Monday, April 25, 2011

Action points and shout-outs

* The Vibe has found an apartment in Tel Aviv and is – it seems – moving out tomorrow. He´s also found a job as a telemarketer, pushing dugs if I understood correctly. He doesn't seem too happy about the telemarketing thing, but he´s looking forward to the move. In the meantime he and Roger have constructed a web page where you can elicit his services and buy his books, so if you feel you need to throw your inner light switch, you can visit him below.

* Me personally, I am going to miss him very much. Although somewhat skeptical about his vibrating spleen (or Light Activation as he prefers to call it), he has been a fantastic friend and a real Mensch.

* Speaking of web sites, my eminent and beloved friend Nano has started a company with a few other Creative Pros named Brickit. They are specializing in the creation of mobile apps for iPhones, Android and other Smart Phones and Handhelds. Yours truly has written the copy for their web site (English version is in the tube), and should you ever need a Super Professional Digital Developer Agency, they come very highly recommended:

* Seeing as we will be one tenant short in the apartment, rather than risking that the Merkaz puts a drinking, pig eating 20-year old Russian in the vacant room, we have asked an American guy named Chaim to move in. Chances are he'll take it, as his present flat mate is weirdo who puts pictures of dead people up in the common room, and goes to pray by the grave site of "The Tzadick" Baruch Goldstein, a really nice guy who gunned down 29 praying Arabs in Hebron in 1994...

* Jochanan and his beautiful family have moved to Jerushalaim, where he will be studying at Ohr Sameach, a religious Yeshiva school. As a vet of the Iraq war, the US Army will pay for the tuition and he will graduate with a Master in Jewish Studies. I'm happy for him, but I miss them.

A happy jerusalemite
* It's been Pesach here for the last 7 days, the holiday celebrating the Exodus out of Egypt. No bread for 7 days. Tomorrow it's Mimuna, the Moroccan festival celebrating the return of bread.

* It's time to leave the shielded reality that is the Merkaz. I've started to look for work but unfortunately so far I've come up with zilsch. Sooner or later I'll find something, but in the meantime, if you need a world class copywriter (ahem..), please contact me via my home page below.
* I did get one job offer, installing and testing software for medical equipment. Unfortunately I'd spend 50% of the time in....Jönköping. A small Swedish town in the bible belt, with not a single Jew in sight. I thought about it for one second and then said thanks, but no lone Shabbes on a hotel in that town and I'd be in tears...

*  Daniel four fingers has met a girl! Hopefully she'll kick him in the butt hard enough to get his thumb out of it and start doing something constructive with his life.

* Last night some stupid kid was running his 125 MC and doing burnouts in the street outside. At 1.30 AM. I screamed from the window to SHUT UP, at which he honked his horn. I flipped and grabbed an orange and threw it out the window 4 stories up, towards the sound. Apparently he got the message cause he speeded away. I'm seriously fed up with the late night motor fests the kids are having outside. Apparently I'm becoming a grumpy old geezer...

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring in Beer Sheva

The funny guy will tell you there are only two seasons in southern Israel: Green and Brown. While this may be hyperbole, summer definitely belong to the brown season. So I thought I'd go out and document the Green season, a bit late but still. The results you'll find in the below pics. Enjoy.

Jews, Oil and the Arabs no one care about

”You know, I think Assad is going to fall”, my old Kurdish friend tells me over Skype last night. ”Something is happening although nobody knows exactly what. You need to understand that just a few months ago, no Syrian even here, in the diaspora, dared to say anything against Bashar Assad. That is how scared everyone was.”

Now he tells me that in a village in Kurdish Syria, a group of elders had visited the secret police, asking them to take down a statue of Bashar Assad, for as they had said: ”The youngsters are so angry we can't control them, it's better you do it.”

The blood baths this passed weekend at funerals in Syria, with security forces killing around 17 civilians, again puts the finger on the double standards of the West's involvement the Arab Spring and it's revolutions. The Syrian diaspora is watching in disbelief how Nato has intervened militarily on behalf of a disorganized and Al-Qaeda linked Libyan opposition to overthrow a dictator who has spent the last 10 years aligning himself with Western interests, while staying ominously silent when Bashar Assad, a Terror Sponsor par excellence and an aggressive enemy of the West, is committing the same kind of atrocities that got Muammar Gaddafi into war with Nato.

A lot have been said about this seeming contradiction, most eloquently by Caroline B. Glick in Jerusalem Post. In short, The West has no sound reason to intervene in Libya, seeing as the risk that a new government taking over after Khadaffi will be worse, for the West as well as for the Libyans,  is paramount. In Syria on the other hand, it can't get worse. Basher Assad's regime is already a puppet for Iranian influence in the Arab world, a gun runner for Hizballah and Hamas, and the prime destabilizer of Lebanon. So intervening there should make sense, right? And another plus is the fact that Syria has a sizable Kurdish population, who are traditionally Pro-West. So how should we understand the US and Nato involvement in Libya and it's utter reluctance to help the Syrian revolution along?

”The silence in the West concerning the Syrian blood bath has finally made me understand that the Western Lefties and Liberals don't care at all about the Arab people”, my friend says, ”they only care about the fight against Israel”. His statement contains a partial answer to the conundrum, or as another Kurdish friend framed the same conclusion: "God, I wish Israel would occupy Kurdistan." Bingo.

The Left couldn't care less about Arabs. Not even about Palestinians. Jordanians and Syrians and Kuwaitis have killed many more Palestinians than Israel ever did. There are around 350 000 000 Arabs in the world, but all the worlds Humanitarians, Liberals and Lefties only care about the 4 million in the West Bank and Gaza, and for those fighting Israel. As for Libya, it obviously no longer is a force in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Syria on the other hand is a weapon pointed at the heart of Israel, something that clearly helps moderating Left and Liberal demands for an intervention there.

But there is another point I've strangely enough haven't seen in this discussion in mainstream media outlets, which is the answer to the obvious question: ”How much oil does Syria have"? The answer: Not a lot. Libya on the other hand has the 17th largest oil reserve in the world, twice as big as that of the US. And foreign interests in Libyan oil are huge.

So it would seem that the Arabs the West care about, militarily, politically and intellectually, are those who are either fighting Israel, live in the territories, or have a lot of oil. But I hope I'm wrong, because this conclusion doesn't spell a great future for the Arab spring.

Friday, April 8, 2011

3 AM: Breakup times, new blogs and a typeface conundrum...

Insomnia has been the name of the fame lately. Blurry nights and blurrier days. People tell me I should cave in to the stillnochts. But I don't know. I still doubt it's really a chemical issue, I guess. Currently I'm indulging in nostalgia by way of a Youtube Safari into the golden age of Swedish Hip Hop. Should you wonder what was created under this short period that lasted from around 1994-1998, I recommend having a look at "Blend Dom", by Latin Kings, the group that ushered in said Golden Age.

Other than that I spent the last couple of minutes trying to change the font of my last post, a pome that may not be for eternity, but at the time fairly well captured my thoughts on the emptiness of putting yourself at the center of the world at ever instant. And I can't get this poem to read out in the predefined typeface of this blog, no matter how many times I paste it back and forth from my trusted text editor BBedit. It remains in some screwed up version of Helvetica Bold. Weird is only half of it.

In any case It's been a while since my last update so instead of sleeping I thought I'd through out some action points, a concentrate of the last few weeks. Here we go:

* Purim came and went. I was supposed to go to Raanana for a traditional Purim with the Silbermans, but came the day, I was far to hungover from the previous nights Purim celebrations at the Rabbi to even consider spending 4 hours on a bus back and forth.

* Quentin got a job in a potato processing factory. That may sound high tech but what it actually means is that they bring the industrially harvested potatoes on big trucks, along with soil, stones, branches, worms and the occasional bones from departed animals, and dump all this on big conveyor belts, from which Quentin and his co-slaves are support to sort out the edible stuff an dump the rest. After which they stack the potatoes in large trays, clean them and pack them. All this work is manual and it's 12 hours a day, 68 hours a week, with an hourly salary of 4 bucks. Basically it's a sweatshop exploiting new immigrants.

*The Vibe is finding more and more clients and is spending a lot of time going to and from Tel Aviv, last time around he was at some alternative conference, handing out flyers to interested people and making new contacts. He is looking for an apartment in Tel Aviv, and once there he'll probably get rich in a heartbeat. Half on that town is stressed out of their mind and all of them are alternative, beach-tennis playing hipsters. He should make a killing.

* A new bag of Russians arrived here and some of them started a very loud fight the other day. Fortunately they were too drunk to actually achieve much more that a lot of ruckus.

* It's a sense of breakup here. The Vibe is as mentioned looking to take his Vibrating Spleen to a more appreciative market. Quentin is working around the clock, and me...well I've started to look for work. Living here is sort of a sheltered work shop and I'm starting to get tired of it. Tired of the Cubans who plays Salsa at moron volume ever Shabat, tired of the angry Russians and the tired parents who send their kids out to run riot everywhere because they cant stand having them around in the small apartments. It's time to leave this sheltered existence, to find a place of my own to stay, and most of all to start working. Beside I don't have much choice, I'm starting to run out of money. Who knows, if I don't get lucky I might end up with Quentin and the other minions, sorting potatoes around the clock. I will miss the people here though, and most of all my flat mates. But there is a season for everything. The time for this period of our lives will soon be up.

* The cashiers at Supersol are still inefficient beyond belief. But I no longer think much about it. I've even gotten used to the worthless bus drivers and the omnipresent bureaucratic incompetence. Guess I'm slowly becoming Israeli.

* I started a new blog. About copywriting. If that sounds like you cup of tea, drop by at

* The Rabbis set me up on a shidduch (date, sort of). I came by the Rabbis house 2 weeks ago and the Rabbi said he had dreamt about me and this girl. So some back and forth with his wife, him and the Rabbanit put me in a car and drove to the other side of town. Then they told me to wait in the car while they went in and talked to the girls mother. They were gone for about half an hour. Then they came out and told me I was welcome to come in. And so I sit there for half an hour listening to the mother rambling about her dead husband, crying and blowing her nose and showing me a stream of pictures of him and other family members, while the "girl" (a heavyset woman with the charisma of a wrestler), was sitting on a chair a few meters away. All of this in a mix of Hebrew and Moroccan. I hardly understood a word. I did however understand that it was a Rabbinical and Ultra-Orthodox family, and that the "girl" hadn't even finished high school. It as the twilight zone revisited. Fortunately she must have decided against me cause I never heard another word about it.

Well, I guess that sort of sums it up. Now it's 4 AM and I'll see if I can get a couple of hours sleep before it's time for Shul. Laila tov.