Friday, May 30, 2014

An Nowfara Cafe Damascus Syria

A picture I took on one of my last nights in Damascus in the summer of 2008. It's of Abu Shady the "hakawati" of Damascus. Every night he would sit on his raised seat and provide stories for the entertainment of the cafe. Many stories were from the Nights. In the top right corner of the photo is a hanging reproduction of a painting called Safie, One of the Three Ladies of Baghdad by William Clarke Wontner (1900). It was a detail I hadn't seen before. I hope An-Nowfara Cafe and Abu Shady are well and hope for peace for Syria.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Salesman Paul Brennan lost in Opa Locka's 1001 Streets

The 1969 film Salesman ( is something you should run out and rent immediately. It is a beautifully shot documentary following several door-to-door Bible salesmen in the 1960s. In one sequence one of the salesmen, Paul Brennan, gets lost in the city of Opa Locka, Florida and thus in its 1001 Nights built layout. You can see a lot of the street names here and get a glimpse of the Orientalized city hall. At the end of this clip he tells his coworkers he was lost in the "Muslim district".

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tales Through Time: The Incredible Journey of The 1001 Nights

I'll be giving a 1001 Nights lecture/presentation at the new San Diego Public Library this Wednesday evening. Please come!

Facebook event -

"Tales Through Time: The Incredible Journey of The 1001 Nights"

Professor Michael Lundell discusses the origins, significance, and lasting influence of one the great works of world culture, “One Thousand and One Nights” (aka “The Arabian Nights”), the collection of stories and folktales compiled during the Islamic Golden Age. Take a magic carpet ride with Scheherazade, Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Sindbad the Sailor.

When: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Where: Central Library / Mary Hollis Clark Conference Room 151 330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101

Part of the Muslim Journeys project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.