Writing in Elsewhere

Books, authors, spoken word and poetry which may appeal to the curious spirit of Elsewhere.

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HOW BIZARRE by SIMON GRIGG (Awa Press)

22 Aug 2015    2

The first time I heard OMC's massive hit How Bizarre outside of New Zealand was in Tokyo, the second time I caught the clip on MTV Europe while I was in an Amsterdam hotel gearing up to go and see Michael Jackson. But the third time was the most interesting. I was in bar in Miami Beach chatting with an out-of-state tourist when How Bizarre came on the screen above us.... > Read more

Angel in Disguise

WORDS WITHOUT MUSIC, a memoir by PHILIP GLASS

18 Jun 2015    1

Recently when interviewing Princess Chelsea (aka Chelsea Nikkel), the conversation turned to how cheap is to make and put out music these days. She laughed and said she'd done her album "for nothing" because she'd recorded it at home, and that CDs were cheap to get printed. Vinyl was different of course, but overall it was a fairly inexpensive process. She then, unprompted,... > Read more

Ayers Rock; Uluru Song, from Hydrogen Jukebox w Allen Ginsberg

THE GREAT LEADER AND THE FIGHTER PILOT by BLAINE HARDEN

27 Apr 2015

About 15 years ago when I was engaged in some serious journalism of the international political kind, I had lunch with a fellow from Asia 2000, these days known as the Asia New Zealand Foundation. They had assisted me in travel to Japan, Taiwan and South Korea – financially, opening political and economic doors to get interviews – and over (Chinese) yum cha I brought up... > Read more

TRANSFORMER; THE COMPLETE LOU REED STORY by VICTOR BOCKRIS

17 Dec 2014    2

When Lou Reed – who is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year alongside Joan Jett, Ringo Starr and others – died in October 2013, there were the inevitable potboiler books attempting to sum up the man, his music and motivations. But the book to wait for was always going to be this one by Bockris, the “poet of the New York underground”... > Read more

HELLO GIRLS AND BOYS! A NEW ZEALAND TOY STORY by DAVID VEART

7 Dec 2014

This Wednesday at Art+Object in Auckland there is an auction of vintage toys. These aren't Star Trek collectibles still in their plastic wrappers, but much loved and played-with toys from the Twenties to the Sixties. So among them will be famous brands like New Zealand's own Fun Ho! alongside Dinky from Britain and toys from Germany . . . and of course, “Boy oh boy! A Lincoln... > Read more

A BETTER LIFE FOR HALF THE PRICE by TIM LEFFEL

8 Nov 2014

Those of us living in one of the most expensive cities in the world – that would be Auckland, New Zealand – are invariably drawn to those television programmes on the lifestyle or travel channels where people go looking for homes overseas. That's where you see a solid, five bedroom brick home with excellent plumbing on the... > Read more

JIMMY PAGE by JIMMY PAGE

20 Oct 2014

Ever since his death in 1970, there's been speculation as to what direction Jimi Hendrix might have gone in had he lived. For every opinion saying he'd have got into jazz fusion (maybe with Miles Davis who at the last minute had pulled out of scheduled sessions) there's the view he would have got into politicised funk-rock to capture the increasingly volatile times. He might have... > Read more

Black Mountain Side

THE GREATEST ALBUMS YOU'LL NEVER HEAR edited by BRUNO ARTHUR

22 Sep 2014

Rock culture is littered with albums which were never released (either at the insistence of the artist or the record company), sidelined in favour of other projects or simply existed in the world of rumour. There have also been albums released which were not what people initially believed they were: Canadian band Klaatu for example who got a long way when people thought they were the... > Read more

THE PROBLEM WITH MUSIC IN NEW ZEALAND AND HOW TO FIX IT by IAN JORGENSEN

5 Aug 2014    3

The memory is indelible. It was the early Nineties and there was a local band I wanted to see play at a bar in Auckland. After work I went home, ate, muddled about and went to the venue at 10.30pm. There was a drum kit set up and guitars in place. But no band. About 11.15 two guitarists arrived and went to the bar where they chatted with friends and had a couple of... > Read more

THE WHITEHALL MANDARIN by EDWARD WILSON

1 Aug 2014

Consider how ripe the political pickings of the late 50s and early 60s are for anyone writing a spy thriller. There is cigar-chomping Castro in Cuba helming a people's revolution, the young and sexually voracious JFK in the White House as the Bay of Pigs and missile crisis swirl around him, Vietnam as a war zone is hotting up and US military advisors are flying... > Read more

RUPERT MURDOCH; A REASSESSMENT by RODNEY TIFFEN

4 May 2014

Because media baron Robert Murdoch is such a polarising figure – from a bottom-feeder driving down news content to the lowest common denominator to “Rupert is magnificent” from Margaret Thatcher -- the subtitle here is canny. Few at either end of the spectrum want their firmly held prejudice about this man tested by a reassessment of his character and works. Yet... > Read more

GUTTER BLACK; A MEMOIR by DAVE McARTNEY

28 Apr 2014

A few years ago when I was in Australia interviewing the re-formed Cold Chisel, I took a chance afterwards to talk with their songwriter Don Walker, who had written an exceptional, literary and darkly poetic memoir, Shots. I wanted to ask him about something which had been troubling me quietly for a number of years: Why was it that so many Australian songwriters – Paul Kelly,... > Read more

THE LAST WORD by HANIF KUREISHI

16 Mar 2014

Consider the plight of a hard-pressed writer commissioned to do the biography of an old, famous living author. Then think how much more difficult it would be if the manipulative author has invited the commission to confirm his legacy and status, his young wife is controlling to ensure an income after her husband's death, and the publisher wants plenty of scandal (which is there) to... > Read more

A FORT OF NINE TOWERS by QAIS AKBAR OMAR

9 Feb 2014

In an age when shaky images from phone cameras and newspaper reports cite Facebook comments or tweets as a substitute for news – that famous “first draft of history” as it was once known – this remarkably plain-spoken and often unflinching memoir comes as a rare combination of reportage, witness to history, family story and national tragedy. When mujahideen... > Read more

THE SON by PHILIPP MEYER

6 Jan 2014    1

When the Comanche raiding party came to their Texas homestead, they stole the horses, raped and killed his mother and younger sister before his eyes, then dragged the young Eli and his older brother Martin away as slaves. Over the following days the boys were beaten, starved and beaten again on a forced march back the warriors' lands, but after days of abuse Martin, poetic and... > Read more

FROM EARTH'S END; THE BEST OF NEW ZEALAND COMICS by ADRIAN KINNAIRD

10 Dec 2013

There's the old observation that for most people history began with the first thing they remember, like in Billy Joel's song We Didn't Start the Fire which is just a baby-boomer litany of names and events which push emotional buttons. Clearly Joel was of the persuasion that his generation did start the fire. You would however be forgiven for thinking not much in the way of New Zealand... > Read more

ROBERT PLANT; A LIFE by PAUL REES

2 Dec 2013

There are many excellent and insightful biographies of musicians around these days -- among them Mark Lewisohn's recent Tune In about the Beatles which at 900 pages only gets you to the start of 1963, Nick Tosches' bios of Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis, James Kaplin on Frank Sinatra, or Sylvie Simmons' superb account of the complexities of Leonard Cohen. So serious readers are allowed to... > Read more

Slow Dancer (1982)

HARRY SEIDLER; A SINGULAR VISION by HELEN O'NEILL

25 Nov 2013

While there is no denying the iconic status of the Sydney Opera House which was formally opened 40 years and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it would be much harder to make the case that its designer Jorn Utzon from Denmark made much of an impact on the Sydney skyline. Certainly not as much as his friend Harry Seidler who was a great supporter of Utzon whose fraught tenure on the... > Read more

HOW TO HEAR CLASSICAL MUSIC by DAVINIA CADDY

18 Nov 2013

At the height of Beatlemania when they realised the earning power of their songs, John Lennon and Paul McCartney would, according to the latter, sit down and say, “Let's write a swimming pool”. And when Sammy Cahn (1913-95, lyricist for scores of Broadway and Hollywood songs) was asked which came first, the words or the music, he always quipped, “the phone... > Read more

Hooked on Mozart

RINGO STARR, PHOTOGRAPHER TO THE STARS (2103): Photograph by Ringo Starr

5 Nov 2013

Although he might no longer be doing autographs for fans, Ringo Starr sat down and signed all 2500 copies of his limited edition book Photograph for Genesis Publications. Another in Genesis' long line of high-end productions, Photograph -- cannily named because it was also one of Ringo's biggest solo hits -- comes as a 300-page leather-bound hardback in a special case and contains hundreds... > Read more