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Guest Feature: Lara Atallah
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What an absolutely incredible and hopeful run by Morocco in the World Cup. I truly thought they were going to pull off a win against France.
Who do you got in the World Cup final? Argentina or France?
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Lara Atallah!
Lara Atallah is a New York-based artist and writer. Her practice is informed by her interest in the political nature of landscape, and its power to dictate and influence our perception of borders. Her work has been exhibited in the US and internationally, and is part of the Onassis Cultural Foundation's collection in Athens, The Met Museum, as well as the NYU Langone Art Collection. Her first book, Edge of Elysium, Vol.1 (2019) was published by Open Projects Press. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Artforum, Camera Austria, The Brooklyn Rail, 128Lit, Koukash Review, Bahr. She also publishes Blue Metropolis, a monthly newsletter on Substack.
Lara is also the illustrious artist behind this newsletter’s logo at the top! ISN’T IT BEAUTIFUL?! Lara is an incredibly thoughtful human being, and I was so excited when she agreed to share some of her go-to music this week:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
“There'd Better Be a Mirrorball” by Arctic Monkeys. I'm a huge AM fan and have been for years. There's something uniquely wistful about their lyrics that speaks to me on a deep level. It's a skillful combination of bitter sadness and whimsy. Every album is a treasure chest and within it, every song feels like a novel with a complete narrative arc. So many gems in their past albums, too: “Love is a Laserquest”, “505”, all classics! I'm so excited they finally dropped their new album!
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
The answer to that question changes all the time. A few songs that come to mind: “Empty Beach” by Coco is a song that makes you feel like you're floating on the surface of a lake, outside of time, letting your emotions wash off. “Beautiful Life” by Michael Kiwanuka is a real tear-jerker. Ideally, it's a song you want to listen to lying down on grass on a warm late-spring day staring at the sky, thinking of absolutely nothing at all. “Freedom” by George Michael but also equally good is the Christine and the Queens cover. It's the most empowering song I can think of. Best heard while on your way to a work meeting or while running tedious errands.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Beirut” by Yasmine Hamdan. I had it on repeat from 2019 through 2020. She really manages to capture the multi-faceted energy of that city: vibrant, cursed, hedonist, an unfortunate mash-up of beauty and brokenness, and a terminally toxic land of "should've, would've, could've."
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
“Don't Know Why” by Norah Jones. It reminds me of my undergrad years at AUB (American University of Beirut). Every day, there'd be someone with a guitar either on the green oval or by the Main Gate area singing that song. It's such a quintessential late 2000s-era song. I've heard it and sung it so many times, it's pretty much engraved in my memory! Haha!
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Anything, and I do mean anything by ROSALÍA. I had a very busy spring where I often had to wake up super early to get a mountain of tasks done by 9 AM and nothing did it better than having SAOKO and CHICKEN TERIYAKI playing in the background. Her music is uplifting and just keeps you energized. I also LOOOOVE her “Blinding Lights” remix with The Weeknd.
Big shout out to Lara for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Lara’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Go subscribe to Lara’s newsletter, check her out on Twitter and Instagram, hit up her website, AND make sure you pre-order her book!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Chebba - TRIPLEGO
Ma Tebki Ya Ain - JenJoon featuring Myne
3ala 3agali - KHALIFA OG
TAKE ME AS I AM - Shébani
Sudan Cypher 2 - Big Hass featuring Aidyproof, Tageel, Zeyo Mann, Mustafa Idris, Awab, Veto, Rana, Side Effect, T.A., Eaz Da Bully, and Mshakil
Sea Lions - Samia
Sary Eleil - Essam Satti & Ali Naseraldeen
Ahlami - Szaba featuring Bxdaro
Khafif Khafif - Nancy Mounir
Akoun B3eed Ana - Albaitil Ashwai
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
DESPECHÁ RMX - ROSALÍA featuring Cardi B
La Máquina - Anuel AA featuring Jowell y Randy, De La Ghetto, and Yailin la Mas Viral
Calentura - Ivy Queen
El Toro - Nino Freestyle featuring DJ Adoni and Chimbala
Mala Mala - Ptazeta
All My Love - Jennifer Lopez featuring LL Cool J
Playa Del Inglés - Quevedo featuring Mike Towers
SUPRA 94TRO - Alvaro Diaz
Navidá - Bebo Dumont featuring ELENA ROSE
Debut Y Despedida - La Santa Cecilia
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Daily Duppy (Dem Dead) - Stefflon Don
Ole Gan - Maleek Berry
Let Me Go - Emotional Oranges
Lay Low - BLK ODYSSY featuring BNXN fka Buju
Open - IYAMAH
Keep Calling - Blxst featuring Larry June
Chap Chap - Bosh
Music Sounds Better With You - Stardust
Gorilla - Little Simz
IT BE LIKE THAT - Ab-Soul featuring SiR
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Why Do So Many Lebanese Fans Support Brazil Like It’s Their Own National Team? - Yassine Harris, MILLE WORLD
It’s deeper than you think.
Byblos Christmas tree brings comfort to Lebanese despite uncertain future - Nada Homsi, The National
Tree's size speaks of more prosperous times, but residents are comforted by its presence nonetheless.
For journalists, activists, digital privacy is an uphill struggle - Richard Salame, L’Orient Today
Recent hack highlights persistent threat, according to a new Human Rights Watch Report.
"They deprived me of motherhood".. Lebanese women postponing parenthood due to crises - Clara Nabaa, Raseef22
"I was raised in an orphanage, and I will not allow myself to have a child and let him live the way I had..."
In the name of his mother — ‘Nabila’s’ from Beirut to Brooklyn - Nour Braidy, L’Orient Today
Inspired by his mother’s recipes, Michael Farah took up the challenge of serving home-made dishes in his restaurant. Far from any run-of-the-mill shish tawouk and kafta, Farah’s fatayers are among New York’s top seven dishes of 2022.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
The rise of Future FC: How a government-affiliated club took over Egyptian football - Mostafa Hosny, Mada Masr
The club has spent huge sums of money on players without clear revenue.
As elections approach, Tunisian market shelves are still bare - Eliza Volkmann, Al Jazeera
Food shortages have been ongoing for months in Tunisia, another sign of the country’s economic crisis, and the government’s seeming inability to solve it before Saturday’s elections.
'What was her crime?' Agony as Palestine mourns another child killed by Israel - Leila Warah, Middle East Eye
Shortly after Israeli forces raided the city of Jenin on Sunday, a 15-year-old girl was found dead on her roof, riddled with bullet wounds.
Living with landmines: Yemenis in a war-altered landscape - Khaled Kayed, Raseef22
According to international estimates, around two million anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines have been planted during the Yemen war, in all the areas that witnessed direct confrontations between the Houthis and government forces.
'The dream has not ended': Moroccans celebrate Atlas Lions heroes despite defeat - Basma El Atti, The New Arab
Many Moroccans believe that this is just the start of an era in which the Moroccan team will continue to snatch victories and make the nation proud over and over again.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
How ROSALÍA Became Pop’s Most Fearless Superstar - Cat Cardenas, Rolling Stone
The Spanish artist resisted industry pressures, refused to compromise and made one of 2022's boldest albums. At the end of an incredible year, she opens up about all of it.
Looking back at Al Saqi, London's finest Arabic-language bookshop - Melissa Gronlun, The National
News of the London bookshop's closure has sparked waves of sadness around the world.
From the Algerian hinterland to Unesco: The incredible saga of RaÏ - Abed Charef, Middle East Eye
Rai, an Algerian musical genre newly registered by the UN agency as part of the world's 'intangible cultural heritage', has accompanied the country's social changes for a century.
How Sudan Archives Exploded Her Sound to Make One of the Year’s Best Albums - Harmony Holiday, Pitchfork
With her autobiographical opus Natural Brown Prom Queen, Brittney Parks finally collects her crown.
El Arena: The Middle East’s underground battle rap competition - Jay B. Jammal, Al Jazeera
El Arena navigates the underground world of battle rap in the Middle East, revealing the stories of its most talented stars, as rappers from across the Arab world visit Beirut to compete against each other.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Why doesn’t Argentina have more Black players in the World Cup? - Erika Denise Edwards, The Washington Post
Argentina is far more diverse than many people realize — but the myth that it is a White nation has persisted.
“But now, as the future of Twitter is in flux with a widely disliked new leader at the helm (at least, if a recent sustained booing session at a Dave Chappelle stand up show is any indication), the question at the forefront of online discourse is what has Black Twitter become, and where is it going?”
Longing for More Stoppage Time - Julia Cho, The New Yorker
“The World Cup brings back the man who made me love this beautiful game.”
How Black Women Fought for Brittney Griner’s Release - Margo Snipe, Capital B
Activists from the start saw the WNBA star's detention as a Black queer feminist issue.
Flu, RSV and COVID are wreaking havoc — but teachers don’t feel like they can stay home when they’re sick - Shefali Luthra, The 19th
Even with paid sick leave, teachers — especially in elementary schools — say staying home creates “more work.”