Paladi, or is it baladi?

I’m writing this during the wee hours of the morning, shortly after John McCain cast his Gladiator style thumbs-down vote on the Skinny Repeal.

From my perspective, which is the POV of view of someone who is planning on leaving the United States for an extended period of time, this development removes (for  now) the likelihood of my wife’s insurance premiums skyrocketing out of control.


So, for the time being, our rationale for suddenly moving to France to obtain cheap insurance has abated. Given that Brexit is proceeding at a slow and murky pace, I am relieved that I do not have to hope for Theresa May’s removal from office in order to have confidence in being able to secure affordable insurance for my family, thanks to my UK/EU passport.

As for the Islamophobia rationale for leaving the land of motherhood and apple pie: yes, the United States is filled with vile bigots who hate not only Moslems, but Jews, Blacks, Mexicans,  Sikhs, you name it.

It’s a country where around 40 per cent of the voting population are just a few steps removed from the inbred, vacuous opiod dullards who subsist on venison, welfare, SNAP, white lightning stills, and cooking meth deep in the mountains of Appalachia — all of whom vote Republican and love guns.

feels good, man

feels good, man

But that does mean 60 per cent are not that way; for example, not everyone my age in Florida grows a horseshoe stach and dons a red bandana to cover up the balding pate.

Not everyone rides around in packs of  gleaming chrome hogs with little American flags fluttering in the breeze.

It is this promising reality — that younger, Red State millenials no longer automatically follow in the footsteps of parents and grandparents who continue to vote for the policies of a Republican party that surreptitiously wants to thrown them under the bus for the benefit of the ultra rich — which gives me hope for the eventual forced removal from the White House of the national fiasco that is Donald Trump.

McCain, the war hero, may have started his end.

With respect to my immediate plans, I do look forward to visiting Nice a few  weeks from now, as I have a long history and association with that town.

It shall no doubt be an enjoyable 10 days; however, la Bella Nissa long ago moved very far away indeed from the days when it was a winter pleasure palace for the English.

Blame it on the EU Gypsies, the pieds noirs, the Arabs, the Africans, or blame yourself, Mr. and Mrs. Tourist for a state of affairs that was well-articulated by a person commenting on a recent article in the Guardian about the decline of Venice:

Towns that solicit tourism dollars usually winding up selling their souls. You cannot have tourism dollars without the impacts – rich second homeowners, overcrowding, loss of local culture. We all crave culture, true culture, what is organic to the place. When present, one gets a sense of place, which is what make a place special. Industrial tourism is based on more, more, more, squeezes out what is precious. And suffocates that sense of place.

After a short stay in the South of France, I shall move on to Gouna (whose residents ought heed the above quote!) in mid September, soak up the atmosphere there for a while, then most likely return to the States around April.

I have started to seriously research the current state of Egypt by reading Mada Masr as well as think tank articles from outfits such as the Tahrir institute for Middle East Policy.

Egypt is in much more serious trouble than I realized. The degree of corruption, lack of economic transparency, and secretive control of all major aspects of Egyptian government and commercial activity by the armed forces is jaw dropping.

Given all the social upheavals and terrorist attacks and general paranoia and mass executions and incarceration of any Liberal voice that dares speak out against the Sisi cabal, I am not sure if the current administration is going to survive long.

Clearly if the current Egyptian strongman becomes too much of a liability, he’ll undoubtedly be immediately replaced (just as Republican lawmakers will start to go after Trump, following the looming, almost certain 2018 midterm election debacle) by the shadowy claque of generalissimos and their pleasant friends that constitutes Egypt’s so-called “deep state.”

Most of it is kind of like an Arabian Mafia that has kept my beloved Egypt in a stranglehold since the 80s.

It is composed of typically crass types (originating from various fetid “baladi” backgrounds, in contrast to, say, the Turko-Egyptian aristocracy that once ruled Egypt) who ensure that their sons and daughters go to the AUC to pick up bogus American accents and learn how to pretend to be Western and mimic American slang and culture.

The whole point of Life to these toads is to have a Swiss bank account, a boat or two, lots of nice houses in places like Gouna and the South of France and London, and, most importantly, no shortage of foreign whores (usually Russian, but sometimes European) to hang out poolside, like the ones you see in the Salud episode of Breaking Bad, where Gus Fring takes his revenge on the drug cartel.

breaking bad


Their pointlessly material world fascinates me!

Beyond the obvious superficiality of this particular crowd, I also look forward to immersing myself in and enjoying being at the source of the post revolutionary creativity that has blossomed since the collapse of Jan 25 and the demise of the Arab Spring.

The chaos of wars and dictatorial regimes and suffocating religions and massive social injustice has often lead to the emergence of remarkable novels, ground-breaking cinema, and in-your-face new forms of music.

It has already done in the Arab world in the last few years.

That’s probably the only positive upside to what is clearly a very dangerous moment in Egypt.


The slow goodbye

I will miss this beach, compadres, but not much else. You can’t see them here, but there were 4 nurse shark swimming not far offshore, in about 15-20 feet of crystal clear water.




Art work by Nour Helmy

Yet, Gouna beckons…. ever stronger now. Imagine this: the return of the native, the Egyptian Martin Guerre, after half a century, a refugee from his adopted coutnry.

I have often imagined bring my SUP board here, launching out and paddling all the way to Africa.

This in the years where I felt trapped and that there was no way out of the fetid swamps of Florida.

I should have done this 15 years ago, but I didn’t.

So just counting out the days now, like a prisoner waiting for his release.

It’s almost over.

Meanwhile, see this willet go, “oh oh: human approaching.”




41 days left!!!



Did Richard Gere flirt with my wife?

My wife chatting with Richard Gere in Manhattan, during his Cindy Crawford days


When it comes to leaving America to hang out in Gouna till the Orange Bat’ta is removed from office, you have to ask yourself, what, oh Lordie oh Lord, is it that I am actually going to do there?

Well, there’s always this.

luxor beer

And if that’s too filling, or too strong at 10%, there’s also this — which is actually Made in Gouna.

gouna wine

I like this idea of a wine called “Shahrazade,” or Scheherazade, as you khawagas like to say.

I’m thinking maybe it can tell me a story every night, as I sit at my comp and compose the novels that will finally gain me the literary recognition that has been so painfully deferred.


Just in case, what else is going on?

Well, if you’re talking Gouna in late September, you are talking film festival, dude:  as in the launch of the Gouna Film Festival.

gouna film festival

Now I don’t know much inside dope about this event, but I did notice the impressive number of FB likes it has accumalated.

So I went to Gouna News, the go-to place for everything Gouna.

There I learned that a “Superstar” Egyptian actress named Bushra is actively involved in making the festo a success.

If you are unfamiliar with her, Bushra has starred in numerous films, including Mohammed Diab’s Bus 678, which won top prize in 2010 at the Dubai International Film Festival.

Bushra also appeared in a minor role in legendary Egyptian helmer Youssef Chahine’s Alexandria New York.

As I read with great interest Gouna News, which you should bookmark if you ever are thinking of visiting the Red Sea, I also discovered that Bushra has just invited action hero Scottish actor Gerard Butler to GFF.


Now I have to admit that I am not overly familiar with Butler’s no doubt magnificent body of work, so I checked out Netflix, and, sure enough, there it was, a movie starring none other than himself.

I’ll deffo be watching London Has Fallen later tonight, despite, or pehaps because of this review in Eye for Film, but only after some light Nic Khoury comedy.


After all, there’s nothing like a Netflix action movie to lull me to beddie bye bye, even though this film does seem to trade in the always fascinating Moslem-are-swarthy-terrorists trope.

Never mind, the Lawrence O’Donnell micro cameo you see in the trailer is a plus.

Besides, I can always turn to YouTube and fall asleep watching Chahine score a few political points off Stallone.

I know what you’re really thinking.

Here’s the deal.

That Richard, he never stood a chance.