Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ah ha. I can blog again. For a while my blog just wasn't there when I signed in. But now its back.

Right. So.... lots to get caught up on I guess. First, we have a new war. eeeeee.... I have all sorts of thoughts and opinions on it, but I don't think anyone reads this anyhow, so I don't feel like going into it right now.

I am now working for a public policy research institute. Its been ok, but they don't really know what to do with me, so I've been wasting a lot of time.

I have to go now to audition little kids who want to be bass players. I've never auditioned anyone before, let alone in Arabic. How does one know if an eight-year-old has bassist potential? And the music school has set no guidelines, like how many kids I'm supposed to accept etc.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Perhaps its boring when I post articles, but this one is just so horrifying. Its from Haaretz:

Last update - 07:28 08/06/2006

Court: Palestinian man can sue state over killing of family by IDF

By Eli Ashkenazi

Mohammed Abu Samra, a Palestinian from Qabatiyah whose wife and two children were killed by Israel Defense Forces gunfire four years ago, can sue the state for compensation, according to a precedent-setting Haifa District Court ruling.

Haifa District Court Judge Yigal Grill decided a few days ago to dismiss the state's request to disqualify Abu Samra's lawsuit. He said the suit did not violate the Intifada Law, which prevents Palestinians from filing claims for damages for events that took place in "conflict zones," and that the amendment to the law cannot apply retroactively to a case in which the evidence has already been presented.

The shooting took place on May 5, 2002, as Abu Samra, his wife Fatma and their children - Abir, 4, and Basel, 5 - were harvesting grape leaves near the Jenin bypass road. IDF troops were operating in the area at the time, and began firing toward the Abu Samra family when a tank chain broke, making a loud noise that soldiers thought indicated that the tank had driven over an explosive device.

The family was lying on the ground, but then Abir got up and was killed by a bullet to the head. Fatma died on the spot after being shot in the chest while trying to protect Basel, who was also shot in the chest. The firing and shelling continued for about five to 10 minutes until the soldiers came to the scene. Mohammed shouted that they had killed his wife and children. The troops ordered him to lie on the ground, stripped him, handcuffed him and threatened to shoot him if he said a word. They saw that Basel was still alive and gave him first aid until a medical team arrived to take him to the hospital, where he later died of his wounds.

Meanwhile, Abu Samra was still handcuffed in the field where his dead wife and daughter lay. He remained that way for five hours, when an IDF officer arrived, uncuffed him and apologized for the incident.

The Intifada Law, which was passed in 2002, prevents Palestinians from receiving compensation in areas of the territories classified by the defense minister as "conflict zones." Amendments passed in July 2005 were intended to minimize the ability of Palestinians hurt during the intifada to sue the state for damages. However, the state only announced which areas were considered conflict zones in February 2006 - after evidence in the Abu Samra case had already been presented.

"The state is not legally responsible for damage caused to the subject of an enemy state, an operative or member of a terror organization or anyone damaged while acting at the behest of the subject of an enemy state, or a member or operative of a terror organization," the law states.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Things have been very stressful, but it all ok now. We had a concert Wednesday in Jerusalem, and not a single band member got arrested. Huge huge huge gaping holes in the wall, by the way. Security wall my butt. Then, Saturday, we had our big CD release concert at the Ramallah Cultural Palace. It wasn't full, but we had about 500 people there. It was an excellent audience-- really loved the work. The entire foreign community in Ramallah came, so now I am famous among them, and everyone wants to buy me drinks. After the concert, one of our fans threw a huge shindig for us in his garden with slaughtered lamb and all (and slaughtered chicken for me, very considerately). But I was exhausted (bass is hard!) and got drunk much much too fast and so stumbled home around midnight, with my dreams of experiencing real rockstar partying (ok, well, the Palestinian version at least) unlived. Then, today, I had to give a training to the higher ups here and in Gaza (love the video conference) on dilemmas, self-criticism and standard-setting within the humanitarian community. It went shockingly well, considering. So now I can relax, start going to the gym again, allow all those foreigners to buy me drinks etc. etc.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

So I feel the need to make a public confession about a humiliating experience. Yesterday, the South Korean film crew that wants to make a documentary on Turab showed up at my place. They had planned to do an interview with me and a couple of the guys since we couldn't get everyone together to do a rehearsal. I meant to hide the bass before they arrived, but they came early and I was still napping. So my debut on S. Korean TV (Thursday) will be with unbrushed hair. Somehow predictable. So immediately the producer saw the bass and was like-- oh! your instrument! play for us! I tried several variations of "no" all of which failed. So then I decided that it was easier to just play some crap and then maybe they would go away. So I played some crap for a really long time-- not music just pluckity pluck pluck, with the camera inches from my face, which I know will be horribly horribly unflattering. Then the guy asks me, "what happened in Ramallah yesterday?" with the camera practically pressed up against my nose. I said, "there was an invasion". And he said, "Can you play music that expresses how you feel about yesterday's invasion?" To which I said, no. I explained that as a bassist, I'm not so much about expressing complex emotions but more about keeping rhythm. I explained that I'm not really a bass player anyhow. None of this worked, and I ended up improvising a sad little pizzicato number on the spot in the key of G-minor. It was so embarrassing. And so manipulative! And obviously I should have insisted harder on not playing, but its surprisingly tricky with a camera shoved in your face. Made me understand reality TV a little more. I almost was going to make the cool missle (or seagull) sounds I can make on my bass and then top it off with some hitting of the strings with my bow to represent machine gun fire-- but I'm pretty sure that the humor would have been lost on them. I hope to god the whole episode gets edited out. I'm so embarrassed even thinking about it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

From today's NY Times

Gun Battle Erupts During Israeli Raid
Published: May 24, 2006

"Four Palestinians, including one member of the Palestinian security forces, were killed and about 50 Palestinians were injured, according to hospitals in Ramallah. One Israeli soldier was wounded when he was hit in the head by a rock, the Israeli military said."

Which is, of course, to say that three Palestinian civilians and one security force member were killed. Not to quibble over words. I do like the fact that Israeli soldier injuries also listed. 54 Palestinians shot-- 4 killed, and one Israeli soldier bopped in the head with a stone. I know-- stones hurt.

Don't worry mom and dad-- this was a freak occurrence

Anyone want to come? Free tickets for anyone who crosses the Atlantic to attend. Or the Med. That works too.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A South Korean TV station wants to do a documentary on Turab-- a really invasive sort of following us around with camera's reality-band approach. The problem is, they want to do it between today (Tuesday) and Thursday. We don't even have a rehearsal during that time. I think they should shoot it anyways-- they can capture us all at our seperate boring day jobs, teaching music, grocery shopping, not even thinking about Turab, me kicking B's ass at backgammon, beer drinking- maybe collectively, but probably not. I think it would make facinating TV. B is meeting with them now.

Monday, May 22, 2006

My posts have been very political of late. Perhaps this is boring. Anyhow, mesh el-hal (the situation walks). CD sales going well (available soon in the States-- I'll keep you posted). 3 concerts in the next 2 weeks. Parents visiting (hooray!). I ended up driving all around Ramallah last night with M who took me out to patch up relations after a nasty spat over rehearsal times. We were listening to a new radio station here that plays American pop music, mostly from the 90s. It made us both wicked nostalgic. It was sort of jarring also to be listening to the theme song from Dawson's Creek while driving through Ramallah center. All sorts of colliding nostalgias in fact as we exchanged invasion stories as we were driving around (do you remember when there was a tank right here for like 3 months straight? etc. etc.) I know its weird to classify this as nostalgia, but if I'm completely honest with myself, it is. The invasions sucked, but they seem so unreal now and so unarguably in the past (that's right- no more of those!) that they have crept into this stylized realm of nostalgia for me.