Patti Smith and this week’s wrap

Patti Smith has a new book Year of the Monkey plus The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, Mr Roosevelt and Unbelievable on Netflix, new exhibitions and Just Kids and Horses by Patti Smith.

A new book from punk poet Patti Smith is a reason to get excited in the Broadverse. The iconic singer and poet has a new memoir out, Year of the Monkey, which takes us through her year of wandering and wondering as she approaches a milestone birthday in 2016. The book captures her thoughts as looks out at the state of the world and her own life. Smith is an acclaimed writer who won a swag of awards for her first memoir Just Kids about her early life and then followed up with M Train about life and loss. Smith brings the reader into an intimate and honest space, and her engaging turn of phrase leaves you feeling like you’ve spent time with a close friend reading her books.

See Classic Book and Classic Album (below) for more on Patti Smith.

The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s follow-up to her famed 1984 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, is out now and it’s also on the Broad’s local bookstore shopping list. It picks up the story 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale when there are signs The Republic of Gilead is starting to falter. This story has three new narraters, Aunt Lydia and two young women, although Offred is absent there are links to her character in this story.

‘Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.’ Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale TV series has just finished its third season and is a timely reminder that women’s reproductive rights can never be taken for granted; indeed the women are dressing as the red-cloaked handmaids, a powerful symbol of protect against the assault of women’s rights in the US.

The Handmaid’s Tale

SBS On Demand (S3), Stan (S1 & 2), iTunes (S1,2,3)

Screen Time

A funny thing happened on Saturday night trawling through Netflix looking for something to watch, the Broad came across Mr Roosevelt, an amusing film worth a shout out. It’s the story of a would-be comedian who returns to her home town because the cat she shared with her ex-boyfriend has fallen ill and is near-death. What ensues is a darkly funny tale that’s part social satire, part coming of age story, which avoids fizzling out like some one-joke comedies and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Still on Netflix, the drama series Unbelievable which includes Australian actor Toni Collette along with Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever in its central cast, is a gripping new series. Its subject matter is about as bad as it gets, a serial rapist who carries out violent attacks on women in their home. The show deftly examines the contrasting stories of how the women’s cases were handled by different investigating police, which led to very different outcomes. It’s disturbing TV about the fallout from these terrible crimes and the important role of police in both supporting the victims and finding the perpetrators. There are lighter notes in the series and a sense of hopefulness despite the dark material. Highly recommended by the Broad if the subject matter doesn’t cause distress.

The series stems from a true story, first published by ProPublica and The Marshall Project.

Don’t get mad, get your own chat show. A Broad shout out for a new independent web comedy series starring Helen O’Connor and Louise McCabe about two 50-something divorcees giving the two-finger salute to ageing and invisibility. The pilot episode of Chan & Dee’s Drink Tank is out in November on YouTube and their rallying cry #letsgetvisible should resonate with all broads who refuse to sit down, shut up and disappear.

Chan and Dee's Drink Tank new web comedy series on YouTube


The Broad’s favourite Vogue editor is Candice Bergen as the arch, frosty Enid Frick in season four of Sex and the City. While not a devotee of the aspirational fashion bible – detached stick thin teen models and overpriced designer goods has never appealed – this new exhibition is worth noting. 

Women in Vogue captures 60 years of Vogue portraits of Australian women, which includes iconic images of Kylie Minogue and Elle Macpherson, along with rare examples of archived Vogue magazines also on show.  

Women in Vogue Portrait Exhibition

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

11 October to  24 November

Back in the realm of reality is the Antenna documentary film festival on in Sydney this month with an interesting line-up of Australian and international docos, along with talks and a masterclass series. 

Antenna Documentary Film Festival

Venues across Sydney

17 – 27 October

Did you know there were many Indigenous circus performers being passed off as Spanish, South American or Indians by the famous circus performers. A new production from Rhoda Roberts’ Natives Go Wild tells the stories and celebrates the skill and virtuosity of First Nations circus and cabaret performers with a dash of political humour.

Sydney Opera House from 22 -27 October.

From the interwebs

Most of us have internet to our homes, seeing it as another utility like power and water (even if it’s sometimes flaky), but there was a time when the library was the place to go to get on the web, and I’m not talking about the free Wi-Fi we expect with our latte at our local libraries in 2019. A US librarian Jean Armour Polly helped pioneer internet access in libraries when many libraries saw it as a threat to their books and she has just been recognised by the Internet Hall of Fame in its annual honours.

Who’d want to be a writer after reading about their habits in this New York Times article that delves deep into the daily rituals of writers.

Author Jia Tolentino by Elena Mudd.

Tech Notes

A heads up about Google Password Manager, a new tool to save log-ins and check if any of your accounts have been compromised. The haveibeenpwmed website has been offering this for a while. As a consumer tech journo of many years, I like to keep an eye on new security and privacy tools and will throw anything worth a mention in the round-up.

Still on security, there’s a bunch of new security features baked into iOS 13, the latest version of the iPhone and iPad operating software, including a new Apple log-in that protects your email and app, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth tracking protection.

Classic Book

Just Kids by Patti Smith, part love story, part elegy, is a portrait of the musician in her early days, from her childhood in New Jersey to her life in New York. It recounts her chance meeting with the artist Robert Maplethorpe that sparked their life-long friendship and her entry into music. 

Classic Album

Horses, Patti Smith’s 1975 debut studio album emerged from Smith’s New York club gigs and is still acclaimed today as an influential work of art. Patti Smith has played concerts in Australia several times in the last few years and will be at Bluesfest 2020. The Broad made it along to Smith’s Sydney gig in 2017 and it was a Bucket List event to see the iconic singer in concert.

How was the album first received by the music press of the day? Check out the 1976 Rolling Stone review of Horses if you are curious.

Patti Smith has been added to The Broad’s Spotify playlist this week.

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Rosalyn Page
Journalist, blogger and writer covering arts, culture, travel and digital lifestyle at www.rosalynpage.com and www.somenotesfromabroad.com.

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