Thursday, 26 October 2006

Pictures of love and hate

Cleaning up my cell phone, I found a few recent pictures with dubious artistic merit, but worthwhile commenting on.

So val die helde: Le Petit Paris, a favourite Saturday morning haunt on Greenmarket Square, Cape Town, is no more. A generic-looking coffee shop will open soon. Lekka.

Bosbeheer: Seen on a bakkie in Wellington. I can't figure out if there is a tongue in the cheek here somewhere or whether it's a serious reference.

Blood on the shopfloor: A young boy cut his foot on the side of the checkout installation in Woolworths, Gardens Centre and they let almost four customers wade and tripple and tiptoe through the blood before someone managed to bring a mop. Not even me taking a photo elicited a response.

Art: This is pasted on the back of a street sign in Stellenbosch, around the corner of Mystic Boer and the infamous clinic where the nurse tannies still gave serious speeches to students in the early 90's.

Geel trui vir 'n wenner: at some DJ event at Mystic Boer, Krizz and I spent a lot of time analysing the chances of people around us of getting lucky. Once the guy in front of us managed to remove a yellow jersey that reminded me of some personal youthful fashion indiscretions in 1986, we thought his chances would improve significantly, but it wasn't to be. Krizz, however, pounced on the offending jersey and this picture is of one particular strut. I can of course post the piccie with his face on, but lest there be stalkers out there, won't (for now).

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Learning the Lomo

Ok, so we have quite some way to go to learn the idiosyncrasies of the Lomo LC-A, the Interstitial One and I, but a promise is a promise, so here's a first batch of kiekies we took with the Russian pocket monster. My initial reaction is that it works great in low-or-no light situations (as it should), but why do all the daylight photos get underexposed?


Rows are A-D, Columns are 1-2:

A1: Shoegazing, Stanfordsbaai
A2: Bloeisels, Stellenbosch
B1: Smallholding, Wellington (at moonlight with about 1 minute's exposure)
B2: Hills, somewhere in the Overberg
C1: Flowers and clouds, Stanfordsbaai
C2: Lada Niva of the night, Wellington
D1: Cabin fever, Wellington
D2: Stencil wall art, I really can't remember

Still thinking...

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Gods and monsters

My immortal soul is in trouble. It was my birthday last week, and my mother took the opportunity of a celebratory dinner to ask uncomfortably profound questions about my conception of God. Whether I’m ‘ready to die’ – that kind of thing. I lied to her, of course, and (using her discourse) assured her that all is well with my soul. Somewhere between the main course and dessert it dawned on me that I am, for all intents and purposes, an atheist. The religious fervour of earlier was first replaced by a numb agnosticism, and now by a rather determined atheism; or irreligiousness in any case. Which brings me to my irritation du jour. Have a read of Jon Qwelane’s latest offering on News24.

Scary stuff, I thought – and not only because I’m a woopsie myself. My status as a homosexual is largely academic: I live a celibate life, and have been for quite a while, but I take an essentialist view on this: to paraphrase Sartre, I am a homo because Qwelane looks at me…

The point of this is that I’ve decided to advocate for a strong secularism. The more I look around me, the more I am struck by the horror unleashed by the pathological projections unleashed on humankind in the name of patriotism, nationalism, ideology, religion, God, and so on and so on ad infinitum. Let us kill our gods. Let us embrace our loneliness in this cosmos as a blessing rather than as something to be covered up by primitive fears and their romanticised constructs.

I’m not pushing for some blind embrace of ignorance dressed up as apathy. One should only do this by knowing the enemy. In that spirit, I’ve thought of a quick reading list for the uninitiated, or the mildly interested. Here are four books:

I sit back and I reread all of this and I can’t help but wonder whether I’ll burn in hell.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Riding the Iron Rooster

Oh, for the love of BLOG! Blogger decided that if I log in from a Chinese computer IT TOO must be Chinese. Note to techno-people: make me choose my own interface language.

So, I've decided to throw in the towel, and it was a nice towel too before it got oil-stained and dust-encrusted. I'm in a city called Sanmenxia, which has lost the whole point of its name, if you want to know.

Tomorrow, I'm bussing back to Xi'an, bike and all. I've come this way by bike, I think about 350km, but that's yet to be confirmed. Since having done that I certainly know pretty well I don't want to go back through that again.

This is just an introduction: I made notes. Suffice it to say that China has simply not endeared itself to me. Again. I try so hard. Here's the short version: The Chinese, as a group, with almost no exceptions, are the most inconsiderate, unfriendly, noisy and uncreative people in the world. I'm willing to discuss this. My Chinese friends even know my position. This trip has just, again, confirmed it. As a white South African such sweeping declarations about a whole other people seems extremely ill-advised. I agree. But for the love of white bread, I can't help it. I just don't meet exceptions. After a while it's terribly hard not to suspect genetic deviation.

As for the road from Xi'an: it's polluted and full of people and smells of shit all the way. Industrial wasteland, except for some pieces just inside Henan which are more like agricultural wastelands.

The cylcing itself went fine: I did between 50km and 80km a day and felt okay the next day. First two days were pouring with rain and the going was slow. Then it became merely foggy and dusty and hilly. On one day I had to walk up a mountain just before entering Henan Province. There was a road of course, but so steep I couldn't peddle, even by standing up on the bike.

At the end of every stretch my face was dark with dust, but it felt good to look back at some shitfaced piece of road and to know I kicked its ass.

This to say for China: never once on the road did I fear for my life. I was never in danger. I think that's more than we can say in South Africa.

That's it for now. I'll fill in the journey when I'm home in Xi'an. For now I would like to go find a bar -- in the interest of cultural exchange, you understand -- but Sanmenxia looks a little devoid of suchlike places. It's still the aftermath of Ten One (October the first, founding of the PRC) and the streets are packed for such a small city. Every -- every -- shop has a full sized red flag haning outside and the TV is full of period pieces about how wonderful Mao was and how bad and evil the Guomingdang was. There's a bit of a carnival atmosphere outside, but not in the friendly way we Western types think. I see the R2 per hour internet bar is pretty packed too, mostly QQ-ers and World of Warcraft. And the night is full of promise. And the smell of shit.