Monday, October 31, 2005

back in boston

so i'm back in boston and testing a new blogging tool. hopefully this is going to let me post some nice things (videos, pictures, etc) from my trip to both my blog and the calabash blogs. we'll see. . . .
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Saturday, October 29, 2005

handlin my business

so maybe going solo works out. i got lucky and got the
one seat left on jozi to atlanta. if i'd showed up
earlier, no seat. if later, no seat. whew. so thanks.
to you. and thanks be.
the wierd part is i'd of course love to stay, but this
unknowing bit is not cool. that and being out in the
boonies, the farmland, is also not cool. i mean, if i
was going to stay, i'd want to be at the kaizer chiefs
v orlando pirates derby today in soweto. soccer in
soweto. yebo!
but no, i'm headed home. so i hope to see you all
much love.

stuck in jozi

hmmmm. remember an email like this before the blog
existed? .. . . when i was stuck in dakar, senegal
trying to get back to bamako? well now it's similar,
but still a huge pain in my arse!
our flight last night from jozi to nyc was cancelled.
so instead of being home, seeing razz perform, being
back in cold boston, i'm stuck in jozi. and not even
the nice parts. i'm out in the middle of nowhere at
some hotel/conference center deal. in a smoking room.
far away from my friends in melville, soweto, etc.
i spent 30 minutes on the phone with SAA this morning
and no deal. i almost had a jozi-zurich-boston but
that filled up before we could confirm it. grrr. and
then the guy took my cell number to call me when he
found something. that was 45 minutes ago. he told me
he'd call within 15 minutes. guess what? he hasn't
called back!
and at least in senegal, there was such a small crew
of travellers that we all stuck together. there was
the diamond dealer and his wife, the young french guy,
the doctor, etc. here there are 400 passengers and
i've talked with a couple, but i'm solo man. no
collaborating with folks, no sharing info, whatever. i
can't decide if i like this or not. i don't really
want to commiserate forever with folks, but i do want
to know if someone gets some good info. so i'm just
jammin on the ipod, in my own little world, trying to
avoid going into that anger space. i just don't find
it helpful, and i really just want to get home at this
point. if i can't be hanging out in the city, hanging
with friends, then i want to be home. HOME! so put
your prayers in the air and get me back to boston.
i'm going to sign off, save some time on the net and
try and find a flight. i'll be back . . .

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the not so far past - continued

dang - blogger is being a pain. i can't actually log
in and post so i'm having to send in my posts via
email. why won't blogger work outside the us! or on a
slow connection!

anyway, back to the story.

thursday, i got up and took the local private minibus
service downtown to where the summit was going to be.
they call these things taxis (i think i wrote that
earlier). anyway, i took a taxi downtown. found a nice
little cafe on the main square across from the museum
africa and market theater.

* side note - apparently the museum africa has a nice
exhibit on how many many south african wineries use
the "dop" system to pay their workers. as in - they
pay the workers in wine, make them stay on the
vineyards all year, provide them food and a yearly
salary of about $100. not so far from slavery . . . .
i hope i can get there to see the exhibit and educate
myself about this industry.

anyway, i found this cafe, got a coffee and headed to
the bassline, a venue where the summit would be based.
i soon ran into the brother of hempza, whom i'd met
the night before and hung out with him and hempza for
much of the morning. the summit was basically speeches
all morning, and then some more open discussions in
the afternoon. the big thing for me that day was
listening to emmanuel jah, k'naan and lady b speak.
they spoke about coming from conflict zones as
children and channeling this into their art.
emmanuel was a child soldier in the sudan and has a
heartbreaking story. heartbreaking. and he just tells
it the way it was, no holding back. the audience was
in tears. and sometimes laughing at stuff that really
you can't comprehend even if you hear it. anyway, the
basic point of this is that hip hop (and art
generally) is helping kids deal with severe violence
in conflict zones, be they war zones like somalia
(k'naan) or neighborhoods with heavy
violence/drugs/etc (soweto, south central la, etc).

after the summit was over for the day, i headed to the
songwriter's club to check out the latest release from
MELT, one of the labels on Calabash. this group,
calling themselves vivid africa were very cool. they
also helped me understand or start to understand south
african jazz, which is such a developed and amazing
genre of music. this stuff is like what is going on
elsewhere, but is completely it's own thing. and a
very cool thing it is as well. so it'll be up soon to
hear some samples of, and i'll put up pictures from
the performance here soon as well.

then i got a ride from another 1 giant leap fixer
named kerry, who had hooked up the shoot here in south
africa this spring. she dropped me off at constitution
hill for a dinner for speakers and artists at the
conference. we were eating in a courtyard at this
complex. the part we were in was part of the old fort,
where mandela was held before he got sent down to
robben island. so we were eating like 50 feet from his
old cell. crazy. this complex also houses the new
constitional court of south africa (made up of 7 men
and 4 women, hear that gw?). speaking of this, south
african democracy really seems vibrant and alive,
putting us to shame. anyway, it was a nice dinner and
then tumi and the volume played and then the mic was
opened up for anyone to do their thing. lots of great
artists got up and did spoken word, freestyle, etc.
nice. i spent most of the night chatting with emile
from black noise, and i'll put more up about him

anyway, i'm running off to get some food now, and my
hour is up. much love to all, and more later!

tuesday update (and the past a bit)

things here have continued to be busy. today i got 2
deals signed, so that is awesome. i have lots of new
music to listen to, so look for some on the 'bash and
at our house parties!
i can't really believe how busy i've been, and how
much has happened here in the course of 6 days. i've
taken some photos, taken some video, and lots of
i'll try and take things back to my arrival to give
folks a better sense of what i've been up to.
i arrived wednesday morning, and got my phone and cash
sorted out. i then found a ride with the conference
organizer's brother and a bunch of other folks
attending the global hip hop summit. a journalist, a
couple artists and a youth activist. they got dropped
off at a hotel and i headed out to meet with a label
once we got into downtown jozi.
after my meeting with the label, i headed to melville,
where i'm staying. i found a nice little cafe
(recommended by meetali) and settled in for some food,
drink, relaxation and writing. meetali didn't get off
work until 5.30 and i was staying with her that night.
so i got some food and read and wrote for a while. got
to watch an amazing thundershower that shut down the
sidewalk half of the cafe and cleared the streets
briefly. when meetali and her friends showed up, it
was already a bit late. so we headed to a bar next
door for a drink and then they dropped me off at the
welcome party at this mall called "the zone" in a
suburb called rosebank. swanky swanky place. both the
mall and the suburb. more fancy stores than anywhere
in boston that's for sure.
at this dinner, i realized that the UN in the form of
UN-Habitat was sponsoring the event, and i got to meet
some of the artists and other folks at the summit. DJ
Awadi and Positive Black Soul were there from Senegal,
and besides being legends, they are super nice guys.
Guru (from Gangstarr) and his crew showed up way late.
Kind of funny to see other artists and the staff at
the restaurant fall over him. More on him later.
I finally made it home late, found the (small) couch
and crashed.
The flight over had been 3 hours to ATL, then 8/9
hours to cape verde to refuel and not leave the plane
and then another 8 hours to joburg. and i probably
slept only 4-6 hours total on the plane. looooong
next post: thursday

Monday, October 24, 2005

2 worlds in one city

i'm sitting here in melville, the 'safest' suburb of jo'burg (aka jozi) writing this. i've got 10 minutes left on my internet time, so this may be short. anyway, i'm in a nice cafe overlooking the street in my nice pants and dress shirt, about to go meet with gallo and hopefully get them on board (finally). i'm a short walk from this nice little guest house i'm staying at where i have a small neat single room with breakfast for just about $60/night. and for the past 2 days, i've been haning out in Soweto. the south western township. THE soweto. soweto is about 20 -30 minutes drive from here, but a totally different world. it feels like the poorer parts of africa i've been in, whereas melville could be a neighborhood in california anywhere. little shops, galleries, cafes etc etc. whereas soweto is, well soweto. saturday, i got a tour of the township along with a few of the guys with the artist k'naan's group. hempza and his friend karrabo took us around. hempza is the lead organizer of this neighborhood group called "black sunday". basically, the tour was short, but we got to see the houses selling for over $350,000 in the neighborhood, hector peterson square (where the student uprising in 1976 started), the squatter camps where folks live in structures of 4 tin walls and a roof about 8x8 foot in size. and we also got to see black sunday's headquarters. (i'll get to what they do in a sec.)
yesterday, i took a public taxi (the sotrama of s.a. - vans outfitted to seat 10-15 people.) downtown, met up with hempza and his mom and took another taxi like that into soweto. then we went to hempza's house and started setting up for black sunday.
black sunday is a weekly event held on sundays in the townships around here that showcase the hip hop scene. djs, mcs, bboys, grafcats, etc all get together and it is basically an open mic, with new guys getting a break, established folks honing their acts, and famous guys dropping in. yesterday, a bunch of the acts that were at the global hip hop summit (which i was at on thursday, friday and it was pretty good - more about that later), were also at black sunday.
so, k'naan, postive black soul, emmanuel jah, gidigidi majimaji, and many others were there. tight! i've got some nice video, so i hope it makes it back and i can show you.
i've got to run now, so much love to all.
p.s. if anyone wants a "black sunday academy, soweto" t-shirt, let me know.

Monday, October 17, 2005

testing the email post . . .

testing the email post option to see if this works.
got to get the dust out of the system before this trip
. . .

headed south

getting ready to go south. sitting at this part time job i've got (for a couple more shifts) wanting to be home getting ready, or home hanging with akr. trying to use this time productively on my own stuff so that i'm more or less ready to go. the plane leaves in just over 12 hours, and although i'm pretty much packed and ready, i don't feel ready. this trip has been so fast in coming together, that i haven't had to time to think about it. but the 20+ hours in the plane will definitely provide that mind space.
i'll try and post as much as i can while i'm away. i've been told that public internet cafes and such are pretty widespread, so i'll try and get to them as much as i can. and i'll have my camera so maybe i can also get some photos up soon.