Friday, September 29, 2006

For the journalist, on Yom Kippur

For the journalist, on Yom Kippur
by Bradley Burston, Ha'aretz


For the sin we journalists have sinned before thee,
Under duress and willingly

For the truth we have warped before thee
Through hardness of the heart
Through venality of the spirit

For the sin we have sinned before thee in passing judgment
And for the sin we have sinned before thee in the exercise of power

For the prejudices we have nurtured
For the hatreds we have milked
For the reputations we have sullied
For the names we have desecrated
For the guilt we have presumed
For the sides we have taken,
For the sides we have shunned

For the truth we have warped before thee
Hyped before thee, tailored before thee
Pimped before thee
Doctored before thee
For the sake of nothing more than a deadline or a headline
Or simply for our name's sake

For all these
Forgive us, pardon us, atone for us

For the sin we have sinned before thee
In throwing off the yoke of ethics
For the sin we have sinned before thee
Knowingly and through carelessness
For the sin we have sinned before thee
through cunning speech
through scorning with cleverness
through the bias of the narrowed eye, the haughty eye,
through entrapment, through gossip mongering

For the sin of currying favor, by keeping secrets that protect the powerful,
And for the sin of causing death, by revealing secrets that can identify targets

For the sin we have sinned before thee
In choosing the single picture over the 1,000 words
And for the sin we have sinned before thee
In feasting on the failings of those we choose to vilify
And in denial of the evils of those with whom we identify

For the sin we have sinned before thee
In the mining and selling of grief

For the privacy we trample
For the mourners we exploit
For the good names we ruin
And the good works we ignore

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fly Away

I think country songs usually sum it up best.

"Angel carry me oh so far away, may my body never touch the ground. And if I promise you I'll be back some day, will you set me free? So I can fly away... Fly away."
-Sugarland

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Siamese Coup



A coup in Thailand! Thailand was supposed to be the easiest place I was visiting. No visa needed, lots of English spoken and major tourist infrastructure. This is nuts. I am supposed to be in Thailand in a few months, and I have a ticket out of Bangkok on January 8th. Apparently, the Thai military is trying to over throw the Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatara. He is the Thai equivalent of Silvio Berlusconi, a rich media mogul who is plagued by corruption scandals. I was there in 2001 when his party was on the rise. The Thai Rak Thai (Thai Loves Thai)party won a major majority in the 2001 election and again in 2005.

A coup might complicate my trip a little. Maybe I can recruit a band of dart-shooting Thai ladies (don't ask where the darts are shot from) riding on back of elephants to help restore the Prime Minister to power. Maybe not, he is a bit of a scoundrel. I just want things to settle down before I get there.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Leo Africanus





I was wandering in Kramer's Books and Afterwords, browsing through the travel sections and planning for my journey. I meandered over to fiction, and came across a book that caught my eye. "Leo Africanus" by Amin Ma'alouf. I read the first page, and got chills. I get shivers down my spine every time I read it. It is here posted:

I, Hasan the son of Muhammad the weigh-master, I, Jean-Leon de Medici, circumcised at the hand of a barber and baptized at the hand of a pope, I am now called the African, but I am not from Africa, nor from Europe, nor from Arabia. I am also called the Granadan, the Fassi, the Zayyati, but I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road. My country is the caravan. My life the most unexpected of voyages.

My wrists have experienced in turn the caresses of silk, the abuses of wool, the gold of princes and the chains of slaves. My fingers have parted a thousand veils, my lips have made a thousand virgins blush, and my eyes have seen cities die and empires perish.

From my mouth you will hear Arabic, Turkish, Castilian, Berber, Hebrew, Latin and vulgar Italian, because all tongues and all prayers belong to me. But I belong to none of them. I belong only to God and to the earth, and it is to them that I will one day soon return.

But you will remain after me, my son. And you will carry the memory of me with you. And you will read my books. And this scene will come back to you: your father, dressed in the Neopolitan style, aboard this galley which is conveying him towards the African coast, scribbling to himself, like a merchant working out his accounts at the end of a long journey.

But is this not in part what I am doing: what have I gained, what have I lost, what shall I say to the supreme Creator? He has granted me forty years of life, which I have spent where my travels have taken me: my wisdom has flourished in Rome, my passion in Cairo, my anguish in Fez, and my innocence still flourishes in Granada.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bibi on "Real Time with Bill Maher"



Bibi interview on Bill Maher. Can't say I have ever been a big Bibi fan, but he is an amazing spokesman.

http://igoto.co.uk/2hv

Okay, the link is having problems with popups. Just go to hbo's website and click on Real Time with Bill Maher. i think it is show 81

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My latest radio interview

http://www.thewhatsupradioprogram.com/audio/060906PR.mp3

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Juxtapositions

Ah the duality of my life. On one level, I am a world traveler planning out the next stages of my global journeys. On another, I am 26 years old and living at home. On one hand, I am set to journey thousands of miles away; on the other hand, I am in my mid-twenties and somehow living at home. Both living thousands of miles away, and yet in my parents house. I either have ambitions of Marco Polo-esque grandeur, or have no real ambitions other than living off the fat of my parents' home until I embark. Strange how I can be both so grand and so pathetic at the same time. Somewhere between a global nomad and an international bum.

Friday, September 01, 2006

For Everything Else...

Two thousand, three hundred and eighteen dollars. That is the price to fly me all over Allah, Buddha and Mao's green earth. For roughly the price of my ticket, I could spend one night in the Burj al-Arab hotel in Dubai (the world's only 7 star). Or I could spend a week in Sagmore, Cape Cod. Better yet, a month in my friend's Park Place studio that is the size of my dining room. Perhaps the yearly salary of the average man in Tonga. I prefer my five and a half months of glorious travel.

Washington to Beijing through Vietnam, Cambodia, maybe Lao to Thailand. Bangkok to Calcutta, Kolkata these days, all around India onto Pakistan. From Karachi to Dubai. Dubai the land of avarice. Dubai to Bahrain. Bahrain to Amman. Jordan to Israel to Egypt. I would have preferred to finish in Israel but symbolism isn't worth a few hundred dollars. Cairo on home. My basic itinerary is set. Now all the fun with visas and getting set to go. There and back again, sayeth Bilbo.