Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2013 review/2014 preview (NOT)

ArcheWALLogy 4x3 by Tarek Chemaly (made from torn layers from the same advertising billboard)

It is interesting every other blogger made a review of 2013, necessarily the result was self-centered (most popular posts, biggest regrets, personal forecasts for 2014, self-imposed resolutions), but then - who can blame them? When few view blogging as more than navel-gazing, they don't feel the connection with a bigger outside market.
And when a connection is being felt, it is mostly in the egoistic-based altruism, "look at me I am giving to needy people", "I am at  fund raiser" (did you know what percentage the organizers kept from the funds and how only leftovers trickled towards the charities in question?). Seriously people, if had to give more clothes to refugees or whomever, I would not have enough clean ones to last me through the next laundry day.
But, this put aside, 2013 was not a good year for the market - or was it?
I am not sure there will be impartial figures to let us know. Sadly in Lebanon, figures are more a point of view (I think it was former minister of economy Georges Corm who said that but open to be corrected).
On the one hand, I saw many people buying stuff - but that's mostly me living in the remnants of the middle class. Is City Mall on a Tuesday noon a good indicator? Are all the people who purchased from Aishti or other upscale retailers the barometer?
Yes, if you happen to live and socialize and meet and greet and brunch and lunch in downtown and surrounding malls.
But stray a bit farther and you could see a different reality. One which is centered around haggles, bargaining, paying on installments, and overall trying to make the ends meet. I can't help but slip a hypocrite note - someone I know bought a new car last year but was around 6 months late in paying the generator's monthly bill (which only goes to show how Lebanese prefer to conspicuous consumption model of see-and-be-seen as opposed to truly Utilitarian measures of living).
Oh and wedding!... As it is, there are about 4 weddings I know of in 2014 (doesn't mean I am attending - I love you all dearly but, ahem, you know me). A middle class wedding is bound to set you back 25,000 USD on average. I am not sure how much the "wedding accounts" let you get back from this, since I am single and have no experience in this.
But a wedding photographer told me that he is often at the short end of the straw, since the classical argument when payment comes we-paid-so-much-for-the-wedding-can-we-have-a-discount? And again, it's those same couples who afford these marriages that are frantically looking for apartments to rent or seaside studios on a yearly lease because they cannot afford to buy real estate (not even a down payment for the "iskan" - or the national housing coop or whatever it is technically called).
I might fail to see the logic of it, but then again, I am not the one getting married (hopefully) once in a lifetime.
In a very old interview with me in the daily star (2003) I ended it by saying "I am not criticizing, I am just describing" - and the writer (Kaelen Wilson-Goldie) said that criticizing was the last taboo to tall in Lebanon.
Which brings me back to bloggers - all of them have an itch to criticize even if (knowing them or of them) personally - I know for a fact that they play the same game as everyone else, fall for the same system shortcuts and bakhshish as the rest of us, and despite the moaning and whatever still do whatever the rest of the population does. Oh, but we blog, don't we?
Here's a not-so-fun fact: A major billboard network has zero new booking for 2 full weeks.
Another fact: Major retailers have all offered steep discounts BEFORE Christmas this year.
I have no idea what to make of this, let's go meet for lunch at some upscale restaurant and groan about this. This might give us all a good topic to blog about, no?
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