[My hazy memory and the inconsistency of my notes effected this article immensely, I must remember to make more audio recordings.]
There’s a kind of traveling that makes traveling all the more worth it. My twisted comrade, Brendan Murray (name not changed on account of indifference), coined the apt tag, ‘burn it down weekend’.
I don’t know when chaos and self-destruction became so charming, but I do know it isn’t going anywhere soon. Having spent most of my life in Cape Town I’ve grown accustomed to tourists shredding their way through public spaces. asymmetrical sun burnt strangelings laughing madly in areas meant for transmuting & other gray activity. Watching these fucked visitors, normally around 30, with their toxic state of social decorum and willingness to drink, smoke and frobnicate just about anywhere has taught me much about the human condition, mostly that we’re bored.
The Orwellin idea (put beautifully to music by Yorke) that eventually 2 + 2 will equal 5 is a threat than spans further than political propaganda. We tell ourselves all sorts of things to keep our industrious selves going. Churning out work needs a thorough grip of discipline which needs a Goebbels like grasp of intra-personal propaganda. The alarm clock, the exercise, the diet, the meetings, the concerted effort to produce. These are wonderful pastimes, but smack in the middle of holiday season the crutches of necessity fall away. That steam needs to escape and there’s no telling my generation how to blow that off.
If we have one defining characteristic it’s knowing how.
Of course burning it down where you live is a terrible idea. Negotiating your favourite coffee shops from the tail end of a binge has too many social repercussions. You’ll eventually pressurize your neighbourhood into all kinds of knee jerk anti social outbursts.
There’s no need to have a wild-eyed chat in a lift doorway about the reason you’re bleeding from one unshod foot with someone you share the grind with. These are meant for export.
I don’t prescribe it for everyone, we can’t all be so grotesquely obsessed with civilization’s underbelly, but I have yet to find an adventure equal to taking a running jump off the edge of altered consciousness. Personally, I blame the innate drabness of the nineties for my chemical threshold.
Many speak of travel as a great exercise in mind expansion and perspective gathering, I agree, but different configurations of foliage and cuisine have nothing to do with it.
It was a Thursday afternoon, I was sitting on the balcony of the Ethiopian restaurant on Jeppe street, inner city Jozi, overlooking the swirling street filled with every kind of not white citizen our boundaries have in them. It’s one of my favourite places, everything my home town isn’t, untainted by pale neurosis, just beautiful. Drinking espresso, chewing through Calland’s masterpiece The Zuma Years, a heavy document diagnosing South Africa’s power structures. A must read if that’s your thing.
I remember feeling the weight of untangling our grand national narrative in an unpleasant way. Sometimes life feels wrong no matter how right you’re behaving. It’s the strange way a psyche bent on work reacts when its had enough. Staring longingly into my phone I decipher its potential for solving my existential crises. I put it back down. That strange thing we do often, look at the phone for answers, I’ve seen many do it, glued with an ever ready swipe finger, negotiating the mystery of our own voids. Suckers.
Looking at my notebook I rewrote a quote from memory, “get busy living or get busy dying,” good advice to the stagnating. This time I picked up my phone with gusto, dialed Brendan Murray and inquired his where abouts.
“Durban bru, have to attend a wedding.” With no hesitation I invited myself and set off. A bus would do, it would give me time for heavy reading and note making on the state of the nation, a proper prelude to a weekend spent warped by every chemical we could get our hands on.
A proper primer for the serious thinking that the endless brain spasm of drug induced psychosis bestows is paramount. There’s nothing quite as tiresome as an empty head that’s expanded.
Sure it’s a painfully unoriginal salute to the dearly departed Doctor, but an honest heartfelt one. I have season tickets, it’s one of my favourite rides.
I carefully arranged my agenda in haiku form, being a sucker for concept and meaningful action, leave nothing to chance or apathy:
time for a bus trip
durban a new encounter
drug drugs drugs
A quick inventory reassured me of my preparedness. Notebook, pen, book, cash, the raw materials for documenting a first class downward coastal spiral.
Park Station was a trip in itself, a stone’s throw from my 20 square meter inner city caffeine stain, it’s an entwined nerve ending of Africa’s transport system. R220 to Durban or R700 to Malawi, I almost folded.
A short 2 hour wait in an upper deck bar filled with jovial travelling pisscats and I was set for the night long haul to the coast.
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