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Boss, Billy Bragg and Women of Letters

Watch: Boss (Starz network, US)

I’ve never liked Kelsey Grammer. I can even pinpoint the beginning of the end of a relationship to the moment a boyfriend said he believed Frasier was “the best sitcom of all time” (just to be clear there were other problems, but, you know… Frasier sucked).  But all the things I suspected and I don’t like about Grammer – rich, old, snotty, white, Republican douche things – are all the things that are front and centre in his portrayal of a corrupt, manipulative, powerful and possibly mad Chicago mayor. The tale of Tom Kane is part King Lear, part The wire (with graphic cable TV sex instead of drugs = win) and, aside from some bad acting by his TV daughter, is some seriously compelling television.

Listen: Billy Bragg – Talking to the taxman about poetry

In honour of the bard of barking visiting Melbourne next weekend, the back catalogue of Billy Bragg has been getting a serious workout in my little communist bunker. Talking to the taxman about poetry (released in 1986) is still one of his best, and even if it weren’t, it would still be worth the price of admission for Levi Stubbs tears. The way Bragg can take a tiny snapshot of a person and turn it into a full length, technicolour life for three and a half minutes is never more gloriously evident than here. All these years later, it’s a killer album,  not to mention title, which still never fails to raise a knowing smile.

Read: Sincerely, women of letters by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire

This Melbourne institution of letters and incredible writing showcases an amazing array of talent (Ita Buttrose, Shaun Micalleff, Helen Garner) writing their hearts out on a whole range of themes. It would make a great Christmas gift (there’s already tinned fruit cakes in Safeway, don’t pretend I was the first to mention the ‘c’ word) but it’s even better as a bedside read for this time of year when you want something you can drop in and out of, but enjoy no less for doing so. With such a creative and vibrant range of ideas and writers, there’s sure to be a letter in there somewhere written just for you.

Note: I have a letter included in this collection but receive no Alan Jones-style kickbacks for my recommendation. All the proceeds from Women of letters goes to Edgar’s Mission, which saves amazing animals like Edgar Alan pig.

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