Young Rival’s “Two Reasons”

So want to watch a guy sing through a monkeys ass? Well I sure do.

A collaboration between  Young Rival and Michigan artist James Kuhn is fast becoming a new internet sensation…move over numa numa guy.

Anyways its well worth a watch, some work, although the song has yet to win me over

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dont stress about us in SA – a letter that just made my Monday morning

So Paul Harris, founder of First Rand sent this mail to a concerned friend:

Hi Jeff

Hope all is well with you guys. I will drop you a line later with the family news but I would first like to respond to the e-mail you sent me attaching an article by Clem Sunter, which seemed to concern you about us here in South Africa.

You also sent me an article last year by Moeletsi Mbeki warning about the danger of an “Arab Spring” in South Africa. I often get e-mails like this from “concerned friends” worried about us, which is sweet of you guys. Of course we are concerned. Some worrying things have happened but we have been through and survived much worse in much more volatile environments. Including the Boer War, two World Wars, apartheid, the financial crisis without a bank bailout, the Rindapest, Ge Korsten and Die Antwoord!

However, for as long as I can remember there have always been people who think SA has five years left before we go over the cliff. No change from when I was at school in the sixties. The five years went down to a few months at times in the eighties!

But it seems the people who are the most worried live far from the cliff in places like Toronto, Auckland, London and other wet and cold places. Also from St Ives and Rose Bay in Sydney, Dallas and Europe and other “safe places” that are in the grip of the global financial crisis, which by the way is quite scary. Many of them have survived decades of rolling “five years left” since they left South Africa. So maybe they will be right one day!

My message is, please don’t stress about us in South Africa. We are fine. We are cool. We know we live in the most beautiful country in the world with warm and vibrant people. There are more people here with smiles on their faces than in any country I have ever been to.

Young people are returning in droves with skills and a positive attitude. Collectively we bumble along and stuff many things up while letting off a hell of a lot of steam (have you heard of a chap called Julius Malema?). Yet in between South Africans do some amazing things like win a few gold medals, big golf tournaments and cricket and rugby matches.

The South Africans I know get off their butts and do things to build our country rather than whinge from a position of comfort. We actively participate in projects that improve the lot of underprivileged communities. I would not trade for anything last Saturday in a hall full of 1500 African teachers singing at the top of their voices and demonstrating their commitment to improving education in their communities.

We have our challenges and surprises. The standard deviation of our emotions are set at MAX. You are never just a “little bit happy” or a “little bit sad”. At one moment you can be “off the scale” pissed off or frustrated or sad or worried or fearful or depressed. The next moment you are “off the scale” exhilarated, or enchanted, or inspired, or humbled by a kind deed, or surprised by something beautiful. It makes life interesting and worth living.

We also have passionate debates about the future of SA. Helped of course by red wine which you must taste again because it is getting better every year! Clem makes a great contribution to the debate as others like Moletsi Mbeki do. Russell Loubser the ex-head of the JSE made a feisty speech the other day that has whipped up emotions. Up to MAX on the emotions meter of the ANC Youth League whose campaign for nationalisation of the mines was attributed to people who have IQs equal to room temperature.

South African politics has always been volatile, we have opinions that could not be further apart and it evokes emotion on a massive scale. Interesting and stimulating for those that want to take it seriously but noise in the system to me. Fortunately we are rid of apartheid that would have definitely pushed us over the cliff. These are the birth pangs of a new and unpredictable democracy. So buckle up and enjoy the ride and contribute! That is the message I convey to South Africans.

Sad as it is, it is true that the South African diaspora has a largely negative influence on confidence in South Africa. It would not be a problem if their fretting about how long we will last before we go over the cliff was merely a reflection of their concern for us, their friends and family.

The problem is that it does impact foreign investment, which is important for economic growth. A person who is thinking of coming to visit or investing is often put off by listening wide-eyed to the stories of people who have gapped it.

As you know I host many foreign visitors and I have never, EVER, met anyone who has visited for the first time without being blown away by the beauty of the country and the warmth of the people. It is not for nothing that South Africa has the highest ratio of repeat visitors of all long-haul destinations.

So, Jeff, how can I help you stop stressing out about us? Maybe best is that you get exposed to some articles and websites that give a more balanced and uplifting perspective of South Africa. So please don’t worry and if you get a chance, put in a good word for us.

All the best

PAUL HARRIS

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and these artists sure prove that. Here are five of my favorite cover songs…so far.

Lake Street Dive seen here doing a cover of the Jackson 5’s I want you back. There other music is even better so take a listen

Angus and Julia Stone covering You’re the One That I Want from Grease the musical…the perfect love song. 

Sophie Madeline actually has a bunch of great covers but seen here performing a cover of Goody  Goody by Frankie Lymon (on of my favorite songs EVER!)

Gil Hockman, on of SA’s own doing Gin & Juice by Snoop Dogg…Lion…Dogg

Birdy  covers Bon Iver, the kings of cover songs…I think it may be more famous than the original.

 

 

Love is…

I do it for my health
Nobody feels me quite as much as I feel myself
Max Normal: The baddest public speaker,
Sub-funk from the aether, to pump through your speaker
Play, play fans you chose the wrong pot to piss in
You work for us, man. Here’s your job description:
Love us more than anything in your life
We don’t play games, drop names, pull strings or bite
Ask nothing of us save that which is practically beneficent
To you and your quest for complete self sufficiency
Choose the quickest way between two points
Don’t waste your energy on bullshit interaction
Don’t be scared of anything except letting yourself down
Out-do yourself, work harder than anyone else… now
Make very clear distinctions between parasites and creators
Be a creator instead of a second-hand artificial flavour
Do not concern yourself with anyone’s opinion of your methods, save your own
Be three steps ahead of everyone, I promise you’ll make it home
Do not sleep too much,
Be firm yet supple, use me as a weapon, Max Normal flirts with trouble,
Put me on the front-line. I cannot be destroyed
You know the deal, anti-personnel spells get deployed
Make our music as available as possible,
the shit is d.i.y. So fuck with it if you feel you got the skill.
Do not try to be clever, rather direct and practical
Fuck fancy construct diagrammatical
The free-radical, lone hitman for hire
Power-hungry liars fan the fire
Treat people who do not understand what we do with the least amount of energy as possible
Live it, don’t give in, be original, even when you aren’t,
Make your mom proud
Take us all over the world, we like to travel
Steer clear of dead things you never know, you might unravel
Your hidden secrets, young descendants of Eve
Work the hardest at becoming entirely independent of me
Utilise me as you would a product, here comes the best bit:
Invent the future – then manifest it
Keep yourself in check, sir. Don’t forget it, decide exactly what it is that you want
Then go out and get it without requiring anything of anyone
Spark something new that’ll last forever
Don’t go to them, let them come to you
Do not underestimate your value, start representing
When my mom send me into this world she sent a blessing
This job description could be translated as: how to manage an explosion
Stay invisible till you invincible then set your plan in motion
This is war, we battle demons, become the perfect assassin
Do not endanger the unit by being anything less than perfect
Channels are open, do not be afraid of this but notice
Stepping through these channels is dangerous
Corporate giants can’t fuck with the link between our art and our clients
So come on, freak us out, be defiant and non-compliant
And above all things be honest, even if there’s no end in sight
And know that I will defend this shit with my life
Have fun but know that having indefinite fun requires meticulous maintenance
I’ve been ridiculously inconspicuous but now I’m sick of the painkillers
I’m here to bring the pain, let us avoid stagnation at all costs
Step lively, do what you say, kick information that’ll last
Know that I do not perform for people, I make music that I love
And it’s wonderful to watch people in love

Heather…marry me?

A good family friend of mine is the most amazing photographer…sadly she is based in New Zealand but I have promised myself that I have to have her at my wedding! Check out these amazing pictures on Facebook and if you happen to be based in the land of sheep track her down and prepare to be astounded! You can also read her blog here.

 

This is my all time favorite picture:

 

You are most yourself when not trying to be yourself

“A good traveller is one who does not know the destination, and a perfect traveller does not know where he came from.” – Lin Yutang

Do you ever feel that you can never get quite what you wanted to express out and into the world? There’s an aching in your spine, the nausea moving through your stomach and clouded thoughts sifting dimply through your mind. Life is strange paradox, we have all the options in the world open yet we don’t know which one to choose. It’s a paradox of freedom I suppose, to be frozen by the overwhelming abundance of choice. There are so many examples, so many individuals to learn from and to guide us. Yet we sit. We stare. We long.

It seems that creation and art itself is a paradox because in order to authentically express one’s self it must come from an absent mind, without intention. The Taoist term is wu-we: to do by not doing. Anything clear and distinct or whenever we have a vision or conviction it seems the outcome is less powerful, at least to ourselves, than unabashed expression. It may be primal instinct, something as civilized as culture may just mold our urge to thump around on the ground in a socially acceptable way. Another paradox it seems: to lash out because you’re unable to lash out. Freud called this neurotic behavior, to express our desires in a way society approves of. Heavy Metal and video games are great examples of neuroses. Instead of a Dionysian and cathartic explosion of our urges, we bury it or try and find that which hits closest to what we would really like to do.

This perspective works well when considering the evolution of Western culture of the past two centuries. As man became more and more civilized, his urges for primal expression grew stronger. Capitalists try to develop products to submerge these, to use material possessions as a subterfuge for that which is most natural. As Christianity and guilt’s grip loosened, the new iron grasp of consumerism swoops in to relieve the forgotten gods and replace them with a new form of diversion. As industrialism developed so did uniformity, blandness and perfectionism. With new technology came new standards. Man began to feel more and more separated from his world, alienated from the dirt under his nails.

When looking at the artistic development of the past few centuries one begins to see the breakdown of artificial barriers and rules while simultaneously more structure and rule began to rise all around. As the ground was paved to roads and skies filled with buildings, music and art became freer and looser than before. Composers began rejecting tonality, artists became more and more abstract and social standards began to loosen. Within their constraint man found a way to be free beyond their physical barriers. Neuroses began to evolve. As science developed man was found to be a speck within the whirlwind of the universe leaving him lonelier and in greater despair than ever before. Mankind began its decline into nihilism and has been faced with the paradox of their freedom ever since. Even with God in the picture, more and more paradoxes began to arise.

While we became more civilized externally, internally we remained just as primal. Bigger bullets, bigger bombs, bigger buildings, bigger fires, bigger disasters and yet our hearts remain the same size. Another paradox, how the greater the technology, the greater the wealth, the lower the happiness, and the increase of discontentment (manufactured or not) than ever before. Life itself became a paradox, that meaningless must become our meaning like a phoenix from a flame. Even when the big picture makes all of life seem trivial and pointless, we live on continuing to feel, love and desire. Walking aimlessly in the dark we keep the light in our minds and paint our own canvas.

I’ve always found the most absurd and chaotic to be the most beautiful, something I find very rare. Somehow in chaos, absurdity and atonality I find harmony. Staring the mess of Jackson Pollack’s art I feel for a moment as if the whole world makes sense. All the calculated and formulated art seems so cold and distant. It was as if the artists were missing something or maybe I was missing something; probably a little of both. However, when staring into a smear of paint on the wall, I feel most alive. The same goes with music. When hearing atonal chaotic noise as in a Frank Zappa composition I feel as if the world is dancing. Maybe these artists finally caught up with the universe and began to play to the world’s tune rather than making it fit into theirs. The music of atonal “avant-garde” artists seems to write music for life that matches the sounds and poetry of the world around us in all its chaotic harmony. Their music and art is closest to pure expression, to a primordial release. It speaks to the heart and mind in ways formulated and civilized culture cannot. There is a very unique emotion to it, an emotion that runs deeper than any other and blankets one’s body inside and out.

What’s most fascinating in my experience of creating such music and art is that intention can be the biggest hindrance to achieving a potent effect. Like wu-we, creating powerful improvised or spontaneous music, poetry or art, one must let go and surrender all will and intention while involved in the creative process. Facilitating this sort of creation becomes a very complex task. Like in Zen, enlightenment or the Zen realization comes when one is relieved of action. To do this is hard to explain and even harder to do. This is so because doing is quite the opposite of the intention, and again intention will tarnish the results. Like trying to calm the waves in a pond, the best method is to let it be. You cannot flatten water; to do so would only make the matter worse. Authenticity is much the same. As soon as awareness or intention is brought to the matter, it disappears. You are most yourself when not trying to be yourself, this is when you are most authentic.

These ideas are quite foreign to the Western ideal of things. Work is highly valued and non-action or idleness is looked down upon and a waste of time. Time is given a dollar value and to waste time is to waste money. One must have goals, orientation, and most of all intention. It is no wonder many are walking around feeling hallow, inauthentic, and confused. How can one capture that which can only be captured by not looking for it? Another paradox is that happiness only comes when it is not sought after. This is called the paradox of hedonism. This is not too foreign. Just think of all the most compelling and interesting nights of your life. Often they arise when unplanned or out of boredom. As soon as an intention is set, the goal is lost. However, it seems counterintuitive to claim life is best lived directionless and without purpose. This is what we consider depression, a state of confusion,  and despair. It seems we have on our hands another paradox; life is best lived when aimlessly chasing something. Sounds off still.

If our lives are like a Pollock painting like the existentialist proposes , how is it we capture our authenticity? We already let go the idea of the aimless life, but is there a way to synthesize the two extremes? To look at the opposite end, a life of rigid rules and strict dogmatic devotion leaves one caged and bored. Routine is the punishment Sisyphus was condemned to, and it is commonly said variety is the spice of life. Too much though may prove too strong for most. Total instability is stressful and begins to turn life into a proverbial whirlpool. However, if we try and mix our lives up, it becomes contrived like the middle aged man trying to recapture his youth with hip clothes and a hot rod. So what is the overarching philosophy to be? Can we learn from spontaneous creation?

For me, I feel most at home when writing, doing as I am now: making the message up as I go while watching my thoughts and emotions weave themselves through my fingertips and onto the paper or into the air; letting the piece of work take form as it may. Sure, the finished product is not as refined as it could be, but it is as true and real as it gets. It remains authentic so long as intention is kept at a distance (which is hard when intention is the topic at hand). One must facilitate a necessary environment for it to occur without forming any sort of goal, like when opening Microsoft Word or setting up a canvas. One is placing themselves in a context relevant to their mode of expression or catharsis while letting go of a goal. This is very much like meditation where you take position to facilitate non-action.

There must be a way to do the same in life. To allow for the possibility of happiness and spontaneity without actually seeking it and remaining open to all life has to offer. Like a Pollock piece, one has to take a step back and absorb all the strokes of life. It’s in the big picture we are simultaneously lost and found. Could it be the meaning of life is simply to live it, to accept it, and revel in its ambiguity? Is life an end in itself? If so, is seeking meaning, purpose and direction self defeating? Like a guitar solo or poem, maybe authenticity and truth come when we stop trying. Bukowski has two words written on his grave: Don’t Try. This is a message to writers looking for inspiration on how to stay inspired. As he so elegantly put it, “A good poem is like a beer shit.”

In our society and the collective consciousness, being “put together” and holding a clear and distinct understanding are held in high esteem, but maybe being lost isn’t so bad. It always seemed to me that the ones who appear to have their lives together are the lost ones, while the rest end up with something beautiful. It seems that life happens whether we want it to or not. We wake up, the sun rises, things happen, we die and life goes on. Change is the way of the world, and trying to grab onto something will only make its departure more painful.

It seems all of life is a paradox, and most of the truths are backwards. This isn’t anything new, which is another paradox: that sometimes the oldest and most primitive end up being the most timeless and sophisticated. As for expression and the irking under my skin I started with, it seems as if I achieved my goal as always, by not meaning to.

 

Bullying, a way of life?

 

Have you heard? Bullying is a major problem.

 

Recently the spotlight has once again been turned towards the issue of bullying in schools following the tragic death of Amanda Todd.

 

In what seems like a never ending cycle news reports and social media platforms have been filled with debates and stories surrounding bullying and what children have to endure while at school.

 

Why now? Why now do we remind ourselves of the major problems adolescents face and endure at least until Britney Spears shaves her head again or the next minister’s wife is found to be the leader of an international drug cartel.

 

To me it really seems that there is a bigger problem, and the problem is a lot bigger than bullying in school.

 

Bullying has become a global norm, the way to go about getting what you want.

 

How do we expect the youth to stop bullying when we teach them that that is the way to get things done…to get ahead in life?

 

It seems we haven’t realised that in some way we have all become the big bullies in the playground.

 

It’s in the way we drive, someone cuts you off…hoot, swerve and intimidate the other car to ‘get them back’.

 

It’s in the way we protest, not giving us what we want…hack, charge, maim until you get what you want.

 

It’s in the way we react to protesters; listen or we shoot to kill.

 

It’s in the way we deal with politics, we don’t like what you are saying or doing…watch out we will have you killed, regardless if it is on live television or not.

 

We have taught the youth that bullying is okay…even if we didn’t mean to.

 

So how do we break the cycle? If you don’t stop bulling we shoot to kill…