Sunday, July 29, 2012

Shlomi Shaban-Cigarettes

At first I thought about posting this song because it went well with the sudden beer and cigarette tax raise. I used to think that people smoke just because of the pose and out of boredom-but I now get that it's much more than that-as unhealthy as it is, it's a stress relief and when it's done solitary it also serves as a moment of reflection-but maybe as a non-smoker that's just how I see it in my mind. Anyways, Thursday's frustration and anger has become sadness because I really can't think of any real alternative that would work and make things better. I keep hearing people say that if things get worse and it'll be too expensive for them to live here they'll move to somewhere else "where the government doesn't spit in its citizens faces" but most of them can't really bring themselves to leave. I have to say that I'm afraid of the day when they'll say that enough is enough and really leave. With their friends and family. So it's pretty fitting to post this on Tesha Be'Av, the day mourning the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. I've never really paid much attention to Tesha Be'Av but somehow this year is different. I came across an article by Rabbi Raffi Foyershtein and found it very insightful and interesting, mainly because it's so different from other Judiasm articles I've read which tend to be preachy and unreadable so here's a rough translation:

"Tisha B'Av-A National Tranquilizer
When ideologies threaten to tear society, Tisha B'Av stops us for one day, exhausts our psycho-physical strengths, and leads us to an intellectual discussion-with a little less ego and emotions.
What do we lack? What were our ancestors lacking that because of it their country was destroyed and in its center the Temple, and they lost their state and spiritual independence? A macro-level analysis will reveal that what they lacked is balance. Because it can be settled that the First Temple was destroyed because of a lack of vision and spirit, while the Second Temple was destroyed due to excess of "spirit" and vision.
The First Temple was destroyed due to economic, governmental, religious, sexual corruption. The abundance blinded our ancestors, confused them and made them give up the vision for immediate material abundance, apparently satisfactory. The kingdom had rotten from the inside, the worm ate the inside, and the outer shell could not hold the rotting and dying building. Religion was a thin layer that could not cover the inner corruption that had eaten up every bit.
The Second Temple, that's already another story. Great spiritual currents swept the nation. The abundance of spirit, in which their ideological passion did not allow them to talk with each other. They physically and economically hurt each other. Some mention the famous story of Tisha B'Av "Kamtza and Bar Kamtza" in which there was a mistake in an invitation to a fancy dinner, and instead of inviting the friend "Kamtza" the hated "Bar Kamtza". And the host didn't consent to "Bar Kamtza"'s pleas to keep him in the meal and not insult him, for any fortune in the world, that's how great the hatred was. And "Bar Kamtza", who was thrown in disgrace from the meal, swore to revenge, and he stirred up a fight between the Jewish community and the Roman emperor. That's how great the hatred was. Some say that the hatred between the host and Bar Kamtza, the guest caught in by accident, was ideological-political.
Well, these two topics should turn on a red light and they are the lesson that we, in my opinion, need to take to Tisha B'Av in our own time.
The red light of the First Temple-corruption, lack of vision, materialism of the piggish capitalistic kind that does not allow us to see "the other". The red light of the Second Temple-ideological movements that are, for the opposite reason, unable to sit with the other. "The Second Temple problem" is of great concern, because we don't agree between us on very fundamental questions.
What do we do? What is the message of Tisha B'Av? Do I give up my truth? Do I give up on my coherent world view? Do I repeat the question (leave the orthodox lifestyle)? Repent? Maybe to be light religious, or light secular? Tisha B'Av is about another focus of the problem, it doesn't deal with the problem itself, but rather the way it is conducted, in the methodology of the dispute.
One possibility to settle the problem is politics. The difference between the intellectual and politician, is that the role of the intellectual is to deepen his concept and sharpen it. While the role of the politician is to bring the best achievement that he can reach. On the way he compromises and makes alliances, gives away and others give him. In a practical term it allows them to live together. In an emotional and identity-wise term, it's not enough.
Well, we need to find another option, that would also satisfy the spirit and not just the act, the ideal and not just the practice. My solution lies in the tragic figure of a sage in the Second Temple era whose name was Rabbi Zecharia Beb Avkulus. He was a man full of spirit, and would say about himself that he lived off a small amount of carob, once a week. Well, his ruling caused in a complicated way destruction, and sages say that he had to give up his opinion to prevent the destruction. In other words, his stance on its own was correct, but in a wider weighting he had to give up his opinion, because weighty spiritual interests were at stake. It wasn't supposed to be a political concession, it was supposed to be a spiritual weighting. It was supposed to be a balance of values and attempt to produce a result that takes into account the most values that he himself believed in.
Who applied this approach in dealing with the central spiritual conflicts that tore the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th was Rabbi Kook. He taught us that two divided opinions are like two physical forces that collide with each other, and may together create a third force that contains in an integrative way the previous two.
If every one of us asked himself what he receives from those he disagree with, where is his contribution to society, even a small one, a bridge would be created, a thin nerve cord that would allow communication.
The problem, Tisha B'Av philosophy tells us, is not with the values themselves that we believe in. The problem is with the ego that mixes with them. The problem is that sometimes the ego speaks for the values and not the values themselves.
Tisha B'Av is a day of analysis whose job is to remove the egoistic components from your philosophy, from your position. The moment only your values will speak, a dialogue will be created. It's not that the ego makes all of the difference, of course not, but the ego doesn't allow us to listen to the other and see that our position is also limited, and has its weaknesses.
So basically Tisha B'Av is telling us, calm down the emotions and let the mind work. Maybe that's why the fast is the amendment of this crisis. Because the fast exhausts our psychic-physical strengths, it has a dimension of giving, relaxing. Maybe that's really the message, a national tranquilizer that will allow us to start working together. At least to start".

Something to think about over your next cigarette.
Shlomi Shaban is much more than a singer. He's also more than a talented pianist, composer and songwriter. He's a poet.

You like your cigarettes, you like Fridays
You like your friends only in the evenings
And when you come back home the lights are always on
And you don't have a childhood, you don't have a future, and you have time

You're willing to put up with your memories only as stories
Around a table loaded with laughing mouths
And when you come back home you sing
Because you have a dream, because you have a dream and you don't have time

Your first kiss from a bartender at Yehuda Hamacabi
She has highlights in her hair and dates athletes
And when you suddenly bump into her nothing is real
So you have a dream, so you have a dream, whose dream?

Line five south, your love sells records
This city isn't small for her, just a little tight on the sides
You think maybe to escape and die from longing
Because this is your place, because you have a place and there is no choice,7340,L-4261263,00.html

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dudu Aharon-Don't close the door on me

I have to admit that when I first heard this about a month ago my first thought was that this would fit perfectly on the "sad days" playlist, which is pretty sad because thankfuly there hadn't been a sad day in quite a while and it kept me from enjoying this great song. I'm not sure if they played this yesterday, I didn't hear the radio but I'm pretty sure they pulled out the "sad day" playlist (I'm pretty sure it's a file on a computer but in my mind it's a dusty sheet of paper usually stashed away in a drawer). Hearing the sentance "a bus has blown up" immediatly brought me back to ten years ago when it wasn't such a rare thing to hear on the news. Only this time even though it's farther away geographically it's much harder because it's so out of the blue. Burgus is where you fly for a cheap vacation to take a breath from the daily life. It's much more affordable than Greece and other destinations in Europe so most of the travellers are very young. Usually on a trip abroad you want to forget about everything and just relax-it's always scary to feel unsafe but even more so on vacation. Here is information about the victims. Devastating. Of course now everyone is wondering what's next and with the Syria bombing (already feels like old news) things are very uncertain.
On another note, I really like this song by Dudu Aharon. It's much more low key than his usual style and there's something very calming about the melody. Even though it's sad and intimate it's very easy to imagine thousands chanting the chorus at Ceasaria and it highlights his great vocals. I must say that although I've never been a huge fan of his music I've really come to like him as a person thanks to last summer's cult reality La La Land, about oriental singers trying to make it big in LA. At first the editors tried to portray him as egoistic and "above" the other contestants but he kind of ruined it by getting along with everybody and taking on the role of peacemaker making it probably the most uncompetitive reality show ever-they were like a big family that made friday dinners together and it was just really fun to watch.

In the nights I wrap up in myself, cannot sleep
Looking for my way
Take your time and think if you should leave
What will happen to the child

Just understand me I'm also afraid
I don't want you to go I need you
These are not easy days for me too
Just give me a sign that you love

If you're fed up then it hurts for me too
We've been through everything isn't it a shame to give up
How sad and heavy my heart is
Don't close the door on me...

Hiding in myself the pain does not leave
Closing myself like a child
Come go out to my heart
It's crying for you now
I'm begging for you like a child

Just understand me it isn't easy to leave
I really wanted the best for you
The heart is bleeding heal my wounds
Promise me that you aren't leaving

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Raw Men Empire-Orange Land

Whoa, what a great "video"! I first heard this song a few weeks ago and was hooked on the riff, it's so refreshing and energetic-I was pretty curious how the video clip would be-and I'm not at all disappointed! I first discovered them a while ago with their very sweet "Between you and me" and was wondering where they disappeared. Now they're back and better than ever. They sound so happy and free! Perfect for the summer.
Speaking of summer, it's probably the best time to indulge in youtube clips-your brain feels so tired from the heat (and in my case also exams) that it feels like you deserve a few minutes (which somehow turn into an hour) of pure escapism. Here's a must-see blue and white selection:

Everybody who's been to the beach in Israel is familiar with that tik-tak-tik-tak noise of Matkot. Either you love it or you hate it but it's inescapable and a huge part of Israeli beach culture. New York Times recently posted a pro-matkot article but there's a much more critical side to it. This well made video is a satire but stems from hatred to the sport in which the creators claim that it's not only annoying but also very dangerous, not to mention what it says about Israelis...

I Charleston is in Tel Aviv! Very colorful and well made. I can't help but wonder how they were able to dance with so much energy in the heat.

By now Vania Heyman's cinematography has become a trademark and it's great to see that he hasn't abandoned his roots. This is very catchy and you'll probably find yourself singing it out loud even if you think it's the unfunniest thing ever. For more Roy Kafri (he's amazing!) check out his site:

Parking in Tel Aviv often feels like a sadistic game of musical chairs with the recurring thought that you just might spend the rest of your life roaming the narrow streets like a shark, all just not to pay in an over-priced parking lot. You think to yourself "there just has to be a free spot somewhere" and when you finally do find it you feel like the luckiest person in the world. This is a video that everyone can relate to and even features a cameo of Tel Aviv's mayor Ron Chuldai.

The same guys also made a pretty genius video capturing the essence of the Israeli world traveller-in the setting of Tel Aviv.

I've seen the orange land
And your vacant lots,
I've seen all your cars
And they are painted white.

My, oh my, baby,
Stay with me.
My, oh my, baby,
Stay with me.
You're in my heart,
You're in my soul tonight
You're in my heart,
You're gonna tear my world apart.

First came the snow,
Bringing in the white,
I started to write this song
So I could find some light.

My, oh my, baby,
Stay with me.
My, oh my, baby,
Stay with me.
You're in my heart,
You're in my soul tonight
You're in my heart,
You're gonna tear my world apart.

High or down or high or low
I've seen your face now,
No matter how hard you'll try to go
I know your name now,
No matter how far you're gonna run
There'll never be someone
Like you.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Avtipus-Just do not fall

I'm pretty surprised how emotional this song made me feel. I came across it completely by chance earlier today and ever since I've been in a pretty pensive mood. The youtube description says that "this was recorded in July 2012, written in the summer of 2011 with the outbreak of the tent protest to encourage ourselves, our friends, and everyone who isn't giving up, isn't discouraged and continues to push this huge boulder up the mountain". There's a lot of optimism in these words but this song is so melancholic and heavy-it's a good reminder of why the protest exists as well as its importance but there's also a huge feeling of crisis and uncertainty. Since late May/early June there have been renewed protests-not as huge as the ones from last summer but also not as small as some people thought. Mainly there was a sense that it wasn't the top story in the media so it wasn't the top story on everybody's minds-and it felt like it was fading away. However all that changed on Friday June 22 when Dafni Lif together with a group of protesters wanted to renew the Rotschild tent city-after they didn't get a permit from the city counsel. Things got very violent and Lif ended up badly bruised by the police and arrested. And then came the very violent protest on Saturday. At first it was very blurry to me what exactly happened on that night-at first from the news it seemed that a small group of protesters got aggressive, smashed bank windows, created a riot and fought with cops. But then when I checked out twitter and facebook it appeared that the protester's vandalism acts was minor compared to how the Special Patrol Unit handled the protesters-with violence, curses and fury mostly towards unharmful men and women. Here is what Itai Anghel, one of the only journalists I completely respect, reported: The setting of the protest was the banks by Gan Hair, right next to the City Hall whose painted escalators starred in last week's video by Kutiman. It's also right by Rabin Square. One of the most chilling tweets I came across was by someone who wrote: "Miri Regev [says] the protesters want to turn Rabin Square to Tahrir Square. That's more legitamite than what the extreme right did: which is turning Kings of Israel Square to Rabin Square." It also reminded me what the late Rabin said in his last speech before he was assassinated: "Violence erodes the basis of democracy. It should be condemned, denounced and isolated". In this past Saturday's protest there was no violence but there was anger-and also a group who split from the official protest and blocked roads-not only in Tel Aviv but also in Jerusalem and Haifa. From what I understand there's now a tent city in a new location picked by the mayor-near the train station and away from the heart of the city. This way it won't disturb the city residents but it also won't bother anyone else so there's a lot of criticism on behalf of activists and it's very small (for now). So, after almost a year since it first started it's still very hard to pinpoint exactly what has changed (it feels like nothing and everything at the same time), where things are now and where they are headed. What's certain is that it's going to be a very interesting summer.
Avtipus (prototype) are a great band from the 90's with hits like these and (so 90's!). For me they represent the true face of the protest-not dreamy twenty somethings who want to live in the city and change the world but rather well experienced family men fed up with where things are going who see the possibility of creating a better society for their children.

Chutes and ladders
Climbing and diving
There is not a place without quiet
There is not a place with crawling

Dear friends
In the kingdom of survivors
In the place where there is no bridge
Over troubled water

Flying low
Above the dirt
Barely falling asleep
Waking up without a smile
And the ground always shakes under the feet
Just do not fall

Withdrawals and refunds
Loans and losses
In a place where there is no grace
And no pity

Flying low
Above the dirt
Barely falling asleep
Waking up without a smile
And underneath-what fear there is here in the eyes
Just do not fall