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By Joanna Fuhrman and Toni Simon:


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Selections from “Friend of the Dead” originally appeared in Paperbag, selections from “How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You” originally appeared in Talisman, and selections from “The Ruler of Rusted Knees” originally appeared in Posit. These selections appear here today with permission from the poet.

Artists’ Statement: In our mixed-media literary project, Egyptian gods, stripped of their context and role, wander various New York City neighborhoods trying to figure out where they belong, how to make sense of what they have lost, and how to get along with one another.

In the first step of our project, Toni Simon constructs three-dimensional, small-scale figurines out of paper, modeled on Egyptian gods. She then paints them with abstract, graphic details. We then take the little gods out into different neighborhoods and take hundreds of photographs of them. We select eight to ten images, which become the basis for a series of poems written by Joanna Fuhrman.

So far, we have created picture/poem serial combinations in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Chinatown, the Reversible Destiny Studio, Red Hook and Gowanus. Parts of the project have appeared online in Paperbag, Talisman, and Posit, and in print in the 100th issue of Hanging Loose.

Joanna Fuhrman is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Pageant (Alice James Books 2009). Her fifth book, The Year of Yellow Butterflies, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press in 2015. Recent poems appear in The Believer, Court Green, The Brooklyn Rail, and Puerto del Sol. In 2011, Least Weasel published a beautifully printed chapbook, The Emotive Function. She teaches poetry writing at Rutgers, SLC Writer’s Village and in private workshops. Her essays on teaching appear regularly in Teachers & Writers Magazine.

Toni Simon is a multimedia artist living in Brooklyn. Her illustrated book of prose poetry, Earth After Earth, was published by Lunar Chandelier Press in 2012. Over 80 of her illustrations appear in Contradicta: Aphorisms (Green Integer, 2010) by Nick Piombino. She has exhibited her drawings at the Drawing Center and at the AIR Gallery in NYC.

Editor’s Note: What’s not to love? Two stellar artists in collaboration, pairing visual art and poetry. Egyptian gods wandering the streets of New York, searching for life’s meaning. Unique, hand-crafted images. And the words. Yes. The words. After all, this is the Saturday Poetry Series, and as unique as this concept is, it would not be here if it weren’t for the words. “Be honest / like language // is dishonest.” “I am not afraid of you / if you’re not afraid of me.” “One can see through / more than glass.” “You can stand by the window all day, / but you won’t become a window.” “In the beginning, we didn’t need to be friends with all / the parts of ourselves.” These reflections, offered in the guise of meditations of fallen gods, are truly a reflection of ourselves.

Want to read more by Joanna Fuhrman and Toni Simon?
Joanna Fuhrman Official Website
Toni Simon Official Blog

Incomplete Thoughts on Wisconsin and Political Enthusiasm

Incomplete Thoughts on Wisconsin and Political Enthusiasm

by Okla Elliott (with photos by Jenna Bowen)

“In Kant’s philosophy of history, crisis or tension is necessary for human progress. He is pessimistic about individual success[es] but confident about mankind.” —Sidney Axinn, “Kant, Authority, and the French Revolution”

Much was made in leftist circles of the fact that an Egyptian protestor purchased a pizza online to help feed the protestors in Wisconsin—and rightly so; it was a touching and telling moment. The international solidarity and the shared humanity this gesture showed are truly inspiring. But aside from the feel-good aspect, not much else has been discussed about it, which is in fact indicative of a larger gap in our discussion of recent world events. There have been some minor gestures at connecting the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Greece, France, and Wisconsin, but no serious theoretical investigation has yet been undertaken. This is not entirely a bad thing, since there are moments when action is called for, not theorizing. That said, however, mass movements that do not have a (self-)critical or theoretical component have a habit of either failing or turning into things almost as bad as what they sought to depose. READ MORE

The Trouble With Egypt

The Trouble With Egypt

by Karim Abuawad

Since the night the Tunisian people forced their dictator to flee the North African country, I’ve been hearing people anticipating that the same fate would fall on the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. In fact, the similarities abound between the situation in Tunisia and in Egypt: Tunisia’s Zain Bin Ali ruled for 23 years, Mubarak has been in power for 29, both of them amassed enormous fortunes, both have created “royal families” that rule so-called republics, both of them have been indifferent to the high level of unemployment (especially among highly qualified people and university graduates), and, finally, both had governments which for years have been described as “governments of businessmen.”

It is also worth mentioning that Egypt and Tunisia are countries that have well developed civil societies that are politically mature. This is important because these ingredients could mean the difference between the establishment of more democratic societies and utter chaos. READ MORE

What Would a New Egypt Look Like?

What Would a New Egypt Look Like?

by Alejandro Moreiras

If Hosni Mubarak vacates his Presidential seat to make way for free elections in Egypt, what would a new government look like?

At the moment the figures most likely to capture a leadership position in such a scenario are Omar Suleiman and Mohamed El Baradei. Suleiman is an old hat, Mubarak just made him Vice-President (a post that did not previously exist) in the hope to appease the massive protesting crowds. People like him, he has the reputation of a moral man, and before these demonstrations he was considered a possibility for succession, he or the son Gamal Mubarak. But as recently as this was, it was another time. In the past two weeks the social and political climate in Egypt has changed dramatically. READ MORE

Andreas Economakis

Yiayia and Boy George (photo by Andreas Economakis)

“Perfect Makeup”

by Andreas Economakis

My grandmother Anastasia, or yiayia as I called her, must have studied Zen. She could spend hours seated motionless in her jewelry store in the Nile Hilton, a geriatric Greek sphinx staring blankly ahead. Overwhelmed by the utter tranquility in her shop, I would escape as often as I could whenever I visited her in the summers, wandering around the dusty and chaotic streets of Cairo for as long as I could stand. I would beat a hasty retreat to the cool sanctuary of the air-conditioned Hilton, with its refreshing “Asir Lemoon” lemonades and overwhelmed pink tourists, only when my feet could carry me no longer through the blazing Saharan heat and pungent city smells.

Cairo has a peculiar odor. Anyone who’s ever visited this ancient bustling city of 17 million or so souls will attest to this. You become aware of the city’s pungency from the very moment the airplane doors crack open on the sizzling tarmac of Cairo International Airport. I’m not a smell specialist, but if you put me in a headlock I guess I’d equate the city’s smells to a batch of ripe tropical fruit fermenting in old petrol smog. The Hilton was a natural haven from all this, a controlled oasis of sorts. Like any desert wanderer, I would invariably end up at the oasis when on the verge of heat stroke. In fact, I think the Hilton’s café was named The Oasis, if my memory serves me right.

There was a bookstore next to my grandmother’s shop and I started buying and feverishly reading anything I could lay my hands on. I would sit in this red and white vinyl chair behind the spotless glass of the jewelry store’s front door for hours, my head buried in Hemingway and Kazantzakis and London and Marquez. Occasionally, I would peak out at the crowds of sweaty tourists that drifted by, chuckling to myself, knowing full well what state the poor sods were in. I’ve never been good at playing salesman and I generally ignored my grandmother’s pleas to help with the odd customers who walked in, preferring my role as family bookworm. My grandmother would yell at me for reading so much, telling me that it was bad for me.

One day, I looked up into the Hilton lobby and saw Boy George walk by. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There he was, in his black robe, jewels, long hair, bangles, make up and signature bowler hat. “Dirty, filthy hippie!” my grandmother blared out, shifting uncomfortably her seat. “I bet he sleeps with dogs!” she added. I stared at my grandmother with wide eyes, not so much surprised at her comment but at the fact that she had moved in her seat. I explained that he was a famous musician, a very rich, dirty filthy hippie. “Really?” she asked all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. My grandmother might have been conservative, but a fool she was not. Visibly excited, she asked me to bring him into the store so she could meet him.

I ran out into the lobby and caught up with Boy right before he went into The Oasis. “You’re Boy George!” I said, eyelashes batting up and down over the big stupid grin that was plastered all over my face. Boy stopped and turned toward me, smiling. A pleasant smell overtook my nostrils. 150 degrees outside but the man smelled like a bouquet of freshly cut flowers. I told him that my grandmother wanted to meet him and pointed to our shop. He courteously followed me in and I made the introductions. Boy’s presence seemed to overwhelm my grandmother. It was as if an alien from planet Zork had stepped into her inner sanctuary. She totally forgot that she wanted to sell him some jewels. The only thing she could think of to say to Boy was that his make-up was perfect. Her own was always too heavy, gooped on as if with a builder’s spatula.

Perhaps feeling awkward at all the silence, Boy smiled and excused himself. My grandmother sprang back to life and asked me to ask him if I could take a photo of the two of them together. Boy said of course and I trained my pocket Hanimex on them, snapping what was to be my first “celebrity” photograph. Boy kissed my breathless grandmother on the cheek and exited with his invisible bouquet of sweet flowers. I ran up to Boy in the lobby to thank him. Right then another member of Culture Club walked up and looked at me with a mischievous look. Then Boy asked me if I wanted to join him and the band for a drink up in his room. They all giggled flirtatiously. I kindly declined and wandered back to my grandmother’s store as Boy and the band headed to the elevators.

“A nice man,” my grandmother said, “even though he dresses and smells like a girl.”

“Yeah,” I replied, my eyes trained on a white poodle that was being led through the lobby toward the elevators by a tiny bellhop in a silly outfit. The bellhop and the poodle followed a giggling Boy and the band into the elevator.

“But you can’t judge a book by its cover,” I added, just as the elevator’s doors closed with a ding.

–Andreas Economakis

This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.

Copyright © 2011, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.

For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.

Omar Khadr disrespecting a normal reality

long time , in a yellow history



much more at 5 am

The scene while autumn starts

here and now

it was ramadan

his new look

old yellow sculpture


“Suddenly, lately, very lately, I realized that I love yellow”.

Omar Khadr, a 19-year-old Egyptian photographer, writer, law student at Alexandria University and a jazz enthusiast.

Editor’s Note: It seemed to me (going through his facebook albums) that he’s obsessed with yellow. When I asked him, he said: “it’s a bit confusing. Yellow is associated with depression and sickness, but it could also be vulgar should you, for example, paint your wall yellow. I find it very expressive of any state. Most of the photos I use yellow filters on have different subject matters; I see yellow in everything: in the face of a laughing little girl or a bustling cityscape. Some find this annoying, while others see it as an Omar Khadr trademark. But in recent photos I’ve distanced myself a little from yellow to avoid being limited by a certain approach and vision that will eventually grow tedious to people.”

Evidently, Omar has no respect for “normal”. None of his photographs pretend to depict “real” colors of “real” life in Alexandria or Cairo. Long time, in a yellow history (1st photo) and old yellow sculpture (10th) have the same subject of Orientalist paintings and photographs; yet, while Orientalist art claims to recreate an exotic reality in paintings and photographs, Omar just puts them through a yellow filter that strips them of every “realistic” quality. There’s nothing fascinating or exotic about an alley in Cairo, it’s as vulgar as any other alley on any given day.

Some photographs were shot in Alexandria, others in Cairo.

Omar Khadr on Flickr.

Omar Khadr, by Youssif Mohi.


Khan el-Khalili market in Cairo. Photograph by Andreas Economakis.


by Andreas Economakis

“Huh, huh,” he laughs, an almost perfect imitation of Beavis.  Or is it Butthead?

We are speeding down a narrow, ultra-busy Cairo street in a small white mini-van, packed in like sweaty, oily sardines.  The scene on the streets is straight out of National Geographic.  Poverty everywhere, barefoot children with cigarettes dangling from their lips, businessmen in gelabias getting their shoes shined, mangy dogs sleeping on car roofs, street vendors hacking fruit in two, cars practically dancing with the pedestrians, squinting policemen clutching AK-47’s, mountains of garbage on every street.

“Look son, they’re all wearing pajamas!” says Bill, the director.

“Huh, huh,” his son replies.

What a hallucinatory experience this must be for them.  Cairo is their first ever trip outside of the continental United States.  They just arrived the night before with the rest of the film crew from LA.  We are barreling out of Cairo into the desert, on our way to St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai desert.

“Towel Heads!” remarks the huh-huh kid.  Why did Bill bring him along?  We are going to be the laughing stock of St. Catherine’s.

On the dusty highway outside of Cairo, Ron, the assistant cameraman, pulls out a handheld GPS unit and starts punching its buttons.

“It can tell us where we are and how fast we’re going,” he tells me all excited, his eyes glued to the little LCD.  Should I tell him that we’re in a small white van in the Egyptian desert, and that the van’s speedometer says we’re doing 110 kilometers per hour?  I shutter and watch my reflection on the minivan window reflecting on the desert.

Three days later, in the Monastery, the huh-huh kid makes a brilliant observation:  “Why are all these Greek dudes wearing robes?  I bet they’re all a bunch of fags!  Huh, huh…”.

I look at him wide eyed, contemplating my response.  Father Daniel saves me from losing my job.  He grabs my arm and tells everyone he needs to show me something.  The two of us end up in the Monastery’s refectory, next to the bakery.  We speak in Greek.

“This place is over 1500 years old and most of your crew is clueless to our ways, our customs, our history,” he tells me.

“They just want to shoot icons and go back home,” I answer, munching the Monastery’s stone-crushed green olives.

He smiles and says: “So be it.  That’s what you’re paying for, I guess.  It’s a shame though, that they don’t even express an interest…”.

Father Daniel takes me to the woodcarving area of the Monastery, a small hut just outside Emperor Justinian’s big walls.  In the hut I meet a young Greek carpenter named Sotos, who is working on a piece of an iconostasis.  His craftsmanship is incredible, his hands effortlessly carving little wooden flowers and birds at play.  He misses Greece.  We all do.  We take shots of tsipouro and eat some of Sotos’ vegetable soup, watching the sun dip over the red-green hills.  The colors keep changing hues, making the hills dance against the light blue desert sky.

When Daniel and I get back to the room, we find the huh-huh kid hunched over his Game Boy.  He doesn’t notice Father Daniel walk by with the 6th century encaustic icon of Jesus.  Jesus’ bloodshot left eye is looking directly at the huh-huh kid.

“Dude, beat that,” the huh-huh kid says, handing his Game Boy over to Ron.

–Andreas Economakis

This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.

Andreas Economakis is a film director, writer and father of a curly-haired girl named after Anaïs Nin and Melina Mercouri. He calls Los Angeles, Athens and Nisyros his “home.”  Greek when in the USA and American when in Greece, Andreas constantly relies on his past as a bicycle messenger, cabinet resurfacer, maintenance mechanic,  airport shuttle driver,  alumni development fundraising researcher and  film production manager to avoid typical office jobs and the odd redneck spitball.

Copyright © 2010, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.

For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.