Archives for posts with tag: turkey

i was 13, going on 14 when i decided i knew all that is needed to be known and possessed all the wisdom of the world.   it wasn’t until my late 20s when i realized i was wrong.  i was so full of shit during that decade and a half that it ain’t even funny anymore.  i am sure i pissed off a lot of people during that time.  i still do.  but not as obnoxiously as i did then.

when i was 14, i thought i solved all the great mysteries of the world.  i thought i was a post-communist, post-politics, post-religion, post-everything sage.  i liked engaging my religion teachers (we had to take religion classes in those days, in turkey) in heated and provocative arguments, thinking i could challenge and shake their beliefs.  i would name drop, would fancy myself a philosopher, would come up with a half-assed and half-baked theories every five minutes or so, and argue, argue, argue.

and i would try to write.  in complicated sentences that would go for pages, using new found words i was not yet comfortable with.

and, my first serious piece was on leonard cohen.  can’t really make sense of what i wrote those days, but, i think i wrote something to the effect that “leonard cohen should be listened late at night, when your parents (or whoever is in the house) are asleep, in a barely audible volume, to give him the respect he deserves”.   the piece was about 800 words of pretense and bullshit, and, that was the gist of it.  i think.

then i wrote another piece on why i hated lennon’s “imagine” so much, and, why i thought it was a dystopia, not a utopia.   another 800 words of pretense and bullshit that was widely hated, but, i still think i was on to something there.  but, that is another story for another time.

those days, i was wearing out my copy-of-a-copy “songs from a room” album in an old 46 cassette.  god knows how many times i repaired that tape.

my journey to the “songs from a room” was a rapid one, accomplished through sheer luck.  and, to being in the right place at the right time.

i came of age right after the 1980 coup in turkey.  it was a terrible time, on hindsight, but, when you’re in the thick of it, you don’t realize how fucked up it was.

our apartment was right next to a villa in ankara, turkey, that was once the residence of an executed turkish prime minister.  when i was growing up, it was the indonesian embassy.

the late 70s in turkey were bloody years.  the left and the right fought viciously.  every night the one (and only) tv channel would report on the deaths, executions, bombings, so on and so forth.

and, every once in a while, usually a couple of times a month, one left faction or another, and, occasionally a right faction or another, would leave a banner with a little package attached to it on the embassy wall or fence.

my sister is 10 months and 25 days younger than me.  we could have been irish twins if i was born in january instead of june.

she and i knew a lot about those banners and those little packages.  because we saw tons of them.  we knew which ones only made a deafening noise, and, which ones would really hurt you.

the banners were usually left at the crack of dawn.  and, once they were spotted, our little corner of ankara, so called the embassy row, would become a fairground in no time flat:  first the neighborhood lookers, then the lookers from the surrounding neighborhoods, then the meatball sellers with their portable charcoal grills, then the journalists, and, finally the police.  the festivities would conclude until the police take the banner and disarm the package, or, let it explode if it was only a “noise bomb”.

there really was something called a “ses bombası”, or, a “noise bomb”.  not sure what it is these days.    but, those days, i knew what they were and what they looked like and what they could do.

in the summer of ’79, palestinian terrorists raided the egyptian embassy down the street from us, and took hostages.  we first heard the gunshots and the grenades.  and, then the hostage crises lasted about 2 days.  our neighborhood was again like a big country fair.  street vendors in every corner, people hanging out, watching, waiting for something to happen.  including the child me.

seems so surreal now.  as if all that was in an alternate universe.  sometimes, when i recount those days to new friends, i feel as if i am talking about somebody else’s experience, not mine.  but, that was the world i lived on those days.  and, unfortunately it is still the word millions of children still live in.

then the military coup put an end to all the left-right fighting in september 1980.  the military junta brought in a new kind of terror– persecutions, tortures, summary executions.  most of the left was persecuted, if they were lucky; or killed, if they were not, the academia was almost annihilated, most freedoms were suspended, and a very dark period began.

a few short months after the coup, in december, i was watching the news on our black and white tv with my parents.  after the list of the arrests, the names of the people who jumped out of third story windows while in gentle police custody, etc, the news of a british singer who was killed in new york city came up.  there was a memorial service.  there were thousands of people with shock and sadness in their faces, many crying.  i will never forget that footage.  it really moved something in me.

there wasn’t much music in our home.  both my parents loved music before we were born.  but, once we came around, with their work, with us, with everything, i guess there was no time left for music.  the only music in our house was the songs we sang, the music on tv, and, the music on our old transistor radio that my grandmother listened to during the day.  she preferred the radio plays, but, in between them, there would be music.

so, i had no idea whatsoever who that murdered singer was.  what he meant.  but, seeing the faces of his mourners, i felt that he meant a lot.  and i wanted to learn about him.  my parents told me that he had a band called the beatles, but that was that.  there was no place i could find more information.

so, i started to search the radio to find out more, hoping i would hear his music.  in those days, on turkish radio, there were 4 FM channels– three official channels of the government, TRT 1-3, and a fourth, local to ankara, of the turkish police.

ironically, the police channel, known as the “police radio”, in ankara, was the only one that regularly played western popular music.  it broadcasted after 6 pm till midnight, and, played a lot of rock’n’roll.  thursday nights, at 10 pm, they had the concert hour– they would play a live album cover to cover.  but, the signal in our apartment wasn’t strong, and i couldn’t get it at home (until my parents bought me a better stereo radio/ cassette player a few years later).

so, my only option was TRT 3, which, most of the time only played classical music, occasionally jazz, but, once a week, saturday mornings between 11 and noon, popular western music.   a one hour program named “stüdyo FM” by yavuz aydar and şebnem savaşçı.

saturday and sunday mornings were quiet in our home.  both mom and dad worked hard, and, we didn’t start the day early in the weekends.  so, every saturday morning, i would wake up before 11, go to the quietest corner with the best FM reception in our apartment, and, set up our transistor radio and the old tape recorder and its mono microphone, and, wait for stüdyo FM to begin at 11 am sharp.

i would record the entire show, flipping the 60 minute tape as fast as i could so i won’t lose much.  and then i would listen to that tape over and over again the coming week, until the next saturday morning, when that week’s tape will be recorded over.

i wore that cassette so much, repaired it with scotch tape so many times, until it finally was beyond repair.  that is when my parents bought me a new one.  and, i continued recording and listening.

one saturday morning, for whatever reason, i woke up late.  i wasn’t feeling well.  rushed to my corner, set up the radio, found the frequency, and started setting up the tape recorder.  i had to rewind the tape.  and, while i was rewinding it, this simple, but, to my 12-13 year old ears beautiful and sad, song was playing and i was cursing myself for not being able to record it.  the song ended, yavuz aydar said the name of the song and who was singing it, and, the name he gave sounded so much like “the beatles”.

i was excited and extremely sad at the same time– i had begun these recording sessions to find out about john lennon and the beatles, and, after numerous recording sessions, they finally played a beatles song, and, stupid me has missed out and not managed to record it.

i told my parents, and, my ever thoughtful mom bought me a beatles tape.  it was a compilation.  the beatles 1962-66.  i loved every song.  listened to it a million times.  then she bought me the 1966-70.  cassette tapes were very expensive those days.  not the blank ones– but, the official turkish releases with their cover arts.

those two tapes were my treasures.  i memorized every song in them.  but, the song i heard that morning on the radio was not in them.

those days, free access to western popular music, other than the aforementioned limited radio programming, was difficult, if not impossible at best.  the only exception was the small record stores, mostly down on tunalı street, in my neighborhood, and, some in kızılay, a world away for me in those days.

i slowly discovered three record stores in tunalı street.  i was curious, i was nosy, and i liked talking to people.  so i started spending lots of time after school in those record stores.

most people those days couldn’t afford many records.  especially original prints.  there were tons of turkish prints, but, they too were expensive.

so, the record stores made most of their money from compilation tapes or copies.  their windows were covered with handwritten lists of their hundreds of compilation tapes.  they added new tapes almost daily.  and, if you wanted, they would copy the albums to tapes as well.  one album on a 46 minute tape, a compilation usually on a 60 minute tape, and, two albums or one double album on a 90 minute tape.  and then there was the elusive 120 minute tape– but, i haven’t seen one those days– the record store owners would always say the tape in those long cassettes is so thin that it won’t hold proper recordings and would wear off and go to pieces very quickly.  they would either sell you the tape if you didn’t have one (and, there were cassette tapes for every budget), or, you could bring your own tape and they would copy whatever you wanted on it.  copying was reasonable– with my allowance, i could afford one tape a week.

inside a micro shopping mall called the “tunalı pasajı”, there were two record stores next to each other– jazz, ran by a man named deha, who we simply called deha abi, and, another one called “arşiv”.   arşiv was more balls out rock, where, deha abi was into more eclectic and intricate stuff.

first i made a nuisance of myself in the record stores.  loitering, bothering people.  asking stupid questions.

then, slowly, a few of the clerks and owners started accepting me as a fixture after school.  and, they started schooling me, including deha abi.

they were there in that record store all day, listening to music.  their’s was my dream job those days.  mind you, these were small stores in little shopping centers.  usually about 100 square feet, or less, crammed with records and cassettes wall to wall, with a few posters, a few music magazines,  one or two turntables, an amp, and a pair of speakers.  thus, my music education began.

first i went through the entire beatles catalogue.  i would sit there for hours, and they would spin me record after record, telling me tales of the beatles and the evolution of their music.  then, they would play me the artists that inspired the beatles.  and then the artists inspired by the beatles.  it was pure bliss.

[i never found that song that i listened to that saturday morning though- a few years later, i heard it somewhere else and realized, embarrassedly, that it was actually the “new york mining disaster 1941 by the bee gees.  i never liked the bee gees that much, and, when i found out that the song that turned me to the beatles was actually the bee gees, i hid the fact like it was a nasty VD.  oh, well…]

in our neighborhood, there was also an “american library”, ran by the now defunct United States Information Service (USIS).  i got my membership card when i was 13.  there, in tandem with my aural education at the record stores, i delved into the rolling stone magazine and rock’n’roll encyclopedias.   i started learning back stories, musical connections and heritages, etc.  i would read and read and read, and then run to the record stores, and beg my teachers until they let me listen to what i just read on paper.

it was a wonderful time.  like i said, i was lucky- i was in the right place in the right time and met the right people.

i escalated from the beatles to the kinks and then to pink floyd.  i don’t know how it happened but my first pink floyd album was “the final cut”.  i memorized the entire album.  in our english lit classes in junior high, i would recite the lyrics.  then came the rest of the floyd, then hard rock, and then, a thankfully brief period with prog rock (the archetypical ankara record store owners/ clerks loved prog rock– i tried, but never did).

music, that once drizzled in once a week on saturday mornings, started flooding my life.  it was sheer bliss.

one day, i walked into one of my record stores, and, they had a customer i had never seen before, and, he was listening to a really soft, acoustic record.   the singer had a baritone voice, and, was singing about a girl named nancy.  that was really not my style those days– i was listening to “the piper at the gates of dawn” that week, but, the song moved me a lot.  the grown ups in the store told me that the singers name was leonard cohen, and, the song was about a girl named nancy who committed suicide.  i bought a copy of the tape there and then.

that night, and for nights and nights, i listened to “seems so long ago, nancy” and the rest of the “songs from a room” over and over again.   trying to understand and transcribe the lyrics.  that was another one of my past times, transcribing the lyrics as best i could.  when i failed, i would run to the record store, and, copy the lyrics by hand from the album liner notes.

i realized these were not ordinary lyrics.  i did not understand most of the symbolism and the references.  so, when i saw that customer who was listening to cohen when i first heard him again, i started pestering him.  he told me everything that he understood, with the references, and, then i ran back to the american library to read and to read and to read.  that’s when i read the old and the new testaments.  that’s when i started reading poetry and about poetry.

i was a ferocious reader.  my hunger for books were as insatiable as my hunger for music.  and i loved to write.  in 7th grade, in our literature class, my teacher, having taught me at 6th grade as well, assigned me remarque’s “all quiet on the western front” in fall semester for my book report.   apparently he liked (or, most likely humored), all the excited bullshit i came up with in the report, he assigned me marquez’s “one hundred years of solitude” for the spring semester, warning me that it was probably to immature to assign me that book.  to this day i am grateful to him for that assignment.  i went back to “one hundred years of solitude” many times again since then, and, in each reading, i found something new to laugh or cry at, or, something new about me or my life that did not really resonate with me in earlier reading.  but, again, this is a different story for a different time.

so, the third time i saw the guy he turned me into cohen, i was better equipped, had listened to more of his albums, and was full of half-assed theories after half-assed opinions.  the man, like my literature teacher, humored me.  he ran an almost no budget music zine and asked me if i would like to write something about cohen.  would i?  does a fat baby fart?   so came forth the monstrosity i started this tale with.  about listening to leonard cohen in low volume after your parents go to sleep.

[then he asked me if i wanted to write something else, and, i wrote the abovementioned article on why i hated lennon’s “imagine”, and, that was that.  he never asked me again.  like i said, the article was hated by all of the perhaps 30 people who read it.  but, i still think i was on to something there]

leonard cohen’s poetry resonated deeply with me.  first, the raw emotions.  then his paradoxes, his symbolism, his references.  and, finally, his humor.

that’s around the time when i decided that i knew all that is needed to be known and possessed all the wisdom of the world.  i knew my lyrics.  remember, i was the guy who memorized the entire lyrics of “the final cut”.

i knew my dylan by heart.  i thought dylan was the pinnacle of lyric writing (and, he really is as good as it gets), but, leonard cohen was different and much, much better.  

first “nancy”.  how he described her.  how he described how he used her. how he made you feel her solitude, her facade.

then the “famous blue raincoat”.  a letter to a friend/ foe.  love and hate and gratefulness together.  “thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes/ i thought it was there for good/ so i never tried”.  signed “sincerely, l. cohen”.  how could someone write so well?  how could someone feel such conflicting emotions at the same time?

that’s when i had an epiphany–  an epiphany that changed my human interactions, the way i felt about myself completely:  we all feel conflicting emotions at the same time.  and, i was not the only one mixed emotions.  trust me, that kind of epiphany means a lot to a teenager.

but, most songs, till cohen, were too two-dimensional.  they were black and white.  cohen was grey.

that changed a lot since then.  cohen inspired many songwriters.   you will hear cohen tones and motifs in U2’s best album (in my opinion) “achtung baby”– such conflicting emotions.  and, when you read up on the making of the album, you will find cohen right in the middle.  you will hear cohen in nick cave, tom waits, elliott smith, radiohead, nirvana, you name it.  he (more so than dylan), took song lyrics from one or two dimensional to three, and, to the grey.

dylan liked surreal and avant garde symbolism and references.   cohen went biblical and visceral.  both had the same self-deprecating humor.  cohen was more sincere and humble.

i breathed in everything they did, but, cohen always resonated with me more frequently.  there is some dylan i cannot live without.  but, i cannot live without all cohen.

then the ’90s rolled around.  i betrayed cohen with first the screaming trees, then solo lanegan, nirvana, etc.  first i wanted loud, then i wanted more cheerful, then i wanted more complex.  people always say cohen is dark.  he is.  but, he is also light.  with his humor and hope.  but, i wanted pure cheer.

the beatles, floyd, stones, kinks, clash, radiohead, hendrix, purple, zeppelin, television, talking heads, waits, dylan, simone, zappa, beefheart, lanegan, screaming trees, nirvana, james carr, junior kimbrough, otis, cash, and everything in between.   i listened and listened and listened throughout the 90s.

but, don’t know why, didn’t go back to cohen.   every once in a blue moon i would hear cohen somewhere and smile.  but that was that.

then, one night, i was watching a nick nolte film called “the good thief”.  and this beautiful song started playing in the soundtrack.  and i immediately recognized that voice.  here was cohen, with a new song, singing about how the ponies ran, how the odds were stacked, how he was turning tricks, and how deep a thousand kisses were.

i fell in love all over again.  got the new album, got the live albums i didn’t have.  and never neglected him since.

i am 46 now.  the traditional length of a one single album.  and i still read ferociously and listen to tons of music, new and old.  i assume, or even impose, the teaching method of my record store owner/ clerk friends, playing song after song, mostly without finishing them in their entirety, to my friends.  i still read whatever i can find about music.  still search after the back-story of what i am listening.

i am not as obnoxious as i used to be, but, still manage to piss of people on a daily basis.  but, now, it is a little more intentional, and lots more fun.  i am still arrogant, but, have a little more to back my arrogance.  at least now i am aware that i don’t know all that is needed to be known and possess all the wisdom of the world.  i don’t write in long sentences any more.  i try to use words that i am comfortable with.  don’t name drop or pollute my immediate environment with half-assed half-baked ideas and theories any more either.  i bake them behind closed doors before unleashing them on unsuspecting victims.

but, i still prefer to listen to cohen late at night.  when there is no one around.  when i can have his music all to myself.  or, on headphones, as personal as it gets.  that never changed.

despite all my pretentious writing when i was 14, i guess i had one valid point– cohen’s music is very personal.  it is a form of meditation, a form of reflection. and not in a soaked in tofu new age bullshit way.   i learned his music that way, and, through his songs, i learned a lot about myself, my limitations, my emotions, humility, humor, and life.  he makes you think, dream, and ponder more than any other musician i know.

yesterday he passed.  as it goes, we are all born to die, and live to die.  you live however you want to (or can) live, and then you die.  when your time is up, your time is up.  and his time was up.

he finished his journey gracefully, like bowie did less than a year before him.    he said and sang that he was ready.  listen to his farewell album, “you want it darker”, or, read this wonderful new yorker article/ interview that was printed a few months before he passed if you don’t believe me.

he was 82 and his time was up.  that’s is unavoidable.  when your time is up, your time is up.  i hate cliches, but, i can’t avoid this either: what he left behind is immortal.  what he left behind is such a magical ouevre that it has the almost mystical ability to resonate differently with each listener.  a magical public body of work that is as personal as they come.

rest in peace mr. cohen.  and forgive my transgressions against you when i was young and foolish.  i betrayed your genius and elegance with my convoluted and pretentious prose.

but, i never stopped loving you.  you are in me. like you are in millions upon a millions.  and, i became who i am partially because of you.

and, for everything you have given me, and for everything that you will continue to give me, thank you very much.


a. beskardes

ps. i know “hallelujah” is over played. so is “dance me to the end of love”. or “everybody knows”.  still, listen to them.  and, it is impossible for me to say what my favorite cohen song is.  but, if you haven’t heard them yet (which is unlikely if you bothered to read this), here is a list, in no particular order, of what i would have played you if i had a record store today, and you stumbled in, asking about leonard cohen:

“what’s happening in turkey?”– thanks for asking friends– i’ve been commenting in turkish for the last few hours on social media, and many asked for english commentary. the short and true answer is “i don’t know”.
what i know is there was a “coup attempt” (or, an “attempted coup-attempt”, whatever the hell that means, according to the turkish government pundits). who is really involved, to what extent, how many people died, who is injured, what damage the cities have suffered, etc. is unknown. turkish government, as usual with attacks and tragedies, has shut down most forms of social media. citizens are resorting to VPNs and other circumventions to communicate. i am receiving emails, messages, comments, etc from friends in turkey asking me what’s going on in turkey and what the foreign press is reporting. they have little or no access to information there. and, social media, (and, for that matter media), as usual, is full of disinformation and all shades of propaganda.
i am receiving anecdotal reports from all over the country. people stuck behind barricades with their infant children, guns and tanks ablaze, mass arrests, a coup soldier who was executed on a bridge by having his throat cut (and a video of it), so on and so forth. there are rumors of fighter jets crashing, or bombing, or engaging in dogfights. there are rumors of numerous civilian deaths. of course there are no official numbers– and, when and if they’re released, i fear the numbers will be greatly falsified as it was the case in the tragedies and the bombings of the last few years.
in the meantime, the “military” leaders are calling the soldiers behind the coup back to their barracks. but the top brass of the turkish military are MIA. all the orders, news, etc. are coming from second tier commanders.
there are rumors that the joint chief of staff is held hostage. but no real verification.
the turkish government quickly blamed fethullah gulen and his merry band of dissenters. they’ve been calling his group a terrorist organization, sans any terror attacks.
allegedly, a faction in the military, controlled by the gulen movement, is behind the coup. which sounds like an impossibility to me. at least, the fact that such a marginalized portion of the military can organize a coup without the knowledge of the regime sounds implausible and i am not the only one.  the washington times actually wrote an article on this back in april, arguing how the rumors of a potential coup d’etat is actually helping recep tayyip erdogan, the president of the turkish republic, politically.  
the perceived “impossibility” of a military coup is also making the conspiracy theories discussed below more plausible.
but, if the government can establish a gulen link, one way or another, it will pave the way for the turkish president erdogan to achieve one of his long-term dream of gulen’s extradition back to turkey.  a dream which has been futile so far.
gulen and erdogan were once allies.  but, a few years ago they fell apart and have been engaged in a feud ever since.  a feud that has resulted in purges, persecutions and scandals like the now infamous corruption scandal of december 17, 2013, that would topple any democratic government anywhere but in turkey.  a scandal which had very serious implications for erdogan, his immediate family, and his cronies, with taped phone conversations, but was quickly brushed under the carpet.  and a scandal that was recently resurrected in the highly publicized federal trial of reza zarrab in the southern district of new york.
so far, the US government has refused to extradite gulen.  designating his group as a terrorist organization sans any real acts of terrorism was not enough.  but, if this coup is somehow tied to him, the US government’s position on the extradition may change.
this is one of the reasons why the turkish social media denizens predominantly think that the coup is either planned or permitted by erdogan.
the other reason is the simple fact that erdogan is pining for a presidential system in turkey.  in social media, the term “sultan” is even used. erdogan has implied himself, numerous times, how he sees himself as a caliph, or a sultan, and how he wishes to resurrect the ottoman empire.  though these statements may seem delusional if they were heard from anyone else, when they come from erdogan’s mouth, it sends shivers down democratic citizens’ spines.  and, social media is full of “fan pages” for the “grand master”, a term his dedicated followers use for erdogan, started by his supporters, chuck full of ottoman and ultra nationalistic fantasies, xenophobia, and rampant anti-semitism. 
the anti-semitism goes so far that yeni akit (the new covenant), a radical newspaper aligned with erdogan, calls gulen and everyone close to him jews, and, during the last elections, published anti-semitic cartoons akin to 1930s weimar germany, depicting jews as cockroaches, and, anyone not aligned with them as an israeli puppet or a jew.
the cartoon above has gulen, on a leash, rabid looking, rode by a “jew”, about to be unleashed on turkey.  the caption of the front page story is “siyon-piyon ittifakı”, meaning “zionist-pawn confederacy”.  on gulen, the words “paralel şeyler”, which means “parallel things”, are written.  “parallel” is the term the erdogan regime uses for the gulen movement– for allegedly running a parallel government in turkey.  sadly for reportage and evidentiary purposes, but happily for human decency, most of these cartoons “vanished” after the elections.  though one can still find them if they know where to look.
erdogan has a dream of presidency (currently he is the president of the republic- which is a more symbolic post than say a prime minister in the parliamentary system). he wants a presidential system, which requires a constitutional change. he tried to achieve this through democratic means, but, the last two elections backfired, he couldn’t reach the parliamentary majority needed for the constitutional change.
the first elections, in june 2015, preceded by dubious violence, resulted in a stalemate, and erdogan called for a snap election was called for november 2015.   erdogan, who, as the president of the republic, constitutionally had to take a neutral stance, lobbied intensively for his party, AKP (justice and development party), and a constitutional reform for an executive presidency.  it was reported that erdogan, through the presidential office, had spent 109 million euros for the campaigns, which is a violation of the turkish constitution.  obviously, nothing came of it and the matter was closed.
the violence leading to the election was very interesting: the main threat to AKP and erdogan’s absolute power was the peoples’ democratic party (HDP), which has grassroots kurdish support.  bombs exploded in their events, and there were other senseless acts of violence.   the kurds were blamed.  especially kurdistan workers’ party, PKK, a terrorist organization.  but, they were nothing close to what will happen before the november snap elections.
HDP gained surprising power in the parliament at the june 2015 elections, winning 80 seats, which would have shifted the balance of the parliament, and would have put erdogan’s presidential plans in jeopardy.
needless to say, the parties couldn’t come up with a coalition, all post-election scenarios were rejected, especially by erdogan, and the november’s snap elections were called.
leading up to the november elections, bombings and terrorism escalated and was almost always contributed to the kurdish terrorists.   the election was preceded by the deadliest terrorist attack in turkey’s modern history, after two suicide bombers killed 102 people attending a peace rally in central ankara.
and, with every bomb, with every attack, kurdish terrorists were blamed (even though in most instances they were killing their fellow kurds), and, erdogan and AKP came with the propaganda that HDP = PKK, shifting any sympathy  the voters would have with HDP.
because of the violence, opposition parties suggested postponing the elections to no avail.  and erdogan campaigned furiously for his former party, AKP– again in violation of the constitution.
needless to say, the election, again with rampant documented electoral fraud, resulted in a “shocking” victory for AKP– they nearly reclaimed all the seats they lost five months earlier, winning 49.5% of the votes, and establishing a government without a coalition; but, not reaching the parliamentary majority for securing the constitutional changes required for erdogan’s dream of executive presidency.  and the “evil” HDPs seats fell to 59 from 80, just five months ago.
violence continued after the elections.  a bomb exploded, guns were fired, all at strategic times, when erdogan or AKP was in hot waters.  those coincidences, and the fact that the government had constructive knowledge of the attacks before they happened, fed the conspiracy theory that erdogan and/ or the government is behind the attacks, trying to establish enough fear through terror to secure absolute power and the executive presidency.
the people of turkey, which is the original melting pot, with many different ethnicities, cultures, religions living together, became more and more polarized.
erdogan and AKP continued to implicate HDP as supporters of kurdish terrorism. a very strong innuendo in the public eye was created– HDP=terrorism and turmoil. erdogan likes and uses the old dictatorial maxim “either you’re with us or against us”.
in the meantime, erdogan continued to lose credibility globally.  his actions, often almost surreal, made turkey not only an international security concern, but a laughing stock.  he sued a physician for stating that his facial expressions look like gollum of the lord of rings,  sued and asked for the extradition of a german comedian for a song mocking him,  along with over 2,000 other people he sued for insulting him, since he took the presidency in 2014.
over 2,000 people sued for insulting the president, including tons of journalist, who were merely expressing their opinions and the freedom of press.
erdogan’s credibility suffered more when he tried to pick up a fight with putin by shooting down a russian air force plane (blaming russia, the russians releasing documents tying him and his son to smuggling ISIS oil through turkey, and then back-peddling and apologizing), blaming israel for everything under the sun (and then back-peddling once more), supporting ISIS in his fight against the kurds (and putting the journalist who publish the documents of the support in prison), etc.  such loss of credibility and behavior resulted in him receiving the cold shoulder from the obama administration in his last “official” visit to the US.
the opposition parties tried to oust him through legal means.  a president in a parliamentary system is not legally culpable, accountable, or prosecutable for their private or public actions.  turkish constitution only allows for prosecution and impeachment for treason.  treason is not defined in the turkish constitution–  but the turkish penal code traditionally declares alliance with the enemy, acting against the national benefit, damaging the country’s unity, etc. as treason.  which the opposition claimed, albeit unsuccessfully, for erdogan.   achieving this would be impossible at the current parliament without the support of AKP, erdogan’s party and the majority.
which brings us to the “attempted coup”.  such attacks, terrorism, polarization, the loss of credibility, and now the “attempted coup”, actually, as the social media denizens believe (at the expense of sounding like a conspiracy theorist), paves the road to erdogan’s presidency/ sultanship.
you see, the current constitution of turkey gives immense powers to the president of the republic, erdogan, when marshall law or a state of emergency is declared. and that’s what just might happen. and, this could, possibly, enable him to call for early elections, dissolve the government and the parliament, etc.  that was the guess of the washington times, cited above, back in april.  
this chaos actually may help him obtain the presidential system he pines for and get gulen in his hands– two birds with one stone, and, hence the conspiracy theories.
erdogan was vacationing in marmaris, at a “businessman’s” mansion, when this happened. the little cove where the house is has been shut down to the public for a while according to sailor and vacationing friends.
the first few hours he was nowhere to be found. then, he spoke to the people through facetime– a very strange address– he basically called the people, his supporters, to the streets, even though the government has issued a curfew.
his words were strong and provocative– it was almost akin to a call for civil war. and, very very reckless.
immediately afterwards, we started receiving anecdotal reports of “people” gathering in plazas and around the istanbul ataturk airport where erdogan was supposed to land at.
then, there were reports from the NBC and the daily beast that erdogan was trying to flee the country, broadcasting from a plane, and his request to land at the istanbul airport and then in germany was denied. both NBC and daily beast based their reports on sources in the US. veracity of it is not established and people all over the social media were tracking his plane through flight tracker.
and all this culminated in an attempted coup that failed spectacularly.  it was half-baked.  there were no apparent leaders (which coup d’etats almost always have), no real or obvious plans, nothing.
it feels as if this coup was designed to fail.
no matter what, turkey is in ruins as i type this.  fear is immense.  confusion is rampant.  security is a nostalgia.  people with any democratic and/ or humanist tendencies have lost all hope with their confidence in the government.  and this is where we are.
so, again, my honest and simple answer is i don’t know what’s happening (and i doubt that we will know what really happened anytime soon). what i know is there is too much propaganda (black, grey, and white) and disinformation, so beware of what you hear and read (even what i wrote, which is just a summary of what i know and what i think and what i suspect and what i presume and what i speculate).  stay tuned, will post whenever there is something verified to be posted.
and let’s hope that the days i will post happy and proud things about my beloved turkey will come soon…

this crawled into my inbox today.  a first hand report from istanbul, turkey– about the protests and the revolt going on out there.  the diarist’s name is not published, due to his request.  we respect that.  apparently our man in istanbul had  a rough ride the last few weeks.  his writing and articulation deteriorates towards the end but we should cut him some slack. these are terrible times in istanbul and consider this a public service announcement.  we are publishing it verbatim- kicking off with his introduction to us.  if you like it say so and share.  if you find it offensive, just click on a different blog.


diarist’s intro:

i am a chapuller.  or a çapulcu if you’re linguistically inclined.  i just found out i am a chapuller last week.  before that i was a simply a man.  a professional.  a somewhat decent human being.  but, now, i am a chapuller.  and i take pride in it.  according to the mighty wikipedia, what i am is a neologism.  i looked it up– obviously it derives from greek words, like almost everything else.  apparently it means a new utterance or speech; a brand spanking new term of the english lexicon.  it sure don’t feel that way.  according to wikipedia, we should avoid neologisms.  such avoidance would defeat the purpose of my existence, rendering me null and void.  but that’s what avoidance does– renders you null and void.  i don’t avoid any more.  i don’t seize, i don’t desist.  i am a chapuller and i am damn proud of it.

chapulling was born in my beautiful turkey.  a nice mediterranean country.  as a people, i would say we’re the perfect fraternity special cocktail– throw in turks, arabs, kurds, armenians, levantines, jews (mostly sephardic, some ashkenazi), greeks, bulgarians, albanians, lebanese, and anyone else you can find in a 2,000 mile radius in a blender and you have us.  we live in the original melting-pot.

it is easy to figure out why– just take a look at a map.  if you forgot how, just google “map”.  turkey, or the land known as asia minor, is a natural bridge between asia and europe– the two continents that historically meant something.  people traveled through turkey for thousands of years– it was a bridge they had to cross.  some invaded, others passed through; but, many, many stayed behind.  hence the cocktail.

we turks were the last invaders and we’ve been holding on to this beautiful land for a thousand years.  we started our invasion in 1071– just five years after the battle of hastings– interesting coincidence– i guess it was a period of upward mobility for the normans and the turks.

anyways, our language always had a term– çapulcu– which basically meant a looter or a marauder.  i was christened one on june 2nd, 2013.  this is my story.

i won’t bore you with the “i woke up, took a crap, and went to work again” bits of my diary– rather, i’ll only reprint my evolution from man to chapuller.  the rest is irrelevant.  at least to you.

may 23, 2013

today i woke up late.  i shouldn’t have woken up at all.   everything started the way it should– morning coffee, skipping breakfast (sorry mom, i know!), work, then, given it is a thursday (best night to go out), drink and food with the same old friends.  same old bullshit over and over again until someone got a tweet and we heard of a new legislation passed by our wise parliament just before midnight (governments like catching us with our pants down, don’t they?)– apparently no more alcohol sales at stores after 10 pm.  huh?

we continued drinking and debating (more and more imbibed, but still somewhat coherent), the ramifications of this new piece of legislation.  we had an american friend at the table.  some ivy league washout who decided to grace istanbul with his presence, teaching english as a second language, after a bad break-up, like many before him.  istanbul is becoming more and more an expats city.  i don’t blame them, it is magical.

anyhow, our friend said, “what’s the big deal?  we had such laws in the US forever”.  according to him, apparently americans have they call “blue laws”– each state enacts its own law and prohibits the sale of alcohol after certain hours, and, most definitely, on sundays– the holly day for christians.  he even told us that there are “dry counties” in the US– places where you cannot legally buy alcohol.  he even claimed that the place where jack daniels is made is actually a dry county.  we chuckled.

we didn’t take him seriously and debated till the wee hours.   most of it is blurry and i am drunk as it gets.  enough for now.

may 24, 2013

i woke up with a colossal headache and dragged my stupid ass to work.  why, oh why, drink so much on a school night?  yeah, the legislation was an excuse for the libations, but since when did i need excuses for getting shitfaced?  just another run of the mill thursday night.

i hate hangovers but don’t know how to avoid them.  actually, i do know how to avoid them but never practiced what i preach when it’s booze and excess.

the entire day was a waste but i looked up my friend’s claims about american laws on the internet and turns out he wasn’t bullshitting.  then, i read the government’s pundits on twitter and they were reciting our american buddy’s exact same argument– their argument was uncannily verbatim– perhaps they were getting their drink on at the next table last night?   what they said boils down to “the americans do it, why don’t we?”…  i’ll tell you exactly why but i don’t have the energy.  the days of walking and sweating off a hangover by noon are long gone.  i am miserable.

came home straight after work.  my girlfriend came by around 8 pm, took one look at my hungover self and left, rabbitting off something about a brunch tomorrow.  i passed out on the couch watching a documentary on penguins.  woke up around 2 am with a raging hard-on, and the penguins still parading around.  penguins, really?  hangover erections know no shame.

may 25, 2013

we took a boat to bebek for brunch.  when the weather is right, there is no place like the bosporus.  i’ve seen it a zillion times and each time it feels like a gabriel garcia marquez novel.  surreal, magical, and mythical.  it is the most gorgeous place on earth.  i remember one early morning, drunk as usual, and seeing a school of dolphins doing their nautical show in the mist– sheer magic…

there were eight of us (nine if you count the freeloader who sat down for 15 minutes drinking our tea, eating our food).  our american friend was with us again and the conversation turned to the new legislation again.  this time around in complete sobriety.

i first asked him if he is moonlighting as a spinmaster for AKP (for the uninitiated, the justice and development party, turkey’s governing political machine) and its fearsome leader, mr. recep tayyip erdogan, the prime minister (AKP and RTE, respectively, from here on).  he just laughed.

we were civil, we let him make his case for respecting other people’s rights, how democracy had to be fettered for the greater good, etc, etc.  felt like listening to an oasis track– derivative and boring.

we really had to school him about turkey, and the eastern hemisphere in general.  you see, there is no one-size-fits-all in political theory.  you have to take into account the country, its conditions, its people, or the “stakeholders” like the academicians call them, etc, before prescribing a cure or a solution.  what works in turkey most likely ain’t gonna work in the US and vice versa.  we are different people evolved through different traditions, cultures, needs, demands, so on and so forth.

to make sense of our brunch discussion, a little detour through history is absolutely necessary: turkey is a spin-off of the once mighty ottoman empire.  the once mighty ottoman empire, besides being a powerful force, was also the vatican of the muslims.  the sultan, or as we used to call him the padişah, was also the caliph, the ruler of all muslims.

like all empires before and after it, the ottoman empire declined slowly and became a sad shadow of its once glorious self.  but, it held on to its delusions of grandeur, which led to its demise.

its demise was ugly– after the first world war, it was divided between the winning nations and the padişah said, simply leave me my title and my palace, and do whatever the fuck you please with the rest of the country.

we, the people, wouldn’t have none of it– we started a war of independence, led by mustafa kemal (later “ataturk”), our hero, our george washington.  we fought hard, we fought well, and won our independence in 1923.  we established a democracy, a republic, and started catching up with the western world.

to catch-up, we had to change our way of life– in less than five years, we adopted the western alphabet, initiated one of the most aggressive literacy campaigns of history, gave the women the right to vote, modernized our clothing, changed our calendar to justinian, adopted the metric system for measures, and established the rule of law.  yeah, we were plagiaristic in the last measure buy why reinvent the wheel?  we simply reviewed all the modern laws of western countries and took the ones that worked the best, and that would fit our culture.

ataturk, during that time, even did his due diligence on the two emerging fresh political waves- fascism and communism, but decided they weren’t for us and settled on democracy.

we also demolished the caliphate– we were humble and secular– we had no business in claiming to be the prophet incarnate, or ruling other people outside of our borders.

try this on for size– how many countries can go through this many changes in five years?  many revisionists simply shrug and say “ataturk was a dictator and any dictator could have done this”.  i call that world-class bullshit– ataturk died in 1938– if all the changes were forced via dictatorship, we would have reverted back to our old ways in no time flat.  but that didn’t happen.  we prospered and started building a decent sized economy and a happy people from the rubbles of the first world war and our fight for independence.

why am i explaining all this?  to emphasize how we embraced secularism and how easily we, as a people, can change.  we can change, and adopt to changes, at the blink of an eye.  perhaps it is because we predominantly came from nomads.   it is our biggest blessing and our worst curse.  we adopt, we survive, but we also change– our identity is shiftier than a billboard lawyer.  it is a blessing and a curse.

i’ll go off on another tangent here– bear with me– it will all make sense at the end: physicists cannot still explain precisely what “time” is.  i don’t know much about “time”, as a vector or a dimension or whatnot, but i know that “western time” is not the same as “eastern time”.

western time is quicksilver, eastern time is molasses.   western time is leaps, eastern time is a baby crawl.  western time is instant gratification, eastern time is deferred.  western time is a revolution, eastern time is an evolution.

as far as time is concerned, western folks got desensitized.  their concept of time is instantaneous– if something happens now, it exists– if it will happen tomorrow, it doesn’t.  it is all video montages, sound clips, and big thumbs-ups.

eastern time is about patience.  eastern time is the fateful acceptance that the next generation, or the one after them, will reap what you sowed.

western time is the time-lapse clip of a seed blooming into a flower; eastern time is meditating over it, assured that someday the seed will bloom into a forever, whether you’ll be there to smell it or not– someone will be there to smell it and that’s what matters.

cognizance of these tangents was the great divide between us and our american friend.  he did not see a minor regulation banning the sale of alcohol at stores after 10 pm as a big threat to our democracy.  he did not see the minor but persistent attacks on freedom of speech, religion and press as threats either.

he didn’t take them seriously because neither amounted to an islamic revolution by itself.  he operated on a different time wave– he did not have the inherent patience to sit and watch the seed grow, millimeter by millimiter.  unless the revolution was televised, with time-lapse tricks and 10 word soundbites, it did not happen.  we tried to explain him what was going on was an evolution, not a revolution, and, therefore, more dangerous.

taken individually, the limits on our freedoms did not matter much– but, taken in their entirety– now that’s another story.

that’s what scared us– we saw the pattern– starting with headscarves (or “türbans” as we called them), crawling slowly to the latest ban on alcohol.  next thing you know, let’s prohibit alcohol sales on fridays.  next thing you know, let’s give municipalities the right to ban alcohol outright.  next thing you know, for common decency, and for not hurting the feelings of devout muslims, let’s ban it in public places completely.   next thing you know, let’s ban private consumption too while we are at it.  and, you know what, those public spaces where people used to drink, now young couples are commingling and committing amoral acts offensive to our devout citizens– let’s ban the commingling of the sexes as well.

let’s use america as an excuse– let’s ban the teaching of evolution in our schools– americans are still discussing it in 2013, aren’t they?  let’s ban abortions.  let’s ban prostitution, which we used to run clean and tax the shit out of.  let’s close down all the restaurants during ramadan– serving succulent food while our devout citizens are fasting is insensitive!

while we are at it, let’s visit the feasibility of a new caliphate and a new padişah as well, shall we?  let’s inflate the egos of our people with romantic notions of our glorious past, sell them pipe dreams, sing them lullabies of grandeur.  hush a bye lil’ turk, go to sleep, go to sleep.  when you wake up, you’ll be a serf in a dictatorship, but the romantic notions and the illusions of grandeur will keep you going at full-steam until you realize it is too late.  you can change and adopt quickly, can’t you?  here is your task, are you up for it?

when you’re the legacy of such a majestic empire, when you were ruled by the caliphate, pushing religion is just like handing out a cold beer to a recovering alcoholic on a muggy summer day, saying “hold this for me for a minute, will ya?”, and disappearing   we all know how that story ends.

if we do all these overnight, we are iran, we are shunned… but, if we do it over a decade, it is democracy as usual.  no time-lapse clips, no western frowns.

AKP and RTE know this too well– they already took most of the baby steps.  the dissenting journalists are in prison, the secular soldiers are bunking with them, the media has one voice and one voice only, freedom of speech went down the drain years ago, and things are proceeding according to the plan, on eastern time.

and AKP and RTE continue to thrive, while the west watches silently, applauding them as chosen leaders (and don’t even get me started on how the elections were bought and sold), and turkish democracy ticking away like swiss clockwork.

until its too late and you realize your baby grew to be an angry teenager without you realizing.  then comes the time-lapse clips, the soundbites, and the volumes on “how the fuck did this happen?”, but it is too late to do anything anymore…

that was the gist of our schooling during brunch today.  i think our friend started seeing where we are coming from.  he is not completely sold– he still believes that a staged “mission accomplished” banner is all it takes; but, we can’t blame him, he is on western time and the western state of mind.

after brunch, we took a nice walk and then went home with my girlfriend.  made love, hanged out, made love again, argued whether or not she told me she slept with 16 guys before me when we first met (she claims 9 now), ate, hanged out more, and fell asleep.  it was a good day.

may 26, 2013

woke up late.  vegged out in the house all day.  more sex was inevitable.  did nothing productive or meaningful.  was the perfect day.

may 27, 2013

went to work cheerful.  during the commute, i thought more about the alcohol ban and saw an opportunity.  oh, i forgot to mention, we turks love, love our shortcuts and once in a lifetime opportunities.  i knew there was nothing we could do about the ban– why not profit from it in a vigilante sense?  open a few underground stores and sell alcohol after 10 pm.  like the speakeasies, but in a take-out model.  nothing like the black market for much needed cash.  did you think they don’t broadcast the “boardwalk empire” in turkey?  shit…

came home pumped, started working on a half-baked business plan.  will look at a few spaces the next few days.

may 28, 2013

work, work, work.  during lunch and after work looked at a few available basements.  no need to find a major supply-chain– i can go to supermarkets and load up on wine, beer, and liquor and sell ’em with a good mark-up.  will approach wholesalers after i make some money.  i am sure a new industry will emerge.

girlfriend on a business trip.  won’t be back until thursday morning.

masturbated.  internet is a wonderful thing.  realized, just before climax, the tv on mute was showing penguins again.

may 29, 2013

more work, more real estate agents.  not sure which is more depressing.

didn’t jerk off– if i am all spent and slow in completing the deed, girlfriend will grow suspicious.

may 30, 2013

had an epiphany on the way to work.  i’ll buy some scooters and bikes and have messengers deliver the booze.  create twitter and facebook accounts for taking orders.  ain’t technology great?

girlfriend called during lunch.  her flight back was a-ok.  she told me about some protest in taksim, the epicenter of istanbul.  apparently AKP and RTE are planning to build something in gezi parki, the last remaining green oasis in my beautiful city.  what’s next?  pave over the bosporus?  agreed to meet her in taksim after work.  have to look at a few basements there anyways.

dealt with a new obnoxious real estate agent (do they come in any other flavor?), and made it to gezi parki.  it is like a college yard– lots of young people picnicking, reading books, hanging out.  asked her to give me the skinny on the protest.

apparently AKP and RTE want to build a shopping mall after razing the park.  here is another thing about them– their’s is an infinite hunger.  since they got the power, they got rich, their families got rich, their friends got rich, friends of their friends got rich, and they covered the entire country in concrete.  i hear that now they are planning to rezone the national parks and concrete ’em over as well.  shameless, that’s all i can say.

the only thing AKP and RTE learned from western time and mentality is instant gratification when it comes to worldly greed.  they want it now and they want it all.

i am not a protest type of guy but couldn’t say no to the girlfriend.  it wasn’t much of a protest anyhow– lots of young bright things hanging out peacefully, doing their own thing, and having a merry old time.  apparently yesterday saw some police action and water cannons.  but today was quite.

went to her apartment this time.  she needed to unpack and tomorrow she has the day off.  sex was great.  glad i didn’t jerk off last night.

may 31, 2013

work again.  is this how i am gonna live until i retire?  going somewhere i totally despise everyday, and doing things that make me nauseous?  there should be a better way to live out our years.  intelligent design, minttelligent design, or random evolution, i don’t care either way– i am 100% sure we are not designed to live like this.

girlfriend called me just before lunch.  she said things were heating up at the protest.  she said she was scared and asked me to come by.

when i arrived, the protest was nothing like the day before.  there were hundres of police officers and they had their ugly assault vehicles on the ready.  thinks started heating up– i heard a bang and started smelling something sharp and acidic.  someone yelled “teargas” and panic ensued.

the rest of the day is a blur.  midnight found us in besiktas, just a neighborhood away from taksim.  my whole body was aching.  i’ve never known such pain.  not sure how many plastic bullets, pressurized water, electrical batons, and teargas my body absorbed.  girlfriend has a little cut on her forehead.  i think i tried to protect her and everyone around me as much as i can but i am not very sure.

people started building barricades.  feels like the paris ghetto all over again.  feels like civil war.  there are thousands of people and hordes of police.

called my mom in ankara to make sure she wasn’t worried about me.  she asked me why she should be worried?  wasn’t she watching what was going on in TV?  she said there is nothing on TV.  there was coverage of a beauty contest and now she is watching a documentary on penguins.  despite my aching body, and despite the voice of my mother on the other end, i felt an erection emerging.  i hanged up.

mother called half an hour later– she said she was curious and checked online and saw on the BBC site what was happening.  apparently everyone but the turkish media was reporting on our protest.

around 6 am, we decided to call it quits and made it home.  i am telling you, with all the police, fires, and the barricades, it was an ordeal.

we tended to each others wounds, and then, surprisingly we had the best sex we had in a while– apparently adrenalin does wonderful things to the libido.

june 1, 2013

we slept some, if you can call it sleep, and then went out again.  it was a war zone.  tweets started coming from all over about protests in other cities.

everyone was on the streets. and this time, it wasn’t only the bright young things of the last few days.  everyone was out– old, young, from all walks of life– and they were united against the police brutality and AKP/ RTE.  i guess gezi parki was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

i don’t know what i can tell you– much of it is pretty well documented in the international media.  i guess “carnage” is the only word that explains what we saw.  we were beaten down, hosed down, gassed, down, and then some more.  but we felt a sense of purpose and we were united.

we heard reports of hospitals and infirmaries being attacked by the police, injured folks gassed down in emergency rooms, people losing eyes, suffering broken bones.  we heard of people dying but thankfully most reports turned out to be false.

then they started gassing us with an orange chemical.  other protestors said it was agent orange.  the government later vehemently denied it– they said it was just colored teargas.   i am not sure what it was but it sure hell wasn’t teargas.  it burned my skin like acid.

somehow we made it home just before daybreak.  everything we passed by was broken down and ruined, everything was burning.  hotels, restaurants, stores that should have been closed were offering shelter.   i heard from someone that they sought refuge in a whorehouse– the prostitutes offered them food and drinks– the person said “i’m not sure who the real whores are– those inside the house, or those outside”.  that will stay with me forever.

when we got home, we showered, cleaned our wounds, and passed out.  adrenaline carries libido so far.

june 2, 2013

can’t believe it’s been a week since our last peaceful sunday– feels like forever.

cruised the internet after a quick breakfast.  i guess my eyes must have been more swollen from the gas than i thought they were– the swollen eyes and the batons to my head must have made me see triple or quadruple– the turkish media finally started reporting on our revolt and claimed that about a hundred protestors were responsible for the mayhem and only a handful were injured.  the thousands i saw fighting on the streets, and the hundreds i saw limping with blood all over them must have been an illusion.

i was very happy to see the international protests though– apparently our revolt not only made it quickly to all the major turkish cities, but also caught up globally as well.  there were protests everywhere– from amsterdam and london to los angeles and the zuccotti park in new york city.

people from all around the world gave us their support.  with tens of thousands protesting and risking life and limb in all major turkish cities, the international support was a jolt of much needed energy.

despite our better judgment, and aching bodies, we made it to the streets again in the early afternoon.  this time we were not only greeted by the police, but also with shady characters holding big sticks and wearing police helmets.  RTE’s boys finally joined the party.

we fought, we resisted, we chanted, we did not give up.  this wasn’t a revolt anymore, it was a national awakening.

june 3, 2013

today i woke up a man, went to bed a chapuller.  eat it kafka.  my metamorphosis was complete.  you see, RTE finally made a statement and called us “a handful of çapulcus”– i guess we were looters.  i am sure there were some looters after all the mayhem, but all the protestors i’ve seen were actually cleaning up the broken down stores, too busy and too weary to be looting.

i don’t mind it though– if RTE thinks i am a chapuller, so am i.  i take pride on it.  pissing in his general direction makes me happy.  if only we can aggravate them a fraction of how they aggravated us…

RTE is dismissing it all with the rest of the media.  it is scary how such carnage and mayhem can be downplayed with the help of a friendly media.

but, in turkey, people are scared to speak.  there is no freedom of speech or press.  you follow the partyline or you’re toast.  ask fazil say, one of our favorite sons, if you don’t believe me.  the boy is a world famous pianist and composer.  he is also very outspoken.

one day, last year, he tweeted a poem from omar khayyam.  y’all know khayyam, right?  he was a persian genius of the 11th century.   fazil only tweeted the poem– no commentary, no nothing.  it was a poem questioning the wisdom of the islamic paradise in the typical sarcastic khayyam style.  bear in mind, khayyam is one of the greatest poets of the east, if not the greatest.  but, fazil was promptly arrested for “publicly insulting religious values that are adopted by a part of the nation”, a crime that carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison.  how you like them apples?  try to exercise your freedom of speech in turkey now.

you know what gave me hope though?  people were finally able to say what they thought and felt.  and i mean everybody.  people were tweeting like there is no tomorrow and facebook was nuts.  i have 2,000 friends in facebook.  yeah, sue me, i am popular.  but, most of my friends are hardcore conformists.  at least, i thought they were.  when some political issue arose, when a small protest was organized, maybe only 1 out of 10 friends raised their voice on facebook.  the rest continued posting stupid songs or pointless tidbits about their mundane lives.  this time around, it was different– 10 out of 10 were posting about our revolt– and from all around the world.

i have this one friend– perfect conformist– nothing rocks his boat.  steady job, steady income, never a political statement out of his mouth.  i saw him on facebook today with a gasmask on, fighting in the streets.  it gave me hope.

RTE continued to dismiss us and got on a plane to morocco for some diplomatic trip.  we went home.  this time our bodies were more used to the abuse and our libidos finally prevailed again.

june 4, 2013

work?  what work?

we were on the streets all day again.  fighting was still at full blast.  the momentum was building consistently.  but, the foreign media was losing interest in our awakening and domestic media was either still asleep or dismissing us outright.

istanbul wasn’t that bad but i heard ankara, hatay, and adana were terrible.  people got hurt seriously, people died.

it was just another day of the awakening.

june 5, 2013

RTE is coming home tomorrow!  we’re still fighting in the streets and waiting for his return with open arms.  i wonder what he has to say to us chapullers.  we heard that the king of morocco refused to see him.  i guess he is a fellow chapuller himself.

we’ve been discussing where this awakening will lead us.  some of us are optimistic, others not.  the pessimists fear that soon we will lose momentum and eventually things will quite down and people will forget all about our awakening in no time flat.  it is a distinct possibility– i told you before, we turks adopt and change very quickly.  they are also worried that even though we are fighting for our individual freedoms, we don’t have a proper leader and a proper mission.  i have to agree with that.  but, i am still the glass is half-full type of guy– this awakening will not be forgotten– it will change the course of the country and it will keep the AKP on a short-leash.  accuse me of dreaming, but one can hope.

tonight, back home, i felt like a war weary veteran– i felt my body, despite all its aches and pains, was as strong as it ever was, and i was ready to fight another day.

but my mind is a different thing– even though it is sharp as it gets when i am on the streets, i am having problems concentrating and articulating in down times.  my writing got very sloppy, and i am sorry for subjecting you to it.  hope i am still making sense.

june 6, 2013

today’s highlight was cleaning up some broken down stores and restaurants and manning a barricade (teargas only this time– felt like a walk in the park), with our american friend who we ran into in taksim.  he is a regular hemingway- seems to be enjoying himself.  we also started building a library for the protestors in gezi park.  all the restaurants, bakeries, etc are contributing to the cause.  i’ve never ate this good for free.

we talked more about freedoms.  he mentioned operation iraqi freedom and i nearly puked.  how can someone be this naive?  after years of dictatorship, invading iraq and trying to establish an american style democracy is not any different than “let them eat cake”.  remember stakeholders?  remember cultures and traditions?  such arrogance.  there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to different societies and cultures.  to each its own.

RTE is coming home tonight.  the city is ready for him– during our awakening, public transportation was limited at best.  tonight, the subways and buses will run late so his fans can go to the airport to meet him.  his party offices are chartering buses to the fucking airport.  such injustice.

tonight we will go home early and watch his speech.  i am sure he will give one.  let’s see who am i going to wake up as tomorrow?  i hope chapuller again.

june 7, 2013

i hope this is not my last diary entry.

i was so mad last night i couldn’t finish my entry.  i wanted to summarize his speech but i’ve never known such aggravation.  i simply couldn’t write, couldn’t think, couldn’t function.

i can’t write, i can’t articulate anymore.  words feel weird and strange.

bear with me while i try to explain.

he arrived in istanbul little after midnight.  thousands of his fanboys were waiting for him.  and he gave a speech.  it was probably the single most provocative speech i ever heard from a turkish politician.  and this speech was coming from a guy who said shit like “zionism is a crime against humanity” and twitter “is the worst menace to society”…  really, without twitter, we wouldn’t have been able to exercise even a bit of our freedom of speech.

basically, his speech was a call for civil war.  he ranted about us drunkards, chapullers, foreign agents, extremists, terrorists, etc, etc.  his fanboys chanted “allahu akbars” and “we’re your soldiers” and “we’ll die for yous”.

it was a call for war.  a war on us.  us, who only wanted to exercise their basic individual rights- our freedoms of speech, press, and religion.  us who want democracy.  us who want our parks and environment protected.

this time around he also called us vandals.  i’ve been promoted, i am a chapuller-vandal now.

we will go out on the streets again today.  but this time i am very, very afraid.  his fanboys are pumped up and full of hate.  today will be a different kind of battle.  we are awake.  we are revolting.  i know we accomplished something.  i know we will never be the same.  i know we are not a herd anymore.

but, RTE is inciting civil war.  he is pitting us against each other.  and i am scared.

i only hope this is not the last entry and there’ll be more later…  and more sex.

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