Bill Cody is a filmmaker and occasional Stranger contributor. (See his 2007 story "Shooting in Iraq" about mentoring young filmmakers in Iraqi Kurdistan.) He is currently on tour through the Middle East with the garage/flower-punks the Black Lips—Cyprus, Egypt, Dubai, Iraq, Jordan, and Beirut—shooting for a documentary as he goes, and sending us occasional emails and photos when his internet connection permits. —Eds.

Hi Brendan: Bill Cody here. Filmmaker and sometime producer of the wild journey that is the Black Lips Middle East Tour with Lazzy Lung from Beirut, Lebanon. They said it couldn't be done but we are doing it. Here's a photo of both bands in Cyprus with their tour manager, Nadim Jamal:

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  • Bill Cody

Here's a picture of Cole Alexander playing in front of a crowd of apprecitive skate punks in Alexandria, Egypt, which they call "the Seattle of Egypt" because the scene here is so vibrant.

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  • Bill Cody

Here's a Black Lips fan in Alexandria. Same as in the States:

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  • Bill Cody

Here we are checking out the Pyramids at Giza:

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  • Bill Cody

A shot from Cairo, another city on the tour:

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  • Bill Cody

The other night we spent an evening talking with members of the BDS Boycott group. They want all artists to stop playing Israel and we had a discussion about the Black Lips playing in Israel in 2007. It was a great conversation to have and once again we were able to explore the similarities and get past the differences.

The Middle East is filled with people just like everywhere else and the kids just want to have fun like everyone else.

The whole tour has been an incredible contradiction in some ways, but only to people who can't think out of the box. The shows have been smaller but every bit as intense as US shows for the band. The difference is the bonding before and after the shows.

Something is happening here in the Middle East. They just need time for it to grow.

More soon,
Bill