Header Photo Credit

*The stunning photo in the header of my blog is all thanks to Ron Shoshani. Visit his facebook page for more of his amazing photographs of Tel Aviv!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tel Aviv Hot Spot: Ze Pequeno on Ladies' Night

If you are a Tel Aviv female and you aren't going to Ladies' Night at Zé Pequeno, you are wasting your money somewhere else. Not only is this new Tel Aviv hot spot is a cool, fun, warm and friendly bar, but their lady's night special is simply unbeatable.

Ladies' Night Special:
I have never heard of a better deal. Every Wednesday night, they offer their famous Ladies' Night Special. It goes like this: if you are, of course, a lady, you pay 26 shekels for a pink plastic cup that must hold about 1/3 of a liter which gets you free refills all night. You can fill it with nearly anything you want all night (top shelf alcohol and bottled beer excluded). This means, you can start with a cup of Champagne, then move onto a Weihenstephan wheat beer on tap, top that off with a glass of red wine, and then ring in the whole night with a rum and coke or whisky and soda- all for 26 shekels. All you gotta do is fill your cup at the bar.

Aside from the fact that the name, taken from the 2002 Brazilian movie "City of God", is semi-unpronounceable, this bar is super fun. Centrally located in Tel Aviv on Ben Gurion Avenue just on the corner of Ben Yehuda Street, Zé Pequeno is slightly hidden behind its sister café, Buskapa. The two places are separate, but equally cool. Just know that if you're looking for the bar and not the café, you should choose the entrance behind the friendly Russian security guard hanging out on the sidewalk.

Zé Pequeno's decor isn't much to write home about, which I kind of like. It's simple and relatively small. The central wooden bar is large and square and takes up most of the space with nice, tall leather bar chairs with backs running around its perimeter. It leaves room for about two small, high-seated tables for couples, 3 larger, high seated tables for 5 to 7, and one slightly cramped sofa area with two low, wicker sofas.

The place doesn't start filling up till about 10-11pm, so if you get there any time before then, the music is pretty mellow (think Van Morrison's "Moondance") and not too loud and the lights are dimmed, but not too dimmed. Once the crowds start rolling in, the music gets a bit more peppy, and much louder (think the Killer's "When you were young") and the lighting gets much dimmer. Personally I prefer getting there early,just because I hate it when a bar isn't completely packed to full capacity, but you still have to scream in order for someone to hear you. It ruins the conversation, and I always wake up with a sore throat.

There is usually a total of three servers- two cute bartenders and a hostess/waitress. On busy nights you'll find a hostess as well. In my experience, the bartenders have been sweet and seem to do their best to keep everyone happy, but when the place gets pack, there isn't much that can be done- two is too few. Also, the fact that there is only one waitress that wanders around the tables taking orders means that if you're sitting at a table, it will usually take a while for you to get your drink. So don't come super thirsty. The pace in this place is a bit slower. But, again, I also kinda like that too.

All in all, Zé Pequeno is a good, chill place to grab a drink with friends in the center of the city and an AMAZING money saver if you hit it up on Wednesday evenings.

Adress: Ben Gurion 22, Tel Aviv
Telephone: 054-222-6950
Mon-Thurs: 8pm-4am
Friday: 8pm-4am
Saturday: 8pm-4am
כתובת:בן גוריון 22 תל אביב
 טלפון: 054-222-6950
שעות פתיחה:
א' - ה': 20:00 - 04:00
שישי:  20:00 - 05:00
שבת:  20:00 - 04:00

Friday, December 17, 2010

Middle East Peace Process 2010 Recap: Is the US actually doing anything?

Cartoons for the Week of Sept. 20-26, 2009 Copyright © 2009 Universal Press Syndicate

First the US was madly against Israeli West Bank settlement construction and Biden, Clinton and Obama were pushing hard for a settlement freeze. I think we all remember that big to-do with VP Joe Biden when he came to visit.  How can we forget how offended he was when he came to promote the freeze last year and Netanyahu stupidly took his visit as an opportunity to tell the whole world that he isn't interested in listening to the US and instead, planned on starting up the settlement building once more.

And so the peace process turned into a debate about West Bank settlement construction.  For several months, Hillary and the PA argued with Netanyahu to extend the settlement freeze, which Netanyahu really didn't want to do. No one could get past this issue.  It became THE issue. The White House seemed ready to give Israel military equipment in exchange for an extension on the settlement freeze.  But it wasn't going anywhere.

And then the US dropped it.

Suddenly the White House had enough and decided that the settlements would no longer be the main issue. They wouldn't be important at all.   And this happened right as the House approved a bill that put loads of cash toward an Israeli military security missiles base.

I know, it sounds strange to me too, but whatever. I'm going with it.

So, now we're here.  Where is that, exactly? Well, the settlements are underway making Palestinians pretty upset.  They are getting fed up with this whole Peace Process thing. The United States is fed up too, but since Obama doesn't have all that much going for him right now, he seems to have taken this on as a new project and he isn't a quitter.  But it's gotten so bad that now, the Palestinans, who everyone seems to want to free fro Israeli tyrrany, proclaimed their intention to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state.

"No!"  (says the US!) "You can talk to us and to the Israelis and we can pretend we are trying to make peace, but don't do something rash like declaring a STATE!"  That would just be madness.  Madness,yes, although Brazil and Venezuela are already backing it...and the EU might support it if it ever becomes "appropriate".  Not like anyone is supposed to know what that means.

Anyway, I'm not going to take a side right now. I just want to point out how the US looks kinda/really/unbelievably lost here.What have Hillary and Obama gotten themselves into this time?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vaffelim or Bafflot- וופלים או בפלות: Alit stirs up trouble by making the debate official

If you know anything about Israel, you know that little chocolate wafers are a staple food. It's a right of passage for every young Israeli soldier to learn the distinct way to open the package in one fell swoop - fast and clean.  They are a go-to snack with coffee, being cheap, light and sweet. And the biggest Israeli brand of these sweet little tasties is Alit.

Alit makes most of the basic chocolate sweets in Israel. Think of it as the Israeli "Hershey's". And Alit has done something that Hershey's is always hesitant to do: it has officially changed the name of a classic.

Alit made-over the name and face of this Israeli snack food after holding what I assume to be a nation-wide vote, although from their video, it looks like they only hit up central Tel Aviv.

According to the company's website, 1,147,035 people voted in total and just over 57% went with the "hip, young and cooler" Baffelot. I personally had never heard of the term "Baffelot".  Somehow after four years of living in Israel and eating these tasty cakes nearly every morning, I never came across one person who called them Bafflot.  So, to me they are Waffelim because "Baffelot" just sounds like a cheap bastardization of a legitimate term.

One of my friends claimed "Baffelot" was an army thing.  Another friend clamied it was a Jerusalem thing.  That the whole competition was really a competition between Tel Aviv vs. Jerusalem.  But after doing a very insignificant amount of research, my findings could find absolutely no correlation between those who say wafelim and those who say baffelot.

Plus, looking at Alit's silly ad where the old CEO argues with the young, "hip and cool" cartoon company mascot, I get the strangest feeling that this little competition was rigged.  Could it be?!?! Is it possible that they were planning to change the name from the very beginning even BEFORE the vote?!!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The First Israeli Horror Movie "כלבת" ("Rabies") has reviewers foaming at the mouth!

Film critics are calling "Rabies" by directors Ahron Keshales and Navot Paposhaddo the first Israeli horror film. And reviewers do seem quite horrified.

In fact, the movie has been branded with scathing reviews from nearly every newspaper and film reviewer out there. The Jerusalem Post titled their review, "Cure for ‘Rabies’: Don’t see it", and  ioncinema.com declared that "Keshales Gives Israeli Cinema a case of the "Rabies".  One or two reviewers didn't take the movie quite as seriously and manged to enjoy themselves, but on the whole, the film didn't quite make it big.

Despite reviews and massive hype, I had to go see "the first Israeli horror film" out of pure curiosity.

(I also happen to be friends with one of the lead actors in the film. No, I'm not going to tell you who. You'll just have to guess.)

My review in short:  this is a film that isn't going to make waves in the world of Israeli cinema or cinema in general. Maybe it was trying to be ambitious- and maybe the hype makes it easier to hate the movie.  I didn't hate it (the fake blood was funny, as was the ridiculous plot, second rate acting and the ridiculous b-movie style) but I definitely didn't think it was good.  It was ... what it was.  A poorly made horror movie with a really loose plot that strayed from some essential horror movie conventions in an attempt to try and make the movie somehow "Israeli'.

There's one main problem with the movie. ( Stop reading here if you are planning on seeing the movie and don't want me to spoil your fun. )

Main problem: the film is trying to be particularly Israeli, but doesn't go the whole nine yards. At the end of the film, the final line specifically insinuates that the stock horror movie doesn't work in Israel simply because the entire country is full of assholes who are ready to kill one another at the drop of a hat. Everyone in Israel is the victim, and everyone is the killer. Or so the movie seems to claim.

This is incorporated into the film by removing a central horrific figure.  The guy who you think is gonna be the crazy killer in the beginning of the film never actually kills anyone in the movie.

It's an interesting idea, but the problem with this is: a) it makes the plot is really loose, arbitrary and hardly compelling b)the characters aren't particularly Israeli in dress, character, language, or appearance. In fact, they are surprisingly American.

For example, four of the main characters are clean, pretty kids dressed in clean tennis outfits on their way to play a game at some country club.  It has to be noted that there simply are no Israelis that dress in clean, preppy tennis gear like that and/or play tennis at exclusive country clubs (I mean, there are no exclusive country clubs in Israel).

It becomes a bit boring...and a bit too silly.  And this is coming from an easily frightened blonde American who covers her eyes when she even thinks that something scary might happen on screen.

So, go see it if you want to have a few laughs, if you want to support Israeli cinema, or if you;re just plain curious.  But if you are hoping for a great horror film, or a spectacular Israeli horror debut, this one isn't it.

Here's some free footage so you can get an idea (sorry to all you English speakers, but the movie is in Hebrew!)

Me and Yotam, excited for the movie

This is what happened to us after the movie

It was very gruesome

And then it got trippy

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Israel Loves GLBTQs: Dr., can you check my butt?

Courtesy of 365Gay.com
If you didn't know already, get with the program. Israel is a progressive and tolerant Mecca in the Middle East. Well, at least, when it comes to being gay and loving it.

Tel Aviv is especially well known for being a city of free love, gay pride and colorful characters. According to Wikipedia, the city was named as "the gay capital of the Middle East" by Out Magazine and "the final gay fronteir" by Ynet News.  This year thousands came to participate in Tel Aviv's famous Gay Pride Parade.

Courtesy of Haaretz.com
Well, now Israeli healthcare provider "Clalit" or "כללית" wants you to know that they love gays too!  That's right! Your Israeli doctor has no problem checking your butt for a possible allergic reaction to latex, nor does your doctor mind when a non-gender-specific individual sneezes all over the place in the lobby! He also somehow doesn't get annoyed by annoying lesbians who don't want to get fat but want to have babies!!!

I just had to post these three new ads, wonderfully directed by Adi Halfin, are targeting a well-established audience in Israel: The GLBTQ community.( If you aren't familiar with the long, politically correct and well-thought out term, GLBTQ refers to Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Trangenders and Queers). And yes, they get sick too and need medical care just like heterosexuals do.

Courtesy of backseatblogger, although I think this guy stole all his pics from somewhere else.
The ads are specifically for the Clalit Clinic at Gan Meir "גן מאיר" (Meir Garden, or Meir Park)- the annual starting point for the Tel Aviv Gay Parade.  Check them out

Lesbian Ad:

GIRL1: Omg, this car is amazing. It's not like any car you've ever driven. First of all, the seats-- they are all...Leather. And the speed- Oh the speed! You just hit the gas and it's VRrrrrrrrrrrrom, vrrrrrrrrom, vrroooom!
GIRL 2: No no! Speed? I don't think he should have a license at all! Let his friends be the ones with the car- why him?
DOCTOR: Ahem. Maybe first we should talk about the process.....the sperm donation...?
(girls giggle and hold hands)
DOCTOR: So, which one of you will be carrying the child?
(Girls point at one another)
GIRL 2: But we decided it would be you!
GIRL 1: But you're older than me.
GIRL 2: By two months!
GIRL 1: I'm dying to see you fat already.
GIRL 2: But your genes are better than mine. You're Morrocan.
GIRL 1: So, I'll get fat, and you'll be pregnant. (Pause) I'm calling your mother.
Text: Clalit Clinic at Meir Gardens. Feel Comfortable.


DOCTOR: Natan Shtein=Levi? Natan?
(Clicking of high heels on floor-pan out to hot blonde)
BLONDE: *Sneeze!* Not Datan. Dida. Dida Joy.
BLONDE: Dida, Dida.
DOCTOR: Ah, Nina!
DOCTOR: Ok, Nina. Eh, first I have to clear something up......Where did you get that gorgeous handbag?! Err, so, you're congested? Yes? Come on in....

Gay Ad:

DOCTOR: Hello, er, Roni?
RONI: Yes.
DOCTOR: Please, have a seat.
RONI: No, it's ok, I prefer to stand.
DOCTOR: Ok. So, what's the problem?
RONI: Uhhh, I have a pain.
DOCTOR: Where does it hurt?
RONI: Uhhh, in... in the back? In my lower back?
(Doctor shrugs)
RONI: Down below....?
DOCTOR What happened? Did something happen?
*Phone Rings*
DOCTOR (on the phone): Hello? How are you buddy? Ok, and he wore a condom? And you? Oy, I forgot... you....I forgot. Ok, well, when you get back to Israel come in to see me and we'll make sure its nothing serious. My pleasure. (hangs up the phone.)
I'm sorry. So, where were you saying it hurts?
RONI: In my butt! (Fade out)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Israeli Carob Trees Smell Like Sex

The Israeli carob tree smells like semen. It smells like wet, fresh, potent semen. Yes, I'm talking about what some of you out there refer to as sperm, cum, jizz,baby batter,man chowder, man seed, nut, protein shake or spooge.

Seriously, I have no idea how I never noticed this until this year, my fourth in Israel.  Maybe, after cutting down on my casual smoking my sense of smell has been revived.  Maybe this year, the autumn scents have been especially strong. or maybe its hormonal. Whatever the reason, it has become overwhelming.

It started in October, the beginning of blooming season, and, despite the fact that it's December, the smell still lingers. Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat, you name it. In Jerusalem it's especially obscene. It's inescapable, really. I smell it on my bike rides to work, on my walks down the street, and on short weekend hikes.

The likeness is so uncanny that I frequently find myself peering into dark corners searching for the perv who might be standing there jacking off, or the couple who might be getting off by messing around in public.  But I always end up face to face with the nasty Israeli carob tree.

Gag me.
Obscene Carob Tree Photo courtesy of survivaliq.com