Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
To add an “extra punch” to Youth Day, Nechama Brodie joined members of the Wildcats Gym and headed into Soweto to train some young boxers:
In the 15 months since taking up boxing, I’ve competed in three White Collar bouts, so it’s more than a hobby.
I’ve learned it is harder to get back in the ring the second time; that the strongest right won’t win a fight if you don’t win it in your head; and that the real brutality often happens outside the ring.
I’m no boxing expert. I’m a mother of two who writes for a living. Until last year, I’d never watched a boxing match on television, let alone live. That changed when I started training with Isaac Chilemba.
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Inside Joburg author Nechama Brodie goes inside Glitterboys and Ganglands, a documentary directed by Lauren Beukes that follows three contestants competing for the title of Miss Gay Western Cape. The only shortcoming of this “otherwise brilliant” documentary, says Brodie, is that much of the “ganglands” part of the title is missing, and is only alluded to through montage and occasional comments about crime. (See trailer for the documentary, currently playing at Encounters, below.)
Brodie also interviewed Kat and Errol Stroebel, the “Posh ‘n Becks” of the pageant world. They earned this title from the fact that Kat is the winner of Miss Gay Western Cape and Errol was a finalist in Mr Gay South Africa. Both Errol and Kat (aka Carl) say that they got involved in pageants in order to become more involved in the gay community in terms of “Pride”:
Cinderella stories come with happy endings unless they are directed by novelist Lauren Beukes — in which case the end is only the beginning, the soundtrack features Barbie Girl and the traditionally ugly stepsisters are the real belles of the ball.
Glitterboys and Ganglands is an hour-long documentary about a group of men competing in the annual Miss Gay Western Cape competition.
Unlike Mr Gay South Africa (men dressed as men) the Miss Gay pageants are open to cross-dressing men — drag queens or, as many of the contestants prefer, women impersonators. There are feathers and sequins, swimsuit and evening wear categories, a Miss Personality (voted for by the contestants), and tears and tiaras, much like traditional female beauty pageants.
I’d like to introduce you to Mr and Mr Stroebel.
One is the winner of Miss Gay Western Cape (that’s Kat, aka Carl); the other, Errol, a finalist in Mr Gay South Africa. People call them the Posh ‘n Becks of the gay pageant world. I prefer to think of them as Fred and Ginger: everything the one does, the other does — backwards, in high heels.
The couple is featured in Lauren Beukes’s new documentary, Glitterboys & Ganglands, which follows the build-up to and finals of the 2010 Miss Gay Western Cape pageant.
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Nechama Brodie, author of Inside Joburg got a chance to speak to Welsh author Ken Follett while he was on a visit to South Africa for the premier of the film Paradise Stop, for which he is an executive producer.
Follett spent many years failing before reaching success with the publication of his 11th book Eye of the Needle. Follett, who published Fall of Giants last year, says of his artistic struggle, “We learn nearly everything we know about literature from reading. And from writing and failing. Like writing a story and showing it to someone who says, yes, alright, that’s not bad. And you go: ‘Not bad? I thought it was brilliant. What do I have to do to be brilliant?’ And that’s when you begin to learn.”
I knew I would like Ken Follett even before I met him — not just because he’s one of the few Authors you can spell with a capital letter (he’s sold in the region of 130-million books worldwide) or because I’ve actually read and enjoyed his work, but because his success is something he’s clearly worked for. Like many writers, Follett was no overnight sensation: he had a day job and wrote novels in his spare time. He wrote a lot of novels before he became an Author with a capital A.
His first success, he explains on his website, was his 11th book (Eye of the Needle, 1978). Three decades and a number one New York Times best seller later, Follett hasn’t rested on his laurels. His latest book Fall of Giants (part one of a planned trilogy) was released late in 2010, and he’s already hard at work on the second installment. The Century Trilogy, as it’s called, will “tell the entire history of the 20th century, seen through the eyes of five linked families”. The first book focused on the World War I and the Russian Revolution. The next will cover the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the dawning of the nuclear age.
Photo courtesy KenFollet.com
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Inside Joburg author Nechama Brodie peeks into the arty world of vinyl dolls, in particular the seven-inch Munny, produced by American company Kidrobot. The dolls come fully customizable, and 20 of the Munny figurines customised by local artists will go on display in an exhibition titled “Show Me the Munny” at Toitoy in Cape Town:
Forget the metric system — vinyl always sounds cooler when it’s measured in inches. Take the seven-inch Munny, a best-selling soft vinyl doll produced by American company Kidrobot, the world’s “premier creator of limited edition art toys and apparel”.
The Munny, and Kidrobot’s other big seller, the Dunny, has been included in the permanent design collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. And when it comes to the Munny, the only acceptable conversion is the DIY kind.
Brodie’s column “My Cultural Life” featured FHM Magazine editor Hagen Engler. The writer/poet/editor writes about his wife’s weakness for Keeping up with the Kardashians and playing songs with Toast Coetzer:
I’m busy working on my third novel, typing away on my laptop. My books really take form only once the writing’s done and I start editing.
Now, it’s just a stream of consciousness about the little world I’ve created. It’s hard to escape outside reality though. I don’t have a decent desk, so I sit at a coffee table in my lounge. I’ll be watching TV, reading a newspaper, on Twitter…
My wife loves reality television and celebrity shows. I love sport. Often, I have to swap my wife a Stormers-Sharks game for a Keeping up with the Kardashians. It’s popular culture.
Photo courtesy MailandGuardian
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Nechama Brodie, author of Inside Joburg, talks about the “Bum Deal” of choosing between disposable versus cloth nappies, and is not particularly proud of contributing 10 000 of them to South Africa’s landfills:
When my first child was born I had every intention of being the World’s Greenest Mom. I scoured the Yellow Pages and found a nappy service – one of the few remaining ones in Joburg – who delivered a hamper of perfectly folded cloth nappies together with a big black bin (for the soiled ones), which they promised to empty every few days when they brought fresh supplies. The real nappy plan lasted about 3 days after which, frustrated by my own ineptness as a new mom, my baby’s inability to remain perfectly still during changes, and the surprising leakiness of newborn poo, I simply gave up and went back to disposables.
The average baby goes through around 5000 nappies before he or she is potty trained. That means, in the course of raising my 2 boys (who are now nearly 4 and 7), I’ve contributed around 10 000 nappies to South Africa’s landfills. I’m not particularly proud of this – disposable diapers are made of things like plastic and super-absorbent polymers that don’t biodegrade. But in those heady, scary early days of being a new parent I had bigger things to worry about than my carbon footprint. Like sleep. Or when I’d next get the chance to use the bathroom.
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Nechama Brodie, author or Inside Joburg, visits Cape Town jewellery company Situ, created by architect and diamantaire Gregory Katz and jewellery designers Philippa Green and Ida Elsje. Situ recently decided to investigate new ways of encasing and displaying diamonds, with “organically inspired metalwork”, freeing diamond jewellery from the traditional confines of geometric fittings. Brodie is dazzled by the result:
Marilyn Monroe had it right in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes when she saw a tiara and chirped: “I just love finding new places to wear diamonds!”
Seven years ago jewellery designers Philippa Green and Ida Elsje collaborated with architect and diamantaire (isn’t that a lovely word?) Gregory Katz to create Situ — an innovative range of diamonds suspended in epoxy resin. They won’t reveal exactly how they do it but the concept is literally brilliant, liberating precious facets from the fixed grasp of traditional metal claws or prongs.
Until recently Situ has emphasised its high-tech origins, producing pieces that are modern, largely geometric or symmetrical — solitaires hovering in perfect circles or squares of plastic. But this month, Elsje introduced something different — her signature organically inspired metalwork with an “imperfectly” placed perfect gem. The end product is called the Rococo, a ring of startling beauty — gold filigree encased in clear resin, with a diamond winking off-centre. It is bold, outsized and very light.
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Nechama Brodie, author of Inside Joburg, spoke to Adriaan Hugo of the design studio Dokter and Misses which produces creative furniture, lighting and other objects. This Johannesburg based studio uses ordinary household objects and turns them into something extraordinary.
Hugo told Brodie: “We don’t want to be making generic things. That’s boring. It’s not what we set out to do. We’d like our pieces to be handed over to the kids. The stuff you keep because it’s amazing.”
Award-winning designer Adriaan Hugo, half of the dynamic design crime-fighting duo, Dokter and Misses, has a knack for taking household commodities and transforming them into something simpler, better and much, much cooler. A powder-coated steel container that turns your plastic bag into a cool rubbish bin? Sure. (It’s called Chekas Bin.)
“Our aesthetic is driven by function quite a lot. I work with very strict parameters and try to push as far as I possibly can. [I] try to add something without making it look like I’ve added bells and whistles. I want to make the functional as beautiful as possible. It usually starts from a need — how Katy [his wife, Katy Taplin, the other half of Dokter and Misses] and I live; what our space needs.
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Nechama Brodie, Inside Joburg author, takes a look at local “white collar boxing” – in which she is an only-slightly-banged-up participant – and a local comedy tv show that has taken off with audiences and critics alike.
“White collar boxing” is the term given to men and women in professional backgrounds who participate in public boxing matches, with little of no experience in boxing. Brodie got pummeled by female boxer Shayvonne Pattison who left her with a tender jaw and a neck which felt “like it had been in a car accident”:
“Get used to it. It’s a man’s sport,” Shayvonne Pattison said to me, when I asked her to stop hitting me quite so hard in the head.
Pattison — more than a decade younger than me and several kilos lighter — was training for an upcoming professional bout (on Tuesday night, she fought Rita Mwrebi at Emperor’s Palace, losing on a split decision).
I was getting some much-needed sparring experience before I fought in two “white collar” boxing matches, one in Jo’burg the other in Cape Town.
Brodie has also been watching eTV’s weekly satirical news show, Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola, which features Kagiso Lediga, Riaad Moosa, David Kibuuka and a host of other comedians:
How many comedians does it take to create a light bulb moment? Four. Or maybe it’s six. It all depends on who’s making a guest appearance on Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola.
The weekly satirical news show, which launched on eTV at the end of September and normally airs on Wednesday nights at 9:30, is a surprising hit with audiences and critics.
It drew more than 1,1-million viewers by early December, according to the station.
Besides Gola, the show’s anchor, Late Nite News features Kagiso Lediga, Riaad Moosa, David Kibuuka and “as many other comedians as possible. It’s a team effort,” says Lediga, who, with Gola and producer Tamsin Andersson, launched the show.
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As a mature musician, songwriter and academic, Johnny Clegg has realised that when it comes to communication, the “how” is just as important as the “what”. This applies not only to talking to teenagers (he has two teenage sons) but to his interactions with his audience. He tells Nechama Brodie, “The role of the audience is really to be a sea of emotion, through which your ship is sailing”:
One of South Africa’s greatest music exports, Johnny Clegg, 57, has been described as a “dancer, anthropologist, singer, songwriter, academic, activist and French knight”. When he’s not touring the world, he lives in Johannesburg with his wife Jenny and has two sons, Jesse and Jaron.
When you’re a young artist, you think the show is just about you. When you get a bit more mature, you realise a show isn’t a monologue, it’s a dialogue. The role of the audience is really to be a sea of emotion, through which your ship is sailing.
Image courtesy TimesLive
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Stand a chance to win a copy of Nechama Brodie‘s Inside Joburg by visiting Pan Macmillan’s Facebook Page and leaving a comment on your favourite place in Joburg, or by tweeting your favourite Joburg destination with the hashtag #InsideJoburg. Go, Go Go!
Here are tweets from those who’ve entered so far…
…and here are some of our own tweets about Joburg’s hot spots taken from Brodie’s book. Call it a mini #InsideJoburg Twitter guide!
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