Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The best thing that could possibly come out of these people is a truce. Just as the Taef Accord was just a slicing of the Lebanon cake. This could never be more than a reslicing of Lebanon.
A week, a month, or a year from now we would still have the same cast of characters that have dragged this country into wars and then robbed it to the bone. The Truth will remain among the our Dons, and we, The People, will remain their ignorant hostage. .
Now look at the possibilities that a failed dialogue could bring us. Open files, Scandals, Gossip, Exposes. An Angry General, Naked Bald War Criminals, Men of the cloth losing their religion, Rich brats not getting their way for once, and Boutros Harb still managing not to piss off anyone.
Ok, I'm assuming We, The People, won't pick up guns and start killing each other in the name of these clowns. That's stupidly naive of me.
But it doesn't matter, unfortunately I think the dialogue will be successful, and we will be told that we can love each other again. Yippeee Yayyyy.
BREAKING NEWS: The Bearded one and the Goateed one met for 7 hours last night in Koraytem trying to set the stage for tomorrow's card game and dealing a huge blow to my hopes of failed dialogue.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
First of all, a piece of advice to my fellow countrymen. Carry your military service card when attempting to cross the border. You will not be allowed out, well at least not legally.
I made it to Damascus. The first thing I noticed was the Lebanese cruel revenge for 30 years of occupation.
That should teach them not to fuck with us ever again. Seriously though, the Damascenes were extra nice to us. Too nice. Almost guilty nice. They are very hospitable people, no one hit us for our funny accents or burned down our hotel room.
My initial impulse when getting into a cab anywhere in the world is to incite the driver into political venting. In Miami all you had to say was "Aristides." In Beirut it's too easy. In Damascus, no one would take the bait. One guy started sweating and almost had a heart attack when I mentioned the "A" word. Also I'm pretty sure all cab drivers lose money in their profession; I can't see how a 20 minute ride for one dollar can possibly be profitable.A surprising rain shower forced us to seek shelter in a tourist trap restaurant. I have a disturbing picture of Yassine Bakkoush with a stuffed zucchini stuffed in his mouth etched in my memory since as far as I can remember. So naturally I ordered Koussa Mehshi (stuffed zucchini). What I found odd was that the zucchini was stuffed with zucchini.Why unstuff it if you're gonna restuff the same stuff in there? Good luck finding a Coke or a Pepsi. These luxury products are only available in 5 star hotels and fancy restaurants.
Speaking of unavailable products, Syrians take their Danish ban seriously(again Hotels are above the law). Then again I doubt they had any Danish products there to begin with. Something admirable about Syria is their consumption of Syrian-made products (and they produce almost everything). While it is unequivocally a poor country, it is a very self-sufficient economy at this point which provides a solid foundation for a more prosperous future with the right reform moves. But where will this reform come from?
Souk El Hamidiyeh
Wow! One of the most impressive sights in the world. This historic mall and its tributaries are by far the liveliest shopping establishment I've ever seen, and I've been to Macy's on Christmas week. The aggressive sales force can be a bit unbearable on toursits until you learn how to stop hearing. Best part is: No GAP, No Victoria's Secret, No Starbucks. (Plenty of Lingerie though.)It's a place where buying and selling is an artform. Bargaining is a must. Bartering still lives. Tea street. Spice street. Perfume street. It's futile to try to describe it in words as it is a place you need to experience with all your senses.
Every 10 meters or so they have a propaganda banner addressed to the Lebanese brethren condemning the assassinations in Lebanon. So even if Syrians are behind the assassinations, at least they feel bad about it.
Night time in Damascus is as busy as day time. Tons of people on the streets. The best part of the Damascene night life is the fancy steak dinner for about $12 a person. After dinner just follow the crowd, they'll guide you to sweets shops and Damascene ice cream. A lot of choices and while probably none of them will kill you, alot of them can and will cause you digestive malfunction. I did find an ISO-certified sweets shop with an actual health certificate which I recommend, Abu Arab Haydar in Midan. Also there seems to be a consensus that the best Barazek are at Samiramis in Abu Rummaneh, they are quite pricy (well for Syria, I found them like everything else very cheap.) For those of you that don't know what Barazek are, you're missing out.
Another piece of advice, plan your ride back. Avoid the Beirut Taxi Station unless you enjoy visiting a Zoo of uncaged animals. That was just ugly. But it's ok, as soon as you cross the Lebanese border you can take it out on your driver. Punch him in the face and burn his cab, you are allowed to do that under Lebanese law.
Friday, February 24, 2006
So why did he become priority number one on the March 14th Agenda? For the same reason insecure girls only keep ugly friends; It makes them look prettier.
How can you cover the fact that the government hasn't shown any progress on ... well anything since taking over? Showcase the person who's worse than you.
Be Careful what you wish for though.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
2.) Who decided that a pots and pans protest is a good idea?
3.) Why is Hassan Nasrallah inviting the Americans to our beaches, shouldn't that be the Minister of Tourism's job?
4.) Doesn't Al Manar know that when someone says it's a Surprise Visit you aren't supposed to announce it, it ruins the whole surprise part?
5.) How do U.S. Diplomats manage to answer all questions, no matter what the subject is, with "Democracy"?
6.) How enlightening and enriching would a Presidential Debate between Nayla Mouawad and Samir Geagea be?
7.) Did Siniora call the 7 ministers that did show up in Baabda today and say "Gotcha!"?
8.) Are we fools?
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
When attending a game at Beirut's Municipal Stadium, I recommend you watch the cheap bastards jumping the fence (about a 6-7 meter drop) to avoid paying admission. Always an interesting sight, a lot of times it provides more action then the actual game.
I'm not sure what the pre-game pissing match between the "Allah, Nasrallah, wel Dhahieh Kella" crowd and the "Allah, Hariri, Tarik Jdide" crowd had to do with the event. Also, It's a shame that a buffer zone is needed between Ansar and Nejmeh Fans(same as above to an extent) at a National Team match, but I guess you can never be too careful with all the love in the air these days.
I'm not very familiar with Lebanese football so I'll just relay the analysis I overheard. The Goalkeeper sucks. The Goalkeeper is a hero. Moussa Hjeij would never miss this. The referee sucks. Jordan Sucks. Jordan and Kuwait have a no-yellow card treaty. The referee sucks. Jordan sucks. Moussa Hjeij would've scored that. Moussa Hjeij smokes 4 packs a day. Goooaaaaal. Moussa Hjeij would've had a better celebration.
OK, I think this guy had a mancrush on Moussa Hjeij.
It was an exciting game but the final score was 1-1. Boring. What is the point of sports if no one can brag at the end of the game?
One Last thing , Do not drink a bottle of water on your way to the stadium unless you have one of these.
Most newspapers here have an Escapees section in their Classifieds. Not prison escapees, but (and I'll try to use the same exact words they use) Servant Escapees. I find it ... , well I can't find a word to describe this. Here's for example the first ad in the picture above:
Egyptian worker John Doe Mohammad ran away from his workplace, we warn those who find him not to utilize him. Call: 01-683224 (Actual number listed, feel free to make them know how repulsive this ad is.)
Where to start? First, the Nationality part is exchangeable for Sudanese, Sri Lankan, or Filipino. Let's just call it Geographic discrimination. While you might be the legal sponsor for the person's visa, that doesn't mean you own him/her. You have the right to report him/her to the authorities, you do not have the right to persecute them wild west style.
"We warn those who find him not to utilize him." What the Fuck! Seriously, What the Fuck is that!
Thanks for the warning though, it is so considerate of you.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
English Translation: Nigger's Head. Yep, that is what kids in Lebanon grow up eating.
It had been 20 years since I last had one of these, I remember always saying "I don't like Nigger's Head," to be met with a "How can you not like Nigger's Head?" So I gave in after 20 years of resistance thinking maybe now my more mature taste buds would better appreciate this Lebanese treasure.
It turns out the most racially insensitive candy on earth is as nasty as it sounds. At first sight it looks like a slightly elongated chocolate ball, or a Nigger's Head. Not bad. Then as you bite through the chocolate shell you start feeling the insides of the Nigger's Head, the Nigger's Brains.
No one is sure what the inside part is made of, but just pray it is not actual brain. It's white, thus the clever naming. It looks, feels, smells, tastes and sounds like a cross between marshmallows and Elmer's Glue. Its adhesive qualities are still under study.
No one claimed all tradition is good. It can be cheap* and nasty.
*250 LL or $0.15
Monday, February 20, 2006
Jumblatt's dog was poisoned in Mukhtara according to multiple sources(i.e. cab drivers). I did look for the dog on news footage last night and I found him suspiciously absent. Obviously this was a signal from the Ghosts that they can reach him anywhere even in his fortress, but that's not where I'm going with this.
Jumblatt now has an unstoppable weapon. He's been trying for over a year now to topple the Assad Jr. regime (not to be confused with the Assad Sr. regime which was a "friend" of Lebanon)to no avail. He tried the street, the U.N. Security Council, the German Shepherd, and even an alliance of the big dogs in Washington and Paris. Now he has the opportunity of unleashing a killer weapon. All he has to do is bark out the accusation that Bashar poisoned his innocent little puppy then lay back and watch People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals go after Bashar.
PETA's offensive force of nude protestors armed for mass destruction with spray paint have proven they can reach any red carpet. They can sniff out Bashar, Shake Well, and stain him with a scarlett hue no one can survive.
Last Tuesday he chanted, "We want revenge from Lahoud to Bashar!" Here's his chance to bite with teeth for once.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Patrick Antaki finished 27th* in the skeleton competition. What do you call the athletes that make up the Skeleton competition? Boners?
Also take a break from politics on Wednesday and support the Lebanese National Football Team.
We host** Kuwait in Asian Cup qualifiers.
*out of 27
**Well I'm not sure who hosts whom. It is in Beirut. But the Stadium was built by the Kuwaitis. Well, it was built by Syrian construction workers but with Kuwaiti money.***
***I really have nothing to say today.
Friday, February 17, 2006
I'm deeply in love with this parcel of land. Let's call it "Lubna N."Its Beautiful coastline is the first thing that faces you. Then you see Perky mountains, A Flat Valley, and a Voluptuous hump at its end. Well we're not sure where it ends, because the borders were drawn up by a drunk Brit(pardon the redundancy) and a frog on a wine stained napkin long before Google earth existed.
It's an unrequited love. I give give give and never see anything in return except for the feeling of having a place to call home. I have to deal with a permanent state of P.M.S. You might say I'm a masochist, but Dear Abby understand that I do get tremendous pleasure out of seeing "Lubna N." smile even if it's a half ass smile once a decade.
How can I treat "Lubna N."'s fiery hormonal imbalance? I really don't want to leave "Lubna N." again. Help me Dear Abby.
Pussywhipped in a Raging Volcano
P.S. I'll keep you posted if Dear Abby replies.
P.P.S. I will have a guest Advice Expert on my blog, submit your questions to YO JIMBO here, or by email. YO JIMBO's fields of expertise are everything except cooking, but if you insist on culinary advice he'll gladly fake it.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
You might think the last year would've left most people full/bloated/over-indulged. Not the Lebanese people, Baby! We're always hungry for more.
In the afternoon we saw a little calming act by FM's delegate to HA's commemoration of one of their 52,314 martyrs. That was seen as a diffusing gesture after the Jumblatt's Ode to Hezbollah on Tuesday. This is an old trick known as good cop, bad cop. The Guinness Book World Record holder for thickest beard countered with a return to sender. Of course it took him 3 hours and 42 minutes to say that which made him the Guiness Book World Record holder for longest "return to sender."
After sunset, Saad and the 2 Baldmen decided the political scene wasn't exciting enough for their taste, so they decided to oust the Scarecrow/President by going back to the street. Yep, let's burden our overworked inept security forces just a tad more. We saw what a "100 infiltrators" did in Ashrafieh. So let's try and see what a thousand could do.
Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.
Virgo: Don't worry! No one knows about the hymen reconstruction you had.
Scorpio: Aquarius is playing hard to get. Don't take no for an answer. Persistance pays off.
Polio: You feel left out because Bird Flu is getting all the attention. Some jealousy is good for you.
Leo: You're too sweet compared to Kit Kat. But some people love you for what you have inside.
Cancer: You will see everything around you in fluorescent colors.
Aquarius: Scorpio will stalk you. My bad. Sorry.
Taurus: There is a Rash on Uranus. It's Hemorrhoids.
Rhombus: Today you might not feel very equilateral. Just have some Baklava.
I think I've covered them all.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Saint Walid Beik has a nice ring to it.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
So let's go to the judges for the scores.
Official ISF Numbers: Today Edges out Ashura 500,000 to 400,000.
Reuters:The truth is We don't really count, but it looks to us like Ashura won by a beard.
Jamal: Batteekh Y kasser Ba3do.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Driving in Lebanon is dangerous.
Riding a scooter in Lebanon is only for stunt lovers and thrill seekers.
Riding a scooter in Lebanon with a glass and metal khazouk clutched in your crotch is complete insanity.
The Arguile Deliver Guy kicks it up a notch. He does the completely insane one-handed while playing with balls of fire with his free hand.
Admirably, he does all this purely out of his passion for smoking high delivery and love of pyromania. It can't possibly be for the money, as each performance in which he risks his life and all those along his path is done for a mere 2000LL ($1.33).
Next time you see a scooter flying down the road with a tail of fire tracing it. Get out of his way, seek shelter, and then applaud this great Lebanese tradition.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
So in Islam, No man should be idolized, even Mohammad himself.
So what have Muslim leaders done to follow the prophet's example?
and Swimsuit calendars.
Well, I leave you trying to picture Hassan Nasrallah in Speedos.
Friday, February 10, 2006
First, I had to survey the supermarket aisles for alernatives before I decided on that.
After a week of taste testing and 2 kilos gained, I have reached the conclusion that we should boycott Lurpak, Puck, and Dano not because of some silly doodles, but because we have better alternatives MADE IN LEBANON.
Addicted to Lurpak, I suggest you try Zibdet Jarjoura El Mashhoura Made in Chtaura. Tastier, Cheaper, and Fresh.
Havarti Cheese!? You probably never had it, who are you kidding. We have Halloum, Akkawi, Baladi, Karishe, etc.... Don't worry. You'll get you'll cheese fix. Jdita Products are A++.
Who still drinks powdered milk? We drank it during the war because there was no way to get fresh milk. Go to Taanayel, they'll let you suck the milk straight out of the cow's tit.
Don't Boycott Lebanon.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
What went wrong? How did we blow this opportunity?
Here are some observations to take into consideration the next time an opportunity presents itself.
1. Leave politics out of it. When we took to the streets we weren't thinking about cabinet quotas or parliament seats. It wasn't about Leftist or Rightist economics. It was about independence, it was about freedom, and it was about building a Nation. That's what the people asked for and that's what the politicians are supposed to deliver. Keep it in mind next time.
2. Forget Revenge. He who angers you becomes your master.-Epictetus. All of the official action throughout the last year was out of anger. The obsession with revenge made us incapable of moving forward with what we need and what is good for us. We couldn't hold out enough on our urges to become masters of our domain.
3. Leadership and Nepotism don't mix. Leaderships skills are not passed on in wills. Political savvy is not acquired overnight. We can respect a man's legacy in ways other than pledging allegiance to his son. We need decisiveness and control to bake a cake. Building a country is a lot more complex.
4. Do not try to Cancel others. We are diverse. Different backgrounds, different traditions. That is our strength. When I go from Ras Beirut to Dhahieh to Ashrafieh, it's like visiting 3 different countries within a 2 mile radius. This is a good thing. This is Lebanon.
5. Avoid Greed. Election season came and the nation building turned into a math problem. Bad election law, number-based alliances, and limitless greed was a huge spit in the face of those who were holding hands on March 14th.
6. Set Priorities right. You may refer to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for that. When I'm hungry I don't think straight, I'm sure most people like to eat too. Not being blown up is also kind of important. Having cool friends and looking pretty are not on our minds right now.
7. Don't make promises you can't keep. Not to your mom. Not the neighborhood bully. Certainly, not to both at the same time. Gino might come and bail you out, but then you become his bitch and if you say anything he'll break your legs.
8. Fix Mistakes. Humans make mistakes, tons of them. Some make more mistake than others, but there's no shame in that. So be Human and admit your mistakes. Everything is fixable, well some things cannot be fixed but they are replaceable.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
An effortless, magnificent, efficient, martial arts move.
A "Tozz"'s pleasure is how it automatically twitches the face of a braggart into a look of disappointment and anger.
A gravitational pull brings things down back to earth. A "Tozz" brings them crashing down, humiliated, buries them, and pisses on them. No matter how high you get you are always within reach for a "Tozz." Actually a "Tozz" relishes the extra height.
The keys to a perfect "Tozz" are timing and delivery. Wait for it, do not force it, but always be ready to perform. Too many "Tozz"s can weaken its effect so invest them wisely.
Yet another proud tradition from my rich land; "Tozz."
I'm no Michel Hayek, but the recent events have provided fertile ground for another assassination. I'd love to be wrong on this one, but I think the next one might be messy.
The weather has been BEAUTIFUL the last 3 days.
Monday, February 06, 2006
12 years later I go back to the same town. I see pictures of despicable people hanging on the wall, Politicians! Sectarian Zaeems, What a nightmare. That was in 2004, sectarian cocooning was at an all time high. Different idols, different schools, different TV channels.
In 2005 and 2006 we are still becoming less tolerant. In this month's issue of Ii Monthly (a publication by Information International), my negative assessment of the street is translated into scientific proof. They conduct a poll of Lebanese college students' opinion on various issues relating to religious tolerance. I will not post the exact figures due to copyright laws and to avoid a pissing match over whose college is more bigoted than whose, but the questions were about living in a religiously mixed community, marrying out of species, and befriending an infidel. The numbers were puke inducing. College students! Where does that leave the "uneducated masses"?? Just for fun, they also compared the Summer of 2005 results to those of 2002. Yep, we are heading the Wrong Way.
We worry about Syria, Israel, Palestinian weapons outside of camps, Debt, unemployment, the Tehran coalition, the Washington empire, this or that day in March. That is worrying about a cold when you have cancer. Sectarianism is the Cancer we suffer from, until we treat it all the other problems are irrelevant. National Unity will always be just an elusive dream with this cancer paralyzing the country. We have this post-burrito turd in the middle of the room and we wonder what stinks. We have to take the shit out at once and then worry about the odors it left.
WE have to do it. WE as in the people. WE have to do it because our politicians will never do it for us. They are the pesky bugs who love roaming over shit. They feed off of Shit, they grow on Shit. "You are what you eat", so that makes them Shit Eating Shit.
Let's do this!
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Beirut is alive. Traffic jams all over town. People buzzing at all times of day and night. The human activity is comparable to any major city in the world. Just don't look up. The life at street level never goes above it. It migrates North, South, East, and West; but never up.
A lot of office building around town, old and new, but not many offices. I did a consulting job for a food outlet in Downtown last year, and I naively searched for the business lunch crowd. Crowd! Ha! That was stupid of me. There were 1200 office workers in Solidere (outside of ESCWA). I'm not sure what the total built-up area of Solidere is, but it's safe to say that one office worker per 50, 60, 0r 100 square meters does not constitute a crowd. The scene is cloned in the other business districts around town: Ashrafieh, Hamra, etc...
But enough negativity already, at least we are living at Street Level now. It sure beats the time when Life in Beirut was below ground level.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006