Thursday, November 09, 2017

The CoffeeBar Kid interviews author Sebastian Hampson

Sebastian Hampson has studied and written on the history of modern art and urban design. He has lived in Europe and the United States and is currently based in Auckland, New Zealand. His first novel, The Train to Paris, was published by Text publishing and received critical acclaim.
His new novel is a profound insight about the complexity of human relationships, morality and the transformative power of art, set in New York’s glittering world of galleries and high-end fashion.

Click HERE to listen to the interview.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Sad day for Wellington with the end of the much loved Trolley buses :(

After 68 years Wellington's much loved Trolley buses tool their final ride yesterday and the power to the network was shut down today in readiness for dismantling the 50 km network of cables. A job that will take a year and cost approximately $34 Million. We were the only city in Oceania to have a Trolley bus network.

This is a shameful and short sighted decision by the Greater Wellington Regional Council in a city that prides itself in being an environmental leader in clean, Green New Zealand. As of today we now have at least 40 more diesel buses on the road and a hope that we might get some hybrid buses next year (are they designed yet?) when we had 60 perfectly good 100% electric ones already running, many only 8 years old. Other countries are powering forward with positive climate change action and with this step we're going backwards. Our household has made a big difference by switching to a 100% electric car (apparently driving it for 6 months saves the planet more than my family recycling for the rest of their lives) but it feels like Greater Wellington have just cancelled out that effort. Even more so when I hear that we in NZ have the 2nd highest percentage of renewable electricity of any major country at 90% (behind Norway).

RIP our clean, quiet, iconic buses...please upgrade the trolleys to battery power ASAP.
Go Wellington Trolley Bus

Groove Book Report - Imagine - Illustrated by Jean Lennon (with a foreword by Yoko Ono Lennon) - Allen & Unwin - $27.99

This book is produced in association with Amnesty International

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us, and the world will be as one.

Join one little pigeon as she sets out on a journey to spread a message of tolerance around the world. Featuring the lyrics of John Lennon’s iconic song and illustrations by the award-winning artist Jean Jullien, this poignant and timely picture book dares to imagine a world at peace. Imagine will be published in partnership with human rights organization Amnesty International.

"This book is about peace," goes the afterword, " which helps us enjoy a happy and safe life.  For peace to flourish, we need to treat everyone kindly, equally and fairly."

In the age of Trump, North Korea, Australian cruelties to refugees, BREXIT and ISIS this book offers the simplest of please.  It is, of course, John Lennon's immortal lyrics, written as part of his own peace movement.  The illustrations are simple, too.  Because they want to convey simple messages.  Using the analogy of friendship between birds, Jean Lennon's pictures break away from racial stereo types and potential cultural barriers.  As far as I know birds are not considered to be offensive in any language or culture.  For each stanza, there is a new picture.  Hugs, smiles and the image of a dove, or collection of doves holding an olive branch is universal.

Jean Jullien

Illustrator Jean Jullien was born Cholet and lived in Nantes before moving to London in his twenties to study at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art.  His work has appeared in publications including Télérama, Le Nouvel Observateur, The New York Times and The Guardian, and his clients have included the Pompidou Centre, Yale University and Nike.

More importantly, he also was involved with  Peace for Paris.  In the wake of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Jullien created a variation of a classic peace symbol invoking the Eiffel Tower.  The image swiftly went viral via social media and news coverage of worldwide sympathies and affirmations of solidarity against terrorism.

He has illustrated several books for children, including Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor, and is the creator of This Is Not a Book, named a Best Picture Book of 2016 by Publishers Weekly. Visit him online at

John Lennon and Yoko Ono co-produced the original song and album of the same name with Phil Spector. Recording began at Lennon's home studio at Tittenhurst Park, England, in May 1971, with final overdubs taking place at the Record Plant, in New York City, during July.

One month after the September release of the LP, Lennon released "Imagine" as a single in the United States; the song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and the LP reached number one on the UK chart in November, later becoming the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed album of Lennon's solo career. Although not originally released as a single in the United Kingdom, it was released in 1975 to promote a compilation LP and it reached number six in the chart that year.

The song has since sold more than 1.6 million copies in the UK; it reached number one following Lennon's murder in December 1980. In 1985, the Central Park Conservancy memorialised a portion of the park in honour of Lennon, called Strawberry Fields, with a mosaic that reads "Imagine".

 Shortly before his death, Lennon acknowledged Ono's role in inspiring the concept behind "Imagine"; as of June 2017, plans were underway to ensure that she receives a co-writing credit for the song.  in this book, Ono gives us a short introduction.  "Imagine.  Together we can make peace happen.  Then the world truly will live as one."

BMI named "Imagine" one of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century. The song ranked number 30 on the Recording Industry Association of America's list of the 365 Songs of the Century bearing the most historical significance.

It earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.  A UK survey conducted by the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles Book named it the second best single of all time, while Rolling Stone ranked it number three in their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Since 2005, event organisers have played it just before the New Year's Times Square Ball drops in New York City.

Dozens of artists have performed or recorded versions of "Imagine", including Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez, Elton John and Diana Ross. Emeli Sandé recorded a cover for the BBC to use during the end credits montage at the close of the 2012 Summer Olympics coverage in August 2012. "Imagine" subsequently re-entered the UK Top 40, reaching number 18.

Groove Book Report - Swan Lake - by Anne Spudvilas - $32.99

A magnificent visual retelling of the classic ballet story from a much-loved, award-winning illustrator.

'Anne Spudvilas is one of Australia's most talented visual artists. Her illustrations are full of emotion and beauty. Anne's Swan Lake is simply enchanting and sublime!' Li Cunxin, author of Mao's Last Dancer and Artistic Director, Queensland Ballet

The iconic ballet Swan Lake, the tragic love story of a princess transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer, has been revered for more than a century. In this atmospheric adaptation, Anne Spudvilas reimagines the classic tale of passion, betrayal and heartbreak in the dramatic riverscape of the Murray-Darling.

My girls, all three, love Ballet - at least the idea of it.  The older two have both been to professional productions and both were mesmerised as the by the figures twirled and glided across the stage.  The music, the costumes and the wonderful sense of occasion.  Say what you will about Ballet but you can't deny the spectacle of a show done well.

Author and illustrator, Anne Spudvilas grew up, just like my daughters, entranced by Ballet.  As a young girl she read Stories of the Ballets by Gladys Davidson, especially the story of Swan Lake as retold in the ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  So it is no surprise that Spudvias' illustrations as so magical, dark, haunting and beautiful.  For anyone reading you can't help getting something of a physical reaction and a little bit of a shiver running up your spine.