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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Tuesday, April 10, 2001  
    Although I'd toyed with satire before (including a column in a Beirut magazine) it was Anthony Mir (a constant source of inspiration and encouragement) who really pushed me in that direction.
    "You're made for it, it would be so easy for you" he told me "just go on as you are – reading, listening to the radio and watching the news…"
    "And watching porn?" I interrupted.
    "And watching porn" he laughingly assured me "just write down your observations".
    So I did and here they are...

    The following are my pedestrian (possibly even boring I'm willing to concede) observations on everything from Kurdish hairdressers in Liverpool Sydney to world affairs.
    I don't claim them to be interesting but I do claim them to be one hundred percent my very own (who else would think let alone write this sort of thing?) and you can't have them!
    If you think that reading this is boring, spare a thought for how boring it was to actually write.

    This is the beginning of what later evolved into renatoobeidsworld – the first of the dictaphone recordings I made that were to eventually coalesce into renatoobeidsworld
    The actual site was started on Friday 9th May 2003 when I was at an internet café with a female friend of mine and, thus unable to go to the sites I usually go to, I decided to check out Blogger (following a link to a writer's blog that I'd cut out of the newspaper) .
    Whether today or May 9th 2003 was the start of renatoobeidsworld is not for me to decide but for future historians and the people who set public holidays.
    Suffice to say, if you're one of those who commemorate today as the actual beginning, then I extend my warmest welcome to you (May 9'ers need not get upset and schismatic – I have also included a welcome to you on
    special day).
    I have left the title "Random Ravings" in the first entry (below) as homage and link to that first concerted collection of writing that I ever undertook and also because the tapes originally started off as a continuation of the handwritten RR.

    - Renato Obeid, Harissa, 10.00pm Friday 24th September 2004 (when I actually got to transcribe the first tape – I work backwards).

    Beep…testing one two three, testing one two three.
    Random Ravings Down Under – Down but not out.
    It's Tuesday 10th April 2001, 4.45pm, I'm here in Australialand – the poor little rich country, the country that has everything but nothing.
    I haven’t seen any kangaroos yet – I think that they've been privatized.
    Yesterday evening I was in Darlinghurst*, the "capital" as I call it – being the gay quarter of Sydney, it is thus the capital of the Pooftocracy of Sydney, bandit country (work it out – it has something to do with an uncomplimentary slang term for a homosexual).
    Went to a Balkan restaurant there, surprisingly called "The Balkan", with Matt.
    We had a killer mixed grill – basically a huge plate load of a huge amount of meat.
    That was my Balkan Crisis.
    I can now see how the Balkans are such a volatile area, how so many wars have begun there – it's the indigestion!
    Afterwards, Matt and I were trying to work out whether Greece was a Balkan state – I wasn’t sure about that but I knew the Balkan state that I was in!

    *The vibrant cultural and intellectual bohemian part of downtown Sydney, full of restaurants, cafes, clubs, bookshops, galleries, etc, it's populace and appeal isn’t limited to just homosexuals but they find a natural home in that more liberal part of the city.
    The cultural and intellectual aspect of it explains why I spent so much time there (just so you don't get the wrong idea about me).
    It also appealed to me because it's the only part of the Sydney CBD where you don't get walked over and jostled by rude fascistic business people who are too important to look where they're going or bumped into by tourists who are too busy looking up (the two main species found in Sydney).

    - What do George W Bush and John Howard have in common?Neither of them can say sorry.
    An American warplane and its crew continue to be held in China* after allegedly entering Chinese airspace.
    The stand-off continues as the Chinese government demands an apology for the intrusion and the death of a Chinese fighter pilot in the subsequent chase.

    Regarding the China crisis and the Bush administration's inability to say sorry, rather than just the regret that they've so far expressed, I think that the perfect solution, the perfect compromise between regret and sorry is "spewin'**".
    This could be Australia's contribution to international diplomacy.
    I can also envision this term being used in other fields too – court cases perhaps, somewhere in-between "guilty" and "not guilty", one can plead "spewin'"
    The Chinese are apparently concerned about saving face.
    Have you seen some of those faces!?!
    Are they worth saving!?!

    *With a population of around one and a quarter billion people, China is the world's most popular country.
    **Literally meaning to vomit, in colloquial Australian it means to be upset by something to the extent of vomiting.

    Sydney Harbor, the Opera House, the Harbor Bridge etc are just so underrated – nobody ever mentions them, harps on about them.
    Somebody ought to take a picture of them because I don’t think anybody ever has, I haven’t seen any – we really do have to preserve them for posterity.
    But seriously, Sydney Harbor and its surrounds are proof that God exists.
    After a hot hard grueling journey train journey from the provinces, pulling into Circular Quay railway station and seeing the harbor, the Opera House, the Harbor Bridge is like an epiphany!
    Call me idolatrous, but no Jerusalem, no Vatican, no Mecca, Medina or any other manmade site can compare to this!
    This is the shrine of the future, of today!
    What greater testament to God can there be than this – the manifestation of His glory, the beauty of His Creation and people who know how to develop, accentuate and appreciate it instead of mouthing empty religious dogma, judging people and throwing rocks at one another!?!

    Went to Kings Cross (the prostitution/vice quarter* of Sydney) the other night - the women are so friendly there!
    We caught a taxi back to Matt's place.
    Shortly before we caught it, it had had an altercation with a biker – apparently nearly running him over.
    At the lights (after we'd got in), the biker was remonstrating with the taxi driver, rightly so
    The taxi driver, an Asian man (not renowned for their driving skills), who could hardly speak English, responded rather inappropriately and irrelevantly, telling the biker, who had Victorian license plates, to "go back to Victoria and (wait for it - big finish now) drive there!".
    Smooth, particularly the last part.
    Them are fighting words where I come from (Victoria).
    How's that for reverses discrimination!?!
    Only then did the biker descend into racial slurs, calling the taxi driver a "slope head" etc.
    That's road rage – a departure from the usual rail rage that consumes me as I travel from Campbelltown to Sydney and back again everyday as I've been doing (it's about an hour each way!).
    I'd stay over in Sydney with friends or kinfolk but my demon, insomnia, won't let me.
    Being dropped off by some friends at the train station the other night I asked for a cigarette for the long trip home but nobody had one so I thought "it doesn’t matter, I'll just ask an aborigine".
    That's reconciliation for you – how's that for a reversal?
    Only when we put ourselves in other peoples shoes/single thongs will we be able to coexist.
    Speaking of reverse discrimination is it just me or is there a disproportionate amount of black people on television?
    Talk about regression – in the old days we had black and white TV now we only have black TV (it's not color TV, it's colored TV).

    *Disclaimer: As with my forays into Darlinghurst, my trip there was for honorable purposes in no way related to their staple industry.

    I've got a bit of a smokers cough going – the Arab anthem.
    These Australian cigarettes are killing me – not cigarettes in general but Australian cigarettes.
    I'm not a tobacconist but I have noticed that there is a difference between Lebanese and Australian cigarettes* and that's what's apparently making me cough and the fact that the Australian government has jinxed me with their bloody health warnings on cigarette packets!.
    Not to worry, I'm smoking the safe ones – "smoking when pregnant harms your baby".
    Seriously, psychologically, I feel safer smoking cigarettes from packets whose warnings are inapplicable to me and even try to get those particular ones .
    Also, Id' like to have a cigarette in peace without the government threatening me.
    State sponsored terrorism!
    "Smoking kills".
    Duh, tell me something I don't know.
    Actually, why don't they tell us something we don't know?
    Everybody knows that smoking is bad for you so why don’t they put useful information that we don’t know on the packets?
    E.g. "Gerald Ford is the only man to be both Vice-President and President (respectively) of the United States without being elected to either post"**.

    *Australian cigarettes apparently have more chemicals and additives and thus aren't as "pure" as their foreign equivalent.
    **"The capital of Tajikistan is Dushanbe" and "The average cat sleeps eighteen hours a day" are two more cigarette packet non-warnings that I'm donating to the government.

    Homosexuals, with their narcissism, vanity and self-involvement, are essentially
    sleeping with themselves.
    I think that that's the definition of and lure of homosexuality – essentially it is narcissism taken its absolute extreme! (Coupling with someone as close in physical likeness to yourself as possible).

    Australia's first legal "safe heroin injecting room" (sic) is set to open in Kings Cross Sydney.
    "Legal, safe" and "heroin injecting room" are contradictions in terms.
    It's like having legal safe murder rooms, legal safe rape rooms, legal safe robbery rooms etc.
    Said legal "safe heroin injecting room" is encountering stiff opposition from locals, including from brothels – there is honor amongst thieves after all.
    Behind this crazy scheme is none other than a church group! – they've certainly come a long way!
    Re: safe houses, in Darlinghurst there are "pink houses" marked by pink triangles, on the pattern of the traditional yellow logo Safety Houses that offer refuge to children who encounter trouble whilst on the street, that are meant to offer asylum to homosexuals if they encounter harassment.
    How would theses gay militias react anyway – give fashion advice to the offenders?

    The sheer Australianess of Australia is overwhelming – there are flags, jingles and slogans all over the place.
    The first thing you'll notice about Australia is that it's everywhere!
    It's all around you, you can't escape it!
    Especially in advertising and marketing – practically every retail establishment or product seems to be Aussie Something or Other.
    There's even an old pop song from the eighties, which you hear every now and then on the radio, whose chorus proclaims "this is Australia" (just in case your lost and don't know where you are).
    Australia – it's everywhere!
    Australia - now with 20% more Australia!

    Went to a pub in Sydney with Anthony the other night to watch the final one day cricket match between Australia and India.
    I think this pub was the Australianmost point on earth!
    You look up "Australianmost point on earth!" in an atlas and you'll find this pub.
    A lot of shouting going on – you can say almost anything you want to an Australian as long as you shout it out and say "mate" as well.
    "Sorry, I'm going to have to kill you".
    An Antipodean version of Simon Says.
    A couple of years ago, Les Murray, the unofficial Poet Laureate no less, wanted to include "mateship" in a preamble to a proposed new constitution.

    THE AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR HAS DROPPED BELOW THE PSYCHOLOGICALLY IMPORTANT 50 US CENT MARK MATE! (Putting it this way makes it more palatable to Australians)
    Except at the foreign exchange booths – those evil moneychangers are practically still on the pre-floatation 1.30 USD rate.
    Such is the precarious state of the Aussie dollar, that in a recent kidnapping, the kidnappers demanded a ransom in US dollars (though I'm not sure if this had anything to do with developments on the bourse).
    Nonetheless, I have the plummeting Aussie dollar to thank for my extended stay here.
    I'm seeing double – every US dollars is worth two Australian.
    Double your dollars - visit Australia.

    Noah's Ark didn’t land on Mount Ararat, it landed in Australia – there's two of everything here!
    This place is dodgy duopoly (colluding in concert as a monopoly) heaven!
    Two airlines, two major political parties, two cable television networks, two telephone companies, two main newspaper groups, two cinema chains etc and, to top it all off, almost every place has two names – an indigenous name and an Anglo name!
    I'm seeing double – or duplicity really!

    One of the most obvious changes I noticed when I got back to Australia was that the mental health of furniture shop owners had greatly improved.This is welcome relief for people like me who grew up during the furniture wars of the late 1980's – who can ever forget "The Fussy Furniture Fella"? (the man who started all of this).
    During the eighties they were all GOING CRAZY! To the extent that they were GIVING IT AWAY!A friend of mine, who's an ex-policeman, told me an anecdote about how an unsuspecting rookie policewoman on patrol received an emergency radio call from the station in the middle of the night, telling her to attend to an address in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne as "John Smith (can't remember actual name) has gone completely and utterly crazy".When she arrived at the scene she found a closed darkened furniture shop that advertises itself with that slogan.

    4:46 pm

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