So Long And Thanks For The Fish
(apologies to Douglas Adams)
I have been back in Johannesburg from my last round of travels since 2003. When I got here, I hadn’t lived in the city for nearly 7 years. I loved being back. The energy, the change I saw from the late 90’s to the early 2000’s.
But the time has now come for me to move on. In the last 5 years in particular, much has changed in my life, not least of all me. I have achieved many things. But I have also lost much: friends, my sense of freedom, and my spontaneity… a part of me that is free. Much of my entrapment is self conceived and self-executed. But a lot of it has to do with a long trail of broken promises and empty lip-service offered to myself and my various initiatives over the last 5 years.
I never thought that I would find myself on the brink of my mid 40’s single and unattached and living the life that I do. I have an amazing life and have been able to do some remarkable, exciting and wonderful things. But somehow my experiences have changed and moulded me and not always for the best. I am in danger of becoming bitter and permanently twisted. Hence I have decide that I need to step away from the structure, ambition and desire that has brought me 3 books, a documentary film, a career in training, key-note speaking and live music performance in just 5 years.
Increasingly over the last 12 months I have found myself turning corners and reacting more like the person I was when I was 17 than a 40-something adult. And I don’t mean in an irresponsible, immature way. Quite the opposite, it’s like I lost something along the way. Having done what I have over the last 5 years, my path is bringing me back to that more wide-eyed, anticipatory world view. But the life I lead here in Johannesburg and indeed in South Africa threatens to tear that apart every single day.
In the last 3 years I have spent a significant proportion of my time travelling South Africa trying to educate and help young South African musicians on the business and common practice of the music industry. I wrote a book that contains everything I know and have learned from countless generous, amazing people in that self-same business. All of that touring and training was undertaken at my own expense and convenience and, if I am honest, mostly barely managed to pay its own way. But I did it because I believed in it. In that time I have approached countless corporate structures, NGO’s, brands and government departments. None will help me to do it better or more effectively. This no doubt has a lot to do with the flaws in my approach and my presentation. But it does strike me that it might well be the lack of glamour, the glitz and glam of “THE BRAND.” Teaching kids how NOT to get ripped off is not high profile media stuff. It’s not front page news.
So, after 3 years of that I am broke and tired and I can see no way to continue. I still believe it’s powerful and necessary, but I am becoming a stuck record, in danger of becoming irrelevant the longer I continue. This is not a thing I ever expected to be doing either. But I am grateful for the opportunity to spend hours in townships with amazing, ambitious kids who are hungry to learn and grow. Who remind me, despite the gulf in age, culture, colour or whatever, of who I was, of who I AM! I am grateful for all the cool promoters who I have worked with, doing important work in their areas, largely unsung, un-noticed, and underground
Don’t get me wrong, I am not bitter. Yeah I know it sounds like I am. But I came from the underground, it is only fitting that this is where I work. In many ways this is the best example of a reversion to my teenage world view I referred to earlier… I don’t trust the mainstream. Its corporate agenda’s, its brand principles and it’s solely FOR profit motive. And I don’t trust NGO’s and charities and their not for profit motives either. I only trust actions, actual deeds, not words.
So, it’s been a blast. I leave the end of April. I am not even really sure where I am going or what I will do. But I have this 17 year old punk ass mother fucker kid whispering in my ear that says that is alright. So, I am finishing up this round of work. There will be a party at some stage before hand.
And then I’ll catch you on the flip side sometime, somewhere.