Thrillin’ heroics

Thrillin’ heroics. Firefly-ism. Sardonic humor. Usually uttered by someone heavily armed and wearing a funny hat. Unlikely to be either particularly thrilling or heroic. 

Throw back Thursday. May 2008 was a tough time to be a foreigner in South Africa. Some might argue it’s still tough. But May 2008 was when things got really out of hand….

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Not my picture. My pictures were likely shot with a blackberry and aren’t the greatest. But this is quite typical of the mobs from that time period.

My memories of these events are full of gaps now, since I have been the recipient of quite a lot of blunt force trauma in my life and my aptitude for retention resembles a rusted out Buick in a scrapyard more than anything grey and spongey.

I do remember driving into work in the morning (probably around 6am) and… thinking how misty is was (it was actually from all the fires) and I remember seeing two groups of people one on each side of the dual carriage way throwing rocks at each other. They paused so that I could drive through unhindered and then started pelting each other with rocks and bottles again. (this must have been quite early on in the troubles because the foreigners were still resisting and fighting back, as opposed to fleeing for their lives)

In any event, things got really bad over the next couple of days especially in the area where I had my warehouse because it was an industrial area with lots of… what is the right word for this… informal housing opportunities in the general area that were well populated with people from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

I’m not sure exactly what set the whole thing off it off, but once it got going it really got going. Wikipedia article here. People got chased out of their homes which were then torched. If you resisted, or seemed somehow particularly odious to the mob, your life was likely in real jeopardy and you may have been ended by the sharp end of a machete, pick-ax or hatchet.

In total I think 60-something people were killed. And hundreds (if not thousands) of people were injured and/or displaced.

One of my workers (who was born in Malawi but was naturalized) phoned me to tell me there was a crowd coming down his street, house by house looking for foreigners. While he could easily pass off as a local, his neighbors knew his ancestry… and when you want to protect yourself from the mob… you’ll offer up any scapegoat to save yourself.

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Me, in my body armor, ready to rumble. Took a selfie before heading out… as one does. Look how young I am!!! 

I distinctly remember sitting in my office (listening to Rain from the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack* on my headphones) and loading shells into my shotgun.

*I mean if you’re going to go out in a blaze of glory… THAT’s the song you want to have playing during your preparation montage. Preferably shot in a tight Noir style.

Anyways, the first two were rock-salt rounds… which… I am led to believe would hurt like hell, but be non-lethal. Everything else after that was 00 buck, with a sling full of slugs for good measure, plus my Glock .40S&W. But I figured if I needed to resort to that it would likely be game over anyway by then. But you know… go down swinging.

Took my Company’s most busted up truck, in case we lost it and headed out to go rescue Ronny.

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This is Ronny. Post event. With all his worldly possessions stuffed into two bags. They burnt his house to the ground probably an hour after I got to him. I don’t know if you can tell but he’s smiling for the camera. Maybe because his boss is a douche bag and made him pose with his all possessions for posterity. 

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This was typical of the aftermath once the mob had come for your shack. After evicting you they would burn it down or disassemble it and sell your corrugated walls and roof for scrap metal.

The nights were the most scary for these guys because the police would melt away, and under the cover of darkness you can really get your evil on.

One guy was necklaced outside my warehouse during the night. Necklacing is a South African… hmm… colloquialism, which I think gained popularity in the 80’s[?] and was used for executing (perceived) traitors within the ANC during apartheid. A gasoline filled rubber tire would be placed around the neck/and or body of the recipient and set on fire.

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This isn’t my picture. But same time period… about three miles from where I was. 

Anyway, the guys fat melted into the tar and for days afterward the crows risked vehicular death to try and pick the bits of meat out of the road.

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This is one of the other Zimbabwean guys I rescued. 

I can’t remember his name. Or even how he managed to come to live in the back of my warehouse. But he lost everything… all his possessions, money and travel documents. His accent would give him away immediately as a Johnny-foreigner so he couldn’t go outside. He’s wearing my green hoodie that I bequeathed to him, it already gets quite chilly here in May. How did I ever think green was my color? Also smiling. Doubt I would be, if I were in his situation. But anyway…

In true Anne Frank style, he lived behind my warehouse for about two months in one of the store rooms, sleeping on the floor in my sleeping bag and subsisting off canned food I bought for him. It’s a very weird feeling having a grownup completely dependent on you for survival. I don’t remember it being a particular pleasant experience, I’ll give it two stars on the life experience scale.

I also can’t remember what happened to him. I think, after things eventually calmed down I probably gave him money for a bus ticket back to the border. But… I’m assuming this is what happened. ‘Good luck. Don’t die’. Never heard from him again.

Like I said, not particularly thrillin’ or heroic. But I wanted to document it for my  progeny as something I experienced.

Clearly its now a brawl…

Throwback Thursday. Joey losing his temper during what was supposed to be light sparring… I think I got rocked throwing that halfhearted leg kick… (We had agreed on 25% power before the bout which is why I wasn’t taking it particularly seriously) you can see me instinctively backing myself up into the corner so I can use the wall defensively to steady myself. I also get those 12oz gloves up pretty quick. Ha ha. Once I’m in the corner and had completed a rudimentary damage assessment (hey I’m still conscious) I clearly decided ‘fuck this’…

Its pretty crap recording and the sound lags. Probably recorded on a Blackberry. I don’t even remember this guys name. I clinch… cupping him behind his head, which protects me from his right hand and then start funneling in those upper cuts.

I give him kudos for the single leg take down, the right move under the circumstances. Cracked him with an elbow though after the take down and manage to pull guard, which although it didn’t look like a hard blow, cut him just inside his hairline.

I throw some pretty horrifically loose punches towards the end though. *whinces* Its hard watching. Started to get tired after scrambling up from the ground…

We had a rule at our gym. No one breaks up a fight, if it goes to a brawl, that’s what happens. Go until you get knocked out or tap out.

Good times.

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Is it possible to be hooked up intravenously to the coffee machine? *Joey wonders how hard it could possibly be to insert an IV…* I mean don’t you just poke around with a big needle until you hit something? Plus I’ve donated blood enough times now to be at least reasonably familiar with the process…

Its been one of those mornings. I stayed up late listening to music and trying to organize my Dropbox (the state of which is casting my German-ness into serious doubt) and now I’m suffering for my sins. I did find this though, which made me smile. Maybe it will make you smile too.

Context. Its probably 2am. My friend Ilse is trying to convince me of the merits of  ‘Die Heuwels Fantasties’, an Afrikaans folk rock band in my parents kitchen in Hermanus. We’ve probably been drinking. Ha ha. Good times.

This is me and her at a ‘roaring ’20’s party’… probably round the same sort of time period.

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She’s channeling Amelia Earhart. And I’m channeling… eh… smugness? I used to be quite smug. Hopefully these days I am less so. That iteration of me was quite toxic. Fortunately I’ve grown up some and become a less… abrasive organism.

Anyways… throwback Thursday.

 

Good deeds rarely result in hotdogs

I gave a hitchhiker a lift this morning. A veritably rare occurrence. I was feeling magnanimous or maybe I mean altruistic. I’m not entirely sure what the difference is (and I’m too lazy to look it up). To be completely fair there were mitigating circumstances that allayed my usual reticence to convey these vagabonds of the freeway from point A to B…

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… like my Glock*. And the fact that he looked old and wizened and didn’t (really) look like someone likely to be wearing my head as a hat (while sating his thirst with my internal lubricants) towards the midpoint of our journey.

*although it would have upset to me to have to paint the inside of my Jeep with the cerebral cortex of someone I’d just met (even if they were trying to stab me with a rusty screw-driver)

Our trip was eerily silent. Him not being able to speak English and my conversant Zulu (in terms of a franca lingua I mean, I don’t want to be presumptuous about his ethnicity) being limited to cuss words, insults and being able to tell someone to get down on the ground and put their hands on their head (while useful chasing cattle rustlers through the veld at 3am in the morning it is less useful in a more civil context)

In Fanagalo we managed (more-or-less) to determine an end point for him which was sorta on my way and once we’d reached it he simply disembarked, inclined his head slightly towards me and was on his way. I immediately felt a surge of Light-side points flowing into my character sheet. (god this feels so weird)

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Of course because of my ‘good’ deed the rest of my day turned into a vicious clusterfuck of malaise and discombobulation and by three pee em my total contribution towards humanity was well back into negative figures. (which to be completely honest is a much more comfortable environment in which to dwell)

Which I realise is a bit defeatist. But being German you come to appreciate that long campaigns mostly end in defeat. Being Catholic, you appreciate that after defeat comes hell. Its one of those things. You are also precluded from dating Jewish girls. Ever.

Why short girlfriends are the best…

Entry from my old journal for throwback Thursday

Short girlfriends are the best! They don’t take up much space, so they make excellent travel companions. They also use a lot less oxygen than a regular sized person… so if you’re ever trapped in an airtight container that’s slowly filling up with water, much better to have a little person trapped with you. (You know… for company)

They just ‘fit’ better when you spoon, and if you want to hide your home made pornography you made with a previous girlfriend all you have to do is put it on the top shelf where they can’t reach. This also works with chocolate and sharp objects you don’t want them playing with.

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Finally, if you ever loose her in the long grass you can stand up on a mossy stump, bang on your breastplate and shout, ‘FIND THE HALFLING’ and only feel semi-weird about it.