Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sometimes I wish that I were anonymous, so that I could scream, without the need to find the right words, without resorting to political correctness, without having to justify my prejudices with any form of argumentation or back-up statistics, but simply out of pure subjectivity and personal vendetta, that
1) german women are sluts
2) cigarettes are pure bliss, and all non-smokers are just jealous of seeing us suck on something with so much passion
3) a pint of Staropramen lager looks like a pint of piss
4) relationships are a poor excuse for a selfish ego-boost, and God bless homosexuality
5) graphic design is a sell-out job, and all philosophy around the subject is masturbatory: we make ugly things pretty for money, and that's that.
6) men are sluts too (all nationalities included)
7) I HATE small-talk, so leave me alone, especially if it's dark outside, or if i'm not drinking coffee
8) Clubs are overrated, and shifting from one foot to the other is not dancing, it's just pretending not to be bored to death, so drop the act and go home.......

But I'm not anonymous, so I'll shut up.

"Stuff On My Cat"

This site is kind of stupid, but it made me laugh on this very blue (sun)day... I know that if I tried to put stuff on my cat, I'd get a good thorny slap on the face and a hiss.

But I know she would still love me...

Notting Hill Gate Tube Station 'Advice'

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hangover Update

Wine belly, my ass! It ain't the wine, it's the shitload of food you eat throughout the next day to try and drown the acidity of the wine and the pasty taste of too many cigarettes... Feel I'm going to burst after today's late lunch feast (a colourful mixture of spicy chilli con carne and rice, aubergines, hummous, tzatziki, fries, feta cheese, bread and butter, couscous, and 1+1/2 cumberland sausage). But, as my fellow hangovered feast friend rightfully said: "It's that little piece of Willy Wonka chocolate we ate at the end of it all that's gonna tip the scale and make me puke."
Yes, I'm a sucker for movie marketing products. Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka... in a chocolate factory?? YES PLEASE!!!

An Ode To Wine

Another morning, another hangover, EastEnd induced this time...
I had never been an alcohol-drinker before coming to London, preferring the bitter taste of a Virgin Mary. But I have finally been broken in, and have slowly raised my non-existent alcohol-tolerance to featherweight status. From using the word "tipsy" too long, I now admit to "being drunk." It took me a while to accept it, though, having always imagined 'drunk' to be a vomitif state of utter embarrassment. But, no, for some months now, experimenting with alcoholized behavioral patterns has become a little past-time of mine.
My eyes become drunk more than anything else. I find it hard to keep them open, and prefer the obscurity of dancing in blindness. It's always a little trip, where I find myself being led in a tango or a dizzy twirl by strange male hands on the dancefloor. I feel vulnerable, yet empowered. And, oh my God, it's true that inhibitions get washed away with white wine! Not that I resort to vulgar flashing, but I do feel that I am contained in an expansion of me that floats in a mass of stroboscopic neons and blurred silhouettes. Individuals are washed away and bodies become accessible playthings: a little smile there, a little touch here, and millions of little words exchanged in the haze. People become enjoyable, and a smile can drown anything...
I reached my limit yesterday of a whopping three medium-sized glasses of wine. I think I will platform at that for the moment. I did need a healthy serving of fries with garlic sauce and a samosa at 1am to cool myself down, and I am not ready for a wine belly just yet.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

S & M

On her blog, Eve recently posted a link to something she found on the web, which is one of the most entrancing piece of uselessness I have ever come across. Like her, I sat still for ages, totally fixated on the falling figure. But, it struck a chord inside and I now find it to be right-on-target revealing about the Human Condition...
I'm not sure if this wizardry programming of the human body freefalling in abstract space touches upon our inner masochist... or sadism. I completely believe that we are all made up of a combination of both Masochism and Sadism, and that the balance between both-or lack of it- drives our relationship with things and the world around us.
The reality quotient of the body (which is female, of course, I have to note!) and the lifelike movements of her joints makes us scrunch our eyes with the intensity of every blow and twist of the figure hitting the obstacles; but it is the inertia and apparent indifference in her expression that arouses the dormant masochist in us. I almost wished the figure had mid-length brown hair, green eyes and smaller boobs, so that I need not project myself in her, but actually see myself mangled and puppetted around.
However, a few minutes later, I clicked my mouse on her and realised that I could control the fall: so I started bashing her around, left and right, propelling her against the bubbles... or curving her fall so as to avoid the obstacles. But, yeah, mostly thrashing her around the screen and seeing her bend about like a dead fish.
Amidst all the wierdness of the net, this is a jewel. Thanks Eve for sharing it with us... The perfect example of the human's twisted mind.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Highlight of my lunchbreak

Was just walking out for my lunch break today and i happened to stumble across a small demonstration that was taking place right outside of Scotland Yard, against the 'shoot to kill' policy. Anyway, the minute i stepped out, a young woman happened to be walking past and got really hysterical at the demonstrators and screamed at them (and i have to note here that they were mostly English), ‘’if you don’t bloody well like it, then go back to your own fucking country’’. No comment.

Untitled Street

Bahi Ghubril, an ex-expatriate Lebanese, has been long working on a street map 'atlas' of Beirut, to combat the lack of any formal indexing of our labyrinth city - which is a great idea for tourists, returning Beyruthians maybe, but feels kind of dubious to me. Not that I wouldn't mind knowing how to navigate through the maze with far greater ease, but I seem to have a deep-engrained love of our total road anarchy and organized chaos.
The Daily Star article rightly tells of the spontaneous absurd conversations between lost driver and well-meaning aider when pinpointing directions; and I love, as a designer, drawing a crazy map of my Broumana home for a party, complete with "turn left on traumatized tree at red gas station corner" to "shift to first gear on very very steep dotted lane under olive trees." A stamped & posted letter even managed to find its way safely to my door landing, sporting the hilarious address of "2nd floor, orange-brick building, behind Bellevue hotel, Broumana" or something of the sort.
In a way, for confirmed Beirutis, the street index would be a precious reminder of what we do not really need, but would love to know: Cleopatra Street?! A sort of 'funny' formal, yet miscellaneous, layer beneath the more confirmed navigational landmarks of "ALBA university roundabout" and "nazlet Pharmacie Berty". I believe it would take another decade, and at least a couple of new-generation drivers, before referring to tarmac roads as "Xxxx Street". I would still definitely get one of those A to Z, though, for the sake of laughter, that of History (probably the mentionned 2nd updated edition, then), and to maybe find the new traffic-beating shortcuts before they too become bottleneck avenues...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Monday, July 25, 2005 ?

The Design Observer has posted an article on Signs of Religion in the American South, which is a very interesting read about how religion takes its toll on sanity... Excuse my cynisism about over-zealous religious piety, but with the rising fear of Islamic Fundamentalism taking up everyone's time, who's monitoring those people?
And I thought I took the Lord's name in vain when I cursed...

Post-24/7 Blues...

It's been one of those days when all your mind can really focus on is: "Right, what am I going to cook for dinner tonight?" when it's barely even lunch yet. I was asked to tag along on a shopping-spree in Primark, which I happily obliged to, and bought myself half a dozen rainbow-colored panties. Primark is tailor-made for bingeing on useless underwear, especially while the mind is busy concocting a recipe using that lone courgette in the fridge that might have to be soon thrown away, if Tesco's expiry date is to be trusted.
I finally got to dinnertime and revelled in cooking myself pseudo-chilli sin carne. I'm not a vegetarian, but despite the day's calculations, I had forgotten to defrost minced meat.
And, now, my stomach is so fat and big that I feel like I may just give birth to a whole honey-mustard roast chicken in time for tomorrow's lunch. And people still insist my little non-pregnant tummy is sexy...


After 9/11 and 7/7 there was 24/7.
It poured all day, so the Greenwich field-trip went down the drain.
Instead, it was all massive breakfast-binge, wet sandals, organic fruit juice, a panty-revealing short skirt, bee sunglasses picture-posing, Cluedo, wine & pizza, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, tingling massage and... more Cluedo. And I got to be Miss Scarlett both times!
Felt good to be a spoilt brat.
And tomorrow begins the first day of the rest of my life...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Happy Birthday Me!

I am officially a quarter of a century old!
I hope this year will bring me merry copulations, a jolly-good salary, the ability to fit back into my jeans, and the fulfillment of having those exquisite cushions from Coco de Mer! ...and the Sophie Calle book! ...and that cabinet from Unto This Last! ...and a cockroach-free appartment to put it in! (hint hint)
...and World Peace, of course.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

West End Hangover

Have treaded to the Far West of London last night, to a party in Mayfair (!) too far for my bike to escort me. I let myself be dragged past the borders of my beloved EastEnd, to mingle with a new crowd, rightly described by a friend as "Very rich kids, with careers on the side". So, the tube it was. I can't say I wasn't a bit edgy, but that's not the point of this post.
I just wanted to note how daunting it is to live in a elevator-clad building of such minutia that I would not be allowed to hang my mismatched socks to dry at the window, with a rooftop patio overlooking the precious US Embassy, illuminated flag at half-mast, and spotless iron fences that discriminate my 2nd-hand shopper bike with a hefty "Bicycles Found Parked Against Or Chained To These Railings Will Be Removed Without Further Notice." Suddenly, my landlord's Perfect Fried Chicken shop under my flat has never felt more cosy, even if it does send the mice and cockroaches up to us.
At least I have gotten my first ever hangover today: I finally feel like a normal person! And I have the West End boys to thank for that...

On another note, London police have approved a "Shoot to Kill" policy against suspected bombers, pub-filled Monnot Street in Beirut was bombed last night at 10pm on a Friday night, and it's my birthday tomorrow. Cheers anyone?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Interns: Cheap Labour

I've just read an advertisement for placement opportunities at a new magazine here in London. Yes, they are offering work experience for brilliant design students, generously helping them to gain knowledge of the publishing field by getting hands-on into magazine design.
The truth is unfortunately far-removed...
Having been interviewed by this same magazine a few months back, I know that they are actually understaffed & overworked, and it seems they are not willing to pay a second designer to join their permanent team. The answer is simple, it being a solution devised by many employers to exploit the endless new crops of unemployed and desperate designers: cheap labour under the appellation of 'Placement' ("Travel Expenses Paid" -- wow.)
They had almost given me the job, but resorted to someone who already had experience in magazine design (which I still hadn't at a time before D&C). I had sensed that the magazine would not be able to cope with just one designer, and I hoped that they would eventually contact me to join their team: a logical development for the escalating growth of their new publication. But they have resorted to slavery, and I see myself denied a job.
Maybe placements become a pool for recruitment, and could eventually lead to a permanent position, if one shows merit. But that is very rarely the case, seeing that designers hop from one placement to another after graduation, in a series of unpaid CV-building intern positions.
I count myself lucky to have had a callback as freelancer after D&C, but that was my 3rd placement, and I've got a 4th one in December. Yup, there even are waiting lists for design slavery.

The Pitter-Patter of Antennas

Ok, I promised myself I would stop talking about the vermin and rodents of my lovely East End home, but tonight, I have witnessed a circus...
From the safety of my bedroom desk, I can see the kitchen, and most specifically, the Washing Machine, home to the uninvited inhabitants of Bethnal Green road. And for the past 2 hours or so, I have been observing the comings and goings of the mouse. I shall name her Mandy. Mandy comes and goes as she pleases: she scours the kitchen tiles, darts out the kitchen door to the hallway, rushes under the door to the landing, comes back into the house, and after a little loop inside the bathroom, settles back under the washing-machine. When I am busy staring at the computer screens, the shadow of something scurrying past disturbs the corner of my eye, and I just have time to see her tail waggling through the doorway. She's been at it for hours now. It is dark in the kitchen, but my eye can grow accustomed.
I shall not chase her, she is too fast. But she makes me nervous, and I find myself gazing in the darkness of the kitchen for hours, hunting moving shadows...
But will I get up from my computer for another type of shadow emerging from the Washing Machine? This shadow is much smaller, much slower, and hovers on the floor. It is the cockroach, and I shall name it Ron. God knows how many Rons live in my house, but I am wearing new sandals, and do not want to soil them...
I shall let Mandy and Ron live tonight.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

London is just annoyed

I was never really scared or frightened about the events that took place 2 week ago on '7/7' as they call it on the PA announcements on the tube (yes Rasha, your predictions were right!), but as i have just started a graduate training program at London Underground, i must admit that when i came back today from my lunch break, i did get a little nervous when Liz (my boss), came up to me the minute i gleefully glided through the door with my Mocha Frappe (which has become an obsession now and which i have to say was a big factor in the gliding in part and the big smile on my face) and told me not to panic but that there had just been 3 incidents on the tube and taught me the emergency evacuation procedures. So i did get a little nervous after that, but mostly i couldn’t concentrate at all. I had all these weird and detached daydreams like being stuck in the daunting office for days or thinking about London Underground office’s location, how its a bull's eye for terrorists being opposite Scotland Yard, the Home Office, 5 minutes from Buckingham Palace and White Hall, basically all the government buildings. cringe!

Nevertheless, despite my wild thoughts, which of course i kept to myself and actually put on the "i'm so tough, i'm from Beirut, of course im not scared" act, everyone pretty much seemed to carry on with their usual office business but with the TV blasting in the background. Nobody seemed panicked this time, just mostly annoyed. The same attitude was on the tube as well. I had to get on the district line to Bank and walk home from there, and i thought the tube was going to be deserted or that people were going to be really paranoid, but it was as busy as ever, and nobody was looking suspiciously at the bags of dark skinned people similarly to the days following the previous attacks. They, again, just looked really annoyed. I do not want to go into details of what i think of the attacks and terrorism etc...partly because last time i was accused of being "like the news", but mainly because i dont really care this time. I'm just really annoyed!

Safe Beirut/Dangerous London?

There have been more bombs today in London. Actually, they didn't seem to be bombs as much as small detonations aimed at creating panic, security alerts and disruption in the city. And how successful that's been! More stories of friends thrown off buses or trains and trying to forge a pathway home from work through cordonned ares, and evacuated streets.
As usual, I was at a friend's house, eating and totally unaware - actually, with the first set of bombs, I was simply sleeping and unaware, having no job to commute to at 8am.
This time, one of the the 'bombs' inched itself much closer to home... a bus on the intersection of Columbia road and Hackney road. Hearing "BOMB IN BETHNAL GREEN" repeated on the radio felt quite unnerving, seeing that I live on Bethnal Green Road...

It is strange to hear of bombs in both cities I call home.
Just 2 weeks ago, a member of the Murr species was almost assassinated in Beirut. Now my beloved London East End has been attacked. It is almost risible how Beirutians are urging me to return to the homeland, saying that London is now officially unsafe! Wasn't it a couple of months ago that even my suburbian Lebanese hometown of Broumana was targeted by a bomb?
It seems that, wherever we go, there is anger and disquiet. I don't want to point fingers, and I don't want to throw blame. Politics and rebellion have become almost too complex to fathom. Or, actually, they have been diluted into a perpetual and metaphorical dissatisfied bellow that screams a "East vs West" chant...
Is it really as simple as that?

And now I have been invited to have a drink on Hoxton Square, 50m from the bus incident. Because, as you have heard, London Is Defiant, and London Goes On In The Face Of Terror...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Magic Mushrooms


Anyone up for a lifetime stock-up?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Crappy Job: Final Installement

By some miracle, Dr.Health's assistant called me to say that they were offering me the job on these terms: £9 per hour for 3 weeks full-time to design 21 product labels, and then a bonus if I complete the project within deadline. Yup, a Bonus Round for the design slave! And she gave me 60 minutes to sleep on it.
So I called back 90 minutes later with a couple of questions: what exactly do I have to design (21 labels and boxes too?) Will payment be weekly? Are travel expenses included? etc, to which she replied as accurately as possible. She was very understanding of my queries, and not British, so that kind of helped... And then I sold my soul: "Yes, I'll take the job." I asked her to write me a 'contract' with all that we had said on paper, and that I would see her on Monday.


90 minutes later, Dr.Health himself calls me up, with his squeaky Mary Poppins impression, and, "why oh why are you complicating everything so much, Russia, with all of these questions? I don't know what exactly you are going to be doing, because I don't know what's on the disc you're going to be working on, so what do you say if I pay you £10 an hour and you just jolly come in and do some design for us for, say, three weeks?! I don't know what is up with all of these questions! I don't know about all of this bonus stuff, because, you see, I am a turnaround manager, and companies come to me and say "Brian, can you turn around this company?" and I say "yes, I can" and that is my job, you see?" To which I told him, very irritated indeed, that it is my right to know what my responsibilities are going to be, and to what I am binding myself to if I say yes, and that they are contradicting themselves, saying 6 months one minute, and 3 weeks the next, and that they are making things complicated because I had already said yes... "How many companies have you worked with Russia?" and I shoved it at him that 3 big studios, and countless freelance jobs. And he said: "Why don't you just come along on Monday, and open that disc, and just do some design for us, if we are going to go through with this?", to which I hesitated...
"Russia, I don't think this is going to work out"
"Yes, you're right, it's not going to work out"
"Thank you and goodbye"
...hang up...

And that's that.

I guess, I could've just said yes, seeing that I have no income, apart from that other crappy bar job. It would've been easy to accept the £10 an hour for three weeks deal, just for the money. But thinking that I'd have to work with that asshole 9 to 5 / 5 days a week made my craving for money seem fun after all... I do not want to sink to these depths, and shoot my pride if you will, but I still got my dignity.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Crappy Job Callback

Well... I went to the call-back, with the joyful prospect of turning a useless full-time position into a more adaptable freelance project. This, being a more logical approach to the brief, would save me wasted time, and him wasted money (although I would not, in the absolute, spare a client some 'wasted' money...). In fact, who in their right mind could work on the same corporate brief for 7 hours at a time, 5 days a week for 3 months, without repose to the brain? I just needed to explain to amateurs how the design process works, and how to go about for this specific type of project. Simple, really.
But, beyond what I had predicted, I was dealing not only with mere amateurs, but a total pompous bastard. He dared utter the dreaded sentence: "Even I could do the design, if I had the time!" which made my poor heart choke on itself and almost upchurn my lunch salad. There we go again with total idiots who consider graphic design to be a hobby, achieveable by anyone mid-weight enough to own a PC, Corel Draw and a wireless mouse. It is ignorants like Dr.Health who undermine the profession, and create the visual pollution of screaming 16pt italicized fonts, neon picture transparencies. and 'pretty' ornementation. He actually proudly showed me the flimsy pamphlet he had designed himself, admitting that "it could be a little bit better," but that he had some experience with design, and: "there, you see that?!" By the way, it included the three aforementionned horror traits...
Dr.Health deemed himself, oh no, no, too busy to write a design brief, even though I explained that it needn't be done in writing, and that a small discussion would do. Dr.Health felt indignant that, if I had to chose between working for his company or Pentagram design, I would go for the latter. Dr.Health could not fathom the idea that I could write a freelance quote for his project, his brain comprehending no other than pay-by-hour basis, and dared to think out loud that I "might rip him off." Dr.Health simply wants a design person to sit in the basement office staring at the screen of his mega-cool PC from 9 to 5, safely knowing that the design person is waiting for him to free up his time and throw him a: "yes, that looks good, just make the letters bigger." Basically, Dr.Health smells of Ignorant Bastard.
And, me not giving off the "design slave" vibe he so desperately needed, I think I may have sabotaged my £10/per hour wrinklefree-miracle job.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


My word of the week has to be Hedonism!

I had one of my most fabulous friends Hala visit me this week, and after having just come back from a very inspring course and a week of hedonistic pleasure in NY, she came to London with one of the most positive energies ive experienced and i have to say it really put a lot of things in perspective for me! (thanks Hala)

First of all, lately myself and just about everyone around me is so overwhemingly wrapped up in their lives, getting things done, being the best, getting that job ect, that we've forgetten the most important thing and that is OUR PLEASURE. As simplistic as it may sound and as differrent the idea of 'pleasure' is to everyone. Being hedonistic, positive and loving everyone around you even for one day is amazing and feels great.

Group Acts

Group dynamics are a fascinating thing. There is something slithery about the way we adjust to our particular set of peers and take up our costume for the night. We do each retain an almost genetical personality make-up that transpires through the costume, a specific set of traits that keep us recognisable as ourselves, as 'Rasha'. However, on the whole, we seem to slather and morph into ever-adapting personas according to what the group dynamics require, or ask of us. I am continuously disconcerted by this fact, being noticeably more at ease within one-on-one discourses. Groups always seem much too threatening, as personality readjustments are forced into the equation....
Once I think I have discovered a person and eased myself into a 'viable' relationship (and vice-versa of course), I am always thrown back by the way this dynamic is shifted in the presence of a group. There always seems to be walls that build up between individuals as personas get shaped within dominant/dominated discourses. Always the need to be witty, to be a cut above the rest, to establish a hierarchy. I have noticed this in groups of more than 3 people.
It may be because dialogue is almost always at a very fast pace, bouncing back and forth within the group, and keeping up requires a certain leadership trait: to be heard and acknowledged, one has to deliver with decisiveness and force. One has to make a mark. And the inevitable hierarchy can therefore be formed, as the group struggles to take shape.
This, of course, rarely happens in a (compatible) one-on-one relationship, or even between three people. There is much more room for expansion in dialogue, and authenticity of persona. We still do play a role, since we are social being first and foremost; nevertheless, the costumes are less contrived, and there is more space for the inner to shine through.
I guess I just don't trust groups. The real is always diluted in the mass of frisbeed words and corseted appearances...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Reflection On Thy Worthiness

At work today (my last day of freelancing, by the way), the picture editor was showing a young intern the inner workings of this particular trendy UK magazine. Actually, she's so ruthless (yet so yummy, bless her!) that the young boy was probably not an intern, but someone's kid-brother or so... or else she was pretty damn bored.
In any case, she stepped in the design part of the huge office, and showed the kid "the layout people." Yup, us. Those are the crummy MACs where all is pasted together, that's the scanner for the design intern to slave over, and that's the board where the pages are printed and pinned as the issue comes together, and... "Argh!" she yelped, "that Amelie Nothomb gal is too ugly, man! You gotta crop that picture! I thought we were using the black and white picture that burns half her face!" or something of the sort. And then she turned to the boy and solemnly parted her words of wisdom unto his virgin brain: "You gotta be a beautiful people if you wanna make it in this world, kiddo. Remember that."
I had my back turned, thankfully, because the expression in my face would've screamed, not revolt, no, but a semblance of perplexity, as I silently thought to myself: "Am I one of the beautiful people?"

Yes, for a second there, I doubted...

Now the problem is not whether I really am a beautiful people, but the fact that I was not initially struck by the absurdity of the comment, by that, giving validity to such a superficial statement.
I recall the first day of my placement within the magazine, telling Maha that they're all soooo beautiful! The girls are all skinny and tall and pretty, the guys are skinny and tall and pretty; and if they're not, they ooze a style that just screams "Yeah! I'm so fucking gorgeous!" And the one girl that's ugly and not stylish (she's born without shoulders, if you can picture that), the girls all groan and piss behind her back, referring to her as the "fat cow" in front of everyone... I mean, it's a fashion magazine, for fuck's sake! In my mind, it became an unwritten requirement that, in order to be included, you just had to be a beautiful people... You can imagine my ego-boost when I was let in on it all. The party invitations, the VIP passes to exhibition openings, the chance to gaze at the father of Kate Moss's child every day...

So, am I a beautiful people? As much as I try to be all intellectual and sensitive and feminist in my reflections about the whole "beauty is skin deep" mantra... it all boils down to: "Hell Yeah!"

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Oh... Crap!

I got the dreaded call-back... must meet with them on Monday... I sounded so excited on the phone which made me feel so hypocritical... I have the whole weekend to sort out my conditions for taking the job... if they still say yes after I tell them I want big money, 20 days holiday in summer, working from home, and free ice-cream every afternoon on my desk, well, then, I guess I'll have to take it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Another Crappy Job Interview

I went on a job interview today. Some derma clinic I shall not name, magical producers of anti-ageing high-tech creams and lotions, preventive massages, health screenings that would probably make a healthy twenty-something reach for the Valium, non-invasive treatments, i.e. Botox (if that's non-invasive, then what is?!) and all of that "Love Thyself" armada of beautification... need a graphic designer. Oh, how I felt sorry for myself, while they tried to convince me that they would rather I worked on a PC instead of a MAC, coz theirs had a 19" flat screen and wireless mouse, which is sooooo mega-cool!
In a way, it's money. It's experience. It's gratifying in the sense that it would be all my OWN work, since I would be the sole designer... But I am actually scared of being offered the job!
Am I really ready for one interminable freelance-type project with 2 additional lines on my CV, and a picture of well-lit anti-ageing products in my portfolio to show for? Accepting this job would mean I'd have to reject all opportunities of freelancing for highly creative magazines, or placements in challenging studios, where there's no money but such opportunity to grow...
Where's all the glitz and melting-pot creativity of London?! Did I come all this way to sell the merits of wrinkle creams and the cryogenic properties of bum-hydrating milk? I feel like that blog Tighten Up I mentioned earlier...
Why didn't anyone tell us it would be so hard? That sterile pseudo-dermatologists would love us, but the interesting people would use our talent for FREE? Is "wanker" posted on my forehead?! Or am I just another one of those graphic designer people who think they're just a misunderstood God's gift to the world?

OK, maybe I'm rambling too soon... I don't even know if I got the crappy job. Hopefully I won't, because I could just shrug at a "missed opportunity" instead of having to tangle myself into anymore of this existential dilemma bullshit...

"I'll let you know these two days," doctor said.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


And a new breed!
With long spangly legs, all wobbly, and slow!
With WINGS!!
They have MUTATED!!!

Bastard and Bitch, til death do them part...

Last night, They re-emerged. "They" I say, because they have formed an alliance.
I enter the kitchen, and freeze... black as shit, the cockroach is back. As I quietly ponder the thought of rushing back to my room to get my camera, I hear a scurrying noise, and whizz! the little mouse darts past my feet towards the safety of the washing-machine, which, in turn, startles the cockroach, as he runs under there in turn. The brown bitch and the black bastard just disappeared together. I swear, the mouse saved the roach! Had she not ran inches by him, he would have just stood there waiting for my foot. It was all eerily disquieting.
"Kiss ikhtkon sharmouta," is all I could mutter.
But, I do admit that the mouse was probably more freaked out than me. I can tell by the way her bum skids on the waxy floor, and the sounds of her body hitting stuff on her way to the washing-machine. She first climbs down the electric wire from the kitchen top down to beneath the fridge, and bumps her head everywhere in the process. Then she has to pause and assess the situtation before jetting from under the fridge (where she bumps her head again), darting acroos the open space of the floor to under the washer, where she bumps her head for the millionth time, and finally manoeuvering one of those 90degrees twists to slide to safety. Then, she probably bumps her again one last time under the washing-machine, and crashes on one of the side cupboards to break her speed. During that long anguished trip (which only lasts 3 seconds, but must feel like an eternity for her), she's like a cross between a Formula One car, and one of those ugly racing dogs on the cover of Blur's first album...
So I tried to get to sleep, but insomnia hit. I could imagine them both celebrating under the washing-machine, giving themselves high-fives (after having calmed their little frantic pounding hearts), and laughing at me, clumsy human-thing... DeLaFontaine would've loved this one.
It was too hot to cover myself with the bed sheet, but I was obsessed with the idea that they would come out from their washing-den and observe me from under the door, let alone crawl up and walk all over my skin for fun, poking my eye and waving their infested butts in my face.
So I got up (it was 1.30 am, mind you), turned the kitchen light on, and saw the bastard! I did not give the bitch a minute to think of warning him before I squished her friend to a pulp. And then I took victory pictures!

Who's laughing now, huh?
I could have mercy for the mouse, knowing the harrowing effort she goes through to escape me. But, save for her speed, she's just as dumb as her roach friend... And her turn will come.

And I know I'm not the only one... read this.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Brick Lane Sightings

London Weather

You know what's annoying? London weather SUCKS!
If it's freezing, it sucks, because it's mid-July, and we're all wearing jumpers and knee-high woollie socks.
If it's cold, it sucks, because we wear jumpers and knee-high woollie socks, and then it decides to be hot, and we sweat like pigs.
If it's cool, we wear sandals, and then our toes turn blue, because it's freezing all of a sudden.
And if it's hot, it's panic! Because there's nothing to prepare you for the heat, soaring humidity, no A/C, and no beaches to jump into. So we drench in our sweat, waiting for it to be cool again.
And it starts all over again...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Mindblowing Blog!

Just found a blog that HAS to be checked out: Tighten-Up. I started reading and was, like, what the hell is she on about?!... and then it made sense.
Very enlightening stuff indeed.

George 'bloody' Orwell

I am currently reading a bloody good book by Sir Orwell called Down And Out In Paris And London, and I must say that he has some bloody remarkable things to say about a swear words in the English language. The novel, first published in 1933, recounts the semi-autobiographical tribulations of young Orwell among the beggars and scum of London and Paris at the turn of the century. This is what he had to say about the particularities of English blaspehemies:

"The swear words also change–or at any rate they are subject to fashions. For example, twenty years ago the London working classes habitually used the word 'bloody'. Now they have abandonned it utterly, though novelists still represent them as using it. No born Londoner (...) now says 'bloody', unless he is a man of some education. The word has, in fact, moved up in the social scale and ceased to be a swear word for the purposes of the working classes. The current London adjective, now tacked onto every noun, is 'fucking'. No doubt in time 'fucking', like 'bloody', will find its way into the drawing-room and be replaced by some other word."

However, even though Orwell has been straight on in his predictions with 1984, it seems he has wrongly underestimated the pulling power of the word 'fucking'... Is 'fuck' and all its denominations the Ultimate Swear Word or am I clueless about new currency swear words in our time?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The 'terrorists'

Notice how on Thursday at the very beginning of the episode when the word terrorism was announced. It was like everyone had some sort of confirmation. People went ahhhh ok it’s the terrorists and continued on. But what does that mean, ‘the terrorists’?
The word is used to call someone’s enemy. It has become a condemnation rather than a description or explanation. This is nothing new. In the second world war, the German occupation force called members of the Dutch resistance ‘terrorists’ while the latter’s self image was that of patriots and resistance fighters. In effect, for much of the modern era of terrorism, all liberation movements have been called ‘terrorists’ by their opponents. Indeed, Hizbollah is labelled terrorist by the U.S and Isreal but not the Lebanese or the EU. Is terrorism, then, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder?

Not this kind of terrorism, or what some people like to call ‘super-terrorism’. The old terrorism was followed up by an announcement of responsibility of the act followed by long speeches that state the ‘terrorists’ objectives and what they want. This new kind of terrorism is confusing even for an Arab, Muslim and bearded man.

Freedman in his Superterrorism-Policy Response (Very good book for anyone interested in topic) believes that a threshold was crossed in 1995 with the Tokyo subway attacks by Japanese Cult Aum Shinrikyo. It was the first time an independent sub-state group, acting without state patronage or protection had managed to produce and use biochemical weapons on a large scale. Then came the September 11 attack. This kind of terrorism has led to a new theme in terrorist thinking. Rather than on trying to understand the organisation themselves and their objectives, counter-terrorist thinking has focused on the means and technology at the disposal of terror groups This is unfortunate as it has got some states to terrorize themselves far more than the terrorists themselves. We all heard the vengeful cries of Americans after September 11. People in a moment of crisis tend to be willing to sacrifice freedom when their security seems to be seriously threatened, even when a democratic tradition is strong. Scapegoating and indiscriminate labelling are two of the most spiteful anti-democratic symptoms of generalised public fear and insecurity. Overly dramatic depiction of events by media and shallow coverage are all the elements that enhance these sorts of reactions.

So far this does not seem to be the case here. Riding on my bike on Thursday towards in the centre of London, I have to say i was in awe of how organised and calm everyone was. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been in Beirut way too long and the slightest thing there causes utter chaos and people screaming and in comparison London seemed so Calm or whether…

1. The English in general are serene and composed
2. The English have had experience with terrorist attacks and world wars before so this is nothing new
3. They were expecting this any day given their prime ministers external political affiliation

Feel free to comment….

Friday, July 08, 2005

Are we really?

Still working on that illustration for a UK magazine article on the Beirut demonstrations earlier this year. While tracing one of our most overly-printed beloved banners, it just got me thinking on what being 100% Lebanese really means...
I know that an American would have a whole speech to vomit about what it is to be 100% American, with all the ethos of Patriotism, Freedom and Justice For All, but us Lebanese are less keen on developping the virtues of being, well, Lebanese.
Our passport is seen as a mere burden to be overriden by anything non-Middle Eastern, when in Beirut, we nag constantly about the shit we go through by our own government, the non-existence of any worthwhile and well-paid work, the superficiality of the young generations, the sheer boredom of it all... when in Beirut, we long to escape.
But, i guess, that really doesn't mean that we're not 100% Lebanese, and I'm just twisting my own screw... I guess that's exactly what being a Lebanese is: escapist, nagging, westernized Middle-Eastern mutants, and somehow, after having been away for almost a year, I miss that environment. London is great, but it's too... non-Lebanese?
I miss siyadieh and Torino (even though I heard It's not what it used to be...). Plus, London's not the best city for a self-professed nagger.
100% Lebanese? Yup, bring it on...

Akhhh to be Lebanese...

Sometimes, it's too complicated to be a Beiruthian. With it, the weight of responsibility...
How do you show all the complexity, all the underlying frustration, all the corruption, all the lassitude and excitement, the disappointment, 20 years of war, 15 years of reconstruction, all the politicians and their million of frozen smiling faces, hundreds of years of history and a Cedar tree, all in a single 420x160 mm duotone illustration?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The End of a Long Day

After having listened for over 6 hours to the repeated advice by London Security to "Stay indoors, Stay wherever you are," we decided that we wanted to get a bit of the bomb action, and cycled along the terrorist path... but it was too late. Everyone had already been walking home for the past 4 hours, everything had been cleared, and apart from some masses around the affected tube stations, and a tight security cordon around the bus site at Russell Square, everyone was basically gorging on their usual pints at the pub, and generally celebrating their day off work...
Liverpool Street was all smiles, Moorgate was boring, and the bus site was out of sight. Cycling to King's Cross and Edgware Road was too much an effort, especially as it started to pour down on us, and bikes and umbrellas are quite a tricky combination... All of which made for a pretty useless photography field trip
Basically, we had listened to the folks on TV too seriously, and had missed all the blood and gore. The only thing that reminded us of any sort of tragedy were the Evening Standard's usual all-encompassing 5-worded slogans of: "Terrorists Attack London-Many Dead."
In any case, it was all a good excuse not to work, and an alcohol-fuelled celebration for all those city folks that had survived.

PS: Bastards and Bitches

Last night, I came home from the pub late, and, as usual, cautiously turned on the lights in the kitchen, awaiting the cockroach scrunching... but to my surprise, the floor was deserted! No bastards in sight. I peaked in every coner of our tiny kitchen, and did not find a single one. To tell you the truth, I was almost disappointed...
And then, suddenly, I heard a little scurrying from behind the fridge, and there was my answer: a mouse darted by my feet, from under the fridge straight to under the washing maching. The bitches are back!
If it's not a cockroach, it's a mouse. They take it in turns to bid me good night...
The Health Service people who earnestly practice rodent-control were scheduled to come today, but, of course, because of the explosions, they never showed up...

The saga has begun...

"There is always that nagging fear as a Londoner and particularly as one that works in the financial centre of the capital, that you are in a dangerous place and that you are gambling with your life every time you get on at Bank, or Liverpool Street or any of the major tube stations." (taken from a witness account on the Guardian NewsBlog)

-- There it is: the Britishized discourse of fear and victimization has begun to take shape...


Let the media circus begin...
The Terrorists Have Struck Again!
It's all very unfortunate, but I can't get over the thought that the UK has been waiting for this day, preparing it ever since 9/11, to get a piece of all the terrorist action and justify the high-alert status forced upon the population for the past 4 years. With all the terrorist warnings, over-vigilence, plastic bag rubbish bins, shows on BBC enacting what would happen in the case of a nuclear terrorist bomb on Liverpool street... it has finally happened. All the effort, all the military training, all the intellengencia (is that how you write it?) has finally payed off: the eagerly awaited bomb has finally hit Liverpool Street Station, among others. Far from nuclear, but a bomb nonetheless...
And the wheels have been set in motion. London can start the victimization rhetoric, just as the US has repeatedly sampled since its attack, and splurge out the same speeches of Freedom, Liberty and Justice to all but the un-civilized barbaric bearded men out there.
I'm not taking the bearded men's side, though. Both nations are idiotic in their own way. But let's look past the immediate effect of the explosions, and predict the repercussions of these attacks on the new policies that a Labour party, with diminishing popularity and rising criticism by an unsatisfied following, will start to adopt to highten support and engage as a leading figure, with more power and greater justfications, in the race for World Democracy... With an attack under their wing, the UK will be as determined as ever to play their eagerly awaited Joker card.
Seven seven nine eleven, sing with me!

To all you Clerkenwell pubbers...

What the fuck is up with your 5p?
Is there some sort of magical aura to that measly coin that makes you wait for it so damn patiently at the bar?
You order your 10000 drinks, wait about 15 minutes for me to serve all your goddam pints (while spilling a shitload of Kirin all over my priceless DMs), after having waited 20 minutes to get served in the first place... And as you pay, you are still able to wait another half-hour to get your precious 5p change back!
I see you fiddling around nervously with your drinks as I cash in the £20 of your £19.95 order. I see you zip up your wallet, scan your drinks, re-open your wallet, wipe your brow, and pretend that you can't hold three pints in your hands. I see you stall in your place, pretending that you've actually forgotten about the change I 'owe' you. But deep down, the wanting of that 5p sweats out of you like a kid who will absolutely burst for some strawberry roll-ups.
I take my time, and you still fiddle around the bar, zipping your wallet up and out and over. So I return with the magical coin in my hand, as you look down the piss-yellow beer in your pint glass, aloof and idiotic. "Here you go, enjoy your drinks," I say, holding up the sticky coin, and you glance up with a semi-surprised look, "oh, yeah... thanks!" I swear, the grin on your face makes you look as if I were the one tipping you. And suddenly, leaving the bar with 15 glasses in hand, and the 5p safely in your pocket never seemed so easy for you...

At the end of the day, I don't really care about a 5p tip... they usually get lost beneath the tills. But it always amazes me how much a Clerkenwell advertising executive, lugging around a laptop and gorging on 10 pints and 2 JD&dietcokes s a night will be entranced by his 5p change. Really, how many 5p coins does it take to make a man?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Where have you disappeared to love?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Roach

I saw a cockroach today, just one, as I finished eating my early dinner. It wasn't even dark yet! So that's a kind of premiere... The fucking bastards are getting cocky!

I usually see them by pairs these days. Always when I come home late, when everyone is already asleep. I turn on the lights in the kitchen, and there they are, black as shit, frozen on the floor.
Lately, I've also been seeing them on the landing of the flat door. I can just barely make out the little shadows as I heave my bike up the stairs... My bike weighs 40 kilos, I must remind you. So when I'm wearing open-toe sandals and midway up the flight of stairs, with the bike balancing precariously between two steps, seeing a little shadow scurry along past my feet is, if not horrifying, a pain in the ass. Imagine trying to haul the bike up the last couple of steps, with as much caution and silence as possible, so as not to let the poor bastard freak out and walk all over my toes, and up my leg... Quite a delicate situation, especially that the light on the landing is always turned off and I have to squint to track the movements of the little fuck.
And then, SCRUNCH! Did you know that cockroach guts are white, with some slather of light grey?

I must have squished 20 in the past three months... I cannot imagine what lingers on the sole of my beloved sandals.
And the most irritating fact in this gory story is that, although I live with two other girls, it always seems to be me to have to encounter the bastards. One of my flatmates has not seen a cockroach for months! The other has tried to exterminate just one by spraying some mosquito poison. Sometimes I wonder if this infestation is not simply a mere figment of my imagination. Or maybe it's a conspiracy. They seek me out at night...
And these days, i'm even seeing double.

And so begins the saga of the cockroaches...

Monday, July 04, 2005


Hello everyone!!!!
We were sitting in Maha's room, bored as hell... so we decided to set-up our own blog!
We've come up with really daft names, as we were incapable of thinking straight and just wanted all the formalities to be over with. So we are officially The Suffragettes, which has something to do with chicks at the beginning of the century going on riots for women's right to vote, which is pretty cool. It's also the name we used to describe ourselves riding on bikes in the East End (courtesy of Chris).
So here it is, the 100 millionth blog on this www world.

Feel free to comment, i guess...