Chris Cornell rocks Tel Aviv

June 22, 2009 - 4:32 PM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Music 

Chris Cornell Rocks Tel AvivFormer Soundgarden/Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell rocked Tel Aviv last week but unfortunately did not rock me. However it’s not his fault. I’m apparently getting old and last Wednesday was without question of one of the chief indicators of this unfortunate event. I should have known it wasn’t going to go well when it became evident that I needed to stop for a double espresso on the way the show. I was accompanying a friend of mine who was reviewing the gig for one of daily’s here. I received a coveted photo pass which allowed me to stand in wide space between the audience and the performer for the first three songs. It’s a place where I’ve spent a lot of time before and is always exciting. Angling for a great shot while pushing away other photographers is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s a fun place to be but I made two critical errors. I did not drink water beforehand and, even worse, I forgot my earplugs. So the massive amount of body heat emanating from the crowd combined with the humid air and concert speakers pounding in my ears did not do me well. At all.

Granted it was fun shooting but I just couldn’t recover after such a traumatic experience and quickly retired to the sidelines and spent the rest of the concert sitting on the grass drinking bottled water with my friend who was equally as enthused. Not very rock and roll of us. The final sign of the twilight of my youth was that towards the end of the show I couldn’t help but start thinking how long it was going to take me to get out of the parking lot. I kept looking at my watching thinking about how, as time went on, I was going to be losing important sleep time. And so I left in order to the beat the traffic right as the encore began. And I walked to my car, head down in shame as Cornell belted out one of Soundgarden’s biggest hits in the background.

Comedy of Israeli errors

June 18, 2009 - 4:25 PM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: A New Reality, Blogging, History and Culture, Israeliness, Life, Pop Culture 

Daniella AshkenazyRaised in the metro Washington, DC area, Daniella Ashkenazy (pictured) has been living in Israel for over 40 years and working as a journalist for about half of that time., currently covering the environmental beat for The Jerusalem Post‘s weekend Metro section.

Launched a few months ago, Ashkenazy’s Chelm-on-the-Med website is an ever-growing collection if local soft news items – those curious, often humorous stories that would sound like they are urban legends if they weren’t in the mainstream news media.

Among Chelm-on-the-Med’s gems are the tale of a farmer who used his LoJack–like car theft recovery device to recover bales of hay that had been stolen from him, a Knesset proposal to combat the ever-lowering water levels of the Dead Sea by importing water from Turkey, and a Hassidic man who proposed throwing books of Psalms at enemy entities as a poetic response to falling rockets (because in Hebrew, the word for missiles, Tillim, is similar to the word for Psalms, Tehillim).

Chelm-on-the-Med’s beat is relatively similar to ISRAELITY’s in that both sites attempt to take Israeli life out of the realm of hard news and into the realm of real life. As Ashkenazy puts it in her FAQ….

Beyond life and death issues, Israel is an outrageously amusing and lively place to live, and it’s strange that Jews, famous for their humor from Charlie Chaplin to Seinfeld, haven’t a clue about the humorous side of Israeli life.

She also sees the site as a useful tool for spreading a positive image of the country, especially among Diaspora youth:

A lot of things that make some adults uncomfortable will be viewed as very cool by adolescents. In fact, I think the zany, irreverent intriguing encounter with Israel that Chelm-on-the-Med offers will make Jewish kids think Israel is a very neat place – a vast improvement from the image of a gloomy and dangerous…and yes, dead serious and humorless ‘tight-ass’ country that focus groups have found.

Although the site is relatively new, the concept is not. In the late Eighties, Ashkenazy launched the column under the moniker “Gleanings” in the now-defunct Israel Scene magazine, and it has run in a variety of additional publications under other names as well.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems goes from Bollywood to Paris

June 17, 2009 - 9:05 AM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Israeliness 

Just four months ago, co-blogger Nicky wrote about the abhorrent video that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems made for Aero India 2009. It’s a gem of a video and not to be missed. However, what was maliciously maligned in blogosphere was apparently fairly popular with the Indians. According to a comment on Wired’s Danger Room:

Regarding the “beyond-awful Bollywood-themed music video” …A friend of mine who works in Refael told me that the people from India Govt loved that clip, every minute of it. Nobody was offended. Refael presenters handed CD copies of the clip in a weapons show and everybody took one. I guess it served it’s cause but some other people around the world decided to get offended for India.

Thankfully Rafael listened to their clients and not to anonymous commenters in the blogosphere and have once again produced a much anticipated follow-up which made it’s premiere at the Paris Air Show. Unfortunately this one does not include a French troubadour singing sad French songs about chemical warfare, but rather a mime. Yes, a mime. A MISSILE DODGING MIME. The mime has a hard time dodging falling missiles (projected on the screen behind her), but thankfully Multi-Layered Air Defense Umbrella (in this case and actually umbrella) is used to protect herself from the projectiles. Not only does she protect her self, she openly mocks the missiles. Classic.

Sderot solidarity on display

June 8, 2009 - 7:12 PM by · 1 Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, Art, coexistence, History and Culture, Religion, War 

Art for SderotThank the good Lord, the rockets haven’t been falling much in the southern part of the country lately. Sure, not all the news coming out of the Gaza border area is positive, but at least the rate of Qassam fire into Israel has slowed dramatically in recent months.

Several grassroots, cultural initiatives have aimed at making the situation on Israel’s southern front as comfortable as possible, and at expressing or fostering solidarity with those effected (on these pages, we’ve written in the past about a lot of them, including one initiated by musicians looking to bring aid into Gaza, a community of local young bloggers sharing their experiences under fire with the world, and even one rock and rocket-themed film project).

A year ago, the Connections Israel non-profit, which has been in operation for 11 years and aims to strengthen ties between Jewish communities in the Diaspora and those here, raised the question, “To what extent do Jews around the world feel responsible to one another in the context of the situation in Sderot?” The organization mobilized its network of young people the world over to submit answers to this question that were expressed via original works of art. The solidarity-themed exhibit that resulted from the campaign opened in a Sderot community center last month (a slide show from the opening can be seen here), with plans for the exhibit to travel the world in the works.

Mordechai David Cohen, Connections Israel’s director, is proud of the work the organization had done. From his statement in the exhibit’s catalogue:

“We believe in the power of energy conservation. The energy that a young artist expends, even in a place as far away as the United States, is transferred to the person viewing his creation here in Israel!”

Connections Israel received hundreds of submissions from Europe, the former Soviet Union, South and North America, with works including sculptures, photos, paintings, poems, multimedia and even large installations. 25 of the best submissions were included in the exhibit, curated by Noa Lea Cohen, with the top three receiving prizes.

Pictured is Jerusalemite Yedidyah Ish Shalom’s “From You to You I Shall Flee,” its title taken from a poem by Rabbi Yehuda Helevi as an expression of the duality of our interconnectedness, its subject matter taken from a newspaper photograph depicting a Qassam landing area.

International Mayumana ensemble’s capital premiere

June 5, 2009 - 12:03 PM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Art, General, History and Culture, Israeliness, Pop Culture, Profiles 

MayumanaWith all the talk in recent years about Israeli popular music exports, it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of Israeli entertainers in other realms who have been enjoying growing successes overseas. The world over, there are plenty of Israeli illusionists, dub bassists, jazz saxophonists, supermodels and even boxers - you name it.

When the percussive Mayumana dance troupe got started 13 years ago, many dismissed it as a local knockoff of international sensation Stomp. Now the ensemble maintains a busy schedule touring worldwide. Today Mayumana employs 100 people globally and has starred in ads for brands like Fiat and Coca Cola. Last week, the ensemble premiered Momentum, its new show, for local audiences of thousands at the Jerusalem Theater, under the framework of the Israel Festival.

Ha’aretz recently interviewed Tel Aviv-born Mayumana co-founder Boaz Berman as well as producer Roy Ofer, who joined the team shortly after its launch.

Ofer believes that the key to Mayumana’s success has been the way that he makes sure to keep things in-house:

“We have our own people who we work with, and we rarely involve people from the outside. On tours abroad, we have our own way of doing things. We don’t just perform and leave. We performed in Madrid for eight months, we were in New York for six months, and so on.”

Berman, meanwhile, remembers the early days fondly:

“Our goal was to put on a show that would be different from anything else out there. We were so fired up that we were sure we’d succeed. The people who worked with us then did it for free, because they all believed in us. We worked all day every day, and when we had enough material we started doing open presentations to friends on Wednesdays, which evolved from week to week.”

But according to Ofer, it’s unfair to call Mayumana a “troupe,” when so much more comes into the performances:

“In a troupe, the members all do one specific thing – dancing or drumming or whatever,” Berman explains fervently. “With us, everyone does everything, even though on the face of it they’re completely disparate – one is a professional dancer, another is the national archery champion, another one’s an actor, this one’s a contortionist. Our job is to unite them. It’s a group of people, not a troupe.”

Hey, man. Whatever terminology you prefer. Just keep doing whatever it is that you want to call what you’re doing, because people seem to like it.

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