Lock the Casbah 

Oakland's Heavenly States set out to be the first American band ever to rock Libya. But making history is never that easy.

Page 7 of 8

("Theme from Love Story.")

"And I've been here 48 hours longer than any of you, waiting for you to get here, for you to get a flight from Cairo to Tripoli. It's not exactly rocket science."

("From a Distance.")

"You're all such pussies. Go to the restaurant and play some fucking songs for some people."

Silence. The food arrives. Some folks have ordered mixed grill, but nearly everyone is served fish. So Tom and Chris start arguing with the waiter. In French.

This frees up the band, largely silent until this point, to reassess the tsunami benefit, which is losing luster by the minute -- the crowd they imagine will greet them has devolved from "oil guys" to "cocksuckers."

The waiter is not sympathetic on the mixed-grill issue.

"The music has been perfect counterpoint," Tom suddenly says, laughing. The tension breaks, and we sit around trying to guess the next awful tune to issue forth. No one eats much. We flee the premises. But not before the waiter hands Genevieve a bouquet. "Congratulations on being a woman," she mutters as we board the bus.

Aware of our troubles, Abdu gives a little speech. "Eugene didn't lie to you -- excuse me to tell you -- these people, they lie to Eugene," he says. "They put him in big hole, he cannot get out of it."

He goes on to describe this friend, a government official, who maybe can do things, maybe even get us another show, a local show, tomorrow night. He can't guarantee anything, but he's 150 percent positive he can do something.

"If anything goes bad for you, I will be hanged," Abdu adds.

He suggests we relax, pretend it's a vacation, and soak in the atmosphere of the Libyan people. So upon reaching the hotel, band and journos alike retreat to an outdoor cafe, where we smoke hookahs of apple-juice-flavored tobacco and talk about Ali G.

The Gig

Abdu's friend is never mentioned again, to no one's great surprise. A touristy trip to Sabratha -- once a hypothetical gig site -- is planned for the morning, but almost everyone blows it off. Ted and a few journos wander the streets, nearly deserted as it's Friday, a day of rest. He gets a straight-razor shave (the most vulnerable you can make yourself in a foreign country, he figures) and kicks a soccer ball around with some kids.

Genevieve, meanwhile, mostly stays in bed with stress-induced hives.

In the evening, it's time for the mythic tsunami benefit, an anticipated event on many fronts, including the possibility, given that we're on diplomatic turf here, for alcohol consumption. We pull up to the house, which inspires considerable awe -- an impressive multilayered affair with multiple chandeliers, a Ghanaian servant named Thomas, and an enormous basement suitable for a makeshift rock show. We meet Trevor, the diplomatic type who lives here (alone, pending the arrival of his family), who notes proudly that everyone told him he was crazy when he wanted to throw this little shindig, but he's glad he did.

We also meet Michelle, another business community player primarily responsible for setting up the benefit. Things get off to a rocky start.

"I'm a journalist," Mike says by way of introduction. "Can I have a drink?"

"We're going to talk about this alcohol thing," Michelle replies. "It's not a big issue. Everyone seems to be like [she waves her arms] wooooo. There are more important things."

"I'm of Irish blood," Mike adds, to no avail.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Readers also liked…

Latest in Feature

  • The Mother and the Officer

    Years after a fatal police shooting, one of the cops responsible is helping the victim's mom seek answers.
    • Oct 18, 2017
  • Watching the Watchdog

    Since Brenda Roberts became Oakland city auditor in 2015, productivity has plummeted, and ex-employees say the office has been wracked by a culture of abuse.
    • Oct 11, 2017
  • Project Censored

    The 10 most important yet underreported news stories of the past year.
    • Oct 4, 2017
  • More »

Author Archives

  • Avoid Yr. Idols

    Former Express music ed proves the maxim: Don't shit where you worship.
    • Aug 2, 2006
  • The Big, Mawkish Adios

    Behold a disastrous attempt to avoid last-column sentimentality. Also: Goodbye.
    • Apr 26, 2006
  • More»

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

Taste, Fall 2017

Fall Arts 2017

Our Picks for the Best Events of the Fall Arts Season

© 2017 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation