Sandton’s World Cup fever

#206 Nothing to do in Joburg besides become a fan – of football, Bafana Bafana, the diski, the flag, the colours, the people, the spirit, the music and even the vuvuzela (I have my earplugs ready for the opening game at Soccer City tomorrow night). It’s hard not to. Yesterday in Sandton the streets filled with thousands (they say around 185 000 to be more precise) — and even the actuaries and accountants and a few oddly dressed people that could only have come from some corporate IT department joined the throngs Continue reading

Joburg on show

#97. Watch the performance. I was at the opening of the Joburg Art Fair last night along with a few hundred other people, all dressed up, mingling, eating teeny weensy snacks and looking at some spectacular pieces from SA’s top galleries and other sellers of contemporary African art. The Fair is worth a visit for many reasons — chief among them Penny Siopis’s haunting works made with glue, the gigantic graphite and wood pencil for R5600 (if I had the cash I would buy two plus the sharpener), Jane Alexander’s Security installation (even more affecting up close as the audience appears to be caged in every direction), Lyndi Sales’ delicate paper cut-outs depicting the world’s flight paths, and Mary Sibande’s “They don’t make them like they used to”, a witty and ironic take on the “maid becoming the madam” and the hands of a domestic worker bringing  Superman into being.

Mary Sibande

The representations so diverse, engaging and smart. I also loved Carl Becker’s Pierneef-like landscape with motocross rider and the brilliant collaborative work of William Kentridge, Deborah Bell and Robert Hodgins displayed by the Goodman Gallery. Add to that Araminta de Clermont’s Matric Queens photographs and of course the urban hip images of Nontsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko and the Avant Car Guard’s Poor Man’s Picasso (below). Plus the astounding collection of contemporary South African furniture and other design objects — that alone is worth the visit.

There were a few speeches but all I could hear from where I was standing was Barbara Creecy, the MEC for Arts, Culture Sport and other weirdly associated things in the province Continue reading

Newtown by night

#94. Go to Newtown. Saturday night was spent in Joburg’s cultural precinct or more accurately high above it in a building that overlooks the M1 freeway and used to be a cold storage facility next to the city’s fruit market (the Market Theatre).

The building on Henry Nxumalo Street now houses the Go Go bar, a hip and retro hangout that on Saturday night was filled with nostalgia for the 1970’s. Go go girls, killer pimps, disco queens and Abba lookalikes filled the place (for a 40+1 party) and “Did the Hustle”. Continue reading

Barack Obama is following me

#81. Love social media. After having spent a week in England learning about digital journalism which explains my absence from this blog, I hope, I have been converted to Twitter. Twitter is where people go to micro-blog. It’s like Facebook for the SMS generation. You get to follow people and they get to follow you. It’s all very flattering really plus you get say what you want in 140 characters.

Pithy is good. It’s a life lesson

And so it was with great excitement that I received the following news today.

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It’s social media tools like Twitter and Facebook  — that are providing the opportunity  to create networks and foster a sense of community around common interests — that helped Barack Obama get to The Oval Office

As for my own Twitter-use, it may not be the first time I have been called a twit but it is the first time that I’ve enjoyed it.

Cocktails at The Saxon

#69. Mix up a cocktail in Saxon-boutique-hotel-style, one of this city’s most luxurious and discreet hideouts. Once the home of Douw Steyn – and still owned by him – the Sandhurst residence was Nelson Mandela’s first home after he was released from prison in 1990 (It now has 4 presidential suites). It’s where he took time out to edit his master work “Long Walk to Freedom” and where, rumour has it, Oprah keeps an office when she visits South Africa to check in on her Leadership Academy for Girls. Continue reading

The Joburg book

#65. Get The Joburg Book – a guide to this city of “thieves and dreamers”. The Joburg Book, edited by Nechama Brodie of The Hunter Gatherer fame is more than a history book and more than a guide. Just released it’s a collection of writings about how this city came about ( a giant meteorite figures in the story), the nature of its contemporary life, its people and its food (it even contains a Biryani recipe for feeding 800 people) and its constant need for its own reinvention. And through it all runs a seam of gold that has shaped this place into what it is today — a magnet for fortune-seekers and adventurers, at times a refuge and at others a city under seige.

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It’s still the same city that Herman Charles Bosman wrote about, saying: “They are trying to make Johannesburg respectable. They are trying to make snobs out of us, making us forget who our ancestors were. They are trying to make us lose our sense of pride in the fact that our forebears were a lot of roughnecks who knew nothing about culture and who came here to look for gold”.

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Obama wins in Troyeville

#61. Head to Troyeville to celebrate an Obama victory. Troyeville, east of Joburg’s city centre has had a few bohemian flirtations. The most memorable for me was Bob’s Bar, circa the early 1990’s, a haunt for the city’s writers, filmmakers and poets, misfits and activists, the lost and the found. You would leave whose ever car you had arrived in on a dark side street, and open a door into a world of coloured lights, vinyl decor and charged conversations that got more drunken as the night wore on. Alliances would be forged, feuds declared. There was so much alcohol it was easy to drink Troyeville pretty. Continue reading

Drinking in Mbeki's folly and Zuma's triumph at The Rosebank hotel

#37. Have a drink at The Rosebank hotel’s Circle Bar. With conversation across the land being dominated by whether SA President Thabo Mbeki should be forced to “fall on his sword” — after a high court ruling that was meant to decide the fate of his greatest political foe, Jacob Zuma, instead put the failure of the Mbeki presidency back in the uncomfortable glare of the spotlight — it may be time to start drinking.

The Circle Bar at The Rosebank, Thys Dullart

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Weekend life in Joburg's parks

#28. Take advantage of the great weather by going to a park. And this weekend I went to two – the re-made one in Melrose opposite one of Joburg’s cutest boutique hotels, the Peech, and the Hugh Wyndham Park in Dunkeld that has been taken over by the suburb’s residents who now maintain this great public space.

It’s in Joburg’s green spaces that people lose their usual inhibitions about social interactions. Continue reading

Are you too old for Facebook?

#27: Think about whether there should be a cut-off age for Facebook participation. My doubts about being on FB re-surfaced this weekend,  starting with an emailed spoof graphic titled “facebook in 50 years” which showed what your facebook profile will look like half a century from now. It’s called pensionbook and among the coolest features are: “poke someone with your walking stick,” Continue reading