Monday, July 5, 2010

Cape Town, Day 1

Monday, 5 July 2010

I woke up, in the darkling July winter, to my first true view of Cape Town, with Table Mountain brooding nearby. My hotel is an ex-prison in the Victoria & Alfred (Albert’s dentigerous second cousin) Waterfront area, and after walking the ramparts, I descended to the docks, which have been transformed, in many ways, into a giant mall. This accommodated my most mundane monotonies and inspired me with a profound sense of itch. The only saving grace was the absence of US Ubiquities (GapSmear1,TargetPetSmart,TubbyRuesdays, etc.). I stumbled upon the following performance, no doubt an entirely authentic tribe that forages and hunts around Stall #49 of the nearby crafts mall.

My mission this day, aside from exploring some of the local fauna and flora, was to hit the National Library of South Africa, who had (perhaps understandably) not replied to my earlier inquiries concerning their nonsensical potential. After walking through the Company’s Gardens, a mini-Central Parkish greenspace covered in giant bamboo, bulbous arboreal artichokes, and tropical turnspits, I stopped by the Centre for the Book, a sprig of the National Library that promotes literacy and indigenous publication projects. The children’s book coordinator was busy, so I went to the main National Library building and started making inquiries. When one of the librarians heard me asking about Alice, dongs, and Travels through Og, she said, “Ah, you’re the Nonsense Person!” While acknowledging the capitals (but not the title), I asked her what she could possibly mean. “We got your inquiry a while back and have been working on it—but it’s not so easy!” Apparently, a team of them had banged their heads against this wall, but the one who had done the most had left for the day. With the librarian’s help, though, I was able to order a stack of promising books and was able to begin to troll through them before they shut their doors for the day.

Back in the park as the winter afternoon faded, I walked around the Jewish section, the “Old” and “Great” (I couldn’t find the “New” and “So-so”) synagogues, and frolicked among some springy grasses that bounced in the fountains. I happened to be a witness to the following scene… the mounted policewoman’s horse seems to sniff something strange about his compadre:

Can a horse lift a quizzical lip? Considering that this horse seems to have discovered the most nonsensical part of the park, I realize that I might change my research plan. Forget these dusty scholars and libraries… I wonder if Berklee might not mind if, rather than return from my sabbatical as required by the contract I signed in blood, perhaps I should enlist in the Foreign Mounted Nonsense Corps.

The last bit for you all today is a shop I passed on one of the main shopping drags in Cape Town.

Now, either they don’t know what “Funkadelik” means, or, even more frightening, you might not want to get near these strawberries.

I ended the day at the Gold Museum restaurant, where they bombarded me with fifteen courses—each one from one of the African countries participating in the World Cup. Along with the singing, dancing, and puppets, it was quite an extraordinary adventure. Onward, Funkadelik Strawberry Soldiers!


  1. I hope those droning vuvuzelas aren't too vexing...

  2. What - No Benneton? I suppose you did not have a Cinnabon either. Dang!