Cultural Elsewhere

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ESSAY ON DESIGN (2007): The Internationalism of Idiocy

3 Sep 2008  |  3 min read

In an ideal world good design should be like fine wine and excellent food: only noticeable by its absence. But we live with ordinary chardonnays, indifferent meals, and abusive or annoyingly awful design. As one who enjoys travel I am accustomed to airline seats (I don’t care what the PR spin is, they are still uncomfortable in economy) and the amusing vagaries of hotels. Bad design,... > Read more

THE KRONOS QUARTET COMES TO TOWN (1988): The Talking Heads of the classical world

31 Aug 2008  |  8 min read

When David Harrington hit the stage it was with a lot of style. Wearing a lurex T-shirt, leather pants and ankle boots, and a tight black jacket he looked every inch the lean and rangy musician blowing into town for a couple of concerts. Beside him was the group, also all in stylish black attire. And they were greeted with rapturous applause. Some in the capacity crowd which filled... > Read more

Kronos Quartet: Lonely Woman (by Ornette Coleman)

OHMYNEWS: The Korean model of citizen journalism (2008)

20 May 2008  |  9 min read

The e-mail from Jean K. Min is clear, he tells me they are located in the Nuritkum Square Business Tower, “a huge futuristic building in the centre of Digital Media City, you cannot miss it”. And I can’t: the soaring tower is exactly as he describes it, a strikingly beautiful, curved construction of steel and glass. It is breathtakingly imposed on this hi-tech suburb of... > Read more

FALUN GONG AT HOME AND ABROAD (2006): The Chinese envoy is here . . .

17 Apr 2008  |  6 min read

The walls of the modest unit in suburban Auckland where Huang Juo-Hua and his four-year old daughter Kaixin live are almost bare. In the lounge there is only a meagre calendar, and a large photograph of Huang’s wife Luo Zhi Xiang, its frame decorated with flowers. There is a whisper of a smile on her lips, yet the eyes of the pale, attractive young woman possess an unusual sadness.... > Read more

AN ESSAY ON THE INEVITABLE (2002): The Art of Dying

5 Apr 2008  |  9 min read  |  1

"Nothing in this life that I've been trying, can equal or surpass the art of dying" -- Art of Dying by George Harrison, 1970 When the late George Harrison wrote Art of Dying for his first post-Beatles album All Things Must Pass he was only 27 and his final days were some 30 years away. Yet from his mid-20s when he began embracing Krishna-consciousness he repeatedly, in music... > Read more

NAOMI KLEIN INTERVIEWED 2001: Globalisation activism: revolt into style

4 Apr 2008  |  10 min read

Canadian author Naomi Klein's hotel window takes in an expanse of Auckland's glistening Waitemata Harbour, a blanket of cloudless sky and the graceful arc of motorways and harbour bridge between. "And two great logos," she says with a laugh, pointing to a couple of overly familiar icons.For someone demonised and derided by free-market economists and governments, 30-year-old Klein... > Read more

THE SOLOMON ISLANDS (2002): A portrait of a failing country, and the road to redemption

4 Apr 2008  |  36 min read

These first two articles published in the New Zealand Herald on consecutive weekends in December 2002, the first dealing with the background and problems of the Solomon Islands, and the second looking at possible avenues to peace and reconciliation. Five years on the police and military presence from Australia and New Zealand remains. Photographs are by Herald photographer Alan... > Read more

THE BUILDING BLOCK OF CIVILIZATION (2005): Thoughts From Elsewhere

4 Apr 2008  |  5 min read

Evening in Barcelona in a small cafe near the old Cathedral. I have spent the afternoon underground and now, over rich red wine and tapas, my thoughts have turned to the humble brick. Today I have touched these ancient building blocks. My back is resting against a wall which is perhaps a century old and so, seated by myself in an unfamiliar city, I am considering what I have seen this day.... > Read more

OLIVER JAMES INTERVIEWED (2004): If You're Happy and You Know It . . .

4 Apr 2008  |  8 min read

Five floors up in a swanky Auckland hotel room someone else is paying for, Oliver James should be happy enough, but he's concerned. He is grappling with the issue of happiness. Or more specifically the lack of it. James is asking a knotty question: why is there more unhappiness among the middle-classes of the developed countries than there was previously? The average 25-year-old American... > Read more

BOXER MAX SCHMELING REMEMBERED (2005): And a fighter by his trade

4 Apr 2008  |  3 min read

News of the death of Max Schmeling came through this weekend, a man who stood briefly in the spotlight of history. His name will not be familiar to you unless you are interested in boxing. I am. Beside my stereo as I type this there are a few old slices of vinyl which I play regularly, just for own enjoyment. There's Greatest Rap Hits Vol 2 (Grandmaster Flash, the Sugar Hill Gang and so on),... > Read more


4 Apr 2008  |  5 min read

Journalists are rarely given the gift of prophesy. And like some Alice in Wonderland character they are always running twice as fast just to keep up with current events. The luxury of second-guessing the future generally falls on columnists. Contemporary journalism largely consists of two motivations which might be given the same adjective: reflective. News journalism is reflective of the... > Read more

PROFESSOR BRYAN SYKES INTERVIEWED (2003): Genetics in the headlines

2 Apr 2008  |  9 min read

Academics are a pretty sniffy bunch sometimes, says Bryan Sykes. Which would be an amusing observation if this professor of human genetics at the University of Oxford was laughing. But his assessment is delivered as a dust-dry observation with the same unswerving clarity he brings to his research on the genes, chromosomes and other invisibles which make up human life. His language is telling... > Read more

CHARLOTTE YATES, HONE TUWHARE (2007): No ordinary son

4 Aug 2007  |  4 min read

The Tuwhare project – the album and performances in celebration of the late poet Hone Tuwhare – acknowledged not just the art but the artist. As Wellington musician Charlotte Yates -- who was commissioned to realise the project -- reminds us, Tuwhare’s first language was Maori until he was 10, and he was the first Maori to publish a book of poetry in English. That... > Read more

THE RELIGION OF RUGBY (2006): Ballet, with a point

4 Aug 2006  |  6 min read

The dinner party in a smart Auckland suburb in 2006 was thick with well-travelled intelligence: journalists, writers, academics, IT innovators and taste-makers from television and student radio. A multi-cultural mix of middle-class Kiwis. And the subject being loudly discussed was . . . rugby. Specifically the test between the South African Springboks and New Zealand’s All... > Read more

WARWICK BLAIR INTERVIEWED (2004): Getting the art back into the artist

9 Oct 2005  |  2 min read

For Auckland composer and music teacher Warwick Blair it has been a long journey to come full circle. In the late Eighties he won a scholarship to the Conservatorium in The Hague but during his studies was drawn to aspects of pop music of the period. He formed the band Glory Box and went to London. "We had success there and recorded, we were a bit influenced by Dead Can Dance [the... > Read more

THE DEATH OF KLINGHOFFER: Opera on the frontline of history

4 Aug 2005  |  4 min read

In the last quarter of the 20th century a new wave of opera emerged with stories which often seemed ripped from the headlines of contemporary newspapers. There were works about Richard Nixon going to China (by John Adams), the life of Malcolm X (Anthony Davis) and Charles Manson’s murderous “family” (John Moran). For those of conservative musical taste these... > Read more

Aria of the Falling Body

JOHN COUSINS INTERVIEWED (1989): Taking time to explore time

23 Feb 2000  |  3 min read

We see time contracted so often in our lives -- soap operas telescoping weeks into minutes, sports events distiiled down to highlight packages -- that it is sometimes hard to accept the longer natural rhythms of days and tides. But exploring time, especially in relation to the natural landscape, is the province of Christchurch artist John Cousins, a senior lecturer in music at the... > Read more