for those of you that don’t know i’ve been in lebanon for the past  
three weeks, trying to provide a biased alternative to the bullshit  
that the corporate media puts out, help as much as possible with  
grassroots relief projects and sample the air around the middle east  
for my gig at berkeley.

 sorry that i have been out of touch while  
i’ve been here. now the war is over supposedly and things appear  
normal again. how weird. Beirut is once again crowded with yuppies.  
they had fled to their gated communities in the mountains with the  
start of the war. far away from the bombs and destruction, with  
unlimited supply of food for their bellies and pets, water for their  
throats and their swimming pools. as old rusty cars and packed busses  
with mattresses on top were going back south after the ceasefire,  
ferraris and SUVs were making their way back down the mountain  
towards beirut.

beirut during the war was punctured daily by missile strikes deep  
into the southern suburbs. now this area, Dahye, is transformed to a  
city of rubble with people walking amongst massive heaps of what once  
was. it is impossible to describe the sound of a missile hitting  
concrete. the explosion reverberates through the air fading out with  
the screams of the lives it has taken. you jump with the first one,  
then you wait for the others since they always come in sets of 2,3,4  
or 5. comrade and partner-in-crime calamity had a close call when a  
missile hit 2 blocks away. i was on the beach! not sunbathing but  
walking through the oil slick that has polluted most of the lebanese  
coastline after isreal took out the main powerplant on july 14th.

i ran into robert fisk 15 minutes after that strike and he commented  
"This is the great thing about wars. I was sitting at a cafe and  
everybody ran out in panic without paying their bill! Isn’t it great  
they didn’t pay their bill? Hah! Me? I sat there and finished my tea  
and payed my bill and left." ok robert, i don’t know what to say. i  
guess that’s what happens when you cover war zones for 20 years. you  
are able to function logically and not on panic, since the saying  
about airstrikes goes: "If you hear it, it wasn’t meant for you."

We got hooked up with an amazingly generous and helpful man who had  
been schoolmates with our producer at WPFW (DC-Pacifica). He gave us  
contacts for his friends in the south (all of who would later refer  
to him as the kindest man they knew). a day before the ceasefire we  
travelled south to saida to visit the refugee centers where most of  
southern lebanon has fled to. the war appears as thousands of little  
children running through the corridors of schools. mothers with pain  
in their eyes and fingers. anxiety everywhere, most of the men were  
still south fighting israel on the ground. would they still be there  
when they returned? would their homes still be standing?

We travelled to a village named Habbush, near Nabatiye, with a family  
going back after the ceasefire, to see if their house was still  
standing. we wanted to write about the thin line between infinite  
relief and instantaneous doom, and that even with a ceasefire the  
anguish still persists. We witnessed the infinite relief and their  
house was still standing. Some of the families we would meet later  
were not so fortunate. We continued on southward to Tyre. As you get  
closer to the israeli border the destruction becomes more frequent  
and increases in intensity. the roads are bombed out, gas stations  
charred. Crossing the litani river where israel had taken out the  
bridges meant waiting in a 10 lane line for hours underneath the 40  
degree sun with dust and sand blowing through our hair and into our  
eyes. It was quite the sentiment to be on the road with thousands of  
families returning. Nasrallah posters were on the windows of cars and  
Hizbullah flags were flying high. We met a family who had a ten day  
old baby with them. He had been born during the war as a refugee in  
beirut. He was given the name Raad after the long range rockets that  
Hizbullah possesses.

The southern villages were hit mercilessly by Israel. People were  
going through the ruins trying to salvage whatever they could find.  
Their testimonies portrayed the horror they lived through underneath  
bombardment. Days without food or water, surviving out of mere luck  
in the last standing room of destroyed homes. Now they are under the  
threat of unexploded artillery and clusterbombs. here is an interview  
conducted with the UN mine cleaning team in Tyre:

Occasionally we catch the anglo corporate media on television. It is  
unbelievable what they say. That the real challenge is how hizbullah  
will be disarmed. This is utter bullshit. Hizbullah is stronger than  
ever in lebanon. even those who were for them being disarmed are now  
behind them after their successful victory over israel. Whether it is  
the NBC reporter sitting in his airconditioned SUV listening to his  
ipod amongst the thousands suffering form the sweltering heat while  
trying to get home, or the BBC in their resort hotel in bombed out  
Tyre or the indy journalists of self-righteous self-importance, once  
again i’ve realized that most journalists are scumbags.

i concentrated on getting information out to the turkish media, doing  
radio interviews, writing for a daily newspaper and website. calamity  
has been writing in english and we have occasionally been producing  
some things together. you can find most of the english language stuff  

For those of you who can read turkish here is my writing so far:

Please read, listen, look, post, distribute, forward use whatever you  
want  from  these two links.

I have been collecting air samples from around lebanon and will  
collect more on my way out. can’t wait to look at them underneath a  
microscope to see what i got. I collected from a huge variety of  
environments from all over the middle east; citys, agricultural  
communities, beach towns, warzones etc. etc. i wonder how many of  
them actually have pollen.

love and see you soon,