The free newsletter aimed at fostering goodwill among residents, merchants and visitors to Melville
Letter from the Editor
What kind of World Cup have you had?
I’m feeling a little cheated because apart from the first Bafana Bafana game for which I donned my yellow and green, I’ve spent much of the time floored by a cold no doubt exacerbated by the icy spells we have had.
I resent that my plans to pound the streets of Melville were curtailed but at least we had one night of ‘gees’ at The Art Room where Simonetta’s all day bash spread goodwill and complimentary bubbly. Whichever way one looks at things, the Cup has been all-consuming for South Africans which has been a brilliant up yours to all the nay-sayers who predicted doom, gloom, crime and other disasters. By all accounts it’s been a major boost for Melville with the Visitors Centre proving to be an invaluable resource.
Of course this issue would not be representative of the time without some content about the football and unsurprisingly columnists Bruce Fordyce and Deon Maas both chose this subject matter.
I suppose as the final curtain comes down and the last tourists fly off we’ll be suffering withdrawal symptoms but being the resilient nation we are, I have faith we’ll keep the vibe through winter and beyond.
IN THIS ISSUE
- Know your neighbour: Peter Magubane
- The Mighty Wurlitzer by Vaughan Taylor
- The World Cup Take 1: Bruce Fordyce
- The World Cup Take 2: Deon Maas
- Artist James Durno
- Jane Griffiths on a unique pavement garden
- Pet sitter Daniel de Lange
- Credits and contact details
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOUR
Hard work drove him to success and hard work remains his mantra. Peter Magubane talked to Suzanne Brenner.
Now in his ’70s, Peter Magubane’s reputation as a world renowned photographer precedes him. With countless publications to his credit, he’s been awarded and lauded and he’s had two honorary doctorates bestowed upon him.
As a schoolboy, his most prized possession was a Kodak Brownie camera and his greatest inspiration came from the pages of Drum magazine. With a foot in the door there years later as a driver, he was exposed to some of this country’s best talent and his break came when Jurgen Schadeberg trained him as a darkroom assistant.
By 1955, Peter was a fully fledged field photographer, starting with his coverage of the ANC convention that year in Bloemfontein. It was the beginning of an illustrious career spanning trials, challenges to the human spirit and politics of our times.
In 1958, he was the first black South African to win first prize for Best Press Photo of the Year – he also won the third prize – but the second prize winner refused to shake his hand.
His position as the leading lensman, observer and commentator saw him undertake commissions worldwide and he was courted by international media including Time magazine. Of course he was also a focus of the special branch and apartheid’s draconian laws and he was interrogated, imprisoned in solitary confinement and banned from doing what he did best – taking photographs.
Luckily for us, his voice would not be silenced and today Peter continues recording rites of passage and culture although news is no longer on his agenda.
I visited Peter in his cosy Melville home which he bought on auction in 1997. He is quieter, more reticent than I remember him when our paths crossed at the newspaper group where we both worked in the ’80s.
Undoubtedly one of our leading lights in Melville, Peter was born not far away in Vrededorp (now Pageview) and he grew up in Sophiatown. His memories of that time include selling fruit and vegetables door-to-door with his father in Melville, and gangsterism in Softown – but, he says, there were no knives or guns back then, it was all down to fist fights.
Indeed, he recalls boxing to keep fit but these days he says his only hobby is his work and conversation always leads back there. He points out that he never saw himself as a black photographer: “Apartheid was there by name but some of us lived as human beings,” he says, before adding he used his camera as a gun to fight apartheid.
These days Peter Magubane embraces the digital age and encourages young people to pursue photography as a career.
And his advice for those starting out? “Work hard and don’t sleep on your cameras.”
MUSIC TO HIS EARS
Vaughan Taylor, Melville resident and chairman of the Johannesburg Theatre Organ Society, enthuses about his pet project.
Picture the scene. It’s March 15, 1940 and 2 500 people have filled the newly completed 20th Century Theatre situated in downtown Johannesburg.
The house lights are dimmed and the legendary theatre organist Dean Herrick commences his programme on ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’. He emerges on the rising stage seated at the organ and playing Glen Miller’s In the Mood.
So just what is The Mighty Wurlitzer?
Originally developed for silent picture accompaniment, a Theatre Pipe Organ (or TPO) permits the organist to simultaneously play many instruments from its horseshoe-shaped console. Known as the unit orchestra, the TPO offers a palette of tonal colours and always includes the toy counter or collection of ‘bells and whistles’ used primarily for silent movie accompaniment. Inside the pipe chamber the organ pipes range in size from a drinking straw, to the monster Diaphones which stand over 3m high.
Wurlitzer was by far the leading manufacturer of theatre organs and shipped over 2 000 instruments around the world. Dean Herrick spent 44 years in South Africa devoted to the cause some years later and had the former Metro Theatre organ installed in his Parktown residence, which featured regularly on recordings and broadcasts up until he died in 1981..
Of particular interest, that same Mighty Wurlitzer which greeted guests at the opening of the 20th Century Theatre in 1940 is now over 70 years old and lies silent and unplayable in a church in Randburg.
The Johannesburg Theatre Organ Society realises the historical and international value of the theatre organ and is considering options around restoration. Become part of the restoration project and join our Facebook page: Wurlitzer Opus 2232.
Vaughan can be contacted on 011-482-8601 and firstname.lastname@example.org
WORLD CUP: TAKE 1
Bruce Fordyce needed no encouragement finding the ‘gees’ during the World Cup.
I’ve had Brazilian guests staying with me and it has been very entertaining observing them observing South Africa and more particularly, Johannesburg.
They are intelligent and well read enough to know that we do not all have lions and elephants strolling outside our front doors. They also arrived here understanding that we don’t all carry things on our heads, or hunt for our food with spears. They had been warned about the decibel levels of the infamous vuvuzela and the necessity of quickly purchasing the essential fashion item that is the makarapa. But they were completely unprepared for the freezing winter snap that blasted into the city on the opening day of the World Cup and then lingered for the best part of the first week.
The last winter World Cup was the 1978 Argentinean event and my guests were then too young to attend that event. Besides, this is Africa, and Africa is steaming hot, right? Wrong! The ice block in my dogs bowl on Saturday morning was a revelation to my guests as has been the thick blanket of frost covering my lawn each morning.
Blankets, jerseys and gloves were all brand new purchases on the Saturday following the opening ceremony. What a boost the weather has been to Johannesburg’s retail businesses. Football games on my television are viewed huddled around the heater with steaming bowls of soup or coffee. Football games watched live in Johannesburg and Pretoria’s magnificent stadiums are attended in so much bulky clothing that the Michelin man looks skinny by comparison.
I have been reassuring my guests that this is an unusually cold spell and that we love the clear blue winter skies and exhilarating crisp mornings. I even showed them my sky blue T shirt with the message for rainy, cloudy, depressed Capetonians: 3 months of Winter Cape Town and this is the colour of our skies every day.
“At least it doesn’t snow here in your winter,” they remarked. They have been so stoic in their battle against our cold I just haven’t been able to tell them about September 10, 1981 when it snowed so heavily we all made snowmen and threw snowballs.
I’m hoping they will be back home in warm Sao Paulo before our next cold spell arrives.
WORLD CUP: TAKE 2
Deon Maas took seriously his search for value-for-money World Cup viewing options.
Any event that’s on the cover of both Time magazine and Huisgenoot in the same week is worthy of my attention. Even though more than 60% of the readers at www.dieburger.com still want the World Cup to go away and are irritated by the sound of the vuvuzela, they should come to terms with the fact that the Nats are not in government, the church has lost the battle to close bottle stores on Sunday and you are allowed to slaughter a cow in your backyard.
My girlfriend Veda and I accompanied my Prague-based colleague Keith and another friend Gary – who is a very famous director of photography mainly based in New York – to check out the World Cup via live feeds in various bars in Melville. All strictly for scientific research, of course.
Unlike the bars in Hatfield, Pretoria, that have a fat price-fixing scam going down to rip off tourists but not the locals, a lot of Melville’s bars seem to be equal opportunity offenders with the price of a Castle having risen to a quick R20 and a Castle draught to R30. For the record, Pombo in Albertville sells the same draught for R13.
It only took us one night of research to find this out and we quickly figured out where the places were that didn’t overcharge.
Wish has always been one of those places that I viewed as a glorified internet cafe as whenever I walk past there, all I see are loads of people with their heads buried in their laptops and very little in the line of conversation.
Once I discovered a two-for-the-price-of-one whisky special, including their single malts, I was more inclined to view the place in a brighter light. I was even more impressed that they take their soccer watching seriously and tell people standing at the bar to get out of the way so others can watch the soccer.
For me, I’d found my soccer home and the guy who owns Wish has a new client for life. Funny how some years later soccer brings out the best in us, unless of course you play for Bafana Bafana.
Deon Maas’ book WITBOY IN AFRICA – Diary of a Troublemaker (available in Afrikaans and English) entered the best seller list almost as soon as it was launched.
MAKING ART AND MUSIC
Melville artist James Durno is active in his community and recently assisted with the Melpark School wall project. Now he’s receiving accolades on another front.
James Durno (photographed here with Jolanta) can boast that his artwork has been used on the front cover of two World Cup CDs – one in 2003 and now Shapa Bafana Shapa released by Gallo Records. Furthermore, he produced and sang on one of the tracks, The Beautiful Game, written by his wife Jolanta in collaboration with poet and praise singer Eric Begala who hails from the informal settlement of Masiphumele.
No stranger to Melville, Eric worked as a waiter here last year and met the couple when he rang their doorbell in May 2009. It was a fortuitous meeting of creative talents which culminated in Eric singing their song at Cape Town’s MTN Fan Park on June 11.
“Our song was in the top 10% out of over 300 International World Cup Songs on the YouTube competition, worldcupsong.com,” says Jolanta.
CDs are available at The Melville Visitors Centre and Bookdealers of Melville. James Durno’s artwork licensed for use on Shapa Bafana Shapa is on exhibition at The Art Room in 7th Street.
PAVING THE WAY TO HEALTH
Jane Griffiths is inspired by a ground breaking garden in nearby Parktown North.
Most of us plant vegetables in our gardens with the intention of growing food for ourselves. However, Denise O’Callaghan’s vegetable garden is on her pavement. And she grows her vegetables for the dozens of people who walk past her Parktown North home on their way to catch a bus or taxi in Rosebank.
When she first started five years ago she was quite surprised to find that the people the vegetables were meant for walked past the ripe tomatoes and did not touch them. One day she asked an elderly gentleman who had stopped to look at her vegetables why he did not help himself. He replied he could not because they weren’t his.
So Denise made a sign encouraging people to help themselves but to please leave enough for others. And only then did people start picking. She was worried at first that people would take everything. But they only helped themselves to one or two and always left enough for the next passer-by.
Denise believes that apart from providing nutrition for people who need it, her pavement vegetable garden is a way of connecting with her neighbours and the community.
“It’s a small thing to do,” she says, “but imagine if we all grew vegetables on our pavements? The pavements belong to everybody. If each house planted spinach amongst their roses or brinjals next to their flowers, Joburg would become known as a generous city.”
So come on Melvillites, this spring let us also sow some seeds of change on our pavements.
Local resident Daniel de Lange (seen here with Lientjie) is available as a pet sitter. For an extremely reasonable rate he’ll feed your animals or take your dogs for walks. Call him on 083 237 9728. Reference: Dr. Charmaine Maritz, Richmond Animal Hospital 011 726 6323.
ART AND BOOKBINDING CLASSES by artist Stephan Erasmus. Email: email@example.com
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