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It’s still hard to believe that the once publicly accessible St. George Bay has been rebranded as the corporate-controlled space “Zaitunay Bay” with its multi-million dollar yachts and uber expensive restaurants.


But it’s even harder to believe that people are literally not allowed to picnic, play music, ride bikes or do any ‘normal’ family activities in this coastal area. Thankfully, not everyone is intimidated by Zaitunay corporate security, who often travel on segways.

These boys enjoy a snack right next to the comical sign banning everything including water pipes. (Cigar-smoking fat cats are okay it seems as they are ubiquitous in Zaitunay restaurants.)


It’s also interesting that Zaitunay security don’t mind actual law violations such as double parking and blocking roads, as long as those cars belong to their clients.



There has been much fanfare about the removal of political signs and posters from Beirut, as part of a reported reconciliation deal between the parties/militias/old men that run this country. I have to admit, I was surprised to see the decades-old Amal mural painted over on Spears Street.

The Daily Star reported that Hezbollah had even removed posters of martyrs in Saida, though advertisements for the party’s museum remain up.

But what the Star didn’t report is that as posters came down for some groups, a massive billboard campaign went up commemorating the life of slain prime minister Rafik Hariri. The billboards promoted a political rally for his party that would be held on the day of his assassination last week.

The billboards are literally ubiquitous across the city. From downtown:



To Hamra:



The highways:



The northern suburbs:



Multiple images on the same panel:



Even three billboards on one street:



I wonder if this campaign was excluded from the reconciliation deal and why.

Look out for my column next month in Bold Magazine for more on Beirut’s history with political posters, how the latest crackdown compares to previous removal campaigns and what is often left out of the process.



This place has been closed for as long as I can remember. It’s located on the bottom floor of a recently renovated apartment building in Hamra. One of the construction workers told me it was once a bar but no one has been inside for 30 years.  The font on the signs and window shapes do look very disco.

Jack’s Hideaway is right across the street from the Commodore Hotel on the corner of Yafet Nehme and Baalbeck street:


Was it really a bar? If so, it was probably frequented by the foreign correspondents that lived at Commodore during the war in the 1980s, which was reportedly run by the PLO at the time. But it also looks a bit like a clothing or jewelry store.

Anyone remember this place or know anything about it?


UPDATE: 2/16/15

Thanks to the comment below by Andy, we have some more background on Jack’s Hideaway. Apparently it was a sort of bar or night club, even throughout the war, as an Associated Press reporter notes in 1982:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 12.32.42 PM

The title of the March 21, 1982 article is “Chic war rages in Beirut.”  Jack’s may be gone, but the exotified reporting continues!

Another comment by Ray suggests the bar dates back to the 1970s and was owned by a Seikaly family. Do comment below if you know more.



It’s sad to see that the racist tradition of Blackface is still alive and well on Kuwait TV. The technique of white actors portraying Africans by painting their faces black dates to the 1840s in the US and was widely practiced for decades. It’s hard to believe we are still seeing this in 2015 on Kuwait’s state-run Channel 1.


100 years ago, this form of entertainment helped spread racist stereotypes in Europe as well. The “black” characters are typically portrayed as wild “funny” buffoon-like caricatures of an entire race.



The ‘tradition’ continued on prime time British TV into the late 1970s. I’ve also seen it on Lebanese TV in the 1990s–though I can’t remember the programs and I’m not sure if it continues. And of course blackface is still a shameful tradition to this very day in Holland during Christmas.

Channel 1 viewers deserve better than this and they should let the broadcaster know. Here are some phone numbers for the station. You can also reach them on Facebook or like the post I have just posted to their page. They are on Twitter as well.


Maybe someone who knows more about the show can tell us who the producer is. From the actor’s accents, it seems to be an Egyptian production.




Thanks to Mehr for pointing this out.


Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 7.12.32 PM


The headline above was published this morning by The Washington Post at 11:05 AM as seen in the timeline.

An hour later (7PM Beirut/12PM US EST) I tweeted my thoughts:

An hour (and around 60 retweets) after that, at 1PM (US EST), the headline was changed:

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 9.44.52 PM


There is no explanation for this change. But the paper’s developers even changed the URL from:


Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 9.42.29 PM


Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 9.45.10 PM

Basically, this means the old story no longer exists online and clicking on the old URL will redirect you to the new story, and new headline.

So what motivated the change? Did the Post editors realize mass killing of Muslims could and should also alarm non-Muslims? Did they see my tweet or did they come to their own conclusion? We’ll probably never know, but not explaining the change seems a bit problematic to me–the idea that a major news organization can just erase its mistakes, instead of think them over. (The same thing happened when I did a post that changed a New York Times headline about a year ago.)

In any case, I am glad I took a screenshot and I urge you to do the same when you see something online that doesn’t seem right. Otherwise there may be no proof that it ever existed.

RIP to the victims: 19-year-old Razan, 21-year-old Yusor and 23-year-old Deah.


Thanks to Jim Clancy for tweeting the original story, which led me to read it.