fs_bw“Have you heard of Fazıl Say?,” she asked, with the obscenely picturesque Istanbul skyline behind her. We were, all of us, at a rooftop bar/restaurant, eating and drinking raki when I asked about Turkish musicians I should know about. I admitted I hadn’t heard of him.

“He’s a genius,” she said. “But he was punished for insulting Islam.” Continue reading



Galata Bridge and Blue Mosque at night, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Photo EssayAccording to F., you can safely skip the much-recommended Turkish baths (hamam) in Suleymaniye. Besides the fact that they’ll cost you a minimum of 90 Turkish lira (about $45 right now), with scrub-downs or special treatments costing extra, the environment’s not particularly interesting. It’s a tourist trap. Other, less touristy hamams might be better.

I didn’t try it out, but I take her word for it, and recommend getting yourself instead to a Korean spa when and if you’re in Korea (or a Koreatown in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Dallas, or Plano, Texas), get the chance, and have about $25 (for up to 24 hours of spa time!)

Eminönü (Istanbul) roasted chestnut vendor at night, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

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Photo EssayI laughed sympathetically as I watched this scene from the ferry I took from Kasımpaşa to Eminönü. The two younger women in these pictures really wanted to throw rocks into the Bosphorus. They weren’t harming anything, except maybe the chances of the couple of people fishing from the dock, who actually caught a nice-sized fish immediately after these women were chastised by the ticket-taker for the ferry.

1. “Is it OK?”

Muslim mother and her children in Kasimpasa, Istanbul, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali


2. “Yeah, I think it’s OK. Let’s throw rocks in the Bosphorus over here….”

Muslim mother and her children in Kasimpasa, Istanbul, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali


3. “I guess it wasn’t OK.”

Muslim woman and her children in Kasimpasa, Istanbul, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Note the man in blue wearing sunglasses in the background — I’d spotted him behind me on the Galata Bridge and around Galatasaray multiple times in the hour before I boarded the ferry from which I took this photo, and when you follow a random route through a heavily urban area for an hour and remain paired with someone it’s no coincidence. Turkey may look ancient and venerable — and to be fair, it actually is — but in terms of its policing of its state, its quite modern, and you can bet that any Westerner on Istiklal or on the Galata Bridge is being closely watched, and that all mobile phone and internet activity is likewise being closely monitored.

There was no real consequence for me to this surveillance, other than that of any self-respecting person’s “f-u,” but you’ve got to feel for women in Turkey. The hegemony of male authority in Turkey seems like a suffocating and unnatural burden for everyone. Cogitate on the the daily life of Mr. Bluejeans & Sunglasses, for example… Just try to vividly imagine the hours of his days and who he relates to, and how, when he’s NOT working.


Photo Essay

View of Eminonu, Istanbul, from the water. (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

There are several sites almost every tourist in Istanbul visits, even if they’re the type of tourist who prefers to be called a “traveler.” Here’s a photographic whirl through some of these sites.

The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Carsii)

Tourist at The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Carsii), (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Woman at Blue Mosque, (c) 2016 Brian AwehaliOnce you take your shoes off and give them to your appropriately covered partner to carry in her backpack, you can walk through and appreciate the 400-year-old Blue Mosque‘s majestic lapiz lazuli-lined interior design, or the sight of Muslims from all parts of the world coming to appreciate its grandeur and feel closer to their god. Ceiling of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, (c) 2016 Brian AwehaliThough it’s not the point of the place, it’s also amazing to see how much personal style can be expressed in the modest yet highly varied dress of Muslim women.

Or, if you’re like the guy in the picture above, maybe you can get just the right selfie or check your text messages. Continue reading


Photo Essay

Alley in the Galatasaray neighborhood of Istanbul at night. (c) 2015 Brian Awehali

Istanbul at night. (c) 2015 Brian Awehali

The beauty of a landscape resides in its melancholy.
— Ahmet Rasim

Walking the backstreets of Beyoğlu my second night in Istanbul, I admired how a city of more than ten million people could still feel so intimate. At night, it’s an intimacy created partly by the alchemy of old, compressed space and low streetlight, the brushing of shoulders with strangers on narrow stone sidewalks, and the sauntering of many semi-feral cats.

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by Brian Awehali

LouReedLou Reed came to my dreams last night, looking ashen and skeletal, propped up in bed like it was his last interview, only it was a monologue, and he had dark and glorious things to share. The air around him was grainy, like old newsprint, and it was getting darker fast. He was an asshole, but I loved him in dream-time with as much tenderness and ferocity as I loved him with in my waking hours. Continue reading

» PEOPLE YOU MAY KNOW: Fake Identity in Social Media and Beyond

by Brian Awehali

[The 2016 U.S. Presidential election drew increased attention to the corrosive effects of social media-directed news and news bubbles. Regardless of your political views, consider the limits and perils of adopting or normalizing propagandistic modes of communication.]

“A man is whatever room he is in.”
–Japanese proverb

Most people know a certain portion of people on the internet aren’t people at all, or aren’t the people they purport to be, especially on social networks like Google+, Twitter, and Facebook, where at least 5-6% of all profiles are fake. 97% of these imposters are estimated to identify as female, and apparently attractive college-aged bisexuals lead the field. Consider just Facebook’s roughly 1 billion users, then do the math. A conservative estimate is that 80 million of the profiles on the network are fictional. That’s roughly the population of Germany or Egypt, a quarter of the United States, fifteen Finlands. And yet most people don’t think such fakers are among the ranks of their own online “friends.”

“[Facebook is] the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented.” — Julian Assange, speaking to Russia Today.

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If you have a blog with any overtly “political” agenda or content, chances are pretty good you have some fake followers, too, and that you’ve posted comments by them. You may have had multi-part email or comment board exchanges with them. They might even have names of people familiar to you. If you’ve ever published/edited an independent political magazine, or, say, co-moderated a politicized Facebook page, you definitely interacted with a fair amount of vitriolic cognitive absolutists and disruptive personalities, but you almost surely also interacted with dozens or hundreds of deliberate fakes, either bots engaged in large-scale data harvesting attacks, military or law enforcement personnel who are “doing” the internet in order to influence public opinion, or others intent on exploiting a fundamental weakness of social networks and the internet in general, humorously summed up in a 20-year-old New Yorker cartoon:

On the internet, no one knows you're a dog - New Yorker / Peter Steiner

“The analysis of the fake Facebook profile experiment showed that creating and maintaining a fake profile is an easy task.”

This was one of the main findings reported in a paper published in the Journal of Service Science Research last year. This is not a new story by any means, but it’s the first (and last) time I’m focusing on it here on LOUDCANARY. The paper is fairly detailed, but in March and April 2012, the authors created six “socially attractive fake Facebook profiles and integrat[ed] them into existing friendship networks to simulate a data harvesting attack.”

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