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Two Images, Same Impression

In 2006, World Press Photo selected as its photo of the year an image of the aftermath of the July War, Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon. In a piece by the late author and activist Mai Ghoussoub published on OpenDemocracy, Lebanese themselves disagreed as to the meaning of the photograph, some of them seeing in […]


Russell Peters in Beirut

Footnotes: 1. Arabic endearment ‘Habibi’ (?????) is as likely to mean “dude” as its literal sense of “my love.” 2. For more on BO18, read this excerpt from my book, a profile of architect Bernard Khoury


Links 5 – 16 October

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Dec. 2000 GQ profile of Hank Williams III via Send Me a Story Atul Gawande in the New Yorker on how coaching has helped him reach a new personal best MERIP’s Maroz Tadros with an important report from the front lines of Egypt’s Bloody Sunday Translated Egyptian author Alaa al-Aswany on bigotry (original […]


Faces to the Music

Like most of my generation, I’ve grown up listening to the Beatles but not spent much time looking at them, perhaps because their images are about as omnipresent, and therefore as invisible, as wallpaper. Martin Scorsese’s collage-like documentary undertakes an unstructured if roughly chronological walkabout through the life and music of the “quiet Beatle” George […]


The Mountaintop

I just read the script and I can’t wait to see this play in November. Read up on playwright Katori Hall in The New Yorker (abstract) and The New York Times. Reading the play (and, I imagine, seeing it) makes this clip from Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech all the more moving.


Researching, Writing and Meditating

Award-winning crime writer and journalist Matt Beynon Rees has several good podcasts on researching, writing and editing a book, as well as meditating for writers. Rees has lived in Jerusalem for more than a decade and is the author of the first Palestinian detective series, starting with The Collaborator of Bethlehem. I love how the […]


Less is More

Less and More, SF MOMA’s exhibition on the subtle (and highly influential) genius of design Dieter Rams, runs through February 20. More is more? While you’re there, take a docent tour of the Selected Histories: 20th Century Art exhibit, ongoing at the museum. Thursday evenings, general admission is half off. For design buffs: Rams’s Ten […]


Links 2 – 4 October

Enjoy technology, Bill Kellar writes, but don’t write off the universities. This week’s podcast from The Arabist on de-Qadhafization The Lit Saloon on a French theatrical adaptation of Alaa al-Aswany’s Chicago Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s identifies with Peggy Olson – no, actually Holden Caulfield. Huh? How to Architect demonstrates how to write like an […]


Weightless Arabic

Thanks to this app, I have no qualms about leaving my Hans Wehr at home when I take to the road with an Arabic novel. Now if only the development of Arabic e-books would accelerate a little… Image by calligrapher Mouneer Al-Shaarani via The Ministry of Type


Quotable: Bill Cunningham

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a person more incandescently delighted with his own life than fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, the charmingly eccentric figure profiled in Richard Press’s 2010 documentary. Cunningham has worked for The New York Times since the late ’70s – and he appears to have ushered in a new era for […]