in for good measure.

    Thank you Kevin Ireland for the brilliant technical light you shone on Sir Thomas Wyatt’s poem, They Flee from me that sometime did me Seek for what does it mean when we go for that aimless, decadent (every10 years) injection of culture, shuffling with the other millions of culture-gazers through the halls of past Regimes and tickets into the bowels of all those Mona Lisas. It means we are there! And do you feel it?

    Wyatt’s poem is set in London round about the 1530’s, not Paris today, but it helps, although the poem has nothing to do with travel. It’s about what went on inside the head of a renaissance man. And, I did not read Kevin Ireland’s piece in a publication until I returned to Auckland, a month later, which is a month earlier… from today. And poor old London was squeezed in between, somewhere after Marseille.

    As an English Major in Renaissance poetry in 1989, I carried a pocket edition of Wyatt everywhere I went. In that little pocket was the rampant flush of uncontained desire and its denial, for that is essentially Wyatt; his pained, conflicted confessionals of sexuality and betrayal in the court of King Henry VIII, promiscuity tiptoeing through stone corridors under the unsettling surveillance of the Tower.

    And, to which you added, Kevin, ‘its message, style and stance are stunningly fresh’, comparing ‘the past with the present, pleasure with regret, tenderness with rage, giving with receiving, insinuation with desertion, and a domestic and intimate physicality with a vague sense of existing in perilous times’……and isn’t that just what traveling with your wife and 15-year-old daughter could be like? Well, that was shopping at the very expensive Bon Marché in St. Germaine, the new un-hip part of the left bank.

    I refer to Dear to Me – 100 New Zealanders write about their favourite poems, nothing less than a substantial collection of a vast range of English poetry, and a magnificent scope of Kiwi celebs, apart from Kevin – Bob Jones, Bill Gruar, Helen Clark, Lance O’Sullivan, Otis Frizzell, John Tamihere, Dave Dobbyn – and their variefied commentaries.

    All very entertaining and deliciously honest. You gotta’ read Bob Jones’s piece on Shelley’s Ozymandias, then skip to the bejandalled one, Chris Knox’s shameless promo of an ancient song lyric from the bloody Mainland! The Jean Paul Sartre Experience’s Flex (sorry Chris, but you won again, it is actually brilliant) and I sneaked in with the cream and popped up with my gay Manhattan friend, Frank O’Hara whose poem The Day Lady Died [1959], I chose. Read that, and you’ll see the very gay academic in me!

    Amnesty International and the girls at Auckland Grammar, who were responsible for the production of this important book of poems, asked me to play at the launch, a week after landing back home – LA being the last shopping diversion – ‘I wanna go to Melrose Ave; Na! I wanna go to 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica!!’

    Being of a withdrawn nature, I was honoured and flattered, and determined to deliver an appropriate piece. I chose – a relief after having to undergo the inertia of indecision of choice between 100 designs of Calvin Klein underwear in Galleries Lafayette Homme – a sneaky little ballad off my recent album of tunes, ‘HOOK’, from 2003, ‘Savage Little World,’ as I had managed to paint a picture of Kiwi innocence juxtaposed with the slaughter of children in war zones……

    Barbeques and caravans Jelly-tips and Superman Tennis ball cricket on the beach But don’t you know on the Ivory Coast On the long hot summer days The beach Is a killing field And the Jelly-tip’s a gun

    I know, Kevin, the rhyming scheme falls off at the end. We have to impose a plodding angularity on a song lyric to suit the musical tempo and feel – a bit like Wyatt. His poems were also song lyrics meant to accompany ‘the lascivious pleasings of a Lute’ [WS].

    Well, we’re back in the studio very soon, and I can give you some working titles of some tunes we’re working up; My House, Feed de Dog, Legwax of the Heart, Bric a Brac Shop, Bungalow Ave, The i Crowd, Tiny Voices…. We are rockier, funkier than ever, with Ricky and Paul taking a more active role. And, taking Ponsonby reggae on a journey towards Calypso. This is geographically an Auckland record and we mean to be dirty! Cos’ we’re old, and cos’ we can! And watch out for the book...

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