Anthony Bourdain got out of Beirut. Was shooting "No Reservations" episode on how the city was becoming the hotspot of the Middle East once again. Then saw it get blown up. Watched citizens of other countries evacuated as the US State Department advised that stranded Americans look up a web site.
What is clear -- as far as we're concerned -- from all sources is that there is no official, announced plan. No real advice, or information, or public exit strategy or timetable. The news clip of President Bush, chawing open-mouthed on a buttered roll, then grabbing at another while Tony Blair tries to get him to focus on Lebanon -- plays over and over on the TV, crushing our spirits and dampening all hope with every glassy-eyed mouthful. He seems intent on enjoying his food; Lebanon a tiny, annoying blip on an otherwise blank screen. I can't tell you how depressing that innocuous bit of footage is to watch. That one, innocent, momentary preoccupation with a roll has a devastating effect on us that is out of all proportion. We're looking for signs. And this, sadly, is all we have.
And every day we hear worse. Cellphone towers, power stations, land lines are being targeted, says Mr. Wolfe. And we're frankly terrified of the seemingly imminent moment when we can no longer stay in touch with the outside world, make or receive calls to the States -- or more important, be notified by the embassy (should that ever happen). They've run out of bread and food in downtown stores.
And yet, at the hotel, still safe and fed and liquored up in Bizarro World, we sit by the pool and watch the war. And wait, impotently -- shamefacedly. As the hotel empties again -- and only a few of us are left. Expectations fade and then die. Just bitterness and a sense of disgust remain. What to expect anymore? One hopes only for the little things: that they'll fire up the pizza oven today. That they'll open the bar early. That we might just maybe get an English language newspaper or magazine -- or even a French one.