451ยบ F

“He saw himself in her eyes, suspended in two shining drops of bright water, himself dark and tiny, in fine detail, the lines about his mouth, everything there, as if her eyes were two miraculous bits of violet amber that might capture and hold him intact.”

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


*image is an edited screen shot from Gucci Guilty TVC

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5 Smells of a Beiruti Summer

1. Eau de Pub

The pub crawl stench. This is not restricted to the summer season but tends to increase in intensity during vacation periods due to pubs’ desire to fill their venues to maximum capacity. That combined with humid weather and weak air conditioning/ventilation gives you the pub crawl stench that infests your skin and clothing on a night out. It is a combination of cigarette smoke, perfume, deodorant, and various body odors all mixing together thanks to the close proximity boundaries that don’t exist in the Bei. God help you if you come home and can’t shower. 

2. Vape

Pronounced as “VAP”, this is the anti-mosquito magic that most households use. It comes in different forms, but my new favorite is the “wheel” that you light and burn like incense – sorta smells like it too. In Arabic, they’re referred to as “douwaleeb”, or tires, so it goes right along with the newest trend of burning tires.

Vape douleb (singular for tire)

3. Masheweh & Fahim

This means “barbecue and coals.” As is tradition during the summer months – people take advantage of the sunny weather and decide to grill all organs and slabs of meat on a man’al, a rectangular shaped open grill with groves so skewers rest over the coals. It can be anything – chicken, beef, lamb – and of any nature – filet, lungs, wings, etc. It’s commonly known as “kebabs” to the outside world. The side-effect smells are charcoal, garlic and possibly onions if you eat too much fattoush salad.

Source

4. Brakes

The smell of the car brakes after driving up and down mountain roads. The Lebanese version of a roadtrip is to drive up to a village or spot up in the mountains where it’s a bit cooler, sit around and have some masheweh and beer. Majority of the cars owned in this country are not made for off-roading since having smaller sedans is ideal for living in a city that ignores the idea of parallel parking or traffic laws. Therefore, these roadtrips (that actually consist of you driving for two hours tops since Lebanon is smaller than the state of Connecticut) destroy your brakes and “re7it freimet” (the brakes smell) accompanies you on your return down the mountain.

Source

 5. Coconut/Carrot Cream or Johnson’s Baby Oil

Coconut/Carrot tubs of cream are these orangey/brown buckets of stuff that people use poolside. They’re popular but the staple here for becoming brown is Johnson’s Baby Oil, the tanner’s elixir of life. The suntanning folk here tend to swim in it first before swimming in actual water. When I used it once, I felt like a baking chicken that is asking to look like I fell into KFC batter by age 40. Nevertheless, many other people enjoy the deep brown color it seems to help create in the now. I admit that it is a nice hue (with moderation) but it’s not safe medically – I prefer SPF and not looking like Magda in There’s Something About Mary.

Johnson’s Baby Oil Shelf
Magda – Source

British Week at the ABCs & Lebanese Week at Sofil

The British Embassy in Beirut is celebrating British week at the ABC malls. It’s a nice effort to bring something new to the scene and share some culture. They’ve gone all out with labeled wooden phonebooths scattered around the mall with stories inside them – the ones I saw were of The Beatles, William Turner, and English Cake. There’s also some vintage items like a sewing machine, a TV, a computer and a camera, a Twitter wall, Augmented Reality, and random events scheduled throughout the day. In my opinion, best part was the vintage car exhibit at ABC Ashrafieh located between Vero Moda and GS:

Vintage Jag.

Phantommmm.

Jag.
Aston Martin on the left. Yum.
Classic.
Other little things I snapped some photos of: 

Clay Figures.
More Clay Figures.
Phonebooths.

Inside the booth.
Richard Branson!
Vintage Sewing Machine.


There is a Lebanese Film Festival going on this week at Metropolis theatre in Sofil Center. Films from the 60s and 70s are showing throughout the week. The opening was this Wednesday – the movie featured was “Beirut 0-11” with Sabah and Ihsan Sadek, who was present. In the movie, he looked a lot like Amr Diab, but he didn’t age as well as Mr. Habibi ya Nour el Ain. The film was actually entertaining in that I-watch-an-old-movie-and-laugh-at-the-silly-plot-and-horrible-special-effects way. If you enjoy vegetating on the couch watching TCM, this will be a fun night out. “Sabah saved the day with her Manolos” as my friend put it, as Sabah discretely leaves behind her pump disguised as a bomb on the bad guys’ yacht. 

Entrance to each film is 5,000 LL or you can get a full pass for 40,000 LL but, be warned, only two films have English subtitles and the rest may be in Egyptian Arabic. Check out the program for the rest of the week here.

Beirut 0-11: The Opening Film.

I think the part that a lot of people ignored was the mini poster exhibition. There were about 16 posters hung up at the entrance to Metropolis – vintage posters from old Lebanese films. If you don’t want to stick around for a movie, then at least sneak a peek at the posters. 

The Damien of Fruits

The Durian Slice.

A durian, or the Damien of fruits as I call them, is a fruit from southeast Asia. Recently, my teenage sister has decided to become a vegan and, besides her regular speeches against red meat and philosophies on spirituality, she experiments in imported goods and edible shrubbery.

Before moving to Singapore, a friend of mine had introduced the mythical fruit to me but only in words. We watched Natalie Tran’s video about Singy, where the YouTube sensation said that they were illegal on the metro because of their trademark odor. Vegan sister has shown me why. Her latest experiment was one durian bought for 16,000 LL (a bit over $10) from TSC. And she decided to store the spiky whoopee cushion in the fridge after cutting it open. Why is this bad? I’ll tell you.

The fruit can only be described as the lovechild of a pineapple and blowfish. The smell, which infested our kitchen and fridge, is like a rotten egg stuffed in a gym sock that was soaking in a septic tank. The fact that it looks like a medieval weapon and smells like a medieval outhouse would make one wonder if it’s supposed to be ingested. Isn’t that natures way of saying “stay away”? I thought to myself, don’t judge. What if it’s delicious? What if this is actually the sneaky durian’s way of testing the human race? Only those who are strong enough may have me, a chastity belt for fresh produce.

So I tried it. It was hard to do since you can’t avoid smelling the fruit before consuming it. So I plugged my nose. At first, it tastes like almonds. And then it starts to taste just like it smells right when you’re about to start digesting it. By then, it’s too late. You’ve been durianed. I ate a teaspoon of Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip frosting to get rid of the aftertaste. Did I mention she put it in the fridge?

Ernest Hemingway at Midnight

Ernest Hemingway’s character in the Woody Allen film, “Midnight in Paris”, makes a beautiful speech as they ride to Gertrude Stein’s place (based on a quote by Hemingway himself, pasted below).

This movie is light and great if you’re in the mood to chill on the couch on a Friday night and order in.

“All men fear death. It’s a natural fear that consumes us all. We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all, which ultimately are one and the same. However, when you make love with a truly great woman, one that deserves the utmost respect in this world and one that makes you feel truly powerful, that fear of death completely disappears. Because when you are sharing your body and heart with a great woman the world fades away. You two are the only ones in the entire universe. You conquer what most lesser men have never conquered before, you have conquered a great woman’s heart, the most vulnerable thing she can offer to another. Death no longer lingers in the mind. Fear no longer clouds your heart. Only passion for living, and for loving, become your sole reality. This is no easy task for it takes insurmountable courage. But remember this, for that moment when you are making love with a woman of true greatness you will feel immortal.” Ernest Hemingway

It’s All About Little Victories


There is an exercise I read about somewhere (forgot where, I’m not taking credit for this) where, every night, you write down one thing that made you smile that day. Just one little thing. It could even be something that reeks of utter awesomesauce but it could also be something as simple as “I found matching socks.” Yes, that is a battle I fight every morning. Don’t judge me. 


The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things,” said Henry Ward Beecher – and he’s right. 


You can find joy in the smallest things and if you go over the stuff you’ve written down over the span of just a week, you’d be surprised at the nice little victories and moments that you take for granted because you’re too busy thinking about how you paid a dollar for a cookie that wasn’t even squishy in the center. That’s just wrong but there’s bound to be something that’s gone right. 


Write it down.

A beautiful day walking on the boardwalk.
A stray flower.
Snagging a good couch at a coffee shop.
A friend’s returned home.