Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

I would like to wish you all a happy new year.

May this year brings peace, love and happiness to you and your families.

Monday, July 25, 2005


I will stop posting for quite a while...

It is getting very busy here at work, and I am finding less and less time to blog.

I am not sure when I will be back… in a month, two or never!!…I really don’t know...

Anyway, just in case I don’t get back; I wanna wish you all (bloggers and anonyms) the very best…I had great time reading your blogs and comments, and I learned a lot from them…thank you all...

Take care, Bye...

May God bless and protect our beloved Syria

Saturday, July 23, 2005

"I Had Been Karshed"

Yousuf Karsh was the most renowned portrait photographer of our time. He worked tirelessly for over half a century recording unforgettable images of the statesmen, artists, literary and scientific figures who shaped our lives.

Karsh was born on December 23 1908 at Mardin, Turkey, of Armenian Catholic parents. The son of an illiterate merchant, he grew up amid the Turkish genocide which saw two of his uncles killed in jail. The family escaped to Syria in a month-long journey with a caravan.

He went to school in Aleppo, Syria for a couple of years. At the Age of 16, speaking no English and little French, Yousuf was dispatched to join his uncle, George Nakash, a photographer in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. For a time he went to school, hoping to study medicine, but his course was set when his uncle gave him a Box Brownie. Soon after, one of his landscapes, put into a competition by a fellow pupil, won the $50 first prize.

Karsh joined his uncle's photographic business, then spent three years in Boston, Massachusetts, with John Garo, an Armenian photographer. Garo advised him to study Velasquez and Rembrandt, and taught him how to use natural light and to make bathtub gin for the studio's customers. At the end of his apprenticeship, the pupil returned to Canada, where he established himself in the capital Ottawa under the grandiloquent title "Karsh of Ottawa", on Sparks Street, close to Canada’s seat of government.

Eventually, the Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, discovered the yet unknown Karsh and took a liking to him. The Prime Minister arranged introductions for Karsh with visiting dignitaries, whom he convinced to sit for portraits. His work was attracting the attention of varied celebrities, but Karsh’s own place in history was sealed in 1941 when Winston Churchill came to Ottawa.

The story is often told of how Karsh created his famous portrait of Churchill during the early years of World War II. Churchill, the British prime minister, had just addressed the Canadian Parliament and Karsh was there to record one of the century's great leaders. "He was in no mood for portraiture and two minutes were all that he would allow me as he passed from the House of Commons chamber to an anteroom," Karsh wrote in Faces of Our Time. "Two niggardly minutes in which I must try to put on film a man who had already written or inspired a library of books, baffled all his biographers, filled the world with his fame, and me, on this occasion, with dread."

Churchill marched into the room scowling, "regarding my camera as he might regard the German enemy." His expression suited Karsh perfectly, but the cigar stuck between his teeth seemed incompatible with such a solemn and formal occasion. "Instinctively, I removed the cigar. At this the Churchillian scowl deepened, the head was thrust forward belligerently, and the hand placed on the hip in an attitude of anger."

The image captured Churchill and the England of the time perfectly — defiant and unconquerable. Churchill later said to him, "You can even make a roaring lion stand still to be photographed." As such, Karsh titled the photograph, The Roaring Lion.

This image is claimed to be the most reproduced photographic portrait in history. Of the 100 people named by the International Who’s Who [2000] as the most notable people of the century, Karsh had photographed 51. Karsh himself was the only Canadian to make the list.

In 1943, the success of the Churchill portrait enabled Karsh to cross the Atlantic to produce a series of highly-acclaimed pictures of the major figures in wartime Britain, among them General Montgomery - who was the first to claim that he “had been Karshed” .

British and Canadian prime ministers, American presidents, all the Popes (with the exception of the shortlived John Paul I) and many Hollywood stars raced to submit themselves to Karsh's conspiratorial camera.

Some famous subjects photographed by Karsh were Albert Einstein, Albert
Schweitzer, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, Audrey Hepburn, Clark Gable, Dwight Eisenhower, Ernest Hemingway, Fidel Castro, Jacqueline Kennedy, Frank Lloyd Wright, General Pershing, George Bernard Shaw, Georgia O'Keeffe, Grey Owl, Helen Keller, Humphrey Bogart, Indira Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Laurence Olivier, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, Muhammad Ali, Pablo Casals, Pandit Nehru, Paul Robeson, Peter Lorre, Picasso, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Princess Elizabeth, Princess Grace, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Robert Frost, Ruth Draper, Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke and, arguably his most famous portrait subject, Winston Churchill.

In 1967, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 1990 was promoted to Companion.

On his passing on July 13 2002, he was interred in Notre Dame Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario.

I posted some of his most famous photographs on flickr.

Sources: Wikipedia , The Daily Telegraph , National Gallery of Australia .

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I Have Been Published

Two weeks ago, I wrote the following comment in Arabic at Abu Rummaneh's blog, concerning the bombings in London:

“In a few years those thieves (jihadists) have betrayed a civilisation and a history that took thousands of years for our ancestors to build. And how much did that cost them? A few kilograms of explosives and a handful of straying souls.” [translated from Arabic]

Apparently, someone from The Times of London liked what I wrote, translated it to English, and used it as a title for an article regarding the world reactions to the bombings.

Someone else at Harvard Law School’s global voices organization also liked it, and post it at their site.

I wanna thank Abu Rummaneh who turned my attention to this. I also wanna thank Omar, whose post about the same subject was published by The Guardian, for wishing me the same when I congratulated him (apparently the big guy upstairs listens to you!!).

I am glad to see that these terrorists no longer have the show for themselves, and the world is finally listening to the other (real) voices in the Arab world.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

X + Y = ?!