Made Me Cry – Nikita

My nephew Nikita came to Israel to spend the summer with his grandparents – my parents. It was all fun, until two days before his flight back to Moscow he was hospitalized in Rambam with a bad case of peritonitis.

So his flight is postponed, of course. A week after the operation he can still hardly eat and walk. My parents sit at his bed in the hospital twenty-four seven and they are terribly tired, so i came to help them.

Today i sat with him for a few hours. He mostly slept. The TV was on with a low volume and i watched Music 24 (nonstandard1), the Israeli music channel.

The golden age of the music video has ended in about 1996. Back then MTV was the undisputed Master of the Universe and local videos, although very low-budget, aspired to the international big brother and had a lot of character. These days, however, nearly all Israeli music videos can be grouped into three sets:

  1. The singer is walking around the streets of Tel Aviv. And it’s the same couple of streets in all of them.
  2. The singer is walking around his rented apartment in Tel Aviv, makes coffee, watches TV, talks on the phone or goes down to the street to buy cigarettes.
  3. A huge close-up on the singer’s face. Obviously, this group is the most disgusting. I guess that too many video directors fell in love with Sinéad or – worse – with Alanis (Flash2).

By a rough count, nine out of ten videos falls into one of these, which is quite astonishing and depressing. It can ruin even good songs. But there are exceptions.

Eviatar Banai‘s video for “Yesh li sikuy” (Flash) is a quiet little masterpiece of music video making. The song itself is one of the all-time masterpieces of Israeli music; It is from Banai’s debut album. It’s black and white and it shows people in a bar lip synching to the song, subtly conveying the mood of the line they are singing. (Can you spot Banai himself there?)

Somewhere in the middle of the song there are those lines:

אמא שרה לבן בלילה,
אמא כאן לידך כל הזמן.

Mummy sings to the son in the night,
Mummy’s here near you all the time.

In the video a pregnant woman is singing the last line. You can hardly notice that she’s pregnant until she touches her belly. This subtlety is pure beauty.

I guess that it would make me cry even without the unfortunate circumstances, but sitting there in the hospital near sleeping Nikita while his mother was far away in Moscow did put things into a perspective.

I started writing this entry a few days ago. It was a pretty crazy bunch of days since then.

Nikita’s mother – my sister – Olga finally came to Israel today after fighting with travel agencies for a few days. His health became better.

Yesterday i bought him Gossip’s Standing in the Way of Control, a CD for which he was looking for months, in Moscow and in Israel. Finding it wasn’t easy. He was particularly happy to receive it, which may have contributed to his slowly improving health, too. Despite his current condition, i envy him; i don’t think that i shall ever be as touched by music as i used to be when i was his age.

Anyway, for the night he put it in a drawer next to his hospital bed and in the morning it wasn’t there. There is a slight chance that with all the fuss around him the CD was just misplaced and will be found, but everybody is sure that it was stolen.

I’m amazed. What a terrible scumbag someone must be to steal a rare CD from a sick child. I mean, i would at least understand the motivation if it was something famous, but even i hardly know this band, so what kind of a low life would want to steal it? He can get – what? – 20 NIS for it in a used CD store? Fukker.

1 Actually, the site seems to be mostly functional, but the videos use CastUp technology, which is IE-only. I never managed to install the Firefox plugin they offer, and even if it would work, it would only work on Windows. By the way, i (still) work for the company that recently announced the acquisition of CastUp. What do you know…

2 Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” is not on YouTube. Alanis’ Head over Feet video is still there…

People Speaking – Customer

Someone called my cellphone from the 04 area code, which is Northern Israel. An elderly-sounding man spoke:

— “Hello! Are you Amir?”

— “Yes.”

— “Hello! This is Moshe! Do you know Moshe?”

— “No, i don’t think so…”

— “I am Moshe!”

— “I see …”

— “I am Moshe! I am Moshe, G.’s father.”

OK, i do know G., whose full name shall remain private.

— “Oh, hello. It’s good to talk to you.”

— “How are you?”

— “I’m fine, thanks.”

— “Can you help me?”

— “Ehh … I hope that i can. How can i help you?”

— “The remotes … they don’t work. We need to change them. Can you change them?”

— “What??”

— “The remotes, they don’t work.”

— “The TV remote controls??”

— “Yes, remotes for TV. They don’t work. They told us that we have to change them in the post office, but we have to pay 35 shekels. I want you to change them.”

— “But …”

— “… And also, we weren’t at home for two months, when the war was going on, and we didn’t watch TV, so we don’t want to pay for that time.”

— “Eh … you are talking about cable or satellite TV, right?”

— “What? We need to change the remote controls, they don’t work, can you change them?”

— “OK, let me understand – you have a problem with the remote controls for your satellite TV?”

— “What satellite? I don’t have satellite, i have YES.”

YES is the only satellite TV company in Israel. This conversation shows that they have a very strong brand – people know that they have YES, and some of them don’t even realize that it has something to do with satellites and dishes and all that. YES also do business with the company in which i work. I guess that’s the reason G. or his father Moshe made some connection between me and the problems with their satellite TV. Or maybe not …

— “Sorry, Moshe, i think that you are confused – you see, i work in a company that is related to the television business, but i can’t help you with the problems that you have with YES. You need to talk to YES.”

— “But my remotes … they don’t work … I need to replace them. Can’t you replace them?”

It nearly made me cry.

— “No, i don’t have anything to do with it. You need to talk to the customer service of the company called YES.”

— “But didn’t you sell us YES?”

— “No.”

— “Didn’t you come to our house and make us sign the contract with YES?”

— “No. I didn’t do that. I don’t work for YES.”

— “But you worked for YES once, didn’t you?”

— “No, i never worked for YES. Sorry. You’ll have to talk to them. I wish i could help you.”

I really wish i could help him. Poor guy. But he doesn’t give up easily.

— “You see, i need to replace the remotes for my TV, they don’t work and they told us to go to the post office to replace them.”

— “OK, so you probably should do that or maybe talk to YES one more time if there is some problem. I can’t help you.”

— “And you don’t work for YES?”

— “No.”

— “Really? Aren’t you Yaniv’s brother?”


— “No, i am not Yaniv’s brother.”

— “And you don’t work in YES?”

— “No.”

— “Are you sure that you are not Yaniv’s brother?”

— “Yes, i am definitely not Yaniv’s brother.”

— “And can you give me Yaniv’s phone number?”

— “No. Sorry. I don’t know Yaniv.”

— “Oh, i see.”

— “Sorry i couldn’t help you. Say hello to G. from me.”

— “OK. Thank you.”

Hadar told me that it was very nice on my behalf to talk to him at all.

People Speaking – Documentary

— “Do you have a secure room in your house?”

— “No, i don’t think so.”

— “It’s the room with the window that can be shut with a metal door.”

— “No, i don’t have it.”

— “Because I heard that it is very dangerous to use it as a living or sleeping room.”

— “OK, mama, i don’t have such a room, so i probably won’t use it like that.”

— “Do you know why? I saw a documentary about it on the television. It is because these rooms are built with a kind of concrete that emits toxic gases and it suffocates you if you are there for more than a few hours. It is fine to sit there and do some homework for a couple of hours, but not any more …”

— “But why are you telling all that? I don’t have such a room, so it is completely irrelevant.”

— “… and it is especially dangerous in Jerusalem, because the soil in Jerusalem emits other gases which mix with the ones from the concrete and are even more dangerous.”

— “So what?”

— “What so what? It is very dangerous and I am telling you that, because you live in Jerusalem. There was also a high school there and they had to rebuild it …”

— “But mama, i finished high school nine years ago and i don’t have a secure room in my house.”

— “OK. What else can you tell me? Do you still do music?”

— “Yes.”

— “How do you do music?”

— “I go to a rehearsal room with my friends and play.”

— “And what kind of songs?”

— “All kinds.”

— “Oh, OK. And do you sing?”

— “No, not really, i can’t sing at all.”

— “Why do you say that? You sing very well, better than anyone in the world. You must sing.”

— “If you say so, mama.”

— “That’s right, you sing better than anyone-anyone-anyone in the world.”

Oh mama.