Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Road trippin' round Scotland

Just come back from a great 5 day road trip, with my flatmates, Kate & Grace, round the Scottish highlands and the Isle of Skye - lots of castles, gardens (yes, I know but they are my cup of tea), speaking of tea - lots of that too, and sheep, and we mustn't forget the heeland coos! Didn't see Nessy but that might be because we were too busy singing, laughing and taking the back roads around the wild west coast. Amazing seafood - hmmm - proof that there is great Scottish food out there that doesn't just consist of haggis (which is not great...). More photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/anfraser. Busy moving flat too and have to get cracking on my dissertation but so nice to go on a road trip again as my last one was over a year ago in Tassie. But the highlight was the weather (yes, i know....I am sad) as I have never seen so much blue sky and sunshine in Scotland!!!

I am faymiss

At last! World Wide Web fame and coolness!!


Short version: I downloaded a Chris Devlin mix. This Chris Devlin, not that one. That one looks to be an uberdouche. Chris Devlin is one of the Spankrock DJs. Also on Alex Xxxchange's Fully Fitted half-label thing. He is cool. So in this mix, he has a track by a Safa called Margaret Mcingana, who is dead now, but made some rad tunes when she was alive. One of them was Pass the Calabash, which is the one in the mix. First black person on then Radio Five's top forty, or something. Check the Wikipedia entry. Anyway I was snowed with work at the time and it was late at night. So I did the unthinkable. I commented on the post about ol' Margaret's song and how cool it was to hear it in a 2008 mix by a Yank. It was actually the second time in short succession. A guy called DJ Balagan had done so a few months before. That's where Chris heard the song.

So we got to emailing about SA etc. I felt LANK COOL. Then it stopped. Then, out of the blue, months later, I get an email from Mr Devlin asking me if he can quote my 'liner notes' on the Calabash track, because he's used it in a new mix, for the We Make It Good guys (see above or just click that one). So go check that post, cos you'll see my wisdom quoted halfway down the tracklist. And if you look closely, you'll see I just copied info from the Wikipedia entry. I don't know all that much about 80s SA music, you know.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

famous people we know

sorry for clogging up the blog lately, guys. been ill, and needing distractions.
this is emma o'shaunessy's cousin (kel, em and i shared a tent with his stinky feet at flux one year):

you guys should check out the other acts on the website (http://www.blackcabsessions.com), they're kind of cool. Got artists like Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie and The New Pornographers all doing acoustic, uncut, versions of their songs in the back of taxi cabs. The site's good for people like me, who are looking for time wasters ...

thalia straate

Friday, 23 May 2008

What i have been listening to, on repeat, for two days.

The XXXChange remix is lekker too, of course.

I told Phil i thought this sucked before i listened to the whole album, and i regret that, because its fucking good. Even if Switch produced some of it.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Something else I've been listening to a lot

This is older, and you guys probably already know them, but just in case you didn't, thought I should share

The new album is great, too

Fran's current favourite band ...

Meet Okkervil River:

Reminds me quite a lot of the National is probably why ....

leaving dubrovnik was a sad thing

just spent the most fabulous few days in the old walled city of dubrovnik.
for more of my crazy tales.. check out in tranit.
xxxx to everyone

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

People who join Facebook protest groups are retards

Like the new groups for "Standing against Xenophobia in SA". Or older ones for standing against crime, HIV/AIDS policies, Zimbabwe, even the 2007-08 budget. FFS morons. Stop it.

That's my Tuesday rant.

Apologies if you have joined these groups. I think I may be a member of one or two myself... Consider this a post in honour of "standing against the frustration derived from a deep sense of futility and constant amazement at the idiocy many people repeatedly display"

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Sometimes a story cuts through the haze


DJ sentenced to two life terms

Knysna disc jockey Heinrich van Rooyen was today sentenced to two life jail terms in the Knysna Circuit Court, the SABC reported.

Van Rooyen was found guilty two weeks ago of the murders of 19-year-old Jessica Wheeler and 20-year-old Victoria Stadler, the broadcaster reported.

He was also sentenced to twenty years for indecent assault on Wheeler as well as eight years for perjury and malicious damage to property, the SABC reported.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Friday, 9 May 2008

This is fairly long...

Rwanda is the coolest place I've ever visited. Granted, we had friends living there making stuff a lot easier, so it might be different for less fortunate folks. But Rwanda would still be an eye-popping, heart-rending, dramatically educational experience.

Lessons for the prospective traveller:

1. You don't talk about the 'two groups', but you do talk about the genocide. There is a strong 'never forget' movement, which is why certain genocide sites are actively marketed to local an international tourists. In fact until 2005 (11 years after 800 000 people died in 100 days of insanity), you could visit these sites and see them as they were in 1994 - bodies strewn everywhere. Now it is more orderly, with bones and skulls having been collected and cleaned and placed on racks. But either way this was the most silencing, chilling, mortifying day of my life.

2. Rwanda is about so much more than it's troubled past. Rwanda has everything:
  • fantastic weather (it's in the tropics but is temperate due to the altitude - the whole country is over 2.5km up)
  • fantastic people (although muzungus are there to be extorted, so don't be polite)
  • fantastic scenery - there is no flat land in Rwanda. Truly the land of a thousand hills. In french that's mille colline - which is also the name of the hotel in the movie Hotel Rwanda. They filmed it in SA though, so the real one looks quite different. By the way they hate Don Cheadle and the movie, for all sorts of reasons
  • fanstastic beer (mutzig is the best bottled lager I've ever drunk - must be the only good legacy the Belgians left)
  • fantastic coffee - some of the finest arabica coffee in the world
  • fantastic chilli sauces and oil - they call it pili-pili. I haven't tried proper Moz peri-peri; if it's as good as this I can't wait to go
  • and of course, gorillas!

3. Rwanda is quite expensive.

4. Rwanda is messed up - that history distorts everything. Rwanda now is more or less a full authoritarian state, despite looing like a democracy. Kagame has 7 year terms, and will only be 'done' in 2017. His party is also pretty much the only one allowed to say anything - which is why a Tutsi party (Tutsis are in the minority) can be even more dominant than the ANC. Kagame controls the armed forces too. I suspect he won't leave for stability reasons, so another Museveni on the cards. Official ideology (which is basically that we acknowledge but do not dwell on our past; we are forward looking and determined to never let that happen again) is a critical stabiliser, and while we were there the papers ran loads of stories about how 'genocide ideology' was still rife in schools.

5. Rwanda is Africa's most densely populated country, and is dirt poor - I've never travelled properly in an LDC, especially not rural areas. About 80% of Rwanda's population subsist on tiny hillside plots, and work harder than you can imagine. Rwandans carry everything up and down hills and mountains, sometimes on bicycles if they are lucky. The kids carry water, building materials, farm produce, etc, enormous distances.

6. You won't be able to stop yourself thinking terrible things, and biting your toungue in what would otherwise be normal conversations. Rwanda is full of adult orphans. You never know whether or not the person you are getting to know (like our driver Gaston, who fell in love with Romy (of course)) lost their entire family, their parents, whatever, in the genocide. You also don't know how they feel about the new Rwanda, because plenty are not happy. Also, and this is really kak, when I saw a bunch of young guys walking down a rural road carrying pangas, picks, axes, etc, I honestly could not stop myself imagining them in 1994, using those tools for anything but farming. It's completely irrational, but still, you can't help yourself. And thankfully I wasn't the only one in our group to skrik like that.

7. Don't fly SAA. Holy fuck don't ever use SAA. That's a whole story on its own.

So where'd we go; what'd we do?

Landed Kigali a day later than planned, after a long afternoon in Nairobi (thanks SAfuckingA). Beer, pizza

(remarkably good in Rwanda), bed. Up early - thanks to housekeeper Mr Clever (pronounced Karaver - the Rwandese have a weird Asian issues with their L's) coming into the lounge (I was sleeping on the couch) at 5.30 to start cleaning. Crazy guy. Fetish for shoes; loves female muzungu underwear (it's all he washed out of all our stuff the whole week). It's not cool being rude about a guy you barely know who can't speak engrish, but Mr Clever was a freaky weird little guy.

Lyal negotiates badly with our driver Gaston - we're in for 900 USD for 5 days in the car. Jeez. Off to Ruhengeri in the north to find our guesthouse. On the way see amazing lakes, hills, valleys, VOLCANOES, jam-packed towns, and farms farms farms. More potatos than you can shake an Irishman at. Every meal in Rwanda comes with pommes frites, because they produce so many bladdy potatos.

Find guesthouse, chill. Get drunk on Mutzig, eat goat brochettes (kebabs), chips, and a tomato. Bed.

Up early next day to go find us some gorillas. Felix and Olivier are our cool guides - we get the Amahoro (Peace) family of 17 gorillas, far away in the jungle somewhere. The ranger people assess the fitness of all the groups that arrive on the day - younger people walk further.

Hike up through farms past mud houses, over the wall into the park, and through some seriously dense bush, sticky mud, and poesnaai stinging nettles. None of us was really dressed properly - Felix was sure to tell us we 'suffer in silence'. Walk forever! Over hills and hills. In thick mist (we are very high up by now, in the foothills of a moerse big volcano). Finally get close to the trackers (who have been out since 5am); realise we've been accompanied by a couple soldiers (for safety). Little aside: this whole region was used by Kagame's RPF during the civil war (which began in 1990) to hide out, regroup, whatever. Lyal's met Generals who lived in these mountains for 3 years. Hectic! These days the RPF are not the threat - there are still Hutu militias, called Interahamwe, active in Rwanda's remote parts.

Dump most personal belongings, only cameras and wallets allowed. Start pushing through bush, up a bit, round a corner, and meet a 200kg silverback staring at us from about 5m away. The rule is never to get closer than 7m, but this is Africa (TIA). Totally insance being 5m from a 17-strong family of mountain GORILLAS, with two silverback males, one 8 month old baby, and three 4 year old kids. They were jus' chillin' when we arrived, lazing around, sleeping, youngsters playing. A couple mothers got agitated when babies began to stray - the guides and trackers keep everything under control by making chesty growling noises, which the gorillas seem to respond positively to. I swear a 200kg silverback is the most dominant thing I've ever seen. He is control, klaar. And when he looks you in the eye, you shit yourself. He doesn't need loud noises or wild gestures - everyone around him, humans included, automatically defer, no question.

Most amazing experience of my life to date.

The rest of this story is shorter.... I'm running out of time.

From there we went back to Kigali to drop off Leila, who was coming back to SA for a bit (she lives there too - we stayed in her house). Ate more brochettes and chips for dinner at the sports club (Lyal's second home in Rwanda) with its clay tennis courts. More Mutzig - I tell you that beer is good.

Up early again to go to Kibuye, a lake-side town in the west on Lake Kivu. Just across the other side of Lake Kivu, in the eastern DRC, rebel fighting continues. Kivu province in the DRC is furthest from Kinshasa, and the most fucked up. Anyway. Lake Kivu and the road to it are both gorgeous. Stopped at a really horrifying genocide site on the way.

See the deal in Rwanda is that there has always been violence and massacres, before and since independence from Belgium in 1962. Each time these things flared up people could seek refuge in churches, just like medieval Europe. But in 1994 many churches were complicit. At this site the story goes that people holed up inside the church, unaware that they would not be safe. Fortunately the church building was well fortified, making it difficult for the Interahamwe to get in. It just so happened that the road we were driving on was beng built in 1994 - there was loads of Caterpillar construction equipment nearby. So the pastor - yes the pastor - ordered his own church to be bulldozed. The site is now just foundations and some graves. Fckn hectic. Of course all genocide stories are these days loosely based on what actually happened, so who can tell whether the pastor issued the order. But the building definitely was bulldozed, and there definitely were a lot of people inside it.

Anyway get to Kibuye with big plans to take a boat out on the lake. We got drunk instead. Lake Kivu is beyooootiful. It's a volcanic lake full of methane gas, but it doesn't stink. It does fart from time to time, apparently, and people die. As if Rwanda didn't have enough problems. TIA motherfucker!

From Kibuye south on a lake-side road that broke everyone's pelvises. Yusus, like 5 hours to go about 80km. We're heading for tea country and Nyungwe Forest. The plantations are also gorgeous - breathtaking vistas. We strolled around in them for a while before heading back to our guesthouse. Nyungwe provides a stunning backdrop - looks like a forest out of Lord of the Rings. That night we watched Liverpool lose to Chelsea in the European Champions League. We watched in a tiny village in some guy's house. He charges cover. He has the only satellite connection in miles and miles. He serves Mutzig. His house is packed. What a rad night, except we lost. I was bleak.

Next day off into Nyungwe - we were going to try and see some chimps, but the rangers can't guarantee a sighting, and 50 USD at that stage was quite a lot. So we just drove through, on the way to Butare and then back to Kigali.

So 4 days of awesome Rwandan countryside...!

The rest of the time we spent in Kigali and surrounds, doing Kigali stuff and the main genocide sites. There are two south of the city - two churches. At the smaller one about 5000 people died (not all in the church obviously); the larger one about 10000. Like I said there are few words to describe this, so I won't. The guide at the smaller site lost 20 family members - she is visibly depressed, quiet, etc. It's heartbreaking.

To end on a lighter note - Kigali nightlife COOKS. We ate at Republika, where the Kigali rich and famous hang out. We met Ezra, who is on the board for SAA Express. We told him SAA proper sucks ass. He laughed and bought us a jug of banana wine. Which is potent. We got fucked. Onto the legendary Cadillac - ya ok the cool kids don't go there anymore, but it's still the biggest and baddest nightclub. Reggaeton shit all night, but fuck man no holds barred. Every guy wants a muzungu wife, and every chick wants a muzungu man. It's HECTIC. Lyal, who is somewhat more portly than Bobby or I, was definitely the favourite - had three mosquitoes buzzing around all night. They didn't believe him when he said Romy is is wife (she isn't), they wanted to 'take him to the carpark' and I swear to god I saw it myself - one of them unbuttoned her pants on the dancefloor. What a lag.

Bobby said he was bored, but I'm not sure I believe him.

Last day was spent chillin' at the club. What a rad holiday...

Sorry this was so long. My Picasa Web albums is blocked at WITS, but you can check more photos on my Facepoes page (if you're interested and made it this far): http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=110735&l=967ea&id=771395373

If you're FB friends with Romy she has two albums up as well...

The Doctor (who may have malaria)

Thursday, 8 May 2008


This comes courtesy of my new favorite news resource, hayibo.com:

Soaring food prices hurt world's poor, really hurt world's fat

ATLANTA. As food prices continue to climb, the world's fat have called upon governments to address the crisis before they have to resort to eating household pets, homeless people, or, in extreme cases, vegetables. According to a spokesman, the fat are "tired, stressed, and want a cookie, now." Latest figures suggest that this would require 1.3 billion cookies.

Recent surges in the price of staple foodstuffs such as rice and wheat have crippled the world's poor, but the world's fat say they too are victims of rampant global food inflation.

"We eat rice too," said spokesman for the fat, Marty Erickson, of Atlanta, Georgia. "And wheat. We eat everything.

"I guarantee, any crappy scrawny little grain a poor person eats, we've eaten it first. The poor do not have a monopoly on hunger."

Erickson said that it was time for world leaders to take "drastic, pragmatic, and trans-fat-enriched action" to prevent a wave of "binge violence" by the planet's 1.3 billion overweight inhabitants.

He said that the world's fat condemned reports of fat people hunting in packs, killing and eating overweight homeless people or particularly plump household pets.

However, he said, "desperate times call for desperate measuring cups".

"We would never condone the senseless slaying and spit-roasting of a homeless person, even if that homeless person had been well basted, and had somehow contrived to die with an apple in their mouth.

"Likewise, if I were to stumble across my neighbour's miniature potbelly pig, say late at night, in my driveway, and I accidentally flipped the pig onto my barbecue, which I had absentmindedly lit a little earlier; and if I were to fall face down onto the pig, over and over again, until I had unwittingly ingested all of it, I would feel just terrible.

"But that's what we do. We eat, and we feel terrible, so I guess I'd get over it."

He also called on the governments of the United States and the European Union to halt the planting of wheat for use in artificial fuels, one of the prime drivers of recent food inflation.

"No carbs for oil! No carbs for oil!" he shouted, before being hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat.

There was a crooked man

OK, so he might not be a rapist, but New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma has to be the Australian equivalent of Jacob Zuma (actually, he finished school, so maybe not). This guy is chief-bandit in a state cabinet of crooked shits that are robbing this state blind, and there doesn't seem to be much anyone is prepared to
do about it (not even Rudd, though he kept saying 'the buck stops with me' all through his election campaign). You see, Australia now has coast to coast labour governments, as well as a federal labour government, so you'd think that they would all work together toward a roughly common objective, but you'd be wrong. In fact, there is so much division and factional infighting within labour (both at state and federal level) that its sometimes difficult to know who is supporting who for what reason, but easy to see that often the wrong decision is made, because the right people support it. Anyway, thats politics i guess. Here are some things to think about :

Fuck up #1 : The papal visit. Ja, ja, i'm a Jew, so i dont really give two shits that the Pope is coming (he's a German too, and I've never made any secret of my dislike of the chermans), but if he HAS to come, then at least make it worthwhile for the state right? Wrong.

The papal visit is an almighty fuck-up (pardon the pun). Tourist number are way down on what was expected, and the visit, coinciding with World Youth Day (basically a Catholic church creation, not the all inclusive celebration that it is made to sound like), is expected to cost the state AU$160m. Thats ok if the economy is boosted by a huge influx of 'pilgrims', but it isnt. Why aren't people flocking in their millions to visit Sydney to let their young sons get a ride in the pope-mobile? Well, maybe because he has just finished an enormous world tour, including the States? Nice planning guys. Oh, ja, and Iemma is a Catholic, and has been pushing for this thing from the start, if that wasnt clear.

What really chaps my hide though is that the WYD celebrations, and pope mobile motorcade is going to shut down the whole city for A WEEK. Thats longer than APEC, which actually meant something (maybe not something good, but something) to the world. Seriously, the state government is asking people to take holidays during that week, because all traffic, bus and rail services will be affected. Look at the poster in my local train station...

They're saying 'thanks for your tax dollars but could you please leave your own city so that a fundamentalist in a cape can apologise again for his disciples molesting children? - we swear, its a great time for a holiday!'

No, actually its not a good time to take a holiday fuckwits, its the MIDDLE OF WINTER!

I had to laugh though, most of the Popes poping is going to happen at that gambling den, and scene of many drunken naked races, The Randwick Racecourse! I guess the pope is a pragmatist after all...

Fuck up #2 : The privatisation of the New South Wales Power Industry

Basically, Iemma wants to sell off NSW power generation assets (about $10bn worth) to industry. Thats not a private-public partnership mind you, he wants to sell them for good. Now the merits of this plan have been completely lost in the propaganda war waged by the unions, but regardless, when your party humiliates you by voting 7-1 against your plan, maybe you should rethink? Not if you're Iemma. In fact if you're his treasurer Michael Costa, you just ignore your parties opinion, and tell them all to 'get fucked'. Nice one.

Fuck up 3: Standing by his man

You can't fault Iemmas loyalty. Even when it was blatantly obvious that his half-arsed Ports minister had given some mobster friends a job, he refused to sack him. From what i can gather, the whole episode has been swept under the carpet, but Joe Tripodi remains a fat, useless, crook with a cabinet position, and the NSW ports remain chaotic.

Fuck up 4 : He cant even pronounce New South Wales properly, it just comes out as 'niwsouwaaaaals'.

OK, i am getting bored with this, but read up about him having to sack some Wollongong council member for illegal donations (and shagging half of the Wollongong property development fraternity), that one is a corker too.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

SABC meltdown - hooraa!

The SABC, affectionately known as the SANC, is providing good drama right now. Yesterday, Snuki Zikala (remember his kak jackets?), group head of news and something, was suspended for gross misconduct. This was very exciting news, because Snuki is a brown-nosing Mbeki-ite with no integrity whatsoever. Dali Mpofu, group CEO and all-round toe-rag, did the suspending. But today I see in the MG that he's also been suspended, because the SABC board (root cause of all the problems with the state, sorry public broadcaster) didn't want Snuki suspended!

What a mess. Can't say I'm sorry to see either in trouble, but methinks this is all just petty parochial politics and ego (again), and has little to do with any principled issues. And no, don't expect SABC news to get any better as a result. I mean how can you top 15-minute news bulletins with hopelessly biased content, really awful production, and kak reporting? You can't!

Rwanda post coming - just waiting for some decent gorilla shots from Lyal...

Monday, 5 May 2008

Oh ja

Dig the new banner graphic tally, and congrats on all this redbubble stuff. best of best of lucks with the travels!

oi oi oi

So I made it back, no thanks to SAfuckinA. But what a trip! What a country! Best coffee, even better chilli, sorry pili-pili sauces. The best chilli sauces I've ever come across. Pity one comes from Burundi, cos I didn't go there.

Will do a proper post once I have everyone's pics. GORILLAS!

The Doctor

in transit...

hey peeps
soon i shall be on the rd again...
to keep you up-to-date, where i am, how I'm feeling and a whole bunch of pics, check out my own special blog.... link to your right

Sunday, 4 May 2008

from little things big things grow.

hey guys,
this is a music video inspired by the apology towards indigenous australia. there's a very different feel now that rudd is in charge.

Killed it

I'd like to think that my days of dj worship are over, and mostly they are, but last night i was reduced to a drunken dj fanboy circa 1998 when i used to take disco biscuits and wear sunglasses inside. For real, DJ Eli was awesome. Nothing i hadn't heard before (and sadly no disco), but all so smoothly mixed that the dancefloor was heaving all night. He changed tempo like a hundred times, and when he played The Cure, i totally lost my shit and started gyrating and strutting like a an epileptic peacock. Jane was dancing with her high heels on her hands, and the fat dude in the lumo clothes next to me fell over lank times. It was that good.

Friday, 2 May 2008

We miss you Dr Phil et al!

Yes I know this is sad but where are all of you? I know that Dr Phil is in Uganda but the rest of you? I feel like I am missing out on South African politics and the dramas of back home. Another truth is that I am attempting to study for exams and am disappointed at the lack of distraction that the blog is providing. Oh well I am off to the organic market tomorrow so will post pics but looking forward to seeing pics of Pretoria (Kerry) and Kaapstad (Helen and Paul) and of course some Gorilla's Dr Phil!