I have been teaching online and have been mostly indoors, over the past several months, due to the inhospitable heat and humidity of Doha summer and early fall as well as due to lockdown, shut-in behaviors that I have internalized over the last three quarters of 2020. During this idle time, when not consuming the dour news of the day, I have idly explored some of the incalculable rabbit holes of the internet. With ample time on my hands and the inability to speed through the current sorry state of things, why not? Hence, here are five discoveries I made while wandering about the internet.
Orange Cassidy, King of Sloth-style Wrestling
I find professional wrestling fascinating. Always have. And while I spent more time reading comic books, playing video games, and roleplaying Dungeons and Dragons during my youth, I was always a casual enjoyer of professional wrestling. I might not watch the entirety of Wrestlemania, but I would watch an odd match here or there as I came across them while turning the television dial. Professional wrestling was more akin to my imaginative interests because it involved telling a story. I could appreciate the kayfabe imbued into the matches and threaded through the interstitial between them.
Early professional matches were about good and bad. There was the “face” (good guy), and there was the “heel” (bad guy). During the 80’s, Hulk Hogan was the prototypical, all-American face. Then, there were heels like Soviet supervillain Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik who were meant to represent easy-to-identify US political resentments of the time. Later, during the Attitude Era, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin—a bird flipping, beer guzzling anti-hero—became the new face of the era, and Vince McMahon—the real-life owner of WWE and Austin’s actual boss—would play the part of the heel inside and outside of the ring to amplify Austin’s antics and give the audience a reason to cheer. In this wrestling scenario, maybe Austin was working class wish fulfillment—what the lower- and middle-class wanted to really do to the upper management overlords of the world.
Recently, I learned about a new wrestler, Orange Cassidy, who has been dubbed the “King of Sloth-style Wrestling,” a wrestler so cool or ambivalent to the match that he will wrestle with his hands in his pockets and feign shin attacks against his confused agro opponents. What is Orange Cassidy meant to represent? The audience cheers for him, so he’s more akin to a face than heel. Is he tapping into Millennial and Gen Z indifference to Boomer and Gen X traditions and expectations within sports entertainment?
In an interview, Orange Cassidy said his “character is a giant middle finger to professional wrestling.” Wrestling just got weird and compelling to me once again. Time for me to go cheer and jeer with the rabble.
Hassan Hajjaj, Andy Warhol of Marrakech
So much of what I consume on the internet, nowadays, is mediated by algorithms. I like one thing, and the algorithm suggests several other things for me to sample. I like one of the suggestions, and the algorithm slowly builds a code for predicting my tastes.
Besides watching Youtube videos in my free time, I also have a Pinterest account. When I first started Pinterest, it seemed to be the website for wedding planning, wardrobe creation, and haircut ideas. None of this was calibrated for a male user. However, over time, by creating boards and pinning images of my actual interests, Pinterest became better at gauging my taste.
About a month ago, I clicked on some images of Yemeni goat herders and high fashion niqabs, so when I refreshed my Pinterest home page, I was greeted by images from the British-Moroccan photographer Hassan Hajjaj.
His photographs are like Warhol and La Chapelle with North African flair. I find his work playful and compelling. The composition and subjects of his photograph are quite simple, but the use of patterns and colors is visually sumptuous and arresting, like a candy-colored souq or medina.
Thank you for the recommendation, Pinterest.
Craig David “Wild Thoughts/Music Sounds Better with You” in the Live Lounge
I can’t remember what I was searching for one night. Maybe I was listening to a playlist of covers curated by Youtube. Maybe I was searching for the guy who laid down the vocals for Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better with You.”
Youtube: “Hold my beer.”
Next thing I know, I was watching aughts R&B star Craig David sing Rihana’s “Wild Thoughts” over the infectious house loop of Stardust’s dance single from the late 90’s. The mashup is fun, and I love how David and his band let loose in the last third of the performance.
“poetry is a temporal art” by Julian Talamantez Brolaski
it didn’t matter whether time was a thing you believed in or not, whether time was a thing that was real or not, whether it coalesced with space, the space you moved through with your foot on the real earth. you spoke to your lover on a thing called ‘facetime’ because you were far apart in space, hours apart in time, you could not hold each other but you could see each other’s face, you could see the face but not touch it, it was a face as represented by a screen, your faces appeared to each other on this screen and your voices too could be beheld, perceived, in and across time, and across space they could be beheld but not touched, face-to-face you could be, of a kind, but your cheeks could not touch like in the song where the lovers danced cheek-to-cheek, and your lover said they didn’t want to have a relationship through this thing through this ‘face’ and this ‘time’ and you agreed.from “poetry is a temporal art” by Julian Talamantez Brolaski
I subscribe to Poem-a-day from Poets.org, so everyday there is a poem waiting for me in my inbox. I read most. Some I save in a folder. Some I delete.
During November (Native American Heritage Month), I received a poem from a two-spirit indigenous poet, Julian Talamanez Brolaski, entitled “poetry is a temporal art.” It was a dense block of images, emotions, and ideas that excited me with its stream-of-consciousness energy .
Immediately, I sought out Brolaski’s latest book, Of Mongrelitude, on Amazon, but when I went to order it, the site informed me that the book was undeliverable to Qatar. Hmm.
I ordered the book anyway and had it sent to my US address. When I return at some point, I will retrieve the book and explore, enjoy Brolaski’s writing.
Kirsten Dirksen faircompanies.com Youtube channel
As I am enduring the present and imagining a post-Qatar future, I like to think about the home I want to grow old in. Someplace interesting. Maybe a renovation project. Somewhere I can use to host friends and entertain guests.
In order to stoke these daydreams, I watch Kirsten Dirksen’s faircompanies.com Youtube channel. Basically, she goes around filming architecture and renovation projects. One of the videos I found to be personally aspirational was of a church renovation in the Basque Country.
Ugh. To have vast sums of money and a historical building I can customize to my whims. Life is not fair!