Tel Aviv Diary March 2, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from March 2, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

March 2, 2005

It was another ravishing day in Tel Aviv - warm and sunny and perfect for vacation - but, as Gabriel said, you can't relax for a moment. He, for example, woke up to the sound of wood-sawing and found that the tree on Ben Gurion Boulevard were about to be removed. He defended them with his body, he says, and innumerable complaints. This has been happening frequently in Tel Aviv even since I can remember. And the relationship between authors and trees has continued. Years ago I remember Aharon Megged campaigning to preserve the trees on Ruppin or Varburg Street. can't remember esactly 30 years back, but I do remember only a few months ago Natan Zach was very much involved in saving the tree in Rabin Square.

Me I spent the morning in Hertzlia Medical Center where they have a very nice little hospital. Everything about my companion's stay was perfect - great service, skilled surgeons, full care. But I spent 2 hours in the recovery room while the patient came out of surgery and when I got out of there I had a headache. Why? Because everyone was shouting - staff discussions, instructions... maybe it was a freak, but the noise level was amazing.

After that I had a meeting in a cafe and there too everyone was shouting. There must be some national reason for this - even i who am used to the noise level of israel am appalled.

And may I take this opportunity to say Ahalan to all you guys in Ahla Internet Cafe Located In Ramallah! Hope we can meet over real coffee soon.

March 3, 2005

Subliminal is making big time. Here in Rolling Stone is a list of his appearances in the U.S.

In the past week I've received a few emails asking me where my latest book in Hebrew is to be found. Go to the bookstore on campus at Tel Aviv University, Dyonon, and ask for Taavot Shuliot. It's on the top shelf of the poetry section and shrinkwrapped with the disk. This makes it impossible to browse, but you can get an idea about the disk if you check out the thin lips site. And there are a few reviews of the book on my site too. The book is worth it - and I say this having despaired of the marketing decisions those in charge made about it.

March 3, 2005

At 8 in the morning the beach in Herzlia seemed like a dream. The hot weather was a promise - even though i know it would only last until the afternoon. And indeed at four thirty as I was picking up Shusha's shit, I was hit suddenly by a rainstorm. Rain and cold tomorrow. Sun and warm again on Saturday.

It has been a whil since I've discussed my favorite subject - Israeli TV commercials. I try not to but can't always control myself. And when I saw Eti Levy and Zehava Benn's contributions to the series of Zabar hummous commercials, I tried to hold it in for a few days. But here you have twin sisters, star moroccan-israeli singers who didn't talk to each other for years and only recently reconciled - and the commerical starts with their cutting vegetables for salad with their mother between them, bickering. Then Mamma jumps up and screams "Bass!" [Enough] "Salads are made with love or not at all!" And of course the girls break into smiles and sing the jingle together. This is the second i think in the series - the first one has a hummous sulkha in Abu Ghosh in which two real 'warring' hummous chefs also make peace.

So we make peace in commercials, At least there.

What about the disengagement? The likkud voted for a referendum. Haaretz promises a referendum will be 68% for disengagement (but of course who reads ha'aretz? yefe nefesh like me - and don't even ask what yefe nefesh means. i've been looking for a translation for that word for years.)

March 4, 2005

Sometimes it's really good to know the right people. This afternoon we got to see a production of Anat Sharon's poems, "Letters to Orpheus." Ronen Shapira did the music, Julia Pevsner the direction, and Ronit Ziv the choreography. It was tucked away in the second floor of the Opera building, and by invitation only, and there was no sign outside.

What a fantastic secret! The letters Euridice wrote to Orpheus from the underworld, wonderfully varied in tone and wise throughout, are illuminated by the exciting and moving production, even though, intellectually, I wasn't always sure what was going on. When it hits the box offices, I highly recommend you make an effort to see it.


Of course if you aren't in the country, you will have to look for this kind of experience elsewhere. Ronen appears with Victoria Hanna a lot abroad - next week in Japan.

Another experience that looks to me like it's going to be powerful is: Bruce Adolfe's Birthday Party at Lincoln Center on April 7. I don't know about the whole program but I do suspect that his "Songs of Life and Love" - using poems by Mimi Khalvati, Nathalya Handal, me, Marilyn Hacker and others - is going to be greater than the sum of its parts.

Linda writes from Seattle--'looked up "yefe nefesh" in my Webster's NewWorld HEBREW DICTIONARY by Hayim Baltsan, which lists its Hebrew in transliteration rather than the usual, and found this definition: "yefeh/-at nefesh [:] adj & nmf 1. high-minded; gentle; 2. sarcastic reference to a disgruntled (leftist) intellectual'". Rena in London said the phrase wasn't translatable (Bleeding-heart liberal? Candy-ass? Sensitive soul? It doesn't translate. It really doesn't.) and although the dictionary does give an accurate definition, you can't translate sarcasm.

March 5, 2005

If I disappear for a few days next week you won't mind, will you? Family matters call. And there are so many other places on the web to check out Tel Aviv. Lisa sent me to see Shai's blog about Tel Aviv. Put together all the logs on Tel Aviv and you start getting a picture of all the city.

March 6, 2005

I am full of beer and burger-bar fare, and I don't care that our banks are all corrupt and untrustworthy. Apparently the latest poll says that 87% of the population here don't trust the banks. And actually although my own experience has been antithetical to that, I know that feeling whereof they speak. But at this moment it seems that the only thing this survey proves is how nervous Israelis are: We don't even let ourselves rest when our money is supposed to be working for us.

Perhaps in honor of International Women's Day the day after tomorrow I was talking to some young mothers, all of them university graduates, all of them at home with their children. It doesn't pay to work, they said, and all their salary would go to some sadistic nanny. And with the beautiful weather here they'd much rather walk around the park with their kids. Now I remember one of the first rules of modern economics - get the potential work force into the market. And these women could all be very skilled translators, editors, teachers. So I'm pointing this out to the government. Make it worthwhile for these people to work - household help should be a recognized expense, hours should be flexible like they used to be (when I was a young mother), and day care centers should be everywhere.

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