October 11, 2011 – I read an article by that pathological prevaricaterix, NADA BAKRI, while waiting for some Decaf at Starbucks.  Oh, I don’t buy the Times any more.  I just read it when I’m at the library or standing someplace waiting or when a friend gives it to me.  Today, this morning, I knew that what I was writing about the Times all along was absolutely true.  In a frenzy of lies, Bakri, wife of TONY BLAIR LIAR OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEE, ANTHONY SHADID, wrote that the Deek Al-Jinn Nightclub and Restaurant in Homs was closed because of economic troubles in the country.  I knew something was wrong with her statement because every Lebanese person I meet who has just returned from Syria says the opposite.  They uniformly report that the situation is very much under control and that the marketplaces are bustling with business.  I knew that hag was lying. (Of course, she is not allowed into Syria and has to make up stories to keep her job).   I called my wife and told her that I read something about the Deek Al-Jinn being closed.  At 7:45 a.m., our time, she called her sister in Tartous whose daughter lives in Homs.  Aida called me back at the office and said that Sumayya was having dinner at the Deek Al-Jinn restaurant last Saturday.  My wife recommended I stop reading the NYT.  But I can’t.  As I wrote to the NYT last week, we need to have Shadid and his wife composing their drivel because it’s addictive.  Each day I need a certain modicum of lies to maintain hormonal balance in my glands.  Without the lies of Shadid et son epose,  I would shrivel and become sheepish. 

Dimitri Medvyedev has become tedious.  We are lucky to see him go the way of the pluperfect tense.  He will soon be replaced by that Slavic Giant, Vladimir Putin, who shall bring back to Mother Russia her greatness and global reach.  We Syrians shall be there to help with our natural deep water ports.  We shall vote with Russia always at the U.N.  We shall flip that awkward, twitchy, kimche covered pea crab of a humanoid, Ban Ki Mun, a Beirut Bird.  And the Full Moon to Navi Pillay whose idiotic vituperations of late are pushing her perilously close to a nomination for AMERICAN CHAIWALLAH OF THE YEAR and most DEGRADING HARVARD LAW SCHOOL NON-GRADUATE OF THE DECADE.  But we can never forget other personalities whose embarrassments are propelling them into the lowest depths of notoriety.  We shall keep you informed.  ZAF.

While in New York City awaiting the opportunity to purchase a ticket for Billy Elliot,  Jim Proscia and I found our way to a tavern called “Carlow’s”.  I can’t remember the avenue or street, but it was pretty apparent, with a big sign announcing itself as a long-lived pub with an established clientele.  Inside, we found a neighborhood-style bar from the Forties, appropriately dark with the added modern touch of twenty television screens spread across the higher reaches, each one with the de rigueur athletic extravaganza.  The bartender was “Brian”.  He came over swiftly enough with a bulbously ruddy Irish face, a signally defined appearance suggesting a youth’s life spent in his secondary school thrashing the punks and weaklings inside rat-infested alleyways and abandoned tenements in the Bronx.  He struck me as one who would “whack” your best friend for a tidy sum without regard to your motive or the target’s precipitating act.  I immediately made friends with him by asking how much a VO on the rocks costs.  He responded professionally with:  “$6.00”.  I then asked timidly, with a trace of that Levantine stinginess which people detect all too quickly, whether it was a “good pour” because, as I regrettably put it: “In Detroit, we get a really big amount”.  He grimaced at me; his face contorted into a gargoyle’s and with his clenched fist extending outwards, thumb pointing at the front door said: “Yeah, well there’s the doorway to mailto:F%5E#$@$%%^^ING DETROIT!!!”  A man of my social position is not accustomed to such effrontery and I riposted by asking if he was going to charge me for the glass of water-sans-ice which I always enjoy as an accompaniment to a draught of whiskey.  His rejoinder was nuclear:  “YEAH!!  AND I GET TO SPIT IN IT!”  Mmmm.  Given the adequate pour and the relatively good price for a Manhattan tavern, I quietly sipped my two drinks without further incident and reluctantly accepted Jim’s insistence on third at his expense, and left for the subway station that would see Jim off to Brooklyn for his ill-fated rendezvous with ertswhile friends and societal deviants and yours truly on a long walk to MEMA.  The whiskey felt good in the interplay of cool shade and sun as I walked amidst Manhattan’s chasm-like corridors toward the Park.  ZAF 

PART II – MNS’ CRITIQUE OF BILLY ELLIOT – By Zooey Phooey Schlechtkase, special to MNS-

I hope those who were admonished not to read my oeuvre have retired to their favourite bowling alley. 

Amid the hurly-burly of Thatcher’s failed reign of terror in the U.K., her government took up the cause of dismantling unions, especially those in the eastern part of England, in cities like Newcastle.  She was clearly inspired by that comatose cluck, Reagan, who made conservative history by firing all striking air traffic controllers in one fell swoop of his trembling, pre-Althzheimer’s hand.  Madame Thatcher, who managed to marry an agreeable man with timorous mien, was quite the opposite from her husband.  Her lust for Reagan’s bodily essence drove her to essentially disenfranchise all coal mine workers in the Newcastle area who rose up in demonstrations against her which were coldly, and mercilessly put down by her security thugs. 

And so,  Billy Elliot starts with the curtain opening to a gossamer-like screen upon which a newsreel was played to remind the audience of the surrounding circumstances in the politically volatile eastern sector of England.  The screen is then pulled up to reveal the set of the play, its logistical genius yet to unfold.

Those of you who have seen the movie, Billy Elliot, will doubtlessly wonder how the director was going to capture the vista of city/hills and ocean which played such a role in the film.  You need not fret too much about that. What the movie might claim with the camera’s visual freedom is more than adequately compensated with the exploitation of engineering science and design.  This is no ordinary art director’s job.  This is a job for Ken Adam who made those stupeyingly crazy sets for the James Bond movies of the Sixties and Seventies.  Bedrooms rise up from the floor of the stage; Dining tables descend down into the hush of darkness below the stage giving space for new events.  The surrounding buildings and rooms all roll in and out with seeming effortlessness, often pushed out of position by the actors themselves! In this play, the actors live in a town – not the City of Newcastle.  They are coal miners whose lives have been destroyed by Thatcher’s dalliance with Reaganesque heartlessness. 

Inside the turbulence of the tempest, away from the madness of labour unrest and repression is a boy, Billy, about 11 to 13 years of age,  who is gifted with the ability to dance the ballet – whether classical or jazz – makes no difference.  You know from the early efforts to play down his ability to dance, before his tutelage in the capable hands of  the lady who, recognizing his talent,  takes him in to her all-female ballet school,  that he’s going to eventually explode in a dazzling demonstration of terpsichorean spectacle.  Indeed. Watching the evolution of his talent, is one of the most striking aspects of the musical.  But, his father and brother, who are typical labourers enmeshed in their own world of machismo and insensate boorishness try to forcibly dissuade him from the sissyfied world of the Ballet Russe into order to continue learning how to be a pugilist.  PART 3 TO COME AFTER I’VE SUFFERED ANOTHER LUNCHEON IN DETROIT.