Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Indisputable Picture Evidence

It IS a Moustache... I think.

(Thanks Cuz for the Picture, and Sorry for cropping you out but Cropping is my only photoshop skill so I have to use it everytime I get a chance.)

A Lebanese Newspaper

There are no newspapers out today in Beirut because of the End of Ramadan holiday. I feel obliged to fill the void for those of us who must get their daily dose of repetetive propaganda rants to get their day going.

As you know, Beirut features 713 daily newspapers which is roughly double the number of news paper readers in the country. Circulation is not really an issue as all newspapers' publishing expenses are covered by rich people and countries. Anyways, 712 of these dailies run the same format. The lone exception is Al Balad which decided that writers are overrated in the newspaper business and has replaced all writers on the staff with photographers and google image searchers.

So here you have what today's newspapers would've looked like.

The feature headline must be scandalous and not necessarily true so we can go with "Brammertz: Hariri died of Avian Flu" followed by supportive evidence and then what really is going on in smaller print like "Avian Flu case confirmed in Homs" and then "Bunch of Dudes and Nayla Mouawad have Nescafe and Petifour at Bristol."

The front page editorial is always an "I told you so" that proves the newspaper's credibility. "Back in the 80's you all made fun of my 70's wardrobe. Today it's back in style, so stop mocking my toupe."

Pages 2-6 feature one opinion piece that is based on conversations with a ton of anonymous well informed sources, one investigave report based on testimonials of anonymous well informed sources, and the following news items:

Siniora thanks so and so for their Generous Pledge of Support

Berri Smirks about his Ability to Get Away with Murder

Former PM Hoss after meeting with Tunisian delegate: We must maintain a good relationship with Syria

Patriarch Sfeir after hosting Harb: We insist on a Unified position (Wihdat Al Saff)

Lahoud after confirming the Ambassador of Latvia: Chirac wants my Back

Fadhlallah in Friday's Sermon : Beware of Conspiracies

Walid Eido: Look at me, look at me, look at me

Page 7 is where the newspaper tries to connect with the people by trying to bring up their problems like "Parking problem near An-Nahar Bldg. causes Citizens major delays".

The economy page has been reprinted exactly the same way for the past 15 years and no one has noticed, just look at it tomorrow and you'll see the following headlines: "US Dollar exchange rate is 1507.5 Liras", "Year nearing End and no Budget in Sight", and "Salameh: Banking Sector in Great Shape".

Sports pages always talk about teams financial woes and fan fights on the local scene, while internationally it's all about Ronaldinho and Tennis for some reason.

Culture page features Haifa or a look alike and some frustrated arab writer who blames his shitty writing on imperialism.

(The Horoscopes go here, but some girl ripped them out to show them to her friend.)

Finally, the back cover features odd news items off the wires, a random picture of Kellaj that I had promised before, and the silly Caricature du Jour which I will replace with this witty sketch by Amal.

I hope this quenches your newspaper cravings until tomorrow.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Assad I, Bush I, Iraq I, Assad II, Bush II, Iraq II and Lebanon

The picture above depicts what happened when Assad I appeased Bush I during Iraq I. Syrian soldiers dancing over what was later (last year) discovered to be a mass grave of Lebanese soldiers in Yarze.

This scene would've been reproduced in March 2005 in Martyrs' Square had Assad II done what Bush II wanted him to do in his Iraq II Project for spreading freedom, democracy, moderation, subserviency in the Middle East.

Fortunately for us, Assad II's defiance was in the Lebanese people's advantage as we got rid of, to some extent, brotherly bullying. Of course nothing is for free. The price we had to pay was a period of instability that is far from over.

Back to October 13th, 1990, I lived in Chtaura in the Bekaa which isn't exactly the commercial air traffic capital in the world. The only air traffic I witnessed growing up was that of Israeli fighter jets taking care of building code violations in the area by leveling buildings on their occupants. The morning of that day was exceptional as the fighter jets in the air were different. They sounded as if they had a broken exhaust pipe and they were coming from the East. Minutes later they returned and the battle was over. Syria was awarded a full control lease of Lebanon as a return favor for their full support of Iraq I, a lease deal that was up for renewal in 2005.

On a positive note, the events of that day meant I could now go ski in Faraya and watch Theatre du 10 Heurs at Portemilio Kaslik, two things high on my priorities' list as a young teenager. I wonder how much would my Pierre Chamassian autograph fetch on Ebay.

This weekend the Aounists commemorate that day, a day the whole world abandoned them as they stood all alone facing the Syrian occupation. Of course, you wouldn't get that impression if you see Al Mustaqbal's main headline today, but again they have an insatiable orange fetish.

In this occasion, I want to give some due credit to the Aounists. They have proven over the years to be the most "Lebanese" major political party in Lebanon. In a country where most major players draw strength from external sources to enhance their local presence (some have actually openly and shamelessly called themselves "tools"), the Aounists have patiently and painfully built a solid movement on the strength of a Lebanese base. While I don't support Aoun for president (though he will be), the example the Free Patriotic Movement has set can be a model for other "Lebanese" parties to follow. If the orange crew could overcome the hardships of the past 16 years to stand today as one of the Top 3 political parties in the country, then there is hope for some party with a better vision for Lebanon to follow the same path and succeed without embassy shortcuts or seesawing principles.

Now who's got the energy and commitment to go for it?

*Photo Source: Al Akhbar

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I'll pick up the pace soon

I've been extremely busy that past few days, but I should be able to post more frequently soon. Especially, since the next few weeks WILL BE action packed. So says Michel Hayek, or was it a different Michel who promised that?

Meanwhile, here's something I wrote in response to some braggarts.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

From Lebanon (Ramadan Edition)

The Msaharati

The residents of this strip of land might have invented the alfabet, but they will never be able to spell "noise ordinance." Noise pollution is part of life in this city and you have to adapt to it. Puncturing your eardrums with a Pencil would work, but then you wouldn't know how Haifa plans to top "Wawa". So instead you condition your body to not hear the regular dream interrupting noises like the dawn calls to prayer, the shrieking water pump that the neighbors forgot to turn off when they left the country in 1975, and little Nadine's Saturday morning piano lesson.

Seasonal noise events, like the entire population of Lebanon chanting "Barazil" or Israeli F-16's experimenting with bunker buster bombs, shock the system and break down your defense mechanism, which leaves you struggling again with an enemy you thought you had outsmarted.

A dude banging a drum and screaming his lungs out at 3 a.m. is one of these factors that aren't programmed into your night noise blocking system. That's the Msaharati. His message is "Wake up and Eat." A noble cause except he is the bar tender who pokes a passed-out drunkard to sell him one more drink.

The best part about the Msaharati is that he will come to your door the day after Ramadan to "wish you a happy holiday". No Shame whatsoever.

The Msaharati, a Ramadan tradition for karaoke bar rejects.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Out your "Salon" Talk

We all know that in Lebanon everyone talks about everybody else. The topic could be about clothing, wedding parties, but passions run especially high when it comes to sectarian politics. This phenomenon is better known as "7aki Salonet." It involves anything from sectarian jokes to below the belt insults. These gatherings always work on the pretext that every single thing "our sect" does is right, and everything the "others" do is wrong. Of course the Sect could even be a sub-sect or a "3ashire" but the concept doesn't change.

In an effort to encourage intercommunity communications; to make people to open up to each other; to express their fears and their freudian complexes. I will open up this forum, and for one time only, to open sectarian bashing.

So at the risk of igniting a civil war, what is being said in the "Salons" that you frequent? Yes I know that no one in your family is like that, they all are a tolerant bunch, but what have you overheard your neighbors say?

Bring it all out: the jokes, the conspiracy theories, the Holier than Thou talk, the dirty laundry, etc... Fear nothing for God and internet anonymity are on your side.

Note: Please stick to topic, any unrelated comment will be deleted.