Monday 3 March 2014

Calling Out: Giovanni Tiso

Dear Giovanni Tiso,

I don’t believe we’ve met and if we did I remember nothing about it (sorry). But you’ve seen fit on at least two occasions to insult me, my staff, my fellow investors and our customers at Hashigo Zake on twitter. On both occasions it was a day or so before I realised which is just as well because I have been known to react impulsively to slurs like these. Instead a couple of people bothered to defend me and my business and I’m grateful to them.

But it’s becoming a pattern and I’m not blessed with the kind of tolerance and patience that it takes to ignore insults like these, so I thought it’s time I said something.

Now I know next to nothing about you, except what you’ve chosen to say about me and my staff and customers. So that’s all that this piece is about – your words about us.

So here we go. Back in December 2012 there was a conversation on twitter that went like this:

The conversation continued…

So… the gist of your complaint seems to be that my co-owners, staff and customers are pretentious gits who promote some kind of conformity while pretentiously pretending to be something else and harbouring people known as “hipsters”.

Now I generally need help with the hipster thing. I was out of New Zealand for a few years between 2005 and 2008, and it seemed that in my absence a new insult was invented. In the years since I haven’t been given or been able to deduce a definition. So Giovanni, why don’t you humour me and propose a robust definition of hipster? Because for now all I can tell is that it’s a word that says more about the lack of imagination and intellectual rigour of its user than its target.

And the conforming (or “confirming”?) thing. Hmm… maybe it’s time I told you a story about the origins of Hashigo Zake. 

You see I’m a big fan of beer - particularly (but not exclusively) interesting and imaginative interpretations of the beverage. Over a long period I became incredibly frustrated and disillusioned with bars in New Zealand that denied their consumers the chance to drink those versions of the beverage because the big breweries had a stranglehold on market access. To put it simply – they have, for decades, been paying incentives to the outlets NOT to serve the products of alternative suppliers. As well as being frustrated as a consumer I consider that a disgraceful and unethical business practice.

So the original and driving motivation for setting up Hashigo Zake was to create an outlet where alternatives to the products of those big bullying breweries could be served. And with some like-minded people we got started. Now my investors and I came from outside the hospitality industry. So we also felt motivated to question a lot of the practices of the hospitality industry that annoyed us. Practices such as spending large amounts on a gimmicky fit-out; drowning out the conversation of customers with thumping music; not being forthcoming with information such as drinks prices and glass sizes; recruiting staff with little product knowledge and paying them the minimum wage. We turned these frustrations into components of the total offering that was Hashigo Zake. We set up in a location that many critics thought was a graveyard. And I gave up a lucrative career to start a business that even our supporters thought was doomed.

So now… please explain… in what way are we guilty of conformity?

Your next accusation was snobbery:

So here we go… you don’t like our certificate. The “Certificate of Heineken-Free Status” that I whipped up in an hour or so one afternoon and put in a $2 frame by our door. Maybe I’m guilty of pride here but I am delighted with what our satirical certificate says. To us Heineken embodies everything that’s wrong with industrial brewing. It’s an unremarkable product whose manufacturer uses expensive marketing and sheer market power to coax apathetic consumers into buying. We want to send a signal to potential customers (and that product’s maker) that we have contempt for, in particular, their methods, and to some extent, their product.

If you don’t find it funny, good for you. I’m not a professional comedian. If you think it makes me/us snobs, that’s a big call, but for now let’s just put that down as name-calling and move on.

So what else did you have to say…

Now we’re getting a little firmer. You wanted to accuse us of charging $22 a drink. So can you clarify one thing here… did you really think we charge $22 a drink or was this hyperbole? Because, you know… one or two of the drinks on our long, long list will cost that much. Several percent of them. So maybe you meant this literally, in which case you’re just being selective to the point of being wilfully misleading. Or were you being hyperbolic? Because if you were, kindly put a zero on the end. There are impressionable people out there who could think this inane comment was somehow vaguely near reality.

But let’s talk about prices, value and what have you because it seems to be a recurring theme. Just yesterday you came up with this:

So here we go then – you think we’re expensive. You think our business model is to cash in on idiots who just want to buy the most expensive beer. Based on what exactly? Now of course I am going to deny this. 

Because it’s bullshit.

But there’s more going on here. We serve products that we like and that we think deserve to be offered to willing customers. And who’d have thought – those products cost more. And yes, having paid more for our raw goods we are failing to re-sell them at prices equal to those of more cheaply sourced goods. Step forward, Giovanni, and accept your Ig Nobel prize for Economics.

But here’s what really upsets me as a business person trying to make a living selling goods that are inherently more expensive than other similar (but arguably inferior) goods in the market. In order to remain competitive with the purveyors of those (arguably) inferior goods, we have to accept lower margins than other businesses do. I guess you don’t bother to look into the wholesale prices of the goods we sell before making your sweeping assertions. If we priced the beer we serve in accordance with the way a typical CBD bar does, then maybe your $22 quip might actually count for something.

So let me spell it out for you – a 200% markup on drinks is standard for an inner city bar in New Zealand. We mark ours up less. Often much less. Oh and we serve them in glasses that are larger than just about every other bar, but I guess you didn’t get that far with your research.

So Giovanni, how about you come clean? What is your problem? Do you just like calling people names? Do you have a problem with beer? Or the category of beer sometimes known as craft? Or do you just have a colossal inverted snobbery complex? Or is it something trivial like the name of our business or our décor (assuming you’ve ever set foot at Hashigo Zake)?

In the meantime, how about you stay away from the baseless, snide, cheap, derogatory chipping away at something that you just don’t happen to be into?

Dominic Kelly
Hashigo Zake


  1. This was beautiful.

    Giovanni Tiso really can be an unbearable, thoughtless bully on Twitter, and because of that, I'll bet you won't find this article as widely retweeted or shared as it would otherwise be. People are too afraid of becoming his next target.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this, and I am so sure a thousand others will too! If I'm ever nearby, I'll definitely stop in for a drink. Cheers!

  2. I think a list of "this is why we don't serve Heineken" would be way more informative than a "Certificate of Heineken free"

  3. If Giovanni doesn't like you, wear it with a badge of honour. I have no time for that man after following him for just a week on Twitter. Not a day goes by where he doesn't get on some bandwagon and have a go at someone for something he deems inferior, then he'll play the victim card when called out. Some people just need drama in their lives.

  4. Watch him salivate over this blog in 3.. 2... 1...

  5. Big ole wall of brave Anonymous posters here I see. I cannot believe you're having this much of a crywank over some tweets that happened 18 months ago. It's a bit embarrassing to be honest.

  6. I imagine this is merely another example of Tiso bashing an imagined Wellington 'hipster elite' to serve as a substitute proletariat to wave his Marxist Fisher Price pitchfork at.

    As a left winger like Tiso, I'm disappointed that he's applied himself with the same puritanical, bovver boy moral righteousness of a left wing Mary Whitehouse.

    Even if right or wrong, he just shrieks at everything that doesn't meet his purity standard as filth.

    Next time I'm down in Wellington, I'll buy YOU a $22 drink!

  7. "Hipster" is one of those terms where everyone has their own definition based on their own prejudices, and it will always tell you more about the person using the term than who they're describing.

    Giovanni is the biggest hipster I know.

  8. So are you going to "call out" anyone who calls you a hipster bar and why get defensive about it if you don't think the label applies?? If that extends beyond twitter it might take you awhile to call out half of Wellington. Seriously though, it doesn't make you look good. Sure Giovanni can get up everyone's nose but its twitter just turn it off and ignore it, be grown up about it. It never looks good when businesses try to do this on social media.

  9. Brilliant reply. This situation doesn't apply to craft beer business only. I am a craft baker and I hear similar things. I sell a Baguette, hand made, fermented for 2 days, all natural ingredients for $3.50 and people still bitch about it because Sack'N Pack sells it for $1.79. You get this sort of thing in all craft industries. My wife had a fashion label, handmade shirts etc for $85 and people compared her prices with the Big Red Shed. I hope a lot of people will read your post and maybe a few of them will then understand that we are talking about completely different products here.

  10. I've never heard of Giovanni Tiso. I'm glad I haven't. He sounds like someone I'd not enjoy knowing, and certainly wouldn't want to have a beer with.

    I'm not much of a fan of hipsters. My definition (for the ever-awesome Robyn) are people who do things because they are "hip" rather than because they want to. When the two overlap, it can be hard to tell the genuine from the poseur, but hey, if I ever have to think that hard about it, it's clearly my problem! :) Anyway, any time I'm in Wellington, I visit HZ - as frequently as possible! I never find aloof poseurs, only wanting to be seen. I find passionate beer enthusiasts of all kinds eagerly "geeking out" on beer. It's a happy, unpretentious, and accepting place. Anyone who feels like it's a den of hipsters might just be bringing some of their own baggage in with them.

    To all the Anonymii having a go, here's my 2c. This is Dominic's blog. He can say whatever he wants. Whether it's a "good look" or not is irrelevant. Sure it's "just twitter", but that's part of the problem with it. It allows petty little people to snipe and snark, never offering anything positive or actually *doing* something. It can bring out the worst in people. It certainly gets to me on occasion, but "just quitting" removes the good side with the bad. So, if a business owner wants to actually defend himself and publicly answer some of this Giovanni person's uninformed criticisms while at the same time informing others who may share them, where's the harm?

    I think this is a good and honest reaction against sad and petty keyboard confidence. Giovanni, whoever you are, why not take it up personally with Dominic if you actually have something to say? He's a pretty good listener, and an even better debater. Others here have said you're some kind of lefty. While "some of my best friends are lefties", I do notice a tendency to always want to make everyone "equal" by pulling everyone down to the lowest common denominator. Don't be one of those. It's anti-life and ultimately self defeating. Have a nice Heineken if that's your thing, and just leave Hashigo Zake to those who appreciate it. I'm sure they'll be happy to leave you alone to enjoy whatever you enjoy.

  11. Greig: You're a massive hipster. You're also awesome.

  12. To be fair - I think this has probably been stewing away for a while and then with his latest swipe on the weekend Dominic clearly had enough. Yeah it may be over the top but all Dominic's points are fair and it would be good to have some responses from Giovanni - not that we're likely to get any seeing as he's decided not to read this blog and therefore engage.

    ah well - having a crywank we may be, but is he not doing the same? " I'm drawing a line at posts so titled, sorry." #StampsFoot #Humpf

  13. “To all the Anonymii having a go, here's my 2c. This is Dominic's blog. He can say whatever he wants. Whether it's a "good look" or not is irrelevant. Sure it's "just twitter", but that's part of the problem with it. It allows petty little people to snipe and snark, never offering anything positive or actually *doing* something. It can bring out the worst in people. It certainly gets to me on occasion, but "just quitting" removes the good side with the bad. So, if a business owner wants to actually defend himself and publicly answer some of this Giovanni person's uninformed criticisms while at the same time informing others who may share them, where's the harm?”

    Yes I know it is Dominic’s blog and he can say whatever he wants and I can respond by commenting and saying whatever I want. That is how the internet works I guess.

    People treat Twitter like a conversation only everyone can listen in and comment. My point being is that HZ and Dominic will be very busy hitting up anyone on twitter that says bad things or complains about their business. Also, this can be viewed both ways. I thought the blog post was good and showed how petty Giovanni’s tweets were but also could be seen as snobbish and conceited in itself.

    “While "some of my best friends are lefties", I do notice a tendency to always want to make everyone "equal" by pulling everyone down to the lowest common denominator. Don't be one of those. It's anti-life and ultimately self defeating.”

    This is a strange comment. “Some of my best friends are righties”. Don’t right wing people have tendency to patronise anyone who they don’t deem as being elite? Or am I just generalising like you are? Someone has already called Giovanni as an “Italian Marxist” and described him as “punchable”on his twitter feed. This is another point, once this goes out on social media, you don’t know how people are going to react. I don’t think Dominic or HZ would want to be seen to be giving a reason for people to threaten physical harm? However, you make a good point , I don’t want to be “anti-life” anymore, which would make me… um… “pro-life”? Yay?

    “I've never heard of Giovanni Tiso. I'm glad I haven't. He sounds like someone I'd not enjoy knowing, and certainly wouldn't want to have a beer with.”

    This is another strange thing to say. I like HZ, when I am not skint, and would have a beer with Greig, Dominic or Giovanni. My name is Nick.

  14. So you don't tolerate slurs like that but it took you more than a year to call him out? I just don't get why this is even a thing at all.

    But I am gonna come check your bar out because it sounds kinda cool.

  15. K-raz, let's be clear. It took a day for me to "call him out". I let an earlier series of insults a year or so ago pass.

  16. Nick: Hey man. Beer sounds good! But first...

    "That's how the internet works I guess"

    See? Snark! ;) My point was more wondering why people were being so negative, and why anonymously. Good on you for putting your name to your opinion. As for the "conversation" on twitter, it looked very much to me (albeit with minimal research) like HZ never say anything snarky or negative, and this Giovanni chap rarely says anything pleasant.

    You say that my opinions/statements were "strange". I'm not sure why. They were simply my opinion. I don't have many "rightie" friends, so can't really comment on what their tendencies. I'm a lonely libertarian. Not many people in my corner, you see. I like elements of left and right, but mostly loathe collectivism and groupthink. I wasn't generalising at all. I was stating what I've observed in those who self-identify as "lefties". Only my opinion though, and as Dominic would tell you, I'm always up for a good debate on it. :) I don't like violence, and while I can relate to "punchable", it's not something I'd do. By anti-life, I meant anti-the celebration and enjoyment of living. It wasn't intended to invoke any stance on abortion. Being pro-freedom, you can probably guess my stance on that. :)

    I don't get why disliking Giovanni based on what he has to say on twitter, and not wanting to have a beer with him is strange either, but OK. Not an issue!

    Also to Robyn: Aww shucks. :)

  17. Awesome bar,great beer, the reasoning behind the Heineken sign made me cringe a bit though. Always thought it was for a laugh but the comments above as to why lower the tone to that snobbery of Giovanni. Theres a market for Heineken and other such mass produced beers, you choose not to sell it and thats great - but before the mass popularity of craft beer people drank it, and you can guarantee that a lot of your customers drank it on a regular basis.Just saying - dont drop down to Giovannis arrogance level.

    Dominic - can you please please please do something about the 'hipsters' sitting alone at tables playing with their iDevices? I've been in a few times recently and all I see are these guys sitting alone at tables flicking through their social media and when you ask can you sit at their table, they growl or tell you theyve mates coming who never show up. Makes for an uncomfortable atmosphere. Again - just saying.

    and yes - I'm keeping this anonymous. I used to do the whole social media thing until the hipster community disagreed with me (one of those has commented above). The hipsters of Wellinton ran me into the ground, spread lies about me, and almost destroyed my family with their over-educated-ill-informed opinions. They live in the moment without care for anyone. So I'll stay anonymous and state my thoughts.

    See you soon for that beer.

  18. Dear Anonymous at 7:15:

    there's another aspect to the Heineken thing that I neglected to mention before. We made that sign at the time of the Rugby World Cup when the Major Events Management Act gave Heineken all sorts of privileges and while certain local businesses were racing to get themselves labelled official "Heineken bars". We talked to a couple of other bars about making bus shelter advertisements advising visitors where they could find Heineken-free bars. But the Heineken-free certificate was cheaper. Maybe that helps justify it to you.

    As for the hipsters with iDevices. Are you taking the piss out of us (i.e. our staff and me) for using part of the bar as a workplace during the day? Because most of us have relocated to our warehouse now, so it's all customer space. If it's a serious issue then that's a bitch. We went to a lot of trouble and expense to get fibre to the bar - it would be a pity if it has unintended consequences. And I'm still waiting for a definition, and maybe some examples, of what a hipster is.

  19. Greig, I would love to get into a debate with you about lonely libertarianism and being "pro-freedom" and your opinion on "lefties". I am pro-freedom too and I am not anti-life (which just sounds like nonsense). And that wasn't "snark" as you read it which is another problem with social media, taking other people's comments the wrong way.

    If you are a libertarian, and I share those beliefs , than Giovanni is an individual who expressed an opinion you disagreed with and is then "called out" for it by the business in question. Isn't his right to freedom of speech being curtailed by a collective entity, HZ. Therefore, business/money over the rights of the individual.

    Before I thought both sides were being petty but now I am siding with Giovanni more because I think he is correct in saying that what he said on twitter was in conversation to friends. It wasn't a tweet directed at them. When HZ begins targeting individuals it looks really really bad. And the people who stick up for HZ mainly just seem like they have some grudge against someone they have never met.

    And, Greig, Giovanni is a good writer and his blog is worth checking out.

  20. Hey Nick (I assume it's still you?) - I love a good debate. Dom knows where to find me, as I'd suggest hijacking his blog comments may just annoy people, were we to have it here. Yes, you're spot on about taking things the wrong way online. I was kidding about the snark comment though. I even put a very web 0.5 wink after it so you'd know.

    I think you might miss some of the gist of what it means to be a libertarian though. Freedom of speech (and indeed, freedom of everything) isn't free from consequences. If you say something someone else doesn't like, they are perfectly within their rights to (verbally) have at you in return. You're free (in theory) to do absolutely anything up to the point where your actions restrict my freedom to do the same. I've often heard people claiming a right to freedom of speech where none exists. For example, if you come to my house, on my property, you have the freedoms I permit you to have there, no more. The same is true of business owners. You can't expect to walk into a bar (any bar) and start telling the customers the beer is shit and the owner is a wanker and not expect to be ejected. You were "free" to express that, and the owner is "free" to turf you out as a result. :)

    I'll check out the blog, thanks.

  21. Hey anonymous at 11:06, in what way is my defence of my business curtailing this guy's freedom of speech? Surely freedom of speech includes the right to respond?

  22. Twitter isn't the actual physical bar though and I really don't think that the idea of private property and ownership can extend to the same sense as on twitter. A better analogy would be if Dominic passed Giovanni on the street, overheard G telling a friend that "blah, blah Hipster Bar blah blah Pretentious blah blah $22!" Then D would try and "call out" someone in a public forum and make an exception of them. In other words, Giovanni didn't walk into his bar and start slagging it off, of course the owner would ask him to leave, he made snarky comments to friends on twitter about the bar. I could have done exactly the same, unwittingly, but would HZ take it up with me, make an exception of me, write a blog post about me and have twitter folllowers threaten the person with violence (out of their control, which really wouldn't look good)? Of course he is in his right to do this but it also has consequence, which brings me back to my original opinion, this won't make the business or the business owner look good. I also originally wanted to comment on this because I have had experience trolling online and seen how something gets way out of hand.

  23. "Hey anonymous at 11:06, in what way is my defence of my business curtailing this guy's freedom of speech? Surely freedom of speech includes the right to respond?"

    Of course and I think I stated that up there. I wasn't implying that you 'were' trying to curtail his freedom of speech but it could be perceived that way because you are singling out one person, who you have named, as a way to shame him either in response or to stop him from making comments to friends about the bar. You are business doing this and you are using that to attack a single individual, to me that isn't a good thing and a lot of people will not see it as a good thing.

    Nick (again and 2.13pm). Last post and I don't want to hijack this thread anymore than Greig does!

  24. On a slightly different note, why does Hashigo Zake apparently use a Japanese imperial flag to promote itself (I've never been to the bar, just seen the website)? In many parts of the world, notably mainland Asia, this banner is considered akin to the Nazi swastika, because of its associations with fascism and genocide. Anyone who waved it about in Seoul or Beijing wouldn't last long. I know that hipsters are supposed to be too coolly ironic to worry about the historical connotations of any symbol, but I would have thought that commercial considerations alone would have made Hashigo reluctant to use a flag that upsets and alienates a chunk of the population.

  25. Skyler,

    A fair question I guess... so I'll try not to rise to the bait of the "hipster" comment.

    Not sure if you'll find this an adequate answer, but (a) it was never meant to offend and (b) to the best of our knowledge it never has offended anyone.

    Plus I guess we took our cue from one of our favourite suppliers - Japan's Baird Brewery, which is founded by an ex-pat American and exported around the world including parts of Asia. Their flagship beer is Rising Sun Pale Ale, which incorporates the same flag. They have another beer called Kurofune Porter, commemorating the arrival of the Black Ships in Japan. I've never heard of anyone questioning the suitability of those choices.

    Shall I leave it at that or try and fudge the whole issue with a digression on the continued use, without comment, of the flags of many countries that have committed atrocities? (We drape the bar in American flags every 4th of July.) Or that the Japanese military threat is now more-or-less non-existent (apart from their loony right who have never quite gone away) so maybe people aren't intimidated any more by anachronistic symbols?

    Finally I hope you accept that if we had reason to believe that we truly were causing offence then we would act.

  26. I must admit, I'd often wondered about that too, but then I'd figured that in Wellington, where the icon of the mass murderer Che Guevara is often displayed in bars and on shirts, nothing must bother people down there! ;)

  27. Tiso's problem is simply with capitalism. He's a self-avowed Marxist who believes in the fantasy of life as a free lunch (and a free beer). And everything that doesn't agree with his world view must be either silenced or closed, if he can manage it, or he tries to pretend it (being reality) doesn't exist.

  28. Isn't Mr Tiso just an example of the Dunning–Kruger effect and an audience?

  29. Che Guevara ordered the execution of a few hundred people after the Cuban revolution. The Japanese fascists slaughtered 400,00 in four days during the Rape of Nanking. But I guess their flag looks kinda hip.

  30. Btw, have folks commenting here on Tiso's work read any of it? You'll find it in such obscure publications as The Guardian and Overland, one of Oz's oldest and most respected cultural publications. It's always worth taking a look at someone's thoughts before you denigrate their intelligence.

  31. Wow. Masterfully played Greig. Or should I say "counter-trolled"? I fell for what seemed a genuine enquiry there. Thanks for exposing our correspondent's moral selectivity.

  32. I don't usually stoop to trolling, but I have noticed people get very selective when declaring "offense". Apparently slaughtering "a few hundred" people is perfectly OK and not mass murder at all, when you're claiming fake-offense at a flag displayed in a bar where Japanese people have drunk and worked (and been awesome). I dispute that figure, but I keep trying not to derail this discussion and failing, so I'll just leave it at that. I'm also not going to run with the appeal to authority implied by Skyler in the most recent comment above.

    Anyway, I think I'll bow out. I'm stating no opinion on Tiso, as I've never met him. He does appear to write very well, despite what seems to me as a rather large chip on his shoulder. I do know the HZ crew, and they're all really nice people. People who care about their customers and their environment, and go out of their way to make people feel welcome. I got into this thread because I hate seeing those great people sneered at and put down. I'm going to brew beer now. Bye.

  33. Dominic's definition of trolling seems to overlap with the normal understanding of critical discussion. I think the appropriation of historical symbols like Che Guevara or the Japanese fascist flag for use as mere commercial brands is silly and objectionable wherever it occurs, and have no interest in defending some bar that puts Che Guevara on its décor. But it is a demonstrable fact that for billions of Asian people the Japanese imperial flag is a symbol of genocide, just like the swastika, and I find it odd that someone would think it was a clever symbol to use to promote a Wellington business. The chap who defended the use of the fascist flag by saying that Japanese people had drunk in Hashigo is almost comically obtuse: it is in nations like China and Korea, and also in parts of the Pacific like Nauru where the Japanese also committed genocide, that the fascist flag is despised. Sadly, many Japanese have still not faced up the realist of their country's fascist era, as the continuing controversies over sex slaves and the honouring of mass murderers like Tojo shows. So Dominic, let's have a straight answer: why on earth do you think it's clever to show a widely recognised symbol of fascism and genocide in your bar? Did you just, in typical hipster fashion, forget about history and politics, and decide that it looked kinda cool? Or did your time in Japan make you sympathetic to some of the ultra-nationalist groups that defend the use of the banner?

  34. Apologies Dominic: I didn't realise the way comments were arranged on this site, and thus didn't see you'd replied to the question about the fascist banner of imperial Japan above. But I think the rest of the points I made stand, because your defence of the use of a banner that is banned in large parts of Asia because of its association with genocide seems to me very weak. You say that the fascist banner is used by some Japanese beer brewers: that's not surprising, given that large sections of the Japanese population still don't accept the historical reality of events like the Rape of Nanking. To excuse the use of the imperial banner by referring to its acceptability amongst Japan's ultra-nationalists is a little like pointing to neo-Nazi German organisations as an excuse to use the swastika. It is the nations of mainland Asia and Micronesia who experienced Japanese occupation and genocide, and who have campaigned against the use of the imperial war banner and in favour of acknowledgement of and compensation for crimes like the Rape of Nanking, the turning of thousands of Korean women into sex slaves, and the extermination of indigenous groups in Micronesian nations like Guam.

    The argument that the use of the imperial war banner is reasonable because other banners have been associated with crimes against humanity misses the fact that the imperial war banner, like the swastika flag and unlike the stars and stripes or the union jack, was flown during only one period of history, and is exclusively associated with that era, which was of course an era when a fascist government occupied its neighbours and committed genocide. That's why, despite the protests of ultra-nationalists and the tastelessness of outfits like the beer company Dominic mentioned, the imperial war flag is shunned by the Japanese government today.

    I can't help but feel that the stupidity reflected in the decision to cover your bar with a symbol of genocide and the feebleness of the excuses for this choice of décor confirms Giovanni's opinion about Hashigo Zake. You guys should worry less about Heineken and try to take more of an interest in the world around you.

  35. Skyler, it's a pity if my comment above was too subtle for you so let me make this clear: your hysterical reaction to Greig's goading betrayed your motives. What is clear as that you are trying to project some irrelevant political agenda (irrelevant here and probably everywhere) on to an unrelated debate. But worse you're also prepared to try and use historical atrocities, in which real people suffered horribly and yet are completely irrelevant to this discussion, to try and score points against us. I've read some ridiculous inventions over the last few days but this is a new low by anyone's standards.


  37. Can't we all just get along.

  38. LOL. You've flashed me back to a newsgroups, circa 1996; the eventual, inevitable mention of Nazis makes me sigh, roll my eyes and laugh and cry at the same time. Perhaps I'm in the unique position of having shared a drink and a conversation or two with both Dominic and Giovanni. Both decent, enterprising and amicable chaps, who I'm sure would enjoy each other's company in person. As real live humans, they're both good guys.

  39. @ Skyler: "..the imperial war banner, like the swastika flag and unlike the stars and stripes or the union jack, was flown during only one period of history, and is exclusively associated with that era, "

    Umm - wrong. The rising sun flag (that you refer to as the imperial war banner) has actually been used since 1870. Yes, it is considered offensive in China and South Korea, but so is the Union Jack considered to be offensive to quite a few indigenous peoples of New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

  40. Dominic, the fact that you get all het up about a beer called Heineken, but think anyone who points out the resonances of the Rising Sun banner is hysterical, tells us a good deal about the way you see the world. The fact that you think anyone who criticises you for what is a pretty obvious piece of stupidity and bad taste is involved in some sort of conspiracy with Giovanni Tiso to blacken your name is also revealing. I've researched and written widely on fascism and holocaust denial in Europe as well as Japan. But I suggest that you invite some leaders from the Chinese, Korean, ni-Vanuatu, and I-Kiribati communities in Wellington down for a beer and a discussion of your décor, and see what they have to say. I suspect they'll make Giovanni's comments about you seem rather mild.

  41. ' the eventual, inevitable mention of Nazis makes me sigh, roll my eyes and laugh'

    Of course. What could be more perverse and amusing than someone mentioning the Nazis in a discussion about the banner of their closest ally? I've written a good deal about the generation that fought fascism in the 1930s and '40s. How pitiful it is that only seven decades later a bunch of hipsters treat the banner of their enemy as a cool piece of décor, and consider it an occasion for mirth when somebody calls them on their tastelessness. Giovanni's low opinion of Dominic and his patrons seems well and truly confirmed by this thread...

  42. @ Skyler

    Godwin's law's_law

  43. Paul, I recently saw a classic example of Godwin's law when deforestation in Sumatra was described as the Orangutan Holocaust, but in this case the Rising Sun/Swastika flag comparison is valid. Down here in NZ we didn't know the depth of feeling about this in South East Asia. I certainly didn't know until I'd lived there for several years. For example, the World Trade Centre in Shanghai had to be redesigned because a wind stress reducing feature looked like the Japanese flag (being circular).

    So, I think this corollary of Godwin's Law applies here:

    While falling afoul of Godwin's law tends to cause the individual making the comparison to lose his argument or credibility, Godwin's law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent's argument as hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate.

  44. @ Jim → March 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Seeing as Skyler actually hijacked this blog and thread and took it in an entirely different direction I still believe Goodwin's law does apply here.

    but then - I'm just an uneducated nobody so what do I know aye? :)

  45. "Of course. What could be more perverse and amusing than someone mentioning the Nazis in a discussion about the banner of their closest ally? " LOL! Germany's closest ally was Italy. Ha Ha!. If you were really serious about this kind of thing, you should protest the Genghis Khan restaurant. The Mongols killed more people than the Germans and Japanese combined.

  46. This is the final comment in this thread.

  47. Well played Stu, well played.. whoops