Writing in Elsewhere

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THOMAS KENEALLY INTERVIEWED (2010): The people's historian

17 May 2010  |  7 min read

To put it bluntly, Sarah Whitelam didn't muck around. The day after John Nicol sailed off for Britain – the man with whom she'd had child and promised to remain true to in the days before his departure – she recovered from her disappointment and married the convict John Walsh. These were very different times – the colony of Sydney in 1790, just two years after the... > Read more

THE AUSTRALIANS: ORIGINS TO EUREKA by THOMAS KENEALLY

12 May 2010  |  2 min read

Among the many peculiarities in this wrinkled history of the Australian people -- from pre-European times through the First Fleet and up to the Eureka Stockade -- is that one of the first strikes in the fledgling colony was by Indian "coolies" who had been imported in the 1830s to be what was in fact, slave labour. These truculent Indians wouldn't tolerate the irregularity of... > Read more

ROTTEN: NO IRISH, NO BLACKS, NO DOGS by JOHN LYDON: Reviewed 1994

10 May 2010  |  11 min read

“With the Sex Pistols we were hated, absolutely despised. There was no audience there at all to any great extent. We sold a few records in a small banana republic called Britain.” – John Lydon John Lydon -- better known as the sneering Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten -- enjoys lying. He says as much in his rambling anecdotal and opinionated autobiography.... > Read more

Sex Pistols: God Save the Queen

THE SIXTIES by ARTHUR MARWICK: The big picture of the isms and schsims

9 May 2010  |  2 min read

One of the more mindlessly amusing one-liners about the Sixties says that if you remember them t.hen you weren’t there. Duh. That sitcom aphorism reduces the decade to flakiness and drugs, and bears no serious scrutiny at all. By rule-of-thumb and common consensus, what are loosely called the Sixties are the five years between She Loves You and Woodstock, a period which witnessed... > Read more

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown: Fire

SEDITION AND ALCHEMY: A BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN CALE BY TIM MITCHELL (2005): Opportunity knocked

26 Apr 2010  |  2 min read

John Cale, now 66, was an unlikely candidate for a career in heretical, innovative rock'n'roll. Born in a village in South Wales, he showed prodigy-like musical talent. At 13 he was the viola player in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, having started on piano and been a church organist. At grammar school he studied Berg, Schoenberg and Stravinsky, played dixieland jazz. Then he heard... > Read more

John Cale: Imitating Violin

DYLAN HORROCKS INTERVIEWED (2010): The graphic novelist as social commentator

12 Apr 2010  |  6 min read

At the launch of the long overdue local publication of his graphic novel Hicksville in Auckland recently, Dylan Horrocks said he grew up in two places: In New Zealand and in comics, and both were on the edge of the ‘real world‘. “This was stuff I thought after I finished Hicksville,” he says later. “It wasn’t like I went in trying to explain this.... > Read more

HICKSVILLE, a graphic novel by DYLAN HORROCKS

3 Apr 2010  |  1 min read

In interviews Dylan Horrocks, the 43-year old New Zealand writer and artist of the graphic novel Hicksville, is candid enough to note that more people in his home country know about his book than have actually read it. That's because it was serialised in his own magazine Pickle over the years from '92 but when the final episode was due he was offered a book deal for Hicksville through a... > Read more

JUST KIDS by PATTI SMITH: Nourished by love and art

3 Apr 2010  |  4 min read

In 2004 when Patti Smith released yet another predictable album, the critic Ian Penman correctly observed, "It sounds like she hasn't heard a single thing outside her own music for about 25 years". Smith, acclaimed for her marriage of rock’n’roll and poetry in the late 70s, has been in a creative whirlpool the past four decades and her constant referencing of her... > Read more

100 ESSENTIAL NEW ZEALAND ALBUMS by NICK BOLLINGER

22 Mar 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

The purpose of books of lists - and the list of lists is growing by the day -- is probably two-fold: you get to look through and tick off what you've got/done/seen or whatever and make a note of other points of interest to see/collect/experience. The second point is to argue with them: in your head you question the selections, howl in disbelief at an inclusion and rail silently at an... > Read more

Black Grace: Black Sand Shore (1994)

GRIFFITH REVIEW: FOOD CHAIN edited by JULIANNE SCHULTZ

15 Mar 2010  |  3 min read

At regular lunches with a group of friends last year our conversation frequently turned to food, and not what was on our plates. We would discuss what might be called the politics of food: how many miles particular foodstuffs clocked up to get into our supermarkets and restaurants; how certain types of fishing were stripping our oceans; and how cheap and bad food is readily available but we... > Read more

BONFIRE OF ROADMAPS by JOE ELY (2008)

15 Feb 2010  |  1 min read

Joe Ely who grew up in Lubbock, West Texas (Buddy Holly's hometown) is something of a legend in Americana/alt.country rock: he was on the road in the early 70s hitching around to play gigs far and wide but also formed the formidable band the Flatlanders with Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (both of whom have gone on to remarkable careers in the own right); and his hard rockin'... > Read more

Joe Ely: Radio Hell

JABBERROCK: THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF ROCK'N'ROLL QUOTATIONS by RAYMOND OBSTFELD AND PATRICIA FITZGERALD

6 Feb 2010  |  3 min read  |  1

This lightweight but cheap paperback provides some funny observations (such as Elvis Costello's "Rock'n'roll is the lowest form of life known to man"), but mostly it proves we're lucky these people can sing, because their insights can be as shallow as a birdbath. Rickie Lee Jones offers: "I never knew that life was so serious and hard and cruel. You can't depend on anything... > Read more

Elvis Costello: Radio Radio

JOHN TRUDELL, NATIVE AMERICAN ACTIVIST/POET/SINGER INTERVIEWED (1992): Living in the Elvis age

1 Feb 2010  |  4 min read

While diplomats and ambassadors exchanged platitudes and gifts in August 1992 to acknowledge the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage to the New World, others found little to celebrate at all. John Trudell, a Santee Sioux who was spokesman for the Indians of All Tribes Occupation of Alcatraz in 1970 and was for six years from 1973 national chairman of the American Indian... > Read more

THE WEEKENDERS: ADVENTURES IN CALCUTTA edited by ANDREW O'HAGAN

25 Jan 2010  |  1 min read

According to Gunther Grass the sprawling city of Calcutta is like a pile of shit dropped by God. That may or may not be true, but the Maker’s handmaiden, Mother Teresa, confirmed the impression in the minds of many that this was a city of abject misery peopled by the dying and hopelessly infirm. Only a fool would deny Calcutta its extensive poverty, but a city of 14 million souls has... > Read more

TICKET TO RIDE by LARRY KANE: Along for the ride

18 Jan 2010  |  2 min read

In 1980 presidential candidate Jimmy Carter leaned over to journalist Larry Kane and said, "So I heard you toured with the Beatles. What were they like?" Even the 39th President of the United States wanted to know about those young men who changed the social and musical landscape of the 20th century. And Kane should know - he was the only American reporter in the official press... > Read more

THE MIND AND TIMES OF REG MOMBASSA by MURRAY WALDREN: The strange and the simple

4 Jan 2010  |  6 min read

Less than a year after he had what the designer of the Sydney Olympics 2000 closing ceremony called “the biggest one-man show in history”, the artist known as Reg Mombassa was part of a group show in Wellington. For Sydney-based Mombassa -- born Chris O’Doherty in Auckland in 1951, and founder member of the Australian rock band Mental as Anything -- it was an amusing... > Read more

YOU BETTER NOT CRY by AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS: Christmas spirits

22 Dec 2009  |  3 min read

Ah Christmas: ‘Tis the season to be . . . despondent and predictable? It is the time to bemoan the commercialisation of a Christian festival, to listen as miserable souls announce “I hate Christmas” to all who will listen, and recall those ghosts of Christmas past when the festive season turned into family turmoil or personal disaster.  Few of us however have probably... > Read more

THE LEGACY OF GUILT: A LIFE OF THOMAS KENDALL by JUDITH BINNEY

14 Dec 2009  |  3 min read

Had 19th-century missionary Thomas Kendall remained in England he may have enjoyed a rewarding, if undramatic, career ministering to a modest parish. He certainly would have had a less demanding and troubled life than that which unfolded when he arrived in New Zealand in June 1814 with his wife and five children.  Kendall was 36 and an enthusiastic advocate for the Anglican Church... > Read more

THE ESSENTIAL SPIKE MILLIGAN complied by ALEXANDER GAMES

14 Dec 2009  |  3 min read  |  1

On New Zealand's national Poetry Day in 2004 a television news team buttonholed people on the street and asked them to recite a piece of poetry. One guy did an impromptu local variant of Spike Milligan's Silly Old Baboon. By coincidence, that very day a letter writer to the New Zealand Herald expressed outrage about the artist et.al being chosen as New Zealand's entry for the Venice... > Read more

LOWSIDE OF THE ROAD: A LIFE OF TOM WAITS by BARNEY HOSKYNS

7 Dec 2009  |  3 min read

One of Tom Waits’ most eerie yet surprisingly popular songs is the speculative What’s He Building? from his 1999 album Mule Variations. In it neighbours wonder about the odd nocturnal activities of their neighbour: "He has no friends and his lawn dying ... enough formaldehyde to choke a horse, what's he building in there?" They -- and by extension the listener --... > Read more

Tom Waits: What's He Building?