Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Baby Zachary - the ultimate gay fashion accessory?

(First published in the Curmudgeon column, The Dominion Post, January 4.)

HOW DOES a jaded, ageing but fabulously wealthy pop singer amuse himself when the hits stop coming? In Elton John’s case, the answer is to have a surrogate child – the ultimate gay fashion accessory.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this turn of events. Remember that in 1984, John married Renate Blauel in Sydney. In a sense, she appeared to be an accessory too – a convenient means of fending off speculation about his sexuality at a time when it might have been detrimental to his popularity.

If that matrimonial charade was a career move, this latest undertaking looks like a vanity project.

Just as it suited John to take a pretty young bride then, it apparently suits him now to have a baby. Fashions change, after all, and there are few things more fashionable in 2011 than single-sex parenthood. But it’s hard to escape the feeling that John’s need for self-gratification takes priority over other considerations, such as the effects on Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John of having a father 63 years older.

We can only hope, for young Zachary’s sake, that John’s sudden enthusiasm for parenthood is more than just a passing dilettantish fancy, similar to that of people who buy a cute-looking puppy for Christmas then tire of it and dump it at the SPCA six weeks later.

* * *

MANY occasional visitors to the Wairarapa regard the Rimutaka Hill road as a formidable obstacle. I once met a family of Canadian tourists who spent an enjoyable summer’s day in Masterton, where I live, but were anxious to get back “over that mountain pass” to their Wellington hotel before nightfall.

Most Wairarapa residents, on the other hand, are accustomed to crossing the Rimutakas and think nothing of it. Many regard the physical barrier between them and Wellington as part of the region’s charm.

But there’s a type of driver frequently encountered on the Rimutakas who is a pain in the neck. These are Wairarapa locals, almost invariably male, who are determined to show everyone else how fast they can go. I call it the Rimutaka Syndrome.

Peak commuting times in particular are when these macho road warriors like to display their nerve and skills with risky passing manoeuvres or by tailgating slower vehicles to hurry them along.

It’s a daily display of one-upmanship and I suspect that for many of these drivers, it’s their only chance in life to feel superior to others.

It goes without saying that they are not terribly bright. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that notwithstanding their breakneck haste, they almost invariably end up stuck behind slower traffic further along.

This was borne out for me one afternoon recently when three vehicles that were in a desperate hurry to get past me on the hill road reached their eventual destinations – Featherston and Greytown respectively – only seconds ahead of me.

If they had wiped themselves out, you could only conclude that it was natural selection in action.

* * *

I SEE that another architectural abomination has risen on a prime site on the Wellington waterfront. I refer to the $11 million building erected to house two ceremonial Maori canoes near the southern end of Frank Kitts Lagoon.

On seeing this eyesore for the first time I literally recoiled. My first thought was that someone must have slipped something into the architects’ coffee. But no; it seems the clever people from Architecture+ were seeking to create something profoundly symbolic. The ugly, asymmetrical roofline is supposed to represent a Maori cloak thrown over the building.

The capital seems determined to set some sort of benchmark for ugly public buildings. The $80 million Supreme Court, with its silly bronze thicket supposedly representing the strength and durability of the rata and pohutukawa trees (more strained symbolism), is an object of ridicule. Te Papa was a tragic wasted opportunity and the new airport terminal, ostensibly inspired by the rocks of Wellington’s south coast, looks more like a pair of Halloween pumpkins.

For heaven’s sake, can’t our architects just concentrate on creating buildings that work aesthetically and practically, rather than desperately trying to be “edgy” or attempting to make symbolic statements?

* * *

REPORTING on last week’s storms, a TVNZ journalist said there had been violent wind gusts on Mt Cocoa. For those not in the know, this is a peak in the Cadbury Range above Khandallah. I waited eagerly for word of wind speeds on Mt Milo and Mt Ovaltine but these were not forthcoming.

Later that night I heard a radio reporter talking about flooding in the Pellarus River. I’m not sure of the location of this river but wonder if it’s anywhere near the Bay of Plenty town of Operticky, which I recently heard mentioned by another radio journalist.

In the meantime I remain keen to establish the whereabouts of Te Arower, where, according to another radio bulletin, the freezing works burned down in December.

1 comment:

The probligo said...

The prominence of such trivia and ephemera as Elton John giving birth is the real image of our society. I agree.

Having said that, I am going to add to the ditchwater.

Just in the past couple of days has been a report that the local mana whenua had petitioned the Geographic Board, or the Waitangi Court had ruled, for a a change of Rimutaka to Remutaka.

Given your little tale of the Remutaka Syndrome I think it a marvellous idea and support the change wholeheartedly.

The story behind the name? When the world was all new and all, a tohunga was crossing from Wellington to the Wairarapa and stopped at the top of the hill for a rest. His wife asked him, "Where are we?" and his response was "Remutaka"; "Sitting on my bum". Or so RNZ has reported...