Archive for May, 2007

Episode 29 - “Nothing But Guitar”

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

We have seen Saif say goodbye to so many of his friends. Now, he is nearly alone in Baghdad.

A couple more great stories on Hometown Baghdad are coming out in the upcoming days. Wolf Blitzer’s crew from CNN was at our offices this morning and a story on us will air (in the US only) at around 7pm EST on the Situation Room. On Sunday, the Today Show Weekend Edition is doing a story on us. (Again - only in the US.) Special thanks to Zeyad from Healing Iraq for chatting with NBC about Hometown Baghdad.

Episode 28 - “Tickets and Popcorn”

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

With his bags packed, Ausama escapes the “prison” of Baghdad for a brief respite.

Edmund Sanders at The Los Angeles Times wrote a great article about Hometown Baghdad today. Check it out here. If you can get your hands on a hard copy of it, you will see that we are featured on the cover! Truly an honor.

Saif from Hometown Baghdad told me yesterday about his friend who just started a website that has cell phone ringtones. They have a bunch of Arabic songs on there for those of you that liked that Iraqi folk song I posted a few weeks back. Check out the site here. I haven’t used it myself but Saif gives it his thumbs up.
Update: To carry on the short-lived tradition, I’m posting a pic of another Chat the Planet staffer holding up the LA Times. None of my unkempt hair this time. The article about us is in the bottom right corner and an enlarged version is to the right in this picture.

Cover of the LA Times

Episode 27 - “Market Boom”

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Ausama takes us on a trip to the market.

I made some little design and usability changes to the site. I hope you like them. Also, many people have commented on Saif’s struggle to practice dentistry outside of Iraq. About a week and a half ago, the Washington Post wrote an article on the issue. I also wanted to give readers a quick reminder that we at Chat the Planet produce projects all over the world. If you want to be kept up to date on our programs, sign up for our mailing list.

Episode 26 - “Beggar at the Gate”

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

An unexpected visitor shows up while Saif prepares to leave Baghdad.

On April 9th, the 4th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, we posted a message from our extremely talented and eloquent director, Ziad Turkey. He refers to watching one of the participants pack his bags and the extreme emotional agony he felt at that moment. Go back and see how he felt as he shot some of this material.

Iraqi Self-Expression

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Right before we began releasing our videos on March 19th, I posted an mp3 on this blog of Saif and his friends Zaid and Ahmed playing an Iraqi folk song. That post generated a ton of dialogue and interest. I think it was the collective shock and excitement of seeing young Iraqis express themselves artistically. It was something that many people had never seen before. And that experience has been repeated many times throughout the last few weeks as we have released our videos.

I think that these moments of amazement - of epiphanies and revelations triggered by what we find online - are products of the power and reach of the internet. And if we, as citizens of the wired world, help spread these items of interest further, we can do a small part to decrease the alienation, disconnection, apathy and hostility that divide our world.

In that spirit, I wanted to point out a few examples of things making their way around the web.

First, Zaid (see “My Best Friend Zaid” and “Iraqi Man”) sent me the following five pictures over the weekend. I can’t give it a better intro than he did. He writes (I did light editing at his request):

There is a wall being created around my city of Al Ahdhamia to separate it from other places in Baghdad. They, the US Army and our Government, say it will help prevent fighting and bloodshed. But it is only creating another face of sectarianism.
The people of Al Ahdhamia rejected the wall but the US Army and our government finished it.
But the interesting thing is that artists have painted wonderful pictures on that wall. :) This Iraqi artist has never been known and I guess they only paint as a hobby. It is wonderful. Check it out and I hope you put it on our site along with some words of mine.

Update: These pictures are not of the wall in Ahdhamia. According to a reputable source: “These concrete walls are on Al-Sa’doon street, and they are there to protect a hotel called “Baghdad Hotel” which was a building for the CIA and then a residence for the members of the Iraq Governing Councel in 2003.” (Thanks, Ahmed!) I am still leaving Zaid’s words because I think his point about the wall in Ahdhamia is important and his excitement about the art is still valid and very real.

Iraqi Wall Art 3 Iraqi Wall Art 4 Iraqi Wall Art 5
Iraqi Wall Art 1 Iraqi Wall Art 2

The second thing I’m linking to is a short documentary about Saif’s brother, Mohammed, who lives in Paris. Zaid linked to it in the comments but I thought it deserved getting pointed out again. Link. Mohammad is working on a few other projects that I will try to post here as they become available.

The third item is bound to be a bit controversial. It is a powerpoint slide show that Ausama sent me over the weekend and asked me to post. Some may see it as divisive but I hope that everyone can see that whoever created it was mainly motivated by two things: a) pride for his country; and b) sadness over the situation that has developed. See it here.

Episode 25 - “The Palace Maid”

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Adel risks a few moments out in the open with the cameras to tell a story from his Iraqi heritage.

Viewers in the UK should tune into “Today” on BBC Radio 4 on the morning of May 9th to hear a story about Hometown Baghdad. In the US, there will also be a story on NPR’s Morning Edition sometime in the upcoming days. Since I don’t know when exactly it is, just listen to NPR every morning. I do!
Update: NPR aired their story this morning on Hometown Baghdad. Here it is.

Update: Hometown Baghdad producer, Fady, sent me a great picture of a statue in Baghdad that depicts another story from the Arabian Nights. Read Fady’s brief description of it. Check out the photo below.
Statue of characters in Arabian Nights

Cover of the Times of London!

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

James Hider at the Times of London wrote a piece about Hometown Baghdad today…and they smacked us right on the front cover. They even threw up a picture of Saif and Noor! This is truly an honor. In honor of this honor, here is a ridiculous shot of me holding up the paper.

…I guess I need a haircut, huh?

Episode 24 - “Troops”

Monday, May 7th, 2007

American troops in Iraq - threat or protection?