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A Tinker’s Cuss – Jim Wilson’s Blog, 05/03/15

Jim Wilson’s Blog, 5 March 2015


It has been a long time since I have written a blog but make no bones about it, I have had plenty to say all along the way.

I am in Thailand as I write this. I am taking a break from the pressure of running a small business (approximately fifty or sixty employees) in New Zealand. To make matters worse, that business centres around the Arts. New Zealand is a small country and once someone ‘makes it’ they hardly ever get to live in the equivalent of Tammy Wynette’s mansion. This is because we just don’t have the population base to support a high standard of living for many of our best creators. In fact, the risk of success in New Zealand is that you may become a household name and get your dole cut off. This doesn’t deter everyone and many people are growing beards and getting tattoos to groom themselves for stardom as we speak. There are endless ‘selfies’ on Facebook in dubious poses and still there are many disappointed people about the place. There are some very fine artists who have gotten thoroughly used to the idea that success is where you sell 50 copies of your vinyl album to your mates. These mates love them and love is the best fuel I know of. I applaud people who take this route and I like people who are able to live on love.

Yet in New Zealand we have untold government subsidies available for hacks to make a living by rehashing the past or by releasing bland and pustular shit, but it’s always a case of being ‘in the know’. If you know someone who knows someone, then there’s a small chance you will get a grant and many people live year in and year out from this source. There are various awards for them and this makes it all makes the ghastly appear seemly.

In my country life for many is to try and follow a bureaucratic process which can be extremely painful. If you can’t navigate that process then you are in the shit and you may be endlessly dismayed and saddened by life itself. But once you have successfully navigated the system just once, you may get to join in with a whole lot of often bland people whose one saving grace may be that they never upset each other. It is like giving a Heroin addict Methadone to keep them quiet and there is money for shit if you know the right people. The best artists I know are never on television and they scarcely ever get grants and subsidies and I am grateful for that. They struggle over every single word and this shows and it is equally beautiful and vulnerable. You know that it is true and it is not ‘manufactured’.

Don’t think that I am unhappy with all this because I am not. Since I was sixteen I have cut my own track and it possibly happened earlier as the result of a great fear of becoming dependent. I am happy in the conviction that Kiwis produce some of the very best literature and music in the world and I have been witness to a lot of it. I have plenty of satisfying memories and they tend to sustain me. Many is the time I have driven over the Kilmog with my mates in a rusted out van in order to play some ratty old gig in Dunedin. Or I’ve stood on the door of the Hotel Ashburton and dealt with 30 drunk farm boys. It’s all beer and skittles until the glass jugs start flying around the room, but that was fun in a way as well. That too was real.

I have seen a lot of powerful statements made in my time through the arts.

On these excursions in the vans, my mates and I would start laughing in Christchurch and we might have ended up in Rattray Street, Dunedin six or eight hours later. The Standard Vanguard van (or Bedford) would break down multiple times and yet we’d arrive at Eddie Chin’s club with someone’s pantyhose being used as a fan belt replacement. They always belonged to the drummer and we always arrived just fifteen minutes before the band was due on stage. Eddie would pay us in what he called ‘cigarette money’ and this did us the world of good. He was a very kind man.

Yes, I have a huge reservoir of good memories and it’s just as well because some of my very best mates couldn’t get liver replacements in time and they got buried along with their Fenders. They were usually unknowns and rank outsiders, all of them. Yes, they were that good. No one ever picked them up when they were poor and starving and they didn’t ask for it either.

Thailand, like many places in the world, is experiencing some sort of boom right now and the economy seems to be taking a shot at the moon. No one can govern this country and so the military must do that job on behalf of the monarchy. At least this cuts down on the politicians usurping each other and nothing good being achieved as a result.

Here you can go into almost any doctor’s surgery and buy a used kidney for about $3 USD and if your body rejects it, then the doctor will give you $6 back in cash money. A new liver is about $5 and you can play these things like an accordion. I am kidding of course, but you get the picture.

Koh Samui (where I am currently) is full of Russian holidaymakers. They are one of the major tourist groups here. The locals tell me they are all as mean as cat’s piss and they don’t give anything away for nothing because everybody has to pay.

The men all seem to have tattoos of Vladimir Putin on their forearms and they universally appear to be about fifty-five – sixty-five years old. They have greying crewcuts atop heads that seem to be about 25 inches wide. Their necks are bigger than the Clutha River and they obviously have more volume as they are continuously throwing back alcohol. There are various gold chains around the necks and their eyes are a piercing psychopathic blue. Their stomachs are large, red and swollen and their scrotums are barely covered by a pair of striped ‘speedos’. Whilst they disgust me, one must always have manners around them. They were the first to make it out of Putin’s new Russia and as such they are greedy and dangerous. The Russian currency has dropped in value by more than half recently and these guys are playing for keeps. They don’t talk, they grunt and it’s like talking to a tree to try and converse with them. I guess Putin purchased their loyalty.

The Russian women, on the other hand, have also had a little too much Borscht and Vodka. They are usually vastly overweight as well and yet they insist on wearing flowery bikinis. They often have wiry blonde hair tied back in a ponytail. It’s difficult for me to imagine a kind word ever going backwards and forwards between them and their husbands – they just don’t seem to have the shape of jaw for any good sentiments. They wear gold earrings and have multiple large rings on each hand. Then there is usually a series of bracelets that go all the way up to their armpits.

You might call these people Vladimir and Olga and they are a stereotype, but whereas it is all synthetic it is also visibly real in a killing kind of way.

No doubt these Russians have close ties to the Yakuza as well because making money these days seems to be related to a political gang of one order or another. It is not what you know, it is who you know. In this sense, Russia is much like China, Japan, France or Italy. Come to think about it there are also many parallels to New Zealand where money revolves around cows, banking, accountancy, and the sale of amphetamines and houses. Then the more you can pay for a lawyer, the better you will do financially in life. If you know a politician then you are set up for a good game. Promise your loyalty away and you will live a prosperous life and the insurance companies will always cover you.

I saw a Russian couple chastise their child this morning at breakfast. The father dragged the little boy of approximately three years of age across the floor whilst he was kicking and screaming. I think he had spilled some orange juice and I felt sure they were conditioning him so he could join Spetnaz at some stage in the future. We’ve all watched these television shows where a Marine sergeant abuses his troops in order to turn them into better soldiers with a higher kill count and I feel these parents were getting in some early conditioning. They say it’s love and so it must be.

The parents were treating the little boy like human rubbish and I feel that he may grow up to treat others the same. I am convinced this is how it all happens. Money is God and expediency seems to be the key in the nurturing or otherwise of the child. Society will pay the bill and it will be rendered time and again. Apparently it costs the US Government $810 million US dollars to buy a B-2 bomber and then $135,000 USD to keep it in the air for an hour. This according to a recent article in ‘The Atlantic’ (a good source).

The ‘culture’ of any country has a tremendous effect on how children grow up and what that country becomes as a result. What any child needs is to be able to express himself or herself in an environment that rewards him or her for what they are doing when it comes from the heart and is genuinely good. Encouragement in the right direction does a lot more than chastisement and brutality. Nurturing is true Gold.

I am very fond of the arts because I think if you encourage and nurture people in that direction and give them plenty of love and bring forward the health in them then I figure that things will eventually get better. There may be some poets flying B-2s, but none that I know of. Most poets I know earn nothing.

It’s been clichéd to all hell and back but I do think love and genuineness are the very best armaments we can ever produce.

I’m going down the beach.


Keep the Faith,



Jim Wilson


Diary of a Billsticker – Washington DC, USA

 “We are coming Frew!”

This weekend I am away to Washington DC, on active service, to put up poetry posters and there’ll be a side trip to Baltimore, Maryland, as well. I’ve postered Baltimore previously. This city is important, in a sense, to at least one of our poets. Of course, it’s also very important to a lot of people because of the television show, ‘The Wire.’ It’s very rarely these days that you see the truth told like that. The truth now has to be put into fiction because otherwise no one would believe it and they’d be frightened of it. But I think everyone believes “The Wire.”

With poem postering, you can look behind you and see the clear results. People reading the poems. So these people have already voted. When you see people reading a Tusiata Avia poem they just about spontaneously combust, with a half a dozen of our other poets people seem to think deeply, and with some of our poems people laugh. That’s the net result.

There used to be, and maybe there still is, a demolition company in Christchurch, New Zealand, called Frews. It seemed to me they were a force of their own and before they knocked over a building they’d paint somewhere, “We are coming Frew.” They did. I think the same about our poetry project.

Good poetry is often very, very simple and postering is about the simplest thing one can do. The appeal of it to me is that it works and you can see it working. Life, after all, is meant to be about movement and action. First we advance, then we see what transpires. So it is then that our project has taken on life.

When we started the initiative, we thought it was time to take some small moves to bring some truth and beauty to the streets.

We started doing this about eighteen months ago to put poetry posters in the streets of cities and towns throughout New Zealand. Then, because the project excited people, we wanted to place them in as many places as we could afford to internationally. The poems are by Kiwis and Americans. These are two countries that you could say are ‘estranged’ in many ways. But never really are they estranged in the arts. Funny that.

So far, internationally, we’ve ‘poemed’ Glasgow, Paris, NIS in Serbia, Vienna, Sydney, and dozens of towns and cities throughout the USA. Some of these American towns and cities have been: Portland, Seattle, Casa Grande (Arizona), Boulder, Chicago, Baltimore, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, and Cookeville (Tennessee), Clarksdale, Tupelo, Oxford, and seven or eight smaller towns in Mississippi. We also postered in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Newark, Perth Amboy, Princeton, and Lambertville (New Jersey), and a wee sprinkling in New York City. You could poster in the Big Apple day and night for five or six years and I’d love to do that.

Phantom has hosted several ‘launches’ and readings in New Zealand in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin and we’ve put up thousands of posters now. In Auckland, the US Consul came along to read a poem and that chuffed us. In the USA, we’ve hosted a launch in Cookeville, Tennessee and one in Seattle, Washington.

Some of our poets have been (and I usually forget some names and I’m sorry for that): Janet Frame, Jay Clarkson, Frankie McMillan, Sam Hunt, Bill Manhire, Sandra Bell, Lawrence Arabia, Chris Knox, Otis Mace, Gary McCormick, Michele Leggott, Pablo Nova, Stephen Oliver, Ben Brown, Brian Turner, Jackie Steincamp, Nicholas Thomas, Hilaire Campbell, Tusiata Avia, Mariana Isara, David Eggleton, Geoff Cochrane, and Bill Direen from New Zealand. Then from the USA: Robert Creeley, Josie McQuail, Michael White, Jeffery McCaleb, Robert Pinsky, Marcie Sims, Gerald Stern, Joe Treceno, and Roy Smith.

There’ll be others.

In March 2011 we are having another launch at the worldwide head office of Saatchi and Saatchi in New York City and I’d say this will spin the project bigger and further and that’s what we want. I don’t always think bigger and better is best, but in this case, I do.

Wish me luck in DC.

Keep the Faith,



Jim Wilson

Diary of a Billsticker – Lambertville, New Jersey and New Hope, Pennsylvania USA

Concerning Those Statues in The Park

It’s been so hot here for over a week now that a few days ago I saw a redneck explode in the street.

Then, yesterday when I was on 202 out near Flemington, New Jersey, I saw a dude in a bright yellow Camaro doing 120mph plus whilst being trailed by four New Jersey State Troopers wearing Smokie the Bear hats and wide grins. That is to say that all five of them were wearing the grins and the air was alive. I think they were all playing music by Prince.

On this poster run, I topped up about 120 A3s that I had placed on lamp-posts two weeks before. I added about 60 A3s and it brought the total amount placed to 180. This is a reasonably good ‘showing’ in a town of 4000 people. I placed posters by Bill Manhire, Mariana Isara, Robert Creeley and Gerald Stern. The poem posters have been noticed and I get lots of comments and emails. Posters in the street are very real.

There are many theories as to how to do a perfect poster campaign. I always thought that you started in the outskirts of the city and you kept adding to the posters and bringing pressure to the centre of the city as the play date grew closer. You want to get to the areas where there is a high volume of foot traffic and at the end, you want your point to be inescapable.

My thinking about all of this comes from the time when neither radio nor television were playing much of the Kiwi bands I was promoting and newspaper advertising was very expensive and oftentimes not very effective. In Christchurch, for a long time, the Christchurch Star was a quite effective way for bands to advertise themselves whilst the Press was a bit more conservative and didn’t really appeal. But both newspapers had excellent columns on entertainment that appeared weekly and these really helped. The Christchurch Star’s column was written by Rob White (a great writer) and the Press by Nevin Topp. Of course there was always a lot of disagreement about what worked and people tried many things to promote their bands and this was all for the good. Many good acts came out of this time and climate. Original New Zealand music was thought to be brand new and it took on aspects of being a religious event. I tell you if you’ve seen Toerag at the Gladstone then you’ve seen something and the same goes for Peter Sweeney’s Smack Riflemen. If you’ve ever met Harry Sparkle then you ain’t never gonna forget. This is a man who escaped from jail where he was doing a cooling off period for a smash and grab on a bottle store (The Star & Garter – another great pub gig), and who went to Timaru dressed as a woman. Now that’s what I call creativity. Most people would have gone to Ashburton.

So I always get these posters on the lamp-posts in Lambertville/New Hope to cover the best possible viewing opportunities. I criss-cross the city energetically enabling the posters to be seen in many different locations. Upwards of sixty locations is a good number.

As I put the posters up, I imagine people walking down the street and the direction they would be coming from and then I place the posters accordingly. Because I want to get poetry read as much as I possibly can and I’m not going to go on ‘Entertainment Tonight’ to do so, then I have to reduce this whole thing to pure and utter simplicity. I think everyone knows that these American TV shows are hyped and probably cause obesity and no one really believes in them. But, ah… A poster in the street is very, very true and if you read a Brian Turner or a Michael Palma poem in Lambertville on an old wooden lamp-post, then you have been touched my friend.

So I often think of postering as simplicity with constant repetition. You take the kick-backs and you keep going. Aaaah, my thoughts, my feelings seeping through in truth.

I always think about Kiwi music on a poster run and I am always proud of it. This week I have been thinking about people who deserve statues in the park and my first would be, in my opinion, New Zealand’s greatest ever band manager. My vote would be for Charley Gray. Charley was a very direct guy who cut through a lot of stuff and made a mark. He was way ahead of his time and very honest and devoted to music.

Then I’d give Murray Cammick a statue in the park for his work at ‘Rip It Up.’ In my view, this was New Zealand’s best ever music magazine. It’s hard to say how such a magazine could ever be duplicated or how a website or a Facebook page could come close to matching it. Rip It Up made a clear point… These days the water tends to be murky in many ways.

Aaaah, simplicity and directness of purpose.

Lastly, I’d award a statue to Eddie Chin. Eddie Chin had a few nightclubs in Dunedin when I was growing up. When people mention Dunedin music, I always think of Eddie first. In the 1960s he had a club called ’77 Sunset Strip’ and some great bands played there. These bands sometimes tended to be quite commercial and had very compelling stage acts; this was before such a thing often became something to be sneered at. Eddie nurtured many fine acts and people.

One of my favourite all-time Kiwi Bands was The Fantasy. This was Craig Scott’s band in Dunedin in the late 1960s. Craig moved on and the band went through several line-up changes (no doubt ‘musical differences’). Anyway, some of my mates were in that band and went to play for Eddie in 1971. This is what one of them (Jeff Stribling) said:

“We arrived in Dunedin at midnight one night in 1971. We had caught the 6 PM railcar from Christchurch, Bill (Kearns), Ronnie (Harris), and myself. We couldn’t get a residency in Christchurch as ‘Ticket’ (now there was a band!) had Aubrey’s and Chapta was at Mojos. So we thought we’d try Dunedin. We stayed at a motor camp that night and the next day we went to see Eddie at his restaurant, the ‘Hong Kong’, in Rattray Street. We said we were broke, starving and needed a place to live and play. He found us a flat, fed us and gave us the keys to his club across the road. The club had been closed for a long time and he said that if we painted it he’d feed us every day and we could be his resident band. We worked for three weeks and opened it as “The Groovy Room.” We called ourselves “NZ Fantasy” and we packed the venue with 600 people and it stayed that way. Eddie came into the band room one night with a massive amount of cash and gave us a bonus. He said, “I had a very good night on the horses tonight.” He was a live wire; a very kind man… My lasting memory of him is that his face was always smiling.”

Dudes, that’s how we built New Zealand Music.

I’m away to Flemington now to find that guy in the yellow Camaro. I want to smile like that.


Keep the Faith,



Jim Wilson


Diary of a Billsticker – Lambertville, New Jersey, USA

Woke Up This Morning and Got Myself a Broom

It is true that putting up posters will shift the dirty water off one’s chest. I have never come back from a poster run feeling worse (I’ve said this before), not even when my posters have been immediately covered by another posterer. This used to happen all the time in old Christchurch (and elsewhere) when sometimes twenty different people would go out pasting up for twenty different gigs on the same night. It’s a nice and interesting idea that people should ‘share’, but I always think their egos involved and sometimes egos can’t grasp even very simple concepts. Then, it’s not as if every ego in the world is working for a bank or finance company or even in politics. No, there are egos everywhere. Sometimes there are even egos in reverse.

Talking of egos, the most disturbing thing about America right now is the Oil Spill (yes, I meant to capitalise that because it is a huge disaster) in the Gulf. I hear there is another panel of ‘experts’ who are going to meet and discuss the matter later on in the week. The panel consists of Bono, Sting, Sean Penn and Elton John and their discussion will be screened on Entertainment Tonight. That’s how sad it all is. If only they would completely give away their fortunes to make it better. But they’ll never do that. The head guy from BP looks stunned and ineffectual and Mr Obama should front up and start cane-ing people. That’s the view of my ego.

So that’s why I like postering, because when you are putting up posters everything becomes perfectly clear and truthful (“The only thing that matters is the clear and simple truth” – Ernest Hemingway). It’s the activity of postering that unclogs the system and gets me moving and doing something that I enjoy a hell of a lot: putting up simple street posters for poets. That’s about the easiest thing to do and I do not like the theorising before and after the fact that one sees on television these days. Lewis Lapham once said something about television front people being the new car sales people of the media set and he’s right. So the Gulf Oil Spill is a tragedy on a number of fronts. The animals (human and otherwise) will suffer the most. I feel for them.

I did this run in Lambertville over three days and I put up posters by Jeffery McCaleb, Roy Smith, Brian Turner, Gerald Stern, Chris Knox, Robert Creeley, Michael Palma, Sam Hunt, Bill Manhire and Michele Leggott. Some of these are my favourites of course. I can stand back and look at them on a lamp-post and I feel good. I’m ‘put together’ again.

I tried to mix in the different sentiments with these posters too; some go really well in couplings with another poet. Sam is good with anyone. Robert Creeley is the man and will bring light to any lamp-post. Michael Palma goes really well with Chris Knox (he the musician and Michael the dude talking about Ray Charles). Roy Smith’s poem is just funky and smells of sand and diesel and Jeffery McCaleb just has this big heart, which I hope continues to serve him well.

And so on and so forth.

So you can see it’s not just about stapling a few posters to lampposts, it’s about ‘feeling’ and ‘being’ and it beats talking to lawyers and accountants and watching that Oil Spill. It also whips the endless and vapid smiles of television presenters. I’m sure all this is the cause of obesity.

You can quite easily see why people wake up and get themselves a broom. A broom is the best friend of a billsticker. A broom is what a billsticker usually uses to put up posters. Billsticking happens in every major city in the world. People will go out and express themselves. They’ve done this since before the beginning of recorded time. We’ve got a guy at Phantom Billstickers in Christchurch right now who is the fastest guy I have ever seen with a broom. I won’t mention his name because that may cause embarrassment.

I have learnt the noble art of billsticking from some of New Zealand’s best ever promoters. Here I am going to mention some names: Hugh Lynn, Robert Raymond, Harry M. Miller, Joe Brown, Oz Armstrong, Mark Cassin and Benny Levin.

We used to do ‘airport runs’ and this is where a billsticker would go out and poster the road in from the airport just before the date and time of the arrival of the ‘star’ or ‘stars’. Then you’d poster all around the hotel at which the promoter would tell you the act was staying. To use a sentence from “The Thin Red Line” this ‘bucks the men up’. The stars feel better and spirits are lifted. 90% of the value of a concert of any kind is that everyone arrives and leaves happy. The stars included.

Benny Levin would always ‘walk the town’ and ‘talk the act up’. I am privileged enough to be able to say that I did this with him a few times. He’d snaffle down a couple of ginseng and we’d put some posters under our wings and go from shop to shop putting up posters for the gig. This would be a few days before the play date and the important thing wasn’t so much the putting up the posters (although this was still critically important), but the talking to the shopkeepers and getting a gauge of how the concert would sell… Getting people interested.  If two hundred people told you in one day that they loved the act and were going to be at the gig, then this gave you a really good indication of how that concert would go. I don’t like to disparage anyone or anything really, but this kind of thing will still give you a better indicator of the popularity of an act than Facebook or the internet will ever be able to do. This is real people talking to real people. So, even though we may want to freshen up the simple street poster with technology, there is no doubt that it (the simple street poster) is a very powerful instrument and it feels real. I’ve said it.

Real is what the world needs of course. Getting face to face with people and making contact is the most powerful force in the world.

I was going to write about Eddie Chin on this posting. In my opinion, Eddie was one of New Zealand’s finest ever promoters and did one hellacious amount for the NZ music industry. I actually had some intake from people who played for Eddie back in the 1970s to write something, but this will have to wait.

I grew up watching how Eddie’s clubs bought Dunedin alive and I was very much influenced by what he did. I’m going to write about him on my next posting, because right now I hear a lamppost and a broom calling to me.


Keep the Faith,


Jim Wilson

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The Ballad of Phantom Billstickers

The Ballad of Phantom Billstickers

I have put up several million posters in the streets of New Zealand over these past few decades and hence given the place a damn good pasting. I have never put up a single poster that I did not think contributed something in some way, whether it was to advertise a band or a brand, a political meeting or a drama group (often the same thing). I always came away thinking that I was helping someone, somewhere on down the line. Employment depends on advertising. That’s a fact. Without marketing you have Estonia in 1952.

I’m not going to give you my line about putting posters up in the snow, but I will tell you that I busted the suspension in my beautiful old Volkswagen Notchback when I went ripping through the Cashel Street Mall in Christchurch in the late 1970s. That was when the mall was being built. I was putting up posters for The Dudes that cold Sunday night. The Dudes gave us Dave Dobbyn and we are extremely grateful for that. ‘Loyal’ is one of the all time NZ pop hits, but I remember ‘Bull by the Horns’ as being a great song too.

I pasted up the Cathedral fence when renovations were happening there in the 1990s. Someone had pasted up the original fence when that Cathedral was first being built over a hundred years earlier in the 1870s/1880s. (And there are photos to attest to this). So posters have been with us since printing was invented five or so centuries ago. Before that people made marks on walls. It is an urge and a mighty good one. Of course we could all just stay indoors and do and say nothing. I believe Janet Frame’s mother warned her against magazines.

Nothing breaks my heart more than to see posters peeling untidily off a wall and at Phantom we call this ‘carnage’. I remember I once had a whole holiday in Istanbul ruined by carnage. I’ve seen carnage in Prague, Glasgow and Manchester and in many other places.

I’ve come to enjoy all things visual and random splashes of colour in the street. I love the arts and think that they save a city in so many ways as to be uncountable (is that a word? Too bad). I also love the creativity that goes into brand logos and I love magazines and photography. These things are cheering and uplifting. I even think that sometimes a billboard can dress up a Soviet era block wall in a good way. This is heresy, I know. Burn me… It’s been done and it did not work. I have heard the words “you cannot put that there” more than anyone in New Zealand I dare say. I lurked in vans with pots of glue for decades like Dostoevsky’s Underground Man. I said many of the same things. I certainly thought them.

A poster on a wall is flora for the concrete jungle and might save us from grim moods as we swan about Christchurch in the cold of winter. Miss Emily Dickinson’s poem “A Certain Slant of Light” comes to mind. These moods might happen at other times too, we are all human beings after all and the Buddhist idea of suffering does fit true to many of us. Others would deny it and they end up selling soap and mortgages on TV. All credit to them (Sean Fitzpatrick’s greatest line and a fine one to live by). These people are welcome to their positive thinking as long as it is tied into reality. There is always room for one more inside, sir!

When I first started putting up posters in the 1960s they were being printed offset by Fuller Brothers Printing in Tuam Street. These posters were usually for bands coming to town. In the 1970s photocopies changed everything and punk rock happened at the same time. Many of us got caught up in the excitement of it all and many fine bands gathered an audience because of simple postering. The Androidss come to mind – they had some of the finest street posters I have ever seen. There should be a statue in the park for the Androidss and how they actually did liberate Christchurch in many ways. Toy Love livened up the country at the same time. The Spelling Mistakes were priceless and I’d give my right arm to see The Screaming Meemees one more night. Or the Car Crash Set.

There were many great graphic designers doing sterling work back then hunched over simple kitchen benches. I remember I saw a band called the Whizz Kids (which became Blam Blam Blam) designing a poster on an old table in a house on Salisbury Street for their “We are Tightening Our Belts” Tour. This being Muldoon era New Zealand. There was nothing that man liked to do more than punish us all and keep New Zealand locked up and indoors after 6pm. Government officials roamed the streets looking for the wayward at night. We can’t imagine it these days. God bless David Lange. My only wish is that David Lange could’ve totally liberated New Zealand in the same way that the Androidss could liberate 700 punters at the Gladstone. The Swingers were the best live band I’ve ever seen after The Gordons. But wait, there are countless more good bands and it is unfair to dismiss them by not mentioning a handful…. Mother Goose; Larry’s Rebels; The Chants R & B; The Bilders; The Vauxhalls; Murder Incorporated; The Underdogs Blues Band; Baby; Dragon; Hello Sailor; Flying Wild; Luna Sea; The Punch; Pop Mechanix; Hip Singles; Boot Hill; NZ Fantasy; Butler; Love’s Ugly Children; Pumpkinhead… Yes, I’ve been lucky.

John Halvorsen of The Gordons was probably the best graphic designer I have ever seen (Ian Dalziel would be second and Paul Smith is way up there too). I watched John Halvorsen doing some of those early Gordons posters and I thought my head would split. Every time I put one of them up, I felt something through my total body… A streaming. I was coming alive.

I’ve had many fine and interesting people working with street postering in those dark vans and many a good laugh was had and there was much joyful vitality. Yes I’ve enjoyed it all.

This was the ballad of Phantom Billstickers…


Keep the Faith,


Jim Wilson



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