Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The city beyond the hills

Sometimes the only promise in Amman is the sky above it.

Descend from it at your own risk.

into a surreal,


dense cityscpae, the kind that only the Middle east knows how to deliver.

Overwhelmed by it all, just keep descending, as my friends and I did, on our way to the Mika concert by the dead sea.

Another thing to do is to await the fall of night. Amman is by no means a nightlife Mecca, or rather, it has about as much nightlife as Mecca, but on a lucky night you may have some adventures. We had one such lucky night. It started off nicely in the company of the extraordinary Ali Maher, Jordan's patron of the arts,

Evolved nicely from there on,

At 2:00 AM we did kind of run out of Amman nightlife, and stood at the third circle, debating our next move (left to right: Hagar Shapira, Nadav Appel, Sarah Jolly, Yuval Zuker, Nimrod Kamer, Pantare and an annonymous cab driver).

It ended, of course, at Hashem's immortal Hummous joint downtown, where the food is even better than the sky over Amman.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Off to Amman

There's too much traveling going on for me to be a good blogger. A few days ago Nimrod Kamer suggested we head to Jordan to attend a pop concert by Lebanon's own "Mika", there's been some good response by the hipster crowd (including local pop squad Terry Poison) and I even decided to head out one day in advance and hang around my favorite hounts in Amman. from there I should head directly to the high galillee for a very different musical experience. Acclaimed violinist Shlomo Minz is giving a master class at a secluded kibbutz and I am to interview him. Expect a short silence, then a shower of photos. A beautiful weekend to all!

Monday, July 21, 2008

La Zona

Its trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5SzXJe-NMk) makes it look like a mediocre thriller, but make no mistake. Rodrigo Pla's "La Zona", currently in Israeli Theatres, is one of the most merciless, disturbing and fascinating films you'll ever chance to watch. It tells the story of a juvenile delinquent trapped inside a posh gated community, following a burglery to which he was an accomplice and which ended at a shootout. The hunt for him, conducted independently by members of the community, exposes all the ills of society within and without the complex's concrete walls, from plain police corruption down to self-loving, pretend-activism (at one crucial point, a more moral members of the community urges a like-minded friend to act quickly and save the child. Rather than act, he sits her down for a bleeding heart conversation on the philosophical folly of life within walls. It's one of the most cynical scenes i've ever witnessed on a screen.)

La Zona attacked me just as my mind is full of thoughts about money and its social implications. Ehud Olmert's lavish and corrupt life style, bought (such are suspicions) by cheating American philantropists, is coming to light over the last few months, but the experience is also personal: This past week I traveled around the country as guide to a highly affluent Parisian family (at one point they discussed an email exchange with "Sarco"). we stayed at the delightful and firmly secured complex of the Scots hotel in Tiberias. Another gig - that of restaurant critic, took me to Moule- Yam, One of Israel's finest culinary establishments, where bottles of wine are sold for the price of an avarage Israeli's bimonthly salary. I had fun in both cases, and I'm no advocate of poverty, I realize that only great social gaps allow the culinary art of Moule Yam and the decadent gardens of the Scots Hotel to exist, but compramise and social justice are better still. As La Zona demonstrates, high walls of concrete and of fine seafood can easily obscure that from the eye.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Amazing imagery in my recent dreams: cliffs by a restless sea bearing another restless sea atop them, the waters of the upper sea occasionally gushing over the rocks to the one beneath; A girl is flying a kite in a field where massive electric poles stand. The kite soars high and she calls to me for help. I take the reins, then fear entanglement in the wires and slowly begin to roll the string in.

Time to embark on a new novel.

Another image worth poeticising: The papers show Olmert and Assad coming within four feet of each other and ignoring one another, avoiding even a cordial "hello" and a handshake. I am pleased once more to see that our world is run by grown ups.


As was the case last year, the annual Bastille Day celebrations at the French Ambassador's residence in Jaffa started off as a routine, albeit posh, diplomatic affair, with Shimon Peres speaking slowly and champagne being served along with tarrine de campagne and fine cheese. It erupted eventually into a pretty happening dance party with a goofy early 90s soundtrack.

You gotta love France, the land that brings together army officers, quirky poets and monks on a Jaffa lawn, pours the jar into them, then gets them dancing. For me it was a terrific little interlude in a week made up of check chasing (a freelancer's life is hard), babysitting (see previous post), family expansion (see previous post) and getting dehydrated (see weather.com).

I contributed my own share to the festivities by comparing baguettes for the Haaretz website. The result is worth reading, but don't miss out on this cool little Francophile number by Kiwi act Flight of the Conchords either.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


My sister Michal gave birth to a baby girl early this morning. A pregnancy full of worries came to a happy end. Mother and baby are fine, grandparents delirious with joy, uncle soon on his way to visit. The only photo I got sent from the hospital featured michal's exposed, breastfeeding bosom. I won't post it here without her permission, so While I get enchanted by little miss tiny toes, enjoy an ode to her on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P5b4PBYeSI

It's actually been a week full of babies. DL and I helped look after the wife and son of a VIP foreign guest. We showed them around the country, fed them the local fare and helped them deal with the intense heat. The child, nearly two years old, was one of the sweetest most beautiful kids you'll ever meet, and also much more than a handful. He wears his mother out as I write this, somewhere in a posh Tel-Aviv hotel room.

Looking at her over the week, I wondered to what extant parenting was her dream come true. I also realized that it has to be a dream come true, to justify the complete surrender of one's life to a curly-headed, Elmo loving, constantly moving, food splattering cause. As much as I love kids, uncle-ing becomes me much more than parenting at this point in life. It's wonderful that Michal, her husband Noam and their daughter Meitar all give me the chance to indulge in it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


It's a whisky and Mozart afternoon.
My work is all done, only Ben calls periodically from Hebron,
asking for directions.

I came back from the Prince, met there with a PR guy,
The flies in the yard bugged us just a bit.
I suggested he promotes my book as a fresh look at Israel,
one that embraces its grit.
Phone's vibrating in my pocket - it's Ben.

They began arresting the human rights groups
as soon as they arrive into Hebron.
Only settlers will show the city from now on.
I direct Ben to the rooftop from which they'd throw feces on the market crowds.
Sip on my whisky, listen to Mozart.

Mozart wrote so well for the harp. He really respected it.
Always in conjoinment with some wind instrument. In this case:
the oboe.
The back of the record sleeve reads:
Adagio und Rondo c-moll Für "Glasharmonika"
Flöte, oboe, viola und violoncello, KV 617 (11'00)
Nicanor Zabaleta, Harfe
Mitglieder des
Kammerorchestre Paul Kuents.

I still prefer the flute and harp concerto.
Ben calls from Hebron. I answer with a stomach full of baguette.
This morning I compared baguettes for an item in Haaretz (bastille day is at hand).

No bastille day in Kiryat Arba.
Man, that would be a blood bath.
The best baguette was from "Le Moulin" on Bugrashov. Ben calls.
Damn this record is scratched.

But the whisky is very good.