Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Wellington Report: Fleet FM Radio as Paper #2 Launch

Above: Art from 'The Devil's Handshake' by Robyn E. Kenealy, as featured in Fleet FM Radio as Pictures #2.

Hey everyone,
Here's a report on the Wellington Fleet FM Radio as Paper #2 Launch held last Friday, from my Welly correspondent in the field, the lovely and talented Robyn E. Kenealy (who is also a contributer to issue #2 so you have no excuse not to pick it up!).
So enjoy with a pinch of politics and a dash of Battlestar Galactica!

Dear 'From Earth's End' and associates,

There’s this debate going round about New Zealand comics and neo-liberalism. Actually, the reason there is a debate is because I keep starting it. Neo-liberalism pisses me off, in case you were wondering. Seriously. If you were planning to invite me to a party with the caveat that I don’t upset your neo-liberal Grandmother, take my advice and don’t.

Anyway, I bring this up because that is mostly what we were all talking about at the Wellington Fleet FM: ‘Radio as Paper’ launch at the DAF 106 Gallery on Friday (for those of you not in the know, DAF stands for Don and Francie, the two wonderful people who run the gallery. They charge to put a show on, but not terribly much, and really, the whole gallery runs on their kindness and dedication. It is at 106 Aro Street,and you can friend them on myspace here).

So it was a small event, mostly due to the weather (which was awful) but reasonably well attended. There were a few people I didn’t even recognise. Everybody drank. Everybody was nice. Nobody got sick. Tim Bollinger even made an appearance. Personally, after a little obligatory circulating, I spent most of my night sitting around with editor Jerome Bihan, DRAW, Brent Willis, Don and M. Emery drinking wine and talking about – as I’ve said – neo-liberalism. For a while we wandered off into ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and then, I think, we talked about Segues, which are those bizarre faux scooters that you see around from time to time. But after that, I'm almost sure, it was back to the politics, and it was heated. Actually, I blame DRAW for making that conversation happen. All I did was engage the usual public argument that my husband and I have about BSG.* Oh yes, and M. Emery and I had a long bitch about the Destiny Church.

But the reason I’m bringing politics up is that Bihan, when faced with all this excitement about business imperatives and comics, has a plan.* Or, kind of a plan, in that his goals and aspirations are not at all scary or confrontational; they are simply personal and ethical, with something of a community focus, and Bihan, I found out, is a smart and remarkably unpretentious fellow, even though he called himself pretentious several times. On none of those occasions was he actually so, and I was pleased about this because recall putting myself forward for ‘Radio as Paper’ sight unseen without having met him, and it was a genuine pleasure to find out he wasn’t a creep, a jerk or a Republican (in the American sense.) At any rate, the goals of Radio As Paper, contiguous with the goals of Fleet FM, are to represent diversity of opinion and to showcase what might otherwise slip under the radar. It is a community thing, not an industry thing, done for public good rather than private gain. These are noble goals, and Bihan appeared optimistic and eerily relaxed about them as he laid them out for me. And I say eerily relaxed because I mean it. He was reclined in his chair, cigarette in hand, talking easily as if it were the most natural thing in the world. His calm demeanour could have been because he was –as he said - very tried from the Auckland launch and so didn’t have the energy to worry, but also, possibly, because he is French. That is, from the land where, as DRAW put it, ‘culture comes from.’

Adrian has already reviewed the magazine here, as you likely well know, and I can’t say I really have a lot to add to his description, because this seems about right. Besides, I am in the magazine (mine is the strip where the two gay guys talk about wanking) and so it feels a bit funny to start picking it apart or puffing it up. However, I had a lovely time at the launch. I really did. I think you should buy the magazine if only because I am in it – and, honestly, M. Emery’s strip is splendid. I’m so impressed by his new work. It is smart and weirdly cute at the same time – and, of course, to reward Jerome for being awesome. Neo-liberalism aside, it’s only $2. Cheapness, I wonder, possibly resolves some of the debate.

Fond regards,
Robyn E. Kenealy

*My husband and I had the same public argument we always have, because, as it turns out, we are geeks. “Put him out the airlock!” my husband inevitably says, referring to Dr. Gaius Baltar, upon whom I have a fictional crush. “They should have put him out the airlock at the beginning. It’s the only way to maintain order.”
“You leave Dr. Baltar alone,” I will then say “he clearly had a hard time growing up on the planet of North Yorkshire. And besides, he has mother issues.”
“Cry me a river,” my husband will reply. “Cry me a fucking river.” And so it goes. People come and go around us, but the argument remains the same. My husband has too much respect for Admiral Adama to suffer a traitor aboard the Galactica. My conjecture is this: you say what you like about cylon collaboration. Baltar makes out like Charlie Sheen.

*like the cylons!! But no, not like that.

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