Friday, June 30, 2006

live @ cafe olympico, montréal.

The reflections of an anxious crowd
Germany 1(4) - 1(2) Argentina
Germany 2006 World Cup, ¼ finals

For Men and Glory!

Here's to the Men that put their hearts out today (and in every single game since the beginning of the World Cup). Here's to the Men that played, and did not spare a single drop of sweat for the glory of their Country and Football.

Here's to:
- Michael Ballack. (Mannschaft captain; hardcore creative midfielder - never tires).
- Torsten Frings. (This is his World Cup; he is winning all the important balls in midfield).

Thank you.
(from a lifelong German supporter)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Nu comme "VERT". [I spy]

It is a sublime and peculiar vibe you depict when you’re walking along the streets of Montreal. The city is bustling with silhouettes; People of all shapes, sizes, and colors are walking up or walking down, standing still or moving fast… A fantastic non-rehearsed theatrical display! The only thing you need to do in order to enjoy the free show, is to be there and to sit and watch!

“Nu Comme VERT
, explores this idea of mild voyeurism in an avant-garde cosmopolitan city like the city of Montreal. The garden is a representation of the everyday life experience you get spending a few minutes in a park, on a street, in a laneway, or by your window.

Your interactive promenade in the garden will move you through a somewhat natural setting to a more urbane one where someone is always being watched with avid green eyes, others are just glazed at with a mere glance, and guess what! Whether you admit it or not, you are always watching someone.

You will be seen!
You will glance!
You will become the voyeur!


Jardin Nu comme “VERT” is a garden I helped design for WAA as part of the International Flora Montreal 2006 exhibition. If you are in town and feel like experiencing something interesting and different, pass by the Flora site down at the Old Port of Montreal (Vieux Port) and you will be able to savor a multitude of concepts, ideas and avant-garde designs for all sorts of gardens (roof, backyards, city …).

These gardens, designed by top Canadian Landscape Architecture firms, will be available and displayed for the public until October 9th of 2006.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

I don't have the reference for this clipping. I got it by email and the sender did not mention the name of the newspaper she got it from.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mistaken Identity [at the bus stop]

I was waiting at the bus stop a few days ago. As I was nearing the little pavilion, I noticed a guy waiting there smoking a cigarette. He needed 50cents in change to complete his fare, and was wondering if I could help him out.
I did. We chatted a little in English.

I happened to be at the same stop today with a Lebanese “acquaintance”. We were sitting on a worn up wooden bench underneath a couple of maple trees. The wind was chill; the sky dark with clouds and the leaves were trembling. Along came the same I-don’t-have-enough-change-guy, walking slowly towards us.
A stormy and windy solstice evening was being announced.

- I have my change today, he shouted with a smile.
I returned the smile and said: “I am glad you do… The bus will be here in 5 minutes. It’s always a couple of minutes late!” (As I saw he was walking towards the bus schedule).
- Ok cool.

- Are you Israeli?
- Close enough actually. We’re neighbors; I am Lebanese. I answered.

It was a normal question, but if you consider the sensitivity of the subject in our part of the world, I think everybody (especially Lebanese) would agree, understand, and condone my 2-second bedazzlement before I swallowed and was able to answer. His question was direct; too direct perhaps as he did not aim too far. Touché even!
A roll of thunder was heard.

On the bus, my “friend” asks in a very casual manner: “Why did that guy think you were Israeli?”
- I don’t know. Because of my accent?
- No you must have done something or said something to make him think that.
- What? No. Why? What would I do? Maybe it is because of my nose!
He sensed that I did not care to pursue the subject. He leaned back, and thought for a second.
- Why did you answer, “close enough”? You should have told him “not at all” or “far from that”. You have to make him understand; he has to understand.
- What are you talking about? Understand what? I just thought Geography, and answered.

- What if he had asked if you were Syrian? He asks again. What would you have said?Answer honestly.
- Close enough actually. We’re neighbors; I am Lebanese.
- No you wouldn’t!

We got to his destination. He got up angrily, glanced at me pensively, nodded a very subtle nod (Pai Mei style), and left the bus.

I was left to continue my dark journey back home baffled trying to figure what just hit me.
Was it the bus?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Shanghai Surprise! *

Mustapha, a fellow blogger, added yet another interesting insight on his blog today:

Chinese Traders have somehow concluded that the best place to establish a regional trade center to promote their products is the Rachid Karami International Fair in Tripoli. Their decision is about to transform the entire Tripolitan economy”

It is said that Oscar Niemeyer is the last of the “Modernists”. And it’s truly the case in Tripoli. In the midst of a field of traditional architecture and history, modernist buildings are dispersed throughout the city. They are often sharing walls, or adjacent to one another.

Together with the old, the souks, and the history this city carries, they form and interesting and somehow “grayish” comfortable blend. Niemeyer’s Rashid Karami International fair, is the culmination of the city’s homage to a proud modernist era.

You get to understand Tripoli in the end. You understand its “pollution”. You understand its “dirtiness”, and you like it. It is… struggling, like any authentic modern Arabic city would be.

I am a native and a resident of Beirut. My visits to Tripoli were not so frequent, but I enjoyed the rare few ones. And I loved walking and taking pictures in the old souks, on the streets and on the waterfront (Al-meena).

Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, Shenzhen, and many other rising Chinese cities are not so different after all. These major cities also strive and dwell in an interesting Architectural, Sociological as well as historic blend.

After the one-child-per-family-law imposed in China, modern Chinese parents indulged their kids all the luxuries they wanted. As a result, the current young Chinese generation (women and men), is a little spoiled. They get what they want. They are getting rich exponentially, and their needs and ambitions are riding shotgun. They cater themselves any luxury their hearts desire…

Have you noticed that, again, the situation in Lebanon is pretty similar? Of course, you have to take the rich part out of the equation. Not many Lebanese are truly rich. But our current generation (i.e. the generation whose parents lived and maybe participated in the war - maybe the kids also lived the last part of the war) is also a little spoiled and is always trying to get what it wants. Their parents went through hell. Consequently those parents ended up either numb and blasé to care for the upbringing of their children, or they just … gave them everything!

Chinese-Lebanese values of family and friendship are very similar. Community life, traditions and rituals converge in so many ways.

We are very much alike; each in our own ways.

Chinese are invading the world. It is their time and their era. I think it is only natural that Lebanon (still the pearl of the Middle East in my mind) would be the next destination; the next stepping stone.

In many Chinese cities, the way-to-do “business” relies mainly on centralization (at least in major provinces and cities); so they may even have wanted Beirut at first. I also imagine that because they could not, or did not want to compete with the Saudi moneys that “engulf” Beirut, Tripoli was the only next logical destination to go to. It is still a little bit more conservative than Beirut, but Chinese are no strangers to conservatism. Although they are now manifesting everything that is new, modern, avant-garde, bold and flashy, they still know it (conservatism) well, and if case needed, they can apply it and deal with it perfectly.

Oh they will do pretty well in Tripoli I think! The question is, as Mustapha puts it, whether Tripolitanians will know how or even want to cope with this friendly invasion. I am actually glad, the city even caught up with that, and immediately acted on remedying the potential problem, with public awareness campaigns. I am impressed! I am very happy!

Good luck Tripoli! This is your chance to be propulsed into the 2000s. You are being pushed back in the race.
I hope the Tripolitarian will learn to embrace this multi-cultural change well and with ease. Economically the city will benefit tremendously (jobs, tourism, cash flow…). From an “urban” point view, there is no telling of how rich and diverse the fabric would become.

With optimism that “creative” and “honest” urban design guidelines (for the new the existing and the heritage) will be implemented, planned and well managed, the city might start to sketch itself a sexy new skyline.

The skyline of a real modern Metropolis!
(Please plant lots of trees!)

Sadly though Mustapha, gossip will remain gossip.
* Shanghai surprise the movie, came out in 1986; exactly twenty years ago.

Photo source:

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Good Sense of Humor!

Interestingly enough, my blog (among many others) are blocked in Shanghai, China. When my friends over there delivered the news:” Hey! We can’t access your blog anymore!” I was stunned. Why would the Chinese Government block my blog?

I am a new blogger. I seldom talk about politics. I first started urban-memories as a notepad to write my thoughts about "Memory," my favorite topic of research, reading, and discussion. This blog does not contain or allude to pornographic content. Why would they ban me? I was frustrated and convinced again, that in China, freedom of speech does not exist. Thank God I am Lebanese – I thought!

At least I live in a country where we still preserve this freedom. In my country we now say whatever we feel like whenever we feel like it. Even in the darker intelligence services era, we were able to pass our messages. Even subliminally! We are the most liberated, free and modern of the “Arabic” countries. They must envy us.

Oooops! Wrong again!

For a while now, I have been debating whether I should write about the June 1st Riots in Beirut. I don’t feel too comfortable touching on current politics on my blog. I’ve laid it dormant for a few days, hoping that it was going to become obsolete and disappear the next day, as many issues do in Lebanon. If I let it go for a while I might even lose the drive to write about it – I said.

However, the subject is anything but dormant and statements are still hailing daily, from many sides and parties. And if I am writing, I am just stating the obvious from a social point of view; from the point of view of a “concerned” citizen.
Hmmm, I feel apologetic already.
Anyway, here it goes.

"Bass Met Watan," a televised satire show, apparently stepped over the line for the second time. After being banned a couple of years back, it was once again facing serious threats after last week’s episode. I can see them going on a forced vacation for a while. Yet another time!

“Bass Met Watan” is a double-entendre in Arabic; it could mean both “when a country died,” and “the smiles of a country,” and quite frankly they could use them both now. When we can’t smile in a country, the country is as good as dead!

“Police did not interfere, but security officials said soldiers were deployed along some areas of the former demarcation line between Christian and Muslim neighborhoods of south Beirut to prevent the unrest from taking a sectarian tone” –

Is War Imminent in Lebanon? Haven’t we learned anything?

Now I didn't watch that week’s “Bass Met Watan” episode; the one that "insulted the symbol of the resistance and its leader" –, and eventually led to those riots. To put it quite frankly, I don't even like the show! I wouldn’t have watched it anyway. But that's irrelevant. Comedy shows air on television daily, joking and mocking political and religious leaders of different religious affiliations. We laugh and sometimes carry the joke with us to work the next day. Why is it that in a fortnight ONE PART of our society, belonging to a certain group, lost its sense of humor? How could they, without warning, decide that they are going to stop laughing with the rest of us! I thought we were all in this together? They can’t stop laughing at the same jokes now. They can’t be the ones deciding what is funny and what is not!
I thought that Humor and being able to laugh at our own tragedies and miseries, is what got us through and out of the war with half a sane brain. Otherwise we would have all turned into zombies. A good sense of humor has always been a Lebanese “thing”. It would be too bad if we lost it. There will be no telling on what we could lose next.

Laugh my friends. Laugh, because the way things stand, our country is damn funny, and everybody is laughing at us.

I hope that I won’t be asked to apologize after this post.

Photo source:


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Day of the "Beast".

Today is the sixth day, of the six month, of the sith year; 06-06-06. I am a big fan of Horror Movies, and it's really interesting that this happened in my lifetime. I am kind of intrigued...

It is actually a bit frightening. Even if you don't believe it, and even if you are not superstitious or anything like that. You can't help but, even for a little, consider in your thoughts the slight possibility that today the "beast" might be born.
Now I don't want to imply or propose anything... but do me a favor. For God's sake, whatever you do, don't call your son: Damien!

Photo source:

Sunday, June 04, 2006

caricature 3D.

I found this on today... It is the season for the Lebanese flag to take the backseat... oh yeah! it always did...

When did digital modeling become a used media in caricature drawing... I missed it...

I am not criticizing... Really I am not... It may be a good thing, but I just never noticed it before... And it made me wonder...
Actually now that I am getting to look at it more, I am starting to like it!

Are we going to be able to watch the World Cup for free? The question remains unanswered.