JINNS AND GENIES AND JEANNIES

Before there were the Ayatollah and Osama, there were Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Oral Roberts, live in Technicolor, threatening to send us all to Hell if we didn’t get religion. There’s not that much difference between fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam. Despite the bad rap as the Great Satan, the US is really rather socially conservative, especially compared to modern Europe, out forever from under the yoke of the Pope, and anxious to show it. Amsterdam is not even the half of it, just being honest about what everybody else is already doing. Northern Europe never got rid of the old-fashioned brothels, so there’s nothing to bother with legalizing now. At the North Brussels train station, you can see the girls before you even get off the train, standing in the windows like underwear models, but instead of selling the underwear, they’re selling what’s under there. Ironically, this is on the edge of what’s probably the largest Muslim neighborhood north of Tangier. Turks, Pakistanis, Persians, Arabs, they’re all there doing what they’ve always done, selling carpets, selling cloth, selling hookahs, kebabs, and all things Islamic. The girls in the windows are all white. All we need is the Janissary Corps and you’d have a movie set for 19th century Istanbul. Oh, wait, here comes a policeman now. The girls don’t care. They scratch their butts and suck the life out of their cigarettes as if to advertise the prowess of their jawbones. When they finally exhale, the smoke forms little jinns and genies hovering overhead, apparently waiting to see if the girl will twitch her nose and maybe we’ll get another new Darren to make my childhood even more traumatic than it already was. At least James Bond morphed after an absence of a few years, so that a new generation maybe didn’t even know the difference, but Darren just became a different face with a different personality like some nagual shape shifting in front of our eyes. Oh! Now I get it; he was the male counterpoint to Jeannie’s genius, a genie in his own right!

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