Claw Your Hands and Say Yeah

Like plenty who found themselves outside of Egypt on #Jan25, I spent the first few days of the revolution contributing to the hysterical echo chamber on Facebook and Twitter. When I wasn’t retweeting out-of-service emergency numbers and rabidly barking at people on FB group comment threads, I had Al Jazeera on lock. While the social networks ebbed and flowed with the onning and offing of the internet, Al Jazeera held steady: Live. Mubashar. On Air. Always. Absolute.

I started taking pictures of the stream while waiting for the tributaries of YouTube & Flickr to join back up.

With Al Jazeera my only window onto events, an apocalyptic pall hazed my vision. The anxious silence from inside and the alarming realization outside that you could lose precious contact… and fast.

When the tweets began to bleat from Masr again, it sounded like a Macbook you thought was a goner suddenly rebooting: that sweet sky-blue sigh, a pinwheel of progress.

But like everyone, I still felt helpless and frantic. Often information from the protests made things worse. And even though probably no one on the ground was able to access messages like, URGENT, pls disseminate: Entrance to the Tahrir field hospital is from the AUC library. Cars needed now!

it seemed so urgent to “share” it at the time.

The following is an unempirical survey in visual shorthand of internetage concerning what happened in Egypt. It is also an exorcism of sorts, a ritual sending off of the screengrabs, tweets, and inaccurate footnotes that have been cluttering my desktop these past months.

Considering the ongoing uncertainty as to the future course of events, I want to start with this freeze-frame of rev-related video. In it, a girl somewhere in Shobra dances in the street to the discomfit of her bystanders. I hope she’s still out there, dancing in that street, daring the powers that be to go ahead and Bring it On!

It is less and less rare to hear the fear in our live reporter’s voice as the situation worsens and chaos starts to storm over the scene.

Dark on night. The square is black, as though the people are negative space.

Kasr el Nil bridge, quiver in a girl’s voice while bodies knock under a big heavy bumper like flesh bowling pins.

Another makeshift talk show on Al Arabiya, this time Randa Abu corners Ahmed Ezz in his rolling leather office chair. They sit in a marble hallway. She bulldogs him about money. This is his last interview.


Night vision snuff on a street in Dokki, from the balcony, the tiny camera mic picks up the crunch, both of bodies and spirits. Can’t tell how many down. Then the wailing begins.

Khalid Taleema a representative of the Youth Council of the Revolution addressing an exhausted-looking press conference. He is young, light. He squirms expressively at the podium. He has the fire in his eye. But says his apologetic piece with well-practiced charm. “Al 3ab mish 3layhum.” It’s not their fault.

Hard to tell the difference between police trucks and army tanks, they’re all the same shade of dirty.

A Vlogger details his wounds from the revolution. Large stitches hold his inner thigh together. Yellow and purple swirl around the edges, a vivid slashed bruise. A river pastoral hangs over his head, green fields with white water.

“They had them on the ground and they stood kicking them.” says a mama in a brown hijab. “The sight was terrible!” Her son was detained after protesting outside the Israeli embassy. Her voice croaks on the last word.

Omar Suleyman speech reenactment.

Police encourage prison escapees on the way out, twiddling their batons and waving them through like afternoon traffic.

A time-traveler in Farouk-era get-up and cane wanders confused through the emptying square. “What’s going on!?” he calls out to an amateur cameraman. “Is this a lover’s quarrel?”

Slow scrolling albums of wounded boys, bloodied foreheads, eyes closed and carried away limp, women weeping at their feet.

“Syrian martyr.” Slumped in blood, he dies on camera, tongue protruding. He seems to be trying to breathe. “His name is…” Another camera phone hovers into the shot inches from the dying man’s face.

“Egypt 25 Jan House Music” — pan pipes and tear gas.

Mousy, bucktoothed eyewitness in a quiet, sunny office hashes out exact details of the Salafi/Copt rumble in Imbaba.

@masrislam tweeted the rallying cry #anasalafi

Cops dance to the future where it’s always summer and they wear mirrorshades.

La Vache Kiri.

A lynch mob gathers outside the office of Abdullatif Manaawi. Soldiers skitter him out and into an elevator. Squeals bounce off the wood paneling. Difficult to tell if he’s being saved or led to the slaughter.

Khaled Said’s mother sits in her home. Mubarak gone. She is resigned, numb-looking, but she weeps. A houseful of people cluster at her side. They celebrate the revolution by filming this woman, regal in her mourning, on their Samsung handsets.

A truth-event: Two men stand together in solidarity with one another, if not the people, the first so passionate about their shared message he elbows the second in the face.

The Egyptian gesture for crazy is “claw your hands and wrench them around over your head,” something a little girl named Nina in Japan figured out when explaining the situation as the president versus the “normal people.”

Below her video @AymoonZZ “I support Nina for Presidency, she can be the minister of pure honey”

Dirty niqabis.

Old man licks the ground, shouts “Ba7ubik ya Misr!” and leads chants lying down.

He streams his hands over his face and out at his sides. Half-do’aa, half-angel wings.

Protesting journalists fan out and roost on a ledge, like a nest of baby swallows. In the street, it comes to blows between the boys of the public and the boys of the police.

Google predictive text suggests “ayman mohyeldin married?’” when I start to type his name. I’ll admit, I may have asked this very question.

A video pleading for Aly Sobhi’s release. Dueling commentators: “he’s out!” ”no he’s not!”

The prisoner’s break at Abu Zaabal is a slow trickle of men literally dripping one by one off the edges of the defending wall of the prison, down twelve feet to the street. Some make off with cattle when the main gates are broken.

Girls lead chants on menfolk’s shoulders. Only the Sa’aidi guys don’t seem uncomfortable.

Mostafa Ahmed Ali: another martyr. Kitten face clouded by his big black mane.

So it turns out Ahmed Ezz was a drummer in a band

A dead artist’s Vimeo timestamped forever, replete with “Likes.” bil 3rabi!

@thecopticmartyrs and dust hangs to spite the morning light. Invisible stones hurled, along with inaudible words.

A junkie, an actor, and an internet prince.

A little black window: Off Air. Unstreamed.