#NoLawNoVote: Go Down to Parliament This Morning, Please

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All of you have jobs, and school. Maybe you just think you have something better to do. You don’t. Nothing is more important that this.

Far too many women have died, far too many have lived in fear and depression. This is the perfect way to pressure our disgusting MPs into doing the right thing.

Take your lunch break early, and go down to parliament. Please. I beg you. I feel so tormented I am not there myself physically, but I know I can count on all of you.

The law to protect women against domestic violence’s time was decades ago. Let’s not wait a single day more.

RSVP and SHARE!

11 Reasons Why Weed Needs to be Legal in Beirut + Video

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It is no secret I am a huge proponent of marijuana, cannabis, hashish, pot, dope, buddha, ganja, pot, hisham, walid or whatever the hell you call what you smoke. It is no secret either that I don’t smoke or eat marijuana plants in Lebanon, for fear of brutal, human-rights abusive and inhumane treatment by Lebanon’s police and judiciary… Something tens of thousands of young Lebanese folks have suffered from since the late 90s, with the viciousness and horrific practices by governmental institutions skyrocketing in frequency and audacity in the past 24 months, as highlighted in this Human Rights Watch report.

This is unacceptable for many reasons, be it from the legal, medical, social, cultural, historic, economic and even national security interests of Lebanon.

It is very important before going forward that this is in support of decriminalizing marijuana/cannabis, not other drugs. This is a problem in Lebanon because most illegal substances are referred to as “hashish” by uninformed individuals, thanks to the same word applying for both a recreational marijuana user, and a heavy drug addict: “Heshesh/Hesheshe” whether it’s harmless weed, or fatal heroin. So, again, this is just for marijuana, not other dangerous drugs like cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, etc.

1- Prohibition is Not Working

Despite the theatrics every year of the army and ISF “clearing out” marijuana fields in the Bekaa, we all know that the farmers are planting more than ever before, and that the cartels are thriving, and thus have become more emboldened, than ever before. We also know that the only people ever caught are either foreign nationals (when its dealers/drug mules) and innocent, young individuals utilized for bribe money the judiciary police and Lebanese judiciary thrives on unfortunately.

It’s not working, so why waste our resources, people’s lives and encourage corruption for something many, and I do mean many, Lebanese are doing anyway with no harm done.

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2- Lebanese People Are For Decriminalization

A poll I ran late last year had 3147 respondents, and the question asked was: “Are You For Legalizing Marijuana in Lebanon?” The results were a whopping 85% for those “absolutely” supporting, 8% “maybe” and only 7% “never” (original post). This poll came over a year after I asked you guys about your marijuana smoking habits, to which 1232 respondents said that 39.2% smoke regularly, 19.2% occasionally, 28% would never try and the remaining respondents wouldn’t mind trying it (original post).

Even the former government, especially former Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, sort of gave the weed farmers a break. For several reasons, for one, the government is too weak and the cartels and clans too strong to be confronted. For two, the government has promised compensation and alternative crops for weed farmers for years, failing each and every time to actually keep their promises, prompting farmers to go back to growing cannabis, with a determination to get the government’s bulldozers off their fields, whatever the cost.

3- Weed is Good For You

Marijuana is a medicine. A very old, reliable, versatile and safe one. From nausea and vomiting, to HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, dementia, epilepsy, diabetes, glaucoma, Tourette’s Syndrome and many, many more diseases are remedied, or their symptoms allayed by marijuana. Whether vaporized, smoked, eaten, drunk or used topically, marijuana and marijuana extracts are the miracle drug that have the ability to drastically improve people in pain’s lives, helps prevent forms of cancer like lung cancer and could even heal other types of cancer like melanoma (skin cancer).

Weed is a natural medicine, one used throughout history, especially for pain management. With every passing day, more and more research is corroborating the medical benefits of marijuana and dispelling the lies and misinformation that have ruined marijuana use and progress for generations. If you think this isn’t serious research already saving and changing lives, just look at these entire US families moving as “refugees” into Colorado to get their severely sick children’s lives saved by marijuana. (also, check out Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s series WEED on CNN, who was a vehement opponent of marijuana, but is now a major supporter)

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4- Loss of Faith and Respect in the ISF

With a highly educated sizable part of Lebanon’s youth, it’s not surprising that 85% of the readers of this blog are strongly for legalization. Even in the country’s disadvantaged regions like the Bekaa, farmers that might not have had a chance at exploring the academic benefits of marijuana, know that this plant is the only peaceful, harmless method for them to earn a living for their families, neglected by a heavily indebted, crippled government. So, regardless of the severe rift between Lebanon’s “upper and middle class” and “working class”, all three are for easing up on marijuana laws and crackdowns, whether in terms of using the plant, or producing it.

Most people also lose respect for Lebanon’s police, even anger and defiance, seeing the officers they want to trust, make no effort to secure citizens’ lives from violent clashes and terrorist attacks, but spare no expense to entrap and blackmail harmless marijuana users. In a country where faith in the government and its institutions is already rock-bottom low, increasing the angst many if not most people have towards the police by unfairly entrapping and brutally and selectively enforcing marijuana crackdowns makes things worse: police become the stuff you want to avoid, even fear, instead of trust and respect.

5- Why Should Israel be the World Leader in Medicinal Marijuana Research?!

Most of Europe has decriminalized or even legalized recreational marijuana use, and most US states now allow medicinal use of cannabis and states like Washington and Colorado completely legalized it for recreational use as well. Unfortunately, several reasons such as federal bureaucracy and lack of funding, have made serious research into marijuana still very minimal in the West.

Israel on the other hand, is lightyears ahead when it comes to medical marijuana research and use. I don’t see why Israel should get all the benefits and glory of this revitalized field of medicine, when we can easily do it just as well and even better with Lebanon’s long history of above-average cannabis, rich in THC which is so valuable in many medical applications. So, instead of selling Israelis weed over the border, let’s beat them at their game.

6- We Coined The Term Hashish

Many people don’t know that many words in English trace back to Arabic. One example is “Alcohol” -> Al Koohool (الكحول). Or, “Elixir” “Al-Ixsir” from the alchemy days. Another important one is “Assassin” which many people believe comes in a reference to the-often high killers sent to murder prominent enemies: “The Hashashins” eventually became “Assassins”. Of course, that cannot be completely confirmed, and some suggest the Arabic root is “Asass” which means “Foundation/Origin”, but was misunderstood by foreigners as Hashish. Regardless, it was a something deeply rooted in our history, and it’s sad that many places around the world celebrate it, and the people who made use of it most efficiently (us), vilify it today in legal terms.

7- It’s Not Addictive or a “Gateway Drug”

I’ve smoked a lot of Marijuana in my life outside Lebanon, and I very easily stop when I move back to Lebanon, (even though I hate being forced to). No one is addicted to marijuana. No one has ever overdosed on marijuana. Research has categorically demonstrated marijuana is substantially less addictive and harmful than fully legal alcohol and tobacco.

Read all the literature. Study the science. The old lies and misconceptions about weed need to stop now, and we have a lot of catching up to do…

8- Less Abused if Legal

“El mamnoo3, marghoob”, in other words, something being illegal makes it all the more appealing to obtain. Trials around the world have corroborated that, with examples such as Amsterdam’s, and the more radical decriminalization of all types of drugs more than a decade ago in Portugal, has more than halved drug abuse and addiction in the tiny southern country.

9- Gets Money Into The Right Hands

Drug dealers in Lebanon are powerful. Many prominent Lebanese political parties make money off the illegal drug trade, which allows armed factions and clans to form ruthless cartels that end up acting like feudal lords hailed by local communities for providing the services and needs the government is unable to provide.

Legalizing marijuana, means taxing it, and that’s great news for all the good guys. For one, the price will drop for the average weed user, who pays a lot of money for mediocre weed because of all the danger involved. Even though it’s cheaper, a big part of it will be tax for the state, which is in desperate need of filling its coffers raped brutally for decades by rampant and rudely obvious corruption.

Let’s not get excited about oil and gas 10 years down the line… We can start making millions by next fall…

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10- Tourism

If anyone tells you they’re going to Amsterdam for the architecture, they’re probably an architecture student using an excuse to go smoke good kush in the Dutch capital. Everyone goes to Amsterdam for the liberal cannabis use, and that’s sad, cause there are so many cool things in that city too, like the clubs =P.

Lebanon can be that. Our indigenous weed is world-famous and much-sought-after worldwide. Imagine how many lower-budget, younger tourists we’d attract… Backpackers who come to try our weed, listen to our music and party on our slopes and beaches.

11- It’s Your Choice

No one has the right to tell you what you can and cannot do to yourself. As long as you’re not actually harming anyone, it’s no one’s business. Weed brings out the good in people. It mellows them out, makes them more creative. Personally, some of my best work has been done high and I focus a lot better after a joint. I also prefer it immensely over alcohol. So, back off and let people enjoy themselves.

Here’s a video of my beautiful self tackling this post in Lebanese Arabic for those of you who aren’t in the mood to read so much.

PINDOLL Music Video Debut + Album Launch This Saturday

1779351_10153862158455472_785161748_nI first saw Pindoll perform live a the RHCP concert a couple of years ago, and since then, I’ve become good friends with Miran who’s been keeping me in the loop of what they’re cooking up, getting me all excited to see what’s gonna happen.

Soooo, it is with great pleasure that I share with you guys their first music video, which I loved and was worth the wait. It starts off deliciously morbid and macabre and transitions into a faster and faster uplifting pace that ends the song with awesome guitar riffs and drums that make you wanna almost head-bang and stomp. It’s also beautifully shot in black and white in places I’m sure you might find familiar, and others quite cool (Instagram photo opp?)

Anyway, when you watch the video and love what you see, you might want to check out their album launch this Saturday in Beirut. Here’s the event link, and bummed I won’t be in town!

Ladies and Gents: Choose Your Cosmetics Wisely, Says Juno

Karine is a good friend of mine, and I’ve known Juno since she was a teeny tiny puppy. Amidst all the security and political concerns, causes we’d campaign for in times of normalcy are often overlooked. But, in this brilliantly produced video, we see with Juno that some folks in Lebanon do care about things that others might find “less important” than others.

Animal cruelty is something I can never tolerate. It’s perhaps the cause that bothers me the most because of how senselessly violent and harmful it is to innocent creatures that have done no harm to anyone. If you wear cosmetic products, take a few minutes to find out if your favorite brands test their stuff on cute animals like monkeys and rabbits, and stop using them and switch to a more animal-friendly brand.

Check out the video, and open it on YouTube to find out how you can win some non-animal-tested Lush cosmetics.

#KissMeAgainBag With Your Loved One This Valentine’s

unnamed-1So, it’s Valentine’s Day soon and we’re supposed to start showing our affection to each other. Sarah’s Bag has launched a competition where you take a photo of yourself and the person you love kissing behind a Sarah’s Bag bag. The couple with the most likes on either Instagram or Facebook, hashtagged #KissMeAgainBag will win a Sarah’s Bag special edition purse. So, gentlemen, save yourself a couple of hundred bucks and get selfie-kissing =P

Caracalla’s Kan Ya Makan Review

KanYaMakanI’ve been a diehard fan of Caracalla since I was a kid, and I never, ever miss a Caracalla show. Last week I was at the updated edition of the epic Kan Ya Makan performed in Beiteddine last summer which was a resounding success both critically and by folks who attended the performances.

What I loved about Kan Ya Makan is the medley of all the things Caracalla do best rolled up into a gorgeous transition between balletic performances linked up with theatrical poetry hooks and musical segments that eventually lead you back to the familiar territory Caracalla have been doing best for decades: Lebanese folkloric Dabke and mouwwel in forms you probably have never heard about and will make your jaw drop when you see it on stage.

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It starts of with beautiful performances to the music of Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade, with elaborate costumes and huge smiles on the dancers’ faces that’ll make you follow the storyline by the narrator, and if you’re Arabic is bad, don’t worry, there’s english dub on a screen above the stage. The second act will make any Prince of Persia geeks like me giggle in happiness at the sands of time references coupled with the romantic story of a Thousand and One Nights.

The final part is what gets people to cheer, clap and give standing ovations as Caracalla’s dance theater showcases the absolute best of Lebanese folkloric music and dance, coupled with heartwarming and uplifting verses about Lebanon and the Lebanese that’ll have you clapping genuinely, not just cause everyone else is clapping.

I highly recommend you watch them, and tickets start as low as 30,000LBP and work their way up to a maximum of 135,000LBP. The seating is very comfortable, not plastic chairs like the venues at festivals and places like BIEL and Forum. It’s a revamped movie theater, Theatre Ivoire which is now the official Caracalla Theater in Horsh Tabet. Take your date, your family or your friends and go watch something you’ll enjoy that’s Lebanese in the planning and executing, with Ivan Caracalla directing and Alissar Caracalla choreographing what is my favorite Caracalla performance so far.

Merry Go Round, Outbreak with Jimmy Van M TONIGHT! + WIN 2 Tickets

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I love Tehcno. I also love Deep House. I love the different flavors that lie between those two on the electronic music spectrum. I know you do too. And I know you desperately need a break from all the bad stuff happening to us recently. I need it too. Tonight, there’s gonna be an awesome party at Concrete 1994 that’s a much-needed breather from the usual party crew set-ups in Beirut over the past few months.

Headlining is Jimmy Van M, from Bedrock Records. I love his sets, I can’t wait to listen to it tonight. It also features awesome local favorites Gunther & Stamina, Codeface and Amer. Listen to the tracks I embedded below to get a feel of what Jimmy Van M does on the decks. You need no introduction to the rest, I’m sure.

Anyway, I hope to see y’all there, and to make sure at least a couple of folks who read this blog are dancing with us tomorrow, I’m giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky winner. All you have to do is comment on this post and we’ll randomly pick a name by 6:00PM so you can get ready to partay.

Buy your tickets for cheaper on Presella too (20USD instead of 30USD at the door) and don’t forget to RSVP.

MUSIC 4 A CAUSE Clothes Edition TONITE

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Tonite, you have nowhere else better to be than in Karantina, in the Roger Moukarzel Studios building for Music 4 a Cause.

Entrance is free, you just have to get items of clothing you want to donate. So, go do some shopping or go through your closets and donate something or several things for Lebanese families less fortunate than you this Christmas.

The lineup is awesome and includes good friends like Loopstache and Slow Train. So, see you all there, and don’t forget those donations folks!

RSVP here.

Anghami+ The Lebanese Music Streaming Service Taking the Arab World by Storm

When I was living in the States, I never downloaded songs. For one, I was afraid I’d get into legal trouble given the stories you hear about people who download pirated music there, and for two, there was a MUCH better alternative: streaming services.

Abroad, mobile data is much more affordable and reliable than in Lebanon, so you wouldn’t really think twice if you want to stream a song. Free services like Pandora would allow you to do that, interrupted by an ad every other song. If you were a bit more serious about your music and playlists, Spotify was the better alternative, where for $9.99/month you could listen to uninterrupted, unlimited music.

Unfortunately, these streaming services are not available in Lebanon and the Arab World, and don’t have an extensive enough listing of Arabic music. You’d get Haifa and Nancy, but probably no Wassouf and Fares Karam.

That’s when Anghami came in 2012, and little over a year, has taken the Arab World by storm, providing an affordable, comprehensive and tailor-made solution to a region of the world that is used to the illegal downloading of music and pirated CDs off street vendors. For just $4.99/month, you can listen and download all the music you want from their impressive library of 4 million tracks and counting.

Anghami provides all the Arabic songs you might want, but with an equally impressive International Music section (which I’m primarily interested in). I test it out all the time, and try to find obscure tracks by folks like Gui Boratto, and I find them! And sometimes remixes I didn’t even know about. You can find everything from Kendrick Lamar, to The Prodigy and Metallica. Best part is, if you didn’t find what you like, you can email them directly from the app requesting the artist/song and they’ll add it for you if it’s possible legally.

Anghami+ is different from other streaming services like Spotify and Pandora in that it allows you to listen to the songs offline as well. That’s very important for us, where 3G is massively expensive, we can’t afford to stream all the time. That’s why, you can download all the songs you want when on WiFi (or using up a mall’s WiFi =P) and listen to them offline at anytime, forever! That’s when you’re using Anghami+ of course.

So, if you haven’t downloaded Anghami yet (which I doubt), download it for Android here, for iOS here, for BB here and Nokia Symbian here.

Christmas Giveaway!

Because Anghami loves you guys, we’re teaming up to giveaway 6 subscriptions to Anghami+

  • 1 subscription for 12 months
  • 2 subscriptions for 6 months
  • 3 subscriptions for 3 months

All you need to do is:

  1. Download the app and sign in with your Facebook
  2. Share with me an epic song I probably don’t know (you can share the track you’re playing in several ways, preferably through Anghami! But you can do it via email/Facebook/etc. too)
  3. I’ll make a special playlist of the 6 best tracks, and each of those 6 folks will win a subscription!
  4. I’ll announce the winners a day after Christmas, December 26, cause the best gifts come a day late =D

6 Reasons Why You Should be at THE UNCENSORED THIS Saturday

SubliminalHere are 6 reasons you NEED to be at Art Lounge this Saturday for Subliminal’s The Uncensored.

1- An Amazing Cause

It’s an extremely beautiful and big “fuck you!” to censorship in Lebanon. By screening a film that was once banned and a medley of banned local talents’ music and video clips, we’re showing them that we couldn’t care less what they think is OK and what isn’t. We’re showing them that we’ll watch and listen to whatever we want, despite their pathetic attempts to stop us.

2- Screening some Woody Allen

I love Woody Allen. His weird brand of deprecating humor always did a fine job of criticizing the times and society they were made in and for. Manhattan is one of my favorite Woody Allen movies. The black-and-white feature film starring him and Diane Keaton and the convoluted storyline of him dating a high school girl then falling in love with the woman his friend was cheating on his wife with, is his typical self-loathing style of witty humor, and if you’re a Woody Allen fan, you’ll know what I mean. If you aren’t you should =P

3- Local Bands, Uncensored

The only things worse than censoring art coming from abroad, is trying to silence local-bred talent. On Saturday, a collection of banned video clips from Lebanese bands will also be featured and showcased publicly for everyone to enjoy! So, turn up and support!

4- It’s Cheap

It’s just 10USD before 10PM and you get a drink, to see the movies and screenings, and party all night long afterwards. If you just want the partying, it’s for 27USD after 10PM. So come early, enlighten yourselves.

5- Awesome Electronic Music

With subliminal, the night usually starts with Louis’s indie rock/electro, then Kelly Hr’s saucy nu-disco, followed by Raja’s avant-garde electro-wing and Cyril wrapping it up with some good, clean electro. So, it’ll tickle your every electronic fancy, with the newly rising and unholy mixture of indie music and the good old fashioned electronic one, with the puritan stuff there too, it’s gonna be awesome.

6- MARCH People will be there

All the sexy, awesome people that make up March will be there, and it’ll be an awesome chance to network and mingle with like-minded individuals that believe in the same principles of freedom, anti-censorship and progressive ideas.

RSVP to the event here, and see you all on Saturday!