LA Rental Agencies – watch out, folks!

June 15, 2017

This afternoon, I heard an argument outside my apartment.

My apartment manager was trying to get a woman from Westside Rentals to take down the sign she was busy zip-tying to the gate of our apartment building.

She was on her way out before I managed to find my cell phone, which was buried in my bed somewhere, and take a picture.

I went out to listen. He’s a calm kinda guy, a part-time DJ who’s used to dealing with nutcases, so he just stood there nodding. The agent from Westside Rentals said something along the lines of this (and imagine she just kept talking, no gaps, for five minutes):

“Well we get requests all the time and we thought that if we brought you clients then it would be fine but I’ll take it down if you want. But we put up our signs when we get requests at a property because we can facilitate the rentals for you and the clients have requested that we do and we… [bla bla bla].”

He just stood there nodding politely until she said again: “But I can take it down if you want”. He nodded again. He waited as she cut it off. He went back inside.

There’s a fine line between scams and reality in California, and particularly in LA. For example, you’ll drive around and see WESTSIDE RENTALS signs with that inviting red key all over properties in LA, and you’ll go to their websites and find listings for properties all over LA. Friends have complained that they signed up, risked their credit rating (which declines with every request) and then had no luck with big companies like Westside Rentals, which is now apparently linked with as advertised by Jeff Goldblum. Most of them really find their places through friends, or facebook groups, or sometimes Craigslist.

Rental Agencies in LA act like used car dealerships – who often advertise impossibly great deals or cars they don’t actually have on their lot to lure you in.

This is a blog about signs. Just because it’s written on a sign, doesn’t mean it’s true. So before calling Westside Rentals (even if they have their sign up legally), google the block and see if you can go directly to the rental management company.

You may be saving yourself a few hundred dollars, and a lot of disappointment, as well as damage to your credit rating.




AirBNB’s Imaginary Maids of Goleto, CA

June 11, 2017

You know how when you’re paying over $100 a night to stay in a room, plus cleaning fees, you expect clean sheets, clean towels, a clean working bathroom, a key to your room… at least?

My parents both run AirBNBs in South Africa, cause life’s expensive, and $$ go far. There, hosts are required to provide clean white cotton sheets, clean towels, shampoo, conditioner, clean bathrooms etc or get blacklisted. Here in the USA, it seems to be the wild west and it’s impossible to get hold of AirBNB when there’s an emergency. I had a few emergencies this weekend and came up short all day and night.

Their mobile site – their MOBILE site being possibly the single most important site that SHOULD work for clients who are MOBILE – doesn’t allow password recovery and they don’t respond to complaints or even to tweets. I had to literally drive back to my laptop in LA to request a refund on tonight’s room…

I instant-booked for almost twice the price after the previous (months in advance) booking canceled on me 24 hours before I left Los Angeles with a complete bullshit excuse. I shelled out almost double my original cost for a less convenient location!

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This was the room advertised. Bunk beds. Looks clean. A getaway in “Old Town”? Sounds quaint. The reality, I didn’t even photograph. It was a nice enough looking room, but it WASN’T THIS ROOM – AT ALL. Suddenly my friend and I were now expected to share a bed. A bed with dirty leopard print sheets. Also, there’s no “old town” I could see. It was just “tatty town” at best.

Night One of Two in another host’s house had been a little rough for the money, already. We’d arrived to find there were no pillow cases on the uncomfortable foam pillows and no sheets – just flannel mattrass covers. The bathroom was cramped. The towels were stained and frayed. There was nowhere to hang them, but when we came home after dinner the towels had been removed from the room and hung in the bathroom – with no way to tell whose was whose (so I guess I dried myself with someone else’s taint-towel). With about eight guests sharing a tiny bathroom and no bath mat, it was a slippery health hazard… but hey. The Hostess said the cleaning lady/maid had messed up and forgotten the pillow cases.

I decided to forgive her because we came in a bit late on Friday, and not as quietly as we should have. Also, the host was sweet enough to allow us to add a last-minute guest who’d been hit with an AirBNB scam.

Yes, really. AirBNB Scams… That’s a thing now. He showed up at the address. No airBNB. They kept him on hold for 4 hours. No resolution.

We hoped Night Two would be better. After all, we were going to one of my best friend’s wedding to an amazing lady-girl. The kind of couple you love. The kind of couple that makes you cry before they’re both even standing in front of each other getting married.

We planned to hang out late, lyft around, share their joy , and crash in our bunks before waking up early to wash off the night before in the sea and driving home. We’d have better luck this time. Right? Between the wedding ceremony and the reception, we motored to quickly check in and drop our bags…



I swear, this is a lot cuter in the picture. Imagine you’re on a dating site and this is a bathroom selfie, then subtract three hotness points instantly. Add the smell of urine and some trash.

Forget quickly, quickly. The host wasn’t contactable and would only text back. His mother, who it emerged was the actual host, didn’t answer her phone as we called and called. The address was for a road that appeared not to exist. An hour after we parked nearby, we finally found the most likely location… a flat on the main road, above a store… and not in the quaint sense of “above a store”. The downstairs gate was open. The entrance smelled and was full of trash. The front door was unmarked – but unlocked.

And the “host’s” mother seemed horrified to see us.

Understandably. The apartment smelled like despair. She seemed to be in detox from something… based on her hair, skin and teeth I’d guess meth, but it’s not my place. She needed to shower. There was a cigarette butt lying on the hallway floor. My friend had to clean the toilet herself before using it, and it barely flushed. There were no towels at all. “The Maid” was still bringing them we were told. The bed was dirty – it had food and hairs in it from whever had been there before. “The Maid” apparently messed up. I immediately became paranoid that the furniture was collected from the roadside and might have bed bugs. The Mother didn’t have keys to downstairs and freaked out and prevaricated when I asked for a room key. She eventually found one, but really didn’t want to give it up. Then, she went Full Addict on me and blamed a) me for making her nervous b) her phone for not ringing and c) Guess What… The Maid for the fact that the place was revolting on every level.

There was no chance in hell that this woman ever employed a maid. Ever. No chance that this woman knows what they do. I know this because I worked as a cleaner (PS, that’s the term that’s actually appropriate) for six months. I know how to do the job.

So, the whole “blame the maid” thing was getting old now.

We were late for the wedding. Panicked, exhausted and blindsided, we dropped our stuff, grabbed our valuables, and ran out again without the shower or nap or peace of mind we’d planned. After calming down we decided to just drive home to Los Angeles when the big dances were done and lose out on the rest of the night.

We snuck in, dropped off the key, took our bags and noticed that the cigarette butt was still there. Probably still is unless our gracious host found it and smoked it.

My friend and I have been through worse together. Much worse, perhaps luckily.

When she got home to her cat, and I got home to my studio apartment, we texted each other: “My little place feels like a PALACE”, she said. I felt the same.

I doubt she’ll ever let me book a room for us again – or that she’ll ever use AirBNB. I’m pretty sure I never will again either*.

*A note on that: My first experiences with AirBNB were good. I stayed in Boston, San Diego and Utah using it and was happy with these three experiences in 2014-15. My recent three have been repulsive. In Santa Barbara and San Diego in particular – they’re apparently getting sloppy. I think there’s room for a competitor who vets their hosts, investigates last-minute cancelations or provides financial compensation that covers increased rebooking costs, provides fast support and checks that IF they’re charging 2/3 of the price of  Motel 6, Hosts provide the basics without having to be parented or begged from by their guests. Think, Lyft… but for AirBNB.

** Note two: 6-12-17 at 3pm: After two days of attempting to contact AirBNB online through the site, twitter and elsewhere, I got through to them on the phone and my issue was dealt with within hours of the call. They refunded me and gave me a voucher for another stay.






How to Mansplain! A guide for dummies, beginners, and women who need it explained to them again.

February 18, 2017

That’s sexist! Shouldn’t it just be called ‘splainin’? Yes, it probably should just be called ‘splainin’. Yes, whites and mean girls use the same techniques. I’ll come back to that…

But “Mansplaining” is the most common form, as the six instances of mansplaining in the Mansplaining definition (at time of writing) on Urban Dictionary – which come before the first instance of a woman correctly explaining the term – prove better than I ever could.

Mansplain is …
gerund or present participle: mansplaining
1. (of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.
“I’m listening to a guy mansplain economics to his wife”
(Via Google)


How to Mansplain: A Guide for Everybody

Remember when you were at school and you asked the teacher a question and some asshole turned around and gave you the answer? Mansplaining is that, without the question, multiplied by 1000… on crack.


It’s designed to drive you to violence.

Step 1. Know Your Goals

Your goal when Mansplaining is to humiliate someone who questions the status quo that benefits you, while still appearing to have good intentions. Your overall goal is always to show her – and your audience – that she’s ignorant or mistaken and often also that she is over reacting in a blaming way to you. It’s essential that you come off as reasonable, while she comes off as angry, shrill, aggressive and ultimately insane.

Ideally, by the end of your mansplain session, she should have lapsed into an apocalyptic rage and incriminated herself in the eyes of others. Winner!


Step 2. Remind her who she is, in case she’s forgotten her name or her place

When mansplaining, using the person’s name frequently – while gently reminding them that their time, money and opinions are not as important as yours – is extremely effective in pushing them past the point of no return.

For instance, if you were another blogger correcting me for this post, saying: “Jean, what you don’t seem to understand is that you’re oversensitive and overthinking it all. Consider, Jean, if you should just listen more to people who’re only trying to help you do better work. We took time out of our schedules to advise you!” is much more infuriating than “Shut up and listen, Bitch!” It’s very personalized, and also gives the impression to outsiders that the speaker is reasonable and cares about who I am.

Step 3. Pretend she’s senile and easily upset

We all know that the best way to make someone lose their shit is to tell them to “calm down” or “relax” when they’re not actually that angry… yet… but do have a legitimate reason to be. Remember this when speaking. Adopt a calming tone, like you’re the father of a small girl, or the nurse of a senile old lady condemned to a nursing home.

If you’re having trouble taking this approach, just remind yourself that the ten minutes you’re taking out of your busy schedule to explain this to her is probably worth a day of her pointless life.

Step 4. Remember: Her rank, age, experience skill set, etc don’t matter

The approach outlined in steps 1 through 3 will be even more effective in causing her to lose her temper if she is much more knowledgeable to you, senior to you in work or age, or all three. Remember, a combination of anger and frustration is much more likely to make a woman cry than physical pain is. They push out babies. They won fight club already.

The more she feels unjustly treated, the more likely it is that she’ll explode and start screaming at you. When this happens, you’ve won.

Step 5. Deploy your secret weapon – your hurt feelings

There’s a danger she’ll call you out on your mansplaining. Use this to your advantage, by acting hurt. Let everybody know you’re not all men, and that she’s made you her scapegoat just because you were nice to her. Other people who’ve been called on things (racism, sexism, whatever…) will then side with you. If you can cry a small man-tear, do. It will be welcomed like the only single dad in a play date.

On the off-chance she breaks down and cries instead of shouting at you, step in and comfort her with helpless and innocent glances at anybody watching. Her reputation will never recover from your generosity, especially considering how mean she was.


You’re just the pill for this, bro.

Is mansplaining just for men?

No, of course not! It’s 2017! These days, white people also use the same techniques when explaining, or (whitesplaining) to black people and other people of color that they have equal rights now and there’s no reason to keep complaining about racism.

Women can also use the same techniques against other women… and frequently do. There isn’t a word for it but it should probably be called “being a patronizing and insufferable bitch”.

CAUTION: Women should never – I repeat NEVER – attempt to “womansplain” to men because there’s a serious risk that if they DO drive a man to lose control and lapse into an apocalyptic rage, his response will elicit such sympathy that he will be elected President of the USA.



WomensMarchLA – The Signs and the things I missed, being South African.

January 22, 2017

Going to the women’s march in Los Angeles felt like full circle for me. I marched in South Africa in the early 90s. And here I was again, sticking my finger in the dyke hoping that some action would prevent complete disaster. If you check out my instagram (jeanbarkerza), I have video of (not that but) a Trump Pinata and also the crowd chanting “hey hey, ho ho, please don’t fall /out the window” to a fifth-floor hipster.

Meeting up with friends? Not possible. The cell companies didn’t get their shit together, so it was impossible to connect, but that was fine. I wasn’t there to socialize, I was there to protest and march.

The only thing I really missed was the toyi-toying and the singing. I didn’t miss the teargas. I hope that by the next march, I will be able to teach LA folks the basics of joyous protesting, SA style. Here are some quick tips, with humor. My favorite line: “I am black.”

You see, toyi-toying allows you to to occupy yourself while you’re occupying, because marching, as the newbies surrounding me learned, mostly involves (legally, anyhow) standing around waiting for the cops to get their shit together. Also, you get to sing.




While we waited, LA women of all races discussed their careers, kids, and yoga classes. I never found out what the Bug was about. Trump Bugs Me?


There’s always a hipster at anything in LA. MEN OF QUALITY DEMAND EQUALITY. And facial hair. And stencils.






WE THE PEOPLE. also TOO MANY THINGS TO FIT ON ONE SIGN. But then again, that’s why there were more than 100, 000 of us.


Nobody was arrested, even if they were breaking the law. See: Lady on Fire Escape. I actually literally didn’t see any cops, just a couple of fire engines.


PUSSY GRABS BACK. A popular topic. I enjoy the idea of all the parents that brought their kids explaining to kids what Kegels are, and why it’s mommy’s choice to do them. I didn’t see a poster that said “Talk to your child about orgasms”.


PUSSY HATS, everywhere. Downtown was swarmed. None of the cell towers worked anymore.














This nutjob kinda didn’t get it and kept shouting TRUMP IS A BITCH! TRUMP IS A BITCH!



Trump supporters, presumably some big company / superpac that wants unions destroyed, flew a plane over the march, with a banner reading CONGRATULATIONS PRESIDENT TRUMP. I guess when you can’t get boots on the ground, boots that are made for walking, you just pay to play.


And, in summary… Let’s just forget about the past and MOVE ON, TRUMPIES!

Lost and Found on Washington Blvd.

January 2, 2017

Lost art led me to find new art, when a Christmas gift from my father by my mother via Birmingham in the UK got lost in the post and forced me out to track it down. In the course of looking, I discovered another of my neighborhood’s hidden gems.


My Ma’s handwriting is legendary – few people can decipher it. I now understand why this letter wound up addressed to Jean Bowen, and had to be forcibly retrieved by hand.

The letter led me south-west on Washington Blvd into West Adams, where I’ve wandered a few times before, but not as far. It seemed to be just a series of shops for used kitchen fittings. But there is more, there. In fact, the post office where my parcel was being held is the only US post office I know of rated more than 2 Stars on Yelp. It’s got a real community feel, and everybody was amazingly friendly.


Every day, I’m reminded of or discover new art. Thanks Dad.

So I got the calendar, but I also, accidentally, got a whole lot more.


I found this amazing persimmon, which I think you’ll agree as my friend Alicia says: “Manages to look like about four giggly things at once”. Another shopper nearby me saw me laughing and requested a photo of her own to show her husband.


Then was wandering home, and this Liquor Store caught my eye. It would make a great period film location. Notice the sign in the window on the right, advertising “OUT OF TOWN NEWSPAPERS”, which dates it pre-internet, or at least pre-smartphone.


This sign is what led me inside. It made me wonder: Who does own graffiti – and could the owner or tenant of the wall claim they do?

I wandered inside, and found the otherwise unlabeled “UNDERGROUND MUSEUM” on Washington Blvd.


Pretty, chintzy even, wallpaper, Laura Ashley style… until you look closer, and see that it’s repeated images of a lynching.


“In the Hood” by David Hammons (2016), also part of the Non-Fiction exhibit curated by Noah Davis.


The surprise back garden, where there’s space to work, and in summer, a film screening series.

The area where I live (Arlington Heights / West Adams) is often dismissed as “The Ghetto” or “The Hood” in yelp reviews of places Jonathan Gold went to first, making them safe for the middle classes to explore and briefly over-run.  Most people I meet in White LA seem worried about me when I say I live here, or say in that quintessentially LA-Snob way “Oh really… I think I’ve heard of it. How IS that?” An ex-boyfriend once referred to it as a “bad area”, (because why? Because poor / immigrant / black people are dangerous?) and refused to walk two blocks to a restaurant at night with me. Poor baby…

But I’ve fallen in love with it, and more and more I find there’s much more to it than I ever imagined. And it’s not like it’s just arrived, either. The Underground has been there since 2012.

Be kinder to strangers for Christmas, or whatever you celebrate, or just because!

December 13, 2016

You don’t know what they’re going through.

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The Holidays are hard for me. No Family in Town – or the Country. It’s Christmas. It’s Hanukah (and my very recent Ex-Fiance is Jewish, so I’m attached to that too). It’s New Year’s. It’s winter, and it’s summer at home.

Most of my US friends are headed to Thailand for a wedding over Christmas, which I can’t attend because I can’t travel on my visa and come back. Also, I just got an email from my biggest income source to say they’re closing in three days for the holidays. What holidays? Freelancers like me don’t have holidays…

Or income, until Jan 2nd, Apparently.

So I nearly didn’t drive the 45 minutes to my friend’s birthday party, but then I did, because I figured I at least had gas. On the way, I listened to a compilation CD my friend Carrie made me. It was called “relaxation”, but it was really sad. This was comforting. In my sudden downswing, anyhow.

And then I saw that orange light: GAS. Running out. Shit. Traffic. Shit. After struggling for a couple of miles, I hoped I had enough in my debit account to feed my tank. I began to change lanes near the first gas station I saw.

That’s when SHE rolled down her window.

She was an ordinary, middle-class white woman in a new Beatle. I could see exactly what she wanted to do (make a left turn into her street). But I was trapped between cars at this point, and not, I have to add, in a “keep clear” area. Just you know… changing lanes…

I rolled down my window too and shouted: “Sorry, I can’t move”

“You selfish bitch!” she replied

I replied: “Okay, have a nice day”, in the snarky way we do when someone road rages for no reason, and began to roll up my window, but she was still screaming, so I succumbed to curiosity. Oh, curiosity. It’s a killer.

“Some of us are trying to turn, and you’re just SITTING there”, she said. I considered calling a helicopter to airlift me out, but hey, I can barely afford gas. I noticed the disabled sticker on her orange Beatle (the new kind).

“I don’t think it’s such a big deal, and I can’t move right now. I have to get gas, I just ran out” I said, still trying to reason with her, but not nicely. “Please, don’t be awful. I’ve had a long day and so have you.”

She looked me dead in the eye, paused and said:

“CUNT”. I rolled my window down and waited for traffic to move so I could get out of her way. But as I moved off, I began to cry, about a whole bunch of stuff.

I made it the 800ft to the Gas Station. $20 left. Thank goodness.

I wasn’t nice, in that situation.

I know that. I was annoyed that she was objecting to me doing something that wasn’t aimed at her, so I snarked her, knowing that saying “Have a nice day” would be like telling an upset person to “calm down” – the worst thing to say. Superior. Judgmental. Cruel, even.

I thought, as I drove off sadly, about how she had no idea what happened in my day, and about how I had no idea what happened in her day – or her year. Maybe this is the year her legs stopped working. Maybe today her husband (or wife) left her. Maybe that disabled sticker is for her kid. Maybe it’s fake. Maybe she doesn’t think about it anymore, and she’s just having some kind of hormonal issues. It doesn’t matter – she needed kindness, not my judgment.

I’m going to be nicer, next time. I promise. At this time of year, we all should try a lot harder – not cause we’re religious (I’m not) – but because the festive season is a marker in life, a time of year when all kinds of crises, past and present, come into focus for all of us.

End of sermon.

So I have no words, only pictures.

December 8, 2016
That's me and my friend Carrie.

That’s me and my friend Carrie on Nov 8. After high high hopes, this is how it ended.


I got stuck behind this thing on the 110 the day after.


Actually only found this the day after Thanksgiving. But I suspect someone edited it more recently.


Near my yoga studio.


My father sent me this the day after the results came in.


Erin made this cake, and we didn’t finish it, so I guess that’s why Trump won. America sucks – sometimes.

Day to Day, America is the same, though. For now. That’s weird.


Trump. America’s Hitler? Let’s hope not, but it’s not impossible.

September 23, 2016

?Yet it seems like there’s no stopping this guy, when hipsters and entitled white dicks persist in fighting inevitable choices, and refuse to play the politics long game. I’m writing about this for my News24 column, called STOP IT, AMERICA!

So, a few of my favorite sign language Trumpisms, mostly related to his Hollywood star, since that’s in my hood. Gotta credit this link for the last two.


STFU. We wish.


Hasty swastika


My favorite. A wall. Not high enough.


I don’t know. This might work. Americans do love animals more than most people… except the ones they eat. What’s with that?!

911 15 years later, and I cried

September 12, 2016

What did watching a stage play telling the story of 911 in the voices of survivors and volunteers teach me? This: People are not numbers. People are not countries. Every life is special, every life is a story, and so every life should be treasured.


I’m sharing this because I believe my story – my perceptions of the event – have things to teach both Americans and people all over the world something about how to see it.

So, here goes.

When I first saw 911 go down on CNN, live on TV in my office at in Cape Town, South Africa (we were in Parow then) I didn’t get how it was going to change the world. If I’m honest, I didn’t get it was going to ruin the world.

There was something thrilling about it. Sort of like how I think the crazy 50% of Republican voters (and a few Bernie bros) feel about Trump: What could be worse than what we have now? Let’s shake it up man! David and Goliath!

Don’t trust that feeling. I shouldn’t have. I am shamed by it today.

No, thousands of people dying is not nothing, but it does happen, all the time, all over the world, and America often doesn’t care. So at the time, I didn’t understand why I should care, when it happened to them. After all, they still hadn’t apologized for killing millions of Japanese people, when they dropped atomic bombs on Japan to scare Russia. (Still haven’t).

Yes. People are not numbers. People are not countries. Every life is special, every life is a story, and so every life should be treasured.

Back to my story. I was South African then. I still am, but then, my identity was more firmly part of a world in which America was the asshole boss that you hated when they bossed you around, but smiled at when they bought you ice cream (or movies, mostly, in this example). America had not yet taken Nelson Mandela off the terrorist watchlist.

The point is, Americans themselves weren’t the enemy. I’ve always been a passionate liberal, which means negotiation, negotiation, marches, protests… and a few tantrums. But Americans weren’t special to me. Why should they be? American deaths weren’t (and still are not) more tragic to me than those of Rwandans, Afgans, Nigerians, South Americans, Syrians, or any other casualties over the years of the thirst for oil (or the lack thereof), or the economic colonialism disguised as patriotism, or the blundering of prideful wars, however well intentioned they may be to the brave veterans who fight them.

So 2000-odd Americans died, and I thought it was terrible, but I didn’t realise how terrible it was, because I didn’t realise what would happen as a result, and I didn’t realise how I’d feel about it now, 15 years later.

The first consequence I didn’t forsee was that afternoon was that Bush, in his megalomania, would ensure that thousands more Americans would follow, and that, more importantly, the entire middle east would be wracked with extremism in response to America’s gung ho vengeance.  I didn’t realise the terrible prejudice against Muslims that would alienate many in the middle, and put my own country on yet more watchlists. I didn’t realise that, for months and years afterwards, discussing the topic, or questioning the US war on terror, would be seem treasonable – or pro-terrorist.

That night, I was in a bar, and the owners were film carpenters who’d moved to Cape Town, and ran a cool scene in the winter off season (this is before they built the massive studios in Khayalitsha, so big and so state of the art, that US effects films do a lot of their offshore work there). They said: “Don’t joke about this. This will ruin the world you know. America will strike back 100 fold.” They were right. America got Dubya re-elected with blood money, literally.

I also didn’t know then that I’d be sitting in a theater one day, weeping, for the first time ever at a live theater event. I tend to avoid drama. Bad drama is not only depressing, but embarrassing and boring. That over the top theater thing just makes me want to giggle. But this wasn’t that. Aside from one performance, I believed every moment of the 110 Stories told by great actors like Robert Forster, Elizabeth Greer, Nicki Micheaux, Mark Pellegrino, Emilio Rivera, Stelio Savante, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Diane Venora, Michael Welch and Brian White (Mira Sorvina replaced Elizabeth Greer on Sunday). I wept more than once to the great work of playwright Sara Tuft, which never once mentioned Islam.

I was left with this, reminded that people are not numbers. People are not countries. Every life is special, every life is a story, and so every life should be treasured. It may be exhausting, but we have to care. The pain is worth it, because it helps us stand up against this kind of thing. I wish this kind of play was written about every tragedy, and required viewing for all high school history students.

And finally, I wish people wouldn’t even consider voting for Donald Trump, or for anyone who helps him come to power. That includes the Greens, or the Libertarians.

ISIS couldn’t have designed a weapon more dangerous to America than a man who makes everybody in the world hate its president – and trust me, we worse than hate him. We fear him. He’ll make America everybody’s enemy, because he’s said we’re all America’s foes, more times than I care to count.
screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-11-29-51-pmI went to New York a couple of times, and it’s an extraordinary city. That this place, the immigrant capital of America, the most welcoming place in the country in many ways, was the target, gave me a personal reason to be more appalled than I can tell you.

Info about these pictures of murals by Mr Brainwash, who the article calls a “wannabe Banksy”, like I care, you snobs, available here.



Self-Storage: A place to keep your crap

August 26, 2016

I used Self-Storage once, while between apartments, and had an odd, melancholic conversation with an uber driver on the way to pick something up out of it.

Self-storage is to private property what obesity is to great food in America – a serious problem. A kind of addiction. A greedy perversion of what should be a pleasure and a human right.


This inspired my latest News24 Column.

Recently, I was about to move in with someone, and realistically needed to ditch 90% of what I own. Plates, cups, furniture, duplicate soda stream machine, microwave, toaster… you get the picture. That’s okay. I thought it was. I’ve been forced to reduce, toss, get rid of and let go of things many, many times over the years, though I will confess to keeping an entire 500 LP and 600 CD record collection at my Ma’s house, and the record player and a few other boxes at my Dad’s. But aside from that, I’m willing to let go. Yet I thought, for a moment, about getting self-storage. You know, just in case his soda stream broke and we, you know… needed mine.

And then I realized how crazy that was. How sad. How utterly expensive. I realized this urge was all about the fear of change – that somehow my identity was – is – tied up in this mere stuff. And in disgust, I made a list of only what I wanted to keep. Everything else, anything I can’t remember, must go.

In the process of researching why I was having so much trouble doing this, using my favorite analyst, Google, I also found these entertaining advertisements, mostly from one New York company, Manhattan Mini Storage. New York city may be the only place where self-storage is justifiable, and these guys’ adverts are like an American version of SA’s Nando’s Chicken’s, which make fantastic use of opportunities to satirize politics in South Africa and Southern Africa.

Nando’s agencies do their jobs so well that their ads get banned, as they did for this takedown of Zimbabwean Dictator Robert Mugabe.

gay clutter

Gay marriage is just as annoying as straight marriage, as it turns out. It’s very hard to de-clutter a shared space. It begins to be about territory.





People don't know what they store. The reason it's in storage is it's of no use to them.

People don’t know what they store. The reason it’s in storage is it’s of no use to them.


New York political snobbery. Another billboard mocks "secret republicanism"

New York political snobbery. Another billboard mocks “secret republicanism”


I know people like this. My desk used to be pretty messy, when I had an office job. No longer.

I know people like this. My desk used to be pretty messy, when I had an office job. No longer.

Wait, what is this? This looks like something I need in my life right now. A service that comes and cleans up my future room mate’s junk, so that I can easily move 10% of what I now own into the space I’m sharing?

No such luck, baby. It’s just another storage place.

I saw a billboard for this in LA. I thought it was a decluttering service. Turns out it's physical "cloud" storage. They pick up your items, catalogue them and store them with other folks', and retrieve them when you ask them to.

Turns out it’s physical “cloud” storage. They pick up your items, catalogue them and store them with other folks’, and retrieve them when you ask them to.