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A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog

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Kelly and I travelled to New Plymouth in Taranaki about a week ago. They call Taranaki “The ‘Naki” and
they are quite proud of this. This is a place where you can still get a decent, rural, mince pie. You don’t have to
be carrying pair of chopsticks in your back pocket and there are few airs and graces. That’s the way I like it.

The object of the trip was to visit the bloke who was restoring my 1957 VW bus in Inglewood which is
very close to New Plymouth. Steve Crow, the New Zealand porn king, was raised in Inglewood. There’s a
man who has done a lot for the world.

I hadn’t been to New Plymouth for at least thirty years.

Back in the early ’80’s I’d sometimes send bands through the pubs in New Plymouth. There were a lot of working men and
country people and so any band visiting the area was always going to get a good crowd. You’d usually do
a one-nighter at the Bell Block on your way through to Auckland. These were in the days of the massive
‘booze barns’ and in these sorts of towns there were always a lot of fights; men who were working on oil or gas
rigs all week, or working in the freezing works, or on farms, would often come to these gigs for a fight.
They’d get all the dirty water off their chests and then they’d go back to their sheep.

Too much excitement is not good for them.

The best band I ever saw in a booze barn situation was Th’ Dudes. No question about that. They had this enormous
capacity to wind the crowd up to the extent that sweat was dropping off the traffic light poles up and down the car-park outside.

The guy restoring my bus was a genuine down to earth Kiwi bloke. He was about forty, bearded, wearing shorts, a
VW Nationals tee shirt and working man’s boots. I like this salt of the earth type.

He had around him various garages and barns with about twenty old Volkswagens in various stages of restoration
and a couple of old Porsches.

I think he spends a good part of his day doing what seems to me to be an enormously satisfying pastime – he welds
up old steel. He cuts the bad stuff out and he welds the good stuff in.

I put a photo of my bus up on Hookbook and called it a bus. There was a flurry of activity all around the world as various
people chimed in to tell me that my bus was, in fact, a panel van.

I knew that.

We are all tremendously susceptible to these things. To other people wanting to educate us or lecture
us or to say things that are in no way helpful and way out of sync. Oftentimes they hover over the top of their computers looking
for something to lash out at. They are fuelled up on self-centredness and possibly hard liquor and amphetamine as well.
They create a tide which no person on earth can stand up against. Hookbook is a tide and oftentimes of ill will. You cannot
rollerskate in a buffalo herd.

Me? I try to cut out the bad parts and I weld in the good parts.

It has been said that I, like a lot of others, am afraid of criticism. That’s not quite what it is. I own a successful
business in New Zealand and so I get criticised quite frequently. Those people who play around with sheep all
week love to have something to hate. It’s not that I am afraid of criticism (in fact I find it a great motivating force) it’s about
what I’ll do when I’m criticised and I grew tired of jail about twenty years ago.

When I was a kid I had to struggle to get through some pretty major illnesses. It was at this time that I learned all
about survival. I was sent to health camps and I spent months in hospitals and was told at one point, by my mother,
that “they” (the doctors) were going to try to keep me alive until I was ten and then they’d take a lung out. My
mother, an extremely passionate person, was also prone to getting a bit hysterical at times. My father, the depressive
with his William Faulkner books, was the anchor of her feelings and whims.

At this time, I had a doctor (Dr Marion White) who’d visit me almost daily for weeks at a time. She’d give me a shot of something to help
me breathe. It wasn’t her fault, but her personality wasn’t pleasant and these days she’d be a dragon on the internet and Hookbook.
She’d be looking for people to make a mistake or to advise them on how Frank Zappa was really a long way better than the
Velvet Underground. We all know these cretins. They surf among us.

After Dr Marion White I had a doctor who was Scottish. His name was Doctor Jack. He’d come up Russell Street in Dunedin to see me in his beautiful old Wolseley. I’d wait for him to come. His middle name might have been “Humanity” and we all need it.

Dr Jack would scarcely give me any medication (that’s always the best way). He’d just play
Ludo with me and, of course, I got better. I began to breathe freely again.

I like being around people who help me breathe. I don’t like being around people who would cut me to the quick. I fear what I
may do to them. But, I ignore them and they move on to someone else.

There was always the sense that Dr Jack, with his caring and genuine style, was cutting out the bad bits and replacing them with good bits.
It was always the good bits of me that he concentrated on. He’d laugh and laugh as we played Ludo. I was deeply fortunate.

I probably owe Doctor Jack my life.

It’s the two-second test: does it convey the message quickly and clearly?

Peter Brown spent five years studying architecture before realising he made a better art director, and then a further period at the ‘school of advertising’ (Ogilvy & Mather) before realising he made a better account director.

peter brown

After stints in Sydney and London he joined Colenso in Auckland in 1994 as New Business Director. He went on to become General Manager at Lowe and Draft FCB and now runs his own agency, Roycroft Brown.

The brands he has stewarded are too numerous to name, but here are a few: Vodafone, Honda, Tower Insurance, Placemakers, L’Oreal, Guinness, Stella Artois and BMW. More than a few of these famous names have ended up on street posters. Why?

 

What was your first campaign using Phantom Billstickers, and why did you put street posters on the schedule?

I first used Phantom when we launched Vodafone Pre Pay, back in the day.

The Vodafone brand’s DNA was ‘Youthful Spontaneity’ and Pre Pay was targeted at the younger end of the market who didn’t want to be tied up with contracts, as opposed to businesses who were locked into plans.

Street posters were ideal for the creative opportunity they provided and their suitability to youth-oriented challenger brands.

 

What was the outcome?

 Pre Pay was vitally important in getting Vodafone up to 1,000,000 customers and making real inroads into the consumer end of the market.

Street posters worked because Pre Pay recharge cards were available from dairies all over the country. Prior to that business plans were only available through Vodafone stores. So street posters were vitally important in letting consumers know they could purchase top-ups at that location

 

In your opinion, what do street posters do especially well?

They have an immediacy that other media just don’t seem to have. When you’re on the street, out and about doing stuff, shopping, eating and socialising, a poster can connect when you least expect it.

 

Any thoughts on the future of posters in general, especially with digital becoming more important?

Electronic media live in the ether – after 30 seconds they’ve been and gone.

By contrast, outdoor media have longevity, especially in the case of Phantom’s street posters, where you can target multiple and specific sites throughout the country.

This means you can be very specific with your messaging to a geographic area or target market, and you can build a multilayered message using two, three or four executions beside each other. So a street poster campaign can really break through the clutter and reinforce a brand message at the ground level.

Street posters also reach buyers while they’re on-the-hoof, rather than driving in busy traffic, so the advertiser has much more time and flexibility to convey the message and be creative with it.
Whilst digital adds impact and flexibility, the base tenet of a billboard or street poster still stands. It’s the two-second test: does it convey the message quickly and clearly?

 

Any examples of great poster campaigns that really nailed it?

Grand Theft Auto did a very impactful ‘Wanted’ campaign that made you stop and read. And of course the most recognisable and iconic poster of all time was the Uncle Sam and Lord Kitchener war recruitment poster.

The old Silk Cut cigarette posters are classic brand-builders, and any poster by Shepard Fairey also speaks volumes.

A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog

Zac Starkey.
Me and Kelly entered the USA at the end of May. I always get a second interview at Homeland Security. I’ve come to accept this. In the interview room, a beautiful Peruvian woman of about twenty-nine years of age was trying to explain to an officer why she had overstayed her visa by nine months last year. And how come she drove through the desert with a guy and stayed with him for six weeks in a dusty old motel room and didn’t know his name or even the name of the desert. She said that the motel had a refrigerator, but that was about all she could remember. She called the Homeland Security officer “Senor.”

I think I know where that motel is.

Me and Kelly attended the Berkeley Book Festival and gave out about 100 copies of the Phantom Billstickers Café Reader and talked to dozens of people about Kiwi poetry and music. People here love New Zealand. They often see it as an escape. When I tell them that New Zealand’s current government is almost as bad as theirs, they can scarcely believe it. I tell them that things are going to change and they act relieved.

At the book festival, I met quite a few of the old 60s and 70s radicals who now own publishing houses. I think they all thought Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Nixon were bad enough and nowadays they are all fit to be tied. They have been bashing their heads against a merciless system for decades now and they are mostly punch drunk from the effort.

Me and Kelly went to a franchise coffee house (Peets) and there was a black guy of about 75 years of age sitting at a table with his girlfriend. They looked to be homeless, but they obviously cared deeply for each other. She wore a giant fur coat in temperatures approaching boiling point and she carried herself with a modicum of decorum and the utmost of style.

The black guy was about three fourths blind and his eyes were freckled with brown islands. He had a face that resembled a melanoma and huge hands that once could have thrown a supermarket trolley through a shop window in the good old days.

What this guy did was amazing. He sang a tune in a talking blues style and whilst he was doing this he drummed the table top with fingers bigger than drumsticks. The vocals were in perfect synchronicity with the drums and his knees went up and down. He had a huge smile on his face and his girlfriend’s face lit up with pleasure. The entire song consisted of just the one line:

“That Lucy’s a bad girl.”

He repeated it over and over like he knew.

She also smiled in a knowing way.

That song has stayed with me for two months now.

I think America is in a really bad place at present, but it continues to be a very exciting country and one which I love.

Every day more than 90 Americans die of overdoses of either Heroin, Fentanyl or prescription opioids. In New Jersey alone more than 2000 died of either Heroin or Fentanyl overdoses in 2016. This is more than those who died in car accidents, gun deaths and suicide combined.

According to the Wall Street Journal there have been more than 300,000 opioid overdose deaths since the late 1990s.

The newspapers and the news items all tell the same story and every single day: he was a star basketball player and she was a cheerleader, both dead at twenty years of age.

They usually die either in a bedroom at their parent’s place whilst the parents are watching television, or they die alone and under a bridge someplace.

What we have here is an inability to communicate.

Getting down on your knees and praying to God is not going to fix this and it is far bigger than Trump. Yesterday a special white house commission recommended to President Trump that he declare a national emergency.

Meanwhile everyone seems to be fixated on ‘personalities’ and this would include the President himself.

When you’re around this unhappy kind of environment for any period of time (and this environment is now worldwide), I believe you have to keep doing things that make you feel happy and satisfied even if you have to force yourself to do it. Then, you have to consistently turn your back on The Bad of everyday life. You are at war. News of Vladimir Putin will rot your brain. The North Koreans now have the capacity to launch an ICBM that could hit Hollywood!

In my case, I know that if I entertain The Bad in my life for any two days in a row then I’m going to be a goner. I’m out there by myself and I’m on a divine wind.

So, keeping in mind my theory about the need for ‘satisfaction’, me and Kelly went to a concert by The Who in ramshackle Atlantic City. Most days a walk up a hill in solitude fixes me, but this was The Who (or ‘The Two’ as Simon Sweetman so cleverly puts it). This was the key to satisfaction. This cost less than twenty or thirty decks of Heroin and it got me away from the internet and the 24-hour horror news cycle.

“Give people bad news, that’ll work. People need a release from their anger. We need to increase advertising revenue! Here, have another cheeseburger. It will sustain you! Some people will believe anything!”

I enjoyed The Who to the full. I walked on air when Pete Townshend wind-milled and Roger Daltry threw that microphone cord around. The songs sounded as perfect as they always did. The band opened with what seemed to be a 45 second version of “Can’t Explain” which was beautifully succinct and most precise.

It’s a sign of a band’s capabilities that they can come on stage and front 10,000+ people and lay down something like that. I felt like I was riding a Vespa and wearing a Fred Perry.

But what I really liked the most was studying Zak Starkey on the drums. This kid (born in 1965) was, to me, the real star. I thought about his mum, Maureen, a lot and about how Zak was given his first drum kit by his “Uncle Keith” when he was eight years old. I thought about his dad (“It’s not what you put in, it’s what you leave out.” – R. Starr) and all this whilst watching a very confident drummer, never too much, never too little, and perfectly in tune and right on time.

Zak and his own band have a new album called “Issues” and the album was advertised at the gig using the byline, “Zak’s Got Issues” and no doubt he has. I’ve scarcely met a drummer who hasn’t.

At Peets, the old guy at the table banging out “That Lucy’s a bad girl” was very sensuous (his voice deep and with a fine growl). He belted out Lucy’s song to a warm beat. He obviously had a huge heart and here he was banging this song out for a very beautiful woman who he probably took to a motel room in the desert one day. I think they are still there and lucky them. They may be homeless, but they are so obviously in Love.

Whether you make a million dollars a year or whether you are on the very bones of your rectum, if you are in Love then you are a millionaire. This is True Dinks.

A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilsons Blog

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The photo above is of Raymond, our bulldog. Raymond is on his way to a doggie farm where he’ll stay whilst Kelly and I visit the USA in order to work on my writing. I’ve been planning a book for about twenty years now. There has always been something or other in my way and usually it has been me. I am my own hangman. Many of us are I guess. I usually don’t think I have anything worthwhile to say. That’s what depressives do. That’s where they live.

This blog will be posted after I have safely entered the USA. I always get a second interview at Homeland Security because of narcotics convictions (the last one being in 1979) and a conviction from 1992 for assault with intent to injure. Hell, I was really beginning to like jail at one point. In prison you know who your mates are and things are very simple: You bash me; I will bash you. You look after me; I will look after you. If only it could be like this in the world and if only we got to grips with it.

I always get sprung by computers at borders. Those computers remind me of the past and they make me feel dirty. But, I done the crime and so I must do the time. This time is measured out in shame and disgust. People can say all they like about how we might choose how to feel in any situation, but I don’t believe them. They are just trying to wear us down with their worthiness. They are the sanctimonious philistines of this world and I don’t use spellcheck.

I’ve been ‘clean’ for a good number of years now and I have tried hard to mend my ways, but I’m thin skinned and that makes many things difficult. I have to think a lot (rather than simply react) and often I’ve gotten things wrong. I’ve said “No” too many times to the ice-creams that have come my way in this life as I’ve sometimes thought they were s***t sandwiches.

I watch it for a while and if it don’t smell only then do I eat it. You can’t be too safe these days.

I think this second part of my life has been about ‘making amends’ and I think reflection is good for people. But I’m just as likely as anyone else to go off the rails.

So, today I’m packing up my Paul Butterfield compact discs and we should be in Illinois by the weekend. I aim to be putting up a few poem posters around Abraham Lincoln’s house in Springfield, Illinois.

I’ve read a lot about Abe lately and it seems to me he was able to live under considerable duress (and for a long time) without ‘acting out’. He was a depressive anyway and so he probably had more of an internal dialogue going on (as depressives do) than a need to lacerate others. There are people out there who disembowel others first, and then they ask questions.

In the age of the Internet, laceration has become a full time job for many. They might disguise themselves as ‘critics’ because that term might seem less harmless than being a prick. They might be there for the ‘good of the people’ and to educate other folks.

Lincoln did not generally lose his temper and there is only one recorded incident (that I know of) where he hurled his stovepipe hat to the floor and uttered a swear word. On that occasion one of his generals was heading away from the Battle of Signal Mountain (Chattanooga) rather than heading towards it. I’m sure there are experts out there who will correct me. Am I paranoid? Damn right!

There was a television show on Sunday night here in New Zealand where a young bloke had committed suicide. It was heartbreaking to watch. He was probably 22 and he had some problems and ended up in Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch. I think he was probably incredibly sensitive and some shrink had written a report describing him (the kid – because that’s what being 22 is – a ‘kid’) as a “narcissist”. The word “narcissist” is almost a new swear word which people hurl at each other these days. I think the 22 year old read the report and that night he committed suicide. There were people getting angry at our mental health system and ‘experts’ climbing in to have their say. This will all break your heart further as this young man looked like a lovely boy.

When I was in Cherry Farm mental hospital in 1975 waiting for a court report to go to jail, a shrink had described me as being “unable to express negative feelings”. This has stayed with me for over forty years now and I’ve proved him wrong millions of times. But, it was a dangerous label and it was hurled around.

Six or eight months ago one of my best mates died. I write about death quite a lot. He was with me in Sunnyside Mental Hospital in 1973 or 1974 (probably both years, we liked a bit of a break during the winter). Sunnyside is now the Hillmorton as referred to above and where the 22 year old recently committed suicide. It’s not a happy place and never has been. We have learnt very little it would seem.

Me and my mate had seen the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and listened to the Velvet Underground far too many times. We’d crawl into mental hospitals to get away from the junk and then an eighteen-year-old blonde psychiatric nurse would come and put drops of opium tincture under our tongues. She’d carefully and bashfully use an eye-dropper and she’d give us various other drugs as well – all of them were nice ways to greet the day.

“And how do you feel today Mister Wilson?”

“Look, I don’t mind if I do…look I hardly ever have extra, but today is a special day!”

I’d recommend this course of treatment to anyone. Me and my mate would climb into the same bed and read Hammond Innes novels together. Seeing this, the shrinks would send the nurses (now plural) back to give us more drugs. There are some very positive things to be said about Hammond Innes novels.

My friend had about three major things happen to him at once before he died and all of them whilst waiting at a traffic light. From memory, they were a heart attack, a stroke, and a cancerous growth in his liver (noticed in the hospital). We hadn’t talked for at least twenty years (I wanted to get clean and he was enjoying his life) and so we connected together over the phone. I was in the USA, he was in Melbourne. In 1972 we lived together in View Street in Dunedin and we had the time of our lives. We were close. If you fall over in a bathtub and cry that you need a doctor and someone helps you out of that bathtub, then you get close. This is known as ‘dependency’. We had far too many doctors.

I called my mate and on the phone everything slipped away and we touched each other again. The rubbish and the airs and graces of our lives slipped away and we were whispering the truth into each other’s ears once again. This was the most incredible experience and we repeated it three or four of times before he died. His wife, a nurse, arrived from a distant land to look after him and she died of a Heroin overdose before she could. He knew this and then he died. Funny how everything ties together.

Like I say and I repeat myself:  there were no airs or graces, no lacerations and no disembowelments, just the vital chemical stuff of closeness and intimacy which people need if they are going to have a satisfying life.

We all die for it.

Phantom Billstickers Art Project

 

Callum_Art project portrait

Artist Callum Rooney (Raw Power Print) with his work for the Phantom Billstickers Art Project

 

 

The Phantom Art Project aims to nurture and strengthen our relationship with the wider arts community in Aotearoa. The Art Project functions as an extension of the long-running Poetry project, where we’re carving out space within the public sphere for creatives to express themselves.

With our street poster sites we’re well placed to provide artists, musicians, poets and writers a platform to gain exposure and reach out to the public. One of our statements to live by here at Phantom Billstickers is ‘Flora for the concrete jungle’, whereby we try to leave each place we touch better, and more lovely than when we found it. We hope the Art Project will be another way we can use our resources to better the lives of others; to give artists a voice, brighten a grey street or just to cause someone to pause for a moment’s thought on their way to work.

Having had such overwhelming interest in the first open round of submissions for the art project, we’ve decided to roll it out as an ongoing project. We will be accepting all mediums of artwork; (Graphic design, painting, illustration, documented sculpture etc) and the competition is open to anyone who would like to see their art on the streets. We will be publishing 10 artworks per quarter, with the artwork going up all around the country in all of our main centres.


Artwork specifications are as follows:

  • Artwork must be provided to us in digital format (PDF or JPG/JPEG)
  • Artwork must be converted to 300dpi, and A3 (210 x 297 mm)
  • Artwork must be converted to greyscale

Please send entries as email attachments to artproject@0800phantom.co.nz and include your full name, social media or website links and contact details. The next set of art project submissions close on June 1, 2017 after which point we will be contacting all artists individually.

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