Today I write bearing good news… I am pleased to announce we have left limbo and now have a full-blown, fully-approved building consent. With the whole debacle having taken over 10 months, it feels good to finally be over the line.
And now for the words you all never thought you’d read here: Thank you to those at the Christchurch City Council who helped push the thing over the line. I know we had our share of battles with the Council over this place, but it was only through certain people taking pity on us and helping us through the process that we managed to get here. We started by butting heads and concluded with shaking hands. Isn’t that nice…
So thank-you to everyone that volunteered their time or skill to help us get open and consented. We couldn’t have done it without all of you.
Thursday rolls around again which means bike night. Those of you that were here last week will have seen that I got into a fairly heated discussion with the police about what I saw as a heavy-handed approach to coming down and issuing warnings about guys on bikes. This may be a manifestation of my apparent problem with authority or it may have been an officer that just didn’t like me.
I am pleased to report that I have just returned from a meeting with the cops to discuss my concerns. They have listened to me and have advised me that we are not seen as a troublesome bar. It’s funny, we go into the meeting on opposite sides of the table, talk for 30 minutes and conclude with the realization that we agree on everything (except for whether boy racers should exist – but that’s a different discussion for a different day).
The fact that we are on Victoria Street puts us in the spotlight. The public has identified this area as troublesome and the Police have reacted to public/political opinion and begun policing the street more actively. This police presence will only increase over summer as the binge-drinking season kicks off. My hope is that if you see the police in here, you will interact with them and show them that our customers are not drunk retards. Introduce yourself, ask them how their day is going, talk abut speed limits… I don’t know, just get involved and help me show them that this is a nice establishment.
You may have noticed a lot of talk about how much alcohol costs our society has been in the media. I acknowledge that we are part of the problem but I think it’s important to note that we are also part of the solution. As a culture we need to stop getting so fucking pissed that we hurt ourselves and become a burden to the healthcare system. Have a few drinks, have a nice night, but try to keep it under control to a point that you don’t end up in A&E.
Part of our discussion was what I see bike night as. You may or may not know that traditionally the bike world and the police have had a pretty fraught relationship. I’m hoping that people can behave themselves enough to change these perceptions of bikers; but everyone involved need to participate in this. This means if you are coming down to Bike Night, please make sure you don’t drink and ride. It’s a stupid thing to do in the first place, but it also means my license can be compromised if you are pulled over and fail a breath test. Also remember if you are on a learner or restricted license that the limit is pretty-much zero. So have a ginger beer and do some work on getting your full license. Come down to bike night, have a couple of beers and a feed and talk some shit about bikes. Then ride home safely. If you have had too much to drink, then leave your bike here (Paddy does). We’ll lock it inside for you and you can collect it on Friday.
So thank-you to the police for listening to my concerns and thanks to all of you that continue to show up week-after-week and behave like responsible adults. I’m hoping that our relationship with the police moving forward will be one of working together to reduce alcohol related harm and not one of butting heads to prove who is the alpha male.
I have been meaning to do a couple of posts explaining our rationale for how we set the place up. Put something down for posterity and all that…
I’m going to start with the Scaffold. No, I’m not talking about the awful band from Liverpool who did such a loveable version of Lilly the Pink that it has become part of our St Patrick’s Day repertoire (only six months away folks); I’m talking about what’s running around our section.
When we set out to create this place we talked about taking something that everybody knew and understood and applying it in a creative fashion. It was our architects, Common Ground, who came up with the idea of scaffold. We were sure it would be understood by the Council (how wrong we were), it was everywhere and would create a statement about what we were trying to achieve.
I really like the idea. I like the way it identifies when you are inside or outside the bar. I like the sculptural element of the entrance. I like the big white walls on the street, meaning you have to come inside to really see the place. It serves all sorts of purposes. It creates a building when one wasn’t available. It was theoretically cheap (compared to a building), it stops the wind getting in better than anything else would, it establishes an architectural language to the development with something structured boxing in all the mayhem contained within.
The two ton water weights act as foundations and create booths in the unoccupied bays. The booths look out onto the street. I think interaction with the street is both exciting for those inside and out. Sometimes its a nice conversation starter to sit and watch the world go by while you have a pint. Having these booths open also allows light in as two thirds of them are north facing.
So, we started with the scaffold and it was from there that we managed to create a frame into which we could fill the space. I’m stoked with how it has come out and know of several people who agree with me. But let’s not end with our scaffold. Let’s finish where we started, with the terrible band. You should really check out just how uncool they are…
Two years since that massive shake came and messed up our lives… A good time to look back on what we have been through and what we have achieved…
Goodbye Blue Monday is dead and gone and the myth of the place grows with each passing day.
Looking back, everything was so normal before the ground started moving. But do you know what? I’m glad I was here for the quakes. I have worried that my life was going to pass by without a defining moment and while I was in America for September 11, I felt like an outsider on the inside, rather than a person partaking in the event. With everything that has gone on, I now feel like I have participated in something that was pretty special and unusual in our history. I also feel that with what we have done, we have really shown our commitment to this town and to being a part of the creative rebuild that will one day be judged alongside the institutional one.
I now feel like this town is more exciting than it has ever been. It’s here for the creative taking, so long as you have the fortitude to fight the stupid authorities and leave your mark on this decimated town. It is now up to the good people to stay or come to town and create something completely unique in this country.
I do miss the old days. I miss the bands and the parties we had at GBM. I miss Poplar Lanes and the characters that populated the neighborhood. But do you know what I selfishly miss most of all? I miss working alongside Tim and the relationship that we forged (full of fights and drinking and long-winded arguments about bands). I know that getting the fuck out of town was the best thing for him as this place was dragging him down, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still miss him.
Also, while looking back, I see that we have created something pretty special for this town. A couple of years ago if IÂ had told you I was going to start an open-air bar in a bus, you would have called me mad. But the changes that have happened around here mean that we can now get away with things that we would never have been able to before.
While reminiscing, I think it’s also important to think about the future. I look forward to this summer, to this bar really coming into its own. I look forward to continuing to work with my family and friends. I look forward to creating something that helps my wee town get back on its feet and find some normality in this world full of madness.
Thanks for the love and we will see you at the bar…
Last nights inaugural Homebrewer HQ night was a resounding success. Thanks to those who showed up and to Jock for supplying the Yeast Infection Amber Ale for us to sample. We made plans to make a new 50l brewery which a bunch of us will share. Hopefully by the time we do the next night, we will be drinking our own booze.
Remember – Homebrewer HQ, on the last Monday night of each month.
If beer is not your thing, don’t forget Chess Club every Tuesday night.
In sad news, we have had to close Rosie’s Caravan Cafe. The whole exercise made sense when we thought we would have a roof. Then we massively overspent on legal/engineer fees and suddenly had no money left for the roof. I won’t bore you with the story again…
So the poor wee cafe has been slogging along, trying to convince people that coming and hanging out in the rain/sleet/snow/wind is an enticing proposition. It was becoming hard for Rosie and Yuki to stay enthused when the daily sales were not what they should be and the second the heavens opened up (which they have a lot lately) customers would cease to exist.
So thanks to all of you who came down to support us. We will have another crack at it over summer once we have better warmth and dryness strategies. In the meantime the bar is ticking along and cutting our costs should allow us to survive a little longer.
If I had a penny for every time some guy came into Cartel/GBM/Smash Palace and said “nice bar, but do you know what’s missing? You need a big screen TV so that you can play the rugby…” then I would have a small bag of pennies by now.
With the Olympics coming up I was scared that with the time-zone differences I was going to miss my four-yearly dose of gymnastics, diving and that silly one where the horses jog on the spot. So, I have listened to customer feedback and am pleased to announce that we have a huge screen TV (if you are a smurf) for us all to watch the events.
So come down and enjoy the coverage and we can all watch London go broke together.
Greg’s and my meticulous maintenance schedule paid off and I came third in class in the Chummy yesterday (Greg was much further down the field for the record).
Thanks to everyone that came out to support and to those who helped us get the silly wee thing running at the past two motorbike nights.
While we didn’t win the event, we like to think we produced some of the more spectacular runs full of rooster tails, opposite lock and revs well past the red line. Common wisdom would suggest that slow and steady is the way to go at trials events. We bucked this trend and did everything at full pace, leading people to say things like: “I can see how he rolled that poor wee car”.
So now we put the Chummy back in the shed until two weeks before the event next year. On that note, if anyone out there has a shed where we can store the thing for a year, please let me know.
It’s only a few weeks ’til the Olympics, then once that is done we will be dangerously close to summer and we can hopefully make a buck. In the meantime we are working on getting the place sorted, warm and dry in an effort to survive the next few months.
We have received warning from the police that they are cracking down on liquor related trouble on Victoria Street.I know that we are not the bulk of the problem as our license finishes at 1am and that is before the real trouble begins, but I am aware that everyone on the street has been warned and we only have ourselves to blame if we get in trouble.
I know that we have made a habit of falling out with every form of authority in this town, but I take the cops warning seriously.Â I have no desire to get on the wrong side of the police or the liquor authorities. So, please be aware that if you are intoxicated you will not get inside Smash Palace. It doesn’t matter who you know, security has been instructed to crack down and ensure we are running a business where we are proud to let the cops in when they come by.
To demonstrate intoxication, here is a video of some drunk guy that none of us know…
I was just cleaning up a hard drive and found some old Goodbye Blue Monday photos. It made me nostalgic about the good old days; the days when property developers and finance companies were the only ones going broke and my main monthly concern was to redraw the back wall at the bar.
It was always a bit of a bastard of a job. The bottles all came down, the back bar was cleared and Tim would wipe last month’s decoration off with Coke-soaked rags. Then we would get creative…
Various people helped with different walls. Everyone had an idea for the next one, but few stayed the whole course and chalked through ’til dawn.
Sometimes I would come up with the idea and have to execute it and sometimes other people would come up with a concept and I would get bumped to an artist’s assistant role.
If there was one other person that had the greatest influence on that back wall it was Damian Shatford, the Michelangelo of Christchurch chalkboards. His hand was steadier than any other, his ideas better and his chalkboards head-and-shoulders better than any other. Damian had a huge influence on the vibe of GBM when we were setting up – some even whispered that he may have conceived the idea to paint the outside with blackboard paint and draw bricks on the bricks – and when we were building Smash Palace I really missed having him around.
So thanks Damian and thanks to everyone else who stayed late and got their hands dusty.
These are the back wall photos that I have. I lost a heap of photos when the looters took my camera and hard-drive. If anyone has photos of the other back walls I would love copies. Johnny(at)goodbyebluemonday.co.nz