Category: USA

Jobless in New Jersey

Someone once said that they could name an amusement park ride after my life. Perhaps that was true in the past. In the past there were the ‘wheeee’ moments when I would fling my hands in the air and shriek with joy.

These days there is a lot more horror and less hoorah.

What Old Testament aspect of God’s nature did I annoy to find myself job-hunting in America?

I’m not really good at looking for jobs. Probably because I haven’t really had many jobs in my life.

First, I was a schoolteacher at Bryanston High School. Despite wearing post-box red platform boots for the job interview, the Headmaster, Mr Viviers, hired me on the spot.

Pari passu once or twice a week I would go to a classical music concert at the Johannesburg City Hall. Straight afterwards, I would drive down to the Stygian offices of the Citizen newspaper in even more Stygiany Doornfontein…

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My life and the Oscars

On Saturday night Jobert invited me to a trèchic dinner party at the Swan Hotel in Lambertville. I was unable to attend, (muling duties!) but Jobert kindly dropped off my Oscar at the restaurant. On Sunday night, just as I had opened the Bollinger – I don’t drink in solitary, the Pomeranians are with me – Comcast went on the fritz. By the time I had the problem sorted the lead-up to the borefest was well underway.

***

 

How we miss Joanie.

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Jackie and the the shattered psyche of a nation

Perhaps because I went to see Jackie on the eve of Donald Trump’s Inauguration, it assumed an especial significance.

The mystique of the Presidency has long fascinated me. There is something almost cultish about the way Americans refer to “My President’, rather than THE President.

Given the jaw-dropping ignorance of some Americans – well, least-ways those questioned by Jay Leno or Alan Watters on TV.

– I can’t help being less than sanguine about Jackie as box-office gold.

In Watter’s World, Jesse Watters goes around with a camera and mike and asks people questions like ‘Who fought the Civil War?’ “What is the capital of New York?” Their responses elicit gales of laughter.

Certainly its a dot on the cards that I would not be able to find a millennial who knows who ‘Jackie’ was.

The second…

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Bullies on the left

The liberal media, both print and electronic, has lost all credibility. I am reasonably sure that none of the mainstream print media had stories prepared for a Trump victory. I watched the networks and cable stations in their midnight meltdown — embodied by Rachel Maddow explaining to viewers that they were not having a “terrible, terrible dream” and that they had not died and “gone to hell.” Maureen Dowd, (Aka Maureen Dowdy, High Priestess of the NYT)

 

Dear liberal friends in America,

I usually don’t write about politics. In the past, it has gotten me into All Sorts of Trouble.

Why, when I was asked to write a piece about the American election for papers in both London and South Africa, I refrained from doing so, fearing a backlash. My political ideology has been misconstrued in the past. 

In any…

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Affluenza – the all-consuming epidemic

In 2013 Ethan Couch, a sixteen-year-old Texan was drunk driving – his blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for adult drivers – when he rammed a pickup truck into a crowd of people who were trying to help a stranded motorist on the side of a road near Fort Worth. He killed four people.

State District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him to 10 years’ probation for driving under the influence, killing four pedestrians and injuring eleven.

However, his attorneys successfully argued that the teen suffered from affluenza and needed rehabilitation and not prison.

The lawyers had argued that Couch was unable to understand the consequences of his actions because of his financial privilege. Thus the ‘affluenza’ defense is now an actual thing – if you will forgive the lapse into Kardashianspeak.

**

Affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.

Affluenza,…

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Women are (still) commodities, beauty (still) skins deep and push-up bras are (still) required

The pilot of Amazon’s late-’60s feminist office drama Good Girls Revolt ends with a group of women gleefully telling their male colleagues that they’ve been to the kind of women’s meeting where women investigate their vaginas with their compact mirrors. This revolutionary act is a signal for us to know that they are (soi-disant) feminists.

The pilot, based on Lynn Povich’s The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace, is desperate to pick up where Mad Men left off, but doesn’t.

The new movie “Suffragette,” is a handsome and noble work. Starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, it is a reminder that women used to be men’s property.

We are experiencing the Dawn of Feminism (or the Dawn of Third-Wave White Feminism,…

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Conversation Envy

This column appeared in the August 2015 edition of Fair Lady. 

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My secret envy

Kotel, Jerusalem – where my prayer was planted in the cracks two years ago. Earlier this year the journalist Caryn Gootkin was in Jerusalem. She said a prayer for me at the Kotel as I nervously prepared for my return to South Africa.

A couple of weeks ago I waited on a Jewish wedding party.

One of the women in the party gave me the challah (the bread eaten on Shabbat) and asked me to warm it in the oven. I was required to put it on a plate and bring it to the table covered with the traditional embroidered challot.

A young man said…

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come fly with me

 

This column was originally published in the July 2015 edition of The Big Issue South Africa. 

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Homeland or Hurtland?

Then, Daniel 4:34 records the king’s response: “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored.” Interestingly, the king said that his pride caused him to lose his sanity and that now, as a result of being humbled by God, his sanity was restored. In order to humble him, God humiliated him. Indeed, a humiliating experience will almost always humble someone.

Perhaps my sanity has been restored.

I will be in South Africa in the middle of April for my book tour.

That is if SAFFASTRACK works its magic and secures for me a passport in time!

A book tour. Hnh.That sounds about as daunting as going on an Iraq tour.

Everyone wishes to know whether I will return to South Africa.  Well, they keep humming “Should I stay or should…

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The Marquis of Debris

Jeffrey David Hamilton.

Not long after coming to the little river town in which I live I met an extraordinary man.

His name was Jeffrey Hamilton. He resembled a kind of Indiana Jones and was seldom seen without his trademark battered and greasy hat. His hands could open parking meters and with his craggy, tanned good-looks, he must have broken hearts like hickory nuts when he was younger.

His family was studded with over-achievers. His father, Jim, was a Broadway set designer. His French mother, an accomplished ballerina and cook.

One of his sisters, Gabrielle, wrote a best-selling food memoir “Blood, Bones and Butter” and runs a wildly successful restaurant in New York called Prune.

The other sister, Melissa, together with her colleague Christopher Hirscheimer publishes four cook books a year. Oprah rated the Canal House…

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Conversation Envy

Anaïs Nin once observed that life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

I have pondered this for some time and am bound to disagree. Life shrinks or expands, at least to me, in proportion to one’s conversations.

Last night I had an acute episode of Conversation Envy.

I can tolerate the drivel most of the time, but deep down I secretly yearn for a philosophical argument and a fresh point of view with the odd bon mot thrown in the mix to keep things fresh.

Living in a blaze of obscurity has its drawbacks. One is the quality of chat to which one is exposed.

Quentin Crisp said that the key to speaking with style is to command of a vocabulary large enough to give you both flexibility and precision in expressing yourself. The more words you have the…

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FEAR & LOATHING IN NEW HOPE, PENNSYLVANIA

I MARRY IN AMERICA – AND THE ABUSE BEGINS …

At the beginning of 2001, things were not looking sanguine for me in South Africa. I was sacked from Cape Talk Radio. I was held up at gunpoint outside my apartment in Victoria Road, Clifton. Mario Oriani-Ambrosini*, who had insisted that I come back to South Africa from the UK to work with him and Prince Buthelezi, now insisted that I leave the country. He bought me a business class ticket and sent me to Washington DC.  I felt I had no choice in the matter. I was allegedly on a hit-list (again with the hit-list!) …

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Pieter-Dirk Uys once described me as a Statue of Liberty standing in the vast bay of South African journalism. He then went on to say (as I recall) that I defeated all would-be assailants with kryptonite. Or wit….

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