- Posted By: Bryan Chan
- Posted On: 2:42 p.m. | March 25, 2011
By Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times
I was standing at the front line on the outskirts of Ajdabiya on Friday listening to Times reporter David Zucchino interview a rebel fighter we had met three days before. The fighter was telling us that the rebels were “getting organized” for a concerted attack on the town held by forces loyal to Moammar Kadafi.
It was deja vu all over again, because it was the same thing he had said Tuesday. In short, very little had changed in the last 72 hours. The disorganized rebels had literally inched forward, and the scenario struck me as a lot like trench warfare without the benefit of trenches.
We had just retreated from about two miles up the road, where we saw a rebel fighter armed with a rocket-propelled grenade, an assault rifle and an acoustic guitar. He was singing a song he had written for the revolution. It was called, “My Home Is Strong and Free.”
Don’t worry mother, we know how to fight. Don’t worry mother, we know how to fight.
A group of rebel fighters gathered around him, swaying to the melody and clapping their hands. The minstrel strummed the final chords and said: “Kadafi sends us rockets and we send him music.”
Zucchino, an Australian journalist named Jason Koutsoukis and I laughed. It was just too good a quote.
But there was no time to savor the moment. The levity was abruptly broken by high-pitched whistling and a loud boom as an incoming rocket exploded and sent up a cloud of smoke and dust about a hundred yards from where we stood.
Everyone scrambled for cover, including me — but I caught myself and realized I had to take photos. I motored a few frames, turned and ran, then jumped into our car.
As we sped off, Zucchino, Koutsoukis, our driver, Yusef, and I immediately broke out in laughter. We couldn’t help it. What had just transpired was just too funny. One minute we’re having a kumbaya moment, and the next we’re getting rocketed and trying to outrun an armed guy with a guitar making a hasty getaway.
And I was just about to request John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.”
Goodnight, Ajdabiya! You’ve been a terrific audience! Damn you, Kadafi!
I swear, if Fellini had made a black comedy about war, this would be a scene stolen from it. As I’ve said in previous posts, this war is a layered cake of strangeness and surrealism.
Hey, all you frustrated screenwriters in Los Angeles, eat your hearts out! I’ve got a great movie in mind — and I have to say you just can’t make this stuff up.
More photos by Sinco and colleague Rick Loomis can be seen here.