FRIDAY Fast Five: Things aren't always as they seem...

Hello 2017! I finished up the year feeling a bit overwhelmed and tired and fed up. My life was in a state of flux which I've discovered makes me feel very unsettled in my own skin. All in all it was a bit:

This was me...

This was me...

Not 2017 though. Uh uh, this is going to be a year of balance and harmony. I'm taking the fact that one of my Christmas presents was a Nutribullet as a sign that life is gonna be all about green smoothies and super-foods and organised bliss:

  From this.........................................to this.

  From this.........................................to this.

So, to anyone out there - hello, welcome, thank you for coming. Our first Fast Five is a quick look at a couple of things that may not be what they seem...

1. Michael Parekowhai's Lighthouse was unofficially unveiled on Auckland's Queen's Wharf. As far as I can tell from Twitter, it's got people a bit hot under the collar already - some saying it's obscene to 'build' a statehouse-as-art when the city is in the grips of a housing crisis; that turning a symbol of poverty and desperation into art for the hoi palloi of Queen's Wharf to flex their cultured muscles at is tasteless, made worse by the fact that Barfoot & Thompson, who seem to have a stranglehold on the Auckland rental market, funded two thirds of the 1.5 million dollar price-tag is more than a tad ironic. But there's another side to this conversation, one posed brilliantly by Anthony Byrt (thanks @VP!) in a  2014 Metro article, "Why Michael Parekowhai's state house sculpture is worth celebrating." The work simultaneously points to past, present and future, by serving as a " profound metaphorical force, as a reminder of a time when we managed to marry massive national wealth to progressive social values" and also as a reminder of the relentless gentrification of these once affordable spaces by placing a Venetian chandelier inside. There are so many ways to interpret this work - an ode, a warning, a welcome, a fuck you, a home, an empty shell, a past lost, a reclamation. Which is it? I think all of them.

2.  Summer reading will be Colson Whitehead's genre-defying The Underground Railroad. As the New York Time's Juan Gabriel Vasquez explains, in this book the metaphorical railroad is made manifest: "The central conceit of the novel is as simple as it is bold. The underground railroad is not, in Whitehead’s novel, the secret network of passageways and safe houses used by runaway slaves to reach the free North from their slaveholding states. Or rather it is that, but it is something else, too: You open a trap door in the safe house or find the entrance to a hidden cave, and you reach an actual railroad, with actual locomotives and boxcars and conductors, sometimes complete with benches on the platform."

3. Obama's farewell speech was beautiful, moving, rallying, terrifying, uplifting. By god he's a gifted orator. A good man no doubt. I admit to shedding a tear or two. But then, of course, that thing happened that always happens in Presidential speeches that made me instantlg bristle and harden. The irritating specter of American Exceptionalism reared its annoying head: "After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on earth." Before my eyes rolled back into my head, I read this article and reminded myself that we probably all operate under similar assumptions. Ours might be that New Zealand is/was a pioneer of social justice, egalitarianism, equality and fairness (see M. Parekowhai for more on this). I shan't throw stone etc.   

4. Over on MTV News (that's a thing, huh) music write, poet and critic Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib writes about Searching for a new kind of optimism in 2017 mediated through punk music and finding a kind of hope in darkness, "I’ve abandoned hopeless hope, but I am not rooting for the meteor. I’m still rooting for us, my people and their people and their people beyond that. I’m rooting for us to clean off the dusty mirror and look at the bad bet staring back. This is me challenging my inner cynic the best way I know how — taking a few lazy swings and seeing if I can tire him out in time to get back to whatever the real work may be this time. It is another new year, and most of my pals made it to the other side with me. "

5. And finally I just did Te Papa's Which Te Papa object are you? quiz and behold:

I....just...sure. Shrek it is \_0_/

As I head into the final phase of relocation from Christchurch to Auckland this weekend, I'm in need of some maximum chill vibes care of Emily King...