Clarkson on Jozi

Jeremy Clarkson has been to Johannesburg.
And he didn’t get mugged, hijacked, shot, stabbed or killed in any way whatsoever.

I could reproduce the whole article here, but I won’t – click his name if you want that.
Meanwhile, here’s just a little taster.

Jo’burg has a fearsome global reputation for being utterly terrifying, a lawless Wild West frontier town paralysed by corruption and disease. But I’ve spent quite a bit of time there over the past three years and I can reveal that it’s all nonsense.

“Pah,” said the armed guard who’d been charged with escorting me each day from my hotel to the Coca-Cola dome where I was performing a stage version of Top Gear.

Quite why he was armed I have absolutely no idea, because all we passed was garden centres and shops selling tropical fish tanks. Now I’m sorry, but if it’s true that the streets are a war zone, and you run the risk of being shot every time you set foot outside your front door, then, yes, I can see you might risk a trip to the shops for some food. But a fish tank? An ornamental pot for your garden? It doesn’t ring true.

Look Jo’burg up on Wikipedia and it tells you it’s now one of the most violent cities in the world . . . but it adds in brackets “citation needed”. That’s like saying Gordon Brown is a two-eyed British genius (citation needed).

Check the comments – he’s got all the ex-pats into a frenzy. “You didn’t go to Hillbrow”, “You were reading the wrong newspapers”, “You had a guard” etc etc etc. Bless. They hate the fact that they might lose some sympathy points over in Blighty or Ozland when people read this. I’d guess that the most annoying thing for them is that he’s independent, has no agenda here, no need to take one side nor the other – oh – and well read.
Ooh – that’s quite a lot of annoying things. You can see why they’re all upset. 
So well done for speaking truthfully, Jezza.

Now – if you’d just let me walk around your lighthouse, we’d all be sorted.

Thanks to MrShallowEndDiver for the heads-up

Jumping the gun

The South African Police Service get a lot of criticism for their sometimes lacksidasical approach to the job, but in this case, they’re certainly ahead of the game:

Eleven critical after Alberton crash

Eleven people were critically injured when a taxi and a Toyota Corolla collided head-on in Alrode South, Alberton this morning, Ekurhuleni metro police said.
“Ten people from the taxi and the driver of the Corolla were rushed to the Natalspruit hospital,” said Inspector Jimmy Maboko.
The cause of the accident was unknown but it is suspected that one of the vehicles veered out of control and crashed onto an oncoming one at 6am.

A case of culpable homicide was being investigated, Maboko said.

Why? No-one was killed.

    Culpable Homicide is defined simply as “the unlawful negligent killing of a human being”.
     (S v. Naidoo and Others, Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa, Case 321/2001)

The Tale of Blanket Man

More from the free weekly amusement that is the Southern Suburbs Tatler. You may recall the story of the annoying church bells, which they ran a couple of weeks ago.
This time, they’re reporting on a recent Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association meeting in the suburb of Pinelands.
Now, I’ve no doubt that there are some serious issues being discussed here, but the way that reporter Lauren O’Connor wrote her article left me… bemused.

Several residents complained about two vagrants who frequent Pinelands. One is known as Blanket Man and the other as Beanie Man or Polo Classic.
Councillor Brian Watkyns said people were concerned because Blanket Man masturbates in front of children on their way to school.

Inspector Waters said police have arrested him for malicious damage to property.

Eh? How does that work, then? (Actually, don’t explain).

So, does Inspector W have any tips for getting rid of Blanket Man and his disgusting, depraved, dangerous and damaging “habit”?
Of course he does:

The reason why Blanket Man keeps coming is because people are giving him food.

Indeed. I believe that selenium and zinc are particularly important for that sort of thing.

Post 903

Post 903
(title assigned automatically by an annoyingly slow WordPress (see below) and which I have neither the will nor the imagination to change to anything more interesting)

Stuff I have noted over the last few days:

1. The internet in South Africa has been even worse than usual of late. I blamed my ISP, my ISP blamed Telkom and Telkom blamed Ndujani.
It turns out (following extensive research) that Ndujani is a mongoose god, worshipped by some tribes in the Northern Cape. Any claim that Telkom is merely passing the buck is met with the standard, “Please don’t turn this into a cultural issue, Mr 6000”.
More likely is that one (or more) of their ADSL hamsters which keep the internet working by running around their little wheels in Bloemfontein has died or gone on strike or something. Probably over a cultural issue.

2. The Oscars were on. A celebration of Hollywood excess while everyone else suffers the wrath of the global credit crunch.
More salt with your wound, sir?
I’m not a big fan of the movies, but was pleased to see that Kate Winslet finally won something after so many bare-breasted cinematographic moments. Had to be worth it in the end, hey? (But please don’t stop now – you could win again!)
One thing I found shocking was that, even though winning a little gold man surely marks the pinnacle of any actor’s career, Keith Ledger couldn’t even be bothered to turn up and receive his award for Best Supporting Actor. What a snub. They should have given it to someone else. It’s just plain bad manners.

3. I’m concerned over a tectonic shift in my musical tastes of late. Away from decent Indie and Nu-metal towards irritatingly-catchy Brit-pop, hip-hop, rap and pumpin’ House.
As I write this, I have David Guetta’s Joan of Arc on the iPod. Actually, to give everyone credit, it’s actually David Guetta (featuring Thailand). It remains unclear whether everyone in Thailand (pop. 60.5 million) played their part, but if so, then they probably shouldn’t have bothered.
[Mental note to self: Check up on most ridiculous names of “featured artists” for future blog post]

4. Twitter isn’t actually that good. Either you follow too few people and nothing ever happens, you follow too many and everything happens too quickly or one person (no names, sorry) fills your screen with rubbish for the sake of putting something (usually about cooking) on twitter.
I’m left debating whether the very occasional good bits are worth the very regular daily disappointments. Le jury est out, as the French would say.

5. I saw a “collaborative project” in the Art Spot of the newspaper yesterday:

Trasi Henen curates a collaborative project [see?] called I Forget That You Exist’ at the Cape Town gallery, Blank Projects. Participants were asked to engage with the following Dialectic: Dominant culture is a victim of the Will (after Schopenhauer’s The World as Idea and Representation) and therefore perpetually oscillating between Desire and Ennui. Desire is a state of potentiality.
When the desired destination is reached, is this a tragedy?

Sometimes I forget that you exist is a collaborative research project around desire and the heterotopia. Participants are asked to engage with the above dialectic. The exhibition process is ongoing, and contingent, culminating in a closing event. In the two weeks leading up the exhibition, blank becomes the research studio which opens the project to dialogue and interventions.

Something for everyone to think about there, then.

I was once asked (in a 1992 interview for a place at Wolverhampton Poly, no less) if money spent on the Arts is a waste. I wish I’d seen stuff like this before they asked – it would have made a rather stuttered, awkward answer much simpler. (Because there’s obviously nothing more beneficial that Trasi could be doing for the world).

Cyclists still at it

As yet another cyclist was knocked off his bike in Fish Hoek this weekend:

David Swingler was injured while cycling along Kommetjie Road in Fish Hoek late on Saturday morning.
Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn said Swingler and a white Toyota Quantum minibus taxi had been travelling in the same direction on the dual-lane road. They tried to change lanes at the same time and Swingler was hit from behind by the taxi.
“The cyclist allegedly wanted to go into the right lane and the taxi into the left lane at the same time,” Steyn said.

Pedal Power Association vice-chair Elton Davids said although the recent spate of accidents involving cyclists had made many others reluctant to venture out, some were “not obeying the rules of the road”.
“They are not making it any easier for themselves,” he said.

And even the dangerously subjective Cape Argus finally admitted that not every cyclist is as pure as the driven snow:

Out on Ou Kaapse Weg, tempers frayed as motorists battled with cyclists for right of way on Saturday.
Motorists told Weekend Argus there had been scores of cyclists on Ou Kaapse Weg, and while most were cycling within the yellow lane, others either tailgated motorists or rode in front of cars.

Dave Bellairs, director of the cycle tour, said they did not condone cyclists disobeying the rules of the road, as they was for their own safety. But he pointed out that the majority of cyclists obeyed the rules of the road.

“Obeying the rules of the road is for the safety of the cyclist and the motorist and it shows mutual respect.”

A motorist said cyclists on Ou Kaapse Weg were riding three abreast. Another said a cyclist tailgated him on the scenic mountain drive.
Photographer Chad Chapman said even though most of the cyclists obeyed the rules, he saw some at the summit picking up speed and sweeping into the traffic lane, cycling in front of cars.

Meanwhile, in Milnerton:

Oh Lordie…
This morning, at half past dark, coming down the R27 to work, the fog/mist was so thick that in places visibility was down to 50m.
Bad.
At Woodbridge Island, scene of Saturday’s unfortunate death, it was especially heavy, and just past that, what do i see…?
Some **** on a bicycle, black shorts on, dark top, dark helmet, dark backpack, a rear light consisting of about 2 LEDs, and NO front light.
Now, one would have assumed that given the blanket coverage in all the Cape papers and other media, this two-wheeled tit would have ‘caught a wake up’.

Obviously not.

Live by the sword… die by the sword. But is this message finally beginning to get through their thick helmets?

EDIT: Please see Ordinary Life’s comment below with links to (allegedly – I haven’t read them yet) sensible posts about cyclists taking responsibility for their safety on the roads.