Posts Tagged ‘cape town’

Signs of South Africa

January 11, 2013

South Africans aren’t rude. We’re just overly familiar and brutally honest.

It has been an insane year in SA. And WTF is now in the actual dictionary (the Oxford is always a few years behind - they'll catch up one day soon)

Newspaper posters on the lamp posts: It has been an insane year in SA. And WTF is now in the dictionary (the Oxford is always a few years behind – they’ll catch up one day.)


We tend not to respect celebrity for its own sake. We tend not to respect authority for its own sake, either. After all, Apartheid used to be law. Nowadays, driving over the yellow line is illegal. Anyone here never done it?

The upside: Cars don't have to sit behind you on a single lane highway for 3kms. Downside? It's illegal? Upside? Nobody cares.

The upside: Cars don’t have to sit behind you on a single lane highway for 3kms. Downside? It’s illegal? Upside? Nobody cares. Downside? Over 1200 road deaths this holiday. Upside: Fast traveling and fun times.

Cape Town is famous for the fact that you can come here and… be completely ignored no matter how famous you are, except maybe if you leave the city or want to fuck girls from Camps Bay who wanna be famous too. Colin Farrell spent lots of time here cause he could walk around without his sunglasses on (not that he did, his eye would hurt, cause Cape Town parties hard and drugs are fresh off the boat). But mostly he was here cause Capetonians think they’re special. They’re like, “Oh, you’re Colin Farrel? Really? Well fine, but I’m from Cape Town.”

Celebrity Rehab? Come here and get sober. We don’t care how who you are, or how wasted you are.

I think these signs from all over South Africa exemplify this point. We’re special. We get to say it like it is. Take…

OLD AGE

So I took a tour of an old age home, looking for a friend of my Mom's who she hadn't contacted in a while. She was freaked out - being about 24 years closer to death than I am. But this sign in the complex made her laugh.

So I took a tour of an old age home, looking for a friend of my Mom’s who she hadn’t contacted in a while. She was freaked out – being about 24 years closer to death / urinating on herself, than I am. But this sign in the complex made her laugh.

And laugh again.

And laugh again.

And this is what you get - I think this is a lovely way for an old age community to remember you. I think it's okay to laugh in the face of death. Perhaps it's even essential.

And this is what you get – I think this is a lovely way for an old age community to remember you. I think it’s okay to laugh in the face of death. Perhaps it’s even often fucking essential.

DEATH

We dare it. We double dare it. We’re not like Americans; scared to venture from our car to our apartment if the “air” isn’t already on on a hot day. Sweating never killed you… except when it did.

Okay, it's unlikely that today's cell phones could cause a gas tank to explode... but it's still annoying to the petrol attendants when you use yours. Same reason why they pretend it's dangerous on airplanes BTW.

Okay, it’s unlikely that today’s cell phones could cause a gas tank to explode… but it’s still annoying to the petrol attendants when you use yours. Same reason why they pretend it’s dangerous on airplanes BTW. “If you use your cell phone now, nobody may ever talk to you again.”

Now actually, lighting a cigarette at a gas station is actually genuinely stupid. If you do it while you're on your cell phone you will also be sneered at while you die.

Now actually, lighting a cigarette at a gas station is actually genuinely stupid. If you do it while you’re on your cell phone you will also be sneered at while you die.

WE DON’T CARE WHO YOU ARE

Aaaaand back to that.

Real reason for this sign: Grapes close to the road get covered in dust and are hard to make wine with. Other reason: People who live on farms feel free to drive really fast and ignore speed limits and this farm is surrounded by other farmers.

Real reason for this sign: Grapes close to the road get covered in dust and are hard to make wine with. Other reason: People who live on farms feel free to drive really fast and ignore speed limits and this farm is surrounded by other farmers.

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A moment in the South African sun

January 6, 2012

6.30 am. I woke up and hit the snooze button. Then again at 6.40, 6.50 and 7am. Them I got up and made coffee and walked a few kilometres in the cool morning air to meet an old friend and take the train from Cape Town to Newlands to watch South Africa play test cricket against Sri Lanka.

Near the station ATMs in the underground mall walkway, theatre posters.

Recession comedy and puppets. Do I even want to know?

The Cape Town Station used to be a classic 70s place, with reminders of apartheid in the separate entrances and even separate ticket windows. I have this image of doves sitting in the high windows near the roofs. And usually there were a few skollies hanging around. Now it’s clean, shiny, policed and has digital boards. It’s still got 70s style but it’s more like a small modern airport airport than a station.

The trains are running on time.

Step out of the main terminus, and all is just as it always was from then on, except that first class and third class (there’s no second class) are indistinguishable except by price.

You can buy sweats, suckers, chips, and cool drinks from informal vendors here or on the train. The trains are covered in colourful graffiti - which is actually really pretty. My friend Chris says only tourists say stuff like that.

Step on the train, and it’s even more like stepping into 1995. The windows are frosted on many trains so you can’t see out. There’s no visible sign of security (I’m told they employ very large women, who sit in pairs in first class, avoiding the customers, and BBM).  And someone’s written welcome messages all over the train.

I know what that is!

CUNT. Oh, well I'm glad you finally learned how to write your name.

Ah, those yellow doors.

Something to do with satan. And tik, I assume.

More about the doors. This guy looks really uncertain as to what to do.

Ahem.

Since he put it up upside down, on the roof of the train, I'll read you the doctor's note... DR MORRIS can take care of... "Sexual problems for men and women. Including: Quick sperming, feelings of highness, bad smell in private parts, dryness, any financial problem, any desire you might have, any desire you might want not to have... ". Awesome.

I love the train. It’s sign blog heaven. Anyhow, moving on, we hopped off at Newlands and join the small queue before 9am. It’s not moving. At all. Turns out the ticketing booth is closed because the computers are down and by 10am there’s a line around the block. South Africans seem very patient. Everybody just waited. I was outraged, more by the complete lack of communication than by anything else.

This guy saw a crowd and started busking with his guitar. Made about R50 before the booth opened. We were also visited by an opportunistic motivational speaker. But for some reason the cool drink sellers didn't think to come by - they could have made a fortune.

There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck outside the stadium when you can hear the sounds of the game, an the crowd cheering, and smell the pig lip sausages cooking (that’s “hot dogs” to you, Americans). The fact that tickets were half price when the booth did finally open at 11.30am made up for it though.

Success. Minutes later I was eating a double hot dog with chili sauce and drinking a coke made with real cane sugar. Yay!

That's people holding up signs when Kallis hit another four. The sixes on the back are kinda funny.

Nearly naked people sit behind a woman in a full scarf and black dress. Here in South Africa, "clash" doesn't necessarily follow "culture".

At lunch time all the mini cricket players get to play on the big field. Very cute.

The way back. The trains are still running on time.

An amazing day, an amazing game.

Cape Town’s faded New Year’s day glory

January 1, 2012

I woke up this January 1st in Cape Town, South Africa, feeling pretty much human – I left the party in a taxi driven by a guy who smelled like solvents and didn’t know my name, how to follow directions, or how find his own way, but he did get me home by 2am, after a few arguments and near-death moments on the road. Or “by 2am, thank God” I thought when I woke up in the morning with my limbs still attached.

I have no idea what this is all about. There was a series of them on the pavement (that's what we call the "sidewalk" in South Africa).

I had lunch plans in the CBD with an old friend so I decided to walk the few miles down the hill to the city, and back. On the way I took photos of all the weird signs I saw.

PAIN in large rough letters on the street wall of the reservoir on Upper Orange street. Twice. I wonder who wrote it and if they're alright now.

I love new year’s day in the city. It’s a slightly sad scene. There’s the faded glory of New Year’s party posters, the darkened shop windows, the people, some still in party clothes, wandering home on a walk of no shame at all, or eating breakfast where they could find it. It’s like the whole city’s either saying “Jeez… is that it?” or “Shitsticks… what the fuck have I done?”

Lost Dog - found by New Year's or still wandering around without anyone to pick up his turds? I definitely saw a lot of turds on the sidewalk so I suspect he's still on the prowl.

There’s also evidence of altered states of mind of other kinds.

No clue what this graffitti is all about. I'd love to know. It's written on the downstairs boarded up garage of an apartment block I always wanted to live in... that has recently burned down.

An attempt to balance beauty and the need for security. Those ivy leaves on the pillar are made out of razor wire. I think they're borderline illegal, since it's not legal to harm intruders. All preventative measures are meant to be non-deadly.

Ahhh... The Lennox. Once the only hotel in town where "non-whites" could stay at the height of apartheid, and where I stayed with my family at some point when we first came to Cape Town, now a run down "bed and breakfast", where people live in what looks, at least from the outside, looks like squalor for all the wrong reasons. The curtains are filthy.

There were three garbage bags next to this sign, stuck on a wall outside the NG Kerk, and some man's clothes in the closest bin. Also, a coat hanger hanging from the tree inside the church security wall.

This button thingy for the pedestrian crossing is so old that it's still only in English and Afrikaans - not also Xhosa.

I walked down through the Company Gardens. They've been the same since forever, although they're less like a monument to colonialism now and more like a museum visited by all South Africans. People sleep on the grass in their lunchbreak, read books on the benches. In 1996, I once walked through at 4am and passed a guy, completely naked and red from the cold, furiously masturbating in public. True fact!

A dodgy dude. But we don't break down the statues here in South Africa like they did in Russia, and neither do we pretend they aren't dodgy like they do in the USA. We just build more. Behind, the gallery, which I must go check out while I'm in town.

Speaking of dodgy... The Great War. Wasn't so great for the dead guys whose names appear on the list up there.

Why is this written in cardboard? In ballpoint? At least have a magic marker, ffs. The sign refers to the outdoor cafe place in the gardens. Seems like the staff just decided to close early today. I don't blame them. I just think the way it's announced is pretty hilarious. And then someone decided it wasn't clear, came back with another ballpoint, and added (We mean the Cafe).

Oh, Telkom.

Nothing less partyish than the poster for last night's party in the window of a store that's closed. In South Africa, most people don't work on public holidays because they're, well, you know, public holidays and shit.

I sometimes wonder if anyone has ever masturbated over a shopfront mannequin. Is it wrong to? And what if you take a photo and then look at it at home, in private?

I have no idea what this is about, but I think it's beautiful. Someone tell me. Kinda looks like someone got all street-arty early in the morning on New Year's Day.

This is who I had lunch with. This is his tattoo. Yes, it's real. And yes, he means it. He very nearly had to be hospitalized due to starvation when the pizzas as Bardelli's on Kloof took over 90 minutes to arrive. I'm getting used to Cape Town time, because the food is so good when it finally arrives. I'm sure by the time I've adapted again it will be time to leave.

And that was my day. Here’s to 2012. May we all not die like in the movies. Specially those of us with shit written on our arms.

These are a few of my favourite things

May 31, 2011

Feeling a little tender, woke up a little late… oh Cape Town. Will I survive two weeks of this? Anyhow, I took some photos as I passed my past.

Oh just go ahead and mock my dreams why don't you. "Skolly" - actually spelled Skollie - is Afrikaans for "gangster without the threads".

Cape Town is beautiful. It's often annoying, pretentious, unmistakeably colonial in places. But walking around town, you'll feel good. Most people feel grateful to be there rather than in so many other places they could have wound up.

A cafe in SA is a shop. No coffee will be sold. In Durban they may call them tea houses. No tea is sold. But you can buy eggs for R1.50 each, fresh veggies, less fresh bananas... and a pen knife. I love corner cafes and thanks to 7-elevens they're a dying breed. I bought a coke. Miss SA coke. Real sugar (unlike US coke) but less sweet than Mexican coke.

The Labia is Cape Town's art and indie cinema. They're not named after the female genetalia, but after the Italian family who own them.

A chain. But they have free wifi, and breakfast with coffee for R20. That's about $2.50 to you, America, since it includes VAT (no tax to add up).

Vida e Caffe. It offers pretty much everything Starbucks does, but with food that actually tastes of something. I guess it's a Portuguese / Mozambiquan / South African take on the model.

And that’s where I am, uploading before I go buy some gifts and stuff. I might pop into Toi Toi – a toy shop that’s named after a pun on the toyi-toyi – a protest dance we all learned at marches and things back in the 80s and 90s, if we didn’t grow up with it (I didn’t, being a honky and all that).

This is where I wrote this post.

Mandela Day Grafitti Sea Point Promenade

July 18, 2010

Today it feels like South Africa has so much to live for. And an American was writing on the Promenade sea walls in chalk. I’m going to miss this walk so much – the sound of the sea, the familiar accents of the my home country. It’s a place that healed me and gave me strength to grow through personal pain. Nelson Mandela fought oppression, healed South Africa and inspired the world. So it’s a perfect place to celebrate him.

sea point promenade on mandela day

A kid in an SA Soccer World Cup T-Shirt plays on the promenade sea wall, which someone decorated with chalk like a giant birthday card for Nelson Mandela.

happy birthday mandela

The little girl's name is Aneeqah. Happy birthday Tata translates as Happy Birthday Dad - or Madiba...

sea point promendade playground

Families come from all over Cape Town - and the world - on Sundays. I always love seeing the old Ossewa climbing thing still there. A piece of the past, being enjoyed by the South Africans of the future.

I wish more art was like this - Public, shared, built into an environment people already use. Walking the Road must be more photographed than the sunset by now, whic means many people get to keep a bit of it after it moves on to a new city in a year. More info, http://www.walkingtheroad.com

Yes, er... education is important. But I feel we're losing focus here, class.