A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Archive for the ‘music’ Category

“When the midnight camel leaves for Tripoli…”: Bing Crosby’s “The Road to Lebanon”

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 23, 2009

Inspired by QN’s recent musical turn (“it took five minutes,” he claimed when I spoke with him yesterday. “Much less time than researching and writing another analysis for the blog.”), I thought I’d share another musical gem with all of you: The Road to Lebanon, a bizarrely enticing 1958 television special. Think “movie of the week” meets “vaudeville”, with a splash of camels and some belly dancing.

The entire production is viewable online at Retrovision, which describes the show as follows:

A rare, television-produced “road” picture which most fans don’t know about. Bing Crosby is scouting locations in Beirut to do another road picture – without his [usual] partner, Bob Hope! When he runs into Danny Thomas, who is judging a local beauty contest, Bing and Danny are kidnapped by a sheik who is out to punish Thomas because one of his ancestors committed the sin of getting a nose job. Many musical numbers, live camels and even Bob Hope himself add to the fun in this TV rarity.

The twist here, of course, is that Danny Thomas was Lebanese – and spoke Arabic. He plays all the male Arab characters, including Ali-Ali-Oxen-Free, the sheikh who seeks to put him to death because Danny’s emigrant ancestor supposedly got a nose job after arriving in the United States. While the story itself is beyond light, and the stereotypes are rife (the title of this post is taken from the opening song), the Arabic is hysterical. Clearly, he and the producers anticipated at least some Arabic-speakers among the viewers, and cared enough about them as an audience to give them a good laugh.

Let me give you an example.

While wandering through the desert (I know: its not Lebanon. But in the story, its a desert) to escape the sheikh, Danny tries to plead his case before an unsympathetic armed guard. “Amil maarouf,” he starts. “Bt7ibb la7m bi-tanjara, kibbe nayyeh, ou baba ghannoush?” The guard nods, grinning, and turns away.

“What did you say?” Crosby asks. “I don’t know,” Danny replies. “I either said, ‘Take me to your leader’ or ‘someone’s taking a bath in the water hole’.”

But he did know, and so would any Arabic speaker watching, and so will you.

Happy watching!

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Posted in Arab world, Arabic, Beirut, cedar, music, women | Leave a Comment »

Les hommes de ma vie: Dalida at Bardo

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 30, 2009

It was a warm spring evening in 2007, and G and I had no real plans. K had just returned from two days in a place I think of as ‘Maronite Central’, without being converted OR raising sectarian tensions, – an achievement that we thought deserved a drink in honor of religious diversity.

But given that it was spring 2007, and late spring at that, we were still wary of heading out to the marquee boites. So we met at the usual spot: Bardo, whose out-of-the-way location and bunker-like appearance had made it our number-one choice for bomb-free evenings out.

We arrived to find people spilling out into the garden walkway: Bardo was packed, and mostly with young, well-manicured Lebanese men. It was so crowded that not only were neither of our two usual tables available, but nothing was. We sat outside, at one of a set of makeshift garden tables brought out to accommodate the overflowing crowd.

What is going on? K asked.

A “Dalida tribute night”? G asked, horrified, after reading the chalkboard. I don’t think we want to stay at this place.

But I was hungry and lazy, and in any case our options were somewhat limited. So we stayed through a quick dinner and a round of drinks, as the volume of the speakers inside the restaurant increased steadily to the point that we had to lean in to hear one another speaking. And meanwhile we found ourselves eyewitnesses to at least one segment of Beirut’s vibrant gay culture. Dalida isn’t my favorite singer, but she clearly resonated with the young men around us, who sang along enthusiastically.

You too can enjoy an evening dedicated to video clips of such hits as “Helwe ya baladi” and “Je suis malade” sung by a woman who appears to be the Levantine gay male answer to Bette Midler. According to Time Out Beirut, Bardo is hosting another Dalida tribute this evening:

A tribute to Dalida
9pm Bardo, Mexico street, Opp Haigazian University, Clemenceau, 01 340060 Reservations recommended.
Bardo invites you to come celebrate the Egyptian Italian singer Dalida. With DJ Laila playing her tunes accompanied by clips from Dalida’s movies, this promises to be a nice evening full of nostalgia for a never forgotten singer.

Posted in Americans, Beirut, music, nightlife | Leave a Comment »

operas and other works of imagination

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 14, 2009

After making A serve as my grapefruit guinea pig last weekend, our conversation turned to more general developments in Lebanon – and specifically, to the post-war fate of Martyrs’ Square.

Its amazing how different it looks today compared with before the war, A said.

I agree, I said. Starting in the late 1800s, Martyrs’ Square (known then as the Bourj, or the Place des Canons) became the heart of downtown life, with shops, banks, cafes, and other businesses springing up around its perimeter, a public garden covering the square, and a pay garden – for the wealthy – at its heart. Today, Martyrs’ Square is basically a nothing space.

And what I love best is that the Virgin Megastore replaced the old opera house, A continued, smiling.

I stopped smiling and started to fuss.

Why does this “opera house” canard persist? I understand its appeal: it allows people to use the replacement of opera by dance music as a metaphor for post-war Lebanese culture – but I don’t see any historical evidence for it. No rhapsodies by turn-of-the-century Lebanese or visiting foreigners about opera, no “news of the weird” pieces about how Beirut used to be a major stop on the European opera circuit. (By contrast, we all know that Aida premiered in Egypt.) Is there some secret Beirut opera history of which I am unaware?

From what I have read, the Virgin Megastore is housed in the old Cinema Opera. I.e., the cinema’s name was “Opera”, just like there was a Cinema Roxy, a Cinema Metropolis, a Cinema Empire, and so on. There was no Beirut empire, and there was no Beirut opera house – at least, as far as I can tell. (I’m eager to be corrected, if I am wrong – so if you do have evidence to share, please don’t hold back!)

Here’s what I have found on the subject. In Fin de Siècle Beirut, scholar Jens Hanssen states that the Cinema Opera was built in 1923, on part of the old palace grounds of Fakhr al-Din. A number of cinemas were indeed originally built as theaters and then adapted as technology and tastes changed (for an interesting overview of Lebanese theater, you can read the relevant sections in the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theater, Volume Four: The Arab World here), but it seems that this cinema was built as just that.

Hanssen is a very well-respected younger scholar, who spent a good deal of time doing research in Beirut – at the German institute, I believe. His use of footnotes and primary source research leads me to trust him far more than I trust the many journalists who blithely state that Virgin replaced an opera house.

For a bit of additional color, I suggest this: The cinema does make an appearance in one well-known journalist memoir: Robert Fisk’s Pity the Nation (a book I like, by a journalist I don’t always trust) – as a beaten-up, run-down building weakened by the war:

Zarab took us into a tottering ruin upon whose bullet-scarred facade were the words ‘Opera Cinema’ … In the gloom of the interior, we could make out the faces of other Palestinians, sitting on mattresses on the floor. But Zarab took us straight across to some very narrow wooden slits that had been built into a mountain of rusting oildrums and sandbags at the far end of the building. We were behind what would have been the cinema screen; sunlight streamed through the wooden apertures. Through them, we could see undergrowth, a forest of bushes and trees spreading far across what had once been Martyrs’ Square. (p. 342)

I suspect that this facade didn’t make it through the end of the civil war (the story Fisk recounts above was from 1982), and that with time, memories of the “Cinema Opera” faded into memories of a building known as “the opera”, which outsiders assumed referred to an opera house. (But again, if I am wrong and there actually was a Beirut opera house here, please tell me.) That’s fine: this is how social memory works.

What I like less is the metaphor that seems to have emerged from this mis-remembering: that Lebanese culture has chosen the flash of pop and dance music over the serious art of opera. To me, this not only does a disservice to contemporary Lebanon, but also to the Beirut of the early 1920s – a modern, culturally rich space that embraced cosmopolitanism and whose inhabitants were ‘early adopters’ of many new innovations, including cinema.

In any case, this seems to have turned into a more strident post than I intended. Basically, I’d like to know more about the history of the building, so that we can put the proper historical metaphor to work. For those of you currently in Beirut – or for those who have spent more time at the downtown Virgin than I have – are there any commemorative plaques on it that might shed some more light on its history?

Posted in Beirut, Lebanon, music, research, time | 4 Comments »

Beirut: banding together

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 10, 2009

One of the many events currently taking place in New York’s busy cultural scene is a music festival called “Sounds Like Brooklyn“, which features musicians from – yes, you guessed it – Brooklyn. And the headliner band, which played a concert this past weekend, is called Beirut.

The first time I heard of this band was – appropriately enough – in Beirut, during drinks at Bardo. An incredibly lush piece came over the sound system (a nice break from the usual music played there) and B, whose blushing description of meeting his girlfriend’s parents belied my friend A’s description of him as “a total rogue”, smiled and said, That’s Beirut.

The song was “Scenic World”, and the lyrics are actually quite depressing – but the music is stunning. (You can listen to it here.) Does it sound Lebanese? Not at all – and that’s the rub.

Beirut-the-band has no connection to Beirut-the-city. No Lebanese musicians, no Lebanese musical influences, although the group does claim a strong interest in Balkan harmonies. I wish there were a deeper connection – as do the numerous journalists who have asked Zach Condon, the band’s founder, to explain its name. Perhaps its the fault of youth: Condon was only 18 or 20 when he chose the name, and (thanks perhaps to beer pong?) he seems to have thought nothing more than: “sounds cool”.

Of all the articles I found that addressed the group’s name, this one – a feature in the August 6, 2006 issue of New York Magazine – made me the saddest. I know where I was on August 6, 2006, and I know how I felt about “the Beirut situation”.

Here’s what Condon had to say:

Condon’s band has grown to ten members—just in time, it would seem, to defend its name. “You know, it’s ironic,” he says, addressing the “Beirut situation” before a rehearsal in his Bushwick loft. (Spackle covers everything, including the pots and pans. He and his roommates are trying to build individual bungalows, maybe buy a pool table.) “One of the reasons I named the band after that city was the fact that it’s seen a lot of conflict. It’s not a political position. I worried about that from the beginning. But it was such a catchy name. I mean, if things go down that are truly horrible, I’ll change it. But not now. It’s still a good analogy for my music. I haven’t been to Beirut, but I imagine it as this chic urban city surrounded by the ancient Muslim world. The place where things collide.”

I still like “Scenic World”, but I’ll wait to hear Beirut play live until they do a bit more research into their city.

Posted in Americans, Arab world, Arabic, art, beer, Beirut, Brooklyn, Israel, media, music, news, words | Leave a Comment »

Gem from Gemmayze

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 25, 2009

This weekend I did all the new year cleaning that I ought to have done earlier in January (Or maybe I’m more of a Chinese New Year cleaner.) – including tidying up my computer files.

As I weeded through the photos I took during 2008, this lost gem caught my eye:

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I took this photo one sunny March afternoon, during Lebanon’s first 2008 Easter weekend, when I was giving my parents a walking tour of Gemmayze. (I called it a walking tour; but since I made them hoof it from downtown through Gemmayze and then up to the ABC mall, they refer to it as The Long March.)

80’s Arabic music? I don’t know ANYTHING about the Arabic hits of the 1980s. Someone, please: send me a few titles/artists! I’m imagining a Jordanian Bon Jovi and a Lebanese Boy George … can’t wait to hear about the real thing :).

Posted in Arabic, Beirut, Lebanon, music, nightlife | 5 Comments »

revenge, Saudi style

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 9, 2008

After Qatar’s success in getting Lebanon to return at least to its usual dysfunctional functionality, there was much speculation as to how the Saudis felt about being upstaged by their smaller neighbor.

Thanks to this article from Saudi Arabia’s English-language Arab News, I think we now know:

RIYADH, 9 June 2008 — The Saudi Vs. Lebanon match held at the King Fahd International Stadium here on Saturday had an unusual start after officials mistakenly played the wrong national anthem. Fans were left shocked and Lebanese players were visibly angry when the Syrian national anthem began blaring from the stadium’s speakers, the Arriyadiyah sports daily reported yesterday. Officials quickly realized their mistake, and eventually played the correct national anthem. However, the error, which was committed by the organizing officials of the tournament, prompted the President of the Saudi Football Federation, Prince Sultan ibn Fahd, to order an official investigation into the incident. Saudi Arabia went on to win the World Cup qualifying match 2-1.

The Saudis played the Syrian national anthem for the Lebanese soccer team. I don’t mean to, but I am totally laughing out loud.

Posted in Arab world, Beirut, Lebanon, music, neighbors, politics, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, vanity, words | 7 Comments »

the presence of men

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 3, 2008

The advertisement below has been running on the Daily Star, thanking Lebanese people for attending the free concerts held downtown last week. Seeing it makes me furious. Can you guess why?

Why are there no women anywhere in the first ten “rows”? What kind of public space did these concert-givers create, in which women felt either physically or psychologically unwelcome?

Did women move out of the front rows because there were too many aggressive young men jostling one another for a better view? Did they leave because there were too many hormonal young men with whispered comments and groping hands? Did they leave because their parents would not let them stay out so late on a week night, while their brothers were less restricted?

I find this advertisement, and the reality its photograph depicts, appalling. This is not the image of Beirut that I want to “live on”.

Posted in Beirut, Lebanon, music, nightlife, women, words | 6 Comments »

Dunking & lounging: parents in Beirut

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on March 27, 2008

Its a lovely Thursday evening at home – I’ve been out most nights this week, and am delighted for the chance to do nothing but catch up on exciting home projects like laundry and desk cleaning.

Yes, its a lovely Thursday evening at home – especially since I am enjoying the not-to-be-underestimated pleasures of a rat-free apartment 🙂 .

But I am also missing my parents, and fondly remembering the quirks of Beirut that struck them most.

The day after they arrived, my father was thrilled to discover that Dunkin’ Donuts has established a solid foothold here.

You won’t believe what I just thought I saw, he said. A college student carrying a Dunkin’ Donuts to-go cup.

Well, I was taking them around Ras Beirut at the time, so the college student part wasn’t too unbelievable. And H mentioned just last week that Dunkin’ Donuts is apparently the fastest growing franchise in Lebanon. So when I sent my parents back to their hotel while I stopped at home to toss in a load of laundry, my father had a little adventure of his own: he asked the concierge for walking directions to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts.

They didn’t have crullers, he reported later. (Yes, he’s a New England’er. For those of you wondering what a cruller is, you can find more information here. As for the pronunciation, real Northeasterners say it “krul’-ah”.)

But the Dunkin’ Donuts he found did have something more.

I wish I could have taken a photo, my father said. It was the perfect image: typical Dunkin’ Donuts franchise, but instead of a police car out front, it had a machine-gun toting soldier manning the turret of an APC.

Ah, Beirut :).

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(Advertisement taken from yesterday’s Daily Star. H must be right about the growth rate.)

As for my mother, she would definitely have gotten the “Army men like doughnuts too” photo. She turned out to have a wonderful knack for taking out her camera in front of almost every military installation we passed. And despite my paranoia and anxious “No, Mom!” cries, not one soldier raised a fuss. Perhaps she looked too intent on her photography – or perhaps they gave her a break because Friday was Mother’s Day :).

(I’ve had to hand my camera over to soldiers for taking photos in the wrong place before, and have had at least one friend hauled in for questioning, so it wasn’t gratuitous paranoia.)

My mother also wanted to do some shopping while they were here – she has fond memories of buying out the souks of Damascus. But after a trip to the artisanat (“well, I’m ready to move on”, she said after politely examining all the trinkets) and the ABC (“but I can get all this at home”, she said. Um, yes – and its cheaper. That’s why I save my shopping for the US.) she hit upon a new idea.

I’d like a really nice argileh, my mother announced one afternoon.

Now if there is anyone who truly embodies the American distaste for smoking, that person is my mother. So I tried to dissuade her.

You can buy those in the United States, too, I told her.

I don’t think so, she said. I’ve never seen one.

Well, said my father helpfully, perhaps you haven’t been hanging out in enough head shops.

But I see from her latest email that she did find a treasure – hip, modern, and distinctly Lebanese, and one that I can’t wait to borrow. On their way home, my parents stopped off in Boston so my father could get a real cruller … and visit our extended family, of course.

So when my mother emailed yesterday afternoon, she told me that she was packing up for Iowa – to the sounds of her latest CD purchase: Virgin Megastore’s Lebanese Lounge.

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Its not exactly an argileh, but it does sound good. You can hear samples here, and of course those of you in the Middle East can buy your own copy at your local Virgin store.

Miss you, Mom and Dad!

Posted in Americans, Beirut, family, Iowa, music | 1 Comment »

the month of doing new things: corniche, hip hop, … skiing :)

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 27, 2008

January has been my month of doing new things in Lebanon: everything from walking on the corniche (I know, I know: two years in Lebanon and never a walk on the Beirut corniche? Shame, shame!) to attending a hip-hop concert, which featured a mixture of Lebanese and Arab-American artists.

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Trying to find Black & White was the inspiration for my post on whether one can say “in Monot“. What I failed to mention then was the fact that by attending this concert, I and a good chunk of friends and fellow hoppers made it decidedly less cool. We were (are) all too old, and definitely too un-hip.

My group strategically invited a number of younger friends along for the evening, but even so, I think our average age was in the upper 20s – a bit high for hip hop. The next morning, I imagined the event promoter and the club owner getting together and shaking their heads, asking: who were all those old people, and what can we do to keep them from coming back?

So that was one new thing. But perhaps the biggest new thing, in terms of risk to life and limb, was going skiing last Monday. I had the day off; H has a flexible schedule and the self-punishing desire to spend the day with someone who hadn’t been on skis since 1998.

Early Monday morning I began to panic. What was I thinking, agreeing to get back on skis? What if I fell? What if – worse! – I looked bad? I used to be a graceful skiier, and I dreaded the fall back to grinding turns and awkward pole’ing.

H sms’ed to say that he would be a bit late arriving, and I started to google, looking frantically for skiing tips. Thank goodness for the internet: I found a wonderful, reassuring page with lots of good advice. It didn’t save me from the indignity of H insisting that I start my day with a run down Faraya’s “baby” slope, but it did help me when we moved on to more challenging (i.e., not flat) runs.

When I returned home that evening, glowing with delight and happily in one piece, I decided to do a bit more research on Lebanon’s ski history. And naturally, I started with my favorite all-issues-archived-online magazine.

A January/February 1966 ARAMCO World article called “Ski Lebanon!” had this to say about how the Lebanese ski tradition developed (and no, M, the author of this article, William Tracy, does not seem to have been a spy):

It was a Lebanese engineer returning from studies in Switzerland who introduced skiing to Lebanon in 1913. But it was not until the 1930’s that a group of dedicated French and Lebanese young people began to ski in earnest. “We used to spend three hours climbing a slope,” recalls Dr. George Zabouni, president of the Club des Chalets, Lebanon’s biggest ski club. “Then we’d make one descent and it would be over. Now we make 30 runs a day.”

Dr. Emile Riache, president of the Lebanese Ski Federation, makes the same point. “For 20 years we had no mechanical tows. How could we really improve our technique with one run a day?” He mentioned, as an example, the effort involved in climbing 10,000-foot Mt. Hermon of Biblical fame. For one admittedly breathtaking, 20-minute descent, it took five hours of climbing …

Yes. 300 minutes climbing, 20 minutes skiing. I would have found some other hobby.

When Tracy wrote his article, Faraya was new:

For Beirut, the newest and the most convenient ski area is Faraya-Mzaar. Only 39 miles away on good if hair-raising roads (and even closer next spring when a new highway will be finished), Faraya is actually within sight of Beirut. On clear days, skiers, moving up the mountainside on the silent chair lift, can look down nearly 8,000 feet and see the outline of the buildings in the city. They can also look down on a snowy plateau at the foot of the ski lift and see a 70-room hotel that would rank with the best in New England or Sun Valley, a youth hostel, a restaurant, a snack bar, a ski shop, a swimming pool with cabanas and 27 furnished chalets. Faraya is primarily the creation of Shaikh Selim al-Khazen, board chairman of the company that developed it and the man who saw the possibilities of skiing many years ago and kept the idea of development alive by sponsoring an annual skiing banquet in the village of Faraya. Skiers who wished to attend had only to climb the nearby summit and ski down once.

Notice “the” chair lift? Apparently the resort had only one lift (and several T-bar tows) until quite recently. It is silent, or silent-ish, although takeoff and landing produced some “oof!” and “ouch!” ing on my part.

Having recently done a bit of research on Lebanon’s economy in the 1950s and 1960s, I was interested to learn that by the mid-1960s skiing was being seen as part of the wave of Lebanon’s economic future. The Aramco World article puts a good spin on it, but the reality is that the country turned to tourism because its reliance on the trade, banking & services aspects of its strong tertiary sector was already proving dangerous. Here’s the positive version:

Charles Helou, President of Lebanon and a former director of the National Council of Tourism, has placed the tourist industry high on the list of priorities for his country’s progress. He has formed a high-level committee made up of representatives from the ministries of public works, interior, and education; from the army and from the ski federation. Michel Khoury, Helou’s successor as director of the tourist council, is committee chairman. The government, according to Joseph Kairouz, president of the Banque du Credit Populaire and promoter of a new project at The Cedars, “has realized that tourism can be our number one industry, a key source of national revenue. And it has suddenly dawned on our businessmen that the jet age has brought us within reach of the middle class European vacationer.”

I usually think of Charles Helou as the name of a grotty garage on the edge of Saifi, but before he gave his name to the site of cheap trans-Lebanon transport, he was indeed the country’s president, and apparently one of the few in government then to push for diversifying the national economy.

My 1965 copy of Travel Lebanon had similarly complimentary things to say about skiing in general and Faraya in particular. Notice the price of a room at the Inter-Con? Don’t you wish you could pay those prices today :)?

In the past year, Faraya has greatly improved its facilities and now sports an ultra-modern hotel. Price: single w/ full board 35 LL.

And what may be the funniest description of Faraya comes from the 2001 Lonely Planet, which says:

Faraya Mzaar is the Achrafiye of the slopes and half the people hanging about in the cafes, restaurants and clubs are too busy partying to actually strap on skis.

Well, H did warn me that Faraya is Frenchie-land, but those who came on Monday came to ski – and some of them were darn good. I’m looking forward to my next jour de ski, and dreaming of the time when I too will schuss down the slopes au parallèle.

Posted in Americans, Beirut, friends, holidays, Lebanon, music, nightlife, skiing, time, tourism, travel, vanity | 3 Comments »

on, but not in, Monot: generational geography

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 22, 2008

Last week I inadvertently started ruffled the feathers of two colleagues, both native Beirutis. I was searching for directions to Black & White, a venue described by a fellow foreigner as “in Monot”.

There is no such thing as “in Monot”, one said to me firmly. They mean that it is on Monot street.

I didn’t want to start an argument, but I was quite sure that I had heard other friends use the expression “in Monot” before – Lebanese friends.

Are you certain? I asked. I’m sure I have heard people say “in Monot” – like they say “in Hamra”.

“In Hamra” doesn’t mean on Hamra street – it means in the area of Hamra, which could refer to a side street or even one of the several streets that run parallel to Hamra. It covers an unmappable but fairly well understood area. AUB is not in Hamra; nor is the City Cafe.

Absolutely not, one colleague replied, closing the subject. Hamra is much longer than Monot – Monot is a very short street.

Well, I’m not sure about that, but I was silenced. At least, I was silenced until that evening, when I learned that the place in question was not only not on Monot, but it was several blocks off Monot. Thank goodness H gave us all a ride – I chose my shoes for that night based on added height, not functionality, and the walk would have done a number on both of us.

I didn’t want to argue with my colleagues, but I did want to sort out the in/on distinction. I wondered whether it might be an age issue, a neighborhood issue, or – sorry – a sectarian issue. People of different ages, people from different neighborhoods, and people of different sects do sometimes “see” the city in different ways.

So I decided to research the issue, i.e. spring the same question on innocent victims otherwise known as my friends.

H, how would you describe where Che is located? I asked one afternoon recently.

Startled, H looked at me. Diamond, he said, its right next to Scallywags.

I know, I replied, thinking: great, now I sound like an idiot. We eat at Scallywags all the time. But if you were giving directions to someone who didn’t know it, where would you say it is?

Hmmm, H said. Well, if I were telling my grandmother, I would say Tabaris, in Achrafieh.

Ahh, I said, thinking: I had no idea that H’s grandmother was such a fan of raucous Cuban salsa cafes. Well, this certainly explains why H likes Abou Elie, the Communist bar in Caracas, so much :).

So I tried again, this time asking L, who actually lives in Achrafieh.

L, I asked, where is Black & White?

L turned and looked at me.

Its the place we went last weekend, L said, frowning.

Right, I said, again feeling like an idiot. But if you were giving directions, what would you say?

Oh, its in Monot, L said easily, with a look of “couldn’t you figure that one out on your own?”

I am several years younger than my colleagues, and L & H are both younger than me. So I suspect that it may be a generational thing. If you passed your nightlife prime before Monot became hot at the turn of the millennium, it is merely a street. If you grew up with Monot-the-hotspot, it is an area unto itself.

Posted in Beirut, friends, music, nightlife, time, words | 1 Comment »