Thursday, December 22, 2011

List, List, List...Everywhere

It’s that time of the year again and everywhere everyone is making lists…Best of this…2011 in pictures…List of Christmas goodies you need…list of New Year resolutions, Person of the year, etc. So here’s my musical list.

Song Of The Year

Every few years a song appears on the music scene that has it all. The voice, the rhythm, the beat, the soul, the message, the words, and the production. It forces you to listen, appreciate it and inevitably, it gets tattooed into your mind. You can go back through the years and you’ll find it in Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds”, The Rolling Stones’s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, Simon and Garfunkell’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” U2’s “With or Without You”, Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”, The Kinks’s “Lola”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run”, The Police’s “Roxanne”, just to name a few.

This year that song is Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep”. My nomination for Song of the Year.

Album Of The Year

My Album of the Year award must go to Die Heuwels Fantasties. Their second album, “Wilder as die Wildtuin”, has not only broke records and ceilings in Afrikaans music, the album is simply jaw-droppppppingly good and has raised the bar so high, very  few, if any, of the current crop of Afrikaans musicians will be able to reach  that high standard in quality music. And they also make excellent music videos.  

Gaan kyk gerus ook na hul video van “Buitenste Ruim” op Youtube. Top kwaliteit video. Absoluut fantasties!

Zombie Boeremusiek

Om mee af te sluit. Alhoewel dit ‘n ouer produksie is, het dit impak. Sienende dat zombies en weerwolwe so prominent is deesdae in movies en boekvorm, gooi ek hierdie een in vir nostalgiese waarde, vir die wat die tyd van die jaar daar ver suid so lekker braai in die sonskyn. Die Radio Kalahari Orkes se musiek is natuurlik ook nie te versmaai nie; Basies, rou, op die man af, en tong-in-die-kies. Hiermee dan Suid-Afrika se eerste Zombie Boeremusiek film.

Die Radio Kalahari Orkes ft. Jack Parow.

In the End

“To all the girls I’ve loved before”, to that special one called M and to all the other people I still love and care for, have a Merry Christmas season and Happy New Year…Geseënde Kersfees en mag 2012 die beste jaar wees wat jy ooit gaan beleef.

And please…Don’t believe any of that 2012, end of the world B…S… from the Mayan calendar stuff. In the past the world has ended so often we are all just make believe now.

What's In A Name?

Eventually we have settled in on the farm or as settled as one can be after two weeks. There are still boxes to be unpacked and many other tasks outstanding before the house is truly a home again.

I remember many years ago when we use to go to Jongensfontein near Stilbaai in South Africa for vacations at the beach and how we used to walk the streets of that tiny coastal village. (It used to be tiny then, but I am sure it is much more crowded now.) We found a lot of fun in reading the names of the houses.  Some were funny while others were the obvious: Sea-esta, 2 fat ducks (whatever that implies), Eventually, “platsak” (out of money) and then there were the mundane: Huisie by die see (House at the sea), See-view, Ons huisie (our house), The Retreat, etc.

Similarly, a farm must have a name. All farms have an address, which make it identifiable for mail and other legal matters, but a farm isn’t a farm without a name. This naming tradition is worldwide and we also thought long and hard to come up with something for our little patch of land. Some of the neighboring farms around us are named One Duck Farm (what’s up with all the ducks?), The Frolicking Goat (with not a goat in sight, but a lot of geese and ducks (ducks again), or simply The Farm (so impersonal and anonymous.) Usually you consider the surrounding environment (hilly, forest, woods, etc.) or a special feature of the location or the farm (a pond, a tree, a road, mountain, etc.) or you give it a name that has special meaning or might be funny to the owners. No limits apply.

We played around with Pondview and Forest Glen (too many of them already and there is a Pond Side Farm just around the proverbial corner), and Woodhill and Woodcroft (our house is on a hill with woods around it), and a few others. An Afrikaans name (I thought of Platfontein, the name of my grandfather’s old farm in the Calvinia district of South Africa, but this is such a totally different landscape it would have spoilt my childhood memories of the Great Karoo) or an African name just did not sound right and we felt it would not fit in. The Americans would probably have had a problem pronouncing it in any case. This is not about remembering South Africa or our past; this is about our next phase in America and our future.

So where does the name Lily Rose Ranch come from?

Picture: From the Internet and not what I actually saw and described in this post.

To begin with, the land is a piece from Mother Earth, and it will eventually bring forth the food for the animals to eat and produce vegetables and fruits for us to eat and only women can “bring forth” and “produce” something from within. Not so? Therefore, it had to be a female name or a name that can be associated with a woman and Lily and Rose are both ladies names.

Next, on the very first visit to the farm there were the most beautiful bright noon-time-sunny-yellow daylilies blooming around the base of several of the White Ash trees in the back yard. A bright yellow I have never seen in daylilies before. Daylilies and in particular Asian lilies are my favorite flower.

Picture: From the Internet and not what I actually saw and described in this post.

In the same vein, near all the woody and overgrown areas on the farm there are wild rose, in our region also called pasture roses and out West they are called woods roses. Off course they are probably not really “wild” roses, just tough roses that can survive without human attention. Real truly wild roses are rare. But I am digressing. There are lots of these clusters of roses next to the dirt roads on the farm and in the woods. They are everywhere. Sometimes I think they are more a pest than anything else if I consider how many scrapes and how much pain they have caused me so far while I tried to clear some overgrown pasture land. Also, roses are M’s favorite flower. As a matter of fact, in every yard that we have ever owned I created a rose garden for M.)

Another important point was that the name had to be unique for business purposes, so no dot com had to exist already and so far I have not found any company or product with the name Lily Rose Ranch. (I have already claimed the dot com.)

Last but not least, Lily Rose Ranch rolls easily off the tongue and based on my explanation above there is a little story behind the name. And it’s always nice to tell stories. Once I have the farm entrance completed, hopefully sometime next year, there will also be an easy association between the farm and its name.

Now I am sure some folks in Texas and out West will scoff at me calling a 38-acre farm a ranch because the word ranch is usually associated with a large tract of land and the practice of raising grazing livestock for meat or wool while the word farm is usually used for smaller land areas that produce livestock and/or fruit, vegetables, wine, milk, cheese, horses and many other things that farms produce. But what the hell, those folks out West do not own the English language. Scoff and get over it! The ranch stays and Lily Rose Ranch it will be.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

‘n Somberheid van Tevredenheid

Die Saterdag toe die verkoper se agent terug gekom het na ons toe om te sê ons aanbod op ‘n 38 akker / 15 hektaar plasie net buite Danville, KY, is aanvaar, was daar snaaks genoeg geen hallelujah, redneck hee-haa of jubelende oomblik nie. Geen geronddansery of sjampanje oomblik nie. Ja, ek was natuurlik blyeen oorweldig, maar dit was meer asof daar ‘n salige tevredenheid oor my neergedaal het. Meer ‘n tevredenheid oor die voltooing van ‘n sirkel. ‘n Tevredenheid oor hoe ver ons gekom het sedert ons migrasie na die VSA. ‘n Saligheid oor die voortsetting van ‘n familie tradisie om te boer, om op die land te werk en vry te voel.

Dit was amper ‘n sombere Saterdag. Die aand, terwyl ek ‘n eenvoudige maar tipiese geurige Suid-Afrikaanse hoenderpotjie sonder enige tierlantyntjies of vreemde smake gemaak het, het ek baie gedink aan my oorlede pa. Nie so seer of hy baie trots of bly sou gewees het oor my aankopie nie, ek hoop hy sou as hy nog gelewe het, maar meer om dankie te sê vir wat hy oorgedra en my laat ervaar het. Dit het uiteindelik gelei tot my eie drome om ‘n stukkie landelike aarde van my eie te besit.

Ek het my die aand darem self bederf en een van my hoog aangeskewe witwyne (Wine Spectator gee dit 92 punte) wat ek spesiaal gehou het vir ‘n geleentheid soos dit, ‘n Far Niente Chardonnay 2009, oop gemaak en al by myself ge-savor. Maar selfs die komplekse aromas van soet ryp pere en spanspek, die subtiele helderheid en varsheid van die goue voggies in die glas of die lang nasmaak van vye, vanielje en eikehout kon nie my somberheid lig nie. Nie dat ek dit wou gelig gehad het nie, soos ek gesê het, dit was ‘n somberheid van tevredenheid.

Dit sou lekker gewees het as ek kon dankie gesê het vir my pa vir die plant van die saadjie om my eie plasie te besit, doerie tyd, gedurende skool vakansies, toe ek saam met hom deur die Swartland getrek het, in ‘n woonwa gebly het in die veld, terwyl hy van plaas na plaas gegaan het en om vir water te boor. Nie net is die liefde vir die oop veld en boerdery gesaai nie, maar ek het ook geleer, op die tender ouderdom van agt of nege, hoe om aandete in een pot te maak, (kosmaak: iets wat ek nog steeds lief voor is) laag op laag, die vleis op die uie, dan die groente, gegeur met wilde kruie, en laastens die rys. Of net om dankie te kon gesê het vir pikdonkeraande in die veld, soms verlig met die maan, maar meestal slegs deur die sterre, ver van stadsliggloede, maar slegs die gloed van die wapperende tonge van die kampvuur. Daar het ek geleer dat die lewe se egte plesier lê in die eenvoud van selfgeluk in die huidige oomblik. Nie in môre nie, nie in volgende week nie, maar tevredenheid met vandag.

M en ek. Cheers! Op die toekoms. Op Lily Rose Ranch en ons nuwe lewe.

Dis nie aldag dat ‘n mens ‘n plaas koop nie. Tewens, die meeste mense wat ek hier in Amerika ken dink seker ons is gek om op ons ouderdom by die “boerevereniging” aan te sluit. Maar dis gaan nie oor ouderdom nie. Dit gaan oor ‘n positiewe denkwyse. Hel, ek is nog nie dood nie! Ek glo ook daar is nog ‘n goeie twee dekades van werk oor in die lyf van my. Verder gaan dit oor ‘n anderse leefwyse. ‘n Leefwyse van, so veel as moontlik, produksie van jou eie kos, weet waar dit vandaan kom en die genot van plaasvars produkte; vleis, groente en vrugte (vrugte is eerlike waar van swak gehalte in die VSA.) In plaas van die gewone rat van net werk toe gaan en terug te kom, rondvroetel in ‘n gevestigde tuin, eet, ‘n glasie wyn te geniet en TV kyk, gaan dit ‘n hemelse verandering wees om weer uit te sien na iets nuut. En alhoewel ek nie die wêreld van beton, teer, stadslawaai en werksgejaagtheid gaan agterlaat nie is die moontlikhede van naweekboerdery en om iets anders te probeer en om anders te lewe legio. Om weer te droom oor die uitleg van ’n nuwe groetetuin, ‘n land te vorm na jou eie wense, die aanskaf en grootmaak van ‘n paar skape, bokke, beeste, hoenders (wat ook al), die oes van groete, die uithaal van eiers, selfs miskien die hand aanslaan om ons eie sponsbotter te karring en te geur met knoffel en kruie of om ons eie bokkaas gepoeier met paprika en ‘n snuf van rooi peper te maak.

Ook vir M is daar ‘n groot uitsien en opgewondenheid na die maak mooi van ‘n nuwe huis, van nuwe style wat inskakel by die plaashuis wat geleë is soos ‘n “cabin in the woods” en van die uitleef van haar eie drome en ‘n nuwe lewenwyse. Sy sien uit na die andersheid van plaaslewe, na die afgooi van die juk van elke-dag-dieselfde-patroon, na om daagliks weer iets nuuts aan te leer of te probeer.

Ons nuwe "cabin in the woods"

Nieteenstaande die opgewondenheid, sien ons nie uit na die Groot Pak en Groot Trek nie. Wie doen ooit? Maar ons albei glo “the good always follows the bad”, die son en die karooblomme verskyn altyd na die reëns.

Vandag, 5:30 namiddag Oostelike Tyd, ‘n maand na die aanbod en teenaanbod toutrekkery het ons uiteindelik besit geneem van die plaas. Die ou Afrikaanse speekwoord van plaas koop is nie perde koop nie is nogal waar. ‘n Maand van harde werk om ons huis gereed te kry vir verkoop en te struwel met die bank (‘n mens moet deesdae, na die 2008 ineenstorting van krediet en die banke, omtrent jou hele finansiele siel bloot lê; om dit in skoon Afrikaans te sê: Banke is deesdae vol kak.)

Eerste aandete op Lily Rose Ranch: Sout en asyn chips en 'n Hempies Du Toit classic. Dis amper 'n sonde om so 'n goeie wyn sommer net so te versnap, maar die geleentheid was reg.

Tyd vir blog skryf sal seker kom en gaan, soms meer gaan as kom, maar dis darem nog nie totsiens aan In the Shadow of the Baobab nie, wat altyd die eerste pioniersfase van ons koms na Amerika sal verteenwoordig, maar dis ook ‘n hartlike hallo en welkom aan die Lily Rose Ranch wat hier tussen die rollende heuwels van die Kentucky graslande gelee is en nou die volgende fase van ons lewens verteenwoordig.

Die uitsig vanaf die agterstoep met 'n perserige sonsondergang voor ons.

Ons eerste besoekers, alhoewel ek dink hulle is gereelde besoekers as ek sien hoe gemaklik hulle is op die plaas ronddwaal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Midweek Musical Muse XV: Sade in Columbus

Sunday morning. The thermometer is predicted to reach the high nineties. Another hot one today! Tickets have been purchased a week before. A four star hotel has been booked and an elegant French bistro has been identified for dinner before the show. An overnight bag has been loaded. Let the four and a half hour drive to Columbus, Ohio begin. Sade is in town for their first tour in more than 10 years. At this rate, the next time they may come around again I may be too old to rock and roll or too deaf that I can’t hear them anymore.

Since I first heard Smooth Operator and Hang on to Your Love and other memorable songs from Sade’s first album, Diamond Life (1984) I have been a serious lover of Sade’s music. Their repertoire of catchy jazzy rhythms, classic R&B riffs, great saxophone and guitar licks, masterful percussions and emotional ballads, all weaved together by that smoky voice of Sade Adu, has made them one of my preferred bands to listen to when I want to sit back and reflect or feel like experimenting in the kitchen.

The opening act was Grammy winner John Legend. I have to admit I have never heard of John Legend before, but I enjoyed his show and his music dovetailed well with that of Sade. During his show I thought the bass drum was too loud and it reminded me too much of those cars driving past you and you hear nothing but doof-doof-doof as it approach and long after it passes you. But in general he sang a good collection of songs and was at his best when it was just him and his piano. But the bass drum issue was absent from the Sade show.

Then, after a long intermission when the stage was totally cleared, the concert hall lights dimmed, the crowd started to cheer, and with the first strands of Soldier of Love filling the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, Sade Adu emerged in her trademark black turtleneck blouse and ponytail through a central stairway onto the pitch black stage, highlighted from beneath by a single stream of white light. The huge crowd responded overwhelmingly in great anticipation of what was to be experienced in the next two hours for their lives.

A red wave of sound and light.

The performance jumped around through the six albums she has produced, from well-known radio hits like (Smooth Operator, Is It A Crime?, and The Sweetest Taboo) to lesser-heard ballads and R&B gems. The set constantly change, from re-arranging of the equipment, to the disappearing of the equipment. Enhanced by videos in the background or drapes falling from the top of the stage, even singing from behind a see-through veil that surrounds the whole stage. The whole show was very professionally thought out and directly by Sophie Muller. Unlike most modern day female artists that try to impress their audience with fancy dance moves, crotch-clutching antics and constant barely-dressed costume changes to hide their poor singing and tinny repertoire, Sade Adu was all VOICE, passion and emotion, backed by a superb band and they only wanted to do as she herself exclaimed at the beginning of the show: “Make up for all the lost years.” The one-in-a-million smoky voice and the Sade Group succeeded brilliantly.

This video of By Your Side that I recorded on M’s little red Panasonic DMZ-ZS7 digital camera (it thinks it is a video camera more than a digital camera), is not an attempt to piracy, and if it appears that way then I apologize to the Sade Group. It is more an attempt to entice people to go and see a breathtaking show.  

This was one of the best shows I have seen in all my years of going to live performances. It ranks up there with the Rolling Stones and U2. Not better, but up there. And I am not saying that lightly. Visually engaging, the sound was excellent, the lighting superb and all together a great atmosphere and great performance.

After the show M and I walked back to our hotel just across the Olentangy River from the concert center and appreciated the night views of a full moon and the lights from Ohio State university buildings reflecting on the river.

The highlight of the evening was Jezebel with Stuart Matthewman on the saxophone. Although this video was done in 2002, Sunday night’s performance was nearly identical in a very black and white setting, Sade Adu sitting on the edge of the stage and the sound was just as good, although I think Matthewman was slightly more edgy, more forceful during the solo part.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The White Afrikaner: To Be Or Not To Be Ashamed.

White South Africans should refrain from commenting on political events and should in general feel ashamed for their past wrong doings and their permanent state of privilege because of their whiteliness.

During a recent business trip to Mexico in early June and with time on my hands to surf the Internet I came upon a philosophical website that wrote about a paper from a lecturer at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, that is causing quite a storm in the South African teacup. I started writing a personal response for this blog but never got to finish it. Dr Samantha Vice, in her paper called “How Do I Live in This Strange Place?” say many things that are rubbing many people up the wrong way. And when a fellow Afrikaner blogger, Boer in Ballingskap, recently also commented on this paper in his post "Oor skuldgevoelens en skaamte", from a slightly different angle than what I saw it, I felt this is just a too juicy a subject to ignore and dug up my initial blog notes on this issue.

Basically, I feel there are several holes in Dr. Vice’s logic. As a philosopher she feels that she has the responsibility to strive for a higher moral for all white South Africans, but that white South Africans can never really achieve that moral state if they don’t denounce their privileged state of being born white.

Here are my issues:
“That whiteness is a problem all over the world does not however fully explain the problem that whiteness is here, nor does it fully capture the nuances of our moral experience. The problem in white South Africa is not just with being white, but being white South African.”
There are many white nationalities that never were colonial powers and will strongly object against this generalization that whiteness is a problem to them too. I am thinking here in particular of Scandinavian countries. Furthermore, this statement also implies race superiority and that is not necessarily only a white race issue. There are Asian peoples and African peoples that think they are superior to their fellow Asian and African peoples.

“I talk from a personal, but what I hope is still a fairly representative position. While I am not an Afrikaner and so have escaped the taint that identity brings with it, I am a white South African, undeniably a product of the Apartheid system and undeniably still benefiting from it.”
I assume, maybe incorrectly, that she is from that other privilege group called Anglo South African, people that have always seen themselves as English, from that island up north, associated their whole being as English and just happen to live in South Africa, but with the backdoor always open toward England. I may be wrong, but those kind of people don’t usually have a truly patriotic view and deep passion for South Africa and has in the past looked at white, Afrikaner South Africans with derogatory eyes, which is probably why she stated:

“One need not be especially patriotic to recognize this—in the sense of feeling pride in one’s nationality, having a personal stake in one’s country’s prestige, identifying oneself deeply with its culture or history and feeling personally harmed when it is beaten or belittled. I, for instance, am not patriotic in any of these ways.”

I am not defensive toward Dr. Vice’s writing; she certainly is making some points that are worth contemplating. After all, apartheid can only be condemned in the strongest terms. Nor am I an arrogant white South African, Afrikaner if you like, and simply reject her point of view. But she tends to ignore history and what usually happened through the millennia when one ruling group replaces another ruling group, namely, the acceptance of the rulers, but with a grudge. This grudge is sometimes forgotten over time by the generations that lived through it and the disassociation from it by generations that come after it. In this sense, three or four or five generations from now, whiteness might not be a problem in South Africans. However, it is quite perceivable that a form of blackness entitlement, very similar to her definition of whiteness might become the norm in South Africa. Therefore, replacing one unmoral state of mind with another. Furthermore, South Africa never had and still now does not have a unified culture. The Rainbow Nation is exactly that; different bands of colors that might never unite to a single color. If it does it can’t be called a rainbow anymore.

She states the problem as:
“What is it to acknowledge one’s whiteness? Is it to acknowledge that one is inherently tied to structures of domination and oppression, that one is irrevocably on the wrong side?” I think the answer to Alcoff’s question in South Africa is fairly obviously “yes.” Whites in South Africa ought to see themselves as a problem.

Should Tibetans also see themselves as the problem because the Chinese are their rulers? After all, whites willingly gave up their political power in South Africa. Furthermore, the blacks have not openly chased them away either. All three South African presidents have stated categorically that South Africa needs white South Africans to keep the country moving forward.

To say whites should see themselves as the problem and look inward and refrain from complaining or criticizing the political situation or to retreat into themselves and be shameful for what happened in the past is nothing short of mental suicide, and denying oneself to exercise ones constitutional right to freedom of speech and to become a zombisized hearing, seeing mute who walks around with downcast eyes whenever a black person is around.

As I see it, white South Africans have three options.

One, you accept Dr. Vice’s advice to a certain degree, pull back behind your physical and mental laer, become a apolitical zombie and complain if you have to in private to who ever wants to listen.
Two, you speak your mind in public about rights and wrongs when you feel the need and in that way contribute to the constructive debate to try and achieve a higher moral standard for all.
Or, three, you carefully contemplate the realities of the above two options and, if you can become a regrettable zombie or feel your single, blowing-in-the-wind voice can contribute and make a difference you stay, but if you feel this is not possible for you “jy pak jou goed en trek Ferreira.”

Therefore, a decision to be or not to be ashamed, at best, must be made on a personal level, based on personal preferences and ideals, and personal personality traits, and not on national or race or cultural level.

I am just a simple man, trying to do onto to others as I want others to do onto me and trying to find general "moral" happiness in my own (white) skin, rather than pursuing a higher moral state of mind that I feel I will never achieve in any case. It is not because I feel ashamed of my past or what my forefathers did that I will never achieve this high moral state, but it is a rather a case of knowing what I am, who I am and what I want to be and I just do not wish to ever achieve such a state. I don’t think I am much different in thinking than many other people in general or many other white South Africans. Yes there were many white on black wrongdoings under Apartheid, but there are also many wrongdoings, black on black wrongdoings, now under the ANC. Should they also not feel ashamed for their current black entitlement attitude?

You can read Dr. Vice's "How Do I Live in This Strange Place?" here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day 2011

 The 4th of July is always a starry starry, bang bang night in America.

"Blond Bombshell" 

"Double the Delight"


"Big Bang Theory"

"Exploding Flower"

"Red, White and Blue"

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stuck in Detroit…Again.

Detroit! I have never been here during daytime. Always only at night time. Always only going from the airport to an airport hotel in a hotel shuttle bus. Always because I needed to sleep over due to missing my connection flight. I am stuck again. Must be the 3rd or 4th time the past few years.

But Detroit is not the problem and nor is Cleveland, my other popular sleep over destiny. At least I have been to Cleveland in daytime, drove its highways, saw its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and been to its beaches on Lake Erie (not that I would recommend its beaches as a romantic holiday destination.) The problem is Newark. Newark Liberty Airport to be exact. Newark is the reason why I always see Detroit only at night. I never like to fly from Newark.

Flight delays. That is what Newark is good at. If it's not the weather that's causing the delays, it is the air traffic control that cannot get planes in the air on their scheduled departure time.

"Red, Yellow and Blue"
The "space age" Tunnel of Lights at Detroit airport that link Terminal A to Terminals B and C. The lights constantly change colors.

Oh, and Newark Liberty airport is also famous at continuous building and never seem to finish what they are building. I have been coming to Newark for 12 years and back then they were building or making changes to the highways around the airport and changes to the terminals. They are still at it. The highways are now complete, at lease I think so, but everywhere you see signs that says 'Sorry for the inconvenience, but we're building you a better terminal.” I would like to ask: “Is there anything you can do about air traffic control?”

But I was not totally unprepared for this unwelcome stay over. I packed extra clothes for just in case something like this happened. I don't usually pack extra clothes for other flights, but if you are going to fly Newark to Lexington via Detroit or Cleveland it is always a good idea for just in case. And to add to another tick to Newark's bad reputation and something I WAS unprepared for was the security people taking my toothpaste. The tube was too big they told me. It wasn’t too big on Sunday night when I went through security at Lexington on my way to New York. And it wasn’t too big two weeks ago in Houston when I came back into the country from Mexico. Why suddenly now? Toothpaste tubes must be the TSA’s flavor of the week item because this morning when I went back to the airport for my flight to Lexington they took the toothpaste from the lady in front of me as we went through security. I am sure I had the same look on my face the night before she had on hers, one of total disbelief, when they said to her that her toothpaste tube was too big and that they had to remove it from her luggage.

All in all it must have been a bad day for Delta Airlines because busloads of passengers were shuttled to airport hotels due to delayed flight at Detroit. All at Delta’s expense. Just glad I am back at home again. Oh, did I mention I don’t like flying from Newark?

"Blue Moon"

Friday, May 27, 2011

Midweek Musical Muse XIV - Die Langpad, Christoph Kotze

Een stomende desemberaand in wellington
in breyen se huis
saam met jan en christoph

breyten se brief - jan blohm

en as ek vlug in die wind
word ek die donker se kind
en belydenis die bind my
met jou tangerine-roos tintelend.
word wakker, word wakker
met die news paper grappe
vat my ver weg van jou
en jazz cafe se omo
so wals my my lief
laat my in angels believe
ek het gesê jy is die son in breyten se brief
want hy maak ons huil maar jy maak my sien.

sunnyside se poems dryf my sweet sherry toe
het jy ‘n clue my baby blue
my rosie so true.
en as dors aan die tyd, sing die kaapse wind suid
kom lê in my arms, ek het als weggesmyt
maar wals my my lief
laat my in angels believe
ek het gesê jy is die son in breyten se brief
want hy maak ons huil maar jy maak my sien.

en ek skryf jou gedig
jakaranda in die reën
en die volmaan eers blinkend
sy’s happy jy’s nou clean.
laat my klim om die glimlag, helend wag
hierdie visions van jou
my venus se blouvrou
maar wals my my lief
laat my in angels believe
ek het gesê jy is die son in breyten se brief
want hy maak ons huil maar jy maak my sien.

so vlug vlug my kind
in die blou lug my kind
so vlug vlug my kind
in die blou lug my kind

Friday, May 20, 2011

Treasure Hunting

The Bovlei Valley Retreat against a backdrop of the Haweque Mountains.

It's raining again/Oh no, my love's at an end.
Oh no, it's raining again/and you know it's hard to pretend.
Oh no, it's raining again/Too bad I'm losing a friend.
Oh no, it's raining again/Oh will my heart ever mend.
“It’s Raining Again” – Supertramp

I am not sure what rain has to do with lost love, except that grey overcast skies tend to make life seems more miserable similar to losing love. But oh yeah, it’s raining again and I am starting to think it might be a good idea to snap a picture of the sun when it eventually present itself again, blow it up to billboard size, put a spotlight on it, paste it to my patio door to remind me that the sun still exists and just to generally brighten up the weather-related “house-arrest” we are currently enduring. One could convince oneself that somehow the notorious bad English weather crossed the Atlantic pond and established itself over Kentucky.

But I have nothing to complain about. What with the Mississippi overflowing its banks, and thousands been driven from their homes and farms for weeks while they wait for flood waters to retreat. Thankfully I am on a hill, away from low lying, flood prone areas.

Looking back toward Wellington and the Limietvallei from Bain's Kloof Pass during our visit to the region in December 2010.

The Location

If you drive east along the R301 in the Western Cape, away from the town of Wellington, toward the Bain’s Kloof Pass, one is confronted by the majestic Hawequa Mountains, which rises from the Limietvallei (Limit Valley, so called because it was the limit of European settlement in the early days of the Cape of Good Hope, the outer post) like a massive barrier between civilization and the dark African continent.

Wellington, originally named Wagenmakersvallei by the Dutch or Val du Charron by the French Huguenot settlers, meaning the place where they make and repair wagons, and then renamed by the English to Wellington, after Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington and the man who defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo, lies on the banks of the Kromme River and at the foot of the Groenberg (Green Mountain). The area is not known as a premier wine region in South Africa. It is more famous for its fruit farming, dried fruit industry and for being the nursery of vine rootstock. Between 80% to 90% of South Africa’s vine rootstock comes from Wellington farms.

The Hunt

A few weeks ago M and I had to go into Lexington and she wanted to stop at a specific store. I notice there was a liquor store nearby that I have never visited. After I dropped her off for her shopping I went to look if I can find any “treasures”. Now don’t think I stop at every liquor store I see, but just like some people, when they have time on their hands, go rummaging through antique stores for “treasures” or others go to nurseries to look for unique or specimen plants, I, and there are many people like me, go to a liquor store to meander through aisles and shelves and possibly find an extraordinary or interesting gem of a wine. It may be a wine that looks interesting based on the description on the label or I may have read about the terroir, but never tried a wine from there before. A Wine explorer! I don’t have a specialty, but I am always on the lookout for South African wines, especially new wines or new estates from the ever enlarging South African wine industry, and especially here in Kentucky where South African wines are not found in abundance.

I browsed through the shop’s Cabernets, Merlots and Zinfandels, their imports from France, Italy, Chili, Australia and many more and was quite surprised at the variety for such a small store. I found a Marques de Cáceres Crianza from Spain, which I wrote about in my previous post. But apart from some Graham Beck wines, nothing much from South Africa. But I didn’t see any Shiraz wines anywhere and when I asked a store worker he pointed toward the back wall, not hidden away, just away from the other wines. Why I don’t know. Maybe it was the only space they had for them.

It wasn’t a large selection, but again, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety and there I got my kick for the evening, there I found my “treasures”. I found a Fairview Goat-Roti 2007 (a Shiraz and Viognier blend), but you find Fairview’s Goats do Roam wines in all the bigger stores here. But I also found something I have never heard of or read about before, an Eventide Shiraz 2005 from the Mischa Wine Estate in Wellington. I know a little about the other more well-known Wellington estates like Diemersfontein, Doolhof, and Welbedacht, but I have never heard of the Mischa Estate before. And that, the unknown, the newly discovered, is one of the criteria for my definition of “treasure.” Of course, the unknown could and has in the past sometimes backfired, but in this case, what a pleasurable find it was.

The Treasure

This deep rich garnet colored Shiraz is all about fruitiness and was a gold winner at the International Michelangelo Wine Awards. From the first whiff to the last lingering velvety aftertaste the overall impression is one of well balanced fruit with a subtle, but valuable contribution from aging in oak barrels. The wine is complex on the palate. Juicy, leaning toward jammy, with lots of berry fruit, balanced tannins and mild spiciness from Shiraz’s usual peppery to very complementary cinnamon notes. I am not a greater lover of the spice and will rarely eat something with an overly cinnamon taste, but the hint of cinnamon gives the Eventide Shiraz a truly unique taste that makes it stand on its own rather than being just another mildly-spiced Shiraz. Which make me wonder? This is major fruit terroir. Is there a link in the soil between the valley’s many fruit trees and the fruitiness in the wines from Wellington? Probably not, it is just good soil.

South Africa produces many good wines. It does not have the consistence in quality and the history of the French, nor the market and funding of the Americans, but its wine producers have the spirit and passion to compete with the big boys. Kudus to Andrew Barns and his team at Mischa Wine Estate for injecting that passion into this very pleasurable, drinkable “treasure”.  

Friday, May 6, 2011

The World In A Wineglass

The blackish-gray sky is filled to the brim with fat and swollen clouds. The clattering of the rain on the windowsill and the roar of thunder might have quiet down the birds, but it nevertheless still sounds like a rainy jungle out there. Although it is beautifully green everywhere, after months of the monotonous white and grayish fare that the winter dished up, trees have blossomed and here and there the irises, columbines, clematises and dianthuses are displaying their bounty of early spring beauty. Nevertheless, in the wake of near-constant rainy days nature has taken on a solemn demure on a day like today. Everything is damp and wet and weighted down with heavy raindrops. It’s spring, the rainy season, but there is no spring in nature’s step, only heavy footfalls of storms and tornadoes and more storms and more rain.

Looking out the window I feel like humming Eddie Rabbitt’s I Love A Rainy Day, but instead Tab Benoit is bluesing in my ears about being on the Night Train from his excellent 2005 album Fever For The Bayou, true gumbo blues, swamp music.

I recently attended a wine tasting at one of the wine shops in town. V-The Market, a wine, beer and gourmet food market holds a tasting every Friday evening. Every week they offer something different, although they quite often focus on bourbons, which I can understand in their effort to promote local produce, seeing that 90% of the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky.

I went to taste 5 reds. Cover cost $5. Cheese and snacks are free. Not bad.

Swirling through Europe

The night started off with an Italian red, Barco Reale di Carmignano 2008 from the Fattoria Ambra winery. Carmigano is a small DOCG region just west of Florence with a bit of history to it. Carmignano was one of the four wine zones cited in the 1716 decree of Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici, and as such is one of the oldest wines of denominated origin in the world. In this tiny appellation, just 300 hectares, is Barco Reale, meaning “royal park” because the de’ Medici family use to hunt there.

The 2008 Barco Reale di Carmignano, made from Sangiovese (75%), Canaiolo (10%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) and Merlot (5%) was classic Chianti in appearance: bright, ruby red. Although fruity on the nose, the flavor was medium-bodied, slightly tannic and dry. Too dry for my taste. The Barco Reale, made from younger vines, first pressed harvest and designed to drink early, must be seen as the little brother of the Super Tuscans or Chianti's that come from the same DOCG.

From Tuscany we crossed the Alps to Austria to taste a Heinrich Red 2008. Truly a surprise to me because I didn’t know Austria can make such decent red wines. The Heinrich, made by Gernot and Heike Heinrich Winery is a blend of three quite obscure grapes – Zweigelt (60%), Blaufrankisch (35%) and St, Laurent (5%) in the Neusiedlersee Hugelland region in eastern Austria. This medium-bodied red was purplish in color, with lots of cherry fruits on the nose, and juicy, very fruity and a distinct peppery taste on the palate. Tannins were rounded and overall a very enjoyable surprise.

For the 3rd wine to be tasted we went south in location and far south in taste. It was a total let down. Maybe it is my mistake of always expecting something great from the Rhône Valley. The 2007 Chateau Sainte-Elisabeth originates from an appellation called Costiéres de Nimes, which is on the western side of the Rhône River and east of the ancient Roman city of Nimes. The wine lacked everyhing that makes Côtes du Rhône wines great. It was terrible on the nose and in taste. Made mostly from Grenache it was flat, tarish, and very minerally. I am sure this was a simple village wine, meant to sell locally, but unfortunately exported.

Then we went further southwest, cross the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain to Spain’s premier wine region, La Rioja, to taste the Marques de Cáceres Crianza 2006. Made from Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano grapes, the wine was a typical Rioja in smoothness and taste, but lighter, without the usual heavy tannins. However it was still dry, but with a velvety finish. Generally I like Tempranillo for of its spicy, herby aromas and clear berry fruit flavors and this one didn’t disappoint. Good value for $16 a bottle.

Changing hemispheres

For the last tasting we crossed the Atlantic to the foothills of Argentina’s Andes Mountains, to the high-elevation vineyards of the Uco Valley in the Mendoza region, the world’s capital for Malbec production, for the best wine of the evening. The Finca El Reposo Malbec 2008 is a single-vineyard 100% Malbec, full of raspberry, black current, peppers and mocha. The Finca El Reposo ("sleeping vineyard") had a fresh taste, which could be contributed to the light use of oak aging, but a smooth finish. Fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks to preserve freshness and brightness in flavors. At $12 a bottle, it was most certainly the best-value-for-money wine of the evening. No wonder I bought a bottle or two.

Who says a short drive around the block can not be transformed into an evening of world travel through a glass of wine.

Heading picture: The Uco Valley in Argentina. Credit to  Tom Bryce-Gardyne at

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Midweek Musical Muse XIII - The Rolling Thunder Revue

In the mid 1970s Bob Dylan’s career was back to shining as brightly as stadium floodlights after some years of candlelight flickering in the musical alleys of the time. During the second peak of his career he gave us an extravagant, theatrical musical experience: The Rolling Thunder Revue.

In January 1975 he had just released one of the best albums of his career, Blood on the Tracks, an intimate, confessional affair, many critics believed was about his broken marriage to Sara Dylan, although Dylan himself, in his 2004 memoir, Chronicles, Vol 1, said it had nothing to do with his personal life. But being the storyteller he is could we ever take Dylan at his word? He was about to release another classic album and one of my personal Dylan favorites, Desire, in January 1976, a mix bag of various musical styles, rich folk tales, weird detours and strange characters, as only Dylan can put together. Squeezed in between these two albums he came up with one of the strangest plans for a Rock and Roll tour, an extravaganza of performances, reminiscent of days when the Ringling Bros. Circus would travel from town to town and proudly proclaim “The circus’s in town”, with many artists, a unique set, and some of the wildest and weirdest recreations and interpretations of his songs. The Rolling Thunder Revue has come to town!

He had the strangest bunch of people on the tour: A mixture of theatrical actors and backstage troupes to political wannabees and musical cling-ons, from accomplish musicians to poets and playwrights. This was typical Bob Dylan. Different, unexpected, innovative, doing his own thing, nothing perfectly organized or synchronized, off the cuff and loving it. It was a rolling, mobile circus. It seemed everyone was welcome and at times there were more than a 100 folks in the entourage. Some of the shows were between 3 to 5 hours long.

He assembled a new band and called it Guam, God know why, but maybe just because he could. He took the sessions musicians from the Desire album: Scarlet Rivera (violin), Rob Stoner (bass) and Howie Wyeth (drums) and added multi-instrumentalist David Mansfield and David Bowie’s guitarist Mick Ronson. Along came Beat poets Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, and Anne Waldman, as well as playwright Sam Shepard (as Dylan's scriptwriter), record producer Bobby Neuwirth and many more interesting characters. From time to time actor Dennis Hopper and perennial wannabee politician Kinky Friedman joined as did folk legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, and Canadian folkies Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell, and last, but not least, the female star of this Revue opposite Dylan, Joan Baez.

He rented Frank Zappa’s tour bus and started the tour on Halloween night 1975 (was there a specific reason behind the date?), in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The tour could well have been the most documented rock tour until that time. Two NBC television specials were taped during the tour, a professional sound team recorded everything and many hours, more than a hundred hours of the tour were caught on tape for the Dylan movie Renaldo and Clara.

The movie, which I had the pleasure(?) of seeing many years ago in Rosebank, Johannesburg, of all places, is one of those movies that, at the end of it, makes you wonder why you just wasted 4 hours of your life sitting through it. There was no real storyline or too many, I don’t know, and if there were any storylines I missed it. Maybe I was too old to understand back then, “I am younger than that now”*

Intersperse between stage footage of Dylan in a white-painted face resembling, what I thought, either an American Indian warrior wielding his guitar like an axe or theatrically imitating a mime in trance by music and smoke, but one that can sing, there were too many rambling-on-forever discussions about politics, rock and roll life, and nothing in particular in seedy bars, backstage hole-in-the-walls and bare-tabled, cheap joints eateries. There were attempts at being funny and others at being serious, nearly always badly acted. It was hard to sit through it. Nevertheless, I liked his flower-decorated hat. The only scene I can remember today was Dylan, or Renaldo, on a cold snowy day, somewhere on or near what I thought was the Canadian border, why I thought that I have no idea anymore, selling or exchanging Joan Baez, or Clara, to a farmer for a horse. Well, that was my interpretation of it. So typically Dylanesque. Reminds me of the article, as recalled by Marianne Faithfull, of an event in the Sixties, probably 1965 when Dylan was in England, when Dylan came up to her one day and told her he wrote a song for her, but he also wanted to have sex with her. She was seventeen, pregnant and about to get married and didn’t wanted to cheat on her would be husband and said no. Well, Dylan tore up the song in front of her, turned around and walked away. For all his mastery at being a lyricist and making his fans feel warm and fulfilled by the stories he told and interesting characters he created, he can be cold and calculating.

From the first leg of the tour: Tangled Up In Blue

The Rolling Thunder Revue was over two legs. The first leg took place during the fall/autumn of 1975 through mostly New England towns and some shows in Canada, ending on December 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York. During the spring of 1976 the Revue continued through the south and southwest of America with the final show on May 23, 1976 in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the show was taped for a NBC television special, broadcast in September that year. However, most critics agreed the Rolling Thunder Revue was a magical musical experience, Dylan at some of his best, but that the second leg was not as good, not as spontaneous, as the first leg. Rolling Stone magazine exclaimed "The Rolling Thunder Revue, so joyful and electrifying in its first performances, had just plain run out of steam,"**

Apart from the movie Renaldo and Clara, the tour sprouted two albums: Hard Rain, mostly recorded during the last show from the second leg of the tour and released in 1976, and The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue, which was only released in 2002, from the first leg of the tour.

Everyone will have their own opinion whether the latter album is better album than the former or vice versa. I rate both albums excellent because they both provide me with a Bob Dylan that is livelier, excited and focused on alternative interpretations of his music. I know some people don’t like that. I had a colleague that labeled At Budokan, another Dylan live album, as Dylan’s worse album ever simply because of the alternative interpretation of the song Ballad of a Thin Man. Some people always want to hear the songs like they heard it the first time. Well, life changes from time to time. Artists have mood swings. Get use to it!

Listen to Isis, from piano infused original to a guitar twanging swinger, or how he nearly reggaed It Ain’t Me, Babe, and to the toned-down, tone-changed Simple Twist of Faith on the Bootleg Series album. And how different is You’re a Big Girl Now on Hard Rain; the original being soft, tender and mellowed while the live version is cold, hard and angry, nearly like the hard rain that fell throughout that day in Fort Collins.

Hell, the man can Rock…he ain’t a rock. He is allowed to be different from day to day, from same song to same song, and many of us, I certainly do, dig it that he gave us different versions of the same musical poetry.

*   From the song “My Back Pages” by Bob Dylan
** Janet Maslin (July 12, 1979). "Album Reviews: Bob Dylan: At Budokan". Rolling Stone.

From the second leg of the tour: One Too Many Mornings


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Die Sommelier - GP Terblanche - 'n Boek Resensie

As enige skrywer ‘n boek die lig wil laat sien wat afspeel in Suid-Afrika se na-apartheid era, veral as die storie polities geinspireer is en veral as die boek ook nog in Afrikaans geskryf is, Afrikaans sal mos altyd nou gekoppel word aan apartheid, dan verwag die Afrikaanse leser sosiale kommentaar.

In sy debuutroman, Die Sommelier, stel GP Terblanche dan ook nie teleur nie, tewens hy gaan verder en soos ‘n beelhouer skep hy uitstekende en kontrasterende Suid Afrikaanse karakters wat amper uit klip gemaak is: In Oosterbeek, die tipiese sekuriteitsbewuste, werkgefokusde, diknek Afrikaner spioen wat nog glo dat blanke mans ‘n bydra kan lewer in ‘n polities gebaseerde intelligensie apparaat, en in Lev Engelbrecht, ‘n wyndrinkende, natuurliefhebbende, maar ontnugterde en marginaliseerde man wat opgegee het om binne die raamwerk van die na-apartheid, swart gedomineerde intelligensie netwerk te probeer in pas.

Die Sommelier is ‘n spioenasieriller wat af speel teen ‘n agtergrond van internasionale radikale-Moslem terrorisme, transformerende restellende aksie en Swart Ekonomiese Bemagtiging (Black Economic Empowerment). Maar dis ook ‘n verhaal van Lev Engelbrecht, ‘n man wat voorraad neem van sy lewe en probeer uitvind wat hy moet doen in die toekoms, en van Johan Oosterbeek wat wil vasklou aan wat hy het en waaraan hy gewoond was. Dan is daar nog die knoeiende Amerikaners, 'n groep tipiese Suid-Afrikaners wat op 'n wilds-oord werk, en nasionale intelligensie werkers met hul eie agendas van korrupsie en afpersing.

Die roman begin stadig, amper te stadig, met terugflitse na ‘n vorige lewe en liefde, maar die tempo neem toe soos verskillende karakters die ingewikkelde aksieteater betree. Die rol van wyn (sensueel beskryf), die beskrywing van Suid-Afrika se natuurskoon, die insig tot onbevoegheid van staatsamptenare, en die kortsigtigheid en selfverrykende aksies van die nuwe Suid-Afrikaanse politici verdiep die storielyn.

En ja, dan is daar die sosiale kommentaar oor die politiese verlede en hede van Suid-Afrika. Dit maak nie afbreek aan of trek nie die aandag van die storie nie. Soos enige Alan Furst roman verbreed die sosiale kommentaar die storie se agtergrond en skep dit atmosfeer rondom die karakters, al kom sommige van die sosiale kommentaar van die pragtige Amerikaanse spioen, Jane Turnbull, wat nie groot insig tot die Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedenis het nie:

“Hulle sê dis die Afrikaners wat die [Voortrekker] monument gebou het om hulle trekgeskiedenis te gedenk. Sy wonder wat hulle oorreed het om ‘n brutale stelsel soos apartheid jare later te implementeer. Hoekom was hulle so wreed? Wat was hulle motivering? Was of is hulle in werklikheid inherent slegte mense. ‘n Klomp konserwatiewe, primitiewe mense. Bybel in die een hand, voorlaaier in die ander.”
Maar dis nie net sosiale kommentaar wat van buite na binne kyk nie. Lev Engelbrecht ken Suid-Afrikaners, weet hoe dit binne hulle koppe lyk, veral in die nuwe Suid-Afrika:

“Ek stel niks meer belang nie. Ek’s lankal klaar! Hoe kan jy anyway saamleef met die middelmatigheid…Ek hou nie van die fôkken regering nie en nog minder van hoe hulle die land bestuur. Ek het geen lojaliteit nie!”
Daarteenoor is Oosterbeek nog steeds die gelowige in die nuwe stelsel:

"Nou goed! Ek werk vir die fucked-up spul! Ek sien die fôkken middelmatigheid! Dink jy ek is blind! Dink jy ek weet nie wat om my aangaan nie? Dink jy dis lekker vir my om al die kak elke dag op te vreet? …Maar, fôk! Wat as ons nou elkeen tou opgooi en wegloop! As ons nie dinge ten minste prober beter maak nie!”

Dis die eerste keer in seker 15 jaar dat ek ‘n Afrikaanse roman gelees het, en dit was beslis die moeite werd. Daar is genoeg legkaart-storielyne soos dit behoort te wees in ‘n spioenasieriller en baie byspelers om die geheel interessant te hou. Die karakters kom lewensgetrou voor en die gebeure is verteenwoordigend moontlik van die tydperk se koerant opskrifte. Ek het die boek baie geniet. Was ook lekker om weer ‘n slag Afrikaans te lees.

Lees meer oor die boek by die skrywer se blog:

of Rapport se review van die boek

Die Sommelier - GP Terblanche
Uitgewer: Rosslyn-Pers Prys: R140
Die boek is verkrygbaar by Protea Boekwinkel in Stellenbosch en moontlik nou ook landwyd.

Die Sommelier omslag foto krediet: GP Terblanche

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Midweek Musical Muse XII - Johnny En Die Maaiers

Na aanleiding van die eer wat Die Antwoord, die Suid-Afrikaanse white-trash, zef-rap-rave musiekmakers, toegeval het die week toe die bekende kuns ondersteuners en eienaars van verskeie moderne kuns museums, die Guggenheim Foundation, aangekondig het dat Die Antwoord se video, Zef Side, een van die Internet se 25 bestes videos van die afgelope 2 jaar is, plaas ek graag ‘n alternatiewe blik en skyfies van die Afrikaanse musiek geskiedenis vanaf die sestigerjare tot en met die Voëlvry beweging.

Oor hierdie reeks videos sal ek Jamie Oliver aanhaal: “Delish”. Die Antwoord sal natuurlik sê: Geniet net die fôkken musiek doos!

Omdat ek self van agter die Boereworsgordyn kom verkies ek liewers wat Francois Badenhorst van Coke van Fokofpolisiekar en Van Coke Kartel-faam gesê het: “Ek laaik van Afrikaans praat” en Hunter Kennedy, ook van Fokofpolisiekar en Die Heuwels Fantasties-faam beaam het: ”Ons is Afrikaans, there is no way around that.” So praat die monde van die Bellville manne van agter die Boereworsgordyn. En dis van agter hierdie gordyn wat die Afrikaanse musiek se volgende evolusie gekom het rondom die einde van die Twintigste en gedurende die begin van die Een-en-Twintigste eeu.

Vat hom Fluffy!

Die Intro

Deel 1 - Die Sestigerjare

Deel 2 - Is Afrikaans 'n genre?

Deel 3 - Musiekfeeste

Deel 4 - Die Jare Sewentig

Deel 5 - Die Voëlvry beweging verander Afrikaanse musiek vir altyd

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Na ‘n supermaan-Saterdagaand(*) is ons op die eerste dag van lente geseën met ‘n pragtige sonskyn-Sondag om ‘n bietjie litte los te maak in die tuin, vere reg te skuif vir die beter dae wat voorlê en die beste skemeraand in maande buite op die agterstoep deur te bring.


Terwyl die Chinaman vir my ‘n Venetia skemerdrankie en vir M ‘n glasie Chardonnay getoor met tropiese vrugte op dien, sit ons sommer net so en hard op droom oor alles wat ons graag wil doen in die tuin die somer, wêrldreise voordat ons te oud word, opkomende musiekvertonings in Louisville van Elton John and Steely Dan wat ons graag sal wil gaan kyk, (Steely Dan is ‘n no-brainer, dis ‘n moet-doen) en alles en nog wat.

Aandete was ‘n vinnige, saam gevlansde vleisbraaitjie en slaai. Wie wil nou lang ure in die kombuis deurbring terwyl die weer so lekker saamspeel. ‘n Vuurtjie dans rooiwarm en die rooster word skoon gebrand. Die skemer-son skilder die westelike lugruim geel-oranje-en-rooi soos dit agter die bome verdwyn en gereed maak om nag te sê suid van die horison. ‘n Skaaptjoppie vir elkeen, die laaste van Spekkies se lekker tuisgemaakte bees boerewors, ‘n vinnige oudtydse aartappelslaai, stroopsoet spanspek en ‘n geroosterde knoffelbotter broodjie.

Saam met aandete ‘n glasie Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon van Chili se Colchague vallei, een van vele goedkoop maar uitstekende wyne van Chili wat deesdae in ons drankwinkels beskikbaar is. Hierdie een is definitief ‘n lekker-drink wyntjie vir min geld, slegs $10-12 per bottel. Een van daardie wyne wat wynliefhebbers by die doos koop. Ideaal vir vleisbraai aande.

Die wyn het een van die mees interessantste en innoverenste etikette wat ek in ‘n lang tyd op ‘n wyn bottel gesien het. Dit vertel die storie van oorsponklike druif wortelstamme wat nog in Chile gevind kan word in teenstelling met verente wortelstamme wat in die res van die wêrld gebruik word weens die Phylloxera plaag wat die wynbedryf lamgelê het in die laat 1800’s en vandag nog steeds verhoed dat Europese wyne, Vitus vinifera, die Cabernets, die Grenaches, die Merlots, die Viogniers, ensovoorts, nie sonder verente wortelstamme geplant kan word nie. (Nota: Selektiewe oorsponklike wortelstamme kan ook nog in Australia gevind word). Daar is sommige wynbemarkingsagente wat ons wil laat glo dat wyn gemaak van oorsponklike worterstamme vrugtiger en beter is as wyn van verente wortelstamme. (But it is nothing more than a matter of taste and palate.)

Aah…Die stadige leef lewensstyl! Maar ongelukkig net soms.

Geen beter manier om die week af te eindig of te begin, afhangende van die siening of Sondag die einde of die begin van jou week is.

(*) Weens die feit dat die maan op Saterdagaand slegs 221,567 myl vanaf die aarde was, het dit glo 14% wyer en 30% skerper vertoon as normaal. Dis is die naaste wat die maan aan die aarde was sedert Maart 1993. As if it's important!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Silent Cry For A Decaying City

Surrounded by its numerous mountain peaks, the city, apparently peaceful in its bowled cradle, is a picture of serenity and prosperity. The morning air is still crisp; the sky is still baby blue, edged gold by the rising sun, cloudless and still clear without any smog. The smog usually comes later in the morning, mixed with the white dust from the semi-desert beyond the mountains the sky then turns a dirty white-yellow. But the serene scene is a misrepresentation of what is happening in Monterrey, Mexico. Underneath the superficial beauty, seeped in through every seam and thread of this city, organized crime, kidnapping and murder, whether systematic or by random opportunity, is changing this beautiful city into a crate of rotting fruit. Slowly, the one rotten fruit is infecting another and another as the spores of decay travel from one neighborhood to another, decimating social structure after social structure, and taking its toll on the citizens of the city. Inflating all the statistics for which a city, any city, does not want to be famous for.

And it is not just narcotic gangs against other gangs, trying to establish and entrench their territories, nor is it just normal criminal gangs against the police. So many policemen have been killed or fired by the city or the state because of corruption or for working with the narcotic gangs that police presence in neighborhoods and on the highways have disappeared. This enabled petty criminals to become far bolder than they would have dared before to commit more serious crimes, especially home burglaries, car theft, holdups of restaurants and businesses, and kidnapping innocent people for small random amounts.

Monterrey from an airplane. The airport in the bottom and
in the center, in the bowl surrounded by mountains lay the city  

Just yesterday the sister-in-law of one of my programmers here was in a car theft-kidnapping incident. For an hour the woman had to negotiate, successfully I must to add, with the thieves/kidnappers to take only her car and not her 5-year old boy too that was in the backseat. Imagine, a desperate woman, facing into the barrel of a gun, picking up her son from school, seeing in her minds eye how someone else in broad daylight wants to drive off with her child and then later call back for a ransom. And they had all the information to do so because they took her handbag with all the things that women usually keep in their handbags. Today, when I spoke to the lady again to ask how her family is doing she told me the adults are worried, quite naturally, because the thieves can get so much information from the things in the handbag and that the little boy is quite traumatized.

A few months ago another one of my employees’ brother was kidnapped. For 2 days near Christmas they didn’t hear anything from him, only from the kidnappers. As she told me the story, she said it was worse than death because of the uncertainty of not knowing whether you will ever see the kidnapped person again. They paid the ransom, gathered from various family members, and the kidnappers dropped the man off on an empty parking lot. They were lucky, very blessed, because many times the kidnapped persons are never returned. Their dead bodies are dumped like trash in isolated spots in the Chihuahuan desert to rot like a dead mouse and turn into dust and to blow back into the city at a future time as a fine white mist carried upon the hot Santa Ana-like winds that race through the canyons of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains or the Cerro de las Mitres (mountains of the Mitres). Car theft and kidnapping is fast becoming the new regional sport here.

South of the city lies the picturesque village of Villa Santiago. I drove there a few years ago and wrote about it in a previous post. Today a trip to Villa Santiago by a foreigner all by himself is a suicide mission. A few months ago its mayor was kidnapped and killed. Now it seems 6 policemen, working for the drug cartels, were involved in the killings. Who can you trust here?
At work I can see the effect this situation is having on the people of this city. At lunch tables the laughter is less, the decibels lower, people smile with their lips but their eyes stare vacantly ahead of them. Worrying. Is my house being burgled at this moment? Is someone in my family being robbed or kidnapped now? Will something happen to me today, tomorrow, when?

Looking out towards the Lindavista area of Monterrey
with the Cerra de la Silla (Saddle Hill) on the left

All of this is so reminiscent of what I and many others experienced so many years ago in South Africa when the escalation in crime and violence drove hundreds of thousands from their homeland to the far corners of the world. It is so reminiscent of what happened in Colombia when the cocaine cartels ruled portions of that country and caused mayhem for the population. Different time, different geography, different circumstances, but the results are always the same, innocent people, just seeking their little piece of sunshine on earth, get caught up in the middle of this murderous and criminal orgy.

Gone are the evenings I would drive into the city center in search for new restaurants to experience the local cuisine in the Barrio Antiguo or in San Pedro. Gone are the days I would go and see the latest modern or contemporary art exhibition in the MARCO galleria or take a stroll on the Macro Plaza, drift off to the narrow side streets and tiny open plazas and do people watching from alfresco restaurant tables while savoring a cold cerveza Bohemia.

Now it is just going from hotel to work and back and driving after dark is only if I really have to, an emergency, and going into the city is strictly prohibited. The bad elements roam at night; like modern day Count Draculas or evil Batmen. Now I stay in different hotels than before, in “safe” hotels, in “safe” areas, where an armed guard stands inside the lobby watching everyone that is coming and going. Now it is more eating in, in the hotel’s restaurant, which usually doesn’t have anything more but the basic fare, than eating out, except if there is a restaurant next door or in very close walking proximity of the hotel.

Monterrey is not Baghdad or Kabul. Not yet in any case. Nor is it Ciudad Jaurez, Chihuahua, yet. But how bad is it going to get before it gets better again, before normal is normal again. Because today’s Monterrey is not normal anymore. Today’s Monterrey is not the Monterrey I got to know and like the past 10 years I have coming here.