Tel Aviv Diary - August 7-11, 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - August 7, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

August 7, 2009

I stared at the computer yesterday and couldn't for the life of me find a way to write. Not that things hadn't happened, but that the sense it makes is too whimpery to relate. Bibi sitting in the gay center where the children were killed. The polls that say that Tsipi is far more popular than Bibi. The inability of our faculty to get ourselves together to do anything about the direction of the university. The statement that the Israelis killed Arafat. The UN decision that the Hamas committed war crimes. it's all mixed together and there is no way to have a pure opinion or emotion about anything. This morning I turned to Sayyed Kashua first when the paper arrived and his column has the same blankness and confusion.

There we were sitting on the porch at Pappa's and discussing the "Take Back the Night" demonstration tomorrow and two street cats begin to converse. From the amount of meowing and face touching we were sure it was a courtship discussion but the waitress who saw things from different angles pointed out that the discussion was between males. Eventually we understood that the whole thing was over some food and the white cat gave it, walking away with the greatest of dignity. But it could well have been a sexual conflict - after all, this is the middle of tel aviv.

August 8, 2009

"We were born in freedom and we will live in freedom," our president said today to an enormous crowd in the demonstration tonight, equating gay pride with human pride. Equal respect for every human being is the most important and most basic prerequisite for democracy that i can imagine. And as proud as I am of our president, I am ashamed that it has to be said. It should be something that we take for granted, like breathing.

August 9, 2009

I believe I mentioned something to you about two months ago about Hizballah. Want to see what they were up to? Here. Let's hope everyone cools down - nobody needs another war...except maybe Hizballah.

August 10, 2009

I can't remember what made me look up Arpad Gut today on the internet. I think i was looking for a picture of the casino that he built in the 20's.

It was the first thing he built when he came to Palestine, and it was designed by people from Odessa who were imitating the buildings on the Black Sea. Now between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean there must have been significant differences, and Arpad Gut, who was an expert in big bridges, must have known that the salt water, the winds,and the sun, would cause serious damage rather quickly, but he was probably trying to test his new inventions, and built it anyway. He filled burlap bags with concrete and used them to support the foundations built right in the sea, says Ezi. And/or he poured the concrete into molds while the nozzle remained in the concrete under water. That must have been what gave him a sense of unique accomplishment. But the rest of the building didn't last. By the mid thirties it was abandoned,and it was blown up in 1939.<

In the mean time he was busy with other projects in Tel Aviv, as basic as the sewers of the city, and as noble as the dome of the Great Synagogue

And watertowers, the largest of them on Mazeh Street.

While I was looking for a picture I found this drawing by Carol Feldman here and it led me to some other of her amazing pictures of Tel Aviv. How wonderful to have discovered her present work while on an exploratory journey of the past.

August 11, 2009

In my tiny effort to contribute to the history of the Ben Tovim family, I add my favorite photo.

The only person i recognize is Ezi's grandmother, Dvora Elka Ben Tovim. She's standing on the left. The other women resemble her and I seem to remember they were all cousins, living in Hebron at the beginning of the century. Since she was born in 1883, it's likely that this picture was taken around 1897.

The past is so much more relaxing than the present - I had some implants today and not only can't move my head, but just watching the news gives me a headache.

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