When I move to a new place I try to find an apartment close to where the shit goes down, but cheap enough to be able to host a starvin’ artist like myself. These neighborhoods are often a bit trashed out. But guess what? When I move there BOOM! the place turns into the new shit (Shize Nouveau) within a few months, and everybody wants a piece of my street. The next thing that happens is that my landlord, who should be grateful for my putting his neighborhood on the world map, wants to increase the rent! I move out, the crowd comes with me, and then we start a new hood. It’s like a circle or something.
Technically speaking I turned East London into what East London is today the same way I have made Mar Mikhael of Beirut to the new super hip super center. I don’t mean to contribute to this gentrification, but it seems like I’m a gentrifier by default. Ain’t my fault. Really. But this time it’s out of control.
Two years ago I was very happy to have found the dream apartment in a quiet and cozy neighborhood in what was once referred to as East Beirut. It was central enough for me to be able to get pretty much anywhere I like by walking, and the streets were full of those beautiful Lebanese houses that this city once was so famous for. My local manouche shop is one of the best in the country and there is a hole-in-the-wall chicken sandwich shop that takes pride in their BBQing. It was fucking perfect till I came and destroyed it.
Shortly after I established my life in this house, a few dozen expats were observed asking the shop keepers around for available apartments. At this point I should have understood what was about to happen… it all came right back at me.
Now, almost two years later, half of my neighbors have been kicked out of their homes as the landlords have sold their beautiful traditional Lebanese apartment buildings to Saudi property development companies that are going to set up “modern living” style houses and shopping malls.
I wake up at seven o’clock every morning to the ta-ta-ta-ta-ta … TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA … ta-ta-ta-ta-ta sounds coming from the gigantic mountain-hacking machines that are digging a 10 story deep hole in an archeological site right next to my house. And every night I go to sleep at three in the morning as I am too weak to resist the buzzing nightlife 200 meters down from my house. I need my beauty sleep, Meghan O. can tell you everything about that, and now I’m not getting any.
I’m out of here… I’m moving into Adrian’s house for a few weeks now, but soon I’ll be looking for a new hood to fuck up. Let me know if you have anywhere in mind!