It is common knowledge that human beings have a bizarre attachment to their personal cars that doesn’t extend to other pieces of engineering. Manufacturers cottoned onto this very long ago and changed the simple motor vehicle from being a tool for getting from one point to another conveniently into an expression of individuality and character.
The other day I bought Icky Thump, almost begrudgingly. I didn’t think it would be that good. It didn’t get the commercial attention (by that I mean our radio stations only played the single Icky Thump off it) of albums like Elephant and Get Behind Me Satan, leading me to think that perhaps it was a bit of a dud. If you haven’t bought the last album – do. It really is that good.
The line to enter the Johnny Walker stand literally went around the block. Well, I say block: it was a few square metres long. But still, it had the biggest waiting line by a quite a measure. There were dozens of stalls to choose from, and yet the upper crust of Johannesburg’s upwardly mobile chose to line up for shots of Johnny Walker Blue. Didn’t they miss the point?
From security guard, to dodgy taxi boss, to even dodgier mine boss – Khulubuse Zuma’s weight has exploded upwards recently. Nouveau riche, and all that. The connection isn’t very subtle – in large parts of South Africa, the way we choose to display wealth is by being overweight. Body fat is our bling.
Information wants to be free, man! So says Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks geeks. Info wants to be free! The internet is free! Don’t police it! It’s a nice idea, isn’t it? The internet being the last place on earth that is unpoliced. Well, that may be about to go away.
When I was handed Gareth Cliff’s book to read, I realised immediately what was going on. I’m not talking about the darkened underground chamber I was locked in, surrounded by sadistic publicists, or the hot coals that were being applied to my singed nipples. I refer to the words stuck between two sheets of stiff paperback.
Now that we’ve recovered from the #MassiveFail that was the rugby and football over the weekend, I’d like to address something else that has been bothering me. I don’t want to let some stranger come into my house and ask me penetrating questions when there is absolutely no prospect of us hitting the sack later.So no, I would rather not invite Statistics SA’s census enumerators into my house. I’d rather not be counted.
We journalists like to complain about PRs. I didn’t study journalism, so never got the opportunity to pick up some of the bad habits of the industry. It’s always cute to note how many scribes enjoy hating PRs. I think the hatred is reciprocal (an explanation for their general foul attitudes when I call?). I appreciate that they have a job to do. So, a kindly word to PR practitioners out there: I wouldn’t know how to do your job. But I know mine, and it sometimes means that we have to cooperate.
Look, it’s absolutely insane that up to 14 000 people are killed on our roads per annum. Those figures are from 2009, and are apparently the last reliable statistics available. That, according to Bob Geldof logic, would mean that about 38 people are killed on the roads every day. I can’t stress enough how appalling that is. But saying that the road deaths are due to a speed limit that is too high is a bit of a silly statement for a transport minister to make. But that is what S’bu Ndebele wants to do.
This column is really a tribute to Durban’s Number One, East Coast Radio. Thanks to those DJs and their music selection committee, I got the joke when Jay-Z and Mr. Hudson sang Forever Young. I was belting out the tunes like all the white 30-somethings when the Wedding DJs played at Oppikoppi this year. I threw out the question of the greatest one-hit wonders of all time on Twitter yesterday afternoon, and the responses were varied and colourful. This is not a compilation of the five most chosen songs. This is not a democracy. This is my list.
Hipsters get way too much credit these days. I don’t mean that in a good way. Hipsters – especially those of a South African persuasion – deserve all the deep-seated hatred that comes their way. What I mean is that they are credited with far more social traction than they actually possess. They just aren’t that big of a deal. I’m far more forgiving of emos than I am of hipsters.
There isn’t much right with South Africa’s roads. Take the Jan Smuts Avenue, for instance. It snakes through the heart of Johannesburg from Parktown on the very edge of town, to the dusty wastelands of the godforsaken and heathen Randburg in the north. Along the way, it passes through important suburban locations like Hyde Park, Craighall, and my doorstep.
Since the shoes go on the feet, it’s easy to ignore them. To think you can get by with a good shirt and jacket while leaving your shoes to the mercy of poor taste is not ok. I suspect this is why Gregory House said that shoes never lie.
I don’t know about you, but I was deeply disappointed at how the South African Municipal Workers (Samwu) march panned out in Johannesburg. Especially after the hilarity that had ensued in Cape Town and Durban. But wait! Not all is lost, union bosses! You can still get 18% – you just have to be a bit creative about your protest marches!
As I stood there, mouth slightly ajar, listening to Bittereinder spew out lyrics of defiance and love at Oppikoppi, it suddenly hit me that what I truly loved about this eccentric band was its fearsome Afrikaans-ness. This was an unapologetic and proud Afrikaans band. What’s more, Bittereinder aren’t idiotic about it. They’re angry without being bitter, and they are proud without being supremacist about it. You don’t get that very often. And it got me thinking about the “roots” of the band that followed.
This year was my first Oppikoppi. I went as press, but I had a lot of fun. I can’t believe what I’ve been missing all these years. I know you’re dying to know, so these were the best performances that I saw: Bittereinder, Michelle Shocked, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Not My Dog, and Mr Cat and the Jackal.
What I love most about touring car championships is that they germinated the idea of the basic pocket rocket in the public mind. Think of the glory days of British touring car championships – would they have been the same without the plucky Mark II Mini bouncing about the track, holding its own against magnificent Jaguars and brutal American Ford Mustangs? Would our idea of a fun hatchback be the same if it wasn’t for touring car championships?
So I was in Cape Town the other week. Nice bit of South Africa, that. I take much pleasure in pissing Cape Town off (it’s not like you’re not asking for it, though, the way you lot dress), but honestly, it’s a delightful bit of real estate. The year I spent there in 2007 was [...]
When the internet came along, and it spawned thousands of well-moneyed industries, the writers naturally followed. Tech journalists. Bloggers. Et cetera. These days, normal people do most of their reading on some sort of screen. Writing for online is huge. But it has its own, annoying memes that I wish would end. It’s like a never-ending insider joke and is a bit unimaginative.
You know how this one goes, right? There is a house in Orange Grove. They call it The Radium… The Radium is reputedly the oldest surviving beer hall and grill in Johannesburg, and unlike places like The Brazen Head, it genuinely has that aged feel. The chairs and tables creak ominously under the weight of the patrons and the food. The pavement outside is littered with ash and the odd beggar. The only things they seem to have added in the last 20 years are a stainless steel urinal and the big TVs. It is exactly my type of place to hang out.
Every person’s first car must be utterly terrible and must visit all manner of misfortunes and financially painful incidents. This is the way of things. How life should be. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that “thus sayeth the Lord”, because they finished that particular book some 1500 years before Gottlieb Daimler’s horseless carriages. I’m happy then to say that my first car is utterly woeful. [Follow link to read the full column]
Who told Loyiso Gola that he is funny? I need answers. How did he come to have a comedy TV show, and why is the country putting up with this gigantic farce? People even follow him on Twitter. Why?! What is so appealing about having an alarmingly round face shout inanities at you in caps lock? I’m serious – I need to know. Am I the loony one here? [click link to read column]
It’s been a weird sort of season. How do you reconcile the fact that Arsenal beat Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona in the last six months of the season with the fact that in the exact same period they lost to third-rate Bolton Wanderers, Stoke City and Birmingham City? How do we come to terms with both the heady highs and the unrelenting lows, like the crushing defeat to Birmingham in the Carling Cup Final and the astonishing 4-4 draw to Newcastle United which effectively ended our title hopes? What does one say of the beautiful football, the young talent and complete lack of any sort of silverware in the last six seasons?
Fuck pub quizzes and all who go to them. I’ve been holding on to that thought for as long as I have been in Johannesburg, which is as long as the Barclays Premier League season of 2010-2011 has run. And now that the season is over, I feel the need to tell pub quiz enthusiasts where to get off.
The moment was like that of a bedraggled and thirsty bandito stumbling across a well in the middle of the Mexican desert. Or Henry Stanley finally finding Dr. David Livingstone. It was catharsis. It was all I could do to stop myself from sinking to my feet and sobbing gently, right there on the sidewalk of 14th Street. I was standing in front of a bona-fide, American issue 2010 Chevy Camaro SS. Click link for rest of article.
In my Grade Eight IsiZulu class, our set book was a novel set in the early 1800s. It was a fictionalised account of what the Iron Age existence of a tribe living in KwaZulu Natal would have been like – before the white man arrived in his ships; even before Shaka Zulu’s fearsome warriors began their raiding expeditions. It was a well-written book and within its pages I was transported back to those simple years when the greatest challenge of the day was finding a cave where iron ore could be mined from. But the book was horribly flawed in one respect. Click link for more..
It must have been on 29 April or thereabouts and I had decided to see what was happening in town with a friend of mine. Thinking that it was dubstep night, I suggested to my friend that we should go to Kitchener’s Carvery Bar in Braamfontein. We arrived there at around 23h00, only to discover that no, it wasn’t dubstep night, but rather live band night. Not to worry, I thought, it would take a really bad band to ruin Kitchener’s on any night.
Has the human species made any noticeable progress since that first unknown person picked up a sharp instrument and made a mark on a rock? Are we any better than our barbaric ancestors? Are the iPad, satellite television and fuel-injected engines signs that we can rightfully look back with conceit at the gloomy depths from whence we came? By what measure should we gauge our history and achievements? What should our flagpole be?
To get to my mother’s desk I had to walk through a curio shop. It was one of those dreadfully cheesy African curio shops, with the carved wooden and stone animals, the beads and the bowls, like you find at any South African airport, the Moyo restaurants and the Durban beachfront. I have that exact same feeling (as if I’m back in that curio shop) when I come across certain music videos made by South African bands. What is with this new trend with our bands who think that by merely smearing white face paint across their videos it will make them mysterious and exotic?
It was at 02h33 just this morning when Dead American Writers cut through my sleep. I reached out to grab my ringing cellphone, my senses still dulled and drugged by the heavy slumber I had been so rudely pulled out of. Who the hell would call me at that hour? Was it my colleagues, about to breathlessly announce that we need a story chop-chop? Were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse upon us? Had Nelson Mandela finally passed on?