Two great losses this week with the passing of author Ruth Park and musical-oddity extraordinaire Captain Beefheart.
Playing Beatie Bow was on the year nine syllabus when I was at school, so I read and studied the crap out of it. A lot of books suffer when you’re forced to do that to them, but Beatie Bow stood up. I haven’t read it for the better part of twenty years but I still recall vast swathes of it – it’s one of those books that gets into your head and changes it a bit so you’re never quite the same person after reading it.
More recently I obtained a copy of Ruth Park’s Sydney which provides a brilliantly written (if it wasn’t so pretentious I’d even say “sparkling”) history of the city via a series of walking tours. It’s clear that she had an incomparable love and knowledge of Sydney, and the book is going to be the first thing going into my case when I pack for my (Sydney departing) cruise in early 2012.
Captain Beefheart – well, what can you say about Captain Beefheart? A musical genius and provocateur without compare (unless it’s to his buddy Frank Zappa). I’ll let him speak for himself with the 1982 video clip of Ice Cream for Crow – a film so weird that a terrified MTV refused to play it, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York rushed to add it to their permenent collection.
Vale Ruth Park and Don Van Vliet. We’ll miss you both.