Thursday, August 31, 2006

Crap artists

So it appears that Tom and Katie have had their baby's first turd bronzed. Not a joke, well just a bit: it has been reproduced in a bronze casting exhibited by edgy artist Daniel Edwards, and is on display at a Brooklyn gallery. Under glass, of course. Nothing very novel there, with much modern art consisting of bodily emissions in various settings. But it is the explanation that takes us into the Twilight Zone: apparently Daniel's doo-doo is commenting on a Gen X trend to do exactly that -- bronze the baby's first production. I ask you: are these people human beings? Or are they, as Scientology high priest Tom might suggest, aliens from a dark and malevolent galaxy?

An episode of The Outer Limits tonight featured two aliens who can control men's minds to make them think they are hot babes; but as the first flush of love fades, the poor putzes start to find their gorgeous wives, well, unappetising, slimy to the touch and smelling like a sewer. Till they see what they have been sharing a bed with: a grotesque misshapen horror that drips stuff like the creature in Alien. Then they go mad. (Did the writer have a recent messy divorce, perhaps?)

Anyway, I've started wondering when Katy will start smelling something a bit off, finding her matinee idol husband slimy to the touch, etc. Unmask Tom Cruise, the Thing that Ate Hollywood! And bronze its poop!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Exterminate! Exterminate!

It's spring, and a glorious Sunday at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the slopes of Table Mountain. The giant parking lots are full, the massed ranks of the picnic hamper regiment stream over the rolling lawns accompanied by their offspring. Pretty well everything is flowering enthusiastically, strelitzia straining to fly, red ericas, proteas of every hue, the purple blooms of the keurboom (tree) emitting a heady scent. The guinea-fowl, perhaps the stupidest bird in this region, peck away at the grass; a mongoose comes out for a swift and sinuous inspection.

We went on a good walk up the mountain from the garden, into the peace of Cecilia Forest, a peace which is about to end, as the envirofascists bark-strip the eucalyptus and other "aliens" and tar their flesh. Many are dead or dying and bark lies thick on the ground. Others have already been logged. The declared aim is, as one of the more extreme "conservation" groups puts it "to rid our nation of all invasive aliens". South Africa, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Just up the road from my house, the poplars surrounding the Noordhoek common were scythed down almost overnight, to the horror of incredulous locals. It seems the environazis want to create a museum to the distant past, when the Khoisan roamed the scrub and vast beaches, without a scrap of shade. The snag is that this is a metropolis of 3 million people, not a giant nature reserve. Dunno how concrete fits into this "vision". Petitions are now being drawn up, but the Parks officials are a merciless and literal-minded tribe.

Conservation here seems to be mainly about killing things. Already the tahrs, shy Himalayan mountain goats, aliens without passports, have been exterminated by sharpshooters. Next the fallow deer, also foreigners, though the parks death squads won't be involved; they are being relocated, mainly because there is only so much the people of Cape Town will tolerate.

The last vestiges of the colonisation of the environment by everyone from the Dutch to the Brits (and Cecil Rhodes in particular) are not yet threatened: the great oaks of Newland Forest and Government Avenue -- and, indeed, as can be seen, Kirstenbosch -- with their thriving population of grey squirrels that shamelessly panhandle the tourists for nuts. Lazy little sods. Still, they wouldn't dare -- I think.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The green men

You know spring must be on the way when Tatooine sends its strimmer crew to start whizzing off winter's lush coat. The signs are everywhere: the first shark attack of the season; a mass of tiny double-collared sunbirds, like shards of jade, trilling a liquid celebration in the wild cherry tree; the Namaqualand desert flower fields flourishing glorious swatches of colour; the whales on their way. Winter, as is its wont, is at present spitefully swishing its chill tail across the Peninsula as it makes a reluctant departure.

I do love my city at the change of seasons. Its never-failing effort to put on its glad rags shames the cloistered couch legume. What on earth was all that gloom about? I ask myself as I trot off to the beach, hoping to sight the first southern right behemoth breaching in the cove.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Goodnight nurse

Having bravely seen off first edition this morning, I struggled home and succumbed to a really vicious, muscle-twisting, fever-pitch, axe-in-the-head flu. Why does bad flu make you groan? (Or maybe that's just me.) The day has passed like a kind of nightmare, me lying in bed fully dressed while Sky drifts in and out with all the worst news in a long time. Still, I have improved a bit this evening, and after lying on the La-Z-Boy channel flipping, have dragged myself into the typist's chair to blog aimlessly.

I almost never get ill. This is a once-in-ten-years event. But being a typical kind of bloke, I really need someone to fuss over me and unfortunately there isn't anyone around to do that. I thought of phoning my Pilates instructor Justine because she's so empathetic, but it seemed a bit of a cheek. And she is seven months pregnant. When she kneels on my back to unkink me she feels pretty heavy now.

So here I am, over the groaning now, although it still feels like someone worked me over with a baseball bat. Pathetic, really. The worst part right now is that I don't feel like eating anything. Which is good, objectively. OK, end of moan, reader, I roped you into my misery and I don't even feel bad about it.

I'm going to scan the DVD collection for a suitable movie. Can't figure out what will work. High Fidelity? Mmm. Record fanatic (like me) loses girlfriend ... maybe not. The new James Bond collection released by MGM? Too painful for the old head. Eric Rohmer, here I come.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Menage a trois

The humping dolphins of Sunny Cove. There's also a bronze at the beach entrance of a chap in "trunks" dragging a girl in a two-piece to her feet, presumably to go watch the dolphins at it. I couldn't bring myself to post a snap of this work, titled (gaah) Frolic.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The shopping bag collection

This is a post inspired by the ongoing shopping-bags-of-the-world discussion over at Pashmina's cutting-edge chronicle. Here in Sarf Africa we have recently undergone one of our periodic revolutions; people never tire of them since the big struggle, it seems. This one was extremely painful. The government decided to "phase out" the paper-thin shopping bags used in profusion at shopping emporia and subsequently recyled as urban decoration, flapping gaily on power lines, fences, hedges and trees. The plasti-bag industry was outraged, saying thousands of bag men and women would be put out of work.

The government pointed out that it simply wanted 1 sturdier bags; 2 a charge to be levied for every bag provided at checkouts. This went to and fro for some time and then the great leap forward began. Shoppers turned out to have been itching to reuse their bags and what's more to buy doughty holdalls of fabric manufacture.

These days the assistant asks "Would you like a bag?" to which the usual reply is, "Oh no, I have my own [brandishing same]." And those buying, say, just a loaf of bread, a jar of coffee and a newspaper will eschew any bag and simply carry them out of the shop.
So, of course, the bag industry and the retail shopping chains realised they were on to a nice little earner; and now new bag styles appear regularly. Another big plus: the urban ornamental bag is no more.

top left, the original Woolworth's (think M&S) art bag, with works commissioned from artists in the townships and the Cape Flats. Very cool until it gets creased and battered. Obviously this means lots of repurchases.

Top right: the common or garden Woolworth's fabric bag, in various shades including lime, plum, sky blue and blush pink (I once saw a male customer carrying one of the last; women in the queue were speculating somewhat maliciously ...)

Above left: Tesco equivalent Pick and Pay's nucular suitcase. I have one of these, as a completist, but have never used it.

Above right: Woolworth's Stealth heavy transport, my favourite bag, and, I fancy, the most stylish: note the military-style ribbing and the fluted shape. Toughened fabric, holds a week's groceries plus your library books. Indestructible.

Friday, August 04, 2006

What's hot

What is up with this wall-to-wall Paris Hilton mania? The girl who's famous for being ... famous. It is quite clear that she is utterly gormless, yet she's on every red carpet and redtop. "That's hot," is her catchphrase; indeed it seems to be the limit of what passes for conceptual thought in her pretty little head. I've just seen a report that someone asked her what she thought of Tony Blair. Well, he's not hot. Her response was "Who?" and after a little explanation, "Oh yeah, he's like, your president? Uh, I don't even know what he looks like." Whatever.

Of course, without Paris, and her fucked-up friend Nicole, E! Entertainment TV would be somewhat short of "material". Paris was also asked -- perhaps by the same wicked British interviewer, which showbiz icon she would like to be. The answer: "Marilyn Monroe mixed with Princess Diana." That explains the worldbeating pout. But she can't do smoulder like Diana. Paris just isn't hot enough.

I must stop watching E!