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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Everything is 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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