July 20, 1969. Mankind finally reached the boundaries of outerspace. The most amazing technological achievement of our species.
My Mesopotamian ancestors, the Anunnaki, must have been tremendously proud of us!
I was 4 years old and vaguely remember watching this with my family. My Assyrian grandparents were in Montana with us visiting from Turlock, Colly-fornya. I remember them chattering away in Syriac in amazement with my mom. While my Anglo dad probably sat on the couch nursing an Olympia. (Which we called Owl Piss in high school.)
Smile Jamaica Jah-neology: Assyrian, German, Norwegian. Thus, I am Half Assed
My Grandfather Jibrael was my hero before Bob Marley. I moved to Utah from Montana to study the Middle East. Picked up a couple of degrees in Arabic and Middle East History at the University of Utah. Wanted to devote my life to settling the tribal war of brother killing brother. Took the Foreign Service exam. I had one year to go: either work for the Government or go to Grad School in Collie-fornya.
I lost the plot during the first Gulf War. I did not want to be like James Bond and become a grungier version of a Neoliberal hitman. “Shaken not stirred?” More like, “bongrip not rolled.”
Decided to stick around and devote my attention to Roots Reggae instead on Smile Jamaica. Take some time to consider my options.
While I was in the Middle East program, I met a variety of Muslims from around the World: Palestinians, Syrians, Malaysians, Iranians, Turks. Went to lots of parties and settled the world’s problems via awesome food choices.
One of these discussions I remember having was the rumor in the Muslim world that Neil Armstrong, the first man who walked on the Moon, was a Muslim.
Here is the Urban Legend:
There is no sound in outerspace. While Neil Armstrong was doing the original Moonwalk, he heard something he could not explain in his space helmet. It wasn’t radio static from Mission Control. It wasn’t random noise or gibberish but a language of vocabulary and sentences.
When Armstrong, an International hero, visited Cairo, Egypt, he heard the Muezzin: The man who takes to the heights to call his fellow Muslims to prayer.
Neil was staggered. That is what he heard in space! He converted to Islam before he left Cairo.
I wrote to Cecil Adams of the Straight Dope .
He gave me the Hairy Eyeball. Never answered my query in his columns. Probably because I aced him out on a response on the Beatles’ “butcher block” cover of the albumYesterday and Today
BUTCHERED BEATLES ALBUMS
In your discussion of the controversy over the “butcher cover” of the Beatles’ “Yesterday” … and Today [January 9], you mentioned that the design showing the moptops draped in raw cuts of meat and holding decapitated dolls was an attempt to satirize the vapid cover art of the time. But this isn’t really what the bloody motif was meant to represent. It was a protest by the Beatles directed at Capitol, their American record label. Capitol was in the habit of shaving tracks from the British LPs and hoarding them for another full album of “new” songs for American consumption in between “official” releases. The butcher cover was a statement against the greed of the American record label who “butchered” the Beatles’ artistic integrity for the sake of commerce. –Robert Nelson, Salt Lake City, Utah
Some people claim to have heard this explanation from John Lennon himself. Maybe they did, but if so it’s an explanation Lennon cooked up after the fact. As I explained before, the idea for the cover came from photographer Bob Whitaker, and the Beatles eagerly agreed to it. At the time Lennon reportedly said, “I especially pushed for it … just to break the image.” That it did. To quote my assistant Jane, who has a “peeled” copy of the stereo version of the album–that is, with the bland replacement cover photo peeled off: “Eww.”
Smile Jamaica 1; Straight Dope 0
When Neil applied to lead a Boy Scout troop there was a requirement that he describe his religious affiliation. He wrote deist. A true stoic hero of rare magnitude who eschewed political attempts to co-opt his celebrity and resented American Exceptionalism as the self appointed world’s policeman. He passed away in 2012.
Armstrong did, however, see UFO’s while in space. But that is fodder for a future post.
On a more optimistic Middle Eastern/space exploration note:
Since America and Russia squandered our scientific resources on Mutual Assured Nucelar Destruction, we as a people haven’t budged on space travel. The way I see it, we should have been space hopping and making Extra Terrestrial contact with our planetary neighbors in the decades since Neil and his mates took that “giant leap for mankind.”
Praise Anu, that our Emirati peers are going to re-boot planetary travel
United Arab Emirates taking a Magic Carpet Ride