Archive for May, 2004

SevenWeeks 5764 or Give Me Mozarella or Give me Death

Shavuot, my favourite holiday, foodwise. Cheese! And more cheese!

This time i made a lasagna. My first. It was kosher — i replaced the meat with mushrooms, which was a gamble, but came out really well.

The night after that i had some weird dreams — first, that i’m a character in a Big Lebowski sequel, where Walter “Shomer-Shabbes” Sobchak becomes a cheese factory manager. And later, that i went to a trip with El’ad and forgot to take the food and had to come back and somehow made all the way to a supermarket in Moscow, where i had to choose between Gouda cheese and beef jerky … Guess what i got.

Pop

Sonic Youth — finally, a pop band. I am still keeping my Stina Nordenstam fixation, classifying artists by the degree of their susceptibility and submission to their fans. And so it seems, that Sonic Youth are going to surrender completely to critics’ and fans’ will and make a sequel to 2002’s duely acclaimed Murray Street.

Now please forget anything you may or may not think about this rock’n’roll band and just listen patiently to this teaser song from the upcoming album Sonic Nurse, I Love You Golden Blue. I know nearly all of their catalog by heart, so from the first moments it sounded just like them — quiet static. It actually somehow gave me the feeling of the color blue. After a few seconds some sporadic strumming joins, again it is trademark SY. Beautiful, by the way. To the trained fan’s ear it’s been a treat until now, almost a guilty pleasure, but it’s just the beginning, as after a minute or so, the actual song starts, quiet, slow and melodic! AHHHHHHHH! And yet it is 100% Sonic Youth. Kim sings, and unlike most of the time, she actually tries not to fake! The song is quite long, but pretty much verse-chorus-verse and without any chaotic feedback freakouts. As it draws to the end, i understand that i won’t need a thesaurus to look for adjectives that could properly describe the outcome — it is very simply beautiful. Just as i expected. Classic Sonic Youth, lovable Sonic Youth, my favourite old Sonic Youth, doing what they do so well for over 20 years now, beautiful songs.

And the point is that this whole expectedness is actually worrying. Are words like “songcraft” about to be applied to the great iconoclasts of pop culture? Did they become, God forbid, professional in indie-crowd-pleasing? Particularly worrying are the lines Kim sings in the chorus:

I can’t feel the thrill,
I don’t have the will.

It is worrying, cuz the last time their lyrics seemed so multidimensionally self-referential was on Dirty’s “Youth Against Fascism” with “It’s the song I hate”, when it wasn’t clear what Thurston hates more — fascists or making MTV hits. So, Kim — who can’t feel the thrill? The imaginary hero of the song, or maybe yourself after all those years? Cuz i admit that i’m still thrilled to hear you. Even though you can’t sing.

As i go back to their excellent official website and listen to the “mixtape” (recommended to fans only), i relax. They still can kick some avant-garde ass if they want to, and release an incredible pop album every two years so Geffen keeps giving them money to hang in the studio (click on ECHOCAM at their website). Now let me please just let go and enjoy.

P.S. Two more things, that i wanted to write in this entry, but couldn’t find the write place:

  1. Sonic Youth albums seem to be getting better and better ever since 1995’s Washing Machine (this includes the underrated 2000’s NYC Ghosts and Flowers).
  2. So does their artwork.

That’s it. I hope everyone enjoys it.

Shtetl City

At some point during the trip, i asked El’ad — “Is there a town in the USA which is completely Jewish?”

He replied — “I don’t think so, I’ve never heard of one … except New York, of course.”

Sick

My trip story will follow shortly. In the meantime, this little important thing:

Amir G. makes me sick, very physically, sick and nauseous. When i first came to the job after the trip, with his usual abysmally serious intonation he uttered: “Aharoni! You’re finally back. You left a lot of unfinished tasks! We are very unhappy about you.” Keep reading, it’s getting better!

“What unfinished tasks?”, i asked him. His viciousness was clearly unprepared for that.

“Ehh … ehh … Rakhamim will tell you.”

And then, by some magic, Rakhamin enters the office. By that time, i was already feeling dizzy, disoriented and squeamish.

“Rakhamim! Tell Aharoni why are we so mad at him!”, said Amir G. before making himself busy with the traditional duty-free Toblerone‘s i brought.

“Aharoni! It’s good you’re back. I want to punish you, you left a lot of undone work. But first, do you know that you have several special nightshifts starting next week?”

Of course it was spoken with the familiar clueless smile, that i tried so hard to forget in California. After a few minutes of some more void speeches both left the room, leaving me nauseous until the end of the day, and i’m quite sure that jet lag was not to blame here.

Thank you, my dearly beloved wonderful bosses for this hearty reception. Damn those work contracts.

California day 15 and the flight back

I insisted that El’ad should drive with me to the airport because i didn’t want to kill myself on the last day. I took me a few minutes to convince him that he can take the bus back after we return the car, but common sense prevailed.

The drive was indeed dangerous — there’s no chance i could do it myself safely. The car return process was very easy and quick. On the shuttle from Avis agency to the airport i filled a customer survey and asked El’ad to mail it for me when he gets back to Beverly Hills.

The baggage check-in was mostly a breeze, and just like in the way back from London, they hardly looked at my passport. They did check the bags though, because of the tent and it was a little embarassing to show the security girl the Hooters calendar.

Then i bought Rémy Martin XO in the duty-free for $88 for my dad, ate one last burrito, said El’ad one last goodbye and went to the boarding gate. The Israelis there were very unhappy to realize that they missed the duty-free.

The flight was so-so, i hardly got any sleep, but the movies weren’t so bad: Cheaper by the Dozen which was actually unprecedented crap; Along Came Polly, which was silly, but had nice dance scenes (i can’t believe i just wrote that); Paycheck, which was 98% copied from Minority Report, not half as good, but entertaining; Mooseport with Gene Hackman and Ray Romano, which was entertaining too, but only mildly and it also made me feel happy (for the thousandth time) that i’m not American. But it took Girl with a Pearl Earring to finally help me doze off.

The interesting part in the flight was talking to Doc, a 70+ year old Jewish surfer from Hawaii. Like many … things in America, it was a little surreal: his baggage consisted of surfers posters and a surfboard. And he could hardly walk. We talked about surfing, Israel, Israeli girls, more surfing, Tel Aviv hotels and beaches and i also told him why is it important not to change currency at the airport (those shameless Jews!)

Towards the end of the flight i imagined myself meeting Hadar, which actually made me extremely happy. I imagined it all in great detail (but nothing dirty) and it put a big phat smile on my face. It’s good to be on the road back home again.

When i landed i was surprised that El-Al didn’t lose any of my baggage, not even the sleeping bag mattress. Hadar’s parents kindly picked up my stuff and put it at their place and i went straight to Jerusalem to meet my darling. She was at the Student Day party at Giv’at-Ram, so i took a shower at the dorms and went to see her there. When i came in, Ivri Lider was on the stage. The second i saw Hadari, i ran to her and we had a very very long hug.

If there is one reason to travel, coming home would be it.

California day 14

One day before the last. It’s about time — a great trip is coming to an end and i had enough, in a good way.

Essentially it was one more long and calm drive. I was starting to get really mad missing my dear Hadar, but on the other hand i knew that i’m getting closer to her every second and it soothed me.

We decided to pass on the world-famous Hearst Castle, because we didn’t have too much time and didn’t want to pay $10 each for yet another tourist trap. The seals on the beach nearby were great though (and free).

We had dinner in a beach town called Cayucos, at “Skippers Restaurant”, the best diner we tried anywhere in the U.S. A very good family feel. They still asked me for ID when i ordered beer.

San Luis Obispo mission — nothing particularly fancy. It met my expectations — i didn’t think that it would look like Notre-Dame, but El’ad seemed a little disappointed. A simple catholic church and quiet gardens. Good for a relaxing half hour.

Santa Barbara — not an extremely fancy place, as some people might believe. Yet another beach town, bigger than the most, but very Californian. We already got this California vibe and were totally used to it. After relaxing on the beach there, we were completely ready to change the atmosphere. On the way out from Santa Barbara, we popped into Taco-Bell; it was my favourite junk-food ever, but El’ad hated it. He just can’t stand those tortillas.

Los-Angeles felt strangely welcoming. It took us some time to find El’ad’s parents’ friends’ home in Beverly Hills, but when we finally arrived, it was all very nice. A very Jewish house, with religious books in English and Hebrew, mezuzot, brakhot hanging on the walls, ritual handwashing ware, kosher food etc. It surely felt very warm. We spoke in a mix of English and Hebrew, told our lovely hosts about our trip experiences, refreshed our memory, and had some interesting reflections of our own. A little taste of Jewish life on the way back home …

California day 13

It’s the VE-DAY today (as celebrated in Russia) which is an important holiday, because we kicked some Nazi ass back in nineteen forty five.

Not much to tell about the trip today, as it was mostly driving and views. We started our journey south, back to LA through the west coast and Big Sur. When we left SF and moved into its suburbs we finally experienced the famous Bay Area fog — the visibility was indeed pretty bad and we had to drive carefully.

We stopped at Santa Cruz for a great pizza and headed further on HWY 1. Quiet clean beaches, trees, hills etc.

Monterey is a tranquil beach community with happy children and very clean streets, but there was nothing that we were particularly interested to see. We decided to try the world-famous 17-Mile Drive. The entrance costs quite a few dollars (don’t remember how many exactly…); is it worth it? Well, the nature there is somewhat more unique than most of the west coast and it is pretty well-preserved, but it’s 17 miles! Which is long, considering the 25 mph speed limit. So except for a few nice places to shoot photos, there’s nothing very special.

We slept at the Big Sur Campground — very friendly place, $20 per car per night. There we decided to throw a spontaneous Bar-B-Q, got us some wood, burgers, sausages and marshmallows. It came out very well. We also had a friendly conversations with some girls at a site next to ours and i guessed that they spoke Czech and Polish.

The 22:00 curfew was obeyed perfectly there. Just amazing.



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