Friday, October 20, 2006

ponte book


pontebook
Originally uploaded by peas on toast.
Ponte City, in Berea, Johannesburg, completely fascinates me. I am obsessed with the building. There is no other way to describe my incessant interest with this somewhat dilapidated, yet hugely iconic thing. Some say it's ugly, I think it's strangely aesthetic.

Over the last four years I have been up Ponte three times. Sometimes even at night to take pictures for a photography course I was doing. I'm not scared of ghettoes and human degradation like most people, if I want to go someplace, I will.

I have all the books that ever mention this building, fiction or non-fiction. Well, I nearly had all the books. A [wonderful] friend of mine gave me a Kalahari.net voucher for my birthday. And this was one of my purchases. Ponte City is a fictional tale about a girl who gets wrapped up in the drug trafficking scene in the early 1990s. A time when the building was reeking in filth, crack-ho's and illegal-immigrant poverty. The story nicely blends real history and architectural truth with fiction, with many points of reference I can relate to when studying the Ponte building.

I am quite unbelievably content with my current read.

Went to the Jolly last night with C and E2, as well as girls from school I haven't seen in a while.
I smashed two pizzas in my face. The first didn’t even touch sides.

I hurt myself on the same wall I hurt myself on last time.

E2 told me to cut a raw potato in half, rub it on my wart, and then bury it. When it grows, the wart on my knee – which I am attached to, might I add – will magically fall off.
“How is that possible, where do you get such shit from?”
E2: It’s a reality china…a ree-a-li-tee.

Worth a toss I guess, not that I want to get rid of my wart or anything. He sits prettily on the edge of my knee. He’s part of me, so fuck off about the wart.

We didn’t steal soap dispensers or bladder-weakness posters. I’m a little disappointed.
Didn’t have any shooters. Even.
Actually just wanted to get home and read my book.

49 comments:

Chewthecud said...

Ponte's falling apart - and the reason the rest of us don't hang out there more is cos we don't wanna get shot by nigerian drug dealers or something. as for the wart, a doctor can freeze it off in a second, or try something with salicylic acid.

Peas on Toast said...

Chew - When I last went to Ponte (about five months ago), I was disappointed. There was no action whatsoever. No Nigerian druglords trying to sell me crack, not even needles lying everywhere. It was clean, it even had a fresh paintjob done inside.

When last did you go to Ponte? And see for yourself?

Billy said...

Warts and all! Thats the Peas we love.

Morning sunshine.

Peas on Toast said...

Thanks Bill :)

I love my wart too. I think I shall call him...Yves. Yves Saint Lewart.

ChewtheCud said...

I drive past it once a day peas. I see the sign falling off the wall etc. Curiously enough I have not had the urge to enter said place. Call me crazy. Hey you wanna go out sometime - claim street is supposed to be happening friday nights!

Pete said...

Yves saint Lewart? I drove past you this morning and I saw you practicing that in your vanity mirror.

"Then someone will say 'I love your wart' and then I'll say 'his name is Yves Saint Lewart' and then they'll all laugh!!"

:)

Peas on Toast said...

Chew - not to worry mate, I'm the only one that's curious enuogh to go inside. And this is from a primary source: it's not all bad. Honestly.

Now Rockey Street is pumping. Keen?

Pete - I wish I thought of it in front of the mirror. Sadly, I'm sitting in an office chair, in jeans - so I can't even see Yves - and although I think he looks smashing, people tend to disagree :(

ChewtheCud said...

oooh - you really know how to party peas. lemme see if i can borrow a bulletproof vest quick and i'll be there!

Billy said...

Yves Saint Lewart.


Classic.

Champagne Heathen said...

Peas, you can take me! I'd be fascinated! (How did you know I'd say that). And then we can go for cocktails on top of the Carlton Centre - I have been trying to get there for bluddy years now!!

And I'd like to say, that parts of Main Reef road at about 4am on Saturday mornings are not at all pumping, so don't even bother.

Meanwhile, I met a Nigerian druglord in CD warehouse in The Zone about a year ago. And unlike half of Rosebank's shoppers, he didn't appear to have any gun on him. You always have to be careful of those stereotypes, Chews!

ChewtheCud said...

Stereotyping and raw cynicism are what got me here today in one piece champs. Most dealers in joburg are nigerian and most carry guns for protection - and a lot wouldn't be above robbing you if they had the chance. And carlton is not that bad - i go there for lunch - if you wanna go to the top you gotta pay a fee. I just don't go looking for trouble is all.

tBerry said...

A bloke walks into a pub with a frog on his head.

The bar attendant asks. "what's that on your head?

The frog says. "I don't know, it started out as a wart on my bum!"

Careful Peas! You should get it frozen off asap...

ChewtheCud said...

Just wait till you scratch it or cut it by accident and the blood runs - pretty soon you'd have a whole lot of mini lewarts to keep him company. how cute....

Peas on Toast said...

Billy - :)

Champs - I'll take you for some Attitude Adjusters - no but seriously - on top of the Carlton. It's a small cocktail, but you'll be singing for hours after that. On the way home, we'll pull into Ponte. It's a gas. And those apartments on the top floor are incredible.

Chew - Yip the Carlton is fine. Tourists go up there all the time, it's safe. It has to be if SARS is located on the bottom floor.

On stereotypes, I just say don't judge until you've seen for yourselves - of course they exist for a reason. But I also believe that so much is exaggerated. And I believe JHB CBD is at the brunt of this. Bad shit happens in the city, of course - it's a huge place that has undergone serious social and economic change. But at the end of the day, every place deserves a chance. It's a beaitful city when you really care to observe - and no one is going to chase me out of my city. Especially a Nigerian druglord - cos that's what they want.

Kevin Cadman said...

Hey Peas!

How long have Vodacom plastered their advertising across the top of that building? It's one of the first things you see when entering JHB; quite clever, I must say.

I had a wart on my finger once; got it zapped off at the doctor. I can't say I'm a fan of such things.

It sounds like you have a great group of friends up there. I wish my friends would go out during the week! They're these prudent individuals who have complete different personalities during the weekend! They don't mind going wild on a Friday, but man, mention a Wednesday and they look at you with disbelief.

Anyway, have a great day.
Kevin

Peas on Toast said...

tBerry - but I love Yves! He gives my knee..character. ;)

OK, OK I'll get it frozen off.
I think my ex boyfriend gave it to me. Because before this year, I never had it.

Bastard.

Peas on Toast said...

Hey Kev!

Yip it's the one with the Vodacom sign - I think that's been there for a good eight years now. Before it was a coca-cola sign - looked heaps better with that one, but hey.

Yip, luckily my mates and I aren't scared of going out mid-week. The natural slog of office-life gets a bit much for an entire five days I think. ;)
We've become sort of sensible lately though, we don't come home mid-week completely scutters. But Friday and Saturday is a different story... ;)

Inyoka said...

Ponte, the three pepperpot towers under Table Mountain, the dreadful Werdmuller Centre in Claremont.

Iconic... yes, simply because they are so ugly and (in the case of the first two) so out of place.

Nevertheless, they are part of the landscape and help other buildings to look good!

Have you seen the Geeen Gerkin in London? That's iconic.

Jam said...

I started reading this book, but it was loaned to me by someone and I had to return it. :-(
I've always been fascinated by Ponte too.
Do yourself a favour and find Aryan Kaganoff's "Uselessly". It's a brilliant local read as well.
You have to stop connecting with walls now. You'll be blue all over if you keep visiting the Jolly like that.

kyknoord said...

Could this be the Yves of a new era?

Peas on Toast said...

Inyoka - yip. Classic form follows function stuff. My res building in Cape Town - Tugwell - also hideously ugly. My fascination also extends to what Ponte has stood for over the years. All the change that has occurred. And the dnager that lies therein...:)

Haven't seen the geeen gerkin? Where is it?

Jam - It's the bloody wall in the bathroom. C has witnessed me heatbutt it twice now. And completely by accident. *sigh*

Ponte is completely fascinating isn't it? I must get my hands on 'Uselessly.'

The last read about Ponte was Richard Kunzmann's 'Bloody Havests.' Hectic read. Fiction. But tons of scary Ponte stuff. I have it, will lend it to you.

Peas on Toast said...

Kyk - Just could be. He's fucking ugly though. :)

Kevin Cadman said...

Oh... another thing

How bluddy annoying is this stupid 'blog top sites' website not working 95% of the time? What's the deal with that?

Should we boycott? ;)

Peas on Toast said...

Kev - I hadn't noticed until now. My focus is still on that ClusterMaps thing. Am loving it :) You should get one, I swear, can stare at that thing for hours...

Champagne Heathen said...

Oh THAT wall at the Jolly. It's not your fault Peas!! It is almost impossible to get into that dumb bathroom cause of counter & wall & alcohol & all! (And I also suddenly have several bruises in my life explained after nights out Jollying!)

Peas on Toast said...

Oh thank God. It's not just me then!

(And I only had like three Fitzy's last night as well!)

Carlz said...

stay our and drink vs go home and read???? Peas - whats going on? But I know what you mean - i think my liver is giving in on me! but with 3 weeks left here I think i got to keep on trucking!

i love jolly pizza!

tBerry said...

I reckon these so called "iconic" buildings are just friggin ugly and impractical.
Has anyone driven the coastal road to Hermanus through the little towns? Thats where the guy that designed the Werdmuller Centre, the Good Hope Centre, Customs House, the Tampon Towers and UCT's Res's is now plying his trade with all the other failed architects. I have never seen so many ugly building on one stretch of road in my life!

JAm said...

The SA Top Blogsites site is a disaster. Agreed.

Anonymous said...

Peas, I can see the "gerkin" as londoners call it from my desk at work. It's near Liverpool street station. But it's not really green. I prefer to think of it as the "aubergine".. if we're sticking to the veg and colour descriptions.

Cookie Monster said...

Hack the wart! I agree the Ponte buiding was way ahead of its time in the design department.... The question is, what if it wre in Sandton or Fourways? Would we look at it differently?

Peas on Toast said...

Carlz - I think I have drinking burn-out :( Well till the weekend anyway :)

tBerry - ah...but have you really looked at them?? I got pretty fond of my res eventually. They're monstrous, but also beautiful at the same time. Maybe I just find beauty in rare things, who knows?

Anon - this giant aubergine is piquing my curiosity - can you send me a photo of it by any chance?

Cookie - Hell yeah. If it were in suburban northern suburbs, the thing would be filled with white supremists methinks. It would also look even more out of place, amongst low Tuscan villas.
At least in Hillbrow, it's surrounded by other high-rises.

Anonymous said...

Peas, I just sent some images to your gmail address.

Peas on Toast said...

Thanks Anon - duly recieved, thanks a mil!

I quite, um, sort of like that giant aubergine building. I suppose it seems a little out of place, but since it looks like a large dildo, perhaps that's part of it's charm. ;)

Anonymous said...

thats what my mum said on her first trip over here... "geez looks like something that belongs in ones bedside table!"

Peas on Toast said...

Bless! ;)

Boomkind said...

I remember years ago when I was at school there used to be ten pin bowling in the Ponte, you could not go past that level to the apartments as it was exclusive, very larney and expensive. How times change. They changed quickly those were the years we used to party the new years in on Pretoria street in Hilbrow without getting a fridge landing on your head or shot.

Oh god did I just do a those were the days thing, someone shoot me or I'll go to Hilbrow where someone for sure will.

zuzula said...

when it was first built we all christened it the erotic gherkin because it looks like a giant dildo. Just what London's skyline needs!

C said...

Keen to make up for last night tonight???

Peas on Toast said...

Boomkind - I wish I was around to see Hillbrow during its heyday. I would've loved it.

Zu - a giant dildo to celebrate LOndon's. um, sex culture? ;)

C - Let's do the melville thing poen, am keen. :)

Champagne Heathen said...

Boomkind - exactly how far ago were those days...my mom also recalls how she used to partying in Hillbrow cause it was the place to be like today's place to be is ...is...ohgod...Is Rivonia considered the place to be for our generation?? Please no. I'd rather say Newtown is our place.

Peas on Toast said...

Champers - I've heard Melville is the closest thing to what Hillbrow was. And even then, it doesn't come close. Or so they say.

Champagne Heathen said...

Speaking of Melville...so bump into you at the Long Long table then this eve!?

The theme is to dress up like a star...I am taking it as a star meaning celeb...I will be taking my adopted Malawian baby along as dress-up paraphenalia!

Boomkind said...

Champers, not so long ago, well it feels like the other day dammit.

I matriculated in '89 and it was getting dodgy but in std 9 I was hanging at benonapoli's (sp?) and the Irish club at the Hilbrow squash courts, buying lp's at Hilbrow records and such so say '87 it was okay. Hell Pea's you were what 6 or 7 (shit make myself feel old!) Rivonia road was still a road The Balalaika was a seperate building with what they say the biggest thatch roof in the continent?

Peas on Toast said...

That's the plan Champers. I may be later than everyone though, as I have extra work to do at home tonight. *sigh*.

I'm so tired I could scream! But will pull through for one in between work for a little break.

Peas on Toast said...

Boomkind - close my dear. I was 8/9 in 1989. ;)

I always imagined myself in my old life though, living it up in Hillbrow during the 70s. What was it - Fontana Inn? The Razzmatazz Club? Cafe de Paris?

I've done research on these places because I am so interested. I do drive-bys past these places regularly as well. It's very sad to see what they've become.

Boomkind said...

Every now and again you see parts of the inner city coming together, it will take time. Squalor creeps in and takes over but so does rehabilitation. It has to slowly become a better place so the crimnals have to move to the 'burbs for some peace.

Luckily the '70's was a bit before my partying days otherwise I realy would be a fossil

Peas on Toast said...

I agree Boom. Absolutely. An urban jungle like Hillbrow cannot stay the same, space and time would never make allowance for that. Things have to change. What goes up, must come down; nce down it must come up again. It is in the natural progression of things. It has to be.

rocket said...

I have LOADS of questions about the place, like: who owns the building and dou you remember when the middle was filled up with garbage etc.

I haven't even been there. Where do you find parking if you want to go and have a gander at the place?

If it was a toss up on a day out at Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind or a night at Ponte, cesspool of decadence; I choose the big Fucking Vodacom Banner any day!

I would change my name for the night: Hi, I'm Monty from Ponte...