Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 19th, 2014

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This article was first published in the SPRING 2014 issue of The Carton. Below is the unedited version.

When I was 9, our school bus driver, Maalim Georges, taught every kid on the bus a little trick.

Every time he saw a pretty lady walking down the street, he would unleash the full power of his vehicles melodic horn, after which all the little boys would shout out in unison: “Aassal ya maallem, aassal” (Honey).

A few years later, when I turned into an awkward teenager, I couldn’t get through a day without being serenaded in the street, enduring calls of “chou ya achta?”  (what o clotted cream)as I walked the streets of my neighbourhood.

It always amused me when I tried to imagine a plump cherimoya (don’t worry I had to google that too) with legs. Of course, it is entirely debatable whether the reference is to the fruit or its homonym, the clotted cream famously used in many Lebanese desserts. Although the latter is more likely, the former would be more comforting for some reason.

Throughout the years, I have been ‘lovingly’ called Ashta, Jello, 3Assal (honey), fraise (Strawberry) and Helo (desert) by many a scooter-riding thug.

Though my inner feminist revolts every time I am on the receiving end of these gastronomic idioms, I can’t help but find them endearing.

Ya ashta!

Of course every culture has its own edible terms of endearment. The French beckon and assuage their loved ones with ’petit chou’, in reference to the pastry.

The Americans have all sorts of sugar coated, calorific variations. Honeys and pumpkins and sweetheart and sugar pies.

The Japanese favor metaphors that reference shape rather than taste, Tamago gata no kao, egg with eyes. Sexy stuff.

Nowhere do these sweet expressions veer as sharply towards the overly sexualized representation of femininity as they do in the Arab culture.

Nowhere are they as normalized as on the streets of our dusty medinas (cities), and in the tunes of Arabic pop stars.

This doesn’t mean that other cultures don’t use the imagery of food to characterize women, occasionally with slightly ludicrous consequences.

You could point to the Clovers’ 1953 R&B hit “Lovey Dovey”: “I really love your peaches wanna shake your tree / Lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time.”

Bringing things closer to today’s charts, Beyonce perpetuates the fruit-based sexiness, with claims like ‘He like to call me ‘Peaches’ when we get this nasty’. On the same self-titled album, she describes her own body parts as Skittles, “Can you lick my Skittles, it’s the sweetest in the middle/ Pink is the flavor, solve the riddle”, and cherries “I can’t wait till I get home so you can turn that cherry out/ I want you to turn that cherry out, turn that cherry out”.

Though, as far as I am concerned, none can compete with our very own Ahmad Salah’s Manga, when he sings gleefully ”Ana kount bahab el mechmech dil wa’ti baheb el manga” (I used to love peach and now I do love manga).

El manga

Perhaps what is most interesting in our Middle Eastern culture is that, unlike the American example, where this type of representation is specific to Hip Hop and R&B, these edible endearments have made their way to everything from Pop, to Rap, to more classical Arabic music.

From Ramy Ayash’s Tefaha, to Saber Robai’s Assal, our musical references abound with culinary catcalls. My personal favorite is a Rap tune, titled Achta w 3assal, by an obscure band known as Secteur Zahle. I suppose I am just grateful someone finally employed this expression ironically.

In 2011, Nasawiya, a collective of feminists working on gender justice in Lebanon, had two trucks roaming the streets of Beirut, shouting back some of these loving expressions at men.

Unlike the English language, ours does not have male equivalents to edible body parts. Maybe its time we started making them up. I am sure the culinary world is full of appropriate metaphors. Something involving bananas perhaps. But we’re probably too proper to stoop to that level.

We could get deep here for a second, and realize that psychologist often argue that what they call ‘Infantile food endearments’ originate at the stage of infancy, from the dependence to the nourishing maternal body, resurfacing in adulthood in relationship to love and sexual relationships.

Maybe the widespread and normalised use of our edible endearments just confirms what we’ve suspected all along, Arab men are just fully-grown momma’s boys.

fruit pattern

Plant these to save bees.
Plant these to save bees.

You heard of the Miranda Warning? When caught? Most Common Misunderstandings

The Miranda warning comes from one of the biggest legal cases of the 1960s when Ernesto Miranda was arrest in 1963

Thanks to countless arrest scenes in TV and movies, it’s one of the best-known applications of the Fifth Amendment.

But what you don’t know about Miranda could be more significant than you think.

Common misunderstandings about Miranda warnings

National Constitution Center

By Scott Bomboy

View gallery


Ernesto Miranda arrest photo, 1963

Last year, there was a big debate about the Miranda warning and Boston terror suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Federal investigators said after Tsarnaev’s detention that he wouldn’t be read his Miranda rights under something called the “public safety exemption.”

Under the exemption, police can interrogate a suspect without advising him or her of Miranda rights if they believe the suspect could have information about an imminent threat to public safety.

That exemption allowed investigators to interrogate Tsarnaev while in custody, without informing Tsarnaev of his rights to a lawyer and his right to stay silent.

According to an AP report, after 16 hours of questioning, a representative of the United States Attorney’s office read Tsarnaev his Miranda warning, and the suspect stopped talking to investigators.

The “Miranda” in the Miranda warning was Ernesto Miranda. He was arrested in March 1963 in Phoenix and confessed while in police custody to kidnapping and rape charges.

His lawyers sought to overturn his conviction after they learned during a cross-examination that Miranda wasn’t told he had the right to a lawyer and had the right to remain silent.

(Miranda had signed a confession that acknowledged that he understood his legal rights.)

The Supreme Court overturned Miranda’s conviction in 1966 in its ruling for Miranda v. Arizona, which established guidelines for how detained suspects are informed of their constitutional rights.

The Miranda warning actually includes elements of the Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination), the Sixth Amendment (a right to counsel) and the 14th Amendment (application of the ruling to all 50 states).

There are common misunderstandings about what Miranda rights are, and how they can protect someone under criminal investigation.

First, there isn’t one official Miranda warning that is read to a suspect by a police officer.

Each state determines how their law enforcement officers issue the warning. The Supreme Court requires that person is told about their right to silence, their right to a lawyer (including a public defender), their ability to waive their Miranda rights, and that what they tell investigators under questioning, after their detention, can be used in court.

The Miranda warning is only used by law enforcement when a person is in police custody (and usually under arrest) and about to be questioned.

Anything you say to an investigator or police officer before you’re taken into custody—and read your Miranda rights—can be used in a court of law, which includes interviews where a person is free to leave the premises and conversations at the scene of an alleged crime.

In fact, Ernesto Miranda came into a Phoenix police station voluntarily to answer questions in 1963 and also took place in a police lineup.

The police can ask you questions about identification, including your name and address, without a Miranda warning. And they can use any spontaneous expressions made by you as evidence—for example, if you say something without the prompting of police before you’re taken into custody.

Of course, you’re still protected by your Miranda rights—after you’re detained—even if you waive them after an arrest.

At any time, during an interrogation, you can stop answering questions and ask for a lawyer.

In the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, investigators probably felt they had enough evidence to charge him and win a case in court without any of the information Tsarnaev volunteered before he was read his rights.

As for Ernesto Miranda, though his original conviction was set aside by the Supreme Court ruling, he was retried and convicted, and was in jail until 1972–then in and out of jail several more times until 1976. After being released in 1976, he was fatally stabbed during a bar fight. His suspected killer was read his Miranda rights and didn’t answer questions from police. There was never a conviction in Miranda’s death.

Scott Bomboy is the editor-in-chief of the National Constitution Center.

Related Story: Constitution Check: Are there limits on questioning a bombing suspect?

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March 2014

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