Beirut Beat Podcast #1 All at sea

This is how you all look in my head.

The Beirut Beat podcast has arrived!

This week we have a nautical theme. Apologies for the mic quality but it was windy on that boat.

It is downloadable too, so you can listen to it on your ipods whilst you are shopping for zaatar  getting minor plastic surgery on your weird ankles.

Track listing to come later.

 

Mushrooms are evil.

Right now, deep in the pit of my belly, there are mushrooms.

I ate them some hours ago, a minor component of the leftover cheese and ham omelette I prepared for last night’s evening meal. You might think they had been digested by now, nothing more left of them than fungal nutrients in my bloodstream. But I am certain they are still sitting there. Trying to tell me something.

Only a few months ago I would never have voluntarily put a mushroom anywhere near my mouth. I have no idea when the phobia began. I was never attacked by a crazed mushroom as a child or given them in the place of birthday and Christmas presents every year by strange parents. My family as a whole probably has no strong feelings towards them either way. If you asked my father what he thought of mushrooms he would probably say, ‘Mmm, mushrooms. They’re quite nice.’

But they do not look quite nice, do they? Not if you really look at them.

Their bulbous little heads remind me of grotesque alien phalluses that squeeze their way out of the Earth in early morning, after the soil has had itself a dirty dream. That that they wriggle back into the ground when the sun begins to shine does nothing to redeem their reputation with me, I have never been able to trust anything that is scared of sunlight. Owls excluded.

But owls are beautiful, majestic creatures that swoop silently through the darkness, occasionally hooting to set the mood for campers. They do not have horrible little spores, Satan’s gills you could call them, ribbing their necks like accordions of dead flesh. Owls do not grow like a rash on the trunks of trees or by the base of the toilet in my friend’s flat in Edinburgh. Although admittedly I would like to see that.

Even their name fills me with revulsion. Mush Room. ‘Would you care to join me in the Mush Room?’ I suspect there are few who would enter such a place.

Growing up in a household where whimsical culinary objections fell on deaf ears, I learned to pick the creatures out of any meal they found their way into. So skilled with a fork I became, that no matter how creamy the Carbonara or sticky the egg noodles, at the end of every meal my plate would contain a little pile of fungi, stacked up like coal in a dock yard.

I left home and started cooking food for myself, safe in the knowledge that I would never need to eat a mushroom again. Unless, of course, I was eating food prepared by someone else. I would still play my game of discreetly weeding them from the rest of my dish, usually trying to hide them under a napkin so my host would not think me ungrateful. But during these occasions I began to notice a pattern emerging.

Gravy cooked with mushrooms tasted meatier, steaks were juicier and it turned out, much to my horror, that mushroom soup is really rather nice. Could it be that I had been wrong all these years? It was time to find out.

I cannot really remember dicing them up, I probably had my eyes closed every moment they were in my hands. I threw them in the pan with some garlic and an egg and prodded them cautiously with a spatula in case they tried to attack. Between two pieces of toast and virtually cremated, I could not taste any of their squidgy slimy horridness. Before I knew it the plate was bare and I was a mushroom eater. But afterwards something did not feel quite right.

A week later I was at the helm of an ambitious Sunday roast operation. The chicken was crackling away in the oven and the vegetables were all but steamed. The gravy powder, stock and flour however were nowhere to be seen. Instead, sitting silently in the fridge like the last child to be picked for the football team, were the mushrooms.

I remember feeling intense pleasure slicing through them, a samurai cutting up little clouds, the pile on the chopping board growing higher and higher. Huge chunks of my new friends were soon simmering away in a mixture of cream and wine and mustard. A tiny taste and they were sitting in a makeshift gravy boat on the table.

After politely gorging myself I sat back to reflect on the progress I had made. Had I transformed from a mushroom misanthropist to fully-fledged fungi fanatic? As I was mulling this over I began to feel rather strange. My bulging belly churning away, moaning and braying beneath my mustard splattered shirt. I excused myself from the table and went for a lie down in the darkness.

I lay still on the bed and tried to focus on anything but the intergalactic penises floating around inside me. But it was no use. I could feel the chewed up mushrooms reforming, their spores growing longer into creeping tendrils, feeling around my intestines. The little fungi were floating around my stomach like glowing jellyfish, pushing against the sides of my abdomen, humming like monks, communicating with their home planet, trying to escape. I have never had a worse sleep in my life.

The next day I decided to keep these observations to myself, lest I be judged as a madman. I would just go about my business and possibly sneak off to the hospital to get a quick stomach pump if the problem persisted. I vowed privately to never eat another mushroom again. Until last night.

When preparing the aforementioned omelette I found I was running low on suitable ingredients. I briefly toyed with the idea of adding sardines but the thought of them frying in egg quickly put an end to that. As I was whisking up the rest of the mixture my guest decided to poke around and look for something to make a salad with. After reaching deep into the fridge, she triumphantly pulled out an arm. ‘Look what I have found, a mushroom.’

I continued whisking in silence as she chopped up the bastard and threw him into the pan. Clearly one of the little boys had not made the football team first time around and had been sitting in the salad box like an unused substitute. I would be OK though, I am a master at avoiding them. I could find and discard every single piece, even if they were chopped up in an omelette.

Unless of course I forget that they were there, which is what I did this morning as I guzzled down the leftovers for breakfast.

Now I am at their mercy, hoping that they decide to leave my system naturally rather than wriggle through my body and wrap their tentacles around my brain, taking my body hostage for their own sinister deeds. Only time will tell.

But if you are walking through the woods one early morning and see me poking my head from the soil, growing on the side of a tree or at the base of the toilet in my friend’s flat in Edinburgh, please do not pick me and eat me.

Please?

 

Things that keep me awake at night

Warning! This post contains spoilers. If you have not seen these films I recommend you watch them before reading on. 

I have trouble sleeping.

Ever since I was a young whippersnapper I have lain awake at night, tossing and turning, mulling over imaginary problems occurring in places that do not exist. Unless I have indulged in too much wine or suffered a bout of sustained exercise, I regularly find myself buried beneath my sheets, dawn fast approaching, drowning in endless thought.

Sometimes my mental voyages transport me to the world of Hollywood. Here I become trapped inside tragic motion pictures, taking on the role of a doomed hero, desperately trying to avoid the fate which lies in store for them. Surely with the hindsight of a sleep deprived maniac I can figure out a path that would lead them to safety and me to a night of sound sleep?

But sometimes there is no way out of the maze.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is by far my favourite. The grey emptiness of the urban landscape and ginger bristliness of Sutherland’s moustache are perfect ingredients for a slow, suffocating horror film. It could be speculated that this picture carries metaphor for madness, narcissism and McCarthy-era communist paranoia.  It is also an ideal paradigm to solve under your pillow at 4am.

It has now been confirmed that you are not insane and the people you hold dear really have had their identities stolen by emotionless alien forms. You are facing a difficult struggle. By remaining calm and moving silently amongst these clones you can attempt to formulate a plan for escape. The slightest shudder of fear and you will be caught.

You could steal a car, attempt to drive to an un-colonised town and warn them of what is coming. You might search for a cure that would bring your friends back to life. Or you may wish to find a safe place to hide, like the bed you are now sleeping in, just to preserve your freedom for a few more hours. Is that your girlfriend who lies next to you? It looks like her…

 The Wicker Man

What is particularly disturbing about this story is the idea that the residents of the island have spent a couple of days just trying to fuck with your head. You are the butt of an obscenely sick joke that everybody is in on. It will not affect the outcome of their sacrificial offering that you have spent two days trying to solve a fictional murder. It was just something to keep them amused before you burn.

However, as you nibble on your bedclothes and unearth dead rabbits from shallow graves, you have a distinct advantage over poor Sergeant Howie. You know what will happen. You can change the future. At least you think you can.

It is around 5am when I am transported to that desolate rock. I usually become conscious of my fate on the morning of the May Day festival. My plane has been sabotaged and I have no means of communication with the civilised world. The only way of escaping the island is by the yacht moored at the harbour. But I have no idea how to sail and a boat of such size can surely not be manned alone. I could hide there and wait, but it would be the first place the heathen savages would look for me.

Instead, I decide the only possibility of gaining control of these creatures is to take hostage their leader, Lord Summerisle. As they search the island for me I manage to sneak up to his house on the hill and hide in the one place they will never think of, tucked up within the sheets of his bed. After a night long search he finally retires to his bedroom, thinking I had perhaps thrown myself off the cliff and drowned in the sea. I hear his hand turn the doorknob and he has no idea that I am in here waiting for him. Or does he?

Arabic Hip Hop – Thakirat mouwatin

Utterly no idea what this gent is saying. Anyone care to translate?

Illegitimate mind disorder –  Thakirat mouwatin

Great sample though.

If you are in the Middle of East (especially Beirut) and want to hear more of this kind of aural pleasure you should follow the 7Keeleh facebook page and go to one of their poetry / music nights.

Work for Beirut Beat!

Have you lost the respect of your friends and family since you were made redundant from your part time job as a door to door dental floss salesman?

Looking for a new career to help pay off your plastic surgery bills and buy yourself a new set of skype headphones?

Well look no further! Here at Beirut Beat we don’t know the meaning of recession. No longer just your favourite online magazine, we have now branched out into a range of new industries and have plenty of exciting vacancies to fill.

UNDERWEAR FLAMMABILITY INSPECTOR  (male only).

Job description

To satisfy the legal requirements of a recent law suit, Beirut Beat now must ensure that all our branded underwear products are 50% more fire resistant. Proving that our jockstraps do not randomly burst into flames could be your newest role.

Qualifications and abilities

3 years experience in a jockstrap setting

PhD in Thermodynamics

Ability to work under pressure / with a flaming crotch

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION UNIT- EXTRACTION SPECIALIST

Job description

Based in the new Beirut Beat sperm bank facility, your role will involve encouraging participants to provide samples as quickly as possible and with the minimum of fuss.

Qualifications and abilities

Possession of your own milk maid uniform

A forklift truck licence

Ability to work well alone or as a member of a team.

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS (unpaid)

Job description

Beirut Beat are currently looking for several graphic designers to crudely photoshop our logo onto various products which we can then pass off as our own. We can’t afford to pay you for this work (if you can call graphic design work) but this will look great on your otherwise bare CV.

Qualifications and abilities

Your own Macbook pro which you will leave in the office overnight.

All applications in pdf format to beirutbeat@gmail.com

New electronic music: Jad Atoui

At the tender age of 18 it is safe to say that Jad Atoui is one of the most interesting young electronic music producers in the Middle East.

Atoui’s tracks combine brooding basslines and ethereal skyscraping synths with a breed of flittering insect-winged beats that Geir Jenssen would be proud of.

If you ever get stuck on that 4am bus back to the center of the universe I can recommend no better soundtrack to keep you company on the way.

You can listen to more of Atoui’s work on soundcloud  or catch him live as part of Beirut’s foremost electronic music collective Acousmatik Soundsystem.

Thank God Banksy tells me what to think…

“When you go to an art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires.”

Banksy*

*Artist behind the painting ‘Keep It Spotless’ which sold for $1,870,000 Sotheby’s auction, 2007.

Thank god for Banksy. In the past I would just do as I was told and never rebel, aimlessly following lists of rules on how to behave. Now that I follow Banky’s incredibly unsubtle yet ultimately empty pseudo-political guidelines instead, I have become free.

I have become free to understand that wealthy companies advertising in public places without my personal permission are evil, as explained to me by a wealthy artist who advertises his work in public places without my personal permission.

I have become free to understand that we live in a vacuous, celebrity-orientated society, obsessed by wealth – a fact that Banky revealed by ironically selling Christina Aguilera a print for £25,000 in 2006.

I have become free to no longer accept war and poverty. Making the change was painless. You would be amazed how different it feels to no longer accept war or poverty, so responsible and wise, without changing my lifestyle in the slightest.

But most of all, I have become free to see that you people are all materialistic consumers, consuming away like whores, 24 hours a day.

Realising how evil consumerism is did not happen overnight. No sir. It took time and effort.

I started to get the idea after purchasing the picture book ‘Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall’ by Banksy in 2001. A more complex understanding developed after buying ‘Existencilism’ by Banksy in 2002 but did not fully hit home until I bought ‘Cut It Out’ by Banksy in 2004.

Then I forgot for a while and bought that big sound system to plug my decks into and that DVD to learn how to use my decks but I threw them all in the bin after I bought ‘Wall and Piece’ by Banksy in 2005. I also got ‘Pictures of Walls’. By Banksy. In 2005.

The pictures he did on that wall in Gaza really made me realize the fact that the thing in Gaza is wrong.