Author: Brian Matthews

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The dawning of the Age of Unpleasantness

    • Brian Matthews
    • 27 February 2014
    7 Comments

    Joe Hockey's idea of an age of entitlement is shallow and facile. Announcing the end of an 'age' is just another way of obscuring the truth that you haven't the faintest idea what the hell is going on, or that you suspect what's going on but not how to influence, redirect or stop it. So you fall back on this persuasive notion of a great shift in the times. The next 'age' for those whose entitlement is disappearing will be marked by unpleasantness.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    The baleful life of Stalin's favourite actress

    • Brian Matthews
    • 30 January 2014
    7 Comments

    When her husband was arrested and imprisoned indefinitely as an outspoken opponent of Stalin, she became depressed and alcoholic. Film director Grigori Aleksandrov rescued her by choosing her to star in Moscow Laughs. She became his mistress, later his wife, a screen star and, perhaps most important of all, she attracted Stalin's benign attention.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Ghost of weddings past, present and future

    • Brian Matthews
    • 05 December 2013
    6 Comments

    Is there a spirit of place, a kind of psychological imprint that endows a particular location? There are spots along the Coorong in South Australia where, as twilight deepens, you could swear that wraith-like, dark figures are moving through the dunes. Recent events made me wonder if the legendary William Buckley lives on in that way on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula, where he lived for 32 years among the local Wataurong people.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    What the postmaster saw

    • Brian Matthews
    • 07 November 2013
    7 Comments

    Within an hour the shop is humming with talk and movement. Mac is courteous, but has some iron rules. A woman who talks ceaselessly into her mobile phone receives a steely glare and silence. Someone with both ears plugged into his iPod finds Mac has also suddenly gone deaf. Each new arrival is threaded into a sort of endless conversation which functions at two levels — greetings to the customer and side-of-the-mouth asides to me.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    University turning point

    • Brian Matthews
    • 10 October 2013
    4 Comments

    My first year at university was a time of exquisite confusion and crippling diffidence. The only way I could see to climb the mountain of difficulties my studies seemed to present was to work harder. After one late-night stint in the library, over a cup of the 'caf's' execrable coffee, my friend gave me a book. 'Don't read it on the tram going home,' he said, 'you might embarrass yourself.'

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Swapping stories with a barracouta sage

    • Brian Matthews
    • 12 September 2013
    2 Comments

    'It was a strange business,' he said in answer to my inevitable question about how he had come by his injuries. 'I'm a professional fisherman. I've fished the entire South Australian and Victorian coast line for barracouta for 70 years.' The 'strange business' happened on his boat. 'We weren't even at sea. Me and Albie were just cutting up some bait when my eyes just went up into me head and I keeled right over.'

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Born-to-rule Bombers glimpse unprivileged reality

    • Brian Matthews
    • 13 August 2013
    11 Comments

    When James Hird, coach of the Essendon Football Club, says his club has a 'right' to play finals despite the ongoing drug scandal, he obviously means that the players have won enough games to qualify. But when you wed his use of the word 'right' to his often proclaimed love for the club and his aspiration to put it back where it 'belonged', 'right' starts to assume the force of due privilege.

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  • MEDIA

    Writing and rampaging with Christopher Pearson

    • Brian Matthews
    • 18 July 2013
    3 Comments

    Pearson and I scarcely ever agreed about anything, but I look back on the Adelaide Review's ragtag, cavalier youth with gratitude and affection. Likewise my time as a columnist with the brazen, short-lived Melbourne Partisan magazine. They were heady days, fuelled by rampant idealism, up-jumped confidence, booze, and the erratic, fortunate combination of various talents.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    History repeats for powerful Australian women

    • Brian Matthews
    • 20 June 2013
    14 Comments

    On the face of it, life for a strong, talented and ambitious woman in 19th century Australia was much tougher than it is now. Yet even Louisa Lawson, a pioneer of women's rights who was grievously discriminated against and derided because she dared to excel, was never demeaned or personally debased to the extent Julia Gillard has been.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    My theatrical encounter with Don Dunstan

    • Brian Matthews
    • 23 May 2013
    2 Comments

    One of the great monuments to the 'Dunstan Decade', the Adelaide Festival Centre marks its 40th birthday next weekend. It was the first capital city complex devoted to the performing arts, before even the Sydney Opera House. For me the anniversary triggers a flood of memories, including a theatrical encounter with Dunstan himself.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    A modest solution to Morrison's asylum seeker woes

    • Brian Matthews
    • 25 April 2013
    9 Comments

    If the Shadow Minister for Immigration had read Swift's satirical essay 'A Modest Proposal', a new front in his asylum seeker campaign would have opened up. Spurning Nauru, all he has to do is channel asylum seekers into hunting-specified NSW parks and reserves and let Barry O'Farrell's hunters do the rest.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    George Orwell's chicken feed solution

    • Brian Matthews
    • 28 February 2013
    4 Comments

    'On this day in 1939: Belgium signed a trade treaty with France, 71 people died in the Black Friday bush fire, and Orwell's chickens laid two eggs.' Orwell's domestic diaries seem trivial, but it is wrong to assume he saw his recording of vegetables, egg laying and other small-holder concerns as dwarfed by the great world. 

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