Flying ants and Reality TV gone mad

My morning walks to and through the park often yield some interesting photographs if and when I keep my eyes open.  As I’ve noted before recently, the weather has turned warm and summer is upon us and that brings all sorts of insects, in particular cockroaches and ants.  This year, we’ve been hit by a plague of flying ants, which appear to be nesting somewhere in the walls of the flat.  Occasionally, they find an exit at which point, I am called into action.  And, as has happened on a couple of occasions, they egress 20 and 30 at a time but because you can’t quite locate where they’re coming from, it’s annoying, to say the least.

Flying ant

Then you go out for a brisk walk in the morning and note that there are hundreds of relatives of these little things all around you out in the street, going about their business, schlepping things that seem way too big and heavy for them from somewhere to somewhere else and somehow you can’t quite help yourself admiring Mother Nature.

Ants at work

One of these days, and seeing that I’m supposed to be interested in recording the geography of the mundane, I’ll do a separate post on activities in the park, which are many and varied.  However, here’s a small sample of images from the past week.

Deep meditation

Reflection and Contemplation (1)

Mandarin contemplation

Reflection and Contemplation (2)

Nonchalance

Reflection, contemplation and relaxation

Still asleep

Pure relaxation

Like another apparently homeless man who I photographed on street benches at the northern end of Dizengoff Street over a four-year period between 2010 and 2014 until one day he vanished, “removed by authorities to die”, as the shopkeeper closest to his last sleeping spot put it, this young man can be found most mornings on the northern side of the last footbridge across the Yarqon stream before it enters the sea.  He’s a semi-permanent fixture in the landscape and I had guilt feelings whenever I photographed him, feeling quite sorry for him; he couldn’t be any older than in his late-20s, if that—but, I reasoned, he’s in a public space and usually asleep.   The guilt feelings vanished, however, when one day, I came across him in town, quite some distance from his early morning snoozing spot, at an ATM.  I stood there, mouth agape, and watched him count out 2,000 shekels in banknotes.  So there’s more to this young man than meets the eye or the camera.

Walking around one bumps into the odd hydrant that hasn’t seemed to have turned up before.  As I’ve explained before, I photograph these “people” in situ, meaning that if people dress them up to add character, that’s OK with me—but I don’t behave that way with these precious beings myself.

Nonchalant hydrant

Nonchalance (1)  Tel Aviv Port

Hydrant tie

Nonchalance (2)  Near Ibn Gvirol Street, Tel Aviv

Gum & dog

Nonchalance (3)  Tel Aviv Port

 

About a year or so ago, the park authorities decided to plant fruit trees in a small area not far from where we enter the park.  As an educational device for urban kids (and grown-ups), they also printed labels beside each tree as, for the uninitiated, identifying the trees before the fruit on them has ripened sufficiently to be recognisable can be difficult.  Last year, my then 6-year old granddaughter who had taught herself to read was overjoyed when she realised that she could run from tree to tree and call out the names of each thereby enlightening her grandparents.  So, little pomegranates have appeared on the pomegranate tree and should be ripe enough to eat in a couple of months.

Pomegranate

Meanwhile, the neighbourhood contains a profusion of vegetation, adding colour to the otherwise blandish streets.

PetalsPetals on carFlowersFlower

Of course, an excess of urban vegetation can have adverse consequences.

Owner on vacation

Owner on vacation.  Nordau Boulevard, Tel Aviv

And I found this slice of orange on the boardwalk at Tel Aviv Port.  No need to move it — just to stand over it, aim and click.  Post-production work consisted simply of adding a bit of saturation to the colour of the orange and reducing the level of exposure of the surrounding board.  A humdrum snap became a picture as a result.

Orange slice

Then, I thought this view of mother and son waiting for washing at the launderette says something about present day society.  The boy has ear pods and is presumably watching a movie or something like that.  He at least appears interested in something whereas the mother takes another drag on her cigarette.

Fag and cellphone

And then it was back home again to contemplate the news of the week.  This was, of course, the much-heralded, on-again-off-again get-together in Singapore and the opening of the budget-wrecking FIFA extravaganza in Russia.  

In case you’ve been asleep all week, let me remind you.  Fresh from dumping America’s closest allies, deriding Canada’s prime minister as a person “very dishonest and weak” into the process, and apparently absolving America from any moral—not that moral means anything to him—obligation to be the leader of the free world, Air Force One brought Donald Trump to Southeast Asia.

Jukim

Trump & Kim enjoying a good joke before waving to the world.  Singapore vi/2018

Shortly before ten o’clock in the morning Singapore time early last week, President Trump and Chairman Kim emerged from the library at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island after a meeting that lasted approximately 45 minutes whereupon they walked to a balcony to smile at and wave to the world.  This whole bizarre event presented a situation in which Mr. Trump feels distinctly comfortable—a really real reality TV show —and what’s more, he was playing to a worldwide audience.  The happening has been described over the past few days as an historic meeting.  However, by my simplistic way of thinking, I’m of the opinion that in order for something to be described as historic, a little time is needed for reflection and scrutiny.  Unique, perhaps.  Historic?  Maybe in twenty years’ time.

Anyway, when President Trump was asked by reporters (who, of course, can never be trusted because they only invent or manufacture fake news) how the discussion had gone, he responded that it was “very, very good” and reiterated that the two men have an “excellent relationship”.  This short tweetup between these two chaps with like interests would have been a one-on-one meeting except for the fact that they were accompanied by the State Department interpreter Yun Hyang Lee.  I am assuming that there was just one interpreter as a North Korean one might well have shaken so much in attempting to give an accurate translation that they might have feared for their life as well as the lives of family and friends. (Remember folks, this is because this is the same Mr. Kim who had his uncle killed in a purge just 5 years ago.  Then, North Korean state TV aired a special broadcast which showed troops arresting the man in the middle of a politburo meeting and marching him out of the hall to meet his end.  This is the man who also had his brother poisoned last year, actually not all that far away from where he was meeting Mr. Trump.)  But why should that matter to common or garden people like us? 

As Kim, who it has been reported on and off, was educated in Switzerland, probably has enough English to “chat” with someone with as limited a vocabulary as the American president, I can only assume that Ms. Lee was there to blur some of the imprecisions in the president’s utterances, to be creative in masterminding words for those that the American president’s vocabulary lacks—and to report back to her seniors at the State Department.  

 

In addition to praising Kim as being “very smart” and having a “great personality” with a sense of humour (sorry: humor), Trump declared in an interview soon after the meeting that Mr. Kim “loves his people”.  He also brushed off concerns (or were they just rumors???) about his (Kim’s) well-documented history of human rights abuses (“abuse” is, perhaps, an understatement).

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2001/01/hitchens-200101
http://www.slate.com/…/02/a_nation_of_racist_dwarfs.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaMjbGr6YVs

But as one American commentator noted, when Trump mentioned that Kim is “rough” and “tough”, these words are “Trumpspeak for the kinds of brutality he considers necessary.”  Trump had said that he spoke “relatively briefly” about human rights during the meeting with Kim.  I’m sure that brief must mean brief (a monosyllabic word, you see) rather like Brexit means Brexit—but Brexit is disyllabic!

The question that everybody seemed to be asking is what really went on at that short one-on-one-plus-one meeting.  Given that Trump had stated prior to the encounter that he would only need one minute to size up his former adversary and now newfound friend, what actually happened during the other 40 minutes or so?  Well, my theory is that the two gentlemen actually discussed something other than denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and talked about another, mutually consequential, issue.  

Kim really wanted to know (so that he could inform his barber) quite how Trump’s stylist manages to get the hair to sort of float horizontally most of the time and maintain its light golden colour.  (The answer to that conundrum is to be found in nanotechnology.  The hairdresser erects translucent rods of nano-scaffolding on the top of the president’s skull to which each individual strand of his airy-fairy hair is attached; moreover, there are nano-light-emitting diodes that beam out a sort of golden light and that’s what holds it in place and gives it its characteristic tint.  In a strong wind, however, the scaffolding can collapse and the carefully constructed coiffure with it.)

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 15.43.36

In turn, the American leader was curious to learn how Chairman Kim’s friseur manages to get the lines so straight and whether the back and sides are razor cut or if it’s done with some sort of chemical weapon developed in a bunker somewhere deep in downtown Pyongyang but some not as lethal as that which killed his brother.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 15.44.36

Together, they’re a swell couple.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THZdIOq_v_A

Still, it’s interesting how hair is important to so many politicians.  Just think of how Maggie’s changed during her tenure of No. 10, all done in order to give her a softer image—which was an impossible task, as we all now know.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 15.51.16

Angela’s hairdresser hasn’t had much to worry about over the past 13 years.  Just brush it out in the morning and that’s it done for the day—and it’s really nothing to smile or write home about either.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 15.50.10

On the other hand, Putin doesn’t even have to think about such mundanity at all.  With no competition for votes, there’s no real reason for him even to try to look nice.  As long as things don’t fall apart at the FIFA World Cup over the next few weeks, he’ll be fine.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 15.49.28

Bibi favours a sleeked down approach, which makes him look friendly and even respectable—but he did try something a little different a while ago, which got so many laughs that it was gone in no time at all, even though Mrs. Netanyahu disagreed with the rest of Israel on this issue.  

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 18.29.49.png

Thankfully, as did good old Silvio a while back, he hasn’t gone the whole hog if I can be permitted use that phrase seeing as it might upset the Ultras in the coalition and cause it to collapse.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 18.40.08

Top prize, however, goes to the British Foreign Secretary for his utterly instantly recognisable and personal style of tail-wagging Olde English Sheepdoggy shagginess.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 15.58.41

And  there are many others out there who, if they only had the burning desire to enter politics,  might be able to run Boris a close race indeed!

 

And given the state of Italian politics at the moment, this might be the time for a comeback for Ilona Staller, better known as Cicciolina, who served in the Italian parliament for a while about 25 years ago although I must confess that that I don’t recall anybody seeming to be particularly interested on what was going on above her neckline.  This, of course, is the lady who, while a Member of Parliament, and before the onset of the Gulf War, offered to have sex with Saddam Hussein in return for peace in the region.  It goes without saying that this was undoubtedly the most creative piece of diplomacy of the second half of the 20th century, easily trumping Trump and Kim.  Sadly, she was not re-elected in 1991.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 16.07.38

 

Hair notwithstanding, there might very well be a connection between the Singapore business and the Russian festivities in that if Singapore made a North Korean dictator kosher then FIFA is doing a similar job for Putin.  Looking at the smugness on the latter’s face at the concert gala the night before the competition started and at the opening ceremony, I couldn’t help but think that old Vladimir Vladimirovich must be well pleased at the behaviour of his American protegé.  

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Air Force One landed at Moscow Airport in a month’s time, just in time for the kick-off of the World Cup Final and the President of the United States emerged to read from a slip of paper: 

“The settlement of the Korean problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all the world may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the Russian President, Mr. Putin, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you: ” … We regard the agreement signed last month in Singapore with Chairman Kim as symbolic of the desire of all peoples never to go to war with one another again.”

Sound familiar?  

Hardly likely, though, as soccer is definitely not America First and is a game for sissies, as we all know — although try explaining that one to the rest of the world!

Fortunately, the week ended on a high note at the Israel Conservatory of Music when the lovely Carmel Quartet performed Schubert’s amazing last quartet, a performance that we really wished wouldn’t end. (The linked recording of the 2nd movement is by the Hagen Quartet.)

Schubert Last Quartet 18.jpg

The Carmel Quartet: Rachel Ringelstein, Tali Goldberg, Tami Waterman, Yoel Greenberg

Meanwhile, however, there was one question that remained at the end of the week: What did go on at that one-on-one-plus-one get together in Singapore?  Perhaps they were rehearsing the Sand Dance, which they would perform just before what World Cup is presented to winning team?

 

 

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One thought on “Flying ants and Reality TV gone mad

  1. Nomi Paynton says:

    Thank you for adding me to your admirers! This is a wonderful and so lively summary of recent crazy days – as they all tend to be.
    Wishing you a good week to come, and looking forward to the next,
    Nomi

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