Best Experienced With: Michael Franti and Spearhead; Sounds of Sunshine
(Please right click on the link below to open the suggested background music to this evening’s explanation of why I am still in The LJ instead of cracking a malt liquor with Anderson Cooper at the Ramses Hilton in Cairo. “One, two, three….uh-huh”)
My first day in Cairo would have begun right……..now. Because of The Man, my first day in Cairo did not begin. The Man ruined my vacation, yet The Man is still going down. The Man always goes down, especially these days, because as John Naisbitt wrote in Megatrends: “the new source of power is not money in the hands of a few, but information in the hands of many”. Down with The Man. Up with Cinnabon.
There is a Cinnabon at Terminal A of the Lindberg Field in San Diego. Back when my metabolism was as strong as Evander Holyfield, would pick up six or seven dozen full size Cinnabon rolls with extra frosting for the six mile ride home to The LJ. There is nothing like airport Cinnabon rolls with extra frosting after a cross country flight. Tasty.
My Wednesday morning began at 4:45 a.m. as it often does, performing email maintenance while watching CNN on a hotel bed. Four teenie tiny cups of watered down hotel lobby coffee to the left on the night stand. Looked like all was cool in Cairo until 5:15 a.m. PST when Anderson Cooper got the crap beat out of him on his morning walk from the Ramses Hilton to Tahrir Square. The correct question is not “why would anyone want to punch Anderson Cooper ten times in the head?” The correct question is “given the chance and a free shot, who wouldn’t want to punch Anderson Cooper ten times in the head?” The Man was back in full force in Cairo Wednesday and The Man wanted to ruin my Cairo vacation. The Man hates to lose power…and The Man loves to ruin my vacations.
When The Man starts hauling away the Amnesty International folks (which The Man did in Cairo this afternoon) and imposes Draconian measures, the pendulum swings the other way. There’s not a pendulum in the galaxy that stops in the middle. When The Man sees His power slipping away like sanity slipped away from Kanye following his mother’s passing, The Man gets angry. Like so many version of The Man before him (Joey Stalin, Pinochet, Suharto, The Shah of Iran, Mobutu, Batista, Papa Doc, Trujillo, and Mugabe), Hosni got angry when he saw his power slipping away.
Delta Airlines is not afraid of The Man. Four hours after Delta cancelled Flight 84 from JFK to Cairo on Wednesday, they made me whole by rebooking me through Paris. In fact, they gave me a sweet nineteen hour Friday layover which I planned to use for a late lunch with Nicolas Sarkozy, followed by a viewing of Canova’s Cupid and Pysche Standing at The Louvre. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and Canova always gets me into the right Valentine’s Day frame of mind. Delta came through.
Hilton Hotels are afraid of The Man. Spoke with three or four hundred folks at the Ramses Hilton between 8:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. Wednesday night (Thursday morning), endeavoring to confirm the car service from the airport to my hotel on Saturday morning. All three (or four) hundred folks repeatedly mentioned the magical mystical Mr. Samuel. Mr. Samuel had the power to tell me whether or not the odds were with me or against me to get an armored limo transport from Cairo International to the Ramses Hilton Saturday morning. Below is the reenactment of the conversation Mr. Samuel and I had from 3:47 a.m. (PST) to 4:03 a.m. PST Thursday morning. For the best reenactment experience, use my voice when it says “Me” and use an Egyptian head concierge’s voice when it says “Mr. Samuel”. I have a bit of a cold, so please make my voice particularly deep and throaty.
Begin transcription of conversation with Mr. Samuel at Ramses Hilton in Cairo, Egypt: 3:47 a.m. Pacific Standard Time
Me: “Hello, Mr. Samuel, it is very nice to finally speak with you!”
Mr. Samuel: “Who is this?”
Me: “Daniel Charles Mulligan!”
Mr. Samuel: “Should I know you?”
Me: “Not yet….but you will, Mr. Samuel! I have a Rolling Stone press pass and plan on being Rolling Stone’s most prolific Cairo journalist next week. I have a reservation that I had to move from Friday arrival to Saturday morning because Delta cancelled the JFK to Cairo flight. I am now arriving on Air France flight 508 from Paris to Cairo and I arrive at 9:00 a.m. this Saturday and would like to arrange a car and a driver to meet me at the airport at 10:00 a.m.”
Mr. Samuel: (long pause) “You are aware that we are having some slight difficulties in our downtown area right now, Mr. Mulligan? Our property is adjacent to Tahrir Square.”
Me: “Mr. Samuel, you are a master of understatement, sir. Indeed. That is why I am calling. I spoke with several folks at your hotel throughout the evening and early morning and each has explained that you are the one man who can get me a driver for Saturday. How can we make that happen?”
Mr. Samuel: “This will be somewhat difficult”
Me: “Nothing is too difficult for you and me, Mr. Samuel. We can figure it out.”
Mr. Samuel: “Well, they are saying that the curfew will be now changed to 3:00 p.m. to 11: a.m. soon.”
Me: “Giving us a full four hours to get me picked up on Saturday! Excellent! How far is the hotel from the airport?”
Mr. Samuel: “Roughly 22 kilometers or 40 minutes”
Me: “Outstanding. Will the driver have a sign with ‘Mulligan” written on it? May I truncate it to ‘Mully’? I will explain why when I get there.”
Mr. Samuel: “Mr. Mulligan, perhaps you do not understand. I cannot guarantee that I will have a car there because there is some trouble in the streets and when you get here, you may not be able to reach us by telephone because the airport is quite chaotic.”
Me: “Side question, can you make me a dinner reservation at the Windows on the World restaurant for Saturday evening? A romantic corner table would be ideal. I noticed that Hala Gorani is staying at the Ramses Hilton and she is quote brilliant…with piercing, beautiful eyes. Am planning on inviting her to dinner when I arrive and would appreciate the best table you have. A window table. Will tip you handsomely.”
Mr. Samuel: “Certainly, Mr. Mulligan”
Me: “OK, so when I grab my luggage, I will look for the man with the ‘Mully’ sign at 10:00 a.m. We will jump in the car and I will shake your hand by noon on Saturday. Deal?”
Mr. Samuel: “Mr. Mulligan, I cannot guarantee you a car on Saturday morning, nor can I guarantee you a car for your return trip, either. We have had several journalists come right back to the hotel because they were unable to get into the airport for their return flights. Even if we can get you to the hotel, you may not be able to get into the airport for your return flight.”
Me: “How are yo0u fixed for supplies?”
Mr. Samuel: “Excuse me?”
Me: “Supplies. Are they restocking you on supplies daily at the Hilton? Do you receive food, beer, and whiskey each day?”
Mr. Samuel: “Yes, sir.”
Me: “Excellent. Back to the airport livery question. I hear the distinctive “chop, chop, chop, chop” sound of helicopters near your hotel. Are any of those helicopters yours? If so, perhaps you could send one of those to pick me up Saturday morning.”
Mr. Samuel: “No, Mr. Mulligan. Those are military helicopters. They are not the Hilton’s helicopters.”
Me: “Crap. So what are my odds of getting to the hotel and then getting back to the airport next Wednesday?”
Mr. Samuel: “Less than fifty percent, Mr. Mulligan. You may spend your entire time at the airport”
End transcription of conversation with Mr. Samuel at Ramses Hilton in Cairo, Egypt: 4:03 a.m. Pacific Standard Time
Cancelled the hotel reservation and Delta flights shortly thereafter. My dreams of doing the Carolina Shag on the Windows of the World dance floor to Michael Franti’s “Sound of Sunshine” with Hala Gorani died shortly thereafter. Tuesday evening, in my mind’s eye, I saw Lester Holt and Brian Williams watching Hala and me swing dance jealously from their table before grudgingly accepting that there was a new sheriff at the Ramses Hilton. They would have led to the standing ovation as the song petered out and Michael repeated “when the sun goes down, when the sun goes down”.
Am quite willing to miss the Sunday morning mimosas with Christiane Amanpour and Mallory Simon and was quite willing to take a few rocks to the head while watching a group of downtrodden, abandoned, and forsaken humans fight for their rights. There are few things in life that make me more happy than watching fellow humans take back their God given rights from The Man. There was, however. no way in hell I was going to get stuck in the Cairo International Airport for five days. Because there is no Cinnabon at the Maṭār al-Qāhirah al-Duwaliyy. And that would have sucked pretty badly.
Screw you, Hosni. God bless you, Anti-Hosnians. Fight the good fight and win with your spirit.
What to do with all these Rolling Stone press credentials, though?
Thank you Stevie JC and Kinko’s. Will use these Rolling Stone press credentials at the next revolution. There are always more revolutions and there are always more of The Man to bring down.