I got a Rocket in my Pocket and a Roll in my Walk

I’ve been mean­ing to link to this for a while: Chris Bourke’s rather won­der­ful and evoca­tive obit, from 2002, for one of Auck­land City’s most vital char­ac­ters of the last half cen­tu­ry. With a huge soul, gen­er­ous and straight up, he’s very much missed – there’s always a bot­tle of Ouzo at the bar for you, bud­dy…Phil Warren

Phil War­ren, Impre­sario

Irre­press­ible, imag­i­na­tive, ener­getic, brash, provoca­tive, enter­tain­ing, Phil War­ren had all the ingre­di­ents to be a clas­sic dem­a­gogue. Instead he used his tal­ents to fur­ther his pas­sions: enter­tain­ment and the region of Auck­land. The two con­nect­ed often; he believed show busi­ness and pol­i­tics were nat­ur­al bed­fel­lows. Both require the gift of the gab – and a nat­ur­al charis­ma to encour­age peo­ple to get out and vote for you. He knew the old gag – “pol­i­tics is show busi­ness in drag” – and once put it to use when he booked Dia­mond Lil for a Labour Par­ty con­fer­ence. Besides all the acts he booked, all the local body meet­ings he chaired, in the ear­ly 1970s he altered the social fab­ric of New Zealand when he act­ed like a one-man lob­by­ist to change archa­ic laws that pre­vent­ed licensed drink­ing after 10 o’clock. “I always vote for Phil,” an Auck­land friend once said. “He’s the only politi­cian who believes peo­ple should be allowed to go out at night.

[From Dis­trac­tions]

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