Girafot (Giraffes) is an Israeli band. They released their debut album in 1999 and became famous when the song “Rami is Accused of Possessing Recreational Drugs” was banned on the radio and immediately became an Internet hit. Although initially dismissed as a one-off novelty act, they kept performing and released their stunning sophomore album Gag (Roof) in 2006. That album, most of which dealt with broken relationships in a surprisingly sober manner and sported excellent production and musicianship, immediately became a classic of Israeli rock and spawned several hits. The band also became famous for its cranky live performances, in which the frontman Gil’ad Kahana improvised spoken-word not-quite-sensical commentary on current affairs.
Their third album was released recently. It is full of little human stories, very real and very Israeli, and yet very universal. Nobody expected anything so touchy and emotional from a band whose singer takes pride in the amounts of alcohol he consumes before going on stage and ends the shows singing an extended version of a song called “Rami is Accused of Possessing Recreational Drugs” walking back and forth through the crowd. Yet there you have it. The most unforgettable song from this album is called “Moses”. Here’s the video, which takes the main message of a song and puts it in a completely different context. You don’t need to know Hebrew to enjoy the video:
… But i’ll translate it for you, because then you’ll understand the context, and it will become even more powerful:
Sewage seethes in the middle of the street,
Oil turns the water rainbow-colored,
The horse’s hooves slip,
Everybody falls down,
Rag and bone man,
And his son begs
“Father, please, don’t hit Moses.”
An especially hot day,
Jaffa is burning,
Riding through the streets,
The child is conflicted
In his thoughts
How is it possible that father will change horses?
In the beginning of the week
Moses got scared from a pigeon taking off,
A washing machine was ruined.
Everybody falls down.
A little explanation: Jaffa is the old town of Tel-Aviv with a significant Arab population, a very popular tourist destination. Many people there are poor, but the proximity to the sea and the romanticism of the old town causes pretty rapid – and tasteless – gentrification. Still it’s home to many rag and bone wagon drivers. This song shows them in a new light – their children are human, too.
This is not a post about Obama.
Here is a little comparison based on my short visits to a few North American cities. The hobos in Vancouver introduce themselves to tourists, ask them where do they live, say that they have relatives in that country and then ask for change so that they could pay for gas, pizza or a stay in YMCA – that is, they do much the same thing as the hobos in Haifa, Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Rome, Moscow and many other touristic cities. They were also the most annoying, but except that the city is very charming.
The hobos in San Francisco are quite similar, except they hold lovely honest signs such as “Need weed” and “Why lie? I want a beer!”
The hobos in Seattle didn’t try to harass me. In fact they all looked very intelligent, even in their rags. They actually seemed to develop intelligent conversations with the passers by. I didn’t talk to any of them.
Now, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the hobos and the weirdos of all the above cities are nowhere near those in New York City. I visited Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan below Central Park; i’ve seen the most interesting guys around Washington square. What’s really curious, though, is that the New York guys are also the ones that bothered me the least – they are very weird, but they mind their own business.
When i first saw the video “Lama” by the Israeli singer Maya Avraham, it immediately reminded me of Massive Attack’s “Protection” directed by Michel Gondry.
Somehow i didn’t notice that the music of the song itself is also a knock-off. Compare its first seconds with “Chop Suey!”. Except that the song is standard Israeli pop.
Yet this video is very special. It is not centered on the singer walking around Tel-Aviv, walking around her rented apartment in Tel-Aviv or a huge close-up on her face. It has each of those things in certain proportions, but it is centered on knocking off Massive Attack and System of a Down. That’s a start.
Oh, and it’s two years old. The only Israeli video worth watching that was produced recently is Yadayim Lemaala by Knesiyat Hasekhel.
I somehow still believe that rock ‘n’ roll can never die.
I’m liberal, but Tel-Aviv is bad enough without becoming a cheap Vegas knock-off.
“Christ will come and show everyone”
This graffiti is scribbled on the Tel Aviv end of bus line 480 – Tel Aviv-Jerusalem. It is there for a few years already and now i finally took a picture of it. It is one of my favorite pieces of street art, ever.
It’s been said that you can find almost anything on Google.
But can you find Google on Google? Or anywhere else?
Google has offices in Israel. In Haifa, for example. If you come from Tel Aviv on highway 2, you’ll see on your right a large building with the Google logo, between Microsoft and Intel. To the best of my knowledge they have some engineers there and they also have a marketing office in Tel Aviv.
However, i couldn’t find the exact address of Google Haifa or Tel Aviv anywhere.
I tried Google corporate page. There’s a long list of countries there, and Israel is not included.
I tried searching the google.com domain for “Israel” using Google and Yahoo. Nothing.
I tried to find a contact address where i can send an email to Google. The best i found was a form for press requests; the page about it said “If you aren’t a member of the press and write to this alias, you will not receive a response.” Damn. (If i use WordPress, am i “a member of the press”?)
I tried to find contact info for Google Israel on the Israeli Yellow Pages. I tried searching for “Google” and “גוגל” and found nothing.
Am i stupid?
OK, that’s it. Hadar has to move to Haifa to do her Ph.D. in the Technion.
Which means that i’ll have to leave the beautiful Giv’at Ye’arim and look for a new home and a new job. At least i can be happy that it’s not Tel-Aviv.
In my last round of job hunting everybody happily accepted the CV in the RTF format. This time i tried to use PDF for a change. One workplace already specifically asked me to send it as DOC. Talk about freedom of choice. To hell with PDF, then.
I need to find a job, so i’ll send DOC, but i will only use OpenOffice to edit it.
That’s Hadar and me on Rothschild street in Tel-Aviv. Our first date, not including a couple of gigs we’ve seen beforehand, was in a coffee shop nearby.