The incomparable beautifulness of baba

Forgive me, my dear Hatpeople, for a humungous indulgence but there is something I feel driven to share with you. Oops, your radar has instantly picked up a Fred-alert signal.

Totally understandable. But you have nothing to fear. I was a good boy at the weekend. So good that I flew to East London to take some photographs of a new baby produced by two very good friends.

Their genes have done a mighty fine job. I must ask you to run your eyes over little Ava, proudly presented in this picture by her mum, Jules…

I know. Complete and utter beautifulness overload, isn't it? Pic: Hatman

I know. Complete and utter beautifulness overload, isn't it? Pic: Hatman

I hope you liked that. If you didn’t, I’m not apologising. I can’t help myself. I’m not usually into photographing babies or kittens or puppies or little flaxen-haired and freckly girls in polka-dot dresses hugging massive teddybears. Not my style. Just seems too obvious. A grainy, gritty reflection of a homeless drunk in a puddle taken through a dusty window by the light of a streetlamp is more my scene.

But I had to make an exception here. One (and let me get this out right now), I’m just downright broody. Two, the man who fathered this sweet angel is top-notch mate Brett Horner, a rising star at the Daily Dispatch, who thought it high time I softened my focus and recorded a day in the life of his little gem.

I had no idea photographing an eight-week-old baba could be so challenging. But Ava and Supermom Jules were naturals in front of the camera and I loved every minute of it. Now to get one of my own. Baby, I mean. If only the ever-creative crew at Woolies were to stumble upon a way to offer Ava clones. Organically grown, of course. I’d happily pay top dollar!

We’re all agreed then. The Black Eyed Peas are kak!

This video is hilarious. Well, funny and sad. Like Julius Malema. But I dig funny and sad. Double the emotion. For the price of one. All at the same time. Nice.

Latest tune from the Black Eyed Peas? Not so much of nice. But before I offer you my review, check it out (it’s just as well Jewish people are generally known to have a highly developed sense of humour)…

Yowzers. What was that all about? Not very much, hey? Apart from the flash of um, breasts at about 47 seconds in (thanks to the testosterone-fuelled comments section on YouTube for pointing this out… hey, you’re not going back to watch it again!), this muzak vid leaves one feeling, well, a bit cheated. I have been labouring under the grand delusion that the BEPs were a bit of alright but this tune is complete shite.

“Tonight’s gonna be a good night”? The band might have had a good night but we didn’t get much of it, did we? And that “Mazeltov” malarkey? The lyrics, if one can call them that? So many questions, so little inclination to ask them. Unlike that Gladstone geezer on the vid who’s trying to come over all Simon Cowell, only smoother (looking) and a lot funnier (not hard).

I know music today isn’t about the words (oo-er, sounding like my Dad here) but what the chuff has happened to lyrics? I mean, I found an old Hotel Costes compo gathering dust behind my Marantz the other day and slapped it on. The first two tracks contained exactly 10 words. Variety Lab gave me six (“I love London in the rain, ooh-yeaaah” – hope you don’t mind me not counting “ooh-yeaaah”?) and The Method offered four (“I’ve got a cat, arrr-yeah”). What? My sweet lord.

I wonder what Dylan, Waits and Cohen make of all that? Never mind the Slack Assed Peas.

I’m living in a Poladroid wonderland

Oh. My. God. I am too much of excited!

Remember Polaroids? No? Well, of course you don’t. You’re only 33. Phone your dad. If he’s still down the golf club and you can’t get any sense out of him, call that rich old oke who tried to tap you up in your local. Just do it. You have to. No arguing, OK?

Look, it’s not often I wander into geekland. Once there, I’m as much use as a fish on a bicycle. But I dig photography on an epic scale and I make an exception to my total fail at geekdom when it comes to camera tech.

Now, thanks to photographic maestro and top Twitter connection Liam Lynch, who has been playing around with Poladroids, (kiff snap of The Black Hotels, hey?), I must most urgently point you towards downloading the Poladroid application!

First, check this out… even I was able to get the thing on my desktop and transform an arb snap I took of The Popsicle (an occasional suiteholder at Hatman Mansions) into a retro-cool image looking for all the world like it was taken by my grand-dad:

Whoa! Hold on to your pixels, this is my original pic... here we go...

Whoa! Hold on to your pixels, this is my original pic... here we go...

... there! How rad is that, my babies?

... there! How rad is that, my babies?

Excuse me being over-excited and all, and losing any command I once had of the English langwidge, but this app is just killing me.

When you download (remember, amid all the uber-excitement, that I gave you a link earlier AND you have permission to go back to it once I’ve finished, thank you!), a completely sick little Polaroid-like machine pops up on your screen, you drag and drop a pic of your Tannie Johanna, it makes the old Polaroid noise (I only know it because my granny taped it for me on reel-to-reel for future recognition purposes, like now) which sounds like ker-click-sscchhick and then you light a cigarette (only if you’re over 18) or anything you want and watch your kiekie slowly turn into summat circa 1971 (or whenever Polaroids were all the rage). I wouldn’t know. I’m way too young for all that.

It’s complete coolness overload, Hatpeople. But I think I’ve made that clear. Unlike any of my pictures.

Now have yourselves some fun. And don’t thank me. Thank Liam. And the boffins at Poladroid. And Twitter. And, oh go on, you can thank me too. If you must. But, remember, I’m only here to provide a service. And it’s been my pleasure. As you can tell.

Have a slightly-faded-over-time, somewhat saturated with muted colours kind of beautiful day! I’m off to try out my Poladroid obsession on my neighbour Genevieve Morton. “Gen!

The utterly amazing (and blind) Dolphin Boy

My apologies to those Hatpeople who might already have witnessed this remarkable story.

But I cannot resist relaying the hugely inspiring story of Ben Underwood who refused to be disadvantaged after having his cancer-ravaged eyes removed at age three.

Like only children can, he responded by devising a set of strategies to enable him to be independently mobile and active. Even to the extent of rollerskating and playing computer games.

Among his arsenal to overcome total blindness, Ben refined the “clicking” noise used by sonar-equipped dolphins to calculate the distance between himself and lampposts, walls, cars… in fact, any obstacle which stood between him and getting to where he wanted to go.

You will notice I’m writing about Ben in the past tense. The cancer which ate away his eyes took his life when he was 16, earlier this year.

With thanks to social media guru Arnt Eriksen and very nifty blog bitrebels.com, I give you a small slice of Ben Underwood’s short and extraordinary life, nourished and nurtured – of course – by his remarkable mother…

My SA-positive Gems: Part 1 – South African myths explained

With a very expectant and excited eye on World Cup 2010, and the hundreds of thousands of you who will come to experience the strange and wondrous country I call home, I am launching a series of posts about largely unknown gems unique to South Africa.

To kick this off, something that always gets me going – and there are a lot of those – is the mythology which tightly enwraps the many cultures indigenous to the Beloved Country.

It is a subject that is endlessly fascinating. This is indeed a land where one’s spiritual ancestors walk hand-in-hand with that old man you might see walking to nowhere in particular on the side of a dusty country road… and also the young, stylishly dressed professional woman striding confidently to her office in any of the big cities.

The mysterious baobab tree: mythologically succulent

The mysterious baobab tree: mythologically succulent

South Africa never ceases to amaze. Prepare to be amazed.

This from South Africa Tourism’s website: “In the Transkei near Coffee Bay is a prominent rock formation with a big hole in the middle, a powerful symbol of tragedy in Xhosa mythology. In short, a young girl called Nongqawuse had seen a messenger from the realm of the ancestors at a waterhole, but her uncle misinterpreted the missive to mean the Xhosa had to kill all their cattle to be spared the rule of the British. They did so, and lost everything…”

Now read on…

How was that for you? Too much of amazedness, huh? Wait. Golly gumdrops, there is so much more I have to give you. By the time you jump off that plane in June next year, I will have you fairly frothing at the mouth with all the excitements and adventures to come. Never mind the small matter of some pretty rad football. Consider it to be part of the Fred-hot service. It’s the way we roll here in South Africa. Warm and friendly to a fault. And full of amazing stories.

The increasingly dangerous world of shell-collecting

Shell collecting. The most innocent and becalming of pastimes. Fresh sea air. Crashing waves caressing one’s ears. Kids building sandcastles. Seagulls wheeling and whingeing. Dogs with sticks in their mouths shaking saltwater over bodies browning under sun’s grill.

Time was when Mom and Dad would take us down the South Coast for a Sunday of bodysurfing, Coke floats and burgers and Swingball on the beach. We would wade in the rockpools, wonder at crabs and gigglingly stick our stubby little fingers into ever-alert anemone. And pick up, seemingly, huge cowrie shells almost at will.

Many years later, now that I enjoy the “live-the-holiday” luxury of blogging on my Umdloti verandah instead of enduring endless newspaper strategy meetings in drab offices, I have begun to take walks on the beach – just 40 metres away from my front door.

Bliss. It is during my seaside solo sojourns that I feel the eye-crustiness of hours spent hovering over my laptop wash away, cleansed by breezes surfing off the Indian Ocean, my feet cooled by flirtatious tides, the scrunching sand exfoliating my toes.

Umdloti beach: in more chilled times

Umdloti beach: in more chilled times

That was until I rediscovered what I remembered to be the joys of finding the enticingly elusive cowrie shells. Those subtly coloured beetle-body shells of porcelain sheen, with the tiny teeth that once protected the gogga which lived inside. The shells that, centuries ago, were used as currency in much of the world. Eulogised in myth to boost fertility in women whose bodies are adorned with them. Oh, what elation to be had when, among myriad fragments of oystershells, mussels and limpids, I spot a cowrie furtively shooting off a watery wink at the wintery sun.

Shells on the seashore: spot the cowrie

Shells on the seashore: can you spot the cowrie?

Aaah, got it... did you get it?

Aaah, got it... did you get it?

But no more. I have stumbled upon a secretive, sophisticated network of local cowrie collectors. And they’re scary. They emerge silently and menacingly at the crack of dawn from their hi-des double-storey homes lining Umdloti South Beach Road, clutching roneo’d copies of tide-tables in one hand and Friendly Store plastic bags in the other.

Wearing crazy-paved, granny-knitted and grotesque jerseys to defeat the early-morning chill, they fan out on the sands with nary a glance at sky or surf. Heads down they plod away, scouring around every granule of sand for any cowrie which may be trying to hide behind a piece of seaweed or Coke bottle-top. Raised glances are reserved for me, an Umdloti newbie, and they wordlessly say: “Hey, out-of-towner, don’t tread on our turf. You’re welcome to surf or build sandcastles but we have sole mining rights for cowries on this beach so naff off.”

I pretend to stare out to sea, waving occasionally at a bloke in a microlight or at a container ship headed for the Far East, all the while poking a toe around in the sand for a shape resembling that of a cowrie shell. It’s not nice.

(more…)

Cape Town fashion weak

Now all those lucky enough to see me striding in stellar sartoriality around Umdloti will eagerly testify to my indisputable credentials as an arbiter on all things fashion. Should you need reminding of this, allow your eyeballs to caress this unspeakably stylish image of me in a previous post.

Right. Now, contrary to what Capetonians might think, I don’t enjoy pointing to the fact that they are insufferably smug about themselves and the city in which they wetly exist. Really. I don’t. I would rather ignore the pretentious poseurs in that pseudo-Mediterreanean territory down in the sodden south-east and get on with living in Africa. And keeping it real.

But then worrying little snippets sneak in through the back door of Hatman Mansions and it becomes beholden on me, as a SA-positive blogger, to fearlessly expose the Smother City citizens for the frauds they are.

Take fashion. Everybody knows that almost all of South Africa’s fashion designers worth their seams come out of Durban. We know who they are. Monk-Klijnstra, Kidger, Immerman, Bray, The Holmes Bros, the seamster in the backroom at Casanova, and so on. Enriched as we are by their know-no-bounds creativity, Durbanites sashay a lone furrow in pursuit of the Holy Grail of South African haute couture.

So, to tug ever so gently at the labelled lapel of the ginormous brouhaha created by the kind of uber-hype only Capetonians can invent over their fashion week, could I ask you to take a deep breath and witness this little gem…

Oh. MY. God. What did you make of that? Everybody head-to-toe in Mr Price. I know, I know. Agony.

How was the beauty therapist at the beginning banging on about how she is a one-woman celebration of colour and then looking like she was filmed in sepia? And Michaela, looking like she had hurtled out of her front door 10 minutes after her alarm went off? Wait. She admitted to it. Kept it fairly real. She might be from Durban. Mishkah is a bit of a honey and we Durbanites can relate to the dude with the surfing/skateboarding vibe, even if his hoody is a bit off. And Stefan! Isn’t he just divine. And soooo Cape Town. As were those faux accents. Sounding like that cheesey Top Billing oke, Michael Mols, but on low speed.

I think we have to blame that flat-topped hill for a great deal of Cape Town’s ills. That karma stuff they go on about. They just take it too seriously. And themselves. Too much of uptight. A little less organic everything and a bit of old-fashioned roughage in their diet might help to relax them.

Cape Town, I must beg you again to keep it real. I’m watching you. And my eyes are hurting.

Exclusive: SA-positive blogger becomes unlikely fashion icon

It had to happen. I have the smouldering “don’t-come-near-me-unless-you’re-Genevieve-Morton” look. The “don’t-touch-or-you’ll-cut-your-fingers” sixpack. The way I run my fingers through my bald patch. The total “I-wish-people-would-stop-staring-at-my-physical-perfection-while-I’m-trying-to-nibble-on-my-rabbit-food-at-Caprice” vibe. My status as a male supermodel was inevitable.

All I needed were the shoes. You know. Very important if an oke wants to complete “The Look”. So they arrived in the post yesterday. From Bob’s for Good, that nice and very philanthropic campaign run by Bok legend Bob Skinstad. Where you buy a pair of stunningly cool Italian-style loafers and Bob hands over a pair of shoes to a child whose family can’t afford them. I wrote about it a few days ago and you can refresh your memory right here.

Cool. We’re all into social responsibility these days. And so we should be. Me? I’m, like, so totally into making my debut on the catwalks in Milan for Giorgio (no surname needed, hey?). And, you, my most stylish Hatpeople, get an exclusive peek at the first shoot to make it into my genuine crocskin portfolio (handmade by Os du Randt, hottest name in crocskin fashion products this season).

My agency (with a collective pout by Revlon) insisted that I am allowed to only release one picture before the shows start in Milan, so here it is, exclusively for your eyes only:

Go on. Gasp if you want to. Totally acceptable response.

Go on. Gasp if you want to. Totally acceptable response.

Model: Fred Hatman for Machismo. Stylist: Coco du Mer-Champignon of Styllissimo. Photographer: Snotneus Piek. Location: Umdloti Sands Holiday and Spa Resort.

Shorts by Woolworths. Socks left at model’s home by unknown person. Incredibly stylish and much-sought-after Italian loafers by Bob\’s for Good.

Goodness gracious. How do you feel after that? Nice, hey? I thought so. Now you know that you want to look like me. Have shoes like mine. Of course you do. Perfectly understandable. So all you need to do is click here and order them! While stocks last.

Well, what are you waiting for? See you in Milan, bru.

fredflash#5: Tunisian expecting TWELVE offspring

News just reaching Hatman Mansions… a Tunisian woman, who has previously had two abortions, is pregnant with no fewer than twelve babas. Overload of wowness.

She’s quoted by News24 as saying that she “is anxious to have all twelve bouncing healthily in her hands”. What? That would be quite a stretch for the most dexterous of mummy octopuses.

Never mind, read more here. Actually, don’t. Much more medical detail and informed warnings of the risk of trying to have, um, there’s not even a word for 12 babies (twoctuplets?), right here.

Good lord. Please do not attempt this at home.

It’s official! Women think single men suck

All the men I know – and I hope you don’t mind me counting myself among them – have been saying this for years: why is it women show more interest in us when we’re in a relationship?

I mean, you’re single, available and looking (read desperate to get laid) and it doesn’t take long to realise that you couldn’t score in a brothel. Eventually a woman takes pity on you and agrees to a date… a few conversations later and it dawns on her that you’re that rarest of exceptions to one of The Universal Rules Applied By Women – an available man who’s a bit of all right – and, bang, you’re “seeing each other”.

Brad Pitt wasn't at all attractive to women until he hooked up with Ole Hot Lips Pic: simplybrad.com

Brad Pitt wasn't at all attractive to women until he hooked up with Ole Hot Lips Pic: simplybradpitt.com

Up until this point, she just wasn’t “seeing you at all”. As a male about whom she might even give the slightest consideration to breeding with. In fact, you might even have noticed her crossing the road so as to avoid accidentally bumping into your pheremone zone. She wasn’t taking any chances. Why? Because you didn’t have another woman on your arm, bonehead.

Now pay attention. Or you’ll end up like me. And you don’t want that. Believe me. Apparently, and you had better take this seriously because it’s the New Scientist talking here and they, unlike me, know what they’re talking about, women – and that’s all of them – prefer men who are “taken” because that means they’ve ¬†¬† “already been ‘pre-screened’ by other women and found to be satisfactory as a mate, whereas single men are more of an unknown quantity”.

Is this, finally, proof that women are, despite what they keep telling us, exceedingly lazy? Or is it testimony to the fact that women are so busy climbing the corporate ladder, the social ladder and the ladder up to the roof to fix the wiring that they don’t have time to weed out a rare Mr Right from Messrs Horrible Little Losers who roam about en masse with a sorry aura that’s shouting out “marry me, date me, oh, for God’s sake, please, just a one-night shag will do”? You decide.

In the meantime, allow me to allow New Scientist to shed further¬†LIGHT on why it is you’re spending Friday nights drinking truckloads of beer and watching DVDs at Johnny’s mancave instead of cruising around clubs and bars with a model girlfriend – and attracting predatory glances from stunning honeys like, uh, like, um, Genevieve Morton. Who looks, er, like this:

Life's cruel, isn't it?

Life's cruel, isn't it? Pic:SASI

Now, after you’ve had a little lie-down to get over that snap of my close friend Gen, you might remember noticing that New Scientist somehow neglected to tell us how exactly to break this most vicious of circles. How to land the woman of your dreams while not having a right honey to show off in order to attract Her in the first place. One of life’s great dilemmas, I suppose. Like whether to support Liverpool or support Liverpool and Liverpool reserves.

But we’re men, right? We rugged hunter-gatherers have been overcoming these little obstacles since time began, right? We’ve got cunning little tricks that circumvent these molehills that New Scientist research makes out to be mountains, not so? That’s how we roll. That’s why we’re men. Right? Right. Now don’t let me catch you watching The Fast And The Furious 1, 2 & 3 at Johnny’s on Friday night. Be a man. Do what you have to do. Pay, bribe or blackmail Johnny’s sister into being your escort for the night and go big. You might stand a chance of grabbing the attention of Genevieve Morton. If she’s single. Which she’s not. Oh, shit.