Tel Aviv Diary February 5-9, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - February 5, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

As I was running around Tel Aviv trying (and failing) to arrange things (didn't know I had to fast before an adrenal ultrasound, for example) a woman, Kinnereth Bat Shalom, was being stabbed to death by a terrorist a few blocks away. But I knew nothing of it, and was just feeling sorry for myself that my mind is such a mess. By the end of my failed errand missions, I found myself sitting opposite a clerk in city hall trying to arrange my city's resident car sticker. "So where's your registration?" The clerk asks. "I forgot it in the car." "Maybe I can help you out anyway. What's your license number?" I call Ezi. He gives me a number. She looks it up. It's wrong. Here it comes, i think. A total score of zero for the day. But no, she finds it, gives me the sticker, gives me a eezi pass, and i go down the stairs where Rabin was killed zipping up my purse with satisfaction. At that moment the zipper pull goes flying off the purse and disappears under the stairs. I walk around Rabin's memorial, but see nothing. Disheartened I walk under the stairs where there are all the gates. "Madam," a policeman calls me, "Over here please." I figure i was in a restricted area, and was about to get a talking to. "What are you doing down here? " "I'm looking for my zipper pull." "This one?" He hands over the gold medallion that pretentiously claims the brand "sportsac," and makes my day for the second time.

tonight i recorded a radio program with Ziv Yonatan about the mosaic that is israel. in the 25 years he's been recording me he always brings out new issues, especially about my israeli identity. "Is it ideological? Is it political? religious?" he asked at one point. it's me, i answered. that's all. i'll die here.

February 6, 2006

I was all enthusiastic about Allen Ginsberg on whom I did a long interview to set up a television program, and I wrote a whole diatribe about how much he would be useful to us now -especially to Americans depressed into silence over the ideological political situation - but not to Israelis living in a world of real and present dangers. I fell asleep trying to save it, not because i was so tired but because my server was so slow and kept timing out. I write on-line so i won't fix things up - but the danger is i will not be able to save it or it will disappear. i actually think the tension reflects life here.

February 7, 2006

Apparently it's the university having trouble with something on the computer. Apparently I haven't screwed up the site. Yet.

Get ready for the Israel Festival - at the end of May, beginning of June. We're in it.

Now what makes this inclusion particularly remarkable is not the fact that a 61 year old poet and a twenty five year old singer and a thirty five year old dancer are working with musicians whose average age is under thirty and videoart people whose average age is under forty, but that the alienated English poet is brought into an Israeli culture through art and multimedia. There were 120 entries and only a dozen were chosen and ours deals with the concept of inclusion.

February 8, 2006

Since I'm not teaching this week, but only correcting exams, meeting with grad students, and paying bills in general,I'm getting into a lot more trouble as I encounter the real world. For example, whatever I don't buy at the grocer and the butcher, I usually order on the internet. So my only encounter at close quarters with food shoppers is intentionally limited. But now I feel impelled to explore the bargain bonus supermarket in the store the university faculty union has newly re-rented. Tempted by the 4% discount for faculty, and the call of cheaper prices for all, I ventured into the chaos of bargain superstores. The chaos is essential. For a while your eyes pick out the bargains, and then you begin to get lost in the prices, quantities, not because you are mathematically defective but because they really are deceptive. Okay, I came out much cheaper, and didn't really suffer in any way, but I don't like it.

Maybe it was because my ingrown toenail kept suffering from being run over all the time by the shopping carts too large for the narrow lanes.

Today I hope to finish translating "The Child Weeps" by Hanoch Levin. It should improve my mood because the play makes me weep all the time,so close as it is to my own biography. All the time Iran denies the Holocaust and I relive it in my own history, as well as the history of my neighbors. That is because as I read the story of the child who dies, i hear my neighbor, the Auschwitz Graduate, screaming from the flat next door. She was a favorite child of Mengele, and experienced first hand the same kind of blind sadism in Levin's play.

February 9, 2006

The Book Worm, "Tolaat Sfarim," is probably the best known of literary book shops in tel aviv. If I go there at all, though, it's to meet equally pretentious friends and not to buy books. Unlike Bestsellers in Kfar Shmariayahu, though, it seems to be catering to an insular intelligensia. Maybe i'm just prejudiced because my books aren't there. i don't know. But prejudice aside, there has never been a time I've been there where someone famous has not walked in. To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

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