High Hopes for Springsteen’s new album

Bruce Springsteen’s eighteenth studio album, High Hopes, is a re-imagining of material from previous albums, tours and EP’s, as well as from other artists. In that sense, it is a new venture for The Boss, a prolific songwriter and creative powerhouse who has built a career on just the right mixture of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ tracks and an urgent relevance that has kept him on the radio and the top of the charts for three decades. He again ushers the E Street Band into the studio for this album, as well as guest guitarist Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave) who adds lively, but sometimes redundant edges to the tracks he is featured on.
High Hopes lacks the cohesion of Springsteen’s previous albums, but considering that it is a collection of covers and outtakes, this fact doesn’t detract from its quality. Instead of having a distinct theme, it plays like a journey through Springsteen’s career, from the stadium rock anthems he is known for, to more modern and eclectic tracks that symbolise his relevance in a fast-changing musical landscape.
High Hopes is, however, accompanied by the same production issues that have dogged the late-career Bruce. The production is at times overzealous and artificial. On the title track Morello’s guitar squeals become annoying and actually distract from the crisp nature of the song’s other elements. 41 Shots, the powerful social commentary on police brutality that it is, gets lost in unnecessary electronic distortions.
The record delivers jewels too – tracks that make you wonder how they were ever cut from albums, or never recorded in the first place. Frankie Fell In Love reminds you that sixty-something Bruce is every bit the rocker he was in the Eighties and their cover of Just Like Fire Would serves as a reminder that the E Street Band, when they get it right, is a unique phenomenon in modern rock music.
Undoubtedly the climax of the album is The Ghost of Tom Joad, a track first released as an acoustic version, and later covered by Rage Against The Machine. On this album it comes into its own – it is angry and prophetic, filled with indignation and a sense of overdue hope.
If The Boss is thinking of retiring soon (it doesn’t look that way), High Hopes sounds like the tying up of loose ends – a collection of special tracks that have been too good not to record for the last twenty years. For fans that have been with him since the Seventies and teenagers who are discovering his music for the first time alike, this album tells a side of Springsteen that his illustrious career would be incomplete without.


A woman of faith

Zama radiates a quiet confidence. She sits on her bed with her legs crossed comfortably. Her Bible with its pink cover is never out of sight. With the dirt marks on the side of the pages you can see that no page of that Bible has been unturned. When she speaks of her faith she lovingly touches this book that is so dear to her, almost as if to caress it.
Her room is testimony to her character. Her bed is so neatly made up that it looks as if someone ironed it. Every any dust particle has been shunned and there is a detailed planner with due dates and goals that diligently knows its place on the noticeboard above her desk.
When Zama starts sharing her love for God, her family and people her eyes glimmer with tender love and compassion. She has been a Christian from a very young age. “When I was younger I just thought that if I could go to Bible College I would be so happy! The only thing that I am really interested in is God, the Bible and preaching the Gospel.”
She pauses and laughs when she says “but journalism just keeps chasing me”. She shares her dream to one day make a difference in the Christian media and perhaps own her own Christian magazine.
For Zama, her passion for journalism started in her matric year in 2008 when a Rhodes representative came to her school to talk about the journalism courses that the University of Rhodes offer. She took a gap year in 2009 and embarked on the journey to become a journalist as an undergraduate student at the University of Johannesburg in 2011.
“For me it is about being the middle man and being that bridge of communication between people. Where I come from people are not interested in what is going on in the world because they feel that it is not relevant to them… so I just want to make those big issues relevant to the average Joe on the street.
She laughs and says that “I’ve always cared so much for people. I’ve always thought that I would become the next doctor Phil.”
As she takes another sip of her juice the conversation takes a more serious tone. She looks down and says “I think this is the first weekend that I haven’t cried… or actually I did cry. Family is everything to me and being away from them just really breaks my heart”.
Zama’s family lives in Soweto and she had to move to Stellenbosch to complete her post graduate studies in journalism at Stellenbosch University. She points to the suitcase that is neatly stored on top of her cupboard “the only thing I came with is that suitcase. It is just so hard, it really is”.
She grapples with the fact that life is going on back at her home and that she is missing out on so much of it. “My brothers’ kids are growing up. The one is starting to talk…and the neighbor past away. When the weekend comes it just reminds me that I am all by myself.”
The emotion is think in her voice while tears well up in her eyes. “I think my faith is the only thing that is keeping me sane at the moment”. She explains that she does not always understand the plans that God has for her and that although He is her constant companion, she is not always on speaking terms with Him.
As silence fills the room she continues to try and make sense of the position she finds herself in. She says that when she moved to Stellenbosch she just said that this will be “my worship to God”. She smiles when she explains that “with worship you have to realize that it is not about having the most beautiful voice it is about a truth in your spirit”.
She speaks with great love about her parents and the sacrifices that they have made to ensure she has a better chance at life than they had. She also feels strongly that she will help contribute to the education and lives to the younger children in her family. “I just want to start working to make sure that they receive the best education. No matter how hard things were for my family, my parents always invested in me when it comes to education. Being here is quite hard because I worry a lot about how my family is doing. I wish I could just start working and help my dad with payments. I just want to be rich.”
Zama comes from Zulu family. When asked about the labels that surround culture and language in South Africa she responds with a great sigh, “There are stereotypes with everything. They are so limiting. But things like that don’t bother me because I am not big on culture and language. The only thing that I care about is my faith”.
The best day of the week for Zama is undoubtedly Sunday. She explains that she used to go to the evening service but now she goes to the morning service. She says it is just too exhausting to wait that long to go to church, “all I want to do is be in God’s presence”.
The church that she goes to is quite infamous on campus. Shofar has been associated with some controversial events in the past which include ‘healing homosexuals’ and signing a petition to remove a so called demonic piece of art by Dylan Lewis from the Rooi Plein on campus.
However, for Zama it is home. Amidst the controversy, this is a place where she feels loved and encouraged and where she is surrounded by people that share her faith and love of God. As the morning service continues you can see that she is being recharged for the week that lies ahead. She walks out of the service doors with a beaming smile. She is ready to face the challenges that she will face during the week.
It is made clear that in order to fully understand Zama; you have to understand the one element that is central to her being, her faith in God.

Meerfout en die eenvoud van vrouwees

Meerfout is ’n humoristiese, tog ernstige blik op vrouwees. Dit plaas klem op die verskillende rolle wat vroue speel in die samelewing en wat daar van hulle verwag word… én wat hulle van hulsélf verwag.
Dit handel oor die dialoog wat plaasvind binne elke vrou; tussen die twee vroue binne haar, tussen wat sy wíl doen en móét doen. Tussen die vrou wat sy is en die vrou wat sy wil wees. Die harmonie tussen die twee stemme binne elke vrou is maar skaars… die “ontmoeting tussen die twee vroue is ’n delikate oorlogsdans en as hulle nie saam die ritme kan bepaal nie, verwoes die een die ander.”
Meerfout spreek tot elke vrou. Die teks, wat geskryf is deur Gideon Lombard en die geselskap, is ritmies en rig die gehoor se aandag op die ménswees van vrouwees. Vroue wat lag, wat huil, wat liefhet en liefgehê wil word. Vroue wat eens op ’n tyd dogtertjies was en meisies was met drome.
Die dialoog in Meerfout is fyn gesny en die teks se ritme dra by tot die idee van ’n oorlog wat plaasvind binne elke vrou. Daar word suksesvol gebruik gemaak van minimalistiese kostuums. Net karton rokkies met linte word gebruik as kostuums en om te onderskei tussen verskillende karakters. Die synergie tussen die twee akteurs, Cintaine Schutte en Mariechen Vosloo, is merkwaardig.
Gedurende Meerfout is daar goed gebruik gemaak van beligting om by te dra tot die ritme van die dialoog en om klem te le om sekere fasette van ’n vrou se lewe. Daar word op een staduim gebruik gemaak van ’n lig wat helder tussen die akteurs se bene skyn. Daar word ook klem gele op die karton-rokkies deur middel van beligting; asof daar bedoel word binne elke vrou is skuil daar nog ’n meisietjie wat wil speel en kreatief wil wees.
’n Vrou is vroom én wild, konserwatief én liberaal, sag én hard, ‘n moeder én n minnares, ‘n hartsvriendin én tog…eensaam. Hom harmonie te vind tússen al hierdie fasette is die uitdaging, en skoonheid, van vrouwees.
Meerfout is ’n stuk wat bemagtig en vryspreek. Dit neem vroue in die gehoor aan die hand en neem hulle op ’n reis om eenvoud te vind tussen die twee stemme wat binne elkeen fluister.

Israeli Apartheid Week

Stellenbosch- “We all have a deep seated need to live with justice,” that was the golden thread that ran through the discussion that took place at the Israeli Apartheid Week discussion at Stellenbosch University yesterday.

This week marks the 10th annual Israeli Apartheid week. The Israeli Apartheid week seeks to draw support and raise awareness of the alleged apartheid policies that are perpetrated against Palestinians by the state of Israel.

An Israeli peace activist, Miko Peled, was the keynote speaker at the discussion hosted by PSC Stellenbosch in partnership with the theology students at Stellenbosch University.

Peled comes from a well-known Zionist family. When his niece was killed in a suicide attack it prompted him to join a dialogue group where he met Palestinians on equal footing. Peled says that he believes that it is possible for Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace in a shared homeland

Israeli apartheid towards Palestinians should not be viewed in terms of South Africa’s apartheid past. Instead the alleged apartheid practices that are conducted toward Palestinians should be viewed in terms of international law regulations.  

Colonialism and apartheid are prohibited by international law. The United Nations define Apartheid as the systematic oppression of one group over another with the intent of sustaining power.

Breyten Breytenbach, a guest speaker at the event, started his speech by saying that his views will be very partisan and that he will make no apology for it. He argued that the state of Israel has been protected from critique because of the history of the Jewish people.

However, Breytenbach lashed out and made the argument that no amount of past suffering can condone or justify injustices committed to another group. Breytenbach continued to say that the international sense of justice is hypocritical and that Palestinians are enduring gross injustices with the assistance of the western world.

Breytenbach told the audience that South Africans have a special responsibility toward Palestinians. The oppression of another “forces us to take a moral reckoning and take responsibility for one another,” he said.

For many the Israeli-Palestinian issue seems very contentious and complicated. Peled argues that the word “complicated” is code for telling people to rather not bother with the problem.

According to Peled the Isreali-Palestine issue is quite simple and can be reduced to the simple idea that a tyrannical government needs to be replaced by real democracy.

Peled argued that colonialism and racism are not Jewish values and thus Zionism and Judaism are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  

Die Hart van ‘n Ma

Die Hart van ’n Ma
Die Hart van ’n Ma deur Abraham Phillips is ’n hartroerende verhaal oor die stryd wat ’n gemeenskap voer teen die dwelm tik. Die leser word gekonfronteer met die smart en verlies van moeders in Doringdal.
In die roman staan die ma-figuur sentraal. Een moeder van Doringdaal vertel dat “Hierdie ding tik, hy vreet ons harsings op, hy breek ons huise op. Dis ons ma’s wat ’n plan moet maak…”
Die roman van Phillips is ’n ontroerende en eerlike uitbeelding wat handel oor die gemeenskap se wroeging met die magte buite hul beheer. Die moeders in die gemeenskap kyk magteloos toe hoe hul gesinne uitmekaargeskeur word deur die onblusbare honger na tik.
Die hartseer en verwyt wat deur die geemskap gesaai word ontbloot elke ma se diepste wens: die oorlewing en voortuitgang van haar kinders en gesin.
Maria verloor haar man en seun in die oorlog teen tik. Haar suster, Stienie en hul buurvrou Bettie neem ook hul kruise op nadat hul seuns in die aangesig van tik gesneuwel het.
Die leser word gekonfronteer met sy eie menslikheid en idee oor wat geregtigheid beteken: wie moet verantwoordbaar gehou word en hoe moet die probleem aangespreek word?
Kaptein Wielieboy Mathabola ondersteun die ma’s van Doringdal. Mathabola is die morele kompas in die gemeenskap en prober sin maak van die duister tik wereld en sy wantroue in Stanley, ’n polisie beampte.
Skoolhoofde en gemeenskapsleiers sit met hul hande in hul hare oor wat hulle te doen staan. Skole vind dit makliker om ‘tikkoppe’ te skors omdat daar nie die mannekrag is om die probleem aan te spreek in die klaskamers nie.
Wanneer die leser tot verhaal kom dat dit pastoor Isak Louw is wie vir die bendelede inligting verskaf oor die polisie se doen en late is daar ’n verbitterde golf wat oor ’n mens spoel. Die leser besef opnuut: niemand is verhewe bo die euwel van tik nie; sy koue kloue strek tot in die kerk.
Die tonele wat in die gevanenis afspeel laat lesers na hul asem snak in ongeloof. ’n Mens kan amper nie tot verhaal kom dat sulke afgryslikhede in tronke kan plaasvind nie. Tronke is dan tog ’n plek waar misdadigers gerehabiliteer moet word?
Die dialoog en taalgebruik in Die Hart van ’n Ma lees maklik en dra by eerder as om weg te neem van die verhaal. Daar is ook genoeg ruimte vir die leser om self die verhaal van smart te beleef sonder om voorgeskryf te word deur Phillips.
Die roman sê hard en duidelik: ons kan nie meer die probleem onder die mat probeer vee nie!