Saturday, July 24, 2010

Smashing into windows

Came home yesterday to hear from A that a large pigeon had smashed into the living room sliding windows with a loud crash, slid to the floor and expired. The poor thing had somehow lost its navigational skills and had not only decided to fly into the apartment under the Rooftop (instead of landing on the Rooftop itself?) but had also failed to notice that the space in front of its beak was composed of hard glass and not thin air.

For some reason it struck me that this somewhat bizarre occurence could serve as metaphor for Israel: blithely following a well known course, inately confident in its own powers (whatever the rest of the world throws up in its path), squawking whenever anyone dares offer a different orientation and then clumsily crashing into a situation seemingly invisible although, with hindsight, easily identifiable.

Like a solo pilot on autopilot our course is pre-charted and any further discussion therefore unnecessary. And since no-one else is interested in listening any more, we are now our only audience (which is what we always wanted anyway) free to twist and turn the arguments around ourselves without noticing that rapidly approaching hard spot.

And so, having lost whatever sense of inner direction we once had, we sing and dance to ourselves, the blind leading the blind.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Life's a Beach

This gaggle of kids organised itself into a little dance on the water's edge

‘Chom yuli –august’, the heat of July-August, is the name of a song by Shlomo Artzi and the condition in which we all live, or , in the case of Tel Aviv with the humidity level over 90% - barely survive. To enter a car left in the sun is to enter a furnace, the pavements stick to the soles of your shoes and shade and cool become luxury items. School's out, the air-conditioned kenyonim (shopping malls) are full but for those of fortunate enough to live nearby, the beach is still the place to be on a sultry evening. So I thought some beach photos would be appropriate.

In the fading light, mysterious figures appear from the sea

'Alma Beach' is situated in the hypen in Tel Aviv-Yaffo and is probably the most heterogenous beach in Tel Aviv. Along a relatively short stretch ,Neve Tzedek yuppies, Arab families from Yaffo, foreign workers from Sudan, hipsters and tourists share the same space, if not always the same dress code. According to the Jewish calendar there are occasional influxes of haredim and on Shabbat, the beach is packed with families including lots of Russian immigrants. In this photo, an Arab family at sunset. The entire area behind Alma Beach was once the Arab neighbourhood of Manshiyeh that was later almost completely demolished.

Frishman beach awaits tomorrow's customers

 frisbee in the night...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Black Days White Night

Happy chassid graffiti Florentin, White Night

There's an astute line in a Hebrew song that could be translated as, "The worse our fate, the more we celebrate." Indeed  as the last vestiges of Israel's international standing crumble before our eyes, as tens of thousands march through the country in solidarity with the Shalit family, as rumours of "a war in the summer" refuse to dissipate in the increasingly humid air ... it must be time for a street party!

White Night 2010, an all night arts festival ,covers the whole lit up city in hundreds of venues. We stayed reasonaly close the Rooftop starting out in the grubby streets of South Tel Aviv, south of Allenby. Here, the art exhibits had been craftily placed  in  unlikely locations leaving you with a question of whether life imitated art or..

Not part of the official programme : a singer performs in a Bucharian restaurant, Florentin

Also not an official art exhibit , a greengrocers featuring Rabbi Nahman from Breslav communing with the Creator amidst the fruit and veg.

No, not an ironic recreation of a hopelessly old fashioned window display. The real thing. Derekh Yaffo.

On dilapidated Hagdud Ha-Ivri (Hebrew Battalion) Street, which seems to be emerging as a hip place for young people, we stopped to catch a cold beer sold out of someone's house and watch a street fashion parade put on by the local residents.  The refreshing thing about the show was that the "models" all lived in the neighbourhood. Here they are lining up.

And here they are lapping up the attention on the catwalk, a strech of red carpet laid out on the pavement. The clothes were donated (I guess) by the Tel Aviv designers mentioned by the enthusiastic mistress of ceremonies. Many of the designers' studios are located in the Gan Hachasmal (Electric Garden) complex a few blocks away. After the show, they paraded through the streets blowing whistles.

On the way we noticed a video art film in the display window of a bathroom fixtures shop. Called Independence Day, it showed a day in the life of the Latrun artillery museum, effectively addressing the fascination of Israeli society with the military.

Music outside a restaurant on Yehuda Halevi and on street corners everywhere, in squares, on the beach. In the course of an hour we covered three exhibitions, one fashion show, one shira be-tzibur (Community singalong) in a synagogue! In our defense we stayed because of the free food - excellent couscous with meatballs. Rothschild Boulevard, its Bauhaus buildings illuminated for the occasion, was jam-packed.

In Bialik Square we were promised a night of eclectic black music but instead found several thousand people too many for comfort and a white band. Feet aching. Time to head back home.

On the way, well after midnight, the party was in full swing: a young band plays jazz/funk on Nahalat Binyamin.

It was a night that reminds you why you love Tel Aviv.  It was a night that made me forget that earlier that afternoon I'd received an automatic voice message telling me that my gas mask was waiting for me and that I should make arrangments to pick it up.

Re-Remembering David Crosby

               We recently saw the film David Crosby: Remember My Name at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and as I write, I’m listenin...