Archive for November, 2013

I bit a man, like any bitch would

November 21, 2013

When I was 10 years old, I bit a man. I might have been 11 or 12, but I still felt 10. Sometimes I wonder if I ever grew up at all.

He was one my my parents’ friends. He was staying with us, and while he stayed with us, there seemed to be a lot of small parties – dinner parties, picnics with booze on the lawn near the rabbit cage. I didn’t like him much for some reason. At the time I thought it was because whenever he cooked dinner it was something like fresh picked wild mussels. They were a huge treat for my parents and I remember it was fun picking them, but they tasted creepy as shit when I was a kid. Let’s call him Jacob, although it was another biblical name. He was a small man, very intense.  His wife had recently died and he was upset so we had to be nice to him. Kids don’t get that – but we tried.

It wasn’t the first time I bit a man. I once bit my primary school teacher on the leg. He was talking to my mother because I’d jumped out of the window during class and I didn’t want him to get me into trouble. I didn’t draw blood, though. I also once bit an editor on the arm during a party. I confess I don’t remember that very well, but we laughed about it the next day while cutting. It wasn’t an aggressive thing at the time I’m sure, or he would have been angry with me. I know I wasn’t angry with him. Yeah, embarrassing. I also bit my friend Sam once (she’s female though) and this is sorta why I should never drink tequila, or maybe at all.

Anyhow, back to Jacob. He liked to sleep late and didn’t like that my dogs kept him up. I had a dog and her name was Kumptie, which was a name that really embarrassed my father, cause it sounded EXACTLY like “Cuntie”, and I used to call her a lot, in parks. She had puppies. And they made a lot of noise. She wasn’t a great mother really – she sorta ignored them. I filled in where I could.

The day I bit Jacob, he and my parents were having a picnic or something in the garden. My puppies were playing nearby and he started playing with them. I kept a protective eye on this. I didn’t trust him.

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Then one of them gave him a playful bite.

And he SLAPPED the puppy, so hard it squawked.  I went for him but my parents stopped me. Kumptie, nearby, went for him too.

“They’ll never learn if you don’t!” He protested as I was dragged off him, together with the puppy’s birth mother.

Shortly afterwards and next thing I remember, I found Kumptie chained up in the back yard, where we hung our laundry. Who had done this? I needed to know. Before I even unchained her. I demanded to know. Turns out it was Jacob. I found him outside by the Braai, and I ran up to him and bit him as hard as I could. If she couldn’t defend her pups, I would do it for her.

This time, I drew blood. I remember the feeling of shame and power mixed up there. I wasn’t the kind of kid who hurt or bullied others, and I’m still not. I get angry but I don’t hit. But this huge adult who had hurt my puppy and abused my dog screamed and ran away and that was amazing.

Oddly, my parents weren’t nearly as pissed at me as I assumed they’d be. They did send me to my room while they took him to the hospital. They did tell me that human teeth are more toxic than animals’ teeth, and that Jacob had to get a Tetnes shot. And Jacob went away after that. I was also told not to bite anyone again. I said it would depend what they did to my puppies.

The next time I saw Jacob, he was at a hippie-style retreat for drug addicts and people who’d generally wigged out… you know, one of those late-80s South African ones where you pick strawberries, and milk cows… and supervise visiting children. My school class was there, for a farming educational. I remember that I was very sick with flu (and my parents didn’t believe in anti-biotics) and in my fever, as I lay dying on my roll-up mattress in the heat of summer, he appeared to me and I just remember screaming “Get away from me”. And passing out.

He later married a reborn Christian woman who greeted us at the airport a few years later saying “Hi, I’m Veronica*. Have you found Jesus yet?” And I’m sure she looked right at me. I wonder if she knew. And I’m still wondering what story he told her.

I’m always amazed when people accuse me of being frightening, when I count what I’ve told you as pretty much the sum total of my violent behavior in life. Maybe they are frightened of my words. Maybe they just think someone will believe their story. Maybe they are friends of Jacob. But even in my most paranoid moments, even I doubt there’s an entire network of puppy beaters out there, conspiring to ruin my life.

If a puppy slaps another puppy that's okay.

If a puppy slaps another puppy that’s okay.

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Florida: Hell’s waiting room?

November 17, 2013

I nearly studied Screenwriting in Miami – having lived in Durban, KwaZulu for four years and remained homesick for it all my life, I romanticized the sticky air, the warm sea, the art deco buildings. I imagined myself drinking large cocktails and doing Cuban dances while a deeply-tanned man licked sea salt off my neck as the sun set, and holidaying Hollywood stars (mostly Michael C Hall) roller-skated past on the promenade.

Doesn't it look just like Durbs, only sorta glam?

Doesn’t it look just like Durbs, only sorta glam?

I’ve always wondered how life would have turned out if I had gone there instead of to nearly-LA. And recently I found out when I visited a friend who’s there, attempting to pay back his crazy-ass student loans with a job he landed.

As the plane touched down… GU-GUNK… the muggy half-light seemed full of promise. Or was it foreboding? Didn’t look like much, but my friend picked me up and I comforted myself that Miami Beach would be totally different.

The Motel was a slightly decayed art deco building only a block from the beach. Of course the booking site never mentioned that they were doing street work right outside it… or that the mattress was so old that you wound up rolling into the middle during the night – I guess the elasticity does get eroded by years of semen stains. But maybe they could replace it every eight years? Every 20 years? And with it, the almost plastic comforter.

What I realised quite soon was that mattress, smattress. What kind of moron comes to Miami to sleep? Miami is all about the party. The hotel offers a drink special of $20 for all you can drink, as long as you only drink Bud lite. That’s $20 per hour. Unfortunately I couldn’t take advantage of this dodgy bargain as I am going through a dry patch. A swim in the sea was the highlight of my day. But it doesn’t touch Durban’s South Beach for beauty or brains, or waves. Limp about summarizes it.

I went swimming. It was okay, lonely but okay. For some reason everybody there prefers to look at the sea and pose near it.

A lot of seagulls, and they aren't camera shy.

A lot of seagulls, and they aren’t camera shy.

Seeking food, we went exploring. Pizza. Pizza Pizza. Some chicken.

For some reason, things in Miami are often called "Duck" something. Like this Miami Beach fried chicken place. It should have been called Salmonella Something. Notes piece of chicken on shoulder.

For some reason, things in Miami are often called “Duck” something. Like this Miami Beach fried chicken place. It should have been called Salmonella Something. Notes piece of chicken on shoulder.

And Cuban Food. Which for some reason costs three times as much in Miami, Florida, as it does in Orange, CA. Running from the main drag, we ate outside at David Cafe (bill, for so-so entrees and a soda, hit $45 once the compulsory tip was added). While we ate, a drug dealer and his bashed up helper did business from the garden patch, for some reason bothering to pretend they were looking for their keys and continually finding them and losing them again. A homeless man who seemed to be their buddy sang for us for a while, and said it would take a dollar to make him go away.  Whatever. I was enjoying the entertainment – you can’t be fussy in Miami.

I tried my best to enjoy it. Usually I can amuse myself anywhere. We went to an art museum. It was nice. Small. But nice. Nice enough.

A really bad maze. Only a drunk person would get lost there. But I guess it is Miami. Mazes are meant to be thoughtful but this one was just... I don't know. A bad wave.

A really bad maze. Only a drunk person would get lost there. But I guess it is Miami. Mazes are meant to be thoughtful but this one was just… I don’t know. A bad wave.

My favourite artwork sums up Miami - consumer culture dressed up as something more.

My favourite artwork sums up Miami – consumer culture dressed up as something more.

I realised that Miami reminded me not of Durban, but of Sambave, a tiny seaside hell hole in Madagascar my ex and I got stuck in once when a political crisis caused the government to close all the airports for a few days. Overcast. Lots of prostitutes. A faint air of desperation.

Maybe Miami wasn’t for me? Next stop, the Recovery Capital of America, Delray Beach, where there’s an AA/NA/CA meeting every hour in about ten locations simultaneously, and everybody is either using drugs, trying to stop, or making money out of health care benefits.

Surprise surprise, Delray Beach was even more depressing than Miami, and unwalkable to boot – there really aren’t any motels in Delray so I was stuck on a highway near Boca.

Florida is full of little land-ghekkos. They run around with their tails up. I get it. I would too. They're my favourite thing in Florida.

Florida is full of little land-ghekkos. They run around with their tails up. I get it. I would too. They’re my favourite thing in Florida.

This is the promise, I guess.

This is the promise, I guess.

I walked to the beach from my hotel on the highway. On the way I crossed a river and saw people fishing and some birds.

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Boca Beach… looks okay. Once you’re in the water it’s awesome.

Here is why they rarely swim. I call them cowards - the water was warm and the currents were nothing. Pussies. No offense to vaginas, which rock. Colloquial intentions only.

Here is why they rarely swim. There are meant to be bluebottles and jellyfish and sea lice – terrifying in theory.  I call them cowards – the water was warm and the currents were nothing. Yes a few bluebottles but that’s called nature, idiots. Pussies. No offense to vaginas, which rock. Colloquial intentions only.

Boca Beach, where most people seem to BYOB their beer of choice, Coors. I saw a dad finish of a few before taking his daughter swimming.

Boca Beach, where most people seem to BYOB their beer of choice, Coors. I saw a dad finish of a few before taking his daughter swimming.

I couldn’t help thinking how much more interesting the least interesting suburb in Joburg, or Belville, Cape Town was than this place. Then I discovered that everybody there knows someone from South Africa. And they’re very concerned about our crime rate.

Look where the orange is from.
 Look where the orange is from.

Turns out Florida is a prime destination for White South Africans who left after Apartheid ended. It’s also where Americans go for cheap labor (yes, you guessed it, mostly black or at least whatever they don’t consider to be their people) and where you’re allowed to shoot someone for knocking on your door while being black.

A lot of wealthy, seniors retire to Florida – it’s a prime place to die. I ask, why bother? Just skip the line and go directly to hell.

florida-birds-leave

3.30pm. It’s not raining but the birds know it’s time to leave.

It’s a weird thing to say, but being in Florida reminded me of how I felt as a kid in South Africa when it was still apartheid. Except without the youthful endorphins. I will never be back if I can help it.

Perrier and Diesel redefine #LAME

November 12, 2013

Scary is: the perversion of great ideas. Taking something noble and using it as a veneer for greed or cruelty turns my stomach. So I want to throw up frequently – when communism is used to oppress, when faith is used to justify murder, when war is sold as heroism.

And don’t worry if you’re not creative. Diesel will sell you a lie you can buy.

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You didn’t write any stories, but you bought the T-Shirt, so you’re cool. Another similar shirt says “Creativity is my weapon”. Actually, if you shop for T-Shirts at Diesel, I’d say money is your weapon, 1-percenter.

Really?

It makes for a pretty bottle. I probably bought it for the label without thinking.

It makes for a pretty bottle. I probably bought it for the label without thinking.

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Perrier “inspired” Andy Warhol. No… you idiots. No… you didn’t. You amused him, at most.

And really, does nobody see through this? Warhol was commenting on pop culture, on commercialism. And here it is, exploiting him. Yuck.

‘Wherever you go, whatever you do, your intelligence will be unwelcome.’ – Albert Camus

American Airlines supports war

November 7, 2013

Being pro-war (usually phrased as ‘behind our troops’) seems profitable – tire companies, airlines, ice cream companies … They all think it’s good for their image or their business.

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This isn’t something I’ve noticed outside of America. Yet it’s absolutely the norm here to encourage kids to be heroes for the cause of “freedom”.

Don’t tell me this doesn’t look the way it is…

November 1, 2013

Are the recent UK Visa Laws a teeny bit racisty? I hate to say it – but is there any other way to see it?

I’m angry that I have to work so much harder now, as a South African citizen and holder of only a South African passport, to go to the UK or anywhere in Europe. I want to meet my niece and nephew. I want to go to the film festival in Paris where my short is screening. But I can’t risk booking the ticket. The visa process could take as long as 60 days!

So I started looking into when South Africa became country non grata, and wound up writing a column about it for News24 this week (will link when it’s live). Here are the bare bones of what I discovered when I researched this issue.

South Africa is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Commonwealth nations lie all over the map.

Commonwealth nations lie all over the map.

But all nations in the commonwealth are not equal in the eyes of the Brits. If you’re from Canada, Australia or New Zealand you’re welcome in the UK without an invitation. Just show up and you’re in. If you’re from South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland… Let’s see… Jamaica… India… you are required to spend a small fortune and up to 60 days applying for a visa before they’ll be kind enough to let you come to their damp island and spend your hard earned inferior currency. At one point, South Africa was on the English guest list. This was when we still had apartheid.

Have a look and see who's not welcome. Then think a bit about why.

Have a look and see who’s not welcome. Then think a bit about why. If you’re from the USA – not even a commonwealth member – you get a free pass too.

Here it is put another way… for the slow people.

ukvisarequirementsguide

And I think this probably means I won’t be getting a visa anytime soon!