Saturday, September 19, 2009

Levantine vs. Lunchpail: Round 1

I've been on a Middle Eastern/Levantine/Mediterranean kick lately.

I don't know if it was because of the Ouzo I've been drinking lately or side-effect of all those bloody Donairs I've eaten over the last week, but I've spontaneously developed a taste for Arabic music.

I have the odd Arabic piece in my music collection, but it's not enough. Today, I craved more. So, off to the music store I went. I did what I always do when I'm interested in a hitherto unknown variety of music - looked for a "Various Artists" sampler.

I found what I wanted in The Rough Guide to Arabic Cafe

It's a pretty good sampler (as samplers go), but after listening to it a couple of times this morning, I felt I needed more.

So, off to Into The Music to see what I could find.

Long story short, I spent waaaaaay more money than I intended (which cuts into my Ouzo and Donair funding), but walked out with a few gems: Two albums by Rabih Abou-Khalil (Yara and The Sultan's Picnic), and one entitled "Claude Challe presents Near Eastern Lounge: The R.E.G. Project" which was my favourite of the bunch.

(Also picked up a couple of Skinny Puppy and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult albums, too, but they're largely irrelevant to this story)

Near Eastern Lounge blends traditional Near-Eastern/Levantine music with contemporary electronic music, and the result is absolutely mindblowing. Follow this link for an example.

Suffice it to say, I am absolutely in love with this album - so much so that I listened to it on my patio this evening, while enjoying a nice cigar and cold glass of Ouzo.

Not six songs in, I hear someone open my back gate. I took a peek, and saw that it was one of the knuckle-dragging low-forehead types from one of the moderate-turnover rental houses down and across the back lane.

He lumbers into my yard (uninvited, I might add), looks at me, points to that magic box what makes noise my cd player and grunts "That your radio?"

"Yes," I replied as civilly as I could, "That my radio. What you want?"

He stared at me for a second, not quite realizing that I'm making fun of him. When his train of thought finally boards and leaves the station, he shouts, "Turn that fucking (racial epithet for Pakistani) shit off!"

I looked at him and said calmly, "It's not Pakistani, it's Lebanese."

"Same shit," was the wise response, "Turn that shit off!"

I wondered if this guy took Geography in school. Hell, I wonder if this guy even went to school... but no time for speculation...

"Fuck off," I yelled, "and get the fuck out of my yard!" I've been through similar situations before, and have learned (through the courts, I might add) not to threaten - or resort to - violence, so I chose my words carefully.

He grunted something, then tried to push past me to get at my cd player. I resisted the urge to punch him in the throat or grind my drinking glass into his face - instead, I put my arm out and blocked his passage.

"Listen up, caveman," I said, "If you wanted me to turn it down, you just had to ask. Maybe even use the word 'Please'."

"What the fuck?" he said defensively, "I did ask you!"

"No, you ordered me," I clarified, "and NOBODY orders me around on my own fucking property. Now take a hike before I call the fucking cops."

"For what?!" he screamed.

"Trespassing," I said, "and I could have you charged with attempted theft, and possibly assault for trying to shove me."

He swore a couple of times, made a couple of monosyllabic comments, slammed my gate, and left. I poured myself another glass of Ouzo and picked up where I left off. The two hours that followed were markedly uneventful.

Thus ends the first day of my two-week vacation.