Saturday, May 07, 2016

The city of texts

I'm grateful to Sarah Ell for two articles in today's New Zealand Herald. Sarah's given my study of the Great South Road a plug, and allowed me to plug some of my favourite Auckland writers, like RAK Mason and Richard von Sturmer. Sarah tells Herald readers about the Great South Road's history as a route for imperial conquest, and talks about the Maori refugees, jobless swaggers and Arab migrants who walked and hawked down its muddy length in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 
It was exciting to talk with Sarah about her father Gordon's two volume psychogeographic study of New Zealand's ghost towns, which I used as a sort of travel guide in my twenties. In between asking me questions about South Auckland and the Waikato, Sarah remembered childhood expeditions down Babylon Coast Road and other routes into the ruins of the gum and goldfields of Northland and the Coromandel. 
Footnote: Congratulations to poet Grace Taylor, who was given the 2017 Auckland Mayoral Literary Award last Thursday night in a ceremony at the city's central library.

Before deputy mayor Penny Hulse handed congratulated Grace I gave a speech about - you guessed it - my study of the Great South Road, which earned me the inaugural Mayoral Literary Award last year. I explained how the award had encouraged New Zealanders who live along the Great South Road to open their doors to me and my collaborators Paul Janman and Ian Powell, and to share old stories and photographs and manuscripts with us.

I showed a film clip of the walk that Paul and I made up two hundred kilometres of the Great South Road last year: the audience chuckled when they saw me tripping over my feet in the berm-ditches of the Waikato.

I hope the mayoral award brings Grace Taylor many adventures.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Puffing yourself off again? This is all about you not the people you pretend to congratulate or admire. These people now will never be free of you. Their names linked to yours forever. Getting rankings on the internet through them, through nothing you have done yourself of any value. Such a fake.

3:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you a menber of the Online Media Standards Authority,
I agree with a comment on the last post. Time you joined so you can be held accountable for the crap you write. Its mindblowingly bad and inaccurate. Don't you do any research before you write this stuff?

3:38 pm  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

'These people now will never be free of you. Their names linked to yours forever. Getting rankings on the internet through them'

You have a touching faith in the pulling power of this blog and of my literary scholarship, anon. I think the likes of Robin Hyde and Frank Sargeson will probably be able to maintain their public profiles without me.

I notice that a large number of readers have come to this site from Kiwiblog today, following a link someone gave there to one of my posts about the folks who promulgate conspiracy theories of pre-Maori civilisations in New Zealand. I'm guessing that you guy(s) are some of the folks who sympathise with these theories and don't like seeing them exposed for what they are.

8:31 pm  
Blogger ryan bodman said...

'Rankings on the internet' - funny. For what it's worth, I really enjoyed this article, and am really interested by your literary travels across Auckland, and beyond. Keep the stories coming. I emailed you a while back with a ref. to a poem by Tim Shadbolt about the Mangere bridge dispute which, in hindsight you've probably already heard of. There's also a great poem in that book about Freeman's Bay, which offers a literary take on the destruction of that working-class neighbourhood. Cheers, Ryan.

10:21 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

Thanks Ryan. I passed the Shadbolt poem on to Paul Janman, who is still very much engaged with the story of the bridge and has cut a short film about the structure in collaboration with Richard von Sturmer (it is a sort of sci fi mockumentary set in the far future, where a sort of cyborg is remembering aspects of the bridge's history).

I was thinking about Tim Shadbolt's Bullshit and Jellybeans the other day, because it contains one of the very few accounts of the gang of young men who planted bombs around Auckland at the end of the '60s. I was planning to mention their almost-forgotten activities in my talk at the upcoming Readers and Writers Fest. With the public interest in terrorism, it's remarkable that their story hasn't been told...

2:03 pm  
Blogger ryan bodman said...

Funny you should mention that. I was beginning to research an article about political violence in NZ throughout the late '60s and into the early '80s, before all my spare time was consumed by the history of rugby league. I agree, it's a fascinating tale, and one that deserves to be told. All the best with the talk, and your writing.

2:27 pm  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

I saw your name in a guestbook at the museum library last year Ryan, with a note that said you were studying league! I know that Murray Edmond has a strong interest in the bombers of the late '60s, and the intersection in the '70s and '80s between the left and the underworld. He touched on the subject in an essay about the Trades Hall bombing and other crises of 1984 that is included in his recent book Then It Was Now Again. I hope you'll get time to pursue the subject...

2:21 pm  
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Blogger Richard said...

I heard you gave a speech as my daughter's partner is the tech who set up the audio for the power point etc and he had a list of those who spoke (he was at the readers and writers for two days).

I've actually met one of the bombers I think you mean. And we knew about the others. They were the Bower brothers. The bombs they let off were placed outside army recruiting places but in such a way that no one, all being equal, would be hurt.

My discussion with (I forget which one) was a kind of rambling pipe dream about tunneling under the police station (which we could see from where we talked - we were at what was called 'Resistance'). It is strange that the majority of the protests in those days were 'peaceful' but it seemed as though the US were out of control so things were being planned.

But it was many years ago.

I am inside Bullshit and Jelly Beans. The picture of the police charge outside the then Hyatt Hotel that Shadbolt has in there was a still from Rewi Kemp's movie. I knew him as Dick Fowler. He was attacked by a US Secret Service or protection (of Agnew the vice President) and although receiving an upper cut kept cool and while filming did a backward role (he knew Judo etc) and continued filming. When we watched the film of the police attack we laughed at that point: the whole picture blurred as he tumbled backwards.

9:19 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

But we saw the US terrorism in Vietnam (and it continues throughout the world today) as the greater evil.

Perhaps rugby is more violent though than so called 'terrorism'. Hitler started World War 2 by getting the SS to shoot some Poles in German uniforms and then told the German people that they had been attacked by 'terrorists'.

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