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When Syrian Men Dance

Jamal Ghosn about Syria
29.05.14
3 min
Post

The “History repeats itself” saying comes in dozens of variations attributed to a lot of smart people. A lot of not so smart people will hang on to that principle and fish for historic parallels to try to prove a point. Here’s such an attempt. Baabda, Fayyadiyeh, and Yarzeh are a troika of towns just outside Beirut on the mountainous road to Damascus. Baabda houses Lebanon’s presidential palace, Yarzeh its Ministry of Defense, and Fayyadiyeh a large military base. There are also a bunch of bakeries, gas stations, and trees that double as urinals since many travelers use that stretch of the highway as a first pit stop on what could be a longish road trip. Technically, the eastbound lane can take you all the way to the Pacific coast of China, but realistically the longest trips undertaken by casual travelers end in Amman, Jordan. Truckers and religious pilgrimage buses reach the shores of the Persian Gulf. Of course, here I’m talking about in times of Peace. In times of war, most sane people tend to stay off the road. The 1975-1990 version of the Lebanese civil war ended after General Michel Aoun, head of one of the multiple Lebanese Armies and Governments at the time, lost his last stand in these 3 towns. Thousands of Syrian men armed with tanks and fighter jets took control of Baabda, Fayyadiyeh and Yarzeh, and danced in victory celebrations while carrying portraits of Hafez al-Assad. The General left the presidential palace in Baabda and sought refuge at the nearby French Embassy. He would later be exiled to France. Today, twenty five years later, the smog that hovers in this area just above Beirut is thicker, but that same dude is back from France and is a leading candidate to fill the top vacancy at the presidential palace in Baabda. Also today, and also twenty five years later, tens of thousands of unarmed Syrians–mostly men–filled the streets of Baabda, Fayyadiyeh, and Yarzeh, and danced while carrying posters of Bashar al-Assad, Hafez’s son. They went to cast their vote in the Presidential elections at the Syrian Embassy there. The crowd was called the largest Syrian gathering outside Syria. Ever. Unlike twenty five years ago, the tanks and fighter jets today are doing their thing on the other side of the border. It’s not exactly history repeating itself. It’s more of a bizarro universe remake of events. But hey, it’s desperate times. If this image ended a war once, it can do it again. With any luck, 25 years from now the Syrians– just like the Lebanese today–will be without a President.

Coup Denial on the Nile

Jamal Ghosn about Egypt
22.05.14
2 min
Post

A Second Presidential election in two years will take place this week in Egypt. For the sake of drama, let’s pretend the winner of this battle–with 95% of the vote no less–was not decided long before the removal of President Mohammad Morsi from office a year ago. The currently jailed Morsi was the Muslim Brotherhood candidate whose election a year earlier capped the popular uprising of January 25, 2011 with a democratic victory for the long-persecuted Islamic movement. The Muslim Brotherhood were always a challenge to Egypt’s ruling military establishment. While Gamal Abdel Nasser used to mock the movement in the 1960s, his successors saw the rise of the religiously-themed political phenomenon as a threat. They saw it threatening enough for them to feel obliged to feign devoutness and strut religious cred. Anwar Sadat marketed himself as the Pious President and took on the name Mohammad upon ascending to the presidency. Hosni Mubarak followed suit becoming Mohammad Hosni Mubarak after inheriting the throne from the assassinated Sadat. They needed to prove they were as Muslim as the Brotherhood and nothing proves devotion like tagging a Mohammad onto your name. Rumor has it that the founder of Islam himself had little success launching the religion under different aliases until Mohammad, finally, got the ball rolling. Mohammad Morsi did not have to change his name. That presidential feature came built-in with him. Also, Morsi was not threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood. He was their crème de la crème. It was with him that the Muslim Brotherhood was going to vindicate their 80+ years struggle to reach power. Well… It didn’t quite work out. The military couped its way back to the helm, massacring hundreds of Brothers along the way. On Monday, the military’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is running against coup legitimizing stooge Hamdeen Sabbahi. With Mohammad no longer en vogue, the winner will take on the name Mubarak.

Victoria's Public Secret: Chapter 1.2, Part 10

19.05.14
3 min
Post

Coronation: Thursday, 28 June 1838, finale Part X

After dinner, before we sat down, we undid our slipper, we lit fires in outlying neighbourhoods, we lit the flood lights on the lawn, we spoke of the numbers of Peers at the Coronation, which Lord Melbourne said was unprecedented. I observed that there were very few Viscounts; he said “there are very few Viscounts”; that they were an odd sort of title, and not really English; that they came from Vice-Comités; that Dukes and Barons were the only real English titles; that Marquises were likewise not English; and that they made people Marquises when they did not wish to make them Dukes. The titles excited my appetite, I asked him to repeat them on my tongue – Viscounts: my tongue on your labia minora; Duke: my tongue at the entrance of your cunt; Baron: my tongue sweeping the head of your cock; Marquise: my tongue circling your ear. I then sat on the sofa for a little while, my hands beneath an elaborate bouquet of crinolines, fingers like spiders pulling at my little black hairs. Mamma remained to see the Illuminations, but only came later, as she lives a delayed fantasy. I envy her patience. I said to Lord Melbourne when I first sat down I felt a little tired on my feet, and I teetered my slipper thus (impatiently). I spoke of the weight of the robes etc., and he turned round to me and said “the weight of the civic architecture is your bondage, and Queeniepoo you wear it regally, as in, with model indifference.” He said so kindly, “And you did it beautifully, – every part of it, with so much taste; it’s a thing that you can’t give a person advice upon; it must be left to a person.” To hear this from this kind impartial friend, gave me great and real pleasure – my fingers squirmed between the lips of my regal and indifferent cunt, but I bore no smile for the Lord. Instead I spoke of my intending to go to bed; he said, “You may depend upon it, you are more tired than you think you are.” I said I had slept badly the night before; I dreamed he lay dead beside Mamma, sunlight pouring in through the condominium window upon their blue faces, cigarettes in their eye sockets, his cock a mucus-sheathed weathervane I had to suck dry in order to live another day (according to the burglar who had murdered them, who was my father), and I wore sunglasses so as to appear as though I took pleasure in the deed. He said that was my mind, and that nothing kept people more awake than any consciousness of a great event going to take place and being agitated by impending celebration. Stayed in the drawing-room till 20 minutes past 11, but remained till 12 o’clock on Mamma’s balcony looking at the fireworks in Green Park, which were quite beautiful.  I thought about smoking 18 cigarettes, one for each of my long years. I thought in time each pull and each exhale, treasuring each billow of smoke in my lungs, and the sensation of each cloud caressing my throat as I exhaled. I wanted every drag to last another lifetime, to achieve 18 coronations in one night. I thought in time of you.

Wilhelm Opatz
People

1998 – Frankfurt am Main, Rundgang in the Städelschule. A tall, boyish man stands in front of my T-shirt stall at the art college. Thoughtfully he asks a question, looking at a T-shirt from my own edition and reads the text. Silence. Affectionately he smiles towards me, and expresses his goodwill, softly, subtly, pays and leaves.
Years later my first gallery exhibition in this city. We meet again, speak a lot, honestly, directly, Wilhelm tells about his family, his wife Natalie with whom he runs an enterprise, his son Julius, whose birthday is on the same day as mine. And Wilhelm is and will be my first collector. He buys a large painting of a contour of Kate Moss.
His incredible affection, closeness, his questions about art, move me. I move to Berlin without saying goodbye, hit an artistic crisis – my first. I’m part of the system, but I hate it. He understands. Returning from the therapist completely shattered, cried out, I find a letter of which I can be certain, wherever I am, here with his postcards.
His words accompany me in my constant travel, my life in transit. No matter where I am, I return to Berlin, my place of residence in the sometimes – each line from him testifies to genuine interest, the love of art.
Reading older messages so much springs to mind. I see him sitting next to me in the Fichtekränzi, an apfelwein tavern in Frankfurt. He tells me about Natalie and how Julius is growing bigger, stronger and it seems as if we see each other all the time. Wilhelm – a wonderful man.
A book in my mailbox. I unwrap it. He had told me about it, and in contrast to the Berlin Republic, on the Main they don´t just do things, Wilhelm lives his true passion. Churches built after 1945 in Germany. How is life – and are we – treating them?
I have been travelling again for a long time and am reluctant to return to the city of my record collection, but here in my Charlottenburg apartment as well as these wonderful lines there is a bowl and the fixed idea, the belief that such unshakeable persons exist who live for art, the genuine and their confidence therein. Thank you, William.

(Photo: Hazki; Translation: Veronica Özbakir)

Shit happens ( in Soma and elsewhere)

16.05.14
7 min
Post

Reading the news all day in Istanbul today about the tragic coal mine incident in Soma which happened on Wednesday is nothing but disturbing all the way. Almost 300 coalminers lost their lives after a fire broke out in the mine. More than 100 are still missing and are most likely to be dead as it is impossible to survive under the circumstances which are supposed to be prevailing in the mine. It is not the first incident to happen and not the last but the most severe so far in the history of Turkey. The term “Shit happens” ran through my mind as I was reading the news today about the political perceptions of the incident by some. It is a term I would usually use in other circumstances. Like when a party is more dull than expected, the guy you fancied doesn’t reciprocate, the million in the lottery didn’t make you rich and so forth. Nothing severe nothing important. The term is brilliant to express that you were somehow involved and eager in the matter but are able to except the disappointing ( yet common) fact that life is not always playing in your favor. Wikipedia says: “Shit happens” is a common slang phrase, used as a simple existential observation that life is full of imperfections and unpredictable events, … The phrase is an acknowledgment that bad things happen to people for no particular reason.” According to some political opinions in Turkey working in a coalmine seems to be one set of circumstances where unpredictable events can happen for no particular reason, simply because work and accidents are inextricably tied together (Of course they are. Like my hand can fall off whilst writing my way to sarcasm heaven right now because the gods want to punish me…) I regularly use the term in a larmoyant yet self-determined way when I’m somehow aware of the set of circumstances in which “Shit happens” incidents are happening to me and am somehow prepared for the outcome. Working in a coal mine in Turkey in order to earn your living and providing your family with food and shelter is not the set of circumstances you choose in a self-determined way just because you think it is safe and sound to work there. Miners in Turkey are not choosing this because it is great to go down 2000meters into the earth and make a living from hard-knock work where you know you are tied to this set of circumstances: – Miners who are working in privatized coal mines throughout Turkey are working there because in some regions it is one of the few to sole sectors in which to earn money, – The labor is poorly paid ( daily workfare is 40TL equals 13€, you do the math for the month), – extremely dangerous because labor protection measures are poorly granted and safety regulations are not obeyed, – due to privatization the mines are working with subcontractors who are not tied to the already weak unions. Coalmining has a long history in its usage to generate electricity since the 19th century. In Turkey, due to the fact that coal is still “Turkey’s most exploited indigenous source of energy” ( cited from this brilliant article in THE NEW YORKER) and the cheapest one because of cheap labor, the linkage between bad set of circumstances and “unpredictable events” become apparent. Work and life is cheap in coal mining business in Turkey. One could compare it to the textile business in Bangladesh. The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 cost more than 1.000 textile workers their lives and left more than 2.5000 severely injured. It is one of many “unpredictable events” aka accidents while working in the textile business. Again people don’t choose to work in the textile business in Bangladesh because they think it is a decent way to earn a living (minimum wage is 68$, raised after Rana Plaza collapse). Most likely they do it because they don’t have another chance of earning money in some regions or cities and are aware of the fact that it is poorly paid and labor protection measures are apparently not followed when working in a desolate building crammed with companies working for the big clothing corporations. The Soma accident and the Rana Plaza accident weren’t unpredictable. They were predictable and are marked of pure grief and unbelievable horror. Grief about the lives lost and horror about the political and medial slaughter which takes place afterwards right now in Turkey and back then in Bangladesh. The horror of the political and media coverage right now lies in the fact that everybody is throwing stones at the other. The ruling party at the opposition parties, them at the ruling party, the corporations at the media and the media again at each other. The public opposing the ruling party wants to use the incident for enlightening the blinded followers of the ruling party by showing the merciless approach of the headmaster and its arrogant remarks. The public of supposedly blinded followers are praying to god and blaming the unfaithful for being unfaithful…. simply hilarious if it wouldn’t be so tragic. Political agendas are carried out on dead bodies and sarcasm and opportunism is sky-rocketing. I am not citing names because the names are replaceable in the coverage succeeding events like this. I also wanted to blame some political and media corporation fuckups but realized something else whilst writing this. While everybody else is throwing shit like there’s no tomorrow everybody keeps forgetting that by doing what we are doing and this is consuming cheap coals aka cheap electricity (and heating) and cheap fabrics, we are mostly responsible for what’s happening: Cheap electricity we all like because we consume it increasingly and are neither willing to pay high prices nor lower our consumption. Consumers of cheap fabrics are most likely we and by we I mean consumers of the western world who are shopping at Zara, Mango, H&M, Primark yada yada yada. Cheap fabric is not so cheap anymore once it made its way to the shelves on the high streets of Berlin, London, Paris, Kopenhagen etc. The retail price becomes absolutely expensive because of a mark-up up to 300-400% compared to its production price. Cheap coals are cheap because of cheap labour. The big mining companies keep raising the production rates, are selling more coals for cheaper prices, are lowering the incomes and raising their profit margins. Cheap fabrics are also cheap because of cheap labour but we are paying high prices in order to make Zara&Co.’s billions the more the merrier ( in a nutshell and simplified). Of course we don’t  think of us being also responsible for tragedies like these at first thought but once you start thinking one should realize that it is not negotiable that we are not. We are most definitely and as long as we keep doing what we are doing predictable events like this will continue to happen. I don’t want to be defeatist but on a day like this after watching and reading the coverage of this event I want to pound my head against the wall and keep screaming that CAPITALISM KILLS! and SMASH CAPITALISM! and WORKERS UNITE! and YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR CHAINS! and many other popular leftist chants. Not because I am a blinded leftist but truly believe that making profit of off peoples lives is something that shouldn’t be done, plain and simple. We are and will be living in capitalist society anytime soon but the extent of social justice applicable to capitalism should be increasing than decreasing. Maybe I am a blinded leftist I don’t care but I will have to rethink what I can do on my terms in order to support this. (Photo: Courtesy of Hurriyet Daily News)

Miriam Laura Leonardi
People

Miriam worked for a company that produces mirrored bathroom cabinets, when I first met her in Basel already some months ago. Miriam is somebody who likes these breaks and the experience to dive into corporate worlds for a couple of days. During these days as a hostess presenting mirrors, scanning tickets at a packaging and innovation fair or representing an insurance, she gathers the nicest and weirdest stories. People cry because their boyfriend wasn’t nice to them, construction people make the cheapest jokes when the try to bring you and the bathroom mirror together or she finds a company printing your name on a flash light. I was lucky to receive one of them. These temporary jobs are not the only things that change on an almost regular basis. Before she moved to Zurich she resided in Paris, Mexico-City, L.A. for a couple of months and again is planning to move away to see other things, eat other food – she loves food by the way – and also to engage with other languages, which is a key element in her artistic work. Writing, filming or recording audio, Miriam is always concerned about these little details you can catch by watching, simply watching what happens around you.

Chairman Mao and the Kardashians

Jamal Ghosn about Hollywood Barinwashing
13.05.14
2 min
Post

On Uriarte street in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood of Buenos Aires there’s a family-owned Chinese food-by-the-pound restaurant. The food is displayed in a buffet setting without any labels. I suspect most customers don’t bother learning the names of the dishes as they pile spoonfuls of food in their take-away plastic containers. The food is less than spectacular, but it’s cheap. The sole decorative indication of the type of cuisine served in this tiny establishment is an A4-sized portrait of a balding Chairman Mao that hangs high in the center of the bare back wall.

A few blocks away and closer to the tourist trappy plaza Serrano, the same neighborhood becomes coolly known as Palermo Soho. A burger joint there serves 4 types of burgers: American, Mexican, Jamaican, and French. The walls around the place though are predominantly Gringo. There’s plenty of Madonna magazine cutoffs. The movie posters are as follows: Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction featuring John Travolta, Star Wars Episode IV featuring Luke and Leia Skywalker, Rocky featuring the back side of Sylvester Stallone triumphantly pumping his fists, and Bruce Lee. Music posters include Hendrix, The Ramones, and Louis Armstrong among others. The shelves have KISS and Spiderman figurines, as well as that Bob Sponge Square cartoon thingie. A trio of bobble-heads nod out of sync. They are The Hangover’s Alan’s Zach Galafiniakis (please tell me I got the spelling right), Doogie Howser in the role of Barnie Stinson, and Big Bang’s Sheldon (who is reportedly too popular for the people’s republic). The walls are also filled with writing, but the biggest and most legible words are the Swahili words made famous by Disney: Hakuna Matata. Other Memorabilia soaking in the smell of grilled meat and fries include Hippie insignia, a caricature of Bill Clinton, a “No Kardashians Allowed” sign, and an autographed A4-sized portrait of Seinfeld’s soup Nazi that sits on a shelf over the cash register.

China is set to overtake the US for the world’s top economy title sometime in the next decade. Can you name 10 Chinese political or cultural figures? I’ll give you one to get started… Chairman Mao.

Toilet Humor

Jamal Ghosn about Public Transport Etiquette
11.05.14
3 min
Post

Let’s start with some basic toilet humor.

I hesitated at first to write about this topic. I know many of the readers of this site are German and I’m not sure how tolerant they are of this childish form of jokes. It turns out one of the children songs recognized in the German Folk Song Archive is called the Scheiße song. So I guess I’m good to go. Let me share with you a facebook query I posted last week.

A metro etiquette question:
We don’t have a metro in Beirut so I’m not sure what is acceptable behavior and what’s not. An 80+ year old man gets on and there are no empty seats, so I offered him mine. He thanks me and says he’s getting off at next stop. Next stop, he gets up, thanks me again and gets off the train. A 20 year old boy, who witnessed the whole sequence of events, rushes to take the vacated seat. Fine, I snooze I lose. I also happened to have black beans for lunch. So, I placed my butthole within an inch (2.54 centimeters) of the kid’s nostrils and let one rip. Did I break metro protocol or did I just break fair wind? Coincidentally, Buenos Aires is Spanish for fair winds.

The real question here is why isn’t there a metro in Beirut?

It’s hard to look at the news coming out of the Arab world these days and try to make sense of the whole picture. With things spiraling out of control, attempts to pinpoint the cause of the problems turn into fingerpointing with plenty of blame to go around. This is why it’s important to go back to the basics.

One of the main pillars of the modern city is public transport.

In 1931, Tramway lines covered 12 kilometers connecting various Beiruti neighborhoods.
Between 1965 and 1968, the Tramway system of Beirut was removed. Seven years later a civil war split the Lebanese capital into East Beirut and West Beirut. A look closer within these side would uncover that barriers were erected separating neighborhoods, streets, and even alleys.

The civil war was declared finished in 1990.

In 2005, fifteen years after Beirut was reunited, I came across 2 older ladies in Hamra (West Beirut), who were fascinated by the changes the neighborhood has gone through since their last visit there 40 years earlier. I asked them if they had been out of the country, but the shocking answer was that all this time they had been living 2 kilometers away in Achrafieh (East Beirut).

That’s 4 metro stops. That’s a trip that certainly doesn’t take 40 years. Most commuters would’ve got up and offered their seats to these 2 ladies.

Beyond Lebanon, in 1908 a railway system connected Damascus to Medina in the Arabian Peninsula. Haifa and Acca on the Palestinian coast were also linked to that line. In 1920s, the Palestine Railways ran a daily service from Sudan to Beirut.
Since then, multiple sets of national borders, visa requirements, and Apartheid walls have made that terrain untravelable for humans.
Coincidentally, the ease of travel for fossil fuels over and under that same territory has improved by leaps and bounds.

Cocoincidentally, a superpower that has a major fossil fuel fetish and a knack for butting in emerged over that lapse of time.

So why can’t I fart on the metro in Beirut? Basically, someone has been going to great lengths to stir shit up and keep people from enjoying each other’s farts. It just hasn’t been going there by train.

KLM Takes Care so We Don't Have To :)

KLM Takes Care

10.05.14
5 min
Post

A friend of mine recently told me that he hasn’t taken a plane flight since 1997. “It’s literally the worst thing you can do for the environment,” he said. I’m aware of that fact, but I couldn’t believe that he had reached this level of commitment. The possibility of not taking an airplane ever, despite norms and convenience and in-flight movies and the future and business class and technology and _____, had literally never occurred to me. What kind of conformist automaton must I be? When he told me this I got a similar feeling to when my coworker told me she was going on the Master Cleanse (a ten-day diet of only a honey/lemon/cayenne pepper) – total awe and then deep guilt and then seething jealousy. There is no way I could spend ten days not eating, much less not drinking beer and whiskey. Or could I? And why did the no-plane announcement inspire exactly the same emotional reaction?

I’m sitting in Tegel airport on my way to Amsterdam. I spent an hour or two agonizing over the train and plane schedules last week before booking the flight. I’m telling myself I chose the plane because the company I work for is paying for this trip, and the only train ticket under budget would have required traveling all night on Saturday and arriving in Berlin at 4am. I told myself this was impossible because it will take a toll on my Sunday productivity, plus I have sleeping problems already due to this endless “stress” situation, which has become so constant and grating that I can barely see my hands in front of my face. How many hours of lost sleep are worth ___ tons of fossil fuel? How important is my company’s money? How bad would it be for me to over-spend? Couldn’t I pay the extra travel fees, a paltry 20 euros?

This is the kind of moral balancing act that makes daily decisions so bewildering. You’re in the grocery store and you have a mission: buy healthy (less carbs, less meat, less peanut butter, less beer), buy cheaply (no bio-laden, no fancy produce, no refined granola), and buy responsibly (no meat, no imported products, no canned tuna). But you don’t know the authority who can guarantee, 100%, which items qualify for any of these categories, you left your iPhone at home and you don’t remember the most recent scare-article you read, and you don’t know what you are left with if you avoid all three categories of bad stuff.

Lately I go shopping and I fuck up on purpose out of frustration, buying loads of pasta and bacon. (Kudos to the old guy drinking a beer at 11am in the airport right now next to me.) The more I indulge and disregard the Categories of Responsibility, the more I’m like fuck it, gonna shop at H&M now, gonna spend 50euros on a taxi, gonna use a ton of toilet paper for no reason – or as the case may be, gonna buy this plane ticket to Amsterdam for a two-day conference on the critical/political potential of design. The press materials of the conference announce a running theme of sustainability in various forms. I got a welcome email yesterday listing the speakers coming from around the world to participate. I wonder if any of them took a boat instead of an airliner.

I’ve come to associate responsibility with dogma and lifestyle politics to the extent that they almost disgust me. Tino Seghal bringing whole troups of performers on week-long boat trips to avoid transatlantic flights, Jonathan Safran Foer’s book about raising his kids vegetarian – these cases incite such a nasty guilt in me that I mock them as fanatics. Wrong Response. Going through security I realized that the few hours I’m saving and convenience I’m gaining are most certainly not balance-able with the guilt. The problem is that a long time ago I decided to categorically refuse to make decisions in my daily life based solely on guilt. Otherwise I end up doing a ton of jobs for free, stretching myself too thin between my friends, showing up at 30 art openings a week, and ending up hating everyone. And since the guilt I feel for fucking up the environment is the exact same type of guilt I feel for not going to your theater play, because jet fuel = master cleanse, I have no idea how to differentiate or to prioritize between my actions. It also allows me to perform a game of checks and balances: If you don’t eat any sugar this week, you can take taxis on the weekend. If you leave work early, you can’t watch TV later. And so on.

Why should excessive partying on the weekend, water usage, procrastination, hamburgers, and plane travel all be leveled to the same playing field of moral decisions? How could one draw up a scale or a ranking system for most repugnant to most commendable? If somebody can send me a graph I will be very grateful.

But with or without the numbers, these responsibilities are so abstract: I will never be able to tangibly understand how much my expenditure of resources contributes to global decline. Plus nobody seems to care if I gain a few kilos or blow too much cash or zoom around in an SUV – not even my impressively responsible non-flying, vegetarian friend, who is thankfully undogmatic about his belief system. Guilt is all I have to cling to in order to incite me to action, or stifle me into non-action. Guilt, guide me.

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*I wrote this four days ago. The design conference is now over and my mind has been blown way out of the guilt stratosphere. More to come on that somewhere soon.

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⁝⁞⁝⁞ʕु•̫͡•ʔु☂⁝⁞⁝⁝ *

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David Levine
People

I met David in the summer of 2010 after a mutual friend invited me to a dinner party at his apartment on Schwedter Straße. He cooked lemon chicken, Ayn Rand and the beginnings of what would become his essay on “International Art English” were discussed, and I remember thinking that this is what I had hoped Berlin would be like—clever people smoking and arguing into the night in darkened apartments. I saw David again and again over the course of the next several years, in Berlin and New York as he continually came up with reasons to escape teaching obligations and return home for a visit. (He’s marrying the best of these reasons in June.)  
Anybody who knows or has met David knows that he’s generally the most charming and charismatic person in the room. He has an exceptional ability to make art of theater, theater of art, and doctrinaire practitioners of both uncomfortable. Since I’ve known him, he’s created an opera inspired by Milli Vanilli, starred in a recurring live talk show, and produced, to borrow the New York Times’s description, a genre-bending art-theater project. They’ve all been not only smart and not only well executed, but genuinely, and remarkably, fun. You should look them up. The final thing I’ll say about David is that in addition to being a generous friend he’s a wonderful collector of people. You know the type—somebody who is willing to reach outside their own comfort zone and bring others in. It’s a rare quality, and he’s accumulated many lovely friends over the years. I consider myself lucky to be among them.

When Syrian Men Dance

Jamal Ghosn about Syria
29.05.14
3 min

Coup Denial on the Nile

Jamal Ghosn about Egypt
22.05.14
2 min

Victoria's Public Secret: Chapter 1.2, Part 10

19.05.14
3 min

Shit happens ( in Soma and elsewhere)

16.05.14
7 min

Chairman Mao and the Kardashians

Jamal Ghosn about Hollywood Barinwashing
13.05.14
2 min

Toilet Humor

Jamal Ghosn about Public Transport Etiquette
11.05.14
3 min

KLM Takes Care

10.05.14
5 min