Art is entirely subjective, as influenced by the life and emotions of the artist as the audience viewing the art itself. Art is not only a creation, it is the artist themselves – with this in mind, anyone can be art. With this in mind, people that may not necessarily jump forth as being artistic masterpieces become immediately recognisable, indicative and representative of the social spheres they live in. They are for us to see. So yeah, that’s my bullshit justification for this piece, and why I’m sticking it in this section rather than Lifestyle. People Be Art, Man.
Auckland’s CBD is a funny little place. Not because it is beautiful, interesting, artistically inclined or remotely hospitable to life, but because it is none of those. It is of note because even in a city centre as architecturally dreary and filled to the brim with pigeon shit and discarded Gong Cha containers as it is, there is just enough (0.1%) of that New York City-brand gravitational pull of Fascinating People to make people watching worth it. But where are the best places, and who will you see?
The Nokia Shaman that hovers around the ferry terminals, constantly protecting us from the evils that seek to befoul our lives. At first I thought he was a hallucination, but others have since told me that he is, in fact, real. I swear he is. With his bejeweled skull necklace, 2003 Nokia brick phone on a staff and menthol cigarette filters dropping from his every movement, his meth dance has undoubtedly saved many travellers.
The downtown Gucci store is, quite literally, the cheapest Gucci store on Earth. On top of that, it is even cheaper than the high-fashion brethren across the street, Dior and Prada. That is why it is, without fail, the daily pilgrimage of the Auckland international student. They are powerful humans, and their uniformity in creative expression is what gives them their strength – all clad in the same black leather pants, Moschino phone cases and that month’s window exclusive shirt from the Gucci store. I fear their dedication – they fear no one.
The ultra horny hetero couples that just barely manage to remember they are in public are a classic feature of Albert Park; in amongst the pigeons, the stressed out Science students needing a smoke break and the barely-functional clone of the Mission Bay Piss Fountain, the horniness radiating from these couples is clear to see. It doesn’t matter where they are, it could be on the benches or under the mistaken belief that being next to a tree makes you invisible to regular less horny mortals; the PDA is off the charts.
The single libertarian that stands guard over the domain, keeping their eye on Albert Park for eternity, or until he graduates with his CompSci degree. A mystical creature, he lies in wait behind the Queen Victoria statue, waiting for David Seymour to return on his bi-annual Clubs Expo pilgrimage. Waiting for Davo to make a stand for the benefits of small government to 18 year olds that only know him as a meme, or in the case of ACT’s recent rebranding, the benefits of limiting the oppressive force that is….. the Human Rights Act.
The unchanging group of five stoners just lighting up and minding their own business on Tuesday evenings while I go for a walk. They say hi, I say hi, and I feel warm. Just seeing their bright orange beanies and Vans sneakers makes me calm. All is well when I know they are protecting me.
High Street Gays are a powerful breed of human. You will recognise them via their inability and lack of desire to move out of the way of oncoming pedestrians, their Tattys bags emanating a forcefield so powerful that all are knocked out of their way without fail. However, they mean well: they are just listening to Ariana Grande, it’s not personal. I wish I was that self-assured.
Piece of shit fucking BMW drivers that don’t recognise what a fucking crossing is and that I’m just trying to check out EB Games without my skull fragments piercing their tires.
Civic Theatre Crossing
Friday nights invariably play host to the Hare Krishna adherents, who begin hours and hours of feverish singing and dancing at 5pm on the dot, never once dropping their energy. Hearing the cymbals in the distance is an indisputable sign that your night is going to be fun. Their journey begins at Carl’s Jr., which I feel is a moral conflict of interest on some level, and ends at the Viaduct, a procession which takes many hours.
Saturday evenings are particularly fun for this section of the city. Without fail, every Saturday from 6pm onwards, there is an Evangelical proselytiser armed with a table-sized speaker that will make sure you hear the word of the Lord, and literally nothing else. Plug in your headphones, and he plugs in the power of God. By 7pm, it is not uncommon for the early drinkers to start picking fights with him. But he has never lost a battle. The Civic Theatre Crossing is a battleground for our souls, and his Saturday nights are always free.
– It’s not often than you find an entirely different offshoot of humankind in Auckland; but the absence of clocks has evidently encouraged time to progress at a speed which allows the worst of what were formerly homo sapiens to find its way to the forefront. Homo malicious finds a rare retreat here; the predatory, loathsome insects of unforeseen cruelty that comprise the managerial and bureaucratic staff of this facility make their nest here. Propelled by two and a half decades of destroying hundreds of thousands of lives through their unrestrained peddling of addiction, their physiology has taken the rare turn of reflecting the bile inside, the maggots infesting their soul; you’ll recognise homo malicious via their tinted-black sunglasses to cover up the empty eye sockets that remain after their softest flesh, repulsed by the depravity of profiting off the crippling of entire communities, took their leave and vacated the decaying body. While they can be summoned into your vicinity by saying ‘John Key’ five times, they rarely interact with homo sapiens, save for a smile of tar when asking the gambler if they have considered counselling before gifting them with a free bucket of coins for being such a good presence on the floor. Their heart does not beat, and their blood has hardened into obsidian. Their hair smells of sulfur, and their complexion makes jaundice look positively desirable.
As expressions of humankind, the people of Auckland’s CBD are essential to the artistic venture of people watching; they are the canvas that the forces of nature and society uses to paint their Hieronymous Bosch homages on. Do we not take joy in their presence? Do the High Street Gays not empower us to seek our own confidence? Or in the case of the shrivelled and decadent insectoid SkyCity staff, do we not recoil? Perhaps people watching is the greatest expression of all art. Perhaps they are what we could be. Or whatever, I don’t know.