Saturday, October 27, 2007

Third World Love

Omer Avital

Been especially busy and ignoring my blog commitments but not my commitment to listening to some live music from time to time. As luck would have it Thirld World Love were playing on Thursday night at Levontin 7 , a funky , fringey performance place and bar in the now trendy Gan Ha-chashmal (Electric Garden) area.

Thirld World Love are bassist Omer Avital , trumpeter Avishai Cohen , pianist Avishai Cohen and drummer/percussionist Daniel Freedman. The first three are Israelis who live or lived in New York while Daniel is a New Yorker who got sucked into the Israeli Jazz milieu there.

All are virtuoso jazz players. Omer can make the double bass sing (and played a long solo in which he made it sing like an oud), Avishai's lyrical trumpet is as clear as a bell, Daniel is a wonderfully talented and knowledgeable percussionist and Yonatan is a quirky, brilliant pianist. As TWL their music is often based on African and Middle Eastern rhythms that get the audience dancing before they find out that they are going to be taken on a much more sophisticated musical ride that transcends the normal boundaries .

Avishai Cohen (not to be confused with the successful Israeli bassist of the same name)

On Thursday the sold-out crowd , (mainly young but we weren't the only wrinklies) lapped up every minute. Even though we had to stand I didn't feel tired. Third World Love play all over the world, their members live in different countries but their most enthusiastic fan base is in Israel.

here are some sites of the individual musicians

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Annapolis fever

Apologies to all my reader. I deserted the rooftop for a week or so in favour of greyer climes and richer food.

But there too (in Europe) as well as in Washington, Moscow, New York, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Gaza and the settlements of the West Bank, all the players are jostling for the most convenient positions in the run-up to the Annapolis peace conference that may or may not be held on November 26.

The official music coming out of both Washington and Brussels is that 'failure is not an option" . When asked if there was contingency plan if the talks didn't work out, State Department spokesman McCormack said "Plan B is to make Plan A work..." This sort of rhetoric might be good for western team building and perhaps also for motivating the parties to make real progress but taking a look around the arena from the vantage point of the (still hot) rooftop, the obstacles seem formidable. Here are a few scenarios for illustration:

  • Annapolis will turn out to be nothing than a photo-op. The sides, more fearful of their own political constituencies than of failure, will be able to agree on only a vague declaration. The consequent negotiations on the specifics will quickly end in deadlock.
  • Even assuming that negotiations are fruitful, internal opposition on both sides will block implementation. On the Palestinian side, Hamas will renew the civil war, while on the Israeli side, the government will collapse, and the settlers will mount massive protests.
Given that both Olmert and Abu Mazen will always be checking their room for manoeuvre by the barometer of internal opposition, the real question is, who is the stronger? Netanyahu and the Settlers Council or the US Secretary of State? Hamas and Islamic Jihad or the Secretary General of the United Nations? Mmmm. Would you put your money on Ban Ki-moon?

The international community says that an agreement should not be forced on the sides and they might be right. But unless the Quartet, the Arab League and everyone else concerned is prepared to do some unprecedented arm twisting before, during and after Annapolis, the chances of success seem slight.

So, as you knew all along, failure, while not certain (miracles do happen), is not only an option but a likelihood. But Washington and Brussels are right when they say they don't need a Plan B. While the diplomats write impressive articles for the New York Times on what went wrong, the shit will be hitting the fan - here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Happy Birthday Neve Tzedek

Officially, the rooftop misses the original border of Neve Tzedek by about 20 paces but according to other definitions we are well inside. Whatever our precise relationship, it's our neighbourhood; pretty, leafy, old, charming, quaint, constantly changing and now hopping with activity. Neve Tzedek established in 1887 , the result of the first attempt by Jews to break out of the confines of Yaffo, (see link above for history) is celebrating its 120th birthday, and its streets are filled with people seeking the exhibitions, open houses tours and concerts.

The original narrow terraced houses painted in shades of ochre were soon joined by grander residences and also by new adjacent neighbourhoods. In 1909 Ahuzat Bayit (later renamed Tel Aviv) was established on the adjoining sand dunes, Neve Tzedek gradually fell into disrepair and by the 1960s was considered a slum. Now, after a hundred years of Tel Aviv's expansion and development, Neve Tzedek (in its tastefully gentrified mode of course) is back in fashion. Nobel laureate author Shmuel Yosef Agnon and artist Nahum Gutman who lived and worked here as struggling young artists in the early years of the last century, and whose homes are visited on the neighbourhood tours, would find it impossible to find an affordable pad here today. In our cold, alienating, technological world, Ye Olde Neve Tzedek, like other old quarters everywhere, has become a magnet for those seeking an anchor in the authentic, the historic (preferably with a touch of bohemian thrown in). OK, I admit it. I'm one of those people too.

Neve Tzedek supplies all of this and whatever was missing in the way of the 'authentic' has been shipped in from the outside in the form of cool stripped down woodwork, boutiques for babies and dark little tables in the romantic cafes.

On the neighbourhood map, handed out as part of the festivities, the local historic landmarks are marked together with old photos and descriptions. These include schools and synagogues, the houses where writers would meet, housing projects for the poor, law courts. Today that sense of close community has all but disappeared from Neve Tzedek. The same buildings now offer yoga, fashion and cappuccino. Still, there is a community out there (in which we rooftoppers are not sufficiently active) that is fighting in the courts to ward off the encroaching threat of Neve Tzedek, the only really charming part of Tel Aviv, being encircled by a ring off main roads and giant towers. To follow the struggle and to read and see more of Neve Tzedek
(Hebrew only) visit