Writing in Elsewhere

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

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BLADE NZ; TRAVEL STORIES FROM THE ROAD by MATT EARLE

25 Mar 2017  |  2 min read

Well, someone had to be crazy enough to do it, to rollerblade the length of New Zealand. And that task fell to the self-appointed Matt Earle and his pal Josh who cracked onto this somewhat hare-brained scheme – they began at the start of winter and Josh particularly had few skills on the wheels – but they did have the smarts to film their adventure. Their seven-part... > Read more

NEW ZEALAND JAZZ LIFE by NORMAN MEEHAN

10 Feb 2017  |  3 min read

Presented like a piece of jazz – themes laid out and explored, then space for soloists to let their distinct voices be heard – this tight 240-page paperback is an important and very welcome addition to the small body of literature on recent New Zealand jazz. Chris Bourke's excellent Blue Smoke; The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918 - 1964 and the University of... > Read more

AMERICA'S QUEEN; THE LIFE OF JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS by SARAH BRADFORD: Nice'n'sleazy does it

20 Jan 2017  |  4 min read

Writers of trashy, salacious and titillating novels about the rich and famous -- Jackie Collins comes to mind -- must despair when biographies appear which reveal the moneyed and mediocre to be more tawdry, venal and sleazy than even those of their vivid imaginations. Consider this litany of sexual intrigue and incestuousness from the higher realms of power: President John F. Kennedy had an... > Read more

GONEVILLE by NICK BOLLINGER

10 Jan 2017  |  4 min read  |  1

Although they are never going to challenge the unassailable supremacy of cookbooks and the lives of people who play sport for money, there has been a discernible increase in the number of books about New Zealand music in the past few years. It's almost as if publishers have belatedly realised what most others know: that popular music has great stories, odd characters and an important... > Read more

Lawdy Miss Clawdy, by Johnny Devlin

SET THE BOY FREE, the autobiography by JOHNNY MARR

25 Nov 2016  |  3 min read

Sometimes a simple, bare fact can make you stop dead. Like this one: Johnny Marr was 23 when the Smiths broke up. As he writes in this unadorned and often flatly emotionless autobiography, “I had no idea what I was going to do”. It's a measure of the depth and detail of this 420 page book that the first third is of his life before the Smiths formed in '82, the central... > Read more

I Want a Heartbeat, Johnny Marr 2012

NEW ZEALAND TOP 20 SINGLES OF THE SIXTIES compiled by WARWICK FREEMAN

3 Nov 2016  |  3 min read

This may be the silliest, most obsessive but singularly important book on New Zealanders' music listening and buying habits in the Sixties ever written. And it is just lists. But what Freeman has done is, by using an interesting mathematical formula (more of that in a minute), determined just what the top selling singles were – even in the era before the charts started in... > Read more

GRANT & I: INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE GO-BETWEENS by ROBERT FORSTER

7 Oct 2016  |  4 min read  |  2

In his delightful if lightweight film That Thing You Do, director Tom Hanks puts at the centre of the story a Beatles-inspired pop band in the Sixties. In their search for a name they hit on “the Wonders”. But in a bid to be different they spell it “the Oneders”. Which works for them. But not for outsiders. A promoter pronounces it “the... > Read more

Slow Slow Music, by the Go-Betweens

BLOOMSBURY SOUTH: THE ARTS IN CHRISTCHURCH 1933 – 1953 by PETER SIMPSON

6 Aug 2016  |  4 min read

By happy chance, it was on a three-day break near Christchurch when time became available to be immersed in this highy readable, well researched and beautifully illustrated book. And by further coincidence the re-opened Christchurch Art Gallery had exhibitions which incuded works by some of the name players – Rita Angus, Evelyn Page, Louise Henderson and Doris Lusk among them... > Read more

IN LOVE WITH THESE TIMES by ROGER SHEPHERD

7 Jun 2016  |  3 min read  |  1

Just as Simon Grigg did with his excellent How Bizarre (nominally about the story behind that remarkable global hit out of Auckland), so too does Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd here extend himself beyond a mere account of his engagement with the label. Although subtitled “My Life with Flying Nun Records”, Shepherd's view takes in the surrounding social, geographic,... > Read more

THE MANY DEATHS OF MARY DOBIE, by DAVID HASTINGS

24 Jan 2016  |  2 min read

As with many compelling stories – from Truman Capote's In Cold Blood through film-noir – this one begins with a murder. And from it, both backwards and forwards, the narrative unfolds with compelling pace and attention to detail. For this was not just any murder. The killing of the Mary Dobie of the title occurred at the crossroads of cultures in New Zealand in the... > Read more

VIVID: THE PAUL HARTIGAN STORY by DON ABBOTT

4 Dec 2015  |  2 min read

Although Paul Hartigan's art practice has roamed across a number of media and styles — from distinctive representational Pop Art painting through tee-shirt and poster designs to Polaroids and beyond — it is his neon work which is the most familiar to the general public. At the interface of art and commerce, his signs in Auckland for the Las Vegas strip club, the... > Read more

CARDS ON THE TABLE by JEREMY ROBERTS

23 Nov 2015  |  2 min read

Pity the poets. While musicians bemoan the fall-off in sales, for decades poets have had to accept that selling 200 copies of a collection is actually a pretty good result. Most have to do with considerably less than half of that, unless they have a very big extended family. And in the poetic landscape there are the Big Names whose work can be acclaimed but largely unread (the... > Read more

HOW BIZARRE by SIMON GRIGG (Awa Press)

22 Aug 2015  |  5 min read  |  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  |  4 min read  |  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  |  4 min read

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  |  4 min read  |  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  |  2 min read

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  |  4 min read

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  |  4 min read

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  |  2 min read

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