Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jardeh

Magician's Secret Revealed

Andre Lala makes one of the best chicken sandwiches in town. The garlic sauce he makes can't possibly be legal, but at least you can rest assured bird flu stands no chance against the smell. I've inspected the shelves at this little hole in the wall in Rmeil and found no unusual spices. But the answer to the Lala mystery came to me from up above, the recipe secret that gives the Lala chicken that extra oomph comes in the form of a bug zapper situated directly above the work area. You can see some remnants of the special ingredient stuck on the metal rods since before the war. Electrilicious!!


Hollywood is for Kids


That's the impression you come out of the movies with if you have visited a lebanese movie theater the past few weeks. Hollywood provides the rated G movies (Bee Movie, Fred Clause, Enchanted...), while Beirut provides the Drama, Adventure, and Comedy. It had been a busy year for the Lebanese movie industry, and it has had some success at the box office which should naturally help the evolution of Lebanese movie making up from the Micho Qazzi stage to the intelligent human stage in the near future.


Status Quo


Despite Nabih Berri pendular outlook between the mother of all evil and great salvation we find ourselves right where we were a year ago. So watch for some incidents that end of January, a dozen of useless tete-a-tetes between Zaeems, and summer war; or you can wait to hear it from your favorite TV channel's Nostradamus on new year's eve.



My Rosy Outlook for 2008. Why the heck not?


2008 ought to be W's final year in power. There's always a chance for a constitutional amendment as we are experiencing first hand.


Beijing 2008 basketball qualifying tournament. After choking against Iran in the Asian Championship game, Lebanon's national team gets another chance to make it to Beijing. The competition will be tough but it should be fun.


Charlie Kaufman has a new movie out in 2008 with Philip Seymour Hoffman no less. I know it's not Abu Riad the sequel, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless.

Ok maybe not too many rosy things on the horizon afterall, but (insert your favorite motivational hallmark quote here).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ought To

"...the world ought to say this: that the March 14th coalition can run their candidate in their parliament, majority- plus one ought to determine who the president is, and when that happens, the world ought to embrace the president."

Inspiring words on what ought to happen and what we ought to do to make it happen.

We ought to embrace Siniora's 11 pm announcement of mourning the next day for Francois El Hajj's funeral because it means he is working late without billing us for overtime.

We ought to embrace the astronomical increase in the price of Potatoes and other produce since it boosts our export revenue numbers.

We ought to embrace the quality of the American made Israeli dropped cluster bombs which are still killing Lebanese civilians and mine clearing volunteers at a brisk rate.

We ought to embrace Elliot Abrams gracing us with his visit for everything he touches turns into a glowing picturesque ball of light and warmth.

We ought to embrace, sit still ,and hold tight for a new year is upon us and that is never a good think.

Happy Holidays

From Lebanon Again

For Most Anglosaxons the expression "Kiss Me Again" can only be interpreted as a request for an encore act of contact from foreign lips (teeth, tongue, and/or tonsils) against any part of the recipient's body with some sort of spastic motion that creates a certain degree of noise and moisture.

In Lebanon Kiss-Me-Again is not even remotely associated with the verb to kiss (as it could be used in reference to a power outage), the pronoun me (which might as well be replaced with them or y'all or Timbuktu) , or the adjective again for it might be about a novelty or something that will never happen once let alone again. "Kiss-Me-Again, Siyedeh, Istiqlel..."

Now you might think this is just an expression used by pre-teens to circumvent the use of the real thing which keeps them cool without risking the consequences of a nanny 911 time out. That it's a phase they'd outgrow once they develop a more articulate vocabulary. Don't get your hopes up as there are documented cases of retirees in Basta who don't even know a word of english dropping kiss-me-agains over games of Backgammon.

A new phrase can soon be added to the languages display at the national museum: kiss em again akhou sharmouta.

Pardon me for the vulgar use of again.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Golden General

Never has silence been more golden than in the case of our Presidential candidate du jour. Heck he's starting to lose some points because he's been seenlately visiting some people. So the peak of his popularity was when he was silent and invisible. A poll a few weeks back showed that the number 2 answer to "who would you prefer for president?" was "No one". So after Syria and the anti-syrians agreed on eliminating the people's number one choice from contention, they opted for the closest thing they could find to a "no one".

As no one fills the void, the parties involved have moved ahead to the next step which is the first Post-Siniora Cabinet. Siniora might or might not be back at the Ministry of Finance. Kouchner might be lobbying for the foreign ministry seat. The only sure thing is that Tareq Mitri and Charles Rizk won't ever see the Serail again.


But enough politics, let's move on to other places where silence is golden on the cultural scene which swung back in full force as soon as Ammar Al Houri declared the end of the presidential crisis. Charbel Rouhana debuted a few songs at an anti-AIDS concert, or was it pro? In any case, from what I've heard, and wish I haven't, the follow up to his last Album "Khateerah" is apparently going to be "Khabeesah".


An Arabized and watered down remake of Lorca's "La Casa de Bernarda Alba" opened yesterday in Babel Theater under the direction of Jawad El Asadi and the title "Sexophone Women". Overall, it is a worthy effort given all the difficulties a theatrical production faces these days, as the show has been postponed as many times as the presidential selection session. The colorful performance was overall "entertaining". I have to note my reservations on cutting out half of Lorca's characters and thus gutting the story. Jahida Wehbe was able to act the lead role, but she failed at singing it. The Young'un Yvonne El Hachem's performance stood out, and Aida Sabra's energy triggered a Tsunami watch in the South Pacific.

Now for this stormy weekend, and keepig with the theme of Silence. I'll be camping out at the movies. We've got the ongoing European film festival, Burhan Alawiye's "Khalas", and Mai Masri's "33 Days." So طير و فرقع يا بوشار، ما بيصير أكتر ما صار, or so we hope.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Say Cheese!

Today is day 1017 in search of the truth, day 361 of the opposition's sit in, and day 3 of Fouad I's reign.

Saudi Arabia doesn't really want to attend, but it doesn't want to go against Arab consensus. Syria also thinks this conference is a failure but it will show up to keep with the Arab consensus. His Majesty is sending a delegate even though he still sheds tears for the victims of Israeli barbarism. You know why? Because of Arab Consensus. Arab public opinion is strongly opposed to free concessions and the unbiased mediator role of the US. Can someone explain to me what the heck is this Arab consensus they speak of?


Now if you average the approval ratings of the regimes attending this conference, you'll get a number below the Mendoza line. The American in me is coming out with obscure baseball references, but I'm just trying to say they ain't very popular. Still, they aim to achieve a collective boost in popularity out of this orgy since it can not deliver anything of substance.

Some are worried that the Arab Dictatorships will be seen as openly isolating any opposition to Israel in the region. Well, when they were already openly in support of Israel in summer of 2006, and they are openly turning a blind eye to the collective punishment of Gazapolis; how's a little handshake and photo op with Tzipi Livni going to hurt.

Peace can only be conceived in a healthy host with lively seeds. Those trying to artificially induce their promised "birth pangs" have to face the fact that they are sterile and surrounded by a bunch of limps.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A State of Emerging...

With the state of emergency confusion, the inept political class must have been worried that a week of martial law could expose much of their shortcomings. This week or more could have shown us what independence could have been had these blood merchants cared one iota for the concept. Of course that is assuming the military doesn't pull a Naher El Bared all over the place. But alas we are still after what seems to be a smooth transition to the Siniora uncensored era. No constitutional council, no President, no checks or balances of any sort except for that of the people and particularly that of the opposition, and we know how effective that has been.

The army is out in force in Beirut. 20,000 soldiers/citizens most of them from the furthest regions away from Beirut roam the streets of the capital to keep peace. I wonder what they think of the Capital, what it means to them. A capital that never cared for them but now it calls on them as it desperately needs them. But that's a whole other can of worms.

A Final quick note on yesterday's events. A number of people celebrated the departure of Emile Lahoud from Baabda. Now you might really dislike him, but isn't celebrating now after he's completed his two terms akin to celebrating the departure of your rival team from the World Cup after it won the Final... for a second time!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When Al Manar airs Bible Belt Propaganda...

A couple of days ago while flipping through channels I caught a glimpse of Black and White footage on TV. So instinctively I pause as that to me is as good as catching a glimpse of ... well that's not important. The footage was associated with a documentary featuring the mass killings committed by Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Mao. The "documentary" attributed all the Nazi and communist crimes to an evil "myth by and amateur biologist."

I was convinced the video was a bible belt production as it was clear that it was originally in English. I was half right, (or half wrong.) The video was originally produced in English and it can be found here under the title "The Disasters Darwinism Brought to Humanity". But while it agrees to a tee with the Christian right's view on the topic, it was of Koran Belt origin based on a book by this kooky turk.

Now I'm all for disputing Darwinism, and we've had 200 years of advancement in genealogy research to use as ammo against that evil horned Brit. However, to blame hundreds of millions of deaths on the deviation from God's will while ignoring the hundreds of millions killed in the name of God does not make for a very convincing argument.

But hey, if you are looking for common grounds between Wilayat el Faqih , Wahhabism, and neoconservatism, here's a starting point.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

73,245,357,358 and counting

No this post is not about that other counter.

Now if we had a penny (15 Lebanese Liras) for every opinion given on the Lebanese presidential issue we would've paid off all $45 billion of the Hariri debt and then had some left over to cover the sms voting costs to guarantee the next belly dance champion is 100% Lebanese . Alas all these opinions about the Lebanese presidential elections, from Bush and Sarkozy's to the cab drivers' in the streets of Port-au-Prince, are completely worthless. The only opinions that matter are those of Elie Beik Skaff and his colleagues in Parliament. No , Really! Not Fares Soueid nor Walid Mouallem, Not Mohammed Reza Shibani nor any of the French posse that has been dropping by non stop.

So naturally my opinion doesn't matter either. Not that I've given the issue much thought; especially since my man Skaff can't even run for president. It would save Lebanon a lot of trouble now and in the future if he were to be anointed president for life. Come to think of it he could be the compromise dude. The opposition would accept him because he is one of them, and the Hairirists would love his tendency to sell off property.

In any case I highly doubt they will select a president any time soon. Now Even IF they do pick a punching bag for president; NATO, the Arab League, and FIFA will never be able to agree on Imm Micho's replacement at the Ministry of social affairs.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Vat is it good for?

I've been meaning to write about the presidential selection but I've been waiting for at least one of the candidates to drop by my neck of the woods for a campaign stop. Alas it seems Beirut isn't that important in deciding the outcome of Lebanon's presidential selection. This makes the topic a little painful to talk about, so I end up opting for a less painful activity each time. For example today instead of blogging about the selection I'm getting a couple of teeth pulled.


Speaking of pulling teeth, and if you are a glutton for pain as I am, go read George Corm and Khaled Saghiye's takes on the numbers 6000 and 111%* off Siniora's balance sheet for the year 2005. But then again no one is complaining about these numbers. Not even he who called Harirism a hangman's noose.

Now what baffles me about this issues is that with the sectarian sandbags securing certain people unaccountable god status for generations, wouldn't they have more to steal if they actually allowed for the economy to grow a little? See we as people have proven that we don't care about being robbed clean, so any improvement in the 6000 would end up straight into the coffers that collect the 111%*.

* It's more than two Thirds and also more than 50%+1

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Enough....

Everything that has occured over the past 6 weeks is passable. So what if we're having water shortages a few millennia after the assyrians built the first aqueduct system. Just phone the dude with the truck and the giant hose and you'll be able to rinse off the shampoo by mid afternoon. Fires eating through your passport and your hundred thou bill? Just phone the dude with the truck and the giant hose and he'll put it out just in time for the evening news. Presidential Elections not to your liking? Don't phone anyone for you know where the giant hose is gonna end up in this case.

But when Ghalayini's Man'ousheh becomes 500 Liras there is no place for silence. Enough already! Some heads must roll. Sure oil prices are pushing $100 a barrell. And we all know there is a direct corellation between that and man'ousheh cost since Brent's crude is a basic ingredient of Ghalayini's man'ousheh. Also don't underestimate the September 6th raid's effects on the supplies of the yellow cake zaatar used at this corner shop.

Still, for the price to double is a sign that a big economic crisis is looming. See, the average Lebanese worker works 15 hours a day to make ends meet, now if prices double and salaries remain constant like they have been for the past few decades; well this average working Lebanese will need to work 30 hours a day to cover basic expenses.

There's the big hose again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Siniora Government honors Founders of Civil War militias

Living Martyr Marwan Hmadeh announced today the issuing of new postage stamps honoring the martyrs of Lebanon. What's a better way to honor our fallen heroes than licking their behinds? Not to mention the fun that can be had by matching the destination country with the stamp of the personality it had assassinated (or just vanished in Libya's case.) The government played it the Lebanese way by trying to include martyrs from all sects in the collection, but some groups will argue that they were underrepresented and that Danny Chamoun, Abbass El Mousawi, and Elie Hobeika are just as worthy of a stamp.

Martyrs apparently are a big thing and they deserve to be honored. After all we have over a hundred thousand of them since 1975. Martyrs rank second among our national treasures only trailing Emigrees who number well over a million over the same period of time.

Now if I remember correctly, a good chunk of the one hundred thousand were martyred by what was then known as Militias. Thankfully those are now extinct. While the Kataeb and the PLO were the stars of the 70's, most historians would rank Amal, LF, and PSP militias as the top 3 Lebanese killers of the 80's. Images of the Founders of these 3 militias will now grace your outgoing letters to the emigrants who have sworn off Lebanon because of them.

At Least this is one thing I personally wouldn't have to deal with since I have sworn off Liban Post. They happen to have very pleasant and competent employees which is something I abhor.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Waiting for Saado

I stopped playing video games and joined a gym when the games became more physically demanding than 2 hours on a treadmill. But I am excited these days with the emergence of a sequel to an old time favorite. "Where in the world is Saad El Hariri?" will take you to more exotic locations than the original version with thicker plots and a lot more nonsense.



No, he is not tanning in the Seychelles, nor is he supervising his Aqaba project, nor is he bailing out Mr. Nahhas in Cannes. Saad currently has the honor of being the Saudi king's envoy for resolving the Pakistani crisis between Sharif in London and Musharraf in Islamabad. Meanwhile; here everyone awaits Saad's final word on Berri's initiative, whatever that it is; but we know well that nothing is going to come out from either the initiative or the final word, or Berri or Saad for the matter. No matter what we still gladly play along to get to the next level where it usually gets more challenging and harder to survive.

Friday, September 07, 2007

More Unity and Meeting Points..

The Lebanese are renowned world travelers. You'll find people from Arbet Qozhayya in Barquicimeto, people from Baaloul in Foz Iguazu, and people from Deir Quntar in East LA. But you'll never find the Baalouli in Arbet Qozhayya, or the Deir Quntari in Diddeh, etc... All these ecotourism and piece of paradise packages are just for tourists. That explains why One US presidential candidate visited the the ravaged South, while in the midst of the Lebanese presidential campaigns, none of the candidates has crossed the Ramlet El Baida - Ouzai Line. Why campaign in Marjeyoun, Rashayya, and Akkar, when you can go to Strasbourg and Rome instead?

Speaking of Tourism, a couple of nights ago both New TV and Future's Zaven addressed the issue of prostitution. Some official in the Ministry of tourism was defending the practice by saying that you can't expect to have a tourism industry with a few rocks in Baalbeck and Jbeil, but that's not my issue. I just wanted to share with you my experience on the matter since both reports were shallow and amateurish. On one hand, you had Firas Hatoum asking questions as if he had never heard of sex? "You mean people pay you for sex!?" Oh, the blasphemy. On the other hand, you had Zaven. What I know is that Ras Beirut has more whorehouses, or whatever the politically correct term for whorehouse is, than Amsterdam's red light district. There's Moonlight Cabaret and hotel half a block down from Mourtada Islamic Clothes, so let's not act as if this is a big taboo. Every night a 21:30, one of those buses that sound and drive like Boeing 737s parks in the alley up from Lina's in Hamra and loads tens of colorfully dressed professionals. Quite the show, and you won't find this free attraction listed in "Lebanon for less than $10 a day". If luxury is more your style and you happen to be a single Khaliji guy staying alone at one of our oceanfront hotels, you will most definitely receive an "accidental" call in your room late at night offering you our colleges' finest crop. But prostitution is illegal in Lebanon. So are bikinis by the way.

Speaking of Sex, Shaker El Absi's DNA match with his supposed daughter came out negative. This actually means that Mrs. El Absi now unseats Ahmad Fatfat for the title of most relieved person after the death of El Absi.

Speaking of "some explaining to do", the electric company released a statement yesterday claiming that the latest power outages were due to the effects of high humidity on the grid. Now, I'm not an expert on the subject, so I asked my buddy Andy who is a senior engineer at Florida Power and Light about the validity of the claim. Here's his answer on this one: "Higher humidity than what we have in Miami is probably only possible in the Serengeti and we don't lose power because of that, so that's my answer on that one." Now trying to preempt the next excuse, both my friend and I concurred that bird poop could knock out power for a prolonged period of time.

Speaking of Bird poop, Lebanon's critical Olympic qualifying match against Iraq tomorrow night will be held in an empty stadium. Why? You guessed it, because admitting crowds into the stands endangers national unity.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Presidents, Victories, and Paternity tests….

So many events with little time to comment but I’ll try to briefly cover all major events…

Haifa has a new video out.

Next we move on to the Presidential elections. A common trait among the major candidates that does not endanger national unity is their hair insecurity. Aoun’s comb over is still going strong even with only 3 hairs left to cover the whole territory on top. Having a full head of hair does not make Boutros Harb anymore secure about his looks than the balding General. Despite a history of political grayness, his stance on his hair is unwavering. Harb will live and dye Black. More on the subject later…

Rabih Mroueh’s “How Nancy wished everything was just an April’s fools joke” was shown in Beirut in its entirety and endangering national unity after all. MBC television cameras were there to capture the public reaction to this victory over censorship. Yes the same MBC that censors Raymond kissing Deborah. Back to “Nancy”; it’s a shame that it got all this press for the wrong reasons because this superbly written act is the best thing to hit the Beirut stage since the Lebanonization of Eric Emmanuel Schmitt’s Enigma Variations.

Finally, the military operations stage of the Naher El Bared ordeal is finally over. The politicians are all calling for uncovering the truth behind Fatah El Islam as they all think it will provide them with ammo against their foes. Of course, nothing will come out of these calls as we are in Lebanon where investigations are avoided because they endanger national unity. The only way we can find out who really was behind the funding and nurturing of Fatah El Islam is to resort to Maury Povich. Here I’m picturing Saad, 34, high-fiving the audience and being held back from Wiam, 40 some: “Told you @#$%^ I ain’t their @#$%^ sugar daddy, HO, HO, you @#%%# @$%#^ HO!!”

Saturday, August 25, 2007

From Lebanon 25

The Vendeuse

Chic and not so chic boutiques from Achrafiyeh to Hamra up to Zahleh are home to this breed of women. They start as hopeful young girls that get into it for the discounted clothes and as a stepping stone to better things (i.e. marriage); but just like degenerate gamblers who think they have figured out a way to beat the house they got sucked into the system that doesn't let anyone out alive.

Vendeuse by accepting the job will sign up for decades of boredom, gossip magazines, and acetone. Cigarettes kick in in their second decade at the shop, hard liquor caps the tenure process in decade number 3. And while one day down the road she might actually find the flamboyant transvestite that will find the pistachio colored dress that has adorned the window since Jacky O's wedding fabulous; the prospects of her leaving the shop to the altar are much slimmer.





As a public service to all youngsters who might fall in this trap, if you see this innocent looking but loaded A4 paper or any of its variaties anywhere, run for your life for it is nothing more than a chic way of saying dead end.

The Vendeuse, the yang to the Natour's ying, is yet another traditional fixture in the Lebanese society.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Too True

In a country where there is a constant battle of what is and isn’t true, and who is true and who is truly an inconvenience. Yesterday was a full display of the true nastiness of our society. Lebanese raceo-sectarianism reached unprecedented lows; which says much considering this country was a stage for a fifteen year bloody sectarian war.


It wasn't just Amin Gemayyel who in keeping up with family tradition found a new group of people to direct his hate at. When your hate mongering towards Syrians, Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Sunnis, Shia runs out of steam; a new channel must be created. Also, why let the people of the southern suburbs bear all the brunt of condescending speech, let the intruders of the northern suburbs share the load. So take "them" out, and Gemayyel is victorious in the Metn Mountains where the true Christians reside. Sadly, many of the electoral reform scenarios circulated would encourage the Gemayyel school of thought.


All other major political forces were Gemayyel-esque on Sunday. Future was proud that the political representaion of the capital of this great nation has been reduced to 20,000 Sunnis and change; No intruders here so that's a sweet victory. Hezbollah bragged that the "Shia" were victorious by boycotting the vote. As a friend of mine would say: "Gold star for the Sunnis and Gold star for the Shia."


Are you wondering why the election results in Metn were almost 50-50? Well, that's because you couldn't tell the difference between the FPM campaign and the Kataeb campaign. "Reform" and "Change" got 2 thirds of Metni votes; but someone advised Aoun that he needs to prove his Christianity. Victory was his as he out-Gemayyeled a Gemayyel, but now he must decide whether he wants to go back to running for President of Lebanon or to shoot for the Second Coming.



Let's not forget Victorious Jumblatt, since his Druze electorate was spared by the fate of Martyr Ghazi Kenaan's gerrymandering this ugly Sunday's pissing match.



You try to escape this nastiness for some patriotic athletic diversion only to see 7 footers sinking half court shots for "them"; while "our" guys have uncontested layups rim out.



A day to forget for Lebanon.... Now that is something we truly excel at.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

For The Record

I have been to Damascus 5 times in my life. Once as a child and I do not recall meeting any Syrian officials. Twice as a young teen to renew my foreign passport and to travel through Damascus' airport because we had no access to the embassy in Lebanon and the Beirut International Airport at the time.

As an adult my flight from Beirut to Amsterdam landed in Damascus for a few minutes in 1999. I did not leave the plane. Finally, in winter of 2006 I spent a weekend as a tourist (fully equipped with a camera around my neck, short shorts, and high dark socks) at the infamous Sheraton which hosted thousands of visiting political pilgrims that frequented Damascus for their blessings. This was the closest I got to meeting with the Assads.

Just wanted to come clean in case I ever run for a Metni office.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Metn Book

An election is the process through which the people hire a parliamentary representative to work for them. It is imperative in any hiring process to thoroughly evaluate the candidates for the job. A one on one interview with the candidates would be ideal. Some might argue that it would be exhausting for the candidates to answer to thousands of citizens, but isn’t that the job description of the Member of Parliament? Anyways, in a more practical world a town hall meeting style debate should be the minimum required interaction between the candidates and the decision makers, but even that is absent in our democracy since that might be considered a form of accountability which is officially a sin in all 18 religions of Lebanon. This leaves the people only one way of judging the candidates which is by looking at their curricula vitae.

The 2 finalists for the Metn job are in order: Kamil Mansour Khouri M.D. and H.E. Sheikh Amin Sheikh Pierre Gemayyel.

Kamil Mansour Khouri M.D. has a relatively poor CV. He did some time for insulting his sister which will definitely hurt him among the family oriented voters. However his very limited experience does show signs of progress in his career as he was promoted from Prison to Med school. His medical background makes him relatable to the people as more than half the voters in Lebanon are Medical doctors. Kamil Khouri is definitely a candidate with potential. His successful transition from a jailbird to Doctor means he shouldn’t have many difficulties finding a real career eventually.

H.E. Sheikh Amin Sheikh Pierre Gemayyel’s CV dwarfs that of his rival. The Khouri family could be the largest Lebanese family, but the Gemayyels aren’t about quantity but rather quality. H.E. Sheikh Amin is a thoroughbred of unmatched pedigree. He hails from a stud that founded what would become Lebanon’s biggest party for decadess and his sibling was even more successful in a career cut short by his assassination. H.E. Sheikh Amin wasn’t content with what he inherited so he hurried to reform the Kataeb. He managed to clean up the party from the war criminals that hid under its umbrella. He also got rid of the corrupt bureaucrats and then most of its national following. The downsizing allowed the Kataeb to confine all its activities to a couple of streets in Bikfayya thus saving greatly on communication and transportation. A few top quality men. His revolutionary reform was also strongly present in his job as President of the Republic between 1982 and 1988. Lebanon today would be facing the same problems as China and India had it not been for the population growth control measures during Gemayyel’s tenure. H.E. Sheikh Amin has always been ahead of his time. Just wait and see how the Hair will eventually become the styling industry’s hottest look. In 1988, H.E. Sheikh Amin became the last President in the History of Lebanon to respect the constitutional limit on his term. Lebanon then struggled to fill the void left by his departure that it had to depend on 2 local governments and 2 foreign occupations to keep the vast reaches of the nation connected.

A man of this caliber settling for a job as a mere parliamentarian is a once in a lifetime steal, but Gemayyel is no stranger to unorthodox bargains. His unique concept of value made him well liked upon weapons manufacturers. Why pay full price for new helicopters when you can pay the same price for scrap parts?

I think it is clear who I would want to hire, not that it is any of my business. I don’t vote in Metn, I vote for Elie Beik Joseph Beik Skaff. As for Beirut, can someone tell me why Antoine Hamra has some books priced in Sterling Pounds?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 12

The war did not start on July 12, 2006. I have memories of war stashed away right next to the memory of my first electronic Spelling game that my parents got me to accelerate my learning of the alphabet in the pre-kindergarten years of the pre-Atari era. The war started in the year 12 b.h.n. (before Hassan Nasrallah) and it hasn’t ended yet. The July, Lebanon’s Second, or Sixth labels are just chapter titles to distinguish the 33 days of open military warfare as opposed to the covert military ops that preceded and continued after that period.

The problem is that Israel in its current version is not compatible with peace. Maybe version 2.0 will have that option programmed into it but until then it’ll be war. I will not start a dissertation on the topic of Israeli society being built by war for war. I don’t have the time or energy for the debate, but it is safe to say that 60 years of trying to force peace have been fruitless; except for a paper peace with an oppressive dictator here and a tea party there. Are the Arabs still begging for their peace initiative to be accepted? Well paper peace has accomplished the conditional release of 4 Jordanian captives, even if it was 12 years after said peace deal, and only so that Hamas and Hezbollah don’t get credit for their release but who’s counting.

The media is going crazy with the “anniversary” so I won’t bore you with more talk about it, but I will state that I have no problem with Lisa Goldman’s report for Israeli TV from Beirut. I shared a few minutes with Lisa last year on a TV debate during the war. Well it wasn’t much of a debate since we agreed on most points since she seemed to be part of that peaceful Israel 2.0 beta. She’s a journalist not an enemy combatant. Of course being a journalist did not vouch for Imad Ghanem who was used by the Israeli army for target practice as he laid on the ground pleading for help (Google for video of this incident). Anyhow spies and collaborators roaming the cities and mountains of the nation are a dime a dozen; a journalist roaming the pubs of Beirut (and she's Canadian to boot) and reporting that Hezbollah googles names a la potential daters is the last of my worries.

Back to the internal Lebanese political scene… well that’s if we can assume Paris is in Lebanon and that a gathering between Mahmoud Berri and Mirna El Murr constitutes a political scene. I am skeptical about any positive outcome coming of the Parisian Dhahieh as I do not see anyone stepping up to fill the void in the leadership of the round table with the absence of Elie Skaff. Although with Ahmad Fatfat out of town the army should be able to finish off what’s left of Fateh El Islam in Naher el Bared. I’m joking of course as there is no evidence of any recent involvement of Fatfat in Fateh El Islam’s activities.

Finally, Ahmad El Assaad launched the Lebanese Option Gathering as a Third option for Shiites in Lebanon. I won’t go into the sectarian aspect of this move as El Assaad is clearly nostalgic to his family’s Dynasty years. Some see that the problems in Lebanon are due to the lack of Shiite or Sunni or Maronite parties; and third, fourth, or seventeenth options would help. Fine, but El Assaad himself already heads at least one other political party: the Kafa’at party. So what does L.O.G. have that Kafa’at didn’t? See only a short sighted simpleton would ask that, El Assaad actually discovered a genial way of making up for the lack of popular support. The next time the sons of Kamel El Assaad and Sabri Hamadeh meet the headline would read “Heads of 37 Parties Gather at the Commodore in Support of Mufti Ali El Amin”, it sure beats “2 Loser Sons of Former feudal lords drown their sorrows at Hotel bar.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Extra, Extra

In a roundup of Beirut dailies we find these curious news items.

First of all, a look at the crime blotter shows that the tally of homicide victims falls short to suicide deaths for the first 6 months of 2007 (51 to 57). So for the paranoid amongst readers, now you have factual evidence that shows you that constantly looking over your shoulder just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The major headline in the sports page of one daily states that 13 Christians and only 2 Muslims make up the board of the Volleyball federation. Of course the news here is not that the Muftis will cry about the Christianization of sports but the fact that there are people that still play Volleyball!! Why isn’t there a Hide and Seek federation? It certainly is more deserving than Volleyball.

Speaking of hiding, the President of the Republic is still successfully guarding his top secret solution to the crisis. Unnamed high ranking sources say it involves red Speedos, Maryam Nour, and seven spices.

Finally, his feudal lordship Elie Beik Skaff suspects arsonists are behind the fire that destroyed his wheat harvest in Ammeeq. Good luck finding the perpetrators. Now if the fire was at the nearby Kefraya which happens to belong to another feudal land owner; the case would’ve been added to the other terrorist attacks and Serge Brammertz would’ve been on it. Maybe that’s why he is flirting with a camp switch.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Race to the Top

You won’t find this advertised in the Lebanese ministry of tourism brochures, but next to the usual attractions of nature, history, and the joie de vivre that only armed militants can possess; Lebanon enjoys rich reserves of deeply entrenched racism. Sadly, the excesses we enjoy cannot be exported in exchange of any material returns to ease the country’s trade deficit. While Lebanese racism is at its best when directed internally towards the “other” less gifted Lebanese factions (that is even constitutionally recognized as it states clearly in article 5 that you are only a first class citizen if you are a male conceived from a Lebanese sperm that belongs to one of the top 3 religious groups represented in Taef), I will just count down the top 5 foreign groups that suffer from racist discrimination in Lebanon.

5. Arab gulfies: Any Lebanese no matter what he or she has or has not accomplished in life thinks he or she can con a rich Arab. According to local logic, the superior Lebanese cab driver can trick the top Kuwaiti brain surgeon based on the latter not wearing Jeans.

4. Eastern European Women: While their western counterparts get treated as goddesses as they are the only race superior to the Phoenicians (plus holy matrimony with them leads to a kickass passport), the Eastern European Women can only possibly be in Lebanon on an entertainer’s visa which translates to belittling treatment from a dude who weighs onions for a living.

3. Syrians: the Macho Lebanese who idolized and worshipped the Syrian Mukhabarat goons, and didn’t dare look up when shining Syrian officers’ flip flops in pre-revolutionary times now try to earn their anti-Syrian stripes by abusing poor Syrian workers. In a way, this thuggish behavior displayed by officials and common folk alike makes the workers feel at home. From daily Sahsouh-packed interrogations, to random detentions when the authorities need terrorist suspects and home burning should be enough to make them the most discriminated group; but they aren’t seasoned enough to compete with the top groups.

2. “Sri Lankans”: Of course a Sri Lankan is anyone who hails from the domestic worker empire the stretches from east Africa to the Asian pacific region. You can purchase a Sri Lankan or more at any slave trader near you. As long as you keep them (the traders) happy you can do anything you want with your purchase and no one will stop you. Lock them up in a burning apartment, hang them as adornment off your balcony, let your teenage boy get his rape techniques down before he joins the local neighborhood militia; it is really up to you and your imagination. Laws don’t apply as their own embassies have approved the trade and will turn a blind eye.

1. Palestinians: All of a sudden, I have nothing to say. It must be the damn Palestinians’ fault, kill them all!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

No Way Out

First of all I recommend that you read the proclamation issued by the leader of the land of the free. The first line has striking resemblance to ottoman era faramans but as you read further you realize that the language used is from a way earlier era in history of empires. Now it’s his house and by the powers vested in him by section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, he is free to stick an unwelcome mat at his doorstep in face of whomever he feels vested to keep out, but (and I’m sure you knew a but was coming) “any private person who deliberately contributes to breakdown in the rule of law in Lebanon” would technically include anyone who double parks. It doesn’t stop there, “The spouses and dependent children of persons “ who double park on the streets of Tarzebna, for example, can also be refused entrance to George Bush’s USA. Also if you are applying for a US visa make sure you don’t derive financial benefit from any actions that could undermine the legitimate government, so don’t get bribed if you are working for the government, focus on the other half of your job: Solitaire. Also if you’re in the glass business for example make sure you don’t get involved in the cleaning up and fixing of shattered store fronts because thou shalt be proclaimed persona non grata in Wyoming for your actions.


NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jamal G. Propaganda, In witness whereof, hereunto set my hand this steamy Saturday, in the year of our Lord two thousand and seven, and the influence of ice cold Almaza pure malt of Lebanon the second.


And I shall move on to more important issues than Wiam Wahhab’s vacation spots.… I have a

question to the political players in Lebanon: all of them, pro government anti government and confused, sectarian and pretend secularists, the extreme right and the opposing extreme …. right. What is the way out of this downwards spiral? The thundering unified answer is Gate G at Beirut International Airport.




There’s really no sugar coating it. The situation is bad which means you can get a table at any restaurant without any prior reservations, even on a Saturday night in the middle of summer. No “exiled” yuppies are home from the gulf showing off their high salaries with their fancy rental cars. Don’t worry about your elbow space diminishing anytime soon; you shall have it for a while since nothing will be resolved.

Ever.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Step Back

Maybe just maybe it's about time everyone took a step back and re-evaluted where they stand. I, for one, do it constantly. I'm rarely wrong, but sometimes I miss something since I only have one good eye so that limits my peripheral vision and depth perception. Maybe that handicap forces me to think about things I see that I wouldn't otherwise had I had two eyes confirming the same view. Someone, not sure who and I don't feel like googling it now, said, "Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see." In my case make it quarter of what I see.

The problem is that I need to know. I read a lot, I talk to people, I observe , I ask, and at the end it turns out that some third generation Lebanese dude/dudette in Wyoming who happens to own an uncracked copy of Gibran's Prophet (and also might happen to blog about Lebanon) knows all the beyond the shadow of doubt truths about what's going on here and I don't. I envy them and cab drivers, the two sides of the infallible knowledge coin.

Then again, this region brought to you Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. So people have been having blind faith (or is faith intrinsically blind) in what they've been told by their chosen men for thousands of years, don't expect that to change this summer. So just hunker down, and beware the "others".

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Army Post

For the 24 th consecutive day, the Lebanese army has secured and completely controled the Samed and Cooperative positions of Abu Jureij's Pro-Syrian Pro-Hariri UnPalestinian terrorist gang phenomenon group thing. I'm a bit confused since by my understanding of the term "complete control" you do not to assert it everyday three times a day after meals. But what do I know, I'm no military expert. The closest I came to becoming a soldier was when I was refused boarding a plane once because according to Lebanon's official government records; one of my sisters was actually my brother, thus unexempting me from service.

Don't get me wrong, I am pro-Army. I am Pro-Martial law. Especially since the alternative seems to be Militia and feudal law. After a rusty start to their assertion of power campaign, the army has started getting it right. Monday night, 2 men were arrested alive after lobbing a hand grenade at an army checkpoint. That's a long way from the trigger happiness of a couple of weeks ago when an unarmed pregnant woman was shot dead in Badaro, and 3 unarmed men and 2 civillian aircrafts were gunned down near the airport. Definitely satisfactory progress is being displayed when it comes to shooting disicpline and aim.

I'm not the only one seeing this record improvement in performance by the army. Some people whose politics differ slightly from mine have expressed newfound trust in the army. On January 23rd, 2007 at 8:00 am, that would be in the early morning, a Samir Geagea declared that the army is incapable of maintaining order, and issued a fatwa to his followers to take things into their own bats. Now fast forward 5 months to May 21st of the same 2007 and you'll see that the same army that he didn't think was capable of moving a few Orange clad geeks off the street, was now in his eyes capable of controlling Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

An Explosion at Sporting beach club just shook this building... back in a bit.

Friday, June 01, 2007

What's Next?

Of course there is no uniform answer to this question in Lebanon, so we will answer this according to each of the various Lebanese factions.

For Future Movement the future is always clear. After evacuating the Saudi brothers from Nahr El Bared the priority will again become the establishment of an International Tribunal. But you may I thought it was a done deal and under Chapter 7 no less. Well, with millions of people wanting to cover for the killers it never is a done deal, so they will milk this for another 2 to 3 years.

Hezbollah will continue to do nothing under the title of Avoiding Civil Strife. Plus their strategy of being patient and waiting usually pays off since its foes always find a way to shoot themselves in the foot.

The Free Patriotic Movement needs to go back to their calls for Accountability. These calls are always met with Public support. But instead they'll continue to throw the best fundraiser ideas and still fall short on the funding of OTV. Don't forget that after Chocolate and Vanilla, Orange is the most favorite flavor.

Amal. Just Kidding.

The Lebanese Forces will elect Amin Gemayyel President then predict that the Syrians are going to kill him. A week later, the Syrians oblige paving the way for the election of Doctor Samir Geagea as the March 14th president.

Walid Jumblatt will move to Patagonia and buy a coca farm. Wiam Wahhab follows him promptly and buys a coca shrub.

The SSNP and the Lebanese Communist Party will continue collecting diapers for the displaced.

As for the government, well we will have 2 of them. Competition is good in free market economies. A couple of years ago we lived for a few months without a government. For the past 7 months we've had 0.7 of a government, so unorthodox governance is our thing. Eventually we'll get it right. I'm just looking forward to find out how Lahoud plans to counter Nayla Mouawwad in his government. I'd go with Maryam Nour.

Now the Lebanese people will still insist that their tabbouleh, ski resorts, and topless beach are evidence that they are fun loving peaceniks. It's the violent others who are full of hate and have been bringing their battles here for the past 5000 years.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Hysteric Day

Just what we need in Lebanon, yet another date to commemorate. Now we will have to wait anxiously to see if the vote comes in before midnight Beirut time, to see which new label will be now used to piss off the March 14th crowd. If you thought February 14th got on their nerves wait until you see them called the May 30th/31st forces.

But it is a historic date indeed. This dawn a visitor from McLean, Virginia became the 100,000th visitor to this blog since January 13th 2006. To celebrate this fact I have 2 choices of concerts to attend. I can either stay home and listen to "Beirut 3am Tebki" playing on passing cars' super sub woofed stereos over and over and over and over again, or go check out Ziad Rahbani's new show. Why do they always schedule 2 can't miss events on the same night?

People are even passing out Baklawa in the streets. They shouldn't considering that I started blogging before January 13th, so the 100,000 figure isn't really accurate, which means this date isn't really significant at all. Still, this scene reminds me of the last time people were naively passing out Baklawa in the streets not knowing what the heck was coming their way. If memory serves me right, that day was a summer day back in the year ... 2006.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blame Qatara

Let's See, Geroge Bush wanted to Bomb Al Jazeera. Jordan censored interviews conducted by Al Jazeera. Iran banned Al Jazeera because they criticized the Sistani dude. Egypt and Israel have jailed Al Jazeera reporters. Saudi Arabia is in an all out media war with Qatar. Locally, Jumbo man accused Al Jazeera of being alibis in Lebanon's terrorist attacks. Others attack Qatar and Al Jazeera for being Israel friendly. Al Jazeera reporters have been killed by occupiers/liberators and by insurgents/liberators/terrorists/jihadists in Iraq. They've been jailed in Spain and Guantanamo....


If they are pissing off so many people, they must be doing something right.

Breaking News

Presidential Candidate Carlos Eddeh will indulge us with his oh so cute wisdom over the next 2 hours on LBC TV.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Where are Abou El Abed and Abou Steif?

Part of the noise factor and the dangerous speculation battles taking place is the anonymization of the perpetrators of crime. So while Abou Hurayra, Abou Yazan, Abou Jandal, Abou Adass and Sejaan Saadeh are neck deep in accusations or dead; the people with faces who actually answer to registered triple names and might be involved in this mess remain unscathed and even run for office.

Anonymous masked scapegoats are beautiful propaganda tools. Abou Burghol could be blamed for all of Lebanon's ills and simultaneously be Syrian, Saudi, Iranian, Muslim, a blue eyed infidel Ohioan and everything in between . Spin away.

In other anonymous crimes news we have Ashrafiyeh at 30 Kg, Verdun at 25 Kg, and Aley weighing in at a mere 15 Kg. Let's not forget Ain Alaq at 2 x 5 Kg, and 2 years ago, Bouchriyyeh 30 Kg, Brummana 20 Kg, Samir Kassir 500 grams, George Hawi 500 grams, and Rafik Hariri One Billion Kg. I'm no forensic expert, but maybe just maybe, figuring out the weight of the bomb is irrelevant to finding out the perpetrators. Where are thee Abou Horatio Caine?

Finally in sports, Nejmeh Beat Ansar 1-0 (the Minister of Sports who had been on air non stop since friday had nothing to say about the game). But don't rejoice too much Nejmeh fans, as throughout the game Future TV made sure to remind the viewers (via a Breaking News item) that while Nejmeh did actually win, M14 won the Doctor's thingie (I wonder if Doctor Geagea gets to vote?). So it's actually a tie on the day; thus we now go to sudden death.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Arguile Smoking Security

With the terror bombing campaign touring the country, extraordinary measures have been taken to ensure safety. Now there's a personal approach and perception of what safety constitutes.


On any given friday night, Lebanese youth were always faced with the above choices. Often a 50-50 choice, but these days it has skewed right. For others who refuse these two choices, staying home and away from windows to wait it out is the way to go.


Personally, the sight of bomb sniffing dogs giving an all clear made me feel at ease until I read that sniffing ain't very effective in noisy (check), dusty (check), gusty, (check), and crowded (check) areas. Damn you google.







So now I trust my arguile puffing, dozen strong, neighborhood citizen patrol that keeps vigil on this street everynight and we all know how arguiles boost sensory alertness.


Feeling safe? Now, pop the champagne and celebrate the 7th anniversary of liberation.












Happy RESISTANCE* and Liberation day.

*Capped and bolded for all the playa haters out there.

Disclaimer: 2007 pictures are mine, 2000 pictures are stolen off the internet. I think it was the BBC site.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Parallel Realities

We* are living today parallel realities; two worlds that do not meet (unless God wills it). Ironically, both realities are being fueled by the same factor: Fear. I just crossed Hamra Street without bothering to look for incoming cars, that feat would be Houdini-esque (or what's the name of that new freak on TV?) in regular days. I was expecting a delivery today and the distributor asked me if it is safe for his 4 Syrian workers to come along; otherwise I'd have to carry the half ton fridge on my own.



But I** can't dwell on that. As one of my reader pointed out in the comments section of the previous post, I** have to provide solutions. I** wish he or she was as demanding of his or her elected representatvie who gets paid to come up with and implement solutions. It is our right as citizens to criticize and demand better governance, but I** still appreciate that vote of confidence.

To find a solution we need to identify the problem or problems. In our case I'm pretty sure it's the latter. Just off the top of my head there's Syria, the Syrians in the Palestinian camps, Israel of course, the biggest killer of them all which is traffic accidents, and finally Al Jazeera.

We'll start with hateful Television that can be solved remotely by switching the channel. The Syrians in Palestinian camps are almost done. Israel was kicked out, we just need an air defense system to stop the overflights. The roads can be fixed through law enforcement by properly trainig traffic police and better maintenance of roads which could be financed through the collection of parking tickets issued to all the cars lining up the streets outside Crystal.

Which leaves us with Syria, which is our biggest problem not because they are so hard to deal with. Au Contraire, Assad's regime has proven over and over again a level of ineptitude only surpassed in Syria's little offshoot. The problem is that we are entrusting former Assad tools to take care of that problem for us. We* are living with rats to keep an elephant away.

P.S. For real solutions to real problems just trust Elie Skaff.

* مساطيل

** مسطول

Monday, May 21, 2007

Beware the Noise

A man once upon a time a long long time ago said, "العمى بقلبو اللبناني شو مسطول" and everyday in history since that day has proven the wisdom of this man.

The panic and fear engulfing the مساطيل makes them susceptible to any rumors that might answer their question "Whodunit?" Who's the big bad wolf? Off course the big bad wolf is banking on this chaos and on these rumors to feed the already pre-conceived convictions and ignite the pent up hatred.

Anyways this مسطول just wants to point out that some widely ciculated rumors, are just that rumors, and hopes that his مساطيل buddies do not adopt these propaganda lines as facts and speed up the nose dive into the shit pond that awaits us.

So here we go with some rumor control:

My general rule is the louder they bark, the more full of shit they are. I present Wiam Wahhab and Ahmad Fatfat as Exhibit A.

Let me start with 1.)the Hariri funding of Fatah Al Islam. That comes from former MI6 Alistaire Crooke who was quoted in Seymour Hersh's "Redirection" article published a few months ago. So before you run with it keep in mind that it is only ONE source.

2.) Assad threatening to burn the region from Caspian Sea to Timbuktu also comes from one source. But this time it is an unnamed diplomatic source who only spoke to An-nahar. Of course, Memri quickly picked up the story. For all of you who read مساطيل newspapers know very well, that all esteemed newspapers have unnamed sources that always come up with juicy quotes which are never corroborated. So this automatic indictment of someone following up on a threat is purely for political gains.

3.) The nutbags are not exclusively Palestinian, most of them are actually مساطيل with some nutbags from various other Middle Eastern countries.

4.) The Army was never provided with aide to prepare for fighting, all the footage show that our brave soldiers are being sent to battle without any HELMETS! How many lives could have been saved with appropriate protection of soldiers?

5.) There is no consensual support for army. Many people and I know some very moderate unreligious folks who actually sympathize with these and other nutbags.

6.) The مساطيل don't love life. A large number of people showed more outrage for the glass shattered in ABC than for the tens of soldiers and civilians dead during the day.

Feel free to add to rumor control, because the blind faith in what we are told by the various propaganda outlets is what got us here in the first place.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rage

The Lebanese on average have a shorter fuse than other great civilizations; but put a Lebanese dude or dudette behind the wheel and the whole concept of a fuse instantaneously combusts. I witness road ragers go at it on a daily basis. Most of the time I watch amused from afar wishing I had a camera on me to capture these priceless moments; when drivers burst out of their running cars and punches are exchanged for a couple of minutes until traffic moves again and everyone rushes back to their cars and order is restored. The sudden start and abrupt end to the fight always fascinates me. Sure, the insults hurled by the drivers resonate long after they driven away, but it does end and never escalates beyond the initial round.

Yesterday was different. I saw the familiar signs of an impending fist fight developing in slow motion, but unlike any other time I rushed to the scene to seperate the raging fighters. See normally I would not want to get soaked with men's sweat and risk catching an errant disfiguring blow to the face. God knows how long the waiting list for plastic surgeons is in this country. This time though, I felt safe. The reason I felt so secure about my ability to seperate the fighters cleanly was because the two men combined over 150 years of wisdom, age, and rage. The younger one, relatively speaking, did get on my nerves though when he reached for a wrench and wanted to "really hurt" the one that could barely walk. My "Bas Ya Wled, 3ayb" did nothing, neither did the warnings about the heart failure risk they face since their excitement level was much higher than it would ever get with that blue pill. But they did start gasping for air after a minute and withdrew back into their vehicles, or maybe it was my threat to go go Chapter 7 on their asses.

In any case, I'm confident they'll eventually outgrow this aggressive stage just like I'm confident that our Lebanese politicians will eventually do what is best for the country.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

درس تاريخ


نحنا بلبنان بنتباها بتاريخنا، إنّو حاضرنا ما بيخلا من إنجازات متل سوليدير ونصر إلهي و نايلة معوض، بس كل هيدا ما بيتقارن مع تاريخنا. إنّو حدا بيقلّك حرب الكلّه أو الحرف مثلاً، و هاو ما شي يعني بس نموذج عن إنجازاتنا التاريخيّة.

لذلك بتقهر كتير لمّا بتلاقي حدا لبناني أو متلبنن عم يمشي عكس التاريخ. فلازم نصحّح الوضع. المشي بعكس التاريخ مرفوض تحت الفصل السابع . صحيح بنطنّش إذا مشيت بعكس السير بس مش التاريخ. لا لا تّيؤ، شو بيقولو عنّا فخرالدين و أليسار. عيب. إنّو ما بتنبلع .و أنا مش كتير نيئة بالبلع إنّو حطلّي غمّة أو نخاعات و بزلطن زلط مش هون المشكلة.

أحد الخيارات البديلة عن المشي عكس التاريخ الدارجة هالإيّام هيّي إنو تِعكُس تاريخك. عقول المثل تاريخك مش مريح، عْكِسوا واستريح. مين رح يحاسبك ؟

هلّق إذا تاريخك ما إشبو شي، جغل يعني، عاكس تاريخك، إقرصو بطيزو و قلّو شو يا قشطة؟ أو غمزلو من بعيد لبعيد إذا بتفضّل بس إنّو المهم ما تمشي بعكسو.

الشروال الفوشيا مش ستيلََك؟ إيه نسا التاريخ من أساسو لبوس باغي جينز عنص طيزك سمّعلي نثر توباك، و عقلبي متل السكّر. آخر همّي.

ولكن مع هيدا كلّو في بعض الأشخاص بيحاولو كتير يِعِكسو و يعاكسو ويتناسو التاريخ بس لسبب أو آخر هاو الأشخاص قد ما حاولوا... كانوا ... و لا يزالو... و رح يضلّو طول حياتن عَكِس إخت التاريخ.

عسى أن يتعلّمو الدرس.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Grateful Dead

شكراً سوريا
ألف شكر
مشكور المال الطاهر
مشكورة يا كويت
وسام شكر و تقدير
الشكر للامارات
الشكريّة هي إخت لبن إمّو
شكراً شكراً شكراً يا قطر
لكم الشكر والوفاء
الحمدلله رب العالمين
Thank you
وmerci كتير

Monday, April 02, 2007

Extrablogular Activity

Since I probably won't have time this week to add anything meaningful to this blog, here's an article I wrote for Wiretap.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

في واحد لبناني


لبناني و واحد؟!؟ واهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاهاها
****
أضف نكتتك المفضلة عن اللبناني

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Jorsa!

But then again we are shameless people. No shame in that. But I do not intend to comment on today's show nor tomorrow's road show. This is a review of the one man show that goes by the same name.

Rafiq Ali Ahmad's long awaited return has had some box office success which usually raises a red flag since I do not trust Lebanese theater goers' taste. Arsonists have stayed away from the stage though, which raised a few more questions. Did they deem the play unworthy of an attack? Did they migrate like everyone else? Did they leave the country in April 2005? Or did Mr. Ali Ahmad budge and let the terrorists win?

Yes.

The dude is good. He is a brilliant performer and he showcases all his talents in this work. The casting job was excellent, and so was the overall production. But, and there's always a but with me, the script needed a little more work. He managed to combine too many personal anecdotes with too many clichés. He also took a light approach in various parts were he could have upped the oomph a bit.

If you've already seen Little Miss Sunshine then you don't have any other movies worth watching this year, so go out and check one of the plays around town. I saw Jorsa at Monnot Theater, but it has since moved to a Russian thingie on a French battleground. Other Jorsas can be witnessed daily on your favorite newscast.

Monday, March 26, 2007

متفرقعات

كلمات ليست كالكلمات
كلمات بتشوفوها على آرمات بطريق صيدا القديم
مؤسسة عيتاني التجارية لتأمين الخادمات
ضا ديسكاونت ستور
أوكارديون
أورنجمونات
***
***

نشرة الأخبار
إستقبل رئيس كتلة المستقبل النيابية الشيخ سعد الدين الحريري في قريطم وزير خارجية بلجيكا...
ثمّ إستقبل رئيس كتلة المستقبل النيابية الشيخ سعد الدين الحريري في قريطم وفدا من جمعية ...
ومساءاً إستقبل رئيس كتلة المستقبل النيابية الشيخ سعد الدين الحريري في قريطم رئيس اللقاء الديمقراطي النائب وليد ...
و في مجدليون إستقبلت النائب بهية الحريري وفدا شعبيا...
في باريس إستقبلت السيدة نازك الحريري سيدة فرنسا الأولى برناديت شيراك و بحثتا...
و عشان هيك إسمو تلفزيون المستـقبـِل

***
***

فضائيات
إحتمال إنّو يضرب نيزك مركز المؤتمرات بالرياض بعد بكرا و يمحيهن كلّن فرد ضربة هو واحد بال130000000000000000000

في أمل يا جماعة، يلاّ كترو دعاءاتكم.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Left Behind

This is a follow up to Jij's View from Left.

The view from the left has to be directed to the next stage in the Lebanese political life as there is clearly no role for a bunch of weaklings in today's imminent Saudi brokered deal.

Whether we go through the national unity government charade or we skip this transitional period and directly usher in the new troika regime; this time around dominated by the Mar Mikhail duo plus a token prime minister.

I have argued before that I would be as opposed to the new lords of that castle as I am of the remaining ghosts of the outgoing ruling class. Well maybe slightly less opposed as they cannot possibly be as damaging as the previous crew. I don't see in them the miracle solution to Lebanon's ills; still they have set an example of how to accomplish change in a change repellant region. Their model should be studied closely and emulated by the left or anyone hoping to see change in our lifetime.

I come across many coffee shop leftist groups with more words in the name of the group than living members. They always complain about all political players including their natural home, the dormant LCP, and are disappointed how their holding of signs on a side of a road one afternoon failed to abolish sectarianism and stop Harirism from drowning the highest peaks of our proud mountains in rolling roaring debt. A friend of Salim El Hoss once told that he never had a chance to stand up to Rafiq El Hariri because "He took afternoon naps." Now I love my coffee breaks as much as anyone, but if you look back at the top 2 political/popular forces in Lebanon you won't find many coffee breaks since their inception.

Hezbollah has sacrificed sweat and blood non stop since the early eighties. FPM has taken a different route but with the same level of intensity and energy since the early nineties. When they ascend to power in the next month, year, or two; it will not happen accidentally due to right star alignment that the traditional opportunist Lebanese politicians pray and wait for. They created their success by laying solid ground work over a significant period of time that enabled them to seize the opportunities when they came. They have faced the same challenges and challengers (Syria, Harirism, Israel, and American Imperialism) that the left has faced, yet today they sit atop. Meanwhile the left is obsessed with past glory and the nincompoop Atallah.

To keep it brief, change is possible since a precedent has been set. A leftist awakening can be achieved with a vision, the right strategy, dedication, sacrifice, and more. It took the others a couple of tough decades to reach dominant positions; it should be slightly easier for the leftists today since the Israelis and Syrians have been tamed, not to mention the intellectual superiority that they love to claim.

Now for the strategy meet me at the coffee shop.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Triangulation

Ever since Taef, Lebanon has been divided into a Holy trinity; each side with its "own" issues and aspirations. Today, we are promised a triangular solution to please all but does it really solve anything?

The Tribunal
The tribunal has been marketed as the solution to the country’s security ills. Many people have bought the story and turned it into their cause. I will not delve into the Saatchi & Saatchi drawing boards that have successfully turned a questionable entity half a world away and which is yet to take shape into a national priority, but I will ask: does the international tribunal deserve to be the top priority for the part of Lebanese calling for it? What is in it for them? The most they can hope for is that by achieving a personal aim of the zaimship some good would trickle down to them in one way or another.

The Third
Veto power in return of not obstructing the Government’s economic “vision,” will likely be the deal. Sure the third would guarantee the official government stance would not officially sellout the accomplishments of decades of struggle, but it cannot and will not stop the national “partners” from continuing to conspire against these accomplishments openly albeit unofficially. In return, the price to pay will continue hitting the pockets of those most needy, and that have fought the most for this third, the hardest.

Election Law
The election law will guarantee that a third portion of the Lebanese will be able to select their representatives. Shortsightedness plagues this vision of what would really protect their interests. Each group of Lebanese picking their own representatives based on traditional and sectarian loyalties will only continue the trend of polarization that started pre-1975 and a collision between the factions will always be a threat. To protect current or future minorities one must eliminate the “minority” label. That can only be done by equalizing everyone. Each individual citizen must be treated as such in all rights and duties. The Kaza is the safe haven du jour but what happens when it becomes the “casa”. To break the ever shrinking imaginary borders of safe haven, a national outlook must be adopted that will force “everyone” to reach out of their walls. But that action must be pursued today, because today “everyone” is still a minority and must reach out to others. But in the future that might not be the case and if past trends continue someone might not need to reach out anymore and the any hope of the emergence of One Lebanon will evaporate.

A sectarian solution will come at the expense of the sects and the country. The solution does not address any of the people’s priorities. Security, jobs, economy, sovereignty, education, defense, hospitalization, services, corruption, etc… are issues that affect everyone equally and do not discriminate against sides in an imaginary triangle. But as most people would tell you,يحلّوها و يحلوا عنا. People are tired and need a break and they’ll settle for just about anything at this stage, and the proposed solution is just that… anything.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Quiz

1- Remember the very gay Alaa Zalzali, not that there is anything wrong with that. He had a song that included i nits lyrics the line " Pistik Paralo, Pa Paa Pa Paa". Name that song.

2- Is the Cinema Commodore Building currently being turned into a private militia barracks a la Mayfair?

3- Growing up I played "Gol". In the South they play "Fatbool". In Egypt they play "Koora". Gringos call it "Soccer". What di you play in your neck of the woods?

4- Where are thee now Remi Bandali?

5- Abou Melhem, Abou Salim, Abou Antar, Abou El Jamajem, or Abou Riad?

Friday, March 16, 2007

و الجواب

حضرة مسؤول الأمن المحترم في دارة زعيم الحي المحترم
تحيّة و يحيا زعيم الحي،
نحن العرب نوصي بالجار قبل الدار و نِعم جيرة حظينا بها في هذا الحي.
أبوابنا مفتوحة و مشروعة لكم ليلاً نهاراً،إذا رغبتم في التعارف شاركونا على فنجان قهوة أو كاسة شاي و نخبركم كل شيء عن نشاطاتنا و ماضينا و حاضرنا عن أخبار عيالنا و مشاريعنا المستقبلية، و هكذا نكسب معرفتكم أيضا.
لكن نعتذر عن تعبئة هذه الاستمارة الاستجوابيّة حفاظا لحقوقنا و حقوقكم و حريّاتنا و حريّاتكم .
إلى لقاء قريب انشالله.
جاركم المنزعج و المزعج

استمارة أمنية

إستمارة أمنية من أجل أمنكم و أمننا

إسمك:
إسم أبوك:
إسم جدّك:
إنّو شو طايفتك يعني:
شو بتاكل؟
شو بتشرب؟
بتنام؟
شو حلمت مبارح؟
كيف علاقتك بالمخابرات الأجنبية؟
سمّي آخر عشر دول تعاملت مع استخباراتن؟
شو قياس صباتك أو سكربينتك؟
هل عندك سلاح حربي؟Just Kidding أكيد عندك سلاح
ما هو حجم أسطولك البحري؟
و الجوي؟
هل بيطل بيتك ع بيت زعيم الحي او الشهيد الحي؟
هل شفتو شي يوم عم يتحمّم؟
هل تمنيت له الموت يوما؟
هل تخذت الغاب مثلي منزلا دون القصور؟

أرفق هذه الاستمارة بصورة باسبور و نسخة عن الهوية، للفائز بسحب القرعة الشهري ويك أند ببلاش في النيو مزّة أوتيل في رومية.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I dream of white March 14th


White streets of Beirut, March 14th
Snowfetus, Born march 14th - Died March 14th
... Finally a Living room in Beirut, March 14th

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

From Lebanon M14

Zajal

Zajal is a traditional form of poetry/song exclusive to what is colooquially known as sausage parties.

Zajal combines the symmetry of the eastern art of Haikus, the realness of inner city rap, the topics of HBO's Taxi Cab confessions, with the inebriation of two and a half bottle of araq as a minimum.

Men showcase their eloquence, wit, and voices all while competing on who's holding the biggest...drum.

Zajal participants always repeat a one line chorus, as demostrated often by politicians and TV talking heads on any given night.

Mijana and Ataba are 2 variants of Zajal verses.

Here's a lame attempt at an Ataba verse en anglais.

You have seen it on an Ad or
a billboard for a life which we adore
promising you a window or a door
where you'll find all the money you can grab.

Clearly, the Araq minimum was never met...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

ميجانا ال100 يوم

شـو عملـت برجــال الله يــا ابن صيــدا يا بــار
نَقَعْتُن ميــة يــوم و يـــوم بوِجّ الـبـودا بــار
ما شمّوالوسكي يوم واليوم ما بيشربوا غير أولد بار
من بــاب الجنّة لنـــار جهنّم رقص و غِنــا
...
أوف أوف أوف أوووووف
...
Gateauفؤاد عم ياكل سنيــورة فنمـورة ف
...
فـتـفـت فــات ينـام فبرد و شخّر فغطّـــو
...
يا ست نايلة ناطرين نسمع من تمّك ال"فَغَتو"
...
وباقييــن بخيمــنا لتفلّوا عن سراينا

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

From Lebanon 17

The Zalghouta

First a note to my foreign readers: Even though it rhymes with it, Zalghouta has nothing to do with that One arabic word you know.

The Zalghouta is a physical feat involving the tongue and throat, usually, of a female. No, no, I repeat this has nothing to do with that one arabic word you know.

The Zalghouta is a loud expression of the happy ending of bachelor life. I swear it has nothing to do with sex, even though ladies who can perform it tend to have higher babies per uterus averages than women who can't.

I don't think it is either a genetically inherited talent or an acquired skill, it must be another one of these unexplainable Lebanese miracle mutations like full make up breakfasts and Walid Jumblat.

Whatever the zalghouta is, enjoy it, be happy as it is a sirening omen of an open bar, unless you are stuck at a dry wedding, or much worse a sex seggregated one, in which case you only have yourself to blame for being there.

The Zalghouta, yet another akhou @#$%^&*@# tradition from Lebanon.




P.S. I've labeled all the From Lebanon posts "From Lebanon", if you'd like to go back and learn more about traditions from Lebanon.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Convictions

- They killed him

- He only cares about the presidency

- They want us to wear chadors

- He wants partition and his own kingdom

- They are foreign tools

- He wants federalism and his own state

- They don't pay their electric bill

- They stole $45 billion

- They are not even Lebanese

- If you ignore them you don't have to deal with them

- They killed the economy

- We are not like that, but they are, so you have to be like that

No Deal

Are we saved now that the Tehran Madman and the Saudi Baldie struck a deal. or does their hand shake mean that they'll simply split the cake. Puns and name calling end here, I promise. Today we are facing a Catch 22 proposition. The threat of civil war has been weighing heavily on us, whether it's an intentional and calculated weight or not, it is doing the job of weakenig our knees. We could kneel down and beg the lords of war for mercy, but do we really have anything left to lose at this stage? The question becomes the old rhetoric of half full or half empty.

I've written a few months ago that change is imminent, and that change is good in that it sets a precedent of accountability. That would be a dangerous precedent for some who had to raise the cost of change to a knee buckling weight to protect the Zaeemship or the centuries-old dynasty.

But is change worth all this trouble when in the end we are getting more of the same... Establishing a mechanism of change and accountability would only make future changes easier. However, to settle for crumbs after all we've been through would kill any hopes of change until the next Halley appearance.

I am not optimistic about an end to the crisis in the next few hours; but I am about the future of the country. Now is not the time to wane under pressure. It has been painful and it will continue to be, that is just the price of loving life in Lebanon.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

آذار الهدّار

آذار الهدّار... والسـبع استحقـاقـات الكبـــار
بلّش و نحنا بالريــاض و طهران و واشـنـطن زوّار
بكرا جاييــنا ذكرى تمــانـية... و مؤتمر الجوار
أوعا ننســى احدعش و كـل الفرافيــط الزغــار
و بعدين أربتعش الحكومة ...ومجلس النواب إن صار
و مسك الختام القمة العربية و ممثّلينا الكتــار
ياخيّي اللبناني لشو بدّك تنطر وأعصابك على نار
بالآخر شو ما صـار ما إلنا إلاّ التعتير والشّحـار

Monday, February 26, 2007

Today We Must Think a Little Harder

Life Goes On, but it must not go on dumber, less informed, mentally poorer. We were privileged to have our collective minds enriched on a daily basis by a ten minute read each morning that encapsuled decades of knowledge, a philosophical library, and a strategic eye that saw beyond all horizons. No single pen can replace these lines. We, each of us, must make up a little of this loss on our own.

Who are we and us? The commies raced to claim an old comrade. The Arab nationalists have anointed him above Abdel Nasser. Muslims, Christians, Secular, and Infidels as Ziad put it say he was their voice.

To me he was Free Lebanese Thought. Scratch that, make it Free Thought period, for free thought can not be bound by geography. A school of thought based on deep-wide-long-fat knowledge, smart-logical-surgically precise analysis, and genetically gifted vision that can not be acquired or taught.

We have a void to fill, a void that can only be filled with a collective effort. So today we, each of us, must think a little harder, read a little bit more, make that read a lot more, dig a little deeper, look a little bit further.

Today we graduated. It is now time to work.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Personal Loss

He's someone I stayed up til 2 am every night just so I can be first to read what he had to say.

Rest in Peace Joseph...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

You can't spell "Tante min el Achrafiyeh" without TNT in el Achrafiyeh

My friend in the garbage business tells me that we recycle 6% of our garbage, that includes all of our political class. That means we have a 94% margin of improvement since Zero waste is possible with today's technology. Not only is it possible, it is doable at a much lower cost than we pay Sukleen (whose owners shall remain anonymous) to basically just relocate Beirut's garbage to abandoned villages.

Speaking of garbage diposal, every couple of days someone decides to quit an old vice and dispose of his supply of TNT in the nearest dumpster. Now that's a commendable act but it is causing a bit of panic in the neighborhood. Shouldn't we encourage these repentant souls by providing them with safe ways to get rid of their hazardous material? Is TNT recyclable? I'm sure we can we turn it into biodegradable toilet paper, or wassabi, or something. We can equip recycling bins with voting booth style curtains to protect the anonymity of recyclers, that way you can't tell if they're dumping Paper, Glass, or good old TNT.

Action must be taken, we are sitting on thousands of tons, metric and nautical, of this stuff; if you doubt that go look under the layer of soil in that plant pot hanging off your balcony. We might as well put it to good use. It might be enough to wipe out the national debt, or the whole city, or something.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fill in the Blanks

الزعيم 1: رح بقّ البحصة
الزعيم 2: بقها بقى للبحصة
المواطن: أكلناها.......

الزعيم 2: أنا عندي 10 بحصات
الزعيم 1: فتاح كسارة
المواطن: أكلناها.......


للأجوبة الصحيحة إقلب الشاشة

Monday, February 19, 2007

Vanity

Only in the streets of Beirut do Cats strut their stuff and pose shamelessly for the camera lense...

... but then again it is February.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

$$$التويني:المؤامرة اسرائيلية$$$ معالي التانت ام ميشال: النظام السوري قتل الشهيد$$$ معالي التانت ام ميشال:مستمرة$$$ السيد علي الامين:حتى زوجتي تحب السيد حسن أكثر مني$$$دوري شمعون:حتى زوجة السيد علي الامين تحب السيد حسن أكثر منه$$$كارلوس اده:فاجأناكم مووويتوأوبريغادو سامبا دو جانيرو$$$كارلوس: في خيار و كانتون و فوتبول و باسكتبول$$$كارلوس:هون و هونيك و عون و عونيك$$$كارلوس: ما تحطوا خياركن هونيك عند عون حطوا خياركن فيّي$$$كارلوس: لكم خياركم و لي الكوسا$$$الياس عطالله:يا سفاحين... عاش لبنان$$$بطرس حرب:بتلبقلي الرئاسة ما هيك؟$$$حرب: جينا اليوم $$$اوغاسبيان:الحقيقة تركيا أولاً إذا بتعملني وزير$$$باسم السبع:ليلة البارحة شفت باب الجنة و كلن فقعانين ضحك$$$رفيق بهاء الدين الحريري يخاطب الشعب عبر باسم السبع$$$ باسم السبع:والله هذا الخطاب لازم يدفعولي عليه شي مليون مينيموم ولا حتى حسن صبرا ببوس طياز متلي$$$نسيب لحود: ضبوا الخيم بدنا نروح عالبودا بار$$$الصفدي ما قال شيءلم يقال من قبل$$$كلمة الرئيس الاعلى لرؤساء العلى الكتائبيين: انا اتناول الغذاء مع العلي العالي بوش فإليكم نائبا عني لا رئيس ولا عالي$$$أرزة بشري: الله قوات حكيم و بس$$$أرزة بشري: قالوا و قلناالخيل و الليل والبيداء تعرفنا$$$أرزة بشري: مقاومة مقاومة مقاومة$$$أرزة: هي و يلا لحود طلاع برة$$$أرزة: لا يحاولنّ أحدٌ$$$الزعيم الوطني أبو تيمور: يا أشرف الرجال و مع الرجال رجال $$$الزعيم:أعطنا الصواريخ و خذوا التبن والشعير$$$ الزعيم:يا وحشا يا قرد يا من انصاف الرجال$$$الزعيم: المحكمة آتية و معها حكم الاعدام و عشتم و عاش لبنان$$$السعد:ممممم آه مممم آآآه مممممممممممم$$$السعد: شكراُ$$$السعد:ممممممممممممممم شكراًآآآه$$$السعد: شكراً شكراً شكراً وشكراً$$$ السعد: للمنية و عكار و سير الضنية و كسروان والمتن و عرسال بيروت الاشرفية و بيروت الروشة و بيروت الطريق الجديدة شكراً شكراً شكراً و شكراً$$$السعد:ممممممممممم واثقون آآآآآآه المحكمة الدولية شكراً معنا$$$ موقع جمال للبروباغندا يدعو جميع القراء الى المشاركة الكثيفة$$$مزارع شومان تقدم بيضة بلدية طازجة لكل من يشارك بكثافة$$$برج الثور يتمنّى لبرج الميزان يوم حب كثيف$$$ابو ابراهيم الخضرجي يدعو محبي السلطة الى المشاركة الكثيفة $$$ الانصار يبتعد في صدارة الدوري$$$ المواطن عبدو فقد جواز سفره الرجاء ممن يجده التبرع بالدم فئة ألف باء بوبايي$$$كس إخت هل حالة$$$ للمزيد من وجع الرأس دور التلفزيون على اي محطة$$$ آل وقيل يدعون جميع أفراد العائلة الى المشاركة الكثيفة$$$ جمعية تجار الاكسترا بوروجو تدعو الجميع الى المشاركة الكثيفة$$$ أنا وأخي على ابن عمي أنا و ابن عمي عالغريب$$$ وحّدوه$$$