OVERTURN

say hello if you come to the Free Culture National Conference at Harvard tomorrow. Don’t tell Elizabeth that I still haven’t decided what I’ll talk about…

A few days ago Geoff pointed me to an excellent Mike Davis article: Fear and Money in Dubai.

I wrote on Dubai while there but havent had time to edit it. until next week, here’s some cellphone-photojournalism.

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so imagine, you’ve been in a plane, 5 miles up, for 14 hours. you land in Abu Dhabi and suddenly you’re inside a giant psychedelic mushroom slash inverted hot-air balloon slash airport terminal. it’s disorienting, if not totally weird. there’s a piano bar downstairs. you stagger through customs saying hello and thank-you in bad Arabic. The baggage carousel smells of frankincense.

abudhabiairport

the entire city of Dubai is seized by an incredible frenzy of becoming. Everything is building, being built. A skyline of scaffolding and cranes outshines the completed structures and obliterates the horizon — that old desert constant. the blue dots below are workers from the Indian subcontinent paid slave wages to do dangerous work under unthinkable conditions. These men are radically unprotected, both legally and physically. Here, they help impart a sense of scale, which is one thing Dubai tends to resist.

construction

City splinters: the only people awake now are either partying or building buildings. The afterparty got busted & the more hip Lebanese joint on the other side of the street/highway was closing so we ended up here. Neon, glass, and shishas with the Emirati ruling class at 5:30am. Tiny birds swooped down, the sun rose up. The crew I was with left at 6 to hop on a plane to Bahrain. Some DJ was playing there…

530am

but the flip side of all the capital, inequalities, and improbabilities that congregate & magnify in Dubai is Ozymandias, a pile of bricks, a construction site in ruins, time as sand pulling what seemed whole into pieces. the antimagnificent. the overturned.

ozymandias

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