Friday, November 30, 2007

Mercs and Trolleys

I had just collected a repaired company vehicle from probably one of Durban’s most elite car dealers. Mercedes Benz, Jeep, Chrysler etc. Very chic showrooms with fancy coffee shops for their clients. Outside in the parking area I noticed this local supermarket trolley being used by the gardening service as a makeshift wheelbarrow. Thought it rather ironic that with the millions of dollars worth of high tech cars around me that a humble plastic supermarket trolley complete with logo had been hijacked for a higher purpose.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pantomime Season

It's Pantomime season in Durban and the public have a number of choices. If you are into the drag scene then Robin Hood might tantalize your eye buds. The unending legs of one Anthony Stonier are on display at the Seabrookes Theatre while across town at the Playhouse children try and figure out how the magic carpet ride is done in Aladdin . The kids are also wondering why an obvious girl is playing the part of Aladdin. At least they have been drawn away from their play stations and video games to be exposed to traditional theatre on a grand scale.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Durban Theatre Awards

The Durban Theatre Awards is an annual event to recognize new and existing theatre talent in Durban. There is a hard core of regulars that scoop up the main prizes year after year. An impassioned plea was made by Aaron McGillroy for the arts community to unite and move forward. Not too sure how this would be achieved though. Many professional actors are forced to take on corporate gigs to survive. It never ceases to amaze me how brave some productions companies are by putting on new work to half empty houses. They are brave because how does one compete against DVD’s, DSTV, rampant crime and mass migration of the old faithful theater audiences. Maybe the Fixed Frame Film Festival (standing room only) is an indication of the future for new generation of Durban theatre goers.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

FIFA World Cup

There were red carpets, there were plates of snacks, there was a babble of foreign languages. Amongst it all was local muso Madala Kunene quietly strumming away amongst the hoi polloi. The event was the world premier of Anant Singhs movie "More than just a Game". It tells the story of how football developed on Robben Island amongst the political prisoners incarcerated there. In typical South African fashion people from the deputy president of the country to other lesser mortals arrived fashionably late. FIFA president Septh Blatter graciously adapted his speech to welcome the late VIP’s. Not to be outdone still more well coiffured ladies and gents strolled in half way through the movie. Outside the International Convention Centre police were in full force and two hapless street kids who must have escaped the original street blitz sauntered up to the ICC on their nightly patrol. The last I saw of them they were high tailing it down a side street wondering what all the fuss was about.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another Day

Two armed dudes bust into a "secured" office park next to the Pavilion and rough up some defenceless ladies in their beauty products shop. Steal their personal stuff like cell phones and jewelery and make a run for it. All of a sudden dozens of cops arrive complete with air support. Meanwhile staff say they have hidden themselves in the ceiling so the special forces arrive to flush them out. Big crowds gather to watch the action. After an hour the cops emerge empty handed and the two thugs simply vanished into thin air in a gated fenced office complex. The traumatised women are taken away in ambulances for treatment. Turns out the baddies simply drove off before the cops arrived. (So much for their access control) Next door the vast shopping complex has beefed up security after their turn for being hit last week where twenty five shots were fired.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mother Nature

It's storm season in this part of the world and loud crashes of thunder with lightning strikes are common. Each year a number of people die from direct hits and I have seen mud huts razed to the ground with all the occupants “frozen” as they were electrocuted.
This time Mother Nature unleashed one of her spectacular displays and ignited 7 million litres of petrol. The fire was still burning after three days. No one was injured in the blast but local residents had to endure a sky full of soot as the refined petrol burnt out of control.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Clipper Yacht Race

The Clipper round the world race is in town. Ten gleaming hi tech identical boats that race each other around the world every two years. The idea is also to include some novices on board for some of the legs. From ex street kids to varsity graduates young people are given the chance of a lifetime. It was so nice of the local police to welcome the international sailors to our shores. They had set up a mobile police station complete with mounted cops on horses (for that elevated view of trouble makers) It was also kind of the city council to provide teams of cleaners that roamed up and down the now spotless quayside in search of every spec of unwanted litter.
Such is the welcome Durban puts on for our foreign visitors. Pity they don’t stay here year round.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lights and Big Bangs

Durban really knows how to celebrate the Festival of Lights otherwise known as Diwali. Some people go to great lengths to decorate their homes with colourful strings of electric lights. Others release huge fireworks which annoy a lot of pet lovers. Each year dozens of animals end up at the SPCA terrified by the loud bangs. Many die on the roads as they flee the noise. Then there is the usual array of kids and adults with blown off fingers and assorted burns. This year one kid managed to burn the home down with a sparkler. New legislation will limit fireworks to ten occasions in the year but with no cut off time on those days.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Swallows V Jumbo Jets

Bird Lovers unveil a new information board at Mt Mooreland north of Durban.

Three million Barn swallows gather in vast swarms before settling to roost for the night. Only problem is they are directly in the path of Durbans soon to be new airport. Weighing in at 16 grams a large jet engine will simply vapourise this creature. Sucking in ten of the hapless birds might bother the pilot especially on the crucial take off stage. Bird lovers have quickly turned the site into a major tourist venue with hundreds of people and their families gathering to view this nightly spectacle. Airport authorities say they will use sophisticated radar to redirect flight paths when neccessary. Current score Swallows 1 Airport 1. (watch this space for updates)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Film Fests & Wannabees

With the camera taped down shooting gets underway for the Fixed Frame Movie Festival on Durbans North Beach Pier.

Last night saw the launch of The KwaSuka Fixed Frame Film Festival. Simple rule..One had to produce a one minute video/animation etc without the frame changing. A lot of fun and creativity went into it with forty seven great entries. The theatre was so packed people had to sit on the stage. There was an after party and I felt my age as I could not relate to the rap and hip hop music that even the young uns didn't really want to dance to. Still a great evening for all. Wondering into the office this Saturday morning there were about thirty wannabee TV presenters. Some looked like they were still at school. A local company was giving "how to" lessons and the wannabees were all hoping that this training would get them onto the small screen. In South Africa one often hears of the "juniorisation" of the news room as compared to BBC CNN and others. I guess maybe the salary structures have something to do with it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Serial Killer

Protesters call for the death penalty for the "Umzinto serial killer".

This guy is accused of killing and probably raping ten woman and dumping their bodies in a sugar cane field. He duped them with a con that he had jobs lined up for them. They paid him money and he killed them. Today he faced the media for he first time as the cops have tried to hide his identity.A quiet pleasant character. The local governmnent reacts with a huge bash with preachers and free T shirts and food for all.It is meant to be targeted at men and explain to them not to kill and rape woman. Out of the huge crowd only about 10% were men. Just another day in paridise.The next day a further body was found.

Jethro Tull

I was all set up to interview Ian Anderson from the seventies rock group Jethro Tull. He was going to lend his support to the Save The Wildcoast Project. Apparantly there was some dispute between the promoters and the band and the Durban leg of the concert was called off along with the press conference re the Wild Coast. I had dug out my old Tull albums and was hoping for an autograph like a regular groupie.
Above is a typical scene of the Wild Coast which an Australian mining company plans to "develop" Hike it while you still can!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Grey Day

Durban's Island View starage facility exlodes in a massive fireball.

It's officially summer in this warm tropical part of the world. The forecast is for cold wet weather with snow in the berg! I'm currently waiting to interview some legal boffs on a recent explosion and fire in the harbour.Here is some BG...
Got a call in the early evening re an explosion and fire in the harbour. After almost coming to blows with a number of goofy city police who had blockaded the entire harbour we begged lied and sneaked ourselves to a good vantage point to film this awesome fire. One resident then showed us to a nearby flat with a great view. We managed to outshoot our rivals with some great visuals.
On the streets there was chaos as police told residents to evacuate their homes in case the fire spread or the toxic fumes from these burning chemicals changed wind direction. Most ignored the police and just watched the spectacle. We eventually got back to base and fed the story through after midnight.

The next day we chartered a plane and tried to fly overhead but Air Traffic Control warned us away as the area over the harbour is restricted. Had a bumpy ride with the planes doors off and the pilot tried his best to give me a steady shot. One person was incinerated in the blaze.
Well no legal boffs were prepared to speak to us so its pier jumping time. Oh yes there were four people shot dead in a botched heist at a pension pay point but too far for us to get there in time. We did dispatch a crew later in the rain and dark to cover twelve old people burnt to death in a mystery fire in an old age home. Such is life.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Surf & Murders

Durban Diaries Blogger Clive Read leaps off North beach pier for a quick body boarding session.
Durban is a far cry from New York City although our traffic is rapidly approaching gridlock at times. Timing is everything. We are sitting here on the East Coast of Africa with some of the best weather in the world. So what does most of this cities folk do come 4pm? They head home in rush hour traffic when there is this warm ocean to leap into . My office is five minutes from the beach and one does not even have to swim out to sea and can leap off the pier into the surf with a board. A quick surf or swim followed by a Wimpy coffee and most of the traffic is on its way.
Today is a real quiet day at the Television news station where I work. Just the usual murders hi jackings and daily crime in this great country called South Africa. We don't even bother any more unless its a mass killing or some celebrity. I covered the funeral of local reggae star Lucky Dube last week who is just another stat on the crime books. Of course the top cops were put on the case and three guys are now on trial. The most pathetic thing was one of his young sons (about 8) who approached me at the funeral and told me his dad played in a band in Jo'burg. I asked him what his Dads name was and he replied "Lucky Dube" So the grieving family had decided not to break the news to this innocent child and here he was at his fathers funeral with hundreds of mourners proudly telling me about his dad who played in a band.
If you don't become thick skinned in the news business in SA you will be doomed or leave for New Zealand. As I am typing this my mobile pings to notify me off the latest housebreakings and hijackings in my neighbourhood for the day. I check on the streets involved and carry on with my day.