The sun came out today and life was good. We went strolling through the boulevards of Tel Aviv, people watching and hanging out at cafes. I've never seen so many cafes and hairdressers per square foot! It's really insane. It became this running joke between me & Az... "oh no, hair's getting fritzy... running out of time, must find hairdresser STAT..." [another one shows up on next block, we breathe sighs of relief]
Tel Aviv is really different from the other places we've been in Israel. It's way more secular, fashionable and hip. There are innumerable exotic cuties strolling the streets. Supposedly in summer a popular boy activity is to go to the beach, put on a pair of sunglasses and spend the whole day staring at girls in their bikinis. While I am above such shenanigans, I suppose if I were here in summer I would have to do it just to sample the local cultural vibe. I am a great believer in experiencing foreign cultures and educating oneself in that regard.
It's winter, so no bikinis, but honestly I think it's more exciting to see hot girls with their stylish clothes on. Style is a big part of attractiveness; ordinary looking girls turn fantastic with the right clothes, the right look... anyway you would think I'm girl crazy from writing this but I'm just trying to communicate the flavor of this place. There are cute boys too but they dress in that eurotrash/castro gay style with really tight shirts and too much gel in their hair. I would say Israeli girls easily outrank the boys.
Tel Aviv is a great city to stroll though, lots of nightlife too, and the people are actually really friendly and helpful (though they can be blunt in that typical Israeli way). We met friend of friend Yigal last night and liska tried speaking with him in hebrew, and he said (in english) "don't practice your hebrew on me!" But it's not rudeness exactly, they just get to the point.
He took us to this crazy place called "Max Brenner's Chocolate Bar" where EVERYTHING was chocolate-- hot chocolate, chocolate cocktails, chocolate desserts, chocolate bars. It was the best hot chocolate I've ever had in my life. In the menu max says that growing up he saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and it was always his dream to create a place lavish and overflowing with rivers of chocolate. They have all these pipes running through the place that originate at pumps marked "dark" and "milk". Although Yigal pointed out that the pipes were just for show, I still like to think they were running with brown liquidy goodness...
Afterwards we went back to his place, smoked some hash and talked about israeli culture and music. It was interesting to hear perspective from someone born & raised in Israel-- most people we've talked to on this trip either immigrated from elsewhere or else were travelers like us. He told us about this high-ranking ex-nazi that they caught some years back, and put on trial. An Israeli jew chose to be his defense lawyer, and the ex-nazi was acquitted. It's quite possible the guy was innocent-- the chief evidence (i think, need to find more details about this when time permits) was eyewitness testimony from holocaust survivors, and eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable-- especially when it's 40 years after the fact.
After the trial, a small elderly man (who, it later came out, was a holocaust survivor) came up to the Israeli defense lawyer and said "Excuse me, Mr. _____?" When the lawyer turned, the old man threw acid in his face. It blinded him for life.
Yigal was of the opinion that, putting all logic aside, no Jewish lawyer could possibly defend an accused ex-nazi. The accused deserved defense, but not from a jewish lawyer. I was taken aback to hear this. I asked if it was pretty certain that the accused was guilty. Yigal said no. "But still you don't think a jewish lawyer should have defended him?" He said no, it would be a crazy thing to do. I said I thought it was a brave thing to do (think of the death threats, the horrible opinion people would have, even though you're upholding the legal system-- why have trials if you're certain of guilt?) and we contemplated the line between brave and crazy.
It's a lot to think about... today we went to the place where a right-wing fundamentalist Israeli shot Yitzhak Rabin. It was sad to see the memorial. What might have been if he didn't die? I guess it's a waste of time to ask these "what if's" but you can't help it sometimes.
i wish we had more time to spend in Tel Aviv. Our hostel is right on the beach and we watched the surfers surfing as sun set. Some guy was kicking a soccer ball and it rolled into traffic, and the fool RAN INTO TRAFFIC to get it. We thought he'd die for sure but amazingly, he recovered it amidst the spastic honking storm that began when he stepped into the street. Tonight I'm gonna wear some new threads I bought at Doron Ashkenazi. The pant cuffs had to be hemmed and the sales guy drew us a little map. We followed it and it lead to Doron Ashkenazi's workshop! How often do you get to meet the guy who made your clothes? I took some pics. I haven't taken enough pics of people on this trip-- we've encountered so many nice folks but I feel nerdy pulling out my camera when we're hanging out. chris, amir/marti, egal, frank/sabine... ok I will definitely shove a camera in the face of cosmo's friend Dori tonight.
it's a lyrical stickup, everybody's hands high