The Farewell Chronicles

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The good vibes experiment

Twelve people gathered at my place last Wednesday for the first session of a three-month “good vibes experiment.” It started at around 7 pm, because most of us partake in 9 - 6 bad vibes experiments on a daily basis. While it is not entirely true that every job in the world is an emotional extermination, it remains undeniable that the time, place and etiquette constraints of jobs, in general, are quite sadistic. It’s also noteworthy that the time, place and etiquette constraints of everyday are as heartless, sidelining spontaneous thrusts of joy – accidental road trips – and dubbing them acts of rebellion.

Would #Free_Theater trend in Lebanon?

Last Thursday, Nidal al-Achkar appeared on a trivia show on a local Lebanese television station to promote her play, “Al Wewiyeh’ that is currently running in her Al Madina Theater. She praised herself, her director and her co-star and deemed the performance a must-see, “I call upon all of the Lebanese to come watch the play. For people who can afford a ticket, pass by Al Madina Theater to get yours, and for those who can’t, just tell the ticketing office that you were invited by Nidal al-Achkar.” I decided to take that offer.

Remote controls and other things you can push

In Lebanon, domestic abuse remains unpunished. Women are murdered, silently and then crowned with hashtags, before they rapidly lack the needed vigor of a trend and die again. That short duration between their real death and their second death is normally called an “Awareness” campaign. During this interval, you see them on the television and using your remote controls, you change the channel and push them away. On the Internet, you pull them back to life with a hashtag. You go viral and then they die again. A hashtag doesn’t make you a good person, not even if it’s an awareness campaign you believe you’re riding. It doesn’t baptize you from not doing anything to make criminals accountable for murder.

Have You Done Anything to Prevent a Building From Being Killed?

The building under construction across my balcony has now reached my floor level. The exaggerated plantation I have installed to buffer its generous dust and noise contamination cannot save me from it anymore. Reality is not the most entertaining and/or cooperative game people have to play, so even from within the exaggerated denial I have installed to buffer me from the inevitable, I did see this coming. I’m not special, we all see this coming by now: The looming point in time where it would take a strenuous field trip to see the sky from Beirut.

We Are Not OK: We Are OK

Last Saturday, I had the luxury of watching two performances in Beirut. At 5 pm I watched a pre-run of Zoukak’s “Heaven,” a show you will be able to attend at their studio in Beirut next week. At 8:30 pm I attended a dance performance titled “Fatmeh,” choreographed and directed by Ali Chahrour at Masrah al-Madina, a show that will have stopped running by the time this text is published. At 10:30 pm I was walking in a fading Hamra toward Regusto, an Armenian bistro, to grab one, two, or three glasses of Arak, thinking that we are not OK.

This Piece Is Chaos: The Tripoli Syndrome

Like all of his colleagues, my barber knows everything. I was getting my hair cut at his shop close to my parents’ place in Tripoli last week, having hypothetically dodged potential bullets on my way there because that’s how people deal with their transport rituals there these days. He asked me about Beirut. Of course, he knew, but I told him it’s shit, anyways. As he wrapped me in a bib, I started watching the news on his flat screen TV mounted over a wide mirror reflecting another mirror on the opposite side of the wall, producing an absurd infinity effect.

Lebanese Leaders Continue to Rally for a Secular Lebanon

Last week, on January 16, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri held its first trial. The truth is nigh. The billboard in Beirut, which features a digital ticker counting the days till the trial, has been renovated. It now displays a banner announcing that the era of justice has come.

The Zaatar Conundrum: Fleeting Basics of Living in Lebanon

Living in Lebanon has become physically hazardous. My father says it has always been. History adds that it has been worse, “The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon, lasting from 1975 to 1990 and resulting in an estimated 120,000 fatalities,” it says.

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