So gender bender Bruce Jenner was not talking on his cell phone before the accident that killed one person, he was smoking and not fleeing the paps who were hot on his tail. According to one news agency the 65 year old reality television star and former athlete is used to the photographers chasing him. Even more so since he stated his intent to have the op so he can legally become Ms. Jenner.
It is, admittedly, very hard to not “take the Mickey” – which is Brit-speak for making fun of – out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s new age-ish term for divorce, “consciously uncouple” and it does beg the question, is it possible for one to unconsciously uncouple? If so, how does one keep from committing this “hippy-I’m-okay-you’re-okay” type of amicable separation. However, not wanting to poke too much fun at Paltrow and her soon to be consciously uncoupled former spouse, is anyone that surprised at the choice of term?
I ordered the DVD for Dean Martin’sSomething Big film after realising that I did not have a copy already and that I had not seen it for ages. I love the film, or more accurately, I love the theme of the film. It goes without saying that this would be a personal favourite. I am, and always will be, a Dean Martin fanboy. But this lackadaisical western cross of comedy/action has always appealed to me. Something big? You bet, isn’t that something that we all want?
In the film Dean plays Joe Baker, a man who went west to find fame and fortune. He left Pennsylvania and his fiancée behind and planned to make something of himself in a self allocated time period of two years. In the film, his two years have stretched to four and his fiancée, Dover McBride has told Joe his time is up.
Baker now has to hurry up and do his something big before he has to leave and marry the woman he loves.
I suppose the film struck a chord with me because in some ways it inadvertently paralleled my own life. And I think that it could resonate with a lot of people.
If you take away the sexist tone of the film – the movie places all women in the category of sexual objects of desire/lust – and look at the plot line, you realise it is about dreaming. It is also about chasing that dream. Dean’s character is a dreamer and his fiancée is not. There is a scene once she arrives in the west where she confronts her fiancé and tells him about when The Wild West Show came through her village in Scotland.
Her point was that the whole show was make-believe and that Baker was not the big star, or The Wild West Show, he was just a man who wasn’t about all that “bigger than life” malarkey. But this is a movie and Martin’s character does do his something big, albeit, after murdering an entire Mexican bandit gang with a gatling gun; something that critics moaned about when the film opened in 1971. But the point is that Baker did something we all want. Not wholesale murder and plunder, but something big.
People dream. At least normal people do. We all have dreams and aspirations. It is in our genetic makeup. For a lot of people their dreams die when they grow up, or their dreams change. Instead of becoming rich and famous or a variation of same, they become married with children. Their dreams then mature and become more about looking out for their family and children. They when they are older, they dream of retiring with enough money to last their autumn years.
I have always been a sort of Peter Pan kind of guy. My dreams were always the same. I wanted to be a respected writer and actor. That was it. Of course there were variations on the dream, but it never strayed too far from the original desire. Even after being married twice and having two children, events that did spawn a new set of dreams, I never lost that wish to be a man of words or imagination.
Neither of my wives liked my dreams. My first wife did support it. At first. But when living in Southern California, the reality of my pursuit became too much for my first wife and she threw down the gauntlet. I had to choose between her and my dream. Foolishly, I chose her.
We divorced four years later after bringing my son into the world. I wasn’t very good at “real life” and this sped our disintegrating marriage to its bitter conclusion. After a few years of solitary misery, I then married again.
To be fair, my second wife did not realise the depth of my desire to be a scribe and artist. When I actively worked to be both, I received an intervention session or two from her. “People like us don’t do those types of jobs,” was how the intervention began. Her point was really that people like her did not do those type of jobs. Knowing now that she was a passive aggressive, I doubt that she ever really believed that. It was just a way of keeping me reliant upon her for my happiness.
Years later when her efforts to destroy any chance I had at working in my chosen profession reached fruition and I lost my agent, I was suicidal. The day I got my last communiqué from my agent/manager, a part of me died. So did my marriage. I stuck with it for a long time after because of our daughter, but the relationship had been irrevocably severed.
My dreams, as a result, died too. I turned my back on the two things that had always pleased me and fulfilled me in ways that nothing else could. Sure, I could take pride in both of my children and at how well they were turning out, but my something big, had disappeared. Just as the “real me” had vanished.
We all want to do something big. What that thing is, varies from person to person. It is an individual wish and dream. I’ve gotten more second chances than any one man should. Last year I was given the ultimate second chance. Now I’m trying to fit my old, slightly refined, dreams into my remaining years.
I am working as a professional writer and I worked as an actor in my first professional film in years. When I am not agonising over my financial situation, I am marvelling at the direction my life has taken. I’m also waiting excitedly for my “showreel” so I can start auditioning for more film roles.
At the end of the film Something Big, Dean Martin’s character rides off into the sunset with the girl and you know that if the two do get married, his dreams are over. He will fit back into the mendacity of everyday life and his wife will make sure of it. She doesn’t want The Wild West Show, which means that she’ll make sure her husband does not either.
I have been blessed in so many ways after my last few tumultuous years. I’ve met people who have literally changed my life. DiMarkco Chandler co-owner and co-founder of the Las Vegas Guardian Express; Natasha Harmer, who put me in her film; Marilyn Armstrong and her wonderful husband Garry, and so many other WordPress pals, that to express my gratitude to all of them would make up the world’s longest blog post.
Sorry, I did not mean to go into yet another long-winded thank you. My point was and this is the last thing I’ll say on it, I promise, Something Big, could be the story of my life, or yours. Isn’t that something we all want? Something big or some huge defining thing that has our name all over it? Whether your something big is having children or owning your own house. What ever that dream is, don’t forget it or give up on it. Your something big is too important to give up.
I arrived at Johannesburg International Airport roughly between 21:15 and 22 :10 (9 p.m. and 10 p.m. respectively); the large gap in time is due to my lack of sleep and forgetting to double check it. Arriving at the airport, I was pleased to find that the staff were welcoming and friendly and not above having a joke with you. British and American customs take note.
I meet my contacts D and L. Before they came to meet and collect me at the airport, D’s shed was set alight by someone. The car they used to transport me had a broken window; crime is so rampant that they had to hire an airport car park chap to watch the car. If they had not done this it would have been stolen.
*Note: Because of the nature of my trip, I will refer to my contacts by initials only. Reprisals against any who have helped me to uncover information are a very real threat.
I was taken to where I would be staying for the next four days via the scenic route. L was the driver and took us along the back streets to show what the area looked like and past a local “government” hospital. I was told that if you go there to be treated, you’ll probably get worse or die. Everyone has to go private for their treatment and not use the government hospitals
We drove through a section of town where some drug dealers and prostitutes live. All the houses have bars over the window’s and doors and are behind gates and fences with sharp spikes on the top of the fences or razor (concertina) wire strung across the top.
While we drove through the neighbourhood, we reached a couple of blocks where there were prostitutes hanging around on the sidewalks. Some were in pairs, but most stood alone. One young girl was standing by herself on the corner of a sidewalk and she looked about twelve. All of the young woman, and at least one obvious young man, were black. I was told that as it was almost eleven o’clock at night, it was too late for the while prostitutes to be out. Apparently the white ones get picked first.
The house where I am staying is right next door to a drug dealer and prostitute “den.” The drug dealer is Nigerian and the Nigerians are not well liked in the Johannesburg area. They are the new “crime lords” of the area. In a short time they’ve taken over as leaders in the drugs trade. C and L have no problems with the neighbour. L is a huge intimidating sized chap and the drug dealer is actually afraid of him.
Like most of the houses in this area, the one I will be staying at is a bungalow style house (single level) and it is surrounded by a high fence with sharp implements on the top to discourage thieves. All the houses have this type of wall topped with razor wire, electrical fencing or sharp metal stakes, et al. They have also put bars over every window and door.
The more “expensive” homes have electric all round and D’s house is a combination of electric and wire topped fence as well as the bars over the windows and doors.
The only houses that do not have the high fences and bars are the ones belonging to the drug lords.
Just before you drive onto the block to get to the where I stayed during my short trip, there is a fairly big house that has been vandalised and burnt. It is full of squatters and nothing can or will be done about it.
On the drive from the airport to the area that I will be staying in, D and L tell me the rules for driving in Johannesburg. These are especially important if you are a female driving or you have females in the car with you.
The rules for driving in Johannesburg:
Lock all your car doors.
Keep all your windows rolled up.
Do not slow down or stop if a car (or two, or more) are stopped by the side of the road and people are standing by them.
If you are a woman, you never drive down the road with your purse or handbag in plain sight most will put them on the floorboards out of sight to stop smash and grab theft.
If you look ahead and see rocks stuck in the road, do not approach them, as it is a trap. If you stop or attempt to drive around the rocks you’ll become the victim of a smash and grab or car theft…or worse.
Remember to check.
We finally arrive to our destination. The bungalow style house I am staying in is lovely. It has huge rooms and high ceilings. The bathroom is actually bigger than my kitchen back home in England, and I have a good sized kitchen. My bedroom is also quite large and ready for me to occupy.
C and L are lovely people who immediately make me feel like a long lost relative. Like everyone, it seems, they have dogs. One is the size of a small shetland pony, or at least in my tired state he seemed that big, and all the dogs take to me instantly. The couple were afraid that the dogs might overwhelm me. But they weren’t a problem.
It is winter in South Africa. Their winters make me think of Southern California winters; warm, sunny days and chilly nights. I am glad I packed a short, light jacket along with my short-sleeved shirts and trousers. The daytime temperatures get up to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit but drop down quite low once the sun goes down; around an average of 41 degrees. As typical in winter, the days are shorter and the nights longer.
I have a cup of coffee with my hosts and soon amble off to bed. I am too excited and tired to sleep so I start making notes on my Macbook about the first leg of my journey. After an hour and a half, I finally drop off to sleep.
My first day in Johannesburg has been electric, edifying, and enjoyably adrenaline filled. My first impressions are of a people who are friendly, welcoming and adaptable. I will meet my first “interview” the next day and I’m anxious that all goes well. As I was a “last minute” substitution for our World Editor (his flight cost was extortionate) I am concerned that I get all the information I came for.
I’ve been told to take lots of pictures so that our paper’s critics realise that I am really there. As I lay in bed still feeling ill from my Hepatitis A injection I’d had the day before, I sunk slowly into a deep dreamless sleep that ended as the rest of the house woke up at seven in the morning. Looking at my iPad, when I opened my eyes, I saw that I’d had just over four hours of sleep.
My first “full” day in Johannesburg as an investigative journalist had just begun.
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