Tuesday, October 5, 2010

500th POST

Photo credit: Fiat 500 (cinquecento) by Herbert Bos

The counter of the dashboard on my blogger page could not be wrong, it marks 500 (FIVE ZERO ZERO). Yes, so here we are – welcome to the 500th post of Beirut/NTSC, a blog that started on January 10th 2007 (so this is not an anniversary, just a commemoration) to fill in the gap in the market in archiving and analyzing the political ads. Bit by bit, it grew to comment on all ads and eventually on the pulse of the city itself and the many changes it offers through the eyes of the media and advertising.
I suppose this is one of those times where some “retrospective introspective” is called upon. I just hope it will not end up as some boring navel-gazing that is of no relevance to you. But the question begs itself: What happened during those 500 posts?
Well, first I shall spare you the statistics but according to google, my blog receives 6,000 visitors a month, I shall let other people brag about how they are “the most read blog in Lebanon” but I can safely assume that “6,000 costumers cannot be wrong” (to misquote McDonald’s). As I said, I shall not resort to statistics the way drunkards use lamp posts, for the form rather than for their function, so I shall leave it at that.
Another thing that has happened is that I see have grown friends. Some of these people I knew before albeit marginally, some I met through the blog, some I still have to meet, but it is quite comforting to know that a lot of people actually give a damn whether the blog has been updated or not, or what I actually think about this or that. Also, there have been a few people who have helped me collect photos which were missing, so I am grateful for their help too (you know who you are, I am not naming!)
Financially, this blog never made me direct money. When I subscribed to google adsense (or rather adnonsense) I only cultivate 1,04 USD which is pathetic. I never accepted a bribe from any ad agency and never put a press release (only once or twice for humanitarian causes) or any paid material. Of course, I did go to dinners and events organized by agencies, but this does not mean I sold out. To quote French journalist David Pujadas, who said something to the effect of “it is not dining with politicians that is corrupt, that’s just networking, the hypocrisy is the small friendly gestures and pats in the back before going to the studio to butcher the guest.”
I also love the comments people leave and am grateful for them (apart from the usual suspects again, you know who you are, I specifically mention “anonymous” – this guy seems to post regularly, I just wish I can meet him!). Naturally, I am aware that a lot of those comments are left by agencies who simply spit out the creative rationale in defense of an ad I must have slaughtered. Oh, and thanks for the suggestion of me opening an agency called “Shammim hawa wou attiff ward” (literally “air breather and rose picker” which both double as “time waster.” I shall consider the option seriously).
I read this sentence in a book called “Poets and murder” by Robert van Gulik “all good men have both enemies and friends, no use trying to be everyone’s friend, gets you nowhere.”Well, I am not implying that I am a “good man” but I also know that I have cultivated a set of enemies all across the board, and I am under the impression that some agencies play darts with my face as target during their lunch break and that I must have some voodoo doll in my honor somewhere.
At this stage, it is difficult for me to separate Beirut/NTSC from the other side-activities that have been going on such as the books and the videos which I have published since January 2009 (there was a book published long before in 2003 but the readership of NTSC is not aware of it), and which grown to have a life or their own. I am exceptionally thankful to all the people who collaborated on these side projects and who have donated their immense talents in exchange for meager amounts of money (as I was sponsoring everything on my own), but your contribution is highly appreciated (again, no names, you are too many and too talented for a listing).
I must remind you that I am still not on facebook neither on twitter, and this is the only place you will find me. Not that I am under the illusion that you are looking for me of course. As we say in Arabic when one is celebrating “akbel el miyye” (may you live to a hundred), in this case “akbel el alf” (may we celebrate the 1000th post).
As a parting note for this scriptum, and I must admit I never thought I’d ever quote ABBA but here goes, “It's funny but I didn’t know I was living without aim/The day before you came.”
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