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LEAVE-IT-ALL- BEHIND-FOR-A- LIFE-OF-SUNDAYS Vol.1 (part II)

The-Yo-Yo-Affair-Or-A-Crew-Of-Six-Unemployed-Friends-Decide-to-Run-A-Shag-Xpress-with-A-Rear-Hatch-For-BJs-In-Beirut-1979

A-SHORT-LOOP-IN-ONE-ACT

I was the King’s Knight for the night.  I kick-started my bike and cruised for a while. A poet on tour.  Roaming the city.  Looking for a one-night stand. Or at least what appears to be.  I saw a solitary figure standing in a random spot.  A black woman with an Afro.  It was just perfect.  She jumped me on the highway when it took me to give her a ride home.  It is truly dreadful. I pressed the number nine button inside the elevator of my apartment building.  I was tired and wired. As the elevator began to go up, it suddenly stopped.  I was alone. And forget for a while.  Dangling by a cord. Forsaken.  Maybe.  I masturbated for an hour. Power was restored, and I made it to my apartment safely. Minutes later, the phone rang. She said: Baby, are you craving me tonight.  The next thing I know, I have a couple of Lesbians over slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks. A royal act. Worthy of enjoyment with decent music: I used to play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition loud on my Marshall speakers in decay while at it. A ritual of old fun days when I was young, full of sperms, needs, and itches. The funny part is that I always experienced something peculiar in that very moment of sorts. Hard to explain, but I saw the trailer of my life lived projected on the facing wall. A broken wall.  I reminisced about past affairs and was transfixed by the lingering memory of a blow job and a highly visual fuck-climax. Vivid and highly pictorial.  Cheers! They both said. As they both poured all the wine content, glittering in the penumbra, upon my bacon bazooka.  It looked like a copper fall unleashing. Unceasing. It a truly macabre.   A royal act. Three was the company.  Beirut was a junkyard of scrap metal and wasted back then.  A place for sub-humans and android machines on the run. BB 62 opened fire and hit some targets on the city's outskirts. I was an android-cowboy in disguise.  Rumors had it that the bombshells were all empty. As the American destroyer showered guerilla positions in Souk el Gharb, I was firing my cannon all over the Lesbians scattered along enemy lines inside my dim room, not far away from the Demarcation Line in Beirut.  A supreme act. A simultaneous-affair. Many years later, I had a similar experience when I was shagging this Pilipino gurl -in a random hotel in Jounieh, just for kicks, while watching the final of the World Cup in 2010. I still remember cumming inside her mouth when Iniesta kicked the ball inside the Netherlands' finish line.  A glorious act of sorts.  The two Lesbians just loved the feeling of a revolver barrel inside them. It truly is macabre. A regal tactic of enormous after-effect.  They used to revere the freshly fired metal tube with both frame and cylinder inside. I never understood why.  I stood there. Earnest and ceremonial in my act.  Viewing the trailer of my own life on the facing wall of that dim room and watching my bacon bazooka in constant spa-treatment mode. Graceful and yet unpretentious. The afternoon rushed in like a Belgian train in mid-voyage that never made it on time. I dreamed of flatbread pizza in the wasteland. Reminisced about my last, fast-paced failed love affair and my futile attempt at piano lessons. We laughed as we talked and killed the hours away. We imagined moments-to-be. Mostly naked. For some strange reason, they both loved to be touched on their forehead. A women-thing.  On their eyebrows, to be exact.  The truth of the matter is that they both were willing to try new things –in private. My type of woman.  Alone and crazy. A mind-type. Affectionate, calm on the outside, yet crazy and freaky on the inside. I pretended I read more books than they both presumed I did. I wrestled with my thoughts and delusions.  I concealed my deeper feelings and idiosyncrasies -amid our talk. In the middle of a futile war with no end.  A Gemini-kind-of-thing with a thrill.   I was after their strapless lid. What else do you expect: One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia at the time. I fucked them both for a while and got bored afterward.  The truth of the matter is I completely lost interest in them.  Soon after, I found my next victim. A young, fresh psychology graduate with a healthy appetite for sex and a delightful fashion style that managed to trigger my bacon bazooka back. This next fuck-affair with Luciana kept rolling for more than we both expected. She was the kind of girl who would do anything to satisfy you.  I acted in kind. I used a proactive approach with her for as long as it lasted. She was worth the try: Worth every single sperm I spared on her lower and upper abdomen. And well, yeah, her breasts and cute, funny face often.  It truly is macabre. She loved to be chased after -for sex. She loved BJs as much. And she used to brag about it in public.  A few weeks later, I found out she was sleeping with some guys from around the block for subsistence and with some big shot.  A playboy. Loaded with guns and green.  Good for her. She was a practical kid with lots of love to spare.  And lots of ambition. I fired up my gorgeous-looking Jimmy and made some smoke rings with my mouth for amusement. And that lasted for quite a while. She had a shower: Poured herself a drink, and strolled the seventeen steps, all the way to my bed, completely naked.  Next, she crawled my entire body like a wounded, moaning soldier on the frontline. Once, fully on top and facing me, she said with her typical intense voice: Impress me with your brains. It occurred to me, and I played a VHS tape I had borrowed from an old chum, of Greta Garbo’s Anna Karenina 1935, in decay. Well, to try to impress her with my cultural backdrop and shit.  The perfect artifact for a late evening binge. A truc macabre, so to speak.  The glitches and hiccups of the shivering images of Greta Garbo on the TV screen did not corrupt the actress’s royal flare. What a Dame! I thought. What an ass! I thought in sequence. I took turns looking at the screen and the new chick’s naked, greasy, and flattened body shimmering in the dark, glowing like a sea-urchin in the deep. And I thought to myself: They don’t make them like this anymore. Sublime and Holy. A Regal act.  I was talking about the chick’s ass. What else. I mean, the truth of the matter is she was lying right before my own eyes to see: Face-down with a few hours to spare. And I was fuck-hungry. Endlessly famished. I was after her strawless lid. Strapless cap. Flavorsome and scrumptious like shit crazy.  I crawled all over her on the bed and -once in position, I slurped her strapless lid for hours. I grinned. I placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the loose on the Buddha ashtray I had in store from my old days in Kamasutra training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. We fucked for hours.  Her spark was her unusual climax.  Pristine and immaculate.  The streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of cars, in fall-off. Every time, I deployed a conspicuous tacticto avoid unleashed android snipers on the loose. Or mutant gorillas on the run –as I used to call them.  Whether someone or something conforms to familiar patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard to judge everything. However, what may be normal to one group may be unacceptable to another. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed a thousand times at the frontline. It a truly dreadful. I played Monk Live in Paris in 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit, just for kicks. A Grotesque affair.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my temple: I stood still. I did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember that android-cowboy with the rifle pointing at me and his brimmed-shape-white-Panama-hat, silk shirt, striped pants, and green suspenders. A distinctive and manly act.  I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less, save time and have sex more often.  He was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.  As for her:  She read the last couple of lines of a letter she kept in one of her emerald green coat’s inner pockets for the last time, folded the letter the way she was supposed to, placed the letter gently on the desk, took a pistol out of an upper drawer, put the pistol’s barrel inside her mouth and shot herself. She was six months pregnant. I can’t overlook that her vagina was once snipped by a randy horn-eyed ghost crab confusing,g her fleshy bits for an open oyster on the beach, even though it was illegal to lie down there naked. A foolish-act. The truth is some of her intimate friends were woken up by her screaming that somethin’ had bit her, and they were shocked to see a crab hanging off her privates. A morbid-act.  They had no choice but to release the pinchers and free her from his grip. The recollection of that sinister incident turned me on every time she narrated it. Lustful and lecherous.  Her secret weapon was the knockout garlic-herb butter she used to brush each oyster, arranged in a single layer on the grill. And subsequently, cook uncovered for seven minutes or at least until the edges curl. The truth of the matter is eating oysters and sex merged well.  A magic-twist. I guess the oyster's salty juice and soft fleshhad the power to excite.  In eating oysters and sex, one used all five senses just for kicks. I fell in love with Maria at around 23:09 -a. Shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka just for kicks, and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. A morbid-act. I was a cowboy on the run.  I was a mutant gorilla on the loose. Out of a sudden, a crowd jumped up and down in total hysteria:

Diego Maradona scoring a goal that will never be forgotten | AFP

At precisely 16:09 local time Diego Armando Maradona kicked the ball over the English line and hit the net in Aztec Stadium on June 22. I was in and came inside Maria’s strapless lid at that precise instant. It was perfect. A Sunday like no other. Diego’s solo goal was the greatest ever scored after a mazy run. I was a Diego of my own.  Diego scored twice on that day.  I –on the other hand, scored multiple times.  And with no assurance cap on whatsoever. The crowd all around chanted Goal! The chant was for me.  A shy drizzle was splashing in part the dimly-lit sidewalk, sideways, under her timid window, on a shady and tall street, on the darkest side of the city. Beirut looked like a ghost town.  Monk Live in Paris 1965 was coming out of my antique and antediluvian car audio-stereo in decay.  My rover was in fractional dimness shrouded under some dusty and grim almond tree leaves in fall-off. She was back on her knees –slurping my bacon bazooka once and for all and just for kicks and I was, well, yeah, a Superman with a red cap on and shit, standing in supremacy over her and all the glittering windows of a city that stood-tall and away: Distant, grim and in total silence. The least I can say about her now is that she was rude and insolent with a whole array of bad manners to account for.  A spoiled-brat, so to speak.  She always got what she wanted. Her daily impertinence and rude behavior was a daily affair. A daily-act. Typical of her on a Monday morning and salient of her on a Friday afternoon. A week-long attitude backed by the long-lasting reputation of a business family she belonged to -with a reputation for impertinence, impudence and effrontery of their own. “He's got a lot of cheek to say that to me!” She said. The previous customer left mad. He left some angry words behind as well. He left for some random elevator at a random hospital and shot himself to death. One idea kept lingering on my mind: Elephants have strong individual personalities that affect how they interact with other elephants, how others perceive them, and how well they are able to influence members of their group. Some elephants are popular while others are not. Some elephants show strong leadership qualities, others do not; some are highly social extroverts, while others are less social introverts. The truth of the matter is I left like a tired and wired elephant –long rotten, forgotten, with the hope that life and the next day were going to be beautiful.  So fucking and miraculously beautiful.  I stood facing that bloody mirror for a perpetuity. Blood drenched the entire surface.  I fired up my gorgeous-looking-Jimmy and waited for a perpetuity. Countless hours passed as I waited in that dark box of fear and improbability.  A stark, tiny place where I stood in a ghostly fashion, restricted by the moving-and-closing-in four walls around me.  A bloody-mirrored elevator, in a random apartment building, that I ran in for cover, with door broken, and ceiling open, served as a temporary shelter.  For some reason, I could hear two tracks playing in parallel: The remote sounds of an old record looping over and over again Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, left unattended by its accidental supervisor, and countless bombs hissing through the purple air of a hot Beiruti night in the middle of a skirmish.  It was around 11 PM in my Hide-Out. A couple ran behind me and disappeared under a stairway.  A few hours later, they fucked uninterrupted, like they didn’t give a shit.   I was stuck. They were in ecstasy.  Bombs kept falling.  I had no other choice but to masturwait every once in a while, for reassurance, to the noises they fashioned.  What a fidiot! I thought to myself.  I was sleepless, famished, tired and wired like a barbwire left forsaken, stripped and empty.  A line of resolute ants marched across the Universe of that elevator in a loop.  Alienated.  War-irrelevant. And forever hopeless. I could see the preview of my face on the mirror: A ghostly, eerie, and spine-chilling face looked back in anger.  Man up! I thought.  Nothing.  Just silence.  And a thought or two every once in a while: Mostly a recollection of ideas that rotated in my head, just like ocean bubbles making it to the surface.  I was a street façade, in a state of renovation. Out of a sudden, I heard arbitrary voices, and a line of armed silhouettes rushed in, inside that accidental structure.  They barricaded themselves behind bullet-holed fences.  They didn’t say much.  I enjoyed the unplanned instances that played in sequence.  Haphazard, unidentified, and random.  Arbitrary militiamen fired their machine guns from different, unintended locations across the streets around me.  I was trapped in a maze of fire and fucking.  I had a hard on for the entire progression. I was desperate, yet excited.  Unwilling to budge.   Her silhouette rushing in almost in slow-motion changed my life completely.  I was a delighted man.  With a potential fuck rushing in.  To tell you the truth: I was kind of relieved.  She smiled like a Hooker with intent.  I lit her cigarette as I looked at her face.  It felt awkward.  A blind date in a dystopian abode. I suck at conversation, and yet I was motivated by the sum of bombs falling, guns popping and fuck-yelling.  Most of the random characters involved in the shoot-out were harboring delusions of grandeur.  A manly act.  A truc macabre.  The heat was unbearable. She didn’t hesitate to detach pieces of her.  She started subsiding before my eyes with that intrepid look that made her distinct in the middle of a war unleashing.  She was in her late thirties and was assailed by a massive collection of disappointments. In that very instant, of despair and ambiguity, I managed to rip her dress, her panties and insert my penis inside her vagina.  Her nails scratched my shoulders and my back, leaving a bloody trail behind.  Her vagina was small enough. Or maybe I was anxious, and the sound of war made the entire experience irreplaceable and distinctive.  We did more waiting and memory-recollecting in between bitter banquets and endless seconds of crying and mourning, as we got high, fucked some more and watched the drizzle against the beam of lamp posts.  We were Invincible.  Her hair blew to the wind. For a second, it looked like a military parade.  A solemn act.   I was pissed-drunk. A silhouette of on-lookers stood by.  I endured that fuck, wet, tired and deserted in the middle of a random house in the middle of nowhere.  I was in a tiny, rented dark suit that looked more like a uniform. I camouflaged inside that dwelling with a creepy look, and I felt unnerving as well inside.  She looked back at me and said something in French like, On a froid. On est seuls.  Mais au moins, on sait où trouver de la chaleur. I shifted my weight to the right, to contemplate her even more.  She was whole, in her flaw.  Out of nowhere, a round of shots fired, randomly, struck me on my left arm, missing my heart by only a few inches.  I am pretty damn sure I was struck in the back of my neck by the second shot, the bullet ricocheting off my spine. Some shots hit me in the head above my left eye, passing through underneath my brain and shattering my brain. All my ideas got scattered like pebbles on a marble floor.  The round grazed a rib and lodged in my lung, stopping less than an inch from my heart. I’m in love! I’m in love.  You have intense emotions inside and this keeps you wanting to do it even more. It’s hard to hit a heart in love.  I felt supreme.  The more you do it, the more you want.  You pretend life is ok.  It’s never ok.  War kills you inside and love takes care of the rest of ya’.  Apparently: Over time, and within the given circumstances, you become an outsider in your life! The man you never thought you’d be.  And as you collect all the pieces, the broken pieces that make you, you: That the explosion had left you, and you try to carry on with the remnants of someone who once was, and you pretend life is ok and you live the rituals of a life, that’s beautiful, so fucking beautiful! you begin to feel you are living on leftovers of a life that never was! Inside myself, in a remote corner where I could hide undetected for evermore, with my own anger, shame, my own indignation, I sat there, forced to recognize my failure! Alas, I was busted in my hide-out! Love dismembers you like a dummy made out of clay, mercilessly.  And it pours all over you a rainocalypse of bullfrogs and hammer-handles. And you melt and roll out with the water and you vanish and out of a sudden, you are part of something completely out of yourself.  Don’t I fucking know it! Looking at my own life, in tedious fragments, in tedious sections, as I peep through a zoetrope at the galloping horses with a neigh –A wooden zoetrope which consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. As the cylinder spins, I look through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and I see a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion. The motion of the horses galloping, with a bray, greeting other horses: A strapping-neigh!

Courtesy A Levantine Dystopia

I placed my half-consumed Jimmy on the Buddha ashtray I had from my old days in Kamasutra training in New Delhi. I decided to burn my bacon bazooka inside her fireplace. We fucked the night away.  Like two little kids grounded in confinement.  Her spark was her climax. Unequal. Pristine and immaculate.  The e-streets below and around me were dim and vacant. Cold and bare. I took off.  Had to: I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. Every time I deployed a conspicuous tactic to avoid unleashed android snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to familiar patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard to judge everything. However, what may be normal to one group may be unacceptable. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed a thousand times at the frontline. A truck is macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris in 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pursuit for kicks. A Grotesque business. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act.  Its occupiers looked like soul reapers with scythes when they suddenly revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. At the end of which, the white Beetle stood still, in complete stillness. Technically, malware. Once at the frontline, in total stillness and complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall, beholding my state of contradiction. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants, and his green suspenders. An unprecedented act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera releasing bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy, alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevy station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother's for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh's convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madame Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. It truly is macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh's four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky in some random bar surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple, and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen back home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned.  I said: No.  I’m tired. We read countless pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude in Spanish together and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  When over, she had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza with red wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. The next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun at my temple and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A businessman of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a ridiculous war with no end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the prominent Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera releasing bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh's convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madame Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. It is truly dreadful.  The blast left Salameh conscious but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh's four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky in some random bar surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple, and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counterpart –still pointing his machine gun at me, was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby. I wrestled with the e-dustbin in the e-bathroom. It took me at least seven minutes to finally align the top with the top-side open cube. It was a matter of resetting the code and no problem.   It a truly dreadful. That worked every single time. I reached for my e-shoes under the bed, in decay. Put them on without socks.  A regular habit. And I strolled the full hallway, all the way to the other end of the house, looking for some matches. One of the few remaining standard activities in Dystopia. A solitary candle waited in private defiance back in my room, on top of the waxed TV set in relapse.  A morbid act. I didn’t want to hurt myself walking barefoot on the broken glass dispersed along the passageway: Relics of a Single Malt Whisky bottle shattered in a glorifying act of conquest a few weeks back. For a moment, the entire crossing seemed like looking for a black cat in a dark room, and of course, there was no cat. I found a lighter, placed divinely in the anti-chamber.  Shimmering in the dark, like a glowing deep-sea fish. I lit my Jimmy and stood tall by an e-window, inspecting the smoke in the air. Silent and languid.  Like an ancient tower of lament, remorse, and guilt.  A peculiar idea grew fervent on my mind, unfolding with an intro: When I light, I light heavy.  I grinned.  Threw out the e-window, the remnants of my Jimmy in decay. The e-streets below and around me were dark and empty. Cold and bare. I took off.  I zigzagged my way to the Demarcation Line, past sandbags and burning silhouettes of e-cars, in falloff. I deployed a conspicuous tactic every time to avoid d unleashed android snipers on the loose.  Whether someone or something conforms to familiar patterns or deviates from them depends on one’s point of view: Behind the concepts of normality and abnormality is the assumption that there is a single standard to judge everything. However, what may be normal to one group may be unacceptable. I had the same Walkman on, with the same headphones arching the same oval head I displayed a thousand times at the frontline. A truck is macabre. I played Monk Live in Paris in 1964 every time.  Every day. Non-stop. It was more like a frontline pastime for kicks. A Grotesque enterprise. A reel replayed the same white 1979 Super-Beetle Cabriolet stopping right there in the middle of nowhere, over and over again.  A loop in one act. Its occupants looked like soul reapers with scythes when they suddenly revealed their hidden arms and fired in all directions. In the end, the white Beetle stood in complete stillness. Technically, malware.  Once at the frontline, in total stillness and complete silence/quiet: I heard the remote air of a lullaby looping the same word stuck in reverse. I was surrounded by eccentric structures –which stood tall, beholding my state of contradiction. I stood almost mortified in the middle of the battleground in silence.  Out of a thick, almost-mythical mist, a machine gun emerged and finally rested on my forehead. I stood-still.  Did not utter a word for an entire minute. A strange haze shrouded my eyesight. I still remember my counter-part’s brimmed shape, white Panama hat, silk shirt, striped pants, and his green suspenders. An unprecedented act. He looked like a model taken out of a GQ magazine. I still remember when he looked at me for the last time and said: Learn how to cook and spend less.  Save time and have sex more often. The sound of my camera releasing bottom re-echoed in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. On that crispy autumn day and somewhere in town, The Red Prince carried a pistol holstered in brown leather and worn on his hip a la Clint Eastwood. He was a playboy, alright, on his final rave. He was in a convoy of two Chevy station wagons heading from Georgina’s flat to his mother's for a birthday party. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh's convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madame Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truly dreadful.  The blast left Salameh conscious but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body.  He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh's four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple, and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor. Hours later, I was sitting at my fav round table in the kitchen at home when the telephone reechoed.  A voice –on the other end of the line said: I miss you, my baby. Shall I come over? I grinned. We had a chicken sandwich from Marrouche with beer. Read a few pages of Gabo’s Hundred Years of Solitude in Spanish together and ended up shagging a couple of times before going to bed.  We massacred solitude.  A masterful act. Luciana stayed way into the night.  When over, she had a special homemade flatbread pizza formula for kicks, which she experimented with. The fun part: I improvised most of the toppings from leftovers and a sauce I had on the side for the occasion. We had some slices of pizza with wine. I concede she did all the maintenance required and left before sunrise. A ballerina in her finest hour. The next morning, I drove my e-Rover to the frontline -like a student in love on his second day of school.  Out of nowhere, A fighter pointed his machine gun at my temple and said: Do not move. That day, I met Mario Garcia on the frontline. He came with cash to burn – a fleet of airplanes and a keen eye for French-speaking ladies. He had a crowd of bodyguards with him, just for kicks.  A businessman of some sort looking for some prospects in the middle of a ridiculous war with no end.  He was a bit of a ghost down here.  Nobody saw him.  Nobody knew him. He stayed in the Achrafieh area for convenience.  “The safest part of Beirut,” he’d say. The sound of my camera releasing bottom re-echoed over and over again in the stillness of that barren place, bouncing off the empty, worn-out, and shattered walls around me. Chambers was on her balcony painting, and her red Beetle parked below on Rue Verdun.  As Salameh's convoy passed that red wagon at 3:35 pm and turned onto Rue Madame Curie, a hundred Kilos of explosives attached to the car by a Mossad agent was remotely detonated by Chambers herself or on her signal to another Mossad agent. They did not mistake him this time. A truc is macabre.  The blast left Salameh conscious, but severely wounded and in great pain, having pieces of steel shrapnel embedded in his head and throughout his body. He was rushed to The American University of Beirut Hospital, where he died on the operating table at 4:03 pm. Salameh's four bodyguards and four bystanders were also killed, and at least 16 people were injured.  I was on the other end of town, with Mario Garcia having some Single malt whisky, in some random bar, surrounded by Frenchies at the moment of the blast.  The air turned purple and crowds rushed in to get the latest news from an old, dusty radio inside. You could feel the heat of the day in full armor.  My counter-part was in a chill mood. He grinned at the end of his act and said: Hasta La Vista, Baby.

A young Sylvester Stalone.

Until February 6, 1984, greater Beirut was under the control of the government. On that day, the Lebanese army was forced to withdraw from the city's West side, which again came under the control of militias, and political groups opposed to the government. Militias around West Beirut were a spectacle not to be missed.  A daily-affair. They rode Jeeps as if they were riding horses. Ski-Nautique. For all I know.  Their rituals comprised life as it happened on the eve of the world's end. You could easily see with naked eyes their constant physical adjustments.  A visual spectacle par excellence. A local Rambo flirted with death daily for quite some time in little Beirut. A robust, broad-shouldered, and earnest fellow. A War-Junkie. He was associated with one of the most important, if not the most important, of the Maronite militias that arose in the early 1970s.  The Lebanese Forces –or Al-Quwwat al-Lubnaniyya led by Bashir Gemayel.  Rambo did what John Wayne did in his films: To create a self so real to others that he could disappear into it. That is pretty much what Chaplin did with the Tramp. And maybe grab the attention of some film producer while at it.  Who might be interested in casting him in a role or a look-a-like spin-off?  He was a local celebrity in his own right; his story was all over the news media.  Journalists and photographers searched for him over a substantial period. They were after a scoop.  He even traveled to the U.S on one occasion and succeeded in spotting Stallone himself, somewhere, who unexpectedly warned him, “Not to come here!” It was an awkward moment.  Stallone might have felt stunned by his uncanny resemblance and thought this could have negative repercussions.  He felt an immediate threat that the Lebanese Rambo was, perhaps, an opportunist in search of fortune.  Of course, he wasn’t. Stallone had denied him direct access! Stallone’s lawyer allegedly asked him to stay out and was cautioned not to use Stallone’s name or even his physical resemblance for gain.  The Local Rambo’s physical transformation was an evident partition that Post-Vietnam American War films, more specifically Rambo films of 198the 0s, made a huge impression to the extent he -and possibly others- eventually transformed into Rambo/s himself.   He did not like or fancy Rambo.   He became Rambo: A rare case of a man who becomes another.  A copy of an original.  Who is eventually rejected!  Patrick Baz told the local Rambo to look away as he took his pictures somewhere in Down Town.  Rambo’s right arm and part of his face and chest looked greasy and oily, transmitting a sense of what in food photography is known as a specular highlight. The light is hitting the arm and bouncing back its reflections. What first draws your eye is his voyeuristic presentation. Every element in the picture is strategically positioned to convey a specific persona, that of a self-proclaimed “bad boy” or “enfant terrible.” First, his bulging muscles, made to glisten with body oil, are flexing at the camera while drenched in-display ornaments. Even his stare barely grazes the camera, almost breaking the fourth wall. What’s more, there is something arrogant about his gaze, but more specifically, there’s defiance, like the rules don’t apply to him. This entitlement is not uncommon among men of the stature, which he perfectly encompasses here.  Then, there’s his gun. Contextually a recurrent euphemism for the phallus, his firearm is massive, erect, and presumably pointing at his target that he wishes to dominate in whichever way that may manifest. Even the bullets around his neck serve more for aesthetics than practicality, further supporting the performative function.   He exhibits a haughty look of indifference. It suggests he’s in it for the thrills and not much else. Men in the war framework seem wired to invade and conquer, with glory being the primary objective. The key takeaway is that none of these displays bear any significance if there is no audience to play to.  The Lebanese Rambo had this funny approach: Rambo fights in the films; I, on the other hand, am real. Rambo sits as he holds a grenade with both hands: First, he mutters some things that are not particularly insightful or informed. One can quickly infer that these are not the musings of someone dialed into politics but rather the proclamations of a thrill-seeking anarchist. While it’s unclear whether the interviewer is the one holding the camera or whether there’s a third-party camera operator, the visual direction seems very intentional. Ten seconds into the interview, the camera operator slowly zooms out to reveal a ripped “Rambo” in an equally ripped tank top. Before the video cuts out, the camera zooms back into Donanian’s hands to show that he is squeezing a gripper.  This reveals so much about the dynamic at play here. The camera lens doesn’t care about what he says; it wants to see the week's flavor in action.  This war junkie wants to be perceived as a “tough guy” in every sense of the word, and the public, embodied here by the interviewer and cameraman, is more than willing to comply with those wishes. It’s a vicious cycle of codependency between spectator and spectacle bred by garish iconography taken sincerely.  He’s in his “battle gear,” reenacting a war-like scenario as he runs around and flexes at the camera. The whole time, he’s shooting his gun in the air, presumably at intruders or enemies. This entire routine feels very staged as it lacks any element of authenticity. There is no real danger, that’s not real military attire, and that is not the real Missak Donanian. From his posture to how he enunciates in the manner of Stallone, he plays a character. Through a very calculated set of premeditations, he has perfectly replicated Stallone’s whole essence, specifically his portrayal of Rambo. One could argue that he is an homage to the lavish displays of heroism depicted by war films of that era. That theory would have been admissible because it’s plain to see the explicit allure of the omnipotent man swooping in to save the day, except that Rambo seems rather earnest about his character. Much like a kid on Halloween, he believes he is one with the costume, the only difference being that the kid who takes off the mask comes on November first. The question is, does he? I’m inclined to say no. Asked if U.S President Reagan had called on him to save the U.S hostages being held in Lebanon, he said he was capable of this but qualified his statement by saying everything in due time. One of my earliest memories of war was that of graffiti stamped across the bridge wall facing my apartment building in West Beirut at the time.  It was written in classic Arabic, and I recalled reading: Sanaj’aal Min’ Al Janoub Vietnam Okhra.  -We will make out of the South, another Vietnam!  A clear reference to the fate of the American invaders in the Easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula, in Southeast Asia, during the endless war.   Tat I had recalled had been amended on an adjacent wall: Darayeb Mish Rah Nid’faa.  -We will not pay taxes! It is a timely-predicament. As I looked into the street below me, a young man collapsed before my eyes.  A few random characters looked on.  Some came near him to pull him away from the sniper’s shooting range.  I didn’t hear the bullet. He died in the act. Random boys stood still as a lady photographer looked through her lens and saw a commander who sat between two low-ranking officers. Sit-still! She said as she released her film camera’s release button.  They all look like ancillaries. The main character was wearing black shades.  And a black beret crowned his head, which provided him with immediate identifying qualities in addition to his physical position among the others, emphasizing his authority. His face seemed expressionless due to the various props it displayed. Masculinized by his obvious mustache.  A gendering-trope. The focal point of the mise-en-scene was a white kitten the commander held with his right hand, which he didn’t seem to care for.  He held it with cool passiveness.  The photographer was able to frame the kitten occupying a lower position.  His bodyguard stood on both sides: The one who stood to his right looked away. Showing disinterest or confusion.  He carried a machine gun pointing upward.  He wore a military uniform with magazine holders strapped all around him.  His flexed right arm differed from the left arm that rested on his standing body.  On the opposite left side of the commander, there sat another militiaman who gazed straight at him.  He was more interested in the commander’s next act than the photographer’s consequent actions.  They both were positioned in the middle ground of the image to emphasize their military occupation and served as protectors in a moment of truce. I could read Roland Barthes’ punctum in the final frame, plastered on a random wall at the photographer’s photo exhibit a month later. As I looked at the image, random silhouettes shuffled in and out inside that boite. Out of nowhere, a lady in green stood still. After a long pause, she said: “He appears to be copying Marlon Brando’s opening scene in Godfather, 1972.” She continued: “The commander looks older than the back-standing militiamen.  They are all in uniform in a near-battle field/zone position.  They are dressed for war. But not enacting it.  They look masculine, yet the kitten adds that soft touch to Brando’s character in this specific re-interpretation, which is by no means intended.” She paused for a second and said: “I have the perception that the producer of the image herself did not know whether the commander was trying to imitate “The Godfather” character or not.” It is truly dreadful. She was a beautiful Capricorn unleashed.  I was entrapped immediately.  I tried to keep up with her argumentation and said: “The house in the background reflects the living conditions of its inhabitants.  If any, at all.  It is a relaxed moment. I think.   A break from the exhaustive instants of combat.  They are all facing the camera somehow.  The commander is surrounded by his guards. They look at him or the people around him for security reasons.  The commander’s unintentional pursuit of conflating his military might with a mafia boss is evident.  He pretends to demystify him somehow by acting out a “real” version of symbolic power.” After a long silence, she said: “Rumor has it that the cat held by Brando in the opening scene of Godfather was a stray the actor found while on the lot at Paramount and was not originally called for in the script.  So content was the cat that its purring muffled some of Brando’s dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.” We both grinned.  The truth is that the three-armed war veterans, whose placements in that particular image exemplify the power dynamics at play, looked invincible. The one in the center is decidedly the head of the group, surrounded by two subordinate officers who, while authoritative, rank lower than him or at least submit to him. One looks vacantly into the camera's far left in slight amusement. The other henchman is seated on the bottom right of the frame, looking directly at the head of the leader as if awaiting his signal, his every beck and call. The hierarchy is very blatant here.  The commander, the main mantelpiece of this scene, deserves more attention.  His face is cold and gives nothing away, mostly attributed to his dark-tinted glasses. As the eyes are the windows to the soul, this accessory is a strategic affront to the mere possibility of conveying emotion. This captain has taken all precautions to shield himself from being perceived as anything but masculine. He is a lean, mean fighting machine that will not have anything be used to his disadvantage. According to normative definitions of masculinity, men ought to be “strong” and impenetrable. The alley, a clear war relic, looks dulled and disheveled. The three men emulate an almost exact level of run-down quality. And yet, they still have some very vague luster or spirit. This could be the sense of power they feel entitled to with their massive guns slinging from their shoulders, ensuring a position of supremacy. The cat in hand is very significant.  The way the main combatant holds the kitten is oppressive, almost like a chokehold, a threat. This serves the purpose of making him seem uncaring and hardened by the war. This power move is even more amplified by the presence of his goons at his sides. The ever-imperious mob boss, Don Corleone, pets a cat in his lap while tormenting one of his devotees. In that scene, he is almost fenced by goons ready to take out adversaries at his command. The cat in Corleone’s lap is meant to soften his otherwise austere presentation: To show the duality between a cold-hearted mobster and a devoted family man, as exhibited by how mindfully he caresses his kitten. On the other hand, the officer in the image before me is not stroking the cat; he is grabbing it. I think that setup is more reminiscent of the typical iconography of the Bond villain, Ernest Stavro Blofeld, played by Donald Pleasence.  Originator, perhaps, of the cat stroking trope, He has an infamous scene where he pets a white cat as he delightedly muses about his plans for world domination to his long-time rival in You Only Live Twice, in 1967. He is unsympathetic and irredeemable, so this trope is used to illustrate the wickedness of the character in possession of the feline. This makes sense as cats have captured human curiosity throughout history but not in a good way.  Due to their enigmatic nature, they’ve been associated with gods in the times of Ancient Egypt and witches in the Middle Ages. I walked on to the next image. The Cowboy came down from his Jeep and posed for the camera.  Like the thousand times, he had posed for a photograph.  But this particular one stands out: as part of his anatomy, the gun rests just below his navel, pointed downwards.  His stance may be at ease, but he is one trigger away from firing his weapon, though he may not be so reckless given that his finger is not on the trigger.  He faces the camera as a random photographer snaps a few images of him. He is looking straight at the lens. He is emitting confidence with a relaxed military posture that cannot be reversed: He is wearing a ‘Cowboy’ hat and hence the alias. A traditional cowboy hat and trigger-happy posture. He is wearing a jacket and a white t-shirt under it. A red, party-identifying scarf falls on his shoulders with the icons of Kamal Joumblatt on the right side and the symbol/logo of the PSP on the left side.  Kamal Joumblatt’s image depicts him wearing an Arab kufiya.  It is the depiction of a well-known portrait of the Druze leader.  Heroes fight and die in uniforms. The uniform legitimates the cause. The cowboy is carrying a machine gun.  What a cowboy’s pistol, in the hands of a modern, civil-war time, militarized cowboy should, look like. Taxi Driver Travis’ khaki jacket with his battalion logo comes to mind.  A recurring feature of his wardrobe.  In his first scene, as he enters the taxi office in slow motion, the camera watches him do a half spin toward the personnel man to the sound of portentous music by Bernard Herrmann. Travis, himself, was a war veteran who was attempting to re-adjust to civilian life with dire consequences.   The Cowboy’s face shows ambiguity and rebellion in his frozen act.  He's back to a parked vehicle with windows closed.  The car behind him acts as a barrier, a fence, that protects him from the stray bullets.  For some reason, the image is split into three parts: the two side parts of this image are distorted, defocused parts of the actual image of the cowboy.  This split reflects his identity split: name/alias etc. It conveys the idea of haziness/fogginess surrounding him or someone like him.   His long hair hides under his hat, possibly, and his white beard reflects age/maturity.  You can tell he assumes his traditional role even for this random image.  His right hand’s index finger rests on the machine gun magazine, not the trigger.  His relative facial unresponsiveness does not translate into composure. The cowboys’ gaze is calm and neutral; many facial cues point to immense fatigue, no doubt a token of war. He’s seen combat and is tired of it. Yet, despite his semi-worn-down presentation, he seems alert still, almost painstakingly so.  What stands out to me the most is the explicit contrast between our cowboy’s camouflage-heavy uniform meant to conceal him from view and the boisterous red scarf that asserts a clear bias and pleas for attention. Once again, this man’s masculinity is upholstered by the spectacle factor of performance. 

-END OF PART II-

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Written by Talal Chami

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