Safineh: Years of Footage from a Beirut Rooftop

Safineh from Gab Ferneiné on Vimeo.

It took almost 6 years of footage from one particular rooftop in Ashrafieh, to create this gorgeous, nostalgic and very trippy project by Gab Ferneine. I enjoyed the scenes, their edits and the accompanying soundtrack.

It’s a nice reminder of how beautiful Beirut can be, and a silent protest about how Beirut’s historical and legendary reputation as a major world port, needs to get its glory back…

Base Down Low [NEW SEGMENT]

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It is with great pleasure that I announce the first dedicated segment to someone other than myself on this blog. I’m hoping to expand on these weekly posts by contributors I feel would go perfectly with the general content and attitudes of the blog. The segment is “Base Down Low” with my very good friend, Hollywood-based producer and DJ Base (Bassel Naaman) and will focus on all things music-related.

Base has been a very influential player in the Hip Hop scene in Los Angeles, with regular residencies in world-renowned clubs around the globe, several released tracks and mix tapes and radio shows on NRJ Lebanon and the ultra-famous Hip Hop Nation on Sirius XM satellite radio.

Base has a keen knowledge when it comes to which song will be the next hit. It was him who introduced me to “Thrift Shop” many months before it became the massive hit back home, so, I trust him and his weekly picks which will be published here every Wednesday by Base himself from now on!

Best Video/Song Combos

1- Who Do You Love ft. Drake – YG

2- Loyal ft. Lil Wayne 7 Tyga – Chris Brown

3- Turn Down For What – DJ Snake & Lil Jon

4- 2 On ft. SchoolBoy Q – Tinashe

This Week’s Pick

Independent Corner

Up Next

Are You A Musician? Perform in La Fete De La Musique 2014!

1524991_10154014341885096_371412712_nSo, over the years on this blog, I’ve discovered a LOT of you are amazing artists, musicians and performers.

Perhaps the funnest time in Beirut, where it’s really all about the music, and where alcohol and money are not an obstacle, and everyone just walks around Beirut to listen to beautiful, genuine music by Lebanese talents.

It’s also a place where many talents get discovered for the first time, and launch their fan-base at a truly special annual event in an otherwise mostly gloomy Beirut.

So, APPLY! Deadline is April 18th, details in the poster above!

Meet Rasha Bazzi

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I get asked a lot what other blogs do I read. To be honest, not very many. I never did read blogs before starting my own, and it’s been that way ever since. However, I do have my secret fancies and one of my absolute favorites is Rasha Bazzi. Poetry is something I’m neither particularly fond of, nor any good at.

But, Rasha’s work absolutely blows my mind. It sends shivers up my spine and makes my blood curdle at how sharp her words can cut and how perfectly put together they always are. The subtlety of her poems’ depth is what’s really admirable, and I can never get enough.

It’s on the morbid side, that’s for sure, but I like morbid. Honestly, after Poe, Rasha’s my favorite poet, and I am very confident you’ll fall in love with her work as much I did. Rasha’s a great friend, and with her permission, I am republishing a couple of my favorite pieces by her below plus a small interview.

Chemikills and Whoremones

If you’re reading this, then you’re already too late.
From this moment on, we are worlds apart.
I know your paranoia is probably drilling a hole in your membrane as you hold this trembling piece of paper, so let me put your mind at ease;
you are not to blame.
The fault is mine; I knew the voyage to Pandora’s Box was a one-way trip, but I stomped onwards. I should’ve told you that I was in too deep, but
the more you struggle in it, the faster you will sink.
I should’ve answered your calls when you were worried sick about me,
but introvert me had taken a hold of my vessel, and soon enough,
I was locked inside the spiralling basement of my very own cranium.
I have become well-acquainted with loneliness and misery.
My shrinks call it “clinical depression”, and “portrayal of suicidal behaviour.”
Eventually, I began dodging their calls too.
I suppose there’s no point in my should have’s and would have’s,
because we both know you cannot escape the hungry hands of time.
However,
you deserve to know why I was about to put you through
an emotional epidemic.
I remember reading the phrase: “Ignorance is bliss”, and thinking to myself:
why would anyone strive to be so simple-minded, and believe in such fallacies?
I’ve always found myself drawn towards well-educated and opinionated people,
 not afraid to refute my theories;
real people.
But my infantile skin soon began to shed.
My new obtained elephant leather was drenched in experience, and
boy was I wrong.
The simpletons had it easy, they had something us over-thinkers could never procure;
happiness.Knowledge is the leviathan that lives deep within our medulla,
and he is never satisfied.
He occupies your mind until you no longer recognise your own reflection.
I feel like a stranger in my pale skin because I crave knowledge,
yet Socrates tells us that the wisest of men comprehend that they know nothing.
So how did I lose my mind?
By chasing absolutely nothing.

You are either happy or wise; you cannot be both.
I made a deal with the devil, and my ten years were now up.
I accept submission,
and allow the hellhounds to gnaw on my ivory.

Time was not going to wait for me, and so I did not wait for time.
Cyanide and vertical slits are my way to go.
Knowledge is depression, an explosion that sears through your neurons,
so do not trigger it.

Promise me you won’t try to avenge me by hunting knowledge down,
because once you’ve checked into the Hotel Bella Muerte,
time will have already checked you out.

So promise me.
Promise me you’ll drop my wisdom-stained razors,
and head for the rosary.
One day, when you’re ready, I’ll visit your world-
in the land of dreams,
where our trunks may intertwine once more.

She’s finally something she never thought she’d be-
happy.
The earth and northern lights shimmer above her,
while you lie on the bathroom floor,
buried in
damp tissues and rosaries.

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I asked Rasha a few questions, first of which was of course: How long have you been writing?
Rasha: Well I used to write around the age of eleven, back when I was in Belgium. Wouldn’t really consider it writing though, just silly poems about perfumes and whatnot. I moved here a few years later, and nothing struck me as a muse. I guess it was the cultural shock, but found myself writing again around June 2013.
Gino: What’s your muse now?
Rasha: A magician never reveals his secrets (nothing illegal though, promise)
Gino: What are you studying?
Rasha: Elie Saab’s Fashion Design program at LAU. It’s a random choice, and probably wasn’t my first, but I’m satisfied.
Gino: And does your writing reflect how you really feel? Is it always that dark and intense?
Rasha: Definitely. I mean I’m a squirrely human being, but I scare myself sometimes, with the things I think about. Everyone scares themselves at some point, be it with something they’ve thought about or experienced. Only difference is I choose to write about it rather than block it out. I’m not going to lie though, I tend to over-exaggerate the situation at times. Everybody loves a tragedy.
Gino:Would you ever consider a novel or short story? Or will poetry remain the main focus?
Rasha: People have asked me that before, and honestly? I’d love to write a novel. It’s a challenge I’d like to tackle, but still a challenge nonetheless. My mother insists on publishing my poems in the near future.
Gino: I guess the next logical question is, why? And aren’t you hesitant to show your work to the world?
Rasha: I was hesitant at first; I mean who wouldn’t be? Everyone’s afraid of being that vulnerable. But I’ve always been so moved by poetry, the eloquence is sedating enough to trigger something back there. I’ve always desired to make people feel that way while reading my work.
Here’s another piece that I am very fond of:

23 Reasons Why You Can’t Live With Yourself

  1. She was in love with you, while you were in love with yourself.
  2. She desperately needed you at 3 am, yet you turned off your phone, because sleep was more important at the time.
  3. Her silence and floating aphorisms stained your car, but instead of caressing her thoughts, you wiped the leather clean.
  4. Instead of kissing her tears while she was drowning in them, you opened up your umbrella for one.
  5. When you heard her wheeze, you accused her of smoking.
  6. When her fragile vinyl heart would play, you’d turn the radio on.
  7. You accused her of being disloyal, of cheating, because she was hiding something. But could you not read the signs on your own?
  8. When she asked to stay at your place, she wasn’t being “needy”; she was trying to numb the pain, only for a little while longer.
  9. The rattling meds in her bag irritated you, so you asked her to stop carrying them around, rather than ask what they were for.
  10. She made a mixed tape and named it after you, but you placed it on the shelf, and watched the cobwebs accumulate around it.
  11. She kissed you every time it turned 11:11, and you’d tell her to stop watching cheesy rom-coms.
  12. When she tried opening up, you fought with her.
  13. You ran away when you should’ve run after her.
  14. She was the book you bought, and never bothered opening.
  15. You never took the time to notice how pretty she tried to look for you.
  16. She stopped calling, and you didn’t bother to see why.
  17. She needed you when she was hooked to that plastic box all alone, but she knew you’d find your plastic box and plasma screen more intriguing.
  18. She needed you as a chaperone, as she picked out her coffin like a prom dress,but never plucked up the courage to ask you.
  19. She tried calling you in her final spin, but your pride got the best of you when the phone rang, and remained ringing.
  20. The doctors called, and you rushed through automatic doors, even though you know you’ve fucked up bad.
  21. You finally listen to that dusty old mixed tape, and lay in bed for days- catatonic.
  22. You notice the empty passenger seat, the silent phone, every 11:11, the lyrics to every song she dedicated to you, the hissing name of every tab she engulfed, her adulation towards movies, the empty side of your bed, the cold pillow, the truth behind her pushing you away, and that you’re just too late.
  23. You sit by the bar, paralysed and blurry eyed, as you see the bottom of your glass, coloured in poison. You get in your car, and you can almost touch her wheezing, taste her broken words, and smell her salted tears. You find yourself by her tombstone at 11:11, and as you place a corsage around her hand, you say:
“My heavens, you look beautiful tonight.”
Check out her blog here, and much love to you Rasha!

Loopstache Cover The Beatles

Loopstache are good friends of mine. They’re the kind of folks that can make me endure a live music performance and actually enjoy it. It’s no secret my electronic music bias makes me usually anti-bands, but Loopstache’s brand of music smartly merges both the acoustic and the digital to create the music that’s defining our modern era: one where genres mean nothing, and music is more diverse than ever.

Anyway, they released a cool stop-motion video the other day, covering The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” in their own way. Have a listen, I’m sure it’ll be a much-welcome break from your work or studies! And check them out here on Facebook if you love what you listen to.

10 Awesome and Punny “Art 7ake” Designs

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been delighted to see cool, sarcastic and pun-filled arabic phrases on cool backgrounds on my Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Hilarious things like “srood 3a brood” or “3am fattesh 3a 7ale” along with a series of puns like “3am tebrod bil leil” with a nail file. I like the arabic calligraphy on tumblr-style posts, gives it a great hipstery feel plus injecting it with some sexy arabic typography.

Check Art 7ake out on Facebook too.

Deyman Ijebeh: Ashekman x DJ Lethal Skillz’s Awesome Music Video Clip

I’ve been personally waiting for this video for months, and not just because I appear in it for a few seconds *puts shades on*, but because the Ashekman twins are very good friends of mine, and so is DJ Lethal Sillz. But, before we were ever friends, I was a big fan for years (and obviously still am) so this video was been long-awaited, like the epic collab.

I absolutely loved this song. It’s so relatable to our circles, the normal, fun-loving, hard-working, politics-exhausted youth of this country, whose only demand is a chance to grow to the full potential one usually needs to move abroad to try and pursue, unfortunately.

From “3ade mashewe wil shabeb” to our painfully silly pride of having the world’s biggest tabbouleh record and skiing and swimming on the same day, to sabboo7a, Grandizer, Captain Majed and a whole lot of Lebanese pop culture references that satirically, yet seriously call on everyone to be “deyman ijebeh” (always positive/optimistic).

Give it a listen, I have it on repeat already, so you can expect a funny Instagram video of me rapping it pretty soon.

Check out Ashekman and Lethal Skillz on Facebook, cause there’s more epic stuff on the way!

Ashekman Live Graff Massive BLC Bank Ad Near Forum

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So, if you were going into and out of Beirut today, between 7:00AM and 4:30PM, chances are you saw two guys on a crane painting a large canvas on a billboard.

Well, those two folks were the Ashekman twins, Omar and Mohammad, and here are photos taken at different stages of the work.

The revolution is a new method to pay with your mobile phone by BLC Bank, which by the looks of their video, isn’t just NFC, but remotely as well!

I think it’s awesome to get Lebanese artists to execute your ads every now and then. Flex printing is fine and everything, but everyone else does it. Hand-sprayed and painted just stands out significantly more, you know, like the hand-painted movie posters a few years back. I used to love those!

Blatt Chaya: Where Awesome Tiles Are Made

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Almost 135 years ago, Blatt Chaya was founded in Lebanon, and since then, many of the gorgeously designed, custom-made tiles have been hand-made by their artisans till this day.

A few weeks ago, Dina and Jana, both architects who are fans of Blatt Chaya, mentioned they were going for a visit to see how it’s done, and I gladly tagged along, and I’m glad I did!

You know when you walk into a traditional Lebanese home, and you get mesmerized by the stone masonry on the walls and ceiling? Well, another thing one notices is the gorgeous tiles on the ground, with designs that can be extra-intricate, or trippy-simple depending on what the owner and architect is looking for.

The Process

You’d think they come off an assembly line, almost fully automated, but it’s not. The process is a painstakingly precise,mostly  hand-poured and assembled for each and every single tile.

It starts with the mould, which you can choose from a wide variety of have your own design custom-made for you. After installing the design mould into the frame, carefully mixed concrete with a natural dye are added to each segment, depending on the design. Then, powdered cement is added above it to create the base, and then pressed for a few seconds to solidify the tile and its design.

Then, it’s washed properly and an imperfection is cut away or sanded off.

The Result

Blatt Chaya is a place that put a smile on my face cause I was glad someone was still doing an old art, so impeccably and exporting them to places as far as the US, Europe and our rich Arab neighbors in the Gulf. Check out their website here, and I’m thinking of doing a small art installation or piece of furniture with some of their tiles soon.

Photo credits: @Deenmn