It has been a bleak month. Financially, utterly stressful, emotionally navigating extremely stormy seas. There were warnings in the stars and the planets, a solar eclipse, hurricanes in Housten and another blowing away islands in the Pacific -a mudslide in the Congo and here in Cape Town even though it’s meant to be the rainy season the drought got worse and the politics more depressing. We won’t even talk about the nuclear testing antics going on in North Korea and Trump’s reactions…Everywhere fear on the rise. So it is a very important time to be focused on love and light and the important things that make life worth living. A very important time to be appreciating one’s community of friends and family, because when the going gets tough, communities must come together.
In my world somewhere on the Southern most peninsula of Africa as these gloomy universal forces swirl, I have been facing middle age, which seems to be setting in with my 47th birthday. I forced myself to celebrate (despite how gloomy I was feeling) by inviting a few friends round to a “bring and share” mad-hatters tea party. It was a huge challenge to myself to be social under the circumstances. A decision to keep in touch instead of isolating myself further, which is my tendency.
The first to arrive at my party was Bood, who I feel very intuitively close to, yet although I have known him for 28 years, have always been a bit in awe and slightly intimidated by because his personal standards are so high. So it was particularly awkward for me to face him in my gloomy and unseemly state. He caught me by surprise offering a gift of homegrown lemons and limes – cheerily suggesting I freeze them and make Mojitos. “I can’t afford rum for Mojito’s,” I admitted, from my groaning place of lack and fear, (although I was very grateful for the lemons.) “Nor can I.” He said matter- of –factly. “Really?” I was surprised.
I realized that I wasn’t alone in this. It was a national crisis- a recession. Worst hit are the artists and musicians and freelancers, the ones outside the system. Thankfully artists and musicians are most used to surviving under tough conditions so they may be best equipped to survive them, If I were the president, I would re-direct funds destined for the military and silly nuclear energy plants and all those unnecessary extra pay packages that get given out for all the wrong reasons to corrupt officials. The money would go to supporting creatives and encourage healthy communities. I would put money on Quality creative projects that include growing fresh vegetables and fruit for communities in urban areas. Projects that make the environment more beautiful, and the quality of life better for everyone, through music laughter, theatre and quality sculptures and artworks. I would put money on things that add value – like creative education for children to help them to grow up and think for themselves and be strong independent leaders who have no need to show off their power, nor to cling to it. People like Bood.
Un-phased by the lack of rum for Mojito’s, Bood went on to juggle the lemons and limes with his old friend E. This entertained both the tea drinking adults and the children at my party. The party and mood improved with tea, cake, champagne, and conversation. I did not get to speak much more to Boody that day in all the fuss and chatter over guests who didn’t know each other – the oldest friends were (regrettably) left to look after themselves. Bood kept busy having fun with E- his soul buddy since kindergarten days (now married to my sister and living 8 hours drive away on the family Karoo farm.) So it was a great chance for them to catch up. (Yet in hindsight, there are so many things I could have asked Bood. so many things I could have told him.
Exactly ten days after my birthday, Bood- whose real name is Julian, had an accident at work. In a moment in time -which I dreamed the next morning as from his perspective – a vision in pencil- with crisscrossing lines. He fell from scaffolding. When he landed he peacefully knew it was over. That was the feeling I had in the vision. He was at peace and knew it was over. He was 46 and survived by his beautiful violin playing wife Camilla and two beloved daughters Maru and Ivy as well as his parents, sister, and brother Steve Carver. Julian Bood Carver had lived his life to the full despite great health difficulties, which he kept to himself. (He had suffered from type 2- diabetes since early childhood, and despite the risks involved, he certainly never let it hold him back.)
It was a great shock and a wake-up call to a whole community of artists in Cape Town.
Bood was a light and an inspiration. The world feels darker without him. His passing is the closing of a very happy book. The feeling it gave you stays behind albeit mixed with the melancholy of the story ending. It has been a time of bewilderment, of looking around and wondering what the point of anything is. Yet there is this grinding survival thing that keeps us on the ground while our friends fly up to heaven one by one. Death is always so close, it is just a thin veil away, yet we do not look at it. We expect to live. We expect our friends to live and our family to live. We expect them to be there the next day and we do not think that if we don’t concentrate on their amazing existence and luminosity the present moment, it may be gone the next time we look.
But in Boods case it was. He was totally present and now he is physically absent. His sudden departure was such a shock that it left a large cave-like a hole in the ether, so large and gaping that it echoed like a mirror of his presence. His spiritual presence felt extremely strong in every moment of the following week to so many of his friends and family and still remains part of my consciousness. He returns to many in their dreams. (Perhaps he is moving through the veils.) At his wake -the massive gathering held for him a week later, old friends with tear-stained jagged eyes clung to each other. No words were the right words to say.
He left his mark in so many ways, but for many people – most memorable was the role he had played as a driving force- kick ass rhythmic bass player, cocky lyricist, and powerful stage presence behind a surprising number of very successful alternative independent bands over the years.
Glamrock 90’s sensation “The Honeymoon Suites,” were a never to be forgotten legendary phenomenon with Bood playing bass and guitar and guitar (in alternation with my husband Jamie on various songs. They had this special trick they did on stage, smoothly swopping guitars mid-show without anyone noticing.)
Other musical projects in later years with Jamie included “Folk Me” (which was just about to be revived-an idea discussed at my birthday party) and award-winning cowboy-cabaret show “Angels on Horseback.
Bood also toured internationally in the 90’s with hip –hop drum and bass funk band –Moodphase5. In recent years “The Suitcase Hearts” was a ripping success with a large Cape Town fan base. (Click the links to watch the music videos.)
Bood was a talented writer and musician, composer, performance artist, set-builder, sculpter, and gardener, beneath his quiet humbleness. In recent the past years, he sculpted and tilled the earth with a co-op called Co-Creators, as an urban farmer. His farm lay beneath a highway in Woodstock- a miracle of abundance and hope. It is called the Peace Garden. (The setting for the Suitcase hearts music video.) An amazing urban agriculture project in the middle of the city where an abundance of vegetables, fruit, and even Tilapia fish farm flows and grows abundantly, filtering the water and creating fertilizer. The project is a legacy of real hope for what should and should be happening in more unused urban spaces. Bood spent some years before that working with the permaculture non profit orgnaization–SEED, teaching children in poverty-stricken urban areas of the Cape Flats how to grow food in any conditions. They created vegetable gardens at the schools and in tough Cape flats neighborhoods to improve nutrition and availability of fresh vegetables in places where it is most needed. (Urban deserts where people live on mostly on cheap carbohydrates – a cause of diabetes.)
Before he married and had his beautiful children- (who of course are his greatest achievement and his pride and joy), he spent time making outlandish sculptures and performance art with his childhood friend John J Molteno–founder of B.D.I (Back Door Initiative) and gut-wrenchingly hilarious comedy skits, a series called “Nuclear Family” with his oldest buddy E Ian North. There were many B.D.I installations at festivals over the years, but the one I remember best was the 10- foot- tin- can- man at Rustlers Valley, painstakingly created out of all the beer and cooldrink cans drunken at the festival. Tin can man stood for years at the entrance of Rustlers Valley welcoming the guests.
“If you don’t respect yourself, how can you dig someone else? Feeling weak and insecure? No-ones gonna love you any more than they do.” Go the lyrics of one Honeymoon Suites song. “Insignificance.” (Dictionary definition: the quality of being too small or unimportant to be worth consideration.) Bood did not have that problem socially. He was a giant.
Most honorable Bood had complete integrity. He took no interest in gossip and had no interest in social media. He preferred to remain present, feet on the ground, planting seeds and focusing properly on his children. He was the strong silent type, a leader.
I first met him in Cape Town in 1989. We had both just finished school. He had grown up in Joburg city and I was fresh from my upbringing on a Karoo farm and a boarding school in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. He took me out on my first date. We drove in a yellow Beatle to a place called “The Joint” and played Backgammon. I had never met anyone so kind and never had such fun in my life. It was utterly amazing for me to spend time with him and his friends, He gave me hope for humanity and the creative freedom and joy that was possible.Bood understood the importance of Play (as in having fun) as a magical element that was naturally part of his daily experience. It was enlightening. I left Cape Town the next day with my heart full of new hope and the incredible lightness of being that came from knowing that I had such an amazing new friend. I went traveling to Europe soon after. When I returned and started film school I coincidentally connected up with him again as part of a group of thespians directed by (the now internationally renowned Brett Bailey) and his partner Laura Twiggs, performing a musical show at Grahamstown Festival – Camelot Blues, it was called. I went along as a props mistress. It was the beginning of a great adventure with some really amazing people who remained an important part of the fabric of my social thread-work and lead to a plethora of fabulous experiences over the years that followed.
What I realized at Boods wake, is that he was truly a kindred spirit. One thing that struck a chord was in his brother Steve’s speech was an issue I had recently been grappling with. Although he had studied copywriting and got top marks, he was not able to sell his soul and creative spark to worship “the graven image” of materialism. Not to say that he was not prepared to work for a living, but only in ways that were in alignment with his soul. (His moral standards were too high to work in advertising, he had told his parents- as his brother Steve explained.)
Instead, Bood chose to use that creative energy to create Quality or add value to existence in whatever form he pleased and he did it with humor- like a laughing Budha. According to the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” by Rober Pirsig, Quality is God.
“Quality,” or “value,” as described by Pirsig, cannot be defined because it empirically precedes any intellectual construction of it, namely due to the fact that quality (as Pirsig explicitly defines it) exists always as a perceptualexperience before it is ever thought of descriptively or academically. Quality is the “knife-edge” of experience, found only in the present, known or at least potentially accessible to all of “us”. (Plato’s Phaedrus, 258d). Equating it with the Tao, Pirsig postulates that Quality is the fundamental force in the universe stimulating everything from atoms to animals to evolve and incorporate ever- greater levels of Quality. According to the MoQ, everything (including ideas, and matter) is a product and a resultt of Quality.”
Bood did not relate to the Christian view of God (as he perceived it) However he believed in the essence of Quality. (I don’t know if he had read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, but it all makes sense now.) The Honeymoon suites had a sign- beautifully made- stuffed vinyl with buttons and knobs and shiny bits, which went with them everywhere and was used as a backdrop for their shows. “Quality,” it said. No further explanation necessary
Some time into the days of “Angels on Horseback” at the interval of a rather awkward performance (they were being hired for a rather pretentious party and the audience were not intelligent enough to understand the ironies and subtleties of the material) Bood had a realization. “I just want to be at home with my Baby.” He announced seriously. He was newly married and his wife was pregnant. He left the band soon after that. Bood was the most dedicated father ever. He was so proud of his beautiful girls and loved them to heaven.
They will be loved from heaven now. And he will be dearly missed. And those who are still on earth will have to carry on and remember to live life to the full and keep focusing on quality and true value and get our priorities right and keep our integrity.
We will have to keep reminding ourselves to keep the groove and never miss a beat. Self -respect creates self-value. Value creates worth and worthiness. Valuing and obeying one’s inner creative spirit–leads to the empowered freedom to make quality choices, which with focus and effort lead to quality achievements and quality living. Bood intrinsically understood that. I think I understand it better now too. Thank you, Bood for living your best life and helping others who knew you do the same.
So I am telling myself that there is no reason to fear “looming insignificance” as the shadows of middle age and global politics and climate change threaten. No fear at all. There is only love, courage and a good sense of humour, and taking care of family and community. Planting seeds, watching them grow. Harvesting and blessing the abundance that comes. That and the very significant capacity to find joy- the incredible lightness of being- feeling Boody, despite all ills.
We also have to learn that each of us is only here now. We may not be here tomorrow. So be fully present with each other. Have real conversations, (no matter how distracted you are feeling by all the information and troubles.). Make the most of your time together. Don’t take anyone for granted. Treat each one honourably as you would like them to treat you. For tomorrow may not be another day. (“Talk to me now, don’t talk to me later.” to quote the Honeymoon suites.)
If anyone reading this would like to help, please feel free to contribute to this crowd=funding campaign (link below) to help support Boods family. Boods wife Camilla plays violin in the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, but this is not enough to sustain the children’s education and other expenses.