Ordinary people and unusual situations

I started this to write this post a week ago expecting it to take me a day or two but somewhere along the way, I got sidetracked.  So here we go again.

We had a brief visit from our London grandchildren and their parents last week.  It was just a very short trip for a family celebration of the “other side” but we consider ourselves  fortunate to have been able to see them several times at the start of the week and, then again, once more when they popped in on their way to the airport at the weekend.  It was lovely to see all four kids together and to experience all of them getting along so well although I must add that saying goodbye to them was a bit more emotional than it had been on previous occasions.

PHOTO-2019-10-23-09-49-38
L to R: Tal (9½), Gali (8½) Maya (8) & Lily (7)

I met up with Tal and Maya (and their parents!) in Jaffa last Tuesday afternoon and as we were sitting in Jaffa Port, and the children sitting there having eating their ice creams, I noticed what I thought was a familiar face coming out of one of the galleries.

Jaffa Port

At Jaffa Port.  October 2019

Now, either he was who I thought he might be or it was his doppelgänger.  Dressed in jeans and a black short-sleeved shirt with a vest or tee-shirt hanging out at the back, he strolled across to a kiosk and bought himself what looked from the distance to be a glass of grapefruit juice.  As he turned around to return whence he had emerged, he was immediately surrounded my people with cameras taking selfies with him and asking for his autograph, to all of which he responded with a broad smile.  He hardly looked like the man who would be charged the following day by the State President with the almost impossible task of forming a coalition government.  But there he was and when he was joined by another former army Chief of Staff and political neophyte, Gabi Ashkenazi, it confirmed what I had already perceived and that the person in question was none other than Benny Gantz, the Leader of the Opposition, although it’s a moot point as to whether there can actually be an opposition when there isn’t really a government (well, there is, sort of, an interim government but it’s been that way for a year already and of all the ridiculousnesses that beset Israel, being without a real government for a year is the most absurd of all!)

GantzGantz 1

Tal, who is 9½, was following the action and wanted to know what was going on and why all the people were milling around this single individual so I explained to him as best I could that the man at the centre of all the attention, Mr. Gantz, might be the next Prime Minister of Israel.  So then the questions began.  Was he better than Bibi?  Was he better than Ben-Gurion?  I had to explain that the man in question has not yet been elected or appointed Prime Minister, just that he’s been asked to try and patch together  a coalition government.  Consequently, there was no way of telling whether he would be better or as good as or worse…

… Then Tal had another good look at him and with remarkable intuition, concluded that it seemed improbable that he—Mr. Gantz—could ever become Prime Minister.  “And why not?” asked I.  The response was the ultimate put-down of a 9½ year old.  “Because he’s just an ordinary person!”  And come to think of it, I couldn’t for a second conjure up an image of Mr. Netanyahu in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt let alone vest hanging out at the back.  However, should Mr. Gantz succeed in his onerous task, he will cease to be an ordinary person.

Snail

Snail 2

And with that short foray into politics, it’s a sign that the “Festival Season” in Israel is over until next year and it’s back to normal, which means machiavellianism returns as the order of the day.

As people who keep up-to-date with Israeli political machinations are probably aware, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) is in a spot (or several spots—probably ‘blots’ is a more appropriate word) of bother and is painting himself more and more deeply into a corner.   It’s quite some time now since we heard his mantra of several years, referring to the investigations by the police and prosecution service into alleged bribery, corruption and breach of trust: “Lo hayah klum ki ayn klum” (“There was nothing because there is nothing [there]”), mainly I guess, because the public—even those who will support him to the bitter end—know that there is something there, otherwise the Attorney-General would hardly have recommended indictments.

This week, Bibi and his acolytes let loose on the police again, this time for confiscating the mobile phones of two of his advisers as part of an inquiry into suspicions that they had harried another former Bibi aide who had turned state’s evidence and who has provided testimony in one of the three criminal cases against him. On Twitter, Netanyahu denounced this as “a terror attack on Israeli democracy and the right to privacy that every citizen should enjoy”, accusing the police of trying to threaten his immediate environment, thus stopping him from reacting to the aggressive criminal leaks against him that has been going on incessantly.  

Given that an investigative journalist had got access to the recordings of conversations between the Prime Minister and a newspaper owner in which Bibi threatened retaliation with all the forces he can muster should the paper be held responsible for taking him down, even for Bibi, this is a bit rich and it shows up the extent of his paranoias.  But then, if he loses, he loses everything so from his point of view, why not fight to the bitter end?  

So all I’ll say is what I’ve said before on many occasions and that is that in any normal country, a Prime Minister being investigated by the police on suspicion of having carried out criminal acts would have resigned years ago and certainly would have taken leave of office when the Attorney-General decided to press charges (subject to hearings of course, which have already been heard and are now being assessed).  But there is no law to compel a Prime Minister to resign and this is possibly because nobody ever thought that such a situation might ever arise.  So, from this, I must conclude that Israel is not a normal country—apparently.  

And briefly to return to Mr. Gantz’s task—I further conclude that it could be made so much easier were Mr. Netanyahu to be deleted from the picture (my domestic censoress has forbidden me use that macabre euphemism, “neutralised”). 

And now for some photos, totally unrelated to what I’ve written above.

The urban landscapes of North Tel Aviv yield wonderful images day by day, even when my time is curtailed and I’m not in the mood for taking photographs.

For a start, there are birds and flowers, and plants.  In fact, even before I left the house, there was something there to photograph in the form of a cockroach in the stairwell.

An ex-cockroach 1

Paraphrasing John Cleese in the ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch, this is an ex-cockroach

Outside, I learned that the object below is Aristolochia gigantea, or “Dutchman’s Pipe” (n.b. Herman!), an ornamental plant native to Brazil, something I’d never seen before but there it was, less than 200m from home!

Aristtlochia

The bird of paradise flower continues to fascinate me.  I never fail to be amazed by its sheer beauty …

Bird of Paradise

… as indeed, the Night Heron

Heron

And then there was a pigeon of mixed ethnic origin, which caused me to wonder whether s/he would be welcome in Trump’s America.

Of mixed parentage

There was also this image of the Tel Aviv lighthouse, which I have posted before but somehow, it looks different with each viewing …

Lighthouse

… as does the chimney of the Reading Power Station, this time as a reflection in the Yarqon river.

Reading

And while on the subject of the Yarqon, I noticed this mermaid paddling along at 8  o’clock one morning.

Mermaid

Seventy-five minutes later, the mermaid emerged from the river to put her paddle to bed …

Mermaid emerges; more exposure? 1

… and when I got home and looked at the photo—critically, as a photographer, I mean—I simply wondered whether or not I should have given her a little more exposure!

All of which reminds me that I received an email from and old friend in Dublin earlier today.  It was one of these things that circulate around the Internet and which are mildly amusing.  She was trying to wind me up and the email read as follows:

The Dilemma: A moral test for you….

This test only has one question, but it’s a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally.

The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.  Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous.
Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line.

THE SITUATION
You are in England, York to be specific.
There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding.
This is a flood of biblical proportions.
You are a photo-journalist working for a major newspaper, and you’re caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless.
You’re trying to shoot career-making photos.
There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing into the water.
Nature is unleashing all its destructive fury.

THE TEST
Suddenly, you see a man in the water.
He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris.
You move closer… Somehow, the man looks familiar…

You suddenly realise who it is… It’s Jeremy Corbyn.
You notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever.

You have two options:

You can save the life of Jeremy Corbyn or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, documenting the death of one of the country’s most well-known men.

THE QUESTION

Here’s the question, and please give an honest answer…

Would you select high contrast colour, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

 

Did I take the bait?  No way.  I replied: “It’s a no-brainer!  B&W, for sure!”  The thought of winning a Pulitzer Trumps all!

And then, returning to the Yarqon Park, I was reminded that the “trans” issue is not simply a human dilemma.  You know what I mean, a girl who would prefer to be a boy, a man who would prefer to be a woman; a Mexican who would prefer to be an American, an Alsatian who would prefer to be a dog. Here’s a dog that prefers to think of itself as a cat!

Canis Trans FelixCanis Trans Felix 1

And almost in conclusion.  This pair needed eyes in the backs of their heads, oblivious too what was happening around them, didn’t know what they were missing!

Look over your shoulder

In Jaffa with the family, I came cross Mr. & Mrs. Fire Hydrant outside their ladies’ clothing shop.

Mr & Mrs Hydrant

And then then there was the man  who passed by this morning with the original doggy-bag on his back.

Doggy-bag

 

Finally, fire hydrants have been somewhat absent from this blog in recent months.  However, yesterday, I passed by this one that I have photographed several times before.  Its character varies with the arrangement (coiffure?) of the bush that grows around it.  This time around, I reckoned that it was Afro so I took a photo and walked on.

Same hairdresser

I hadn’t walked more than 200 metres when I came across this lovely young woman.  The truth is that I had photographed her before but from a distance and I wondered whether I would be able to summon up the courage to ask her (if I happened to pass by) whether she minded me taking her photograph, which is why I could never contemplate being a professional photographer or even a good street photographer.  So I passed by and I asked her.  In response, she asked me why and I told her that she had an unusual face (actually, I think it is out of the ordinary) and then she asked me what I was going to do with it and I said “Nothing.  It’s just that photography is my hobby”, which was a slightly off-white lie because here it is.  However, it did strike me that in the 200 metres between the hydrant and the lady, there was more than a slight resemblance and even though I have a soft spot for hydrants, I know which picture I prefer!

Same hairdresser 1

self-portrait

Self-portrait.  October 2019.

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After the party’s over … and all that

Succah.jpg

Well, we’re more than halfway through; in fact, we’re nearly there! We’ve seen off Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and we’re into the home straight.  These are essential parts of are referred to in common Israeli parlance as Chagei Tishrei or the “Festival Period”. In addition to the New Year and Yom Kippur, there is also the Fast of Gedaliah, which falls on the day following Rosh Hashanah. (Gedaliah had been appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar governor of what had become, on the conquest of Jerusalem, the Babylonian province of Judah.  Never mind Nebuchadnezzar; Gedaliah himself was just a nebuch (nebuch is Yiddish for “unfortunate”) as he had managed to encounter the hostility of the King of Ammon who sent a descendant of the displaced Judean royal family, Yishmael Ben Netanya, to assassinate him. Although Gedaliah had received a warning that his life was in danger, he regarded it simply as slander and ignored it, which led to his ignominious liquidation.  Officially, the fast commemorates his denouement although I really think it’s there to allow sufficient recovery time after the two days of binge eating that precedes it.  Or, it may simply be  no more than a practice run for what is to come during the week following.)

Anyway, to come back to the festival period.  It lasts for 3½ weeks, a term of semi-inactivity when official and quasi-official Israel isn’t quite shut down but one nevertheless has to keep one’s eyes and one’s ears on standby in order to know when shops and banks—never mind government offices—are open or closed.  Schools, which re-opened after the two-month summer vacation on September 1 are closed and then reopened during this period with regular irregularity until the end of the calendar ephemeris.  It’s a time of the year that makes the Christmas/New Year shutdown in other places with which I’m familiar seem like a nothing more than an extended coffee break!  The operative answer to questions of when such and such might happen/be open is “acharei hachagim” (after the festivals).

We are now (Thursday 16/x) in the third day of Succoth (Sukkot[h]), a festival variously translated as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Ingathering or the Festival of the Last Fruits.  The Hebrew word sukkot is the plural of sukkah, which is a booth or a tabernacle, a temporary walled structure of light construction usually covered with plant material such as palm leaves.  Among other things, it’s supposed to remind us of the fragile dwellings in which the Israelites lived during their 40-year long schlep through the desert after exiting Egypt for the Promised Land.  People decorate these makeshift structures with all sorts of oddities and prizes are awarded for “sukkaesthetics” and such things. In the past, most of these structures would have had a simple wooden frame but these days, most have a metal frame consisting of interlocking rods or poles with “walls” consisting of pieces of material strung between the uprights.  They appear in gardens and on the streets and parks as well as on balconies all over the place.  Religiously observant people eat their meals inside their sukkot and some devouts sleep there as well even though these structures don’t usually have en suite bathrooms.  There are all sorts of other customs associated with this festival but being a geographer (or to paraphrase John Cleese in referring to the parrot he’d had recently purchased, being an ex-geographer) I’ll stick with just the visible landscape effects.  (The two photographs of a fully air-conditioned sukkah on Weizmann Street in North Tel Aviv, hardly calls to mind a tedious 40 years in the desert but so what?)

SUCCAH DE LUXESUCCAH DE LUXE 1

These temporary structures spring up in all these places as soon as Yom Kippur has concluded and indeed, it is regarded as a mitzvah (a moral deed performed within a religious duty) to kick-start the construction of these temporary shelters as early as possible after that fast has terminated.  Consequently, one can often hear the sound of hammers on nails almost as soon as the pangs of hunger have been assuaged.

As for Yom Kippur itself, what can I say? (Or perhaps I shouldn’t say anything at all?)  When I was a boy in Dublin, Yom Kippur meant spending the whole day in synagogue and as far as I knew, everyone—except for one person who made a point of saying that he didn’t—fasted.  It was a long day, indeed.  In fact, the lowlight of the day was the most tuneless (No! the most tuneless humanly imaginable!) rendition of the Book of Jonah by one, Enoch Weller.

A few years after we came to Israel, we joined a Conservative congregation in which the main innovation (for me, at least) was the hiatus between Mussaf (the Additional (read: second portion of morning prayers and Mincha (the Afternoon Service) during which you could walk home and spend a couple of hours in an armchair.  But what to do at home when there was no entertainment and no food?  And that was when the noise-cancelling headphones were placed over my ears and Mahler’s 4th Symphony was played directly into them at full volume (it was the only Mahler symphony I possessed when I started this tradition).  And guess what? I discovered that I got far greater spiritual uplift listening to Mahler (who was even more of a lapsed Jew than me) than what I was going to hear back in the synagogue.   This year, I listened to the recording of Leonard Bernstein with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Helmut Wittek, the boy soprano, (as apparently intended by Mahler) adding an otherworldly ethereal quality to the singing of Das himmlische Leben—The Heavenly Life, a child’s view of heaven, in the final movement.

Over the years, I have tended to add an additional Mahler symphony to the experience; this year is was Mahler 5 played by a scratch orchestra comprising students from the best North American and Europe music academies 24 years ago in Jerusalem in which Shuli was in the viola section with Lorin Maazel as conductor.

These days, after a couple of years when the Holy-One-Blessed-Be-He and I were not exactly on speaking terms, I go to hear the rendition of Kol Nidrei by the cantor at the Reform synagogue where we are members.  I have to say though that I go less to read the words (which are in in Aramaic and not Hebrew) than to hear the melody, which is such an imposing Jewish air that I really feel I can’t do without it.  It’s sung three times but once it’s over, I’m ready for home.  All in all, the synagogue service can be summed up by quoting the character played by Maggie Smith in the Second Most Exotic Marigold Hotel movie who, when asked about her trip to America, answered with: “I went with low expectations and came back disappointed.”

One of things I like to do is to search out different renditions of Kol Nidrei and amongst all the versions by cantors aplenty is one sung by a Italian-American gentile crooner, Perry Como.  I just find it immensely appealing and moving.

 

The other version of Kol Nidrei that I find emotionally stirring is Max Bruch’s Adagio on Two Hebrew Melodies for Cello and Orchestra, a series of variations on two main themes of Jewish origin—Kol Nidrei and the middle section of Isaac Nathan’s arrangement of “O Weep for Those that Wept on Babel’s Stream”.  Of the many versions available, the one that appeals to me most is that by Mischa Maisky, not only because it sounds so wonderfully mellow but because Maisky looks so appropriate for the part.

 

This year, Yom Kippur was disfigured by the attempted murder of people at prayer at the synagogue in Halle, Germany.  The attempt—streamed live by the neo-Nazi perpetrator from a head camera—failed, probably because he had constructed his own weapon, based on a design by one Philip Luty, a West Yorkshire-based gun enthusiast who had developed a series of firearms that could be manufactured from off-the-shelf materials without any ready-made components or specialist tools, publishing DIY manuals to demonstrate the futility of Britain’s “fascist” gun-control laws, and who was imprisoned in the late 1990s for publishing these gun-making instructions. The firearm in Halle failed to fire properly and instead of killing “as many Jews as possible”, he had to make do with two consolation prizes, a doner kebab employee and a passerby who complained that he was making “too much noise” by trying to force his way into the synagogue by blasting the door.  Incidentally and coincidentally, the Halle Synagogue is located on Humboldtstrasse and as I heard the news, I was just coming to the end of The Invention of Nature, Andrea Wulf’s unputdownable biography of Alexander von Humboldt, the German polymath explorer and scientist who straddled the 18th and 19th centuries and who is mostly forgotten in the English-speaking world, probably my best non-fiction read of the past decade.

The logic of the individual who set out to commit this crime was morbidly thought-provoking.  The basic premise is that Jews are to blame for everything wrong in the world.  More specifically, the Jews are guilty of supporting and promoting liberal ideas in societies, thereby arresting the development of the natural order of things, i.e., the never-ending struggle between nations seeking adequate resources and “living space” (sound familiar?).  Even more specifically in this case, feminism—as a facet of liberalism—is responsible for falling German birthrates with the places of unborn Germans being taken by immigrants.  Consequently the Jews are held responsible for flooding Germany with immigrants.  In other words, in his eyes, Jews are responsible for everything reprehensible in German society.

Q.E.D.

By the way, I was reminded that several of my hangups about religion hinted at here were expressed in a chapter I wrote for a book on Geography and Religion which came out three or four years ago.  At the time I started to write it (probably six or seven years ago), I really wasn’t interested but the editor was so persistent that, literally, in order to get him off my back, I agreed to give him a chapter on Jewish dietary laws about which I knew next to nothing.  However, the more I got into it, and the more I learned, the more I enjoyed writing it.  When it was eventually published in 2015, I discovered that mine was Chapter 150 of around 250 (pages 2867—2880) in a four-volume book, so the likelihood of anyone ever finding it was as close to nil as it is possible to get.  As a consequence,  I sent a copy to anyone I thought might be even slightly interested.  I hadn’t looked at it for about four years until the other day when I decided to give it another read and [re]discovered that is actually an interesting (and very readable) piece, even if I say so myself.  So if you’re interested, here it is!

Eating,Drinking, and Maintenance of Community – Jewish Dietary Laws and Their Effects on Separateness

*************************

And now for some pictures.

Tel Aviv Municipality has been upgrading its street signs over the past few months —three languages, new fonts and new colours.  A couple of weeks ago, this went up around the corner from the house, a nice addition but wrongly placed.  So what to do? I took out the phone, took a photograph and opened the Municipality’s complains application and sent it off hoping that someone would take it seriously …

Bnei Dan - Brandeis

… I received notification within the hour that issue was being dealt with and in less than a week, the directions had been righted.  I was impressed.  It’s a pity the Israel Postal Service can’t match the Municipality for efficiency.  I paid for synagogue membership and was told that the receipt would arrive in the mail.  The distance between the synagogue and the house is 450m; the postmark said that the envelope had been mailed the following day; the receipt arrived in our mailbox 17 days later.  A good example of acharei hachagim!

Bnei Dan - Brandeis 1

In the park and on the streets, the tree trunks still smile at me and express wonder and pain and birds of all shapes and sizes parade in front of the camera lens.

Smile and the world smiles with you …

Did I scare you?

Heron.jpg

The grey heron strut.  Yarqon Park

Bathtime

Public birdbaths.  Nordau Boulevard

Every now and then, a rower on the Yarqon will provide me with the raw material for a good photograph …

Rower

… while a friendly neighbour will leave a pot plant on the windowsill just a few metres away which, with a bit of editing work, provides a fine image.

Window sill

Similarly, the Reading Power Station, just a large chimney, provides the basis for something a bit more artistic …

Reading spray

… as do the sea and the boardwalk at Tel Aviv Port when juxtaposed.

The sea

And although I posted a picture like this a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take it a second time with the Tel Aviv lighthouse superimposed on the effluent from the Reading Power Station

Lighthouse

And I couldn’t quite resist this one of man and dog with similar expressions of boredom and/or disillusionment …

Like father …

… or of this piece of body art walking in front of me in the park.

Fine tattoo

Finally, Arneath, Vivien’s carer likes to cook with fresh ginger so I took of photo of the root that I bought last week, which somehow reminded me of J.P. Donleavy.

Ginger Man

 

 

 

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Leiter, Lighter, & Brighter

I had an email the other day from a friend in the UK, alerting me to the fact that he had received a Google Alert about an article that had appeared in the Jerusalem Post about the the Jewish-American painter and photographer Saul Leiter whose work he very much likes.  As  the Jerusalem Post is not one of my favourite newspapers, I hadn’t seen the piece but I do remember seeing an exhibition of some of Leiter’s work in London a few years ago and was very much impressed.

28leiter_obit_337-articleLarge

Leiter is often described as a pioneer of colour photography although he didn’t regard himself as such even though he was using colour film 20 years before those who usually are considered pioneers in this field.  (Colour until c.1960 was used primarily only for advertising. If you had pretensions to be artistic, you were expected to photograph in black and white.). Leiter’s pictures are as much about colour as anything else.  He was wont to photograph such things as parts of coloured umbrellas against a greyish background, or through rain wet windows or of blurred passing cars, the effects created being quite amazing.

le-parapluie-rouge-saul-leiter-1959

Leiter was born into an Orthodox Jewish family, his father a Talmudic scholar and he himself attended yeshiva until he was 23 and gave it all up to become a painter and [ a mainly fashion] photographer, gaining fame only when he was older than I am now.  I remember when I saw the exhibition and read that he received his first camera from his mother aged about 12 that he must have nagged her so much that he received it as [pre-??] barmitzvah present.

When I received the notification from Roger and read the article, I did what one often tends to do these days and googled “Saul Leiter” and discovered among other things that a few years ago when he was already in his late 80s, a documentary entitled In No Great Hurry – 13 lessons in life with Saul Leiter was made and is available on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czx7xU9aJLg&t=2471s

It was fascinating.  For start, he reminded me of lots of people I knew, including family members. What he was saying reminded me of one of my late mother’s aphorisms, which went sort of “When you pass 70, you can say what to like to whomsoever you like (Doris wouldn’t ever have said “whomsoever” but so what?) and have no regrets.  Some people, such as politicians, develop this alarming characteristic much earlier in life—politicians, for example.

For me, the most interesting part of the interview/documentary had nothing whatsoever to do with photography but was the following 3-4 minute episode:

“I think I said something very unkind to [my father].  I think I said that I didn’t want to be a ‘professional Jew’ for the rest of my life.  It’s not a nice thing to say to your father who was a great Talmudic scholar — a light in the Diaspora.

I had the talent for it but eventually I got fed up with it and I turned against the whole religious world with all the preoccupations with purity and nobility and observance.  I wanted to be free of those things. … We live in an insane world where all kinds of people who have different notions of God, who manage to know what he wants, who have carefully transcribed his written … [laughs] … and yet people believe in it and order their lives around it.  I wrote a poem “The Ways to God” when I was about 13 or 14, it’s a long poem but it starts: “The ways to God are worn and thin and loveliness is laughing sin” … [laughs] …the ways to God are one thing but there but there is this crazy thing in the world we live in.

The Leiter family is not as familiar with the notion of kindness as I believe they might have or should have been.  Greatness was important; great scholarship was important; intellectual achievement was important; knowing was important; knowing a great deal was important. Kindness??  If kindness interfered with the pursuit of knowledge, of greatness, of learning and scholarship… too bad.  Get rid of it.”

***********************

The highlight of the past week occurred on Wednesday when Lily, our littlest grandchild celebrated her seventh birthday.  Tami decided that it would be a fun day (and Shuli decided that Gali could join in the fun) so after a breakfast in a café and some retail therapy (might as well start the training early), it was off to the eastern end of the Yarqon Park where a large helium balloon is tethered.

Helium Balloon

And it was time to go for a ride. …

S,T,S, G

Photo: Lily Waterman, aged 7

… The balloon reaches a height of about 100 metres, I think they said.  Not very high but it was interesting to view the northern end of Tel Aviv, where we live, from up above.

Old North 1

And the main thing was that the kids enjoyed it, too!

Gali Lily 1

And then it was back to morning walks through the park, the port, and the streets of North Tel Aviv to see what emerged in front of the camera lens.

A wall with peeling paint in the early morning sun, which although viewed in colour “in the field”  just had to be seen in black and white of the screen …

Peeling wall

… A bashful member of the fire hydrant tribe …

ICU

… a fisherman who had brought not only his own tackle but also something that indicated that he might be going to spend quite some time there waiting for the fish to take the bait …Sunday in the park

… and egret, something that has been missing from my photographs of late …

Egret in the port

… something colourful on one of the walls in the port that needed a little bit of touching up to make it really attractive … 

Colour in the park

… and then there were these mantis-like lamps in the port that look even better in black and white than they do when photographed against the sky-blue background in real life.

Lamps in the park

Back on the streets, there were all sorts of things that popped into view.  There’s this little chap who seems to have become a regular outside the street café on Nordau Boulevard.  I can’t make out whether what is tied around his nether end is a disposable diaper or whether it’s there in order to keep his chariot in order.  Whatever, it helps the little chap get around.

Doggie harness

… and the Ginsburgs of Aristobolus Street seem as if they are still intent on keeping all potential strangers at bay.

We don't want no visitors

And then, as I walked through the park on the north bank of the river, I stood and watched this incident of sexual harassment as it happened.  She walked out from behind a pillar on to the base of the bridge and he followed her.  She turned around and walked behind the pillar and he re-emerged, strutting his stuff, still following her.  This went on several times but I lost interest and don’t quite know what happened in the end.  I assume that she was telling him to beat it but I suppose that he didn’t understand or pretended not to understand her pidgin English.

Sexual harassmentI was going to leave this post politics-free — until I came across the scene below.  This was one of these pictures in which the caption appears in your head even before you shape up to take the picture.  And the caption that popped up was GIGO, which is an acronym, as anyone familiar with computers well knows.  It stands for “Garbage In, Garbage Out”, and implies that bad input can only result in bad output or garbage.

And wat is the connection to things political.  Well, again, to my warped mind, it reflected “change in government” and it doesn’t really matter whether you take the example from Israel or the UK.  In these days, changing the government is a case of GIGO and, boy, does it stink! …

GIGO

GIGO — Governments In,Governments Out

… which, of course, brings me to politics and politicians.  It would have a relatively peaceful week except for two events.  Last Monday, a panel of 11 judges of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled unanimously that the advice given to Queen Elizabeth II by her Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to prorogue Parliament thereby preventing MPs from sitting and debating the dire situation facing the country was illegal.  The prorogation then was as if it had never happened and Parliament renewed its work the following day.

In other words, the Prime Minister had lied to the sovereign. He stated post facto that he respected the decision of the Court although he profoundly disagreed with it, which meant that he was in a bit of a bind.  He may have lied but it strikes me that he didn’t recognise it as a lie because telling untruths is what he does most of the time, as is also the case with his new found American friend, who is also in a bit more trouble than usual these days.  Perhaps Boris’s was just a little white lie—a fib.  Maybe I’m being a bit harsh.  It could be that he wasn’t exactly lying but was just engaging in a bit of innocent and inventive telling of trumped up stories.

Boris,jpg

At any rate, Mr. Johnson should be rejoicing that he lives in the twenty-first century and not in some earlier time where the punishment for lying to the sovereign might have ended with him being sent to the Tower of London or worse, with the mob yelling “Off with his head”.  Perhaps in that case, he might have thought twice about leaving the European Union as the French might have reinstated the guillotine especially for the occasion, as it has to be less painful that the axe!  But of course, they won’t do it because if they did they wouldn’t know what to do with the yellow duster that is permanently in place on his head — which is even more pass-remarkable than the banana that sits on the head of the President of the United States!  (Hanoch Piven is an illustrator, educator and creative instigator. His artwork is unique; by reinventing the meaning and use of everyday objects he forges associations between these and the subject of his creation.) https://www.pivenworld.com

Trump by Piven.jpg

The Donald by Hanoch Piven

Meanwhile, in Israel, with the tied result of the Israeli general election a fortnight ago, the State President, after failing to get the leaders of the two largest parties to agree on anything, eventually charged the interim Prime Minister to try and form a “unity” coalition, given that 55 Knesset members had recommended Bibi to the 54 who had recommended his erstwhile opponent, Mr. Gantz.  Unless that latter reneges on his election promise no to sit in a government headed by a man likely to be indicted on three charges, the likelihood of that happening is low — unless, of course, Mr. Netanyahu removed himself from the drama.  (Incidentally, his pre-trial hearing is set for this week and his demand that the hearing be broadcast live was dismissed out of hand by the Attorney-General, who explained that the hearing is a legal procedure and not part of another election campaign.

PeePee

Bibi by Hanoch Piven

It looks as if Bibi will have to talk things over with the person who really runs the country and see where he goes from here.

Kharahleh

Sara Netanyahu by Hanoch Piven

 

Finally, I leave you with just a photograph and two songs.  The picture is of the lighthouse that graces the Yarqon stream as it enters the Mediterranean and I gave it some special treatment (though the photographers among you might see where I slipped up!)

Lighthouse

The songs are from the musical South Pacific.  Given all the hatred and venom that was spewed out at the last election campaign in Israel and currently in the UK, the USA and elsewhere, it’s worthwhile listening to the two songs in sequence.  The messages they transmit are so apt and amongst other things, they make one realise what a wonderful lyricist Oscar Hammerstein was.

Au revoir — until the next time.

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