Tel Aviv Diary April 28, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from April 28, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 28, 2005

Boycott the boycott.

Sometimes the mail here really pisses me off. I noticed Ronny Someck carrying a book of his poems in English translation the other day and I grabbed it away from him. "You got a copy when it came out 2 years ago." I didn't. Daffi kept telling me I was going to get a copy but it never arrived. And I eventually forgot about it. So I got really excited about seeing it, The Fire Stays in Red translated by Moshe Dor and Barbara Goldberg and published by Dryad and the University of Wisconsin Press in 2002. Now often when I read a poem by Ronny Someck I wish I had written it - such sparks fly when such antithetical subjects are encompassed in a single poem, a few lines. But now when I read the translations of Dor and Goldberg, I wish I had been able to translations like that! To render the erotic and the political, the historical and the contemporary like that! A simple description of lambs in the desert resonates with the terror and responsibility of living in the Holy Land: "The white lambs on the way to Arad/are like milk teeth in the desert's jaw. The war goes on, the wolf/who will dwell among them not yet born." Living in a time between the Biblical prophecies and the uncertain future, Someck captures the memory and anticipation, the fear and the hope. Thank goodness I wrested the book away from him. (Actually he gave me the book with great love - both of us wished we'd said something before!)

April 29, 2005

I don't know - Is there anything better than Friday afternoon in Tel Aviv? You tell me. We were at the port - buying a lamp at the old fair grounds, and the sun and the sea made any price worth paying for the lamp. The old cruddy buildings, the delapidated shacks that show signs of once being somehow important, all got us reminiscing over stories from the thirties and forties there: the hope in the thirties that the international fair there generated of a united neighborhood of the middle east that was manifested in the statue of the flying camel.

We were going to have lunch at the local burger place, but it was closed for passover, so instead of going for hummous and pita down the street we gave up and went home. We could have gone to any one of a few hundred places serving bread for the first time this year ever. And beer.

April 30, 2005

I thought the movies would be crowded last night, because Friday is always a big night, but the theater was pretty empty. "Bad review," someone whispered to me. Since my taste is so antithetical to the critics, i don't read reviews anyway, so I was happy to keep an open mind. And "The Interpreter" was not disappointing, despite gaps in logic, unexplainable details, and drawn-out scenes. Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn are fascinating, more profound than the parts they play, and almost convincing in one of those international terrorist scripts. All they are missing - is the experience, the knowledge of terror and fear and love and hate and infinite desire and impossible goals... That's when I realized: I have crossed the border - i'm identifying with Israeli experience far more than the American one. Went home and watched clips from 'eretz nehedert'

May 1, 2005

The terrorists incidents on Friday in Cairo chilled me to the bone, and perhaps for that reason when i saw a 'bus bombing' in a movie on friday i was disturbed = it's like the Holocaust, something you do not fake.

Appropos the Holocaust, the day Yad Vashem went on line, I began to look for my relatives, and discovered that my Partisan aunt, Malcah Kravitz, was listed as having died in France, in the Loire valley. It made no sense, but it took me a few days to check the source - and it turned out to be my mother's testimony. But my mother's handwriting was not at its best that day she brought up the ghosts of which she had never spoken, and someone had misread it. Today Yad Vashem notified me that they had checked out my query, and indeed Malcah Kravitz died in LIPCZANSKA PUSZCZA,SZCZUCZYN,NOWOGRODEK,POLAND. My mother might have had some of the details wrong, i think, and they checked it out. But poor Malcah was burned alive and apparently there were no other witnesses who wrote in to Yad Vashem.

My mother must have really been shook up when she filled out the forms. For my uncle Motl, for example, when they asked for the cause of death she wrote, Maidonik. She apparently didn't know details about the others - but aunt Batya, according to her sister-in-law, went up in smoke in Auschwitz.

Holocaust is on all our minds this week - we commemorate Holocaust Day and it takes us a few days to get into the mind set. Many programs on TV and radio are dedicated to it, there are ceremonies in schools, and who knows what else. This will probably not be the last thing I have to say about it this year.

But in the mean time i am celebrating the last hours of May Day in the bath testing out all these creams and bubbles i received for my birthday - the amazing lavendar mousse Lisa brought, the orange candle by Ani, the flower cream of Dalia, and Sara's perfume. The room fills with the light intoxicating aromas, and i do not move... This is the total degeneration of the anarchist.

And it is pleasing

All these creams are local, very fresh and amazingly degenerate...

May 2, 2005

Because I always forget to tell people - and sometimes forget to watch - i am noting it now that i'm on channel 77 - the cultural program - tonight at 8. I am dying to see how my living room turned out. i think they didn't really show it, but closed in on interview and interviewer - nevertheless it will be the FIRST for the living room...

Oh yes, i think i read a poem too.

Appropos narcissism, I finally caught the 'reality' program, "The Maestro," which follows the everyday life of Zvika Pik, who has been a 'star' here since I came here in the '70's. When I first saw him he was a 'flower child,' singing about how 'I believe in the sun, for that is my way...' and now he has to be in his sixties and has made more comebacks than I've changed hair color. He's still got that soulful look, great musical talent, and a self-consciousness that incorporates all the parodic possibilities. And in keeping with the vacuousness of contemporary television, he stays as close as possible to the surface. This episode was about a little family birthday party - and concentrates on the inability of the singer and his family to fulfill simple household tasks and to make contact except through music. One of Piks amazing survival qualities is his thick skin - doesn't seem to mind what is said about him as long as it is spelled right (whoops - how do you spell Zvika?) And with all the ironic way we discuss he's a local hero.

Oh, the program was okay and the living room was okay and it's on again tonight at 11;30.

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