Monday, October 15, 2007

The Fuck Off guide: Mojito, where your glass is always half full

We guide book types are trained to find the good in everything. After all, if we can’t sell the destination, how can we sell the guide? And selling’s what it’s really all about. Case in point: Mojito’s. On the roof of the venerable, and truly crappy, Nile Hilton, this place seems to have nothing at all going for it. The food’s overpriced, the portions are small. The drinks, including the eponymous Cuban cocktail, truly a velvet upholstered brick to the temporal cortex when mixed right, are watery, bland ersatz reruns of the real thing. The service is slow. The waiters are ugly. The troll who hangs about in the bathroom handing out toilet paper is too friendly by half [&?prob warrants Xref to Gay and Lesbian Travel]. To the ordinary eye, in fact, about the only thing that this place is good for is killing yourself: a swan dive from the 14th floor of the Nile Hilton into the forecourt of the Egyptian Museum would be a classic, truly classic, mode of death. Especially if you were to leave behind a substantial unpaid tab.

But witness the tradecraft.

Duel with disaster at Mojitos. That’s the hed. And the body runs like this: perched high atop vibrant [&?great word that, no?] Midan Tahrir, Mojito’s is what an Oberoi helipad would look like if there were such a thing. Wind-swept, but softly lit, bleak but scattered with wicker patio chairs. It is also, what with a two-for-one happy hour every night and a howling gale, the perfect spot to play the Fuck-Off guide’s favorite outdoor drinking game. It goes like this: order a beer. Pour it in a glass. Set the glass near something you don’t want soaked in beer (a laptop is perfect, but your lap will do). Now, when the glass is full, the wind can’t tip it over, but as soon as you drink the ballast and the glass gets lighter, it begins to wobble in the gusts. Pretty soon it’ll tip and spray sticky golden Stella into your keyboard. Key is to order another beer before this happens. Repeat as necessary.

See how it works? Take a bland, shitty place with nothing going for it but its palpable faults, mix in a generous shot of alcohol, sprinkle generously with vague adjectives, stir vigorously and… voila, another entry for the guide.

Excerpted from Fuck Off Guide to Egypt (NOP Publications, forthcoming). First published in NOP Weekly VI:9.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Retraction: Patrick Fitzpatrick NOT detained

Contrary to reports in various media outlets, including last week’s Nation of Pearls Magazine, Egypt Yesterday Editor Patrick Fitzpatrick was not in fact detained on Wednesday and given eighty lashes for his searing spoof interview with Egypt’s first mother in last month’s issue.

Nation of Pearls Publications apologizes unequivocally for any inconvenience or embarrassment our story may have caused.

Those of us at the magazine with an ounce of professional integrity (alas, a minority) would also like to apologize personally to Patrick for Nigel’s drunken spew on this blog a week back. The most cursory of checks would have revealed that you look a lot better in a dress than whoever it was that you dolled up for that cover shot.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Flash: Ministry reassures foreigners

Just flashed from the NOP news desk:
The Ministry of Foreigner Affairs is urging foreigners to remain calm despite reports of a rash of sycophantic incidents in Cairo.

“We urge the khawagat to stay in their homes during the next few days,” said Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Teezehamra. “Remain calm, but be prepared to doll out cash to whoever rings your doorbell.”

Reports meanwhile continue to swirl in the international press of boabs carrying groceries in from the curb, taxi drivers smiling and zeballeen sweeping out garbage accumulated over the last 12 months.

“It was weird. I didn’t know what to do,” said Marie-Claire, a 38-year old employee at a western embassy. “I came home from the airport, and the taxi driver carried my bag to my door! I was shaking. I thought I was going to be kidnapped.”

Analysts, however, say that the incidents are cyclical and related to annual festivities among the local population.

“We expect that the current alarming situation will correct itself over the next few days,” said Phil Piper of the IRTY speaking from Tulsa Oklahoma, “and that things in Cairo will be back to normal by the end of the week.”

NOP News. Cairo. 13.10.2007.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Krusty the Klown flees Katemeya koop!

Reads the AFP headline, or did before that jelly-legged little twat who writes the headlines down there chickened out. Seems that expert self-promoter and all-round force for good in the world Saad Eddin Ibrahim has beaten it out of Dodge before Dodge came to beat it out of him. At press time, he was hanging out in the Swiss Alps.

Ibrahim, who at 68 has been feathering a retirement nest in salubrious Katemeya Heights for several years, says that if he had stayed in the country any longer he would have been detained and killed. He also said he didn’t relish the idea of spending any more time handcuffed to a radiator with a broomstick up his ass, but the editor cut that quote. So he ran away.

NOP sources indicate however that he’s on a yodeling holiday and this is all spin from his matrimonial media partner designed to make him seem a little more interesting and relevant than he really is.

Meanwhile Al Gore (see the seguey?) has picked up yet another award for droning on about the obvious as though he discovered it. Thanks Al. The sky’s falling, the seas are rising and we’re all going to be baked like so many ‘steins, ‘burghs and Levies. When is it going to get through your bulbous head that we don’t give a shit?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Fuck Off Guide: Oberoi Al Arish

This is an undiscovered weekend getaway gem in one of Egypt’s least appreciated beach resorts. Located on the dramatic sweep of Arish’s probably-mined beach about halfway through town, it has those high ceilinged rooms and little touches of mashrebya that we have come to expect from our favorite Indian hotel chain. It even has little napkins that say “Oberoi” on them. In fact, it has pretty well everything that you would expect in an Oberoi, except the price. Oh, and edible food, decent service, clean sheets, working air conditioning, cold beer and so on.

That’s because this is the Oberoi that isn’t. This hotel has nothing at all to do with the lip-smacking palais des obsequity in Giza and out on the coast at Sahl Hashish. We don’t know how they came by the crested cutlery, but a quick enquiry with the Bombay mothership has confirmed that this place simply doesn’t exist.

Well hooooo-ray! What could be better for those little weekend fuckfests that never happened, than a hotel that isn’t there? Take the boss’s wife, your girlfriend’s PA, or that dumpy chick from marketing (you know who you are, Lamia—or was that Dina?) that nobody admits to schtooping, and rest easy in the knowledge that your privacy is assured by this simple metaphysical fact.

All the rooms are cheap like borscht, but this reviewer prefers the slightly bigger ones around the back, between the main building and road. Not only do they have a minibar to keep the hootch cool, they come with a back stage pass to the festivities when the Saedi team (black body armor, big blue transport trucks) come to to play an away game of rock-paper-teargas against the local boys (gallebeyas, little minibuses).

Excerpted from Fuck Off Egypt (NOP Publications, forthcoming). First published in NOP Weekly VI:7.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Police in the resort town of Arish

are maintaining their cool despite crazy Bedouins in dresses throwing Molotov cocktails who have taken over the streets.

Huddled in the beachfront Oberoi, the international press corps fears for its life as stocks of alcohol, diminished by Ramadan, run dangerously low.

Thankfully, we are kept up to date on the situation by the valiant, independent and credible reports of our sponsors at the Daily Gleaner, copies of which are smuggled into the hotel by catering staff.

Seems, according to them, that the problem is that the security forces have been too reluctant in the past to interfere with well-armed local crazies. Leave it to the talking classes (thanks (Fitz)Patrick) of professional malcontents, wanna-be pundits and left wing shit-disturbers to muddy the waters with rumors of past round ups and torture.

“As soon as these few misfits understand that they are stakeholders in a new vibrant globalized economy, the problems will cease,” said a spokesperson for Suzanne Mubarak on behalf of her son.

Meanwhile, a statement soon to be released by the Daily Gleaner is rumored to deny that they are the same newspaper that photoshopped stuff off a demo-pic that was not quite in line with what the President’s Office wanted to see in the paper.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fuck Off Guide: The Pyramids

Sodding great stone things in Giza. Built in 1892 by German contractor Bechtel for the shooting of a biblical epic that never quite happened and passed off ever since as local production. Grand Poobah and general know-it-all Zahi Hawass has (ok, I got this second hand) claimed that they have become increasingly popular as the setting of impromptu “guerilla porn” shoots. We suspect him of trying to impress the girleenas (among other things), but you never know: keep your eyes peeled and your cameras set on idiot (like you people need to be told that!). There’s a UFO buried under one, and a big boat shed with a boat in it tacked on the back. There’s also a big cat thing down by the Pizza Hut. That’s all we know about the pyramids in Giza. Oh, except this: if you want to get fruitcaked out there, go the Mena House Oberoi and rent a cabana. Staff is intolerant of open drug use, but will usually ignore smoke seeping under the door. Take the hip flask for a float in the pool. Spin slowly. Watch the pyramids twirling against the sky. Get confused.

Excerpted from Fuck Off Egypt (NOP Publications, forthcoming). First published in NOP Weekly V:26.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Fuck Off Guide: Fontana Rooftop

Putting the dive back into dive bar, this cheap and cheerful little Ramses bar has it all: cold Stellas, a swimming pool and hookers. Where else in this great wrinkled country can you bob about on a giant inflatable duck, beer balanced between your legs, negotiating the igra on a half hour’s rumpy pumpy with a sweaty Imbaba muhababe? True, there’s always the trusty Saqqara Palm Club [INSERT CROSSREF P. XXX], but that’s a strictly a Bring Your Own Babe joint insofar as we know, and the cabana and sunshine ambience at the Palm is a far cry from sweaty, noisy Ramses with its Blade Runner view across that colonial eyesore of a train station and on to insalubrious Sharabeya. One word of caution: the diving board is close enough to the breezeway that an ill aimed cannonball could well be your last, so keep your diving for the muff. Bring your own rubber ducky and be prepared to pay a substantial bonus to the staff for turning a blind eye if your watery hijinks take place after regular daytime pool hours.

Exerted from Fuck Off Egypt (NOP Publications, forthcoming). First published in NOP Weekly V:33.

Next week's exert will be from the helpful "Taxies: getting around and getting it on" from the Gay and Lesbian Travel section.