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Did you know?

I didn't know either. But now I do (and so do you). There is a website called "Arab Decision". I did not know there was anything Arab about Arab decisions. Apparently there is.

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/25/2007 07:28:00 PM, , links to this post



The City I Love

Well well, I have been tagged to talk about the city I love.

I don't know if small towns qualify, I assume they don't, so I will not talk (extensively) about my favourite town Shusha in Occupied Azerbaijan, with its breathtaking beauty and simplicity, its pulverized roads and empty streets, the few Ladas that are a luxury for the few inhabitants that have been able to appropriate them from the fleeing expelled Azeris, the uphill climbs that you have to labour through while the kids laugh at you as they run from one street to the other and you wonder, what the hell, do they have imaginary wings? The ghost town called Shusha, with its amazing mixture of Azerbaijani-Turkic and Persian architecture in what remains of its houses and buildings, the Persian Mosque that was spared from destruction for fear of Iranian retaliation, this place so void of... hope, people, life... So... lifeless, so saddening, so... unnatural in the absence of its original inhabitants, yet so beautiful... a town whose hope hinges on the sound of a car, signaling the arrival of foreigners who would perhaps bring help, candies to the kids, clothes, anything. What more can I say, these are the victims (and tools) of nationalism. So poor, so uneducated, so manipulated, and sooo neglected. Instead of building houses, helping people survive, the first thing their 'leaders' did was renovate the church, another tool for manipulation. Foreigners go there on a sort of clownish 'pilgrimage' to a land they call 'theirs', a land they say was 'liberated' (another word for the ethnic cleansing of its Azeri inhabitants), to encourage the misery of these people. Some of them could not even live for half a day in the houses that the war they cheered for destroyed. I saw some of the American girls, they were extremely upset, one of them was crying. Not for the miserable conditions that the war had brought about for the current inhabitants or the previous expelled ones. But because they could not find a toilet to use and they had to relieve themselves au naturelle. These people should be condemned to ten years of hard labour in one of the Azeri refugee camps. That should teach them the meaning of 'liberation'.

Got carried away for a bit there, didn't I...
Back to the city I love... I suppose it'd have to be Las Vegas. OK, OK, I am joking. What were you thinking, geez, these people have the statue of Lenin in the heart of capitalism. They must've been truly pissed off to do something like that. Ideological bankruptcy calls for desperate measures and equally desperate symbolisms.

So it is Beirut...
  1. بيروت العروبة - The Beirut of (the dead) Arabism whose inhabitants insist that Arabism is alive and kicking while chanting "Allah, Hariri, Tarik Jdide" or "Allah, Nasrallah, wl Dahiye kella" or "Aounak jeyi min Allah?" etc etc. Lest you think we are not diverse, we also are home to a sizeable population of clowns who insist Beirut is (not was) Phoenician, and that Lebanon is god's chosen country. Not only did these people prove that god exists, they also know that it is god's chosen country. Tell me, how, how? can one not love this city?
  2. بيروت "أحبّ الحياة"ا - The Beirut of "I love life". Oh yes, you didn't know? We love life. Wallah.
  3. بيروت الدراجات الناريةا - The Beirut of motorcycles. If you want to know what it feels like to want to kill someone, all you have to do is spend a few hours (if that) on the roads of Beirut, and then you will want to run over every single motorcycle-rider you see. Another great product of a great (god's chosen, don't forget) country.
  4. بيروت "وقعت بالجورة اليوم"ا - The Beirut of "My car fell in the pothole today". Not only do we love life, we also like it rough... Life, or rides, I mean.
  5. بيروت المطبّاتا - The Beirut of speedbumps. That's right, we only recently discovered speedbumps, so we are experimenting with them on every street.
  6. بيروت أضواء وإشارات المرورا - The Beirut of traffic lights and signs. "It's red, what was red again? Green is stop, red is go, right? Yalla go! No one stops anyway!" or "ya Elie, turn off those traffic lights, and call them to send a 'traffic policeman' to take care of the traffic!"
  7. ا"فلّوا من بيروتنا"ا- "Leave our Beirut". Didn't you know? Beirut belongs to some Lebanese and not others. To find out if you qualify for ownership or not, please contact Walid Eido at home (+961) 1 782782 or at his office (+961) 1 982100. But be careful, if you scare him, he will sell his blood to buy weapons. Don't come back (if you live to tell the tale) and tell me I didn't warn.
  8. بيروت العنصريةا - The Beirut of racism. "I got me a Sri Lankan maid today", "I retrieved my escaped maid today", "dirty Syrians", "dirty Palestinians", and the latest trend but definitely not a new phenomenon, "dirty Shi'ite".
  9. بيروت "راحت الكهرباء\إجت الكهرباء"ا - The Beirut of "the power went off, the power is back on". We even love life (and especially so) under candlelight.
  10. Did I say Beirutis love life? Yeah, we are unique. Really.
Um, well I have some more... may I?
  1. The falafel mixed with the (literally) breathtaking air of Beirut. You just can't not enjoy it.
  2. The cars that have passed the 'mecanique' test I don't know how. I think it's part of the I love life campaign.
  3. The 'jeeps' that are used for driving 'tests'.
  4. The non-standard-size official cards, a driver's license card being twice as big as the ID card.
  5. The $200 that I have to pay to get a Lebanese passport that Bush, Condie, et al would gladly use for toilet paper.
  6. The 'students' who come to university dressed up as if they are going to a wedding party.
  7. The 2-lane bridges that take more than 4 years to construct.
  8. The people who jump in front of your car trying to cross the street.
  9. The people who run across the highway, when the pedestrian bridge is only 2 meters away from them.
  10. Oh, we need "I love life" billboards to remind us that we love life. Yes, Beirut is so good that sometimes we forget that we love life. I mean, who wouldn't get carried away?
Beirut. The city I love (to hate). No no, I can't possibly say that. What would become of me if Walid Eido reads this post? No no... it should be: Beirut... the city I love. Do I qualify to claim ownership of Beirut, O wise man, O king of kings, O master of Beirut, Walid Eido???

So what should I do now, tag other people with the same question? Sasa? How does it go?

Edit: I tag... um.. the guys (?) over at Remarkz (any taker? Bech? something fun for a change, eh? :P ), MFL, and Mr. Propagandist. :P

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/25/2007 04:00:00 PM, , links to this post



Photo Saturday

Martian mukhabarat* landing in Beirut to plant bombs

* intelligence agency

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/24/2007 12:19:00 AM, , links to this post



Recollections

Probably not many of you will be familiar with the location in the photo! This is (was) Cine Vendôme in Mar Mkhael. The long stairs that take ages to climb will lead you up to Ashrafieh. The street pictured above leads to Electricité du Liban. I still remember the specific odors that used to come out of different parts of that long street. I even used to cross the street in some places to avoid the smells. I went back last September and the smells were not the same anymore.

~~
There is a gas station down the street where I used to live. There was a black man there. I don't know what he did there and what he was there for. I was very little, maybe 2 or 3, I still remember, sometimes my mom and I used to see him on the street while taking a stroll, and he would come over and playfully tell me, come, let me take you with me. I used to look at him horrified and he used to laugh out loud. I and my sister used to call him "the black man". He was unique. At least in that part of town. He was a loner I suppose, don't know what he did, where he was from, or what really happened to him. He used to live in the building behind the gas station, a tall building that was hit by a huge shell. He might or might not have been killed during the war. I wish I could find out who he was and what his story was. He was from Africa. Perhaps from Uganda whose poor are being swept off the streets to make way for the commonwealth yada yada. Or from some other ignored, starving country which does not seem to be blessed with Biblical references of first comings and predictions for second comings. The rich eat kaviar and the poor don't eat.

~~
The movie theatre went out of service some 8-9 years ago. In the last few years of its existence, I and a few of my friends (all boys, by the way. The girls were busy fixing themselves up bla make-up bla skirt bla shoes bla bla bla) were its only source of income. First it was 5,000 L.L ($3.something) for a Friday afternoon movie; then the price went down to 3,000 L.L ($2). It was like reserving a private movie theatre. Just the 4 of us. We used to go there every Friday afternoon, after school. They had all the 'cool' movies so it was convenient. Those were the days indeed.

~~
Then there was "the street girl". She was not homeless, but that was the nickname she had somehow 'deserved' according to locals. She was always roaming the streets, always hanging out with boys. People used to let go of their imaginations and come up with stories about her. It was fascinating, I tell you. Do your homework, do you want to end up like the street girl?

~~
I hated going to the doctor to get my immunizations. One summer day, my parents told me, we are taking your sister to get the shots, why don't you come with us? I was playing with our neighbor's daughter, so I said I didn't want to go. Yes no yes no, you will continue playing when you get back, no, yes. Why do I have to come with you? No reason. Okay. Damnit, how did they manage to fool me.

~~
There was no water in those days. We needed to fill up gallons, and we lived on the top floor of the building. The gallons were huge, and there was no elevator. A pulley was installed in the stairwell. The water-filling was a collective process. Who would've thought something as basic as water acquisition could turn into such a 'fun' activity? Two men on the destination floors, the rest downstairs. Ready? Pull!

~~
Stepping on a banana peel and slipping does not happen only in cartoons. One day on my way home from school, passing by a grocery store, I stepped on a banana peel and whooooooooooosh, I slipped. I didn't know what hit me, or how I got up. I remember my face was burning with embarrassment. I looked around to see if anyone had seen me, then ran home. As they say, blame Canada Syria.

~~
I was someone's 'lifesaver'. In grade 1. A boy had forgotten to bring his sports attire for the phys ed period that day and he needed a notice from his parents to be exempt from that day's phys ed class. Having an abusive jerk of a phys ed teacher, he was quite scared for his life. Someone came up with the idea that we should write a letter and pretend it was from his parents. Being famous for my excellent handwriting (yes, even in grade 1), I was chosen without having any say in whether I wanted to do it or not. After yes no yes no yes no, I thought what the hell, I will write it for the poor boy. I wrote the letter and quite happy with our achievement we folded it and gave it to the boy... Phys ed period. The teacher asks the boy, why aren't you dressed? He says, I have a letter from home. He gives the letter. A few seconds. All eyes are fixed on the teacher. He walks to the boy and asks him, did you write this letter? The boy starts crying, no no I did not, it was someone else. Who was it? He didn't say. He orders us to line up side by side. He says, if you don't tell me who it was you will run around this court 100 times. No one opens his/her mouth. Bad threat. He tries a second time, if you don't tell me who it was, I will find out and then I will send you all to the principal and you will be kicked out of school. Silence. He is walking in front of us one by one. In retrospect, I felt like I was in boot camp. What the hell. Then a boy broke down, he was standing next to me, he said, it was her, she wrote it! It was the worst feeling, a feeling of nakedness in front of the whole world. Exposed. Betrayed. He walked up to me, picked me up, carried me to some high platform and sat me on it. You thought you could fool me? I didn't reply. I was too shocked to say anything. I managed to steal a glance at the 'traitor' boy. He shot me a blank glance. The teacher was yelling at me bla bla bla I don't know what, and all of a sudden he slapped me twice. I felt like my jaw was no longer part of my body. My eyes watered, not because I was going to cry, but because of the force of the slap. I couldn't see in front of me. The 'poor boy' was spared any punishment. That was the whole point, wasn't it? All the teachers found out what had happened. One of the teachers who adored me came to me later in the day and wanted to talk but I refused to talk to anyone. I was too angry, embarrassed, and felt really stupid. He slapped me. And goddamnit, I didn't return the slap.

~~
In the first year of kindergarten, I hated everyone and wouldn't talk to them. In the second year, I wouldn't shut up. In the third year, I wouldn't sit down. I would get up and start wandering around in class while the teacher was explaining something. Sit down. No, I want to watch the hamsters and fish. Much more interesting than learning addition and subtraction.

~~
In the third year of kindergarten, at age 5, I learned the true difference between a 'boy' and a 'girl'. No, really. Don't laugh at me. I opened the main door of the restroom to enter the girls' room, and to my luck the door to the boys' room was open. I didn't even need to peek in, I just saw. I went home and told everyone that one of the boys had 'something'. At first I had thought it was just him. Then they told me, all the boys have it. I am surprised I did not say anything foolish in front of anyone before going home. Close call.

~~
When we moved, our new neighbours had two sons our age. In the summers we used to play football (soccer), the three of us. They used to call me to go down and play with them. Then, one day, they were playing downstairs and didn't call me. I waited and waited, and they didn't call me. The next day I went down to play, and called them to come down and play with me, they said they couldn't. Why? Our mom said she doesn't want us to play with girls. FUCK OFF. That was the last time I talked to either of them. I used to go down and play alone, first playing football 'with the wall', then basketball. Whenever I was downstairs they used to secretly watch me from the balcony. If they had played with me they would have 'turned' gay. Their mom is a genius. Somebody hurry up and nominate her for the Nobel Prize.

~~
In the days of the civil war, we used to go down to a 'shelter'. It was not really a shelter. One of the buildings just happened to have an underground storage place, and it was better than sitting like shooting ducks in a building that had sustained at least 10 direct hits. One day, the bombardments started. They were at first rather remote, so my mom hurriedly set the table for me and my sister to eat before running off to the 'shelter'. That day she had prepared mjaddra. With mjaddra she always used to make cucumber-tomato-onion-only salad. No lettuce etc. That day she had prepared 'regular' salad, not the usual salad that goes with mjaddra. I started whining, why haven't you made that other salad? I want that salad, not this one, I'm not gonna eat until you make the other one, etc. My mom got pissed off. She said, listen to me, either you eat right this minute or you go off to the shelter with an empty stomach for the whole day. Needless to say, I didn't eat. They say the donkey is notorious for its stubbornness. Not as notorious as I am. The cops I fought against know that. How can they forget it.

~~
I used to wake up every morning to the music of Sawt Lbnan (Voice of Lebanon) radio station and the famous 'ding dong' sound, after which there would be a news broadcast. There even used to be 'predictions' or 'news' about whether 'they' intended to bombard any location that day. The war against civilians was systematic. Still is.

~~
I remember, there was bread shortage for a very long time. At the time we had some ingredients at home, so we baked bread on saj. We used to moisten the bread with water, add some cheese, wrap it, and eat it.
At the gas station there used to be huge line-ups, and people fighting each other about who should fill up first. To avoid the long line-ups we used to take empty water bottles and sneak in between the cars and ask for a fill-up. A kid asking for a gas fill-up. Who could seriously refuse?

~~
The Dawra gas tanks explosion. A day I will never forget. It was in March 1989, and we were at home as we were on vacation, and we were still asleep, me and my sister. All of a sudden my cousin ran in, woke us up, said, hurry look out the window. She opened the window and there, in the sky, there was a huge red 'thing'. All of a sudden there was a huge explosion. The whole place shook. The window glasses were shattered. Even the eggs in the fridge were cracked. Such bravery. I mean, geez, they are gas tanks, they can grow arms and legs and hold a AK-47 and fight. You didn't know that?

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/22/2007 12:05:00 AM, , links to this post



Short Episodes

August 2005
A friend calls me up.
Friend: We are doing a get-together at Starbucks, wanna join us? Everyone wants to meet you, it's been such a long time.
Me: Starbucks?
Friend: Yeah, Starbucks in Zalqa.
Me: No, thanks.
Friend: Why not? You have something to do?
Me: Umm not really.
Friend: So?
Me: I do not set foot in Starbucks.
Friend: ???
Me: Long story. But to keep it short, it is the embodiment of evil. Not only does it support the crimes against the Palestinian people it also ...
Friend: ...
Me: Are you there?
Friend: So you are not coming?
Me: Not unless you change the location. And before you say it, no, I don't go to McDonald's either.
Friend: .... ok... sorry to hear it. It was just for a short while, you don't have to get anything.
Me: Akhhhh.... I told you, I don't set foot in Starbucks.
Friend: Ok. Talk to you later.
Click.
Me: Later. Umm, too late. :)

**
December 2006
A conversation with a taxi driver (who had a rather non-Beiruti accent).
Me: Marhaba, kifak? (Hello, how are you?)
Driver: 'eltili nezle `a Riyad el-Solh? (You said you are going down to Riad el-Solh square?)
Me: Eh, ya`ni a'rab shi `al seha iza btrid (Yes, the closest to the square, if you will)
Driver: Lesh nezle tkhayyme honik? (Why, you're going down to camp there?)
Me: la'... (no...).
Driver: Leki benti baddi 'ellik shaghle. Kell za`im w qa'ed bhal balad `ambyerkod wara maslahto wl sha`ab m`attar. Hal balad bi`omro ma rah ytghayyar. (Look my girl, I want to tell you something. Every za'im and leader in this country is running after their own interest and the people are poor. This country will not change in its life).
Me: ...
Driver: Shufi shufi heyda kif `ambisoo'... mtl el haywenet kl wahed ekhid siyyarto w nezel `al ter'at, mdri shu `ambya`mol. Ta'ellik mshkletna. `anna ktir hurriye. Bas heyda ma hurriye hatta, heyda fawda. (Look look how this one is driving... like animals every one has taken his car and has gone down to the roads, I don't know what he is doing. I will tell you what our problem is. We have too much freedom. But this is not even freedom, this is chaos).
Driver: Ani mosh ma` hada. W 'alil fi hek nes hal iyyem. (I am not with anyone, and rarely are there such people these days).
Driver: El hall el wahid enno yejina wahad mtl Saddam. Nehna sha`ab mabyefham illa iza hada fahhamna shi. (The only solution is that someone like Saddam would come. We are a people that does not understand unless someone made us understand something).
Me: ...

**
Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007
A conversation:
Person X: We should go out for coffee with the other folks some time.
Me: Yes we should. How about tomorrow?
X: !! What??! You are such a troublemaker.
Me: What? Why?
X: What's wrong with you, tomorrow is Feb. 14*!
Me: Ohhh, uh ... ok....

(* the anniversary of Hariri's assassination)

**
Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007
Walking down a street in "Haririland", I notice a very old man sitting on the sidewalk, in traditional Arabic dress and a white headdress. He seemed in need of help and everyone else was just passing by without paying any attention, as if he did not even exist.
He saw me looking at him curiously and said, "se`dini ya binti se`dini" (help me my girl, help me), and gestured with his walking stick. I thought he needed help to get up and walked up to him and extended my hand. At that instant, a man walked past me, muttering a deliberately audible "tsk tsk". I looked up at him; he was wearing a suit and a tie, carrying some documents. He shook his head and said to himself in a deliberately loud voice, "shu hal sha`ab wlo" (what a people... - in a condescending manner). Well, that pissed me off, not because I thought he was referring to me (he wasn't), but because he was referring in a condescending manner to that old man. I called him, "ya estez, `aib `leik, lezem testehe min halak" (o mister, shame on you, you should be ashamed of yourself). He stopped, turned around, gave me a blank look, shook his head, then turned around and continued walking, while muttering something inaudible.
The old man turned out not to be in need of physical help. He was simply a poor man disrupting people's lives trying to survive.

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/19/2007 02:23:00 PM, , links to this post



Some administrative notes

Please be patient, I am working on writing some code for showing the recent comments on the sidebar. I have also arranged all my links though I have not checked if all of them are still functional. If there is a broken link or whatever, leave a comment or drop me a line... As per popular demand I've also added categories, but that will have to undergo some changes to optimize the code (you can tell I suck at coding).

Also note that from time to time I will be experimenting with blogging in Arabic. My sincere apologies to my non-Arabic readers or those who list me on aggregators with a non-Arabic-speaking audience. I promise I will provide an English translation where possible; or, you can try using the google translate thingy (I have to warn you, it sucks). Alas, if I write in "spoken" Arabic the tool will definitely not work.

Update: Alright, the recent comments thingy is up and running. Let me know if you encounter any problems. I gotta change a few things in it still, but meh, for now it should be fine.

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/16/2007 03:56:00 PM, , links to this post



لك يا خيّي\أختي أنا ما بدّي الحقيقة

كنت عمبقرأ من قبل شوي رسالة السيد حسن نصر الله بمناسبة ذكرى اغتيال الحريري...

ولك شو هالرسالة والله كتير حبّيتها... يعني شو بدّي قول غير هيك... إذا الكل بدّن الحقيقة (ولك هلكتونا خلصونا بقا) طيّب أنا شوووو؟؟؟

يعني إذا الجميع ناقص أنا = الجميع، أنا بصير الـ"ما حدا". طيّب، عال...

وشو غير هيك؟ إذا قلتوا إنّو "ما في حدا ما بدّو الحقيقة" يعني عمبتحكوا عنّي. تمام.

وشو كمان؟

آه اي، بما انّو انا الـ"ما حدا" هيدا كمان بيعني إنّو أنا منّي وطنية وبدّي إنّو يضيع دم الشهيد الكبير... اي، لأنّو الذين استشهدوا برصاص قوى "الأمن" أكيد منّن "كبار". كبار بشو؟؟؟ أكيد مش بالملايين (من الدولارات). اوكي...

وأكتر شي حبّيت بالرسالة؟ لازم "نعاهده على إنجاز الهدف الذي كان يتطلع اليه". ممكن حدا يفسّرلي شو كان "هدف" الحريري؟ يعني كان عندو هدف كمان؟ والله ما بعرف عن جدّ. إنّو، اذا بدنا نحكي عن أهداف لازم نشوف الأفعال. بس شو بدنا بهالشغلة، شهيدنا "كبير" كرمال هيك ما في الزوم نعمل بحث طويل عريض حول الموضوع. يعني الحقيقة أهم. حقيقة شو؟ آه، أكيد مش حقيقة "شو صار بالملايين" او او او... خلص الحقيقة وبس... وأكيد ما تنسوا نحنا منحب الحياة.واوعا تنسوا الألوان هااا ... وبدنا نعيش. اي أكيد بكرامة... على الطرقات...

طيّب اسألوا الذي تشرّدوا من وراء "أهداف" الحريري. بقولوا.... "نحن فِدا الحريري" و"بالروح بالدم نفديك يا حريري" بس أحسن شي؟ "يا سعد يا عينينا سلّحنا والباقي علينا"... شو هالـ"بلد" ولو... يعني عن جدّ شبيه بالـ"ديزنيلاند..."

ويااااااااااااا ايها اليساريون والشيوعيون بعدكن عمبتحكوني عن "ثورة"؟؟؟؟ ولك انتو خرجكن تشتغلوا "عدّاد" للمظاهرات، تكتبوا تقارير - كم واحد نزل عهالمظاهرة أو هيداك...

لك يا عمّي فيقوااااااااااااااااا وخلصونا من هالقصة، كلياتكن زبالة عن جد زبالة. وعسيرة الزبالة، الذي بيشتغل بالـ"سوكلين" أشرف منكن انتوا و"حقيقتكن". هيدا إذا كنتوا مفكرين انّوا انتوا "غير" ناس عن الذين بيشتغلوا بالـ"سوكلين".. اي اي، اسمعوا منّي، ما تشغّلوا بالكن كتير. ما بتحرز. روحوا عند شيخكن سعد وبيككن وليد وحكيمكن عمّو سمير وجنرالكن عون وسيدكن نصر الله هنّي بفكّروا محلكن وانتو شووووووووو بتعملوا؟ تتبعوهن متل الغنم. اي، انتو أشرف غنم.

مودّتي،

الـ"ما حدا"

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/15/2007 09:40:00 PM, , links to this post



Downtown Beirut: A Sense of Disney

I urge you to check out the excellent article by Miriam Cooke, titled "Beirut Reborn: The Political Aesthetics of Auto-Destruction," The Yale Journal of Criticism, volume 15, number 2 (2002), 393-424.

She does a brilliant job at discussing the translocation of the war and its memory into downtown Beirut, which has become the center of Hariri's economic terrorism.

She provides a very interesting, innovative (although by no means comprehensive and often innocently (?) ignorant of the real politics and economics of the "reconstruction") analysis and critique of the translocation and transformation of the narrative of the war (or the wish to erase the memory thereof) -- through urban architecture. I will quote some bits and pieces which I have arranged thematically, but I recommend that you read the whole thing to make more sense of what she is trying to convey.

The Narrative
Stories were written to make sense of the chaos, to stand witness and thereby create conditions for the construction of a moral memory. Narrativity, Hayden White writes, is “the impulse to moralize reality, that is, to identify it with the social system that is the source of any morality that we can imagine.” That is why war stories are told and also why their authority has been so policed. Some, like male combatants, will be authorized, others, like female civilians, will not.
"Mobilized Amnesia"
After 1990, the fiction of morality was even harder to sustain. A tension arose between the need to forget this war, this bad patch in Lebanese history, and the need to remember in order not to repeat. Between forgetting and remembering comes a moment of crisis in representation. Such moments, Donna Haraway writes, can be both numbing and empowering because when “historical narratives are in crisis . . . something powerful—and dangerous—is happening. Figuration is about resetting the stage for possible pasts and futures.” The aftermath of the Lebanese war, stretching from 1990 until today, has produced just such a powerful and dangerous discursive moment that will dictate how the stage can be reset for possible pasts and futures.
Political-Economic Power: A Defensive Shield
The survival of this financial artery through the Burj “front,” both in fact and in memory ... complicates the telling of a moral story. It suggests that even in a place that was represented as the epicenter of lethal chaos there was control, and further, that those who made sure their buildings were spared might have other forms of power. These are the details that some want to forget.
Engineering Forgetfulness
First of all the extent of the war must be reduced and contained, even as the official war memorial is placed elsewhere. If the Downtown were to be remembered as the place of the war—its front—it would compel attention to that particular place, and it alone, as the site of immorality. With time and in the absence of a counter-narrative, this translocation of the war may succeed despite the fact that it was generally known that the Downtown was merely a stage on which confessional enmities were spectacularized while the real fighting happened elsewhere.
Silencing Collective Memories
If all the anarchy can be identified with this one location, it can be made to bear all the history.

The key then is to shape that history, transform it so that it will be useful and not continue to harbor unpredictable collective memories.
OGER & Solidere
The first level of destruction after the outbreak of violence was demolition work. Saree Makdisi writes that it is now known that between 1983 and 1992 there were cycles of demolitions in the Downtown, many of them unnecessary. The first demolitions were conducted in 1983 by Rafik Hariri’s engineering company, OGER. The pretext was to clean up the mess to enable reconstruction. The process “involved the destruction of some of the district’s most significant surviving buildings and structures . . . in total disregard for the then-existing (1977) plan for reconstruction, which had specifically called for the rehabilitation of those areas of the city center.” In 1984 fighting flared up again and destruction continued by other means.Two years later, a temporary calm allowed OGER to resume the demolition work they had started in 1983. In 1992, the year Hariri was first elected Prime Minister, the government called for further demolitions.
"A Sense of Disney"
The visitor to the new Downtown is struck first of all by a sense of Disney, or Epcot. SOLIDERE has created generic Arab Mediterranean facades. [The Master Plan] describes the Saifi and Jmaizi districts, the brand new pastel housing blocks, as “restored Levantine vernacular . . . carefully integrated.” [It] calls Saifi an “urban village” and although construction is clearly new, the Plan vaunts the “large number of existing buildings that have been retained.” The buildings in this formerly working class area resemble their antecedents. But not quite. And it is this “not quite” that is so important because it serves to cloud the memory. The slick lines and surfaces of housing blocks targeting the wealthy middle classes cannot harbor the unpredictable collective memories that lurked in the thick green of the weedchoked Downtown ruins.
Profit Without Guilt
SOLIDERE promised a return, a reversion to a pre-war past ... The promised return capitalizes on nostalgia for communal harmony and desire for profit without guilt or memory, in the hope that the repressed will not return.
"A Land Without a People for a People Without a Land"
SOLIDERE, too, is using the instrumentalities of the civil war to displace it from the country and scattered locations of its capital to the site of the Downtown and then elsewhere. It is erasing its traces by drowning them. SOLIDERE has bulldozed the debris into the sea, and is using the ruins to build a new foundation that no one can claim because the sea does not belong to anyone. According to Edward Said, the new colonizer claims, names, and inhabits the land said to be empty. The occupied land can then appear to be productive of culture. The new Downtown has been made to absorb the history of the war and in the process it has emptied it of meaning.
Resisting the Memory of the Forgotten
SOLIDERE’s inflated claims for a glorious history for the Downtown glosses over the war that is finished, and prepares a vision for a brilliant global future that will owe its regeneration to SOLIDERE ... It revives the regional past (Phoenician and Greek) to erase the local past (the war) and to launch this new Beirut into a global future. The war is over. A monument to a conventional (hence, moral) war has been built and installed somewhere in the mountains. The traces will soon be gone. It will no longer matter who was responsible for the war nor why it was fought.

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/15/2007 06:56:00 PM, , links to this post



Balloons

I wonder, how long will it take for these "promotional" (oh yes, they are promotional) balloons to arrive in Israel? Perhaps Fedexing would be faster than making a conspiratorial deal with the winds? Or maybe IDF has not yet learned from its mistakes and readied itself for Round 2, so we will have to give them some time and stick with the winds?

I think no "sovereign state" (Lebanon doesn't count) would accept that its citizens would freak out in such a manner from enemy balloons, and so it is to count as provocation.

Yalla, folks, place your bets. It's almost time for Round 2.

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/14/2007 05:17:00 PM, , links to this post



Link to me

You can now link to me with any of the following graphics:





Some information about the pictures (from left to right):
1. Nazareth sheep market
2. Jaffa, 1933
3. Jbeil (Byblos), 2003
4. Antelias, 2003
5. Jbeil, 2003
6. Mar Mkhael, Beirut, 2003

Let me know if you need any assistance with the linking.

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/14/2007 12:49:00 PM, , links to this post



Feb 13 ODEO

Now that I can finally embed objects in my blog, I have decided to share from time to time some bits and pieces of the music I listen to.

For today, I have picked a 'oud composition performed by the Cairo Orchestra. It is titled ملك العود(فريد الأطرش)ا/King of the 'Oud(Farid al-Atrash), and is available on the Tribute to the Arabian Masters/الموسيقى العربية من التراث (note: not a translation) album.


powered by ODEO

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/13/2007 03:07:00 PM, , links to this post



Disgusting

I cannot believe it. There was a twin bus bombing today in Ain el-Alaq near Bikfaya (quite close to where I live at the moment) and so far 3 have been confirmed dead, and 19 injured.

What I cannot believe is not that there was a bombing -- we all knew it was coming, our very own Nostradamus, Samir Geagea, "predicted" it. What I cannot believe is how some people find it in themselves to translate such a horrible act into political currency.

A while ago, Marwan Hmadé (Jumblatt's left hand -- or is it right hand?) was on Al-Arabiya, and he said that a few things are very clear from today's act. The first, is the timing: a day before the 2nd anniversary of Hariri's assassination. The second, is the location: the bombing took place in Murr's village (Elias el-Murr is the minister of defence) following the confiscation of the truck loaded with weapons (rockets?) and Murr's refusal to return the confiscated material to HezbAllah. He also pointed out that those who are behind this were behind all the previous assassinations.

In other words, my dear readers, Marwan Hmadé accused HezbAllah of being not only behind this bombing, but also behind the assassination of Hariri and all the others after him.

Now, it seems people are showing their true colours even more clearly. So, HezbAllah is behind these bombings; if it were, how come Marwan Hmadé did not object to coming to power with HezbAllah's votes? Or is this some new revelation that he innocently was unaware of at the time (perhaps they should contact poor old Brammertz who is still digging up golden teeth from the assassination site??)? Furthermore, if he believes his own argument, then isn't he saying that he would understand IF HezbAllah objected to the international tribunal? -- yes, IF, because H.A idiotically (yes, idiotically) does not object to the international tribunal.

It seems clear that the objective of the tribunal has shifted from hammering Syria (since Syria has managed quite well with the investigation actually) to hammering HezbAllah. And yet, the idiots in HezbAllah continue to kiss these people's asses. It is amazing, is it not? That a party that claims to be "resistance" and used to claim to be "revolutionary" is now kissing these people's asses, afraid to even accuse Hariri of stealing money; or the ISF of killing those 2 kids in Raml el-'Ali. Sheikh Subhi Tufayli did have a point when he objected to the party running in elections in 1992 -- although mind you, Tufayli himself is a wacko and a hypocrite. Well, in 1992 HezbAllah was a tad bit better than it is now, politically speaking. At least it objected to Hariri's economic terrorism.

So then Michel el-Murr (probably the most corrupt man in Lebanon) made a statement, saying that the bombing was not directed against either the opposition or the "March 14", that the sole targets were the Lebanese people. Oh, I see we are back to reviving (was it even dead? It seems to be a never-ending, ongoing obsession) the age-old myth that it is always the "foreigners" who are behind Lebanon's problems (note that this does not mean that external elements could not be responsible for this or the previous bombings; the criticism is directed at those who insist that the Lebanese would never kill each other -- during the 15-year-long civil war it was the Martians killing the Lebanese and making it look like they were killing each other). Fascinating, is it not? (Although mind you, it is even more fascinating to see Bush accuse Iran of being behind its woes in Iraq -- I would not be surprised if Bush accuses Iran of arranging the shooting in Utah).

Speaking of the investigation and tribunal, why not investigate the systematic murder of 150,000 people (that includes Palestinians, in case some people forgot the Palestinians were people) in 15 years? Maybe that will settle once and for all the Martians vs. Lebanese issue. Oh I see, the ones calling for the international tribunal for the Hariri assassination were the same ones who carried out those massacres and killings. Oh wait, sorry, I take that back. It was the Martians.

Oh, yes, tomorrow is February 14. Can't wait to see the embodiment of civilization go down to the streets. Syrian agents, infiltrators, beware, for Geagea will take matters into his own hands.

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/13/2007 11:40:00 AM, , links to this post



About

First off, welcome to my new blog.

The move from my old blog has not been finalized yet, but will be very, very soon. I shall call it "Operation True Promise."

This blog is full of sarcasm, anger, and criticism.

This blogger is a pessimist - and a very angry one at that.

This very, very angry blogger does not believe in borders or submission to authority - any authority.

And be warned, this blogger always has to have the last word.

Now, a few more things about me that you should know -- the rest is none of your business really:

Who am I? I am an anarchist. Full stop.

Where do I live? I live in a "state" called Lebanon, where people sit for driver's license tests in French mandate-era jeeps -- I kid you not.

What do I do? I am a graduate student; I also read, read, and read. And of course, write.

What are my interests? Anarchism; Mikhail Bakunin, Marxism, activism, international relations, politics (well, duh), Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Middle East, photojournalism, photography, Islam, Judaism.

What are my favourite books? Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon by Robert Fisk; Classics of Moral and Political Philosophy by Cahn; Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology, ed. Goodin and Pettit; Utopia by Sir Thomas More; We by Evgeny Zamyatin; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick; The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians by Noam Chomsky; Hamas: Political Thought and Practice by Khaled Hroub.

Which TV stations do I watch? Al-Manar (sue me); NewTV; BBC (note: not during the summer war; I was so heart-broken when I saw the shattered glasses and windows in northern Israel that I could no longer watch the terrorism that is inflicted upon that peaceful nation that boasts of the most moral army in the world). I absolutely do not watch Future TV. Don't give me the "you should watch everything to get an idea what they are talking about" crap. I have removed the channel from my TV programming.

Which newspapers do I read? Ha'aretz (Israel); Al-Akhbar (Lebanon); Assafir (Lebanon) on a daily basis; and a few others from time to time. Oh, and Annahar sucks. And I'm not even going to talk about the Daily Star.

What is this blog about? Well, primarily ranting about the (idiotic) state of affairs in this region (i.e. "Middle East" -- what a Eurocentric term...), as well as analyzing it -- not that the idiocy warrants analysis...

What is the significance of the title? After having been stuck with an uninspiring title "Blogging the Middle East" for a year, I thought I would try something more inspiring ... and sarcastic. Well, basically the title is supposed to go along with the header image. Together, I think they make a very obvious point. What do you think?? Am I good or what??!

May you contribute? No, absolutely not. This is a personal blog and an individual initiative. I wouldn't want to dilute the anger, would I.

Wanna drop me a line? My email address is anarchorev aaaaaat riseup dooooooot net

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 2/12/2007 05:26:00 PM, , links to this post