Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 3rd, 2014

Ziad Rahbani, son of the famous iconic singer Feyrouz, plans to exit the Lebanese stage: Immigrating to Russia TV

By the end of October.

Michael Young Published this Oct. 3/2014 

Lebanese composer, pianist, performer, playwright, and political commentator Ziad Rahbani performs during the festival of Zouk Mikael, north of Beirut, on July 25, 2013 (AFP Photo/Joseph Eid)

The announcement by musician and playwright Ziad al-Rahbani that he intended to “emigrate” to Russia because political horizons in Lebanon had narrowed was rich in contradiction.

Recently, after Rahbani suspected that Hezbollah was behind an effort to disrupt his concert in Naqoura, he began criticizing the party’s political behavior. (Actually, Ziad said that he strongly suspected Israel for the loud background noises, because Israel has the technological means for these disruptions)

He said, “We can no longer defend Hezbollah all the time. Hezbollah takes from us (the communists and the other secular and resistance forces), but gives nothing in return. What we do with [the party] it doesn’t do with us, to the extent that it doesn’t mention my name at all.”

Rahbani’s departure for Russia might not be permanent. (He said that he will be visiting Lebanon and has purchased an apartment).

It’s difficult to imagine him lasting very long in the endless Arctic nights, or getting much recognition in a country that is drawn to Vladimir Putin’s brand of xenophobia.

Come to think of it, it’s very hard to imagine Rahbani discovering political horizons in Putin’s Russia that are wider than in Lebanon. Even the artist’s attraction to communism is unlikely to mean much in a country that has preserved only a chauvinist form of nationalism from the communist era, grafted onto an oligarchic and corrupt capitalist economic system headed by a man who systematically creates new enemies to remain in power.

You wonder, then, if the motive is less ideological than cultural, a consequence of how Russia is perceived, perhaps mythically, in the Lebanese Greek Orthodox imagination. Then again, even culturally, can Rahbani long delight in a country governed by a hooligan, blessed by a materialistic and fatuous clergy as influential as the materialistic, fatuous clergy is in Lebanon? (Ziad was clear that the move was for professional reasons and enhancing his career)

Rahbani’s disenchantment with Hezbollah is hardly surprising. But it took him rather a long time to notice the party’s authoritarian core, its suffocation of any alternative paths in the Shiite community, and its habitual resort to intimidation, or worse, with opponents.

Last December Rahbani publicly declared that his mother, the singer Fairuz, admired Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, an announcement that provoked a furor.

But Rahbani is not leaving Lebanon and Hezbollah for more open climes. The behavior of the authorities in Putin’s Russia is not very different than that of Hezbollah.

For all his contradictions, Rahbani may soon realize that it is much easier to put on a play in Lebanon that welcomes the arrival of a dictator, as he did with Bikhsous al-Karameh wal Shaab al-Aaneed (With Respect to Dignity and the Stubborn People), than it is to put on a play in Russia that would welcome the arrival of democracy.

Notwithstanding Rahbani’s fine ability to pick apart the idiosyncrasies and pathologies in Lebanese society, Lebanon remains – despite its dysfunctional nature, its self-destructiveness, the incompetence of its leadership, and the deep frustrations it engenders – an outpost of pluralism and liberty in a region where this has almost disappeared.

Rahbani is living proof of this. Before and during the civil war he wrote a series of biting, brilliant plays that have become standards in Lebanon’s cultural consciousness.

All his plays were in some ways critical of the country and society, but Rahbani’s humor made them perfectly tolerable and greatly enjoyable. He showed us that the Lebanese could laugh at themselves and that was enough.

Yet once Hezbollah came onto the scene, the laughing stopped, except to the extent that when Rahbani declared his backing for Hezbollah, many of us laughed, so improbable was the match.

That Rahbani and Fairuz, artists of immense talent and imagination, should beat to the same rhythm as an authoritarian, sectarian, secretive party that gains its life-force from perpetual conflict and a cult of martyrdom remains a genuine oddity.

Rahbani is hardly the first person from the political left to have developed sympathies for Hezbollah.

It’s reassuring that he’s finally seen through the impossibility of that marriage. You can only presume that one day the Shiite community, with its own innate pluralism, will go in a similar direction, once the sectarian wars that Hezbollah has been fueling begin to die down and the exhausted Shiites have time to take stock.

All one can say to Ziad al-Rahbani is stick around. Lebanon may not be Nirvana, but at least you have the country’s number, and it can always benefit from your wicked wit.

Give us another jazz album, if you have nothing to do. Fight Hezbollah with Charlie Parker and Bud Powell, not with Vladimir Putin. Rest assured, at least we will continue to mention your name.

Michael Young is opinion editor of The Daily Star newspaper. He tweets @BeirutCalling

Note: I watched the segment in Arabic on New TV.

Ziad was clear as water: “I reached the age of retirement. I could not change the stinky socio-political system in Lebanon and I don’t want to let this system change me and humiliate me in my old age.

I am moving on to where I can be supported to resume doing what I love to do…”.

And what if he is broke? At least he has the possibility to move on and the courage to decide to live in a different environment.

Ziad pronouncement struck a vigorous chord in me.

Ziad said that Hassan Nasr Allah highlights the articles he publishes in Al Akhbar, but he never received any acknowledgment or letter from him.

I wish those who are criticizing Ziad be as talented and as engaged as he is.

Does your Grandmother fall within one of these types?

What reminds you of a raisin and death simultaneously? That’s right, a grandmother.

There are many types of grandmothers; some of them kind, some mean, some warm and fuzzy – and by fuzzy I’m referring to their facial hair.

We’re obliged to love them all because they’re wrinkly and smell like bay leaves and medicine. Here are four common types of Lebanese grandmothers.

Mrs. Clause

(Image via Brinkie Bunch)

Spoiling and over-stuffing you are her specialties. She’s most likely plump herself, and has made it her life’s mission to make sure you gain a solid kilo every time you set foot in her house.

If you don’t come over to her house in order to avoid the caloric attack, she will sneakily send food to your house along with dessert.

She gets genuinely offended when you tell her you’ve just eaten and considers it a personal attack on her cooking.

Do you think she cares that you’d much rather not eat four servings of lasagna followed by an entire cake?

It is best to just shut up and embrace the added weight.

The Guilt-Tripper

(Image via Ignorant Fucks)

She will convince you that she’s dying within a matter of days and that this may very well be your last chance to enjoy her company.

You immediately start envisioning years of regret for not visiting her more often.

You imagine yourself weeping uncontrollably at her funeral, only to watch her live until you’re well into your late 50’s.


(Image via Mata Traders)

She refuses to believe that not only does she have children, but her children have children of their own.

She has probably concocted a fun nickname for herself instead of grandma (what’s a tati?) in order to further live in denial that she’s no longer in her thirties, or forties, or fifties.

She tries to remain young and hip, her wardrobe consisting mostly of jeans that are way too tight and tops made of gold-lamé, and she does a good job of criticizing your outfits, relationship and breeding status on the regular.

The Meddler

(Image via Cinema Blend)

Good luck trying to do anything without consulting this one first.

Her fury will rain down on you much like her breasts rain down on her knees.

She wants to marry her granddaughter off to an engineer, on the sole condition that he is from the family’s village.

She does everything short of make a ticking noise while pointing at your ovaries to remind you that your baby-making days are swiftly running out.

She wants the most gorgeous and wonderful girl for her grandson, who most likely sucks at life and is a spoiled brat.

“It is HAMAS protecting me…” A Christian woman in Gaza

Maryam Raniyah wrote:

“One more time: I am a Christian of Gaza and I’m not persecuted by Hamas, I am not suffering under the rule of Hamas!

I am suffering under Zionist blockade, Zionist rule, siege is killing me, not Hamas!

Zionists are bombing my country, not Hamas! I’m suffering under the Zionist occupation.

I AM SUFFERING BECAUSE OF ISRAEL AND ZIONISM. We Palestinians, all of us, are suffering because of Israel…and Hamas only protects me.

If Hamas or other resistance groups were not here, I would be already dead, Israel would have killed me,

If Hamas was not here, Israel would already destroyed my land, my beloved Gaza.

And so the sentence: “Christians of Gaza are suffering under the Hamas rule is a big lie, it’s bullshit”

Naomi replied:

And this very interesting post apparently from Gaza — Maryam I would love it if you would report more on your life there.

Anything, how you get groceries and how you get the kids to school if you have them — how the day goes…how are people doing around you….details…anything you wish to share.

Each time, Israel has disregarded the agreements while Hamas has lived up to them (as Israel concedes).

Until some Israeli escalation elicits a Hamas response, which gives Israel another opportunity to “mow the lawn,” in its elegant phrase.

The interim periods of “quiet” (meaning one-way quiet) allow Israel to carry forward its policies of taking over whatever it values in the West Bank, leaving Palestinians in dismembered cantons.

All, of course, with crucial US support: military, economic, diplomatic and ideological, in framing the issues in accord with Israel’s basic perspective.

Noam Chomsky Humanity for Palestine Robert Martin Fighting for humanity

“Mission Accomplished” effect? And why you fail to tend to the subsequent difficulties in the mission?

Mission Accomplished? And why you refuse to own the subsequent horrors?

We tend to seldom forget uncompleted tasks and they tug at our consciousness until we give them our attention saved in our mental list.

As we decide that the mission is accomplished and this list of tasks are erased from our memory.

The case of a waiter serving flawlessly a large party without a notepad and when dinner is over, the waiter was unable to recall any face in the party.

There are interesting outliers to that trend called the Bluma “Zeigarnik effect”

The condition that relaxes this effect and conserve the list of tasks in memory while focusing on the main goal of another mission is to create a detailed “study plan”.

For example, you are focusing on a upcoming major exam and you need to stay clear and free from anxiety. What can you do?

Outstanding tasks gnaw at us only until we install a clear idea in our mind of “how we will deal with them

A good plan of actions suffices most of the time to relax our mind from the list of uncompleted tasks.

Consider dividing your problem into more than 20 step-by-step  tasks and write them down. Otherwise, it is futile to have your mind rest and be as clear as water.

This process does not exclude the urgent need to look up similar projects and be advised on the multiple pitfalls that surround well-planned projects.

Place a notepad by your bed and jot down outstanding tasks and how you will tackle them.

If these ideas for relaxing the mind in order to achieve a mission are great for individuals, why governments and public institutions don’t apply these techniques?

Why Bush Jr. had to claim “Mission Accomplished” in occupying Iraq on a aircraft carrier, wearing pilot outfit, when the mission had just started for “establishing a democratic state” in Iraq?

Bush Jr. was expressing the true mission of his administration: Occupying Baghdad and controlling the flow of oil.

All the previous statements about installing a democratic system in Iraq and eliminating weapons of mass destruction and… were packs of lies and throwing dust in the eyes of the US citizens and world community.

Why Bush Jr. had to quickly erase the Iraqi problems from his mind and appoint a bunch of nutcases and nitwits to resolve the multiple problems mushrooming with every day of occupation?

And Bush Jr, basked in the  increased approval rating until the bodies started to be flown in, and Bush realized that the mission was far to be accomplished back home.

Or it is because the mission was done outside the US borders that US presidents fail to follow up on problems they cook up and spread around the world?

Mission Accomplished? And why you refuse to own the subsequent horrors? A totally unstable Iraq, millions of babies with birth defects, million of displaced people… and lately the ISIS phenomenon

As Commander in Chief, the president of the US must own the problems he creates around the world.

Note: Read “The Art of Thinking Clear”





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