The Syrian War Keeps Getting Worse for the People of Aleppo
A year ago, almost to the day, I watched a graffiti artist named Khalifa paint a huge smiley face onto a wall. The wall was pretty much all that remained of the house it had been part of, and every other house on the street was in a similarly bad state. The day before, the street had been hit by a Scud missile: That was Aleppo, Syria, in 2013.
Khalifa had sprayed a slogan next to the smiley face. It read, in Arabic, “Tomorrow this will be beautiful.”
The problem with aggressively mining a single specific site for over a century is that it tends to damage to the local landscape a bit. In Kiruna, for example—a Swedish town that’s been exploiting its iron ore resources since the 1800s—a huge crack caused by extensive digging is now moving towards the suburbs and threatening to swallow up thousands of homes.
How Remote Islands Are Coping with Typhoon Haiyan’s Devastation
Across the Leyte Gulf from the Filipino city of Tacloban, where Typhoon Haiyan killed upwards of 10,000 people, lies the island of Eastern Samar. It was once an under-the-radar tourist destination—its idyllic beaches lined with surf shacks. Today, the island and its largest city, Guiuan, are in shambles, having faced what was perhaps the largest storm in recorded history head on.
Haiyan’s eye passed just miles south of Guiuan early last Friday morning, sending 200-mile winds and a 20-foot storm surge onto its coast. I drove from Tacloban to Guiuan this week to see how this remote community of fishernmen and banana farmers is coping with the catastrophe of a lifetime.
Guiuan is a city made up of 60 barangays, or sub-villages, where around 70,000 people live. According to Kitchy Bayan, secretary to the mayor, there have been 85 reported deaths, 24 missing, and 482 injured. These figures are much smaller than reported deaths in Tacloban, but the numbers don’t include information from the island barangays that are now completely isolated because the storm destroyed the only means of transportation—boats. There is still no electricity across Samar and mobile phone service has yet to be restored. For those who are known to have perished, the end came quickly.
What most people don’t know about Nimrod and I is that we’re hardcore art collectors. It’s in our Belgo-Jew-ish blood to dip our balls into the jaws of the art world, every chance we get. This passion for the finer things in life began a few years ago, when we inherited masterpieces, by the likes of Hirst, Elmyr de Hory, and Ed Harris (imitating Jackson Pollock), from our family’s vast collections.
Sadly, Hurricane Sandy’s flood waters wreaked havoc to our shared multi-million art stash in Chelsea, turning our timeless pieces into floating piles of canvas goo. To cope with our loss—and distract ourselves from the dead, powerless, and homeless hurricane victims we can’t stop hearing about on the news—we skipped uptown to Sotheby’s mega print auction sale. There, we could relish in the company of fellow art kooks who dispose of more Benjamins than any Hurricane Sandy relief fund could muster. My people!
Our flooded loft stank of wet garbage but the cozy air in the auction room smelled of sanitized money which, any art buyer will tell you, is a crotch-tickling aroma. Unless you’re one of those savvy, 2.0 bidding dilettantes who stream auctions and bid online in your underwear, you wouldn’t know what I’m talking about.
Our bidding style is completely below-the-belt, because we’ll do anything to restore the ocular stimuli into our lives. Nimrod even made a move on an elderly buyer who said Sotheby’s relocated her to a nearby hotel with power and running water. If the Sotheby’s scene is real, than all this climate talk must be a hoax.
While we returned empty-handed to our damp apartment, someone walked home with a cool $1.4 million Andy Warhol print. In the words of the great M.O.P. “Yap that fool.” (Zero proceeds from the auction went to the Red Cross.)
Above are some Sotheby’s vs Sandy pictures that give you an idea of what was going on at the fancy auction around the same time the tri-state area was being ravaged.