Saturday, December 17, 2005

My Own Personal NGO

I have a new, umm, crusade. The motivation for it came in a glaringly clear moment of insight into this country. The moment is really nothing to shocking, and really reflects much more on me than this country, especially in saying that most and normal people here are in the end, like most and normal people everywhere else. It’s pretentious, pedantic and highbrow fucks like me that really are the outliers. And, yes, thankfully.

I was chatting with my driver, apologizing for keeping him up a bit late the other night. We came up to the gate of our house, which is fairly high, solid steel, quite thick, and at 11pm is of course closed. The booth right inside the wall and gate is occupied, I believe, 24/7. So I was saying to the driver, out of guilt, that we’re probably waking up the gatekeeper, though I don’t know if that is a bad thing. In the least we woke up the house as the driver gave to love taps to the car horn.

Nonetheless, my driver reassured me that it was OK, and that we weren’t waking up the gatekeeper. He was clear about this, and I insisted on asking why. My driver informed me that minutes before, he was in the booth with the gatekeeper watching TV and that the gatekeeper was surely still awake as the show was not over. Curious to find out not only what TV they generally watched—I assuming all bollywood all the time, I wanted to find out what show kept the masses enthralled at this late of an hour. Curiosity hasn’t quite killed me yet, but more often than not it’s lead to some serious disappointments.

The show was “AfghaniStar.” Hearing that name gave me a good chuckle. Honestly, I absolutely love the name. I should have left it there, enjoyed that new little bit of trivia, and gone to bed. But I had to find out what the show actually was. The suspicions were up. I had to confirm that yes, the new imperialism, as we all know, is western entertainment. Simon Cowell has done what Alexander the Great couldn’t. Simon Cowell has done what Bush, with the most frightful military in man’s history, could never do. It seems Cowell has won the hearts and minds of the Afghani people, well at least some, and that pool being limited to those w/ TVs (which is probably a fair amount here). I’m guessing it’s not Cowell running the show here, though it would be spectacular if instead there was some Taliban like mullah on the show spitting out vile curses at the moral corruption of the afghani youth contestants. Humiliating the the contestants ability to sing and dance all the while. I imagine him sitting cross-legged, Holy Qu’ran in lap, rocking back and forth, never raising his gaze upon the lascivious women and men being paraded on stage, nodding his head while stroking his beard the whole time.

So the new crusade, my own personal j***d (umm...I wont use the word, eventually wanting to get back to the US and trying to not to get kicked out of the country too.) It really is about developing a civil society here, civil in every sense of the word. I’ll come up with a proposal, do some demographic studies, implementation assessments, impact studies, come up with a statement of work, and of course, terms of reference. I’ll establish an impact evaluation method and propose actual metrics to be measured and studied.

All this will be done for a program to bring a cultural element of critical cynical hipster to hip to be a hipster cadre in this society. “AfghaniStar,” I mean it is brilliant, the name that is, but really, now, this can’t be taken sitting down. If we’re going to have the best/worst of pop culture here, there must be the accompanying best/worst aficionados of mass culture—those, well us, snub-nosed, elitist mass culture critics. We avant-garde, we only who can truly appreciate the brilliance of “AfghaniStar” for what it truly is. This, obviously, with out ever watching a single episode.

So those of you in the NGO world, any ideas who I should hit up? Hell, I’ll start my own. I can probably get the French Gov’t to sponsor this. All my D.C. friends, a fund-raiser on 14th street or at Wonderland would be perfect.

But, to be utterly honest, I should confess that finding out “AfghaniStar” exists wasn’t the only motivation for this new found endeavor. This was also partly motivated because my “I’m so hip, I’m above the fray” attitude went somewhat unnoticed when a friend was saying they were going for an ‘emo’ look. I, of course, trying to employ a nonchalant condescending attitude, failed miserably. I desperately reverted to straight insults instead. Lucky for them, I didn’t drop band names on them, and insist that ‘emo’ died when SDRE (Sunny Day Real Estate, for you...you...people) broke up the first time.

Oh, you people.

18 comments:

hamesha: said...

Afghanistan and the Legacy of Srebrenica: In 1995 Serbian special forces under General Mladic massacred an estimated eight thousand Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. In 1998 Taliban forces massacred an estimated two thousand Hazaras in Mazar-i Sharif. Three days ago on Dec 15, 2005, the Serbian government announced it will donate scores of old weapons and ammunition to the new government of Afghanistan. Read more about this cruel irony of history in 'Safrang' Weblog

Vasco Pyjama said...

Heh. Your sense of humour is far too dry and cryptic for a Seppo, mate.

Will respond to civil society matters and NGO dreams when I have had time to think about it... that is, if you are meaning it in earnest, and not just MOCKING me.

But I have to defend myself with respect to emo! Heh. The history of the emo thing is that I have only discoverd the term 'emo' this year... strangely enough, when I was ACCUSED of being emo. The Australian rendition of emo, it seems, has dark-frame glasses, rides Vespas, is vego, hangs out in second-hand bookshops, carries big bags full of books, and listens to sooky lala songs. Heh. I was emo without even knowing it.

Pfffft, and now you telling me that I am passe anyway.

xo Emo Chick

ms. daisy said...

Quasim, I should have known you would find a way to tap into your I'm-so-alt-emo-hipster-it's-all-so-hard persona. Even in Afghanistan.

Shannon said...

I suddenly feel like an even greater poseur. Oh well, I should've given up being alt.anything years ago and started wearing khakis.

Q. A. Shah said...

V.P.,
Your lingo is too foreign for a yank, mate. What is Seppo? I'm not mocking you, per se. Strike that, I'm not mocking you at all. If I could start such an NGO, I probablly would. At least you're not doing this stuff for the money like me. Don't defend yourself on the emo thing. Better yet, never refer to yourself as emo, unless it's '95 and your an Xanarcho-vegan-straig-edgeX punk running around w/ a hoddie, baggy pants, and a pair of vans handing out "meat is murder" flyers in front of a McDonalds.

And you know, for 3 years, and until about 1 month ago, I had black square rimmed plastic glasses. Some of my best friends are dark framed plastic glass wearers. One even has a pair that's straight 1950's rocket scientist dork. (I love you josh, miss you dearly.)

ms. daisy,
I don't think its a matter of tapping that part of my persona. Unfortunately it's a sprung well that i can't seem to cap. You agree?

Shannon,
Poseur? Why? (I just downloaded the SDRE album cause i don't have it w/ me...that's poseur) Besides, the "alt.anything" term might be geeky enough to pass off, but then again, we both blog, now, as with every post 9-11 anti-cynical hipster w/ a mac.

...Q.A.

ms. daisy said...

Yes, that's a good way of putting it! A bottomless well of hipsterness.

BTW, I wear black-plastic-framed glasses. I maintain that it still doesn't make me a hipster.

I don't wish to pimp my journal, but would you come over and help me school the Israeli guy about Zionism/Israel/Palestine? I don't know that I did the best job.

Shannon said...

Does it make me a cynical anti-hipster if my glasses are rimmed red and I use a PC?

Or perhaps I'm just thinking too much about it.

Wouldn't be the first time.

haji-o-matic said...

I have a wife and kids and if I m correct:
1)I'm not hip
2) So...those were EMO's I pushed out of the way to get my kid's Happy Meals???


Alot of this discussion is soooo far above my paygrade, I'm gonna have to find a simpler Blog
-randy

Vasco 'No Emo' Pyjama said...

Oh dear...

Okay. Seppo = American. It comes from cockney rhyming slang. American = Yank = Septic Tank = Seppo. Said with great fondness, of course. *smooch*.

And Randy, start your own blog!

Anonymous said...

That guy who posted the racism manifesto is, like, retarded.

- A.A.

Elizabeth said...

First nerdy was the new hip, and now hip is the new nerdy. Funny how these things come full circle.

I think I dropped out of the game entirely when I chose to participate in tie-dye Friday and trashbag Tuesday every single week my senior year of high school. F***'em all.

Q. A. Shah said...

Ms. D,
Pimp the journal, it’s a good discussion. I’ve been floating around it, but have been a bit reluctant to chime in, but I may still. Where’s tarek when you need him? And on reliable sources, you go to Mag. Fields shows, in the least, you’re an aging hipster.

Shannon,
The hipster discussion is always navel-gazing at its worst, I believe; but I am of the leisure class. So you’re either anti-hipster, dork, or a sheep. And as an anti-hipster, you can only be cynical and cynicism, and sincere about sincerity—painfully so. The PC: either anti-hipster mainstreamer “down” w/ the masses, or a naive sheep, linux: pure dorkland (linulx other than redhat...then your in wannabe dork-hipster land, unless you write your own apps, which puts you back in pure dorkland.) The glasses though, push you to anti-hipster hipster. Though anti-hipster hipster was so 2004.

Haji,
You’re right, kids exclude you from all this. Unless of course you got a wife and kids simply to join the mainstream and exclude yourself from the hipsters. But, sincerely, thank you for pushing those dumb punks around.

V.P.,
I think your new sign-off should be “XnoXemoX”, you even get a full triple “X” bringing back old-school straight-edge. And I kinda like ‘seppo’ has a nice ring to it.

A.A.,
That’s one ‘A’ too many to be initials for “Anonymous,” so I’m assuming you’re going for an eponymous anonymous, right?

Elizabeth,
Chasing one’s own tail can keep one busy for a long, long, oblivious time. And if you pulled off that tie-dye and trashbag stuff all by your lonesome, that would be so anti-hip you’d be anti-anti-hipster.

...Q. “2pieR”A.

Elizabeth said...

No way did I pull it off my myself. I was a groupie, even. I am the ultimate nerd.

NegativeMode said...

Just out of curiosity, what is the miming scene like in Kabul? Were the French able to introduce the subtle, yet brilliant art of mime to the Afghan people? If not, I think Sykes may be available.

Q. A. Shah said...

Rosie,
As far as I know, there is no mining scene here. The French, unlike the British, never made it to Kabul as far as I know. I think you hit upon another possible NGO. We'll do it for the kids. For the kids. We'll turn the child street beggers into child mimes. Though often, because of the language barrier, a lot of miming is involved. Perhaps a raw, essentialist form of the art?

Lets work on a program proposal. I'm sure Sykes will buy in. He's always doing it for the kids.

NegativeMode said...

Did you say doing it for the kids or doing it to the kids?

Was that inappropriate?

How would you mime the previous two sentences?

And ... scene.

Shannon said...

Rosie, that's hot.

What's the difference between "to" and "for" anyway? Silly prepositions.

Q. A. Shah said...

I'm reluctant to say this, but the one time I saw rosie do a mime show...it was hot.