Sunday, February 14, 2021

Lebanon had a KFC in 1973 (which proves that the golden age never existed!)

So, apparently, we had a KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) branch in Beirut in 1973.

This is news to me. Not the least because when KFC was introduced to the Lebanese market sometime in the 90s (apologies, have no exact date) they forgot to say that it was a re-introduction to the market. So, I know what you are thinking: Lebanon in the "golden age" and cosmopolitan Beirut at the height of its glory, when the country was "the Switzerland of the Middle Middle East" and "Beirut, the Paris of the orient".

OK, now chill.

I found the ad in an old Annahar issue Dated December 1rst, 1973, when Lebanon was navigating its umpteenth political crisis - if it was not a strike, it was the government falling apart, if it was not the Palestinian fidais, it was an Israeli infiltration, if it was not the president threatening to step down, it was the Prime Minister stepping down, if it was not journalists being arrested, killed or kidnapped, it was the whole convoluted Arab situation where Lebanon always had a dog (but no arms) in the fight.

As a matter of fact, that particular issue of Annahar has a "manchette" that read: "International movement to stop reignition of the fight" in an allusion about the then flammable situation between Egypt and Israel.

Which brings us back to KFC. Actually, what I was doing was researching an artistic project which had a very large "political" angle. And as usual, my findings confirmed by central theory: The was not just one Lebanon, not even a country "a deux vitesses" (on two speeds), but rather on 100 different speeds.

Ads for Christmas regalia cohabitated with political crises, news about political misadventures stood side by side with new play reviews or artists inaugurating their exhibitions at hip galleries with lovely words by the late May Menassa. Confusing? Yes. But doesn't it remind you of anything?

Well, Lebanon has always been this odd, strange, cacophony of voices which happen to live in a land smaller than the Disney World parking lot. Of course it is exhausting, tiring, trying, and exasperating. But digging through so much archive (I admit, more than the original project needed), only made me too aware of the never-ending cycle of political issues of Lebanon. Even through its so-called "golden age", which I repeat - to me never existed (case in point, all those political issues and that teetering at the edge of the abyss we always experienced).

And hey since we are on lockdown they had a day and night delivery service, all you have to do is call 319810-312513. Hmmm, make mine hot please.