By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

I am growing a shell as I grow older; each experience mottles and stipples my spine-leather. Here, I bake and harden under this African sun, where the trials of passage mark me, leaving a register for those who wish to deduce my age and history. From this I can analyse a map, of courses and tracks, with which I can navigate.

The bitterness of a fact is determined by the occasion of its consumption. It is my birthday, and I am far from home.

Safe travel through the belly of what constitutes a city these days necessarily involves animal instinct - within the cathedrals and channels of a modern city the skills of the wild are still necessary. Put that instinct to use - take it to the gym of experience and work it till sinews and veins, muscles and tendons begin to grow and bulge, ready for action. Then you can roam, sure of your homing signal, scything through crowds as they split for an instant, revealing gaps and shortcuts hidden to the rest of the churning mob. Master the art of fluid movement whilst your animal mind carves the path.

Beyond the use of this skill to enable swift passage in literal terms, it can be employed in the management of other, more ethereal parts of life. People on the whole are conducive to subtle manipulation, if you go about it correctly. Body language is a fantastic tool which will allow you avoid or engage as it takes your fancy.

This city is endless, it fills my horizon, I won't live to see the edge of it. I might never make it home.

The instinct is to be found elsewhere, too - in bed, in love, in trouble. I can feel the shell tighten as the images swarm my darting mind - she's screaming, she's laughing, she's got her ass in the air and her hands are clawing the sheet. Witch that she is, I couldn't teach her a thing - which is perhaps why she's getting twitchy. I can't move comfortably any more, my body is getting taught with all this marching.

This city of mine is no longer my home. It scowls and sneers while I peer into shadows of the past.

It's my fucking birthday and I'm walking home, and it may take some time. I look at my reflection and see the carapace; it's creep is almost at my face, edging up my neck like a rash.

And then I see her, and she's as caught as I am in the swerve and whisk of the march. I ask her:
"How much further?"

'You're late for your own fucking party.'

The bitterness of a fact indeed.


Looks Like Hollywood. Sounds Like The Future

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

Put down the coffee, Stub out that stogie. It’s time we had a chat.

I’ve just come back from an extended trip through the Arctic Circle via the net, and let me tell you, we’ve got problems. No, not those little problems that have been murmuring under the radar for so long. Those are not problems, those are, judging by the sluggish reaction times (even in Bali), regarded as surmountable irritations. I’m talking Problems.
It’s getting hard to maintain interest, what with all the doomsaying going on. Seems the Great Polluters just don’t feel that they should make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of our planet. No surprise there, then. The Problem is, the planet is not going to wait for our squabbles over greenhouse emissions to be resolved before it goes ahead and makes global-scale adjustments. Our planet is going right ahead and crapping out in a million little ways every day, while we shuffle our feet and look thoughtful. Dreadful? You betcha.
There is a body of people that insist that ‘the earth is a self-regulating organism’. This is the basis of the Gaia Hypothesis, put forward by research scientist Dr James Lovelock in the 70’s as part of his work for NASA. Humour my diversion into this bibliographical cul-de-sac, but it all has some bearing on Just Exactly How Fucked Our Planet Is. Which, by the way, in case you’d not heard it enough, is Very.
Turns out that Gaia Hypothesis or no Gaia Hypothesis, things are simply moving way too fast for this old ball of rock to play catch up. We’re laying waste in a manner that makes the cataclysmic meteor impacts of yore look like a kid tossing firecrackers around.
Take, for example, one charming chunk of alarming data from the Arctic –
‘In 1996, Greenland was losing about 100 cubic km per year in mass from its ice sheet; by 2005, this had increased to about 220 cubic km.’ (, may 18, 2007)
If this increases, according to the boffins who know (and no, they aren’t reactionary weirdo’s – this is fact) we’ll be 7 metres deeper if all polar ice melts. The next piece of info which adds fuel to my growing alarm? Try this on for size:
"We are concerned because we know that sea levels have been able to rise much faster in the past - 10 times faster. This is a big gorilla. If sea level rise is multiplied by 10 or more, I'm not sure we can deal with that," co-author Eric Rignot, from the US space agency's (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, told the BBC News website.
Now, we’ve all seen An Inconvenient Truth, and we’re all aware that there is a major problem at hand. You haven’t seen it? Go sit in the corner with the guy wearing the dunce hat, we’ll get a copy over to you sharp-sharp. George – you’ve got a friend who’s gonna watch with you, mmkay? Take your finger out of the plug, George. Anyway.
The point is – with all the best intentions, the UN conference in Bali and all the adjustments that both developed and developing nations will be making, none of it is soon enough to arrest the full-scale global catastrophe that is about to unfold.
Get used to seeing more extreme weather. Get used to hearing that 200 000 people have been displaced here, that the worst storm ever just happened there and get really used to the idea that things are never going to be the same again.
There is even talk in some quarters – and it is considered wildly reactionary, but there is a sober point of view as its seed – that an energy rationing system, not unlike wartime restrictions, will have to be implemented on a global scale if we are to effectively rein in the rampant ecological disaster that faces us. Sound crazy? Doesn't sound as crazy as it once did to me, and I'm pretty thick-skinned when it comes to New Age hippy mofofo. This goes beyond the rationalising and debating. Measures such as rationing will be the only way for us to get through the next fifty years, because we are effectively at war with our environment.
I for one am not surprised that a suggestions such as this raises the hackles of so many people, ensconced as they are in their comfort zones, with their SUV’s, their credit cards and consumer goods. Hell, I’m one of them. OK, minus the SUV and credit cards, but still, I am one of the six billion who are all collectively responsible for the state of the global nation (alright kids, you're off the hook, but your parents will have a lot of explaining to do when you grow up and start asking questions).
What I cannot believe is that there are still people (and countries) which insist that this is all a bit hysterical. What exactly is hysterical about having your entire existence irreparably changed for the worst in the blink of time’s eye? We have some tough decisions to make, all of us. The longer we leave it, the worse it will be.
For me, living on the edge of the Indian Ocean here in Durban, South Africa, I have to consider the immediate impact. As it is, we have already experienced major storms here which generated crazy swell, the likes of which I have only ever seen once in all my 34 years of watching the surf. The aftermath of our last 'worst ever' bore testament to the power of natural forces now swinging ever wilder – scores of homes were lost to the high water mark. Roads, bridges, golf estates, sewerage plants, factories.
Now consider that the trend for rising sea levels will continue – because it will – and then consider this:
‘Nearly two thirds of humanity live within 150 kilometres of coastal waters. In the United States, over 50 % of Americans live in 772 coastal counties. By 2025, nearly 75% of Americans are projected to be living near a coast, with population density doubling in some areas such as Florida and California. Of China’s 1 billion plus population, over 55% reside in 13 southeastern and coastal provinces and coastal cities of Shanghai and Tianjin and the numbers are rising. Of the largest 30 cities in the world, 17 are coastal cities.’ Rice University Coastal Cities survey, 2007
So we’re agreed then – major Problem. Now let’s take this little piece of terrifying info one step further and consider the following:
When the coastal cities of the world get flooded, do you think governments are give wads of cash to companies to evacuate buildings, tear them down and make the area nice and clean for the little fishies? Hell, no. What's going to happen is that all of those cities, with all their flood-plain heavy industries and pollution, will simply be left to be swamped. And what will happen to the oceans of the world then? Already crippled by overfishing, the fish stock of the oceans will fall further as breeding grounds become too deep and new shoals give off long-lasting poisons. With so many people displaced, the green spaces, so diminished, will shrink further. You see where I’m going with this? Mad Max, anyone? Waterworld? Sounds like Hollywood. Looks like the future.
This, then, is the Problem. And as much as I can write all of the above, I am at a loss as to what the next manoeuvre will be. I, like Stevie Wonder, am thinking about higher ground.

We are oh so Screwed.

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

From the Mail & Guardian, today (14/12/07):

'Durban Central police commander Commissioner Bala Naidoo said there is "a disturbing trend" towards more drinking in public. "Drinking in public leads to scuffles and the next thing there is a case of assault." He also urged people not to break bottles, which could lead to children being injured.'

Well that's them told, then. Now I can frolic barefoot across the acres of Durban beachfront, carefree in the knowledge that a hundred thousand recently-matriculated school leavers are cowed by my fine and upstanding police force's stern words. Pity that the taxi-loads from far and wide couldn't give a shit, and the donut-munching lardass cops are too busy checking out booty to do anything about this.
It's the same thing every year - the roads are blocked off, a fresh rash of cops are dispatched to deal with the hordes of drunk revellers and...nothing. Well, not quite nothing - come January, when the travelling roadshow of public drunkenness heads off for some character-building riots at university and technikon campuses around the country, the parking lots and white sand beaches of this, our fair city, will be blessed with a sparkling sprinkling of broken glass.
The thing is, I appreciate the police keeping criminals at bay. There's nothing quite like getting home in one piece. Run the gamut, all that. Keeps you on your toes. Reminds you of how lucky you are to be alive. But the cops could not give two owl hoots for minibusses full of pissed lighties - they're way too busy making sure surfers don't jump off the piers or stoners don't smoke weed in public. God forbid. But while they're doing this invaluable policing, the parking lots are full to bursting with taxi's blasting bass, surrounded by whooping gangs of juvenile delinquents...who warrant no more than a cursory glance.
I've seen people pissing, puking, fighting and offloading sacks of glass bottles onto the pavement, with cops standing not ten metres away, doing nothing. And I've lost count of the number of pieces of glass I've thrown in the bins. Bins which remain blissfully empty, while the beach gets dumped on.
So it's really comforting, knowing that the Law, that hallowed institution of civil rights and wrongs, is gonna do so much to allay my disgruntlement over the wanton disrespect for the environment and recreational spaces.
Damn, they're a fine bunch of idiots.

You Know, It Ain't Easy

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
In the grand scheme of things, the shameless promotion of music which has little more substance than a wet tissue shouldn't really get on my tits, does. There's just no getting away from it, for me, at least.
Why huge swathes of people should be so thick as to swallow every last blob of slurry that issues forth from the Commercial Shitfactory without so much as a passing thought to the wildly orginal alternatives out there is beyond me. It's quite obvious we live in a time when the mantra is 'gimme convienience or gimme death', so this should come as no suprise and, as I say, should not get on my tits...but it does. I simply can't understand how people (who are all born equal, last time I checked) can become so dull in their listening habits.
I mean, somebody must be buying Christina Aguilera's drivel. Somebody out there has the Celine Dion boxset. Some dullard with pulp for brains actually LIKES Akon. This is obvious because some dumb fuck is totting up the sales at the offending record company and going down to the nearest radio station, handing over a stack of pestilentially dire CD's and saying 'Oooh - you're going to LOVE these news releases. All the cool kids are playing them on their iPods/MP3 players/phones/PC's, they're really, really good.'
All the while, shit-hot music is languishing in the background, hanging on for dear life as it waits for that rare opportunity to make the leap from independent obscurity to commercial success. And without so much as a hint of support from the manstream structures that offer a viable arena, most of it will rot like a rapist in solitary, and be lost.
Which, I suppose, simply confirms my heartfelt belief that most people are good for only one thing - compost. And even then they may not do such a good job of it, seeing as they're bound to be laden with heavy metals and god-alone-knows-what toxins.
Granted, a lot of truly amazing music makes it into the wider public psyche through the medium of television - in the form of ad tracks. The problem is, unless you've the keen nose of a webhound, you'll not recognise this music, guessed it - it's never featured in full form in any media. So it's good enough to sell a product, but not for radio or our delicate petal-like ears. Which means it'll stay obscure, and the artist will generally waste away on a diet of vodka and promotional chewing gum samples. Which is a crying shame, considering the mind-numbing drivel out there which enables imbeciles with no discernible talent whatsoever to revel in riches. There's no justice.
It ain't easy, I tellya. It ain't.

Guerilla Wordfare

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

It’s an interesting manifestation of the times, the blog. With the doors of expression wide open anyone, anywhere (with the necessary access to the net) can now thump away to their heart’s content on any topic that takes their fancy. Some use the platform to extol the virtues of their social life, some put it to work as a promotional component from which to market a product, others fill it up with noodling and musings on themes ethereal and insubstantial. Still others take the opportunity to disclose salacious details of their latest bedhopping gymnastics (a la Petite Anglaise) and others (a la Llewellyn Kriel) make use of the opportunity to vent frustrations in the direction of their employers, and even me – here I am, writing a piece on blogging…on my blog. (The irony is not lost.).
In any case - the door is wide open and the result of the general public having the means with which to express itself willy-nilly on any topic that pops into its head leaves much to be desired at times. Because everyone can write, can’t they? (No, I am not unaware of the dire state of literacy in my country. I’m not talking about literacy. I’m talking about the ability to ‘write’ as in ‘to be proficient in the use of the English language’. How the ability to remember and transcribe an alphabet can be confused with the capacity for well-constructed discourse is beyond me. There should be a different word for it. But I digress.) The problem arises when subliterate morons take to literary emancipation like ducks to the proverbial and start splashing about in the manner of hogs in the muck. The results are predictably chaotic, and the mess gets everywhere. It becomes a free-for-all, and I find myself asking the question: ‘Where the hell are the marshals?’
But then it would go against the whole ethos of blogging to even suggest that there be some kind of restriction that would see blogs at least hold some level dignity dear. God forbid. As far as I’m aware, the rules are that you’ll only get the chop if you veer into the sordid or defamatory, as is the case in life in general (and as is only right). It would be spurious to suggest that some bloggers should rather stick to sending malicious notes to their classmates via sms or for others to restrict their personal attacks to one-on-one exchanges. Because it gets a bit yellow, in the end – sniping remarks and accusations being flung across the gulf of cyberspace from the comfort of an impersonal medium is all a little cowardly. For lack of a better description, I would call it guerrilla wordfare.
In all fairness, some of the attacks are warranted and you have to take into consideration the various motivations to make use of a blog as a platform for criticism. Sometimes it is literally the last resort, as I’m sure the Iraqi and Burmese bloggers and those that similarly make use of the one opportunity to voice their condemnation of human rights gone wrong will agree. But the tendency for us as a species to turn advances in technology into an opportunity to pander to lower impulses than those for which the medium was originally designed continues to boggle the mind. Case in point – the guy who invented the robotic beer-launching fridge. Refigeration! We can keep food for longer! How fantastic! Robotics! Incredible advances which could herald a new age in technology! What should be made of these wondrous applications for uplifting humanity?
A machine that can keep you from having to get up off your lard ass to fetch a beer.
The same can be said for blogs – some will use them as an opportunity to get off their figurative lard asses, but others will be perfectly content to have the machine throw the beer. This is the problem with the global village that is the web - we get the village, but we also get the idiots.

Write It Right

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

‘I am not interested in the maudlin menstrual musings of housewives so distant on tinctures and tablets that the words they use fairly float off the page with disconcerting disjointedness. If you seek a simpering companion who will nod and give you sorrowful glances, obtain a dog. If I wish to, I can find all I need of that tiresome tat in the nearest bookstore though it be not worthy of the name, where an offensively facile stack is always ready at hand for an outrageous sum, the contents considered. I am similarly disinterested in reading the mouldy ruminations of some self-reproachful liberals who find validation in flagellating their inner guilt in the public arena – self loathing does not make an attractive display – bake that illcake at home and store in larders unseen but do not think it is for everyone’s tastes. And for those who like the flavour, shame on you and the pox on your house and that of your club of bookish friends, no less. Just as weak and derivative, the forced and fake literary strutting of new young bucks who take all pleasure in their prowess as bright young things, an opportunity afforded by the dire lack of good works which would elsewise make the decent grade. In the absence of real writers, the mill must publish what it can. And it does, oh does it ever. Hormonal love-longings, metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, bloodless thrillers, sauceless tempests, vapidly mumbled masquerades, tatty jigsaw-histories, badly-drawn biographies licked slick with greed and malice, fallow yarns of town and country, not a word capable of standing on its own between the sallow page. No, I will not eat at this table, for the fare leaves me hungrier still.’

- Ambrose Bierce in ‘Write It Right’, 1909

Damn right. What a legend.

On Bulgakov and Dangerous Liaisons

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’
Hmmm. Not so sure about these hoary old chestnuts. Some of them have led me down the garden path and up Shit Creek. May be best to let sleeping metaphors lie.
In the haze of memory I can still recall a time when my Gran’s books had…well, not much on them, save for some gold lettering and the telltale signs of use: worn leather, oil spots and smudged fingerprints. ‘First Footsteps in East Africa.’ by Burton. ‘How I Found Livingstone.’ by Henry Morton Stanley. Honky literature, popular down Mzansi way in the dying light of post-colonialism. But apart from the lettering, you got jack shit, unless it your taste was more Mills & Boon or some other trashy pulp that over-promised and under-delivered: all hirsute heroes and buxom damsels in distress on the outside, but sorely lacking in explicit sex scenes on the in, which, as a kid, is all you’re really interested in; what a let down. But she never had any of those, my Gran. Hell no. The explorer’s journals, however, those were books with content that made the mind reel – dripping jungle glades crawling with poisonous vipers and vicious felines which would disembowel you with one swipe of an infectious claw, savage tribes who worshipped malevolent voodoo gods and liked a tasty bit of haunch…but very dull covers.
Some covers bear only the most tenuous relation to their contents. Take, for example, one of my ex-girlfriends, The Russian. Now there’s a solid case for judging cases on individual merit if ever there was one. Gorgeous, jaw-droppingly so, but quite a modest dresser. So she looks normal (in the vein of prim librarian fantasies), but take it from me - crazy as a sack of Ghanaian Squirrel Rats after a hard week’s float on a barge in the blazing sun of the Niger Delta. Barking.
You take her to Umhlanga for a quiet dip at the beach, turn away for a moment, and…where the hell? Ah, there she is, frolicking through the tidal pools, buck-naked, past a little kid who’s going: ‘Mum, Mum - that lady has got dingises through her numbies. Caroline doesn’t have those...’ Further down the beach is a mama in ZCC getup collecting seawater, going ‘Aibo!’ Took the words right outta my mouth.
Crazy. But apparently it’s quite normal in Russia when you’re sat at your dacha, taking in the summer sun. Umhlanga? May look like an easy-going holiday town, but the tannies will have you locked up in a…um, flash. Book and covers once more.
Amongst many other things, The Russian introduced me to one of the greatest books I’ve ever read – ‘The Master and Marguerite’ by Bulgakov. Now, in terms of books and covers, this simply had a picture of a black cat on the cover. This says very little of the story, which, it must be said, is one of the greatest ever written. Outline: the Devil visits Moscow with his denizens; Marguerite seeks to be reunited with her incarcerated beau with the Devil’s help, and a fresh take on Pontius Pilates’ crucifixion of Yeshau ha Nostri aka Jesus, all of which adds up to a satirical take on Russia under Stalin. All in all a wild read but I had, up until that point, never heard of it. Banned, you see, for something like thirty years. Might not have noticed it if it hadn’t been draped over her pert Tartarstani ass.
‘What’s it about?’ I asked.
‘A block pussy cut and goot and evil. Luff and danger. Like me.’ she purred.
Fair enough, so she was dangerous. How was I to know?
Judge a book by its cover? Once bitten, twice shy.

Universal Language

Category: , , , , , By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
The moment we’d all been waiting for, it finally arrived. From the stars they came, swift and silent. Caught us napping, but then that’s what we do best, us humans. SETI picked up the signal from a far-flung corner of the Andromeda Galaxy, a star called 55 Cancri f, a binary star roughly 26 light years away that resembles our Sun. The tension was so thick you could’ve spread it on toast. People were running scared, people were running for the hills, and the really dodgy ones? They were running for president. The rest were, like, ‘whatever’.

Down at Ground Zero (because even extraterrestrials know that the US is in charge, of course. Everybody knows that. Even aliens.), the crowds were milling, wide-eyed and expectant. Half of the throng consisted of dodgy priests, doomsayers and endisnighers, some of them doing a swift and lucrative line in redemption at a price. At last, the assembled cluster of dignitaries and scientists made their way out onto the stage, where they were dwarfed by a monstrous projection screen set up to display the incoming alien signal. For days this pulse of Martian Morse code had been kept under wraps until at last an unbalanced Mormon on the Pennsylvanian team of astrophysicists, his belief in intelligent design finally and irreparably smote, had broken rank and confessed all. On Larry King Live. Of course.

But all that was in the past. Now, the world would have its long-awaited revelation. The signal was about to be seen for the first time.

With a fanfare of braying trumpets, the screen flickered to life and suddenly, in a blaze of light, all was revealed. Jaws gaped, eyeballs bulged. A billion throats let out the mother of all gasps.

Dave was a graphic designer; he worked for a small firm that had recently been snowed under with an avalanche of work for a client that was launching a chain of Irish-Indian Curry & Guinness health spa’s, the latest in a line of increasingly bizarre treatments which, amazingly enough, proved popular. As a result the whole alien contact-55 Cancri f Signal thing had passed Dave by, ensconced as he had been in a badly lit design bunker. As he emerged from his marathon session of design tweaking, he look up, blinking. Blinded from the glare of the giant screen, he walked right into a gaggle of cryptographers who were all twitchily scribbling at note pads, chewing on pencils and generally looking swotty. Dave had unwittingly crushed the unofficial leader of the group’s big left toe.
‘Hey! Watch out!’
‘Sorry, man. What’re you all staring at? What the hell is all this?’
‘You don’t know?’ the spotty Herbert asked, aghast, ‘It’s the…it’s…’
‘It’s a…’
‘It’s the Signal – the first signal from outer space!’
‘You what? The how?’ Dave asked.
‘It’s…the Signal.’ The lead nerd said, the reverence fairly dripping from his Stonehenge-teeth.
Dave, frowning, took a closer look, blinking to clear his head of three days of screen burn. His first impressions were that they were very neat, these extraterrestrials. A recurring symbol, plotted in differing sizes and positions was the common thread. Blank spaces were punctuated by orderly lines of an indecipherable hieroglyphs, holding untold secrets from the breathless throng. What could it all mean?

'It's an alpha-veriton glyph, I'm sure of it!' cried a slim and pimply longstocking named Lorena from MIT's Lexicography Unit.
'Hell, no! It shows similarity to Ge'ez and Cushitic character formation, I tell ya!' shouted Harold from the Dallas Institute of Obscure Intralingual Studies.

Dave looked back at the group of cryptonerds and let out a snicker of contempt.
‘You kooks don’t know shit – that there is a Brand ID manual. They just wanna make sure we don’t go misrepresenting their corporate identity. These guys are sharp; I like their logo. Can’t read the payoff line, though. Gotta get new glasses.’ And with a shake of his head, Dave was off for a long-lusted latte.

Quite obviously there was life out there, and they spoke the universal language – branding.

Damned Chicanery

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

Won’t waste my time reading astrobabble starbollocks, sorry gypsy lady but it just don’t cut the mustard. A theory has gotta hold water or else, shit, it just pisses inconsistency, see? So my objection, my nascent resistance, stems not from a lack of faith in an ancient system revered by many, but rather in the shambolic means in which this system, among others, has been cobbled together from scraps of supposedly irrefutable tracts of knowledge by hucksters and charlatans, shifty-eyed snake-oil merchants with scant regard for anything other than their next pocket full of fool’s gold. An ancient system, yes, and thus conferred that status of being untouchable, unquestionable by virtue of longevity. Hmmm. Age is no fait accompli - if anything, things tend to get less reliable as they get older. Things start to creak – the memory goes, things fall apart, as the man said. Not that I don’t trust wisdom – that’s another tale for another time, but hackneyed chicanery which preys upon the needy, why, that’s just cruel.
Explain the system in plain terms, back it up with cold hard facts, and you’ve an audience rapt. Any less, and you’re no better than a shyster down the used car lot, getting peoples’ hopes up through smoke and mirrors, filler and fibreglass. No better than a property developer, lining his nest with the scalps of the foolhardy, milking the eager and making prospective hay while the market still shines. First off the ship, the rats are. Gutless swines, sure wouldn’t take a chance on their own account, hell no – someone else always pays, no such a thing as a free lunch. Oh, no. Somebody else is always coughing for that bill. Waiter, the blank cheque please, there’s a good man, and make it snappy, we’ve uneasy waters ahead, synoptics are off the chart. No more consistency in the market than there is in the stars, might as well be making the important decisions by divining the insinuations of the varying degrees of iridescence on a bumblebee’s ass.
That’s why we’re in the shit, people – we’ve lost control of the big decisions, we’ve handed the important stuff over to oligarchs who employ glorified soothsayers with no more compunction than a backstreet abortionist. We – and I mean all of us – are too busy listening to the spurious advice of fraudulent fakirs to see the bigger picture. Moribund and lacklustre with the greasy patina of jadedness, we’ve been snookered by operators too smooth for our dulled radars, once so finely tuned, to register.
The sneaky bastards.

Welcome To Jozi, Ya Peasant

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
The enduring symbol of Jozi for me has always been Hyde Park Corner. When I was a lightie it was the exclusive preserve of blue rinses who lunched at the café that dominated the centre of the atrium. That great antechamber held Poms, Italians, French, Poles, Swiss, Portuguese, Lebanese, Greeks and scores more snobs of indeterminate extraction. A snootier collection of bad apples collected from the disparate nations of Europe you’d be hard pressed to find back then. And I would know, coming from that stock. Hiding out, they were. Not refugees, oh god no – just hiding. From the vagaries and ravages of a Europe they no longer understood, from a smouldering black Africa held barely in check by the iron fist of Afrikaner determination, lots of hot lead sent chaotically into the dark world by scared white boys, and many a shallow grave. Fled to the land of ostriches in order to faithfully mimic them, the scatterlings of Europe. Each of them adding a little more confusion to a multicultural Babel that is Africa’s New York City.

Now? Well, now it’s different, but just as bad – the rinse tannies and their liver-spotted geriatric beaus may have died out, literally, but before they vacated their chosen thrones they passed the baton on to a less erudite but wealthier bunch of air-kissing oxygen thieves who are similarly seeking subterranean solace. Barely two kilometres from that fabled corner of consumerism, people are living under the bridges, sleeping in boxes, plotting to rob the rich to feed the poor in the time-honoured fashion. Mind you, that's any city, really.

It was always a symbol of the hauteur of Jozi to me, Hyde Park – it was a microcosm of the wealth that ruled. Hushed tones are the norm when there’s lots of cash around, and so it is today. The money still rules, and by god it will wear what it wants, even if it means lilac. The diamonds are still as huge as they were in the 1980’s, dahling. See you at the Club, dahling. You look ever so lovely in lilac. Don't I just, dahling?

Melrose Arch, Fourways, Lonehill, Bryntirion, whatever, wherever. In Jozi, there’s always another place being built, another new rash of development being touted as the next big thing, the next place to be. Always one step ahead, is Jozi. One step ahead of common sense, that is. Mock Tudor-Greco-Roman-Tuscan-Afronova architecture? Ostentatious fluted columns? Bold modernist statements in concrete and glass? Homogenous gated estates in which you can lose yourself, and I mean really lose yourself? Welcome to Jozi, ya peasant. It’s the global pioneer of cutting-edge rootless architectural cacophony and they’re going up faster than you can say ‘cement mixer’.

But then Joburgers are renowned for their love of kitsch, aren’t they? Granted, there is a lot of money (and fast European sports cars) in the rarified atmosphere of 011, but money can’t buy you love and it sure as shit doesn’t buy you sense. Gold lamé? Pink jumpsuits? Morgan Fairchild hair? Danny K bling lameness? Pantsi, pantsi, pantsi – you won’t see us wearing that kak down in Durbs, even at the goddamned July! Hell, no. OK, maybe, but not under normal circumstances. God, I’m glad I live in Durban. Cultural backwater it may well be on occasion, avoided by the supposed ‘big name’ performers of screen and stage, certainly. But Jozi it is not. And I can live with that.

Thus Spake The Big Cheese

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

Honestly. You’ve pissed me off no end, you ingrates.
This global warming business amounts to meddling with all that is good and pure in the world. I mean, really. You're dead-set to fuck with everything I've spent painstaking aeons perfecting. This is the last, the latest, in a long line of ignominy that I won’t put up with. With your crude , hacking techniques at trying to learn mastery of the universal arts you’ve not simply ruined the entire neighbourhood; oh, no, no half measures for you lot - you’ve successfully annihilated the entire fucking district to an extent that ensures it will remain uninhabitable for generations to come. After all I’ve done for you.
Tsk, tsk, manchild.
Needle that broke the camel’s back? The last straw? Ha! No, no, no. Let’s not beat about the scorched bush. You no longer trade in such delicacies anymore, not since your bloated sense of importance has overshadowed the important issues and your tributes rain down on the altar of Mammon. You can’t see clearly now, now that the reign of commerce is all-pervading and limitless, inveigled as it is into the hearts of men, wherever they are found, near or far. Save some wild Indios in the Amazonas, but we can all rest assured you'll get there too, soon.
You suckers, trying to buy your way outta this shithole existence – what, nobody ever tell you that you can’t dig your way out a hole? Some upbringing you had, and there’s the face of it – you’ve lost your way, man, you’ve forgotten the good and retained the evil - you’re not holding on to the important things anymore. It’s convenience or death, and we all know which one you’re likely to leap at. From poor loins spring paupers, and you lot have pissed away your inheritance willy-nilly with no regard for the future, so it’s the poorhouse for you. Morally bankrupt, spiritually impoverished, left to huddle in the moral wastelands, living in clapboard, eating hard cheese - hardly the hearty and homely stew that feeds knowledge and self-respect. If you had self-respect you’d not go shitting where you lay, yet shit you do, like a monkey after too much green mango.
So I say to you – you’re on your own, manchild. I’m done with this endless playground game you wanna play, I’m off and on my way. You’re quite welcome to the old place, even though I know you’ll only let it go to ruin. No doubt by the time I come back for a last long nostalgic look – sentimental fool that I am - the roof will be caved in, the windows will stare blankly back, cats will sun themselves on tumbledown masonry, the plumbing will piss green streaks all the way down the walls and my garden will be rank, a kingdom of thorns and poisonous vines.
No, it’s the high road for me and you’re left to your own doubtful devices.
And I won’t want to be back then, not after your arrogance has finally subsided into regret and pleading, when you realise your mistakes and have swallowed that great golden ball of pride that gives such succour now. It’ll be too little, too late. You’ve only got yourselves to blame.
Sayonara, suckers. Elvis is on the next bird outta here.

The Big Cheese

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

NONONO!!! presents:


DJ’s Leo, Hedmekanik and Mixin Vixin, the conveners this rollicking night of unabashed hedonism, have declared that it is right and proper to unleash the voodoo once more in the name of the Jol, the whole Jol, and nothing but the Jol. So help us all.

On two dance floors the regulars will play host to invited guests Dodgy Rodge (dropping an old school drum ‘n bass set) and mind-blowing new indie remix duo The Social Workers. Expect nothing less than the very latest and best in a wide variety of genres that includes but is not limited to indie, electro, dub, retrosynth, nuskool breaks, minimal tech, lounge, psychopop and trip hop.

An evening of music so fine it makes the toe curl, the pelvis quiver the hoo-hoo smile.
You betcha.

Saturday 27 October
Willowvale Hotel, corner Willowvale & Umbilo Roads, Durban

R 30
Info – 079 490 9391 or search for NONONO!!! on Facebook

Negative Ion, Postive Vibration

Category: , , , By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

Falling water is a beautiful thing. No, not the Frank Lloyd Wright building, although that is admittedly a symphony of concrete executed in a style quite poetic, considering its position. No, no, no - I’m talking about the action of falling water. Rain, waterfalls, waves, hell, even your common-or-garden hosepipe, they all create negatively charged ions. Don’t believe me? Google. They’re generated by the action of falling water and, luckily for us, they have an invigorating effect on our cells. Which means they make us feel good.
No, we’re not going down the mystical sandals, herbs and yoghurt route - step away from the lentils and keep that Mayan calendar where we can see it, hippie! I’m talking about waves, people, waves. Sorry for those who don’t have the luxury of being able to bolt to the beach after work (what, you don’t work? Get a job, hippie!) but damn, it’s a wonderful thing. Especially in the day & age when you can skip over to a website, and quickly check out the state of your favourite spot.
It looks good. Real good. Your blood pressure goes up a notch, and it’s only 3:30! You do your best to concentrate but you can’t help thinking about those lucky bastards who you saw in the grainy pic, who are obviously having the time of their lives riding waves that you could be nicking from them - the bastards! Pressure’s mounting, concentration is down to goldfish level and you’re pacing your cubicle like a captive beast. An hour and a half goes by, and you’re off like a greyhound after a track bunny.
And then it’s bliss, sheer sweet bliss. Admittedly you’re out there fighting for air, taking tons of pressure on your head every time you wipe out and generally defying common sense by taking off late into churning barrels that crunch you down and spit you out like an olive pip. But then that’s half the fun.
Work, what work? Worries, what worries? For that span of time, those negative ions are bombarding your hooting ass with bunny-happy zaps of joy, and all is good in the world. You go home with the warm afterglow of exercise and a smile like a freshly-lobotmised mental patient, every single last cell in your body stumbling along with a big goofy smile on its microscopic cellular face.
Falling water? I love it.

Durbania, Oh Durbania...

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
I live in a small seaside village where everybody knows your name, and everybody knows your business. It's a helluva thing.
There's a lot of gossip in this town, as there is in any village. Who this one slept with, why that one is leaving this one for the other one, who's getting a R15 000 rack at Parklands, how much that one spent on the new house. The scandal of you-know-who's drunken philandering, the tragedy of how X's going to grow old as a spinster, how many simpering girls have fallen pregnant from the latest wandering swordsman, how little Johnny's getting on at school and how he's just like his Dad - he's already sticking his hand down girl's pants and riding roughshod over the little kids' sandcastles.
Little savages are made by big ones, dontcha know? And where I come from, there are a lot of savages.
It's my new favourite word. No, it doesn't have any of the 'traditional' South African connotations that some may think. I just like the word because it's rather apt when used to describe the arrogant breed of new money that romps around this town. Hell, any old town nowadays has got them - they're the ones with all the money but no class. You can see them at all the 'right' restaurants & clubs, where they get drunk and behave like...well, like savages. They hang at the latest coffee shops, where they have 'business meetings' and call each other 'mah bwoy'.
They're in clothing, sportswear, property and internet companies, all the booming industries. They wear pink shirts, white flats and drive flash cars, usually convertible. Their wives and girlfriends have expensive tits and look like WAG's (there are a lot of similarities in that vein). They're crass, uncouth, clueless and live in a bubble of delusion that is reinforced by wads of cold cash. They behave, look and live as though they're in Miami or St Tropez. Nothing in their demeanour suggests that they're in Africa. For that matter, they probably couldn't tell you the names of three ministers in our government.

I live in a small seaside village on the east coast of Africa.
According the 2001 census, it has a population of 3.2 million.

Smokin' Mirrors

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
(ahem)Went to a cigarette party last night, and I had the piercing needles of death in my eyeballs to show for it when I woke up. Still mildly surprised that tobacco companies can get away with giving us free booze and smokes, without any interference from the Dept of Health. Maybe not for much longer, though, what with the new laws about smoking in public spaces and what-what. I wonder when it'll end? In the great halls of Tobacco Splurge, the Lucky Strike parties will always have pride of place, and more's the pity - they at least had a sense of occasion and man, did they lay on a fine spread. Anyway, back to last night.
A new brand was being launched. No, I'm not gonna mention the name, because, in my inestimable opinion as a dedicated professional smoker, they suck. Anyway, no more distractions, on with the rant.

For the uninitiated, cigarette parties consist of:

1)compulsory house music of dire and indiscriminate quality,
2)a bar that's understaffed, over-subscribed and features a milling and frantic crowd of people desperate to use their coupons before the guillotine comes down on the 'free' part in 'free bar'
3)a throng of preppy labelslaves and their attendant molls.
4) Me & my mates (usually hanging in a peripheral position, with a clutch of beer at our feet. Classy, I know.

That's about it, really. Why do my friends and I go? Hmmm, well, that is, in fact, the same question we occasionally ask ourselves. Suckers for a free bar and laugh, I guess. The free bar takes care of the laugh part. We were lucky - we made friends with Sarah, a barmaid with heart. Whilst everyone was fighting the scrum, we charmed Sarah (who was manning an outside bar away from the main mania) into busting out some of her hidden stash of Jagermeister. The results were predictably enjoyable. Hic. Mind you, we had to bail out quite quickly once we had, more than was advisable, because the great unwashed had cottoned on, and mob mentality was in the air.

Anyway - while basking in the post-Jager glow I asked a few people if they'd been listening to the new Radiohead album. Might as well have asked if the moon had farted. But then house music is king here, and most people are willing bling labelslaves, which kinda precludes them from knowing anything of substance. Fair enough. Did get a few funny looks while wailing 'you're all I need....all I need...I'm in the middle of your picture...' to thumping balaeric beats. But the Jager kept my spirits up, and I actually had a good time.

Home by 2. Hic.

Lie In It

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

I remember it was hot, hellishly hot, and the Beetle had that smell, a summer scent that would forever be associated with the back yard of the Gibson place. Where once stables had stood, now there was a rusty graveyard of cars. Fitting, really - one kind of ride was swapped for another. A prickly smell of dry coir from the seat and vapourised vinyl from the dashboard. The old VW logo in the centre of the steering wheel, silver fox and castle. Love that design, it’s a classic. We usually played there while the grown-ups had ‘tea’. What a joke. Tea doesn’t have rum in it. But it was our patch, that back yard, and it’s where I first saw a girl’s koek when I caught Malcolm lifting Elsie’s dress in the car. In her eyes I could see she was scared. That’s the way it was, though. We were just kids, exploring. Had they known, our parents would have tanned his ass for crossing the line. That line. Even at that age we knew about the way things were. Hell, I must have been six.

That same smell was always in the car when we went on trips to Jo’burg. Must’ve been the heat that brought it out. I remember the cosmos alongside the road once we crested the escarpment, and I remember mother’s insistence that cosmos was a sure sign that winter was on its way. In December. That was the comment that always set the tinderbox tension aflame. And off they would go… Jeez, the endless hours spent staring out the window as the world rolled by under us to the sound of that tit-for-tat tennis match. Elsie always came with us. She was like one of the family.
It was us that were motionless; it was the world that spun under. That smell, even now, thirty years later, takes me back every time. The smell of nostalgia.

I hate hospitals, but I had to tell her. Couldn’t keep it in, and we’d be leaving soon.
‘So we’re moving to London, Mom. Soon.’
‘Really? How soon?’ Mom could never hide her anxiety, that querulous tremolo gave her away every time.
‘Soon as we sort out the transfer of the flat and sell off the Beetle, hey babe?’
Kirsty was sweating bullets, could tell from across the room. She didn’t want to do this any more than I. Politely she nodded, but her eyes swivelled away from the figure in the bed as soon as they could. I, on the other hand, had to sit next to the bed holding Mom’s hand, while Malcolm was on honeymoon in Bali boasting about the size of his dick, no doubt. I mean, who in their right mind names their tackle? And what kind of name is Viper?

‘Have you told your brother? He’ll be terribly upset. You know he’s opposed to your moving…’ she wheezed, her breath short. Eyes rheumy, hands withered, skin like parchment. Not the mother I knew. Not the best time to tell her either, but then when would be? “Opposed to your moving”? So he can continue to ignore his obligations at home, leave the mess to be cleaned up by ‘Two-bob’? His words.

I could picture him, strutting around some Balinese resort, hibiscus flowers in the background bobbing in the breeze, smug grin on his face, vacuous trophy bimbo on his arm. Jealous? Certainly. Nobody in their right mind would be anything other. But for the one thing that the guy who has everything didn’t have – my conscience – I’d have hightailed it to London long ago. But there you go, and here I am, dropping the bomb.
Can’t put my life on hold any longer for that arrogant dandy while he lets Rome burn. It’s time he took some responsibility for the life he’s lived. Developing golf courses at the expense of impoverished communities’ livelihood is a karmic cesspit, and leaving his family stranded while he lived the high life… He had it coming.
‘I’m going to be calling him later; we’ll talk about it then. Ma, there’s something you need to know – ‘ I clear my throat; she looks up, brow furrowed.

I step off the edge. The floor drops out from under me. And just like that, I’m gone.

‘Malcolm has…well, you’re a grandmother, Ma. Only Mal’s never told you.’
Eyes wide open, after so long. Colour flushes her face, she takes a deep breath. She’s elated, I can tell.
‘What are you telling me, Gary? What child? Who’s the mother? Not…not that Tarryn girl that you boys fought over?’ she demands. No longer trembling, no longer a frail woman with the voice of a child. Fire in the eyes once more.
‘Well, that’s the thing, Ma. It’s not Tarryn. That’s why he’s not told you. It’s Elsie.’

What do you do, then, what do you do? Keep the truth from a woman so frail, in the knowledge that the hearing of it may well push her over the edge? But then this is an issue larger than my mother’s failure to address her pet son’s philandering. This is the future of a child at stake, and in South Africa the odds are against a child whose father has forsaken him. His white father. What a stereotype. And because my dear brother has to know that he’s not invincible – this is his weak spot, his Achilles heel. His nemesis. It will out eventually, one way or another. I just couldn’t bear to see him keep them in misery.
‘Look, I don’t want to get into it, but he – Calvin – will be sixteen in a month. He lives with Elsie in Chesterville. He’s a good kid, Ma, and he looks like you. They’re family. Mal will explain when he gets back, I’m sure. But we’ve got to go, we’ve got to meet a potential buyer for the flat in twenty –’
‘Gary! You can’t be serious! Malcolm would never –’
‘Sorry, Ma. Gotta go.’

‘You didn’t cover your tracks well enough, you bastard’ I think as I walk out the door, Kirsty’s trembling hand in mine, ‘- and now you’re in my sights, dear brother. Pow. Gotcha.’
I take a deep breath and we walk out into the screwing heat of a Durban summer. We climb into the Beetle, and Kirsty slams home the tape. Fittingly, it’s the Stones. Mick’s singing ‘Like a newborn baby, it just happens every day…’

Musings on music

Category: , , , By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
Well hello there. Aren't we lucky that we live in the age of instant gratification? Don't answer that. What I'm talking about is the fact that as quick as you can say 'mp3', you can download a selection of tunes that you can whip out on a flash drive and - zammo - off you go, sailing the sweet seas of mellifluous groove. Didn't even have to leave your chair. You lazy bastard.
Purpose-designed for the lazy-ass couch potato in its natural habitat? You bet.
In the past few weeks there's been a lot of activity from some of my favourite artists - namely Roisin Murphy, Underworld and Radiohead.
I was alerted to Ms Murphy's latest creations by a a good friend who mailed me one of those gloating 'hehe..lookee what I got...' emails, containing a link. This isn't a music blog (although it's early days yet) so I don't have links for you.
Anyway, back to my point.
I followed up on Roisin's releases. And to be honest, I kinda wished I hadn't. For they were all the things that my mates and girlfriend have stated as their primary reasons why they don't like her music - her new material is, to put it mildly, cheesy disco balls. Tsk, tsk, Roisin. After Ruby Blue, I was kinda expecting something wildly original. Where's the 'Night Of The Dancing Flame'? Where's the mad-as-a-rat piano of 'Leaving The City'?
Maybe she sucked the marrow a little hard and all that's left is disco with no more inferno. Ah well. Scratch that one, then. Will have to play the back catalogue.
Next up, Underworld. Now, many think that Underworld's repertoire consists of their breakthrough 80's classic 'Underneath the Radar' and the deathplayed 'Born Slippy' For those who think you don't know it, lemme tell you that you do, it's just that you probably recognise it better as the tune from Trainspotting that goes (lord, the lows I stoop to in order to be understood) 'Lager, lager, lager!'. See? Told you you knew it. The thing is, Underworld have a vast range of tunes which range from ambient electronic through to breakbeat and on to the wild and percussive plains of techno and house. The problem is that mostly they get pigeonholed, which, to be honest, serves me and my friends quite fine. We don't mind ignorant pillocks thinking that they were a two-hit wonder. Shit, we feel positively blessed that the army of pigbrains who like commercial tunes haven't tuned in and turned on.
Anyway. They have a new album ('Oblivion With Bells') coming out, and I've had the good fortune to have a heard a couple of the tunes and I can confidently state that they are the bee's knees, the dog's knackers and the ostriches' orbs. Track it down, play it loud and tell the neighbours to get knotted - Underworld deserves to be heard loud.
Lastly, the new Radiohead album, 'In Rainbows'. Excuse my French, but it's outfuckingstanding. It may be that I'm baised...actually, I'm totally baised, they're my favourite band. I think they're the greatest rock band since the Beatles, and if anyone disagrees, they can discuss it with Bubbles my friendly neighbourhood pitbull.

Alright, bugger off now, you must have something constructive to do...scamper, scamper...

One Bites The Dust

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
With a week that provides a turbulent background of grotesque human rights abuses in Burma, an ongoing scrum for pole position in the ANC presidential succession, riots at Wits, a blizzard of intrigue in the barracks of our national police force and much wailing and gnashing in the Shaik family camp, there is one issue which has whipped the rug out from under me like no other.

Tom Eaton has written his last column for the Mail & Guardian.

Damn. There goes my Friday cackle.

The Nutjobs Are Restless

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
George Monbiot (no, he's not a nutjob, he's a journalist. There's a difference. Nutjobs drink less) has a very informative site at, and you can do worse things than check it out.
One particularly loose wingnut that I came across on Monbiot's site (cheers, George, we should really get together and roast a couple evildoers sometime. Gimme a bell & we'll hook it up) is located at
I decided to give this site the once over after reading a Monbiot article in which Robert Felix (for it is indeed he whose site it is) was quoted as a source for a rabidly denialist claim that the glaciers of the world are not, in fact, receding but - hold onto your fur coats, folks - INCREASING IN SIZE!
Well, that's a relief. Now we can all go back to driving 10-litre 4x4's and polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases willy-nilly. Oh, gibbering jollyhops!

I must say it's refreshing to see a nutjob so happy to be on the loose. Obviously the warders were feeling particularly magnanimous on the day they let this fruitcake out the pen. It's just a pity that an overwhelming body of evidence which is no longer in question points to all the opposite conclusions than Mr Felix's claims.

Hang in there, sunshine. You're an individual.


Category: , , , , , , , By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

Drumroll, please maestro - ah, thank you.

Ladies and non-ladies - I give you, Radiohead's new album....It's called In Rainbows and you can find it at

(cue the swelling notes and release the doves)

And - wait for it - the really gobsmacking news is that you can PAY WHATEVER YOU WANT. That's right - they let you decide what you want to pay. If anything at all.

Bigger than The Beatles? You betcha.

Jozi Graffiti

Category: , , , , , , By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

Was In Johannesburg recently. Saw some epic graffiti. The same cannot be said for Durban. Slackass Durbanites. Tsk, tsk.



By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
Try taebo, try fly-fishing but don’t try karaoke whatever you do, it’s a reef on which all music is shredded to flotsam, not to mention utterly embarrassing, have you no shame? Try skydiving, try chewing tobacco, on second thoughts don’t, it’ll ruin your karaoke voice, try chewing gum but for fuck’s sake not in Singapore, they’ll shoot you on sight, try weed but don’t let it turn you into a couch potato, try jumping on a trampoline for a while but don’t get down about the fact that it squeaks and shakes ominously unlike when you were a lightie and weighed only 45 kg’s, try having sex in a quiet corner of a game reserve on a Sunday when there’s nobody about but remember to keep a blanket under you cos the grass roasties sting like a motherfucker, try making it up to see your grandmother at her old place but make sure you don’t tell your friends in the area or they'll take you out and show you the town and then you'll have a severe hangover and your gran will notice and ply you with tea and sticky buns, try to stop smoking, and yes, ten a day is less but it sure isn’t stopping, try to imagine life without worries but you just can’t picture it cos life without worries is death, worries are there to let you know you’re still alive, try to drink a better brand of whisky but once you’re drunk your tastebuds don’t care, so you keep to the budget and buy the same brand, only twice as much, try to keep your head above water at work even though to all intents and purposes you’re working to stay in debt because somehow you just can’t make ends meet, in fact, they’ve a distinct aversion to meeting - maybe the best way would be to set them up on a blind date, get them drunk and rent them a fucking hotel room by the hour. Try to remember where the hell you put that lotto ticket that you’re sure has at least five winning numbers on it, but that could just be your interminable hope bubbling over, try putting more cash into savings rather, there’s a better option, try to not get irritable when people let you down, you know they’re all flawed but then we all are, just like Sage Francis says - we're either all stars or none of us are, try to be nicer, a little nice goes a long way these mean-ass days, try to make a difference, because fuck knows nobody else is going to, try to give a bigger tip to the lady who packs your bags at the supermarket, she can’t be making much in any case, or else stop being so damned lazy and take a bag with you and pack it yourself for once, try to take more walks in your neighbourhood, yes you should leave all your belongings behind but there really is a wonderful world out there if you take the time to step out into it, try to maintain interest in things that may not be your cup of tea but mean the world to others, try to swear less in the company of children, and their parents, try to save the world by not breeding, try to see things from a new perspective, try to sleep more and try to sweat at least once a day, that’s supposed to be the minimum effort we should make if we wanna live to be old, try not to think about how old you must look but rather how the elderly still see you as young, try to not get pissy when you have to stay late at work and would rather go to the beach, try to forget all those times when people made you feel like shit, try rather to remember when someone went outta their way to make you feel good, try to remember the times someone told you about something you did or said that made them feel good, but you never realised the impact it had on them, try to understand that since time began people have had the same problems you have to face, so there is endless reference and advice that can be given and considered, try to stay up to the end of the movie, try not to fall into the stereotype, try not to step in the archetype (it’ll get all over your shoe and you’ll walk it into the carpet, which will be hell to get out), try a little tenderness, go on, just give it a try.

Have a break, have a cadenza

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik

Funny thing, leaving home for a holiday. If you haven’t been on one for a long time. Say, eleven years or so. Hey, I was busy. Anyway, you get on the plane, steeling yourself for an interminable journey across the blue dome of the sky and…nothing. Behind you Willem from Potchefstroom is loudly berating little Jannie who is determined to kick your seat all the way to Schipol and next to you the obese guy who really should have bought two seats keeps drooling in his sleep and wobbling ominously when turbulence hits. That’s economy for you, it’s one of the little tricks airlines play on you just to remind you that you should not get above your station, lowlife. After all, those twelve smug larneys up front are the ones that keep the airline afloat, not you with your tuck money. You look out the window as you soar above Johannesburg, above Congo, above Libya, above Corsica, above France, above Holland and eventually your final destination, Spain and…nothing. Feels like you’re just taking a local flight, despite the smiling blonde KLM air hostesses and the little siroopkoekjes they hand out. Then you step out into the warm Barcelona sun and at last – aha! I haven’t just taken a local flight, no, no, no – I’m halfway across the world!

Barcelona airport is overrun with screaming Spanish kids, large and small, who all seem to think they’re stars and consequently deserve a little respect. And all of them look at you as though you’ve just emerged from the underworld. Mind you, the girls are pretty sexy. Then you see their mothers and think about all those anecdotes about Mediterranean girls being flaming hot until 25, when overnight they sprout hairy facial warts and moustaches. Hmmm. So you get through customs thinking ‘Jeez, could’ve put that half kilo in, they’d never have known…Hmmm. Next time.’ And you’re suddenly out there at last, at your final destination. Hit the train station and your first impression of the Gaurdia Civil is cast by them tackling some unfortunate pickpocket on the platform. As they lovingly pound the living daylights out of him, his girlfriend (who has obviously been up for a week smoking crystal meth and is screaming like an electrocuted witch) tries to convince them it’s all a case of mistaken identity. Beinvenido a Espana indeed. The train pulls up and you shove your way through the scrum, barely escaping with your life as the doors slam closed with guillotinish efficiency. Beep, slam, zoom and you’re off.

Emerging from the humidity of the Metro at Plaça Catalunya, you explode like a cork out into the scalding sunshine and the swarm of madding crowds, completely overwhelmed by the newness of it all, and, of course, promptly lose all semblance of bearings.
‘Where the hell?’
Goes without saying that you and the thorn-apple of your eye promptly have a navigationally-challenged spat:
‘It’s this way, for god’s sake!’
‘Men! You’re insufferable! Forget about the cigarette, I’m tired and I’m hot and my feet are sore and I want a shower!’
‘Is it too much to ask that I smoke a bloody smoke? I’ve just flown twelve straight hours! Anyway, I know it’s this way ‘cos I sussed it on the website!’
‘You always think you know where to go and you’re always wrong! If that’s south then the hostel is thissaway! Leave that woman alone – she does not have a lighter!’
‘Don’t have a cadenza, my little piranha fish. I’m telling you for the last time – the ocean is thataway, the mountains are thataway and we should be going…’ etc etc…

So you get to the hostel eventually:
‘12…15…Yes babe, I know it’s goddamned heavy, that’ll be the shoes, but for crying out loud it can’t be far now!…22. 22? How the hell do these Catalan number their buildings? Where the hell is 17? Eh? This is 17? Told you I’d find it!’
‘Hmmph.’ (This is the sound of a girlfriend chewing thistles.)

All those rosy forethoughts of hanging out with mellow characters and shooting the breeze over a cold one are shot down in flames. The hostel is more of a sterile clearinghouse for a pick ‘n mix of owlish students of indeterminate international extraction who look like they’d rather have a nice cup of tea than shoot the breeze. Of course, it goes without saying (what a strange expression) they don’t have your booking. So you do a psycho chicken dance, throw your passport on the floor, your hands in the air and curse St Christopher’s name. Then the big cheese comes in, apologises and shows you to your bed. Singular. What happened to the booking for two? Ah, you’ve overbooked, have you? On Barcelona’s busiest summer weekend, due to the Sonar festival being held, when all other accommodation is similarly overbooked. Imagine that. So we’ll be sardined into a cot for a night or two, then, will we? Right.

‘Don’t worry darling, we can get drunk and forget about it. Have a warm San Miguel.’

My Dear Mr Rama

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
Sent to ‘Mr Hari Rama’ in response to 419 scam email

My dear Mr Rama - fantastic greetings from Limpopo Province!

I am hoping that my mail finds you in the rudest of health and our benevolent God above shines down upon you and your family.
With regard to contacting you by telephone I can only apologise profusely - my problem is this: As I have told you I am a minister in the ministry of the Seventh Day Baptist chapter - at this time I am conducting field mission work amongst the brethren of Malamulele, Limpopo Province. I have no telephone access, and am communicating with you via an MDMA-GPRS wireless satellite broadband connection - we have no phone lines out here in Malamulele, such is the parlous state of the South African governments' telecommunications system. In this day and age, the scandal! Such suffering and poverty is only compounded by the difficulties inherent in the lack of basic services, as I am sure you can understand, the similarity to your situation in Burkina Faso notwithstanding. Talking about Burkina Faso, would you perhaps know my brother-in-law, Mr Vim Bumble of the Higher State of Consciousness Evangelical Mission? Ah, what good work he is doing amongst the less fortunate of that unloved corner of Africa. Indeed.
In terms of telephoning you, I will only be able to do this in six month's time, once I have gelded the youngbloods currently frolicking with such merriment in the paddock beyond my humble Tuscanesque villa. Last night a leopard tried to take one, the bastard – and my favourite no less, a Palomino cross Appaloosa thoroughbred named Samantha Lowbuttock, what a fine hinny she is too, such lovely eyelashes, most becoming in a young filly of such fine stature and undulous hindquarters. You really should see her. She certainly gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning!
Perhaps we could arrange for you to come to Giyani and assist in the gelding? All you need do is have rudimentary skills in animal husbandry such as scalpel use and the administering of anaesthetics such as ketamine in large mammals. Admittedly we have but lowly lodgings but I think the eastern wing would suffice for you and your retinue of sycophants?

Let me know soonest by mail, my brother- for the path of righteousness is beset on all sides by the deleterious effects of the Great Underminer - be strong in the service of our Lord, oh kindred congregant, and may your days be filled with bounteous harvests and the lingering scent of plentitudonous obfuscation.


Pr H Ed Mekanik
Head Mitre Bearer
Mission Admissions
Equestrian Division, Giyani Chapter
Seventh Day Baptist Evangelical Holy Union Church
2 Garden Path Lane
Limpopo Province
South Africa

Pack It Up, Pack It In.

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
All those who hate moving raise your right hand and say ‘aye’. So we’re agreed then. Not pretty, is it? What should be a bit of ‘out with the old, in with the new’ turns out to be a traumatic experience which leaves you feeling rather like a refugee.

It all starts, of course, with finding a new place to live. Funny how a bit of estate agent’s poetic license can transform a musty shoebox with a view of leaking plumbing and dodgy masonry into ‘Cosy fixer-upper with outdoor water feature and rockery’ in the classified section. It shouldn’t be allowed. You get yourself all wound up, take that hour off work, conjure up optimistic visions of a splendid new home and you walk in and…no. Musty shoebox? No thanks, couldn’t possibly stomach another.

Once you’ve found the right place, the wailing and gnashing of teeth really kicks in. Now you have to pack up all of your stuff. Who would have thought that it would be humanly possible to gather so much useless kak? The fire hydrant from your old digs, that riempiestoel which is more stoel than rimpie, the stop sign your mate thought would look good on your wall that night with all the tequilameisters, the ‘arty’ collection of wine bottles, the festival beer mugs, the motley collection of nicked ashtrays, that Springbok Nude Girls poster, a stray snooker ball here, a loose sari there – they’ve all gotta go. No, not having any discussion on the matter – they’re out, the lot of ‘em. But this is just the preamble to a much more harrowing experience. Once you’ve made your peace and have bid farewell to the junkyard of your youth, then it’s onto the serious stuff. The next stage requires big-match temperament. The apple of your eye takes out the big guns, takes aim and identifies your vintage T-shirt collection as being needlessly large and – zap – out goes the last traces of evidence that you were once a wild thing. No, not up for discussion either. Dry your eyes mate, be a man, because it’s time to pack it up and pack it in - the next phase of your life is about to begin. And so it goes – the next thing you know, you’re surrounded by boxes and bubble wrap, you’ve got brown tape stuck to your shoes, dust in your hair and it’s min daë.

If the movers’ arrival an hour late in a skorokoro van doesn’t get your nervous tic on the go, their slothful nonchalance towards your priceless possessions will ensure that you start jitterbugging across the room in no time. While you stand slack-jawed and owl-eyed at the rough handling of something clearly marked ‘FRAGILE!’ in 72-point type, your man the mover is making reassuring noises, seemingly oblivious to his crew’s mortifying doziness. Every bump, thud and scrape is keenly felt, and a great deal of gazing heavenwards whilst mouthing silent prayer is observed while you tell yourself that it will all be over soon. You troop out of the old place, having said goodbye and good riddance to the woodborer, the mouldy bathroom counter and that leaky tap which you could not, no matter how hard you tried, ever tighten enough to stop leaking. You reconcile yourself to moving on to bigger and better things and then bam – you’re knee-deep in piles of empty boxes, you’ve got brown tape on your shoes again, you can’t find the damn extension cord and are forced to eat take-out because the stove hasn’t been hooked up. The brutality of it all.

But of course it doesn’t end there. Oh, far from it. Now the vexing questions of décor and furniture placement rear their ugly heads. Which is of course the last thing that frazzled nerves need, but it must be done. That lamp would look great in the…no, of course it wouldn’t, darling. Battle lines are drawn – the bathroom and kitchen become the preserve of the Domestic Goddess, and God help you if you think that the coffee tins should go in the corner with the cookery books. Every damn fool knows that coffee tins must be hidden from view, unsightly articles that they are, because the pride of place is taken by a kitsch ceramic tomato-shaped sweet holder. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll sit on the couch and chew biltong, far from the manifold dangers of a woman possessed who is armed to the teeth with ten kinds of cutlery. Tread carefully in these initial days; hazards lie all around. If, while involved in the onerous task of doing a convincing impersonation of an ungulate on the couch, you happen to hear the tell-tale sound of a ceramic tomato shattering, tiptoe to the door, get your keys and stay out for at least an hour. And when you get back, make sure you’ve got chocolate. And good quality stuff too - none of that 5.95 from the garage shop chocolate, oh no. Only something like Lindt or Toblerone will see the return of domestic bliss. Moving - not pretty.

The Island

Category: , , , , , By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
Had a rather Huckleberry Finn childhood. Spent a lot of time on the Umgeni lagoon, riding a bike, fishing and exploring. Maybe that’s the memory because there was a Mississippi paddle steamer moored on the bank there before Cyclone Demoina. No shit. There was an island in the middle of the Umgeni there; hobo’s used to live on it. Used to buy cracker shrimp off them; at low tide they would come over with old orange sacks filled with cracker, legs black with mud, swearing all the way. They had built shacks there, hidden in the thick bush under the biggest trees. When the tide was in the water was clear enough to see crabs dancing along the bottom, claws raised like they were carrying invisible furniture. First memory is a warthog that came snorting and stamping out of the bush under the bridge. Mother was scared stiff but went all ‘aw, shame’ when the little ones came from behind.
'Succulent.' said Father.
'Aw, shame.' said Mother.

Boogie was one of the cracker hobo’s, and a friend. Used to bring the biggest crackers and demonstrate how to hook and tie them just right so they wouldn’t come off, even if a crab got cheeky. Was a pisscat and a button*-smoker, was Boogie. His breath smelled terrible, the methane of swamp mixed with the ripe hum of sorghum beer and rotting teeth. He didn’t care about a thing other than drink, buttons, zol and his pozzi on the island. Dirt poor but laughing all the time, even when falling on his ass in the mud, that was Boogie.

Used to be a fun fair on the banks of the river there, below the model boat pond. Rode the slip ‘n slide, the go-karts and the miniature train that ran on a track through the mangrove jungle. All so big when you’re a lightie. Mother and Father knew the owners, so it was freebies on those rides till sunset sometimes. Lightie heaven. That’s where the Huckleberry Finn boat was. Never saw it used, maybe it was a model, just for show.

Boogie knew all the best spots where the mullet were so thick at high tide they’d even go for a finger in the water. Sharp fuckin' teeth. So thick, just drop a line and wham! Got one. The other hobo’s didn’t know about the special spots; they never got to know. Was our secret, Boogie and me. Used to bring a carton of iJuba, say 'have a taste'. So sour, but then nice. Mother smelt it. Said I smelled like a shebeen and lighties didn’t drink Zulu beer, so no more hanging out with Boogie. Well, that she knew of. Used toothpaste after, no more shebeen breath, then.
Also smokes. Boogie would fall in the mud but his smokes stayed dry. Green pack of Courtleigh Satin Leaf. He would say ‘have a pull’. Choke and cough and he would laugh and say ‘Ag, lightie, one day, eh?’
And buttons, Boogie loved to smoke button pipes. One day the police waited for him in the bush at low tide when he came with the cracker, to bust him for smoking buttons. But they just slapped him, took his buttons and weed and threw it in the water. That’s when Boogie would stop laughing for a while. Then he would vloek them, and drink more iJuba. A little later, laughing again.

Cyclone Demoina came and washed the river clean of the island, washed all the bush and the dead fish onto the beaches. Dunno what happened to Boogie.

* South African slang

button = mandrax
pozzi = house/place
zol = weed
lightie = kid
jolling = fun
klapped = smacked
vloek = swear

Mucking Out The Augean Inbox

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
In the world of myth, the gullible give swift carriage. Urban myths are rendered humorous when their true origins are revealed and the miscommunication of the ‘broken telephone’ system is obvious. Myths in their original from served to provide a vehicle for moral and practical messages, but when they morph into nothing more than another reason to fear your fellow man and the world outside your door, they become sinister.

In the age of electronic information, myth has taken on a malevolent tinge. Nowadays, you’re liable (if you have regular access to a computer and email) to be the recipient of scare mail. It’s urban myth on steroids, made all the more credible by virtue of seemingly authentic references. Scare mail stories are attributed to fictitious newspapers, ‘articles’ are copied which contain fake names, practices, places and date-rape drugs. And the time taken to forward these little snippets of horror is less, of course, than the time it will take to do a little amateur sleuthing conducted via Google, or any other search engine. This is the problem here – people are lazy, so they’d rather just FWD this odious sample of how evil mankind can be to each other.

So the convinced (and markedly outraged) recipient becomes a carrier, and goes on to infect all who have the misfortune of being only an email away. Particularly virulent scare mails go on to become a scare mail epidemic. The string of recipients shows just how many are willing and, indeed, gullible enough to forward this dreck on in the noble pursuit of warning their fellows. Which is a good virtue, neighbourly even. If it is based on fact. The thinking of the willing participant would seem to be ‘We don’t have time to question this - we must warn the others, they could be in danger!’

Lock the doors. Can’t trust anyone these days. Malice lives on every street.

A well-known scare mail example is the story about a ‘gang initiation ritual’ practiced by Bloods and Cripps gangsters which involves a car that flashes its lights at you, the supposed prelude to being shot. The only problem with this is that there are no Bloods or Cripps in South Africa. They’re from South Central L.A. This one may come with the following scare title: FWD: - This actually happened to my mother’s cousin’s dermatologists’ veterinarians’ daughters’ Hatha yoga instructor’s grandmother!!! WARNING!’

There was the girl that was given ‘the sterilization drug, Progesterex’ – a drug claimed to be used in conjunction with Rohypnol, so that rapists could drug and sterilize their victims. A quick google would show that this substance is entirely fabricated. Claims abound of victims being abducted and raped by ‘five men’ after being abducted at the ‘Jet Bar’ in Miami. Or was it the ‘Cro Bar’ in Houston? Maybe it was the ‘Gaz Club’. Soon enough the tale becomes embellished with some local detail and is given a new lease on life as it makes the leap from being an American urban legend to FWD: Fwd: fWD:/;;: - ‘READ THIS - something that could happen to YOU!!!’

The latest drivel to slop onto my desktop is Joseph Farah’s sterling piece of fright writing which was preceded by the lovely Fwd: Fwd” ‘Whites must Get the Hel [sic] out of this country!’. Joseph Farah is a discredited conservative journalist who seems to leave a trail of foul-smelling ooze across whichever page he sullies with his bigoted bile. The basic drive of it is that the blacks of South Africa are awaiting Nelson Mandela’s death, which by Farah is claimed as the trigger to a mass slaughter and exodus of whites. Apparently, the ‘Communists’ (Christ, there’s a lot of hair on that chestnut!) are the orchestrators of the plan, which is ‘widely known by Africans who now tell any white they have differences with “Wait till Mandela’s gone”. So there you have it folks – daardie bliksemse Rooi Gevaar is terug. Quake, o ye honkies, quake, for the Night Of The Long Panga is nigh. Oh, you got that one too? It obviously got a whole bunch of people, because it’s still doing the rounds - shame on you and a pox on your house if your FWD’d that nasty piece of work.

The problem is that, as with scare mails of similar ilk, people lap this up like custard. Obviously, legitimate stories must be given an audience – the net is the greatest single mobiliser of our time and its ability to not only make masses of people aware of worthy causes but also provide a platform to harness support should be put to use at every opportunity. Real matters of concern such as missing children, crime and environmental crises should very well be given the time of day – no sensible person would dispute that. However the work of scaremongers and doomsayers should not be made all the easier because people leap blindly onto the bandwagon without any thought of checking the facts. The world is scary enough without us allowing ourselves to be made even more paranoid.

Everyone wants to tell the shocker over the dinner table. It’s great being the centre of attention as you tell such an intelligent story which addresses such an important issue. All those faces, rapt with attention. The same applies to email. But please, for the love of God, take time to check the facts.

You Just Can't Win

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
Death. Not your usual polite dinner-party conversation topic, but undoubtedly on our minds. Unavoidable and mysterious, it holds for each of us our own personal departure scenario. A study in Russia in 1989 found that among those Moscow buildings which were popular (if that is the word) as jump-off points in the middle of the Russian winter, those which placed objects such as fences and concrete blocks below saw a marked decrease in their use. Which goes to show that even in death, we are a vain species. Can’t have a mess, oh no, we must go good-looking into that good night. In the same vein, it is nowadays a well-known fact that we have a shortage of burial space the world over. Towns and cities, regardless of location or culture, are facing increasing demand for those finite spaces in which to inter the dearly departed. This is not, however, a problem in Tibet. The practice of sky burial has for untold centuries made burial space a non-issue, as well as provided an al fresco medical training facility.

Sky burial involves dissection on cliff edges and mountaintops, locations chosen for their appeal to birds of prey such as the Bearded Vulture, which is a summer visitor to the Drakensberg. The benefit to the medical profession is that trainee doctors are instructed in physiology and anatomy before the pious Buddhist is left to the raptors. You can say one thing for the Tibetans; they certainly aren’t conbcerned about having a good-looking corpse, but then perhaps they’ve not heard about living fast or dying young. And they’ll never have a shortage of burial space, unlike in South Africa, where so many insist on a patch of neatly clipped lawn. Which is rather self-important when you think about the shortage of space. The underlying factor which has of course created our shortages, of not only space but indeed many other things, is that we reproducing at an alarming rate.

In fact, ‘alarming’ is too gentle a spin to put on it. We are now so healthy that our life expectancy has on average doubled in half a millennium and those of us who make it to old age and are having children later is also increasing.
‘Dad, why are you so old?’
‘Um, because we’re a ruthlessly healthy global phenomenon, son.’
‘Dad, what’s a phelomemom?’
‘Biped primates with opposable thumbs, an insatiable curiosity and medical aid, son.’

The Anasazi of New Mexico bury their dead upright, in cliffside cavities. The Zulu and other Bantu tribes, sitting, with the knees drawn up. The Chinese they burn, baby, burn. All things considered burning does seem the better option, but when you consider global warming, that option now suddenly seems a bit vain too, as it is adding to pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.
‘Dad, why’s the air dirty over the city?’
‘Show some respect, boy. Some of that is Auntie Agatha.’

You just can’t win, can you?

Travelling At The Speed Of Treacle

By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
In 1994 my friend Dael and I took off for Israel. We were novices, and hadn't a clue between us. Nonetheless, we made it across the Med to the UK. But not without some misadventure....

February, Tel Aviv, Israel
Day 1: Arrive at Ben Gurion, subjected to intense search and interrogation. Apparently they’re at war. They don’t find the acid or the weed.
Day 2: Arrive at Kibbutz Ga’ash. There are Swedish girls. And three-shekel vodka. Yebo baba!
Day 5: This place is heavenly. Start work tomorrow. Smoked last of the weed. Bummer.
Day 6: The hot Swedish dolls have left! We work in a powder coating factory. This place is hell!
Day 10: Got fired from the factory, hallelujah. Purim tonight, Jewish Easter. Big party, free beer.
Day 11: Kicked off kibbutz after taking acid and running naked through bar. And stealing a quad bike. And setting off fire extinguisher in hall. Sleep in orange orchard. Screw kibbutzes for a laugh, we’re going to Tel Aviv.
Day 13: Find hostel in old city, Jaffa. Sold all the acid. Weed is expensive as all hell here but this place rocks!
Day 27: Nearly mugged by Arabs but outran them. Fuck Tel Aviv, we’re going to Eilat. Paradise on the Red Sea! Supposed to be like Durban and close to Dahab, slacker heaven.
Day 30: Love Eilat – beaches, girls, beer, weed. Just like Durban but the airport is smack bang in middle of town.
Day 31: Meet beautiful Austrian girls, hang out, drink Screwdrivers and watch the Boeings come in over our heads. Mad. It never, ever rains here so we camp on the beach next to Jordanian border. Border guards are menacing and have fuck-off size rifles. Sand storm came up, kicked up some small surf. Nearly got skull cracked while pulling in to boulder barrels. Hanging out at Peace Café, going to pick up construction graft tomorrow. Vodka too cheap.
Day 32: Screw that for a joke, construction is slavery. Leaving for Egypt soon.
Day 45: Gotta go to Egypt. Islamic country, no alcohol allowed. Must…stop…drinking…
Day 50: Egypt! Smuggled seven bottles of fake Stoli in. Has paid for ten days in Dahab’s Camp Camelot, spitting distance from Red Sea. No beer, but holy crapulation, the weed she is cheap-cheap.
Day 60: Have learnt backgammon and how to make hairwraps from Bedouin urchins. Am now nut brown with surfer-boy blonde hair. Off to see the pyramids.
Day 63: Cairo never sleeps. Nor do its bedbugs. Pyramids tomorrow.
Day 65: Damn that stallion, my balls still hurt. Sphinx smaller than you think, pyramids bigger. Cash running out but lunch costs fifty cents, Cleopatra cigarettes a rand.
Day 67: Got work as extras in Collywood. We’re ‘British soldiers’. Get half a roast chicken, salad, Sport Cola and a hundred Egyptian pounds a day. That’s a lot in Egypt.
Day 70: Out of cash. Getting more wired tomorrow. Going to Egyptian Museum.
Day 71: The artifacts are amazing. Pickpocketed, $300 gone. How do you say ‘FUCK!’ in Arabic?
Day 78: Have been working again, now we’re ‘German businessmen’ in a Bahraini soapie.
Day 86: Back in Israel. Leaving for Greece via Haifa.
Day 88: Rhodes Island. Castle of the Knights Templar, ancient city, Gucci and Benetton. And two South African vagrants travelling at the speed of treacle.
Day 90: Faliraki beach. Doing hairwraps for cash. Goddamn Poms, they’re tight bastards. We are without a doubt the poorest fuckers on the island. Cash being wired.
Day 100: Got cash, getting outta here ASAP. Hanging for a bunny, a surf, a quart and a zol.
Day 102: Athens. Visa expires at midnight. Have no plane ticket.
Day 103: Got Athens-Gatwick standby ticket just before midnight. Board dodgy little plane and promptly fall asleep; awoken to an English breakfast that features black pudding. Don’t care. Tastes like…dunno. Tasty, but. London is wet, cold and grey. Arrived with no visa, no work permit, no money. South Africa rejoined Commonwealth yesterday, so they don’t know what to do with us. Called our relatives, scratched their heads and gave us two-year work visa. Sweet.

Lovely Tree, The Jacaranda. Beautiful Plumage...

Category: , , , , , , , By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
The issue of exotic plants frays tempers it seems, whether by cause of people being opposed to their extermination (exotic plants, darling, not people) for nostalgic reasons or being in favour of their extermination on environmental grounds. At the core of the issue is a common misconception that many species of plants are indigenous by default; people assume that because they’ve been part of the landscape forever that they must be African. Tsk, tsk, misguided plant lovers. Best check your facts before locking horns with a well-informed plant fundi at dinner over that lovely glass of Merlot. Things could get messy.

A tree like the lowly wattle does not elicit as much moon-faced sighing as does a specimen such as a jacaranda in full bloom. No wattle-loving protesters with placards for a plant that most recognise as roadside scrub, oh no. No contest, it seems, in the mind of those whose memory lanes are lined with prolific purple blooms. What a pity then, that they, as with the wattle, shall all have to be cut down to size. Lovely tree, the jacaranda. Beautiful plumage. But they’re pining for the Amazon and as such should see the business end of a chainsaw. Every last one of them. The fact is that they don’t belong here, and have few redeeming features. One of these is that they make great perches for strangler figs. Another is that jacaranda wood has a lovely grain and light colour, making it a perfect wood for bowls and sculpture. For those who verlang na die ou dae (afrikaans - 'long for the old days'), it would be best to take a Polaroid before they all go to the big chipboard factory in the sky. Take a deep glug on your G&T, auntie. It’s time for the chipper to sing.

As far as those not-so-lovely wattle trees go, we have a philanthropic eighteenth-century bishop to thank for this Australian plant’s successful invasion of KwaZulu Natal. The story goes that in his magnanimous wisdom, this misguided missionary took it upon himself to provide the locals with firewood. This he achieved by scattering wattle seeds at the roadside while on his meandering ministrations, which covered a substantial part of the province. We now have a handsome crop of wattle, which unfortunately compounds soil erosion problems and thrives in the absence of natural enemies. Makes good firewood, though. But then so do bishops, and you don’t see us allowing them to proliferate, now do you?

The issue of invasive alien plants serves to highlight a general ignorance of the importance of indigenous flora on the part of South Africans. Most of us have the reckoning of a 6-year old when it comes to identifying plants – it’s a shocker, it’s true, but a lot of people when pressed could probably only identify three kinds of plants: Tree. Bush. Grass. Oh, OK – maybe four if you include ‘Cactus’. Typically when looking at plants we tend to be most enamoured with the pretty and the unusual, which in human terms would translate to only having time for supermodels and circus freaks. Which sounds about right when you consider the images that capture our attention in the media. Oh, how fickle we are.

Consider the jacaranda. Lovely tree. Beautiful plumage…