Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Man, the half man, and the Two Dozen Man

Security breaches at Beirut International Airport will not stop the influx of regional heads of royal courts. Latest reports say that they will be treated to lunch at some place in Baabda known for its hospitality towards money and power. However, the quality of the lunch experience can not be corroborated as the chef there is not too fond of critique.

That's not all, if rumors are true tomorrow's show is nothing but the under-card before the heavyweights take the ring.

Now I understand that men always have the urge to mark their territory and I'm sure there is some scientific explanation for that. But I wish they did it like dogs do, because then all we'd have to deal with is just a little stench of pee. Instead what we get is ... well... Lebanon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

كانت حكاية

In a creative process, the creator often starts with a rough idea. That idea sounds good so it's put through the development process that may result in creative work, or as in most cases it ends up being junk. In this country, junk does not take the usual junk route but is rather piled on top of other junk in a very public display of, well, junk.

Back to the creative process; one of the stages in the early life of an idea is testing it out loud. The creator often needs to say the idea out loud, let it bounce off a wall and see how it sounds. Some ideas only sound great in your head and those should be kept there. Now a lifeless wall has good idea bouncing qualities, but it doesn't hurt if the wall happens to have a pulse.

Bouncing the ideas of a genius creator is a very enriching experience. You can learn a lot just listening in on a person like, let's say, Assi Al Rahbani at work. The problem starts when you believe that the ideas bouncing off of you are actually yours.

The rest is history, or in this case, attempts at rewriting history.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Nurturing Environment

Hassan Nasrallah made a prime time TV appearance last night in what was dubbed "The Press Conference 22-7-2010".

In order to rationalize their timid response (so far), Al Mustaqbal headlined that "Nasrallah toned down his speech." In the article they also insinuate that Nasrallah is jealous that Hariri and Damascus are all lovey dovey again. Back to The News Conference though, since I don't report to the same bosses of Al Mustaqbal's editorial team I can say that this was one of Nasrallah's most threating messages when it comes to internal politics. The "tone" was higher than December 1st, 2006 but not quite May 7th, 2008.

Here we need to remember that after both of these threats "National Unity" prevailed, so those hoping for major changes should not get their hopes up. I do want to stop at one point that Nasrallah was asked about. When talking about Israeli agents he mentioned a "nurturing environment" that encourages that sort of behavior.

The "nurturing environment" that encourages people to sell, well just about anything, for a wad of cash is not a security issue that threatens the balance of powers in the resistance fight against occupation. It is a deeply rooted economic and cultural phenomenon that started plaguing the region way before 2005. Even though Rafiq Hariri played a major role in mainstreaming this nouveau riche petrolaire culture, the roots of this irresponsible opportunist dependent passive behavior go back way before the springing 90's.

So yes there is a "nurturing environment" in Lebanon that encourages treason. It also encourages jealousy, hypocrisy, egotism, laziness, ignorance, division, racism and intolerance in all its forms.

In this environment, everyone is to blame.

Tourist season (Pre-Israeli Apartheid)

(Hat tip Hilal)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

So basically, Israel has been listening in on every phone call in Lebanon for the past 15 years and still had no clue what to hit during the 2006 war. Really though, who would want to listen in on Lebanese phone calls? The Israelis walked straight into a trap there. It is scientifically proven that listening in on a Lebanese phone conversations causes ear canal damage, nausea, and suicidal tendencies which tend to lead to death. Exposure to a 60 morning conversation between two Lebanese jagals sharing hair styling tips can cause more damage to the Merkava shields than a trip up and down Wadi Al Hujair.

Then there are the accused spies.

Have you ever interviewed Lebanese candidates for a job?

Can you imagine all the bullshit they fed the Mossad recruiter during their first encounter at that cafe in Prague?

"Can I tap into the network? Come on man, it's not brain surgery. And even if it is, if you look closely on my CV you will see that I've actually performed a few of those when I was 15... page 7 right between my second moonwalk and my dunk on Shaquille O'Neal."

"Hassan Nasrallah? Have I eavesdropped on him? Just yesterday I listened in on a phone call from his wife. She was telling him not to forget to pick up the groceries. He's staying in a village near Baalbeck."

... and two tables down you could hear:

"An Iron dome? Sure I can build you one, pay now and you'll have it up and running by the end of the year."

Monkey see, Monkey do

Gorillaz performed at a sold out concert at Byblos Festival last night. One might question why rock stars would forgo many of the rock star perks by hiding behind animated characters, but all in all I would say they're faring well.

Gorillaz were also one of many artists to cancel shows in apartheid Israel. They did it in the wake of the flotilla massacre committed by the Israeli military. While that Israeli crime got plenty of deserved attention, what has gone forgotten is that the flotilla was carrying aid supplies and headed to still besieged Gaza.

Israeli killings did not stop on the aid flotilla, neither have their raids.

On moral grounds, a complete boycott of Apartheid Israel has a strong case.

On the "cool thing to do" front however, a comprehensive boycott movement has yet to find solid grounds. Even in places where Israeli aggression has continually wreaked terror and claimed lives, you find some self proclaimed activists having a hard time skipping on a 20 ounce mug of ripoffino in order to send a Boycott Apartheid message.

I use boycotting a coffee shop as an example since it is one of the easiest things to do in Beirut. Boycott one coffee shop and still have about 7000 other places where you can overpay for coffee. Heck I boycott cafes because I don't like the hand rest on one of their chairs and I never run out of a caffeine fix.

How do you turn a moral cause into the cool thing to do?

Maybe if more Gorillaz do it, the monkeys will follow.

Monday, July 19, 2010

If you look closely...

There used to be a dumpster on this street corner... It might be under the pile, but I'm positive it's no longer there.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Another attempt to get it up

Now is a good time to resume posting in this blog. All indications are that something major is going to happen soon in the region and I don't want to jump back in the game without warming up first. As a matter of fact, at my age I'll be risking tearing or dislocating something if don't gradually ease back into action. Heck, I'm already out of breath since this is already twice or thrice as long as the longest tweet I've ever had.

There are many major events taking place that will shape the region for the coming years: Nuclear technology in a country that still stones people to death, fake anger and empty threats by a country whose citizens were murdered by Israel, the death of a tyrant and Israel's strongest Arab friend, and the opening of a Louis Vuitton shop in a mall in Beirut.

Saad Hariri actually made a brief trip to Beirut for that last event. By the way, I know a lot of people still can't believe it, but Saad Hariri is the Prime Minister of a good chunk of Beirut.

Of course, the opening of this accessories shop fades in comparison to the opening last month of the newest Karkhaneh in the famous Zaytouneh district, where the whole roster of Lebanese dignitaries lined up to welcome the biggest murdoch of Arabia.

Zaytouneh historians reminisce that in its prime the highest VVIP rate in the district was 15LL. Even if you adjust that for inflation and the balloon exchange rate, these 15LL that used to get you the works in the early seventies aren't enough to tip the Valet today at what should more aptly be called the One Season.