Friday, July 27, 2007

Anatomy Lessons

As part of an occasional series, a few items briefly noted, this time an anatomy lesson of sorts.

I. The Emperor's Teeth

Last year I pointed to an article that had brought me much comfort, the account of a wonderful taxicab conversation with the cab driver who — well, you should read all of it in his voice (it's a few paragraphs down the linked page).
"Funniest trip I ever had to make," said the taxi driver. "Now, you'll like this one..."

"So I gets a call on me wireless," he continued, "an' 'e says; 'Ere, I've got one for you.'

"I says, 'Oh, yeah,' and 'e says, 'Yeah, you're gonna like this one, I want you to go to this address, in Kensington, pick up Napoleon's tooth and take it to Swindon for auction.'

"I says, 'You what ?' 'E says, 'You 'eard. Napoleon's tooth. An' I 'ope you're insured 'cos it's worth 8,000 nicker.' ...
The humour gave me much comfort and I filed away the idea of eventually writing something of substance on said tooth, said transporter or whoever it was that had collected or bid for it.

Serendipity struck when I noted a related story last week; the headline: Napoleon's Toothbrush Finally Has a Home
The Wellcome Collection, as the new museum is called, includes early anatomical models, surgical instruments, prosthetic limbs and other examples of medical progress, as well as eye-catching objects ranging from Peruvian mummies and Chinese torture chairs to Greco-Roman phallic amulets to Japanese sex aids.

It also presents what can only be called celebrity curiosities, like Napoleon's toothbrush, Charles Darwin's walking stick, Benjamin Disraeli's death mask, Horatio Nelson's razor, Florence Nightingale's moccasins (worn during the Crimean War) and some locks of George III's hair.
I immediately wondered whether Henry Wellcome was the collector who had been the successful bidder for Napoleon's tooth and whether it was also part of his collection. And if not, the obvious question needed to be raised: was someone somewhere considering reuniting Napoleon's tooth with Napoleon's toothbrush? Inquiring minds want to know.

These are strange days and perhaps the cabdriver's eventual punchline bears repeating
"Well yeah, still, I'll tell you somefin'. You gotta 'and it to his dentist, 'aven't you? 'E shoves that tooth to one side, an' e says, 'I'll 'ave that and I'll keep 'old of it till someone invents eBay.'"
lion king

I wonder when Napoleon's tooth was excised. Was it before or after he crowned himself emperor? Would the course of world history have been different if he used a chewing stick instead of a toothbrush?

Some poetry is in order:

The Emperor's Teeth

The Emperor has no teeth
His toothbrush plain disappeared
But after much blood, sweat and tears,
Teeth and toothbrush were reunited after two hundred years.

II. The Bible and the Ganglion

I once had a recalcitrant ganglion — don't you love that word ganglion? It just sounds gangly, like an uncoordinated teenager in the throes of a growth spurt. Perusing dictionaries you'll read this definition: "rich fluid enclosed within fibrous tissue and usually attached to a tendon sheath in the hand, wrist, or foot". Well talking of growth spurts, one of the hundreds of ganglions in my body suddenly started swelling one day on my wrist. It was mostly benign, a little bump that I paid no attention to for a month or so, after which time, however, the enlarged fluid sack began to pinch a nerve on my wrist. That drew my attention because the pain was as most pain associated with the nervous system is, sharp and debilitating. The ganglion turned from recalcitrant to excruciating.

The American health care system may be a little sick these days but the university doctors that I consulted back then did their best to provide relief - a little syringe plunge to drain the fluid. I was a little curiosity for the trainee doctors. After a few months of weekly treatment "It will go away soon, just let us know if it gets too painful", and with their patient increasingly bewildered by the seeming randomness of the sharp pangs of pain, the surgeons were called in, and well, they did what surgeons do, they exercised their scalpels, dove in and snipped. They called the procedure a ganglionectomy - that word also sounds delicious and loopy and rolls off the tongue quite felicitously; I like the "nectomy" part especially, like the verb to dissect, it is onomatopoeic perfection. Incidentally the pill-swallowing post surgery was, how to put it, interesting, but that was another story.

In any case, my doctor uncle later on told me how he would have treated my case had he been consulted. What he had been taught at medical schools in England, Ghana and Nigeria was that the time-tested treatment for recalcitrant ganglions is the forceful impact of a heavy object.
"Sometimes a good whack cures this kind of thing."
Indeed his English resident had suggested holding the patient's wrist on the table and using a heavy book like the Bible to hit the bump. He was surprised that my American doctors hadn't done the deed, perhaps they were being too careful — afraid of the insurance companies and all that...

Every so often, as my eyes pass over the little scar tissue, my memento of that episode, I think to that incongruous image of a heavy bible dropping with vicious, but medical, intent onto my supine wrist.

I still wonder, did I really need to subject the Harvard endowment to $9,000 dollars worth of surgery when a twack with a King James bible would have done the efficacious deed? For that matter, did it matter what version of the Bible was used? Would a Revised Standard Edition have worked? Indeed did it have to be a bible? Would a telephone book have worked its numeric charm? Was there clinical significance in the choice of a holy book or was the religious designation simply a placebo effect of sorts? Was it a mere article of faith? Would a Koran, Torah or some other Holy Book have done the deed? I have visions of a rural hospital somewhere, say Libya, with a villager complaining of ganglionic discomfort. What would the Bulgarian nurse practitioner prescribe? What cultural sensitivity does the Hippocratic oath entail?

New Oxford Annotated Bible

I have a quite hefty New Oxford Annotated Bible (with the Apocrypha) on the bookshelf and it always give me pause when I read it because of the literal connection I've outlined between body and soul — sidenote: do the Apocrypha have relevance here? I'll note without comment that, serendipitously, said bible is nestled between Kwame Gyekye's Tradition and Modernity and Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales, a delightfully-illustrated version. Would any of those tomes have provided faster relief?

Would The Riverside Shakespeare fit the bill, the Bard's comedies and tragedies have been known to work wonders elsewhere? Or does the weighty object need to be a softcover book? How did doctors come to learn about this remedy? Is it an old wives' tale that doctors spin to impressionable young trainees? What about Karl Marx's Capital Volume III - surely a Penguin classic, let alone a critique of political economy, might do, or would I need the later and slightly heftier volumes on the theory of utility and surplus value? Or, since I'm discoursing on matters dyspeptic and poetic, would Anthony Burgess's The Complete Enderby have worked? Or would a lighweight tome like Anthony Winkler's The Lunatic do the deed (a new edition came out last month)? There I was reading it last year.

Sidenote: I have a Nigerian friend who used to tell of how he and his siblings would be punished as children. They would be forced to walk up to their father holding up a bible to receive a few well-chosen whacks of the cane - at such times, dropping the bible was a definite no-no and it heightened the dread. I couldn't help but be reminded of that curious ritual (was the punishment corporal or psychic I wonder?) when I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus a few years back - the mystery of the African father and Serious Religion.

And to digress further on matters of the soul, I've heard that one of the reasons people in Northern Ghana vote the way they do is that the political bosses go around before election day accompanied by clerics, and make recalcitrant villagers pledge to vote the right way on the handy Koran. I've always thought that this was a stereotype of pork-barrel politics (or perhaps beef in this case) adapted for the supposedly religious, backward and illiterate northerners - even as said northerners are often far more worldly and cosmopolitan than the rest of Ghana. And surely our electorates were more sophisticated these days? But political scientists don't really know why voters do the things they do in the comfort of a voting booth. What has been happening in the USA recently after all? Perhaps the choice of book does matter.

But to return to matters ganglionic, this being the web, perhaps someone somewhere could eventually resolve these open issues, namely:
  • Has a doctor ever whacked your ganglion?
  • And if so, what book or implement did he or she use?
And Dear Toli Readers, what books would you suggest for a homebrewed ganglionectomy?

III. Faux Boils

Apropos ganglions:
"I'm tired of hearing about your faux boils"
That was what someone very dear to me exclaimed a couple of weeks ago in mock exasperation at one of my discursive tales. I believe she meant "foibles" although the notion of fake boils, beside being hilarious, also seemed to work. A sociolinguistic friend branded the malapropism as folk etymology rather than eggcorn. Still, I like the coinage and it seems relevant since I've been dealing with a plagiarized something-or-other these past few weeks. Ghana must go as they say.

IV. The President's Polyps

The novelist and gothic satirist Will Self is no stranger to anatomy and on it he tends to veer towards the grotesque. Last year he riffed on Haydn's Nasal Polyp:
I've been toying with a short story of this title for years, ever since hearing – or thinking I heard – a Radio 3 announcer say, with predictably risible stuffiness: 'During the winter of 1772, Haydn, then resident in London, found himself unable to compose, so troubled was he by a nasal polyp..'. There was something about the notion of Haydn's nasal polyp – rather like Flaubert's parrot, or Lenin's brain, or Churchill's black dog – that seemed almost purpose-built for a story title. Not that I really wanted to write anything serious about Haydn: this was going to be more a piss-take of that particular strain in contemporary letters, perhaps exemplified by the titles above, that seeks out profundity by yoking a mundane, or curious, thing – parrot, brain, polyp – to a great name.
He then went on to note a case of literary serendipity shared with Ian Rankin apropos the conductor's nasal nostrum.

Flaubert Parrot

Now you can probably guess why I was drawn to that piece and its confluence of small things and cultural observations let alone the fact I'm a big fan of Flaubert's Parrot - Julian Barnes' novel that is.

Well yes, it was the polyp. What the hell was a polyp, I wondered? The word sounds polymorphous, polyandrous, poly-something-or-other. When you pronounce polyp, you feel as if you're missing something, it seems curt, abbreviated even. It stands to reason that it designates a tuft of tissue, a small growth or tumor.

This came to mind when it was announced that George W. Bush had five polyps removed in a routine colonoscopy last Saturday. There was a pleasing symmetry of the image of the keys to nuclear missiles being handed over to Mr Cheney just before the surgeon's scapels was applied to that area.

Now presumably nasal polyps have a different impact than polyps from you-know-where but it seemed that some dots needed to be connected. The President's polyps have now displaced the conductor's polyps in the panopticon, or rather the pantheon, of polyps. Hadyn must surely be turning in his grave. I wondered whether Haydn's music was the kind of thing Mr Bush listened to on the iPod his daughters gave him for his birthday.

I do hope that Will Self writes his piece and, further, that he manages to tie in the five presidential polyps to give the requisite historical sweep that this story deserves. If not I'll file that tidbit around and perhaps get around to writing something of substance with it, perhaps linking things to Napoleon's tooth — Emperor to conductor to Decider. In parting one has further questions:
  • Where will the five polyps live once the doctors are done with them?
  • Will they be preserved as a whole or separately to be studied by future generations?
  • Will the 43rd President of the United States change his stripes now that they have been excised?
  • Will the course of the American Empire later be judged to have turned on said polyps?
  • Furthermore, will future curators of the Wellcome musueum seek to gain access to them rather than the undoubted presidential museum that is being planned somewhere in Texas?
Needless to say: observers are worried.

V. Body: A Playlist

I was recently reading Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar and in the spirit of that chance discovery I've been thinking that if I ever decided to be the svengali of a boy band that I might well call them The Five Polyps. Their demo for their first album, Napoleon's Tooth, might be the breakout ballad, The Recalcitrant Ganglion. The b-side would be the funk track Faux Boils.

As usual, a short playlist founded in reality seems appropriate.
  • Raphael Saadiq - Body Parts
    An instant vintage affair from one of Oakland's sons of soul
  • The Jacksons - Body
    The Victory album doesn't get as much love as it should. I believe Jermaine and Tito orchestrated this dance track reminiscent of the earlier Shake Your Body Down To The Ground from the Destiny album
  • Sonny Rollins - The Serpent's Tooth
    On an album with Miles Davis, a young Sonny stretched out.
  • Ohio Players - Body Vibes
    The funk was on fire with these brothers
  • Bootsy Collins - Body Slam
    It's about the Pinocchio Theory as Bootsy would sing as he competed in those funky seventies. Did he deal with Haydn's nasal polyp one wonders? Wasn't he Parliament/Funkadelic's Sir Nose or is my attribution sloppy?
  • James Brown - Bodyheat
    The godfather of soul brought the motherlode of funk. He is sorely missed.
  • Nas - Don't Body Ya'self
    The dark prince of hip-hop goes pidgin on everyone and body parts start flying at the lyrical onslaught. 50 Cent got downgraded by a quarter.
  • Johnny Gill - Wrap My Body Tight
    Johnny Gill provides the counter and seeks comfort
  • R Kelly - Your Body's Callin'
    Hmmm. He is obsessed with bodily functions isn't he? No comment.
  • Me'Shell Ndegéocello - Body
    Me'Shell was seeking a comfort woman a few years ago. One hopes her search was conclusive.
  • Coleman Hawkins - Body And Soul
    Perhaps the greatest solo in jazz history, this 1939 excursion still delights with its emotion.
  • Dwele - Flapjacks
    I'll end with Dwele who was so great, exuberant and soulful in last night's concert in Oakland. There were many moments of musical genius but the most sublime was when he orchestrated an expedient audience choir on top of the laidback groove. The ladies in the audience would hum "la la la la la / da da da da da / paaaa daa daaaa" And the men would punctuate in harmony:
    "I'm digging your flapjacks"
    As The Wife and I sang and shook our behinds in soulful harmony we were sated by the celebratory vibe. We had paid our soul insurance and our bodies and soul could receive treatment from Doctor Soul himself. Amen. Hallelujah.

    Dwele Some Kinda

    Note: since this is a family blog I'll add the obligatory disclaimer. There is no need to elaborate on what body parts flapjacks refers to. It's a metaphor for the soul, not the body.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Of No Fixed Abode

My initial response to the 2005 London bombings was in the vein of whimsy: London's got soul, a trilogy celebrating the place, my favourite town. I then considered a case of identity theft last year to kick off the present Things Fall Apart series. After the news of the past few days, I can now give you the second part of a trilogy focused on the people. This time a look at my "fourth man": the fifth bomber, a man of no fixed abode. Some notes ripped from the headlines, a few musings and some poetry...

"Thought to be Bukhari": A Paper Trail

You lived with him
You stole his name...

They trained you well
Your name is cursed...

No one knows the identity of this man who performed the identity theft.

Identity Theft

[Redacted] 32, from West London. A Ghanaian, his real name is thought to be Bukhari. Said to have abandoned his bomb at Little Wormwood Scrubs after losing his nerve. Represented by Stephen Kamlish, QC.

21/7: the trial, January 16, 2007

Mr Kamlish, representing [redacted], said to Mr Ibrahim: "You wanted to do a copycat of 7/7 - four bombs on 7/7, four bombs two weeks later on 21/7. That was your plan.

"We say your 21/7 bombs were to be bigger and better in your twisted thinking than that of 7/7.

"Four real bombs on the Tube and one block of flats, a tower, destroyed, going up in a ball of flames. That was your plan, wasn't it?"

Man 'planned tower block blast', March 22 2007

During the trial the man I called cursed continued to be referred to by his alias and that inevitable suffix, "of no fixed abode".

Tricksters, gremlins and parasites; who is which?
Mr Kamlish said his client - who the jury was told was really called Sumailia Abubakhari - was "used and abused" by Mr Ibrahim who was a "cowardly, manipulative schemer".

21/7 suspect 'saved tower block', April 17 2007

On Tuesday, he took to the witness box for the first time and told the court his real name was in fact Sumaila Abubakhari and that he is 28 - not 34. Wearing a crisp white shirt, dark blue tie and grey suit, [redacted] said he came to the UK in December 2003 using a passport in someone else's name and applied for the Army. He said he did not consider what countries he might be sent to on active service.

Ghanaian suicide bomber 'wanted to join Army', April 17 2007
Aburi mask - strange days

Muddied waters:
A terror suspect dismantled a bomb and saved the lives of people living in a tower block, his lawyers have claimed...

Prosecuters say he was the fifth bomber who allegedly lost his nerve at the last minute.

But Stephen Kamlish QC, defending, said his client had ditched his bomb - made of hydrogen peroxide and chapatti flour - at Little Wormwood Scrubs after "making it safe".

Woolwich Crown Court heard claims he also dismantled a booby-trapped sideboard at a "bomb factory" allegedly set up by a co-defendant in Curtis House, New Southgate, north London.

Mr Kamlish said: "He's not asking for any applause, but if he hadn't have done it and it was a bomb that actually worked ... he was in fact responsible - potentially - for saving the block and all the people in it."

Mr Kamlish said his client - who the jury heard was really called Sumailia Abubakhari - was "used and abused" by Ibrahim, a "cowardly manipulative schemer".

The barrister told the jury that [redacted] had been under intense pressure, and was even threatened by another defendant, since deciding to "break ranks".

He described his client as a "decent" and "somewhat childlike, sometimes naive" man.

'Not Asking For Applause', Sky News, April 17 2007

A theatrical man, he makes good copy with his African emotions; consider the headlines generated in under an hour a few months ago:
masks aburi

A compromised man:
Anthony Jennings QC, defending Hussain Osman, accused Mr [redacted] of crying when he told police about his supposedly dead father.

Mr [Redacted] has since admitted that his father is still alive.

"You were doing exactly what you were trying to do to this jury, which is pull the wool over their eyes by starting to cry when you were lying," said Mr Jennings.

The barrister went on to accuse Mr [redacted] of being a "self-confessed liar", a "fraudster", and a "sly and devious liar".

Mr [Redacted] denied lying, saying: "I was remembering the time as I'm staring death in my face and you're telling me not to cry?"

21/7 suspect 'is a devious liar', BBC, April 17 2007

Bukhari or Abubakari?
The prosecution says his real name might be Sumaila Abubakari but his nationality is unclear.

'Bomb plot' trial, BBC, April 17 2007
Bukhari or the other moniker Abubakari are Muslim names typically found in West Africa (from Northern Ghana, Nigeria to Sierra Leone). In Ghana at least, the north is much poorer and less developed than the rest of the country. Northern muslims tend to settle in the zongos (slums). Regardless of nationality, the experience of these dwellers is much like that in the slums of Nima, rough and hardscrabble lives. As an often itinerant people, they are deliberately opaque and insular. This served them well in their dealings with the colonials and beyond but this opacity gives rise to much uncertainty as in the present case. We simply don't know what the nationality is.

Mr [Redacted], who is said by the prosecution to have lost his nerve and dumped his device, has said he was not a "fanatic".

He told the court he left the device he was given in a west London park as he "just wanted to get rid of it".

He said Mr Ibrahim had told him the devices would "not hurt anyone".

He told the jury: "It didn't make sense to me. I didn't know whether this was hoax or real or anything to do with terrorists.

"But I didn't want anything where the police got involved in it.

"I thought: 'I don't want to listen no more. I have heard enough. I just don't want to have anything to do with it." ...

At one point, Mr [redacted] needed several minutes to compose himself in the witness box.

He broke down after telling the court of how Mr Ibrahim demonstrated the rucksack device on the morning of 21 July 2005 - two weeks after suicide bombers struck in London on 7 July 2005.

"He started to explain for the first time as if he has been talking to me before," Mr [redacted] told the court.

"I was waiting for him to tell me if this was a suicide bombing or not.

"This was my belief, that this was going to be a suicide bombing because it just happened two weeks ago."

He told the court: "I wanted to live. I wanted to have a good life. I wanted to support my family. It is just something that I have never thought of in my life."

21/7 accused breaks down in court

aburi mask

Lies and Truths:
But he agreed with Mr Sweeney's description that he had lied to police on an "epic" scale, including not telling them his real name, religion or background, about buying the peroxide or what he did after the "attacks" had failed.

He said: "It is unbelievable when I look back at these lies...I lied about the whole day of July 21."

Mr Sweeney said: "You lied through your teeth as to who the bombers were."

[Redacted] replied: "Yes I did. I did not want to associate myself with them after realising what they had put me through."

[Redacted] denied lying to cover up his own guilt, maintaining that he was initially manipulated by co-defendant Muktar Said Ibrahim to follow the story that the attacks were meant only to be a hoax but realised once the trial had started that he had to tell the truth.

21/7 suspect 'lied on epic scale' April 27, 2007

The jury deliberating the cases of the alleged July 21 bomb plotters was today discharged after failing to reach a verdict on the final two defendants.

The decision by the trial judge, Mr Justice Fulford QC, came during the eighth day of deliberations by the jury at Woolwich crown court in south-east London.

He asked prosecutors to decide by tomorrow whether they want to seek a retrial for [redacted].

Jurors fail to reach verdicts on two 21/7 defendants, Guardian, July 10, 2007
The jury was discharged yesterday after failing to reach a decision on two other defendants, [redacted], both of whom deny conspiracy to murder.

[Redacted], 34, of no fixed address, ... will face a retrial, prosecutors said today.

Four July 21 plotters jailed for life, The Guardian, July 11, 2007

A Redacted Note

It has been known since September 2005 that the man I called cursed, a man of "no fixed abode" and now "thought to be Bukhari" was not the man his identity papers claimed, yet in the proceedings of the trial and the journalistic coverage, he is continually referred to with his stolen name. Perhaps this is as it should be, the slow workings of the law and the wheels of justice, an administrative decision. Yet each mention of the name is an open wound for a family in Ghana and London, a reminder about the continuing trauma in their lives. We are all collateral damage, the walking wounded of these interesting times.

I'll note in passing that the western journalistic tic of attaching an age and provenance to every name leads to the stilted formulations of the copy we have seen. Indeed these details detract from the heart of the matter and obscure rather than enlighten the complexities of this very human story. As we have seen, the name, age and nationality are still undetermined and the reporting has been wrong throughout. The only certainty is that he is "of no fixed abode". If we do have to name, place and date in tangible words, I suggest in this case that we stick to the following:
"[redacted], undetermined age, unclear nationality, of no fixed abode"
aburi mask dark


A few more leading indicators to round off our notes:
Al-Qaeda has responded to the U.S. intelligence focus on young Arab men as potential risks, he says, by recruiting "jihadists with different backgrounds. I am convinced the next major attack against the United States may well be conducted by people with Asian or African faces, not the ones that many Americans are alert to."

George Tenet: Tenet Details Efforts to Justify Invading Iraq, April 28, 2007
No country is immune from these things, consider this clipping from last summer:
Two Nigerians, whose identities were not disclosed at press time, have become victims of the exchange of artillery fire between Israeli authorities and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.

Two Nigerians Confirmed Killed in Lebanon bombings, July 24, 2006
The footsoldiers of The Great Game know no boundaries, indeed their variety is a historical commonplace.
So when I watched the recent protests in Kyrgyzstan, I thought not to the recent people-power outings in Ukraine and Georgia or even to the collective courage that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall (not pope-inspired by the way). Rather I thought back to Christmas 1990 sitting in Nancy, France, watching images from Bucharest alongside a true-believer socialist as his worldview finally succumbed to that ineffable and unrelenting pull of gravity.

It is no comfort to have learnt, as I did a few years later, that there were Ghanaians who died fighting for that reptilian man, Nicolae Ceausescu, alongside his Securitate during the Romanian overthrow of that macabre communist regime. I thought about the kind of world in which someone would send young Ghanaian men to train in interrogation techniques in far-flung places like Cuba, East Germany and Romania to come back and oppress their people.

I thought about what it meant for a young man to find himself in that position, in a foreign land, dodging bullets and shooting at people, in their own country mind you, trying to overthrow a rotten regime. I thought about how miserable and brutish their lives must have been to have undergone that kind of journey. And what about their peers who did come back from their various schools of grist to wreck havoc on their compatriots? I'm sure that some of these trained killers are among those who carry out weekly armed robberies in our towns.

Strange Bedfellows and the Journalistic Impulse
Perusing these notes, the obvious questions remain unanswered. Depending on where you stand, the actors range from convenient scapegoats like John Walker Lindh, to the convinced and morally convicted ciphers such as Richard Reid, to the more ambiguous cases like that of the man I call cursed. There is perhaps a full spectrum of responses: from moral courage, through the mistaken and misguided indiscretions of youth, to moral midgetry. That is the terrain of fallen angels.

As with all things about the human factor and the theatre of our existence, our fall from grace perhaps renders this melancholy mystery unknowable. One cannot but stare at the trainwreck when it comes. But how does one equip oneself to face the abyss? Where does one buy soul insurance? In a dark time, perhaps social living is the best.

masks maame

"Of No Fixed Abode"

Identity theft
Open wounds

Fallen angels
Damaged goods

Brutish living
Scarred consciences

Devious schemers
Lost nerves

Enemy combatants
Collateral damage

Modern travelers
Prison shelters

Stolen verdicts
Jury deadlocks

Bomb factories
Moral blinders

Hostile lives
Fractured dislocations

Cultural interplay
Social living

The aliases of exiled souls
Alienated, "of no fixed abode"

Soundtrack for this note

Of No Fixed Abode, a playlist
  • Antibalas - Indictment
    An angry afro-beat meditation with dissonant horns that presents a bill of goods, if not some articles of impeachment, on our current situation. The song is also a humourous indictment of all those rogues in a musical court of law. One wished everyone expressed their grievances in music or words. The cover art is prescient about the flight of that man "thought to be Bukhari", the confusion and urgency are the same, as is the mistaken resort to violence. It is the mask of a man of no name, of indeterminate age, of unclear nationality and of no fixed abode. The only missing thing is the discarded, bomb-laden rucksack.

    Antibalas - Indictment
  • Prince - Reflection
    A simple song: light drums and an acoustic guitar that sticks in your head and gets you singing along before you know it. The melody is wistful and, befits the title, reflective. We're reminiscing about innocence lost, the good old days when decisions were without consequence and life itself was carefree. Not everyone has that luxury but we can all empathize with that sentiment
    Sometimes I just want to sit out on the stoop, play my guitar just watch all the cars go by
  • Angie Stone - Soul Insurance
    Her warm voice endears as does the music; Angie assures you that she has got your back. Soul assurance. Soul insurance. Where do I sign up for mahogany soul?

Update August 29, 2007

The following passage should give much pause for those sympathetic to this man "thought to be Bukhari"
He said that Mr Omar had offered a bed to a mentally ill African refugee, took in a homeless Indian man and paid visits to people in hospital. He never heard Mr Omar speak out in support of any act of terrorism. Mr Dixon said: "He was against the Iraq war, but... he said nothing radical." Mr Dixon became an unwitting helper of the alleged conspirators when he accompanied Mr [Redacted] on a trip to buy dozens of litres of hydrogen peroxide, the chemical that formed the key ingredient of the rucksack bombs.

Witness was unwitting helper with 21/7 purchase
So not only did [redacted] use people unwittingly to help buy bombmaking equipment but, if my reading is correct, he also stole the identity of that "mentally ill African refugee" who his accomplice had taken in. No one has connected these particular dots but I would lay even odds that said refugee was indeed the man who woke up to learn that the police were calling him a bomber. That would certainly round out the circle of infamy of tricksters using anyone who falls into their orbit. One wonders if there really are any more shades of gray to this story.

Next: Ode to Betty Brown

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