Celebrate your love for Aishti* and unbridled capitalism at Biel on January 25th. (Thank you Rasha and Lina.)
*an overpriced clothing store.
"I love life" mission statement reads, "We believe that Lebanon stood up to all angst because it has always embraced the Culture of Life." Really? Always?
"We understand the Culture of Life, as opposed to the Culture of Death, as a deep, well-developed sense capable of discerning true values and interpreting authentic needs in our communities and society."
Well that all sounds fine and dandy, indicative of the blossoming "maturity" of Lebanon's political culture. The former bloodletters and Syrian stooges are desperately prying themselves free from the "forces of darkness" (to quote that madhatter Jumblatt). Jumblatt now accuses Iran of a "Zionist"-like plot to buy up real estate under "false names" in his neck of Mount Lebanon. What a paranoid wreck. Things must not be looking good for Walid Beik.
The "culture of death" of course refers to the Shia who all want to martyr their children for Imam Hussein and plunge this country into perpetual war. How can you say you're either with us or you worship death? Hey poor people, we love life and unbridled capitalism. Get with the program!
The tent arrangments in downtown now resemble a semi-permanent slum city. Tarps have been hitched to the walls of nearby ruins and construction sites. And some tents are even equipped with satellite dishes. There area is almost deserted during the day, perhaps due to the recent cold spell. Many of the steadfast revellers lost their homes during the war and the government isn't doing anything for them. Paris III won't do anything for them. A heated tent isn't worse than crashing with the neighbors or sharing an overcrowded apartment.
I watched a film entitled "Notes on War" by Maya Mikdashi last night. The filmmaker(s) conducted interviews with displaced people in schools and shelters during the summer war. It was a sobering reminder of those "invisible people" who were most effected by this war, how utterly helpless they were, ignored and abandoned by the government. Many of them railed against the Arab states whose complicity in the campaign to "eliminate" Hezbollah wasn't lost on them. Some of the interviews reminded me of the squandered"non-sectarian" potential of present in every class and sector of Lebanese society. "Squandered" because these people are constantly pushed around, forced to seek help from their own, categorized and marginalized by sect.
An older lady who suffered a severe eye infection during the war was interviewed. She recounted visiting Nayla Moawad's house, to ask the Minister for help. The guard at the door asked if she was "Sunni" or "Shia". When she told him she was nothing, he told her to go see Nabih Berri. "My husband and children are Sunni! I don't want Nabih Berri. I don't want Hassan Nasrallah. I want someone to treat my eye," she complained. Eventually she traveled to Syria to seek medical treatment and returned to the shelter in Lebanon. She spoke about how dissappointed she was with the inept Siniora.
Yesterday evening at the height of rush hour I spent a good 45 minutes stuck in a traffic jam on Fouad Chehab bridge, just above downtown. The army had blocked off all the surrounding streets bringing the entire area to a standstill. And so people turned off their engines and got out of their cars to see what all the fuss was about. Finally, the Turkish Prime Minister's motorcade whizzed by at a million miles an hour. This enraged the hapless drivers who furiously honked and yelled, as if to say, "Spare us your hollow diplomacy, asshole! You're wasting our time!"
It reminded me why I love this city and brought to mind stories about the late Hariri's obnoxious motorcade blocking cellphone reception and causing traffic jams everywhere he went. When I first arrived in Beirut, someone told me that the widespread outrage with Hariri's security measures was enough to get anyone killed.