Tel Aviv Diary -MAY 28-June 1, 2015 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 28, 2015

Even though the air conditioning helps keep us cool on these unbelievably hot days, I often remain exhausted and wind up with a sinus headache. That accounts for a lost day yesterday. Not that I wasn't running around and doing things and meeting wonderful friends and having a great time but it's all a blur now. navigating in 40 degree heat is like living in a dryer.

There were a lot of events I didn't even mention in these pages - "Love Sick in G Neighborhood" at the Cameri theater is worth seeing. A play about obsession,it remind me of an off-color, racist, sexist joke Ali Salem once told me about a guy who was going crazy on his own in the desert and he started going after his camel. He'd put a stone behind the camel, but by the time he climbed up onto the stone, the camel moved. So he took the stone and set it once again behind the camel, and by the time he climbed up on the stone, the camel moved again. This went on and on for years, until one day a beautiful starlet drove by in her convertible, passed the guy and then suddenly had a flat. She got out of her car, helpless, and looked at the guy. "I'll do anything for you if you fix my flat tire..." he had no problem with it, fixed the flat, and then said, "Anything?" "Anything." "Could you hold the camel for me?" Somehow the story suits the middle east, our blind obsessions, our unwillingness to enjoy what there is in our longing of what we once wanted.

I think i once told you about this television series called "Ron" about this nothing-guy living in tel aviv. no wife, no job, no fun. there were about half a dozen episodes defining the characters, the out of it clinging mother, the critical father, the empty friends, with almost nothing happening. He goes to fix his phone and gets talked into getting a new one, his father keeps putting him into double bind situation, and so it goes. That's why it shouldn't be surprising that this week when he goes for reserve duty, the commander gives a speech about how they have to guard against terrorists but to take care of refugees, and the question comes up as to how to tell the difference. It is clear that the answer is a double-bind as well. I'm defining double-bind according to R.D.Laing, where you are put in a situation in which whatever you do is wrong. "Ron" has become for me the quintessential Israeli.

May 29, 2015

Cool - cooler than usual. I suddenly realized that I will be going away for a week in a very short time and had better start getting my stuff together.

May 30, 2015

I know i cannot sit for more than an hour and a half without serious dorsal results. And yet last night I could not get up from my rickety baggy chair for four hours. The conversation was so scintillating i absolutely couldn't think of anything else. when you put incredible authors together - especially writers with multiple areas of interest and long experience who have not seen each other in years - you can go on for days. The phenomonal talent of Hebrew writers, the necessity for plumbing the debts of the language through intense Biblical backgrounds, the rich unaccountable histories of those who survived the holocaust there or here, in this generation or the previous one, and the absolute necessity of being aware of the contemporary political and security situation - all this leads to wonderful stories. Add to this a sense of humor brought into play by the awareness of the ironies of language, history and life. I was riveted to my seat. Where in the future will all this wisdom be brought together?

May 31, 2015

Lunch in Jaffa. The Old Man and the Sea. Filled to the brim with locals - Jews, Muslims, Christians. Happy Birthday gets sung alternately in Arabic and Hebrew. Food is just a bit overwhelming - good - commercial - plentiful. fried donut pieces in honey for dessert instead of the usual Baklava tells you this is a place that is traditional but can cut corners when the customers prefer western food. Then Ice cream in Jaffa. Local ice cream is remarkable - especially pistachio.

June 1, 2015

Here I am in Rome. On the way to Salerno to the 100 thousand poets for change conference. Why we stopped in Rome I can't remember, because had I known that the Panic Ensemble concert was moved from May to June 3 at Tmuna I would have postponed my trip, but the tickets and hotel were paid for. Anyway Panic Ensemble will have another performance on June 15 at Rothchild 12. See you there.

But i am taking off the next few days to report about an Israeli in Italy instead of a Tel Avivian in Tel Aviv.

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