After last week’s little outburst about cowboys and Rottweilers, I’ve calmed down and it’s back to walking the streets of North Tel Aviv, camera in hand and eyes on the lookout for interesting things.
And one of the interesting things, in and of itself, is how one can continue to find interesting things along these same regularly walked routes. Some people ask me if I never get bored looking at the same things day in, day out; others seem to suggest that I might find something that would arouse more curiosity if I were to venture further afield. To both groups, the obvious answer is that basically, I am lazy, unadventurous and perhaps even boring. The truth is, though, that there’s enough going on along my barely changing routes to keep me busy for years.
Take the past four days, for instance. On Friday morning, making my way southward along the promenade of Tel Aviv Port, I observed several men fishing. In my naïveté a few years ago when I started photographing, I thought they really were fishermen. But as I wrote once before, none of these men (they’re almost always men) ever seem to catch anything. The point of the exercise is not really to catch fish but simply to pass the time of day. In fact, I can only recollect three occasions on which I’ve actually seen anyone catch anything and none of those was anything large enough to bring home to cook. On one occasion, the fish was thrown back into the sea; on another, it was fed to a egret; and on the third, the man stamped the poor thing to death under his shoe. I reckon they are all crypto-poets or pseudo-philosophers. Anyway, on Friday, I espied this angler with his rod at an angle, waiting, I assumed for the fish to bite. Not a bit of it … he was preparing his coffee, which precedes everything else. I photographed him from behind and then as I passed by and turned, he invited me to photograph him again. An unusual invite indeed.
Then, this morning, I got a shot that I’d wanted for quite some time. It’s strange how when you go out at more or less the same time each morning and walk the well-trodden route, you come across the same people several times a week. The joggers, walkers, the rowers and the cyclists; the same people performing a t’ai-chi routine, the same group of overgrown boys at kung-fu and other martial arts with swords and sticks. However, it’s not just me or the people in the park who adhere to a routine.
I have observed the man in the photo below for the past few months. He occupies the same seat at the same table in the same café each time I pass by and I presume he’s also there when I choose not to walk that route. It’s the same each time I pass him — coffee, Kit-Kat, crossword. His position is just sufficiently inside the café so as to make it difficult to photograph unobtrusively. I’ve tried photographing him on the move but it’s never worked. I’d like to take the photograph full-face but that would mean pointing the camera straight at him and focussing on him directly. Somehow, I don’t think he’d be too pleased. This morning I had a telephoto lens on the camera and the view as I approached was pretty well unobstructed. It’s not perfect because the chair between him and me is in the way and the waitress’s rear end disturbs. Nevertheless, I got what I’d been looking for and it will do until I summon up the courage to ask him to pose for a better one.
Continuing down Dizengoff Street, I came across many of these little cards strewn across the footpath. These are the sorts of things that used to adorn phone boxes but as cellphones have more or less replaced public phones, phone boxes or booths have become part of the historical urban landscape. By displaying them on the footpaths, I have to assume that the intended clientele are either latter-day Quasimodos or just men bent over their cellphones.
The advertisement suggests that by phoning the cellphone number provided these young women will turn up in your home or in your hotel room (or maybe they just parade up and down the hotel lobby). What the invitation doesn’t make clear is whether they turn up as a group or serially/sequentially, and if the latter, the time lag involved from one visitor to the next. There is also the issue of the “small print”, which appears just above the phone number, which says in Hebrew: “Without sex”! Which, of course, begs the question of what they might do when they come into your living room or hotel room.
I suppose they might forecast the weather or discuss whether or not Mrs. Netanyahu did indeed use state funds to furnish her private home in Caesarea. Or perhaps they might even just sit at your feet and listen to Mahler’s 5th or Beethoven’s Quartet #14, Opus 131. Never judge a book by its cover; we do live in a Land of Miracles, you know.
Never failing to be amazed by what I come across, I continued my walk head down but in no way despondent, turning left into Nordau Boulevard. A couple of hundred metres along I spotted something that I thought made a nice picture. I’m not quite sure how I managed to notice it because the dead leaf was sitting on the concrete and was almost exactly the same colour as the footpath. However, I photographed it and then worked on it when I got home, brightening up the leaf from its surroundings, changing the colour slightly and sharpening up its features (and I don’t work with Photoshop). And the result? Not too bad.
A few years ago, I photographed a crow hanging upside down from a wire and thought it might, in another life, have been a trapeze artist in a circus. On my way out on Friday morning, I noticed another crow balancing quite comfortably on a sign at the junction of Shlomtzion and Brandeis Streets. It didn’t have much to cling on to and its talons looked pretty sharp to me. I thought I wouldn’t have time to frame and focus properly but the bird just sat there in deep contemplation, unmoving. So I took my time and this was the result.
Walking through the Friday morning farmers’ market at Tel Aviv Port, I usually photograph fruit and vegetables as I like the colours. Last week was no exception. However, what caught my eye was the array of bottles of water, which might be, if you don’t pay too much attention, a parade of North Korean soldiers, marching for Kim Jong-un, if they know what’s best for them!
Finally, returning home this morning, just as I passed the Egyptian Embassy on Basel Street, turning into Ibn Gvirol Street, I saw this juggernaut passing by and I thought to myself that there’s going to be a very unhappy bunny somewhere close by who when s/he wakes up and finally figures out where s/he left the car last night or the night before, s/he’s going to discover that wherever that was, it very well may have been but, regrettably, no longer is.