Culture clashes would sum up my entertainment plans for this summer.
As a child of the 60s and 70s I still hanker after the music of my youth but my children's musical tastes have turned me on to current great Australian bands. So the Beatles and Cog will be some of the sounds filling my head this summer.
The Beatles Let It Be... Naked is excellent. I have heard all the arguments: that it is just a re-release of what was always a below par Beatles album; that it's just a money making exercise (but in the global music industry these days, what isn't?); and that it's another ego trip for Paul. But for me, it's a matter of forget the drivel and enjoy the music.
Reading the promotional raves about this “remixed, resequenced presentation” I was expecting more changes to my old favourites. But Across the Universe and Two of Us remain simple and beautiful – pure music. Harrison's vocals and guitar on I Me Mine still make me feel good. The Long and Winding Road is probably the most revamped of all the songs but even without the orchestral and choral parts it doesn't work for me – and can’t dislodge the many years of listening to the original version. Nothing is perfect, yet with Don’t Let Me Down and Let It Be also on this CD I have lots of top holiday listening.
I’m a big fan of homegrown musical talent, particularly if it pushes both my musical and political buttons. I like the style of Australian rapper Ekko MC, having gradually developed a taste for hip hop after years of exposure to my son’s tape collection. I must admit that the political context of rap was the original hook, and the enjoyment factor has crept up on me. Ekko's song Frank Nitty is a sharp political analysis of Australia today, while When Will U Learn speaks of the problems talented young musicians experience at the hands of the arrogant music industry. He pumps out a message I love to hear – and most of the time I can understand it!
I'll also be enjoying Cog this summer. This very original Australian band offers great entertainment, is helping to revitalise the Sydney pub music scene, and has kept itself independent from the big music companies. I haven’t seen the band live but I’ve heard their performance described as “mesmerising”. Check out their first two EPs, Just Visiting 1 & 2.
Holidays for me means lots of movies. Escapist fare is always fun at this time of the year. This is what having children does for you – the many trips down to the cinema to see the latest blockbuster have left me with an enduring appetite for action flicks.
Like everyone else in Sydney, I’ll be getting along to the final instalment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. What a great ride this has been – and how wonderful to see local faces like Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto, Cate Blanchett and David Wenham in starring roles.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen may not be my favourite this summer but anything with Sean Connery in the lead role can’t really go wrong. The storyline is promising – the heroes from 18th century literature meet up, and their mission to save the world makes for a typically explosive action movie. I like the sound of the character list: Tom Sawyer, Dr Jekyl and of course Mr Hyde, Dorian Grey, and Dracula's killer Mina Murray team up with Alan Quatermain, the renowned English explorer who found King Solomon’s mines, the Invisible Man Hawley Griffin and Captain Nemo, the submarine captain from 20,000 leagues under the sea.
And then there is reading time – the daily papers remain a delight for me, even though they are light-on. And it is great to have time to get my eyes into a book for more than a few minutes.
Peter Carey's books are always a favourite. I'll be revisiting Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang. This is a great Australian novel – engrossing, exhilarating and tragic. While it is great fiction, it has a political message that adds to my enjoyment. Carey is a master with words, painting a picture of Ned with his brothers and friends moving across the Victorian countryside with the help of what appears to be anyone not in a uniform. These sons of poor Irish migrants helped shape our Australia; sadly, many of the battles Ned fought are still playing out today.
For holiday reading with a strong political slant, I’ll be telling my friends to check out David Burchell's Western Horizon. Ostensibly about western Sydney, it might sound an odd holiday recommendation; but contained in this short 122-page book are many insights. Readers are forced to rethink political assumptions about these communities – and, indeed, Australia as a whole. Burchell strips away the blinkers some of us have had when it comes to western Sydney. He finds that the attitudes that many have interpreted as racism towards asylum-seekers have a greater complexity, with commitment to civil and political justice just as strong as in other parts of this country.
I hope we all use summer as a time to relax and recharge, giving us the energy to do the best by and for our world in 2004.
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