The Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival

I mentioned that I was working for the festival, but I didn’t talk about what that was like.  It’s been oddly familiar in the “chaotic NGO atmosphere” sense, but oddly unfamiliar in the “getting death threats from a radical newspaper” sense.

Actually that’s not true, the RCF has been threatened plenty of times, but usually those threats are vague intellectual blatherings or clearly idiotic rants. This time I couldn’t really tell, because it was in Turkish and I certainly wasn’t going to go out and BUY a copy anyway.  I was busily doing this or that in the office last week when I overheard people talking about threats being made against the organization because of the film festival.   It seems one of the radical Islamist newspapers in town has taken offense at the pornstars-turned-serial killers content of one of the films (really). Even some of the festival organizers have admitted the film in question is a bit extreme; by their descriptions I would assume even our radical American fundamentalists would take offense.  But suddenly one can feel very exposed and vulnerable when the threats are coming from the much demonized, but often disembodied and distant seeming, “Islamists” who are openly doing their thing across town.  As a bleeding heart, prone to questioning venom spitters from WITHIN my own country first and challenging their constructions of who my enemies are, this gives me pause.  Apparently both film festivals and newspapers enjoy similar free speech protections here as they do in the US. Too bad the same can’t be said for “the only democracy in the Middle East”(my apologies if you’re not already familiar with this case)  I didn’t really want to see the movie anyway though, which is also my right in this Islamic republic.

Moving Quickly

A postcard from Pendle Hill "Just outside the Beltway"

I sold the boat, this much is true
I quit the Rachel Corrie office too

I bit the bullet, changed my life

My blessings are so many, rife

I’m chilling out in Philly now
Peaceful like a just-milked cow

The city’s warm, it’s late Sobember
A time to visit, love, remember

With little plan but some paper cuts
A show downtown, I love to putz

Life starts coming when I stop and let it
And so far I do not regret it

Electric Avenue

I’ve been inspired to make an art project to fill up the empty time and one of the 2 broken TV’s at Kenan’s place. I first thought something of a shrine/alter that could sit in the living room where the TV was to reorient the mindless entertainment energy to meaningful reflection time. But that idea was struck down.

Charging ahead regardless, a breakthrough came last night during coffee with some of Kenan’s recently graduated English students. One of them, Can, works at the Electric Utility in town. When I visited this class the other day (“Ankara”), I thought he was a typical representative of the many government workers that come through that school. We all know my opinions of the effects of government on the soul and the report from teachers sounded bleak. Not so with Can. In the short time we talked over coffee I learned he also loves the lake and frequently volunteers his time to pick up trash there (+10), is an artist who paints and makes mosaics (+20) and, most importantly, has electricity in his soul. (I proposed, he’s already married with children.)

It was Can who gave me the hot tip on Electric Avenue in Ulus. So today we took ourselves down to the neighborhood a friend referred to as “hardcore Turkish Ankara” on a mission. Ulus is the old part of the city, where one can find pretty much every manufactured object hanging from a hook, as well as mannequins with headscarves within spitting distance of a giant statue of Ataturk. Hardcore Turkish. The obligatory period of hapless wandering didn’t bother me as we passed flag stores, commemorative crystal widget stores and weed-whacker distributers. Everything was out on the street or meticulously lined up in windows by the upteenth thousand.dscn1175

“Light emitting diodes anyone?”

“Oh yes, go up that street till you get to where the minibuses come from” dscn11731

Electric Avenue is where the minibuses are born. It’s right around the corner from were the man yells over the chainsaw in his hand. Just up from the “Leather Belts, Porn and Meat on Hooks” alley (no snickering allowed)

When I finally found a little “electric hobby shop” cowering amongst a row of subwoofer stores, I knew the Ave was magic. The shop was perfect: full of LEDs, mini-switchs, lengths of wire and, best of all, electronic hobby kits. Don’t worry, I bought some and they’re in Turkish. Nothing cultivates comprehension like small packages of parts labeled in another language just waiting to be soldiered together. Just ask Can and the friendly folks at the Electric Utility.