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!

Arrival in Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa
Monday, 5 July, 2010

Welcome! It has been a long time, almost a year ago, since Kevin and I brought you the stylings of our nonsensical peregrinations. For those of you who may be new to this blog, you might want to peruse the entries for July through September 2009 to see our last major excursion into the Fields of Nonsense (Elizabeth Sewell notwithstanding). Last summer and fall we traveled through Eastern, Western, and Northern Europe where we met with a full host of nonsense ministry: scholars, librarians, stenacious stentorians, and artists willing to help us find, translate, and transubstantiate nonsense literature, and our rectory has since been overflowing.

Of course, we have not been entirely idle since then, as you can see from the various and sundry postprandial-peregrination blog entries. We met some fellow nonsense searchers, such as the Most Noble and Magnifulgent Juana Inés Dehesa Chritlieb, whose knowledge of Mexican nonsense was one small force in baffling and snaffling the Redneck Brigade Patriotic Brotherhood whose erstwhile gunslinging still echoes in amber waves of pain across our southern borders. And then there was the most delightful Nonsense Tour of Harvard (which, to my discredit, couldn’t hold a dandle to the nonsense tour of Lund given to me by Frederick Tersmeden) with Daniela Almansi, a not-quite-tonsured nonsense non-monk who breezed in from London, and who has opened doors French, Russian, Italian, Zingbangian, Zoroastroturfian, and possibly other Z-languages in her ample bouquet. Our working manuscript has swollen to over 150 pages thanks to the kindness of all of those willing to selflessly fling themselves like the Dart of Harkness into the Anthology of World Nonsense.

It is time once again to shake the dust of the West off our shoes, to pursue the Land of Snod and the ever-elusive Moustache Island (despite my no longer being a member in good standing-on-end)—this time, in Africa. Thanks to the Newbury Comics Berklee Faculty Fellowship, I am able to spend the last gasp of my sabbatical here, in Africa. Unfortunately, Kevin is not able to join me, and he will not only be much mussed but also mulch missed. I begin here in South Africa, mosey on over to Kenya, and end in Uganda, which will take me to the very end of July. As I mentioned in my last entry, there are some incredible nonsense adventures awaiting me, and I will faithfully be blogging with my regular irregularity.

Late last night I arrived in Cape Town and shall spend the next week poking asnout in libraries, having meetings with local looninaries, including Niki Daly, Gus Ferguson, and Philip de Vos, some of the brightest nonsense stars of South Africa, and assiduously avoiding the footballie follies. My hotel is a vuvuzela’s call away from the stadium here, and come Tuesday night I expect the vuvuzela flock to descend fully upon my window sill. Until Wednesday, then, I shall be keeping under cover, scouting out the less-flocked features of this fair city. Stay tuned!