Friday, January 29, 2010

Dr Strangelove

I watched this documentary last night


I love all Stanley Kubrick's films, with the exception of The Seafarers and anything before that because I have yet to see them. I can easily say he is my favourite because no other film-maker manages to keep me fixed to the screen like he does. It has a lot to do with how they look, but also the content, themes, acting, dialogue and everything else. People say he his films are cold and sterile, 'too calculated' almost. But really he shot a shitload of film, trying all kinds of things until he got them right, so in the end it's no wonder the final product seems near perfect.

I think what makes the acting in his films so interesting is that he prepped the actors much like a stage director would prepare actors for their roles. Which means countless rehearsals before the actual 'shooting'. Another director who works similar to this (with regard to the actors) is Mike Leigh. If you haven't seen anything by him, I'd recommend 'Nuts in May', as it's my favourite :D

Here is a nice scene from it:


Nuts in May form part of the films he made for the BBC's 'Play for Today' series.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

PIERO PICCIONI

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Public Image Ltd

the Go! Team


This song makes me so happy. The entire album is filled with really happy uplifting tunes.
I made a pact never to get it for myself; I know that if I do, I'll just end up looping it over and over, potentially killing the effect it has on me.
So now whenever I hear it at a friend's house or on the radio or something, it makes me very very happy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Arriving in Newcastle



June 2009

video

Just about the last video from that holiday. Sound is quite soft on this one. I sold the camera after the holiday. It's nice and all with very good quality but i grew tired of it. It is exactly like a cellphone, only a fraction heavier. I'd rather just get a cellphone with a camera (chances are I won't - love my cellphone - had it for years, it's a nokia - indestructible piece of equipment - model escapes me now ) - because cellphone cameras often have a nice quality. This (http://princessnebraska.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/flip.jpg) felt like participating in I, Robot. Also, there are no contrast settings on the things which means no fun.

In general, it was a lovely lonesome holiday in the highlands. My sister and hubby were at work throughout the day, so that meant I had plenty of time to myself, which was fine with me. They live in a really awesome little town with the most remarkable scenery. They live just a little way out of the town; my only contact with the people was at the local chip shop. A typical day consisted of packing a backpack with provisions and setting off into the mountain paths (and off of them) for the day. I took the little video camera with me but every time I filmed something - it felt silly for some reason - like it was taking away from the experience. Perhaps was projecting some existential angst onto the camera. Regardless, I was having a great time when I wasn't filming anything. It sounds silly. In the end I left feeling incredibly refreshed. I smoked much less than usual (I usually do in England) and my sister took good care of me as always, with her awesome cooking and loving attitude.

The highland summer is just perfect in my opinion. It presents a good mix between mildly warm (just perfect) weather with blue blue skies - and overcast rainy weather (I love walking in the rain like a human condom). I took some rather nice photos with a disposable camera, which were taken when my car was broken into at the end of last year. I still have the negatives somewhere but chances are they're probably ruined from the moving. Which is sad, because I had just started a nice collection of disposable camera Scotland Trip photos. I think they have a nice quality too!

This highlander feels for my missing photos:


I think it's pretty obvious but I'll say it anyway - I used Windows Movie Maker for editing these movies - such a lovely shitty little program. It has all these cool effects but you can't mess about with any of it, it's all one effect - ! It lays it on really thick. Better than nothing, i suppose.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sonic Youth

I fucking love this band...

Stellenbosch Parking Marshals

Excerpt from project July-November 2008:

The system has changed significantly since I did this project. The day marshals no longer wear red bibs, but these silly uniforms, with yellow arms that look way too hot to wear in the summer sun. The card system has also changed back to a cash system (maybe you can still use cards? I don't know).

'By 11:00 am the car park is almost completely full. The weather has steadily worsened by this time and everyone is huddled under their umbrellas or the trees to escape the rain. The weather makes both drivers and marshals more temperamental than usual, neither seem to relish the other’s presence. Drivers also do not have much time to pay tips or even give money for parking in the rain. They run in and out, leaving as soon as they can.

Some marshals fail to show up when the weather is bad. This means there is more to cover by less people, exacerbating the situation. It suffices to say that rainy days are not good days for the car marshals. The elements present a constant challenge and they make considerably less money.'

The majority of the Red-Bibs have a very strong work ethic. It is felt that what you put in, you will ultimately get out. If someone has had a bad day and income was low, it is believed that it is because they did not contribute as much as they could have. Often, drivers do not pay for their parking immediately; they tell the marshal that they will pay on return. Many return without ever paying the marshal. Some of the regular marshals do not see this as a problem. They feel that in time the money they have lost will come back to them, for instance, someone would come back the next day and give R10 where they originally only owed about R3. In one instance, a driver came back after three months and paid the marshal R100. There are however those who never pay up. As a result, the agency blames the marshals for stealing. Marshals are often blamed for things they are not directly responsible for. For example, marshals get blamed by drivers for things like the rise in parking tariffs, or differing tariffs for parking across town. They admit that this often gets them down and they feel frustrated by the treatment they receive, but they believe that a positive spirit will persevere and they try not to let these things get them down. There is also a general understanding that drivers are not always aware of the marshal's circumstances and that they are only people who go about their way.

Customer relations are generally important to the marshal. While many drivers are rude and tend to act indifferently, marshals do their best to communicate in a friendly manner. Drivers often park and walk away without putting money on the meter, when this happens; marshals attempt to get the attention of the driver. Sometimes the drivers flatly ignore these calls and as a result marshals often have to raise their voice. This can be construed by the driver as an act of aggression and as a result conflict arises between the two.

There are marshals who occupy a fixed a space if they have been known to make good money in that particular spot. Some marshals are able to make a lot of money in the most unlikely of places. These marshals value their customer relations more so than others. This further exemplifies how it is not a marshals position that determines their income, but their overall attitude toward the work and the people they deal with. For these marshals drivers are often seen as more than ‘customers’ or ‘clients’. It is not uncommon for drivers to have preferred parking spaces because of their relationship with the car marshal. Friendships are often formed under these circumstances, as with my informant John Henry who I often found smoking a cigarette and chatting with one of his regular ‘customers’. Regular customers usually give better tips than other customers. Building up a good customer relation is part of the red-bib work ethic and ultimately contributes to better satisfaction for the work they do. These relations play an important part in balancing out the negative attitudes of other drivers.

'By the end of the day, Yellow-bibs can already be seen standing on the periphery waiting to take over. There is shouting across the lot between Red and Yellow bibs. I am unable to make out what they are saying. I ask one of my informants what the commotion is about and he tells me that the one guy used to be a red-bib but has since left the employment of the agency. He goes on to relate how he never bothered showing up for work and how he is better of working as a yellow-bib because he never fit into the red-bib system.'

Yellow bibs do not work for an agency. I tried to find out more about how one becomes a yellow bib but all my sources were either contradictory or just plain vague. Some say they receive their bibs directly from a municipality office but other sources say that there is a man, known as ‘welle welle’. This man is said to have at one stage worked on the municipal council and as a result managed to procure the rights to distributing yellow bibs. But according to Philip Kleinhans who works at Stellenbosch’s toy museum, a man who has been part of the Stellenbosch marshalling system since its inception, no-one owns or controls the yellow-bibbed system anymore. It is basically a free for all; if one is able to get hold of a yellow bib and find a spot, then you are good to go.

Yellow-bibs usually take over from 17:00 when parking becomes free. They are mostly found at night in parking areas close to restaurants. They have a reputation for drinking on the job and harassing drivers. I spoke to a restaurant owner and he said his biggest problem is the yellow bibbed car marshals because they scare off his customers and he suspects that many of them are involved in organised crime. This of course does not reflect all yellow-bibs but it is a good example of the shady reputation 'they' have in Stellenbosch.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Food for thought

I haven't heard Alan Watts before. This is quite nice.



Classic, contemporary and curious cinema

I work part time in a DVD rental shop - http://www.klick.co.za/store.php?s=11 -it uses the DVD Nouveau name and image - but I think there is a definite independent quality to it and so far, is continuing to give Nouveau brand a good name. The response has been immense and people are going out of their way to support the place. I think a lot of people learned their lesson after the Neelsie Cinemas were closed down. We are also open to all kinds of suggestions for what films to stock. It's an ongoing project, with lots of interesting ideas for the future. The catalog system is quite esoteric at the moment. The display usually mirrors some kind of film mindmap of the person working at the time. Films are also categorised by genres, and writer/directors. Werner mentioned something about setting up mobile drive-ins and we are collaborating with local theaters to have themed screening nights.

We are also looking to expand the documentary section with more independent films. If you know of anyone that has made something or if you made something yourself, we'd be happy to stock it. Contact Hannes @ stellenbosch@dvdnouveau.co.za

Night Shelter

16 march 2009

First visit went quite well. I arrived at around half past five. The forecourt presented a good mix of relatively inebriated and sober individuals. The moment I got there, I was approached by a Xhosa speaking man named ‘Chris’. He seemed to be amused by me, constantly smiling and laughing, ogling me through his spectacles. I gave him a cigarette. I gave about 3 cigarettes away, like a madman. Probably not the best first move, but we still seemed to get on well after that. After some time a side door opened and everyone lined up. Each individual must take a breathalyser test to determine which shelter to enter. I took the test. A green light went on. I assumed that meant I was okay and entered on the sober side. The shelter was up to full capacity and quite a few men were not admitted.

I went inside, sat around talking to a few people about this and that, went to see Denise in her office. She explained that it was alright for me to work there, but whatever I say in my paper must undergo some kind of fact checking by the shelter counsel (I thought oh god). I’m also not allowed to give anything to anyone, like cigarettes, or material possessions. I’m also not allowed to do any kind of counselling. When I finished in the office, I went to the kitchen to see if I could offer any help. I stabbed frozen soup for a while, but at that time there wasn't much to do. Went outside to have another smoke. There I met a woman named Stephanie sitting by herself. She is very sweet and soft spoken. You have to listen carefully to catch everything she says. She told me about her car accident and how God has helped her with the recovery. She now works on cleaning the river and making caps with wool and old plastic cans.

I continued to sit with Stephanie for a while, feeling like a chain-smoker. At around 7pm, just as the 7de Laan end credits theme came blaring from the inside, everyone got up and set the tables and chairs in place. A line was formed. Denise made some announcements. She asked for two volunteers to work on the Shelter garden the following day. Two men volunteerd. There was a prayer and dinner was served. Tonight it was a meaty bean soup. There were also some hot dog buns on another table and small container of salt. A lot of people brought their own seasoning. A man turned on the Afrikaans news. After dinner I sat around, further speaking to Rashid, who I met earlier. We spoke about music (he is a drummer and has played in groups) . He also told me of his plans to set up a stall at the nearby market. He wants to sell kebabs, burgers and things like that. He is from Durban. I leant him my phone so he could make a call to one of his relatives. He believes he should have his stall up within a week, if everything goes according to plan.

At around half past eight most people had retired to the sleeping area. A few fellows were still playing a pool, and an african man with interesting facial hair sat in front of the television watching a locally produced movie on SABC1. He was unsure of where he would sleep, so he was waiting for the care-taker to help him out. Inside, everyone looked pooped and generally glad to get rest. There wasn’t room for me tonight so I took to the dark streets, keeping a sharp eye out as I walked back.

Salt and Pepper

Silly little tale I wrote many moons ago:

Two grains of salt meet each other on the way down to a bed of broccoli. All the other grains of salt are in a state of panic; but not these two salts, who are contented with their fate. As a grain of salt, your ultimate destiny is to be tossed onto some food; this is the way of the condiment. Salts however, generally have a hard time accepting this fate. Time passes much slower for salt than humans. One human second is at least 5 minutes for salt.

As these two grains are falling they look around with their little salty eyes at their panic stricken companions. While the rest of the salting community are worried by this mighty fall, these two unique salts are contemplating their strategy for when they meet their arch enemy: PEPPER! Luckily for some salts: there are humans who do not put pepper on their food, unlucky for others: there are humans who DO! When salt and pepper come face to face it is not a pretty sight. The two battle it out to bring out the dominant flavour in food. Pepper usually comes out on top. Salt has gathered a reputation in the spice rack as being the weakest of all. Talisman and Latentspeak, the two calm grains, want to change this. They are tired of having to bow their heads in shame, especially to those Robertson's spices who think they are god's gift to potatoe wedges! As they are about to land they think about taking action. But, they miss the plate; they hit the tablecloth! Later on that evening, a few salty hours later, Talisman and Latentspeak are wiped away along with the rest of their fallen brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Middelpos, Saldanha

Feb 2009

Upon entering Middelpos, one of the first things that struck me while walking through the streets, was the apparent ingenuity used in the construction of the homes. An array of discarded materials; old road signs, advertising boards, metal plates, wood and cardboard have been put together to create unique and wonderful shelters. Nothing goes unused. What we usually consider to be of no value is of great essence to the people of Middelpos. Much care has also been put into the maintenance of some of these plots; some are adorned with flowers and little vegetable gardens. Much pride is put into these homes. We often decorate our own homes as a reflection of ourselves and our sense of individualism. This is no different to the people of Middelpos, except that their access to material is considerably limited.

During the day a large portion of the population can be seen walking the streets or sitting inside and outside their homes. This is largely due to the shortage of work in the area. Most people have come to Middelpos, hoping to find work in nearby Saldana, which is home to a number of marine enterprises. Many have come here leaving their families behind. Middelpos is a majority Xhosa speaking community and many originate from the eastern Cape. Those who are able to find work here send much of their earnings back to their families. The problem is however; that many arrive in Saldanha and are unable to find work, becoming further entrenched in a cycle of unemployment. Children can also be seen playing in the streets during school hours, not able to attend because their parents or caretakers are unable to afford school fees (which are very low by middle income standards).

Alternative sources of income are often sought. Little home shops are in abundance, selling basic things, like cool drinks, bread and cigarettes. Rarely is there not more than one of these shops in sight. An entrepreneurial spirit can be seen in the various signs which draw people to the shops: advertising good prices and especially sought after items. One house advertised a soon to be opened 'baby supplies' shop; something the community is surely in of (lots of lovely little babies around!). Other shops also sell things like fruits and vegetables. There are also illegal forms of entrepreneurship.

The standard of living in Middelpos, as with our country in general, is quite unevenly spread. Iraq, an area of Middelpos, given the name because of its ongoing struggle, is considered to be the least well-off area in town. From experience it does indeed seem to be the case. As up to 13 people here have to make use of one toilet and there is little water facilities in the area. The houses here have no electricity and have little to nothing on the inside, save for a wooden bench and a table which holds a gas cooker and some plates and utensils. On the other side of town things are slightly better. Most houses here have electricity; they contain more furniture and in some cases, an electrical stove. Electricity is illegally sourced from the main electricity lines, which means that the use of more than one appliance simultaneously may cause the power to short. The better houses also have televisions, radios and in some cases, a DVD-player. The quality of living is not divided exclusively to the various areas of Middelpos. Adjacent homes, often on the same plot, can vary significantly in standard of living and there are homes with TVs and other appliances in Iraq, although in general there is very little.

It is a strange sight seeing a near empty shack with nothing but a television, a gas cooker and some pots and pans. The presence of expensive items like Radios, TVs and DVD players present a strange paradox. While many live with little to no material possessions, items like Radios, Televisions, DVD and CD players are in relative abundance. We live in a consumer driven world, and most people aspire for better material conditions. In a sense these things represent a measure of success to the people of middelpos.

Strolling through Middelpos, you can often hear loud music emanating from shacks in all directions, different sounds often compete against each other. Various styles of music can be heard from Kwaito, Reggae, Hip hop, to commercial pop music. At one point while strolling through the streets, I recognised the sounds of American rapper, ‘The Notorious B.I.G.’ - who was assassinated in late 1990s – Biggie, as he is affectionately known, rapped about life in the American ghetto (he also rapped about bitches and money).

The majority of people I spoke to feel that the municipality fails to live up to most of its promises. They require only the most basic of services, such as water, sanitation and electricity, yet these are not provided. The clinic which provides medical services is situated on the far side of town and is not easily available. The school is also said to be at an unreasonable distance from where people live. The hospital is also too far away, and in an emergency it takes too long reach it.

Most of us are aware of the hardships people face in our country, but this is rarely seen upfront, instead we see it from a distance, we read about in newspapers, we talk about it, but only from a distantiated, abstract perspective. There is hope in Middelpos, the people seem to have a good understanding of what it is they need to uplift themelves. They cannot however, do it by themselves. They know this and only seek the basic neccesities that is needed to lay the groundwork to allow them to better themselves socially and economically.

It hugs back

Today I officially ended my commitment to a BA Hons. Degree in Social Anthropology, signified by the handing in of my dissertation. I won't go into too much detail, all I will say is it's about homeless people and it's about living and sleeping in a homeless shelter where people go to get away from the harsh streets (especially during winter). I live in a town called Stellenbosch, which presents an all too familiar dichotomy.

In general, I'm not an activist, I'm not a fully blown socialist (I have leanings) but these things certainly bother me. I'm not essentialising the poor and saying that if you're poor you live a miserable life. Because that is simply not true! What really gets me is places where toilets are overflowing and 13 people have to share one hose. It is completely un-necessary and makes you wonder why anything isn't done about it because the objectives are easier to reach than people tend to think. This is why I am grateful for all the people who fight the good fight. I'm not talking about peons like myself, I mean people like my project supervisor Steven Robins (http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-01-15-beware-the-man-for-all-seasons) who challenges authority and popular notions and misconceptions about the state of our country. It is amazing how much he juggles at one time. An incredibly prolific guy. As friendly as can be too!


It's been a good year with some fun interesting and bizarre outings. Of course, it also had a fantastic soundtrack. Without question the most significant musical group for me in the last 6 months was 'It Hugs Back'. I bought their record in June and it has since never failed to bring me back down to earth. Quite possibly one of the most peaceful albums ever recorded! Very positive music. It was mixed at Abbey Road - there are definite Beatle references on it - more so than in most other bands. The album was released on the Too Pure! label, which is also home to the almighty Stereolab!

They also have some pretty nifty music videos - http://www.ithugsback.co.uk/videos.html

Monday, January 18, 2010

Free Music

Bearfaced

Nevenen

Imaginary fantasy

Occult Techno

Belbury Poly

It is recommended that if you end up really liking Belbury Poly (chances are good), you should probably support them since they did not ask for the music to be uploaded. Luckily Ghost Box - http://www.ghostbox.co.uk - doesn't seem like the kind of record label that worries about that kind of thing.

There is also plenty to download from http://www.electrotrash.co.za/downloads/ (it helps if your looking for something specific)

This may not be all so free for people living in countries with a bad bandwidth infrastructure. Or just people without bandwidth.


It's not easy finding the Gazelle album in the shops. So I bought a Cure CD instead. For R130! A good price these days.


Streethawk


Extended footage from the train to Inverness. After some time I noticed a car racing against the train. Hopefully you can follow it on the little blogger video screen.


video

Music - Tangerine Dream - Streethawk Theme

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Glen Eagle


June 2009

video

Music by me

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The leader, his driver, and the driver's wife

Nick Broomfield gets up close and personal with the AWB. Filmed in 1991, at the end of apartheid, he shows how the AWB start to crumble from disillusionment. His style is intrusive and comical that makes for heart warming moments in a very sad story. These 'are' good people whose hearts and minds have been turned by a history of struggle and defeat. If only they could show everyone the humanitarian spirit they show toward each other.

You can watch the whole thing online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXmrFpu_ndw
It has a pretty good soundtrack too, featuring plenty of songs by 80s/90s SA artist, Splash aka Dan Tshanda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFApAQVac3A

From Newcastle

June 2009
video

Music - Belbury Poly - The New Mobility

Train to Inverness

The train to Inverness (June 2009)


video

Music - Copy - It's a little too late

RDJ


A friendly picture of Richard D James



Friday, January 15, 2010

Hello

Testing testing 123