Tonight, like most nights these past six months, I was very lonely. While enjoying a sumptuous repast to its maximum, I began to long for more of a taste of the music I was hearing on a radio show about the TV show Fauda. So turned on Youtube and found an hour long video of Arabic instrumentals. I kicked back, closed my eyes, and sucked on a few of my absolute favorite desert ever (coconut chocolates from Edward Marc) and of course, I was very relaxed. In fact, I haven't been this much inspired since I figured out how to hard boil an egg at work (my last post). Thus in this state of relaxation, I came up with this little nuggets that just wouldn't do to keep in my personal journal, so I'm here to share it with you.
A Brief History of the World and Life and Everything
As you are probably aware (being literate as though you are), the center of world is superficially located in Jerusalem. I assume since you have taken the time to read, you have thus taken the time to read the most published and read book that ever was and ever will be, the Bible. Thus is no surprise to you, dear reader, that Jerusalem is the center of Israel, which is the center of the Middle-east (in itself the word middle, or center), which is the center of all countries, and life, and civilization, and everything. It is this little spot on the map which acts like a foci and while although not everything began here, everything that began elsewhere was and is focused through this central point and emanates out in your future. Thus it behooves you dear reader, to read on. Not because what I've written thus far is extraordinary, quite the contrary it has been pedantic. But there may be a soul or two this outline should reach, which have forgotten about this or for reasons known only to certain slavers, it has been kept secret from this to this very day, this very hour, this very dot.
IT IS written in this good book (a letter of love from my father and yours) that "if man were to be silent, even the rocks would cry out". Since this would be exceedingly freaky to me at least, if not you also, let us circumvent this geological cacophony and I will explain to you the natural ways which have evinced myself of the logical flow of this HisStory of ours.
Since this story began with a touch of music, and seems to be flowing along quite nicely, let me revisit that subject and explain it more fully. Music, you see, is the tapestry upon which life is quilted. In the beginning, there was nothing, no sound. Then God said, let there be waves (light) and the universe began to sing. Everything that then was made vibrates with its own unique frequency (sound) and through sound it was created. You see, words are power; the beginning of life, the end of life, and the stuff in between. Hopefully through the years of your miserable existing on this earth, you have not forsaken your innate longing for music, and have explored every kind of music to its fullest. I do hope dear reader, for your sake, that you did not find one suitable genre and simply camp out there, forsaken all the wonderful tastes which await you in the life beyond what simply your friends are listening to. Just as I keyed you in on the best desert ever hands down, if this happens to describe your sorry state, I take pity on you and must do what I can to ease your burden, you sorrowful wretch. The next time you feel like cutting yourself, may I direct you to the best music on the planet, which is middle-eastern music. It is from this ancient music, described and recorded in the most ancient of scriptures, from which all other man-made musics derive. (I specify man-made because God made music long before man was round and it persists to this day through the power of his word to propagate the vibrations). Listening to said music, one can hear the familiar call and response of jazz music, represented by a reed instrumental horn which tremolos like a singers voice all over the place. Ever since the Movie, the Fifth Element, I've been a fan of world music. This genre is little more than Arabic music with a few instrument substitutions and perhaps a non-arab language substituted in. As such, the layers upon layers of sounds stimulate one's own good vibrations (in the form of brainwaves) as one hears with distinction cymbals, bells, drums of all kinds, vocal harmonies, lyres, harps, violins, harpsichords, and other stringed instruments which are plucked or excited with a bow, maracas and other shaken instruments, brass horns, both long and short, all kinds of flutes and woodwinds; nothing is lost or missing. As I listen to such music, it is impossible for me not to see the images of so many movies that have, in America, used this music to inject the effect of depth, history, and mystique into a film. Film relies heavily on music, a plot (Story), and acting (pictures) - in that order of importance. Did you know that the entire earth is the plot of the story? you should read the script sometime - find out who the bad guy and good guy is and who wins at the end. But read it the same way I found myself listening to this beautiful and rich music - in a relaxed state and with an open mind. Lets continue connecting the dots between Middle-eastern music and all other genres. Rock and roll in the 60's pervasively began using the effect of distortion in music, something which has always been a part of middle -eastern music, which at times sounds like the special effects sound booth on a movie script, with singular plops and re-animation of the prior tones, but at new pitches and differing counts.
Even without words, Middle Eastern music tells a story - you can close your eyes your self and see it playing on the movie screen installed on the back of your eye's lids (I assume you have one too? I figured everyone did). I can't touch on every genre, but I'll mention a few more before we move on. The fever pitch and excitement of Ska and punk are grounded in the even more excited pitch and frantic beat of some portions of middle eastern songs, which no doubt get your heart racing. When the music swells and the tongues flick their reeds as fast as humanly possible and the violins march on with their short notes, I see the correlation to the energetic genres of modern times.
The repetitive and hypnotizing effect of Country twang even is reminiscent of many middle-eastern tracks, which have a twanging instrument that is similarly hypnotic.
And when a middle eastern song has words, I'm tempted to sing along. Somehow some deep part of me KNOWS these words and can understand the meaning behind them, even though I know barely a lick of either language. It scientifically would make sense even, since we all used to speak the same language. Perhaps you have witnessed a gathering of Christians who are attempting to speak in tongues. although they have simply trained their brains to turn off its ability to make distinguishable words yet still speak, you no doubt noticed the similarity of the song to Hebrew. How is it that such a large portion of this population can manage to mimic the general feel, accent, of a language that they are in no familiar or educated enough to know a lick of?
As I listened to this music I was transported back in time to my first real, live, hoochie coochie dance. I believe it was at a restaurant in Indianapolis called The Greek Islands. This is perhaps when I discovered my love for Greek food and belly dancing and all the finer things in life. When my belly was full and I set aside my Americanness for one hot minute, I was able to embrace what I now know is in my genes - middle eastern food, dancing, and music. It is woven throughout my DNA like a tapestry of music and when I was able to stitch myself back into that vibe, I felt so so much at home, like what I was experiencing was the "real" me and the former American version of myself was anachronist. I do believe I was never the same after that meal. As Alan Jackson notes in his song, the ancient art of the hoochie coochie dance is hot. It is without a doubt, the hottest dance that ever was and ever will be, and it is responsible, in part if not in whole, for the current rash of Muslim fanaticism that is rearing its ugly head as terrorism and the Shariah Law movement.
You see, right up until the year I was born, Iranian women were encouraged and even forced to not wear a head covering. But the belly dance and sexual revolution of the 60's, combined with middle eastern women's increasing comfortableness with expressing themselves, lead to a sort of Global Warming that affected the middle East especially. So I can't really blame middle eastern men for dealing with it the only way they knew how to retain their composure, and 1979’s Iranian Revolution made the cloth compulsory once more (it has been through cycles of compulsion and forbidden for thousands of years). There are many reasons that the belly dance is the hottest dance that ever was and ever will be. One reason is that it leaves just the right amount to the imagination, and as we all know, the mind is the seat of the all eros. Unlike the dances you see in the clubs of today, thankfully for the rest of the world they are not as sexy as the belly dance, or all of us might be screaming around at strangers and losing our heads.
I know that this year many of you dear readers are anxious about what will come of all this Sharia law and fighting in the middle east, but let me put your mind to ease. Now that the head scarves are back on, the temperature is lowering and one day will be back down to normal.
Lets turn the conversation back to food and I will show you how all our food also traces back to the middle east. Its interesting for me as an American to see the trend of the healthiest food and diets trending back towards the middle eastern diet once again, as our scientists continue to come out with new research which explains how American processed foods like hamburgers and pizza are as addictive as hard drugs and just as bad for us. Honey is a major staple of this diet - and it is a perfect food, a sweet balance of natural sugars which can be made only by Gods nature, never replicated, and can be stored for centuries in its compact form which can lift the countenance of even the most tired prince among us. It is a main component in my second favorite desert - Baklava. My Lebanese college roommate, Zeid Al-Khadra, introduced me to noodles covered with yoghurt and lemon juice - a dish I still crave to this day but have not been able to replicate. I do believe if all these different factions were to just chill out and sit down every night and enjoy food together that would finally give the world Peace in the middle East. It certainly worked wonders for our relationship. Zeid- if you are reading this, please reach out and say Hi. I have tried to reach you for years!
A couple years ago a middle eastern young man came to my church, friends of some parishioners there, and we hit it off so completely and unexpectedly. I felt God compelling me to talk to him - and so I did - awkwardly I might add - but he was also tuned into God and forgave me this awkwardness and saw my sincerity and this allowed our friendship to grow deeper in a day than a year with any of my countrymen ever has or will. Hade Al-Shamrani - I love you dear brother and still pray for you think of you. Its amazing what happens when one returns to ones roots and embraces them. Blood runs thicker than water, and your blood and mine all runs back to the foot of the mountain upon which Noah's ark came to rest. Noah had three sons, and from these three sons came all the colors and races of the earth. Middle eastern genetics reflects that - it is the perfect place to start from to get the diversity we enjoy today on the earth. Certainly if we had started with a race similar to my family today we would never have made it to the darker end of the genetic rainbow. And so I see harmony behind the feeling of belonging I felt when I'm close to the middle east or people or things from that culture. Give it a try - you probably will be too.
There are many other things I see around me today that can be explained by going back to its origins in the middle east. Perhaps one day I'll find enough time to explain them more to you. Until then, give it some time, and try out what I recommended and write back to me in the comments the connections that you see!