Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Last night I watched our downstairs neighbor hurling garbage and bottles off the balcony. And this morning at seven, about 369 drills started drilling, in chorus with an additional 4,394 hammers and the usual 2,699,998 cars, 5 local imams, 1 or 2 batata men with microphones, and no, not a patridge in a pear tree. That partride decided to end it all a long time ago, after his pear tree was uprooted by warring militias and he was diagnosed with lung cancer from all the smog and filth. I can hear my nerve endings pop and fry and fizzle, each one individually,so add to that the noise in my head.

The Daily Star: Manakeesh and Auschwitz

The Daily Star is the biggest English-language newspaper in the Middle East and is published with the International Herald Tribune. It specializes in reviewing staple foods (the manakeesh, a breakfast food, which is the Lebanese equivalent to a bagle); it has a who-was-seen-with-who celebrity column, and copies most of its "news items" from the wires. It is really only worth reading for the neo-conservative, intolerant, lapdog views espoused by the editorial page chief, Michael Young, who is-- despite his phony name--- as Lebanese as the foods his newspaper reviews. Read him for an insight into how treacherous some of the Lebanese are towards themselves, how racist the Maronite establishment is towards the Palestinians, and what a bunch of baloney "national unity" is. Young would love nothing more than US intervention to knock out Hizbollah's teeth, and restore Maronite rule.

This article in the Daily Star, entitled "Poland visit reveals depth of historic ties to Lebanon" discusses-- not so much the ties-- but the many parallels, discovered by a group of Lebanese journalists on a trip to Poland.
Apparently, Poland's Solidarity movement in the early 1980s is comparable to, no, not the work of the land-expropriating company Solidere in Beirut, and yes, I realize the names are very similar; but rather, Lebanon's own monumental grassroots labor movement, the Cedar Revolution! Saad Hariri arriving at Martyrs' Square in his armored motorcade is just like Lech Walesa climbing a fence at the Gdansk shipyards. More importantly, some Polish prince in the 1500s visited Lebanon, and liked it so much that was inspired to write a poem... about Poland. And John Paul II is referred to as one of "Poland's greatest minds". But all this nonsense is unrivaled by the cute ending to the fairytale:

They were also shown Wieliczka's 800-year-old underground Salt Mine, gas chambers and rooms filled with chopped hair and suitcases in Auschwitz, the largest Nazi-run concentration camp.
According to the guide, the Lebanese group was only the second Arab group to visit the infamous concentration camp, in which up to 1.5 million people - the vast majority of them Jews - were "liquidated."
"Arabs don't seem interested in visiting this site. The handful that came (previously) was skeptical of what they saw," the guide told The Daily Star.
At the camp's entrance, where a famous inscription reads "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Makes You Free), the second-ever Arab visitors to the site were greeted by a group of its most frequent visitors.
A brief moment of tension ensued when the Lebanese group, proudly carrying a Lebanese flag, came across an Israeli group, also carrying their national flag.
In a brief moment of palpable tension, each group, both clutching tightly to their waving flags, mumbled thinly veiled insults in their mother tongues.
Then, in a moment of proud defiance as the two groups parted, both began to sing their national anthems.

You might ask yourself, why the fuck are a bunch of Lebanese journalists waving a Lebanese flag on a visit to Auschwitz?

Monday, May 29, 2006

The production of noise is the sole civic duty of the Lebanese citizen. Everything else is regulated by warlords and religious leaders. The burden is heavily shouldered by the young, for whom noise is also a national pastime. The sound of firecrackers, squeaking tires, and shouting slogans makes them feel less left out, having missed the fun of the war years. I think the rationale is that they would be more likely to lose their virginity huddled in a dark bombshelter. In the absence of war, delirifying noise will suffice.