Another spo­radic post in a blog that I’m not sure any­one reads any­more given the lack of posts.

But, damn, I’ve been busy. Busier than at any time in my life. I’ve writ­ten more words than I’ve ever writ­ten — school and uni included — and yet I’ve more or less ignored these pages, where I’ve done much of my writ­ing in recent years because time is some­thing I’ve really not had options on squan­der­ing on the friv­o­lity of tak­ing time to relax by blogging.

And no, I’m not try­ing to be a mar­tyr or elicit sym­pa­thy. It’s voluntary.

What it is is this, which was announced a month back. And rather than expect­ing any­one to read through a press release issued by a gov­ern­ment related entity I’ll post the first few paragraphs:

NZ On Air today announced fund­ing for a new web­site telling the story of pop­u­lar New Zealand music. Made by the peo­ple who were there, Audio­Cul­ture will map the NZ music land­scape, con­nect­ing peo­ple, record­ings, places, scenes and record labels from the early twen­ti­eth cen­tury until today.
Until now there has been no sin­gle place to go to find out about NZ music. Infor­ma­tion, record­ings and his­to­ries are being lost. Led by site Cre­ative Direc­tor and music doyen Simon Grigg, Audio­Cul­ture will work with artists, his­to­ri­ans and music indus­try peo­ple to tell the sto­ries of our music over the last hun­dred years from the first record­ing in the 1920s.

Audio­Cul­ture will con­tain reviews, discogra­phies, inter­views, bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion, back­ground arti­cles, images, record­ings and music videos, dis­cus­sion and com­men­tary from fans and artists.

So, yes that’s me and appar­ently I’m a ‘doyen’ — I didn’t write it but the Free Dic­tio­nary tells me it means ‘A man who is the eldest or senior mem­ber of a group’, which I take to mean some­one who is about to put out to pas­ture — soon — and they need to find some­thing handy for him to do in the interim.

Yup, me, a ‘doyen’ (as defined) with time on his hands. For some rea­son, I hadn’t men­tioned this project in detail here before, the rea­son mostly being the mas­sive work­load I’ve hap­pily invented for myself and sev­eral other ‘doyens’ — not least Mur­ray Cam­mick who’s the edi­tor — and younger aspir­ing ‘doyens’ (it’s not just old men telling sto­ries I promise).

I talked about it all with Trevor Reekie here (link­ing to it as I’ve not done it here to date but I thought it was a good inter­view and I do rather enjoy talk­ing to Trevor about most anything).

As any­one who knows me is likely well aware, given that I’ve ear­bashed whichever mis­for­tu­nate was in range, this is a project I’ve been push­ing for since time began, and it’s been a long obsessed slog — the scari­est part of which was the bit when some­one said yes, as they have now. How­ever I’ve always believed it’s too impor­tant not to do — we have been until now, pri­vate ama­teur enter­prise aside, as a nation utterly hope­less at pre­serv­ing our musi­cal legacy and noth­ing nailed that more for me than the heinous fact that at the last music awards when it was nec­es­sary for the organ­is­ers to get a writer in to con­coct a piece explain­ing to the spon­sors who exactly Toy Love were.

It’s the rough equiv­a­lent of hav­ing to explain to an Eng­lish­man or woman who The Sex Pis­tols were. Such a thing really would not have been nec­es­sary — they just know, unlike the cor­po­rate spon­sors in NZ who sim­ply don’t. I’m not sure if that says more about their (mostly for­giv­able) igno­rance, or about our poor record­ing of the his­tory involved (unless you hunt the often extra­or­di­nary blogs like Mys­terex, 5000 Ways or Dub­dot­dash), but they could be for­given if  you’d tried to extract their worth from the Toy Love wiki which is nigh on use­less as is huge parts of the rest of that site’s doc­u­men­ta­tion of our New Zealand musi­cal cul­ture and past.

A few weeks ago a dim edi­tor pro­posed delet­ing the wikipedia entry on AK79 — it was unim­por­tant said he/she! To who? It was and is a cor­ner­stone com­pi­la­tion for we New Zealan­ders and part of our cul­tural his­tory for so very many rea­sons, not least in that it kick-started the thriv­ing inde­pen­dent record­ing indus­try we know have in New Zealand.

There was an attempt to delete The Sub­ur­ban Rep­tiles a few years back — defeated by aghast New Zealanders.

Which really means that if we don’t do it our­selves then nobody bloody well will. The task is rather immense and I’m at best bemused by the few naysay­ers mak­ing noises about the amount of money bud­geted in year one (and no I haven’t been given that amount of money — that’s the bud­get applied to the over­all project, but you were able to work that obvi­ous bit out, right?).

Really, you try and cre­ate the archi­tec­ture for an inter­ac­tive, multi-layered, multi-media site that will likely have 20,000 pages to tell the sto­ries that need to be told in way that com­ple­ments and illus­trates respect­fully within a few years for less. What do you sug­gest? Select­ing a free Word­press theme and a cou­ple of handy plugins?

Seri­ously.

And that is really the a big part of the point, and I’m going to say it here, and say it again, over and over — this is a multi year project and when it launches next June (or May — NZ Music Month per­haps) it will be but a skele­ton with a lit­tle hint of the flesh and mus­cle that will come as time passes. It has to have time to grow and there is a broad strat­egy for doing so, until — san­ity, health and act of god (no I don’t believe in him either but the term implies prov­i­dence I guess) — we reach a place where the writ­ers, con­trib­u­tors and pub­lic (‘cos you’ll be adding stuff as well, that’s cen­tral) have forged a site that doc­u­ments the stuff that those VNZMA spon­sors couldn’t find or sim­ply didn’t know.

As an aside, can our lead­ers pos­si­bly find a way in the interim to fund — or let Kim Dot­com or who­ever fund — the cru­cial new NZ to world data cable? I’d like the rest of the world to see this at a rea­son­able speed please. Access­ing NZ pages from off­shore even now can be a hit and wait ordeal at times. It’s a wee bit more impor­tant than another road.

 

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