Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Can we say Civil War yet?

At least over the past week, that's what it's looked like.

OK, we already knew the US military was unable to ensure the safety of themselves from terrorists, let alone the safety of Iraqis (which the US is required to maintain, as the occupying force) from terrorists or even from regular ol' criminals.

But as Juan Cole reports, the Washington Post has fixed a tally of over 1500 Iraqis killed since last Wednesday's terrorist attack. Most of these victims seem to be Sunnis killed in reprisals for the bombing Wednesday of the (Shi'i) Askariyya shrine in Samarra.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Taqwacores Link

Ben at Autonomedia wanted me to change my link to Michael Muhammad Knight's novel The Taqwacores.

If you're patient, you can read it online for free here at Google Books. Just do a search for a common word, get to page 1, and then you can read three pages at a time.

Of course you should also buy the book for six bux from Alternative Tentacles.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Behold the Mighty Water-Bottle

Which grants us warmth from foot to head.
But lo, towards morn, it cooleth off,
And must be pushed from out the bed.

I remember hearing recommendations that we use hot water bottles this winter in order to survive the lower thermostat levels caused by the money-grubbing folks who sold us natural gas in the US. Now, for some of you, lows in the upper 30s and highs around 50 may not sound so bad, but remember that we have no central heating, just a sketchy electric heater that we turn off before going to sleep.

So the hot water bottle is a life saver.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tangier, not Casablanca

I think I read somewhere that the city the producers of Casablanca had in mind was Tangier. However, another movie came out that year (or was due to come out) under the title of Algiers, and they felt the rhyme would detract from their own movie, so they renamed it Casablanca.

Thus the truly wild and wooly nature of Tangier in the 1940s is not synonymous with that of Casa during the same period for Americans, who continue to be surprised that Casablanca looks (surprise!) like a commercial and financial capital (think banks, warehouses, and factories), while Tangier looks more like they should expect Casa to have looked like.

Check out Paul Bowles' description, from 1958, describing the changes he saw from his first visit in 1931:

"Tangier is little more than an enormous market. Since the war it has been primarily a free-money market; and the new autonomous Moroccan government will probably take an increasingly active part in the economic life of a city without currency control. During the international years the dramatic, extralegal facets of the city's character were much publicized, and Tangier was thought of as a place where every fourth person was a smuggler, a spy or a refugee from justice in his native land. It is true that the city was a market where diplomatic information was bought and sold; it was also a place where goods destined to pass eventually across frontiers without benefit of customs inspection were unloaded and reloaded and, more importantly, a place where people from a variety of nations were able to exist without valid documents to identify them. Then, too, in the absence of all taxes, it was expedient for European exporters to maintain offices here, even though their produce might never pass within a thousand miles of the Moroccan coast. That era is over ... "

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kindred Spirits

Archie Shepp and Abdallah El Gourd played a series of three concerts in and around Paris last summer (I believe), which were then recorded and put out on this disc, available so far only through Amazon.fr.

I listened to most of it with Abdallah last night. The concerts were largely unrehearsed, so it's impressive that the groups (Archie's quartet and Abdallah's quintet) so together. What's also important is that Abdallah begins each song but the last one, and he also sings on them.

Archie and Abdallah are going to tour again in April, I believe, around France and then coming to the West Coast in June/July, for sure a concert in San Francisco.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Opened Tel Quel today to see an article on some work that's being done between Gnawa and electronica deejays in Marrakech.

(very) Rough translation of the first bit:

To create a new electronic music along the lines of the nights of Gnawi trance, is what the project Marrakech Undermoon is betting on. For seven years, the project has matured in secrecy in a laboratory of strange sounds, where DJs and m'allims live together. Meet them.

Dar Kamar is a strange place, nested in the maze of the Marrakech madina. One enters by pushing open a blue door, after having traveled through lanes crossed by rainwater, where kids run willy-nilly under the sleepy gaze of tired donkeys. This small riad with bleached walls could be the most banal place. Nevertheless, in a patio paved with mosaics, a French window shows a glimpse of a tiny musical laboratory, decorated with hundreds of platinum and vinyl discs. Serious and hypnotic sounds escape from here.

Opposite, in another tiny room, a meeting is held that's as improbable as the place that shelters it. Chechias on their heads, draped in heavy jellabas, three Gnawis are patiently sitting like tailors on a single bench: Abdelkébir Merchane, known as M'allim Cheb, a bit silent; Abbès Larfaoui, alias M'allim Baska, whose mutinous smile discloses chancy teeth; and Damir, a real expert of the Gnawa repertory. Two young people who look like students emerge from behind some silver discs to sit down near them: Khalid Icame and Abderrazak Akhoullil, aka DJ Zitroz and DJ Folani.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


And here I am at the Tangier American Legation Museum, when we went to visit and look around. It's a beautiful building.

Hospital Espagnol

View outside our window across the grounds of the Spanish consulate...

Bring on the Shaykhs!

At right, you can see our "salon," which is so fancy we have trouble sitting there. It appears to have seating for about two dozen. You never know, I guess--it might come in useful someday... We left the urns but took away the crystal and the Louis XIV settee and chairs and put them in a safe place--to leave them out for John to bump into is courting disaster.

Monday, February 06, 2006

In Tangier

Tangier (or Tanger) takes its name from the famous orange-like citrus fruit. In Roman times, the god Tangerius was turned into a tangerine by Jupiter after Juno found his personality too white and pasty. Apollo peeled him, removing all the whitish rind on the fruit, and reconstituted him on the north coast of Africa, just across the strait of Gibraltar from the rock of Gibraltar. The city there was name "Tanger" out of respect for Tangerius' purification of whitish rind.

We have a really nice apartment in a quiet part of town.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Here's Lookin at You, Kid

That's right, we're now in Casablanca. The real one, not the Hollywood set where the film was made... Everything is wonderful--the countryside is green and lush, with a light mist falling.

So far the most dangerous thing has been the meal on the Air France plane, which was terrible, so we were slightly more famished than exhausted when we got into Casablanca. Last night we walked around a bit and found a restaurant that served tagine, so we each had a little chicken tagine, in a personal dish. Moroccan cuisine 1, Air France -10.