Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Which Came First? ____[002-shorts]

- Which came first? The plane, or the parachute?
- The plane.
- How come?

- Because Man is reckless!

- I see…

Virtual Talk. ____[001-shorts]

- How is Pauline doing?
- She’s doing well. I see her every now and then on msn.
- When was the last time you chatted with her?
- We never talk.
- What do you mean?
- I just see her pop-up from time to time. So I know she’s fine.
- Oh ok! Cool! Well tell her I said hello next time you see her.
- I will.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Letter from Lebanon--#42 The Aftermath [part I]

Regular reader and visitors, all know Rosie by now. For those who don't, Rosie is an American woman, married and living in Lebanon. During the July War, she was writing and dispatching letter, by email, and through my blog here, telling the real story of the war, and what was really happening.
Rosie is back in Lebanon now, and again trying to help the country that she became to love dearly. Here's another one of her amazing and powerful letters.
October 26, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,

I have been in Lebanon just over a month, although it feels as if it’s been a year. My head is about above water now, but am still treading. I also waited before writing another letter so that I would have the chance to go around Lebanon, see and listen to people, get a feel of what is happening here. And that I’ve begun to do.

Letter from Lebanon--#42 The Aftermath: The July War, aka The 34-Day War--Part I

Every morning as I place my hand on the television remote control, I hesitate before I turn on the news. I have a moment of dread: What horror will I wake up to this morning? Soon the feelings pass and I can relax one more day in this war-ravaged yet wonderful country.

People are still very tense. The war and the current political situation remain constant topics of discussion and concern. You can hear the anguish in people’s voices. At my first book club meeting since the summer my friends and I talked about our war experiences. How did we escape? Who stayed? For the first time in eight years, we never even got to the book. We all had so many stories to share. We needed to talk.

On the other hand, a major shopping mall that I go to is bustling. It had been also the Moslem holy month of Ramadan, which may be the one of the reasons for the surge of activity. One Saturday evening my husband asked the waiter at one of the restaurants why it was so crowded. The waiter replied that it is always like this. If you would have been in that shopping mall, you would have never guessed that the country just went through one of its worst wars. But the packed mall does not necessarily translate into increased purchases. I think the mall is a safe outlet to get out of the house with their families. Where else can they go?

While parts of Lebanon seem bustling however, the realities of the war are still ever present. The news reminds us of what the war damages Lebanon faces. We read and hear about which repairs and rebuilding need to be done and who from the foreign community is helping. Every time I go to the grocery store I am reminded of the war because it’s the rare day that I can find fresh milk. Since I have been here I have been able to buy only four cartons of fresh milk; I usually buy three a week. Lebanon has two main dairies that produce fresh milk for drinking. But the one that was flattened by the Israelis, which is my favorite produced 85% of the total fresh milk supply. The Israelis knew exactly what they were hitting when they struck the dairy six times. The Israelis wanted it destroyed because they had lost the contract to supply milk to UN soldiers so they thought what the heck, no one can get to us, we’ll jus t destroy our competitor. Nice side work for the Israelis.

So let’s see exactly what was accomplished by the 34 day onslaught by the Israelis. Their first publicly stated goal was to get the release of the two kidnapped soldiers. Failed. As the war continued, their second publicly stated goal was to crush Hizbullah so that they could be disarmed. Failed. Then as the war continued with failure of both of the previous two goals, they decided to invade Lebanon and push Hizbullah behin d the line of the Litani river, creating a “safe zone” of about 20 kilometers from the Israeli border. That was pretty much achieved. You notice that I write “publicly stated goal” because what they said and what they were doing were two different things. What you heard and what reality is are strikingly different. Israel used the term ”terrorist” and “hiding arms” for each and every excuse to strike, but those of us here knew that they were purposely destroying the infrastructure of Lebanon, with impunity, as the West, in particular the United States not only supported Israel but provided deadly bombs. And how are the Lebanese expected to believe the United States is an ally?

What was the cost to Lebanon? The true cost will not be known for generations. Thousands of people were evacuated. Many returned, but some did not. The youth, the future of the country are questioning their security and their ability to obtain a good job. They are not fools. They need to look out for themselves. So besides the material costs, which I will get to in a moment, there is and there will continue to be a signific ant brain drain. The Lebanese love their country, but in the end, they have to survive and those who can afford it will look outside the country to continue their education and for employment. And most likely they will never return. They will no longer be able to trust the security of the country because of its belligerent neighbor Israel. Because of the meddling of Syria and by implication Iran. And because the United States is constantly stirring up the pot. (Israel had already made several attacks after UN resolution 1701 and continues to violate Lebanese a irspace and always with impunity.)

Other costs to Lebanon:

  1. Over a thousand, mostly civilians lost their lives, although the true number is still not yet clear and is probably much higher. Thousands more were wounded, including many children.
  2. Thousands of homes destroyed—about 130,000 Total villages were decimated. Schools, hospitals, businesses. Completely destroyed.
  3. Unemployment is rising and has a ripple effect since businesses were destroyed.
  4. When Israel bombed the Jiyyeh power plant in the South, they caused one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Oil has blackened the sea and nearly three quarters of the Lebanese coastline, reaching up to the historic town of Byblos. Fishing, a primary source of food and employment has come to a screeching halt. Fish markets have closed. Those that remain open sell imported fish.
  5. Over 90 factories were destroyed.
  6. Economic costs are reaching into over $8 billion.
  7. Eighty bridges and 94 roads were damaged or destroyed.
  8. In the last four days of the war, when Israel knew that it was coming to a close, they purposefully and illegally dropped thousands of cluster bombs in civilian areas in the South. The UN states that among 800,000 and 1,200,000 cluster blomblets were showered over Lebanon. Compare that to 20,000 cluster bomblets launched in Kosovo! Cluster bombs are bombs about the size of a tennis ball with a small wire protruding. The problem is that nearly 30% of these bombs did not explode upon the initial drop so there are thousands of these bombs hanging from trees, in the ground tucked here and there, ready to go off. Over 100 people have already died since the cessation of the war due to these cluster bombs! Israel refuses to give their bombardment map sheet that would in dicate where they dropped the bombs. Israel also has refused from their 15 year occupation of the South to give Lebanon the plans of where they planted land mines. So now the Lebanese in the South cannot till their soil, pick the fruit from the trees or take a walk in their own gardens because of these cluster bombs. Between the land mines and now the cluster bombs, the South is a walking Russian roulette.
  9. Israel also fired illegal phosphorus bombs. Over the course of the war, a friend stated that from her home she could see different colors of smoke rising from exploded bombs—gray, black, white smoke—and wondered what they were? What poisonous vapors were spreading? The furniture on the balconies became black from the pollution created by the bombs and debris. ; Washed white again, only the next day to be blackened. What was or still is getting into people’s lungs?
  10. A friend told me that during the entire period of the war her jasmine plant did not bloom once. Two weeks after the cessation of the 34 day war, it finally bloomed. If only the country could bounce back as quickly.
A friend told me that during the entire period of the war her jasmine plant did not bloom once. Two weeks after the cessation of the 34 day war, it finally bloomed. If only the country could bounce back as quickly.
More on the aftermath in the next letter. Your comments are always welcomed. Please keep the word spreading.

Rosie AKL


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Se7en Wonders of the New World.

The History of the world as we know it, always named or "designated" 7 wonders. We all learned and studies those Marvels of Man in school, and today, 2,200 years later, only one of those wonders still remain: The Pyramids of Giza.
My co-worker sent me an email, with an interesting link to the "New7Wonders Foundation" website. They are choosing seven new Wonders for the New World. Apparently, we can participate and vote.

“At the end of 2005, the N7W panel chose 21 candidates from the top 77 nominees that had earned the most votes, and these 21 are now in the final stage of the competition. The official N7W 21 finalist candidates were announced by the panel's President, Prof. Federico Mayor, on January 1, 2006 in Zurich.
The final round of voting for the New 7 Wonders will continue throughout 2006 and half of 2007. Then, on July 7, 2007 -07.07.07, the dream of the N7W initiators will become a reality as the globe joins together to celebrate the New 7 Wonders of the World, as chosen by the world's population using modern communications technology.
... be a part of the making of history!”

Here are the nominees: [in blue font, are my choices of 7 wonders]
1. The Acropolis of Athens (450 - 330 B.C.) Athens, Greece
2. Alhambra (12th century) Granada, Spain
3. Angkor (12th century) Cambodia
4. The Pyramid at Chichén Itzá (before 800 A.D.) Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
5. Christ Redeemer (1931) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
6. The Roman Colosseum (70 - 82 A.D.) Rome, Italy
7. Statues of Easter Island (10th - 16th Century) Easter Island, Chile
8. The Eiffel Tower (1887 - 89) Paris, France
9. The Great Wall of China (220 B.C and 1368 - 1644 A.D.) China
10. The Hagia Sophia (532 - 537 A.D.) Istanbul, Turkey
11. Kiyomizu Temple (749 - 1855) Kyoto, Japan
12. The Kremlin and Red Square (1156 - 1850) Moscow, Russia
13. Machu Picchu (1460-1470), Peru
14. Neuschwanstein Castle (1869 -1884) Füssen, Germany
15. Petra (9 B.C. - 40 A.D.), Jordan
16. The Pyramids of Giza (2600 - 2500 B.C), Egypt
17. The Statue of Liberty (1886) New York City, U.S.A.
18. Stonehenge (3000 B.C. - 1600 B.C.) Amesbury, United Kingdom
19. Sydney Opera House (1954 - 73) Sydney, Australia
20. The Taj Mahal (1630 A.D.) Agra, India
21. Timbuktu (12th century) Mali

What really baffles me though, is how did The Statue of Liberty, The Christ Redeemer of Rio, The Eiffel Tower, and the Opera of Sydney, make it up there on the list? But hey… I wasn’t consulted.

Which of those Landmarks do you vote for, as your 7even Wonders?
And if you had to add one new Wonder to the list, which Monument would you choose to represent you?
The 7 Wonders of the “ancient” world are:
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Lighthouse of Alexandria

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

We'll be right back, after these messages [adv.]

Link for a friend:
As per Mirvat's request, here is a link to a useful website Hire Lebanese; check it out if you are interested.


Beirut 2006 Marathon, on November 26. Are you game?
If you happen to be in Beirut during that period, I
strongly encourage you to register, and participate in running on the streets of this magical city. Streets filled with history, scars,
modernity, sexiness, authenticity and pride.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Birthday!

There is the WORLD
and then there's YOU.
Happy Birthday!

powered by ODEO
song: Dos Gardenias Para Ti / Ibrahim Ferrer / Buena Vista Social Club

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Distortion of Beauty.

Click Here, to watch the movie "evolution".

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Art: what is it good for?

La Pudeur des Icebergs
(Click above for a small video clip)

What is it with contemporary arts nowadays? Aiming to shock, stimulate, and provoke, we fall into a certain gratuity with regards to the substance, the essence, and the core.
Hiding under the cloak of the daring, the avant-garde or the experimental, and dotted with a subjective very superfluous discourse, contemporary art failed to convince me, yet another time, tonight.

Six nude dancers were on stage tonight at the Agora de la danse, performing and dancing, jumping and rolling, to the “solid” choreography of Quebec’s very own Daniel Leveille:

“La pudeur des icebergs (2004) - Following on the two shows with which it forms a trilogy (Utopie, 1997, and Amour, acide et noix, 2001), La pudeur des icebergs belongs to that research in which the liberation of codes is fully accomplished and complete, opening onto an awareness of the body. The encounter is absolute and primitive, and its esthetics open onto an archaic scene that is doubtless the essence of its message: only here can the body be considered as gesture, sign and signifier at one and the same time. Through dance, it has achieved the status of language. To explore this dance is not a process of saturated meaning, but a gradual work of deconstructing the community of the body as a community that is fragmented by language and rediscovered in the timeless act of exhibition and trust. (Georges Leroux, Spirale Magazine)”

Of course I am not THE art critic of reference, but I do belong to the general public, and I demand and deserve a certain amount of convincing, before I could be impressed, and give a standing ovation. This wasn’t there in tonight’s dance. Sure the dancers were busting their ass up there, performing the best way they can, but unfortunately I thought many of the scenes and the figures were pointless, the dancers were somehow week, non synchronized, and non balanced. Sure the postures are hard to attain, but I would think they would, or should rather, get to them no problem.
I wasn’t alone thinking that, my friends felt similar.

I did enjoy the show nevertheless; don’t get me wrong. I am just being the devil’s advocate out of frustration with art for gratis.
All we get these days is excellent talk and mediocre application; or a sexy skin, and a very banal core. The story is most of the time half complete, from performing arts, to design and then Architecture. It should be denser, and more consistent.

Don’t we deserve a masterpiece anymore? Don’t we deserve a complete piece of art? Or is it still up to us to fill in the blanks…since art IS subjective and very elusive, and that’s what makes it ART.

My concern is that this subjective ness that is associated with the “stroke of genius” and the creation of art itself, be its own annihilation and destruction in states of nonchalance, arrogance and egocentricity, and why not eccentricity.

This being said, I actually do recommend “La pudeur des icebergs. If you happen to be in Montreal, and would like to spend 60mns* experiencing something different, drop by the “Agora de la danse” on October 5th or on November 16th. It is quite an interesting performance.

*60 mns that I think should have been divided into chapters, not a full home run.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What is DADA?

Here’s my attempt to adding yet another glorifying moment for the wonderful Metropolis that had shuffled and molded more people than any other city in the world. A city that made everybody hope and dream for years and years.
Here’s my graphic odyssey to New York City.

This Coffee Cup “What is DADA”, belongs to the MoMa Store.

This marks post #100 on urban_memories [the unfinished polaroids]

Urban Descrption: New York City. [by Mirvat]

It is amazing how different people describe and depict urban settings. Each with their own feelings and wordings, they describe Metropolises in different manners, and have different images and memories of them.
Sometimes, they feel and see details and elements others don't, while at times, they miss things others just notice.

Cosmopolitan, diverse, and transient, "Here's New York for you..."
is a very interesting urban portrait of New York City, as depicted and presented by Mirvat.

[I am going to start and collect other people's "urban descriptions" and post them here]
Also on NYC from Hashem (in Arabic) and from gitanes legeres.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lebanese Bloggers: On the streets of New York.

I realize that by now, talking and posting about the N.Y.C. meeting, would be redundant, and old news. Most Bloggers who attended, already wrote/posted something about the most wonderful gathering that was held on Saturday, October 7th, 2006.

Hahem, the scribe, launched first with his scribbles, and reported our dinner to nostalgic perfection.
Mirvat, the hostess, and the main organizer of the event, blogged it here.
Jooj wrote a very heartfelt piece, and arch.memory painted another to the minute detail, just the way a star architect would, while gitanes-legeres and maya, never missed a beat.

If you really want to understand a city, know its people, and merge into its spectacle, you have to walk its streets.
And it just so happens that in any given gathering, the Lebanese are one of those cultures that spend more time saying goodbye, leaving at the door, than inside coming in.

Here's how we took on the streets of New York hat Saturday.

For most of us, it was the first time we ever meet. Apart from our literature, poetry, and drawings, we were unknown to one another; but there was something beautiful and mystical in the air, and we most certainly didn't seem strangers.
One could have sworn we were friends for years.

Besides our common identity, history, and memory, through our blogs, we all have willingly shared many intimate thoughts already. We have commented, comforted, and inspired one another in hardest times... That made us closer than anything.

Here's to my Lebanese Blogger Friends!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"YaYa" (yehya) celebrity photographer on Jimmy Kimmel

If you know your pop culture, you would know yehya the egyptian celebrity stalker. He was invited to Jimmy Kimmel's show, along with gorgeous Diane Lane... the interview is just hilarious!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

SAMSARA [movie of the week]

Do you know that name?
Prince Siddhartha, Gautama, Sakyamuni, Buddha
everybody knows those names...but...

Yashodhara was married to Siddhartha.
She loved him dearly.
One night Siddhartha left her and their son, Rahul,
while they were sleeping, to seek Enlightenment...
He did not even say a word to her when he left.

Yashodhara had shown compassion for the sick and ailing
long before Siddhartha ever did.
... long before Siddhartha was even aware of suffering!

Who can say if he owed his Enlightenment to her?

Perhaps Yashodhara wanted to leave Siddhartha and Rahul.
How can we ever know if Yashodhara fell victim to anger...
... to loneliness and bitterness... after Siddhartha left her?

Who even thought about her?

What must she have said when Rahul, her son, asked that eternal question:
Where is my father?
What must she have told him?

How could a mother leave her own child, in the middle of the night...

It is only possible for a man to do.
Tashi, only for a man!
After that, Yashodhara had no choice. She had to lead a life of renunciation.
She cut off her hair... and lived like an ascetic.

Oh, Tashi...
If your thoughts towards Dharma were of the same intensity,
as the love and passion you have shown me, you would become a Buddha,
in this very body... in this very life.


- Pema... forgive me!
I am going back with you... back where I belong..."

Saṃsāra in Tibetan Buddhism:
is uncontrollably recurring rebirth, filled with suffering and problems. In this sense, Samsara may be translated "Wheel of Suffering."

Samsara (2001), a sublime (frustrating) movie of dedication, spirituality, love, desire, betrayal and determination. If you have 2 hours this week... please try and watch this wonderful, and moving story.

What is more important: satisfying one thousand desires or conquering just one...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Wear Sunscreen [2]

A little while ago I posted the lyrics of Wear Sunscreen.
I found the video and the audio, so I decided to post them in case someone is still interested.

and Here's what Master Yoda has to say about the subject.
(There may be an advertisement before it loads)