Israel’s ‘Third Ear’ turns 25

March 18, 2012 - 1:04 AM by

One of my favorite things to do is browse at used CD, record and DVD stores. Whenever I travel and go to a new city, I always try to check out the recommended offbeat indie record store.

Spending my college years in Boston, where the breadth and width of recycled vinyl was remarkable, I got used to some pretty high standards. But I have to say that I’m perfectly happy with the Israeli equivalent of Amoeba in LA or Bleecker St. Records in New York, or the late, lamented Nuggets in Boston – Tel Aviv’s Ozen Hashlishit (The Third Ear) offers enough varied music and films to satiate any discerning fan’s desires.

Once ensconced in the then-hip and trendy Sheinkin Street, the iconic second-hand record store deservingly built its reputation as the one-stop shop for hard-to-find import LPs and CDs from obscure British progressive rock bands, as well as local indie artists putting out their do-it-yourself music.

Today, the Ozen is still that but also a whole lot more – it’s an expanding media empire, employing more than 100 people and encompassing a sprawling building on Tel Aviv’s King George Street that once housed the Maxim Cinema.

Sure, there are still vintage LPs by Yes and Tangerine Dream, as well as thousands of used and new CDs for sale that will satiate the most particular of music nerds, but there’s also the biggest video library in the country, a thriving live music club and café called the Ozen Bar that presents the cream of up-and-coming local and sometimes international talent, and a successful video satellite store in Jerusalem.

The Ozen is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month by hosting The Long Weekend from March 22-24. And it’s featuring – what else – music and film. Among the highlights are British singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock returning to the Ozen Bar after two superlative shows last year to perform his classic 1990 album Eye in its entirety on March 22. Two nights later, Hitchcock will perform with his occasional side band Venus 3, featuring former REM guitarist Peter Buck. Hitchcock and Buck are also slated to hold a master class for musicians. Other events over the weekend include marathons of live performances by local acts, and a screening of Twenty, the Cameron Crowe documentary on Pearl Jam.

As it enters its next 25 years, it’s likely the medium that the Ozen provides its customers will change, as CDs and DVDs disappear for the next big thing. But luckily, they’ll still continue to cater to the particular needs of us snobby music and film fans who just aren’t satisfied with the next ‘blockbuster.’ May the Ozen continue to live long and prosper.

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