Sunday, December 06, 2009

Go west young man...

Serra on my lap, I'm drinking a coffee with condensed milk.. it's my first coffee alone in 3 days. Having switched all the outside lights off, I'm sitting in the dark on the back porch; the very last of the half light has faded to black velvet.
It's a perfect frog & cricket evening, except for muffled country music wafting up from the camo-capped neighbour below.
While I'm in almost-perfect peace, I know the family and friends in the street below are in shock, mourning the dark-headed young man who drowned in the river this afternoon, just before the hail storm.
As I warmed up Louis' braai meat for supper - on almost stale rolls with happy & excited cheese from friday afternoon care of Angel Bear - the newly hung curtain rail ripped from the wall. Now to hang it up again with gusto, while exposed, in full light, to the street.
All of this while my heart travels at give or take 120km/hour westwards to Johannesburg, and another world.
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

King's bloody Corner

On one side I'm up against the plate glass window of King's Corner at Seattle, Milly's. My other book end is five days of heart gnashing, blissful intensity that could easily withstand a nuclear implosion.
I would be lying if I told you I wasn't sore. [I hadn't even gone inside after you left when Faith slunk around the corner; but she is not at all well & there's gunk oozing out of one eye; she wants to bite me & Mika.]
After you left I spent time appreciating our new home: I touched, I remembered, I loved, I photographed.
Without bathing, I left for Seattle; I didn't want to be alone then, as much as I wanted to be alone.
What I need right now is to sit in the eye of the storm, while sun burnt strangers at this crossroads swirl noiselessly around me, while I write. [How do I even begin to process the ragged, bloody-raw bliss-fullness of my nerve ends?]
This is whole-hearted, God-centred stuff... thank God. And you.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Death': For Pearl van Wyk

'Death means nothing at all…I have only slipped away into the next room, I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name; speak to me in the easy way we always used; put no difference in your tone; wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh, as always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile; think of me. Pray for me. Let my name be the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without trace of shadow in it.
Life means all that it was ever meant; it is the same as it ever was…there is absolutely unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is past, nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before.'

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i carry your heart with me

Sitting alone, I'm eating chocolate mousse cake, and drinking cafe mocha, but for two.
I'm surrounded by couples who no longer notice each other, whose eyes constantly peel off other relationship's clothes. Hungry eyes as Sixties jazz is piped through bookstore speakers; it's a moody Sunday afternoon.
I've been looking forward to Christmas since last year; this time it arrived without fanfare; slipping in through the back door it didn't even disturb the flies. Gaudy-expensive decorations - primary colour red, keywords 'passion' & 'sizzle' - glitter cheaply in the un-spontaneous sunshine.
A good corporate woman at the next table wades through a file thick of emails. She's proud of dedicating all seven days of every week to her career; it shows on her smug, self-satisfied slave-face. (A slender apple core on her table stains itself brown from green and looking back, I've no doubt, on orchard days. My bet is that it was organically grown, just like the once-were-fir-trees that are now printed emails. A whole thick file full.)
It's my turn to have my clothes peeled off: this by a hungry-looking, wolf-like faced young guy over there. Smashing his 'sexy' facade, he reeks of the neediness scratched across his smooth face.
On Thursday night an 80-year woman (riddled with bed sores) died from kidney failure in a provincial hospital ward for one. Next year April she would've been married for 50 years. Last week I'd visited her and prayed that she wouldn't be staying long; '7 score and 10' is a long time to keep on smiling.
'Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage,' croons some velvet-voiced sixties dude (ha-ha, imagine!) over the same speakers (surely this can't be good for book and mag sales?).
If I wasn't in love I'd probably have slit my wrists in the sterile, extraordinarily expensive toilet next-door.

For you, my love, from YOU:

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Renaissance Stadium, Cape Town

These are photos I've just received of the first lighting of the 'Renaissance' Stadium in Greenpoint. They are from my Cape Town-based friend and journalist, Andrew October. From this perspective it looks like an incredible work of architecture.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Night of a 1000 Stars

It's a magnificent evening in the Lowveld, there's not a breath of air stirring and a festive atmosphere reminiscent of the coast during the summer holidays. In support of the Cancer Association, it's the Night of a Thousand Stars where some of Nelspruit's finest restaurant's have closed off an entire street and have magnificently decked tables to cater for a 1000 people. The food, thus far...sumptuous!

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Name Changes: What the hell were we thinking, were we thinking at all?

There's been vociferous resistance to the latest of town names in Mpumalanga gazetted for immediate change. These include changes to the names of Belfast, Machadodorp and Waterval Boven.
In fact, out here, its the very first symbolic step towards the demolishing of the Apartheid laboratory-bred separation anxiety experiments that still keep our towns and townships viciously apart.
While the battle lines were originally drawn along lines of colour and so-called "separate development" (early, original policies of the Apartheid state), it also perpetrated silo-societies living shoulder to shoulder, but with deep foundations of mistrust, fear and suspicion.
All of these, especially poverty and horrendous crime, were easily pushed under the hideous old carpet chucked out of the madam's big white house over there in the normally substantially much better-off town: "Thank you for your thrown out mat madam, here outside the town and under it's threadbare luxury we'll be out of sight, certainly out of mind!" (Who the hell did they think we were kidding?)
The town and township phenomenon is downright evil and will never ever contribute even an iota towards a normalised society in our country. It's a Frankenstein experiment gone horribly wrong.
PS: Waterval Boven has, in a riling twist for many, been renamed Emgwenya after it's 'former' township. I believe I'm one of the very few to see the humour... .

The local changes:
Belfast to eMakhazeni
Waterval Boven to Emgwenya
Machadodorp to eNtokozweni
While Dullstroom's name has not changed, the proposed future name of Dullstroom-Emnothweni (meaning "place of wealth") is expected to be gazetted in the near future.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I went into the woods...

"I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There's a fire raging in my heart

I'm unable to sit at my desk for another second; both my mind and heart are elsewhere, there's an internal restlessness that stubbornly refuses to accept that the mundane tasks associated with living in 'the valley' are acceptable today. I'm craving the 'mountain top' experience of the past weekend.

Opting for great coffee, and an environment different to this one - all distractions for my busy mind - I head for Seattle Coffee at Millys.

The valley between here and there - like my heart - is moody with fire and reminiscent of a brooding storm, or winter. I'm damn grateful it's early summer and now the season of new beginnings.

I sense that now it's time to leave the cave and to enlarge my 'territory' ...adrenalin gorges my veins and arteries; my burning, pumping heart is evidence of someone certainly not the living dead.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

39 protesters refused bail

The 39, not 35, Siyaththuka service delivery protesters arrested on Tuesday have all been refused bail, even the woman with the baby. Arrangements are to be made with the police for the baby to be fetched by family. The case is postponed until next Thursday, 22 October.
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Mpumalanga Unrest: Privately owned bulldozer set alight

This Belfast businessman - Oumar Kone - is the owner of this bulldozer that was set alight last night on the R36 skirting Emthonjeni township, outside Machadodorp, at about 21h30. His company, Di Kone Transport & Plant Hire was hired by the local municipality to move waste in the adjacent rubbish dump. He says he has been ruined by this incident, that all the money he had invested in this machine was now lost.
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Mpumalanga Protests: 35 in Belfast Court

There's 35 people in court after being arrested in Siyathuthka, outside Belfast on Tuesday. I can count 6 women, one with a baby in a blanket. They are charged with arson and public violence. All of them have asked to defend themselves. The case is being postponed for 7 days until next Thurs, 22 October. All the accused are to remain in custody, except for the mother who says her baby is sickly. A few of the men limped into court. One man has a lot of dry blood on his t-shirt and shirt. Right now the defendants are one by one maintaining they should be released on bail..some of the reasons include fear of losing jobs, that some of them are scholars, that they were arrested for public violence and the public violence is over.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

10 Best BlackBerry Apps, Features for Journalists

The BlackBerry has long been the smart phone of choice for many newsrooms, particularly for large news organizations. The most obvious use is e-mail for staying in contact with editors, colleagues and sources while out in the field or away from the office. But like the iPhone, the BlackBerry has lots of other apps and features that can help journalists do their jobs. Here's a look at some of the best apps for journalists as well as some examples of how journalists use the device on the job. Like the iPhone, the BlackBerry has an app store, called "BlackBerry App World" (you have to download if it didn't come on your phone), but not all apps are available there. Others can be downloaded directly by visiting the developer's Web site on your lackBerry browser.

For the rest of the Poynter Online article, click here or on the title of this article.

Calm Western Front & Blackberry Challenges

All calm here today, I'm grateful. I've wondered around the courts, it seems they might have decided to have the various protest-related court cases next week, with the intention of keeping the situation calm.

Yesterday my new Blackberry Bold, not even a week old, was put to the test on the journalistic 'battlefield'. I chose this handset specifically as a work tool, over the iphone (not an easy decision). Where Blackberry has failed me is in terms of battery life. It's a brand new phone and its battery only lasts a day on average...probably because of all the applications running simultaneously. It means I'm going to have to purchase a spare battery, also a car charger, and to keep the spare battery charged, particularly for days like yesterday, where I've no access to electricity but need to remain constantly in communication with radio stations, other journalists, and sources 'on the ground' who are feeding me info via sms. And obviously so that I can constantly keep on blogging.

More, later, about the many, many pros of the Blackberry as a journalistic tool.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mpumalanga Unrest: Shoeless in Siyathuthuka

This was the pile of shoes that was left behind after alleged service delivery protesters in Siyathuthuka township (outside Belfast) were dispersed this afternoon by police firing rubber bullets.
I've just received a message from a friend in Siyathuthuka; she says that protesters are allegedly planning to burn down the clinic tomorrow, also the homes of friends and family of councillors of the Emakhazeni Local Council.

Mpumalanga Unrest: Siyathuthuka township, Belfast (some more photos)

Mpumalanga Unrest: "Ons is fokken moeg!" (We are fucking tired!)

Emthonjeni township, Machadodorp: "We are fucking tired of poor service delivery," is what the few hundred community members protesting outside Emthonjeni were chanting in my face as I barely stood my ground - despite, quite honestly, my insides turning to water.
This was on the barricaded and burning R36 (between Machadodorp and Carolina) earlier today.
I had driven slowly around barricades as the police quickly retreated back to Machadodorp for reinforcements; I had to know what - in the community's eyes - this was all about.
But what I experienced right then was pent up anger, literally spat into my face (I felt the spittle on my cheeks); I was, suddenly, the enemy. (My thoughts included - 'Just how many journalists have died in identical situations...and is it worth it?')
A pen, a spiral-bound notebook, my camera, and an earnest face prepared to listen might have helped me this time.
Also my back was against the wall, this time an impenetrable and writhing circle of chanting human beings.
Then, thank God, one woman in the crowd screeched out my name - "Charleseee...!" - and ran me into her arms. This was always-smiling Gloria from Seattle Coffee at Millys on the N4, who had served me great Cafe Mocha's on countless occasions.
"He's a journalist, he's a friend," she screamed back at the crowd.
That was the turning point... in my favour.

Mpumalanga Unrest: Library books saved from flames

Despite the Siyathuthuka municipal building still burning after being set alight this morning, librarians and fire department personnel are - right now - carrying out mostly unscathed library books; they have already filled two 'bakkie' loads with books.

While this is happening in Zakheni Street, a police helicopter is overhead and police armoured vehicles bristling with shotguns are up and down the streets; this is reminiscent of the state of emergency in 1985 when I was growing up.

There are also police, some in plain clothes, behind walls and in-between buildings taking pot shots at protesters as they raise their heads; most of these protesters seem to be on the run and retreating into the depths of the township.

A podgy white police inspector with a shotgun over his shoulder and what looks like a 'knopkierie' hanging on his belt turns around suddenly, as I click my camera at him. "Don't you dare publish those photos," he roars at me pointing his finger into my face. "Don't threaten me," I yell back with more resentment than he anticipated. Like all bullies he imediately backs down and talks nicely to me. "Those days where middle aged white men with inferiority complexes talked down to me are long over," I think to myself with glee. Respect is earned, not demanded.

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Mpumalanga Unrest: Bird's eye view

An unusual sight, a police helicopter armed with tear gas and shot guns outside the Engen Belfast on the N4: As I was interviewing the two police pilots from the Provincial Air Wing (based in Nelspruit), and a local policeman from Belfast - all three refused to give me their names or to take their photos - they were alerted to trouble in Siyathuthuka, the township outside Belfast. They then started preparing to take off. I had noticed two shotguns and asked them what the grey canisters were. "Tear-gas, but maybe we shouldn't be telling you that," they said before clamming up. I'm now on my way to Siyathuthuka after a harrowing morning in Emthonjeni, Machadodorp.

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