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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Everything is broken

broken

It’s that time of the year again. Everything is broken.

Nothing works although there’s plenty of it to go around.

Nothing gets finished. Everything is started, the year is over, the work ain’t done, there are piles upon piles of incomplete tasks that nobody has the cojones to abort or make decisions on. Everything is half-arsed, half-done, poorly-researched, self-centred, and it’s cold and wet. Nobody cares. We’ve lost interest — except the bank, they charge plenty.

Nothing gets completed but everything got complicated.

Same as it ever was.

People require attention and a shoulder to cry on. Real and electronic notifications get too difficult to prioritise. Every in-box is overflowing, every message a task, everyone pushes for digitisation while the machines we are enslaved by require patches and updates.

You can believe nothing. The news is fake. Algorithms decide on your behalf what you should focus on first. Populism. Same as it ever was. Everything you thought you knew is confirmed by the ill-informed who like and repost with what is almost a waste of opposable thumbs. Outcry today, forgotten tomorrow. YOLO.

Everyone’s out for quick ‘n easy money. Nobody’s in it for the long run.

And if it gets too expensive to run, we either outsource to those whose working conditions we criticise, or we kill it altogether. The effort you put in doesn’t matter. There is no export function. There is no escape plan. Time to clear the air and throw out excess baggage.

Everything is broken. Same as it never was.

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Mobile visitors

The golden days of analogue

My little page about South African Bulletin Board Systems doesn’t pull in many visitors.

This doesn’t surprise me in the least; a bunch of pages with tables and text about obsolete technology in some remote country is a little too, shall we say, “isolated”. It’s rather specialised. I’m well aware of this.

Imagine my surprise then when earlier this month it was exactly the obscure subject matter about an exotic country that the site got referenced by a syndicated article about early online communities and forerunners of the internet we take for granted today.

Go on, read the articles about a BBS that kept Serbians informed amidst dropping bombs and how Peter Gabriel is an unsung hero in the proliferation of early internet access.

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On Facebook, BBSes and Big Data

Shredded BBS membership forms

Facebook is the unchallenged 800-pound gorilla in the social media arena.

There’s never been anything quite like it, nor is anything going to take its place any time soon. Even supposed “Facebook killers” like Ello, diaspora* and Google+ go by almost completely unnoticed. That lowercase “f” logo is more famous than the Golden Arches.

To some, Facebook is the Internet and the first port of call for their daily dose of news, events, social updates, political rants, cat pictures, or what your so-called friends had for dinner last night. It’s the obvious choice if you want to keep in touch with your family without having to actually do so — especially now that everyone and their mother is on Facebook (whether they know this or not).

The “like” button didn’t even exist back when I signed up on Facebook sometime in February 2008 (for pre-emptive reasons), and I found it to be as useless then as I do today. Despite spending some time on it in recent days, I still don’t really “get it”.

Facebook is quite the time-waster, in fact.

It’s counter-productive — unless you have something to promote.

Or people to stalk. Facebook is a people-data aggregator like no other.

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A thousand contributions

Piles of compact discs

Last night I made my 1000th contribution to the Discogs database.

It’s a landmark achievement. One thousand new audio entries!

It’s also baffling why it took almost 12 years to get to this stage.

Bulk tape additions and stupid digital releases aside, for some reason I kept cherry-picking the interesting things to add from my stash — sometimes the challenging items, sometimes the easy ones — until this year where I’m rummaging through discs of the compact kind.

And then a certain number approached: Contribution 1000 just had to be special, so I hauled out this childhood sin. Check it out here. You can dance if you want to.

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Fan mail

Some fan mail truly cracks me up!

Discogs is a cross-functional site. People use it for all sorts of things.

Some use it for research, some use it to showcase their personal music collection, and some use it to buy and sell stuff. Other users are here just to chat with like-minded gear heads.

To many, it’s a hobby. It’s a small community.

Then there are those dedicated ones who delight in identifying IFPI codes and CD matrices to help nail down the exact date and location that a CD or record may have been pressed, authoring the most informative articles about pressing plants and recording studios while other users make concerted efforts to identify and profile every artist they can.

Take, for instance, a guess at how many British rock guitarists named “John Smith” there are and then understand that no one John Smith is more relevant, important, topical or “bigger” than another simply because of a numerical suffix.

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