Archive for September, 2008

LeMin ayiNaaGer….

I’ve been seeing this painting on one of Purple Cafe’s inside walls for atleast 3 years and loving it. Not too difficult to understand what these two were going through, is it?. Still, it’s never failed to catch my imagination and rest it. But then again, I’ve always preferred paintings with visual references to the world over “abstract” ones. I’m well aware how that makes me sound: yeEdget maneQo! But believe me, I’ve taken my poetry class (and it’s Instructor 😉 ) to heart and know of law-breakers and transgressors. Therefore I agree abstracts, as well free verses, are a good way to exercise the imagination and spring the art (if “spring” is the word i want). But only for those who decided to break the law after knowing it! So that both, vulnerable to abuse as interpreation, won’t be used as a disguise for lack of talent!

I remember an art exhibition on ETV I saw a while back, that involved… trees. Living, breathing, trees. The artist called them “abstracts”. I called them “oh puhleeze”. We all know not enough can be said about “zafochina tiQmachew”, especially when global warming seems to touch our every day existence. If you’ve been to the Addis Ababa University’s Main Campus, when the air isn’t so cold but still windy, you won’t want to leave. I’ve even been heard saying that is all AAU has left nowadays: a name and trees with various shades of green. But cutting a tree trunk and intimidating us from wondering if this “work of art” wouldn’t have felt more at home in a 7th grade science lab, by calling it “abstract”? Gimmie a break!

A few weeks ago, I was watching one of those programs ETV2 presents which I turn to when I’ve run out of movies and there seems to be nothing better than either a development journalist’s handiwork or Arsenal and Manchester Utd. (“Arse ena Manche” respectively) “meDeBdeBing” the soccer-loving AddisAbebe on the head with a ball, making it dumber than usual. The artist (dread-haired, giving a general impression of uncleanliness and over-doing the ejj mawerachet reminding one of a lousy Indian comedian; as they all do) was talking about his “abstract” work of art. Allow me to touch on the subject of his appearance first.

I’m a huge fan of individuality. And i know there is no better place on your body you can express yourself as the top of your skull – i.e. your hair. I friz mine, for example, inspite of my older family members raising the eye brow disapprovingly, because I fancy that’s as close to revealing the out-law in me as i can get. Which is why you’ll never hear me complaining about WHAT an artist or wannabee artist does to his/her hair. But my various contacts with them as a Literature student has convinced me that most of them “meGonGon” their hair only because they feel they won’t look like an artist otherwise. I guess your hair shows not just what you are, but what you aren’t as well. (Artist Bekele Mekonnen, as a colleague pointed out once, is a welcome diversion to this trend).

Stop. Rewind.

Artist on tv discussing his work of art..

The funny thing I noticed about this guy’s “abstract” painting was, although dude was talking about how you are free to interpret abstract the way it appeared to your [individual] self resulting in no artist having the right to tell you “what it means”, he was glowing with pride on how you can catch “hidden” shapes when looking at the painting from various angles. The shapes, i learned later, were flower heads only with an “Ayyn Yemiyaschoh” (as Adam Retta’s leading character on “Graccha Qachiloch” would call it) color that we aren’t used to seeing on flower heads in the real world. I’m aware we all have a child in us. Movies like Harry Potter won’t have enjoyed the success they are doing otherwise. Not to mention how I wouldn’t have been hunting for “Resident Evil II’s” game software for the last week or so. However, playing childish tricks with the brush and calling it “abstract”?! Who is it supposed to fool?! Himself, or yours truly?!

Anywho.. check the painting out and tell me what you think. I have tried to make sense of the artists’ signature in an attempt to decipher a name, without success. It appears to have disappeared with the price tag. Click on Painting for a bigger and closer clook.

September 25, 2008 at 11:56 am 3 comments

The lonliest hunters


September 24, 2008 at 10:39 am 8 comments

To my favorite clown

I’ve liked Heath Ledger ever since I saw him on Hollywood’s version of “The Taming of the Shrew” —“10 things I hate about you”. I like his uncomplicated look. Which I found I was comfortable with, unlike actors like Daniel Craig whose intense blue [green or hazel] eyes makes me wanna reach for a glass of water. Or Christian Bell, another favorite actor of mine in the movie, who always impresses me as caught before clearing his throat every time he opened his mouth.

So hearing his death has affected me. As much as the death of an actor who lives a galaxy away can affect a girl. But no where near watching “The Dark Knight” last night (been a slow winter for Briuk Video) did. I don’t know if that is because I watched the movie with a certain tension, due to one of the leading actors dying. Or because of all the publicity and box office success it’s been enjoying, because of one of the leading actors dying. But if you gotta go, I think that’s the best way to go. With the movie in which you gave your best – and haunting – performance (I doubt I’ve seen anything more beautiful, more demented and more funny than that scene of his walking out of the hospital dressed as a female nurse) not yet premiered. Talk about kicking the ball right out of court!

So.. I raise my e-glass to my favorite clown of all times, Heath Andrew Ledger (4 April 1979 – 22 January 2008). May He who give rest to souls give one to yours.

September 23, 2008 at 2:12 pm 3 comments

Cry, if it helps

I have a Rasta neighbour. He’s a fresh Rasta, which you can tell by his tiny dreads; by the fact that he wears nothing that has no Ethiopian flag on it (even his kitchen window has a lion of Juddah for a drape) and by the many (Fresh Rasta, Fresh — man) friends he has over every night, who refer to him as “Negro” while talking loudly to eachother [in English] and listening to Bob Marley’s “No woman, No cry”.

I’m not familiar with just how bad the weeping Jamican woman’s situation was when the King of Raggae made that song. But I fancy neither his song, nor his notorious bed-hopping, nor the advent of time helped lessen her tears by a centimeter.

Why am talking shit about Bob all of a sudden?! Because of an email a reader sent me the other day that brought bitter tears to the abesheet eyes. This man is a philosopher. A deep thinker. He knows what he was talking about and how to best convey it. 14 pages went without the sister stopping for breath, when anything more than two paragraphs demanded of her the kind of will power that would let a nobler man say unto this mountain, “Remove hence to yonder place”. After complimenting the sister for disrobing herself of that heavy, skin-tight suit we all wear – False Pride, he said that he’d had the impression she was an Ideologue and asked if she was. A question that embrassed the sister in the same way her instructor calling her out and ordering her to sit in front of him (away from probbing eyes) on her Syntax exam Friday evening.

If only he knew, she mused..

(How she didn’t even know what Ideologue mean and that she’d leave 4 questions, worth 22/60 points, unanswered).

I wrote back saying he reminded me of what I could have become were I allowed and that perhaps one day I’d grow old enough to reply, in kind. Afterwards, ofcourse, I cried. With the same thirst that made me cry upon reading Zadie Smith’s first born. “How I wish I was born a man” I lamented “[Or in England]. Instead of a woman who sees all that’s wrong with the world, but is as good as paralyzed when it comes to lifting a finger to change it, or even calling it by it’s correct name?!”

It felt I was being punished for a sin I have no part in committing. Except the sin of being born a woman, in africa, – the classic!

Then I started fantasizing how wonderful it would have been if I could moonlight as a man. See how the other half (the better half) lives, so to say. The half that doesn’t need to be “choosen among women” to make the list & whose every word would count whether it knew what it was talking about or not. The half that doesn’t need to work harder and go the extra-mile to get where its opposite-sex compatriots did — all the while repressing, being patient & smiling more; all the while dealing with emotions, biological clocks, the ugly businesses of Menustral cramps & “periods” every 28 days, with pregnancy, giving birth, breast-feeding, stretch marks, raging menapusal hormones and other women (your mother, among them). That half that isn’t expected to weather all the problems and carry the burdens of it’s family on it’s back but takes the blame for everything that goes wrong in/with it. The half that always gets half the punishment when found erring, whose sins are forgiven and forgotten by either the viture of being a male or because there is always a mother/sister/girlfriend/fiancee or wife making excuses for him. The half who can say, be & live the way it saw fit without having to throw stones at vehicles passing by or going half naked. And still be thought the better for it.

Would be nice, I said wistuflly, sleeping in a bed with sheets, dealing with humans [for a change] and be “more equal” than others from time to time. Unless..

It was at this point of meditation that a knock came to my door, and the door-handle turned. It was one of my colleagues coming to give me the usual good morning kiss we [girls] exchange while inquiring after the sew, the keBt, the maSSa. A kiss that makes my dread coming to the office every morning more than the crap I gotta deal with while there. I got up .. smiling…

September 22, 2008 at 1:35 pm 8 comments

If Degu were alive..

As I was saying, I was at the Emergency Room of Dagmawi Menelik Hospital Saturday evening. I saw 4 people brought in that night due to accident (3 car & a woman who had a block from a building fall on the upper part of her body). One of the car accident victims, a girl of around 20 was in a really bad shape. A fact you can tell by just looking at her bloated face & unnaturally shinny skin. She was bleeding, shaking uncontrollably, and unconscious. What’s worse, nobody knew where she came from or where she was going. The driver has fled after the accident and “given his hand to the police”, or so we were told later. The two men who brought her had to drag her from underneath the smashed car, apparently. And who should come to my mind? That young man Teddy Afro has been accused of hitting and running. Degu Yibeltal. Age 18. Occupation: Street boy.

I started thinking about him. I wondered if he knew Teddy Afro. I felt he would. Would he have been his fan? Most likely. Would he have therefore wanted to get involved had he known he’d get the icon into this much trouble by simply dying? I did not think so. Money offers would have probably tempted him. But he would know, the minute he signed those papers, he’d become a reject among rejects. And not being a reject is an important thing in Ethiopia. Even in the streets. Especially in the streets. Who would you turn to when you have nothing more to give to your mangy dog and he dies or leaves?. When your night seems to call for more than a cardboard paper for a wall, smelly rags for a blanket, a bit more earth for a bed. It’s bound to be lonely, lying underneath God’s sky. You are bound to feel insignificant. And you’d want company. A shield, a friend.

Then I tried to imagine what would have been his fate were he to come back alive. No doubt, I argued, many a Teddy-Afro fans would like to give him a slap (the same way i wanted to give my relative a good one when her withered body became too heavy to handle). And he’d have probably apologized. Even attempt to have Teddy released by knocking at the door of all concerned individuals early in the morning. Who would have had him thrown out, and set vicious dogs on him. But he’d find a way. He’d grab the official’s leg and refuse to raise until heard. No amount of kicking or hitting on the head would make him let go. Between tears and whimpers, he’d present his case. He’d swear his wounds were inflicted by something totally unrelated, a mad dog bite, a fall in a ditch, a faceless homosexual maniac that attacked him one night. No trace of madness or evidences of rape being found in his body, he’d be thrown in jail for giving false evidence – on himself. He’d be let go after 72 hours. No victim showed up.

For some days he’d become a hero. The boy that said “no” to injustice! And paid dearly for it. He’d become the man of the Hour!! His uncle, wearing the traditional gabbi, with his hat in his hand, would give interview of his hopes and dreams for Degu. How he’s always known that boy was different, even when he kicked him out. He’d also add how wonderful Teddy Afro has been to his family, how he’s visited them only the other day and told the journalists that were with him it was their responsibility to see to it that such young men as Degu become productive citizens. And no, he didn’t adopt any one of their younger kids although the family did anticipate some such gesture.

An awkward photo of Degu Yibeltal, shaking hands with Dr. Negasso Gidada, while four of his friends tried to squeeze into the view next to him, would soon appear on “Rose” magazine. Endale Geta Kebede would write a pretentious little poem in his honor. Betwketu Seyoum scratches his goatee thoughtfully, prefering not to get involved. And Tagel Seifu would save the clip, to use it in one of his narratives.

In the meantime, his mongrel friends try to make a few “coins” by letting people touch the wounds in his hand and putting their fingers on his side (so they would stop doubting and believe). Which he doesn’t seem to mind, except being waken up from his sleep (which he doesn’t seem to get enough of these days, through hail and thunder) every other second. His 15 minutes of fame, however, won’t last long. The world would find another helpless wretch to torment. Another celebrity to run after. Another excuse to blame the government with. And Degu would go back to his cardboard wall, to his smelly rag blanket, and lie peacefully underneath God’s sky getting as much sleep as his body needs to heal. He might wonder, now and then, what his life would have been like if he took the money. Ask himself if he’s done the right thing in refusing, in going to all that length. If it was worth it.

A doubt whose answer he already knew.

September 18, 2008 at 7:54 am Leave a comment

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The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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