Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shami Time! (Updated With the Latest)

Like most Texans––you could safely round the percent up to 99.9––we have devoted little of our short span of attention to the gubernatorial candidacy of Farouk Shami. But everything changes, as the venerable Shunryu Suzuki once observed, and so it was that last week, during a pilgrimage of several days to the unusually frigid ancestral hunting grounds in deep East Texas, we were forced to consider, at least in passing, the man who as of this moment could be the best-known Democratic candidate for governor from Houston. From Woodville far north to the near-Arcitc climes of Wood County, from whence we were forced to flee after being apprised of the mercury’s impending drop to 11 degrees F or thereabouts, Shami’s radio commercials––or commercial, as it seemed to be the same one, over and over––were in heavy rotation. As we punched the dial (or whatever it is you do with a digital radio) to and fro, searching for a tune to set our toes a tappin’ and slap a happy-ass smile on our sour and cold-benumbed puss, there seemed to be no escape from that friendly announcer’s voice touting the wonders of the Palestinian hairdresser-turned-manufacturer-of-hair-care-products––even on one of our favorite radio stations in the whole of Texas, which plays nothing but country music, mostly from the 1970s, that originally appealed to white men of our approximate age. Pushing north, heater roaring and radio blasting, singing loudly along to Kiss an Angel Good Morning or some other classic, we rode with Shami. (We usually ride with Jesus, but he had informed us it was too cold for him to make the journey.)

After the 5th or 6th hearing of his commercial, one small matter about the wonders of Shami began to bug us, a little, and that was his claim to have “brought,” past tense, 1,200 jobs to Texas by moving “his factories here from China.” Which naturally gives rise to several questions, at least in our mind: Why were these jobs in China in the first place, Sr. Shami? And have all of these alleged 1,200 jobs actually been filled with paycheck-drawing Texans, as of, say, last week? Does he actually have "thousands" of Texans on his payroll? And does Farouk Systems Inc. still have overseas manufacturing locations, and if so could Shami also bring those back to Texas? These are about the only questions we would have for Shami, should we ever be in a position to interrogate him, because the job-creation bit seems to be the end-all and be-all of his campaign––that and the success one can achieve smoothing-down even the unruliest of locks with the CHI Flat Iron.

Now we know these questions may never be plumbed or even asked, since the Texas political press, such as it is these days, most likely considers Shami a trifling annoyance, a fool and his money rapidly being departed, a mere sideshow to the big Perry-Hutchison Preliminary and the much-anticipated showdown between Bill White and The Winner of Perry-Hutchison Preliminary. That’s understandable. We don’t have to ring up Rice University’s Bob Stein to state the obvious: At the present time, Texans are not disposed to electing a Palestinian-American Muslim ex-hairdresser named Farouk as their governor, even if he promises each and every one of them a lifetime $40,000-a-year job with full benefits manufacturing CHI Keratin Hair Mist. As Shunryu Suzuki might observe, were he alive, things are changing, even in small-town Texas, where the jovial Middle Eastern owner-operator of the gas station-convenience store is now a stock figure, even a beloved character, on the social-commercial landscape. But they’re not changing that fast. Some day Texans may be ready to choose as their governor a Palestinian hair-care products manufacturer, even a gay Palestinian hair-care products manufacturer. But not this day.

However, since Shami is spending so much of his CHI-derived wealth on TV and radio commercials, money that might otherwise be invested in refining new hair-care products or upping the pay and benefits of his supposed 1,200 Texas-based employees, we believe the political press has the obligation to pursue these matters of public interest. At the very least, answers to these questions would provide fodder for Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News to lob an incendiary "gotcha” inquiry at Shami should he, Shami that is, be allowed access to the public airwaves for a debate with the other Democratic gubernatorial candidate from Houston and whoever else is on the primary ballot.

We also hope someone in the political press will clear up a recently arisen question regrading the pronunciation of the candidate’s last name. On his commercials and elsewhere we’ve only heard it pronounced to rhyme with “Mammy!”, as in the Shamwow! Super Shammy® (made in Germany--they make good stuff in Germany!). The other night, though, we saw a Channel 11 report on some big money-back guarantee Shami is about to offer voters (WARNING: REPORT INCLUDES BRIEF APPEARANCE BY RICE UNIVERSITY’S BOB STEIN) and heard Shern-Min Chow, whom we think is a graduate of Yale or some other Ivy League institution, repeatedly pronounce it sha-ME. Now “SHAM-me” is a name Texans can relate to, since so many take a shammy to their pick-ups after a good Turtle-Waxing, but sha-ME sounds too effeminate, even Frenchified, for a Texas governor.

It may be too late for this, but Shami should follow the lead of another Palestinian-Texan trailblazer, perriennial Houston office-seeker Sam Fayed, who changed his name to (something like) “Texas Sam Houston Fayed” for ballot purposes. We like the sound of Farouk “Sam Houston Lamar Tom Landry Earl Campbell Jose Texas” Shami. That should do it.

UPDATE: We learn from today's column by the Chronicle's Rick Casey that Shami has forsaken Islam to embrace all religions, or most all religions, or no religion. Shami has issued a statement. Stand by for further developments.


The Fishing Musician said...

I laughed. I cried. I prayed to allah. Just kidding about the last one...

Who knew Slampo had East Texas roots like El Fishing Musician? I guess that's why, subconsciously perhaps I must have known you to be like me, descended from hallowed East Texas roots , to put you on my blog roll some time ago.

As a native Houstonian who made escape from Houston to the country a few years ago, but I do enjoy chuckling at a good lambasting of the pols.

Although it's only week 2 of the new decade, this certainly will be a qualifier for funniest political post already.

And, stop the presses, has Rick Casey actually written a non-bombastic relevant column? I'll follow the link, and actually read the Caseyman today, but jeez, I'd almost rather be stuck in an elevator with Stein than with the santimonious Casey.

If'n I had my druthers, that is.

The Fishing Musician said...

Here's a quote from his website, talking about his charitable activities, as a hairdresser. Now, THAT'S never been seen before in Texas politics!

As a humanitarian who fervently believes that generosity is repaid many-fold, Farouk has donated to numerous charities and organizations worldwide without making it public knowledge. After September 11th, Farouk went to New York to personally help those who were affected by the tragedy, especially his fellow hairdressers.

It sounds like the lead in to a bad Saturday Night Live Skit, not unlike his campaign.

Praise Allah er Jesus and pass the Quaker hat.

Slampo said...

It's easy to chuckle at Mr. Shami, but before we indulge in an easy laugh at his expense we must all ask ourselves, "How many hairdressers did I comfort after 9/11?"

Anonymous said...

Who is Farouk Shami? The real issue is not necessarily his religion, but his credibility. Are his Public Statements factual or just Beauty Show hype?

Farouk in San Antonio (10/21/09): “I manage business in 106 countries, I have tens of thousands of employees, and we've brought billions of dollars to the state of Texas,” Shami said.

Fact Check:
• Farouk manufacturers the products and sells them to independent distributors/importers (in US and overseas), who in return sell to the salons. He DOES NOT manage these companies. They are his customers.
• Likewise the employees of these distributors or the salons which use his products are NOT Farouk’s employees.

Yes, Farouk has done well for himself BUT… He is NOT the sole owner of his companies - Farouk claims (as well documented in many articles and interviews, and then repeated by the media) to be a Billionaire; however he is NOT listed on Forbes List of Billionaires – with his ego, he definitely would make sure that he would be listed if he just could prove it

Farouk claims to be Quaker?
Having attended Quaker School does not make Farouk a Quaker – maybe that is all what was available at the time (or even today) for quality education in Ramallah.
• Wikipedia: “The Friends School currently serves as the School for the best and the brightest. It is well known to educate the children of Palestinian elites.”
• MilitantIslamMonitor: “Guilford College controversy Being Manipulated By CAIR -Quaker school tied to pro terrorist Friends school in Ramallah”
• King of Jordan had sent his personal message to Farouk Shami (to a Quaker???) during the last two company conferences – Amman, Jordan (2006) and Cancun, Mexico (2008)
• Farouk is a member of and guest speaker to many Muslim organizations

From - Meet Farouk – “Mr. Shami and his wife have two sons, both of whom are actively involved in the company. Their union, as strong now as they day they married is a source of pride for Farouk"

Normally one should not bring the family issues into a political campaign; however the above statement from is intended to provide a misleading impression that Farouk is a typical “all-American” successful business man.
• Farouk has two sons and two daughters (not mentioned in his statement). Only one son is directly involved with the company, the other one has his own company selling the same/similar products to non-professional market
• It is an arranged marriage according to Muslim traditions
• He has shipped his wife and one daughter to Palestine for extended periods of time. For the past 20+ years his wife has spent majority of her time in Palestine, i.e. not under the ‘same roof’ as implied in Farouk’s statement. She has only come to the US periodically to visit the children and grandchildren.

IHB2 said...

obviously, since Texans aren't likely to elect more than 1 Democrat to the Exec Branch, Shami's promise to "resign and pay the state $10mil if I don't create 100k new jobs in 2 yrs" is the latest and most clever strategy yet by Lt Guv DotheDewhurst to ascend to the office he cannot run for on his own. heretofore Guvpermanente Perry's spectacular hairdo has trumped DD's every effort to buy the office. who but a hairdresser could bring him down?

The Fishing Musician said...

Very funny IHB2.

I guess such a scenario/conspiracy would make DD "the hair apparent". (rimshot)

I agree with Slampo that he needs a "Texas Add-On Name that doesn't suck" to be more attractive to the voters.

How about legal name change to something like Governor Farouk Shami or Farouk "Randy Quaid" Shami" Or Shimmy Shami? or even the simple but effective Farouk "Bubba" Shami.

Anonymous said...

Does Religion Matter? - Culturally and Politically – Farouk’s religion DOES matter, not as to where or how often he practices, but what he believes in.

Shami is a member of the board of the American Task Force on Palestine, as was Tareq Salahi, the Whitehouse party crasher.

Regarding the Palestinian Right of Return, the ATFP states on its website that "The right of return is an integral part of international humanitarian law, and cannot be renounced by any parties”.

There is no Palestinian constituency of consequence that would agree to the renunciation of this right. There is also no Jewish constituency of consequence in Israel that would accept the return of millions of Palestinian refugees..

Everyone is concentrating on the Palestinian refugees used as a political and ideological tool by the Muslims. The majority of the 700,000 original refugees left the territory due to the encouragement by the Arab nations ready to invade Israel in 1967, so that they could then return to the ‘liberated’ territory. Now 40+ years on the refugee camps, the number has grown into millions. None of the fellow Arab/Muslim countries have accepted the Palestinians into their society in any significant numbers.

Nobody is talking about 800,000 Jews who were forced to leave their homes in Arab countries when Israel was formed.

The Right of Return would result in the end of Israel, only by different means than Hamas, PLO, Hezbollah or Iran are promoting.


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