On Lebanese Priorities: Creamfields Isn’t One

I had no idea what Creamfields was a few hours ago. I honestly would have loved for it to stay that way. But the cancellation of that party/festival/whatever has seemingly unleashed the most rage I’ve seen from Lebanese in a long time. I guess those party animals – all of them by the looks of it – and their parties are not to be messed with or the real shit that this country has been going through will hit the fan: an event cancellation that is.

Another “cancellation” took place today. Hard Rock Cafe, a place where many of us have had a lot of memories and ate great burgers, announced it will be closing in three days. A restaurant closing is, in itself, not that big of a deal. But for an international chain such as Hard Rock Cafe to pick up its baggage and leave is indicative of the situation that the country is going through, a situation which forced this institution that has been here for 18 years to call it quits, which will now leave all its employees jobless until they see another paycheck again. But Creamfields is the worst thing that happened today.

And today marks the 5th month that my best friend hasn’t seen a paycheck, while constantly searching for that company that would hire him. It also marks the one year mark for when my other best friend started searching for a job in her domain. Both of them have Masters degrees. Both of them are great at what they do. Both of them are super qualified. And yet both of them are now only numbers in a growing statistics that is, reportedly, 43% of the Lebanese population. That is slightly less than half of this country is unemployed. Banks and CEOs went on strike a couple of days ago to protest the situation, the lack of work, lack of money, lack of opportunities. But Creamfields is the worst thing that happened today.

Today is also a Friday. And as of now, no explosions have happened. But the day is not over yet so you never know. But two Fridays ago, we had an explosion in Tripoli. And it killed more than 50 people. A week before the Tripoli explosion, another part of the country was also torn apart and 40 people died. More than a thousand people got injured in both explosions. And yet people did not get into the state of emotional upheaval back then as Creamfields has put them in today. Perhaps today’s casualty is Creamfields. But yes, that is the worst thing that has happened today.

Today is another day when thousands of Syrian refugees flock into the country. I’m not really sure which statistic we’re observing lately but last time I checked, 25% of this country was refugees. In other words, when 3 of my friends and I hang out, odds are one of them is a refugee. Our municipalities and politicians spew racist words that resonate for a while and then die off but most of us have no grasp on the possible repercussions that these refugees have on the already-fragile and ever-so-distengrating fabric of our society. Those of us who work in the medical field have been put on high alert for all the possible new diseases that these refugees are bringing with them and which Lebanon hasn’t seen in a long time. There are no regulations whatsoever to handle those refugees. The laissez-faire attitude of everyday life that we have extends to them as well.

Today is another day of us being government-less. I remember the days when our current PM designate spoke about forming a cabinet in the soonest delay possible. I should have known not to be foolish enough not to take those 3 words in the Lebanese sense: “soonest” and “delay” and “possible.” Our economy is breaking down, our nonexistent borders are disintegrating, our security is now extinct. But that isn’t the worst thing to take place today.

Today is another day in ticking down till the time when it’s been 3 months since we were supposed to vote. It’s been almost 3 months that our democratic rights were taken away from us, that are our parliament decided it had done a decent enough job since 2009 to warrant a few extra years for its mandate, that there are enough pertinent reasons for them to come up with whatever logic they used in order to do what they did. It’s a big mess sure. But there are other things that are far worse which have taken place today.

Today is another day of us waiting for that possible American strike over Syria, the strike that doesn’t know when to start – if ever. It’s another day of us living through the repercussions of the war raging on next door as some of our men bring it home because they miss fights, having been without them for several years now. It’s another day of being part of this regional chess-game that knows no ends. But Creamfields is the worst thing that happened today.

Today is another day of us wasting time until we start drilling for oil because signing laws to ratify the regulations required have proved to be way too tedious. Today is another day as all our neighboring countries beat us in the race towards economical richness as we stand by watching. But don’t be fooled, our oil is not the worst thing to take place today.

Today is another day of Lebanese people not receiving medical care just because they can’t afford it, of some hospitals turning them down just because. It’s another day of us ticking down the clock to a possible war with our Southern neighbor. But we’re ready – or so they say. Except since the last time we had a war with that neighbor, we have failed to build shelters, warning systems or any other protection entity for our people down there. But their lives don’t matter because that’s nowhere near the worst thing that could take place.

I’d have loved to maybe attend Creamfields with you. I’d have liked a Hard Rock burger with that as well. But if I were a DJ who was lined up to play during that festival, I wouldn’t come here. And I would tell my friends not to come as well. Lebanese people love life, of course they do. There are even slogans about that precise issue. But the simple fact that we’re now “used” to all those bombs doesn’t mean others should be as well. Just because we’ve gotten numb to the absolute hell we’re living in doesn’t mean those tourists we all want to bring here are numb as well and are absolutely careless about their safety as we are. Ask yourself this: would you come to Lebanon, unless you absolutely had to, in times like these?

I’d have loved to also be on the front-lines of being angry about Creamfields being cancelled with you. But the sheer amount of hormones that have raged due to that event being cancelled has shown many of us, I hope, how disassociated many seem to be from the country in which that festival was supposed to take place, a disassociation that borders on the lines of pathological. But don’t mind me, I suppose, because the cancellation of Creamfields is definitely among the Lebanese priorities that ought to make people believe this country whose passport we proudly hold is a failure.

Let’s hope nothing happens to that rumored Coldplay concert.

Support Wickerpark 2012!

Wickerpark is an annual festival that takes place in Batroun and which I, as a Batrouni, feel especially proud about. This year will be the second time it’s held after a successful first run last year where over 1500 people attended the two-day festival.

The funds collected were donated in their entirety to the Ministry of the Environment for the replanting of trees in areas ravaged by recent fires, after a campaign centered around “Give Nature a Chance.”

Lebanese mainstream media, however, didn’t care much about Wickerpark. Why’s that? It could be due to the environment ranking so low on our concern radar.

This year’s Wickerpark is about a different issue entirely. Being the coastal city that it is, Batroun has many active fishermen that collect sea urchins in order to sell them. Many people also have a hobby of hunting these sea urchins. As a result of extensive exploitation, their level has declined on a yearly basis until our sea has very few urchins left.

Wickerpark wants to help change that by fundraising efforts to repopulate the sea. In order to do so, they’ve enlisted the help of students at the Marine Biology Center in Batroun. (You can see a picture of one of its unfinished buildings here). So in a way, supporting Wickerpark will not only be helping the Lebanese environment but you’d also be helping fellow Lebanese students in their research and that is always very needed.

The two-day event will take place at an open air venue in Batroun, right by the sea.

The tickets are sold at Librairie Antoine for $30. One ticket will allow you access for the festival’s two days on June 29th and 30th.

On the first day, you’ll be able to attend short-film screenings, ecological fairs, artist exhibitions as well as a series of small acoustic sets.

The second day will be the music festival, featuring different Lebanese bands (No, Meen is not one of them unfortunately):

  • Karl Mattar
  • Sae Lis
  • Who Killed Bruce Lee
  • The Flying Circus
  • Zeid & The Wings
  • The Beirut Groove Collective

Last year’s music festival

The ads for Wickerpark 2012 are quite fun as well. The campaign this year is called “When Nature Pokes Back.” You can watch the ads here:

Come on people. Think about it this way: Batroun is a beautiful city (proof). A weekend in Batroun will definitely be an awesome time. And you’d also be supporting a great cause while also having fun. All of you are also on summer breaks as well. You simply have no excuse not to attend.