Ras Dumisani's killing me softly

#168. Enjoy the Ras Dumisani saga. This is the man who cried sabotage after he was accused of “butchering” the national anthem in the lead-up to the Springboks vs. the French in Toulouse earlier this month. Some went so far as to call it “treason”.

Dumisani, who claims to be an experienced reggae artist, had this to say in response: Continue reading

The messianic bergie at Circa 2009

#167. Take in Joburg’s newest and hippest gallery space. Saturday morning and the sun was shining, the jacarandas dropping purple snow while artist Willem Boshoff held court outside the Circa gallery looking part messiah, and as a friend remarked part “bergie”.
I have spent months driving past that corner on Jan Smuts Avenue growing ever more intrigued by the ambitious oval-shaped building with its clean lines, spiral concrete staircase and it’s finned exterior. No cupolas, no Toscana Afrikana pretensions — just clean, beautiful lines, as they should be.

Circa Gallery, Rosebank

Circa Gallery, Rosebank

Continue reading

Hyde Park's Red Chamber makes the Emperor wait

#166. Recommend that if you love reading and food, or recipes, or have any interest in Chinese culture, and/or Taiwan (or all of these) then you should pick up a copy of Emperor Can Wait by Joburg restaurateur Emma Chen. For the uninitiated the title refers to a chinese proverb “The Emperor can wait –while we eat”. First a disclosure – I worked [as an editor] with Chen on the initial manuscript. Now that’s out of the way … the book launched a few days ago with a wedding feast at the Red Chamber, Chen’s restaurant in Hyde Park that is celebrating 20 years of existence (In Joburg restaurant parlance, a lifetime).

That’s 20 years of the best cucumber salad in Johannesburg, possibly the world. There are people who would kill for that recipe and in this city it’s possible they already have.

Emma chen front Continue reading

The awesome "fun theory"

#165. Watch the video that brings fun theory to life.

This is from a campaign by Volkswagen on the site TheFunTheory.com. It is “dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.” No disagreement there.

Rissik Street post office in flames

#164. Lament the passing of the historic Rissik Street Post Office that was almost all but destroyed by a fire on Sunday night. I was in Cape Town at the time admiring the Stellenbosch winelands, thinking about the Dutch and how lucky they must have considered themselves when they landed in some of the most beautiful landscape on earth. Joburg doesn’t make the news in that city.

Rissik Street Post Office by Victor Dlamini for The Daily Maverick

Risski Street Post Office by Victor Dlamini for The Daily Maverick

SA’s newest smart online news source The Daily Maverick (still for people with brains and money) captured some dramatic images of the building in flames. To see more of them click here.

Said to be “the second to oldest building” in the city  according to Joburg’s website — the Rissik Street Post Office goes back to 1897. It was designed by designed by Sytze Wierda, President Paul Kruger’s architect. It has been vacant since the Post Office left the building in 1996.

Ironically I came across a great article on the architectural history of  the post office that carried this intro on August 11, 2008: “Is there finally light at the end of the tunnel for the Rissik Street Post Office …” It’s alight alright.

The city has been reporting that the fire destroyed the building just days before a scheduled meeting into tenders for its redevelopment.

Joburg's tourist industry needs … a mountain?

#163. Read David Smith in The Guardian on “Johannesburg’s main tourist attraction? Its shameful and violent past”. It’s an interesting piece on how the city, in the absence of any natural or architectural wonders  has developed a tourist industry out of its Apartheid past.

“Go to Cape Town for the waterfront, for Table Mountain and for the wine country. Go to Johannesburg for … what, exactly?

Among tourists, the debate is usually a one-sided affair: in Cape Town, we’ll relax with sunshine and chardonnay in one of the world’s great holiday destinations; In Johannesburg, we’ll probably get mugged,” writes Smith. Continue reading

Crime writer paints Joburg red

#161. Read Daddy’s Girl, the third book in the Clare Hart series written by Cape Town author Margie Orford who came all the way to Sandton City [with its ambience of “hell”] last week to launch it.

“Crime is like hair in Joburg — big and bling,” Orford said. In Joburg it takes 25 men with machine guns to rob the Spar; in Cape Town it takes one guy with a knife.”  She described Cape Town as South Africa’s intellectual centre, and Joburg as its money capital. Continue reading

Why the caged bird sings or breakfast at The Birdcage

#160. Eat fluffy scrambled eggs at one of Joburg’s cutest breakfast spots.  I am letting this secret out.

I think of “The Birdcage” and it conjures up memories of going to the cinema in Parkview (in the late 70s suburbs like Greenside and Parkview had their own moviehouses*) to see La Cage aux Folles with my mother and my brother. We may have been from Benoni but we loved big hair, spangles and showtunes  (that’s’ probably why). It also makes me want to repeat Peter Sellers’ mantra from that crazy movie The Party, “Birdie num num”. Continue reading

Bafana Bafana may not be ready but Soccer City is on track

#159. Take a drive to Soccer City where the opening and closing games of the Fifa World Cup will take place in 2010. With 227 days to go until kickoff the stadium on the outskirts of Soweto is close to completion. We viewed it yesterday under a broody Joburg sky — Continue reading