Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do you know who I am? (Inta 3aref ma3 min 3am tehke?)


The Beatles - White Album

When Le Commerce du Levant recently did their survey about the who’s who of the Lebanese blogosphere Beirut/NTSC did not make it to list in question. Actually, a few days ago a friend asked me what my reaction was, and to be honest, prior to the question I had not given it a thought. So I actually answered the same way Superbabe (at the time Pax Radio’s top speaking DJ and arguably the most popular on the FM airways) said when a supposed statistic was done about the most popular speaker on the Lebanese FM (that must have been the late 80s) – at the time John Saad won – and she came in fifth. So in her afternoon show of the same day, she said: “So I came in fifth, or so the statistics say”… Which was my answer to the friend in question, “or so the statistics say.”

Alternatively, the expression “do you know who I am?” (“inta 3aref ma3 min 3am tehke?” which is frequently said in Lebanon by ego-inflated has-beens or ego-inflatable potential wannabes) came to my mind as another possible answer because the week the story came out, I was releasing four books in addition to the 11-9-11 video, so I had other (dubious) honors to brag about. I was also too busy mourning the death of Richard Hamilton.
Now can you imagine someone like Richard Hamilton saying: “Do you know who I am?”
Yet, most of you do not know him sadly. Among his many, many claims to fame, he did the sleeve of the Beatles album which was to be known as the “white album” since he simply came up to the band with a blank sheet of paper and told them this would be their album cover. Actually, the name “the beatles” was embossed on the sleeve which is why you are incapable of seeing anything in the photo above.
Now, can you imagine someone like the Beatles saying: “Do you know who I am?”
Yet, as I walked into my bank last week wearing a Beatles t-shirt (not one of those mass produced stuff, but rather one with hand treatment making it individual and antiquated) the teller – who is a football fanatic – looked at me and asked: “Who are they?” I had to give him a crash course in musicology all while doing my banking operations and resorting to football analogies from my limited repertoire. Naturally, I dropped the name of John Lennon.
Now, can you imagine someone like John Lennon saying: “Do you know who I am?”
Yet, in a recent televised survey to determine how much the legacy of John Lennon is still alive twenty years after his assassination, a teenage girl – from Liverpool no less – said “well, I know we have an airport named after him, but I have no clue who he is.” But it was Lennon himself who got into trouble because Maureen Cleave, the infamous San Francisco Chronicle journalist, and despite the talk being off the record, quoted him saying in 1966: “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus Christ.”
Now, can you imagine someone like Jesus Christ saying…
OK, so I am pushing it. But this whole business also reminded by this anecdote about a passenger at the ticketing booth of the airport who cut the line and demanded the hostess to be served immediately. She politely indicated for him to go back to the end of the line and wait for his turn. He insisted once more on a VIP treatment. The hostess again dismissed him to the end of the queue. Until he exploded and asked her: “Do you know who I am?” – the hostess took the microphone and announced “ladies and gentlemen we have a passenger who doesn’t know who he is, anyone able to help identify him please step forward.”
So, without comparing myself to Richard Hamilton, the Beatles or John Lennon, but while focusing on the passenger in the anecdote (who might have been Lebanese for all I know!): “inta 3aref ma3 min 3am tehke?”… “Do you know who I am?” – to which you might answer: “ladies and gentlemen we have a blogger who doesn’t know who he is, anyone in the online community able to help identify him please step forward.”

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