Venetian Voices

Photo by Jörg Bittner (Unna)

(by Christine V. Courtney) (2017) Venice is of a set, in that it is a Great City, but it is also sui generis, a brilliant bauble set amid a swamp, a rococo castle in the air, an ornate pagoda floating on water. Venice and its inhabitants, whether citizens or arrivistes, spell romance on a myriad levels, and pose a historical jigsaw of massive scope and complexity, so it makes sense to wander its narrow streets and sail its intricate waterways clutching some sort of evocative Baedeker.  Our favourite Venetian history is the massive Folio tome (merging two volumes) by John Julius Norwich…

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On 13 February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made the following statement in the Hosue of Representatives, Canberra: “I move: That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations—this blemished chapter in our nation’s history. The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future. We apologise for the laws and policies…

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Playing With Fire

(by Lawrence O’Donnell) (2017) Our favourite book on the incredible 1968 Presidential election remains the superb and impartial work by visiting British journalists, An American Melodrama. But this work by leftie Lawrence is a terrific read, once you learn to shut-out the partisan noise swirling about every chapter.  There’s nothing new here except the charge of treason by Nixon over the Anna Chennault affair, which O’Donnell mines from a book by the almost equally, but less noisily, partial John A. Farrell. [For his Book Richard Nixon: The Life, Farrell has read Haldeman’s notes of conversations with Tricky Dick and implies…

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Not For All the Money in the World

December 15, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, Drama Film, FILM, HISTORY, USA History |

December 15: John Paul Getty III, kidnapped and ransomed, turned up alive near Naples on this day in 1973. He’d been missing for months.  A letter had arrived the previous month with an accompanying parcel and the curt message: “This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits.” His grandfather, J Paul Getty Snr., who was worth over $2 billion US, was a tad parsimonious about paying the ransom (although with 14 other grandchildren and a loathing of appeasement, he must have thought…

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“Once More, With Feeling”

November 5, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA |

Statue of Hans by Johann Konrad Krausser (photo by T. Voekler)

Hans Sachs (born 5 November 1494, in Nuremburg), was an early version of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Carole King, Elvis Costello, all the great songsmiths and wordsmiths of popular music. Thing is, he did it solely for glory, not bread and jam; for the latter, he kept his day job. For his life, he got one of the great operas of all time; today, he gets birthday wishes from The Varnished Culture.

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