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 someone who’s already booked to leave the United States for an extended period of time, this development removes the likelihood of my wife’s health insurance premiums skyrocketing way out of control.

Naturally I fully expect this loathsome White House to  kneecap the individual mandate, which experts predict will cause a premium rise of around 20 per cent. Not good, but it could be much worse, and probably will be, over the next 4 years.

However, for the time being, our rationale to up sticks to France for cheaper, better coverage has diminished.

Plus, counting on Brexit is risky.

For now, I don’t have to hope that 10 Downing and Brussels negotiate amendments that would allow UK/EU passport holders newly resident in the EU to secure affordable insurance, even if they never paid into Britain’s National Health system.

Unfortunately, the reality remains that Florida is a cultural desert filled with old people, hustlers, and drug addicts.

Not to mention the Islamophobic vibe.

Overall, in fact, the United States remains populated with a significant number of bigots who hate not only Moslems, but Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, Sikhs, you name it.

It’s a country where around 30-40 per cent of the voting population are just a few paychecks or Social Security and Medicaid stipends removed from the inbred, vacuous opiod dullards who subsist on venison, federal welfare, white lightning stills, and cooking meth deep in the mountains of Appalachia — most of whom reliably vote Republican and love them guns.

feels good, man

feels good, man

But that does mean 60 per cent are not that way.

Not everyone in Florida grows a horseshoe stach and dons a red bandana to cover up the balding pate while riding around in costume party hog packs.

Red State Gen XYZs no longer automatically follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents, 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 already started this endgame.

With respect to my immediate plans, I do look forward to visiting Nice, a few weeks from now, particularly as I’ve a long history and romantic 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 wind 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.

One can glean a cursory idea of the real Egypt by reading Mada Masr, Amro Ali’s bomb-ass blog, or some of the other Egyptian/Arab World-related pubs listed on the blogroll in the sidebar.

A deeper understanding can be obtained by wading through heavy duty think tank articles from outfits such as the Tahrir institute for Middle East Policy. Foreign Policy mag pieces on Egypt, or even this paper from the hopelessly right-wing Hudson Institute.

The Internet offers an abundance of such material, which is typically unread by the weekend sun worshippers out for a little action in elite cocoons such as Gouna.

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 would normally be astonishing, if it weren’t for the cynical world view most people with working brains have adopted vis a vis governments in general, and third-world cabals in particular.

It’s rarely good news when a country is racked by social upheavals and terrorist attacks and general paranoia and mass executions and the long term incarceration of any liberal voice that dares speak out.

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

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

It’s composed of typically crass foraging types (originating from various fetid “baladi” backgrounds, in contrast to, say, the former Turko-Egyptian aristocracy that once ruled Egypt, which was the outwardly benign world of my long-deceased relatives) who ensure that their prized first-born sons attend 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 for these toady goombahs 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 skanks (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 creative zeal 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 a resistance that consists of subversive fiction, cinema, cartoons, and music.

This outcome, albeit at a horrific price, has already commenced in the Arab world.

It’s probably the only positive upside to what is clearly a very dangerous moment in Egypt, and elsewhere.

The bottom line for me is that Trump is a disgusting animal.  I choose not to live in the Disunited States during his illegitimate “presidency.”

Luckily, I have other options.


Tourab Amsheer

(the following is an excerpt from an unfinished story)

…and so Ramadan approaches, and the forthcoming Night of Nights still too ill-defined for words, too wrapped in its own insecurities, and Frustration is not being able to read the full version of Life, given how we only float through excerpts, a good excerpt sometimes, yes, but still only an excerpt…

but we can’t leave it like that, raw, bare, like bread without hummus, we have to explain it we have to update it we have to give it a back story we have to show that things have happened since it all started, that we are still relevant, still plugged in, still aware most of all of  our own inconsequential nature, like a scribe wrestling with a Muse that never comes

and so we think of  a particular scribe again as an even older man now too stunned as to how it all turned out after the latest revolution or coup or restoration…

we see him walking over the Bridge of Lions and stepping past the rubble of  dreams almost being hit by toc tocs and motorcycles whizzing by as he solemnly walks every day he walks the same route while remembering the glory days when trams used to run in streets that are now only potholes and broken glasses

to get to the Main Square he has to go through a hole in concrete walls erected by the army to block the demonstrations but the scribe must squeeze through without falling

sad but the scribe has spent that last few decades since his one glorious moment, which he no longer remembers except vaguely, something to do with a reworked version of the story of Keiss and Laila, but he has forgotten writing it, he has even forgotten where it is in his library, his own book, and so wandering about his large mother’s apartment looking for something but it has slipped his mind what was it again was it the book he once wrote?

and so he goes on, sleeping in the very bed his mother died in, looking out the same balcony window from whence she saw him carted off to prison, because he dared to say that something which he can’t quite remember now as he sits and orders a beer at some sidewalk café and rests his old legs

all that was long ago and now he mostly wakes up at 4am and shuffles between his various fridges, obsessed with moving unneeded kilos of once fresh spinach, still with dirty roots, and wrapped securely in plastic bags, from one fridge to the another, not to mention all his other foods, which he reboils regularly late at night, and which have been so long in the fridges that they are quite difficult to identify

but now he is sitting watching the passersby as he has always done

he tried recently always trying, helpless, to make sense of the animated murals, and the roving bands of thugs, the prostitution and drug selling, the boys who attacked him in front of the French Lycée where he studied long ago

but he couldn’t

and not being able to do so, not being able to say anything coherent, except occasional ruminations that no one understands or can relate to:  he has become the fraudulent anti-hero of a story never written

it’s getting late

the scribe is beginning to worry that his time is rapidly slipping away, or maybe he no longer cares, as he holes up each wasted evening in his hermetic apartment, the elevator of course broken, the apartment he has lived in for almost all of his 81 years, except for that garçonnière he once kept in a posh part of town just before the war, when he still drank whisky and had an affair with a famous dancer at a famous nightclub she who liked to put henna on his prick before they made love in the sahara

ah those were the days

and then later after the war for him always the marking point always when he put aside the whisky which was always Johnny Walker Black and began smoking hashish only, not forbidden that, and commiserating with all the other intellectuals, most now long since dead and then of course he made that careless remark in his café after drinking only those harmless beers not even the Johnny Walker maybe it was the hashish, at any rate he found himself dispatched to the dreaded prison in the desert where they beat him and stuck batons up his rectum till he became unconscious

and now he ambles with difficulty now on fallen arches from the bastonades walking every afternoon past the Main Square to the same places every the afternoon, he is usually at the cafe by 1pm, when the place opens unless there is some problem

and so he sits in his favorite wicker chair, chain-smoking his cigarettes, and only able now to drink two or three bottles of beer in the afternoon — but still worth it! — and reading , always reading, not the vulgar new things but the old novels he knows

… and so still he drinks but without exuberance at his café, every afternoon, and the days are aimless and long and he has lost track of them and wonders if Ramadan has come and gone is it already next year or is still some other year some other time he is remembering, until a young foreigner sits next to him and he thinks this young man is sitting next to him because he realizes who he is, a famous writer from the Old School, but the young man does not seem to be aware of this at all.

it is a yellow day and the ancient city is again filled with dust from the desert so thick you cannot see the revolution anymore and the young foreigner turns to him.

“Isn’t it too late for the Khamaseen?”
“What month is it in Arabic?”
“Amsheer, in Coptic.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” the scribe replies with some finality. “The dust you see is called Tourab Amsheer.”