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.