Category Archives: middleeast

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE 61ST FOOT

christmas

“The land beneath Egypt and Gaza resembles a Swiss cheese,” reports the BBC, “full of holes and tunnels through which the Palestinians smuggle the everyday items they are denied by the blockade.”

Tunnels (and intertubes) perforate ‘national’ borders. Makeshift submarinesnarcosubs – circumvent them. Last I heard it cost Japanese kids $2000 to bribe a particular NYC visa worker for a ‘real’ student visa. Fake passports are much, much heavier. Wormholes fill our undocumented world. Money is always the best grease for movement, although people will never be a slippery as capital. But back to Gaza.

According to The Guardian, Hamas licenses, taxes, and provides electricity for these tunnels, while prohibiting drugs and booze and smokes from entering. Sober city. “Palestinian smugglers in Gaza have built dozens, perhaps hundreds, of underground tunnels through the sand to bring a wide range of goods into the small territory, from food to fuel to cattle, to skirt Israel’s economic blockade.”

Hence the U.S.-backed construction of a steel wall, which will stretch for several miles and go roughly 60 ft. underground, an anti-tunnel barrier which reportedly “cannot be cut or melted – in short it is impenetrable.”

tunnel

“There are thought to be hundreds of tunnels along the border”

The dark osmosis of border smuggling is mostly – but not always – profit-oriented. But enough about walls, and tunnels and submarines which can transport drugs or people or anything, really; let’s talk about fishing. And food.

My friend Maggie Schmitt is working on a series of mini-documentaries about daily life in Gaza. Here is a recent piece of hers which was picked up by The Nation:

and here’s an excerpt from her Atlantic piece on eating under seige:

Once upon a time, Gaza was known for its citrus trees and its extraordinary seafood, the smell of jasmine in the evening. No longer: now it is hard to find any image of Gaza that does not reek of death, destruction and deprivation. And yet despite the siege, the bombings, and the political turmoil that surrounds them, the people of Gaza continue to live and to create their small share of beauty and grace wherever they can. One of these places is in the kitchen.

What I want to tell you about is the kitchen, with women’s bright eyes flashing as they roll out the dough, and the herb garden religiously tended, and the delicate meal eaten in the shade of a fig tree. But alas, we are in Gaza, and I can’t talk about the kitchen without talking about everything else.

06 beach slideshow

“Beachside cafés survive in the shadow of destruction. These residential buildings were leveled by F16s.”- photo by Amir Sadafi

GO GO GO

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Izza Kizza – Don’t Stop Go! (prod. Koolade)

Koolade is from Croatia! i played in Zagreb (his hometown) once. People asked smart questions. Our hotel stood next to ‘Colonial Cafe’, lil negroes as the logo. After our party there was a rave that i didnt go to – they said there was a big rave scene — it sounds like Koolade might have dipped in from his super duper synths.

from Kizzaland, a free Izza Kizza mixtape by Catchdubs!

USMAP

[US states renamed for countries with similar GDPs]

MUSLIMGAUZE

“Muslin Gaze”, an essay I wrote on Bryn Jones aka Muslimgauze was just published in the summer issue of Middle Eastern arts & culture magazine BIDOUN. The print version is reliably lush and well worth seeking out.

You can read the essay online here.

smallcover

nice to have words in print. expect more soon: this blog post = me procrastinating from another long piece for a journal… i’m so late for deadline that i’m terrified they’ll deploy their intern-assassin to my home.

Here’s a Muslimgauze tune I reference in the article, from his 1996 album Gun Aramaic.

200px-MuslimgauzeGunAramaicAlbumCover

Muslimgauze – 8 A.M., Tel Aviv, Islamic Jihad

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.

– - -

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

DUBS

This Thursday I’ll be DJing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. That sudden world city.

I wrote a longer post but the machine ate it. This song – Berber vocoder mountain pop with dapper strings – has nothing to do with the Persian Gulf.

Najmate el Rif – Diwana (fassiphone)

buyable, sort of. On the cover art below, a woman tries to hide her titillation and subsequent shock upon stumbling into the Slave Leia Appreciation Society. A chunky photoshop chorus unites the gayish singers beneath her.

 La caravane du Rif

TROLLS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

all images from Les Trolls tour blog. does anybody know Sebby Frescoe? please tell him to get in touch with me. OK, let’s go –

darla3

 

 

luxor11

(seen in Luxor, Egypt)

 

  • another ‘whirled music’ label that has slowly been edging into visibility as of late is Terp. I appreciate Terp (not just b/c its run by friends), it’s a person-to-person, sustainable approach. perhaps all african music labels based outside of Africa should run by committed anarchists… This track is sweet kora (a world music instrument if there ever were one) by Djibril Diabete, from his Hawa CD, buyable.

Djibril Diabate – Masani Cisse (Hawa, Terp)

 

  • Broklyn Beats blogs. Wherein we learn that our strange & wonderful French friends from Toulouse, Les Trolls, are on a (musical) tour of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon! and blogging it. Excellent fotos surrounded by words I can’t quite understand. ive posted their tunes before (“resin-gummed southern France samplers on full post-D&B mashout mode”)

 

  • metacanons fire! this W&W entry sparks nice commenttalk.

alex6

SAFE?

Raz Mesinai, a friend, is Badawi, and Badawi is Safe. And what is safe?? at least — A gorgeous piece of work released in 2005 given to me by Raz yesterday.

check it

Badawi – Sound On Its Echoing

badawi-safe.jpg

… and today’s NYT casts a long ink shadow on DJ Drama & the mixtape bizness.*

Samantha Shapiro overviews the territory, like the music industry itself, not wanting to delve too deep into the Kafka element that close examination of this warrants. Although there are moments: “…they were part of an alternative distribution system that the mainstream record industry uses to promote and market hip-hop artists. Drama and Cannon have in recent years been paid by the same companies that paid Kilgo to help arrest them.”

(Kilgo is short for Kilgore Trout.)

* note: to bypass nyt and other ‘registration’ silliness, the bugmenot firefox extension works well. non-firefoxies can use regular bugmenot for the same.

DISORIENTED

in next weeks’ news– my band Nettle will perform at Berlin’s Transmediale this wednesday jan 31., with renaissance badboy Daniel Perlin on joining us on video.

the night, Crossings, looks promising:The A-Trio (with everyone’s favorite Beiruiti cartoonist/blogger/free improv musico, Mazen Kerbaj), the Sublime Frequencies crew (why yes, SubFreq used my friends’ music and images on their Radio Morocco CD with no attribution or permission or payment whatsoever!), and the Staalplaat Soundsystem.

a-trio.jpg

& i’ll be in Hamburg on Feb 2 (golden pudel. w/ DJ Nron), and Barcelona on Feb 3. Reboot party @ Can Kadena.

here’s a song from Sublime Frequencies’ Choubi Choubi! Folk and Pop Sounds from Iraq compilation. The blown-out cassette compression/distortion gives it a raucous, strangely solid sound. For fans of Muslimgauze! Muslimgauze’s Bryn Jones orientalized the Middle East, yes, but he also fetishized the poor (re)production quality of its cheap tapes, re-creating that sound quality obsessively. The two activities seem related. Ventriloquism. Distortion & distance, tapes loops & tiny strings. I’ve been guilty, too.

Bawn – Ya Binaya Goumi

iraq_cd_300_dpi.jpg

bcn3-2-07.jpg