Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: My Year in Culture

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  • Lilith __, in reply to Islander,

    Not a celebration, but there was another death yesterday - Ruth Park

    Oh NO! Ruth Park is one of my writing heroines!

    A pity she's not more widely read in NZ, I think she suffered from being an "Australian" author when the books promoted in NZ are mostly from the UK and US.

    I hope her books will stay in print.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3443 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    Lilith – I’m pretty sure “One-a-pecker Two-a-pecker” is available under it’s alternative title of “The Frost and The Fire.” The Sydney trilogy hasnt been out of print since it was published. I am unsure about Ruth Park’s 2 excellent volumes of autobiography, but I am pretty sure a lot of her childrens’ books remain in print.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • lloydois,

    Can't believe no one has mentioned Kanye. Definitely album of the year for me. The one two knockout closing punch of Bon Iver and Gil Scott Heron the most audacious musical moment of 2010 for sure!

    Arcade Fire a joy as well, High Violet rounding out my top 3.

    Sydney • Since Jan 2008 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    <q>Oh, and they were playing Buffalo on the AirNZ flight from Chch today. #royalties</p>

    Talking of which, does anyone want to put a figure on how much Jordan Luck is making from each sector flown on AirNZ? A cent every time they play T.F.S. must be making him enough to leave him set up for life.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Islander,

    Oh yes, I've read that as The Frost and the Fire - such a vivid story of the Otago gold rush, fascinating. My all-time fave of hers is Swords and Crowns and Rings. And her 2 vols of autobiography are pretty much unsurpassed, in my reading experience anyway! I'm glad to hear she's still in print.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3443 posts Report Reply

  • Ross McA.,

    Best gig would have to be The Phoenix at the Bedford. They take music somewhere else. And the best drummer award!
    Ron Meuck was surprisingly good. I wasn't expecting to react so strongly to it. Someone said there is a lot more space than the Melbourne show, which probably helped.

    Since Mar 2010 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Gerard Martin,

    House-hunting all year kept gig selection to a minimum for me ... but you mention both Paul Weller and The Fall in your post - just two of the many folk that have graced our lands this year in the return to live touring in the midst of the download age - Weller was the genuine long-awaited highlight for me - and his set on the third night, from old Jam B-side Art School and Pretty Green from Sounds Affects through to plenty off Wake Up the Nation and 22 Dreams was as good a set as I could've hoped for. But the contrast with Mark E Smith - one of Weller's peers - couldn't have been more extreme. A history of bands breaking up around him means that Smith now has his band under tight contractual rein. But while the current Fall were as tight as you could imagine (but who would want their job), Smith was tottering around like the boss who's well and truly lost the plot. I left at about 11pm - only grateful that I'd seen Smith years before, near his best albeit with a far less reliable band, at the Town Hall in the early 90s, but annoyed I'd wasted $70 on this toothless old duffer. Another major music event of note - the Pixies at the Vector Arena reprising Doolittle and then some - the only downside was pre-ordering the CD of the show but it never turning up...

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    On the subject of Air New Zealand and “Culture” Has anybody else seen the Rico series of adds they are pushing out.

    I, for one am appalled at the smutty innuendo. Should our national airline be making dubious sexual references as a way of selling airline tickets, or have they decided to take several steps backward to the eighties when they got the reputation as an airline that really does give a Fuck? (can’t find the story but it was about a pilot, off duty, being taken advantage of by a hostess, remember?)

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4826 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Apropos of nothing - re Crown Lynn exhibition, it is NOT at Te Papa. It's at the Wellington City Gallery.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    On the subject of Air New Zealand and “Culture” Has anybody else seen the Rico series of adds they are pushing out.

    Funny thing is, if you read the Youtube comments it’s the kind of people that habitually refer to anyone they don’t like as muppets who are cacking themselves with delight at the antics of this little monument to arrested development.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3478 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    Great thread, guys. It’s been a bit of a messy year for me culturally speaking in that I haven’t been able to see as many new films or listen to as much new music as I’d like but I’ll pick stuff from both that would stick out.

    Music.

    Joanna Newsom- Have One on Me

    I thought Ys was overwrought and lacked the almost childlike naivite and sense of weird wonder of the Milk Eyed Mender, and oddly, this record, despite being a triple, no less, recaptured much of that. Her voice has never been more charming, and there’s a strange beauty and simplicity to much of the arrangements which belies her “difficult” reputation. And her concert in Christchurch was simply spellbinding, she’s a strangely arresting figure, she’ll go into a trance every song and then “snap” out of it at the end, almost surprised she could create such music. Also- one can’t help but notice- she is astonishingly beautiful.

    Sleigh Bells- Treats

    Yeah, they’re so “right now” it hurst to look at ’em, but by the same token, they do everything they set out to do absolutely right. Loud, forceful, funny, overwhelming and at 28 minutes, never outstaying its welcome, this NY duo’s debut, compressed a whole lot of sounds and influences into a curled ball and then released them. Best played loud.

    Street Chant- Means

    Like RB said, a truly exceptional debut. It’s rare for a local act to come out with this much confidence and for it to seem un-smug and totally earned, but this is one of them, and live, they’re dazzling.

    LCD Soundsystem- This is Happening

    It doesn’t really traverse any “new” territory, but then again, the band was never about that so much as one man’s attempt to make sense of his record collection in a way that seems emotionally honest- and danceable. Not as sparky as their debut, nor as expansive as Sound of Silver, This is Happening felt a bit like a victory lap- indeed “Drunk Girls” aside, most of the tracks stretched as long as they could, to often great effect (I love the way “present company excepted” is repeated constantly on “Dance Yourself Clean” or the BerlinBowiesque build of “All I Want”). Even at its most arch, it still felt like the right note to go out on.

    Robyn- Bodytalk

    Kinda like how I wanted Lady Gaga to sound- sassy without being obvious, dancey without being leaden, and knowing without being smug, the tunes were as sharp, as were her vocals (and haircut), and it carried the strange weight of experience of someone who has been in this game long enough to know when to reinvent herself when the timing’s right. Like she says, Fembots need love too.

    Others that put a smile on my dial included the Phoenix Foundation’s curiously satisfying Buffalo, Die Die Die’s Form, Big Boi’s Lucious Leftfoot, Flip Grater’s While I’m Awake I’m At War …there’s probably heaps I need to catch up on.

    Films.

    Like I said, I haven’t seen a helluva lot this year, but the Social Network (which I posted abouthere) was Fincher’s best, if most conventional in ages, the White Ribbon was the most entralling and devestating and the first Haneke film in a long while that seemed to justify his hermetic, glacial approach to filmmaking and narrative, Waititi lived up to his potential in the wonderfully observed Boy and Four Lions was explosively funny and on-the-nose in every sense of the word- not that we could have expected much less from the most influential satirist of his generation. There are others, such as Animal Kingdom and A Prophet, that I need to catch up on.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    I still revere "Fence Around The Cuckoo" - this will come as heresy, but I think her a superior memorist to Janet Frame (whom I knew peripherally, and enjoyed a lot of her writing, very much.)

    My mother Mary said, after the death of one of my sisters* in 2007, "No parent should outlive a child." Thanks to Joe Wylie for alerting us to the fact that not only did Ruth Park exist solus after the death of D'Arcy Niland - she also had to endure the death of one of her 5 children.

    * It doesnt matter how many sibs you have: if you are a reasonable family person, everyone of them owns a piece of your heart. Mary Emma, there's one 6th of my heart dead with you-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Islander,

    Oh Islander, I am sorry to hear of your loss. I have 5 siblings, and the thought of losing any of them is unimaginable.

    For anyone who doesn’t know Ruth Park’s story, there are some details here in the SMH. That article might whet your appetite for Fence Around the Cuckoo and Fishing in the Styx, if you haven’t already read them. Park seems to have always shunned easy options in her life and in consequence many remarkable things happened to her, both remarkably good and remarkably bad! She seems to have seen so many peculiar people and places and situations, and imagined many more…I found both those books jaw-dropping. What temerity she and D’Arcy had, to decide to both write fulltime and raise a large family. They endured many setbacks and horrific poverty without complaint, and simply kept going.

    One of the anecdotes in Fishing in the Styx that lingers in my mind is when they move into a large and tumbledown house and D’Arcy selects a room for his study which Ruth and the children believe is haunted – they’ve all seen the ghost walking around in the room. However D’Arcy seems happy in there and oblivious to anything uncanny, so they decide not to mention it; in the Niland-Park household, a mere haunting is mundane!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3443 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Lilith __,

    One of the anecdotes in Fishing in the Styx that lingers in my mind is when they move into a large and tumbledown house and D’Arcy selects a room for his study which Ruth and the children believe is haunted –

    Ben Boyd Road, Neutral Bay. Where the Nilands lived has long been totally infilled with apartment blocks, but you can still see down onto the deck of the harbour bridge from there, just like she said you could. Viewed from across the bay, where I lived for ten years, you wouldn't have thought it possible.

    Ruth Park seems to have dabbled in the saturated end of the palette when her marvellous storytelling skills demanded it - for example, her account of the wartime Japanese attack on Sydney has far more pyrotechnics than most other witnesses seem to recall - but she was spot on with that one.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3478 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    Lilith, an oldest child always expects to be the first t0 die (well, this one did.) It was both horrifying and -rock foundations - when number 4 in the family died of cancer after coming back home for our mother's 80th birthday, and seeming so well after an operation for breast cancer in 2006...
    Let us all cherish our sibs, all of us who are lucky enough to have them, and acknowledge - oath, I better go have another wine - being part of a family means both te aroha me te mamae-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Joe, I love that you didn't bother disputing her ghost story but you fact-checked the view from her window. :-)
    I think her memoirs are likely an honest account of what she believed to be the case. Eyewitness accounts can be highly divergent, and not necessarily because anyone is intentionally telling a tall story.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3443 posts Report Reply

  • Pete,

    Recommended websites-

    http://www.google.com/reader/shared/14569541748422553908

    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/

    and for the local crazy angle
    http://weirdinwellington.tumblr.com/page/1

    Dunno about the year but currently I've got this in the ute stereo
    http://mashupbreakdown.com/
    worming its insidious way into my brain

    and agree with the person who liked Hurts. Wonderful Life kicks bottom.
    Did anyone else love the Gaga/Metallica mashup of Telephone and Sandman?

    Since Apr 2008 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Lilith __,

    There was some criticism of Ruth Park's account of her experience of the Queen Street riots when A Fence Around the Cuckoo first appeared. Not that anything she said wasn't strictly factual, but that it was unlikely that she was quite as close to the centre of so many events as she'd portrayed herself to be. Personally I'm not bothered if that's the case. It's one of the most vivid descriptions of a remarkable episode, and if Park felt the need to draw the eyewitness accounts of others into her own narrative then in her case it's a form of well-earned literary license.

    Re. the "ghost story" - no problem to me, I wasn't there, though she brings the reader pretty close. Having spent a fair proportion of my adult life in Australia it had the authentic flavour that such things do when you happen upon them - or they upon you - in that part of the world. While there's still evidence of the vanished world of not so long ago in the rocks and hollows around Port Jackson, it was something of a shock to discover how much had still existed until so recently, in an area where it's now been totally exorcised.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3478 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Joe & Lilith - I was listening at dawn today to a bird that is supposed to be extinct (part of it's charm is that it seems to hate modern recording equipment and the calls arnt easily captured)- it's a bit like hearing a ghost-

    and I rather think that a lot of bits of modern life - that go out their way to kill anything that isnt wholly monetary & material - are going to have another, older, kind of percepton ramming their stupidity right into the ground-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    the Don is gone…
    so long Don van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart
    died December 17 – thanks for all the great music!

    now maybe he’ll get some acknowledgement for his contributions to modern music…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4892 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Islander -- I like the thought of a ghost bird singing throatily at dawn.

    and Joe, thanks for that, I'm glad to hear that Park's account of her life in Sydney resonates with someone who knows the area intimately.

    Thanks for the conversation, both of you. And thanks everybody here on PAS for being so interesting and clever this year. Here's to another great year of discussion and sharing in 2011. And perhaps we will have a Great Blend to call our own, down here in Shakytown. I'll see you there. Happy Christmas everybody.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3443 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Re the Crown Lynn thing. (Sorry to be so insistent with this, but really? There are three reasons everyone should go. 1) It's in Wellington, and we all love Wellington 2)It's Crown Lynn which is iconic and fabulous 3) this is a part of my family heritage. This is what my father created, and built. It's his legacy, if you like. And I'm all about the legacy. ) Anyway, my sister will be talking at the exhibition on the 9 Feb at 2pm. Okay, that's my last plug. Really.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • 3410, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    the Don is gone…
    so long Don van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart
    died December 17 – thanks for all the great music!

    Yep.

    now maybe he’ll get some acknowledgement for his contributions to modern music…

    Hmm... That may take another 50 years.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Something else I forgot - I seem to be the only person who really liked This Is Not My Life. Sadly, just heard Rachel Lang on Nine to Noon (with James Griffin) who let drop we're not getting a second series. Bugger.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11942 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Oh no! I really liked it too. Bother.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3443 posts Report Reply

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