#17: Ben Hammond

Marty's best mate, GB Ping Pong organiser 2005-2007

Ben is one of those people who lives on another planet. A very English planet where everything is funny, nothing makes sense and there is no concept of time or organisation.

Contact Update

Alright! Well, I've had contact with a few people since I last updated. All of them through the comments which the observant among you may have spotted already.

Lissa Chong has, unsuprisingly, kept up her dedication to good causes - she now works at the Waitangi Tribunal in Wellington. Mike Beggs and James James both made comments on their posts so they're out there.

That makes 5 out of 16 so far. Some (especially where I don't remember their names like Nothing Vegetarian or Mrs Speights' Daughter) I don't expect to ever hear from but I have a feeling a decent amount will find their way here. There can't be too many degrees of seperation on the internet - if you know someone I draw please feel free to pass it on to them, this isn't supposed to be secret or anything.

#16: Justin Doyle

Guitarist - The Blue Set, ran the The Blue Room, Guitar Tech 2003-2004

Justin Doyle belongs to that special club of people who both truly truly embody rock'n'roll and are truly truly nice.

Justin played guitar in The Blue Set who started out in Wellington around the same time as us in Batrider. Later on he ran a small studio where he let us rehearse and he even used to guitar tech for us sometimes. Which is an example of his generosity because we were broke and really, he was earning a living being a guitar tech to the stars. He'd get us into to big summer festivals or a massive Shihad concert and we'd scream and cheer everytime he scurried out to swap a guitar or fix a stray pedal cable. JUUUUUSTIIIINNN YOU RUUUULLEEE!

#15: Mrs Speights' Daughter

Teacher's daughter, Hampton Hill School, 1988

I was a dorky 7 year old from the 'burbs with a mullet and a head full of dreams. She was a badass teen with a bumbag full of attitude, forced to spend her study leave at her Mum's work.

She was way too cool to speak to little geeks like me, but even without speaking she taught me that there was something to look forward too. That cool people actually existed in real life. And that older girls are hot.

#14: Barry Wong

Wellington College canteen guy, 1994-1998

Running a canteen for 1200 hungry pent-up smartarse teenage boys is a job for someone with a sense of humour, a calm temperament and a long fuse.

Barry Wong had none of those attributes. He was awesome.

#13: Phil Datsun

Guitarist, The Datsuns, Early 2000s

I first met The Datsuns through a hat. This was before they made it big overseas, when they were playing little pubs around New Zealand and putting on a show like they were playing stadiums.

I went to see them at Valve in Wellington and they tore the place up. In between songs, midset, guitarist Phil grabbed the mic, pointed right at me and yelled "This song is for the guy with the coolest hat in the world!" I was wearing a weird blue St Louis Cardinals trucker cap I had bought earlier that day. I thought it was pretty cool but it was only a dollar and I wasn't super attached to it, so when the set finished I approached Phil and slammed the hat onto his head. He earned it.

Not long after that they went off and conquered the world. I heard Phil wore my hat on Letterman.

#12: Joy 'Jackson'

Tawa Intermediate classmate, 1993

I can't remember Joy's real last name. She made everyone, even the teachers, call her Joy Jackson because she loved Michael Jackson like no one else and was without a doubt going to marry him in the future.

In '93 she organised our school dance, and decided she was going to send all the money she made to MJ to help him "heal the world". We were all like "Joy, I think Michael Jackson has plenty of money without getting an extra couple of hundred bucks from Tawa Intermediate School" but she wouldn't be swayed, and a few weeks later she sent him a cheque.

#11: James James

Comic artist, guitarist in UMX, late 90's - mid 00's

James James was the bad boy of the New Zealand comics scene. He described himself better than I ever could: "James James is... the last honest scumbag in Auckland City, loveable rogue, literary genius and ultimately talentless musician who will use his reputation as an evil arsehole to get his way." (from Officer Pup, 2002). We used to crash with each other whenever he'd come to Wellington or I'd go to Auckland, and together with his partner in crime Tim Molloy I had some of the wildest nights of my life. I have so many crazy drinking tales but my favourite James story actually comes from a comic convention in Auckland. It goes something like this:

We'd been sitting there all day trying to sell our books. Our only entertainment had been watching James confuse and generally terrorize the hordes of sweaty nerds and moronic snotty kids. He'd already been kicked out of the convention once for abusing the guy who played Chewbacca but now he was getting bored again.

Across from us is a stall for the radio station bfm. Behind their stall we notice an oversized mascot costume in the shape of their logo and before we knew it James has stolen the suit and is running around banging into people and stalls, generally causing chaos. In all the mess is someone in a giant Pikachu costume handing out m&ms to children and James starts getting in his face, pushing him around. Here's where it gets awesome.

A crowd starts to gather as James/b and Pikachu start to tussle. Across the room the local wrestling show is packing down, but their promoter spies a chance for one more drawcard. Next thing he is standing in the ring, on the microphone. "Ladies and Geeentlemeeeeen...". Now James/b and Pikachu are climbing into the ring, the lights are going and they're being introduced as the large crowd grows bigger still.

The bell rings and James/b starts pounding on the helpless yellow thing. He has him by the ear and is leading him around, throwing him into the corner and punching him right in his cutesy Japanese eyes. Just going to town, it's a demolition. One, two, three, the bell rings and James is the winner! Pikachu takes the head off his costume and underneath is a small boy - 11 or 12 maybe - and he is sobbing uncontrollably. This seems to make James even prouder. The crowd goes wild!

#10: Mike Beggs

Salient Editor 1999

I always wanted to be printed in Salient. In my high school days I used to find copies left behind by students on the train or the bus and read Straitjacket Ninja and Brunswick and feel pretty cool. In '99 I started at Victoria University and I felt like I was finally ready to fulfill my destiny.

I spent a few weeks putting together a portfolio of my work and a script outline for a new serial, and then I plucked up the courage to find the Salient office and go and pitch my idea. I knocked on the door and a hungover and seriously disheveled guy poked his head out the door. Behind him was the messiest office I had (and have still) ever seen - stacks of paper covered every surface, pizza boxes covered the floor and torn posters semi-covered the walls. This was Mike Beggs, the editor. I summoned all of my remaining courage and blurted out that I wanted to do a comic strip. "Sure" mumbled Mike, "deadline is thursdays, 3pm", and he shut the door.

#9: Mr Campbell

6th form Physics Teacher, 1997

Rob Campbell was a likeable Scotsman who taught physics in a science classroom where the desks weren't bolted down. Every time he turned his back to us to write on the board we'd all push our desks forward, a few centimetres at a time. By the end of the lesson we'd be grouped right in tight around him at the front of the room and the look on his face would waver between bemusement and fear that he was finally losing his mind.

Contact Update

A few people have mentioned they'd be interested if I also kept this blog up to date from time to time with any news of people I've drawn in it finding it and getting in touch.

Artie Karras saw his picture - he said it was hilarious. For the last two years he has been working as an account manager at a Melbourne firm that does printing for the Victorian Government. He sounds really good, it was great to catch up with him.

Brendan Moran also sounds really good. He is living in Auckland, doing a Fine Arts degree. He has given up drinking, smoking and playing music. He said about my post "pretty fuckin flattered actually ... you have captured my bitter and twisted cynical side for sure." I asked him about quitting music and he said "for me the voice of music has been lost (hence why i am not an active musician) because it is akin to one finger typing. it's an inarticulate form of expression. when i talk, i like to use both of my fists, not just one finger". Awesome to hear from you Brendan.

That's all I've heard from so far though. My friend Dan reported in the comments as you may have seen than Joe McGregor-McDonald is a workmate of his, but I don't actually know where Dan works right now so that one is still a mystery.

#8: Kirsty Stegwazi

Lead singer, guitarist, The Bites 2003-2005, Hand Hell 2005-2007

The Bites and Hand Hell were two of Melbourne's most underrated bands. They played a kind of raw, urgent 90ish indie rock and I was a huge fan. They wrote great catchy riffs and clever lyrics and had a DIY aesthetic I loved - lots of beautiful screenprinted and hand-sewn album covers and gig flyers. Singer and co-songwriter Kirsty Stegwazi worked as a machinist by day and the band name Hand Hell referred to the constantly cut up state of her hands from metal shavings and fixing machines all day.

In 2007 Kirsty had some kind of operation on her throat. Rather than take a break while her voice healed Hand Hell played a series of karaoke gigs with different guests on vocals. I was lucky enough to be asked to do a couple of songs. It was a fan's dream come true but it was pretty damn nerve wracking doing it with Kirsty standing right there watching me. We did 'Fired' as the finale to the set and it ended with a wrestling match - the whole band and all the equipment in a huge pile in the middle of stage, me on the bottom, screaming my guts out. Kirsty had started it all and she was laughing away with a huge grin on her face - so I figured it had gone ok.

#7: Ben Shanahan

Campbell Primary School classmate, Best Friend 1990-1991

I lived in Canberra, Australia from the age of 9 until the time I turned 11. Ben Shanahan was my best friend.

He was the coolest guy in all of Campbell. We met through sports I guess - doing Mal Meniga kicks in the park behind both of our houses. He was the funniest guy around and knew everything about everything. He got me my first job selling newspapers and magazines outside office buildings in the mornings before school.

He was also a passionate and skillful sportsman - league, cricket, AFL, athletics. Basketball was the ultimate at our school though, and Ben and I were the most feared one-two combo around. Ben at point guard, me in the paint throwing elbows, shouting "Stockton to Malone" every time our deadly teamwork cut our opponents to shreds.

It was really hard to say goodbye to him. I remember being in the car, him outside the window saying he didn't want to say good bye and he wanted to leave me with a joke. He walks off, gathers himself, starts strolling over. "A man walks into a bar", he says, being all cool. "Dong."

#6: Nothing Vegetarian

Fish'n'chip shop man, 2002-2004

One day we found a fish'n'chip shop across the road from our Webb St flat. It could have been new, it could have been there for years. There was no sign on the outside and inside it looked like the sort of dark and empty space that would have bodies buried under the floor. The was nothing at all on the walls, and instead of a big painted blackboard above the counter the menu was a single A4 piece of paper taped to the window. Behind the counter was a filthy broken old man, and he didn't look happy to see us.

Someone piped up: "Are your spring rolls vegetar..."
"NOTHING VEGETARIAN" he snapped. We didn't press it any further.

That became the name of both the shop and the man. But his chips were good and he was right across the road so we became regulars - we just didn't ask questions.