November 19, 2006
Beirut for suckers.
I was strolling in what used to be the love of my life , Beirut .
Even though I still have great affection for this place , the general atmosphere is now really getting to me . The Lebanese are the main reason for this state of mind .
I am getting weary with their incessant quibblings . Their Bey , their Sheikh , their Sayyid, their Comrade , their Warlord , their local Thug, their Pimp , their General and their Monsieur le Colonel .
I am getting tired of their personality cult insidiously seeping and implanting itself in the Lebanese psyche . That same personality cult , the cult of the "Other", the one who will admire, approve, save , embrace , permeates nearly everything .
From the poor siliconized women with identical nose jobs to the latest cellular phones carriers.
The plea is almost identical :" Please accept me , please recognize my worth , see how good I am, please love me ".
This whole charade is obviously masqueraded under heavy make up, high heels, outward sophistication so pleasing to Robert Fisk and Co. Masqueraded under political slogans, endless regurgitated jargon, BMW's and Mercedes Benz , Louis Vuitton and fake bronzage*.
Downtown Beirut is polished , very polished . Like the polished nails and shoes of its passers.
Shiny like the diamonds of Madame and the shiny Timberlands and car of Monsieur .
I err aimlessly in my ex lover's arms , Beirut .
I see smoke everywhere . Everyone is sucking onto something .
Arghilehs **,pipes , cigars, cigarettes ,politicians , bosses , lovers, husbands, boyfriends, wives, mistresses .Everyone is sucking up to everyone else . A total regression to the oral stage , but where is Mr. Mom ?
I sit in my favorite cafe , cappucino after another, and I suck on my pen , drawing out words , sentences ,phrases, anything that will give me some Truth in this fake place .
* Bronzage is French for tan (just in case you don't know French)
** Arghileh is a water pipe in Arabic (Just in case you don't know Arabic, most likely)
Painting by Lebanese American Artist : Nabil Bader