30.06.2015

Zeitgeist

While you were hibernating this is what happened in culture this month

Behaved Badly at The Village Idiot

And once again it’s the Durbanites who have gone and done something in our fair city while Capetonians busy themselves by sitting on their hands. Our favourite big wave surfer, Grant Twiggy Baker, who also just so happens to have wifed a Playmate, and his mate, Reg MacDonald, he of the surfing bulldog fame, are the same pair who gave us Aces & Spades. Now that you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll be excited to know that they’ve opened “A true inner city neighborhood bar” on Loop Street, which has things like posters of ostriches and a big ol’ stuffed ostrich, too. There’s also a lot of writing on the wall there by the entrance, perfect then for the long line of people snaking outside as the bouncers sing that familiar Cape Town anthem, "Capacity…"  And with Long Street fast becoming a war zone and Bree turning into a street dedicated to mommy’s wine time, perhaps it’s Loop that will become the new Kloof? Or not, as it’s not so much the location as the fact that there’s a wraparound balcony, a fireplace, plush booths, bathroom cubicles that fit two and the type of bar you can actually sit and drink at. Dunno what’s up with the hairspray in the bathroom, though, or what crowd will eventually settle in here after the novelty has worn off, but everyone keeps on going back, presumably for research purposes. – Dylan Muhlenberg

Got Off On Two Books

50 Shades of Grey has sold over a million copies and despite it being the type of book read by people who don’t really like reading, we can’t deny that, like Bieber, it’s part of pop culture and so we have a duty to review it for you. Anyway, this new book is Christian Grey’s account of all the nipple-twisting, bum-slapping and ol’ in-and-out that he subjects his employee of the month to. And if you read the first couple of books you’ll know that instead of a visit from HR he gets her to agree to the type of stuff usually reserved for birthdays.

In a recent #askELJames session on Twitter, readers got to the important questions about the new novel. Some asked the author how she felt about normalising abusive relationships, while others wanted to know, "What do you dislike more – strong independent women or the English language?" "After the success of Grey, have you considered re-telling the story from the perspective of someone who can write?", "Is there a safe word we can use to stop you writing such drivel?" and "Do all these negative tweets seem abusive to you? I think it's romantic enough to be turned into a novel!" 

The book isn’t totally useless though, and you can get off on mommy-porn if you just follow these instructions: Split the book in half, line it with something soft and something latex, and engaging the services of your lubricant of choice. Because bad books? Screw ‘em. – Paul Sanctuary 

We’re all huge fan of Less Than Zero and The Secret History, and were drawn to Close to Home, by Cayleigh Bright based on Ron Irwin calling it “Something like a South African Donna Tartt meets Brett Easton Ellis…” Wow, but before our prose turns too purple it’s time for a full disclosure: I know Cayleigh well, we worked together at GQ while she was busy completing her UCT Creative Writing master’s programme and we now work together at Superbalist, so obviously this review is going to be glowing.

I’d jumped ship by the time her book had been published, and so I wasn’t invited to the launch at Chanel Bettison Beauty Concept Store, which I considered a strange alternative to the Book Lounge, but I digress. Anyway, I finally pilfered a copy of Close To Home off of Cayleigh’s desk and I’m glad I did.  There are a dozen characters telling this story, and because they’re all such spoiled, privileged brats, their jaundiced views of the world are delicious. They're far from their family homes and armed with ample allowances, so it’s possible for them to live a life usually reserved for German tourists. Living one long boozy lunch with hotel-suite excess for dessert, the narcissistic, indulgent and hedonistic group slowly blurs to form the type of homogenous clique that’s not uncommon in Cape Town. Don’t even bother paging back to see if it was Faye or Sarah who you were crushing on before because, like Cayleigh says, “Don’t try to remember all the characters, you don’t need to.” Or was that Faye?

What you do need to know is that Cape Town has been written like a character and if you’ve spent any time here you’ll notice familiar landmarks, mindsets and that creepy old man living in the Atlantic Seaboard who hosts those questionable late night socials. How much of the book borrows from Cayleigh’s own life is up for debate, and having read this helps to make sense of everything about her. It’s usually the quiet ones… - Dylan Muhlenberg

Made a Food Baby at Mr Big Stuff

From the husband and wife dream team that gave us Wolves Café and the Good Luck Club, Angie and Shane Durrant, comes an ode to Guy Fieri’s flame-festooned XXL shirts. Joined by brother Craig of Yo Grapes!, Mr Big Stuff is the latest addition to Juta Street. Make your way to Braamfontein to find out what all the hype is about. If you don’t leave looking as smiley as the walls then maybe it’s because you forgot to wear your stretchy pants? This burger joint and diner specialises in crispy fried chicken and waffles, and could give the Clarke’s burger a run for its clogged arteries. What else? We really like the branding, and weren’t surprised at all to hear that Dan Ting Chong was the guy behind it. Mac and cheese square sides should become the default everywhere, and it’s like our man on the ground, Bez, says, “It’s like that unhealthy uncle who drinks and smokes too much, who you know is unhealthy, but still think he’s cool anyway.” – Paul Sanctuary

Rocked Out At The One Republic Native World Tour

As if sitting in the Kirstenbosch Gardens picnicking on the shortest day of the year (Winter Solstice), wasn’t good enough for a day’s play, making my way to Grand West Casino to catch One Republic for their last stop of their Native world tour sure was. One of my favourite things about attending a concert is the anticipation of finding out who got the opening spot. I was extremely satisfied when Gangs of Ballet opened the stage, setting the tone of the evening with their hauntingly beautiful tunes. With our spot in the crowd chosen, we waited eagerly for the show to start, guessing which songs would and would not feature. Luckily disappointment was not on the cards! The stage lit up, with really awesome background visuals and super cool lights that made me feel like I was in another universe (although that could’ve also been the plastic cups of wine I had already consumed). Beautiful violins and string instruments marked the beginning of one helluva concert. The sound was great, the crowd was fun, and I didn’t even care about the copious amount of confetti in my hair. The worst part of this long-awaited concert was definitely how quickly it was over. With the final choice of song being a band’s most important, One Republic rocked it with Love Runs Out. However they didn’t let us miss out on other favourites like Apologise, Stop and Stare and even a cover of George Ezra’s Budapest. As far as commercial pop-rock concerts go, this was definitely one for the books. If you missed it, pity. Fortunately you can catch Pharrell Williams in September this year to get your fix of screaming girls and wine (or vodka) out of horrible, plastic sippy cups. - Tarryn Britchford

Groaned While Watching Jurrasic Park

Man oh man, was I looking forward to this one; I can’t even explain the excitement that filled my nostalgia-obsessed brain when it was announced that Jurassic Park was finally going to get a fourth instalment. Just to be clear, I’m no weird super fan okay? I’m just your regular guy who grew up in the 90s in what was a ridiculously dinosaur-saturated television era: Jurassic Park, The Land Before Time, Dinosaurs, We’re Back!, Denver The Last Dinosaur, and Barney the Dinosaur to name a few. Hell, even the mention of Theodore Rex fills me with happiness and that was an unapologetically crap dino-exploitation flick. 

So with that in mind I went into this movie excited, but skeptical. The studios had over 10 years to plan this film – but how much planning is really required when you’re sitting on this epic goldmine?

It’s an easy formula. Check out my maths: Enclosed island location, check. Awesome dinos roaming about doing their dino business, check. Introduce nasty little humans, check. Then film with the classic Spielberg warm-and-fuzzy filter, bring in loveably irritating kid characters, some funny quips, and presto! 

Well ladies and gentlemen, I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t hate it either; I enjoyed watching the dinosaurs fight (I am human after all), but so many times in the cinema I found myself drawn away from the film and thinking, “this is stupid”.

It was upsetting. So where did it go wrong?

Firstly, they inadvertently went meta. In the film, Bryce Dallas Howard, playing the role of worst employee ever, comes out with this pearler, “Corporate felt that genetic modification would up the 'wow' factor”. This justifies the creation of some sort of mutant hybrid dinosaur that can do everything and kill everyone because it was injected with chameleon, squid and dassie DNA (Science y’all!). Well, both in the film and in actual, out-of-film real life, ‘corporate’ misses the whole damn point. When people go to a snake park they don’t want to see a cobra with a snail-shell lined with dolphins’ dorsal fins. When people go to World of Birds they don’t want to see a pelican with impala hooves endowed with the power of burrowing. Why do people go to Jurassic World? Because these are REAL monsters that at one point existed on our planet. How amazing is that? No fiction here guys; it’s totally scary because it’s true! Making the bad guy some weird science experiment is the equivalent of throwing in some griffons, a Minotaur, Daenerys’ dragons and a death-eater from Azkaban. Truly thrilling. 

Secondly, when dinosaurs and humans meet, there’s bound to be some heavy collateral damage. People die. Because we mighty humans are nothing when compared to our now-extinct predecessors. It’s what makes it scary. There’s suspense at first: the rippling water, the shaking ground, the sound of dinosaur breath on the car. Then bite, scratch, roar – the heroes are crying and vomiting and soiling themselves because they’re normal human beings facing impending dismemberment and death. The dinosaurs gets distracted by a fleeing baddie and the heroes takes the courageous decision of running for their lives, getting to survive for a little while longer. 

Not in this Jurassic World. In this Jurassic World, the protagonists start passionately making out with no buildup while pterodactyls rip the eyes out of hundreds of tourists, and at the same time a babysitter is introduced to the film with the sole purpose of being ripped in half by giant sea dinosaurs in a blood bath that makes Kill Bill look PG. I kid you not – this is all in one single scene. The two children see this and instead of vomiting on themselves and rocking in the corner, they pipe up with “Aunt Claire, are you making out with Chris Pratt?” Oh you’ve been cuffed Aunt Claire. Shouldn’t you be managing the park? Never mind, family first, got it. The main characters never seem to miss a beat. “I can’t wait to tell mom”, says one who just survives being gutted by a velociraptor. “I’ll just run away from a T-Rex in heels”, thinks Aunt Claire who actually has plenty time to make the conscious decision not to. No trauma, no fear, no consequence. There is genuinely no chance that any of the main characters will get killed in this movie, and you know this is true because they constantly behave like they can’t be. Also, is this a family film? I think it’s trying to be? Is it? I don’t even know anymore, why are none of the characters getting muddy? Why is it suddenly night?

Anyway, that’s that. I’ve committed far more lines to paper than this movie deserves. I’m just… so… angry! My colleagues are all looking at me like I’m some kind of idiot. What? Never seen someone throw a succulent into a wall?

YOU GUYS DON’T APPRECIATE DINOSAUR ARTISTRY!

I’m going home. – Max Dylan Lazarus

Spun this Vinyl

Ever since we first bought Thin Shoes In June from the African Dope merch stand we’ve been crushing hard on Felix Laband. We followed him to the strip club launch of 4/4 Down The Stairs, the theatre performance of Dark Days Exit and so when we read the message, “My new album Deaf Safari (CD/LP) coming spring 2015 on Compost Records” a note that was accompanied by three new songs on Felix’s newly established Soundcloud page, to say that we were excited is an understatement. Having pre-ordered the album from our preferred LP pushers, Roastin’ Records, we settled in and reacquainted ourselves with Ol Snakehips, who has been promising us his fourth album for a while now. A decade later and Deaf Safari is everything that we’ve come to expect from a Felix Laband album. There’s that same down tempo, mellow and highly emotional music that’s all warm and melodic before forcing you to pay attention with some sort of jarring industrial sound. Then there’s his art - collages that are not unlike the sampling sounds that Laband makes, which are rich layers of looped sounds, repetitive beats and a tension that sometimes results in a climax and at other times takes you some other place entirely. Deaf Safari is a wonderful album and perhaps if you buy it instead of illegally downloading it Felix won't make us wait another decade before giving us his blessings. - Dylan Muhlenberg