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[4 Feb 2012 | No Comment | 2,621 views ]

MOST people don’t “get” Austen Tayshus , and he probably doesn’t care because his audacity is what seems to drive him.
If a group of “holier-than-thou psychiatrists” can’t get a handle on the country’s most dangerous and subversive comedian, who is also an observant son of Judaism, then those who cast the first stone don’t stand a chance , particularly if they are in his audience.
Austen Tayshus (aka Isaac Cox) is Sandy Gutman’s stage name and Merchant of Menace, by Ross Fitzgerald and journalist Rick Murphy, reveals Gutman’s chaotic life and …

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[5 Nov 2011 | No Comment | 1,027 views ]

FROM 1978-83, Mark Dodd worked as a pearl diver on old pearling luggers that still plied the Kimberley coast. In this riveting yarn, Dodd canvasses the intimate details of work on board fabled wooden luggers, especially the ”DMcD” (or ”Dan McDaniel”), and life and play onshore among the exotic alleyways and pubs of Broome, most notably the infamous Roebuck Bay Hotel.
To cater for cashed-up returning lugger crews peopled by an assortment of mavericks and desperadoes, the ”Roey’s” amply proportioned manager, Terry (”Top Cat”) Cullen, would ”roster on additional barmaids just …

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[15 Oct 2011 | No Comment | 1,543 views ]

THE screaming subtext of Susan Mitchell’s political potboiler, Tony Abbott: A Man’s Man, is that no woman should ever vote for him. Yet almost no one who knows Abbott, however much he or she might disagree with him, would dismiss him as a misogynist.
The judgement of Adele Horin (no fan) was that Abbott was ”easy to hate” but also ”easy to like”. Mia Freedman – whose reaction to Abbott’s accession to the leadership was: ”PS Libs, are you on crack?” – said after actually talking to him: ”I did like …

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[1 Oct 2011 | No Comment | 830 views ]

Excess and success are one and the same for this ranting anti-hero.
“This is just the book to give to your sister – if she’s a loud, dirty, boozy girl.” wrote the Irish playwright and drunkard, Brendan Behan, of Irish novelist and fellow drunkard Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds (1939). The same might be said of Ross Fitzgerald and Trevor Jordan’s Fools’ Paradise (hereafter, ”Fitzgerald”, the joint authorship never being explained, though the two have co-authored A History of Alcohol in Australia).
The hero, or anti-hero, or protagonist of this novel is one …

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[8 Aug 2011 | 11 Comments | 12,672 views ]
Fools’ Paradise: Life in an Altered State

“Wake up, Australia,” Grafton Everest exhorts viewers every morning on Australia-wide breakfast television.
This doesn’t please those he attacks like wily former premier Hoogstraden, whose biography Grafton is forced into writing.
Grafton’s day job as Professor of LifeSkills and Hospitality is under threat from the economically and sexually rapacious Vice-Chancellor Deirdre Morrow.

And Lee Horton, head of Australia’s newly privatised Secret Service (trading as SpyForce Australia) is worried too. He knows that Grafton has trouble lying.
And nothing is more dangerous than a man who habitually tells the truth.
Grafton Everest is a wonderful creation …

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[27 Jun 2011 | No Comment | 2,217 views ]

AUSTRALIA’S greatest book collector, David Scott Mitchell, was born in Sydney in 1836, the second child and only son of surgeon James Mitchell and his devoted wife Augusta. In 1907 this inexhaustibly energetic bibliophile gave his extraordinary library, and a bequest for its development, to Sydney and, indirectly, the world.
It is virtually impossible to overrate the importance of the Mitchell Library. Former NSW premier Bob Carr calls it the “DNA of Australia”. It is also hard to disagree with Carr’s contention that Mitchell’s massive collection can be viewed and interpreted …

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[24 Jun 2011 | No Comment | 1,703 views ]

THE new biography on iconic Australian comedian Austen Tayshus has one particularly tough critic: its subject.
“I don’t like it, Tayshus says, leaving a comedicly deliberate pause.
“No, I do like it. I think they’ve done a terrific job of putting a lot of stuff in there which is untrue.”
Austen Tayshus: Merchant of Menace by Ross Fitzgerald and Rick Murphy does have at least one positive review, from Tayshus’s mother, apparently.
The book explores the life of Tayshus, also known as Vaucluse resident Alexander “Sandy Gutman, from his early years growing up with his …

Books »

[24 Jun 2011 | No Comment | 1,854 views ]

EVERYTHING about comedian Alexander “Sandy Gutman (aka Austen Tayshus) is a dichotomy. In life, he is a tea-totalling, erudite intellectual, the father of two daughters , a far cry from his foul-mouthed, incendiary, dark-glasses-clad on-stage persona.
He has a love-hate relationship with his audiences, which he is famous for taunting , recently he made a Japanese audience member get on stage and apologise for World War II in exchange for a cessation of tsunamis and earthquakes , and simultaneously describes his hero Barry Humphries as the gold standard of Australian comedy …

Books »

[20 Jun 2011 | No Comment | 2,309 views ]

WHAT came to be known as the Australian Labor Party was formed in 1891 and by December 1, 1899, Queensland had the first Labor government in the world. Led by Anderson Dawson from the dual electorate of Charters Towers, it lasted only a week but it gave the ALP a valuable opportunity to get the dirt on the conservatives by examining previous governments’ files.
By April 27, 1904, the party’s progress was confirmed by the installation of the world’s first national Labor government. Led by Chilean-born J. C. (Chris) Watson, …

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[10 Apr 2011 | 4 Comments | 5,872 views ]

After briefly living behind the police station in the working-class Sydney suburb of Redfern, Francis Michael Farrell, born in 1916, was brought up in the ethnic melting pot that was Marrickville.
Named after St Francis of Assisi, Farrell was a devout Roman Catholic of distinctly Irish heritage. The future infamous Sydney policeman and legendary captain of the Newtown rugby league team gained his nickname from his habit, as a teenager who often walked barefoot, of picking up discarded cigarette butts, or bumpers, which he broke open, using the tobacco to make his own cigarettes. Indeed, throughout his …

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[6 Mar 2011 | No Comment | 1,671 views ]

THIS unique investigation of Sydney’s highly diverse Aboriginal past draws on the latest historical, archaeological, geological,environmental and linguistic research.
It also incorporates some oral evidence of present-day indigenous peoples although, wisely, this source of information has not been used extensively.
First published in 2002 and now greatly updated and revised, this superbly illustrated history of Aboriginal occupation of the Sydney region until the 1820s is a labour of love. Indeed, most of the more or less contemporary coloured photographs were taken by the author herself.
Currently principal research archaeologist in the anthropology unit …