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    A few favorites


    1. 'Homeland' in My Home Land 

    GQ - 25 OCTOBER 2012

    Because I call Beirut home, and because an American TV show called Homeland won a bunch of awards and is apparently depicting my town, and moreover, because this depiction focuses on Hamra street, which I cross a dozen times a day en route to my butcher, baker, gym, my child's school, and the cafe where I write, and because this depiction is apparently ham-handed enough to have enraged the minister of tourism here, who is spending millions attempting to lure tourists back to a beautiful and tragic city—and added to all that, because the show was originally an Israeli TV pilot, an agony and irony for a people still technically at war with that neighboring country and, further, because the Beirut scenery was reportedly shot on location in the Israeli towns of Tel Aviv and Haifa—I want to tell you about a day on Hamra street, last Friday, when a bomb exploded just a few blocks from where I had lunch.

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    2. The little things my father would never do again

    SALON - 11 AUGUST 2011

    I entered the darkened shop, a wreck of a man with an unkempt beard, and the barber flipped a switch. Lights hummed, a singer began to croon from a crackling radio, and a steel fan creaked to life. What did I want? I had no idea. I had stopped caring months ago, and my face was a wall of curls.

    The barber nodded. With a sigh, I took a seat, and he wet my head with a spray bottle. It made sense at this point to close my eyes. Then my head began to spin. I was hung over, and the foul funk of grief burned in my throat.

    Three months earlier, the doctors in Florida said my dad was very sick. On the X-ray, you could see a ghostly starfish wrapped around his neck, tightening around pipes connecting head to heart.

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    3. Holiday in Baghdad

    SLATE - 29 NOVEMBER 2010

    Rising to stretch my legs, I surveyed my fellow travelers, who had just endured a 3 a.m. flight to Baghdad. Among the Iraqis, there was a preponderance of plastic and/or leopard-print overnight bags. The men had big mustaches and weary eyes. The women were generally in their 30s, wearing colored headscarves, some of them no doubt coming back to Iraq for the first time in years. The plane smelled of sweat and perfume.

    I felt weak in the knees. An Iraqi girl sized me up with a hardened glare. What did you expect? her eyes seemed to inquire, and I let my head fall.

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