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Sport 35: Winter 2007

David Beach

page 132

David Beach

Empire State Building

The shot by Lewis Hine shows a man
sitting on one girder, hands resting on
another, at ease and monarchical
in this the edifice's real King Kong
period (and how much better the ape might
have fared if the landmark had been under
construction). The camera's higher still, the
biplane perspective, and wondrously far
beneath is the city, vertigo like a
pharaoh's curse, a literal downtown which
though gleams softly, almost one could think,
especially with the dark, contrasting mass
of the girders, and as if any fall
would have to be up, unattainably.

page 133


The first Apollo mission had the
advantage for spectators that they could
be at the landing, though in fact few were
(his wife followed in the support ship, which
indicates perhaps where she thought he'd end
up). And on that Dover dawn, gazing out
across the Channel's restless field, water
must have seemed the acid test. When the
aviator, blown off course, came toiling in
from the east, those present might have felt
that here was a god who should be believed
in, this the start of all destinations
just a matter of an improved biplane,
even the moon not too far a cliff.

page 134

Kiwi 1

That currently almost as many New
Zealanders pursue inspiration in
Antarctica as wealth in Australia
may partly be because the frozen
continent was, what the baked was declared,
terra nullius. Lastfoundland, it offers
a Desert of Eden charm, a clean slate
or at least one which has a considerably
less problematic treaty written on
it. For those blocked for ideas by doubts
about New Zealand's (or should that be
'Aotearoa's'?) post-colonial identity,
voilà the shore which has like a moon
with a secret orbit lain outside history.

page 135

Kiwi 2

During the filming of The Lord of the
Rings New Zealanders took such delight at
living in Middle Earth that it seemed an
era of palimpsestic nationalism might
be dawning. But then, embarrassment of
riches, came the concurrent shoots King Kong
and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,
and King Kong anyway split between Skull
Island and New York—though the nation's
movie lot hegemony could in fact have
been showcased quite neatly here by each
production raiding the other, for
example Kong able to talk, or Aslan
besotted with the Pevensie children.