Thursday, July 31, 2008

MLC plays a gig (at last!)

After 4 years of faffing around at chaotic rehearsals and playing sets of wildly fluctuating quality at private parties, Mid Life Crisis (you can call us MLC) is finally playing a real gig, in a real bar in Tel Aviv.

The seminal event will take place on Tuesday, August 12 at 22.00 at the Bloom Bar, 1 Rehov Hamelekh George. B there or B square.

This of course means that we actually need to learn the songs; something never quite achieved. I've taken holiday from now on to be devoted (partly) to memorising the lyrics, many of which I wrote myself! It's so embarrassing having a music stand with the lyrics next to me when we play. I mean would the Stones do that ??! We've also set 8 hours of rehearsals but you'd still have to be a naive optimist to believe that we're going to get it down pat. We also don't have any sort of stage presence to talk of (although this could conceivably part of our charm??). As for interaction with the audience -does anyone know some good mid-life crisis cracks?

A few days ago, three out of the MLC foursome met at Bloom Bar to check the place out and found it to be agreably funky although with a miniscule (and triangular) stage. We don't see how we're going to fit on it and breathe. After a beer there we moved on to another rock bar - Freeland (could be right for us) - and finally to the Minzar pub (scruffy, packed, cheerful and relatively cheap). All in all a rare pub crawl.

v. small pic of the Minzar (monastery) pub on Hillel Hazaken street parallel with Allenby St and close to the entry to shuk ha-carmel.

Since I'm on my hols for a couple of weeks, there may well be a sharp increase in the number of posts (you've been given fair warning).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Iran, California, Manhattan

Tel Aviv is “half Iran, half California; it’s a synagogue meets a sushi bar,” the writer and lifelong Tel Aviv resident Etgar Keret tells travel writer Henry Alford in an insightful and amusing article on a first-time visit to TA.

In our particular stretch of the woods, Manhattan would be a more accurate reference point. On the one hand, work has at long last started on restoring a beautiful old building (one of twins)over the street that used to serve as a labour disputes court. We've been waiting for this for about a decade in the knowledge that the newly restored building would spruce up the street and create a lovely refurbished neighbour for the rooftop. Who knows, the municipality might even decide to repave the road and fix the pavements.

A corner of no 6 , taken from the rooftop a few months ago.

On the other, the towers are on the march. Our joy at no 6 being renovated is tempered by the threat of plans for a massive tower which would stand about 100 metres behind it, dwarfing it and blocking the view from the (our) rooftop! Today, the district planning committee heard the case for and against approving the Niva Tower - see last post. (I meant to be there but something came up). And on TV tonight there was an item on the new 30 storey tower, designed (interiors I assume) by Giorgio Armani with prices up to to $13m per unit (I guess they're talking about the penthouse).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A small victory

This week, a small but determined group of local citizens succeeded (at least temporarily) in blocking plans to construct a 30 storey tower in our neighbourhood. In the wall of planned towers surrounding Neve Tzedek in the illustration above (click to enlarge) , the tower in question - Niva Tower - would be the first on the top right hand side.

In a rare flurry of activity, "action committees" of Neve Tzedek and Florentin joined forces to submit a writ of opposition to the plan which was signed by numerous local residents. They also made a convincing presentation to the local planning committee which decided to recommend to the regional planning committee not to proceed with the plans until the municipality submits a master plan for the whole area.

street in Neve Tzedek

If the regional committeee agrees (we'll know on July 21) the municipality, instead of authorising individual towers - thereby carrying out a creeping Manhattanization of this low -rise area - will at least have to show the public what's in store for it. The hope is that once the wall of towers, planned to separate Neve Tzedek from Florentin, is fully exposed, and a full hearing is given to local residents, the planning authorities will scale down the (much needed) development of the area to a size that we can all live with (what's wrong with 10 storeys?)

Meanwhile, the illustration at the top (from the Neve Tzedek action committtee site) shows how the municipality would like to see the area. Neve Tzedek would be surrounded on three sides by walls of towers and on the fourth by a new major road artery (the shlavim road) that would bring scores of thousands of cars right past the neighourhood's borders and from there straight into the already jammed city centre. In his enthusiasm to bring more cars into Tel Aviv mayor Huldai is (predictably) out of step with succesful urban planners all over the world.

Perhaps the shame and regret reportedly felt by some members of the regional planning committee for approving the grotesque Neve Tzedek (Nehushtan) tower (above - that casts a shadow in winter over the rooftop) will prevail and Huldai will be forced to scrap the whole megalomanic plan.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Iran, Iran, Iran

"eych omrim, Iran o Iraq?" ("whatsitcalled, Iran or Iraq?") was a joke circulating around the time of the 1991 first Gulf War. It poked fun at the local tembelim (dummies) who were finding it difficult to distinguish between these previously vague entities who - especially Iraq - were suddenly new enemies.

No-one 's asking that question anymore. It's Iran, Iran, Iran, and, as someone mentioned on the radio this week, we'll all getting pretty fed up with hearing the word. This week there was sudden buzz of heightened anticipation that Israel was preparing to attack Iranian nuclear facilities by the end of the year!

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of America's Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently paid us a visit but, according to Israeli officials, was not reassured by what he heard here. This is apparently why he complained on Wednesday that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would be a high-risk move that could destabilize the Middle East. Asked whether he was concerned Israel would strike Iran before the end of the year, Mullen said: "This is a very unstable part of the world and I don't need it to be more unstable." As military analyst Amir Oren explained in Ha'aretz, the last thing the already overextended US army, (hoping to extricate itself from Iraq and Afghanistan) needs right now is to open another front and this Administration is not going to give the order. Which means that Israel can't rely on the US to "do the job", which means...

Another concerned American is Admiral James "Sandy" Winnefeld , who noted this week that, "a volley of missiles fired offensively by Iran at Israel is by far the most likely employment of ballistic missiles in the world today, and it demands our immediate attention in the event of a need for a U.S. or NATO response." Sandy should know. At present, he is commander of the Mediterranean Sixth Fleet, which is expected to participate - in Haifa Bay and with the help of Herev Magen (the Arrow missile) and Yahalom (the Patriot missile) - in the interception of Iranian Shahab-3 missiles.

And here was me assuming that it was be us that would hit them first. The risk just doubled!

Of course what got the buzz going was the revelation of Israel's large air force exercise over the eastern Mediterranean in the first week of June, which was widely described as a "dress rehearsal" for an attack on Iran.

Iran, Iran , Iran. Was it premonition that got me sufficiently motivated to arrange the emptying of the bomb shelter in the building and start organising it for emergencies? (must get cracking on that). In particularly morose moments, when taking in the view from the rooftop, I've started imaging the destruction a ballistic missile could cause.
Otherwise of course, life continues pleasantly into the summer. We saw Blondie and the Stranglers (both excellent) and on an organised daytrip to the Galil I shot (in Capernaum) this photo that evokes biblical prophesies (we shouldn't know!)