Friday, April 17, 2009

Tel Aviv's spirit 100 years young

Carmel Market

Travels over and returned to roost on the rooftop, it's time to catch up with Tel Aviv's centenniel celebrations.

Despite the official opening - a successful big bash in Rabin Square with lasers, fireworks and major artists - and the year of parties and events to come, a tangible sense of excitement is noticeably absent, at least amongst Tel Avivians I know.

The explanation to this paradox is perhaps to be found in the article (thanks to A) by Tel Aviv columnist Ben Zilka that opened the special centennial year edition of Ha-Ir (The City) -"cool" local paper popular with lefties and the cultural circle. So, as a public service, here's a translation of a few passages. And since this piece eloquently sings the praises of everyday life in Tel Aviv, I'm interspersing a few of my photos of ordinary Tel Avivians.

Purim street party

Second hand book stall on Allenby Street

Today is Your Birthday by Ben Zilka

"....Despite one's professional duty to devote this column to the birthday, we wouldn't be telling the whole truth were we to say that excitement over the festivities is keeping us awake at night. After all, this coming weekend, like all the other weekends in the city, will be crammed with events that are no less attractive. And, with all due respect, we had already made other plans for our days off.

Bride and groom, Carmel Market

"In the south of the city for example there's a big buzz about an exhibition in which a lot of artists are going to take part and the word is that "everyone in town will be there."Clearly we're going to put in an appearance ourselves. At a club not far away from there there's a party, nothing special, the sort that happens here all the time, with famous DJs from abroad and similar attractions and we thought that maybe we'd drop in. Apart from that there's our regular evening at the bar that always manages to lift the fatigue accumulated during the working week, the regular Friday meeting at the cafe and perhaps also the beach, weather permitting. So, all in all, we don't have that much time to spare this weekend...."

Miko the mechanic, Florentin

"... Tel Aviv has traditionally turned its back on ceremonies and titles dictated by this or that establishment, and this time too, even though the party is being held in our honour, it's reasonable to assume that we won't depart from this custom . This is also how the history of Tel Aviv - born exactly 100 years ago - came into being.The sanctity of place never applied to us as it applied to , say, the city elders of Jerusalem where the divine aura emanation gazes at them from every corner of the city and and directs them to act according to its conditions. Nor does any spirit of heroism hover over us , and our city is not named after fallen soldiers whose legacy- whatever it might be - we are supposed to uphold."

' Matkot players' , hotels section of the boardwalk

Girl, Florentin

Young mums on the beach

"This does not mean to say that Tel Aviv is a city without a past, but rather that its past is woven into its daily experience: we sit in cafes just as Dizengoff and Rokach [former mayors of Tel Aviv] sat in them, we sip the same glasses of alcohol as Bialik and Alterman [renowned Tel Aviv poets] and the sea is, it goes without saying, the same sea. "


Fashion conscious street cleaner, corner Allenby/King George/ Sheinkin

Singing waiters, Tel Aviv Port
"The city's poets and authors sang praises to its cafes, to its nights, its streets, the trees along its boulevards, its women, its night life and its beaches. None of them ever glorified the memory of its dead or its fabulous past, just its daily routine and the joy of life that they experienced. In this way, for a hundred years, we have learned how to look back, to the point where the commemoration of any historical event, be it even the city's birthday, appears alien to us."

Friday afternoon drummers, 'Drummer's Beach'

Abu Hassan, "mythological" humous joint, Yaffo

Never too old to folk dance, Shabbat morning on the beachfront

If , nevertheless, we stop for a moment in Rabin Square, we won't be looking back to the day on which Tel Aviv was born, we will simply be celebrating what it is."

Shuk Levinsky

Fishermen, Jaffa port

Purim, Florentin

Yom Kippur, Yehuda Halevi

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