Out of the house, but the House is about to get Crowded...

Weekend Links and Updates

I’m in Hawke’s Bay for this dispatch - a solo road-trip yesterday. Stopped in Dannevirke to take a few photos of road-cones. Ahead of that I stopped in Masterton to capture a really great chat with Mark Rogers (DJ, bookstore owner, tour promoter, publicist, raconteur) for a future episode of the podcast. But the real mission was for the purpose to see some friends and tonight we’re off to see Crowded House.

Sad news today that Larry McMurtry has died. One of the greats of American letters, poet of the west. His Lonesome Dove - the 1985 Pulitzer Prize winner, a classic. I’ve just recently rewatched the mini-series. It’s glorious. R.I.P. Larry.

Like a lot of people in New Zealand I was mildly outraged at the discussion around the TV show Police Ten Seven; the suggestion being that they’re doing god’s work and cleaning up the street. When actually it’s racist stereotyping and creates the kind of lazy television inequality-porn where people instantly feel gratified for ‘being better’ than what they see on the screen. Fuck that noise. We need to kill that shit with fire. It’s outmoded and nothing good is happening by having that show on air. Emily Writes summed up a lot of my feelings with her post here. My tiny contribution to the public conversation was in poetry form. (So there’s your content-warning). But seriously, we need to be better than this. We’re not fighting crime and solving problems with that show. We’re creating problems and the real crime is that the people making lazy television are rewarded. It breeds superiority complexes.

I read a lot of poetry this week and caught up with some great new music. Also enjoyed starting Louis Theroux's career-spanning documentary recap, Life On The Edge. I loved his Weird Weekends documentary films and this new 4-parter plays highlights from those shows and catches up with where the guests are at now. Basically, it was a lockdown project for Louis. But he’s in good form almost always. And this show has been a great set of recaps.

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REVIEWS:

Pino Palladino is a legendary session bass player (Paul Young, D’Angelo, The Who) and Blake Mills is a producer and guitarist who has made solo albums and collaborated with many. Here they work together to realise a lovely little set of instrumental ideas. Very cool.


Loretta Lynn’s 50th album is a celebration of everything that makes her great. At 88, she’s still in fine voice, still playing and singing strong, and with some special guests and on her own she covers old ground and selects new material to further her legacy.

I used to be a huge Ani DiFranco fan. And then I wasn’t. And now I think I am ago. I’m certainly a fan of her new record - her best in a while.


This posthumous compilation of Aretha Franklin’s early years covers the period just before her golden run. But there are still some super great songs and performances here. It’s just a handy way of banking the best of a half decade on one disc.

READING:

As I said above, a lot of poetry on the go. Wednesday’s newsletter about Hanif Abdurraqib made me rattle my dags to catch up with the two books of his I hadn’t finished - in anticipation of this week’s new release. I can report that his 2019 poetry volume, A Fortune For Your Disaster, is very good. Lots of cool music references in there, as always. But the absolute revelation was his book about A Tribe Called Quest. I devoured this. Hugely recommend it. Wistful, nostalgic and wise. Got me bumping some of those killer songs again too. It’s also a deep read on the surrounding vibe of hip-hop and politics. So many great moods felt and heard in this book.

I’m also reading two of Michael Rosen’s poetic memoirs. Both beautiful.


And I was super excited to find this Bob Dylan book this week. Paul Williams is a great writer. But he wrote this angry tirade in instant reaction to Dylan’s born-again phase in 1980. One of the most maligned and mis-understood eras of Dylan’s music - and recent compilations have helped in bringing a new light to best of the music. So I’m looking forward to delving into the pages here this weekend.


WATCHING:


The time felt right to start watching Black Books again from the start. And I was instantly pleased that I did this. So funny. So good. So many great memories. A perfect alignment of a winning set of scripts and a brilliant cast. Yes, yes, it’s a Dylan Moran vehicle - but he’s so ably supported by not just Bailey and Greig but the many great cameos and bit-part players.

We’ve also been enjoying watching South Park, adding that into our rotation alongside Futurama and The Simpsons.

I’m a big fan of the online Masterclass series’ (or which more in a future newsletter no doubt). I mostly watch the ones by writers but also some of the ones about filmmaking, music and even topics slightly more opaque than that. But the current fave is Steve Martin discussing comedy.

LISTENING:

I had a big week listening to Warren Zevon (which was reflected in yesterday’s newsletter). I also started back in on some audiobooks. I’m a recent convert to the audiobook format. It felt like I was cheating on reading. But the right book, read by the right voice is a new experience in and of itself. It’s not cheating. It’s just a new way to process and experience ‘reading’.

And I worked back through the Crowded House catalogue - in anticipation of tonight’s gig. Very excited to be hearing the hits (and some deep cuts no doubt). At their best Crowded House was a brilliant band making perfect mature pop music. That finite catalogue is nice to explore again and again.


LINKS:

On my podcast this week I talked to actor, singer and arts admin stalwart Mere Boynton.

From Longreads: Musicians are in peril at the mercy of giant monopolies that profit off their work.

David Farrier’s Webworm looked amusingly (and distressingly) at becoming clickbait this week.

Looking for more voices to try on Substack? Here’s nine of the best.

I hope you have a great weekend. It’s nice being up in the bay. I miss my little family gang - of course. But it’s great to see some of my best old buddies from school. And we’ll relive some old times and great energies hearing some wonderful music tonight - no doubt.

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I took this photo below in Dannevirke - a shop window display.