Monthly Archives: October 2013

Mit Reklaw’s Music

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

Fact is, no one really knows.

What if, upon the trunk of that fallen eucalyptus a cicada strums out its merry tune and still there is no one – is there still music?

Of course there is. There will always be music. Music is among the most enduring of all art-forms. For as long as there has been wind to blow through trees, rain to fall into puddles or sunlight to ripen the pods of broom bushes, there has been music.

Admittedly, melody usually requires an intelligent mind but music, in its most natural form, is simply the continuation of sound.

Let’s be fair. The ‘continuation of sound’ can be monotonous. It can be tedious and it can be downright dreary. People are blessed with musical preferences, the innate ability to distinguish good sounds from bad, so the screech of an angle grinder on steel is never confused for a mellifluous lullaby on bedtime. Both continuations of sound, both not aurally pleasant.

Musical taste is why some people believe that contemporary pop music is the greatest sound ever made while others believe the same of hip-hop or House music… These people are generally idiots.

Some will claim they are not bothered either way and that they enjoy all kinds of music. These people piss me off even more than the general idiots. They have no passion for music, thus no ability to discern quality from crap. Instead of listening to and absorbing a fine tune, seemingly they hear a cluster of nondescript chords, allow it to collide with their exterior then fall, unused and unappreciated, to the floor.

Personally, rock is the only style of music worth appreciation. In my opinion, this is fact. In my opinion, every other person in the world should share this opinion.

I do realise this is a ridiculous notion. It is as stupid as it sounds. That said, I am not alone in my thinking.

Every music aficionado who has ever lived will have claimed at one time or another, that their preferred genre is superior.

This is the polarising nature of music.

In my opinion, music attained perfection somewhere throughout the ‘90s, with the likes of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains…

Come on. I am 30 years old. The generation above me will probably rate the ‘70s or ‘80s as the era of perfection; the generation above that, the ‘50s or similar.

The point to be drawn from this: music is subjective and constantly evolving.

Example given.

In 1937, Bing Crosby was a musical god.

In ’48 it was Nat King Cole.

Then in 1949 Gene Autry produced the track, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ – the second biggest selling Christmas hit of all time; outdone only by Bing Crosby’s 1942 track, ‘White Christmas.’ While that record still stands, in the minds of most, to hear either of those songs today, would surely be tantamount to being bludgeoned with a satchel full of soiled diapers.

I’m sure some folk still relish those vomit-inducing jingles; this is merely an example of the way musical tastes have changed with time.

Christmas tunes aside, it’s not difficult to see a motif around 20th century evolution of music: beginning with Bill Haley’s 1955 classic, ‘Rock Around the Clock’, then the commencement of Elvis’ groundbreaking career in ’56, these artists paved the way for the likes of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and Jerry Lee Lewis. The early ‘60s were punctuated with big, recognisable names such as Motown, Chubby Checker, Bob Dylan, The Beatles; with James Brown making his appearance in ’65. The following years were to be commanded by The Rolling of Stones, The opening of Doors and the closing of Jimi Hendrix. The ‘70s brought such epic groups as Kiss, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath… Say no more.

Evidently. Rock, or at least rock’s effeminate brother, pop rock, has always been among the leading styles of music. This, presumably, is why pop-loving piss-ants like to talk about their favourite new-age pop track, ‘rocking so hard’.

Fact. Pop tracks don’t rock. Pop tracks blow. Get your own bloody word.

Anyway. Michael Jackson appeared in the ‘80s bringing some revolutionising tunes – as did Queen. The main difference here is that the name of one of Michael Jackson’s songs was not the inspiration for the stage name of a 21st century pop princess.

Skip forward a number of decades: Lady Gaga. Arguably the world’s biggest existing female pop figure… She sounds like a wonderful person.

Music will continually change, musical tastes will continue to adapt; boy-bands will become younger, hairstyles will become more labour-intensive; pants will become tighter, vocals will become more electronically enhanced; girl-groups will increasingly show more skin, their music will become increasingly contrived; band members might become sell-outs but I will never shift my musical allegiance.

Times are changing. Music is changing with it. I am not so ignorant that I am closed off to the idea of new music in my life – just so long as it’s rock music.



Article by Mit Reklaw

Edited by Cadence B Sharpe

Photography by Pearl Jammer

Mit Reklaw’s Physical Labour

For as long as I can recall I have been more interested in the physical rather than the intellectual side of the employment spectrum.

This preference probably has a great deal to do with my upbringing.

As a boy, school holidays were invariably spent working on the family farm; weekends usually no different. When it came time to select a career therefore, given that labouring was the only money-making strategy I had ever known, working with my hands seemed the obvious way to go.

Furthermore having grown up in an environment where tinkering with cars was a common pastime, the decision to enter into the automotive industry was a logical step.

Given my flair for all things academic this ‘logical step’ was perceived by many as a questionable choice: in the opinion of classmates I was disregarding my natural talent; some teachers even believed that I was selling myself short.

I wasn’t bothered. I was following my passion. Besides, there was no bloody way that I was going to wind up behind a desk; heaven forbid, at a computer.

Leaving school on completion of Year 12 and securing a workshop position with a local transport firm, life seemed almost too easy.

Too easy. Ha. It didn’t take long for life to reveal its sinister undercurrents – less than 12 months later unforeseen circumstances forced me to turn my back on my beloved automotive industry.

Fortunately I still had that other, God given ability.

Much as I endeavoured to maintain the physical side of life, I could feel it leaving me – dexterity had become limited. Cognitively, small motor control was gone. I accepted these deficits. What I refused to accept was that I could no longer sustain hard labour. I believed – I still believe that if I can perform a task once, I can perform it hundreds of times. I always used to have a seemingly infinite supply of stamina so, I query somewhat indignantly, why the hell should I have to pace myself now?

Well, I am older now than I have ever been. I don’t think that’s the reason though. I think the real issue is in my head.

I think it’s that cliché that we like to direct at the defeatists of the world, those people who give up before even really trying; those who say it’s hopeless before even beginning the search for hope…

To these people, we like to say: “Harden up loser, it’s all in your head.”

Great. So if my issues really are all in my head, surely my old faithful Mind Over Matter will cure what ails me..? Right. Here we go then.

‘Come on, I’m keen as to undertake a day of gruelling physical labour. Bring it on. Why should I not? Nothin’ stoppin’ me. I’m fit, strong, energetic, I have an athletic physique – shit man, I’m buff as. I am the personification of physical labour…’

If only it were that simple. If only the issue were not in my head.

It’s not a heavy head either; it’s not even overly large, yet it is my head that slows me down. Who could have imagined such an occurrence – my own brain has become the bane of my desire to commit to physical labour.

I still split a lot of firewood, still ride my bicycle with furious abandon; still like to do whatever it is that raises my heart rate to near popping point and causes perspiration to cascade from my brow.

Alas labouring is becoming increasingly laborious. Despite maintaining the peak of physical fitness, physical labour soon drains me.

So what am I doing now?

Whatever I can do within the physical realm.

What about those things that I can no longer do?

I leave them. Focus on what I can do. In other realms. I focus on the intellectual side of life. For me, that is now the escape. The physical side has a habit of presenting insurmountable obstacles. The intellectual side has its barriers also, but they can generally be surmounted.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am still passionate about my physical labour – nothing gives me greater satisfaction than working myself to fatigue. Problem is that these days it doesn’t take terribly long.

So I write stories about my hardship in the hope that it might help another through theirs; I write stories to make people laugh; I write stories because it’s something that after everything, after sustaining severe brain trauma, I can still do well.

So here I am, over ten years on, writin’ stuff.

It’s what I do now.



Article by Mit Reklaw

Edited by Harten Upp

Photography by Dusom Reel-Wurke

Mit Reklaw’s Lentil Soup

Nobody would question it, the affairs of Auckland Super City mayor Len Brown are in disarray.

The question some might be asking: should these affairs even be public knowledge?

A good follow-up query might then be: if they were to become widely known, should those affairs influence public opinion of the man at the centre of said disarray?

Looking at the situation from a quintessentially South Island point of view, one would no doubt claim that given the man’s preeminent position, he should probably try to maintain a manner befitting a Government lackey. Of course this would not include gallivanting with a Chinese hussy young enough to be his daughter.

From the perspective of a North Islander living anywhere but the Super City of Auckland, I’m sure the consensus would be that Mr Brown has a duty to exhibit the integrity, the scruples; to uphold the etiquette expected of a second term mayor. The fact that the aforementioned shenanigans commenced somewhere within his first term, is incidental. The fact that some would consider the terms integrity, scruples, etiquette and mayor utterly contradictory, also incidental.

So what about those millions of people squashed into the metropolis that is Auckland City? Yeah. What about those guys? Funnily enough the very people who should find Len Brown’s escapades the most disconcerting, seem to be the least perturbed. This likely relates to the fact that the majority of Aucklanders are not voters; thus even if they were terribly put out by their great leader’s infidelity, based upon the fine logic that is democracy, their opinions would not count.

Doesn’t quite add up, does it? The whole of New Zealand appear to have an opinion on Len Brown’s recent indiscretion, while those folk living under the man’s flailing command, per capita, have the least to say.

Granted, there have been numerous street polls; displays of general unrest, uproar and other unofficial methods of measuring public feeling, but on that sacred day when ballots are everything, Aucklanders appear much too blasé to stick their necks out.

Then there’s Mrs Brown. She’s an Aucklander. I’m guessing she’s suitably incensed at her husband’s philandering. She probably won’t do anything about it either.

Some might argue: ‘Dude, give him a break, he’s just a man – albeit a pathetic, snivelling, self-deprecating little piss-ant of a man, but a man nonetheless. Men make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes happen to sample from the Orient…’

Really? Come on. Who would say that?

Fair call, that’s just me.

Ultimately Len Brown is human. Humans are renowned for their ability to make erroneous judgements – people make poor decisions leading to shitty mistakes. I’m not saying that I condone his antics, because I most certainly do not. I am simply saying that Len Brown is a man. He is just another person in the world. Yes, admonish him for his actions, but let’s not go on about it.

Brown is already the colour of excrement.



Article by Mit Reklaw

Edited by Izzy A Sheat

Photography by Hysa Fowler with Ngaire Spect


Mit Reklaw’s Crash

The majority of road related incidents have one common theme: excess.

Excess speed, excess blood-alcohol, excess recklessness, excess drowsiness, excessively poor road conditions…

When I hit the road that morning of December 6, 2011, many factors were in excess. The road was excessively wet, my tyres were excessively pressured, my stomach was excessively full; I was feeling excessively ambitious while experiencing a joyful excess of exuberance. I expect excess recklessness played its part in my downfall also.

The intention had been to cycle from Kirwee to Oxford, have a coffee and bite to eat, turn around and come home. Easy as you like.

This estimated 120 kilometre jaunt would see me heading up the Old West Coast Road to Waddington, turning off down Waimakariri Gorge Road, crossing the Waimak Bridge then continuing on to Oxford. While not a feat that I had ever attempted, I had in the past cycled up to, over and around the bridge so was familiar with the roads for at least some of the journey.

The day’s mission was to extend that Northern Frontier.

Donning my most publicly-endearing cycling ensemble, I stuffed into my bum-bag a cell phone and some cash then set off into a heavy drizzle. Around 20k of easy incline and several gruelling hills later, I made it to Waddington. Drizzle had become rain. Turning right down Waimakariri Gorge Road I raised my speed in anticipation of things to come. From 42kph peering back at my rooster’s tail, I was amazed at the volume of water lying on the road. Five minutes later the gorge was in sight. Not a minute after that I defiantly whizzed past the REDUCE SPEED sign.

The descent to the gorge loops down the side of a hill in three tiers before reaching the bridge. Each tier comprises a left, a straight, then a right hand bend.

I hit the first tier at 45kph, took an easy left, pedalled frantically up to 48; took a smooth right. Water spraying from my tyres I squinted through the mist to work out my next approach. Glancing at my odometer the second left hander went by at 52kph. Short stint of pedalling followed by easy right. Not fast enough. The odometer was flicking between 51 and 52kph. I was pedalling as hard as I could. Water spraying up from the road was greasy. Sneakers were sodden. Legs were covered in a sleek grey film. I pushed on.

Bottom tier. Last chance for speed before going up the other side. I changed to a higher gear. I pushed like never before. 55kph. I wanted to go faster. Faster. Faster.

The first bend was upon me. Inside pedal up, easy left. Pedal. Push. Harder. Harder.


Push. Harder. Harder. Harder…


Harder. Harder…

57.6kph. Shit.

The bend had come up on me faster than expected. My line was all wrong.

Too late to do anything about it now but.

Steadying my shoulders, I lifted the inside pedal and threw the bike into the corner – I hadn’t realised it was so much tighter than the others.

My folly was immediately apparent. I had limited control. I was travelling much too quickly and had begun my manoeuvre at least a tenth of a second too late. At such speed things happened very quickly. Braking was no longer an option. I was committed. No hope of speed reduction now. No escape. I had messed it up and I knew it.

Nevertheless I was calm.

I allowed G-forces to draw the bike across the road. My wheel ran on the inside edge of the road’s left hand wheel track. It was rough with corrugations. I was almost at the apex of the bend and still trying to bring the bike in. The oscillations coming through the handlebars were intense. I kept pulling the bike around. I was treading that tenuous line between control and capitulation. Breath was held as my front wheel drifted slowly across the worn wheel mark. I was now almost on the outer white line. I knew if it went that far I was gone. Road paint in these conditions is tantamount to wet glass. I kept pulling it around. I was winning the battle. I rounded the apex having just managed to bring the bike back into the wheel track.

This was my next folly.

The wheel mark at that point on the road was beaten down to pure tar and totally smooth. With the water and all the diesel fumes, it was greasy. My racing tyres were rock hard and practically bald. In these conditions they were ball bearings to the road’s grease.

Without warning the front tyre skidded. I pulled it back.

The front wheel shimmied again and started to go down. I used all of my abdominal strength to pull the handlebars back up; in doing so pushed the back out.

It was too fast.

In a split second my vision went from the road ten metres ahead of me to the road ten centimetres from my face.

I reflexively turned my head away, kicked my feet out of the stirrups, released the handlebars and took the impact with my right shoulder. I heard a strangled grunt as the wind was knocked from my body. Then I was tumbling. End over end. I saw flashes of my bike ahead of me. I heard unfamiliar sounds being forced from my throat. End over end, over and over.

Then nothing. I had stopped. I focused my eyes. I was lying on my back, on the roadside, upside down; legs up a bank. I couldn’t quite believe what had happened. I started to wonder if it really had happened. I had memories of tumbling down the road and seeing my bike crashing into the roadside ahead of me yet, I was feeling no pain. My breathing was steady. My heart rate sounded as though it had returned to normal; shit man, I was smiling. I felt awesome.

I stood up and surveyed my bicycle from a few metres away. It looked wrecked.

I turned and jogged to the top of the hill in the hope of locating cellular coverage.

There was none. I walked farther. Still no decent reception. I finally found enough to send a message disclosing my whereabouts and beseeching assistance.

I jogged back down the hill to find that a car had stopped at the sight of a twisted bicycle lying in the grass devoid of rider, along with a wide, person-like skid-mark leading off the road. The lady appeared horrified at the sight of me. I assured her that I was fine and that someone was coming for me. With that, she left.

Third folly..?

An hour passed. As did many trucks. The abating rain came to a stop. I ran up the hill; sent another message. I ran down to the almighty Waimak Bridge, routinely dropped a loogie over the side then jogged back to my bike. I began to feel cold. Also hungry. I kept jogging in place, feeling colder; hungrier with each passing minute.

I assessed the scene of the crash. I pulled my bike free from the grass. It wasn’t as bad as I’d suspected. Then I looked at me. I was certainly the less well-off of the two. Blood trickled from my right elbow and dripped from my fingers. My shoulder was opened up and I could only imagine how much blood was congealing under my shirt. My right leg was grazed most of the way from hip to ankle, protected only by Lycra bike pants.

The worst injury was to my right knee. It oozed blood, it ached, it throbbed and if it remained inactive for more than ten seconds, it began to seize.

After spending some time bending and straightening gear-shifters and handlebars, nothing else for it, I mounted my self-propelled chariot and made my way back the way I had come. Oxford could wait. I was freezing. Inspired by the cold I cycled with more fervour than I could recall. My knee was excruciating. My helmet wouldn’t sit right either. I made it back to Waddington, dismissed the Old West and headed back down the Main West Coast Road.

The Main West mightn’t have had any major declivities but overall, it’s just one big gradual decline – ideal for a man who has over 20k to cover under the power of just one piston.

Despite my leg’s incapacitated twin I was still cracking 45kph for the duration of the ride back to Darfield. Stopping at the public toilet, I dismounted and promptly toppled. Such was the fatigue imbalance in my legs that I had to practically crawl to the urinal.

Finally back in Kirwee I called in at the garage to collect my mail; received a handful of startled looks from loitering motorists, then went home.


The reason for my unruly helmet: I had clean smashed the back out of it.

The reason for the startled looks: take your pick – as well as blood dripping from fingertips and shoe, ripped and torn shorts and shirt; a helmet that had clearly been an integral part of a near-death situation – my face was spattered with mud, grass, grime and painted with smudges of blood. Guess I resembled something of a wartime latrine digger.

The reason for my unanswered call: the intended recipient was operating a grinder all morning thus could not hear his phone. Not until I had left the gorge did he show up. Nice one.

After putting away my faithful steed and giving the saddle a loving pat, I hobbled inside, stripped off my garb and stood under a hot shower for the best part of one hour.

Best Crash Ever.



Article by Mit Reklaw

Edited by Rick Lush-Nash

Photography by Constance Payne

Mit Reklaw’s Admission

Selecting a new and interesting topic on which to write each week can be difficult.

This week it wasn’t.

This week it was possibly the most simple it’s ever been: I simply sat before the glowing monitor, I simply struck the keys one by one, I simply allowed the work to grow naturally; I simply allowed myself to become increasingly worked up until…

The article that poured out of me almost a week ago, simply, is not fit for human consumption.

It was entitled, Mit Reklaw’s Raw, and it was just that. Honest, open, frank, brutal, angry, revealing, passionate and filthy; skinless and uncooked. It was raw. Furthermore at the time that I wrote it, not only did I feel raw, I also felt like having a roar. All in all, the title couldn’t be faulted. It was the content that made this piece so horrendous.

Curiously its conception took place on a glorious Saturday morning. After a leisurely breakfast accompanied by friendly shafts of early morning sun, I felt as though nothing could break me.

Not two hours after entertaining this notion, I recall looking back and wondering how I could have been so naïve, so idiotically presumptuous.

The sad thing is, blissful golden sunlight notwithstanding, the fracturing process began shortly after breakfast then not even one hour into digestion, I was broken.

This was a peculiar, if not uncharacteristic phenomenon. Over the years I have grown so very accustomed to hardship that ordinarily it takes a terrible lot of shit happening to bring me down. Alas, that wonderful Saturday morning with its perfect weather, its butterflies fluttering over dewy grass, its birds chirruping in trees – that morning with its incipient buds and nascent blooms, managed to crush my spirit well before midday.

Pathetic as it sounds, life along with all its inherent duties and commitments just climbed on top of me. My brain being what it is, this tends to manifest a smothering effect. The only two breathing holes I’ve located are, one: exercise – which I was already doing; two: writing – which I had yet to do.

Mit Reklaw’s Raw is over 2000 words and contains much talk of failure and devastation, futility and depression; filth and destruction – also I believe there was some mention of suicidal ideation.

Ha, some mention. Come on. I think there was actually a fair bit of that.

The aforementioned excerpt was written in a fit of fury. I didn’t think, I just wrote. The first edit took some time. It was a mess. Once I had it coherent and reasonably fluent, I read it through again, made a few changes, read it over once more then satisfied that I had assuaged my irate temperament, left it to mature.

On my return I was aghast to see what had so effortlessly oozed from my head only hours earlier. I will admit, it did make a number of valid points but ultimately, it was ugly. In fact it was the most ill favoured piece of writing to which I had ever forgotten to attach my name.

It was at this point that I decided that it must never be seen by anyone.

Just prior to hitting Delete on five highlighted pages however, I did attach it to an Email and send it to one person – so who knows, it might turn up yet…



Article by Mit Reklaw

Edited by Laifyss A Quest

Photography by Ivana B Arr-Ghost

Mit Reklaw’s Grandma and Me

What’s old but not an antique, wrinkled but not a prune, sweet but not confectionary, often mistaken but never wrong, an automobile owner but not a motorist; prone to confusion but not a GPS unit?

My grandmother is 83 years old and she’s alright.

Characteristic of spending time with an octogenarian, patience is a virtue of which there never seems quite enough – studies show that the thought processes of a 30-year-old male are quite dissimilar to that of a woman who’s well into her fourth quarter.

I like to pay my grandmother a visit at least once weekly. This provides the forum for a candid yarn and catch-up on retirement village gossip; she likes to cook lunch while I fill her in on recent happenings of the outside world. Statements become of an inquisitive nature as we embark on the topic of how technology is taking over our lives; the decadent nature of today’s young ladies, also the way that girls nowadays are all so fat; then if there’s still time we like to discuss other peoples’ peculiarities, idiosyncrasies and foibles. It’s all powerfully engaging stuff.

During these visits plans are sometimes made for a trip to town to carry out all those burdensome tasks that have been niggling at her mind for days – or often it’s for no reason at all. Either way, we’re getting out there. Given Grandma’s inability to drive on account of her inability to see properly, a chaperone is required. If I’m present and willing, these duties are usually offered to me.

Much as I tell myself that it’s me doing her a favour… Come on..?

I turned up for this particular excursion around 11 that Wednesday morning, walked inside, located Grandma and offered myself a seat. Lunch was prepared and subsequently devoured. We then departed. Having since given up on a radio that receives only static, the one piece of instrumental audio was the gentle chiming of the Grandfather Clock in the back seat, along for its fourth trip to the watchmaker in as many months. The 45 minute trip was punctuated with the pointing out of ‘new’ and ‘interesting’ landmarks which had long ago lost their appeal. Additionally, no trip would be complete without the directional guidance that I stopped requiring around 12 years ago.

The watchmaker was pleased to see us; pleased furthermore to see the Grandfather Clock.

Then to the Bush Inn Mall where my eyes fell upon a curious sight: a Chinese boy, standing only slightly taller than his electric piano, embellishing the entranceway with his captivating music. This boy couldn’t have been more than six years old and was playing what even I could recognise as classic compositions. The most amazing thing though, he didn’t even appear interested in what he was doing – gazing vacantly around the area as both hands moved frantically up and down the keyboard with impeccable precision.

Bugger. I’d lost Grandma.

This wasn’t cause for panic, I was aware that she can be inclined to wander off and providing motorists were driving defensively, there wasn’t much chance of her coming to harm. Our impromptu game of hide and seek was part of the fun. Only a few seconds later I spotted her inside a nearby bank. Deciding that I had time, I nipped away for a haircut.

45 minutes later – much longer than expected – I returned to the bank. Grandma wasn’t there. Recalling her words about needing a new microwave I climbed the steps to Smith’s City.

She was nowhere to be seen.

Walking back through a café where she and I had in the past dined, I found her. She had apparently been waiting for me to take her to Smith’s City.

For reasons that I did not totally comprehend Grandma ended up purchasing the most expensive microwave on display. I carried the 32 litre monstrosity back to the car, waited, waited, waited; then we headed home.

We stopped off at Mitre 10 Mega in Hornby, which always used to be decidedly mega; but is now the size of an entire shopping mall. Grandma made a show of asking for directions to the flooring department, before turning and following me there. She spent another 10 minutes perusing the selection of rubber mats before eventually settling on the one that I had initially picked out and had been holding, waiting for this little game to play out.

Back through Rolleston we called in at the Warehouse and bought some vegetable saplings – she also insisted on buying me two pairs of work shorts because apparently a 30-year-old man should not be seen in tattered clothing. While she paid for these I rushed over to the New World to grab a few grocery items. Gauging her walking speed, I knew that I had at least a quarter of an hour. I returned 17 minutes later to find her entering her favourite variety of shop – a haberdashery outlet.

Twenty minutes later I was leading her back to the car. Twenty minutes after that I was pulling the car into her garage. A belated afternoon tea accompanied by the customary small-talk; twenty minutes after that, I was on my own way home.

I was shattered.



Article by Mit Reklaw

Edited by Gerry Atrick

Photography by Fruz Trait