November 29, 2006

Cape Town 3...

He was sitting along the side of the divide, droned by the ocean as I ran into the winding placidity of Victoria Road, 4 kilometers South of Camps Bay. This was a man I had earlier named Dewey…only to later fall back on the literally inspired Spitzengiggle. Recently though and likely forever, he’ll remain Jupiter.

Jupiter sits on a crate at the corner of Camps Bay Drive and Victoria, a hair to the left of Pick n' Pay’s front entrance. He carries a cane that conforms to his upper arm, walks with a limp on his right side. His clothes dangle over a hungry but distantly famished dark, dark skinned body. The first time we made eye contact, he stuck out his tongue and blew spit through rickety teeth and a warming, gapped smile. If I didn’t instantly think he was insane, the deal was sealed as I crossed the street…chased by his rabid howls.

Our following encounters were brief. At times I would pass, notice his distant stare into an ocean view too perfect to be uncalculated. To me, though, he gave nothing. No spit, wink, howl...not even a grin. He never looked up. What had I done? I thought back...maybe he had initially offered something that my coldness rejected. Or, perhaps Ockham deserved his due – my credit was escaping too freely.

Days later, I was picking up laundry when a racket caught my attention. It was Jupiter. He was standing and yelling, jabbing and thrusting his cane into the air. Something had agitated his cool. No, someone. Jupiter was in a justified hot boil. I realized, quickly…he was defending the only kingdom he knew – Camps Bay and Victoria. He and a remoresless Invader began their dance. Jupiter would chase off Invader, who would retreat and stop when Jupiter turned his back. Once privy, Jupiter would give chase up our steep hill. It went on for a few rounds, this mid-day disruption at the corner of paradise in Southern Africa. Eventually, Invader left the scene in a slow and mocking retreat. After witnessing first hand, a Camps Bay street corner political struggle, I couldn’t help but cross the street and lap the victor. He had already settled back into his crate as I was passing. When he didn’t initially look up, I stopped, motioned an unsympathetic hand in the direction of the man he had chased off. He raised his glare and was at first, taken back by my attention. His arms flew tirade as he began to spit and howl in a dialect that wasn’t Afrikaans or English. It was Jupiter, and I got it right away…

Now into his 70’s, Jupiter has been on the corner of Camps Bay and Victoria for a long, long time. It’s his post. Every now and then, as I had witnessed (apologetically by Jupiter), some young punk tries to waltz in on his rightful property. They wander into the beauty of Camps Bay; think they can strong arm a “crazy old man” out of his prime, prime beachfront stomps. He said it’s a generational thing. The kids have no respect for anything (one of his major concerns for our aging world, by the way). He confessed to doing it many times in the past, reluctantly foresaw having to do it many more times in the future…that is, until he no longer has one.

As he began to shift the crate, I knew he was moving away from the glory of his late adventure. He smiled, welcomed me to Camps Bay. I smiled, thought twice…stuck out my tongue, blew spit like a child. He slapped his knee, burst into laughter so violently careless, it melted my remaining guard. His face grew squinty before dishing a timid thumbs up (half tucked behind a coiled pointer finger). Crossing the street, I found myself graced again by his now comforting – homey neighborhood howls.

I go into Jupiter’s Pick n' Pay almost every day, come out with 5 Rand, sometimes 10. Though it’s not much, it’s always for him. He never asked, not even in Jupiter. After his acceptance, I get a thumbs up, a squinty smile, a howling accompaniment every time I cross the street. Every time I say goodbye, I stick out my tongue, blow spit in his vicinity. Often, he returns the favor. Yesterday, I came out with 5 Rand, handed it to him with tongue fully stretched. He pulled my hand with surprising strength, kissed it, held it to his head. It took me by surprise. Something had changed…something between us. Real or invented, it was a connection I’ll not soon forget.

Crossing the silent street, my mind drew a line to the moment I passed him on that coastline run. I don’t know what it was exactly, seeing him so far out of town…sitting out on the rocks, looking out onto the mighty ocean. He was alone, maybe. Or maybe, simply, he just looked so peaceful I wanted to stop and talk forever until the sun settled and he left to return to the star that calls him citizen.

Maybe he would tell me everything - a world in his words, in Jupiter. Maybe he would take me there, away…show me.

November 19, 2006

Cape Town 2...

My navigator and I tied knots in our seatbelts and left after dawn, compass reaching for southern lands. We were headed for Antarctica but settled mind, instead, on the Cape of Good Hope…likely the closest we were ever going to get to the frozen, black continent.

Strange lands are these…landscapes, sandscapes. The abundance of grandeur in this country is daunting. By nightfall, after all that’s been seen for the day, my eyelids gruesomely stretch head to chin. Inescapable winds blow everywhere, and like Hell. Yesterday, they dusted our ’77 VW Beetle across the 2 lanes of Chapman’s Peak Drive as the lawnmower engine in our car shudder and popped its very own roadie soundtrack, “Gruntstruggle.” The car – all white with a rough 16 dozen dents, scratches, and minor disappearances (left rear view mirror) – appropriately seems to me, recently named after a delicious brand of Irish whiskey. Though, don’t ask me to defend appropriateness.

Baboons are dangerous. Or, so they say. I say their asses are unsightly. If fed by humans, especially on a regular basis, they adopt unhealthy habits. In extreme cases, they have to be put down…something ballparking a forever injection of sleepy time to a blindsided skull strike with a rusted shovel. Apologies, but I find range of definition to be a fascinating and educationally progressive practice.

I was easing Jameson around a sharp bend where the traffic was stopped and confusion was breeding on the side of the road. I down shifted into 2nd, tried to ease Jam into passing with a mechanical grace that he had likely lost in the late 80’s. My navigator and I rumbled through the fray of ill-parked cars, caught stares of an extended baboon family re-union on the side of the road. We parked facing the wrong direction, grabbed cameras and got out for a closer look. Adults hung in the shade, ill-inspired by admiring visitors. Babies were jetting about with careless abandon - jumping rocks and eating plastic bags that would likely later get trapped in their baby esophagi. If concern filled my veins, it was soon silenced by Squadron WBC. My initial thought - how dare I ever judge babooning baboons, minding their business. It wasn’t until commotion found our African roadside scene that I began to think otherwise.

The largest of the group strolled casual across the street, likely beginning with Jameson…the first in the line of parked cars. Lucky for my navigator and I, our doors are old and difficult to open…and so he moved on. I didn’t see this, only imagined after later witnessing his methodical practice. I was focusing on a shot of two babies dangling over their parents when I heard the banging. An older man was slamming his fist on the trunk of his car, yelling. Though, I assure this was no scene of senility. Instead, there was an 80 pound baboon sitting…no, kickin' it in the back of his Ford. And he wasn’t going anywhere…

Later that day, I found myself taking sun in the under-run sands of Boulders Beach just outside Simon’s Town. Kids belted screams of chaos as they jumped from rocks into the icy ocean. Parents sat in the shade. Europeans wore Speedos. African penguins collected on the rocks, weaved through swimmers’ legs when the day called for a break in the monotony.

It was a second scene too bizarre to initially cope. Naturally, I opted for escape, couldn’t help but think back to the likely fate of the car invading baboon…

A tour bus came to a stop in the middle of the road. Through the tinted windows, I could see that everyone quickly stood, moved to the side owning optimum POV. Out of nowhere, a man darted across the road…likely the bus tour guide. He pulled the belt from his pants, rushed the car twirling it over his head like a cowboy madman. As a machine gun of flashes snapped through the windows of the bus, I knew in that moment that that moment was his…the reason he wakes, steps on that chariot far too often and says the same shit over and over and over again. I couldn’t deflect the rushing pity from invading my mind - never had I seen a “hero” willing to reach so far over the top…but why? I could only imagine the feeling of walking back onto the bus, met by a roaring wave of applause for “bravery” in the face of danger. I could only imagine what it felt like to be lusted after by a docile (though, willing to let it fly) pack of golden women. Upon reaching the car, Savior dragged the buckle of his belt against the paneling, launched into a tirade combo of territorial yelps. The baboon retreated…and quick. All was again right in the tourist kingdom.

In hindsight, I’m pretty sure the baboon was watching as Savior jumped back into his bus. He stood there, watching as we all did…the bus pull away. The moment Savior rounded the bend and vanished, the baboon opened the door, jumped back into the car. Now well advised, the Fordman quickly began rocking the car and yelling (unconvincing and quite amateur after the earlier display). It was obvious to me, he wasn’t going to accomplish much…not without much improved conviction. In the end, it was the rocking that did it. Nauseate the animal…FYI.

I don’t know when the moment struck, but it certainly did…realization, what the hell were we doing out of the car? A flash began to run across my periphery, another…another. 3 cars and a tour bus quickly became 7. One family of peace loving monkeys turned to a legion of crazed anarchists. They began jumping on cars, running across the road, pulling on car doors. When I came back around to face my navigator, the car loving baboon was now on top of the Ford…likely feeling sick, perhaps slightly emotionally ruptured. He was standing between us and Jameson and the only thing I knew for sure - I had no interest in crossing his step.

When he made for a shrub on the side of the road, we circled around a car of 4 crammed surfers. The scene had them giddy, beaming through their cheeks. We walked slowly…calculated and calm…

“Gents, be good…I swear, if you piss that thing off…”

We pulled Jameson’s doors and jumped inside, watched as the baboon filed down the row of parked cars. He stood on his feet at every one, pulled on a locked door, moved along. At the last car, he fell back on all 4’s, retreated into the bush.

Jameson purred like a leopard in stage 5 of throat cancer when I turned the ignition. As I drove the bending road, into 2nd gear, I saw the call go out on dispatch, “Renegade baboon, sector 4 outside Cape of Good Hope. Strike three, Norman again. We gotta put him down.” I threw it into 3rd, saw Norman on the run...aided in his fugitivity by the bat-eared foxes and rock dassies intent on keeping him alive in the African Wilderness. As I pulled Jam back into 4th, I saw it…Norman’s last stand, surrounded by men holding rusted shovels. They closed in as he pretended to cower, accept his payment of death. Though, what the men in uniform could not have known, what few men have ever known about the animal kingdom was that in those approaching critical moments, a great wild saving splendor was about to take place…

3 – The infinite, surrounding bush begins to crackle and shake.
2 – Masses of birds call out in unison, form stirring clouds that blanket the innocent blue sky.
1 – Silence grows deafening, a true calm before the storm. Just as a grin floats across Norman’s baboon lips…just as the executioners catch a fleeting glimpse of Norman’s blood stained teeth -

Beach…stretching and empty, miles of it. I looked down from the high and winding road and it was magnificent…so mysteriously abandoned. This continent, so overly untouched, still. Africa had me punch-drunk again. Again and again…

What were we even talking about?

November 12, 2006

Cape Town...

It's a state of confusion, I suppose. The first day I spent in Camps Bay found failure in placing the feeling...likely, because I'd never known it - the sight of clouds spilling over the side of Table Mountain. I walked out my front gate and looked right - liquid apocalypse - white mist bleeding over the Twelve Apostles. It felt like the end of the world of my imagination. One of serenity, forgiveness...of beauty sends us reeling, falling on heels. How tragic it is, a chap trapped with ideals that every day fall farther into the minority...

Again, I self daunt…usually for the sake of. Some claim it poor form – sharing a property line with nail biting or public masturbation. It’s a habit, yes…though I will to the day I die, dispute their judgment. It’s like a Slurpee of flavor life rejuvenation – self daunt…in case I lost you.

If I want sushi, jazz or movies that only work in South African DVD players, I step straight out the front gate, try my best to remember everyone in this country drives on the sinister side of the street. I cross, give it anywhere from 12-50 paces. Convenience, though lovely…hardly inspiring.

To my left sits (sorry, life knows little of fairness) the most beautiful beach I've ever set foot. And allow my reminder that these feet have found many, especially lately. The water is clear, blisteringly cold. Wind shoots across this land like a crazed criminal, dusts the cove before its prowess is absorbed...eaten alive by the ocean.

Between it all…Rikkis, Black Taxis, white clothed lawn bowling. There’s a charming gap toothed, tongue blowing, cane donning corner poster (who will certainly soon speak here in exclusivity) I’m going to call Dewey. The sun is sweet and the season is starting. Worries swirl seldom. At times, I forget who I am. But it didn’t take long, in this place so far away, this place that will have me for the next 6 weeks…this place became my home.


November 05, 2006

Athens 2...

To all my pre-marathon advice enthusiasts...

Nipple guards, crotch lube? For your lacking mentions, severe penalties are being paid. Thank you. Elaborate? Certainly. I lost half of each, magically frayed into the unknown.

Unofficially, I crossed tape - lost my 26.2 mile virginity in the 3:46 range. It's difficult to tell until they publish the results. People traffic didn't let me start for about 2 minutes. Though it didn't take long to realize winning was out of the question(Kenya), I did find solace...eventually, in the self developed claim that if runners were bracketed into weight classes, I would have definitely finished in the top 10 at 200 lbs. Sure as shit didn't see anyone else lugging two chariots like mine up and down the relentless fucking Greek hills.

There are endless things I could write. Endless. If you go to battle for 4 hours and come back without a tale, check pulse.

I could write about the moments I was struck...struck by the last two months of my life. They hit at kilos 8, 13, 26, 34...I recall exactly. You would, too. At 40, I pulled my I-pod, let it seep through a thick, thick skull that this first epiphanous leg of a whirlwind journey was about to find an epic form of closure.

How revolving it is, power in life that made these eyes shine. Over and over.


Currently, Europe is finding its way to the left side of the stage. Tomorrow, after 622 hours of flight, South Africa's intro begins - an apartment on the water in Camps Bay in Cape Town. Headed to live, work, find out about a girl...

Though, order of importance, however speculative...yet to be determined.


Oh, life.

November 04, 2006


It's so cold I want to eat my face. Though, I wont.

They let Smith into the marathon. I took a 70 minute tram that stopped every block and a half, arrived at the Athens Fencing Complex - initially used to house competition for the staggeringly talented world swordsmen during the 2004 Olympics - wondering all along how someone could go through so much trouble and personal anguish to beg another someone to let them run 26.2 miles in the freezing cold.

But I did. And tomorrow, I will.

How does a climate drop 30 degrees the day I arrive and pick 30 back up the day I leave? Ladies and gents...I present to you the question of the afternoon.


Sticking the playlist under the comments section...for any eyes eager.

November 02, 2006


It was my first night in from Athens, fresh off a 7 hour ferry ride, that I found myself alone on the back side of this volcanic Greek island. From the port, they drove me to a quaint and quiet place called Villa Holiday Beach. I was given a private room, steppings from beaches of black sand and was told to pay upon check out - 15 Euros per day...distant cries from the 150 they fetch in swarms of peak season. I locked the door, dropped my stuff in the middle of the room and collapsed into the comfort of MY own bed in MY own room...luxuries I've long forgotten.

It wasn't until 7:30 that I woke from a 2 hour drift. Outside, night had come, and with it, the fury of an island storm. The streets were empty as Earth's ceiling strobed incessant warnings that lit surrounding mountains, the marshmallow and rushing sky. Nothing was open. No cars, few lights. The Perissa side of this island was a ghost town, I was convinced. Quickly, the streets became lonely and daunting, especially as the thunder began to tumble with such a power, I could feel it creeping through the pads in my feet. Drizzle quickly turned to a pour and I found myself wondering why I had drifted so far from the hotel when I knew - absolutely knew - this was going to happen.

My hair was soaked, my shoes, pants to my shins, torso. Drops of water formed on my brow, dripped as I would blink through gazings down the long, dark and empty road ahead. I was completely alone, a moment powerfully realized as the might of the storm showed no signs of letting up. It was growing, and with a continual balling fury. With nothing left on my body to salvage, I began to urge her on...sent my triple dog dare through the telepathic satellites of our universe. As she raged, my steps slowed to a crawl. I raised my hand high into the air, fist so clenched my knuckles ran past white to if the whole of my hand no longer existed. And in the blackness of the streets and the blackness in moments of the soul, I begged for the storm to show me her might. I wanted to feel her charge through me. With every flash of momentary hope turned to denial, I shuddered deep - a shivering in the bones - with certainty that something, somewhere heard my every arrogant dare that wouldn't soon be forgotten. I lowered my outstretched hand, picked up a quicker step...jogged home to the first of three nights, shrouded in nightmare.


By every form and turn of the imagination, Greece is exquisite. And even on its most faulty days, Santorini is a postcard. This country is a perfect end to the beginning of a long journey. I left Athens after 2 days under the Acropolis to hop islands. In two hours, I leave port to return...mostly to tie up the one loose end I have left. News of note : I've decided to back out of the originally planned, "Run the Same Solitary 26.2 Miles We Now Call A Marathon Run By Some Ancient Greek That Died From the Very Mentioned Happening." Instead, being the Baron of Good Destiny / Dipshit Asshole that I am - there so happens to be an official Athens marathon this Sunday, the 5th. It's the day before I leave for Cape Town.

Though I've encountered some resistance in trying to register past said date, "Registration closed, no more applicants to be received," I can assure you that in one form or another, those 26.2 miles will be graced by these two feet on this particular Sunday. I'm going to run it officially, with a number on my chest. Life, I've found, doesn't enjoy being crude in cases where it need not be.

But if for some reason it...or the organizing members of the Athens Classic Marathon choose to be, then you better count on at least 1 renegade runner blazing a trail, ass on fire...riding off (running) into his last sunset (mid-day glow) of Europe.