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Podcast episodes I’ve enjoyed lately

Remember in August last year I shared my 5 favourite podcasts with you?

Well, seven months down the line and I’m more obsessed with *listening* to stories than ever before, regularly discovering new gems to add to my weekly playlist.

Instead of introducing you to a batch of my new favourite podcasts, however, I’d rather share a few of the individual episodes that have really captured my imagination lately and stuck around in my head and my heart… for various reasons.

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Just tell me a story: 5 podcasts I can’t get enough of

If there’s one thing I love more than anything else in the entire world, it’s a good story.

And, if you’ll allow me to brag just for a second here, I’m really good at sniffing them out wherever I can.

So, when I finally got round to listening to Serial Season 1 – the who dunnit drama that got the entire world tuning into podcasts again – sometime last year and devoured it at a furious pace,  it didn’t take me very long to find similar sorts of audio thrills elsewhere.

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Words that got me thinking this week

Since a very young age I’ve been collecting words.

Among the ever-increasing collection of novels on my shelves, you will find notebooks filled with quotes, jotted down in a juvenile handwriting, gathered from the usual sources – Huletts sugar packets, movies, books and magazines – joined in more recent times by snippets of conversation, sharp wit and pleasing turns of phrase spotted on social media.

For some reason I’ve always found tremendous comfort, encouragement and inspiration in words. Here are a few that tumbled into my life this week: Continue reading

What I’ve been listening to lately

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Okay, look people, I’m of the opinion that if there weren’t any music in this world, there would pretty much be no reason to exist. At all.

Imagine we had to wade through our lives sans soundtrack.

No soppy love songs to accompany the mushy first flutterings of butterflies-in-the-stomach.

No epic oeuvres to guide us along winding coastal roads at sunset.

No palm muted punk rock to soothe our angsty teenage souls (and take us right back to those best-of-worst-of days unexpectedly on a Tuesday night in our late twenties.)

No Alanis Morisette (or Taylor Swift/Adele/death metal if you’re that way inclined) to blast at top volume when those butterflies suddenly turn into sharp little shards of ice.

No Bohemian Rhapsody to… actually just that. No Bohemian Rhapsody.

Doesn’t that just sound unbearable?

In fact, I’m quite partial to the idea that if there weren’t any music in this world we probably wouldn’t exist in the first place. At all.

An age old concept Bruce Chatwin highlights poignantly in his amazing Australia travelogue, The Songlines:

 “Aboriginal Creation myths tell of the legendary totemic beings who had wandered over the continent in the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path – birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes – and so singing the world into existence.”

 

Don’t you just love that? The idea of everything being sung into existence!

So, I guess it’s no surprise that discovering the kind of soulful music we crave is always a rejuvenating, life-giving experience.

Here’s what I’ve had on repeat in my ears for the past week or so:

Ambient Electronica

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After months and months of pretty much listening to only to various forms of indie, indie folk and folk music, I suddenly had an overwhelming craving for really pretty, ambient, almost ethereal electronica.

So, I decided to dig around a bit and get some recommendations. Within a few hours I had constructed a Grooveshark playlist that comes pretty close to perfection, featuring Felix Laband, M83, Andrew Bayer and Air. Give it a listen, yo!

John Wizards

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It was a blog post by the lovely Emma-Jane that introduced me to these local lads earlier this week.

Originally from Cape Town, this six-piece band has been making quite a name for themselves overseas with their delighful eclectic electronic reggae.Their songs have a very definite African tinge to them both in sound and name – there’s one called Muizenberg, another Lusaka by Night as well as a Limpop and iYongwe.

According to their website they will be traversing Europe till deep in November, but I really hope they do a little December home run!

 

Milky Chance

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This super cute German duo’s sound has been described as alternative pop folk rock with reggae and electronic undertones. Which means their tunes are actually quite similar to John Wizards. But then there’s the voice. Oh the voice! Slightly gruff with that sexy folky twang. Hmmm… and the man behind it isn’t too bad either.

Okay, yes. I have a huge crush on the singer dude. HUGE.

Thanks to my friends Marli and Bronwyn for introducing me to my new obsession with this song that just makes one want to boogie.

Also check out this super cool video for their song, Down by the River.

Nahko Bear and the Medicine People

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I’ve been listening to Nahko Bear for a while now and fall just a little bit more deeply in love every time I hear one of their songs. It’s difficult to describe their sound, but guess it comes down to a vibrant blend of a little bit of everything – jazz, folk, hip hop, Native American tribal, surf rock… All I know is that it’s full of good vibes and happiness.

It really makes you “believe in the good things coming,” as ‘Black as nigt‘ professes.

Oh and Nahko is just gorgeous!

These are my two favourite songs:

 

Last, but not least… an assortment of vinyl

After wanting one for close on forever, I finally took the plunge and invested in a record player about a month ago. It’s a super cute little thing – a pink Crosley Cruiser the size and shape of a suitcase, with tiny built in speakers that make a big sound.

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Currently I own only about 15 records, which I picked up for dirt cheap at flea markets and second-hand shops. And unfortunately most of them don’t sound that great.  But ever willing to help me pursue things I’m passionate about, my parents kindly lent me some of their old vinyls to get me into the swing of things so long.

My current favourites include an assortment of greatest hit collections, including Queen, Beach Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Leonard Cohen, Peter Sarstedt and the Eagles, as well as Dire Straits’ Making Movies.

On a mission, though, to build a mighty collection!

I absolutely love the ritual of it – getting home after a long day at work or waking up on a lazy Sunday morning, opening up the suitcase lid, lifting that little arm, picking a record, placing it gently on the turntable and carefully letting the needle drop just right to crank some old school tunes.

It’s my best!

If you’re looking for a little Crosley of your own, check out Superbalist.com

Why haven’t I seen these 80s movies?

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Let me just start this post off by admitting that, really, I’m just not that into movies.

It’s not that I have anything AGAINST them, it’s just that, say for instance, I find myself at a loose end on a Saturday night – no plans, no desire to make any – chances are almost zero that I’d spend the evening devouring back-to-back screenings of the latest blockbusters to grace the DVD shop’s shelves.

In fact, given the choice between reading a book and watching some randomly selected film, I would always choose the book.

Given the choice between browsing Pinterest with a glass (or two… okay, let’s make it a bottle) of wine at hand and watching a film I’m not particularly interested in, 90% of the time I’d choose the former.

Given the choice between just pottering around my flat, listening to music and rearranging… stuff and watching a movie, I would almost certainly potter.

I’m not too sure *why* exactly this is the case – it could have something to do with the fact that I don’t have a TV and my laptop is super tiny, which, let’s face it, isn’t the best for watching stuff on.

Or that I never remember my account name/number at the DVD shop and it’s kind of embarrassing.

Or maybe it’s because I really hate feeling like I wasted two-to-three hours of my precious time on something that left me underwhelmed (I’m looking at you, Moonrise Kingdom), devastated to the point of curling into the foetal position forever (ahem… Requiem for a Dream), fearing what might happen if I wake up at 3am (Gothika, you bastard!!) or with a substantial drop in brain cell activity (I’d really rather not say).

Whatever the case may be, the point is I’m rather picky when it comes to films.

So, when I came across this article on Huffington Post about the 10 ’80s movies writer, Alison Tate, would want her kids to watch and learn from, I felt strangely cheated… but also excited.

One whole half of the list consists of amazing-looking movies – films that I know will fit right into my firm favourites list – that I haven’t seen yet!

I couldn’t believe it.

So, here they are – the five ’80s movies I’m actually going to make time to see. Better open a new Red Sofa account!

The Breakfast Club 

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Say anything

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Pretty in Pink

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Singles

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Princess Bride

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My playlist lately

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I’ve listened everything to death.

Everything.

Each and every one of my favourite albums has lost its lustre. Songs that used to make me spin around spontaneously while doing mundane tasks around the house now get nothing more than an eye roll out of me. Ballads that used to reduce me to a weeping mess now leave me feeling nothing more than *meh*.

It’s depressing. Like realising your once passionate love affair has fizzled. Like waking up on the last day of your holiday and knowing there won’t be another one for a while. Bittersweet, I guess you’d call it.

But the truth is, not having any songs that really turn your insides upside down and/or set your feet on fire is infinitely worse than losing a lover or knowing something good is about to end.

Because, simply put, along with comfort food and driving really fast with the windows rolled down so your overthinking disappears into a swirl of crazy hair for a little while, music is an essential healing agent. Also a party starter, a mood lifter, an aphrodisiac (could there be anything sexier than live blues?)… and life is really boring without it.

When I realised my music collection and I had hit a bit of a dry patch, I decided that the best way to rekindle the spark would be to practice a bit of musical promiscuity. Nothing like a bit of distance to make the heart grow fonder, or what?

So, I’ve been delving into friends’ music collections (a mix CD Jana lent me really put me back on track, as I blasted it through my car’s speakers on repeat for over a week) and listening to a lot of music online, mostly on Grooveshark, but also sampling playlists on 8tracks every now and then.

And I’m happy to announce that I’ve come up with a brand new list of songs to listen to death. They range from good old folky ballads to epic electronica, melancholic surf songs and even a bit of straightforward indie rock.

Here are my 10 favourites right now:

1. All for you by ISO (they’re a local band from Pretoria!!)

2. King and lionheart by Of Monsters and Men (sweet female vocal folk)

3. Dress up in you by Belle and Sebastian (this song makes me irrationally happy)

4. Outro by M83 (totally epic – should be listened to at top volume while driving a winding coastal road at sunset)

5. Like the dawn by The Oh Hellos (I just love the lines “at last, at last
bones of my bones and flesh of my flesh, at last… and you will surely be the death of me but how could I have known?”)

6. Fake Empire by The National (gosh, this band really knows how to make music that fills one with nostalgia for no particular reason. I love this song and this line: “tip toe through our shiny city with our diamond slippers on”)

7. Depth over distance by Ben Howard (a man with a talent for tugging at those heartstrings you thought had withered a long, long time ago)

8. Heroes by David Bowie (if you’ve seen The Perks of Being a Wallflower you may recognise it as ‘the tunnel song.’ It was also reworked and used in Moulin Rouge’s famous Elephant Love medley. I have big love for this song)

9. Santa Monica Dream by Angus and Julia Stone (“Goodbye to my Santa Monica dream / Fifteen kids in the backyard drinking wine / You tell me stories of the sea / And the ones you left behind” – you get the gist)

10. End transmission by AFI (Okay, I actually rediscovered this one in my own collection. I love the Bonnie and Clyde theme, I love Davey Havock’s famous “Oh”s and I listen to it really loudly when I’m driving at night)

So, there you have it. What have you been listening to lately? 

Cape Town’s best second-hand bookshops

There’s something magical about second hand book stores, isn’t there? It’s like a whole bunch of parallel universes came together and converged on a single, usually quite pokey and dusty, point on some unremarkable street corner.

Apart from all the stories held together by each tome’s spine, it’s like hundreds more cling to the covers, sometimes leaving traces of the homes and hands that have cherished them in cryptic messages – names, dates, congratulations – on the title page.

It’s a serendipitous sort of art, second-hand book shopping, and one which should be practiced with the utmost patience and ample time to spare if you want the correct volumes to find their way to you.

So, whether you’re well-versed in the whole process, or maybe just started grappling with the idea, we thought it good to compile a list of our favourite Cape Town spots to look for previously loved books.

Tommy’s Books, Long Street

Squeezed in between bars, clubs, designer clothes shops and restaurants, you will find one of Cape Town’s most famous and well-loved sites: Tommy’s Book Exchange. Established in 1969, this quintessential dark and dusty book store is stuffed with treasures that will woo even the most snobbish bibliophile’s heart. Sadly, in the past year or so, Tommy’s has shrunk to less than half its former size and now shares the space with a variety of curios from across the continent.

Address: 130 Long Street, Cape Town CBD
Tel: 021 424 7675
Business hours: 08:30 – 17:00 (Monday – Friday), 08:30 – 14:00 (Saturdays), Closed on Sundays

Proseworthy Collectable Books, Long Street Antique Arcade

If rare items are what you’re after, popping in at this small store on the Wale Street side of Long Street’s famous antique market is definitely worth your while. I once picked up a volume of Sir Richard Francis Burton’s legendary translation of A Thousand and One Arabian Nights for only R75. A real bargain!

Address: 127 Long Street, Cape Town, CBD
Tel: 021 423 3810
Business hours: 9:00 – 4:30 (Monday to Friday), 09:00 – 14:00 (Saturdays), closed on Sundays

Cathedral Books & Bric-a-brac, St George’s Cathedral 

Located on the premises of St. George’s Cathedral, just around the corner from the main entrance, this tiny shop is a marvellous scratch patch of incredible items from yesteryear. Apart from a healthy selection of second-hand books, you will also find anything from old cameras to records to porcelain dolls and everything in between.

Address: 1 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town CBD
Tel: 021 424 7360
Business hours: 11:00 – 13:00 (Tuesday to Friday), 09:00 – 12:30 (Sundays) Closed Mondays and Saturdays

Mabu Vinyl, just off Kloof Street

Name sound familiar? This little shop just off Kloof Street gained world fame last year when it was featured in the acclaimed documentary Searching for Sugarman, as the very place where owner, Sugar, started his huge search for Sixto Rodriguez. While the overwhelming number of records is certainly the main attraction, Mabu also houses an intriguing collection of second-hand books as well as CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes and videos.

Address: 2 Rheede Street, Gardens
Tel: 021-423-7635
Business hours: 09:00 – 19:00 (Monday – Friday), 09:00 – 18:00 (Saturday), 11:00 – 18:00 (Sundays)

St. Georges Mall book stalls x2

There are two fantastic temporary book stalls located along St. George’s Mall pedestrian walkway. The larger of the two can be found in the section between Castle and Strand Streets, behind the Adderley Street Woolworths. This one has a wide variety of genres, including an impressive array of esoteric and religious reading. Their classics section also yields some gems at times. Unless its raining cats and dogs, you will find the tables set up and ready to sell from about 09:00 till about 16:30.

The smaller can be found between Shortmarket and Long Market Streets, just behind the St Georges FNB. While it may not have as many books on display as its competition just down the road, you are bound to find something rare and wonderful with every visit. Their selection of Africana and South African writing is quite impressive and (here’s a little secret), they are definitely the cheapest second-hand book option in the whole of Cape Town. You will find them there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, weather-permitting.

CAFDA Book Shop, Regent Road, Sea Point

CAFDA is a registered child protection Agency, which works to reunify families in the disadvantaged communities surrounding Cape Town. One of the ways in which they raise funds is through selling second hand books. The CAFDA Book Shop in Sea Point is large and airy and very well organized. While you’re likely to pick up the latest light reading chick lit, you’re just as likely to find some rare volume of Shakespeare’s collected works. There is also a CAFDA book shop in Cavendish Square.

Address: 18 Regent Road, Sea Point
Tel: 021 434 6149
Business hours: 09:00 – 17:00 (Mondays to Fridays), 08:30 – 13:00 (Saturdays)

The Book Shoppe, Tokai

Like CAFDA, the Book Shoppe in Tokai has steered clear of the stereotypical dim and dusty feel. Instead it’s flooded with light and there’s lots of space to move around. Here you will find practically new second-hand books and only very well preserved older volumes.

Address: Tokai Junction Centre, Corner of Tokai and Main roads
Tel: 021 713 1528

On the outskirts:

Bikini Beach Books, Gordon’s Bay 

Just a warning! If you aren’t fond of chaos, best drive on by. However, if the challenge of finding something super special among the many crooked stacks and towering shelves appeals, you will probably be rewarded handsomely!

Address: 41 Beach Road, Gordon’s Bay
Business hours: 09:00 – 21:00

Pringle Bay Books, Pringle Bay

Located in the attic above the Country Shop, Pringle Bay Books has a well curated and carefully selected collection of second-hand books for sale. Their selection of natural science, fauna and flaura and history is worth a good pore over, but if you’re more of a fiction fan, there’s more than enough of that too.

Address: Peak Road, Pringle Bay
Tel: 082 899 7195

Oupa se Boeke, Kleinmond

If you’ve taken up Exclusive Books’ 101 Books to Read Before You Die challenge, this unassuming book store in the middle of a coastal town is set on making the task easier for you. You will find copies of the list put up here and there in the shop, and there’s a whole shelf dedicated to the volumes mentioned. Apart from this, you will also find an impressive array of historical fiction, poetry and Afrikaans literature.

Address: 2nd Street, just round the corner from Pudding & Pie bakery

Bounty Books, Napier 

So, the chances that you will end up in the tiny town of Napier by chance, are pretty much zero. However, if your travels take you through there for some reason – maybe on an outing to the Southern tip of Africa or so – keep your eyes peeled for the bright orange building next to the main road. Here you are bound to make the most incredible finds and pay next to nothing.

Tel: 072 642 3357

*Originally published on News24 Travel