Blog Archives

Rodriguez – the “ordinary legend”

sugarman

On Friday 29 January 2016, a friend and I went to see the legend in concert.

Rodriguez is of course the Sugarman aka Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, a Mexican-American folk musician, born on July 10, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan. I became a fan of his music after seeing the documentary “Searching for Sugarman”. For many other older South-Africans he gained cult status during the apartheid era

His fame in South Africa was completely unknown to him, until 1998 when his eldest daughter came across the website dedicated to him. In 1998, he played his first South African tour, playing six concerts in front of thousands of fans.

This year he is back. He is now a frail seventy-four-year old led onto the stage by his one daughter, sipping out of four coffee cups standing next to him on a stand, becoming flustered because it is the first time he performs before such a big crowd – 12 000 South Africans in Johannesburg hungry for his wisdom and eager to get a glimpse of him.

But when he starts to play and his fingers find the familiar path on his trusty guitar, he is in the zone and he starts to relax.

At first most of us in the crowd felt slightly confused and disappointing, because he didn’t just sing his own songs. He also did a few cover songs. When I came home after I was convinced he didn’t play as much of the songs we wanted to hear. But then I thought about it and realized he did actually do a lot of his own songs.

Songs he sang from his two albums:

  1. Cold Fact

Sugarman
Only Good for Conversation
Crucify your mind
This is not a song, it’s an outburst: Or, the Establishments Blues
Forget It
I Wonder
Inner City Blues
Like Janis
Rich Folks Hoax

2. Coming from Reality

Climb up on my music
I think of you

It started out so nice
Street Boy

At one point he asks the audience: “Do you know the secret of live? The secret is: breathe in, breathe out.” And then he laughs. After every song he thanks us in different languages even in Afrikaans: “Baie dankie”.

Later he says: “The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement”.

The support act was also very good and surprisingly from South Africa! Alice Phoebe Lou is now known as a street musician in Berlin. I really liked her “Tiger and Dolphin” song, but I can’t find it anywhere so it must still be new.

alice phoebe lou

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Graffiti: Creation vs Destruction

Yesterday on Women’s Day I went on a Graffiti tour in the Maboneng, Jeppestown and Troyville suburbs of Johannesburg with some of my friends. It was led by a guide from “Past Experiences” – a company that organizes these kinds of tours and a local graffiti artist named George AKA Mars.

Mars and guide from Past Experiences

Mars and guide from Past Experiences

The history of modern graffiti is rather recent starting in the 1960’s in the USA by someone writing his name on public surfaces. But the need to imprint ourselves on things goes back even further – just think of the cavemen and their drawings.

A few things that I’ve learnt from the tour: not all graffiti is illegal. Some graffiti artists ask the owner’s permission first before they paint on the wall. Illegal graffiti is usually “tagging” where someone just put their name on a wall without the owner’s permission. These are mostly selfish acts. But even the most well respected graffiti artists will still throw in an illegal “tag” here and there. That is how most of them started out anyway.

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Another surprising thing I’ve learnt is that there are a lot of graffiti artists from overseas that come to South Africa for the mere purpose to put their graffiti on a wall. On the tour they showed us a whole building done by a graffiti artist from Spain (I don’t know the name because I didn’t have a notebook with me and most what I’m writing here is from memory).

By Spanish graffiti artist

By Spanish graffiti artist

Most of the graffiti are done through free styling, but sometimes they will use each others input or sources. They showed us one done by Aiko: a Japanese female graffiti artist that loves to use stencils in her work.

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Another local graffiti artist: Rasty

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Every graffiti artist have their own motive: doing it for the sake of art, politics, some see it as their careers, for others it’s just a hobby.

There are different categories of graffiti: legal vs illegal, creation vs destruction, street art, tagging, etc.

There is also a code of conduct or graffiti ethics between different artists. It is seen as disrespectful when you paint or tag over another artist’s work. Some of them will even become cross if you paint next to theirs and touch it in any way.

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If you look closely you’ll see a Kong character on the above picture – that was not part of the original painting.

Some more awesome pics:

In Maboneng

In Maboneng

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I can’t for the life of me remember who painted these characters though (see above)

By local artist Tapz

By local artist Tapz

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Sadly not all will last forever. The following graffiti wall is already 6 years old. Eventually the paint will fade and crumble away.

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The End.

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My Favourite books from childhood: “Go Well. Stay Well.” by Toeckey Jones

 

go well stay well cover

I read this book in 2005 when I was 14 or 15 years old. “Go well Stay Well” is translated from Zulu “Hamba kahle. Sala kahle” and is meant as a greeting.

Back cover:

Candy felt guilty – guilty for being white. But what could she do? Suddenly it just didn’t seem possible that she and Becky would be able to continue relating as equals when everything between them was so unequal.

Becky lives in Soweto and Candy in Johannesburg – just a few miles apart. Yet their homes are in different worlds. In another country they would have an easy friendship, but one girl is black and one is white – and this is South Africa.

Review: 

I liked this book, because it gives the reader the chance to see what life was like during the Apartheid-era for children. Children aren’t bothered by colour of their skin – until their society make it an issue. I also liked the play on words: when Becky jokingly refers to her home town in the book to “So-where-to?”

Slang: (some of these words are also known in South African English and Afrikaans).

thugs = tsotsis

goggas = insects

Sala Kahle (means “stay well” in Zulu.)

kaffirsussie = someone considered to be too friendly towards Africans

madala = old

shongololo = millipede

maningi = many

Amakgathas = Arseholes

lobolo = bride prize

Sakubona = Hallo

muthi = medicine

Hamba Kahle = Go well.

Yebo = Yes.

About the Author:

Toeckey Jones was born in Johannesburg in 1945. After school she worked for two years as a records clerk in a mining before studying in University of Witwatersrand. She then went on to become a reporter and sub-editor on a radio news station. She moved to London in 1971. She has worked in a variety of places, including the Institute of Race Relations and for the Welfare of Evacuees from Uganda, whilst trying to pursue a career in writing. This is her first novel. First published in 1979.

27 April 2013 – Freedom day – haiku

Freedom day

Are we really free?

It has been nineteen years since

We are still A-part.