Monday, November 1, 2010


Listening to Susanne Vega and conjugating Hebrew future tense I'm reminded of Infidels. Not as in the kind that gets blown up by crazy Islamists, but as in the record released by Bob Dylan in 1983. I remember when it came out, these were the days of LP's, and the cover had a portrait of a melancholic looking Dylan, with a scroungy, short beard and Ray Ban Wayfarers, no doubt the coolest sun glasses of the time. A very different time, and I was 13 years old and I was looking at the record where it stood in it's stand. It cost like 10 bucks which to me at the time was a lot of money. It was the day before my father's 43rd birthday. I decided to buy it for him. As far as I remember he liked it, but as with many other of the musicians he liked, I ended up listening to it a lot more than he did. The music matched the cover; melancholic, sharp, distinct, sometimes bordering on angry.

The record would follow me when I left home and it would follow my ups and downs, drunken bouts, smashed up relationships (Jokerman, License to kill), spiritual searches and moves from one second-hand apartment to the next. Until my last vinyl player decided to cash out about 5 years ago, and eventually ended up in a garbage container with all other plastic hearts of my childhood and youth.

I'm not sure why I came to think of it right now. Maybe because I'm feeling a bit melancholic. I'm in Israel and I guess the first layer of novelty is wearing off with the knowledge that I have to decide what is next after Ulpan ends in a month. Or maybe because I'm in Israel which, absurdly enough, seems to be the most hated country in the world at presently, and Infidels contain one of the most eloquent, and angry, defenses for this Jewish homeland that remains an invisible speck on a world map - 'Neighborhood bully':

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him
’Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
He’s the neighborhood bully

It's a long and brilliant text you can find it in it's entirety here. Or maybe it's just what we all are in this country: Infidels. Infidels to the crushing universalistic demands of Christianity, Infidels to the conqueror push of Islam, Infidels to the age-old view of the Jew as a weakling, forever doomed to wander the hostile and "settled" earth, with no roots and no loyalties. Or maybe it's me, and Infidel to the country that I left, a country who mistakenly sees itself as the Consciousness of the World.

Infidels was also the first "Jewish" record after Dylan had penned three Born-Again Christian records. He said in an Interview that he wasn't sad he had "tried to save a few souls"....Me I'm happy he gave it up, there are enough crazy missionaries in the world as it is and Bob Dylan's Christian period wasn't much to be inspired by anyway.

Me? Guess it's back to Beauty and Crime and Hebrew verb conjugations. I don't have time to be melancholic, and even less to write about the complete mess that is Israel, peace process, Arabs and Europe's pathological mix of ignorance, paternalism and fixation when it comes these shennanigans.

By the way, if you still haven't discovered that Susan Vega is far more than the one-hit wonders 'Luka' and 'Tom's Diner', her 2007 album ¨Beauty and Crime' is a fantastic place to start. It's a very personal trip through her native NYC in the shade of the Twin Tower bombings of 2001, and a masterpiece no less. 'Ludlow Street', about song about her younger brother Tim who drank himself to death, is enough to make a grown man cry.

Completely off topic can be told that the apartment has been calm and without invasion of potheads, and that the weather is getting colder every day. Or rather, I've gotten used to feeling cold whenever the mercury drops under 25 celsius. Which it does every night nowadays. For you poor sods who are languishing under the harsh rule of Swedish falls, you may find comfort in the world of Gaming. An old friend of mine, since childhood seller extraordinaire of console and computer games, is about to start up a budget Web Shop where you can buy all your hearts desires:

And I find it infinitely hard to understand that I'm only three years younger than my father was when I was standing at that record store stand, deciding wether I had the money to buy him Infidels for his 43rd birthday. In a very different time.

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