Posts filed under ‘Tel Aviviana’

With Friends Like These

The international guidebook giant Lonely Planet recently published a list of the ten hottest cities to visit in 2011, and Tel Aviv is one of them.

The joy here in the White City is only matched by the surprise at the flattery, and all over Israel people are beaming with pride over this blue-and-white achievement – even people who spend large chunks of their day bitching about Tel Aviv in general, and the things that the good people at Lonely Planet laud in particular – hedonism, open homosexuality and the bar-synagogue proportions, for instance.

It’s great of course, and I’m as happy as the next Tel Avivian about this honor that’s been bestowed upon us from the dons of backpacking. But I can’t help to feel that this compliment is just as much a backhanded insult.

What do I mean by that?

Well, the thing is that Lonely Planet people love slightly dodgy, rundown and preferably dangerous places where you see as few white, clean and rich people as possible. They call it “authentic”, and think it’s all the rage to spend a little time there, checking out the natives and sampling the local cuisine. This is what causes them on the one hand to trash the bazaar in the Old City of Jerusalem, which is reasonably clean, well-organized and caters to everyone, as inauthentic and even too touristy (the ultimate insult), and on the other to extol the virtues of the smelly, dingy and utterly uninteresting suq in Akko as exotic, exciting and authentic.

If you’re not convinced, I can only recommend that you take a look at the other cities on the list. In the media people keep on saying that we’re number three after New York and Tangier, but they tend to skip that other tourist magnets on the list include Iquitos, Ghent and Newcastle.

I rest my case.

UPDATE: Also the Svenska Dagbladet travel blog questions Lonely Planet’s selection, asking if these really are the places that one must visit in 2011 — and answers its own question with: “Well, possibly if one has travelled as much as the editors at Lonely Planet.”


November 3, 2010 at 09:13 6 comments

Simultaneously in Tel Aviv

Last week, Israeli grandmaster Alik Gershon broke the Guinness World Record in simultaneous chess by playing against 527 other chess players, winning 87 percent of his games. The event took place at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Thursday and Friday.

The previous record, set in 2009, was held by the Iranian grandmaster Morteza Mahjoub.

The Ministry of Defense has yet to announce whether systematically going through the book of Guinness World Records and breaking every single Iranian record is a new form of psychological warfare against the Islamic Republic.

October 24, 2010 at 16:47 1 comment

Waiting for a Star to Be Born

Last night I went to the summer concert of the Dorot Choir, and afterward I sat with a few friends at a café on Tschernikhowsky Street, watching the Italians barely avoiding making fools of themselves against Paraguay. Strolling home through the White City after the game, I noticed that almost every single café, bar and restaurant in Tel Aviv has put up a widescreen TV so that their patrons can watch the World Cup.

Everyone, except Café Landwehr at Gan Meir

June 15, 2010 at 08:53 1 comment

Mixed Musical Messages

We’re not only at the end of the year 5769, but also at the height of the cultural month in Tel Aviv. This month is a part of the city’s centennial celebrations, and as a part of these festivities the city of Brussels has given Tel Aviv a grand gift in the form of a flower carpet, now on display on Rabin Square.

I went to see it last night, and I must say that it was quite nice. Half a million flowers take up quite a lot of space, even when they’re tightly packed together.

The only thing I didn’t understand was the music played in the background. This is in fact something that I’ve thought of before during this year-long celebration. Of course they want to play music connected to Tel Aviv somehow, but it seems that any song that mentions the White City is kosher.

I can see why this, this and — for the flower carpet event especially — this would be a suitable soundtrack.

But who thought that it was a good idea to include this song?

September 17, 2009 at 08:00 Leave a comment

Sexual Overtures

The color scheme at my former gym may have been olive and orange, but the ambience was definitely pink. Obviously, my Swedishness forbade me to inquire, but I guess that a quick poll would have shown that pretty much ninety percent of all the men who frequented that place — except perhaps for Alex, the cleaner — were gay.

This impression was strengthened by the soundtrack that accompanied my workouts. There was a constant sound-carpet of bubble-gum pop and nightclub dance remixes pouring out of the loudspeakers.

I thought that this was the state of affairs at all the gyms in Sin City, but — having switched to a gym closer to home — I now think I’ll have to revise this theory. Here, all the camp classics are replaced by Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and John Bon Jovi. Is this a sign that my new health club is the headquarters of the last remnants of heterosexual males between the Ayalon and the Mediterranean?

Or, perhaps more likely, is it just an indication that this is the place where the not-so-hip homos go to work out?

July 28, 2009 at 07:33 1 comment

Cognitive Dissonance

People say many things about Israelis — that they are a rude and uncultured bunch, for instance. I can’t really say that this is completely untrue, but sometimes the unwashed masses manage to surprise with their refinement.

Like last night for instance, when some 100,000 Israelis chose not spend the evening on the beach promenade or the cafés and restaurants on Rothschild Boulevard, and instead converged on Park Ha-Yarkon to listen to a 90 minutes long Catholic funeral mass.

This interest is especially noteworthy, since I would assume that a rather reduced number would have turned up to hear a performance of El Male Rachamim, even though that would only have taken a minute or two.

Of course, it could be that the major pull-factor wasn’t the thirst for funerary esthetics, but rather other things. Such as the fact that this particular mass for the deceased was written by none other than Guiseppe Verdi, that it was performed by the orchestra from the world-famous La Scala — and that it was conducted by none other than Daniel Barenboim.

There were certain clues that pointed in this direction, some indications that the crowds in the Park didn’t really relate to the message of the performance. One of these clues is the fact that this:

Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day,
when the heavens and the earth shall be moved,
when thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
I am made to tremble, and I fear, till the judgment be upon us, and the coming wrath,
when the heavens and the earth shall be moved.
That day, day of wrath, calamity, and misery, day of great and exceeding bitterness,
when thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.


Was followed, immediately after the Requiem was finished, by this — played over the loudspeakers loudly enough to be heard over the fireworks that were set off.

July 17, 2009 at 06:33 Leave a comment


Mickey Louis Mayon, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, has been on the American 100 most wanted list for quite some time. He was wanted for several federal crimes, such as membership of a racist group, racially motivated violence and setting fire to federal property. Luckily enough, this nasty fellow was arrested earlier this week.

And this is where the story gets interesting, because he was arrested here — in Tel Aviv.

One can’t help to wonder what he was doing hiding from the law in the Jewish state of all places. Maybe he got confused about why Tel Aviv is called the White City? In any case, even a Klan-member can’t be so thick that it’ll take him more than a year to realize that we are in fact talking about a city packed with Jews?

I’m not the only one who’s puzzled by Mr. Mayon’s choice of hideout. Via the excellent magazine Heeb I found this lovely white supremacist site, where some innovative (conspiracy) theories are launched.

July 15, 2009 at 14:21 1 comment

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