Michael Totten

Yes, It's Fun, Really

Lots of people I know have a hard time believing me when I say Beirut is a good time, that it’s a terrific destination for tourists, that I haven’t turned myself into one of those morbid “war tourism” types who goes to disaster zones for cheap thrills.
I’m far from the only one. Here’s an excerpt from a Daily Star article on Beirut’s rave scene:

John Askew – who is returning to Lebanon for a gig with Van Dyk on July 8 – started it all when he headlined the Monot Music Festival in June 2002. It remains one of his favorite nights.

“Beirut was nuts,” he says. “There were all these really dressed-up, sexy, affluent-looking clubbers going crazy and yet in every direction you looked there were buildings riddled with bullet holes. [I was] a little apprehensive, but it’s an amazing place. Mental. Wicked party scene.”

Beirut has been fun longer than I’ve been alive. It’s even fun when it’s (almost) at it’s worst.
Lebanon.Profile recently filed this on a visit to the U.S.

The driver picked me up from the airport.
He asked, “Where you coming from?”
I said, “Lebanon.”
He said, “Tell me. Is the St. George Hotel still there?”
Stunned, I said, “Yes, but it’s not been repaired or renovated since the war. Are you Lebanese?”
He said, “No, no. I served in the US Navy and was sent to Lebanon in 1958. The whole 6th fleet was there. From the beach, it was battleships, boats, and aircraft carriers as far as the eye could see. We boarded the beach and there were all these women in bikinis all over and guys selling stuff. We didn’t see any war going on. All we saw were people enjoying themselves. We couldn’t tell who the enemy was. From our view, it didn’t seem like there were any.
“I got one of those checkered things in a shopping district near the St. George.”