Month: January 2017

An open letter to Donald Trump

Dear Glorious Leader of the Free World,

I kneel before you with my unworthy eyes averted so your magnificent radiance does not blind me like it blinded all those people who said the crowd at your inauguration wasn’t all that big. Poor, deluded fools. Your crowd was bigly. Beyond bigly. It was the massivest crowd in the history of crowds. Huger even than your giant moon-sized hands. Anyone who disagrees is telling alternative truths and should be flogged and deported to Mexico.

You must be the only politician ever who, after winning an election, has demanded an investigation into voter fraud. I’m sure you’ll find that Hillary only won the popular vote after she sent Bill to the polling station three million times in different disguises. There’s no way the nasty woman is more popular than you are. You are the popularest person to walk the earth since before the Jesus time.

I am delighted to see that you are devoting your first few days in office to undoing everything the evil Muslim terrorist Barack Obama did in his eight years. The damage that man has done. He wasn’t even in office very long before he ended the 2008 recession. What madness is that? Recessions are good. America does the best recessions. Yours will be awesome.

Then he goes and reduces the nuclear warhead stockpile by ten percent. You should have had him shot for treason right there on the south lawn when you had the chance. Now you have to waste time replacing all those warheads. As if you don’t have more important things to do. Like watching Fox and tweeting.

On your very first day, you removed all that filth from the White House website about climate change. Good for you. Polar bears, like Meryl Streep, are overrated. Your slogan is America First, not Planet Earth First. As you have so rightly pointed out, global warming is a hoax. Science is a hoax. You need to ban science before it gets out of control.

I’m glad to hear the Dakota Access Pipeline is back on. Them Red Indians are just gonna have to suck it up. They have plenty of other sacred burial sites. And they can get their water from the 7-11, like the rest of America. Pipelines, not people, are what make a country great.

Well done on putting an end to that disgraceful Affordable Care Act. You need to replace it with the Affordable We Don’t Care Act. You can even drop the Affordable part. If you can’t afford it, you don’t deserve to be an American. President Donald Trump today signed into law the We Don’t Care Act. It certainly has a ring to it.

I hear your National Parks Service has gone rogue and is tweeting from unofficial accounts. Deploy the flamethrowers and smoke ’em out. Even better, unleash the old Agent Orange (I mean no disrespect here). If it worked in ‘Nam, it can work in Yellowstone. Bring in the snipers. You can’t have your employees disrespecting you. You get enough of that from the rest of the world.

The same goes for your Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s ridiculous that fish get their own service. Fish is a course, for fuck’s sake. It’s an option. They spend their lives lolling about in rivers and lakes contributing nothing to the economy. They don’t even fear us. The same goes for caribou and wolves and things. If they can’t make money or shoot a gun, there’s no point in protecting them.

Listen, you need to do something about that Sean Spicer idiot. For a start, Sean is a girl’s name. You need journalists to trust him and nobody trusts a man with a girl’s name. Look at Marilyn Manson. Tracy Morgan. Robin Thicke. Speaking of thick, Spicer doesn’t strike me as the sharpest tool in your manicure set. Also, he’s weak. He allows himself to be bullied by the press corps. Know what I’d do if I had his job and a reporter asked me a difficult question? I’d take out my gun and shoot the reporter in the face. That’s what I’d do. Then I’d ask if anyone else had a question. You have to be tough with journalists. It’s the only language they understand.

As for your advisor Kellyann Conway, is she even real? I don’t mean to be rude, but it looks as if her head is made from bits of other people’s faces. Her only saving grace is that she’s blonde and maintains a charming flirtation with reality.

Speaking of which, how is Melania enjoying being First Lady? I hope she’s perked up a bit. She certainly didn’t seem to be having much fun at the inauguration. I’d watch that one, if I were you. The Slovenians are a shifty bunch at the best of times and she could turn on you at any time. Smart move keeping her locked up in the Trump Tower. That might not be enough to keep Bill away, though. Did you see the way he was looking at her? Hillary certainly did. He was actually licking his lips. Then again, the old perv is getting on a bit and could just as easily have been imagining her as a giant blue macaroon.

While we’re on the subject, who gave all those crazy women permission to protest on the day after your inauguration? Did they even have permission? This is the problem with women today. We must return to the good old days when women needed permits to get a job or even leave the house.

Obama has let them off the leash and we need to move quickly to rein them in. You’ve made a good start by banning funding for abortions. Maybe this will once and for all get the message across that women’s bodies are not their own. They are ours. It says so in the Bible. Deuteronomy 23:1 “No man whose testicles have been crushed or whose organ has been cut off may become a member of the Assembly of God.” Sorry. I can’t find the bit about women’s bodies.

What’s up with the Netherlands? Apparently they’re setting up an overseas abortion fund to counteract your ban. If you’re going to bomb your enemies alphabetically – and there’s no reason you shouldn’t – you might as well start with Amsterdam. Knowing the Dutch, they’d probably enjoy it.

Smart move making Steve Bannon Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel. I beg your pardon, National Security Council. Ignore the critics. It’s not as if you’re modeling your administration on the Third Reich. It’s just good ol’ Bannon. How much damage can one Nazi really cause?

Anyway, I have to go and lie down for a bit. Just a quick request. Can you come over here and give some of our people a lesson on how to fight an election? These jokers had millions to run a covert smear campaign against the opposition but then spent all the money on expensive clothes and imported whisky. They couldn’t even afford office supplies once they’d finished stuffing themselves on donor money. Amateurs.


Sex Tourism – The Smile on the Face of Africa

BEN TROVATO – Durban Poison

Brenda and I got into the dented rental car in Dakar and headed south. By the time we reached the Gambian border eight hours later, I needed a crowbar to unclench my buttocks.

Convinced we were in cannibal country, Brenda had grown steadily quieter and paler. After paying a bribe to a man who informed us that he used to work for immigration, we were quickly mobbed by a babble of highly-strung women shoving second-hand calculators through the windows.

No calculator, no calculator,” I shouted. Brenda, of course, realised straight away that they were moneychangers. But since she wasn’t speaking to me she was unable to let me know.

After eventually working it out for myself, I stuffed my pockets with wads of filthy dalasi and ordered a brace of cold beers from a passing urchin.

Forgetting that public quaffing of alcohol is frowned upon in Muslim countries, I…

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A licence to chill

I try to avoid carrying a bulging wallet in my pants pocket in case a jumpy cop mistakes it for a gun and shoots me in the teeth. Or worse, a woman mistakes it for massive genitalia and tries to marry me.

This means I carry only banknotes, credit card and driver’s licence. During the regular movement of cash from pocket to bartender, it’s easy for a piece of plastic to go astray. This time it was my licence. I don’t understand why we need a licence to drive but not one to have children.

I don’t know who has my licence. All I know is that it’s not me. And hasn’t been for weeks. I don’t know what the consequences are of driving without a licence. They certainly can’t be as severe as, say, breeding without a brain. And there’s a hell of a lot of that going around these days.

I’m a little upset that I still haven’t been through a single roadblock. Threats of immediate imprisonment forced me to spend the entire festive season drinking within a three-metre radius nowhere near a public road, church or school. It was great. Actually, not so great when the paramedics couldn’t find me.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother about replacing my licence because I drive perfectly well without it. Also, in many ways, going to prison is a more attractive option than visiting the vehicle licensing department. Or any government office, really. The queuing, the weeping, the suicide attempts. It’s all too dreadful for words.

I do, however, need my driver’s licence for ID purposes, even though I’m against a world where people have the right to ask you to identify yourself before giving you whatever it is you want. It should be enough that you have a functioning human face and can speak at least one language.

Hiding out on the Cape peninsula, far from the febrile incubator that is Durban in summer, I went to the licensing office in Fish Hoek. The glittering jewel of the deep south holds a special place in my heart because it’s where my second marriage exploded damply like an over-inflated puffer fish.

There were only four people in front of me in the queue, but that didn’t stop me from sighing and muttering and rolling my eyes. I lost my place in the queue when I had to retrieve them from the other side of the room.

I’ve had a driving licence since I was 18 and hoped the system would show that I had over the years complied with the multitude of requirements – eye tests, fingerprints, photographs, polygraph, DNA samples, ability to simultaneously pat my head and rub my tummy while repeating Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry and so on – enabling me to simply pay a modest fee and get a duplicate on the spot.

Hope, however, is an alien concept among those who inhabit the dark world of motor vehicle licensing.

“Third door on the left,” said the man at enquiries. There were only two doors. The mythical third door is actually a corridor that leads to, I don’t know, a portal to another world, perhaps. A world where nobody needs permission for anything and mermaids frolic in fountains of cold beer while happy chocolate cows graze in lush fields of fresh marijuana. I felt myself salivating and started off down the corridor.

“You can’t go there,” said a woman with the eyes of a snoek on a hook.

“Why not?” I said. “Because of the drunk mermaids and edible cows?”

The man at enquiries says, “Third door on the left” around 150 times a day. That’s 36 000 times a year. It would be an atrocity – a human rights violation – to tell him there is, in fact, no third door. Blocked from entering the corridor of eternal pleasure, I returned to the counter.

“There is no third door to the left,” I said. He didn’t look at me so much as through me. It was as if I never existed. “Next,” he said. I backed off and made my way to the second door on the left.

“Is this for the eye tests?” I asked a woman at the end of a longer queue. She pointed at a sign above my head. “Eye Test” it said. I laughed and said I hadn’t noticed it because it wasn’t in braille. She did something with her mouth. I couldn’t be sure if it was a smile or a snarl. A smarl, maybe.

My turn in the chair coincided with a shift change. This wasn’t good. The tired dude who didn’t give a damn was being replaced by a fresh dude who didn’t give a damn. There’s not much you can do to get your eyes ready for a test. I opened them wide, blinked rapidly a few times, then rubbed them vigorously, turning the entire room into a blur.

The tester, whose eyes were redder than mine, asked me to confirm something on one of the forms I’d filled out. I couldn’t see what I’d written. Bad start. I also couldn’t find my reading glasses because I was wearing a pair of camo shorts with a multitude of pockets designed to accommodate ammunition, condoms, grenades, flick knives, puppies and all manner of illicit substances. By the time I found my glasses, he had lost interest and was waiting for me to wedge my face into the machine.

The test was basic. When the letter m appears in the viewfinder, push the toggle in the direction it’s facing. It quickly became apparent that I was going to have to wing it. After a while, it didn’t even look like the letter m. It could just as easily have been a little man in a rowing boat fishing on a lake. I joggled my toggle valiantly, at one point laughing openly at the futility of it all.

“You failed,” he said. It seemed possible.

“My left eye’s pretty good,” I said. He shook his head. I went on to explain that I’ve never had any trouble seeing cars, people or animals in the road, hence my still being alive. But if I ever did encounter a teeny tiny m loitering in the breakdown lane, I’d just ignore it. I wouldn’t shout, “Oh my God, a teeny tiny m!” and wrench the wheel, rolling the car and killing everyone around me. He gave me a smarl.

Luckily, I had an ace up my sleeve. En route, I’d stopped at the mall and gone to an optician for an eye test. I passed with flying colours. Well, flying enough. That test involved reading half a dozen letters on the back of her door (a test that has been in use since 500BC) and another test involving peripheral vision. That was my best result. One doesn’t survive two marriages without possessing excellent peripheral vision.

Somehow, an optician’s eye test outranks a government eye test. An admission that certain things are best left in the hands of the private sector doesn’t come along that often. If only it applied to more things. Like ministries.

So I now have a temporary driver’s licence valid for six months. Presumably I will at some point get a message that my permanent licence is ready for collection. I will pick it up and go off to celebrate at The Vic, where the card will once more fall from my pocket and eventually be picked up by some cheerful punter and used to chop a line in the bogs.


Suffering from terminal holidayitis

One of the biggest drawbacks of being self-employed is that you’re never really sure when it is that you’re no longer on holiday.

“C’mon! It’s the festive season. Let’s party!”

“Go home, Ben. It’s March.”

People with proper jobs don’t have this problem. They know exactly when their holiday ends, although the dread probably sets in two or three days earlier. I imagine it’s a bit like being on death row. Knowing the exact time your execution is scheduled to take place quite likely ruins your last couple of days of being alive.

Employers should factor this in when calculating annual leave for their exploited. Everyone gets an additional two free Dread Days which they can spend sighing heavily, doing the laundry, deforesting various body parts and mentally preparing for another 48 straight weeks of misery.

Some people couldn’t survive without a job. And I don’t just mean financially. It gives them purpose. While they’re behind their desk tomorrow morning, I’ll be surfing with dolphins. They give me porpoise.

Anyway. It could be worse. You could be among the 151 830 matrics who did well enough in their exams to spend the next three years getting harassed, teargassed and vilified at the university of their choice. After this, they will spend another three years looking for a job. Perth, London and Auckland are already bracing themselves for another wave of whiny privileged South Africans.

Of the 458 348 pupils who, like me, were too stupid, lazy or distracted to get a university pass, 21.5% will become substance abusers, 11% will try their hand at housebreaking, 3% will kill their parents to get an early inheritance and the rest will join the ANC in the hope of getting a tender. Two will become newspaper columnists and earn less than everyone else.

Around 550 schools achieved a 100% pass rate. This is a filthy lie. I can’t imagine this country having even one school where nobody who wrote Grade 12 failed. If it’s true, then there must have been cheating on an industrial scale. Or results were manipulated. Every village has an idiot and every school has a moron. Perhaps times have changed. My matric year was awash with morons. I don’t know if they passed or failed. When I walked through those gates after the final exam, I burnt my uniform, walked home naked and never looked back.

I also find it hard to believe that the Free State recorded the highest pass rate in the country. When I was growing up, the Free State was home to people directly descended from Neanderthals. The bloodline was virtually pure. This isn’t to say they were bad people, but they were. Of course, these days black people also live there. I can only assume they had a big hand in pushing up the pass rate. I still don’t understand why anyone would choose to live in the Free State, though.

Well done to the Eastern Cape. They are consistently the worst performing province and if there is one thing this country needs right now, it’s consistency. We have a president with the consistency, albeit a moral one, of Spongebob Squarepants and a government that is as inconsistent as its position on Taiwan.

Quite frankly, the worst thing of all is that we now have to look at pictures of the top performers. Performers? Perhaps that is the right word, considering the circus our education system has become. There they are, the last of the Rainbow Nationists, faces full of smug, all teeth and shiny eyes, smiling at we millions who never got a single distinction, let alone seventy-twelve of them.

Well done, boys and girls. Clap clap clap. Are you going to use that massive brain power to change the world? No, you’re not. You peaked too early. You’re going to insert yourself into the machine and your clever little cogs will help generate more white monopoly capital or black monopoly capital and the world will get worse, with or without your help. Some of you will end up in sheltered employment or psychiatric hospitals.

Most of you will make terrible wives or husbands because your parents forgot to socialise you as they relentlessly pushed you to accomplish everything they didn’t so they could brag about you at the golf club and bask in the reflected glory until such time as you are led away in handcuffs or a straitjacket, at which point they will say, “But we did everything we could.” Yes, you did. Now look.

This is going to be the year of the unconfirmed sweeping statement. The streets will run red, white and blue with conjecture, assumptions and hypotheses. Opinion is the new sheriff in town. Guns will be jumped and chickens will be counted. There shall be prognostication and prophesies to fit your wildest fantasies and a shot in the dark will always be better than a harbinger in the bush.

It’s started already. Researchers from the University of Limerick say they’ve discovered a new organ in the body. The mesentery, a silly name for an organ, connects the gut to the … oh, who cares.

“The anatomic description that had been laid down over 100 years of anatomy was incorrect,” said a professor of surgery. What else have we been getting wrong? Are we perhaps descended from goats? Is heroin, in fact, good for you? We don’t need this kind of malarkey. Those researchers need to be rounded up and burnt at the stake. I’m offering a prize for the person who comes up with the best limerick about the new organ.

Also in keeping with this new era of brazen balderdash masquerading as Something Significant, scientists say that powerful radio waves, lasting no more than a millisecond, seem to be coming from a dwarf galaxy more than three billion light years away. They’ve heard seventeen in ten years and have spent the last six months studying a single repeated burst. And you thought your job was tedious.

Then there was the ANC’s 105th anniversary rally at Orlando Stadium. Making as much sense as usual, party organiser and minister of fun and games, Fikile Mbalula, said, “For what we have gone through, (Sunday) is that platform from which we rekindle ourselves and at the same time we get our marching orders about what needs to be done.”

Yep, standing in the rain listening to fat men make speeches is all the rekindling the ANC needs.

Then, in twelve days’ time, Donald Trump and his repulsive family moves into the White House. Things are about to get deeply weird.

A year of singing, dancing and improvised explosive devices

The generation known as Millennials seems relatively unmoved by the wave of carnage that swept through the ranks of the rich and famous in 2016. Leonard who? Carrie Fisher the astronaut? Princess Leia’s from, er, Sweden, right? But it’s okay. Their 2016 will come. Around 2056, I expect, when their idols and heroes start dying.

I can’t name any offhand because I don’t know any celebrities in their 20s. Perhaps there aren’t any. Perhaps that dream died when Britney Spears allowed the world a rare glimpse of her pet beaver. With any luck, though, having Donald Trump in the White House will once and for all put an end to the myth that wealth makes gods of men. Or, in the case of women, looks and sometimes even talent.

Speaking of which, I read a tweet two days after Christmas. Look, I wasn’t well. Sure, I could have picked up my urine-soaked copy of Tolstoy’s Big Book of Jokes from the bathroom floor, but I could barely cope with Twitter. It was a tweet from what I took to be a Trump parody account. It read, “The cheap 12 inch sq. marble tiles behind speaker at UN always bothered me. I will replace with beautiful large marble slabs if they ask me.” The laughter died in my throat when I realised the tweet genuinely was his own. The world is in meltdown and he’s thinking how best to redecorate the United Nations?

His state visits are going to be interesting. “Yeah, yeah, civil war, refugees, blah blah blah got it. Know what worries me? Your curtains. They clash. Not good.”

I’m not too worried that this gibbering orange scrotum on legs will start the third world war. I predict he’ll be impeached or assassinated within a year. I hope it’s impeached because we can still have many more years of fun poking him with a stick and seeing what pops out.

This was going to be a column about predictions, but, quite frankly, real life keeps overtaking satire at such a terrifying speed that I can’t possibly catch up, let alone overtake.

I do, however, predict that the leaders of Islamic State will, in August, abandon the idea of establishing a caliphate and go into show business. ISIS – The Musical will open on Broadway in November. It will be choreographed by Ivana Trump.

My money is on 2017 being a damn fine year. Mostly for the Anglo-Saxon tribe, of course, which makes it no different to any other year, really. But opportunities for others will arise, so if you’re not on a terrorist watch list or in a squatter camp, prison or city under siege, you better be woke or you gonna miss da bus.

One of the reasons I know for sure that 2017 is bound to be better than that utter bastard of a year whose name we shall not speak is that the highly respected Pantone Institute has announced that Greenery is its colour of the year. This is excellent news.

The colour of the year in 2014 was Radiant Orchard and tall buildings had to be fenced off to prevent women from jumping to their deaths after discovering Radiant Orchard made them look fat.

In 2015 it was Marsala, which I’ve always associated more with chicken bunnychows than carpets. Last year Pantone foolishly broke with tradition and rashly blended two shades. Rose Quartz and Serenity clearly angered the gods of colour who wasted no time in killing David Bowie and helping Donald Trump win the elections. Thanks Pantone.

And what the hell kind of colour is Greenery anyway?

Pantone executive director Leatrice Eiseman (what the hell kind of name is Leatrice?) explains why the shade was chosen. “Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment.”

Leatrice, I’m all for bursting forth, but I am colour-blind and if I inadvertently pick, say, Reddery instead of Greenery, it doesn’t matter how much yearning I do, I’m just not going to get the reassurance I need. I’m changing my opinion. This is bad news for everyone. Being as environmentally friendly as an oil slick on fire, Donald Trump will hopefully move quickly to crush this liberal mumbo jumbo underfoot.

It wouldn’t be a new year if the Chinese weren’t involved. It’s not always about rhino horns or badger spleens, you know. There are some things that can’t be eaten or traded. At the end of the month, the Year of the Fire Rooster kicks in. It’s the avian version of the fire pool – not quite what it seems.

If there’s one person on the planet who epitomises a rooster, it’s the next president of the United States. Batshit crazy and dumber than a box of socks. I’m going nowhere. I want to see the mother of all cock fights between Donald and Vladimir when the bromance turns ugly.

For the Feng Shoowee-hey-wowies, 2017s colour is burgundy (none of this Greenery nonsense for them). This year’s crystals are amethyst for dreams and topaz for inspiration. Or, in your case, meth for confidence. Cider is the drink, which you can have with your burgundy. Fragrance for the year is myrrh. Call me. I know a guy who knows this other guy. Best myrrh on the streets. And lucky hours are 5-7pm. This is also Happy Hour at The Shrieking Peanut. Coincidence? I think not.

The UN General Assembly has declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Pass the Valium. Helping peasants half-mad with malaria and moonshine to sell their clay tortoises and wire cars without getting blown up or ripped off is by far the most pressing issue facing the world this year. The International Year of Fighting Fascism can be put on hold for another decade or two. No rush.

Speaking of valiant but doomed causes, that dying horse Barack Obama aimed one of his last kicks at Israel the other day. America abstained from a Security Council vote and allowed the adoption of a resolution demanding a halt to the building of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Trump tweeted soon afterwards, “Stay strong Israel. January 20th is fast approaching!”

There’s been trouble in those parts ever since Moses was found motherless in the bullrushes, but this loathsome jowly cockwomble is the man to fix it. He’s clearly heard of the two-steak solution and has decided that Israel will get the meat while the Palestinians can have the bones. Can’t get fairer than that.

Buckle up, people. 2017 is going to be a bumpy ride.