Profile: The mysterious guy behind Weird in Wellington
So, using a trail of carpet offcuts, I lured the mysterious fellow behind the blog in to Wellingtonista Towers, strapped him to the Interrotoot2000 and asked him a few questions.
I moved here with my family from Nelson when I was two. I lived in Auckland for a couple of years and Levin for six months (don’t ask), but have lived in various Wellington suburbs for the remainder of my life to date. So a long time. I love the place. I travel overseas a bit, but have no plans to go and live anywhere else permanently, ever. This is it.
What inspired you to start the Weird in Wellington Tumblr blog?
There is kind of a story with it, actually. Sometime in September 2010 I was, well, for want of a less cringe-inducingly lame expression, trying to woo a girl. This wooing involved writing her a way-too-long email every day and attaching a photo I’d taken of something odd, which I’d make some kind of cute or sarcastic or absurdly obtuse comment about.
Yeah, you can stop laughing/crying any time you like.
Now the thing of it was (and this part may be hard to believe) my wooing attempts translated in her mind more-or-less to “wow, this guy is a babbling needy loser to whom I can’t believe I ever gave the time of day”. Eventually her almost total lack of response to the emails had its desired effect and I gave up my daily spamming of her inbox.
Anyway. As well as a broken heart I also found myself the owner of a metric crapton of photographs of the weird stuff I’d seen around Wellington over the period, with commentary. The other thing I found was that taking the pictures was something I enjoyed doing, and I wanted to have a reason to keep doing it. As one of the best cures I’ve found for a broken heart is feverish industry I set up the blog/twitter/facebook page, chucked up the photos and commentary I’d amassed to that point, and have been snapping and uploading pictures every day since, circumstances permitting.
The funniest aspect of the story to me is that the blog is, ultimately, tragically, pathetically, the product of a broken heart. And it’s on tumblr. Which I’ve since learned is the online hipster home of the broken-hearted and angst-ridden. You couldn’t pay me to move it now, it’s too perfect. And honestly, the hipster lovin’ would be way, way too hard to give up.
How do you decide what is weird?
If something catches my eye and I think it’s odd or interesting or curious, or I can quickly think of something pithy to write about it to frame it in order that it can be perceived to be, I take a picture. I assume there must be enough of an intersection between what I find weird/unusual and what other people do that it’ll be of interest to at least some of the people following the blog. That said, I often find the stuff I think is hysterical or truly bizarre sloughs off the front page without comment while most of the pictures that’ve gotten a lot of attention I was pretty 50/50 about posting in the first place. So it goes.
Do you think there’s a particular Wellington style? How does Wellington compare to your Auckland visits?
Yeah, I guess in terms of street-level “weirdness,” there is. I see a lot more deliberate cleverness and wit on Wellington’s streets than Auckland’s. Auckland also seems to be a lot better at cleaning up its graf (unless it’s within pissing distance of a train track). Plus a lot more of what you see up there is tagging/gang-related stuff, which doesn’t interest me so much.
But y’know, man. The world’s full of weirdness. It’s just a matter of perspective and being motivated enough to look for it. There’s no reason you couldn’t run something similar about any place so long as you have a camera, way too much free time on your hands, and an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
What kind of camera do you use for your photography?
You’re being obscenely kind to the point of suspected fatuousness to call it “photography,” thanks. For most of the photos I used an old iPhone 2G. However, a drunken night at a rock gig put paid to that phone and I’m now using a Samsung GT-I5800, which has a better camera. I particularly like that it has a decent macro mode (for taking pictures of stickers and suchlike).
Has anyone ever taken exception to being featured in your blog, or even to you taking a photo?
Well, I did get busted taking this photo. The guy came out of his house while I was walking down his path and kind of aggressively asked me what I thought I was doing. I smiled and explained that I was just taking a photo of the sign in his window because I thought it was wonderful. That mollified him and I escaped unmolested. I also got hassled by a few of the friends of this guy, but I guess that just comes with the territory when you make mean-spirited and sarcastic public comments about people’s fashion sensibilities from behind the cowl of an +5 Intercloak of Pseudoanonymity.
Uhm, oh and this picture? The guy you can just see through the door crack saw me taking the photo and was heading out to confront me. But I’d turned and walked off before he got out, and he must have decided it wasn’t worth it.
Generally though, when I take pictures of people I either have their permission or I’m really sneaky and underhanded about it (related note: lovin’ the zoom on the new camera). Does taking sneaky pictures of people and putting them on the Internet with pithy commentary make me a bad person? Probably. I guess it’s something I’m just going to have to find a way to live with. teh_lulz are a harsh mistress.
Do you go out specifically looking for weird stuff, or is it just things you notice as you otherwise go about your business?
I do both. I walk to work and it’s long way, so I get a lot of photos from those particular “jus’ trollin’ ’bout mah bidnez” trips. Because I’m using my phone to take the photos and I usually have it on me a lot of the photos are also taken as I’m just doing my thing, for whatever value “thing” may have at the time.
But I do also do planned trips. Sometimes I rock into town at 4am to check out graf with a torch and camera. Or, to pre-empt your next question, rock out on twitter-directed missions to suburbs I’m less familiar with. Like, well. Woodridge. And if I get a tip-off about something in particular and can get to it before it’s gone, I will.
Wellington’s inner neighbourhoods, like Te Aro, Mt Cook and Newtown, seem to be a rich source of weirdness, though recently you’ve travelled a little further afield to deepest, darkest Woodridge. Are you going to explore all of Wellington’s suburbs? Weird in Churton Park?
Yeah, that’s the plan. I’m going to collect them all. So far I’ve made special trips to Woodridge, Karori, and Brooklyn. And I guess the suburbs I travelled through to get to them. I will definitely get to Churton Park eventually. Maybe even soon, seeing as you keep bringing it up.
Do you think anyone’s ever done something deliberately to get into your blog?
I know people have. I’m cool with it. I don’t have any kind of grand plan or agenda, but if the blog inspires a few people to do a few odd things to make city life more interesting and fun for everyone else I say go nuts. And let me know. I’ll totes go and take a picture of your shit.
What’s your favourite weird thing so far?
Oh man. There’s well over a thousand photos on there right now, I don’t think I could possibly choose one I liked best. If I tried I’d end up with a lot of first-equals.
I guess in terms of my own sense of humour and appreciation for weirdness, I prefer things that are extreme. For which I blame way too many years of hanging out with complete no-filter freaks on IRC/ED/4chan. It’s safe to assume that the more puerile, offensive, and harsh an image is the more likely it is to be counted amongst my favourites. I also really like the “witty” text stuff when it has an edge to it. For example, this:
What do you do when you not doing Weird in Wellington?
Work some job in town. Write. Read. Eat, sleep, exercise. See bands. Go to D&B/Jungle/Dubstep things. Collect random junk from the footpath and stick it on my wall. Unsuccessfully attempt to woo girls via email.
Just kidding about the “reading” thing.
HAY DUDE THERE’S A REALLY COOL ONE OF DARTH VADER DOING A RUBIK’S CUBE BY THE BYPASS. YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DO THAT ONE!!!!!1
O SWET BRO IL HEAD RIGHT OUT THEIR NOW AND TAEK A PIC AEWSOMA LOL RUBIX CUB DARTH VAEDR SOUNDS 2TALY AEWSOMA IL MAEK IT LIK A FEATUR3D POST OR DA BAKGROUND OR SOMETHNG THX AGANE U ROK!1!!1!
Thank you kindly. I am sure the readers of Gentlewoman’s Quarterly will find your comments most insightful.
You are very welcome. Thank you, and I’d like to take this opportunity to quote my man Albert Camus when he states that virtue cannot separate itself from reality without becoming a principle of evil. Why? Because it doesn’t have any relevance or relationship to anything I’ve just said.
And that’s weird.
Wait, what? Ok, you can go now.