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Thursday we headed over to the east side and Echo Lounge. First on
stage, Babydriver, triple guitar attack somewhere between the
Quadrajets southern trash and your classic bass-heavy metal. Not too
many folks turned out to see the show on a school/war night, but I
enjoyed the performance in sort of a guilty pleasures way. Not to be
taken seriously, though one or two fans in the small gathering
obviously had a different opinion as they pumped their fists
furiously. They didn't laugh when I laughed, but we each enjoyed the
show on different levels.
Hazard County Girls from New Orleans were up next, a three piece that
reminded me of Harlow from the VH1 show "Bands on the Run." Droney,
noisy stuff with a big sound by some cute girls, but SW pointed out
the bass wasn't really adding anything to the sound and with only
three instruments it should stand out. Instead, it followed the
guitar too closely so it got lost in the distortion feedback racket.
Heck, you could hear the bass even under Babydriver's three guitars,
you should be able to pick it out from HCG's one guitar.
Looking back through my notebook, I have no notes at all, just a
blank page, when Immortal Lee County Killers came on. No, it's not
that there was nothing noteworthy, it's that I didn't want to stop
absorbing the show to jot down clever quips and wry observations. And
unlike some acts, I can remember ILCK's performance even several days
later. I also picked up their new CD, "Love is a Charm of Powerful
Trouble." The CD is good - explosive blues-based racket, heavy on the
distortion and feedback, with more than a little extra effort on
drums to make you forget the lack of a bass, but frankly I think the
live show does it better. The CD is good, but it's a little more
schizophrenic than the live show. Usually it's the other way around,
but perhaps they were a little more brave on the recording and a
little less rambling at Echo Lounge on the kickoff night of the
current tour. Or maybe it's their ballsy stage presence that makes
the live show better than the CD. But whatever it is, the show was
fan-goddamn-tastic, whereas the CD is just pretty damn good. But if
you can't catch Immortal Lee County Killers at a club near you, pick
up the CD for the next best thing.
Degenerate GG sent us this:
Interesting piece in a Singapore newspaper by Laith Muhmood Al Adely,
who claims that 9 out of 10
Iraqis are in favor of a US-led invasion to depose Saddam. These #'s
may not be based on
a scientific poll, but the brief article does provide some interesting context.
Peter Jennings will probably lead off his broadcast with this
information any day
now. I declined the offer to subscribe to Salon for $30, so I was
able to read only
a few paragraphs of the story to which you linked.
(salon.com usually has an ad that you can opt to click through for
access to their articles. Check the table below the preview. If there
are three columns, the right hand column contains the ad. You get
access to all their "pay" content for the rest of the day just for
clicking through ads that frequently seem ironic when you get to the
article, particularly the ones for SUV's...)
And degenerate ED has been sending occasional stories from Cairo
since she moved there a while back. I thought you might want to get
another perspective on world events, since you won't get it from any
of the US news outlets with their troops in bed with our boys abroad.
(Or is that "embedded"? Eh, same difference.) Sorry for some of the
text mangling and odd formatting, but that's how they come to us:
Cairo diary 12
March 22, 2003
On my TV on this third day of war around 2 p.m.:
o Fox News: Reports that Saddam Husseinís body may
have been taken out of a bunker on a stretcher.
Reports that Iraqis are kissing the hands of their
o BBC: An in-depth analysis of statements made by
Donald Rumsfeld that have been proven to be inaccurate
and the erosion of Western credibility. This debate is
interspersed with photos of the bombing from Friday
night in Baghdad, surrendering soldiers and injured
women and children in a Baghdad hospital. Reports that
the coalition forces are targeting Iraqís major forms
o Dubaiís Channel 33 (major Arab channel): "Animal
Miracles With Alan Thicke."
o Middle East Broadcasting, Channel 2 (also out of
Dubai; a news channel): "Saved By the Bell 2" and a
commercial for "Beavis and Butthead do America" ó to
be shown next week.
o Iraq TV (state-run, only channel in the country):
Covered-Iraqi women dancing, smiling, chanting, waving
guns, knives, soup ladles and even a cheese grater.
After this "show," Iraqi TV showed scenes of my city,
Cairo, yesterday. The most extensive footage I have
yet seen of hundreds of men (not a woman in sight)
flooding the streets near Al-Azhar University and
mosque and being beaten and bloodied by the Cairo
police. I watched as the injured were being dragged
from the scene ó both bodies of protestors and of
The protests in Cairo yesterday were intense for sure.
We knew it was likely to happen. The warning signs
were everywhere. Thursday I had to take a taxi from my
office to downtown. I must have passed some 400 riot
police waiting to "quell" any protestors. Earlier in
the week, I experienced the first harsh words directed
at me. I was a couple of blocks from my apartment when
someone said "Hey you AmericanÖyou better be careful."
A pretty benign statement really. Fridays are prayer
days and from what we heard from Egyptians, the
sermons would be about war and American aggression.
Davinís appointment to get his computer repaired on
Saturday ó by one of the few locals in the country who
work on Sonys ó was cancelled because we are American.
The guy said he wanted to make a stand and refused any
business from Americans, Canadians and Englishmen.
(Even the Canadians arenít off the hook).
Itís hard to comprehend the protests, honestly. Why
arenít they protesting here, in my very American
neighborhood? Why arenít they looting the American-
and British-owned shops and businesses? As it is, it
is Egyptian vs. Egyptian. The common man vs. the
government. The only comparison I can think of is the
LA riots and how the anger there resulted in internal
damage. It was supposed to represent anger vs. the
white man and the establishment, yet the protestors
looted and destroyed their own neighborhood. Why does
this seem happen with the frustrated and
disenfranchised? Is it ignorance? Or is it misplaced
anger? Is it possible that the Egyptian protestors,
like the LA rioters, are truly angry with themselves,
at their leaders, at their own inability to change
their station in life? Do they feel angry with each
other for taking it? For not trying to change things?
Perhaps the most frustrating part for us, being here,
in the middle of a city violently opposed to what is
going on, is the lack of good, reliable information.
As you can see from above in my intro, the lack of
news from the Egyptian community is appalling. If this
were an American city, news crews would be crawling
all over the place, offering minute-by-minute updates
on which streets were blocked and which neighborhoods
are safe and which are not. The Egyptian government ó
at least on the English-language channels ó is pretty
much ignoring the war and the internal situation. I
realize the government wants to retain control of the
city and will crush any riots, and maybe they think
that rumors ó as opposed to real news ó helps their
situation. Rumors, always more dramatic than actual
events, inevitably grow and mushroom. Maybe itís by
design then. The government realizes the effect the
escalated rumors of protestors being beaten and
subdued will have on the population so why would they
bother elucidating the truth?
I wrote the entry above last weekend but I never sent
it because I was waiting. Waiting for the war to be
over by now. Waiting for some major development to
change things for the better. Waiting to be able to
defend my what country is doing.
I am still waiting. And things have only gotten worse.
The casualties are growing. Incidents of "friendly
fire." The murdering of civilians. The capture of
American soldiers. The injuring of thousand on both
sides. The damage of misinformation. The
irresponsibility of the media on both sides. Rising
oil prices. The warís enormous economic price tag. And
My grandmother sent me an email inquiring about my
thoughts on the war and asking me to send an objective
diary about it. I canít. I wish I could. But as I said
to her, no one can be objective in a war.
Hereís how I responded to her request: "Surely you
must understand that no one can be objective in the
face of war. No one wants war. And here, in the Middle
East, I can see the boiling undercurrent of future
problems stemming from this US-led attack. No country
wants to be told what to do. Period. No country wants
the "benevolent" aid that comes at a high price from
the US. We are surely ignorant to think that the
Iraqis have forgotten how we broke promise after
promise in 1991. Do you really think the Iraqis see
the US as "liberators?" The Iraqis are not stupid
people. Of course they hate Saddam and with good
reason, but having the US bomb their cities, kill
their people and then control their government? All
under the guise that we are just doing them a favor
and that it has nothing to do with oil? No one in the
Middle East is that naive. And no matter how much TV
airs photos of US soldiers bringing in food and
medicine, etc., no one in this part of the world will
ever believe that the US is not a self-serving country
with illusions of grandeur and imposing its will by
force.... I wish it were different, but trust me, itís
not. These people will only hate the US even more
after the end of this war."
Like the rest of the world, we are just waiting to see
what happens. And we are very afraid of whatís next.
So to answer the one question I seem to get constantly
from Americans: Yes, starting on March 20, 2003, I
started to feel uncomfortable in the Middle East, the
day the US declared itself God.
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