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Archive for 2016|Yearly archive page

A Stranger On The Road

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2016 at 8:16 am

I stumbled onto a galaxy that just began to sparkle in a purple, bluey, orangy haze

like a stranger hiding his face behind watery yesterdays

I went walking down a path lit by golden rays

flickering into my soul the rays  burned my black heart into silvery white- Immortal affrays –

-Infinite my eyes were agazed by the Creators maze

I fell fell fell deeper into this maze and there he was Hendrix picking about the purple haze

“Are you experienced?” he asked me – I said, ask me that a little bit later Mr. Jimmy ablaze

and I kept on space-walkin and met a light named Dylan who kept on singin about the

universe explodin,

He kept on singin and pickin-“I’m just goin down the road feelin bad trying to  heaven before they close the doors.” I said save me a seat when you get there Mr. Dylan cuz I wasn’t  the only villain that a they was a killin-

Ahh – “you’re time star acrobat!” So I put on my straw hat and went deeper down the slippery spacy glassy road slipping and sliding, sipping and smokin- smokin and sippin-

I went lookin for the one who molded my hearts soul by His incantations  written in an ancient scroll housed in the  sacred tree in a land called Galilee-

You don’t fool me man – I got a thousand years of hurt on my hand – So I’ll just rolly roll on down to that pearly sea in old Galilee –

Where a man disguised as the yellow sun – said he’s got everyone out done  by a smile and a verse he rehearsed fables with God and  made ancient miracles-

– “beware of the serpent oh yee stranger on the glassy road to danger, “-

I said “Don’t you worry-  I  ain’t no agent of hurry- So I said farelly well – hopefully no visiting a land called hell.

—Hey it’s that picker again! He’s six stringin about some Southern green eyed bell who fell straight from hell into his lap -she scratched that sorry sap, leaving him wearing some yellow death cap that read L.O.V.E. and she stung him like a beastly bee-

See ya Mr. Dylan I ain’t hanging around for another killin –

Where is she ? where is she ? He kept on singin-

But I took back to the galaxy path that kept on pressin with glittery  words of the young and smitten- “We don’t no about transcendence!” The youngin keep on runnin n runnin.

Enough!

Time to draw back to a earthly time with a new rhyme – I’m going to buy a soda at the five n dime- Oooh baby baby- “She wore a raspberry beret!” whispered a short little leathery man – I said ok ok, which way???

Prince told me that she’d gone gone deep astray – Story of my life brother – I’ll see you again when the oceans turn grey- So I kept on a rollin down that ancient glassy road strollin, consolin my heart from the bruisin- He said, man just keep on cruisin!

See ya! We out of this redoubt! the music kept hummin grummin until I reached a place called Holly glitz and glamour who doa whoodda Hollywooda-

I stopped dead in my tracks – taking out a written pack of stories about a girl named black, she lived in Echo Park and took off one day with a nap sack,  playing nick knack patty wack!

I’m here to make my mark! – get out of my way and let me spark a write about a boy  who lived in the dark – he only came out as a hand reached in to lead him to the safety of the arc –

Is this the city of neon lights ? She said yes – Go on – you’re a welcome in the spotlights-

I think I’ll take a seat inside the Grauhman Chinese missy missy! – thanks for the comfort of your warm and loving kiss wissy.

Go ! Go  ! Go! You got this !

So I said ok farelly well – wait for me  by the golden well ?

She smiled so swell- She ain’t no infidel!

She blew me a kiss and I said be right back with Mr. Golden Oscar missy miss!

By Faisal Ansari – 12-24-2016

Libya- The Tears of Men

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2016 at 2:01 am

Los Angeles-May 28, 2011

By Faisal Ansari

“Listen to Me, said the Demon, as he placed his hand upon my head. ‘The region of which I speak is a dreary region in Libya, by the borders of the river Zaire, a there is no quiet there, nor silence.” Edgar Allan Poe.

Abdallah Omiesh, A Libyan American filmmaker, far from the streets of his Venice-Los Angeles home, dawning the persona of a futuristic Mad Max style film maker, with the camera as his weapon, found himself wandering into what he described as a Libyan-“Beyond Thunderdome” landscape something like inside of a Mad Max-Road Warrior movie where hundreds upon hundreds of people were making an Exodus to the border trying to escape Gaddafi mercenaries.

The uprising had just started and there were aid convoys everywhere near the border. He came upon a people, he said that he thought never really existed in reality. “We are a people who do not surrender, we either win or we die!” Libyan freedom fighters chanted in poetic form the sayings of the legendary “Lion of the Desert” Omar Mukhtar (1862-1931), who led Libyan forces against invading Italians during the early part of the 20th century. Omeish recalls what he witnessed and heard while filming from the Libyan front where the pro-democracy forces were illuminating the revolution with poetic enchantment and a fever of hope for the Libyan people. “I used to think Brave Heart was a myth, and those heroes were no where to be found, but these people had it and it was impressing and I felt proud, and they gave me courage because they kept on saying what the legendary Omar Mouktar said “We are a people who do not surrender.” All of them would say this everywhere, and this was the sentiment of the pro-democracy forces.” Omeish recalled while following the Libyan freedom fighters between the border of Egypt to Brega, a city situated on the southerly point of the Mediterranean Sea. “I tasted freedom for the first time in 42 years, I want this for my children,” exclaimed one freedom fighter to Omeish.

As Filmaker Omeish touched ground on Libyan soil, where he was born and played as a child in the mid-1970s before immigrating to the U.S. at a young age with this parents; he was not a visitor this time but an objective filmmaker on a mission to report the truth, however, as a journalist and a human being, he was well aware of what was happening inside Libya for so long where the idea of freedom was a shot in the dark for the Libyan people during the 42 year reign of dictator Gaddafi, but now they were making a stand, and the Libyan people new they would face the iron fist of a Gaddafi. “As I went in to Libya, I saw a new breed of Libyans, a genuine movement with smiles on the faces of the people, a vibe of love transcending all socio-political and trible lines, it was the taste of freedom for the first time,” Omeish recounts during his first days on the ground covering the revolution.

According to Omeish, the uprising was the first time journalists and filmmakers could report without any suppression or barriers from the Gaddafi regime, at least within the “pro-democracy” held areas. He was not asked to present any type of identification while walking the streets of Libya nor were there any Gaddafi checkpoints. There were rumors about mercenaries and Gaddafi loyalists who were kidnapping and killing journalists, and people in the free areas suggested that Omeish not go out and cover dangerous parts of the conflict near the bordering towns of Ajdabiyah and Ras Lanuf. 

 In the crowd, however, there was a sense of relief that they might be able to escape Gaddafi forces. Pro-democracy movements in the form of rallies cried out to journalists and filmmakers to “Come and help, come and help us,” ordinary Libyans calling on foreign reporters to report and let the world know what Gaddafi was doing to them. “It was like a tech-tonic shift that hit the Arab world and it was irreversible, the entire region was engulfed in this shift,” said Omeish. Similarly, as he continued on into the heart of the city, he witnessed a Libya that was now completely turned upside down and within that world of turmoil and struggle for freedom, ordinary Libyans were gifted with genuine smiles on their faces, a vibe of love that transcended all socio-political and religious lines except for Gaddafi sympathizers, those promoting an anti-dictatorship rule were now full of hope and happy to be able to actually speak out about the hurt they harbored for so long under a non-democratic ruler.

For the first time, Libyan citizens were able to criticize the government and speak their minds about Gaddafi, about not having the right to self-expression or even to express sadness about the disappearance of fathers and sons who were taken away by Gaddafi government forces by the drop of a hat because they simply asked for their needs to be met. “It seemed a miracle for the people to be able to speak out because the fear that gripped them was like a spell, but then, there was an explosion of expression,” Omeish recounts and also remembers when ordinary people were saying to him, “I want to tell you this story…” and they would also want to share their art work, their poetry and songs which symbolized their aspirations of freedom and their discontent about not having had it for 42 years. Omeish witnessed parents being excited for their children who they figured would not have to suffer as they did under dictatorship. One man, who was shot in the leg for protesting, told Omeish, “I’m glad I lived to see this day I was able to say to my children, that ‘I didn’t approve of Gaddafi!”

As days passed on, Omeish said that the people continued to reiterate the idea of freedom and it became a common goal for all Libyans. Self-Expression was at the heart of this movement and was conveyed through a creativity that Omeish had never witnessed before on previous trips to Libya. “The struggle for freedom is the same concept for all human beings, they didn’t have it and that’s why I couldn’t relate to them before this revolution.” He said that for Libyans, this fight was for the entire Arab world and not just for Libya. Anyone who ever spoke before this was either killed or disappeared by the Gaddafi’s regime,” said Omeish. “Oppression takes away respect, dignity, self thought and in the process the people become like sheep, they don’t know where to go,” Omeish told.

Moving through the different towns, Omeish witnessed a plethora of creativity that compelled ordinary Libyans to join the fight for freedom and they began to understand that it was worth dying for as well. After a small taste of freedom, there was a sense of courage to hold onto to it and Omeish remembers reflecting about where and why this courage was hidden for so long. “I always wanted to help Libyans but while filming there now, they helped me instead and taught me the values that go along with the price for freedom which includes security, peace of mind and self-preservation.” This time, for Libyans, it was one people united with one goal in mind and one loud voice to express it. They were now flying the  old Libyan flag of the pre-Gaddafi era across the rooftops of homes from one town to the next. On the streets, citizens painted many colors to express emotions not to mention the poetry in the form of songs that were sung on every free street corner (Ya Be-lad-dee)( oh My country) enveloping the country and compelling them to decide their own destiny.

Out in the ruins of despair, Libyans knew there was no turning back this time and the drive was captured in the vision of the people of Libya who held onto the rope of  hope and compassion and unity. Omeish describes seeing citizens cleaning the streets, fixing light posts, repainting buildings, feeding the needy and taking pride in their lives once again. He recalls that they knew they were the last generation to live under fear till it would disappear by the citizens armed with cell phone cameras and a sketchy Internet connection in the form of rigged up satellite dishes on various secret roof-top locations across the country. “It was all or nothing this time,” Omeish remembers the look in the eyes of the grandmother, the young man off to join the legion of heroes to fight Gaddafi’s bought off foreign fighters. Omeish stated that none of that existed during Gaddafi’s regime and any thought of creativity or anti-government sentiment was crushed. Because of that, people did not take pride in their country or in their own lives. “Everything they spoke of, read about, thought about or heard about was fed to them by the Gaddafi’s regime. “Who would feel excited about their lives when it is controlled by a tyrant?” said Omeish. The people complained to Omeish that Gaddafi wanted everything to be about him. In turn, his narcissism created suspicion and mistrust between the people and they couldn’t convey their feelings or thoughts to the next guy who may have been a Gaddafi loyalist. “No one said anything, why would they?” Omeish exclaimed.

“I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans, I’ve been ten-thousand miles into the mouth of a graveyard, and it’s a hard-rains a gonna fall,” Omeish echoes the words of Bob Dylan through his description of the pain that he also witnessed contrasted with the excitement of freedom. Libyans were used to repressing their emotions of pain because of the fear of being reported to the regime. Fathers, brothers, sons, uncles had vanished by the single regime knock on the door. “I am one of them, my uncle was killed by Gaddafi’s men, and the other one went to prison for four years for nothing” Omeish tells.

While following Libyan freedom fighters, Omeish ended up covering the town of Adjdabia and Braygah, where the anti-Gaddafi forces would win a battle then lose another. “It was dangerous to cover the conflict but NATO stepping in made a big change,” Omeish said. There were also Gaddafi agents everywhere who would kill civilians and because of them, there was a fear of staying out too long. People would speed in their cars very quickly to avoid being shot at by Gaddafi loyalists.

The Freedom fighters, Omeish recalls, would perform song and dance numbers in the form of poetic outbursts or a war cry of sorts. They called it the “Sabiya”(circle dance), in which they would form a circle and clap in unison. One person would say a line of poetry and then the next would reply in the form of a rebutle song. “You call us rats Gaddafi! ‘We will show you who we really are,’ they would sing. When Gaddafi threatened to kill Libyans and hunt them out “street by street,” the freedom fighters would sing, “ street by street, Gaddafi we are coming for you.” Omeish remembers hearing these poetic rebuttle style jeers whenever he encountered the freedom fighters. It was a sort of moral booster.

Omeish was struck with moments of vulnerability and remembers vividly the day of March 19th 2011 when Gaddafi forces started bombing the city of Benghazi where he was staying at his parent’s summer home. “I heard missiles flying overhead just before sunrise; they sounded like noises that monsters would make in the movies,” Omeish recounts that he could hear the sounds of the missiles getting closer and closer like a heartbeat. He was with his relatives and could the see fear in their eyes. He went to the rooftop and remembers seeing smoke rising near the gates of the city. Then, suddenly, nearly seven cars with an ambulance following raced by his house and that is when he realized that he was in a dangerous situation. The shelling was getting louder. The Southern part of Benghazi where Gaddafi forces were entering was near his aunts home. By now, the missiles were getting louder and were whistling overhead. He and his relatives including some extended relatives hid in part of the house that housed a room within a room to avoid being hit by the missiles. “You could see the fear in everyone’s eyes and now the walls were vibrating and AK-47 gun fire erupted just outside his house. “There were no weapons in the house and I only relied on prayer and this made me feel vulnerable like the life got sucked out of me,” Omeish remembers.” “We realized the people on the streets who had automatic rifles were holding Gaddafi forces back. “This went on for five hours, five to six hours of terror,” Omeish said.

The fighting stopped and the rebels re-grouped. That’s when NATO and French forces began bombing Gaddafi Forces. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the NATO bombings,” said Omeish. He went out later to view the NATO bombing grounds and there he saw huge artillery destroyed on the out skirts. He realized that thousands of lives were saved from a massacre had France not started bombing Gaddafi forces. “God sent France at the right time,” Omeish said. Some of Omeish’s Libyan civilian journalist comrades who were part of the Libyan media movement were killed that day. He remembers seeing a reporter friend that morning on Al Jazeera. “They paid the ultimate price,” Omeish said.” “I wasn’t able to thank him before that morning came,” he said with regret.

The next day was a day of burials and Omiesh recounts that it was a hard day because he witnessed seeing Libyan men crying in public. This struck a chord with him because that site is something very rare and uncommon to see because as he said, “Libyan men do not cry in public.” “I tried not to pay attention and focused on filming and my camera.”

Through the wreckage and the rumbling of gunfire, and the atmosphere of hope, Omeish described observing the hurt in the eyes of the people, which is what he continuously sensed along his journey. While filming on the outskirts of Benghazi, it was the story of 15 year-old girl that resonated with him the most. She told the story of her father, who’s picture she held in her hands. Her father was murdered during a prison protest where he was held as a political prisoner along thousands of other Libyan men vilified as anti-Gaddafi political prisoners. The prison, “Abu-Sleem,” the equivalent of Folsom Prison, yet worse because of the non-existent checks and balances that the American prison system adheres to.

If a Libyan is sent to Abu-Sleem prison, it is like an automatic death sentence without a 12 man jury. The 15 year old girl recounted that her father had taken part in a protest with some 1200 other mostly political prisoners who were asking for human rights and to be treated with decency. The prison gaurds, however, rounded them up in the court-yard and gunned them down in a matter of 3 hours. This incident took place in the mid-90s and is widely known in Libya as one of many tales of Gaddafi’s acts of terror upon his people. The regime contacted the families about their loved ones being “deceased” nearly ten-years later around 2005. “I experienced raw emotions from the girl for the first time,” Omeish remembers.” He said she wasn’t able to tell this story before in public because she was scared of the regime. “I saw and heard a lot of these stories and they were now only beginning to surface as they were not told for so long.” Omeish said that not being able to tell these stories is what hurt the people the most.

According to Omeish, Gaddafi was trying to quickly buy out people within the resistance movement since the uprising in Tunis and Egypt as he was scared of what would happen had the Libyan people gathered against his rule. The people were scared, but this time, Omeish said something broke the chain of fear, some type of divine intervention that propelled the people to suspend all fear and rise up. In the 80’sGaddafi was hanging people in the streets and leaving their bodies as showcases to create fear amongst the people especially those that had any inkling of thought to join the resistance. The youth, however, knew that freedom was on the line and if they didn’t make a stand now, they would never be able to muster the courage to make a stand. “They didn’t want to end up with the same fate of their fathers who said nothing for so long,” Omeish said. “What I witnessed was the barriers of fear were broken for the first time and there was no turning back because freedom was on the line,” he said.

When asked about how the visual experiences resonated with him as a human being and not a filmmaker, Omeish recounts that it was one of happiness and one of sadness. “The suffering people come to you and they vent out to us reporters,” he said, “they took me as a venting machine and put all their hopes in me.” Omeish said he wasn’t sure he could convey their message with his camera. “There were a lot of shoulda, coulda, woulda moments while covering the war,” he said. “I felt guilty coming back; a part of me feels guilty about not still being there covering the war.” Omeish remembers that he had to focus on filming and detach himself from the images and this was difficult for him because of his Libyan ancestory. “If I didn’t do it right, it happened instinctively,” he said. “ I remember a journalist once told me that ‘your not one of them, and focus on the message you need to convey and how to get it out.’ The journalist also told him that he wasn’t aloud to sympathize with those he covered. “ I did not live under the oppressive regime, how could I?” Omeish said.

During the journey, Omeish remembers thinking that the situation related to the world in the context of the past and the new generations because it came down to the basic need of preserving the human spirit. He said that no human being should live under oppression. It was amazing to him to witness how the spirit of the Libyan people had been destroyed by being locked up for so many years. “ It’s like an eagle that is chained down, or a lion that has strength but deprived of it,” he said. What he learned from the Libyan front was that society can never flourish under oppression but when people see hope, it is an explosion of emotions and thoughts and that is what he remembers about the people. “This is a lesson that oppression should not be aloud anywhere for the coming generations,” Omeish said.

Omeish remembers seeing young men his age and younger who looked like old men and they were surprised to see him in such good health. He remembers one young man telling him “you must be living a good life,” because Omeish looked younger then his age.” Omeish remembers that the people also had a great sense of humor even though Gaddafi’s totalitarian laws sucked the life out of them, but despite that, the people were still cleaning the streets with a new national pride never to be seen before. They sensed love after 42 years of isolation. The smiles were real Omeish told, even though there were Gaddafi loyalists who were paid off to demonstrate against the revolution. Yet now, there was this icing on the cake but they couldn’t eat the cake just yet. Omeish said that there was always a great sense of hope but people still had some fear in their eyes. Behind the fear, however, there was more hatred towards Gaddafi, Omeish recalls. “Everyone wants justice in their own way from Gaddafi an immense amount of hatred existed because of the torture, random beatings of civilians by regime forces, the injustices such as not supplying the people with jobs,” he said. “If people spoke out, Gaddafi reacted with such terror.”

Omeish recounts public opinion on the streets after the NATO led bombings against Gaddafi forces. He said there was not one person that wasn’t happy and relieved when NATO forces began to bomb. The overwhelming pressure and fear was gone. “I would hear Gaddafi fighter planes overhead still flying, but luckily most of his pilots began defecting and even ejected from their planes. It was one of the happiest days of my life,” Omeish said.

The human face of the global conflict was something that most Libyan journalists agreed was only covered to a certain extent by the international media community. “If it wasn’t for the youth led YouTube, Facebook and mobile phone movement, most people would not know what was really happening,” Omeish said. The Western media focused more on the “Rebels” rather than the Libyan people he said. Questions such as “Is Al Qaida here?” were asked by the media. and that was upsetting and set a wrong tone for Libyans who were being forced out of their homes and systematically murdered by Gaddafi forces. The Western world, he said, did not know what was truly happening in Libya.

“The Libyan people were not starving for food, but for human emotion and self expression, a basic human element,” he said.  “What will be difficult in the coming years is that Libyan independence is like a new born baby. My fear is that they may become too reliant on others to take care of them,” Omeish said regarding the road to independence. He said that they’ve had a small taste of it and that Libyans need to remember that taste by being a people of justice. To create laws, a constitution, a democratic process with free speech for all. He said Libyans shouldn’t allow the next generation to wait 42 years and allow a dictator like Gaddafi to suppress them. “Most of all there has to be a sense of accountability for rulers. Rulers cannot be dictators,” Omeish said. He also told Libyans to make sure that they do not wait to establish rules because the longer they wait the harder it will be to regulate corruption.

In the end, leaving Libya was not easy for Omeish who felt sad about it. He felt that the job had not been done yet. “The only way to cope with leaving is knowing that if I leave now, I can make this film and have the people of the world see it,” Omeish said. Initially, he was going to stay and film the entire war till the end. However, his producer told him to get out earlier but he couldn’t leave because of his inner drive to stay and cover the story. Since leaving, Omeish has filed his footage in the form of a small film called “Libya Through The Fire,” with the Al Jazeera station and it can be viewed on YouTube. The longer version of his own documentary will be released soon and is called “Be-lad-dee” which is Arabic for “My Country.” “Some of the people I filmed from the movement died. You see them and their not there anymore; the journey resonated with me after I left Libya. There were rumors of false hopes and truths flying around everywhere,” Omeish commented regarding the confusion that still griped the country as he left. His journey, a fable of freedom and hope lay somewhere between the gates of heaven and hell.