Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BEIRUT/NTSC and ASHEKMAN go to PRISON

OK, now that I caught your attention (like a cheap tabloid) let me tell you what REALLY happened. I suppose that the Beirut/NTSC readership is aware of the wonderful documentary "12 angry Lebanese" by Zeina Daccache (if you are not aware of it, please look it up, buy the DVD, go watch the documentary at Metropolis cinema and then come back!) - so after seeing it I felt compelled to express my kudos to Zeina.
Eventually with met with her and Catharsis assistant director to discuss what can be done and we settled on the idea of presenting "Archewallogy" in a conference to the inmates under the rationale that - if they cannot come to the city, the city will come to them. But he who says "archewallogy" also says Ashekman, so my friend Omar Kabbani (half of the duo - as Mohammed was out of the country) was also scheduled to perform.
Which brings us to Saturday October 2nd - I will spare you the red tape, bureaucracy, and technical glitches - and move straight to the juicy bit of what was one of the most emotionally loaded days to my recent memory. Omar was at his performing best singing to the guys some of Ashekman's major hits, little did we know that the prison had its own band of acappella rappers who stunned us with two songs "3afwan minnak ya mas2oul" (I am sorry to tell you Mr. official) and "7akem 3arabi" (Arab ruler) who rival in their wit and intelligence anything written by Omar Zeenni.
Omar, who for all the time we have known each other never uttered any dirty word eloquently summed it up by saying to Mohammad who wrote them "what you have here is something akhou charmouta" - I could not agree more (I am still humming the tunes of the songs in my mind since Saturday!).
Well, naturally, both acts were tough to follow, but still - I was there to deliver a conference and so I did... I guess I "held the audience captive" (sorry for the lame joke!) but truly, there I was, telling the guys about a city they have not set a foot in for a long, long time - explaining to them what the scribbles of the walls mean, what changed politically and socially.
Some 90 minutes later - yes, it was the longest "archewallogy" conference I have given - the inmates were given papers to draw on them as if they were "walls". I am sad that I cannot display the result as it still needs to be cleared before being released, but what I saw on these papers made me realized that the archewallogy project has reached a peak - after all, no one knows the value of walls more than someone who lives between then 24/7.
As I hope that in one way or another I can keep collaborating with Catharsis, I think I am a better person after such a day.
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