Friday, October 26, 2007


I made a mistake, rather then rest and recover after the surgery, I decided to write an article for Time Out Tel-Aviv, and uncover a mystery.

The project was to tell the story of a lie and if possible find out the truth behind it. A mysterious female poet named Tze'ela Katz was responsible for several biting poems published in the cult magazine "Ma'ayan", for an active website and for hundreds of Internet comments and emails, many of them subversive and insulting.

New's of Katz's death were first given two weeks ago on the blog of Ma'ayan's editor, Roy "Chicky" Arad. The rumor soon spread that she was fiction - a nom de plume of a man, perhaps several men. could this be so?

Trying to dig into the story involved getting in touch with a lot of interesting figures in the Tel-Avivian literary and artistic underground. It also cost me my health. Someone started stalking me under a false name, threatening me via email, mocking my temporary inability to speak, discrediting me before my editors and sending cryptic phone messages.

When the article got published, with a fair bit of praise to the artistic endeavor and only a hint to the mystery's solution, he called to apologize.

I figure that this man, a talented and sharp high tech professional, is responsible for at least the majority of Tze'ela Katz's texts. He was afraid of being uncovered, worried that all journalists are there to trash people, and spun into what appeared to me as some sort of a paranoid episode.

I respect his needs and won't publish his name here. I will say, however, that whimsical musician A.B. Dan, who was named as Katz on her website one day after publication, wasn't the primary figure in the project.

The full story features a nocturnal journey into a basement in Tel-Aviv's dead suburb of Nes Tziona, where a memorial service to Katz was held. It includes several emotional late night exchanges and a climax involving Time Out's editor in chief and publisher. Rather than go into all that, I'd like to present you with a translation of a Tze'ela Katz poem. It is the art, after all, that matters.

(Notes for the foreign reader: "Superpharm" is an Israeli chain of drug stores, where perfumes and make-up products are available along with pharmaceutical goods. "Burger-Ranch" is a chain of fast food restaurants. the word "overdraft" is used in Hebrew as is, to imply a checking account minus.)

Superpharm / Tze'ela Katz

Don't drip sun on me
Take me to the Superpharm

The word Superpharm has a young sound,
Like Burger-Ranch or Overdraft

I'd like for you to shave your chest hairs
Before we go into the Superpharm
I'm mad at all the women of the world
How is it possible to enter the Superpharm in peace?

You remind me of the days
When I can hardly fall asleep
Afterwards my sense of smell sharpens
And entering the superpharm becomes a nightmare

All girls go to the souk and to the Superpharm
The superpharm's design says beautification
The souk's design says discrimination

The souk's design says: "There's fish sold here
Here you won't pay for sex"

The orange vendor at the souk says:
"Half to eat and half for juice."
He knows how to talk to a woman.

Picturing myself at the Superpharm
buying orange-chocolate
flavoured condoms.


Miriam (Mimi) Asnes said...

Nice, nice post. I am intrigued. Please keep stirring up trouble. And...was it nodes?

homefris said...

Hi Yuval! Thank you so much for your comments - its really nice to have a dialogue on these things. And thanks for posting this poem! I would love to hear more about this woman (if "she" actually is...). As a newcomer to the Tel Aviv art/literary scene, I'm scrambling to get access to this kind of stuff and to learn, learn, learn about nodes and questions and places and shadows.

Yuval said...

Cheers Mimi and Homefris.

"She" actually isn't. it really was this computer guy, but then, the muse is often stronger than we are, and sometimes the artist is but a tool in the hands of art. So in this sense she of course is.

Homefris, send me an email via my profile if you feel like it and I'll tell you more about this corner of the local literary scene. there are places and shadows and questions and nodes there aplenty, many good people and a few mischievous ones.

Here, for both of you political minded bloggers, is another poem, courtesy of the latter sort. all of it rhymes nicely in the original - which is mostly lost in my spontaneous translation. This one never got published "offline". It's foreign to most current literary trends, but reminds me of playwrite Chanoch Levin's Satirical work from the Seventies.


Count missiles and soldiers,
Vehicles, uniform, cutlary,
Count ours, those of the enemy,
Passersby and U.N. personnel

Count the dead
And those that are left
Seperate terrorists
from the ones that helped.

count how often we shot
And how often we got shot at
Deduct those who died
Of friendly fire

Count how many more dead
Would justify sending relief
Factor in the data
given in the media brief

Count objectors on the left
Deduct defecting settlers
Multiply with the avarage of deaths
On a year with no helicopter disaster.

Count the innocent,
No Lebanese. What's that about?
As for Israeli Arabs,
Should we count them? there's some doubt.

Count in a loud, monotenous voice
Of an impassioned hero,
And should you get confused,
Start all over from zero.

סדרה חשבונית אינסופית

תספור טילים וחיילים

רכבים, מדים, סכו"ם

מנה את שלנו, של האויב,

עוברי האורח והאו"ם

תספור את המתים

ואת אלו שנשארו

תפריד בין מחבלים

לאלו שעזרו

תספור כמה ירינו

וכמה ירו עלינו

הפחת ההרוגים שלנו

מאש כוחותינו

תספור כמה מתים

יצדיקו עוד תגבורת

ערוך שקלול עם הנתון

שהופיע בתקשורת

תספור סרבני מצפון משמאל

הפחת מתנחלים עריקים

הכפל בממוצע הרוגים לשנה

כשאין אסון מסוקים

תספור חפים-מפשע

בלי לבנונים, לנו זה לא נוגע

ולגבי ערביי ישראל

האם לספור? איש לא יודע

תספור בקול רם

מונוטוני, מונפש

ואם תתבלבל

תתחיל מאפס, מחדש

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