Thursday, September 3, 2015

McCorazon de piedra?

It seems Antonio Valverde and Raquel are back - at least according to McDonalds, if you are younger than 30 these names will not resonate with you for Anta aw la a7ad was the first dubbed Mexican series which launched a frenzy in Lebanon. Lip synching was so bad, the clothes were too 80s, the whole thing was too kitsch, but everyone fell in love with it. Corazon de Piedra, the title song with Lucia Mendez on the vocals (she was also the lead actress) made a Spanish-speaker of every Lebanese (at least for the few bits people could repeat!). So now McDonald's is bringing that flavor back, if you don't get it, it means you are still young - enjoy your youth!
By the way, the same series was included in my own art project Lebanon's History Book. Here it is below:

Everyone is boiling - Ban Najjar

Brands have always tried to catch up on the current events, sometimes it works, most of the time it does not. This one works, brilliantly, simply because it touches the brand core - coffee boiling with Ban Najjar (or café Najjar) and therefore manages to integrate the brand within the framework of the current situation in Lebanon: Everyone is boiling! Café Najjar. Beautiful.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

To the man suing me twice

Toy Soldiers - Tarek Chemaly
Dear "the man suing me twice",
Please stop checking my linkedin profile.
Please stop asking about who I am frantically at university.
You know me, you contacted me in 2007 back when I wrote a positive review of one of your campaigns.
You spoke to me last July during the Ramadaniyat festival.
Make no mistake, you are not in any way, shape or form threatening me.
Am I annoyed? Sure; but bugs and mosquitoes annoy me too.
What is your second lawsuit about? Let me see, it s about me stopping to harass you. Hmmm, really?
I never mentioned your name, nor that of your company and the two ads I used and put a competitor's logo on, well, guess what? They no longer belong to you, they belong to the companies you sold them to. So you have no legal capacity to sue me because of them, just like you have no legal capacity to stop me from contacting your clients online - I never mentioned your name, this is within my freedom of speech jurisdiction.
You are so infantile that you live in a glass house but want to throw stones? So be it. But remember what happens to glass houses.
I am not afraid of you, I already told you so, I know I am in the right. I have a clear conscience. We both know what you are doing and it is not going to work.
You thought I was a puppet in the hands of your former employer, little did you know I was going to make a scandal out of it and that the lawsuit they filed against you started to seem trivial in front of the public mess I have made out of the trial(s) you have set against me.
You do not make me afraid, let that be known.
I have - not one - but three lawyers. I am in very good hands.
You shall not meddle with my freedom of speech, you shall not control who I can or cannot contact online. I have signed - an illegal paper - at the cybercrime bureau whereby I would not state your name before the end of the trial. See, I have not said your name but as soon as I tell anyone I am suing an ad thief, funny how your name immediately pops up. People are not stupid, and if you thought you could file a lawsuit - and a second one - against me to take some quotes in my testimony and use against your former employer suing you for embezzlement, then you are so mistaken.
I am catching your acts out of a simple reason: I have a conscience. I have principles. I refuse to believe people are capable of taking other people's ideas and selling them as their own.
Call me naïve. Call me a dreamer. But when I am shaving and looking at my reflection in the mirror I have a clear conscience. Sorry, the word is not familiar to you perhaps.
You can pull all the political strings you want, I will still be in the right. You have no legal capacity to sue me for deforming ads you did as only the institutions who currently own these ads can do so, because it is them who now own these ads. You cannot force not to contact them online as I never stated your name as per the illegal paper I signed at the cybercrime bureau.
You want a showdown? I shall give you one.
I am in the right, nothing will change that.
The man you are suing twice.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Google has a new logo

Much more flattened, keeping the same colors, in comic sans serif, and much smaller (305 bytes versus 14000 for the older version), Google has unveiled its new logo. I think the simplification process comes from the way the internet is going - smarphones and tablets so the smaller easily uploadable your logo is, the better you would look in areas where internet connection is less than optimal (here's looking at you Lebanon!), and on tiny screens it would appear tidier without embossing or 3D effects. Hot on the heels of creating Alphabet, it seems Google is doing some spring cleaning in the late summer!

Monday, August 31, 2015

The good old days of 2015, says 2060.

Mercedes 240D Beirut 1970 (by Tarek Chemaly)
Sorry it took me so long to hit me, but we are living in a perfect age and the #livelovebeirut people were right all along. Sorry I was too cynic to realize it. To refer to the Leibniz theory that all is going for the best in the best possible of worlds, then here we are. 2015 is an awesome year for Beirut and Lebanon at large.
The proof? 1970 of course.
We always refer to that period as the golden age, have a crisis of nostalgiosis any time we encounter a photo going back to that period, rummage thrift and vintage stores for leftovers, and purchase vinyl records to play on our Dr. Dre headphones (hmmm, sort of).
For Beirut it was such a perfectly magical year, it was 2 years after the Israelis bombed the airport and the Fidais were escalating their work and brining it from the border inland making Lebanon both - a confrontation nation with Israel and a substitute for Palestine (how cool is that?) - but surely, postcards with women doing water ski and cancan dancers in clubs cannot lie, can they?
Income inequality was so staggering that the middle class was the exception rather than the rule, and poverty - outside the walls of the Phoenicia and the Saint George Yacht Motor Club - was rampant but unseen, the country moved at two speeds - that of a donkey and of a Rolls Royce at the same time.
But it doesn't matter, the backdrop was always filled with swanky mid-century modernist architecture, women were sunning in branded bikinis and going out at night in couture gowns. That was the life man, the real #livelovebeirut - even before the word.
So there, my evidence is clear, 1970 was a great year, and 35 years from now, 2015 will appear to be a great year in retrospect for those living in Lebanon (if it still existed) in 2060.
I apologize once more for not seeing this self-evidenced truth previously. 2015 is such an awesome year.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ashley Lebanon: Life is short. Have an affair.

The world was never as monogamous oriented in terms of relationship ideal as it is today, in fact it took centuries upon centuries for the concept of monogamy to take root in societies, and the origins of it are more "pragmatic" than "spiritual" - at the core of it, marriage is much more an economic institution than it is a spiritual one (I am not even using the word religious). Yet, the intrinsic notion of marriage nowadays holds a monogamo-religious conotation.
The demonstrators in Beirut started of with the garbage crisis which is eating Lebanon and branched out to wanting the political leaders and the whole sectarian system which builds Lebanon to be thrown out.
I have - in my eventful (or non-eventful depending whom you ask) life - encountered a few specimens of people which I have come to realize are representative of society:
A Christian, 4th year engineering student at AUB once said "we are four brothers at home". Five minutes later, he says "my sister...". Amazed I inquired "but you just said you were four brothers at home"... To which he replied "oh there are four sisters but we don't even register them with the state, they're just girls you know".
A Moslem shiite, also someone at one point a close acquaintance: "Every time a man humps a woman out of wedlock the throne of God vaccilates with every thrust".
A Moslem sunnite, who is so smart he passed the MENSA test, and who has a master's degree in biology, does not believe in evolution. When I pointed out that the genesis story would implicate incest in that case, he replied "no, because the genes were pure back then".
Notice that these three men, are highly educated, went to universities, one of them is homosexual (sorry not pointing out to which one to avoid any possible identification), one of them drinks against the teaching of his religion (but does not eat pork), and so on and so forth.
So what does this tell us?
It tells us that, if among the highly educated echelon of our society religious views run so deep, and if these people (supposedly called "technocrats") are alleged to change the country and modernize it and basically make new laws which are more population-friendly and initiate a management style which would be more dogmatic, then in essence - we have a problem. Because these "technocracts" are not going to do such a thing.
And in effect, the religious system upon which Lebanon is built basically is not going to go away.
It is an orgy out there.
Ashley Lebanon: My life is short, I am going to have an affair.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Is Lebanon still worth saving?

Everybody Hurts - REM (source)
"And so often the rebel, as a character in music or film, is sold to us by the establishment to make a profit out of you. The same goes for politics – do not define yourself by who you hate. Or think you hate. So often the rebel is just jealous of those with the power". Bill Drummond

Friday, August 28, 2015

Love letters to Franco Gasparri...

Anyone not of a "certain age" (I am 40!), will not know who Franco Gasparri was - well, add all of today's heartthrobs together and put them to the power infinity and you will get a grasp of what that man did to women in the Arab world. He was introduced to our cultural norms via photo romanze magazines from Dar Assayad such as Samar and Rima. Lebanese author Marie Kosseifi has a beautiful article on this on her superb blog (I am a fan!). I previously did a full art project on Gasparri and how his name and presence unified Lebanese women from all sides of the spectrum, and how, in 1982 as the Israeli invasion was wiping Beirut and people were dying like flies, women were more concerned about the motorcycle accident that Gasparri went through writing him "love letters" published in the afore mentioned magazines (the accident made him a wheelchair user). Above is a sample (albeit written from a reader in Kuwait) of such letters. I stand by my theory, our pop culture is one of our rare common denominators as people, let us hang on to it and use it as a unifying weapon against division.