Archive for December, 2011

Southern Crosses

December 25, 2011

Crosses like these dot South Africa’s roads with reminders of death, marking the spots where people perished in car accidents. You always see more of them just after Christmas/New year and Easter holidays – the big traveling (and drinking) holidays around here.

John and Gareth. Clearly loved. Traveling together? Hit each other head on? How long ago? What did they do? What made them laugh?

Always wanted to make a series of short documentaries about the people who died, told by their relatives – not the story of how they died; the story of the things they did when they lived. Somehow I think that would be sadder.

I’d like to show them as interstitial TV shorts over holiday periods, and on weekends, to encourage South Africans to lose some of their worst road safety habits.

1. Tailgating

2. Overtaking on blind rises / corners

3.  Stopping their cars and jumping out to attack each other with sports equipment.

The Southern Cross. Which I think you'll agree gives the title of my proposed doccie resonance. Image source here.

At this time of writing, the death toll is well over 800, which makes it infinitely safer to swim with sharks than to dice with BMWs.

Signs of Christmas in Cape Town

December 24, 2011

After the overbearing religiosity of America’s (undeniably charming at times) celebration of Christmas, even a trip to Southern Suburbs’ anglo-saxon shrine, Cavendish Square Shopping Centre, is an exercise in tolerance and shared values. Well okay, calculated moneymaking. But if, as one of my most argumentative and favorite commentators on this blog claims, South Africa is almost as Christian as the US, then this is even more significant as an act of accommodation at least *.

LOVE , JOY, REINDEER... Christmas for me has always been a weird combo of images of the North Pole experienced in mid-summer heat and roaring South-Easters. Christmas, to me, smells like sea salt and chlorine.

The fact that they don't take it for granted is nice, although Christmas is very much a shared holiday, since it's a public holiday. They have the same sort of notice up around Ramadahn and Eid and Rosh Hashanah and Divali though - in many stores and malls. After all, all the festivals have the same pagan sources, and all the shops have the same post-pagan motivation: profit.

Frightening, is all I'll say. Look out, The competition has arrived, and its name is "holidaymakers in Cape Town".

Free Range Chicken - the real thing - about $3-$5 each. The best deal I can get in the USA is $14 at Trader Joe's, and I swear, even their free range chicken is deformed. The best thing is that I took this photo in the Spar, and saw the same thing in Pick 'n Pay.

Table Mountain... well a bit of it. I'll get you the rest soon.

South Africa is beautiful because it’s less developed, and the food is cheaper because most people are staggeringly poor. But I’m not. I’m middle class. I’m one of the lucky ones. And I know it. I do know it. And I’m loving the clean air, the fresh tasting tap water, the unspoiled sea and even the summer winds. I’m loving living like a king for less than I do as a student in the USA. I sort of feel bad. I am having trouble with my happy holiday. I sometimes feel awkwardly grateful and faintly white-guilty. Sometimes I feel completely revolted, like when the dude selling “Funny Money”, a photocopied zine packed with dumb racist jokes, acted all “dumb af” in an attempt to sell it to me. I’m not sure if I was angry because this act works on other white people, or because he thought I was one of them. Both, I suppose.

La Boheme in Sea Point. R90 (about $13) buys you a 3 course meal - a great, bistro-style, three course feast.

I also miss California, which has become home, the urgency of the movie making buzz there. It feels like I’ve fallen into a delicious lull here… a sun-soaked inertia. I’m happy to wait an hour in a restaurant for my food to arrive. I can stand in a supermarket queue while the guy in front of me pays in 5c pieces and not even bother to switch to a new line.

The only place South Africans appear to be in any hurry right now, is on the roads. I’ll try post something about that before one of them runs me over.

* Sharon, I’d disagree that this is the case. Our politicians aren’t required to prove they’re Christian to qualify for the race. Our (admittedly, crazy) president recently accused Christians of creating orphanages and stuff and said that African religions never allowed them to exist. This may be true, although i think it’s bullshit, but imagine an American president saying that? They’d get more than a 500 word article on page 3 of a daily paper in return.

F*$king with facebook’s head

December 23, 2011

I don’t know if you’ve noticed how knee-jerk responsive farcebook is every post you make. It’s insane, and stupid. Currently has me pegged as a gay dog lover since I changed my profile to say I was interested in “men and women”. Because I am. Not necessarily for sex in either case, since I do have a boyfriend.

I’m house sitting for someone who has two very needy golden retrievers – or, “men with tails” as she puts it. I posted one or two things about the dogs and voila! Facebook responded with this:

The first dog must have drowned by now. Then there's kitschy home decor art - which along with cheesy lettered signs featuring positive messages to help you in day to day life is huge in the USA - followed by an advert for a kennel that looks like a mental asylum. Chocolates? Because lonely lesbian dog owners need those, or because these particular ones looks a bit like turds. And then an advert for a doggy boutique where you can have your poodle dyed pink, in case she's not already sexy enough for those lonely winter nights.

The scary faces lost in New York City

December 20, 2011

Back in South Africa… and still sort of missing New York. Which sounds not only pretentious but also ungrateful for the beauty around me. But there it is.

Angry and cute at the same time. I love him and want to take him home and lock him in a cage where he can't bite me.

He's scared of heights. The ones above him, not the ones below.

Took these photos of street art in the East and West Village while I was there. Can anyone tell me whose they are?

Steve Hofmeyr loves to watch you pee

December 18, 2011

It's impossible to take this for granted.

I have had quite a few “I know I’m home because” moments. Most of them are amazing; like walking down to the almost empty beach this morning with my mom, swimming around in ice cold, crystal clear water, watching penguins cleaning themselves on the rocks. Or crossing the road without bothering to see if it’s legal. Or going to buy fruit at the market on the beach – spending $15 for a box of 24 peaches, a bucket of lychees, and a bag of plums and apricots. Oh and a huge sack of potatoes. Or being able to buy a lamb curry pie at a petrol station. Or order a rock shandy and actually get a rock shandy. Best of all has been a real sense of religious freedom. I pulled my scarf over my head after the beach today to ward off the sun, without wondering if anyone would give me a dirty look. I don’t have to listen to some vibrating mental case singing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” every time I turn on the radio. Yes, not everybody in this world is Christian. And I like that.

But then there was the trip to the movies – the side of the second world that’s not so awesome, at all.

Two of the toilets are broken (and smell it). But worse still, I have to look at the multiple posters of a racist (when it's convenient) reactionary (usually) who makes music I hate. MTN, what are you thinking?

And here's the best bit. When you sit down, he's there AGAIN. WATCHING. Freaky. I see someone decided to give him a thought-bubble.

Just cause Malema is worse, doesn’t make the kind of patriachal when-we junk Steve Hofmeyr talks okay. And I certainly don’t want to do kinky German sex stuff with him. Apparently all Ster Kinekor cinema toilets have this awful MTN advertising in them now.

On the plus side, I don’t think liberal or left wing feminists are likely to struggle with their bowel movements when they have this to look at when they go. If I sold laxatives, I’d sue.