Friday, July 29, 2011

Iconoclasm, Van Zyl Slabbert, car-lot capitalism, Jimi Hendrix

Over a period of several years around the turn of this century I was given a series of non-fiction books, The Low Countries - on the Netherlands and Belgium - to review. In one the issue of iconoclasm proved fascinating. In this post there is also a piece I wrote for the Herald looking back at Frederik van Zyl Slabbert's The Last White Parliament. I also reviewed a delightful book about a Scotsman going to the US to discover the essence of capitalism. I conclude with a piece on a childhood hero, Jimi Hendrix.

This review appeared in the Herald on July 24, 2002. The story of how religious icons were destroyed gave me the idea for my satirical novel, Azanian Apocalypse, which can be found online by simply googling those words. You can either buy the book, or if you search long enough, find the whole thing on a blog. I know what I would do. (Please click on the text to see it at a readable size.)

As a young adult, Frederik van Zyl Slabbert became a hero to many liberal white South Africans. Here was an Afrikaner prepared to stick his neck out in the name of justice. Dr Slabbert died quite recently. The piece continues below.

The concluding part of the Slabbert article.

I found the book, California Dreaming, by Lawrence Donegan, delightful. This appeared in the Herald sometime in 2002.

This piece appeared in the Leisure supplement of the Weekend Post on September 14, 2002. It has been scanned in two parts, so will take some navigating to read. After this and a couple of other pieces I did on the rock legends of my youth, I devoted several years to putting together a blog, Global Rock Legends, which has had over 120 000 hits. Just google those three words and youj'll find it. Sadly the link from this site isn't working at the mo.

The bottom half of the Hendrix piece.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Antjie Krog, football, Cosatu, Picasso

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission undoubtedly helped address the horrors of our apartheid past. I reviewed Antjie Krog's book about the process, Country of My Skull, for the Herald in 2002. I also wrote a piece on the need for soccer to be given the same status as rugby at former Model C schools, and for Cosatu to cut ties with the ANC. There was also a review of an interesting book on Pablo Picasso

The first part of my piece on Antjie Krog's book, Country of My Skull. (Please click on the text to see it in larger format. Click again and it's bigger still.)

The final part of my review of Krog's book, which was published in the Herald on May 15, 2002.

My piece on soccer at schools.

Just what was it like to live with Picasso? Marina Picasso tells it like it was in My Grandfather, reviewed here.

The first part of my piece on Cosatu.

The concluding section of the Cosatu piece.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mbeki's mistakes, white South Africans, Catholics in crisis

Scholarly, erudite, but misguided. That just about sums up Thabo Mbeki. His absurd policies on Aids and Zimbabwe became the target of many of my articles in the Herald newspaper in the early 2000s. I also had a go at a group of Port Elizabeth activists who saw fit to protest against Israel's latest fray with the Palestinians while ignoring the massive travesty going on in Zim. An attempt to discover just why so many Roman Catholic priests were getting involved in paedophilia led to a spate of angry letters from the Jewish community.

Tony Leon, the former Democratic Alliance leader, once called it the A to Z of ANC policy - Aids and Zimbabwe summed up just how badly they were governing generally.

In the midst of all the politics, I managed to squeeze in the odd book review, including this look at Bluesman, by Andre Dubus III.

My article critical of those who turned a blind eye locally to Mugabe's reign of terror, while flogging the age-old scapegoat, Israel.

As the ANC imposed its racist policies, disguised as bringing equity and fairness to the country, I felt it was time to point out that white South Africans, like golfers Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, continued to make us proud.

Phew! Talk about fools rushing in. This is my attempt to diagnose the moral crisis afflicting the Roman Catholic Church.

These letters in response to my article appeared in the Herald on May 15, 20002.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

London's history, military conscription, British ale

There was a time when newspapers ran lengthy book reviews - particularly if the subject was non-fiction and packed with interesting information. Anyway, I kick off here with a review I did for the Herald in 2002 of a history of London. Then there is a review of a book on military conscription in South Africa, followed by a look at real British ale.

The first of five "takes" of London, The Biography, by Peter Ackroyd. (Please click on the image to see the text larger. Click again and it's larger still.)

The second take of the Ackroyd book on London.

The third section.

The fourth section.

The fifth and final section. I must say when Barry Avery laid this out on the Leader page, it looked splendid.

My review of Rick Andrew's book, Buried in the Sky, which was published in the Herald on March, 3, 2002.

The first of three sections of my article on British beer, which appeared in the Leisure supplement of the Weekend Post in 2002.

The second part of the beer article.

The final part of the beer article.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Brighton, Dave Tarr, Leon Schuster, lenses

The history of one of South Africa's most famous townships, New Brighton, was the subject of an interesting book I reviewed for the Herald newspaper in 2002. I also wrote a tribute to multi-instrumentalist Dave Tarr, wrote in praise of Leon Schuster's zany humour and reviewed another history book.

The first part of my review of Gary Baines's The Shadow of the City. The second and final sections are below. The headline reads: Birth and growth of New Brighton. (Please click on the text to see it at a readable size. Click again and it's larger still.)

The second part of the book on New Brighton.

The final part of the book review. I later lent the book to a colleague and sadly have not got it back.

An old friend, Dave Tarr, died of cancer at a young age. I wrote this tribute for the East Cape Weekend, which was the name given to the Weekend Post for a brief period in the early 2000s. The concluding part is below.

The last part of the Dave Tarr piece.

I rubbed a few people up the wrong way by arguing that Leon Schuster's movie, Mr Bones, was capable of tickling a few funny bones. The article concludes below.

The last of Leon.

A book on lenses made for interesting reading.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Bob Dylan

Having two sons who in 2002 were ten and eight years old, I naturally also got wrapped up in the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings phenomena. Here are articles I did in the Herald early that year on those two films, as well as a book review and a little tribute to Bob Dylan.

The first part of my article on Harry Potter, which had seen conservative elements up in arms at this apparent endorsement of "evil wizardry". The concluding section is below. (Please click on the article to see it in readable size. Click again and it's even larger.)

The concluding part of the Potter piece.

Would Lord of the Rings live up to the books? This article continues below.

The final part of the Lord of the Rings article.

A review of a book about an abortive Scottish colonial enterprise.

Due to scanner limitations, this article must be read by alternating between this section and the one below. Later in the 2000s I did plenty of work on rock legends like Dylan who shaped my life. This can be found by googling "Global Rock Legends".

The bottom section of the Dylan article.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mythology, Irvine Welsh, Morgan Tsvangirai, Greg Kerr, Freedom Statue

While working as a sub-editor on the Eastern Province Herald (now just called The Herald) in 2001, I also did a lot of work as a book reviewer, art writer and occasional columnist. Here is a cross-section of pieces done at the time. (Please click on the images to see the text at a readable size. Click again and it will be even larger.)

This was an interesting read, which revealed a bit about those mysterious cults one knows so little about.

Irvine Welsh of "Trainspotting" fame explores the underbelly of urban Scottish life in his novels.

Political chicanery continued to get my goat. The headline reads: New black political leaders needed. The last part of this article is below.

The last part of the article on black leadership.

I haven't used many of my manifold art crits, but this one somehow captures something of the character of Port Elizabeth. Interesting, too, is what a Spur burger cost 10 years ago. Today it's about R40.

This one is probably also significant because it marked the arrival in Port Elizabeth of former Stellenbosch art prof Greg Kerr (pronounced "Carr").

The ANC-led council in Nelson Mandela Bay (as Port Elizabeth, Despatch and Uitenhage became known) was hell-bent on erecting a massive state in the harbour, in a bid to eclipse Liberty. The rest of the article is below. The main head reads: "Madiba state is a cheap copy of Liberty"

The final part of the article on the Freedom Statue. Needless to say, nothing ever came of the idea.