Monday, June 27, 2011

The Oracle of Google, part 2.

(The keys that lead people through my door, via Feedjit)

"friend ask me to slowdance" - Grapevine, Texas.
"picture of fat lady sat on bench showing stomach" - Grindley, UK.
"why are Lebanese so picky" - Miami, Florida.
"flaming torch beating heart tuning fork" - Austin, Texas.
"twilight zone monkey toy" - Brooklyn, NY.
"how long can we keep the quail eggs in the can" - St Louis, Missouri.
"there's something about Edna" - New York, NY.
"Ernest Hemingway theft in a cake shop" - Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
"manayaise chocolate cake" - Kuwait.
"jacaranda blooms and purple thoughts blow minds" - Palermo, Sicily.
"crispy light vetkoek" - Johannesburg, South Africa.
"kids kissing passionately" - Mountain View, California.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

City Soirée at Haas Collective

Last night we sat in a row on a velvet settee, beer in hand, while three musicians took it in turn to play for us. And I realized: there is no place I'd rather be. During the interval we spoke about different musical instruments and their limitations. For example - the piano - how far can you push it's abilities?
This is something I have learnt from watching Righard Kapp play his guitar: he can make it sound like almost anything. He throws his whole body into it, he plays it until his fingers bleed. It's wonderful to see how he uses every bit of that instrument. I'm not a musician, so I don't know what other guitarists do with the end of each string, but Righard leaves them standing haywire, and when he shakes them they become a delicate rattlesnake snare.

The show started with a classical guitar performance by Nina Fourie-Gouws. Her hands are startling - the movement of them so contained, but hummingbird-fast.
Mark Fransman played next. His alto-saxophone is a mesmerizing instrument. Dully gleaming, foxed, mysterious keys and buttons. I learnt that it can also be pushed to sound like a thousand other things. I heard a slowly beating metronome and I heard his voice rushing through the wind.
It was extraordinary.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A perfect winter's day.

For walking down Long Street...
For coffee and cake with the charming Miss Leblond.

Along the way, at Galleria Fortunata, this kimono I covet:

But it costs arms and legs. 7 500 of them. :-(
This vintage shirt I bought:

A pussycat bow in celebration of the days steadily getting longer. R 150 at Joy's.
Very sad news from Saskia: Misfit is closing down. I've been shopping there for almost a decade.

Tong Lok's lovely signs this week are painted by hand.
Bumped into Papa San on my way home. Takumi is closed for the week, as he's starring in the role of the comical and evil mastermind "Mr Chan" in the local film production "Copposites", also starring Rob van Vuuren.

Winter solstice.

Spent some time with my old friend Chocolate.

The Gateau au Chocolat recipe will be published in my food column at Hy Sê Sy Sê shortly.
Did some sewing.

All the while thinking of this dream I have, the one that's finally coming true. I am moving upstairs to where there's a room tucked into the eaves. With skylights.
The shortest day.
And the longest night.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Open rehearsals and incidental madness"

Thunder and lightning, buckets of rain, broken wipers, missing keys, a moon of horses in total eclipse, one drummer gone amiss... a huge blazing fire, cauldrons of heartwarming soup and a bottomless glass of red wine. And the band. And the band.

Next month, same time, same place?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Girlfriends are the business.

She's been working on a long project and I haven't seen much of her. Yesterday we went for a brisk walk on the promenade and last night we went out for sushi. I looked across the table at this lovely small person and realized that we've known each other for twenty years or more. A winding road with frequent stops for parties and swimming and cooking and laughing. Lean times and fat. She is a constant in an inconsistent world.
As for the sushi... I have very good news.
Papa San is back in town.
Hatsushiro Muraoka (ex Tokyo, ex Minato) has opened up shop in Park Street.

He is as eccentric as ever and the sushi is as fantastic as ever. (The avocado tempura was an unexpected delight.) The interior is minimalist but warm, the handiwork of my friend, architect Toni Unterberger of Rivets and Rockets. Be sure to book.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A desert is a place without expectation.

Do you also have an innate resistance when people say to you: you have to read this/watch this/eat this, it's so fantastic/wonderful/incredible... ?
For the past few weeks, Cape Town has been a-twitter about Dear Me Brasserie and their upstairs bar Tjing Tjing. The food, the free spring water, the upside down plants. The final nod came from esteemed guru of cool Jamie Who. So today I met the beautiful Shonah there for lunch. And this is the thing: I can't say anything bad, but I have no praises to sing. It was a totally underwhelming lunch. And it didn't come cheap.
On the other side of the spectrum is Birds Boutique Cafe. As I told the owner this afternoon, I've been coming here for years and it stays consistently good, surprising and utterly delicious.
When last did you have a good cup of old fashioned moer koffie for a mere 12 bucks?
Or a meltingly warm slice of poppyseed cheesecake, sprinkled with fresh orange zest?

It's unpretentious and downright delightful.

PS: You haven't lived until you've eaten their chicken pie.
And the title quote is by Nadine Gordimer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou.

We walked down through the Company Gardens to the National Gallery to see the Tretchikoffs. As we walked up the stairs, a fine rain started falling, all sparkly in the sunshine. I loved the exhibition in the front hall: The Indian in Drum Magazine in the 1950's. If I could have one of those photographs, it would be the one of Tommy Chetty and a teenaged Amaranee Naidoo riding a motorcycle on the "Wall of Death". Her hands flying out at her sides, her eyes shut in bliss. She did stunts way into her eighties.

That signature I know so well. My grandmother had "Lost Orchid" in her hallway, above a dark wood half-moon table with a lustreware vase of fresh flowers, more often than not Gerrie Hoek dahlias from the garden. The rest of the house was impeccable - antiques and Persian rugs. My mother would raise her eyebrows when I mentioned the T-word.

I live with a small print of his "Birth of Venus".

Neither of these are at the gallery. But I loved seeing a host of familiar images in the flesh. The curator leaves judgment up to the observer. "Love it or hate it"...  personally, even if a work of art makes sense investment-wise, if I can't live with it, I don't want it. And there are very few of these paintings that I could live with. But it was a thrill to see the brush strokes, the impasto - I desperately wanted to touch those yellow dahlias.
The colours are still so fresh and vibrant, and yes, often garish. His floral paintings - the vases in particular, reminded me of a favourite painter I had forgotten, Cape Town's Michael Pettit. Very little similarity, just wonderful association with an exhibition of his at the AVA years ago. (A painting I've never forgotten - vases balanced atop of each other and a small black doll on a field of green.)
"The People's Painter", he's all around us.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Milnerton Market

When I started writing here, my idea was to have a place to talk about all the things I have to find for my job as a set decorator/props master/art director and often end up buying, either for work or myself. Of course, as these things do, it evolved into something else - though it's still about finding stuff,
tangible or not.
I do a good deal of shopping at the boot sale in Paardeneiland. (It started on a field in Milnerton and the name stuck) I've been going there for years and often it's quite sociable - one tends to bump into people that you know and have a bit of a chat.

Today is one of those big weather days in Cape Town - rain, sun, puddles and cauliflower clouds with silver linings. Perfect. I was so happy to see my friend Dave Southwood peddling his wares - some camera equipment and also his beautiful book about the market - he's been photographing it for the last ten years. The collector's edition is priced at ZAR 10 000, but the good news is that he's signed a standard book deal, so pretty soon all of us will be able to buy one.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Zwelethu Mthethwa: New Works

We saw this exhibition on Thursday and it's been on my mind ever since.
Selections from the series The Brave Ones:
Large portraits of young men from the Shembe Church group during their annual pilgrimage to the sacred mountain of Nhlangakazi in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
I love large photographs and I found the subject matter interesting, but the images didn't speak to me - I wouldn't want to live with any of them. In this genre I'm an admirer of Pieter Hugo's work - somehow he manages to capture his subjects with such consummate empathy.

Because of Zwelethu Mthethwa's background as a painter, his photographic work is often described as 'painterly'. Regarding this series, reference is made to the rich colour and texture - this was another thing I didn't particularly like about it. Too much yellow in the mix makes for a saturated image lacking depth and richness.
But... the other series - The End of an Era, these I loved. They are still life interiors of hostels for migrant male labourers in Johannesburg. They could just as well be contemporary paintings by old masters.

Traditional chiaroscuro, points of vivid light in sumptuous brown darkness. The everyday becomes filled with portent. You wonder about the occupant and you wonder what's behind you in the room.
I wanted to see them without the glass.

iArt Gallery, 71 Loop Street, until 29 June