Saturday, December 3, 2016

Kafa and Abaad, campaigns for women's rights.

Kafa and Leo Burnett Beirut won a bunch of awards from the event they did on this issue (I read 8 somewhere and 9 awards somewhere else), to see the full video go here. The ad above, my own contre-jour photography not helping, might not be award winning but then - the message is clear. No more child-brides. Raise the minimum age for wedding (the campaign wants the state to raise the age till 18).
In parallel Abaad is doing a campaign which says "the white does not hide the rape" which is some sort of a protest against law 522. Article 522 of Lebanon’s Penal Code stops prosecution or execution of a penalty when the perpetrator of a rape, kidnapping, or statutory rape marries the person he has raped or kidnapped. It seems only 1% of the Lebanese have heard of the said penal code, and 80% think it deprives the raped woman of justice.
So there's a lot of campaigns going on for women - which of course is worrisome too because if the situation was not that bad, we would not be needing so much advocacy.

Beirut Mayhem-ek by Tarek Chemaly (Part VI)

Beirut mayhem-mek by Tarek Chemaly part VI:

Two minutes Maggi® noodles:
Boil 300 ml (1 1/2 cups) of water.
Cook noodles for 2 minutes.
Add flavour sachet. Stir to dissolve. Ready to serve.

Two minutes sainthood:
Belong to the opposition (Any opposition).
Get yourself killed by your enemies (Or allies, who cares?).
Leave a widow and orphans behind you. No miracles necessary.

In a totally unrelated event:
4162 new members were sworn in to the Phalanges; a right-wing Christian party, which – by his own admittance – was created by Pierre Gemayel after being so severely impressed by the Nazi Youth in the 1936 Olympics.

In a totally unrelated event:
"The Christians are the ones who lost the most from the July 2006 war!"
"How can you say that? As a Shiite who had family dying in the south I resent that. I myself lost my entire house in the southern suburb. The furniture alone cost more than one hundred thousand Dollars!"
"Well, my father's shop stopped working because of the war!"
"Well, my father doesn't have a shop any longer, it was totally destroyed!"
"Anyway, you Shiites never paid for electricity. Christians were paying double their bills to cover for you."
"Well, I could have shown you the receipts but they were burned with the house!"

In a totally unrelated event:
(Daily Star, 15 December 2006) Abu Ahmed has cleaned his Kalashnikov, and as a Sunnite says: "It was put away in a nylon case, I cleaned with diesel. I have about 500 rounds. They say they don't want a civil war or a sectarian war, but if they made a mistake and there was blood, there will be blood in return."

In a totally related event:
25% of a class of 40 people believes that a civil war will happen.

As seen on the Hezbollah backed Al Manar television.
The event: A mass celebrated by the opposition in the St. Georges Cathedral for Lebanon's sake.
Event transmitted live by Al Manar now that a major Christian part is their ally.
"Min ajli sayyidina wa ilahina wa moukhallisina Yasou' al Massih wa min ajli tadbirihi al khalassi (For the remembrance of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ and for his salvatory redemption)"
[Rotating over-impression on the screen goes: It is now the "Azan" (Moslem prayer) of noon according to Beirut's time]
[Cut – without any warning to:]
Muezzin chanting:
"Achhadou anna la ilah illa Allah, Achhadou anna la ilah illa Allah, Achhadou anna la ilah illa Allah (I testify that there is no God but Allah)"
[Cut back - without any warning to the mass- with the people chanting an old Syriac prayer]
"Kyriye layson, kyriye layson, kyriye layson" (God answer our prayer, God answer our prayer, God answer our prayer)]

This is Lebanon. In all its absurdity. In all its surrealism. Lebanon in a nutshell. A nutshell hard to crack. A code so impossible to break. "You never bather in the same water twice" said Heraclites. And you never see the same Beirut twice, I say, I say. A mad city, with a memory as faithful as that of Parkinson's patient, an entity with a purposefully elusive identity, a prostitute with a forever regenerated virginity, a demon with a perpetual redemption towards the heavens. I am Beirut, you are Beirut, he is Beirut, she is Beirut, it is Beirut, we are Beirut, you are Beirut, they are Beirut. And it is never twice the same city.

Serial clicker out on the loose, trying to unthink the thoughts, to unsink the ship, to unwhatever the rest, escaping the automatic Microsoft self-corrector, driving carlessly carelessly on roads with bridges July-mmvii-bombed, taking side roads and following newly placed road signs to get to coastal towns, road signs are never a good sign, putting temporary ones means they are not temporary, suffering from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder six months too late, PTSD – pity the soul despaired, walking on self-curfewed streets, trying to find an empty spot for one in crowded pubs, "reservation for how many people?", one people, one drink, one plate, one sous-plat, table for one in short, vagina for one in skirt, girls in flammable skirts, in neon-colored tops, smilingseducingactingbored all at once, dancing queens having parked their platform shoes, dancing barefoot on tables, celebrating the life, cherishing the undeath, partying as if there was no tomorrow, in a place where tomorrow there might not be, with unsellable manuscripts unedited and unabridged in bottom folders never to be opened again.

Versus is a separation between two entities, often if not always, antagonistic. The Sharks and the Jets, the Caputlets and the Montagnes, the north and the south, the good and the evil. But is there not a meeting point for antagonistic entities, for contradictions? And what if the reference point or axis of classification was inverted, does this not mean that what was north is now south and vice versa, what was good is now evil and the opposite true?

Finally, someone had understood that the meeting place was more important than what it was meant to separate. Versus no more. Welcome to contradiction. Welcome to a city, much like snake, having to shed its skin periodically in order to survive. Welcome, you are entering Be

Friday, December 2, 2016

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 32

Abou Fouad, from the YES detergent fame of "3 in 1" is offering his expertise in triplicates to the Lebanese public enticing them to find a collective identity via language. The same word or concept has been applied to three different situations illustrating how versatile it is. This is who we are as Lebanese, through the words that go out of our mouths. All artworks by yours truly.

LibanPost - the coolest thing is to...

"The coolest thing is to do nothing" - so goes the pretty funny ad. Sorry, the transposition does not do the original justice about their call center. My own experience with LibanPost was very positive so indeed their call center is to be trusted, and their efficiency is exemplary. And the ad is very cute to top it all. In praise of farniente of some sort, or of delegating the work! Apparently this comes Impact BBDO who seem to be on a roll as of late if the Pepsi Independence Day campaign is any proof!

Libanlait to the rescue of farmers

Libanlait goes to the rescue of farmers. The mechanism is a little odd (I am an economist but still do not get the direct link) whereby they are decreasing the price of their Grandlait can from 2850 LBP to 2200 LBP. I am speculating this means higher consumption of milk due to lower price, ergo higher need of production from farmers supplying them milk and nutritive elements. I suppose after the apple crisis which has hit Lebanon lately, anyone who works in agriculture now is under the microscope in terms of plight. 

Beirut Mayhem-ek by Tarek Chemaly (Part V)

Beirut mayhem-mek part V:

"Hello this is Camille… I saw your ad in Al Waseet about your hotline…"
"Hello Camille. The Lord be with you. What is troubling you my child?"
"I work in a massage center, my passport was confiscated when I entered Lebanon. I cannot escape. I feel helpless."
"Calm down Camille. Please tell me from the beginning."
"My sister and I, her name is Madeleine, we come from Ukraine and we came here. And…"
"Don't cry Camille. Don't cry. The Lord sees your trouble and sympathizes."
"Calm down my child."
"Maybe I should go – tonight we are working at the Super night club. There's a shortage of girls so we have double shift."
"Confide in me. It will help you."
"Now that there are all the United Nations soldiers, we have to work harder. So many men came in. But sometimes they're nice and they offer "extra." They even open me and Madeleine a bottle of champagne. Of course, everyone knows that the bottle is just sparkling wine but we like to call it champagne, it makes us feel better about ourselves. Maybe I should go now."
"Camille don't hang up. I have the perfect solution to stop your tears!"
"Really? What is it?"
"Johnson's baby shampoo… It has a "no more tears" stickers on it, I am sure the bible recommends it somewhere…"
"Oh thank you for the great advice. Goodbye. I just hope my grandmother Sophie is not seeing this from heaven. Goodbye."

Azizati Amal…
"Dear Hope", or so began those sobbing letters in "Samar" magazine, basically a local adaptation of the Italian photoromanze, with such household names as Paola Pitti, Katiuschia, Maria Antoinetta, Simona Pelei, and Michele Laroque, or their male counterparts such as Frank O'neil, Franco Dani, and the Italian heartthrob Franco Gasparri. When the latter had a motorcycle accident, Samar organized a competition for the best love letter dedicated to him, and throughout the Arab region legions of die-hard fans started pouring their gut out, in sympathy, in agony and in solidarity with the star.

Azizati Amal,…
I could never forget the letter where the "tormented Khalil" promised her that if she ever managed to bring him closer to his beloved they'd call their first female newborn – what else but! – "Amal"… Of course, some other letter where at the thin edge of either social disaster or a full-blown prank, such as the one coming from Egypt where a teenager supposedly came home quicker than expected to find his father's room locked. Peeping through the door he finds his sister in bed with his father and her husband watched.

Azizati Amal,…
I find it difficult living in Beirut where things eventually crumble no matter how hard we build them. Do you advise me to leave?
The tormented S.

Dear tormented S.,
Living in Beirut? Imagine like living near a volcano, or on the fault lines where earthquakes are recurring, or in some seashore shantytown. Every other year, you’d have 10 to 15 thousand people dying… The difference is that Beirut’s fate is not a matter of elements of nature. It’s man made. But perhaps these men are behaving without considering the implications of their actions, maybe that makes them as senseless as the elements of nature. So you'd better live with it unless aunt Sumayya from the US sends you an invitation. Patriotism only gets you so far.

… And there was another assassination in Beirut, and I found myself…
Strange how some statements seem ageless and dateless, as if their only reference is simply their own being. The above could have taken place anytime between 1975 and 1990, then sporadically – yet recurrently – after that, although choosing 1990 and 2006 would give a better statistical opportunity of be dead on. Excuse the pun.
It seemed the same as saying “the sun rises”, a benign statement with no implications whatsoever in the grand scheme of things, a mechanic, repetitive act – a little like sex when the initial impulse of the discovery of the other’s body has gone.

Another assassination in Beirut? The sun rises? – Harmless statements in ready-to-dismiss formats which bring the fundamental question “What’s the weather like according to the paper?” For those not paying attention, “the sun rises” was a direct plagiarism of the weather pages. Zap immediately to the sports section, it will save you time.

Never a dull moment in this country. I remember the time back when we believed, and I can't believe that we don't believe anymore. What shall we do with the slogans now? What shall we do with the pins? Or the wristbands, or the T-shirts or the scarves? So many flags waved and so many fears braved, how do we get rid of them? Where do we bury them? And what if we need them once more?

In case we go back to believing. Yes. Back when we believed, we chanted and shouted, and talked to strangers, with luster in our eyes, we claimed that we believed. And now, we believe no more, and wonder how come we once did, back when we believed, and I can't believe, that we don't believe anymore. Am I repeating myself?

Mondays for manifestations, and Tuesdays for sit-ins, Wednesdays for night shifts, Thursdays and Fridays for anticipation, and then the weekend begins. I think we eventually got sold, I just hope they got a good price. But well, for a time at least, it was nice, just to think that we actually believed. So? Did you finish with the banana split? Good… Let me ask for the bill. It may be an unorthodox thanksgiving meal with not gravy or turkey or whatever, but under the circumstances, it was the best thing I could offer you. And remember that you still did not tell me what you are grateful for…. The bill please!"

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 31

Abou Fouad, from the YES detergent fame of "3 in 1" is offering his expertise in triplicates to the Lebanese public enticing them to find a collective identity via language. The same word or concept has been applied to three different situations illustrating how versatile it is. This is who we are as Lebanese, through the words that go out of our mouths. All artworks by yours truly.