2014-02-17

Right here, right now by Jesus Jones is not about my generation's angst at missing the '60s. It is about the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Soviet empire. "Watching the world wake up from history" means that we watched the Berlin Wall fall on the television; "history" meant the deadly stasis of the Cold War. "Woman on the radio talks about revolution but it has already passed her by" and the reference to Dylan is a criticism of the poor quality of news analysis offered by a media staffed by the '60s generation.

Babylon by David Gray is not a song about religion. It is a song about accepting fault for a failed relationship and striving to become a better person to get the girl. It is set in a large modern city with traffic, crowds, drugs -- a Babylon if you will. The sometimes-played third verse makes the relationship aspects more explicit and names the city as London.

And why we are at it: Royals by Lorde isn't celebrating celebrity culture. It's comparing the real life of teenagers ("we count our dollars on the train to the party") with the image of teenagers in celebrity culture ("but every song's like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin' in the bathroom"). There's also an acknowledgement of her recent success ("We're bigger than we ever dreamed... Life is great without a care") whilst still rejecting celebrity culture ("We aren't caught up in your love affair").

Anna Reid, 2011.

We are living in a revival of the telling of military history: Max Hastings, Antony Beevor, John Keegan and Australia's own Paul Ham. But all of them avoid telling one story: the seige of Leningrad. There are no military lessons, and few morals can be found in the desperation of years of starvation.

Anna Reid tells the story. Starting with the obvious question: why were their any civilians in the city at all? If you suspect Stalin and a bureaucracy too afraid to mention that anything other than victory may be happening, then you can see how an evacuation might not be ordered. It's interesting to reflect on these passages, looking for their fainter shadows in our own times.

The photographs are heartbreaking. Most are sourced from surviving friends of the photographers, so the fate of all people photographed are known. In several no one lived through another year.

Excellent writing. If you have a vivid imagination do not read before bedtime.

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Glen Turner

August 2017

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