Joburg street art and the Rasty factor

Sunday morning in Maboneng – Joburg’s hipster haven on the east side of the city. Urban regeneration comes in the form of a peanut, banana, date and soya milk smoothie. Maboneng has arrived. What could have been a fantasy is now a high-priced and much in demand reality.

And outside Uncle Merv’s shake shack our little crew is getting bigger. It could be the start of a joke… One editor, one photographer, one blogger and two tour guides meet over a smoothie to wait for Rasty…

Rasty with his work. Photo by Wesley Poon for Sunday Times


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Troyeville’s never-ending bedtime story. Perfect for Valentine’s Day

Like all true love stories this one has moments of exhilaration, and of defeat. In pursuit of a romantic ideal one must be prepared as much for pure joy as for its opposite.

Along Bezuidenhout street, where it meets Viljoen in the park below Troyeville ridge is a bed. Its plush studded headboard is the stuff that Joburg migrant dreams are made of, Beares catalogues and lay-byes. Its pillows have the texture of velvet and on it lays a duvet, creased as if the bed’s occupants had just arisen from their slumber.
The bed is inviting.

On the morning I visit two birds are using the folds of the duvet as a birdbath. The park is green, the bed resting in peaceful shade.
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It’s the Joburg Art Fair. Head for Sandton

It’s the Art Fair. It’s the Art Fair. I don’t usually blog pre- an event, preferring to experience it for myself before I tell anyone it’s worth doing. But the FNB Joburg Art Fair is a sure thing. Opening night (by invitation only) happens tomorrow and then from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon there’s art and more art, framed and named, performances, appearances, talks of all sorts and lots of of other things in between.

Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse, Blue Ponte / Red Ponte I – IX, 2011

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Author Justin Cartwright at the Troyeville Hotel

Justin Cartwright, TimesLive

Justin Cartwright, TimesLive

To the Troyeville Hotel book club on a rainy and then crisp Autumn night. And set against the twinkling lights of Ponte and the Hillbrow Tower through the window darkly, Justin Cartwright was being interviewed by Murray Michell, the head of South Africa’s Financial Intelligence Centre. The “banker” and the author had been brought together for an event billed as “The banking crisis comes to Troyeville” in a move intended to cajole those who think that fiction may not be serious enough stuff to leave home in the northern suburbs for. To be truthful the crowd at Troyeville are more attuned to hearing about civil wars, death cults and bloodthirsty Liberian warlords, dark subjects that unsettle, non-fiction that makes claims to be truthful, Continue reading

World Cup 2010 in the Free State

#209 Follow the game – which we did to Bloemfontein on Friday to watch Honduras vs Switzerland. At this point we’re watching everyone – loving the mood, the spirit and fan fashion sense of World Cup 2010. And we are learning to love the team we are with. Wednesday was Germany vs Ghana at Soccer City (Go Ghana – of course one of my favourites; loved the men with pots on their head and the German guy wearing lederhosen also deserved a mention). Continue reading

Confederations Cup opens with a vuvuzela blast

#119. Watch soccer, even if the home team wasn’t sure what to do with the ball once they got it. Last night’s opening ceremony and game at Ellis Park has been endlessly dissected in hundreds of column inches so for my part – I was in the stands nicely placed behind the goalposts that sadly didn’t get much action from Bafana Bafana or Iraq, the sound of thousands of vuvuzelas like a swarm of very angry wasps buzzing in my ears.

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Inner-city revival

#118. Celebrate what’s good about this city. And there’s lots. On Thursday night I was at Constitution Hill’s Round House  toasting Joburg’s inner-city developments. The Halala Awards were started by the Johannesburg Development Agency last year to reward the brave who have ventured where most people fear to tread – town. Not only have they ventured, they have also put money into developing oases of calm in a city, that as Ruby Matang, a Johannesburg city councillor put it, “oscillates between decline and vibrancy”. Continue reading

Remembering David Webster

#105. Mark May Day. Under leaden skies we drove to Troyeville to Bloemenhof Park for a view of the city’s past and its future. From the park you can see the Johannesburg Athletics Stadium and the massive upgrading of the Doornfontein area where one of South Africa’s premier Soccer World Cup 2010 stadiums – Ellis Park – is located.  Just a few blocks from there marks the spot on Eleanor Street where David Webster, anthropologist, humanitarian, and anti-apartheid activist was murdered for his beliefs. Today the park was renamed as a tribute to his life and memory.

Twenty years ago today South Africa was in the grip of a State of Emergency Continue reading

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