Abu Risha, he dead.

This is a fascinating al-Jazeera news story about the new “U.S.-Friendly” Sunni alliance in Anbar, the now-dead sheikh supposed to have been in charge of the alliance, and the inevitable money and power game behind that show.

Part I riffs on Apocalypse Now in a very heavy-handed way, appropriately so.

Friday, and we’re still in Amman…

hezbollabaq boy

The gold standard for executive authority in this world is clear. If you’re the top guy, you get guarded by the U.S. Secret Service. This is the only explanation I can find for this picture. Here’s the leader of Hezbollah, fanatical turbanist group. He’s in full Iranian-style mullah/politician getup, but his guards look like Jean Reno Eurotrash versions of Dubbya’s heavies, all the way down to the dark glasses and the expensive suits.

The effect for me is more Bad Hip-Hop Video than Imposing World Leader, but I bet it plays well back home.

L’apres midi d’un dorque

Idling at Kéan with Mike (used to have a big black beard Mike) today, I saw a stream of Newport Beach stereotypes including:

  • 85-year-old man with perfectly trimmed white beard parking a brand new $200,000 200mph Porsche Turbo sports car, which I then observed to have an automatic transmission
  • A young woman of classic magazine cover head-turning beauty accompanied by two rich and tough-looking beefy older guys. The three of them were having a business meeting, no doubt about her career. They toasted one another with Bubble-Up. The two guys looked serious the way Mafia guys look serious. She looked depressed, which in someone with her looks comes out as a pouty, puppyish yearning look. She smiled once, revealing 47 very bright white teeth.
  • This woman’s Ghost of Newport Past showed up, too: a 14-year-old future model, all dressed up in fluffy sweater and tight jeans and slightly-too-grownup heels. Same perfect model face. Her mother was identical and 35, with a very hard and focused look to her.
  • An assortment of very large expensive cars with grilles on the front that looked like BIG MONSTER FANG TEETH MOUTHS. Each of these cars was larger than the others. Several very large diesel trucks driven by small, finely-built men in pressed jeans are included in this category.
  • One 80something gentleman all covered in liver spots and combover who was trying to guide in his friend Mike to the place. He kept getting the names of things wrong, and telling Mike that he wanted to meet him at Plums but they had an hour wait “even after I told them who you ARE”. There were at least five of these calls. Two other people showed up to sit with Liver Spots but Mike never showed. His dog, an ancient cocker spaniel named Annie, was doing about as well as he was and kept walking into things like brick walls and trees and then harrumphing.
  • An outrrrrrageously Italian employee of Kéan. This guy was maybe 30 and looked a lot like Antonio Banderas. He was wearing the kind of lacy, frilly shirt that only guys from the Mediterranean can wear. He was slightly sweaty and had a huge 500,000 watt grin and whooshy airy hair that he held back with a headband. I don’t know how he carried it off, but he was every housewife’s dream European waiter/lover. Jean-Luc!

In which my out is browned

Bad: Power outage that took my my DSL, because apparently the momentary outage did something lame to local telecom systems.

Good: None of my own equipment was damaged.

Truly Excellent: A phone call to my DSL provider reached a real human who was an authentic tech support person, who knew exactly what to do and instantly fixed the problem by regombulating or simonizing the circuit in some way.

Speakeasy is not the cheapest DSL, but once again I’m reminded of how much it’s worth it.