corporate-sponsored, state-endorsed, ritual humiliation for all involved – courtesy “Red Bull” you know, copyright, $15 000 fine $20 000 fine $25 000 fine $30 000 fine $33 000 fine fine $34 000 000 payable here

We trolled along to the Red Bull trolley derby, Q. & I, thinking, Red Bull, Red Bull, Red Bull. Rather than: Wow, a trolley derby sounds like heaps of fun, thrills & spills! Leaving the car, crossing the Grafton Bridge with its suicide-prophylactic sides, joining the thronging of Aucklanders, trailing in, informed of the imminent derby by nightly peak-hour advertising, we crossed into the Domain; lovely name, Domain, suits the the mausoleum-like architectural edifice on the hill, the museum-war-memorial = mausoleum: following the path trammeled into the grass, past the stainless-steel tree, choosing it as a meeting spot should we be separated, saying, Look for the ugly public sculpture!

Many families were making their way under the pohutakawa, by those, what are they? Moreton bay figs? hairy bits down-hanging. And boys on BMXs, with a middle-aged man on a cool bike, seat-column at an angle back over the rear wheel, his boxers visible, and a baseball cap, and the boys not-differentiating themselves from him: so goes the generational pattern. Adults hang on so long to childish things that the children separate themselves from them through a glass darkly, carefully unseeing them, as in Mieville’s novel. And boys on long-boards. And families with children on all kinds of bikes, including the European wooden stride-bikes, their metal counterparts, and mini-decorated, coloured, bikes, and in push-chairs of all varieties. It was a family day out at the Domain, which sounds like something ritualistic, to do with royalty. But no, in New Zealand, it’s to do with a corporate event, for which there really ought to be a new name. We were attending an ad. A PPP ad: advertising the sociability of the corporate brand?

This became clearer as we neared the event: tents branded with Red Bull (RB henceforth), girls serving water and the calorific, caffeinated so-called energy drink. I don’t know why you’d want to partake of such a drink as a spectator. Would it make you roar? If it grew you wings, you might have a better view, mind you.

The crowd bottle-necked down past the waiting novelty-trolleys. I’ve snapped the green-painted soldiers, who remained in character plastic all day long. Skills. And here no sign of PC police: lots of blacking-up going down; witness the mamas here snapped. And the frustrated barman with his bar-trolley totalled bearing an inflatable woman-doll back to past the start RB arch.

An elevated platform above a trucked-in bar, at the back of it a miniature track for remote-control cars to race, and, on the other side, Hell’s Pizza, the White Lady, and not a hell of a lot of other choices of edibles outlets. Now packed. Queues for food. Queues for the rows of Port-a-loos I have failed to mention because they are an obligatory part of every local outdoor event but through their ubiquity and clear necessity rendered invisible and not usually mentionable, if not unmentionable.

In front of the elevated bar-structure – a trucked-in contrivance – lay the pre-start-line performance-zone. And the Big Screen capturing most people’s attention between it and another two-storey structure: the judges’ podium, covered, trucked-in, of course, white-coloured, kinda weird, the poor bastards contained facing rather the start-line performance-zone and the Big Screen than the race-course itself.

A three-sided arena thus formed delineated by Screen, judges’ covered podium, VIP two-storey RB bar. We carried on down the course, hoping to gain a view of the track. Which we did in time to see the first entrants race past.

It was gone. Bodies pressed up against the fences. Children first. And a general politeness pertaining to the polity behind. Idiotic, maybe considering what was in play: a novelty cart heading down a strip of asphalt. But they would soon be gone. The barriers would soon be overcome. In hours, actually.

It was scary how quickly the thing turned. But the front line was never the sidelines of the course whereon the derby rolled, rather the Big Screens. We’d seen – been blasted in the earhole with the commentary, but seen – the talked up transit of said trolley – well, that’s what we used to call them – and nothing. What was the noise about? And hearing the delight of a piece of theatre preceding the race, with a sound sting we were warned would be 30 seconds for every entrant, we retraced our steps. Went back up the hill to see if we could make any more sense of the event from attending to the Big Screen. Which we could.

Obliging men behind us removed twigs and branches to allow shorter women to see the Screen and enjoy the Action. Never mind that the Domain contains Protected Trees.

I bowed down to see under the fringe of foliage. Q. assured me that the Action merited the attention we were paying it. And indeed it became addictive. Like most things in this country, sort of ritualised humiliation.

Meaning: We know this is not worth the effort; the attending to generates the value in it.

No wonder we are an ideal market to test product. We’ll ‘Give it a go.’

Is it a degrading spectacle this spectacle of a spectacle? Yes. Fuck the voluntarism in it. As incomprehensibly screechy Bomber Bradbury says, Like everything in this country, fascism is also casual.

What do I mean? you ask. What do I ask of this family day out? The only way to see anything was in the mechanical eye of the camera. We were all there, what? to lend it moral support?

I think this might be the essence of such events: sufficient numbers of people – better drawn from the under-represented-in-the-media than those mainstream media are owned by – vote with their bodily presence for the corporate phenomenon. All the corporate strategists are reading, what? How gazumping theoretical criticism is a matter of harnessing phenomenological power?

I don’t know. I do know how civicly unfriendly this event was, how uncivil. We retraced our steps, relinquishing our prime Screen-watching positions to the hordes behind us, who had also figured out that the real event was inaccessible to the biological eye, no matter how you pushed your kids forward, and met up with my brother, his daughter. O.

Inside the fallen-down tree we experienced a sort of hiatus. Except for the fact of the artificiality of the parents instructions issuing from the grass to the kids on the recumbent limbs of the fallen-down tree, like, George, throw your shoes onto the ground! Benjamin, attend to your haircut! Gretchen, there is a big dog eating your mother. And so on.

We return. Unbelievably, lovers are parked out on the grass watching a big fuck-off screen. The New Screen has speakers beside it which are JUST AS LOUD if not LOUDER than the other. It faces up at the memorialmausoleumuseum. Picknicky types sit in the thrall of the screen almost Europeanly, open-air, green, good for deaf children, but what divides them from their European counterparts is that their relations would not be HAVING THIS THING INFLICTED UPON THEM.

In NZ, we do fascism casual style.

Signs. Signs and Signs & signs. Don’t this. Don’t! Be careful!

It took ages for the officials to clear those who near the end of the day had crossed the boundary fence and found places where they could see the course. Not that they still didn’t need the screen and commentary to tell them what was going on. These were often young kids. But the young were indistinguishable from the old in wanting to get close to an action that was disbarred to them. Weird.

An event about stopping people enjoying it.

Too loud. Speakers up and down the course the trolleys took conveyed the inanities of the presenters. And the stings. Queen predominating in a straight white world, however blacked up, yet again.

I’ve said nothing so far about the expectation that each novelty ride be accompanied by theatre. It got tired, the theatre of it, accompanied by the sting it turned into a dance turn. The commentators commented that they’d seen enough white people dancing.

The ignorance of the commentators was equalled by the casualness of the casualties – or something -: here is the chicken dance mashed up with dubstep?! Or dubstep drum & bass?!

The commentators were radio peeps. Sad Ol’ … tryin’ to claim a sense of commonality with the crowd…

And this was the sense in which the whole of it erred: it was not people friendly; not family friendly; could not be seen; was too loud; meant nothing; was talked up for aliens; cost heaps; left everybody sore; except the guy who thought the day had been devised for him… Everybody left. The commentators had to beg people to stay for the awards. Everybody knew they were, it was, meaningless.

It was a celebration of It is special because I say so. Until I say so. It was as casual as fascism. It finished without fanfare. It deserved none.

But for the effort people went to to make the entries. A model for the arts in New Zealand.

We remain amateurs. Corporates come along and rape us.