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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Surfing

I've been out of it... Blogging that is, among other things.

Work surrounded me, trapped me in and overwhelmed me by its utter persistence and futility. I was fed up with the whole work ethic crap. We were naturally built to have fun, you know, like eat, sleep, make love then eat and sleep some more. Some bastards came along the way, maniacally obsessed with control and psychotically enticed by the prospect of turning everybody's life around them into a miserable and grim existence and... and they managed to fuck it up for the rest of us. Feasting till we drop on our backs was deemed inappropriate behavior. Climbing trees to find a solid branch for an early afternoon nap became a waste of time. Spotting a sonsie female while drinking from a spring and jumping her turned into "a thou-shalt-not". Chains were conceived and forged, taboo, religion, labor, military, slavery and ultimately capitalism took over, brutalized our ingrained indulgence and sodomized our innate wantonness. With the rise of civilization came the demise of man. And woman of course.

So I decided to take a vacation.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Media

My exposure to Print Journalism has been confined to my private bathroom. In the 1970's and 1980's the market was evenly split between Lebanese and Egyptian (Arabic) magazines. Whether the subject matter was political, social or celebrity gossip no one did it better than the venerated publishing houses of Beirut. Until one day, petro-money was channeled into something else besides soliciting the coveted services of prostitutes. The Lebanese print media degenerated into sectarian partiality, lost their credibility and died of absurdity while the Egyptians continue to publish verbose magazines that look and feel as if they've been printed on toilet paper.Khaliji tycoons dumped their cash in Dubai and flooded the Arabic speaking world with glossy, colorful and extremely well produced gibberish and, along with the onslaught of hundreds of television satellite channels, became the trend setters of the Middle East, North Africa and, alas, the Levant.

Like their audiovisual counterparts, Khaliji magazines walk a tight rope. The vast majority of them, on the surface, targets women. However, they are also "watched" by men. They seek to convey an image of self-righteousness and abashed modernity to their female readership while simultaneously providing mild masturbatory material for the libidinous males. It's in Al-Sada magazine that my bodily constipation was cured with a dose of a diarrheal critique of a TV show called "Hadith Al-Balad" hosted by Mona Abu Hamze. First I need to point out an obvious fact of life. Mona is one of the most gorgeous creatures to ever walk the face of the earth. I've only seen glimpses of her show while jumping sports channels. The woman is arrestingly beautiful. My finger stops clicking the remote control button when I see her. I have no idea what her entertainment program is about as I'm really not into talk shows. It takes will and determination to escape her spell and return to the saga of the 22 men fighting over a ball.


The critic wrote and I quote: "Mona's latest blunder toward her "Arab" audience, she who is being watched in every single home of our "Arab" society including the conservative ones, was a public invitation to her Italian guest Savina to drink Arak in some Lebanese town. The worst is yet to come. Her invitation was echoed by the Lebanese Minister of Culture who was her other guest. Within seconds the conversation turned from art to wine making, which the minister confirmed that he is very good at."

How hard is it to understand that Arak, among other wonderful delights of life is part of our cultural heritage in the Levant. Lebanon, in its splendor and glory cannot be better appreciated than with a dainty table of Mezza and a dewy Kass of Arak. So it is in our dazzling Syrian coast, where a mouthful of Baladi Burghul topped with a piece of country chicken melts in the mouth and mingles with the homemade moonshine made of golden grapes and aniseed. Once they leave their scorched desert, the bastards drink Scotch from the red pumps of whores yet they deem it inappropriate for Mona's sweet lips to sip the lucky Arak and to make it more divine for the rest of us.


From the thirsty sands of the Persian Gulf to a conference hall in CNN headquarters in Atlanta where the decision to fire Octavia Nasr, Senior Editor of Middle East Affairs, was reached. Octavia tweeted: "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot.." CNN, being a mere toy in the hands of AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, succumbed to a phone call. In the USA one can get away with almost anything politically as long as he doesn't piss off the pro-Israeli lobby. But who is this Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah and why has the British Ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy's blog posting about his death been deleted by the British Foreign Service? I'll answer the easy second part first, Israel was angered and when Israel is angry, as it often is, the UK government wets its pants. Ms. Guy wrote: “The world needs more men like him willing to reach out across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world and daring to confront old constraints. May he rest in peace.”


Two prominent Western women, a world-renowned journalist lost her job and a diplomat in the service of her Majesty the Queen was shut up because they wrote the truth about one of the most tolerant, open-minded and intellectual clerics in the world. Claiming that the Sayyed was not a most admirable human being because he considered Israel as his mortal enemy is as bigoted as insisting that Einstein could not be a genius because he was a Jew. In a time when most religious figures are ignorant idiots, child molesters and hate mongrels, Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah was an enlightening man, a champion of women's rights and a fierce defender of his country against Israeli aggression and occupation. I wonder what scares the "free" democratic western governments more, a tolerant and moderate Islam that appeals to the mind and conscience or hordes of shapeless women in Burkas? Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah was the better face of Islam and this is exactly what Israel cannot allow the rest of the world to see.


I read with fascination and disgust the Western hate literature against Islam. I'm also puzzled and offended by the Islamists' literal interpretation of the Quran and the way they've degraded it by insisting that it is a rigid book, immune to discussion and human questioning. I live in an age where true temperance is not tolerated because the pervasiveness of moderation could shake the foundations of the remaining apartheid countries in the world after the demise of racist South Africa.  The Saudis pump oil and money to remain while the Israelis threaten to sneak in a Monica Lewinski anywhere, anytime and bring anyone down to their knees.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Welcome 3

I'd only known this beautiful woman a short time, but the pain I'd seen in her eyes affected me so strongly. She had tried to conceal it from me, but it was impossible for her to hide any of her feelings. She wore happiness as perfectly, as regally, as a queen wore her crown and when that happiness disappeared, if only for a moment, it was plainly visible. The melancholy that replaced it was so out of place in her. Luckily it seemed that my appearance dissolved some of the sadness and my only desire now was to keep it that way.

"I've been waiting too." I smiled, "I thought my work day would never end."

"There are times, aren't there, when one needs time to stand still and yet other times when we wish it would rush on? Today I have been torn between the two." When she looked at me, her dark eyes reflected the complexity of the emotions she was experiencing when I had entered the store."But come, let me make some coffee and we'll sit and talk in comfort."

I had a sudden urge to take her into my arms as if that would protect her from whatever she feared."Fatina," I nearly pleaded, "Don't go to any trouble. Sit with me now and talk."

"Bassem, trouble is paying the taxes or scrubbing the kitchen floor. Making coffee for a nice gentleman is no trouble at all." This time her luminous smile returned and all at once I felt my entire body relax again. "Please, as you had wished to earlier, have a look around the store. Once the coffee is ready, we'll talk."

I looked at her, feeling uncertain about leaving her but she nodded encouragingly. A great desire to please her, mixed with my curiosity about the place, brought me to the bookshelves in the back.The entire back wall of the store, from floor to ceiling, was filled with books. I squinted to see what sort of subject matter the books at the top held but the small print of the titles eluded me. I passed my fingers along the spines of those at my height. Some of the books were very, very old. Many were leather-bound. I took one from the shelf and handled it carefully. The leather was embossed with gold script and inside the delicate and time-worn pages made a delightful, crisp sound as I turned them. The scent of ink and old paper filled my airways leaving me with a giddy feeling. It was a collection of ancient poetry, and was, by far, the most beautiful copy of the Mu'allaqat I had ever seen. The words were written in superb calligraphy and nearly leaped off of the page. It was a true work of art in many forms of the word.

Fascinated, I sat down in one of the chairs and began reading with a certain crazed lust for such rare beauty. I hadn't read the poems since highschool and back then they held little interest for me. But in this format where such attention to detail had been applied page after page, I couldn't help but be drawn into them.

"Ah, the Mu'allaqat." Fatina's smooth voice startled me. "That is one of several prized possessions of my father's collection. This particular copy is nearly 500 years old."

I gasped and suddenly felt sheepish. "Oh! I shouldn't have my fingers all over the pages then!"

"Bassem." She handed me my coffee and sat in the chair next to me. "If the book were always on the shelf, deemed too delicate to read, what would be the purpose of having it? I was thrilled to see you enjoying what I have also found immeasurably beautiful. Your appreciation of the collection is rare among those who have seen it."

"Oh. Well, I really haven't any knowledge about rare books or great works of literature."

"But you appreciate it and that is the first step to true knowledge. Now you will read the poems again, which I'll bet you haven't since highschool. With some age and wisdom under your belt, you'll have a better understanding of them. This will lead to deeper appreciation and knowledge."

I leaned toward her, captivated by her sincerity. Her eyes danced with conviction and excitement. "Do you really think I'm that wise?" I smiled mischievously.

"Well, you're here aren't you?" She smiled back with equal playfulness.

"Indeed I am. Pure brilliance on my part." I was suddenly lost in her eyes and unable to look away. Everything else around us seemed very remote. I reached my hand to her face and held it, stroking her cheek with my thumb. Her skin was so soft I could have lingered there forever. My thumb moved slowly across her lips. They were fleshy and velvet - so inviting.

"Bassem..." She started.

I pulled my hand away suddenly afraid that my actions were inappropriate. "I'm sorry..."

"Bassem..." She took my hand in hers.

I was flustered now. "It was wrong of me..."

"Bassem, just kiss me." She blurted, immediately putting a stop to my babbling.

I moved in so close, I could feel her breath on my skin. "Yes?"

"Yes." She breathed.

When our lips met, time was finally on our side.

By Mariyah