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The First Annual Fiction Issue

Thank You From Baghdad

Yesterday (I write this on 6 November 2006) I was handed my verdict in a trial that to me was more of a circus than anything else.
FA
Κείμενο Fred Armisen
01 Δεκέμβριος 2006, 12:00am

Fred Armisen

Vice: What about Saddam Hussein do you identify with?

Fred: His need for love.

Did you do much research for this piece?

I just looked at photos of Baghdad in the 70s.

Have you written much fiction before?

No.

What’s the best novel ever and why?

A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. It is relentlessly funny.

Who is the best living fiction writer now?

Gary Larson. His stories are very short, but they are very visual.

Photo by AP

esterday (I write this on 6 November 2006) I was handed my verdict in a trial that to me was more of a circus than anything else. I am not surprised by how things turned out. I knew the second I walked into that courtroom that no one was going to listen to me.

It’s all right though. I get it. The judge is only trying to do his job. He’s got bills to pay and a girlfriend or wife to impress I am sure. It was the same for me when I first got into power. Part of me was grateful to the citizens of Iraq for making me dictator. But another part of me was excited that this one lady I was seeing would be much more attracted to me!

Even though I am a little freaked out by what’s going to happen to me, I also appreciate the amazing run I had as Iraq’s supreme leader. It was an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. I learned a lot about my beloved country and about the world. There are some people I’d like to thank. First of all, my staff. They worked so hard, often into the wee hours. Sometimes I would come in at nine in the morning to find them still there from the day before, poring over receipts and schedules. I am thankful to Anwar Zamin, my Minister of the Interior, who taught me so much when I first came into power. Before I met Anwar, I knew nothing about the many things that make a country run smoothly. Highway construction, school budgets… even laws about sanitary conditions in restaurants! Thanks to my driver Namer, who purposefully took the long way so I could sneak in some alone time before my many meetings of the day. To Manaf Hassan, the head of security: Really great work all around. You were very patient with me and my crazy hours and I don’t know if I showed my appreciation.

I want to thank some people from my early days. Before my political career, before all the wars, and way before this ridiculous TV show of a trial. The first person that comes to mind is Mr. Mehhid. He owned a record store called Mehhid Music and that place made me the person that I am today. You see, I grew up in a part of Tikrit called Ali-Tazir. It was the lower-middle-class part of town, and I was often made fun of at school by the rich kids for my “tazzi” accent. My only escape from the boring lectures at school and my parents’ complete apathy was music. I would often cut class to venture into Mehhid’s and buy whatever single had the coolest-looking cover. Much of Iraqi pop music back then was kind of cheesy and bloated. No real substance. But then I found the import section. This turned my world upside down. There were bands with names like the MC5 and the Stooges. They wore leather jackets and played loud guitars. Noisy, dirty, brilliant! Detroit was a mythical place to me. I dreamed of living there and being in some band that played every night in the same bar. I spent every last dinar I had in that import section of Mehhid’s. It was there where I met the guys who would later make up most of my government (the Ministers of Defense, Treasury, and Agriculture, to name a few). We saved up and bought some instruments of our own, putting together a group that was basically a poor imitation of the stuff that was coming out of New York and London. We wanted to be Stiff Little Fingers but ended up sounding like the Knack or something. But what do you want from a bunch of angry teenage tazzis? We went on to play some shows around the city and then eventually all around the country. We must have gone through three different vans! It was a great time for music and bands were forming all over the place. I want to thank anyone who ever booked us a show, hung up a flier, came out to see us, gave us a place to stay, or cooked us a meal. I am eternally grateful. Thanks to the band of course too (yes you, Sadiq! I won’t mention your van stench. Oops!).

Much gratitude to Amira in the city of Rayat. My heart is always with you.

If I’ve forgotten to thank anyone else, forgive me, I’m old! Thanks for your time and long live the MC5!

TRANSLATION BY FRED ARMISEN