Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Appointment In Samarra: or why I need a drink

phote from BBC News

I first heard the news from Samarra on NPR this morning and have just finished the following AP report.

Bummed Out Bayou Bill


Shiite Shrine in Samarra Attacked
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer

Suspected al-Qaida insurgents on Wednesday destroyed the two minarets of the Askariya Shiite shrine in Samarra, authorities reported, in a repeat of a 2006 bombing that shattered its famous Golden Dome and unleashed a wave of retaliatory sectarian violence that still bloodies Iraq.

Police said the attack at about 9 a.m. involved explosives and brought down the two minarets, which had flanked the dome's ruins. No casualties were reported.

The attack immediately stirred fears of a new explosion of Sunni-Shiite bloodshed. There are close ties between al-Qaida and some Iraqi Sunni militants.


A U.S. military official in northern Iraq confirmed that the towers were destroyed, and said Samarra remained calm by early afternoon Wednesday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.

The powerful blasts shook the town, sending a cloud of dust billowing into the air, said Imad Nagi, a storeowner 100 yards from the shrine. "After the dust settled, I couldn't see the minarets any more. So, I closed the shop quickly and went home."

It wasn't immediately clear how the attackers evaded the shrine's guard force, which had been strengthened after the 2006 bombing. A senior al-Maliki adviser said policemen at the shrine were detained Wednesday and would be questioned as part of an investigation ordered by the prime minister.

After last year's bombing, the mosque was guarded by about 60 Federal Protection Service forces and 25 local Iraqi police who kept watch on the perimeter, according to Samarra city officials.

The U.S. military released a statement saying "the Iraqi police on site described hearing two near-simultaneous explosions coming from inside of the mosque compound, but they did not see any attackers in the vicinity."

The Askariya shrine's dome was destroyed on Feb. 22, 2006, in a bombing blamed on Sunni Muslim militants believed linked to al-Qaida. The mosque compound and minarets had remained intact but closed after that bombing.


Police imposed an indefinite curfew on the Sunni city, located 60 miles north of Baghdad, amid fears the bombing might further inflame the sectarian hatreds that swept Baghdad and other areas of Iraq in the months that followed the destruction of the shrine's dome.

The execution-style killings largely blamed on Shiite militias had begun to decline in February, at the start of a major U.S.-Iraqi security push to pacify Baghdad, but the numbers have seen a recent rise as the bombings continued.

But while the numbers of people killed are down in Baghdad, violence has been on the rise elsewhere in Iraq after militants fled the security operation.

The Askariya mosque contains the tombs of the 10th and 11th imams — Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868, and his son Hassan Askariya, who died in 874. Both are descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, and Shiites consider them to be among his successors.

The shrine also is near the place where the 12th imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi, disappeared. Al-Mahdi, known as the "hidden imam," was the son and grandson of the two imams buried in the Askariya shrine. Shiites believe he will return to Earth restore justice to humanity.


That bit of 2007 news reminded me of Somerst Maugham's 1933 retelling of:

"Appointment in Samarra"

The speaker is Death

There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, “Master, just now, when I was in the marketplace, I was jostled by a woman in the crowd, and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.”

The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?”

“That was not a threatening gesture,” I said, “it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”


And that's why I need a drink.

Still Bummed Out Bayou Bill

Monday, June 04, 2007

Not Too Long Ago (okay, 1965)

The Uniques with lead singer Joe Stampley

Not Too Long Ago
by Bill Fullerton

note: This was first posted last year. Since then the music video clip, Not Too Long Ago, vanished from YouTube. Now it's back. If you want a copy, better save it fast.

Those interested in the music, dancing, and styles from the early and mid '60's, should check out this music video clip of, NOT TOO LONG AGO, by a '60's group from Springhill, La. called, The Uniques. The lead singer with the horrible hair-cut is, Joe Stampley, who these days earns his daily bread singing country. And, yes, you will need the sound turned on.

The Uniques had some near-misses, but never managed the leap into the national big time. They survived the early Beatles onslaught, but were washed away by the "hippie" music of the late sixties. Stampley pulled a Kenny Rogers and switched to country music. To the best of my knowledge, the rest drifted out of the business.

"Not So Long Ago" wasn't their biggest hit, it just happens to be the one with a video clip on YouTube. The group's signature song was a version of Art Neville's love ballad, "All These Things," so potent it may still hold the unofficial record for instigating unplanned pregnancies.

Harry Connick, Jr., Elvis Costello and others have "covered" the tune.

Here's a link to a short audio clip, followed by a copy of the lyrics.

All These Things

The touch of your lips next to mine
Get me excited, make me feel fine.
The sound of your voice, your sweet hello
The fire inside me, when I'm holding you close.

Your love's so warm and tender.
Your thrill is so devine.
It is, All These Things,
That make you mine.

If you would leave me, I surely would die.
When you started to go, I started to cry.
Now I've got it bad, but that's alright.
As long as you're near me every night.

Your love's so warm and tender.
Your thrill is so divine.
It is, All These Things,
That make you mine.

Music Break...

Now I got it bad, but that's alright.
As long as your near me every night.
Your love's so warm and tender.
Your thrill is so divine.
It is, All These Things,
That make you mine.

If you're into downloading songs and/or want to hear preview clips of these and other hits by The Uniques, one place you can check-out is, MUSIC ITCH

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