Trying my hand at writing film reviews. I feel like Barry Ronge. Waddaya think?
In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, the grimy and dangerous underworld of one of the world’s most photogenic cities, modern Barcelona, is truly displayed in a way that is surely not going to get this film promoted by the Catalan Tourism Board. Gritty shots of backstreets and alleyways are chosen over the architectural glories of the works of Gaudi and desperate immigrants from Africa and Africa get their chance to shine instead of conventional sex-on-legs Spaniards. But they don’t really shine at all. If anything, this film exploits them by not saying anything about their helpless conditions or offering any solutions for the subplots that concern them but then again, that is probably what makes it brilliant. It’s difficult to review it in fact because the absence of a point left me feeling slightly paralyzed by the overdose of the tragedy of the human condition especially because it was so simply presented that I felt a bit abused, as if there were subliminal currents coursing through to my nervous system without my knowledge.
Two currents I was blatantly aware of however were those of liquid sadness, the kind that sits on your eyeball forever before you’re overwhelmed enough to cry or appalled enough to blink (I was both in this case) and the kind of heartbreaking love that only parents know and children guess at. Because first and foremost, this is a love story between a father and his children. Javier Bardem gives an outstanding and well-deservedly Oscar nominated performance as 40-something Uxbal, a conflicted man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Literally. As a harried hustler up to his neck in petty criminality acting as the go between for Chinese counterfeit producers and the Senegalese illegal immigrants that push them, Uxbal is an intriguing anti-hero, who obviously exploits them but simultaneously cares about them. Unfortunately, his well-intentioned actions lead to a horrifying disaster that brings his primary crisis into the foreground as he is forced to reconcile fatherhood, love, crime, guilt, mortality and spirituality.
This is because he is dying of untreated prostate cancer which has metastasized, leaving him with months to live and set his affairs in order, the most important being to ensure the future of his children in the absence of anybody to look after them after his death. He is separated from their mother, Marambara who is an unstable sometimes-alcoholic struggling with bi-polar disorder, so narcistically self-involved that she doesn’t even realise he is very obviously sick. So his 24-hour a day hustling is used as an unsentimental narrative, punctuated with a richly vibrant medley of characters all thrown together in a warm sea of unhappiness that is sometimes exasperatingly depressing, often absurd but at the same time, always beautiful. The attempt at a globalist, humanist aesthetic of compassion is ambitious, much like Iñárritu’s last film, Babel, but the choice of a single milieu saves it from being visually jarring the way both Babel and 21 Grams were. Because in spite of the focus on Uxbal, there is a lot going on in this film, with enough sub-plots for about seven movies.
In addition to his dubious moneymaking on the criminal margins of Barcelona, Uxbal is a middleman of another kind: put him near a recently departed corpse and he can have a chat with them. Yup, in M. Night Shyamalan’s immortal phrase, he can see dead people. In all sorts of creepy poses. This adds another level of intensity to this multilayered film but it is the first instance where the audience is invited to sympathize with him because while struggling to keep his family going, he could be making a very profitable side business passing messages onto the family of the recently departed but the psychic burden of this is too much. And so he struggles on, and the cyclical nature of the desperation of the characters is revealed: they all depend on each other just to get by, but nobody is particularly dependable.
And in this struggle, Bardem is a more real version of Will Smith in 7 Pounds: without the social privilege of accepting death with the precluding stages of despair, denial, depression blah blah, he just gets on with it, striving to do his best in terrible situations. And the juxtaposition of the deeply gritty look at immigrant communities and the mumbo jumbo of speaking to the dead is a funnily brilliant way to show it. The sheer tidal force of the film is softened by moments of pure poetry and unarguable brilliance, shot by cameraman Rodrigo Prieto, of Brokeback Mountain fame, who brings together the odd beauty of the muted colours and soiled surfaces of the city. And it is only when they all come together, once again cyclically, that the beauty of commonplace tragedy is really shown as only being terrible because it is so normal. The fluency of Iñárritu’s cinematic language, not quite magical realism but somehow magical naturalism, is in its own way a rhapsody of euphoria, undeniably arresting, and certainly his best work yet. However, whether or not this film gives you any solace depends on your own brand of faith. It may not convert or convince you but in the very least, it will make you feel good about paying for life insurance.
These are my favourites from my pal Amy’s latest Lost & Found Spring Fling Collection. When we were taking these pics, the leather jacket, black leather bag, little pouch belt and dainty shirts were actually too much for me to bear. I could actually see Amy getting worried that she would have to physically pry the jacket off my body. And as for that dress in the first two pics? Hello velvet dream. I kept rubbing my my hands all over it, it totally made me fall in love with myself. Lets keep fingers crossed that nobody likes what I like and the bids dont get too high because like seriously, I need all of these things. Like, I’m actually not even gonna put petrol in my car or eat for the rest of the month, that’s how serious I am at this point.
Basically, Lost & Found is an online vintage & second hand auction style store found on facebook where customers bid on once-off items by leaving comments on the photo of the item which they wish to buy; the highest bid in by the end of the bidding period gets the item. The Viewing party gives you the chance to check out and try on the item before you place your bids.
For more information or to see the new stock, check out Amy Lost-Found on facebook aaaaand come and check out the new Spring range in the beautiful setting of the Perpetual Liberty Room at the 12 Decades hotel, Main Street Life, Sunday 31st July 2011.
Spend the day in the city; morning at the Market on Main, 2pm-4:3pm at the Lost & Found Viewing Party, and the late afternoon at the Rooftop Bar overlooking the city without ever having to leave the Maboneng Precinct!
I am sitting at my desk, doing what I do best, procrastinating, and the need for a long overdue rant just overcame me. Yesterday I went to the movies (more on what I watched soon) and second to getting out of the cinema and being greeted by a million texts, the best thing post-movie watching is eating your leftover Smarties/Astros.
Now Astros are always my first choice because they go so well with Salt & Vinegar popcorn, especially if you unleash their cosmic greatness straight into the box, but for some reason it is too difficult to swap Smarties for Astros in those retarded but practical Combos, so inevitably I end up with Smarties. And inevitably I regret it everytime.
These things are gross man. You know how some things taste the way they smell? Well these taste the way the look - dull, insipid and slightly off putting. Sure the health cost to over-indulged children is being reduced slightly by the lack of articificial colouring, and their teeth are being protected too, but at the cost of the joy of diehard Smarties fans. Like myself. Red has been substituted for maroon (random aside: maroon colouring is made from crushed beetles), green looks like dead end-of-winter grass, brown is so uninterestingly wishy-washy and there isnt even blue. Like seriously, no blue Smarties? No man.
But the worst part is when you put them in your mouth, you get like this fleetingly foul taste like vegetable peels or the smell of drains but in your mouth. Sure, if you crunch them quickly, it goes away just as swiftly as it assaulted you, but that defeats the purpose of eating Smarties at all. This is because there are two ways to eat Smarties:
1. Crunch them by throwing a whole big fat handful in your mouth. This scares me a bit though. Death by Smartie suffocation is a bit awkward.
2. Suck them until the colour comes off and the sugar shell gets soft enough so that when you bite through it, the chocolate is already melted and seeps into your mouth. This is of course the best way to eat them and one that I only started doing so that I could make mine last as long as possible in order to taunt my little brother after he, in typical three year old style, had gobbled all of his.
Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to do this because the grossness of the fetid lack of excitement that is the new sugar shell will actually make you gag and conjure images of organic sweets and tofu and all that other eeeuww shit that health conscious mothers mess their children up with. I would rather have children with rotten milk teeth than the bland colourless ones that these Smarties will produce. Whatalotigot? I think not.
If these words were people I would embrace their genocide
Blog: The word “blog” is literally shorthand for “boring;” a vulgar, overused word that strikes your ear with the dull thud of a cudgel to the soft spot of a child’s head. It’s an abbreviation used by journalism drop outs to give legitimacy to their shallow opinions and amateur photography that seems to be permanently stuck in first draft hell. Looking in the archives of the blogs, one would expect someone who has been at it for years to slowly hone their craft and improve their writing and photographs, since it’s usually safe to assume that if someone does something long enough, he or she will eventually not suck at it. Even with lowered expectations, you’ll get a shotgun blast of disappointment in your face.
It’s an unspoken rule that every blog must use the same layout as every other blog: long, slender columns of annoyingly condensed text, thousands of links to other blogs, plugs for shitty political books, and more links to yet more blogs
If the thousands of mid-sentence links don’t annoy you, the long slender columns of text will. Most of the screen on a blog is blank for an imaginary populace of readers still using 640x480 resolution. I didn’t buy a 19” monitor to have 50% of its screen realestate pissed away on firing white pixels, you assholes. They don’t print books on receipt paper for a reason. Every time I see this layout, I want to choke the creator with my dry, crackled, and bleeding hands for making my fingers so calloused from having to keep scrolling the mouse wheel to read your dumb “blog.”
Blogger: Term used to describe anyone with enough time or narcissism to document every tedious bit of minutia filling their uneventful lives. Possibly the most annoying thing about bloggers is the sense of self-importance they get after even the most modest of publicity. Sometimes it takes as little as a referral on a more popular blogger’s website to set the lesser blogger’s ego into orbit.
Then God forbid a blogger gets mentioned on CNN. If you thought it was impossible for a certain blogger to get more pious than he was, wait until you see the shit storm of self-righteous save-the-world bullshit after a network plug. Suddenly the boring, mild-mannered blogger you once knew will turn into Mother Theresa, and will single handedly take it upon himself to end world hunger with his stupid links to band websites and other smug blogger dipshits.
Blogging: If minds had anuses, blogging would be what your mind would do when it had to take a dump.
Blogosphere: The “blogosphere” is the new buzz word that has replaced “information super highway.” It’s what idiots like to call a collection of “blogs,” otherwise known as a tragedy.
This made me laugh. And it was posted in like 2005. From The Best Page in the Universe (Please note: This was the only link in this article. Ha!)
Angelyne is an American model and occasional actress who ostensibly became an icon of Hollywood and LA, primarily because she advertised herself on billboards. Part of the mystique around her is because she refuses to answer any questions about herself, so much of Angelyne’s actual biographical information is unknown or doubtful. She drives a pink Corvette with the license plate “ANGLYNE” and has a pink Maltese poodle named Buddha. And she’s been in a coupla B-grade movies, mostly making cameo appearances. It has been claimed that billboard companies or a wealthy husband pays for her billboards but Angelyne, who is single, credits “investors” for financing the outdoor advertising. She compares herself to Barbie, stating that “Kids think I’m a Barbie doll” and, in one billboard, “Barbie wishes she were me.”
I’m not quite sure why, but I find this whole affair fascinating. Sure its old news, but like since the eighties her billboards have popped up all over Hollywood, then disappeared, then returned. She’s sorta like the Madame Bijoux of Hollywood, plastered onto the memories of everybody that grew up in much the same way her face was plastered over every available billboard. She’s not really anything, not an actress, not a model, not connected to anyone famous, more like just her own invention. And while she isnt famous for anything but the strangeness of the whole affair and her shameless self-promotion, people still get excited when they glimpse of her in her pink Corvette. Oh ya and she ran for the governor of LA a coupla years ago too. For me, it smacks of parody and drama and Hollywood and glitz. I wouldnt be surprised if she’s acting out a decades-long parody of the typical Clueless/Legally Blonde irony, then she’d be my hero coss that takes skill. But hey, she might just be what she seems, a pneumatic blonde bimbo with considerable promotional skills. Anyhow, next time I pop over to Sunset Boulevard, best believe my eyes will be peeled trying to catch a rare sighting of this phenomena.
Today my bird flew away, gone to find her big blue jay
Probably the saddest part of Amy Winehouse’s death is that her erratic lifestyle which made her conventionally known, is going to overshadow the raw brilliance of her talent. Already her Back to Black album, released in 2006 mind you, has surged, increasing a whopping 37-fold in the 24 hour period between Friday and Saturday. And of course, her number of fans has increased drastically. People who previously laughed at her antics and lamented that her fame was only a result of rebellious drunkenness and brazen drug-use, are now singing a different tune about her amazing voice. Death does that sometimes. Think Jonny Quid, junkie rock-star extraordinaire from Rock n Rolla. And of course, the jokes abound. “Back to Black” being ironically used as a neat little eulogy and “She should’ve gone to rehab, she said no no no”, a rather distastefully funny quip that was fortunately not uttered anywhere near me. I might have killed somebody.
Frank is probably my favourite album. Of course I love Back to Black, but the beauty with which she so comfortably straddled genres with the ease of an accomplished artist astounded me, especially because it was her debut album. Her powerful vocals gave me goose bumps from the get go. She was like Nina Simone mixed with Erykah Badu with a dash of Sade. My ears were in love. My heart was singing along too and most of all; my soul had a major crush because the sleazy innocence and irreverent words were the kind that touch almost every bit of your being. The best part of it all was it was so original, the musical experience of her voice and words had enough chutzpa to prevent the obvious influences of her work from becoming overbearing. Artists like Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Etta James, Dinah Washington, obvious influences on her music, were fortunate enough to live away from the glare that obviously contributed to her demise. Addictions and turmoil seem to abound in all creative spheres, but the bang with which Amy burst onto the scene placed hers in the spotlight and defined her career and image as at once full of swagger and defiant vulnerability. While other artists managed to live past their chaos, the genius of Amy Winehouse was irrevocably dependent on it.
This isn’t however a lament on the dangers of drugs or the sadness of genius. Live fast, die young. It really isn’t that difficult to understand. They always seem to go too soon – yet, go they must. The very genius we admire is what eventually devours them. The revived hype around the 27s club, while definitely interesting, makes me even sadder for the detracted focus on her music. If you’re unaware of it, basically The Forever 27s is a pop culture phenomenon/curse/statistical anomaly used to describe the deaths of some of the greatest musicians of our time, the most popular citations being the deaths of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain, but hundreds of other have fallen prey to it too. Whether intentionally or not we’ll never know. Excess and tragedy are necessary for musical legends but I think Kurt Cobain’s mom said it best when she ruefully said “Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club, I told him not to join that stupid club.”
But back to the music. Frank was produced when she was just 19, obviously an inspiration for Adele, not to mention scores of other artists such as Duffy, inspired by her gravelly jazz tones, and its re-release after Back to Black dropped, cemented the glaring fact that her success was due to talent not hype, not good production, not gimmicks or anything else but raw talent. It confirmed the fuss. At 19, before all the tattoos and the beehive, she was making magic. Frank actually showed more range, more wit, and a breezy authority of her notes and her words that kept everything so fresh and flagrant.
The heart-wrenchingly beautiful words of some of her earlier songs off Frank entrenched my appreciation for her writing abilities, and this was either further embedded by Back to Black. Love is a Losing Game could so easily have been substituted with Life is a Losing Game, for the struggles she faced and the inner demons she battled with will never be understood by us and should not be dwelled upon, other than acknowledging that life isn’t easy, sometimes it’s a game, and sometimes you lose. And we have lost. It is so tempting to find meaning in her songs, with hindsight to reanalyze them, ponder over song meanings and such, but I think October Song is most apt. Written in memory of her pet canary, Ava, named for the tempestuous Ava Gardner, who would wake her in the morning “twittering away” while “rocking on her little swing, so too did Amy rock precariously whilst giving me joy. And in the same way, she was the morning and now she’s gone – reborn like Sarah Vaughan. The most intriguing singer of the 20th century is gone and we have lost out. But like the greatest singers of all time, she is reborn with every song, every note, every aural reminder of brilliance and genius and the scary precariousness thereof.
Yesterday I did a neat lil interview vibe for Instant Grass, a neat Consumer Collaboration Company, basically their job is to get info on what consumers want and then report back to marketers. Its obviously more complicated than that, but I totally flunked Economics, I hear consumer/market/economy and I instantaneously zone out. Anyhow it was a project for Adidas, a short filmy thing, fortunately it wont be made public or anything, I’d die of embarresment. It was pretty rad, basically just hung out with the interviewee, Jess, and spoke about my lifestyle, where I shop blah blah. Note: those pics against the Adidas graffiti in the NEON post were no coincidence. Haha, getting a feel for the brand since I dont do brands at all. So we had some coffee and grabbed some takeaway lunch from Post, I luuurve it. Down the road from my office nshit makes it uber dope, just look..
Nutella Flapjacks. Holla if you wanna get some with me.
Okay but now there was actually a reason for this post apart from merely salivating. One of the questions that I got asked towards the end of the interview was “What does success mean to you?” which my friend Keith asked me the other day and asked me to write something about it because he doesnt agree with conventional understandings thereof. Okay, deep breath, here goes..
Success is passé . It is one of those things that generally make me want to make a cave with my duvet, fortressed by my pillows, with enough Tomblerone to get me through an extended hibernation period. Being at that stage of my life where career paths are forged, the end goal of being succesfull fills me with dread. This is because I feel like there are three conventional understandings of what it means to be succesful.
Firstly, the neat white picket fence, 2.5 kids, stable marriage, safe job, life insurance, medical aid, electric appliances, at least two local holidays a year interspersed with travels abroad, private schools blah blah. Its a well know scenario and its a beautiful one, one that most of us can be grateful for because if our parents hadnt been succesful in this way, we would be living very different lives.
Second scenario, money money money. Sure you need it to attain scenario one, but its not the focus, more the means to an end of living a stress-free good life. In this definition of success, the more you have, the more succesful. Think Nonhle Tema and Kenny Kunene as the icons of this lifestyle, these are the new money vulgarians, basically the kind of people who think that their money is their success which is evidence of their personal goodness. Unfortunately, I think most people, while not necessarily money-crazy, balling in clubs, rolling in Beemer, Benz or Bentleys, probably ascribe to this kind of thinking. Money is a good thing and a necessary thing I mean jeez I love nice things. But I dont want them to define me. I want to feel succesful when I wake up in the morning and the plasticity of makeup and expensive clothes are absent, not to mention the reality that I do not live that lifestyle because the success of my parents does not allow for it. Big spenders are either throwing their money around because they’re not used to it or because it’s not theirs. Show some respect for the hard work of your parents and do something good with that money.
Which brings me to the third conception of success, all the generous, big-hearted, charitable, philanthropic conceptions thrown around by phonies. Like seriously, spare me. Stuff like “you are as succesful as the amount of you abundance you share with the needy” dont even make feel guilty for bing selfish. F that. If I’ve worked for what I have, dont tell me I need to share it. I will share it as I see fit, and even so, I dont think that neccesarily makes me succesful. And while we’re on pet peeves, I hate all the junk about “its not a destination, its a journey.” When you’re counting all your change to buy cigarettes or you’re driving with the petrol light on, the journey is insig-fucking-nificant and at that point making it is all that counts.
But what is making it? Personally, I guess I’m on a path towards relative success. I’ve got a rad degree and a neat internship, if of course we’re talking career success. I am succesful in a whole lotta other spheres too but these are the neglected ones i.e. I am healthy, loved and try to accrue wisdom daily. Also, I can pop whole Jolly Jammer biscuits in my mouth but that seems to be a success only I am impressed by. At the same time, I dont feel succesful because personally, I think its comprehensive fulfillment. Yup, all this rambling just for those two words. Its more cliqued than Juju jokes at comedy shows, but I place a lot of stock in your feeling of fulfullment in life translating into your degree of success. So the things that sustain you will determine how succesful you eventually are. What you think about all day is what you are, so the passion that drives you, be it for money, something creative, helping people whatever, and the extent to which you act upon it will the determinant of your ultimate success. And then maintaining that success depends of how you propagate it, how you make it more comprehesive by expanding your pasisons, your interests, your drives. And while this can be done as a one-man show, sharing knowledge, inspiring health, spreading happiness, all these organic hippy ideas, generally increase your own chances of real longlasting success. So as it stands, I’m on a quest for that pasison, the thing that I think about all day because like duh, I want the money, money and the cars, cars and the clothes. And while I wait for that, and the assault of passion, I want the really cool waterslides.
“We all need someone to look at us. We can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under. The first category longs for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words, for the look of the public. The second category is made up of people who have a vital need to be looked at by many known eyes. They are the tireless hosts of cocktail parties and dinners. They are happier than the people in the first category, who, when they lose their public, have the feeling that the lights have gone out in the room of their lives. This happens to nearly all of them sooner or later. People in the second category, on the other hand, can always come up with the eyes they need. Then there is the third category, the category of people who need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love. Their situation is as dangerous as the situation of people in the first category. One day the eyes of their beloved will close, and the room will go dark. And finally there is the fourth category, the rarest, the category of people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present. They are the dreamers.”
Graffiti. Second hand clothes. Food. Live tattoo exhibition. Art. Sketch battles. Fashion show. Movie premiere. The NEON Exhibition held on Saturday at The Mills sounded so dope on paper, well internet paper anyways, buuuut it was actually a teensy bit lame. This was probably because I was late, as usual, and missed the whole market vibe. It was bitterly cold (wtf was I doing wearing teeny tiny shorts and stockings?!) and people were kinda just lurking until the fashion show/movie premiere. I missed the movie. Borderline ADHD and pythons in my stomach led me to search for food. Ricardo took us to The Kentucky Milk Bar, apparently everyone knows it. I am obviously delayed. Yoh its so dodgy. Like you needa order through the gate of this seriously suspicious looking place on the outskirts of Fordsburg but wow so so worth it. Toasted steak and cheese party in my mouth was what happened. And its open 24hrs. I was much impressed. Any how the event was interesting, buncha artsy wannabe alternative kids roaming around are generelly interesting. I like to people watch. The sketch battles were pretty cool, best part was the music, DJs V-Kid and P-Kuttah were amaaaaazeballs. Real scratchy hip hop is beautiful. Some nice art, some great views of Joburg, new food discovery. It was a good day. Oh and I chopped off all of my hair the day before. Hello boy hair.
I love these signs.
Neat huh? Literally in this case.
This is made up of a gazillion postage stamps. Rad huh?
I want these in my room.
I’m obsessed with this Snow White. It’s cracked and the colours are like cheap melted ice-cream but during my brief stint as a doorlady at The Woods, no jokes I used to stare at it and wish I had one. I’m going to steal it.
"I’m sixteen and I live in Sydney, Australia. I started taking photos when I was offered dark room photography at school and ever since I have been in love with photography of all kinds. I love how images can take you to a different world how they can make you feel different emotions."
Last night I read two short pieces in Mahala 3 called “Life Expectancy” and “Limpopo Blues”, both by Sean O’Toole. Some background on Mahala: I am a big fan. I’ve been trawling the site (click here to view it) for ages, it is one of the first things I do when I lurk on the internet, in fact, it is in a folder on my bookmark toolbar called “Necessities”. Along with The Daily Maverick and Mr Price’s IntheFashionLoop. Cheap clothes, irreverent politics and a whole lotta shit-flicking pretty much sums up my interests. Throw in some cake and I am in heaven. So yes, I do view Mahala as shit-flicking. It is smart, articulate, lucid unless trying hard not be, sometimes existential most times just bladdy rude trying to be satirical and complex but somehow most of the pieces are brilliant and the photos even better. Mahala 3 is their third publication and my first, I was sooo excited when I got it in the post, and that’s not just because the post has become synonymous with bills. Nobody freaking writes letters anymore. I’ve been living between the cheaply produced gritty paper pages; there isn’t even a real cover, that is really composed of just a whole lotta words well put together.
So back to Sean O’Toole’s pieces. In the editorial, under his rotated sketch instead of a photo, sooooo alternative wow, the description is:
“Sean O’Toole is often asked what he gets up to at Chez O’Toole, his rococo-themed literary mansion high on the slopes of an Atlantic sea-board suburb starting with a C. Think Boogie Nights. Silk gowns, crack, crackers, guns and mix tapes.”
Why the focus on this random? Because he writes fucking brilliantly. The kind of brilliant that needs expletives. My only criticism of Mahala’s writers is the cynicism and intellectual/cultural elitism that permeates through their words. It’s like disdain jumps through their words and you really do get an imagine of a literary mansion, with the cool of mix tapes and crack completely negated by the knowledge of grandfathers with monocles and grandmothers with Meissen, basically, inherited intelligence that only generation after generation of private schooling can bring. At least if you’re gonna be elitist, jump out and admit it instead of feigning self-deprecation at being white middle class/educated black middle class struggling to deal with being in the middle without being labelled Eurocentric. Maybe I am just a hater because I wish I wrote for Mahala too. Quick aside: I saw a tweet the other day that said that Swag and Haters are words used by people who have neither. Ha ha. True story in this case. Not swag though. I hate that word.
Nonetheless, snobbiness aside, I was majorly impressed by these pieces. The first one “Life Expectancy” is about Zimbabwean refugees living in a defunct copper mine in Musina, in Limpopo, stepping over stagnant pools of chemical water, because a) it’s safer than the streets b) there’s a pipe with a finger-seized hole which allows them to shower and stuff. So the article is basically a snapshot of the lives of these guys hustling to make a living.
Next article, “Limpopo Blues” is more specific. Even better snapshot of the lives of refugees trying to get in. Apart from administrative nightmares, they’re also tormented by the guma guma, the men who rob, rape and swindle refugees. They’re the bosses of the Musina region. What really assaulted my solar plexus was a brief mention of a refugee who took two weeks to reach Musina. TWO WEEKS!!! Musina is the northernmost town in South Africa, and uber busy with desperate masses trying to escape the insanity of Zimbabwe. And btw there’s no refugee camp or any assistance offered to refugees in that region despite a very obvious need for it. So this guy treks through refugee camps in Zimbabwe along Mozambique’s border, gets here, sleeps in a car showroom to avoid the thunderstorms and then wallows in confusion trying to get to Cape Town where his brother is a mechanic. It might seem like an ordinary story but I dunno man, I have an interest in migration and stuff and the hopelessness of a desperation that I will never understand really affected me.
I wrote my thesis on refugee women and Aids as a security threat to them, and as such I guess I’m pretty knowledgeable about the academics surrounding their realities, but I don’t think this is even worth mentioning when you stop to think that I have no idea about their day to day realties. I mean wtf if someone told me that they live in fear of the guma guma, I’d be like hey homes whaaaat are you talking about?? Which goes to show just how ignorant I am. And in a way illustrates the dangers of living with blinkers on. Because while I am sure most of the people I know are not wholly ignorant about the fact that our understandings of different segments of society are very far removed from their realities, the scope of that misunderstanding escapes us. I am surrounded by people who willingly employ foreign nationals as well as illegals because of their hard-working ethos in comparison to the projected entitlement of locals, but seldom stop to think that the reason they’re so hardworking is because they’re living like shit to squirrel away hustled money to send home to their mothers who are looking after their children. Not to mention the vile abuses they’ve gone through to get here. And that isn’t even taking into account the shit they go through once they are here. We know what xenophobia is, but we don’t know what it is like to live through it.
This is in no way about to become a dry didactic piece about consideration and toleration because I highly doubt that the kinds of people who would read this are the ones necklacing foreigners for fear of losing their jobs in the informal sector. Plus, last week I watched the grand finale of the Oprah show with my mom, aunt, granny and tween little cousin, basically a troop of emotional marshmallows, who were in tears at Oprah’s teachings about “the lessons she’s learnt in service to her watchers” and really, I wanted to puke at the patronage so no, I’ll steer clear of advocating becoming a different person. If you aren’t already empathetic, you probably never will be. Besides, wtf has empathy by itself ever achieved?
What these pieces made me wanna do, apart from writing more which is enough for me at this point, is make an effort to understand a bit more. Get rid of the blinkers and talk to the people whose experiences in this country seldom warrant any real attention. Comprehensive vision is important, like not just looking but examining, but even more important is examining the periphery. There are whole worlds in your peripheral vision, whether they remain tangential and inconsequential depends on how well you understand them.
This is probably one of the best sms' I've ever gotten.
"I know a lot of writers who’s stuff is gritty, funny, gross, goofy, dark, trippy, complex, satirical. These are not bad things at all but how often do you come across one that’s as light as air, dreamy and poetic. This jacuzzi feels like you."
Last night a couple of lovely ladies organised the sweetest little get together for Joburg bloggers. I dunno, I dont really feel like a blogger, I think I am just somebody who has a lot to say and a lot to like but anyways, I went because it was at Wolves, indie hipster central, but I, like everyone else, love their red velvet cupcakes and chocolate moustache hot chocolate. Plus I am kinda fond of it because when I was writing my thesis last year, I’d plonk down on one of their mismatched chairs outside and watch the activity on Corlett and try to gather my thoughts into some semblance of academia, while stuffing my face with good cake. But I digress. The point was for bloggers to socialize and network and stuff, and it was really really sweet, a whole buncha girls just talking about their internet skulkings. Shame, I forced Ricardo, my wingman/grandfather-on-facebook/driver/wonderful pal, to go with me, and he was one of like 5 guys but he seemed to have a good time too so it was all gravy. Sweetness and pretty venue and treats to eat aside, the best part was… I won a prize! I never win stuff! My luck has been amazeballs of late. Eek! I was so excited! This beeeeg heavy box! Inside was:
1x Elizabeth Arden lipstick
1x Essie nailpolish (it really is the best brand I think)
1x Molton Brown body creme (OMG its delicious)
1x aromatherapy travel candle (I forget the name but it smells like fireballs i.e. cinnamon)
Aaaaaand 57 million gazillion magazines! To be honest, most of them were quite dry like Rooi Roos and Your Family, but my Gran was uber happy cos I just passed them onto her. Other prizes included a night for 2 at Crowne Plaza Johannesburg, not 1 but 2 Kodak digital cameras and 3 x ghd Iconic Eras of Style handbags and a YEARS supply of Pringles and 5 x Snack Factory gift bags and 5 x Canderel gift bags and finally a months free coffee at Wolves. Nifty huh? I was quite chuffed.
So, kudos to the organisers, I think they are Angie from Lucky Pony (the lovely Wolves go-to-girl) and Nicki from Life with Luca (she emailed me and has a feature on it on her blog so I’m assuming here haha. Its pretty nifty, she has a list of all the bloggers and their sites) as well as Tanya from Dear Max, she is the editor of Living & Loving who hooked up my prize.
Below are some pictures from the night. I was having fun with Cardo’s camera. The good photographs are probably his. But I did take most of them myself. It was fun. Especially because I was surrounded by 97 pseudo-photographers so I played along too. I’m the worst photographer ever but sometimes its nice to openly embrace being a tryhard. Especially when one of your best friends is supremely gifted and tries to teach you how to take decent photographs.
Me and my prize as my head. I was really just trying to hide my gross blonde patch but its peeking out from my bun. Here’s what was inside:
This is Serena. She looked lovely and she was pretty funny cos she won a camera and just so that everyone wouldnt hate her, cos she she was lugging around a pretty expensive professional one, quickly exclaimed that its her sister’s, she really did need a camera. How sweet? Her blog is: medstudentbarbie.blogspot.com
I spoke to countless others but cant remember names nstuff. To check out more cool blogs, click here for a list! By the way, I love fairy lights. Cardo took these pretties. I wanna put some around my windows.
"Excuse me Sir, there seems to be a moustache in my hot chocolate!"
Amy! I loooove her blog! Click here! Plus she’s my friend! Plus she’s super smart! PLUS I did a cool shoot for her vintage clothing endeavor, its called Lost & Found, its superb. More to follow. Watch this space.
This is an excerpt from Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s book
They tell the story of a drunk who crossed the street and accosted a pedestrian, asking him, “I shay, which ish the other shide of the shtreet?” The pedestrian, somewhat nonplussed, replied, “That side, of course!” The drunk said, “Shtrange. When I wash on that shide, they shaid it wash thish shide.” Where the other side of the street is depends on where we are. Our perspective differs with our context, the things that have helped to form us; and religion is one of the most potent of these formative influences, helping to determine how and what we apprehend of reality and how we operate in our own specific context.
My first point seems overwhelmingly simple: that the accidents of birth and geography determine to a very large extent to what faith we belong. The chances are very great that if you were born in Pakistan you are a Muslim, or a Hindu if you happened to be born in India, or a Shintoist if it is Japan, and a Christian if you were born in Italy. I don’t know what significant fact can be drawn from this — perhaps that we should not succumb too easily to the temptation to exclusiveness and dogmatic claims to a monopoly of the truth of our particular faith. You could so easily have been an adherent of the faith that you are now denigrating, but for the fact that you were born here rather than there.
My second point is this: not to insult the adherents of other faiths by suggesting, as sometimes has happened, that for instance when you are a Christian the adherents of other faiths are really Christians without knowing it. We must acknowledge them for who they are in all their integrity, with their conscientiously held beliefs; we must welcome them and respect them as who they are and walk reverently on what is their holy ground, taking off our shoes, metaphorically and literally. We must hold to our particular and peculiar beliefs tenaciously, not pretending that all religions are the same, for they are patently not the same. We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.
We should in humility and joyfulness acknowledge that the supernatural and divine reality we all worship in some form or other transcends all our particular categories of thought and imagining, and that because the divine — however named, however apprehended or conceived — is infinite and we are forever finite, we shall never comprehend the divine completely. So we should seek to share all insights we can and be ready to learn, for instance, from the techniques of the spiritual life that are available in religions other than our own. It is interesting that most religions have a transcendent reference point, a mysterium tremendum, that comes to be known by deigning to reveal itself, himself, herself, to humanity; that the transcendent reality is compassionate and concerned; that human beings are creatures of this supreme, supra mundane reality in some way, with a high destiny that hopes for an everlasting life lived in close association with the divine, either as absorbed without distinction between creature and creator, between the divine and human, or in a wonderful intimacy which still retains the distinctions between these two orders of reality.
When we read the classics of the various religions in matters of prayer, meditation, and mysticism, we find substantial convergence, and that is something to rejoice at. We have enough that conspires to separate us; let us celebrate that which unites us, that which we share in common.
Surely it is good to know that God (in the Christian tradition) created us all (not just Christians) in his image, thus investing us all with infinite worth, and that it was with all humankind that God entered into a covenant relationship, depicted in the covenant with Noah when God promised he would not destroy his creation again with water. Surely we can rejoice that the eternal word, the Logos of God, enlightens everyone — not just Christians, but everyone who comes into the world; that what we call the Spirit of God is not a Christian preserve, for the Spirit of God existed long before there were Christians, inspiring and nurturing women and men in the ways of holiness, bringing them to fruition, bringing to fruition what was best in all. We do scant justice and honor to our God if we want, for instance, to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was a truly great soul, a holy man who walked closely with God. Our God would be too small if he was not also the God of Gandhi: if God is one, as we believe, then he is the only God of all his people, whether they acknowledge him as such or not. God does not need us to protect him. Many of us perhaps need to have our notion of God deepened and expanded. It is often said, half in jest, that God created man in his own image and man has returned the compliment, saddling God with his own narrow prejudices and exclusivity, foibles and temperamental quirks. God remains God, whether God has worshippers or not.
A conversation between contributing editor Helena Fitzgerald and managing editor Malcolm Harris (from The New Inquiry) on the pictures and practices of internet nudity.
Malcolm: Is there a difference between nudity on the internet and online pornography?
Helena: The ubiquity of one necessitates a more precise definition of the other. An image of a naked body is no longer necessarily categorized automatically as pornography. More and more people can say, “Well, there are naked pictures of me on the internet, but they’re artistic, not pornographic or dirty.” It was easier to see the distinction in previous generations when there were very clearly different contexts or frames for art and for pornography. Porn was defined by being available only in contexts in which arousal was the goal.
Malcolm: The internet fucks with this because it’s not in control of its context. All visitors experience an art gallery in more or less the same fashion, but visitors to a website come as they are. Maybe that’s masturbating, maybe it’s taking notes.
Helena: Mostly masturbating.
Malcolm: Maybe, but they could be masturbating to spring break beach photos on Facebook or artsy nudes on Tumblr or gang-bang videos. To call all three of these porn because people get off to them would be overreaching. So by remainder we have a category of nudes that may or may not be particularly erotic but would be inappropriate to call pornographic – thus a site like Art or Porn?
Helena: I don’t know if the division is particularly useful anymore. Somewhat surprisingly, a lot of women use Tumblr for reblogging porn or what could be considered porn. This implies that women — or people in general — didn’t have a problem with porn so much as bad porn with its plastic mounds of robotic flesh.
Tumblr, as a user-directed medium, releases porn from those traditional visual cues. It allows the viewer to look at porn without feeling like she is, you know, looking at porn. Without the surrounding ads for dick enhancement or phone-sex pop ups of commercial online porn, looking at naked bodies becomes a much less urgent or anxious activity. One doesn’t necessarily have to feel that looking at naked bodies has anything to do an orgasmic teleology. At least not consciously, anyway.
Malcolm: Big-budget pornographers are going to stick to the proven formulas, so it seems there will be much more amateur work on Tumblr. What’s nice is that advances in consumer electronics have made high-quality images and video easier to produce. So any photographer — or even any college couple with a nice cell phone — has access to the entire means of pornographic production and distribution. An anticorporate porn movement seems more possible than ever. Maybe we are the porn we’ve been waiting for.
Helena: Well, we have, and will likely continue have, a great historical record of what photographers’ girlfriends look like topless. But the whole public discussion about internet nudity as distinct from porn starts with celebrity sex tapes — I mean, how grassroots or anticorporate could a medium be if its pioneer was Paris Hilton?
Malcolm: That’s a good point, but with the celebrity sex tape what we have is more celebrities behaving like normal people than normal people behaving like celebrities. As Us Weekly reminds us: They’re just like us! And people have recorded themselves having sex, no doubt, for as long as the technological capacity has existed. The celebrity sex tape doesn’t so much normalize the making of sex tapes but the discussion of them in public. Camera phones mean nude pictures, but it’s newsworthy only if the media can link it to public figures or crime.
Helena: Right, okay, Anthony Weiner. Multimedia sexting has now become a standard-enough practice that whenever there’s a scandal, we wait for the phone pictures to leak.
Malcolm: This was something people were always already doing (sending each other nudie pics), but how does all this publicity affect the practice?
Helena: On the personal level, people seem to expect that they can just ask for naked photos from a sexual partner at an early point in the relationship. It has become not a particular or intimate activity but almost an obligation. Sending naked pictures has gone from an experimental thing between committed partners to a standardized stage of flirting. Having seen someone naked in person seems to lead immediately to the assumption that one therefore has the right to a digital copy of that image.
Malcolm: That sounds like a negative turn, and no one like the idea of creepy exes showing nude pictures of them to their friends. But eventually no one is going to care. So our flirting and sexual practices change in relation to technology — so what? The cops and parents will get over kids sending each other “show-me-yours” pics. No one is better about getting blasé about such things than teenagers. There’s nothing wrong with it.
Helena: But what about when they grow up? Who wants pictures of themselves at 18 —
Malcolm: — or 16.
Helena: Or 16 being online forever? What about future employers?
Malcolm: When I was in college, I was an intern at a nonprofit in D.C. In a conversation it came out that almost everyone in the office had at least one tattoo. Now, even a few years ago, “serious people” said getting a tattoo would mean ruining every real job interview forever. It’s just not true anymore, if it ever was.
Helena: And the more pictures there are on the Web, the smaller the chances that you run into any given one. It’s like hiding in plain sight. And when we do turn up pictures of people we know, hopefully we’ll judge them like art, on compositional quality or lighting rather than simply be outraged by the sight of exposed flesh.
Malcolm: It’s certainly not unprecedented. Carla Bruni Sarkozy has plenty of topless photos out there, but they’re nice and she’s French, so no one is angry. Why can’t that work for someone you recognize from Human Resources or math class?
So a little bird told me that Heat magazine needed beauty product judges.. Below is the letter I sent em explaining why I should be a judge..
Dear Heat People
I used to be a poppie.
I painted my nails every day, from Rimmel to Essie to Cutex. My hair was long and lustrous, curly some days, sleek and dead straight on others. Flawless base and tweezed eyebrows were the norm for me. I flounced through university smelling like the Edgars perfume counter every day. Hell, I even wore lipstick. Not the kind that gets on your teeth, but perfectly applied, the kind of lipstick application that would make Halle Berry in a Revlon ad jealous.
And then it all ended.
Real life hit me.
Gone were the days of waking up at 11 a.m. because duh a girl needs her beauty sleep, and then spending at least 45 minutes deciding what to wear and what colour my nails should be and like whether fake eyelashes for lectures is like too much or perfectly normal.
I know this sounds like an episode from Clueless in the 90s, but the sad reality is that this was only last year. Upon finishing my studies, I was ploughed into the heartless world of W-O-R-K.
I can’t even bring myself to say it out loud.
Now, I wallow in clumpy base and mushy mascara. Cuticles that threaten to become natural gloves that’s how overgrown they are. Shampoo and conditioner are just about all I can manage, gone are days of mouse, hairspray, gel, all the fun products a girl can submerge her hair in just because they’re there and waiting to love your hair as much as you. Perfume is now a myth, to be longed for and requested twice a year. Birthdays and Christmas, you know the drill. As for the really fun stuff like eye-shadow and matt-mousse blush? That’s realllllllly pushing it.
Why you may ask?
There are two reasons really.
I am no longer the princess angel darling student I used to be. Now part of the working world, parental generosity has all but evaporated and as such, I am no longer primped and pampered. Sob.
Working crazy hours at my crazy job with very little sleep and even less play-time means that time for make-up and beauty treatments has quite similarly evaporated too. Sigh, I long for the days of pure ol’ self-pampering. Especially because I truly believe that is in my genetic make-up to be doing these things every day, all day anyways.
Thus, I really do have the judgement to be a truly phenomenal judge in the Heat beauty awards, I’ve just sorta fallen off the wagon and turned into a raggedy old hag, through no fault of my own though. All I need is a fairy Godmother to swish a wand and make me beautiful once more and somehow, I just know Heat can be that generous and kind fairy godmother to me in my time of dire dire need.
With kind regards and unkempt and untidy desperation,
Imagine my freaking excitement when I got the email notifying me that I had been selected!!! I dont even have words to explain, which is rare, so below are some pics…
We had a mini viewing/bounty-sharing party with my aunt. It was mad fun..
My brother walks in and he’s like “No waaaays! Why isnt there any guys stuff?!” Next thing he randomly picks up a tin and sprays it on himself, self-tan-in-a-can mind you, and starts screaming “MOMMMMMY! MY SKIN IS TURNING BLACK!!!” Whatta retard.
Makeup and nail polish for daysssssss!
Sheesh I feel super lucky. Today I am wearing Calvin Klein Beauty, which is officially my new favourite smell, I’m actually falling in love with myself, and my nails are beautifully Essie’d up. Tonight Ima make sure I do something amazing so that I can put a whooooole lotta make-up on. But probably the best part of it all was the fun I had with my Mom and aunt, we split everything three ways, because it is actually an obscene amount of stuff for one person, as well as made lil hampers, for my besties, my brother’s girlfriend and the only two girls I know who would possibly use self-tan products, Aileen and Racine. I mean that ish is expensive nstuff but seriously now, what am I possibly gonna do with that??? I have a natural glow. Ha. We had a special pile of “contestables” that we had oodles of fun fighting over, my Mom was like hiding stuff in her bra..
So Kate Moss married Jamie Hince. I’m always outta the loop with these, I didnt even know she was engaged. Tabloids are hard to follow. But omg WOW look at how beautiful she is! Sheesh this dress! Insane! Soooooo beautiful. I dont even know who Jamie Hince is, like a random-ass rocker I think. Who cares though, he looks mad cool too, those boots! I want em. For myself. And my husband.They’re a pretty neat couple though, style-wise of course, not like I know them and judge their suitability (I haaaaate it when people/magazines do that. Like come on.)
This was their outfit change. Im not too sure about her boots but I looooove this dress..
Okay I’m almost done drooling. Just imagine. While honeymooning, he gets to wake up to this..