I want a little human

It’s not personal. They are my lesbian best friends. But when the closer of the two suggested I provide sperm and the other scoffed, I had to respond. I didn’t think or debate with myself about it, I just roared – naturally.

What a sacred space to be in… to want to create and nurture a beautiful new life for years inside of decades (and then some).

Yes. I have thought about it. And more than that… I have made it known that I want my own little Vincent Joshua. People. Cousins. Family. Friends. Colleagues. They scoffed. But they don’t have to be the deal-breaker because I am not nor would I ever be in love with these people, those cousins, that family or friends, or even them and their colleagues.

I want a little human. That laughs and smiles and cries and wants. That needs me and changes my mind about the cost of bread and petrol and the time that the news is on – or why any of these crazy silly little things should even matter at all.

A little genius that shows me that sometimes all I need to do is look at the dog’s bowl, study ants and their path up somebody else’s wall, understand the message an incessant cat is getting at or just sit and laugh at the funny faces we did earlier today, and the day before that and the day before that…

But we are rubbish. We are jaded trashcans. And it’s not over until we have moaned to anyone who will listen – so it’s never finished really…. And still, the light of love can take its place in a takeaway-box moment or maybe within a poem on the scribe of ancient cotton… It’s where you write it… and no one else need define that for you.

I want a little human.

baby_2175522b

Vincent Joshua.

© Dylan Balkind

Stir the hot calm


I asked the Universe to run me a bath. Long day. Long week. Long year. Long in the blindness. Long in the silence. She obliged and we both waited while the salts bubbled, and together we stirred the hot calm.

Soaking in the warmth, I thought about the beginnings that follow funny endings. I reckon it’s like when you cut star shapes out of a lampshade and project the wonder and imagination across your bedroom wall. It’s new. And because it’s new, it’s fun. It’s electrifying, creative and full of the butterflies of promise.

Outside I could hear her summon the storm as the wind beat tree branches into webs like ocean spray. She had played along so far, so I closed my eyes to feel how I feel… She held her breath for just a moment and in this break, she let me see that raindrops can float toward the heavens sometimes rather than fall towards the floor…

It’s a magical madness.

It’s new. And because it’s new, it’s fun. It’s electrifying, creative and full of hope. Like us. Like life. We never stop. Our love never stops. We will meet again and again in different incarnations at different ages in different stages as we zigzag through this Universe on our own paths, crossing each other’s…

And then the sun comes out. It always does and together, we stir the hot calm.

© Dylan Balkind

Racist Advertising

Originally written for and published on BizCommunity.com.
For engagement details, click here

I was too young to remember what advertising was like in South Africa in the dark ages (Apartheid). I can only assume the emerging markets were all but disregarded (why go against what was happening in other socio-economic areas of life?) and were considered a non-event when it came to buying power.

Crazy that us elitist whites chose this route when you think about it, considering they still had to live, eat, wash, clothe themselves and travel around – albeit under much duress. So the world issued sanctions which in turn led to people learning about tolerance before imbibing a little sanctity and finally getting politically correct. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to stop since – getting politically correct that is. And God is it boring or what?

I saw the Caltrate TVC this week. This is a product that is supposed to help strengthen your bones and joints so that you can shimmy shake with the best of them and never stop, year after year after year. I was stumped at the storyline and wondered if the creative team and/or client had fallen and bumped their heads.

Let me tell you how the brief went (I wasn’t there, but ’ll have a shot at it anyway): “Create communication that attracts the black buying power to calcium supplements.” So they came up with a black lady and her elderly mom kickboxing.

Mmm…

Kickboxing.

Before I gave in to a blinding fury at the ridiculousness of this idea, I asked a few of my black friends how much time the matriarchs in their family allocated to kickboxing in a week. Much to the surprise of the Caltrate marketing team and whatever agency they entrusted with this script, the answer was a deafening ‘none’.

Shockingly-Racist-Vintage-Ads-3

Now I am no doyenne of sport, but I am sure that even a little dipstick research would have come back with a handful of better ideas for a storyline that still worked to highlight the USP of the product for an audience they were hoping to bring into the net. This kind of arrogance in marketing and advertising has long overstayed its welcome in South Africa. People are not idiots and you are not doing your brand any favours at all by patronising one audience in front of another.

This example is simply the ridiculous positing of political-correct casting onto a script a white writer wrote. Market research should have taught them how to make calcium-enriching supplements appealing to black families with sport or activities that are relevant to them. It’s a shame when something has so blatantly been written for a black audience by a white creative team who did no more work than the bare minimum. If they were more committed to their craft, they would create relevant messaging that resonates with the target audience in the right spaces at the right time.

We are the only country who uses LSM profiling – because of the dexterous tapestry of our socio economic landscape – yet so few marketing exercises use this information for their gain. My reaction to ads like this one is not a realisation I have reached because I am racist. This is fury at the racist creatives who worked on the script and who assume that the audience will buy whatever they are selling because they cast black artists.

Wake up. Think more.

Hashtag epic brand fail.

© Dylan Balkind

It’s not right, but it’s okay

I have this beautiful friend. And by beautiful, I mean in every way imaginable. Life deals us all sorts of different blows though and because of this, she’s been really down for a long time. She’s been really down because she’s been really lonely. The longer she is lonely, the more down she gets and the more down she gets, the harder it is for her to stop being lonely.

Then one day she met a man. He seemed perfect. But to add insult to injury, he made it clear from the start that he wasn’t ever going to be able to be what she needed. He couldn’t. Still… It didn’t deter her delight at all. I watched her face and listened as she told me about how this fling made her feel. How alive she felt because of it. How excited she was to go there in her head and to get up everyday and talk about it to anyone who would listen.

Any sane person would have told her to run for the hills because a man that is emotionally unavailable is not the kind she needed right now (if ever). But I couldn’t do it. I listened as she took me through the same details again and again and, as I watched the sun’s reflection setting in her eyes, it got me thinking that the right advice isn’t always the best advice. Where had caution ever got me, so who was I to dole that out as a recommendation to anyone else?

Sometimes it makes more sense to go after something stupid simply because you’ve missed the very magic of goosebumps on your skin. Sure, you could be more sensible than that. But then again, there is only so much sanctity in solitude and sometimes the risk is worth it just to know you are still alive. It’s a senseless wonder, but life can be like that.

Yes, it is stupid to send your heart hurtling down a one-way highway knowing that the road isn’t finished at the other end, hoping for the best anyway even though you know that guilty pleasures seldom end up with any pleasure at all. That’s why they are guilty, but life can be like that.

Isn’t it funny how, no matter how old we get or how wise our lessons learned should make us feel, we still do stupid things in the spirit of immortality? Why? Because tomorrow isn’t always the most important thing. Go out. Be alive. Get hurt. You need to celebrate who you are and how you feel right now – with all your faults and flaws. You are beautiful today, in this moment and you will never have this time again.

bfgf drive sunsetSo I said nothing about how this could lead to even more hurt than what she had been going through before. I believe there is value in dusting off your heart and putting it through its paces, and how that can be more important than keeping it locked away for a rainy day that may never come. Let your eyes water because you let yourself feel. Sometimes they do that when the light catches them just perfectly as you look into the sunset and they well-up as we soften at its wonder. It doesn’t have to be sad, because life can be like that.

So if you find yourself in love with the idea of something or someone that you shouldn’t be, go with it – even if for just a little while.

It’s not right, but it’s okay.

In fact it’s better than okay. It’s good for you. To feel love is one of life’s truest wonders.

It’s like driving with the window down and looking straight into the sunset.

It will make your eyes water.

Life can be like that.

© Dylan Balkind

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