Metro Magazine NZ - - Contents - TEXT — HENRY OLIVER

New year, new Metro (sort of).

The is­sue you hold in your hands marks the com­ple­tion of my first year as ed­i­tor of Metro. And, be­ing re­leased into the world on the sec­ond day of not just a new year, but a new decade, it seems fit­ting that it marks the end of some parts of the mag­a­zine and the be­gin­ning of some oth­ers.

Firstly, it is the last is­sue for a year with our trea­sured art direc­tor (and long­est-stand­ing ed­i­to­rial staff mem­ber), Jess Allen, who is tak­ing a break from us to raise a small child. So things will look a lit­tle dif­fer­ent for a while un­til she comes back a slightly new per­son, in which case things will con­tinue to look dif­fer­ent but in new and un­ex­pected ways. We wish her way more than luck.

Also, long-time critic David Larsen — who has been re­view­ing films for Metro since 2015, but wrote about clas­si­cal mu­sic be­fore that — is also leav­ing us, but not tem­po­rar­ily. In his “state of the cin­ema” sign-off (“See you at the movies”, page 102), he writes that af­ter 12 years, he’s “run­ning out of fresh ways to say things” and would like to stop be­fore he be­comes a “bore”. The op­er­a­tive word there is “be­fore” — David’s writ­ing re­mains re­sound­ingly alive with style and taste, and we’ll miss hav­ing it in our mag­a­zine.

Sim­i­larly, An­thony Byrt, who has writ­ten Art City since its in­cep­tion in 2014, has filed what may turn out to be his last take on Auck­land con­tem­po­rary arts. Well, for us any­way. I got to know An­thony when we both went to write about Si­mon Denny’s ex­hi­bi­tion at the Venice Bi­en­nale for Metro in 2015. An­thony cov­ered the se­ri­ous stuff while I went off drink­ing and eaves­drop­ping. When I read our pieces side by side, as they ap­peared in the mag­a­zine (his first), I was en­vi­ous of his depth of en­gage­ment with the work and its so­cio-po­lit­i­cal and art-his­tor­i­cal tan­gents, and it’s been my plea­sure to re­ceive his lat­est tan­gents in my in­box over the past year. (Not to men­tion his con­tin­ued growth as a cur­rent-af­fairs fea­ture writer — pub­lish­ing An­thony’s piece on the breakup of the Pride Board and the end of the Pride Pa­rade is one of my high­lights of my first six is­sues.)

Ruth Spencer, who has writ­ten the funny stuff on the last page on and off for most of the decade, has also called it a day. Ruth’s sharp ob­ser­va­tions about Auck­land life have given us an odd lens with which to take a good hard (and funny) look at our­selves for as long as I’ve been closely fol­low­ing the mag­a­zine.

The New Year is not just a good time to look for­ward, but a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to look back and ac­cept our fail­ings, and one of mine last year was chang­ing Metrolols (as the page be­come known in 2015) into a satir­i­cal so­cial-me­dia feed full of memes and made-up Twit­ter ar­gu­ments be­tween news­wor­thy New Zealan­ders. Apart from a cou­ple of high­lights, it didn’t re­ally work and that’s on me.

But, in the spirit of re­newal, it gives me im­mea­sur­able plea­sure to in­tro­duce Met­ro­scopes (page 114) in its place. Met­ro­scopes is our take on astrol­ogy, writ­ten by Hera Lind­say Bird, one of my favourite writ­ers and some­one I’ve qui­etly wanted to shoe­horn into the mag­a­zine since I started. When I men­tioned com­mis­sion­ing a horoscopes page to a long­time con­trib­u­tor, she told me the idea had been floated a few times be­fore but, for var­i­ous rea­sons (one of which be­ing the dis­taste of a cou­ple of pre­vi­ous edi­tors), had never hap­pened. “Why don’t we ask Hera if she wants to do it?” I said ridicu­lously, as if one of the coun­try’s pre­em­i­nent po­ets would want to write about the ups and downs of Scor­pios and Gem­i­nis. (I then said maybe we could ask Eleanor Cat­ton, if Hera didn’t want to — edi­tors are, es­sen­tially, fan­ta­sists see­ing what they can get away with.) I’d half-re­mem­bered Hera tweet­ing wit­tily about astrol­ogy once or twice, but when I looked it up, I found she’d deleted her ac­count, so I trusted the vague mem­ory and asked her any­way.

Hera’s per­fectly formed glimpses into our stars are paired with il­lus­tra­tions by the ce­les­tially tal­ented, and equally witty, Sarah Lar­nach. It’s rare, but some­times things just come to­gether ex­actly how you hoped they would. This is one of those times. And I, for one, am choos­ing to take it as a pos­i­tive omen for the year and decade to come.

So here’s to 2020 and the 2020s. (Fi­nally, we’re back to a decade we can all agree on what to call it.) Here’s to things com­ing to­gether. New year, new decade, new you, new me, new us.


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