It’s all on video

Nick Berg's final moments alive

I’ve recently been clearing out a bunch of old files. Many were video clips.

There were movie trailers, accidents, parodies, interviews, news events, “banned adverts”, risqué music videos, and a lot of other deviant material you wouldn’t show your mother. Most were collected around the turn of the millennium and kept for reference, you know… as evidence and for “historic reasons” should we forget that these incidents ever happened or in case nobody else believed that they did — because this was before everyone and their grandmother were online.

Back then there was no streaming. There was no such thing as YouTube.

To see the clips, you’d have to download them and watch them off-line using QuickTime or the horrid RealPlayer; the majority had accumulated in the days before YouTube and Liveleak (both of which launched in 2005 only). Accordingly, the quality of the clips is appalling by today’s standards because bandwidth was also at a premium.

Those early sources included luminaries such as ogrish.com, snuffx.com, orsm.net, ebaumsworld.com, stileproject.com, worth1000.com, malgusto.com and a host of other pioneers of free expression and public mockery. They often broke “news” before the traditional networks did; one might even call them precursors to social media as we know it today. Indeed, many were so-called shock sites but the archives also include perfectly wholesome material featuring furry felines long before those became a mass market phenomenon (although the clips worth archiving had big cats doing the decidedly unfunny acts of snacking on humans).

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The first experience with reBuy

Logo (image via reBuy)

reBuy is a German web-based service that allows you to sell your unwanted media and electronic gadgetry.

They accept books, CDs, DVDs, tablets, phones, cameras, wearables, Apple devices, software and, as of recently, even brand watches. There is obviously some acceptance criteria (condition, presence of EAN/ISBN, market demand etc.); they won’t take just any old torn book or scratched CD because they, themselves, evaluate and re-sell the stuff for profit. It’s a business. There are many sites like it.

When reBuy first came to my attention some years ago, I pecked in a sequence of digits to see what some random junk was worth: I was dismayed to find that if it wasn’t worth peanuts, they didn’t accept it at all due to low demand, or they simply couldn’t find my exotic CDs in their database to begin with. And if a product or book has no EAN or ISBN, then fuhgeddaboudit! Shelve the idea for now.

A few weeks ago some unwanted stuff emerged during spring cleaning. I again entered a sequence of digits and found that certain items were indeed worth more than just a few cents. One specific two-disc mini-series DVD, for instance, is always highly in demand – usually hovering around the 4€ mark. Other items were worth as little as 15 cents! The trick here is to exceed a total sales value above 10€ because only then reBuy foots the postage bill — which spares me the hassle of selling and posting near-worthless stuff as individual items and having to deal with end customers.

This could be an interesting little experiment. Even if the items were in good condition, I can suffer their loss if the deal goes sour. Let’s do this.

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Cassette cover art

Envelopes full of little pictures

A few years ago I wrote that I had successfully digitised my precious collection of music tapes. Most tapes got thrown out, and that was supposed to have been the end of the story.

The same announcement also mentioned a collection of ready-to-use pictures to use for cover art.

And then there was the artwork, consisting mostly of magazine cut-outs and every other conceivable printed source of imagery. I have memories of going through stacks and stacks of Family, Radio & TV, Huisgenoot, Fairlady, and Scope magazines, cutting out and hoarding a vast gallery of small pictures, usually no larger than 2x2cm, later even butchering my precious old Top 40 magazines, and whatever came my way.

Well, my stash of envelopes full of small pictures turned up again a few days ago.

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The death of recordable compact discs, part 4

Pile of unplayable recordable discs, some with adhesive labels

Once upon a time there was a co-worker.

He complained bitterly about how much he hated adhesive labels applied onto CD-Rs.

My response was that he should have used decent labels. Most of my self-burnt music CDs have adhesive labels, and they play fine. He didn’t believe me.

The co-worker was wrong. My discs play just fine.

This was over a decade ago. Today, he’d be right.

The vast majority of my self-burnt music CD-Rs have become near unplayable — whether with or without adhesive labels, although he must be given some credit: the unstickered ones are certainly less troublesome.

And here follows my most recent adventure: ripping those bastards.

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A concert in the park

Part of the "Concert In The Park" album cover

It was 32 years ago today that I was here: The Concert In The Park.

No, not the Simon & Garfunkel one — this one was held at the Ellis Park Rugby Stadium in Johannesburg on the 12th of January 1985.

It was an event of a previously unheard-of scale.

In 1985, economic and consumers boycotts, mass demonstrations and general political turmoil was at its height. South Africa was on the brink of a state of emergency. Yet one brave radio station, through the power of music, pulled off [a] historical event which captured the imagination of a troubled nation. This was the Concert in the Park.

702 Music Radio, broadcasting on medium wave, called to action over 100,000 people, from all walks of life, to celebrate South African music and to demonstrate their concern for the country’s hungry people. So successful was the call that, as the day progressed, 702 had to send out appeals to the public to stop coming to Ellis Park because by late afternoon the stadium was jam packed and crowds were gathering outside.

There is no doubt that this was a significant political and musical milestone in South African history. — Solid Gold

Never before had such a huge crowd gathered for a music event.

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Remembering the Mini Cine One

Star Wars: The Force Awakens title card

Last year we went out to the movies a total of eight times.

Other film viewings were via DVD, the web, VHS rips and downloads from the Internet Archive per USB, or whatever was showing on satellite TV — quite in stark contrast to how we watched movies back when I grew up: There was obviously no such thing as streaming; even VHS was still a few years off for us.

If you wanted to see a movie you would go to a bioscope cinema. Early-eighties Johannesburg offered several, and many were well within walking distance or along the bus route back after school.

One of these was the Mini Cine One in Hillbrow.

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Rewind: 2016

Buffoon of the year 2016

2016 is one of those years that shouldn’t have been.

It’s a leap year we could rather have skipped over entirely.

2016 was rung in with over 1000 female revellers getting robbed, sexually molested or raped by Arab males during New Year’s festivities in the German city of Cologne.

Dismay against the country’s refugee policy is voiced. Europe, as we witness, is neither as united nor as free and welcoming as it claims to be. Border fences go up, “jungles” near Calais will get uprooted, right wing fanaticism and populism are gaining ground.

The world changed for the worse. Quite frankly, 2016 can fuck right off and die.

We lost Eagles guitarist/singer Glenn Frey, and Colin Vearncombe (“Wonderful Life”). Cancer took David Bowie two days after his 69th birthday and new album, actor Alan Rickman (also 69), Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty, and rude-mouth singer/songwriter Clarence “Blowfly” Reid.

And that was just January.

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