Brickworks

It was a tense time in Egypt. But then, when hasn’t it been? Anwar Sadat ruled with a velvet fist and things seemed secure, though every bridge and important building was guarded by the military or heavily armed national police. The Brotherhood was deemed a constant threat, along with other more militant religious groups, plus a fear that radical Palestinians could mount attacks. In fact, it would not be many years before Sadat was assassinated by one of those groups of militants.

I was interested, of course, intently so, at the history I knew was unfolding around me. I couldn’t know though the details, or the lasting impact these times would have.

I made my way upriver from Cairo, primarily by train in 3rd class, getting off wherever the urge beckoned. My adventuresome spirit returned for a short interval and I made sure to stay only in minus 2-star hotels. I remember writing  Kate from one of those hotels. We had been together the last time I had visited the Arab world, and I spilled out to her what I was seeing, mixing in those thoughts with the adventures we had had. I reveled in the sights, the culture, the way the Nile was the basis for all.

It was not that far north of Aswan that I ran into Michel and Andy. They were a gay couple, but obviously, given the times and the location, they were circumspect about it. Michel was a Lebanese architect, and Andy was an American psychologist. Apparently they had met at the Sorbonne, and had been together 5 or 6 years when I met them.

Led by Michel, they were intent on improving the life of Egyptians through better use of traditional building methods for houses. This meant improving mud brick construction. That was their dream anyway. When I met them they were erecting several significant sized structures, using manual labor, and only mud bricks. They were working on methods to improve cupolas, and each of their buildings would feature several.

Nearby was the “brick works” … the flat area where the actual mud bricks were made by hand, then left to bake in the 130+ degree F sun. Michel described the process to me. He emphasized how the mud had to be mixed with straw and some camel dung to make sure the bricks were strong and would hold together and last.

I was carried back to these memories a few days ago. It struck me that it’s really only strands of the common and mundane, mixed with little pieces of shit that are what keeps it all together.

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Lament For A Friend – Red Sky In The Morning

Video

large_lament1I didn’t sleep well last night. My aches and pains kept me tossing and turning. Pushing too hard again. And for some reason, Matt, I couldn’t stop thinking of you. All those times we have shared.

Wisdom is not the result of losing something you had. That is but simple regret. Rather wisdom derives from the knowledge and appreciation of what you do have and know someday you will lose.

I have my health. Yours creeps away from you every day, a silent seepage you do not know or realize. How foreign that would be for you if you knew … you, who never did things in increments. You always charged in a massive frontal assault.

The interesting thing I understood is I can isolate when you were at your very prime. No, not those high school days, nor even when you were king of the hill in college. We were what?, in our late 20s when I visited you on the Island Paradise? There you were on top of the world, too. More than the world was your oyster; you were the biggest rooster in the henyard. How you juggled the women!

I marveled how you kept your two not only from cutting each other’s throat, but you actually made them happy. It couldn’t have been easy. But you were always the master politician, playing bravado off of guilt and feigned humility.

How you owned that town. The bars we graced in our light, slim suits and Panama hats! Every night until 5am. There still is no one I’ve met who can out drink you. And then you’d go to work for 9. I at least could sleep until noon before heading to the beach.

And oh, every evening in the bar where you were “Honorary Owner”!  Do you remember how the Entertainer and I were the only ones who had even heard of Jimmy Buffet back then? That was when I knew stuff.  But I was good in that Jimmy set I did with the Entertainer, wasn’t I? At least Maggie thought so …

Maggie.  Yep, I’m sighing. A more perfect goddess I have never ever encountered. How her athletic figure fit so comfortably around my engorged erection as she sat on my lap in the bar all those nights! Her soft kisses smothered me in sensuality as my hands groped wherever the temptation led. And you know, Matt, how Temptation and I have always been the best and fastest friends. We never go anywhere without each other. Even today. Such a pity that her live-in was around that much and managed to interrupt and discover us at so many inopportune times.

That was a magic time for you. I only hope you will always remember it. And I wish I were able to bring back some of that magic. I so wish Robert were still here. He could always make you laugh and took good care of you. He’d be there for you now; he would know how to handle everything. Unlike me. Who feels helpless, useless. Another of my miserable fatal failings come to the fore.

Yes, of course, life was simpler then. But were our castles really made out of such baseless sand? God, I wish I knew

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCyQCNojpQI