Monday, June 19, 2006

Jack plays monopoly

In the early 1970s, long before he became the working class hero of Reagan's America, a scruffy New Jersey kid called Bruce Springsteen started a band called Dr Zoom and the Sonic Boom. The young Springsteen's creation was notable both for its size (it had over twenty members) and its short lifespan (it folded after only two gigs). If a legion of Springsteen biographers are to be believed, the purpose of Dr Zoom was to enable some of Bruce's dodgier mates to impress girls by boasting that they played in a rock 'n roll band. Because some of these mates didn't actually play an instrument, in the conventional sense of the word, Bruce was forced into some interesting experiments on stage. He gave four blokes, for instance, the job of setting up a table in one corner of the stage and playing monopoly there while the musicians did their thing. "It was great", the Boss is supposed to have told one hagiographer, "these guys would be talking to a girl in a bar and they could say 'Yeah, I'm in a band - I play monopoly'".

I don't know whether Jack Ross was intent on impressing the females in the audience, or whether he is one of that curious band of Dr Zoom aficianados and bootleg collectors, but a couple of weeks ago he mounted the stage of the Empire Bar on Ponsonby Rd and played an hour-long solo on monopoly. To the surprise of his audience, which had expected an uncomplicated poetry reading, Jack unfolded a map of Auckland with a monopoly-style grid laid over it, and proceeded to travel from his starting point - his turangawaewae, in life and in art - of Mairangi Bay to such exotic locales as Milford, K Rd, and finally the Coromandel. On the way he read a poem or two inspired by each locale.

Jack's progress to the mystic mountains on the far side of Kopu's one-lane bridge was not without its troubles - the instruction 'Miss a turn, catch the bus back to Milford' became a groan-inducing refrain, a worse fate than Monopoly's 'Go directly to jail', as Jack's attempts to escape the North Shore became a sort of metaphor for the banality and futility of earthly existence, a Kiwi corollary to Kafka's castle or Sisyphus's quarry.

Now Jack, who has previously insisted that 'I'm not the blogging type - I don't have any thoughts', has founded and put a version of his 'Auckland game' there, along with a report on last week's Titus launch. It seems to me that, unlike most poetry, or for that matter most writing of any kind, the 'Auckland game' is well-suited to publication on the internet. Hyperlinks are an ideal way of carrying readers from Jack's map-board to the poems he has written about the places on this map-board. Ideally, I think, the hyperlinks would be placed on the map-board itself, not underneath it, but the template that gives to IT dummies like Jack and yours truly doesn't allow for such feats of engineering.

Never mind - the Boss would still be proud...


Blogger Martin Wisse said...

In the grand blogging tradition of missing the point while focussing on an insignificant detail, calling Springsteen the "working class hero of Reagan's America" is a bit misleading is it not, as he was far from a Reagan fan.

10:22 pm  
Blogger Dr Jack Ross said...

Focussing not only on an insignificant but an egotistic detail, I'd just like to say that I couldn't agree more about having the hyperlinks for the "Auckland game" on the actual gameboard rather than laboriously spelt out underneath -- but that was the best I could do with my limited technical expertise. Even posting up those pictures and links took me a lot deeper into the mysteries of html than I'd ever thought possible ...

9:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree; Jack needs dreamweaver, or failing that, to visit "The Slackers guide to Html".

6:08 pm  

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