The best of The Spinoff this week

Bringing you the best weekly reading from your friendly local website.

Duncan Greive: Leo Molloy: the angriest man in the Viaduct

“I wanted to know how he could be so enormously successful, so beloved by so many important people, while so often being such a gaping arsehole. After he sent some strange emails to The Spinoff, I asked the famously anti-media Molloy if he was prepared to be interviewed. Somewhat to my surprise, he readily agreed.

There was only one condition: that I read the story of Headquarters, printed on its menu, before we speak. On a sunny afternoon in mid-May, I headed down to the Viaduct to do some reading. It detailed the brighter spots in Molloy’s hospitality backstory, before setting out a manifesto. What the kitchen puts out is “brutally honest… no silly bloody flowers on your food, the molecular foam or the sparrow sized servings”, and nods at ambience with “our music is loud… don’t be afraid to boogie”.”

Trevor McKewen: Real men wear back, revisited

I interviewed the proud Māori league prop Kevin Tamati in his car outside a club in London in late 1991. He was playing for a club side in north England and was in the capital for a Kiwis-Great Britain Test I was covering.

We had a couple of cans of beer while I recorded his reflections six years on from the most infamous brawl between a Kiwi and an Australian player in either rugby code when he and Greg Dowling slugged it on the sidelines of Lang Park in Brisbane after both were sent off.

But he was troubled by his fearsome reputation and how much the brawl was celebrated above his other achievements in the game. He revealed Dowling had racially sledged him and that had lit a fuse he couldn’t extinguish. He didn’t regret his actions but he genuinely worried about the fight impacting on kids’ actions.

Mostly, however, the book fed the narrative we loved to believe at that time.

You had to be prepared to “piss blood” to wear the All Black jersey, you played through injury because that’s what you’d expect your mate to do, and you were loyal.

Nobody, least of all me regrettably, even thought about the impact of concussion back then. I’m not sure the word was even being used within rugby and league in 1992 let alone openly discussed. We turned those who did play on after head knocks into heroes.

Jihee Junn: There have been 24 heater recalls since 2010, and there’s a decent chance yours is on the list

With up to 80% of faulty indoor electric heaters potentially still in use, is the recall system in need of a major shake-up? A 2019 update on Jihee Junn’s seemingly evergreen piece.

Mark Southcombe: When ‘co-living housing’ is just a fancy name for exploiting a crisis

“Coh, apparently short for ‘co-home’, is a developer-led and managed hostel investment which is seemingly masquerading as community or co-operative housing. It is really just a mean hostel version of a rest home targeted at a younger demographic. It’s not even as good as a rest home, featuring minimal bedrooms and shared bathrooms. Most rest homes today provide ensuite bedrooms.

Its expressed intention is to facilitate community via a structured engagement programme for residents (in the manner of a first-year university student hostel).

But use of the ‘Co’ in Coh suggests community-led housing, shared decision-making and community management.”

Kiwi Battler: The day I wasn’t let into the Koru Lounge: my story

“Salvation, friends.

I swanned, how I swanned, through security – security being for the safety of all, I deigned to allow myself to be checked, yes, Emerylde, take your laptop out of your bag yes for the gentleman, yes, Emerylde, we’ll be safe soon. All will be well soon.

I thought of our salvation. I thought of little rectangle plates, elegant in design and utilitarian in function. Ayn Rand would be proud of these plates, and my dears, Ayn Rand was proud of very little in her life. Barely even The Fountainhead. I thought of chocolate croissants – not pains au chocolat, because I feel no pains whenuponce I eat them. I think of the solid hard ‘t’ that makes its way from my Gucci lips as I request a tenth pastry from the soulless vessel that once called itself a “Koru Club Lounge attendant”.

But, salvation, my like-minded and like-taxed friends, was … not to be ours.”

Alex Casey: Teenage girls talk about their online lives

“We’re just living a double life basically,” says Aaliyah. That’s the first lesson of the day – it is standard for teenagers to have at least two Instagram accounts – one public account and one smaller, private account for close friends. “You just post random stuff there,” explains Lara. “Like, about your day, about how you’re feeling. It’s a really nice venting platform, because you know that the only people who are going to see it are your friends, and you know that they’re not going to share it around.”

The public account serves a very different purpose. “You really want to make that main account pretty and neat,” explains Neha. “Like, I don’t post memes on there, I post the things that I’d want to define me and stuff.” Public accounts serve as an often stylised portrayal of your life, says Lara. “It’s like if it’s on a private page, you do a double-chin face,” she explains. “But on your main, you wouldn’t do that. You don’t want to be showing anyone your bad side.”

Rebecca Kiddie: The buildings are ‘uniquely Aotearoa’. Their Māori designers are ignored

When the new Christchurch library Tūranga – widely praised for its indigenous motifs and design references – won a major award last week, the significant Māori input into its design apparently warranted no mention at all. Such erasure is becoming a trend, writes Rebecca Kiddle.

Alex Casey: A tribute to the pie shop that saved my terrible soul

Touchstones of my youth are scattered all across the suburb of Mt Albert. Me and friends would sneak drinks on the 224 bus, loiter at St Luke’s and sprint through the Richardson Road car wash in the dead of the night. We’d get six onion rings for $1 from Big Boy Takeaways and five horror DVDs for $10 from the Video Ezy. We’d get bubble tea and chicken nibbles from Momotea at 2am and marvel at the busy restaurant, feeling briefly that we lived in a proper city.

Bookending every night of shenanigans was Muzza’s Pies. Muzza’s was there for us after high school sports games and for our mornings squinting through the hangovers brought on by a thousand cans of Envy. My friend Zoe once downloaded a shonky auto-tune app and recorded the great unreleased single ‘I Want a Muzza’s Pie and a Blue Powerade’. When I took my teary mum up Ōwairaka to tell her that I was moving out to live with my boyfriend in – urgh – Ponsonby, we got Muzza’s afterwards.

We urgently need to talk flavours. I enjoy a steak and cheese because I am a simple girl with simple needs. My mum, who full disclosure is also Cathy Casey the local councillor, loves steak and kidney. Her relationship to Muzza’s, like mine, is sprinkled with misty-eyed nostalgia for the creepily tinned, Depression-era Scottish pies of her youth. “I remember eating tinned Fray Bentos steak and kidney pies as a student,” she tells me. “Cheap, easy to heat up in the oven and delicious.”


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