Home' Greymouth Star : August 24th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, August 24, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1814 - British forces invade Washington and
set fire to the Capitol and the White House.
1932 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first
woman to fly nonstop across the United States.
1968 - France explodes a hydrogen bomb
at South Pacific testing ground and becomes
world’s fifth thermo-nuclear power.
1976 - Two Soviet cosmonauts return to
Earth after 48 days in orbit in space
1981 - Mark David Chapman is
sentenced in New York to 20 years
to life in prison for the murder of
John L ennon.
1990 - Irish hostage Brian Keenan
is freed by Lebanese kidnappers
after more than four years in
1994 - The United Nations suspends efforts
to repatriate Rwandan refugees after Hutu
extremists mob the first group to agree to be
1997 - More than one million people attend
Pope John Paul II’s mass at World Youth Day
ceremony in Paris.
2012 - A court in Nor way finds Anders
Behring Breivik, a 33-year-old extremist,
guilty of terrorism and premeditated murder
for twin attacks on a government headquarters
and a youth camp that left 77 people dead.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
George Stubbs, English painter (1724-1806);
Max Beerbohm, English author-
artist (1872-1956); William Gibbs,
American naval architect (1886-
1967); Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine
writer (1899-1986); Angie Brooks,
Liberian diplomat (1928—2007);
Kenny Baker, English actor, Star
Wars’ R2D2 (1934—); Cal Ripken,
ex-baseball player (1960—).
“There is no adequate defence, except
stupidity, against the impact of a new idea.”
— Percy Williams Bridgeman, American
“And they overcame him by the blood of the
Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and
they loved not their lives unto the death. ”
— (Revelation 12:11).
A cheque for £60
will be given to the
Sports Q ueen by
the United Rugby
Football Club. The amount represents a £1
for every year the club has been in existence.
Notice of this was given at the club’s diamond
jubilee celebrations during the weekend.
Speaking to a crowded banquet hall on
Saturday night, president Mr A L McKay
stated that although the standard of football
played by the blue and whites may have
slipped the club spirit was as strong as ever. He
mentioned that not long after the club’s golden
jubilee a decision was made to build a new
pavilion. The pavilion, one of the most modern
on the West Coast and built by volunteer
labour, was a great club amenity.
Reference was made to a former club
president, the late Mr T P Ryan. Mr Ryan was
club president for 30 years. He also gave ser vice
to the West Coast Rugby Union for over 30
years, was the first president of the Amateur
Athletic Association and for six years was a
member of the Grey Hospital Board.
“ He was one of , if not the greatest character
produced here,” Mr McKay concluded.
A colony of 500 seals has been forced to
vacate the beach near Arnott Point, South
Westland. Prior to construction on the Haast
Pass road there were seals swarming on to the
beach to sunbathe, but when bulldozers began
cutting into the bluffs, the seals migrated
Now the colony has taken refuge under
the inaccessible bush clad bluffs between the
Wanganui River and Greens Beach, some 30
miles south of Hokitika.
uFood for thought
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here he is, all big black
eyebrows and pout,
cheekbones and facial scar,
glowering from the cover
of a book that bears his
name and the song which
changed his life and our pop culture:
Fuemana died five years ago of a rare
neurological disorder. It is now 20 years
since the track — sung by him and
written with Auckland producer Alan
Jansson — was first released and became
the biggest song to emerge from these
shores until Lorde’s Royals.
The book, How Bizarre: Pauly Fuemana
and the Song that Stormed the World
is written by Simon Grigg, whose label
Huh! released the song.
How Bizarre’s bitter aftermath has also
become part of our music folklore —
Fuemana’s sad decline into bankruptcy
within a year and his family’s strongly
held belief that the music industry took
most of the money he should have made
from the song.
Grigg says the urge to record his own
take on the Bizarre story came after
attending Fuemana’s funeral, where, as
the book recounts, he and Jansson had
been threatened by fellow mourners and
told to “pay up”.
He thought it was time he told his and
Jansson’s side of the story. He did not
have a book in mind when he first started
A keen blogger over the years, he
just wanted to write something that
ensured this strange, brilliant, sad, tragic
chapter of New Zealand pop history was
recorded. And something that — despite
the eventual book cover — would remind
people that OMC was not just Fuemana.
It might have started off as the Otara
Millionaires Club, a South Auckland
hip-hop outfit centred on Fuemana. But
the OMC behind the four million-selling
multiple number one How Bizarre was
the studio duo of Fuemana, and Jansson
— who had earlier recorded the 1994
compilation of emerging South Auckland
acts Proud, which featured a track by the
“I felt that when Pauly died it was
the end of a really unique thing that
happened in New Zealand. If I didn’t
write it then probably nobody else would
A pivotal figure in the New Zealand
recording industry since the late 1970s,
Grigg is now creative director of local
music history website Audio Culture.
He has done time as a a nightclub owner
and his various independent labels
also unleashed records by early 1980s
Auckland bands like the Screaming|
Blam Blam Blam, as well as releasing
dance music in the late 1980s and the
early albums of saxophonist Nathan
Music writer-broadcaster Nick
Bollinger had been working on a piece
about Fuemana and OMC for Audio
Culture. He asked Grigg if he had any
source material. Grigg gave him his
manuscript. Bollinger showed it to Awa
Press. A music book was born — and not
just another music book.
It is possibly the first insider’s account
of New Zealand and international pop
industry politics, set in an era of excess
before the digital era and the music
industry’s contraction. It captures the
ride as the song went from the sound
of the New Zealand summer of 1996 to
international chart topper.
Grigg accompanied Fuemana, who was
yet to appoint a manager, on repeated
flights to Britain to appear on Top of
the Pops, miming the song before an
television audience of millions.
The book recounts how the How
Bizarre rollercoaster ride turned into a
never ending conveyor belt, carrying a
product of unknown expiry date.
“ We had a hit record that radio stations
around the world wouldn’t drop even if
we had a second one,” laughs Grigg. “It
was everywhere. It was so huge. New
Zealanders don’t realise how massive
it was. It was such a ubiquitous radio
record. It was the number one radio
record in New York City that year —
bigger than the Spice Girls.”
Grigg’s book also tells how the wheels
fell off after an apparently tour-fatigued
Fuemana assaulted a record company
representative in San Francisco. “ There
are about 19 different versions of that
incident and I wasn’t there ... but the
other moment you knew it was all over
was when Pauly and Alan split,” says
Grigg twisting his hands in the air in
opposite directions to denote something
“Alan needed a front person to do what
he did and Pauly desperately needed
Alan to turn his ideas into something
Among the missteps in Fuemana’s short
international career, says Grigg is that
once Fuemana got his own management,
the Australian company treated OMC
like any other rock band and put him on
tours when Fuemana and his ring-ins
were not much of a live act. They could
not get their head around the fact that he
was not part of that model.
“Part of that was my fault because I
brought management on board that came
out of that old school thing and especially
Australia was very rock ‘n’ roll. It was get
up and play, pay your dues ... and Pauly
was never that artist.”
Grigg says he made mistakes too. Like
effectively signing over control to Poly
Gram Australia, though the song and
subsequent album was still released on
Huh! Then again, without giving the
major label ownership they may
not have pushed the song around the
“I’ve always beaten myself up all the
way through. We should have retained
control far more but we were kids. We
From how the record was made, to how
the hit came to be, to the split and legal
battle between Fuemana and Jansson —
from which Jansson emerged with an
out of court settlement — and repeated
efforts to get the OMC duo back
together even as Fuemana’s health
was clearly in decline, it is a riveting
Fuemana was declared bankrupt in
2006 (and was discharged three years
later), something Grigg puts down to
his excessive spending outstripping his
income from the song.
The track still generates radio-play
royalties and sales to television shows and
advertisements — recent buyers range
from a Scottish travel show to a Czech
republic telco. Some of the split royalties
from the song go to Fuemana’s widow
Kirstine, the mother of their six children.
The book might be punchy but it is
often hilarious. There is a running gag of
Fuemana offering musicians he had just
met — including the odd hotel pianist —
a job in his touring band.
It also tells of how the charismatic
Fuemana could turn on the charm —
and turn it off in instant, his violent
temper unleashed even on his closest
collaborators, including Grigg, who he
often addressed as a “white devil” when
he was lashing out.
That combustibility is possibly the
biggest revelation for anyone who
witnessed Fuemana’s rocket-powered
rise and then slow sad fall. “ Paul was
extraordinarily volatile. Good and bad.
Sometimes the volatility was incredibly
positive. But he was a terribly hard
person to work with. Pauly had a
persona — the charismatic thing which
was very embracing of people ... but he
was very hard to deal with and it was
unpredictably hard. In a situation it
would just flip instantly.
“I think part of it was his background,
where he came from, and part of it
was just the unpredictability of a lot of
Grigg hopes the book will be seen as
the story of the New Zealand song that
conquered the world. The song that was
the product of a “Greek Swedish guy
from Wellington and a South Auckland
guy who grew up on Herb Alpert and hip
Grigg does not think he is speaking
ill of the dead in his account — if
Fuemana had still been alive he might
have considered writing a book with his
involvement. Or he might not.
Grigg had not communicated with
Fuemana for some years before his death.
He is aware that his book is not likely to
go down well with Fuemana’s family and
Like the guy making threats at the
funeral or the family members who
claimed in the media on the day Fuemana
died that $50 million was missing — a
figure Grigg’s book refutes saying each
$5 single would have had to generate $17
profit for that to be true. Still, Grigg is
steeling himself for some flak.
“That was one of the reasons I didn’t
want to publish it. I didn’t want to upset
the family. But Pauly was public property
as well and he was the guy who decided
to go out there and be a pop star.
“And I didn’t decide to write the
Pauly story. It’s not supposed to be the
Pauly story. ... it should never be read
as a biography of Pauly Fuemana. But
someone has to be on the cover.
“The problem with writing the book
was always that Pauly is a role model
now for a whole generation of young
Polynesian people. He is the guy who did
it. The book doesn’t take away from any of
that. He still did it.”
His tell-all account, says Grigg, could
have told more. What ’s being published
had already gone through many drafts.
“ I had gone through and quite ruthlessly
taken stuff out. I had taken stuff out that
was true but contentious and stuff that
was arguably defamatory and that was
probably a step too far.”
As a guy with with distinctive rasp of
a voice once rapped: Want to know the
rest? Buy the rights.
— New Zealand Herald
The whole Bizarre story
OMC’s How Bizarre is one of the biggest hits ever to come out of New Zealand.
RUSSELL BAILLIE of the New Zealand Herald looks at a new book about the
phenomenal hit, and the rise and fall of frontman Pauly Fuemana.
Pauly Fuemana in the video for OMC’s How Bizarre.
New York City’s Times Square is
notorious for its fast talkers, street walkers
and con-men mingling among artists
scrounging tips from tourists who gawk at
themselves on jumbo video screens or take
selfies with accommodating cops on horses.
Much of the action takes place in
pedestrian plazas car ved into Broadway,
souvenirs of former Mayor Michael
Bloomberg’s efforts in 2009 to make parts
of the city more accessible to the public.
It all contributes to a boom in Time
Square’s retail business and billboard
advertising, plus fewer traffic accidents.
But New York City Police Commissioner
William Bratton would rip out the plazas
to combat what city officials call aggressive
solicitation of tips by topless women coated
in body paint and hucksters dressed like
cartoon and superhero characters who pose
for pictures with tourists.
“I’d prefer to just dig the whole damn
thing up and put it back to the way it was,
where Broadway was Broadway and not a
dead-end street,” Bratton told radio station
1010 WINS recently.
Not everyone agrees.
“He’s out of date and clearly way beyond
his shelf-life if he thinks we should go back
to the 1980s. He’s confusing Times Square
with Boston Common,” said Mitchell
Moss, a professor of urban planning and
policy at New York University.
“New Yorkers may not like everything
that goes on in Times Square, but we are
not going back,” said Moss, referring to the
old traffic pattern that created even more
Bratton’s idea will be considered by Mayor
Bill de Blasio’s newly created task force that
is looking for a way to limit the solicitations
without violating freedom of expression
and panhandling rights.
“It had not occurred to me that anybody
would have possibly seen what ’s happening
in Times Square as something that needed
to be solved by turning it over to cars,” said
David King, assistant professor of urban
planning at Columbia University.
The Times Square Alliance, which
promotes the section of the city known as
The Crossroads of the World, contends that
businesses in and around Times Square are
frustrated by the hustlers and hawkers.
“The solution to dealing with 50 hustlers
and petty thieves shouldn’t be to put the
450,000 people who walk through Times
Square every day back out into the street,”
said Tim Tompkins, the alliance’s
Times Square pedestrian volume is up
but traffic related injuries are down, said
Caroline Samponaro, deputy director of
Transportation Alternatives, an urban
planning and advocacy group. “ The number
of injuries for all road users is down
40%since the plazas were installed,” she
Urban planners around the United States
began favouring plazas 50 years ago to help
increase commerce in declining cities. Back
then, Times Square’s legitimate businesses
competed for attention with peep shows
Now, Times Square’s plazas and the buzz
around them reflect what proponents tout
as the upside of diverting traffic in the
name of public space.
Street plazas, however, do
not always work to a city’s
A 2013 study for Fresno,
California, showed that
United States pedestrian
malls had an 89% failure
rate with most either
removed or repurposed.
Buffalo, New York is one
example where traffic is
slowly returning to its main
“Back then it was
thought a European
model of a downtown
plaza would help Buffalo
revitalise itself,” said Ernest
Sternberg, a professor
of urban and regional
planning at the State
University at Buffalo.
“That concept did not
work. It is hard to know
how much of the decline
was caused by the plaza
itself or the population and
business decline that was
happening at the time,” he
Time’s Square’s street
plazas could be given back
to taxis, trucks and buses.
But for the time being,
while the task force considers options,
people pack the space day and
“After six years and $40 million spent by
the city constructing the plazas, it would
be a terrible mistake to eliminate them as
the number one complaint from visitors
before their construction was the lack of
pedestrian space,” said Fred Rosenberg,
president of the Times Square Advertising
He said it was imperative to find a
solution to the “harmful and negative
activities” in the area without denying
tourists and New Yorkers the “bright lights
and excitement of Times Square.”
New York City’s public plazas causing problems
A model who poses for tips wearing body paint and under wear, in Times Square in New York.
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