Best reads for bogans

With new documentary television series Bogans now gracing our screens, are we about to see a Bogan Renaissance? Are we on the cusp of a rediscovered cultural trend? Are black skinny jeans and a Nirvana t-shirt now retro-cool?

Whether you’re a born-again bogan, are a “bogan in disguise”, or have never been to a concert where you didn’t “throw up the goat”, the following would make worthy additions to your reading list –

Cover of ACDC Hell ain't a bad place to becover of Metallica enter nightCover of Metal catsCover of Watch you bleed the saga of Guns n RosesCover of The dirtcover of It's so easy (and other lies)Cover of Hair metalcover of The art of metalCover of the heroin diariescover of Black Sabbath FAQCover of Mosh potatoesCover of The story of Judas PriestCover of Dirty deedsCover of Iron MaidenCover of Iron manCover of Bad reputation

Need further Bogan research? Try –

Cover of Bogan an insider's guide to metal, mullets and mayhemcover of Things bogans like

And if the Bogans television series has you wanting to watch more, you can’t go past –

A half circle journey – Suki Kim and North Korea

Cover of Without you, there is no usThere are only patchy representations of North Korea in our popular culture – comedians dressed up as Kim Jong-il, Team America, that recent Interview movie. In a world where the Iron Curtain has come down, it is still Unknown. But Suki Kim knows North Korea, she’s been there many times. Suki is coming to Christchurch on Sunday 30 August as part of the WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View events in the Christchurch Arts Festival. Her topic: On North Korea: Inventing the Truth and she’s in conversation with Paula Morris.

Her book Without you, there is no us: My time with the sons of North Korea’s Elite. A Memoir unveils what has been hidden. It starts with the death of Kim Jong-il in 2011 and then goes back into history, and into Suki’s time as a teacher at PUST- the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

If this were the sort of story that invites readers to nod with empathy and walk away both satisfied and educated, I would say that I travelled full circle. But in truth my journey was barely half a circle, a sad one that could never be completed, because those who were at the center of the harrowing history are almost certainly long dead, or old and dying, and time is running out before their stories are lost in the dust of the past. (p. 11)

Suki shows us Pyongyang as a place of rules, bureaucracy, and regimentation. North Korea is full of constraints  – and the constriction is political, emotional, and intellectual. On some of their school trips, there are glimpses of starving people, and forced labour. It is a place where even the sons of the elite have an existence that is controlled, and devoid of freedom.  Everyone is watched, you are likely to be spied upon, and the very words you utter must conform or you might be reported. Suki wants to open the world up to her students, but knows she can’t:

It was a fine dance. I wanted to push them, but not too much; to expose them to the outside world, but not so subtly that no one would notice… Awakening my students to what was not in the regime’s program could mean death for them and those they loved … Awakening was a luxury available only to those in the free world. (p. 70)

Suki teaches, but she is continually taking notes for her book. She observes her students open up,  and how some lie and deceive.  I was swayed by her emotional currents:

And so I went from love to pity to repulsion and distrust, then back to empathy and love again, and these switches of feeling were confusing. I reminded myself that I did not come from a place where mind games were a prerequisite for survival to such an extreme degree, a place where the slightest act of rebellion could have unimaginable consequences. (p. 134)

This is a book that could easily be claustrophic. But it isn’t, because she provides such captivating views of the Koreas North and South, and family history, and her own emotional landscape. Her book will make you understand North Korea in a new way.

Cover of PyongyangIf you want to read more about this strange and fascinating place, I recommend the graphic novel Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. It captures that same alienness and constriction found in Suki’s story.

There seems to be a flurry of new books about North Korea. We want to understand.

Cover of The firector is the commander Cover of The girl with seven names Cover of The Great Leader and the fighter pilot Cover of Marching through suffering Cover of Under the same sky Cover of Dear Leader

A shed of your own

Backyrad BuildingMy Dad had a shed.  It was wonderful. Everything had a place, from the oddments of timber to the jars of old nails that he had painstakingly bent back into shape.  It was a place that I was allowed to visit – occasionally – but only the proviso that I didn’t stay long, and I didn’t interfere with whatever happened to be going on.

He would have been a great supporter of Menzshed:

It is a place where men can go to, socialise, have a yarn, be creative, share ideas, share skills and spend time with other men while working.

Men are the primary focus and are seen as the most in need of what Menzshed have to offer.  The website shows plenty of activity and branches throughout the country.

TheToolsheds community in Christchurch has focused on the Kiwi statehouses of the 30s and 40s that were often built with wonderful tool sheds in the back garden

The plan is to rescue a large handful of them from demolition in Christchurch’s earthquake red zone and turn them into port-a-com units for use by adventurous community groups.

Cover of The dark knight of the shedPerhaps you fancy setting up a shed of your own? In The Dark night of the shed: Men, the mid-life crisis, spirituality and sheds the author decided to build a shed to give himself the space to think, and to perhaps curtail the midlife crisis that was fast encroaching in the form of lycra, buying a new sportscar or starting an affair.

My Cool shedIf you prefer your sheds with a bit more ‘how to’ and less angst then Backyard building might be a good start, and if like me you like looking but not necessarily actually doing anything then My Cool Shed: An Inspirational Guide to Stylish Hideaways and Workspaces could be just the ticket.

Gallipoli – the August campaigns

While we remember the Gallipoli landings on 25th April every year, some major parts of the campaign took place in August. As the initial assault on the peninsula and subsequent fighting had turned into a nightmarish stalemate, it was decided to land more (mainly British) troops and attack again.

Once again New Zealand and Australian troops were heavily involved. It was in this part of the campaign that the famous battles of Lone Pine (6-7 August) and Chunuk Bair (8-10 August) took place. The Wellington Battalion took and occupied the summit of Chunuk Bair, but suffered huge casualties. Amongst those killed was the battalion’s commander, Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone.

I believe that my great-grandfather landed at Suvla Bay on or around 10th August as part of the Suffolk Regiment. He survived, but caught malaria. Do you have any connections to the later stages of the Gallipoli Campaign?