Are the cool kids alright?by Samora Chapman / 01.03.2010
I spent the week slaving on a terrible corporate contract – writing the annual report for an unnamed municipal department. My days were spent in a ghastly 30 story concrete temple with the managers of different branches, trying with great difficulty to find out what they did during the financial year. I need a different body to use for corporate jobs; like a middle aged, respectable one with stubble, spectacles, a small pot belly and high tolerance for air conditioned offices with really small windows that you can’t open. A gangly looking surfer kid gets no respect in the corporate world.
To add insult to misery, I was told to type up the report by Monday. Thus, my Saturday was spent getting frazzled in front of the one eyed god of the real world. I hate my computer. As you can imagine I was eager to escape my condition, so as the clock struck four I jetted down for an afternoon dip in the ocean. There’s no kind of pain my Durban waves can’t cure.
After the surf my brother and I head up to Jameson Park where a couple of our friends are hanging out. My body and mind well rinsed and I’m super keen to sink a cold beer with the brethren. A week well slaughtered, a few bucks in my pocket; I’m feeling pretty contented and smiley as we pull up to the parking lot scattered with smashed glass and a ridiculously drunken car guard. He’s swaggering about like a dreadlocked Alice down the rabbit hole; the pristine dewy rose gardens of Jameson park as his wonderland. It’s Saturday night fever, the cool kids are out to play. A few young well known Durban muzos are staggering about in the parking lot, much like the drunken car guard. I walk over to say hello, kisses and hugs and how you guys doing? It’s jovial, eyes glazed with bliss… there’s definitely some powerful hallucinogens pumping through their visuals. Its only 6 in the evening and the cool kids are cooked!
‘Yo, how you doing bru!’ I say to one of poison city’s super emcees. I’m met with a smile and a thousand yard stare, a shake of the head and hand signals that are trying to communicate something like “oh my god where am I?” The mumbles are barely audible, but I think he’s saying;
“We chowed the maddest shrooms. Man im tripping, where the fuck am I?”
I turn to a lady friend and give her a hug how you doing? She’s sweating, her body feels heavy as she collapses loosely into me;
“Hey Joegz, haven’t I seen you already?”
“No I just got here, are you ok?”
“Yeh, I’m fine man, I’m fucking amazing.”
So we continue our stroll into the park, through the quaint rose-garden maze and up on the hill my crew of friends are perched on the moon. It’s beautiful, the grass is glistening with dew and a lamp shines down upon the scene, illuminating the gathering like a stage up in the sky. An acoustic guitar is tinkling, wine bottles are being swigged. The vibes are chilled, it’s warm, summertime in Durbs; we’re young and happy and beautiful. I walk up the hill, stoked to see my friends and give everybody hugs and kisses and settle in; crack a beer, light up a cig. This is the life – cold chillin! My friend turns to me and says;
“Yus bru, I’m feeling so weird hey. I chowed Ritalin earlier it’s the strangest trip.”
“Ritalin? Why the fuck did you chow Ritalin?”
“Chill out bru, its not like I chow it all the time. Its kind of like being goofed you know but without the tiredness, but you like mad focused on everything and you can think real clear and be super creative and busy like you know.”
“Oh ok cool.”
“Ya man, you know I took it for 6 years when I was a lighty at school. I reckon it fucked me up pretty bad.”
It’s the third time id heard about Ritalin in a week. I heard of kids snorting it like coke. Another friend told me he’s taking it to help him study at Varsity. Side effects of Ritalin are: anxiety, insomnia, anorexia, heart problems and weight loss.
“Ah man all the spliff and dop is finished. Let’s make a mission.”
So off we head down Florida road stopping at every little café and bar chatting to the Durban creatives and socialites along the way. Everyone’s out enjoying the warm evening with a munch at Spiga and a beer at Thunder Road. My bru and I stop off at Taco Zulu for a cheap bowl of beans and cheese (11 bucks!) and then cruise down to some horrible pub where the drafts are cheap and the trendies mingle with the more experienced and burnt out stompies; swallowing icy beer in beautiful harmony that transcends age, race, sexual orientation and coolness. We unite with a large posse of friends who are enjoying the vibes and jabbering away. My friend comes up to me looking a bit shell shocked with wide eyes like empty deep black puddles and tunes me;
“Yo Joeg, are you keen to chow a pill bru?”
“Na, im okay thanks bru.”
“Oh alright, well me and some of the others are gonna go chill at this one ou’s flat. We tripping out a bit too much to be around all these people. Too many people, we just gonna go chill out listen to some music or something.”
I sit down next to another lady friend; sweating, wiping her face and sucking on her fleshy tongue and lips in a worrying manner.
“Hey Lucy, are you ok there?”
“Fuck these pills are so hectic. Yus I’m tripping out.”
“I’ll get you some water. Just sit tight there.”
I go to the bar and get her a big glass of ice water. She drinks the whole glass with a slight shiver and seems to calm down a bit.
“Thanks Joeg, damn I never realized how thirsty I was… Hey Jonesy, let’s go to the shop and get some chewing gum.”
The kak music and the tennis on the TV doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the midst of joyous oblivion. Except my friend Daze, whose eyes dart around in an over-alert type of hypersensitive way. He’s quiet except for an occasional outburst of loud untimely laughter. I put my arm around the fellow and ask him how he’s doing.
“Fuck’t bru. Fuck’t. I’m fucking crazy. Everyone’s worrying about me. I just fuck things up. I can’t get anything right. My parents man. They just so worried about me man. I’ve fucking lost it Joeg. I’m crazy bru.”
He tears off the filter of a cigarette and smokes it like a man on death row, mainlining that shit.
“Yassis Daze! You’re fucking scaring me bru. You gonna be okay brother, come on. Don’t worry about what your Ballie’s think, just make yourself happy bru. Your cool man you gonna be fine. Are taking again?”
“Ja, I’m taking anti-psychotics. I don’t want to. But it helps bru. It helps. It makes things okay you know. I wouldn’t be taking it if it didn’t help me Joeg.”
On the scene arrives one of Durban’s most talented and eccentric young artists Jim Acrylic. He’s wearing tiny khaki shorts, school shoes, a huge beard (of which im insanely envious cos I am beardless) and a shirt buttoned right up to the neck. Jimmy communicates in a language of his own; thunderous clicks that would impress a Zulu, bird noises interspersed with screeches, twitches and beat-boxes. We hug and tune waddup. His violently strange antics alert a group of middle aged ladies sipping martini’s nearby. They call me over and say;
“Your friend over there…is he okay? I think he’s taken too many drugs or something.”
Shake of heads and haughty laughter.
“Actually lady, the strange thing is…he’s as sober as a Jehova’s Witness. He’s completely straight edge.”
They laugh in blatant disbelief. As Jimmy’s dances down the sidewalk screaming; “Virgin! I’m a virgin!”
And it’s true. He’s just about the only person I know that’s completely clean cut and he’s the loosest cat on the scene. The thing is these, characters are all so talented. They’re putting out albums, having exhibitions, doing shows, starting companies, burning cats in rap battles, painting the city, making films… It would be arrogant of me to claim that the cool kids aren’t alright. I’ve played in the exotic narcotics garden too many times to pass judgment on my own peers. I pop outside for my fix of caffeine and nicotine breeze and contemplate some shitty corporate job that’s gonna make me a buck. They’re just tryna do their thing like I am. But imagine if we saved up all the energy we use on getting wasted and used it to produce more… be braver… put out more shit… the Durban kids would take the world by storm.
Note: All names have been changed. You know I love you fellows. Peace.
All Images © Samora Chapman