Michael Jackson touched me as a child.

June 28, 2009

I grew up in an impressionable small Northland town.

I can remember two music events during primary school that pretty much defined our childhood:

One was the movie Breakdance screening at the local picture theatre. The next school day, everyone had formed a “gang” and started breakdancing.

I couldn’t really breakdance. The best I could manage was spinning around on one knee. Which made me pretty dizzy.

That movie also featured an artistic form of graffiti known as bombing. The skateboard bowl was bombed the first night the movie opened. Such a shock. Such a scandal. So cool.

The other defining moment was Michael Jackson.

He had some amazing dance moves. I couldn’t replicate any of them. Except, well, grabbing my own crotch, but I’d get told off for that.

I remember a special occasion where the principal let us have music played through the PA system during this one lunchtime. Beat It came on, which worked us kids up so much that we were roaming around the playground pretending we were in a Michael Jackson gang and getting into “fights”. I remember getting into a fight with this one kid. I later discovered that he was the son of the leader of the local Black Power chapter. Shiiiiiit.

We weren’t allowed music at lunchtime ever again. Not even when Footloose came out.

So. Unfair.

But the biggest Michael Jackson influence on us was his fashion sense. After the Thriller album, pretty much everyone was getting their mum or their nana to make them one of those red Beat It/Thriller jackets. Lucky for me and my brothers, my mum was an Orsum seamstress.

We drew the line at wearing a single glitter glove though. That was just plain wacko.

I guess even back then at that young age we sadly realized that there was a separation of the artist and the man.

But yeah. For better, or for worse, Michael Jackson touched me as a child.

………………………………

And OK, this is weird, and I expect you to think I’m joking, but it’s totally true.

On Friday I had to walk to a printer a couple of departments away. When I got there, I accidentally walked right past the print room. When I realized, instead of turning around and walking back, I simply moonwalked* my way back to the print room.

And turns out, THAT’S the exact moment he was declared officially dead.

I didn’t even know something was up with him until about half an hour later.

Spooky.

………………………………

* Yeah, nah, OK, of course I can’t actually moonwalk. But I can shuffle backwards pretending to moonwalk. That’s the same thing to me.


Uni and her Ukelele: Cross St Studios, June 10th 2009

June 11, 2009

I managed to annoy a friend earlier this year by going to see the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra without him.

I was tagging along with some other people, and to be honest,  I didn’t know whether it would even be something I’d be into, let alone him.

I was wrong on both accounts. It was a great show. And it turned out that my friend had recently (for some bizarre reason) ditched his slide blues guitar and taken up the ukulele, and he was also a big fan of the uke orchestra, and owned both their EPs.

And he was outraged to not get an invite. And he gave me shit about it each time I saw him.

So in an attempt to redeem myself, I’d been trying to find another ukulele concert to take him to.

I got my chance last night: Uni and her Ukelele, visiting from the United States.

She’s performed with the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra before. Is known for quirkilicious indy pop gems like La La Happy Too, I’m On My Way, and My Favourite Letter is U.
On a ukulele.
Perfect.

Then my friend called up at the 11th hour, saying he was now too sick to go.

So fuck it. I tried. I’m absolved of my sins.

And so I went anyway.

She was performing at the Cross St Studios in the city, which was an experience in itself, what with being nestled amongst brothels, where ladies and cross-dressers of the night wait as cars crawl past with their lights switched off.

I think I scared one of the hookers off as I was standing around waiting for the doors to open. Maybe I look like a cop or something.

Then, ha, I saw Uni herself walking towards the gig, filming the street with a portable camera. I think I managed to scare her as well when she looked up and saw me grinning at her. I tried not to take it too personally. I actually met myself in a dark alley once and it scared the shit out of me as well.

Anyway. This gig was serving as the warm up for her New Zealand tour.
About 50 people there to watch her plug in her semi-electric ukulele and do her thing.

She’s got great stage presence and it was impressive how she could belt out those little well-crafted songs with just her and her uke.

The audience was relaxed, but initially resistant to indulging her craving for a good old fashioned crowd sing-along. But she persevered and was eventually rewarded with one near the end.

So yeah. Brilliant. Was impressed enough to buy a couple of her CDs.

And now I get to annoy my friend by telling him how much fun I had at yet another ukulele concert that he didn’t go to.

Cos I’m a prick like that.

Brilliant.

(The opening act, Wildwood Lights, also deserves a mention. A trio of Auckland chicks who took turns sharing lead vocal duties with their folksy country tunes. I think there’s some potential there. The drummer also did all the drumming standing up. You don’t see that very often.)