Monday, June 14, 2010

Get Thee to a Nunnery

I've been very negative recently. I would like to write about something good, something indisputably good. I can only think of one such thing: The Minzar.

Is it the best bar in the world? Is it, rather, the most boring default destination for when nobody knows where to go? A true Tel-Avivian hears the words: "So let's just go to the Minzar" at least twice a week. Nevertheless, I opt for the first definition. The Minzar is the best bar in the world. The Minzar is the best place in this city. The Minzar is home. The Minzar is mother, ok, I'm getting carried away. No more Taybe on tap for me.

Let's tell this story as a story should be told, lets begin with once upon a time.

Once upon a time, in an ancient eon called the early 90s, when Sheinkin St. was still the hub of the dangerous, black clad bohemia, there were three bars worth mentioning in the city. The first was called the "Gloola" (pill) the second the "Midbar" (desert) and the third was the "Minzar" (Monastery or abbey).

I got to sip my first underage beer at the Gloola. My friend summoned the guts and asked some girl with black nail polish to buy us two pints. He called her "auntie", as that was the quaint slang of those bygone days "Hey auntie, buy us a couple?". I was surprised at how readily our newfound aunt assumed her criminal role.

We left the Gloola experiencing a dizziness previously unknown to either of us, pissed in an alleyway and started walking north joyfully. Soon enough we got beat up by two drunk English tourists, who thought they heard us swearing at them. We escaped them into a bar. That bar was the Minzar.

Actually no, that bar wasn't the Minzar. It was some other random place that - like the Gloola and Midbar - failed to survive the passing of the auntie years. I'm just desperately looking for an excuse to write about the sole survivor of those times, a seemingly charmless bar, perfectly undecorated, with bare tables spread around the alleyway about its entrence, with its one bathroom (of two) that only features a pissoir, all within choking distance of Allenby.

Call it Patriotism or Zionism, but I need to truly embrace at least one thing on our slender map. Love letters don't really call for excuses, I'll try to compose a quick one right now, and just get it off my chest.

Dear Minzar,

Is it because you are such casual place that I can practically visit you in my underwear? Is it because despite how casual you are, I once found myself sitting in your so called terrace, right next to a group that obviously just left an opera gala?

Is it because you serve Palestinian beer, making me feel that I'm fighting for a cause even as I'm getting myself silly drunk in the very napel of the bubble? Is it because besides this Palestinian beer you also serve that strong Belgian Maredsous that knocks everyone out for the evening?

Is it the wonderful artichoke and feta salad? Is it the veal sausages? is it the very fact that no one would expect a joint like yourself to produce anything better than a little bowl of peanuts, and yet you're one of my favorite restaurants in town? Is it Ari's spicy wings that nearly fried me alive from within just before the management made him subdue them? (I loved them just the way they were. ahhh!) Is it the pickles in the back room that can be subtly stolen when the beautiful blond waitress isn't looking?

Is it that beautiful blond waitress? Is it the equally beautiful not blond waitress who used to wear dreadlocks? Is it the other, even less blond waitress with the dark retro look? is it the other, fourth beautiful waitress? is it Ari and his lovely whiskers? Is it already five in the morning?

Is it the night Stellina cried on my shoulder tears that came directly from her broken heart? Is it that night that the Danish girl recognized me though we haven't seen each other for an entire decade? Is it the night Itka composed her beautiful crazy poem amidst all the noise and loud music in the main room?

Is it that our comfort zone is so small we can cross it in two leaps? (mind the stairs!)

Whatever it is, Minzar, I love you and all the monks and nuns who walk your narrow cloisters. I drink to you and to a city that only becomes itself after dark, and then grows more and more beautiful with every sip, every cig, every sound of laughter.

(all photos are from the Minzar's Facebook fan page)


Anonymous said...

Great writing!

Anonymous said...

J'ai appris des choses interessantes grace a vous, et vous m'avez aide a resoudre un probleme, merci.

- Daniel