Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas wrapping

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While there's still a couple of weeks left in the year it feels like time to start wrapping up the year. I'll be on National Radio again tomorrow at 11:45am, mostly talking about inner-city revitalisation and the design of streets, but I'll probably also do a quick summation of the year in urbanism and Martinis. Speaking of which, I've already had to add to my Wellingtini booklet, and I'll post my last set of Martini review for the year next week.

With the end of the year nearly upon us, it's time to answer the burning question: how have I done in my quest to drink at all the bars in central Wellington? Well, the target has been in constant motion all year, not just with all the openings and closures, but as I discover fusty little hotel bars that really have to be ticked off, and as I reconsider the status of some on the list. For instance, I've decided that places like Subnine don't really count, as they're more venues than bars. To my mind, a "bar" has to be open regularly without a cover charge. That just leaves me two bars to visit: Curve and Endup.

Both of those are also quite debatable. According to a comment from Tatjna, Curve is open with DJs most Saturdays, though I've had other suggestions that it is more of a sporadic functions venue. And while Endup used to pump away until midday at the weekends (which I know from painful experience, having lived opposite there), my recent attempts to visit after dawn have found the doors locked. I may have to stock up on barely legal substances so that my ageing metabolism can function during Endup's very narrow opening window. If I'm successful, or if I conclude that neither Curve or Endup count as proper, functioning bars, then presuming nothing else opens at the weekend, there will no longer be a single bar from Thorndon to the Basin in which I have not had a drink. Phew.

Tiki night at ImbibeIn the meantime, though, there are some bars that I can't help gravitating towards again and again. For instance, Wellington may still be waiting for a proper Tiki Bar, but Imbibe is having a Tiki night tonight: no prizes for guessing where I'll be from 9pm! Mind you, the thought of Minuit's Ruth and Paul performing Cole Porter at Cabaret is pretty damn tempting, especially when followed by some live electronica.

Next week, presuming my liver survives, I'll be a gentleman of leisure. In other words, unemployed. In still other words: more time for blogging! So, with any luck I'll have a chance to finish off a few analyses and other projects, post a whole bunch of them, and save some up for the long slow summer.


At 12:25 pm, December 15, 2006, Blogger Baz said...

Fingers crossed that the new year doesn't see you posting reviews of which restaurants have the best bins, which solvents taste the nicest, which benches are the most comfortable to sleep on...

At 5:07 pm, December 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom, just a bit of nit-picking re your appearance on National Radio this morning. I believe you said the Hardy-Boys gingerbeer factory was in Oak Park Ave. It was in fact at 272 Willis Street, a brick building behind Citron. The rear yard did back onto the old Zig-zag factory on Oak Park. Minor, but if you're gonna talk on radio with authority you must get your facts right.
What did you think of the bypass open day? I refused to give the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary a 'donation' (more like an admission fee) when passing through the various checkpoints & the Rotary collectors got really antsy. Pardon me chaps, but I found 1) having to pay to look at a public road and 2) supporting the Sanctuary's association with an environmentally destructive project offensive. Not my idea of fun having a row with elderly rotarians in public but I wasn't going to be bullied. I'd give the Sanctuary money any other day of the week but not today.

At 12:00 pm, December 17, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Hi anonymous: thanks for the correction, and sorry for the inaccuracy. I knew it was one of the old warehouse buildings in the vicinity of Oak Park Ave, but since it was in the middle of the block I didn't realise it had a Willis St address.

At 12:02 pm, December 17, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

As for the bypass open day, it looks like I missed the protests. I took lots of photos (with a decent camera, for a chamge!) and plan to post about it soon. There are plenty of things about it that are still depressing, but I think I've moved on now to trying to think about how we can make the best of a bad thing.

At 5:30 pm, December 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt you are taking the right approach Tom, trying to make the best of a bad situation, but I think it was also right & proper for protestors to attend the event. It's important that the decision makers are continually held to account for their actions. My partner heard Annette King & Kerry Prendergast asking each other why some people just couldn't accept the bypass. My response to this is that sincerely held & passionate beliefs do not lie down & die once a cause has been defeated. Did such beliefs not led them to enter politics, or are they more interested in personal power?
It was a strange event. I went with a friend who had made a sign about global warming, and I was quite suprised at the amount of cheeky, rude & downright abusive response we received. You'd have thought we'd lept back about 5 years when climate change issues were still fringe. Perhaps they still are in Rotary circles, despite the band-wagon hopping the National Party is now indulging in.
Though Transit has been careful to publise the bypass as a two-lane road rather than a motorway, I was struck by the amount of land it gobbles up, especially the trench. God knows what a six-lane motorway would have been like.

At 9:33 pm, December 17, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Hi anon,

"No doubt you are taking the right approach Tom, trying to make the best of a bad situation, but I think it was also right & proper for protestors to attend the event."

I totally agree, and I'm glad that the protesters are still passionate and keepin the cause visible. Some of the protest signs made more sense than others, though. Signs about global warming and the loss of a neighbourhood are vital, but to still have banners that say "stop the bypass" seems a bit sad and far too late.

We can't stop the bypass now: the damage is done. Thus, even those of us who believe that the net effects will be detrimental should look at the parts of town that are supposed to benefit from a reduction of traffic, and call for assertive and permanent pro-pedestrian measures.

"Though Transit has been careful to publise the bypass as a two-lane road rather than a motorway, I was struck by the amount of land it gobbles up, especially the trench."

Yes, I was struck by that too, though more so in the "Car-o" drive part than in the trench. Looking west from the corner of Taranaki & Arthur streets today, I couldn't believe how bleak, flat and open it looked, in complete contrast to the intimate and vertical streets that characterise Wellington.

Part of that is almost inevitable, given that catering for high-speed traffic requires lots of curves that carve out awkward leftover spaces, and these are hard to turn into pleasant public space or useful building sites, especially when surrounded by traffic. But there's a lot that could potentially be done along Arthur St & Car-o Drive to fill in the urban fabric and try to generate a streetscape of sorts. If some of that is used for affordable housing and workspace, then so much the better. But we need to keep pushing an awareness of this.


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