I went for a ride yesterday. Packed my camera in my bag. The same bag that caused some commotion back in 1986 when my family arrived in SA at the now OR Tambo airport. Shaped like a big tekkie and chock-full of sweets ( dubbelzoute drop), the bag triggered some alarm bells at the airport. There I was, a stubborn 8-year-old Brown Dutch boy, protecting my goods. Can still laugh at the mayhem at customs because I did not understand the Afrikaans or English word for shoe.
So, on Sunday I set off from home for my favourite Chapman’s Peak trip. You could say, carrying my baggage in my shoe.
About an hour later I got to the tollgate and started winding my way up. And I just have to say… damn those Italians knew how to build a road just perfect for a bike. Think it is at that point of the trip that my back finally clicked into place, as I took a deep breath and started to relax. My head was clearing up.
No point going into all the details of why my head needed clearing. Let’s just say it was angry, sad and confused… I'm lying, I should just say baffled and damn pissed off with myself, friends and life.
Topics included hunger, separation or divorce, homelessness, joblessness and tik... Just your ordinary topics you run into in your daily life. Well, they got to me and I am glad they did. Those things make me who I am and I thank my friends and the people in my life for that. I really do, I really mean it when I say thank you. I am alive in the most exciting time of my life. And, yes, even if it sometimes takes a deep breath that finally clicks my back into place to clear my head.
I am someone who struggles to stop the mind. My camera and my piano are the two sure things that stop it for me… I've only lately realised why I wake up many mornings completely lost and almost paranoid – because I didn’t or don’t remember my dream. If I didn’t dream, it's like: What happened? What did I miss? Have I lost it? Am I still here? What did I do last? What do I remember? So now, no matter what time I wake up, I know I need to take 5min to just lie there and relax (after sleeping lol ) and take it all in…
And this mind of mine that I have carried around for the last 35 years, in this South African person that I am today, has brought and introduced me to the most genius creative drunkards, paranoid druggies and homeless people. My friends are among soldiers and teachers, scientists, artists and geeks. The politicians, the sailors, chefs and architects all shape my daily life. Including the engineers, the musicians and restaurateurs. There are the waiters, the barmen, the theologians, farmers, students, professors, magicians, clowns and travellers, comedians, photographers, doctors, lawyers, journalist, thieves, police, prostitutes, clerks, bakers and welders. The housewives, handymen, moms and dads, etc, etc, etc…
And the list goes on and on… and in the end I still find that after clearing my head the best friend and only person in my life is me.
If the shoe fits, wear it! I am!
Part III - A comedic portrait of a trashy cabaret with three travelling panties meeting a snake and its dream.
Travelling Panties and a Dream
I was on a desperately needed holiday after about 14 months of work. I phoned Mom and told her I am bringing home three ladies to stay with us for a few days. - Repayment for the number of strangers they saddled us with growing up. I can’t count how many mornings my sisters and I would wake up and find ourselves sharing the breakfast table with a bunch of strangers whose car got stuck in town and could only think of calling the church. Surely the minister would help out... So the Saturday I arrive in George I ask Dad for his car to go to Mosselbay where I am to fetch three Dutch ladies, calling themselves the travelling panties, who had just completed their studies and wanted to see a bit more of our country. Mom, the lady Dragon (her Chinese sign, not her character) was a bit nervous at first but very quickly realised how easily her house filled with strangers got along.
The day after the travelling panties talked me into caressing and looking into the python’s eyes we parted ways. They carried on travelling East, I went back West to the Mother City. I was still on leave and on one of many late nights out I walked into Madness and saw a woman sitting at the bar. I opened my shoe (bag), took out my camera and asked: “May I?” She politely smiled and I pressed the button to open and close the shutter.
A German photographer on his way to a shoot in Brazil was sitting next to me and said: “I can’t believe you just did that. I’ve been sitting here looking at her for a while now and hate it that I don’t have my camera with me.” We started talking shop and I ask him the question for page 7 (now probably page 6) and he responded instantly: “A picture of my ear.”
I can’t read the drunken handwriting of his email or website details of that late night. So I still need to go search and find his friends to send him his picture. But the plan has changed, the dream has changed. The book will still be great, but Internet is the way for now. So this year on this blog or another page on my site I will start publishing pictures of all the people I meet in my life. I ask all of them the same question and then photograph their answer. Over the years I have met three types of people: The ones who immediately know, the ones who need time to think about it (some for years) and others who don’t even want to think about it. As a photographer I find myself blessed when someone allows me try and capture that part of his or her life.
Part II - A comedic portrait of a trashy cabaret with three travelling panties meeting a snake and its dream.
Many moons ago during my student days I started of working at a bar / restaurant as a doorman on evenings with live music. As it goes you become friends with colleagues and customers. I started getting along with a guy until one night he found out I was born in the year of the snake. He told me straight his best friend was also born in the year of the snake and he could not deal with another one in his life. Perplexed, I insisted on an explanation. His theory: All the animals in the Chinese calendar were chosen because of the frequency the universe spun that year. These animals live on the same frequency. Some very high, some low. Others fast and others slow. Like waves on a heart monitor machine. Mine passes through and connects with them all at some point. Other years will be parallel for a while and then move away again: Twelve different frequencies or waves along the same line of life.
I have thought of this many times since and have found some truth in it. Some people you get along with straight away, others take time. Some leave your life forever and other stay right next to you or at a distance. The animals: Well a chicken today is a commercial animal. It feeds us as a special Sunday roast or a fast food takeaway. The dog is a trusted friend we keep on a leash or let run free and feed. Last year’s dragon we are all drawn to. The mysterious animal we are not sure exists, but we would like to know...Just look at the people you know around you, you will be surprised if you start comparing them to the twelve.
On an excursion with the travelling panties (their words not mine, and more about them later) I got convinced to hold and pose for a picture with a snake. I gave in, because what better way to end my year than face the animal most of us fear? The animal year I was born in, with my frequency (and usually great to get along with from behind a pane of glass). The last year of the snake I lost my job, lost 90% of my eyesight in 2 months through cataracts and my Dad had a stroke. It was a difficult year with some of the most beautiful memories of my life.
On the 8th day of the second month of the new year 2013 and 2 days away from the Chinese new year (not going to count the number of days for the new Mayan calendar)…. I finally start feeling the mood to put thoughts and memories of the past year into words and update my blog.
I have written my first entry for this year many times in my head. Unfortunately our technology is not advanced enough for me to record my thoughts, theories and emotions onto a wav file and download them onto the web. Yet I’m sure there will be powerful enough programs to search the web and profile me. Tell you who I am, my personality, my fears, my ambitions, strengths and ambitions, etc but anyway... I am digressing as usual (have been watching Caprica)... What have I been up to since my last entry and what has the year of the Snake install for me?
Just like most of us I have had a dream for many years. I have made efforts to reach it, but had no rush to reach it and I still haven’t. The plan had years in it. I should have been quite close to completing it by now, but the truth is I think it’s only starting. I guess what follows was an attempt at facing my failure and simply doing what I planned to do with a difference: Let’s put on a tiny commercial cap and get the ball rolling. It resulted in a comedic portrait of a trashy cabaret with three travelling panties meeting a snake and its dream.
Let us start with the comedic portrait and please bear with me. If my conscious is able to replay what my sub did while writing this it will all make sense in the end.
Comedic Portrait and the Trash Cabaret
I approached a friend who has a comedy club if I could take his portrait. The idea is to let me just take a snap shot whenever I felt his surroundings created a frame that looked just right. He agreed, we would just see what comes out of these spontaneous shots and we would both use the pics for our portfolios. All this started months ago. He has perhaps seen one decent pic since.
Time passed and the dream was present again.
The trash cabaret was the scene. I finally was going to be able to print page 6 after at least 5 years. I arrived and as I walk down a dark alley, an elfish dressed woman approaches me with a smile, shakes a bucket full of something and asks: “Ecstasy?” (I later discovered that they were jelly beans and I could have accepted them without stupidly thinking they were real.) As I walk into the metal workshop with machines familiar from back in my design and production days there is a bride hanging from the ceiling playing an accordion... Let’s say the night unfolded into a circus-dream that has travelled the stages of many worlds. It is no surprise that my rope man had no energy left for taking the pictures after their show. “Let's re-schedule, there is another place where we can do this” he said. We still have not gotten to it... But, I cannot wait to see their performance tonight.