Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Groove Book Report: By Any Means by Ben Sanders - Harper Collins $24.95

For some, inexplicable, yet compelling reason, I feel the need to tell you about this book before I finish it. In fact, it's imperative that I do it now because I'm not sure I can keep the ending to this intense, fast paced thriller a secret for very long.

This is North Shore resident Ben Sanders's second effort. His first, written in his late teens, proved him to be a master of economical, witty, visual prose. With just enough paint to set the scene he encourages his reader fill in the white spaces. A script writer would hate this. Where's the dimesional characterisation; the detailed settings and the fabrics of familiarity that usually drape a good crime novel? Detective Sean Devereaux is not your average alchoholic, cigar chewing, alimony laden, pussy whipped, cheeto muncher in a dirty mac, with the boss on his heals for beating up witnesses and an ex-call girl for a girlfriend. Nope. No cocaine addiction. He doesn't frequent bars or drive a Jag. At the end of a night Devereaux heads home, puts on some quality music (he, or is it Sanders, is a bit of an aficionado), claims a Mac,s Gold from the fridge and opens a case file. No TV screams out from the corner, the unit is quiet. This is a shared quiet time between himself and the house. Only one step up from a very sad Plod, he could be just a bit little boring. Like you and me, perhaps?

Unlike the other characters and the events around him.

Friday rush hour a lone shooter fires from across a crowded street and slays an operating bus driver.

Across town, a mother daughter murder suicide occurs, with the father as the main witness. And downtown a woman is abducted from a bar in front of an ex-cop with street smarts and a '78 Escort. The pace quickens as the ex-cop makes all the investigations, follows all the clues and hunts down the kidnappers, whilst Devereaux ponders, ums and ahhs.

He's the perfect realistic Kiwi cop. No heroics, no violence and no pastel lounge suits. He goes about his work, methodically working through the clues, almost in an oblivious juxtaposition to the speeding narration of murders, violence, chases and rapid fire clues that literally spit venomously off the page. Gritty and page turning this sure is. But more effective is the distinct Kiwi accent that is present in every page. I almost get the feeling this novel wouldn't work anywhere but Auckland. The details are accutely accurate. Sanders is a keen observer, right down to the placement of CCTV cameras and the socio--economic product selection of a tavern's clientele.

It's true we love to read and see stories about ourselves, no matter what the scenario. But this one is a little creepy. The flesh is a little to close to the bone. "By Any Means" is a stunning piece of contemporary crime fiction, a real 'worth it' read.

And, no, I wont tell you how it ends, even when I get there. You'll have to do that yourself!

About the Author:
Ben Sanders is a 21-year-old university student who lives on Auckland's North Shore. He has been a keen writer since his early teens and his debut novel, The Fallen, was published to high acclaim in 2010. This is his second Sean Devereaux novel.

For more check out

Also check out Sean Devereauz on

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Kid will be taking a break this week

But stay tuned next week for new music from Holly Smith and Caro Emerald. In the mean time here's a wee taster to tide you over:

'A night like this' :

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Groove Book Report:New Zealand By Design: A History of New Zealand Product Design by Michael Smythe (Godwit Press - $65.00)

Right. Let's get this out there. This is not a cheesy book about Kiwiana. That period of cringe has gone. New Zealanders are magical innovators and the creation of manufactured objects and solutions that enhance our environment streches well beyond any No.8 mentality. Accornding to author Michael Smythe, that while the concept of design embraces all the elements of form and function truly great design almost exists un-noticed. In this comprehensive volume he surveys many of the products that have documented the ordinary in our in our society from pre-European times until now. Begining with ingenious Maori tools, traps, lures and weaponry he moves through to pioneer-era inventions, the industrial and agricultural inventions, and entreprenuers like Hayes Machinery and the housewife's friends - Shacklock and Fisher & Paykel (his former employer), to our modern era with products as varied as electric fences, Crown Lynn china and NavMan GPS.

There are so many cool, brainy and quite frankly gutsy approaches to the design and manufacture of local products. Smythe, in a recent interview, summed it up by suggesting when a Kiwi is asked to make a product on par with an international label that inventive lil' bird thinks harder and broader. Kiwis are just not content to reproduce facsimilies of existing products they RE-INVENT, with bells on, to suit their own dreams and aspirations. Smythes book is abundant with examples such as Shacklock's response to overseas examples of coal ranges. These units not only burnt poorly and were not suited to NZ's coal supplies but were cumbersome to install. Shacklock chose to re-design, building a coal range that ran on local coal AND had it's own flu system allowing it to be installed any where without the need to fit to an existing fireplace. Years later Shacklock was saved by the great f&p who, out of a doomed Dunedin factory, invented the energy and water saving dish draw units we all have for our dirty dishes. And there are thousands more examples.

Smythe's mandate was 'designed by New Zealanders', regardless of where the final product is actually made. Examples are abound - sophisticated products such as the Yike bike and Formway furniture, products which hold their own in international company. Oh, and there's even a wee story about the Trekka and the personal rocket thingy, as well as wool pressers, bathroom sinks, petrol cans, bicycles, stoves, washing machines, electric kettles, TVs and radios, crockpots, rocking chairs, industrial dredges, dishwashers, forestry tools, spinning wheels, office chairs, outdoor seating ,rubbish bins, children's toys, heaters, electric fences, stock drenching guns, gumboots, buses and guitar pedals.

As I said out in the outset this is an exhaustive, and by no means definitive conversation. There are many messages here, yet the one that sticks out, despite it's corny overtones is this: A Kiwi saw; was frustrated with the current product. Took it apart. Made it better. Gave it more than it ever had before. And in time that product became the standard to which all Kiwis measure other imitations. By Kiwi Designed products. Buy Michael's book!

Check out Michael's ongoing discusion about design history at:

See a sample on the Random House Web Site:

Read more about Michael:

Further reading:

Coming up this week on The Adventures of the Coffeebar Kid

We investigate the history design of innovation and product design in New Zealand with our guest Michael Smythe. Michael is the author of the fabulous new work: New Zealand by Design (A history of New Zealand Product Design). Michael is best known as a lecturer in design and former industrial designer with Fisher and Paykel and JASMAX (amongst others).

Tune in Thursday night at 7.30 to hear more about this fascinating book and also keep your eyes peeled for the 'Kid's' review:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Music We Love- "Sing Along With The Yoots" – Economy Records

The concoction of Fat Freddy's bubbly, terry towel trackie trombonist Joe ‘Hopepa ‘ Lindsay, this fine disc serves up some delicious brassy, and at times moochy dance hall renditions of classic Maori show tunes and strum-alongs. The Yoots are bot you background jives at your next garage partay and the best local Kareoke band in the land – and best of all its all in te reo (Well, at least you’ll be singing in te reo, as technically these are all instrumentals but you get the idea).
Once the idea of a brass heavy album of dusty ol’ numbers like Tutira Mai, E Papa Waiari, A.E.I.O.U would have repulsed me to the core of my coolness bones. But thanks to Hopepa and his dragnet of Freddy’s players I have been enlightened. Not since the demise of National Radio’s Brass Programme have my speakers sung with such joyous clarity and nostalgic pining. So, a wee nod to the Masterings of Mike Gibson and the Engineering of Mike August. And, further head moves go to Jeff Konig’s eye catching sign written door – inspired touch of fromage, that!
The sun will shine for ever more down on the toes of this band of merry horns. Overall, cheesy, breezy and skankin’ good!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

This week on the The Adventures of the Coffee Bar Kid

We talk to Ryan Pretties from Wellington's funky bluesy trio the Nudge - Ryan's a bro of Lee Prebble and a fellow member of Fly My Pretties. Listen in from 7.30PM to check the Kid and Ryan in full natter on the goods. The Nudge release their new album at the San Fransisco Bath House Tommottow Night (5 August from 10.30) . Big Nudge Pie is available from Monday - at all good record shops! For more check : or go to