Graham Reid | | 3 min read
It was the damndest thing: I was a senior feature writer at the New Zealand Herald for 17 years (1987-2004) and was constantly busy.
At least I thought I was.
I started writing entertainment stories (interviews, reviews, profiles etc) but then also did arts interviews and articles (like this). Because I was traveling for interviews and holidays I would come back with left-field travel stories and encounters . . . and then I was hooked into writing features about politics (international mostly) and so on.
And all the time filing music reviews (albums and concerts), book reviews and author interviews, sometimes film reviews or interviews with “the stars” (like Arnie -- twice actually -- and the guys from Spinal Tap/Best in Show) and even restaurant reviews, although I was most often sent to places further down the totem pole than the fine dining that some writers were assigned.
What I remember about all those years – the hectic Nineties – was I was in the office writing when I wasn't out traveling or interviewing.
I was lucky with the music interviews: among many others I got Bjork and Blur just as they were taking off; Oasis at an early peak; people like Peter Gabriel (who knew my work because I was the only one reviewing his Real World releases), Sting and Phil Collins when they were household names; the greats like Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman (still my proudest moment, meeting Ornette in New York and giving him a full page in the Herald) and Bonnie Raitt (three times!).
Liza Minnelli and Shirley Bassey bellowed down phones at me; scores and scores of local artists either on the way up, down, in a holding pattern or never heard of again and . . .
Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams three times, Buddy Guy, Keith Richards, Richard Thompson and Elvis Costello a couple of times, Dave Grohl, Thurston Moore, Eddie Vedder, Ray Davies, Afrika Bambaataa, a lot of Marsalises, Ravi Shankar, Marcel Marceau (he wouldn't stop talking), Billy Joel, Sheryl Crow . . .
Because of what someone once called my “broad portfolio” I was variously known as the music guy, the travel writer, that arts person or even the political journalist.
Memory tells me I was constantly being published.
Recently I decided to look for some of those scores of interviews which were in the Herald but haven't been published online at their website, which means anything before 2000.
My golden years, as it were.
And so I went to the Auckland Central Library, headed for their microfilm files and, at random, pulled out a few from 1997 when I was probably – in my memory anyway – filling the entertainment pages with my singing prose and probably having important articles in the Arts and World sections as well.
Going through microfilm is time consuming, I'd forgotten how huge the print Herald was.
Aside from the main news section which was substantial there were standalone sections which ran often to dozens of pages: there were thousands of cars being sold, hundreds and hundreds of houses on the market, racing and motoring sections, the whole Births Deaths and Marriages things, as well as Engagements and Connexions (those looking for love).
There were pages and pages and pages of Public Notices, yachting . . and sport!
Sport? It consumed whole forests of paper products.
I scrolled and scrolled – past names of colleagues and fellow writers I had half forgotten: columns by Jonathan Spade, Albert Wyndham and Bill Hohepa (the first two pseudonyms, Bill's column passed around); lovely columns by elegant writers like Ted Reynolds and Jack Leigh; Gordon McLaughlin, Russell Baillie, Peter Calder, Harvey Clark, Wendyl Nissen . . .
There was short-lived columnist Hero Brown; longtime arts writer TJ McNamara; classical music reviewers LCM Saunders, Tara Werner and Rex Fisher; Colin Moore, Glenys Christian, various Michelles and Susans and people whose names brought back their faces.
I guess a lot of these people would have “the late” in front of them, but many are still around.
The person who seemed conspicuous by his absence was me.
I trawled the Arts and Entertainment pages, looked in the World section, even had a glance at the occasional radio and TV reviews but . . .
In 1997 I was barely there, a few short record reviews and that seemed to be about it.
This was almost inexplicable. Yes I know I'd done some travel and was away for weeks – Thailand perhaps, Vietnam certainly, maybe the US? – but I thought I'd at least held my own in 1997.
But there I wasn't.
It is a healthy reminder of just how fleeting your journalism can be when a crass Australian comedian's name appears more than your own.
Rodney Rude, forgodsake?
These entries are of little consequence to anyone other than me Graham Reid, the author of this site, and maybe my family, researchers and those with too much time on their hands.
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