Author: Brian Matthews

  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Nearly knowing John Clarke

    • Brian Matthews
    • 13 June 2017
    2 Comments

    One of the 30 comedians, satirists, cartoonists and writers they interviewed was John Clarke. 'I first met John Clarke five years ago,' Murray recalls in his 1992 introduction to the interview, 'even though we grew up in the same town in New Zealand and for a while went to the same school. My claim to fame is that I nearly knew John Clarke. Recently when we looked though his school photos we realised that we knew every kid in Palmerston North in 1960 except each other.'

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    My close-up view of America's other cowboy presidency

    • Brian Matthews
    • 04 May 2017
    4 Comments

    For all his demonstrable popularity, Reagan was a divisive figure. His Hollywood and TV show provenance were regarded with enduring suspicion by some, and many doubted his capacity to deal with the dangerous complexities of Cold War politics. Some even considered him a rogue. He was well into enjoying his overwhelmingly approved second term when, unnoticed by the President, his administration or anyone outside the city of Eugene, Oregon, I arrived in the United States.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Trump's 1984 is Turnbull's Animal Farm

    • Brian Matthews
    • 20 February 2017
    14 Comments

    In these duplicitous times it's not surprising to find Nineteen Eighty-Four cited. In Airstrip One, WAR IS PEACE; FREEDOM IS SLAVERY; IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH - a Nineteen Eighty-Four equivalent of a Tweet with plenty of character space left to add insults. And all facts are alternative, as in the news, 'Oceania is at War with Eurasia', which becomes before your very eyes, 'Oceania has never been at war with Eurasia.' For events closer to home, Orwell's Animal Farm is disturbingly apposite.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Tweeting our way back to the Middle Ages

    • Brian Matthews
    • 03 November 2016
    4 Comments

    Curiously, while privacy continues to be valued and sought in the 21st century perhaps more strenuously than ever before, its milieu is once again the furious turmoil of aggressively public revelation, exhortation and threat that distinguished Johan Huizinga's scarifying portrait of the medieval world, in his book The Autumn of The Middle Ages. In our age, 'all things in life' once again have 'about them something glitteringly and cruelly public'. Or to put it another way, we have social media.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Hoarding and its discontents

    • Brian Matthews
    • 19 September 2016
    7 Comments

    When the skip arrived and a young bloke named Troy backed it into our driveway with insolent ease, I knew the game was up. Months of sporadic, amiable discussions had now reached a suddenly irrevocable conclusion. Our agenda - what to do with 'hoarded' papers and notes, drawers of never-to-be-worn-again clothes, children's picture books and abandoned Lego, decades old back copies of magazines - was called to order by a higher power and my filibustering and equivocations abruptly ended.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Prisoners of their own stories

    • Brian Matthews
    • 25 July 2016
    10 Comments

    Holocaust survivor Primo Levi wrote If This is a Man to carry out what he saw as the critical task of bearing witness, and he became one of the greatest writers of the 20th century as he continued to bear witness one way and another in later books. Some day, one of Australia's asylum seekers will, like Levi and with the same sense of dread and horror, tell his or her story to ensure that someone bears witness; and to confirm that all of us are implicated.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Setting subeditors' slights to rights

    • Brian Matthews
    • 25 May 2016
    6 Comments

    Under election campaign pressure, some names have been misprinted. Mr Malcolm Ternble of Naracoorte wishes to point out that he has not made any public statements on negative gearing and is unsure what negative gearing means. The error was made by a Gen Y subeditor and should have read 'Prime Minister Malcolm Ternbull'. The Foreign Minister was cited as Ms Julia Bishop. The correct nomenclature is Ms Julia Bronwyn. Ms Bronwyn was inaccurately described as a part-time helicopter pilot.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Running after Merv Lincoln

    • Brian Matthews
    • 23 March 2016
    10 Comments

    I was out on our quiet country road the next morning at first light intent on running just half a mile. Some days later, when I had recovered and various outraged muscles had stopped twanging, I determined to carry on. In those days, running was regarded as eccentric, even sinister. 'Why do you do it?' the 'milky' asked. 'Are you a footy umpire or somethin'?' Then there was the elderly bloke who, driving past in his ute, stared back at me for so long to demonstrate his scorn that he drove off the road.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Notes (in Latin) on a football scandal

    • Brian Matthews
    • 10 February 2016
    2 Comments

    Eslingadene/Isendene/Essendon was its quiet and bucolic self when Richard Green, one of its respectable citizens, farewelled it in the 1850s, migrated to Australia, settled near Melbourne and, honouring his home village, called the area Essendon. Like its northern hemisphere namesake, Essendon does not appear in the Domesday Book, but Macbeth-like vaulting ambition, disjoined from care and humanity, has enrolled it in a modern Doomsday register and stained its name ineradicably.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Dawn of Australian domestic violence

    • Brian Matthews
    • 11 December 2015
    3 Comments

    Interviewed before the screening of Hitting Home, her program on domestic violence, Sarah Ferguson pointed out that the statistics had scarcely altered in a couple of decades. How far back into our history does this dismal phenomenon reach? 'We could quickly fill the largest building in Sydney with women and children who now, for the sake of food and shelter, but more for the sake of what is called their "good name", are bearing blows, insults, servitude and degradation,' wrote Louisa Lawson in 1889.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Flapped by computer scam butterfly effect

    • Brian Matthews
    • 13 November 2015
    3 Comments

    'Bloody amazing in life, isn't it, how things link up when you don't want them to.' Mac was now talking to me over his shoulder because he was putting mail in the local boxes. 'The man's son is in IT, and his specialty is security. But the young bloke's just got married. He's on his honeymoon and, though he's due back on the very day this scam business happened, he can't come home because where do you think he and his wife are honeymooning? In Bali. Under the volcano. All flights grounded.'

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Aboriginal footballers' MCG dreaming

    • Brian Matthews
    • 16 October 2015
    3 Comments

    In the recent AFL Grand Final, the performance of Aboriginal footballer Cyril Rioli seemed to be not much short of magic. Well, perhaps the spirit world did make a contribution. In 1844, a great throng of clans was camped on the site of what became the MCG. Perhaps, 170 years later, Aboriginal footballers, running down the race for the first time and steeling themselves for the noise, the space, the tension, find instead a great sense of intimacy as their feet hit the grass of the oval.

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