Monday, December 26, 2005

The Gandis 2005

Every 365th day we must evaluate everything. It's the law. We must evaluate our life, our weight, our wallets, feel depressed about our lack of accomplishments, then feel better by emptying our wallets on our weight and cutting our life short in the process.

We also must give away awards. So here are the Propagandis or P Gandis for 2005 AD (around 1400 AH).

Best Falafel: Falafels of Zion (Sahyoun)- where Bechara El Khoury Avenue meets Damascus road parallel to Monot Street, on your left, Beirut
This 1x1 meter joint specializes in falafel, nothing else, no customer service, no smiles, hygiene is questionable, but the falafels are the best.

Best name for the area where the Martyrs statue is: Bourj Square.
Talk about an identity crisis. Martyr Square, Freedom Square, Independence Square, Sovereignty Square, Hariri Square, Tent camp, Cock (Deek) Square. Well I decided to go with what I think is its original name.

Best Sandwich: Massad's Taouk- now this is tricky. It's up(straight up) the tightest (fits a Peugeot 207 but not a 307) steepest (90 degrees) alley (foot trail) in Zahle (the bride of the Bekaa).
Worth the trip and the wait because you will have to wait once you get there. Even though you'll spend some money on the gas and the new paint job for your car, it's still cheaper than a meal in Beirut.
Warning: Don't speak English or French or Beiruti with the waiter, he might beat you up.

Best Censorship Job: Crazy Frog's Penis. How was this little amphibian screwed out of a grammy?

Best Place of Residence during Election season: Tripoli. So what if you don't have a proper sanitation system, schools, or hospitals. Come election season your vote is worth all the misery you have to endure for 4 years, that's about $200.

Best Kababs: Abou Ahmad- Corniche Al Mazraa. Abou Ahmad has been feeding Beirut for decades. How does he have the stamina to do it? He keeps a strict diet of Turkish Coffee and Marlboros. Warning: no matter what you order there you will fart afterwards, just make sure you don't accidentally shart.

Best Protest: The parents of the missing in Syrian jails - Gibran Park. March 8th + March 14th + Feb 21st + May 7th don't stand a chance when facing a handful of weeping mothers. Too bad it's just not good enough for TV.

Best Starbucks: Bhamdoun. I have to accept the fact that Starbucks will eventually open a branch inside each room of my house, but with the Bhamdoun Branch closing 9 months each year at least I have a glimmer of hope that won't happen.

Best Assassination: OK, I'm not THAT cruel. Here's to a bomb-free 2006.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I don't watch much TV but...

.... I love Tele Liban. As a kid I was a big fan of Quantum Leap. Jumping back in time to right what once went wrong. Well Tele Liban is as close as we ever gonna get to time travel. While most of the world is riding the High Definition TV wave, Tele Liban is still proudly touting its technicolor capabilities. Every show they have on looks the same whether it's a seventies rerun or a live broadcast. Same image quality, same set decor, same clothes, same hairdos, and actually the same topics; so it's a challenge to guess the date of the show and I never shy away from a challenging puzzle.
Tele Liban reminds me of the crush I had on that girl on Noah's Ark. Haifa Wehbe is Feryal Karim with today's technology. Tele Liban makes me jones for Atari. Walid Jumblatt is Kamal Jumblatt with a more distinguished hair style. Tele Liban proves that there was never any quality TV just less crap to click through. Sabah is Sabah, the bitch hasn't changed.

Now who is the other person that watches Tele Liban?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Lebanon is ...

I keep hearing Lebanon is a "Consensual Democracy".

What the hell is a Consensual Democracy?

I tried to find a definition for this term online but to no avail. So I'll give it my own definition: a crock of shit.

We either all agree, or nothing gets done(Off course, by We and All I mean the sectarian Mafia bosses that speak for everyone).

"Consensual Democracy" is just a cover for the reality we have. The Lebanese Political structure is a cock fight dictatorship. While most dictatorships have one man that gets his way and DOES things his own way. In our special country the many dictators just peck at each other trying to reach the elusive consensus and in the process nothing gets done. Our current "Consensus" government has been in place for 6 months in the most crucial of times, and what have they consensually done? A Parking Lot in Solidere and a whole lot of procrastination.

Successive governments have had the same impeccable efficiency record, but that's the way We All like it in Lebanon (Again We and All mean just the cocks in the cockfight). That way you can always blame your ruling partners for your shortcomings and you can always count on rallying the people behind you along tribal sectarian lines. Blame, blame, blame, with no responsibility or accountability; a politician's utopia.

What democracy is that they speak of?

Lebanon is a Zaeemocracy.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hi5 Challenges

  • Try to locate a Bhutanese that is connected to a Mozambiquan (within 3 friends or less)
  • Find 10 people that DO NOT list "The Da Vinci Code" as one of their favorite books
  • Find a Lebanese dude that does not have a picture of "his" car in his photo album
  • Expose 3 chicks that try to pass pictures out of magazines as their own
  • Prove this mathematical equation: # of Real Friends =Pi/# of Hi5 Friends

Evo Cocaina

The left tide continues to sweep through South America knocking out another ally of "USA! USA! USA!".

Is this an ideological failure for capitalism?

The way I see it, this is nothing more than blind reactionary pendular swing due to corruption. It will be met with an equal but opposite shift when the people are fed up with leftist abuse and corruption. It has nothing to do with Left or Right or Up or Down ideologies.

It is however a blow to the neocon imperial crusade. Long before George W. there was the Godfather Reagan. South America of the 80's is today's Middle East. War on Drugs, War on Terror. The goal is one, more power and control.

Reagan helped corrupt pro U.S. governments crush leftist rebel movements all across Latin America and it succeeded at the time. The tools they used were violence and propaganda, sounds familiar? Twenty years later we have Chavez controlling Venezuela's oil, and Evo cultivating Coca.

Iraq's Chavez and Lebanon's Evo will not wait 20 years to come out.

If only the U.S. applied its "American Values" in its foreign policy, the whole world would be Hollywoodified. Then again without Reagan and Bush foreign policy, Americans wouldn't be able to afford being the best.

Friday, December 16, 2005

On the Rocks

The marriage between F.M. and H.A., both macho males, is on the rocks. Well the marriage was always on the rocks since it was not out of true love but rather an outdated arranged wedding. The only thing worse than an arranged marriage is an arranged gay marriage. Things between the two got so bad yesterday that H.A. left the house. F.M. felt the void, he missed H.A.. They had become attached to each other. Also F.M. started wondering if he could raise their adoptive kids as a single parent. The kids are a handful since one of them is autistic and the other is bipolar and they used to fight a lot. Could H.A. be out flirting again with their hot flamboyant neighbor, F.P.M.? What if they get together? Not only will H.A. get half of what F.M. owns, but the new couple would be on the front pages of all tabloids pouring salt in the wound. It would be nightmarish, every night would be halloween. Something needed to be done. So F.M. pleaded for H.A. to come back home. He promised to take out the garbage and mow the lawn. F.M. promised to confront the peeping neighbors and to complain with the home owners association about the dog house the neighbors stole from their backyard. He even promised to call and ask about the In-Laws. How could H.A. not go back home?
Well, F.P.M. could be a better lay.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Most Me

I am not an easily impressed person, maybe because I enjoy criticizing everything. It's a sickness, I am bored most of the time. I mean I'm not that interesting myself. I can't have a good time when most other people are having a hoot. My average job life is 10 weeks because nothing keeps my mind busy beyond that time. The only words that come out of my mouth that vaguely resemble a compliment are, "Hmm, It's OK."
Once in a while, almost as often as a Hale-Bopp appearance, something blows my mind away. For some reason the feeling I get when that happens is as if I was beat down. Defeated.
As I read the last line of Milan Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being, the only thing I could say was, "You son of a bitch." I hate superlatives, so I'm not going to throw them at this book, but I will throw some adjectives. Random, Crazy, Sick, Cynical, Hilarious, Czech. Ok I will use a superlative, it is not the best book, it is not the best written book, but it is the Most Me book. A book that forces a discussion of the philosophical relationship between God and Shit into the story line is Most Me. A writer that uses sets of parentheses within sets of parentheses to go on random tangent lunacies is a Most Me writer.
The last time I had this feeling was when I watched Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation.
That puts at 2 the number of people alive today I find impressive.
I'm still searching for that impressive politician.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Who's their Marketing Manager?

Roadsters Diner's marketing slogan is: There Goes My Heart.

Just the reminder I needed with each bite of my burger.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Here We Go Again

Car Bomb in Baalbeck on Saturday, Blame Israel.
Assassination of Jibran Tuweini Today, Blame Syria.

The Poor, Innocent, Peace Loving Lebanese always stuck in the middle.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Play Review: "Enigma Variations"

Was Al Madina Theater on Friday night less than half full or more than half empty?
Frankly, I don't mind the scarce crowd. I don't like most people, but I would like for this resuscitated Beirut cultural icon to continue to operate and not go belly up in this shark tank.

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's single scene two man act is a captivating philosophical ninety-minute ping-pong match with a new bouncing ball added in periodically. One of the top contemporary playwrights in Paris, Schmitt is probably best known for "Monsieur Ibrahim".
Lebanonizing the wordy script was the star of the show. It's not an easy task to introduce words like "tayyoub" and "bahle" into an originally french script while keeping its flow and integrity.
Antoine Kerbaj was a perfect fit for the role of Znorko, the Nobel prize winner with a God complex. Alain Delon played that role in Paris, certainly you can see the physical resemblance between Kerbaj and Delon. Ziad Al Andari, as Eric Larsen the small time reporter, was trying too hard in his difficult role. He did a good job with the tough verbal exchanges, but when he had to be quiet and let his face and body do the acting, he was stiff. Overall the play was very enjoyable and it runs for 3 more weeks at Al Madina.

For some reason though I left the theater with the theme song of "Barbar Agha" stuck in my head.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Other Hariri Assassination

Who killed Bahiya Hariri?
I demand to know the Truth. On March 14th, 2005, she addressed a crowd of over a million people with words of a leader. Her speech that day was an honest list of principles and promises to her country and her fallen brother. You could see the pain of loss in her eyes, but you also saw strength and determination. Her actions had been responsible and mature. So what happened to this lady? Why was she marginalized? Why was she sent to Saida to tend to petty small town affairs, when she showed she could step into her brothers giant global political shoes? Why did the Hariri camp decide to go to battle with political virgin Saad instead of his savvy, wise aunt? Instead of a well spoken inspiring presence, we got a nauseating script reader. Maybe that's what was wanted for Lebanon, a script reader. As if we didn't have enough of those. Who took that decision? Hard to believe that someone that was in the forefront, someone who with 2 words overthrew the Karami cabinet, just disappears from the scene so suddenly without a decision to do so from up above; but where is up above? Maybe it's somewhere where they can't see an independent woman become a major political voice in the region? Maybe they feared a Bahiya Hariri would threaten their systematic opression of women? Maybe if a woman could effectively lead an Arab country, they would have no more excuses for not letting women drive or, God forbid, vote and have a political say. That would be yet another burden facing their hegemony specially since they have their hands full already with the religious psychos.

I want the TRUTH.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Random Pics

A Gemayze side street BEFORE rain season.

National Unity Graffiti (sort of)
Also Seen: Randa = Midget Lesbian Psyho

The MOAM: Mohammad Amin Mosque or Mother Of All Mosques.

Capacity: 5,000 Expected Attendance: 27

Beirut, Sunset, Electric Pole, Wires, and Billboard

Monday, December 05, 2005

From Lebanon II

The Khazouk
I don't think I can craft an english phonetic spelling that would do the word justice.
(3 Syllables: Long Ha with a dry throat followed by Zoo followed by the sound combination of the letter K+a hiccup+choking on a chicken bone)

The Khazouk is one of the most powerful, versatile, graphic concepts in Lebanese folklore.

The word itself translates loosely to Butt-hole Ripper, but its significance reaches far beyond intestinal sado-masochistic pleasures.
Very few have actually experienced the Khazouk, but no one doubts its ability to inflict major anal damage.

The Khazouk is feared, revered, jeered, cheered; it depends on which side the Khazouk you are.

Just always remember the Khazouk you prepare today might end up up yours tomorrow.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Beirut by Bike...

Beirut by Bike is a new, wholly different, species of animal. There are many things that are impossible to see with the naked eye or with the most powerful microscope for that matter, you need the magnifying power of a balancing act on two wheels to see such things.

I bought a bike yesterday with the sole intention of taking care fo my body. Little did I know that right there I had shaved a few decades off my life expectancy, also the bike seat can't possible be good for the sperm count. Biking in Beirut has the feel of bungee jumping, without the bungee cord. You leave your house with two choices: do you want to ride on the road or the sidewalk? Half the people on the road don't know what a driver's license looks like, the other half acquired it by taking a bribing test. Throw in the crazy cabs and the delivery scooters phenomenon and that eliminates the road option. Sidewalk it is, people cussing you out won't kill you, uncovered manholes will. Suddenly disappearing sidewalks, trees, traffic signs, dog shit, and cars parked on the sidewalk make it a very challenging obstacle course.

I did reach the oceanfront "corniche". I wish I could document everything I saw there but writing while riding is just too much of an additional risk to take. It was a pleasant ride there, clean ocean breeze, relatively, wide flat area to ride in, ocean view, few obstacles except for the little brats running around. I rode back and forth between Manara and Ain Mreisseh for a few hours, well I wasn't keeping time but that's what it felt like. That small of strip of oceanfront is Lebanon's storefront. You can find a little sample of all that lies inside. The copycat entrepreneurial spirit is present in the Corn on the Cob Carts every ten meters, well those who dare to be different sell coffee and bottled water. There is "wazwaz" lovers lane. Plenty of joggers. Plenty of Social Joggers. Plenty of Flirtatious looks. Cliff Fishing. Cliff Diving. Japanese tourists clicking away. Rich kids with the latest rollerblades and skateboards trying to act tough. Couples with full patio furniture sets and the everpresent arguileh. Greenpiece activists. Women in mini skirts. Women in Ninja dress. The Polaroid photographer. Older men playing backgammon. Older men discussing I mean screaming out politics. The Cartoonist. Fortune Tellers. Jehova's Witnesses.

One thing you realize when you realize when your legs tire is that the oceanfront corniche is the lowest point in Beirut. Everything else is on mountain peaks. No matter where you live there is no way to get back home without a steep climb. A steep climb where you gasp for air and all you get is car exhaust. A nice welcome back home after my little escape at the corniche.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Brilliant Idea

Ex-FEMA sham director Michael Brown is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm!
This action had inspired a revolution in the consulting business.
I, for one, will follow in Brown's steps and start a consulting firm on Career Advice.
Osama bin Laden started the Institute for Tolerance and Dialogue among Cultures.
Lebanese Cab drivers went on a seminar tour on Safe Driving.
Terrel Owens launched T.E.A.M. Inc.
George W. Bush established the W School of Witt.
Condoleezza Rice named her firm: Jane's Hairdressing Salon.
Ariel Sharon has the Peace and Diet Center.
The Pope published the Kama Again Sutra.

The list goes on.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Gotta go...

Just because no one can see you on ground level does not mean God (or someone on the 7th floor playing with a camera) doesn't.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

$1000 Reward

If you find this story on Foxnews or CNN

"This is commander. Anything that's mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it's a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over."

Can you fit 17 bullets in a 3 year old body?

Analysis of the Top 10 Lebanese "Political" Parties

There must be over a 1000 "political" parties in this humongous country, but as a first step I will look into the Top 10 according to the last election results and rate their stock.

1. Future Movement: Banking on the Tupac effect following the assassination of its leader, the Future movement had a strong showing in the elections and was clearly the top party in terms of popular vote (17.2%). However, election time was the peak; its support is already waning within the Sunni community. Saad (ironically means happiness) Hariri has looked weak. The movement has ctrong charity work but lacks any political and economical agenda outside of Hariri Inc.’s business plan. The number’s show almost 40% of the votes came from the north where Saad spent some generous campaign time following his defeat in the third round of elections, that will not hold.
Outlook: Future Movement will continue to be a major player in the Lebanese political landscape as they will continue to be the top Sunni party for a while. But expect it to fall into #3 in the Popularity Rank if it’s not already there.
Favorite Color: Baby Blue. Favorite Day: March 14th.
2. Hezbollah: Here come the Men in Black, and women. Hezbollah has the strongest base among the Lebanese parties, especially since they kicked Israel’s ass out of Lebanon. It has been under a constant American/Israeli attack since its foundation and yet it has managed to grow stronger with time. How? Resistance. They resist occupation, capitalism, communism, money, liquor, make up, colors, entertainment, good image, creativity, music, razor blades, basically anything except sex.
Outlook: At 14.6% of the popular vote, Hezbollah will be around for a long time. It will not grow beyond its current circle of support, however this circle will stretch since they fuck a lot. Each Hezbollah couple is required to have a Mohammad, Ali, Hussein, Hassan, Haydar, Mehdi, Moustafa, Zeinab, Fatima, and Zahra.. Favorite Day: May 25th. Favorite TV Personality: the Midget on the kids shows on Al Manar.
3. Free Patriotic Movement Party: The cool, hip, orange, sexy, fashionable, orange, new kid on the block; this party is the IN party, it has a political platform which is a novelty in Lebanon, even though it looks like it was written by an orange. It’s been referred to as the tsunami and it has lived up to the label, checked in with 14.5% of the popular vote on election day, and has been growing fast. Although it markets itself as secular, its supporters are 99% Christian. 100% Lebanese of course.
Outlook: Well funded and organized and will continue to grow for a while. However, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The “General” can talk a good game, but his history doesn’t back it up. Also the “General” is not young, and he is the party, expect a rapid collapse similar to the rapid rise it has enjoyed when the “General” chokes on an orange. Favorite Drink: Orangina. Favorite Color: Guess?
4. Amal Movement: The Party for the Shia who are too cool for Hezbollah. Grasping on to the legend of Musa Sadr, it continues to enjoy a strong southern base. Led by war criminal/ post war public money suction machine Nabih Berri, it has been in constant decline due to the fact that it is nothing, stands for nothing, and represents nothing. In the past year it has adopted the follow Hezbollah in everything they say approach. Well that has them good enough for 8.6% of the voting public.
Outlook: More nothingness so it makes a perfect fertile base for a new party to target. Favorite Color: Fluorescent colors with “kashkash”. Favorite TV Personality: That Herb doctor.
5. Progressive Socialist Party: Although it sounds like a political party, it is not. This is just the code name for the Kingdom of Jumblatt. War Criminal Walid Jumblatt has proven to be the undisputed King of the Mountain. Jumblatt is the smartest, most astute politician in Lebanon.
Outlook: Having a loyal Druze base of 6.2% of Lebanese vote will guarantee the Jumblatts’ generations of presence in the Lebanese political tabbouleh as representatives of their religious sect. The irony here is that Walid Jumblatt just like his father Kamal are atheist. Favorite color: Gray. Favorite Day: Today.
6. Lebanese Forces: Led by the only War Criminal to do jail time, Samir Geagea, the Lebanese Forces enjoy 5.1% of public support. (51% according to LBC). Geagea is a hard core Christian fundamentalist, except he disagrees with Christ on all morality issues. He promises to be a changed more tolerant man in the New Lebanon. He has a HOT wife.
Outlook: Geagea’s time in jail helped increase his popularity, since he was portrayed as an oppressed victim. Well now he is a free man. People can see him and hear him; that is terrible news for his political future.
7. Sleiman Frangieh Gang: Patriarch of Zghorta. Controls 2.4% of Lebanese vote and will pass it on to his kids and grandkids.
Outlook: no changes in the foreseeable future to his reign over Zghorta. Since he’s an ally of both Hezbollah and FPM so he will probably be President of Lebanon at some point in the future.
8. Kornet Shehwan: R.I.P. An amalgam of presidential hopefuls, Kornet Shehwan has parted ways with the Syrian withdrawal as that was their only uniting issue. Only 2.2% of public votes on their own, they try to court the major parties as moderate flexible maronites who can fill the constitutional role of President of the Republic.
Outlook: Boutros Harb and Naseeb Lahoud are strong presidential candidates. Loud and obnoxious Fares Seaid is thankfully gone with the wind.
9. Communist Party: One of 2 parties with equally spread support across religious sects and geographical areas. That explains its low popularity (1.7 %). Once a strong proud party it just couldn’t hold up with the fall of the CCCP and the Berlin wall.
Outlook: Che Guevara T-shirts are raising interest amongst the youth, but how long can that fad last? Favorite color: hmm, what could it be?
10. Syrian National Socialist Party: The other secular geographically spread party. The grand daddy of them all. It is older than Lebanon itself, thus its name. This old fart is good for 1.6% of Lebanese vote.
Outlook: SNSP seems to be making a comeback in recent months by targeting the secular crowd. However, I have two words of advice for them: NEW NAME!!!! “Syrian” and “National Socialist” are a PR double whammy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Shit or Get off the Pot

The current ruling party is in unenviable position these days. Some tough decisions have to be made. Ever since Siniora took over there has been a wait and see approach on many of the critical issues facing the country. The wait was for the Truth. The Truth came and went and the situation only got tougher.

The toughest decision the Hariri camp has to make right now is who they are going to side with in the American attack on the Syria. They have to take a position and suffer its consequences and either position entails a whole lot of suffering.

Mehlis made it clear that for this investigation to reach conclusive evidence it will take months and even years. Waiting for the absolute Truth is not an option, the country can not be on hold for years. So that leaves the Hariri camp with three options.

The first is to assume Syrian guilt. Just openly state that they know the Assad regime killed Rafic Hariri and they will seek justice at any price. That would a courageous and righteous decision if they convince the Lebanese people of Assad’s guilt. Half the population will believe it just because Saad said it, but what about the other half? They will need more evidence and more time, and they don’t have either. Also siding with the Bush Regime against the Assad regime will cost Hariri a lot of support among his voters.

The second option is to forgive and forget. Walid Jumblatt did it when his father was assassinated, but he didn’t have other bills to pay. Not only would they have to stand with Syria knowing they might have Hariri’s blood on their hands, they are going to face American ire in doing so. Any financial help from Wolfowitz to jump start a dead economy will be just a dream, not to mention all the files that would be opened by the US against Lebanon.

The third choice is to step aside. Keep pursuing the Truth and justice for however long it takes, but not as representatives of the Lebanese people. Let someone else make the tough decisions and face the economic and political firestorm Lebanon is heading into. When the Truth is clear, Saad can come back bigger, badder, and stronger. He would come in as the savior, the hero that will clean up the mess left by a Mikati or Hoss government; that is unless they actually succeed.

The clock is ticking…

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mr. Shit, Meet Miss Fan

Bashar Assad took a page out of George W.’s book yesterday. He blabbed, called Siniora a slave of a slave, and then blabbed some more, but the main points were a Fuck You to the U.N. and a Bring It On to the U.S.

Walk Out

Normal World

5 Ministers walking out of a Cabinet meeting in protest = Healthy Democratic display

Special World

5 Ministers walking out of a Cabinet meeting in protest = Sectarian Strife

Practice Makes Perfect

Today was student government election day at LAU. Middle to upper class kids, higher education, and an American influence provided the perfect setting for a model democratic process.
Well, as of noon the “Abu Bahaa” screamers were fighting with the “Abu Hadi” yellers, classes were called off for the day, and riot police was in full force around campus.

This puppet show will move to AUB next Wednesday.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hail to the Chief

George W. (and most other presidents for that matter) has to look "Presidential" for a few minutes a week, a couple of hours max on a busy week. That is with plenty of help from top image consultants, advisors, speech writers, and Coco Chanel; and he still comes across as an idiot.

Damn Contractors

Burj El Murr - March 1975 ---------Burj El Murr - November 2005

The House of Druze

More secretive than the fortress of solitude, even though it's on one of the busiest intersections in Beirut.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Freedom News

Americans laugh at the French military, rename French fries, and cleverly come up with puns like French Whine. However, America has Geraldo Rivera and France has Melissa Theuriau. France Wins.

More Mooning

Last week, Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah criticized the random inclusion of Mr. X in the Mehlis report and all the speculation that followed. "As if Lebanon today needs more reasons for sunni-shia strife," were his words. That was very mature and responsible of him. On to this week, while most of the muslim world including Lebanon's top Shiite cleric declared Thursday as the Eid marking the end of Ramadan, Hezbollah went with Iraq's Sistani's view of the new moon and celebrated* the Eid on Friday. Well here's my message to Nasrallah: As if Lebanon today needs more reasons for sunni-shia strife.

*The celebrations were wild. I'll post the pictures of the wet chador contests once i get them uploaded.

UNSC Resolution # 1636

It has become hard to keep up with these resolutions as a new one pops up every couple of days, but this latest one is their best yet. UNSCR#1636 resoluted something that has not been resoluted in the history of the UN. UNSCR#1636 unanimously declared that Detlev Mehlis is now officially God of Syria. This is great news for all aspiring Gods in the world; the precedent has been set. The author of Bird Flu for Dummies has already finished writing the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Becoming God.
Back to Syria, the B-52s are loaded with bunker buster MOABs, fuel tank is only quarter full but that’s enough these days, Top Gun CD is playing in the cockpit’s CD player, and the pilot sharpens his skills on his Xbox. It will come down to December 15th, when God is due to give his verdict whether Syrian cooperation was satisfactory. So if God is unhappy with the way Bashar shined his shoes, the Original God would say, “George, go liberate Syria.” And George will oblige. If Mehlis somehow gets all he wants from Syria, then it’s on to more UNSC resoluting.

Mehlis Report Timeline

Early Oktober: Detlev Mehlis leaves to Geneva and Germany to finalize the report.
Oktober 20th: He hands Kofi Annan a report then rushes to make changes in it because he didn’t know it was going to be made public!!!
Late Oktober: He’s back in Germany again just waiting for UNSC to decide on further action.
November 1st: Mehlis is back in Beirut ready to resume his investigation, but he has an inexplicable headache.


Completely Random Picture of the Day

Oktoberfest 2005

From the Q & A Session

Just random things learned from yesterday’s parliamentary session

- A few years back a Palestinian gang from Ain El Helwe Refugee Camp killed 4 judges in Saida. The killers were on Motorcycles and shot down the judges as they left the courthouse. The punishment for the crime was: BANNING MOTORCYCLES IN SAIDA!
- A Lebanese fisherman disappeared last week. Israel returns his boat with bullet holes and blood traces but no body. The Lebanese Government action in this case was: Absolutely nothing.
- Two mouhafez (county manager) jobs are open and the government listed the vacancies in the newspaper. It turns out that’s unconstitutional, the jobs should be filled through nepotism or as partisan favors.
- There are a lot of missing Lebanese citizens between Syrian and Israeli jails/mass graves. It’s likely that these cases will never be resolved. Ditto for Moussa Sadr who vanished at Ghaddafi’s Tent in Libya. Then the MP’s played the “Name a Libyan other than Ghaddafi” game. Nobody won.
- Speaker of the Parliament/ Former War Criminal Nabih Berri flirted with Nayla Mouawad.
- All in all, about 10 MPs presented a question, about 10 others were absent, and the rest, over a hundred of them, just showed up because it was pay day.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Beirut Taxis

Just substitute Athens for Beirut in this Dave Barry article, and you'll get the most accurate description of a Taxi experience in this town.


I was watching today’s Parliamentary Question and Answer session. No one has ever taken part in one of these things so they are learning and setting the rules as they go. It’s like watching a baby take their first steps. So Cute!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Today's Betting Odds

Which world Capital will be wiped off the map first?

Tokyo 2-1
Damascus 4-1
Tehran 4-1
Tel Aviv 7-1
Baghdad 10-1
Pyongyang 20-1
Beirut 20-1
Washington DC 40-1
Oslo 1,000,000-1

A moment of colorful national Unity

At Wednesday’s Asian Football Cup Final, the VIP section’s political representation featured a sky blue minister, orange and green parliament members, and a yellow former MP, they all cheered for the burgundy.

Can they be that blind?

Absolutely, and you ain’t seen nothing yet.

A month or so ago, the Gazans were idiotically celebrating the “liberation” of that tiny overpopulated parcel of land. The image out of the region was: Israelis agonizing the loss of their homes, Palestinians celebrating the Israelis’ agony, and Jabba being hailed universally as a courageous peace hero. Credit has to be given where it’s due, the PR job by the Israeli government was masterful. Now beyond the façade painted by this PR machine, the Gaza withdrawal was nothing more than a strategic military repositioning. There was 9000 Israelis surrounded by 2 million Palis. That was expensive to maintain and hard to secure. Relocate these settlers to the West Bank, with a nice relocation bonus mind you ($100k-$500k depending on family size). Fortify you positions around this surrounded area. Voila! A prison for 2 million people without having to deal with feeding the prisoners or keeping them from killing each other. More importantly, no Red Cross or Amnesty hippies’ condemnations since it is not a prison but rather a “sovereign territory.” Back to Jabba, he is a blood lusting racist military Hutt. He has killed thousands in his life time and feeling his mortality (since not even industrial strength Drano can clear the clogs in his veins) he wants to go out on the top of his game. His disengagement plan provides him with an engagement zone to work on his master battle. The rehearsal was immediately after the withdrawal/repositioning with some “targeted” air raids on Gaza. This week after a suicide/homicide/martyrdom/crazy-religious-lunatic/desperately-oppressed-confused-soul/terrorist/freedom fighter bomber strikes in northeast Israel, naturally the reprisals come by bombing Gaza (southwest Israel) in addition to hundreds of fake raids just to terrify the liberated citizens of Gaza.
Of course expect more of the same, Zarqawi strikes in Baghdad, bomb Gaza. A terrorist attack in Bali, bomb Gaza. New York Yankees lose, carpet bomb Gaza. Bird Flu, you get the point.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bomb Sniffing Chiens

Today I heard one of the guards at the Hariri Mansion address the bomb sniffing dog in French. I guess it makes sense that the dogs are French; nowhere else can you get dogs with more olfactory experience.

Monday, October 24, 2005

From Lebanon

I was inspired by LBC’s nightly segment that highlights the achievements of people with at least half a Lebanese chromosome. So I’m going to do a similar feature that highlights some Lebanese personalities that aren’t sexy enough for primetime television.

The “Natour”

No one knows where they come from but every building has one. The Natour is always easy to spot, he’s the grumpy middle aged man wearing the wife beater and flip flops. While the moustache is easy to explain, one has to wonder how they always manage to have a five o’clock shadow beard. As soon as ground is broken on a building the Natour appears, and no one has been able to outlive a Natour to know how the succession works. Other than occupying the ground floor apartment, the Natour’s activities include tending to the buildings general needs, looking out for intruders, and watering the sidewalk. He is also the exclusive real estate agent for the building, the pirated cable provider, and for the right price a paparazzo. Once an exclusively Lebanese job, it has over the years attracted cheaper foreign labor. However, the Syrians, Egyptians and Sudanese that have stepped into the field have learned and conformed to the old traditions of the job.

The Natour: a proud tradition from Lebanon.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Truth Behind the Truth

No real surprises in the Mehlis’ report. Pretty much everything in it had been leaked before today.

It is a sad day when the people entrusted with the protection and safety of the citizens of this country carry out an act like this that almost dragged (and could still drag) the country into a bloody mess. These people should be lynched, tried for treason, or whatever would bring the harshest punishment to them. However, this should come as no surprise to anyone. Lebanon, since its creation, has lived a culture of corruption. Corruption is entrenched in the Lebanese way of life at all levels. A kindergarten student would not get a smiley face on his doodle without an under the desk deal.

In the Hariri case, the victim played a part in cultivating the phenomenon. He bought alliances and protections for many years and that kept him on the Don’s good side and out of harm’s way. However, the Godfather died and his death left the each thug working for his own. A clash of interests created divisions and in this culture it often means blood.
Rafic Hariri had a role in his own assassination. The money used in buying the explosives can be probably traced to him.

Some might argue that Hariri had to play this dirty game to get to a position where he can make change happen. Also, Mr. Hariri can not be compared to the cold blooded assassins that murdered him. Well, I am not a big fan of the “lesser of 2 evils” idea. I also believe that you can’t fight evil with evil, or corruption with corruption, or greed with greed. Once you do that you become a part of the problem.

Mr. Hariri did a lot of good in Lebanon. His charity work is unrivaled. He was devoted to his economic plan(with which I have a few problems) for revival of Lebanon. Unfortunately, the “Truth” showed that his ties and his part in the corrupt mafia network that is the Lebanese political class ultimately doomed him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Replacing the Cedar

I like the Cedar on the flag, but it's not representative. A Cedar lives forever, Lebanon is reborn every generation, Lebanese don't care much for nature, and sadly instead of being the one national symbol the Cedar has mutated into a variety of species depicting different warring tribes.
I suggest the Carrot as a replacement. The Lebanese have always fallen for old carrot trick. In the last century alone the Carrot has been dangled by Ottomania, France, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and most recently by France again and "U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A."
Every single time it has been chased by an ASSortment of Lebanese folks.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

PETA Moment

Sniffing for Contraband has got to be a Dog's Dream Career.

Holy Loophole

Some Arab countries rearrange their daily schedules during Ramadan in a way that they can sleep (and amazingly fast too) most of the day and then work at night. God scratches his head as he didn’t see this one coming.

Here’s a tough one

Who wins in a Paranoia match, Arabs or Jews?

Martyr vs. Just Plain Dead

Since there is a lot of dying going on these days, news channels have to spice up the act of dying to differentiate between a death and a death. However it is very confusing to have a standard classification of deaths as each channel categorizes the dead differently. US troops or contractors are always just plain dead, same applies to Israelis whether they are military or civilians. Palestinians and Iraqi civilians are always martyrs, except on LBC. LBC has everyone as just plain dead except May Chidiac who is a Living Martyr. The earthquake dead are neither martyrs nor just plain dead, they are Victims. Now on to the most confusing one, Iraqi insurgents can be both. They are just plain dead when they blow themselves up killing civilians, who I reiterate are always martyrs. However, sometimes they can be martyrs if they die as a result of an Apache attack. This has changed over the course of last year as Iraqi insurgents used to be mostly martyrs, but they have been downgraded gradually to just plain dead. The newest category is when someone “commits suicide”, these deaths are called shredded evidence.

Something Stinks

The Palestinian Authority has commissioned a team to investigate the cause of death of former #1 abuser of the Palestinian cause Yasser Arafat. They suspect foul play. How could someone so young, so healthy, and so handsome die so suddenly?

Meanwhile grieving widow Suha Arafat still hasn’t finished counting the cash her late husband had stashed under his mattress.

Great Head

CNN’s Christianne Amanpour’s scalp should be studied by agricultural engineers. I’m sure their findings will lead to the biggest discovery in the soil fertility industry since manure.

Lost in Translation

Here are some words that you will not find in the Arabic Language:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Kanaanite Era

I somehow doubt Ghazi Kanaan had a tell all book in the works, but maybe he will somehow expose all the "leaders" of Lebanon. He has plenty of dirt on them. Pretty much everyone in the current political picture was at one time or another a business partner of Ghazi Kanaan (Only Exception is probably Aoun, who was a business partner of Saddam Hussein, but that's a different topic for a different day). Ghazi Kanaan, unlike his successor Rustum Ghazaleh, was a tactful corrupt dictator. He didn't want it all, just 90% of everything, and he shared his loot with the local "leaders". That is why you didn't hear a peep about wanting the Syrians out during the Kanaan Reign. Everyone was happy running their little mafia operations. As a former neighbor of Kanaan I can tell you this, as long as you didn't come in direct competition with him you were left free to do as you wish. Now back to today's event, while I do not know whether or not Kanaan was directly involved in the Hariri Assassination and what it had to do with his mysterious death, I can say this at some point in the not so distant past Hariri and Kanaan were friends and partners in greed.

Ghazi Kanaan Dead

Lebanon’s former dictator Ghazi Kanaan is dead. Syrian official story claims he committed suicide, but that doesn’t mean much.
One thing is for sure though: the Assad regime is in its final hours. While that might seem like a great idea, the precedent set in Iraq for the fall of a ruthless dictator hasn’t been pretty. I expect the Arab big boys and even the US to step in and bail Assad out because they can’t afford another Iraq.

I still don’t know what Kanaan’s final revelation which he gave to Voice of Lebanon was… but he sure sounded like he knew he’s dead. He said: “Get this message to Pierre Daher (LBC), New TV, and NBN as this will be my final declaration.”

More to come…

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Political Double Talk (Pardon the Redundancy)

Today US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman-Ghazaleh visited Minister of Work Trad Hamade. Feltman-Ghazaleh along with many other US officials including Scott McClellan and Condoleeza Rice have on many occasions said they will not deal with the members of Hezbollah in the cabinet. So what is the US stance on Hezbollah Ministers? Are they really going to stand by the story that Hamade, even though directly named by Hezbollah for the post, is not a card holding member of the party?
Personally, I think it's just about the beard. (Hamade doesn't have one, while the other Hezbollah Minister Mohammad Fneish does.)

Friday, October 07, 2005

God Told me "Yo J, Thou shall post this story", and I did.

'God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan'.'"And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq...' And I did. Link to Story

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Americans Tax Money Wisely Invested

Al Hurra TV, which is how Bush wanted to win over the Middle East’s hearts and minds, is viewed by about 3 people in the region. So if you are an American Tax Payer ask your congressman to close this failed project (they don’t even show college football games) and save the money for some other scam.

We were robbed

The Nobel Prize for Physics this year had to be for Lebanon. Who else was able to accomplish something as impressive as time travel? Look around you, the “leaders” of the country are Michel Aoun, Samir Geagea, Walid Jumblat, Nabih Berri, A bearded guy from Hezbollah, and a newcomer by the name of Hariri. Explosions, sectarian divides are high, we are arguing whether we are an Arab country or not, deciding on who our friends are and who are our foes, a prime minister was assassinated, It’s 1988!!!

Who’s their marketing manager?

Al Jama’a Al Islamiya has posters all over town preaching to young men and women. One of them reads: “ Dear sisters, Do you accept to be a marketing tool and a body that attracts looks.” Who wants to be a tool? Now wouldn’t they get a much more positive response if they rephrase it: “Wanna be a Model?”

Truly Lebanese Products that are Actually World Class.

While Lebanese people like to brag that everything that comes out of Lebanon is the BEST. Most of it is crap. Also we like to take credit for things that aren’t really local products, but there are a few things that come out of here that are Excellent.
Here’s what I have seen so far that this Country can be truly proud of (I will add to this list as I discover more things):

Patchi Chocolates: Patchi sugar-free milk chocolate is the best thing my taste buds ever felt.
Massaya Wines and Arak: These Ghosns sure know their grapes.
Grapes: I’m no expert but I’ve read that Lebanon has the best soil and weather for vineyards.
Hasheesh: see Above.
Conserves Chtaura Products: Excellent Jams, I’m addicted to their strawberry jam.
Haifa Wehbe’s Boobs: Whether surgically enhanced or not these are top notch.
Basketball: with no facilities, money, or support. Back to back World Cup appearances and Second place finishes in Asia are very impressive.
Elie Saab: from local sewing machines to a top name in Hollywood dresses is quite an accomplishment.
Lunch: A Lebanese Lunch is a whole day event, the way it should be. McDonald’s’s evil concept has caused immeasurable damage to society.
Hallab sweets: While there is a wide range of Lebanese sweets, the northern variety is by far the best. Halawet el Jebn, Znoud el Set, and Knafe are my top 3. (Technically Hallab and his Sweets pre-date Lebanon, as a newspaper clipping from the 1880’s on their wall shows. It lists the address as Trablous, Al-Sham)

I miss Cuban Coffee

What people drink as coffee here is known as mud in the rest of the world.

Pipo* Award Nominee: Neemetallah Abi Nasr

I know I couldn’t stand this guy for more than just his Fran Dresher voice.
Member of Parliament Neemetallah Abi Nasr (Free Patriotic Movement Bloc) was on Al Arabiya TV discussing the Sexist Lebanese law that denies citizenship to the sons and husbands of Lebanese women who marry foreigners. The fact that Abi Nasr was defending this indefensible law is bad enough but his sexist, racist, and hypocritical arguments were just too much.
We’ll start with the sexist part, he said what if the woman marries someone who’s an enemy to Lebanon, he used an Israeli as an example, and then this person got the citizenship and married again and gave this citizenship to his wives and kids. Then what happens when they reproduce further he wondered. (I’m dead serious he actually said all this absurdity.)
Then he went on to say what if a woman marries someone that doesn’t speak Arabic. OH NO!!! I guess he came up with this one specially for Al Arabiya TV. Mind you, Abi Nasr is a huge proponent of giving citizenships to 3rd generation Lebanese migrants who neither they nor their parents have set foot in Lebanon, speak a word of Arabic, or even consider themselves remotely Lebanese. No one seems to have a problem with Joe Vogel getting the Lebanese nationality, but 7 foot tall basketball players have a special law.

Enough with Abi Nasr silly tales, the real issue here is and has always been the demographical balance of powers in this tribal country. The Lebanese people do everything possible (legally and illegally) to get a foreign citizenship (any citizenship), yet when it comes to giving the sacred Lebanese citizenship to people who want and deserve it, they have all these absurd laws and rules that are nothing more than masks for racism. This is not about the Israeli, French, or Finnish Men getting the Lebanese Citizenship. What the heck would they want it for? This is about those who need the Lebanese citizenship because it’s better than what they got now.

How do politicians in the New and Best Lebanon yet get away with this blatant hatred? They don’t get away with it. They get rewarded for it. The remarks of this award’s namesake won him a seat in the cabinet as Minister of Industry. Gibran Tuweini (another Pipo Finalist) calling a group of people sheep shepherded him into the Parliament.

* pronounced (pee po):Racism Award named after Pierre Gemayel for his infamous Quality and Quantity speech.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ronaldinho a terrorist?

Aside from his Un-American act of playing Football; his Champions League games are aired here on Al Manar TV(probably the station's most viewed and thus most income producing programs). That TV channel happens to be on Washington's Terrorist Exclusion List.

Assad: “Mistakes were made in Lebanon”

A mistake is when you use Salt instead of Sugar. I think what the Syrian Mukhabarat did in Lebanon was slightly more than “mistakes”.

UN Security Council Resolution #1559

Jabba The Hutt Sharon wants UNSCR 1559 fully implemented. First of all, it is hilarious that he is asking for the implementation of a UN resolution when there are 700 of those pending Israeli compliance. But I googled this resolution to see first hand what it calls for. Here’s the Legalese-/Political double talk-free version:
a.) To Bashar Assad, ARIEL SHARON, and the Icelandians for that matter: Leave Lebanon the fuck Alone.

Sounds good , but here’s the second part.

b.) My Grandfather and his fellow backgammon playing retirees in the villages of South Lebanon should expose their surgically reconstructed hips, bend over, and hand the Vaseline to Sharon.

There are some sick people in the UN.

Deja Vu

Again this year Muslims couldn’t agree on when the new moon that marks the start of Ramadan was. Why they don’t just google it beats the hell out of me.

George Omnipresent W. Bush

I find it amazing how this man can always know what is best for the people of Ukraine, Lebanon (or Lebanom as he prefers to call it), Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Fallujah all at once. You can also see the pain he feels when he talks about the suffering of the people in different parts of the world. His ability to put himself in the shoes of the oppressed (if they can afford shoes) from his golf cart in Crawford is more miraculous than anything Mother Theresa ever did; therefore, I call for Pope Former Nazius XVI to do the thing he does to canonize this great humanitarian

Is now the time to point fingers?

George Bush mentioned at a news conference, in New Orleans in response to a question that was critical of FEMA, that then was not the time to point fingers. Is it time yet?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Taxi Driver Conspiracy du Jour

The Government never arrested the former security chiefs as suspects in the Hariri assassination. His argument: " Have I seen them in Jail?" Well, he has a point.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Truth

“The Truth” in the Hariri assassination is due in 3 weeks. Many insist Lebanon will become a born again country. In 3 weeks the assassins will be punished, corrupt government workers will be a thing of the past, construction will boom, unemployment will fade, the only explosions you’ll hear will be those of the fireworks celebrating national unity. Not only the Muslims and Christians will love each other, the Lebanese will now treat the Asians and Africans as humans too. The national debt will become a surplus and government projects will pop up even in the remote areas of the North, South and the Bekaa. The garbage bins will have covers, and the traffic lights will all work. People will learn how to obey traffic laws and everyone will be driving environmentally friendly vehicles. Green will be in again even in the cities. Universities will rival the Ivy League and their labs will compete for the ultimate in creativity and invention. Schools will have libraries, and so will each major town. Electricity and water will be abundant so no excuses for b.o. but if your too lazy, free deodorant for everyone.

3 more weeks.

"In The Battle Fields"

Knowing how hard for local talents to put together a quality project due to all the obstacles they face, I was cheering for this movie to be good. Well it wasn’t. It was very disappointing. “Gimmicky” is description that best fits it. It started as a cheap knock off of “West Beirut” and it got worse from there. It was a collage of a bunch of gimmicks that freshman film students usually attempt. “Artistic” camera shots the kind that someone with a new handycam would attempt on a vacation video. Throw in a few taboos like using sharmouta in every sentence and a couple of sex scenes (with an ugly chick to boot). If the uninteresting storyline and the cliché characters weren’t enough, the movie also comes with the cheesiest soundtrack. One thing I’ll give the director credit for is that she was able to sell someone the idea that this movie was going to be watchable.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

If a bomb goes off in Beirut and nobody hears it, does it make a noise?

I'll have a hard time believing there is a more noise polluted city than Beirut. Here's a typical afternoon: Cabs Honking trying to hunt passengers, Cars honking at cabs to move, Drivers cussing over the honking, 700 Mosques serenely calling for prayer, 700 "other" mosques calling for prayer 10 minutes later because they can't agree with the first 700 mosques when NOON is, sirens of cops not really in an emergency, sirens of regular cars being cool, sirens of a motorcade of a member of the chamber of commerce, sirens of the motorcade of his wife, Church bells, vegetables sellers screaming over their bullhorns, ditto for fish sellers, "kaak" and brioche bikes (the Lebanese ice cream trucks), a maid screaming in pain cause her master is beating her, Cops on bullhorns telling cars that are triple parked to move even if the driver is not in the car, eminem wannabes blasting their hip hop, airplanes landing and taking off, loose metal crackling on roofs, power generators, dogs barking, cats meowing, people arguing politics, old men fighting over a game of backgammon, and Car Bombs.

Those are only the noises I can make out, I wouldn't venture to guess what the other things you hear could be.

How poor is Lebanon?

Per Capita GDP is $4000 a year which is not terribly bad it's on the level of countries like Costa Rica and Panama, poor but not starving.
However, the Per capita National Debt is $10,000, 2.5 years worth of income. Highest Debt to income ratio in the world. OK, bad but if the economy lives up to its potential and a couple of generous donations it becomes manageable.
So you take out the interest on the National Debt an the net per capita GDP becomes $3500 a year, Botswana and Gabon level, but they don't have a Buddha Bar there.
Now 2% of the Lebanese Population controls 80% of the wealth!!

So 98% of Lebanon has a net per capita GDP of $715 a year . Think Angola or Nicaragua.

Yet we have tens of ferraris and porsches, hundreds of Million dollar apartments, and $15 dollar drinks.

That's why this country is so fucked up.

Just something to get this thing started

  • Recently-pardoned War Criminal Samir Geagea said in a phone conversation with LBC from his HIDEOUT in Paris that the Lebanese should not be scared of the serial bombing.
  • Al Qaeda's # 2 in Iraq was killed again yesterday by US forces, raising his number of deaths to 4 this year alone.