Saturday, August 16, 2008

Everyone's city

A few weeks ago, an artistic prankster made interesting use of some empty space on the massive billboard hiding the building site of the White Tower residential project on the corner of Allenby and Rothschild. The developers had printed the following sentence, ostensibly written by architect Richard Meier:

"Building this White Tower over the White City is a dream come true"

our prankster turned it into:

"Building this White Tower over the White City and ask people for 13,000$ a square metre is a dream come true."

Needless to say, the artistic addition (effective, despite the bad grammar) was speedily eradicated. There's a homeless guy who lives under the billboard now - a completely unintentional but even more effective condemnation of the system in which some pay in gold to live in luxury while others are destined for the gutter. Not that by-passers seemed to notice -neither the art work nor the homeless guy.

Nevertheless, the problem of affordable housing in Tel Aviv is now becoming acute. It's provision is one of the campaign promises made by the ir le-kulanu (a city for all of us) movement that is running for the November municipal elelctions. This week, its unofficial leader, Member of Knesset Dov Hanin who represents the Jewish-Arab/communist party Hadash formerly declared that he would be leading the list. Hanin (or Kehnin) is widely considered to be an excellent, hard-working and effective MK, a fearless warrior for the environment and an all round good guy. The fact that he's a communist (and represents a party that is mainly Arab) is going to turn off most voters but ir lekulanu is less of a party in the normal sense and more of an agglomeration of all sorts of social and environmental ngos. I hear that there's no leadership structure in the normal sense and Hanin had to be severely pressed to declare his candidacy.

Ir le kulanu is not going to win the elections but their plans for sensible public transporation systems, a greener agenda, affordable housing and above all, an understanding of what makes Tel Aviv , Tel Aviv (e.g. artists, students, high-tech entrepreneurs, ultra-orthodox families, old people and young secular families living in the same neighbourhoods and sharing local facilities) - is likely to win them a lot of support, especially from young people. Here's their site (Hebrew only, to be launched 31.8.08)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

MLC - the (first real) performance

MLC in action last night. click for full screen

Well we did it. Last night's performance by Mid Life Crisis at Bloom Bar was a major success and all band members are still high on our night of glory. The enthusiastic and supportive audience of about 60 (several of whom were not even family or friends of the band members) was in the 18-65 age range - definitely the market niche we're seeking.

Rockin it up at the Bloom Bar. There's nothing like pretending you're 21 and getting away with it for an hour.

Some of the audience was too young to recognise the cover versions we did (even covers of new songs a mere 10 years old!) but seemed to appreciate us nevertheless. We were on good form and even when we flubbed something (no more than 4-5 times throughout the 14 song set) we somehow sorted it out (herein lies the value of rehearsals) and got back on track.

They could almost be doing that little dance like 'The Shadows' used to do - but they're not.
Y who was sitting at the bar across from the stage told me that he liked us. "You were professional but modest," he said. "Whatday mean modest?" Iasked. "Well, there was no showoffy jumping around the stage like some bands," he said.
This was largely because there wasn't room to roll a stone on the miniscule, triangular stage. Danny Z kept feeling the thwack of my bass drum on the back of his legs. I was scrunched next to a pillar and my drum seat inched precariously closer to a gap on the stage when we ratched up the energy level up a little. None of us could hear each other or our individual selves properly either but as long as the audience seemed happy, we were on a roll.
The photos here were all taken by by the talented 'H'. At the end there are some of the audience. It was a momentous night and will doubtless spur MLC ever onwards and upwards.

Zev in a lyrical passage

Danny Z on full throttle

Danny B in an emotional vocal performance

yours truly

Before the gig there was a sound check which started with us all hauling the ancient, battered drumset down from the derelict second floor of the joint. The snare was kaput and I had to ask A to rush in mine from home. Bloom Bar is situated where Sheinkin, King George and Allenby intersect. This is a lively spot where the Carmel market morphs into the boutiques of Sheinkin and the gritty, low end, bazaar atmosphere of King George and there was a great view of all the human trafiic from the second floor. Pity I didn't have camera with me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Midsummer paralysis

So much for writing more blogs on my holiday. But you know how it is; the more time you have , the less you seem to to accomplish. Not that I've been entirely supine. There have been great family visits and a lot of beachgoing and even sailing! (thanks to H and his yacht).

The picture above in fact is of H's foot, casually steering our craft through the stomach-churning swell off Ashkelon marina. The photo below was taken at Alma beach, our favourite (and closest) spot along Tel Aviv's long beachfront. Here, Arab families from Yaffo share some communal space and the vocal comments of the lifeguards supervising the limited strip of sea designated for bathing (the sea is dangerous here). That's about where the co-habitation ends though. Each side sticks to itself and doesn't bother the other and everything's cool (although not warm). It's clear who looks out of place in this photo.

Unbearably muggy, noisy and sticky, midsummer in the middle of Tel Aviv is to be avoided if possible. Even the rooftop gets to be unsufferably hot, driving me downstairs to the a/c or further, to the beach where the breeze lightens the humid soup.

There's also been music. Tonight's the night of Mid Life Crisis' first real gig, another reason I need to rest up. Of course we love playing but it's also no secret that playing in a rock band at this stage in life is a doomed attempt to recreate lost youth. The photo below is of a young man I met outside a music shop in Rabat, Morocco. His face says it all.