Extreme Makeover: The Bin Laden Compound
by Jim Washburn
The bin Ladens have been in this house for five years, yet they still don’t feel at home. The family and their household live in the three-story house and several outlying buildings. They were built to the bin Ladens’ specifications, but the construction was handled by a go-between. The result is a rambling, ungainly estate so lacking in charm and modern conveniences that Fatima, wife No. 3 in the family, jokes they might as well be living in a cave.
We’re visiting the bin Ladens this morning for a walk-through, to get some ides of the design hurdles they face before we send in our team of experts to repurpose the house.
The Makeover Tour
[Knocks on door. A tall, bearded man answers]
“Hello! You must be Ty! Do come in!”
“Thank you. And you must be the head of the house, Osama?”
“That’s me, though with a house like this, I hope that’s not all I’m known for.”
“What is it that you do, then?”
“Motivational speaking, franchise expansion, you name it. For relaxation, I like to work out on monkey bars.”
“Sounds like a satisfying life. So what’s the problem we’re here for today?”
“Just look at this place! I work out of the home, and all day long I feel like I’m just going from drab to drab. The furnishings don’t fit. There’s no sense of flow.”
“Have you tried consulting a feng shui expert?”
“Yes we did, until I realized it was sorcery and had to stone her to death. Most people have no idea how exhausting that can be.”
“I can imagine.”
“No you can’t. Before she expired, I felt like I’d pitched a doubleheader. She did give us some good tips on realigning the bedroom furniture, though.”
“We’re in, I guess, the foyer of the house. I see you have some kind of folk-arty implements stacked to either side of the hallway. What are those called?”
“Kalashnikovs. Would you like to see the kitchen? Come this way.”
“Golly, did you clear out a Costco? There must be 20 huge sacks of potatoes alone in here!”
“Only 17. The other three are my wives. Do you like their burkas?”
“They sure keep the impure thoughts away. This must be the dining room. What’s this big burnt spot in the carpet?”
“That’s where we roast the goats.”
“All that effort to personalize the place, and yet you don’t even have wallpaper up yet.”
“You know how it is: You think you’ve got everything set; then one of the wives decides she wants burlap, and the other four start changing their minds, too. Eventually I just gave up and settled in with the VCR.”
“Is this your den in here?”
“Yes, sorry for the mess.”
“Hey, you weren’t kidding, you do have a VCR!”
“I’m the way with video that Neil Young is with CDs, you know? You can only go so far into digital before it becomes unclean.”
“How do you like those Beatle remasters?”
“I don’t listen to infidel music. But Neil? He’s Canadian. He’s OK.”
“Mind if we rummage through some of your VHS titles? I feel like we’re stepping into a time machine here.”
“I’d really rather you ...”
“Hey, what’s this? Anal Jihad? Dicks in the Sand? Just what sort of videos are these, Osama?”
“They are for research! Purely research. I am preparing a TV show. They are for that.”
“What sort of TV show?”
“A, what you call, reality show, God willing. About, um, when people, a family wants to live a godly life as instructed from our teachings, but the West won’t let them.”
“What’s it called?”
“Leave it to Sharia”
[Cut to the arrival of the redesign team, all wearing cute baby SEAL T-shirts. They immediately get to work, splitting the monochrome yard into two cozy gardens, inventively partitioned by the “found art” of a helicopter fuselage. Next they tackle the house, and in mere moments they’ve entirely changed the mood of the place. Upstairs, they show that even the most window-starved bedroom can be brightened by a little spray, of zinnias when you have them, of automatic weapons fire when you don’t.]
The I’m Done With That Nonsense Part of the Article:
It’s been a week of revelations. One is that Barack Obama could personally behead every jihadist on earth, kill all the French for good measure, prove he was really Paul Revere, and then shit Gideon Bibles, and he still wouldn’t be American enough for some people.
I have a lot of friends, but not so many that I can be picky. And from a couple of my conservative ones, the first thing I heard was that this was a hoax, that bin Laden was still at large or had been killed years ago (you know, back when competent white men ran things), and this was just a sham to distract from Obama’s obviously faked birth certificate and to give him a desperately needed boost for the election, what with Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty in the race.
Perhaps we’ll have more to say on that later, but let’s move on to other revelations, one being that we’re probably not going back to the way we used to be, you know, all that old-fashioned stuff about the rule of law and everyone’s right to a fair trial. It’s not just Osama, but also Obama’s increased reliance on targeted assassinations and predator drones to take out our enemies, or at least guys who look like them from the sky, plus their neighbors and their neighbors’ kids. That is a big shift from 200 years of American justice, and it goes on nearly unremarked now. Even American citizens are being targeted.
I’m all for bin Laden being dead, but I’m also astounded that this isn’t a major issue in our country. You’d think at least that the conservatives bitching about Obama not supporting the notion of American exceptionalism would shut up, since what’s more exceptional than sending troops into sovereign nations uninvited and killing whomever we like, well beyond any system of due process?
There are also the small revelations about bin Laden, like that he did indeed use a VCR, and was still involved in the operational side of al Qaeda. The one that really stopped me was the revelation that there was a garden of high quality marijuana growing right outside the compound walls, which has led to suspicions that all future terrorist attacks would take place at 4:20.
But seriously, folks, there has been a storm of speculation that bin Laden was a toker, with Bill Maher even suggesting that’s why bin Laden has mellowed in recent years. Others have pointed out that with his kidney failure, bin Laden could have qualified for medical marijuana in several US states. As pro-weed as I am, I don’t know that it entirely takes the place of dialysis.
I don’t really see the point of trying to claim bin Laden as a fellow pothead. Aren’t several US presidents, the world’s greatest Olympic athlete, the Beatles and Louis Armstrong enough? It did not burnish the image of vegetarians when it was found that Hitler was one.
So let me make a counter-argument. Bin Laden was in a walled compound. He was inside the walls, the weed was outside. It was being cultivated in a field alongside cabbage and potatoes, though no one’s suggesting bin Laden liked a nice colcannon for St. Patty’s Day.
No, I think he lived inside the walls, and the world outside went on entirely apart from him. The nearby military academy could well have been ignorant of his presence, just as he may have been unaware of the ganja beyond his walls. That’s why some people have walls. Evidently, he was even worse than Van Morrison when it came to returning kids’ balls that landed in his yard. Maybe he was the neighborhood Boo Radley, finding little representations of the Buddha in tree boles, and destroying them. He was an asshole. He didn’t deserve weed.