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Guest Feature: Farrah Berrou
With all of the news flooding our phones, social media timelines, and TV screens, this week felt like a thousand lifetimes. World Mental Health Day is this Saturday and I hope everyone who reads this newsletter is finding some way to take time for themselves or to do an activity or a hobby that brings joy.
Okay, let’s get right into it. This week, I’m so excited to welcome our second guest in the musical question series: Farrah Berrou!
Farrah is a Lebanese/American wine nerd based in Beirut. She is the creator and host of B for Bacchus, a media platform and podcast dedicated to wine stories of the Fertile Crescent, the co-host of A Better Beirut, a podcast featuring informal interviews with people and their initiatives that aim to improve Lebanon, and an ambassador for afikra, a global education platform revolving around Arab culture.
Farrah has a cool presence on Twitter and is truly doing so much for the community. And I’m so glad she came through to share her taste in music with us:
What is your favorite song right now?
Sunrise by Catz ‘n Dogz will be on repeat until I hate it. It's like a track you listen to at a beach party with a drink in a plastic cup that has more ice than drink. I play this and pretend dancing at a club is still an activity we'll do this decade.
What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Youth by Daughter. Or anything Meteora/Hybrid Theory from Linkin Park. I am instantly 15 again.
Name a song that reminds you of home.
Shim El Yasmine by Mashrou’ Leila, which is about a gay couple, reminds me of Lebanon and I feel like the forbidden love in the song is the relationship a lot of us have had with our country. And this (Inni Mneeh by Mashrou’ Leila) is where we're at mentally these days.
Name a song you know all the words to.
Cry Me A River by Justin Timberlake. Justified is such an underrated album.
Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go
I grew up in Southern California being trained to embrace my Southern Lebanon roots without knowing it. Cocktail Men Lebnan by Tony Kiwan played at all our family gatherings and it's now been replaced with Intro to Shamstep by 47 Soul and El Seka Shemal Fe Shemal by Cairokee, and they all get my blood pumping.
Big shout out and thanks to Farrah for joining and sharing her song selections! All of her songs will be included with this week’s playlist. Be sure to check out the premiere of Season 2 of “B for Bacchus” where Farrah interviews Dr. Helene Sader from the American University of Beirut about the Tell el Burak Archeological Project and the Phoenician wine press discovered there!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Arab + diaspora artists) 🎧
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx + Hispanic artists) 🎤
🎼 Other Music 🎼
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon: Traumatized Beirutis ready to 'leave for good' - Diana Hodali, Deutsche Welle
Since the violent explosion in Beirut in early August, Lebanon has found no peace. Ever more Lebanese want to leave the country. With her bags packed, Cindy Chemaly Cochrane says she no longer wants to live in fear.
'Treated like slaves', migrant workers bear brunt of Lebanon crisis - Alaa Kanaan, Reuters
“The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which supports many domestic workers in Lebanon, says as many as 10,000 migrants have asked to be repatriated because their wages collapsed after the country plunged into a deep financial crisis a year ago.”
Beirut explosion victim Isaac Oehlers was fatally struck by glass in his highchair. This is how his parents fought for him - Adam Harvey, Lesley Robinson, Lucy Carter and Cherine Yazbeck, ABC News Australia
The parents of an Australian toddler killed by the port explosion in Beirut have spoken publicly for the first time, revealing their desperate attempts to get to hospital after their son was injured while sitting in his highchair.
Less than two months after Beirut was blasted by one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, director Nadine Labaki has taken to the streets of the Lebanese capital with her camera.
Lebanon’s COVID-19 surge: What went wrong? - Timour Azhari, Al Jazeera
Critics say poor execution and a lack of strategy are to blame for COVID-19 surge putting delicate health system under threat of collapse.
🌍 Arabs and the Diaspora 🌎
US media talks a lot about Palestinians — just without Palestinians - Maha Nassar, +972 Magazine
Although major U.S. newspapers hosted thousands of opinion pieces on Israel-Palestine over 50 years, hardly any were actually written by Palestinians.
Egypt’s Botched #MeToo Moment - Sally Ahmed, Newlines Magazine
The Sisi government encouraged victims of sexual assault to come forward – then it arrested them.
Medieval Arabic cookbooks: Reviving the taste of history - Marcia Lynx Qualey, Al Jazeera
A growing number of cookbooks have been translated into English, helping bring old foods to new palates.
Paranormal Activity: Inside Netflix's First Egyptian Arabic Original - Amro Ali, GQ Middle East
In 1993, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik began a series of sci-fi horror books that would change the lives of millions in the Middle East. Now translated into a new Netflix series, Paranormal is set to bring Egyptian storytelling to the world.
Moroccan-Spanish Actress Mina El Hammani On Living In The Moment And Ignoring The Pressures of Stardom - Sarah Garden, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia
The star of the Netflix hit series Élite discusses the importance of empathy, mindfulness, and why she’s not focusing on the future right now.
🎶 Music, Culture, and the Arts 🎶
The World According to Bad Bunny - Carina del Valle Schorske, The New York Times
The Puerto Rican reggaetonero has come to dominate global pop on his own terms.
Nathan Apodaca is the skateboarding, Fleetwood Mac-loving TikTok star that 2020 needs - Laura Zornosa, Los Angeles Times
“I’m Native-Mexican. I’ve always embraced both sides of my dad’s heritage, my mom’s heritage. Cholo all the way. I live it. I love it. It don’t matter. They can label me, whatever they want, but I’ll live it.”
Mr. Eazi is laying the groundwork for a generation of independent African artists - Vincent Desmond, Mic
“African creatives should be able to retain economic and creative control of the content and culture that they create.”
We’re No Closer to Knowing Jay Electronica - Craig Jenkins, Vulture
Act II was once rap’s Nibiru, promised to collide with Earth in 2012. Now that it’s finally here, don’t expect rap’s great mystery man to give up any secrets.
LeBron James’s Teammates: Legends, NBA Champions and These Guys - Ben Cohen, The Wall Street Journal
What is it like to play with the world’s best player? Ben Cohen asked LeBron’s least famous teammates.
📚 Other Reads 📚
The Store That Called the Cops on George Floyd - Aymann Ismail, Slate
A teenage clerk dialed 911. How should the brothers who own CUP Foods pay for what happened next?
Trump’s Presidency Will Impact Refugees Long After He Leaves Office - Rowaida Abdelaziz, HuffPost
Even if Trump loses the election in November, it won’t be easy to rebuild the programs and sift through backlogs caused by his administration.
‘A Battle for the Souls of Black Girls’ - Erica L. Green, Mark Walker, and Eliza Shapiro, The New York Times
Discipline disparities between Black and white boys have driven reform efforts for years. But Black girls are arguably the most at-risk student group in the United States.
Muslim Families Continue to Struggle Due to Travel Ban - Fatma Khaled, Documented NY
The travel ban was issued in Trump’s first week as president and has gone through many iterations, but in his first term, it has impacted the lives of thousands of Americans hoping that their loved ones could join them.
Saving Uighur Culture From Genocide - Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic
China’s repression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang has forced those in the diaspora to protect their identity from afar.
Your Weekly Sample
In his song “Raise Up” Petey Pablo samples Hossam Ramzy’s cover of “Enta Omri” (originally by Oum Kalthoum). Check it out!