dimanche 22 décembre 2013


Dekwaneh, Lebanon.

samedi 21 décembre 2013

10 things Lebanon should avoid next year (by NOW)

1) "Protests" | We learned this year that the only things that'll get the Lebanese in the streets are free drinks and hot women in athletic gear. Remember the paltry demonstrations after the Lebanese parliament extended their own term? Laughable. What about Rami Ollaik's October 10 Revolution? I think my grandma had more people show up for her 80th birthday. Oh, and let's not forget the 50,000 LL protests – where the organizers didn't even show up. Civil action clearly isn't our thing. So to refrain from getting laughed at by real protestors (and from gettingshot), steer clear of civic activism next year, my friends.

2) Letting the government design your currency | "Hammoudi, what do you want to be when you grow up?" "Well, I can't draw, so I'm going to be a politician!" The most hideous currency ever hit the Lebanese markets this November, and the Central Bank was adamant that it would change neither the design nor the spelling mistake on the bank note. For any new designs next year, let's hope the Central Bank sticks to what it's done for other bills: holding an open competition in which designers submit their own proposals.

3) Extending government positions | You know when you go to an amusement park, and your friends bet you that you can't eat 14 hot dogs and then ride the biggest roller coaster? And you do it, just to "see what happens?" Then you quickly realize it was probably a bad idea? Yeah, extending your government is like that. It sends you into a weird place of possible unconstitutionality. It pisses off a lot of people. Instead of giving parliamentarians extra time to deal with the country's myriad security, social, and economic issues, it just extends their paralysis – while paying them. So, guys, let's not do that again. Please. I threw up everywhere. 

4) Public spaces | If Leila Abdul Latif is to be believed (she is, after all, the pinnacle of legitimacy), we probably shouldn't go anywhere near anybody else ever again. The Bible says, "For where two or three gather together as my followers, Jesus is there among them." Lebanon says, "For where two or three gather together in my streets, a bomb just may be among them." With every group promising violent retaliation for the most recent attacks against them, I know where I'm spending my Friday nights in 2014: alone. In my house. So no one can retaliate against me.

5) Fresh food | You've walked through Karantina. You know that smell. That smell should have nothing to do with your food. I'm all for being organic, eating from the earth, doing yoga in a poppy field and stuff. But Lebanon's got some very worrying food practices, starting withirrigating with contaminated sewage water. If that doesn't gross you out enough, Karantina'sslaughterhouse is where cattle go to die inhumanely, and also where some people live. And then that goes into your shish taouk. Not cool. If you don't want to spend the majority of 2014 in the restroom, stay away.

6) Pretending refugees don't exist | Earth to Lebanese politicians and government officials: refugees are people, too. Pretending that we can ship them back to Syria or let them live in makeshift camps forever is more than just unrealistic – it's delusional. It also denies them the dignity and humanity they so deeply deserve. We've got a refugee population that has almost reached one-fourth of Lebanon's total population, and we need to deal with these human beings compassionately and responsibly. 

7) Snipers. No, really. | There was a time when your friends used to play Call of Duty and you'd joke, "This looks like Lebanon!" Yeah, not a joke anymore. Sniping in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli has become common, and hundreds of kids have missed out on weeks of school because the snipers take up posts right on their streets. The army has posted these handy signs, so I'd caution you to listen to them. 

8) Being racist | Newsflash for the modern, iPad-toting, Chanel-sporting Lebanese fashionistas: bigotry and racism aren't hip anymore. I guess you stopped reading VOGUE in 1957. Oh, did I hurt your feelings? Then don't do this. Or this. Welcome to the 21st century, where we're all going to make a conscious effort to leave racism – and those hideous glitter pumps – in the past.

9) Concerts | There were some major disappointments in the music scene in Lebanon this year that I really wouldn't care to repeat. Remember when PSY was supposed to come to Lebanon, and it turned out he was fake? And then the cancellations of Creamfields, which infuriated Lebanese concert-goers? Save the cash and buy yourself some Dr. Dre Beats headphones.

10) Borders | Don't go north. Also, don't go south. Or east, for that matter. Lebanon's borders are no longer safe, and there aren't any indications that the US's recently-gifted Cessna is really going to do much about that. Indiscriminate rocket attacks originating in Syria are landing just inside Lebanon's eastern border, so it's probably safer to avoid that area if you can. If you're heading to the Israeli-Lebanese border, you might encounter a weak-bladdered Israeli soldier relieving himself – and then get caught in the ensuing firefight. And the north doesn't sound too safe, either: shooting in Tripoli, shelling, and violations of Lebanese territory are rife. My suggestion? Stay equidistant from all three border areas.