Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pamela Olson's book tour


Just recently I moved to SoMa, South of Market street. It's a warehousey part of town where a lot of cafes, studios and clubs are opening up. There's also a fair amount of graffiti, but nothing like in the Mission. Here are some pictures I've taken walking around the neighborhood recently.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers is a huge street party/run/walk in San Francisco. It reminded me a bit of Mardi Gras, but for a few things:

Due to the hills, floats have been deemed unsafe at B2B.
San Franciscans are more fit than New Orleanians. San Francisco also has hills, and New Orleans does not.
B2B has more costume diversity. It's more like Halloween than a Carnivale/Mardi Gras.
B2B has public port-o-potties. Mardi Gras had people making money off their private potties. Needless to say there was a lot more public urination at Mardi Gras.
San Francisco has open container laws, and they're more or less enforced. Gatorade bottles and Camel Baks were the disguise of choice. There is no hiding of booze in New Orleans.
Both are more than LGBTQ-friendly.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Nakba Day commemoration

Today I went to a Nakba Day event at the Arabic Cultural Center. There was music, poetry, discussion, snacks....

It was nice to hear Arabic again. I was happy to understand a lot of it.

I heard a lot of personal testimonies. One person's family was from Jeruasalem (Sheikh Jerrah) and his family lived next to abusive settlers and his father had to leave Palestine and re-apply for a visa every three months for the last five years. Such is the life of a Palestinian in Jerusalem. What's more, the family found out their descendents were Jewish, and had converted to Islam around 1200. What an oversight...this family embodies Judaism more than the scores of fanatical settlers who show up on Shabbat to harass the non-Jewish residents into leaving. What a shit-show.

One song was called Al Rozana. Several people in the room were singing along, which was really heart-warming, especially hearing the low murmuring male voices. They were supporting the female singer, she was the center of attention.

After the event I went to get coffee with some of my new friends, and we wondered what the song meant. I found this description on-line at

The song "Al Rozana (ع الروزانا)" is a folk song native to the region of the Levant or بلاد الشام, ie Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. The story behind it is that at the height of the intense wheat famine that the region experienced at the beginning of the 20th century, and Italian ship called "The Rosanna" was said to have been sent carrying food to the starving population of the Levant. Everybody was waiting in anticipation for the ship's arrival, but when it finally landed as the story goes in the song, it was carrying nothing but apples and grapes, on of the foods that the region was actually overflowing with at that time. The people cursed the ship for this reason.

Here are the lyrics.

Oh the Rosanna, the Rosanna, everything good is inside her
What has the Rosanna done?
God punish her!
Oh the Rosanna the Rosanna, all happiness is inside her
What has the Rosanna done?
God punish her

Hey you who are going to Aleppo, my love went with you
Hey you who are carrying grapes and on top of that apples
Everyone is with their beloved and my beloved has gone
Oh lord, may the breeze bring my lover back to me

عالروزانا عالروزانا كل الحلى فيها
شو عملت الروزانا ألله يجازيها
عالروزانا عالروزانا كل الهنا فيها
شو عملت الروزانا الله يجازيها
يا رايحين ل حلب حبي معاكم راح
يا محملين العنب فوق العنب تفاح
كل من حبيبه معه وأنا حبيبي راح
يا ربي نسمة هوى ترد الولف ليا

Panel at Stanford

Hada yom at-tinain, ruhet al jamia Stanford u shuft.....panel discussion an democratia Israelia.

oof. this is hard.

On Monday, I went to Stanford University to see a panel discussion on Israeli democracy.

The panel was Rebecca Vilkomerson, director of Jewish Voice for Peace, Joel Beinin, professor of History, and Hatem Bazien, professor of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley.

The J Street representative cancelled the week before, so all the panel members were pretty much in agreement. I'd heard Hatem speak at the Students for Justice in Palestine conference in Ann Arbor last fall, and I'd heard Rebecca speak at the Jewish Voice for Peace conference last month. They talked about how non-Jews operate within Israel-proper, and the West Bank, and Gaza. How Israel is a democratic state for Jews, and a Jewish state for everyone else. They talked about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement as a way to exert pressure on Israel when the diplomats have failed.

I really enjoyed listening to Joel Beinin talk about Israel/Palestine from a global perspective. How power shifts, how movements play was really calming.

Like...this has happened before, and this too...shall pass. 

Listen to history.

اسمع على التاريخ

It's really funny typing like a fourth grader again, with my two index fingers. 

Anyways, well done Stanford SPER (Students for Palestinian Equal Rights), they had a whole week of events planned, including a talk by Miko Peled, and a Palestinian lunch at the cafeteria. I'm glad I went down to Palo Alto.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I've had this blog for three years, and this is my first attempt to post in Arabic.

I have Arabic on my keyboard. I just have to get used to it.

اهلا و سهلا في موقتي
(that took me 1 minute and 30 seconds to type)

ana ismi morgan, u ana sakan fi san francisco. fi tafulati, sakanat fi yaban u al-hind kaman.

darasat allugha arabia wahad sana, fi jamiati, u fi brnamej fi amman.

sakanat fi falasteen thaman shahur, fi qaria zaghira. talamet arabia amiya hunak. haket arabia fellahia.

ana biddi ahki arabia quais. andi mushakil ma astaqdam al waqat l'udrus kul yom, u biddi amares al muahadatha.

ana mabsuta ktir ashan andi al fursa l'udrus hada soif fi brnamej mnih.

kul al-tulab sakanu fil jamiya, u bnaghdaresh nahki wala kalam bil ingleezi fil kul shaharain.

bas andi aher mushkila. al brnamej ghali ktir, u khalastu al-scholarship-at.

kul yom biddu mia u thamanin dolar, u fi sitta u khamzin eyam fil brnamej.

Kul usbua fil brnamej, sa'amel video ashan yimkanu yshufu taqadami.

Welcome to my website.
My name is Morgan, and I live in San Francisco. In my childhood, I lived in Japan and India too.

I studied the Arabic language for one year, in my university, and in a program in Amman.

I lived in Palestine for eight months, in a small village. I learned colloquial Arabic there. I spoke village Arabic.

I want to speak Arabic well. I have problems with using the time to study every day, and I want to practice conversation.

All the students live in the university, and we can't speak a word of English for the whole two months.

But I have another problem. The program is very expensive, and the scholarships are finished.

Every day costs $182, and there are 56 days in the program.

I want to find people to support my studies.

Every week in the program, I will make a video so you can see my progress.