Archive for December, 2011

Solstice in the City

December 23, 2011

Solstice in the City

A selection of songs to celebrate the shortest day of the year —  perfect for the drive home! And don’t forget the homeless this holiday season!



“I Never Kiss and Smurf”

December 17, 2011



All Nour, No Party

December 1, 2011

Two Fridays ago there was a large demonstration in Alexandria organized in part by the Salafist political party Hizb al-Nour. The demonstration was staged in response to the so-called Selmi Document—a provision proposed by the SCAF (interim military government) that would create “supra-Constitutional principles”—principles above and outside the reach of any new government or new constitution. Specifically, these provisions would protect the autonomy & the budget of the military. Yeah, totally whack. Obviously, it defeats the idea of a constitution to have legal principles more fundamental than the highest law, and it defeats the idea of a republic to have laws that the legislature cannot amend. So the Nour Party, along with other groups, brought thousands of demonstrators into the streets.

Anti-Selmi Document demonstration in Sidi Gabr, Alexandria

Anti-SCAF / anti-Selmi Document peaceniks at the demonstration

Al Nour’s anti-Selmi position is in the right, but hold up… let’s not be hypocritical… I’ve seen your campaign murals in Mamura Balad!

"Al Nour Party: The Qur'an is our Constitution"

Umm, this is making me think that you’re not opposed to supra-Constitutional principles in principle, but merely opposed to other groups’ supra-Constitutional principles. Such as the SCAF. I mean, what could be more supra-Constitutional than proclaiming “We’ve got this other book that is our real Constitution”?

This gets at my main beef with the Salafists. Dawgs deny the legitimacy of a civil state and, in an air-kiss to fascism, reject pluralism. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dismiss dudes out of hand—Doomspirals Foreign Bureau meets with all parties & political affiliations!—but their rhetoric is on a steady creep toward telling other people what to do in the name of a supernatural being.

Doomspirals Foreign Bureau (+ assistant) meeting with Al Nour representative

No need for pluralism. "Islam is a General System that Suits Everybody"

And they’re turning up the heat around here; imposing their scoop flavor on everybody’s cone. It hits too close to home when I start seeing signs like this!

It’s hard to say if this café is pronouncing shisha “forbidden” out of religious pressure. (Or, maybe the image is just trying to say it’s forbidden to smoke shisha here with your shoes off if you’re a clip-art bohemian.) Either way, new crappy vibes akin to this jibe with my real problem with Salafists: they do not have an Egyptian personality. They are not warm, they do not take life easy, they do not return smiles, they are not gregarious, they have a grim-gross style. They’re nothing like my man, the max-popular Hoba, who spins a hilarious tale about smoking shisha in the jam embedded below.

Hoba here sings of a night out with his friends smoking shisha. After a couple of hagars he throws some funny business on the coals and his friends’ faces begin to warble & morph. He decamps from the café and begins his long, strange walk home, encountering trippy visions: an ant carrying an elephant, a wolf playing with ducks. At 1:20 he starts crooning I’m searching, I’m searching, I’m searching… What is he searching for, I asked my friend. “Himself.” Boing!

I meet regular dudes who tell me they’re Salafists… and I’m like, no you’re not! You’re wearing a pink sweatshirt with a rad yellow snowboarder and talking to me about how Texas has the best biggest cars and the best blondest babes. You tell me the Salafists are the “best Muslims” so you’re like, yeah, me too, and obviously they’d make the best parliamentarians: their uptight, bossy morals are the best qualification for office.


Look, we can’t have Salafists take over this fair city and impose restrictions on leisure by banning smoking shisha by the sea or, what next, our Egyptian night-sports (backgammon, dominoes)? If you wanna get real O.G. salafist about it, the easy vibes were here before even the time of the Prophet; and you tempt fate trying to harsh the long-standing mellow. Was it not Antony who said to Cleopatra here in Alexandria…

Now for the love of Love, and her soft hours,

Let’s not confound the time with conference harsh;

There’s not a minute of our lives we should stretch

Without some pleasure now.    What sport to-night?