Finding the 1970s

I know I took a brief hiatus from this blog – having started a new one dedicated to Middle East watching at thegemmayzehtree.wordpress.com

but… I found something of significance worth posting here.

I recently unearthed a 1970’s pioneer turntable and receiver system from the donation/give-away pile in my basement. Both systems were perfectly intact, however, the turntable needed repairing. So I brought it to a local stereo hi-fi shop in Salem, MA where it’s been for the past week. I paid about $125 to get it rehabilitated and cleaned. It works brilliantly. The sound of vinyl records is so crisp and clear. And the quality of the stereo electronics surpasses anything you would see today. I’ll post a picture below. Here’s the text though of some research I dug up for the products… some history.

Silver Pioneer: 800-Series Receivers

Pioneer SX-828

The SX-828 was introduced in 1972 and was offered again in 1973. It was a higher power version of the SX-727, having 60 watts per channel, RMS. It featured six toggle switches to control certain functions, instead of the push buttons used on the SX-727. The SX-828 was Pioneer’s top of the line receiver in 1972 and 1973. Its performance specifications were only slightly better than those of the SX-727. Pioneer believed in using real walnut veneers and solid walnut trim, one of the pleasures of owning a receiver like this. List price for the SX-828 in 1972 was $429.95, but jumped to $469.95 in ’73. The hefty construction of this receiver with extensive use of steel in its chassis resulted in a shipping weight of 32 pounds.

A very complete summary of the unit with copious amount of photos. Yeah! Hipster porn!

Vintage Audio Online: Pioneer SX-828 Receiver

 

Beirut

Well, I’m finally getting around to producing some writing on my first weeks living in Lebanon. I think I’ve finally been here long enough to begin to rationalize and crystalize some thoughts, perceptions, and observations about this place. There’s definitely still a part of me that isn’t entirely geographically-oriented to the fact that I’m actually, physically residing in Beirut, Lebanon. I think its jus the whole time/distance thing… that I could be in Europe in a couple of hours, and in Damascus or Cairo in even less time. It’s funny though, I came here in the hope that I’d be able to find some answers to some of the questions I had been coming across in my studies at university, and from personal interest in general. But now, I’m even more confused about the Middle East than I was before. But I’m defiitely not disenchanted or disaffected, which is a good thing, I suppose. When people ask me how Lebanon is, the first thing that always jumps to mind is the desire to simply state that this place is freaking nuts and crazy and insane. And I don’t meant that in a negative way at all, more in the sense that things operate in a completely different way here, in comparison to the Western world. The pulse of Lebanon and the Arab world beats at a different pace. I think I like vibrating on the Beiruti frequency. There’s a certain, definite thrill to this place, that manifests itself well outside and beyond the confines of the original political drama and theatrics I came here to witness. It’s exhilarating to be able to stand up through the sun roof of an Infiniti FX35 while careening down the highway at 90+ mph blasting music and feeling the rush of air so fast I can barely open my eyes. Or being able to drink in the back seat of a the car. Or narrowly avoiding running into other cars on the highway. This is sort of what I’m hinting at when I describe this place as insane and crazy. Or take my living situation for example… I sort of indirectly assumed that I’d be getting a dorm room with a view facing campus and thus the Mediterranean Sea… Allah is in my room everyday, 5 times a day…. like a giant scatter plot… muslims on paper

A Revelation

So I’ve been thinking lately a lot about what I want to do with my life. I suppose that’s because I do a lot of sitting. And a lot of thinking. Actually, about 9 hours of it per day to be precise. Sitting in front of a computer monitor, occasionally working on excel spreadsheets. Gazing bleary-eyed over endless lists of number, and profits, and figures… that I really don’t give a damn for.

I’ve realized this weekend that I’ve been indirectly trying to answer the question of what I want to do next with my life for the past few months now. It’s strange… I always thought I was somehow above that question. I’ve known I’d wanted to be a Foreign Service Officer for the State Department since my Junior year of Highschool.

Part of me still does.

As an American I still no doubt feel a duty-bound obligation to uphold the Republic of my Founding Fathers’ creation. And though government and civil service are among the most distinguishing and faithful ways of doing so, there are no doubt other ways. Was not the Fourth Estate created and enshrined in our Constitution as a check on government power? The Fourth Estate, regardless of its current circumstance and condition, has always been a central part of the American project. And it has played no small part in the history of this country.

When I think back to the courses I took in the three years I spent at the University of Colorado, a few stand apart from the rest in terms of the number of classes I actually attended and the level of energy I invested and devoted. Off the top of my head, the best were an upper-division writing course I took with a focus on Colonialism & Imperialism, from which I produced a massive paper chronicling the history of the European imperial role in the creation of Lebanon. The second, was a course on Global Media as part of a certificate course constructed by my department of International Affairs and CU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication – the International Media Certificate. As a part of this I took a course on Global Media where I began to research the Middle East, and Lebanon again, from the stand point of the media institutions and their evolution in the region. The third course I took that was probably the most interesting of the entire three years I spent at CU, was a course on War and Disaster Reporting. My professor was an Asian-American foreign correspondent, and though his name now eludes me, I remember how fascinating his stories used to be – of reporting from conflict zones around the world. It was a cool class as well – a mix of journalism students and international affairs kids. I miss college.

Anyway, it got me thinking that perhaps this was really where my real interest lay, in the enjoyment of hearing stories and doing the best I could to retell them to friends and family, upon my return home from Lebanon.

There are not many people I know who have had the chance to travel to the Lebanese border with Israel unwittingly participating in a campus organized trip that was a front for none other than, you guessed it, Hezbollah. I mean, it was absolutely fantastic. And I’ve never written of it on here because I feared that the State Department might decline my candidacy for the Foreign Service upon learning that I had not only visited the border with Lebanon’s one and only Islamic Resistance, but also witnessed a military parade arranged by them, complete with armed convoys with weapons and battle hymns.

Like I said though, it was probably one of the highlights of the time I spent there. Same goes for visiting the areas of the country being de-mined, from the 2006 war with Israel, by the Lebanese Army, or more specifically, the Lebanese Mine Action Center, comprised of the Armed Services as well as the U.N. in addition to other NGOs.

Or my visit to the Palestinian Refugee camp at Shatilla, where I spent the day volunteering to tutor at one of the few madrassas for children in the camp. I’ve mentioned this experience before, but basically I spent most of the time learning more Arabic from a sweet girl named Asra than I could teach her English.

But it was amazing. And I don’t have any clue why I left to come home to the States, other than to finish that one pesky science credit left in order to graduate. But otherwise, to put it bluntly, I have no fucking clue.

I simply don’t feel as alive here as I did over there. It’s taken me nearly half a year to realize that. I belong there, and I know it innately. I really don’t care what I end up doing as long as I’m there. I’m sure I’ll be able to figure things out.

I’ve been thinking about the number of people I met there. My frequent chats with the Lebanese grandparent generation. The stories I’d hear about how the demographic makeup of Beirut’s neighborhoods used to look before the Civil War. About the trees from which Gemayzeh street borrows its name. The only trees now in Gemayzeh are those ringed with alcohol bottles and twinkling lights. But I always wondered when I walked down it, whether I was drunk at night, or hungover during the day – what did those trees look like? What fruit did they bear? What was it like waking up in Beirut before 1975 and watching the rays of sunlight glance down through those trees?

I still wonder.

Remains of the Day

From the International Society for Human Rights…

 

The image of Ahmadinejad was around back in 2009 for the protests over the Presidential elections in Iran – always been a favorite – he looks like a scared kitty.

Courtesy Gizmodo – This is What Dictators Are Really Scared About

Here’s a ridiculously awesome video of a solar flare…
Gizmodo: You Have Never Seen The Sun so Close

Another expose of the brutality of Arab regimes…
The Daily Beast: Horrific Libyan Prison Exposed

Money quote…

As the two are talking, a handful of other former prisoners gather around and compare notes, some rolling up sleeves or pant legs to show scars and lumps from the torture they endured. There is a round of morbid laughter when many of them realize they were routinely given the “Hyundai” treatment. Barghati then flashes the other prisoners a quick smile to show off two rows of false teeth, a permanent reminder of his time at the facility. During one interrogation session, Barghati’s hands were cuffed from behind and he was blindfolded. A guard then grabbed the back of the blindfold and rammed his mouth into the edge of a table, knocking out all his front teeth. The guards called that move the “Ray-Ban,” for the brand of sunglasses. “Allah brought us comfort then and Allah is with us now,” Barghati says, raising his voice. “This country will be free.”

Not to make light of such atrocities and gross abuses of human rights, but I recall a scene from The Mummy where they recall how Imhotep was subjected to the “Hyndai” for consorting with the Pharoah’s mistress – basically he was buried alive in a coffin full of scarab beetles. Neither treatment seems particularly appealing.

I’ve been spending some time reading through The Arabist – a new blog I’ve discovered that follows events in the region, so I’ll have some links from there shortly. I may also start writing on here in Arabic, if I can find the time.