Saturday, July 08, 2006

the reason for my absence

i was away for the past three weeks, and i have photographic proof

in the past i had compared an area of beirut to bloomingdale in its transitional state of gentrification

that neighborhood has skyrocketed and is now the place to be. unlike our beloved bloomingdale. bars. shops. restaurants. the tiny street of gemayzeh is jam packed. quite astonishing. things seems to change much faster in beirut. well physical change, anyway. and oh yeah, luxury condos are going up in this quaint low rise historic area. plus its safe.

coming back to bloomingdale, i see that we still dont have a restaurant. no bars. no public places for families. i see the drug dealers. i see litterers and trash. i read about the recent murder and other muggings. i see men sleeping on the streets. i hear people yelling at the top of there lungs. i see guys sitting on the curb all day long. i see others on their stoop drinking all day long. i read that a candidates car got torched. a female neighbor just got assaulted by three kids on bikes in front of my house.

at least my neighbors are still great.


  1. Your pictures of Beirut are beautiful. Though I'm wondering if comparing Beirut w/Washington DC as a whole would be more level than comparing it w/Bloomingdale. Are there neighborhoods of Beirut that remain more violent/less-developed than the area that now has restaurants, bars & condos?

  2. i had thought that the neighborhood to neighborhood comparison was more on par. On the city level Beirut and DC are very different.

    There are not really violent neighborhoods in Beirut. There is a Palestian refugee camp, Sabra and Shatila, which is the worst place i've seen on earth. i find it difficult to even comprehend. There are poor neighborhoods, and while a comparison might be made to the economic disinvestment in dc to the war torn areas of beirut, i dont believe it flies. Our drug war was no war. our poverty doesn't touch theirs.

    The economic disparity is much worse there. There are virtually no social services. It is not cosmopolitan. Beirut is the most liberal city in the entire middle east and a center of culture. Most people live in the city, as opposed to our area.

    the neighborhood comparrison is stronger i believe. Gemayzeh street was a working class mainly rowhouse neighborhood that began seeing an influx of money and interest a few years ago. the locals were worried about this change. property values soared. renovations were happening like mad. parking became an issue. religious divides are their racism and as this predominetly christian neighborhood was welcoming throngs of Sunni's and Druze, and Shiite's, many locals were very concerned about the newcomers.

    the local markets are beginning to be not good enough as people crave supermarkets. rent prices are forcing some out of the area.

    generally speaking property values in beirut are higher than in dc.

  3. and hey liz,

    how are you liking the hood?

  4. Thanks for asking. I am very happy here. I often count my blessings that I moved to Bloomingdale and not another part of DC. The past 5 months have been full of pleasant surprises, and I'm looking forward to the Yellow Line, Parker Flats & Heller's Bakery. There have been a few not so pleasant surprises, too, as the neighborhood knows, though I am comforted by the close-knit nature of the community. People genuinely care for one another, as was evident at the vigil for the late Mr. Darnaby last week. Granted, things aren't perfect, though what place is perfect.

  5. Liked the Beirut pics. Happy that you're back.

  6. Do you think sometime you could share your thoughts about what is happening now in Lebanon? I am very saddened by the news of attacks on the airport and Beirut. It's hard to believe you were there just a few days ago.

  7. liz, whats happening now in beirut is awful. my brother landed at the airport an hour before the runways were bombed, and I doubt he'll be able to leave anytime soon. sean & i were planning on picking him up monday night from dulles, but we'll just have to wait and see.

  8. I hope your brother is OK, as it looks like things are getting worse. I've been trying to follow the news on TV and in the papers. ..

  9. thankfully he and his parents made it out of beirut this morning.

    still stuck in the country, but at least they are in a town in the mountains outside the city.

    thanks for asking.