About two weeks ago, finally, the second Midburn Festival(Israeli equivalent of the famous Burning Man Festival in Nevada) took place in the Negev desert – an event that is described by its arrangers as an experiment in radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. … Continue reading
We’re getting closer and closer to another Haifa Frequencies event. Which is basically just a show, in series of shows under the same title, that are showcasing artists from the city’s live-electronic scene. As part of a well-made promotion campaign, Rowch – one of the upcoming performers, and generally a badass drummer, recorded an impressive promo for the event. Check it out:
Okay, let’s take a break from all the music, drinking, and nightlife stuff for a bit, for something entirely different:
New and awesome netflix TV adaptation of Daredevil!
Yeah, it’s time to reveal my geeky side: I have a soft spot for comic-books. Specially for the superhero genre. Those funny costumes, the secret identities, the crazy story-lines, and specially the individualistic motif of “one man can make a difference” – that’s my poison. I love it in my comic-books, just as much as I’d love it on my large and small screen. But the only problem is, that usually most of the live-action adaptations of superhero comic-books are shitty as fuck.
For those of you who not so well-acquainted with this, I’ll explain(experts may skip this paragraph): In the comic-book world, there are two main publishing-giants: MARVEL(which is mostly famous for titles like Captain America, Spider-Man, X-men, Iron-Man, and The Incredible Hulk), and DC(which is mostly notable for titles like Superman, Batman, Wonder-Woman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and The Flash). However, while being pretty impressive in the cartoon and comics field, in what’s concerning the live-action adaptations – both companies seem to be in competition about who will inspire the shittiest movie/TV-series, while still making ridicules loads of money from it.
Surprisingly, that’s not the case with the new “Marvel’s Daredevil” series.
Well, you could expect from a series about a blind Irish-American superhero from the slams to be a bit special. But on the other hand, the movie with the same name that came out in the previous decade wasn’t too impressive for my taste.
However, unlike other currently running series of the genre(i.e. Flash, Arrow, and even Gotham) – Daredevil actually DO have a well-developed characters and intriguing plot, But most importantly, the series breaks some of the most common stereotypes of the genre. Here’s a few notable examples:
Highly graphical violence
One of the first differences that I’ve noticed in the Daredevil series from most of other superhero shows, is the much higher level of depicted violence to which it is usually accustomed in this genre. One interesting comment that I read online even said that a certain extremely violent scene in the end of chapter #4, wouldn’t have any chance of appearing in a similar series for a conventional TV-channel. I totally agree with that. Luckily for us, Daredevil was produced directly for the Netflix streaming service – which probably saved it from the need to go through much of bureaucracy and censorship that it would have faced on a regular TV channel. Also, a series that is produced directly for internet streaming, is not limited by a TV-channel’s busy schedule, which can sometimes push it to uncomfortable time-slots that would force it to lose a lot of its edgieness in order to survive the battle for rating.
While not being at all too conservative in depiction of violence, when it comes to sex and sensuality, the Daredevil series kept a surprisingly low profile. Just think about it: practically all currently running superhero series feature a decent dose of hot chicks in sexy outfits, low cleavages, or in general partially naked scenes. In comparison to that – despite of having 3 extremely attractive ladies in the cast(one of which already participated in some provocative scenes in the True Blood series) Daredevil kept quite a modest score on the pornographic part. There is only one, purely symbolic, female topless scene(episode #1, and no boobs are shown), and there’s virtually no sex scenes(there are two after-sex scenes, but it doesn’t count). It could be that the producers just didn’t want to follow the bad example of other TV-shows that are overusing sexuality and provocative sex scenes to attract viewers’ attention(i.e. “It’s not Porn, it’s HBO”), or maybe it’s a consideration with the fact that Daredevil, after all, is a Catholic superhero.
In any case, whatever the reason for this “puritanism” may be – I totally approve it. I am too a little bit sick of all the pornography fashion in the TV series. Some say that in our overly noisy world, silence is louder than a scream… In the same way, I believe that these days, actually avoiding of sex depiction in a series can be much more subversive and innovative, than the most sexually provocative scene on-screen.
In most known to me TV and cinema productions of this genre, superheroes had various kinds of relationships with the authorities. In some cases, it was mutual respect and cooperation – like in Batman/Gordon relationship. In other cases it’s disapproval and suspicion like Lance/Green-Arrow dynamics(in the first seasons of Arrow). However, I can’t recall even one other case where the law authorities were depicted so vastly and almost hopelessly corrupted as they were shown in the Daredevil series. I see great importance in this, as I believe that such depictions help develop a healthy critical thinking – which is very important for promoting civil action to make a better society for us all.
Besides that, even though the series was filmed long before the Baltimore Riots, it’s hard not to feel the same mistrust of authorities, and specifically police, that is echoing in this series. By this, may it be intended or not, Daredevil series truly represents the spirit of its time.
Sympathy for the devil
It’s really pisses me off that I even need to mention such elementary fact: if you want to have a good story, you need to have a fucking good villain. I’d be surprised if it’s not one of the first things that they teach at screen-writing schools, and creative-writing workshops. It’s not enough for the villain to be evil – he needs to be someone who can capture the viewers’ imagination, to make them at least partly understand him, and maybe even to feel for him. He needs to be a multi-layered, well-developed character. Not just “a bad guy”. Nevertheless, it keeps me amazed how many action movies/series miserably fail to follow such a basic rule.
Luckily, that’s not the case in the Daredevil series. Actually, the main nemesis of Daredevil, the crime-lord Wilson Fisk(a.k.a Kingpin, brilliantly played by Vincent D’Onofrio), gave maybe the best supervillain performance since the late Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. In both cases it was a rare combination of pretty good script lines, character history, and masterful actor performance.
Actually, even more than that: the character of the Joker was just a complete and beautiful madness. A madness, that can’t be fully comprehended by a sane person – only appreciated for its beautiful decadence. Fisk, on the other hand, was more a combination of fearful strength and touching vulnerability. And Just like the Joker’s character partly stole the show from Batman, Fisk’s character also partly stole the show from the Daredevil. In some points of the plot, I must admit, he even made me want him to win.
Another thing that makes it even more ironic, is that the major love story in the series so far(we speak about first season) is actually the love story of Wilson Fisk and the art gallery curator Vanessa Marianna(played by the Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer). There is amazing contrast between the love-sick Fisk, and the cold-hearten criminal-mastermind.
So to sum things up: yeah, indeed, indeed Daredevil was almost, ALMOST perfect. The only thing that spoiled it was the season’s finale – and if you want to read my bitching about it, just scroll below, but be warned: there are spoilers.
Okay, so about the last episode(better to read it after you watch it):
Let’s face it:
large dance-floors and concert halls are nice, but sometimes all you need is just a small local pub where you can have a beer with yourself(or with a close friend), and maybe to bitch about your life-problems to a friendly bartender, or to engage in small-talk with a random bar-mate.
In this blog-post, I gathered 5 small bars in Haifa, that are perfect just for that.
The Eli’s is located Downtown. It has a large showcase window, through which you can see the backs of the musicians that perform when you’re passing it by from outside. From inside, it looks like this kind of old-school Jazz/Blues bar from the 50’s. It is small, warm and crowded. It has Jam nights, and Jazz nights, and open-stage evenings once a week.
The live music attraction(which is also, usually, for free) adds a lot when you’re looking for additional entertainment to your bar-crawl, except for the regular drinking and talking.
House playlist: mainly a mixture of 60’s and 70’s blues and rock, 20th century jazz, and a little bit of 80’s-90’s hard-rock.
A downer: There’s a mandatory order for each person if you want to sit there. But that’s understandable considering the fact that the place is relatively small and crowded.
Recommended drink: A good old pint of British Newcastle OR a pint of the Israeli brand Goldstar Unfiltered.
If you want to have a beer on the bar alone by yourself without feeling weird or anti-social – Charlie is the place for you. It’s that kind of place that you can easily chit-chat with the bartender, and to exchange sarcastic jokes with Charlie himself, even if you’re not the best at starting conversations with strangers. If you’re a little bit braver, you can also easily start a conversation with your neighbors on the bar. Just be laid-back, and friendly, and fun – that’s the spirit of the place.
Another thing: I think that Charlie is the bar with the largest concentration of people from English-speaking countries. And if you stay till late enough, you might witness some drunk Britt strip-dance on the bar, while other customers throw money at him and shout “go, go tiger!” (true story)
House playlist: mostly Post-Punk, New-Wave, and Indie stuff.
A downer: these guys are practically pushers of alcohol. The moment you’ve finished your drink – be ready to be encouraged to order another one, and then another one, and then another one… And they’re so friendly and outgoing, that it’s really hard to refuse – so the next moment you might find yourself striping on the bar yourself. Also, as a relatively small place – they have mandatory order for each person as well.
Recommended drink: Without any doubt, a good cup of Guinness. Some sources(specially one notorious Guinness expert whose first-name begins with R and ends with N) claim that Charlie has the finest Guinness in the entire Holy Land. The same sources claim that the secret is in the place’s Guinness tap, which is pouring the Irish stout in the best way possible.
Located in the reconstructed and beautiful Turkish Market area, Downtown, Dovrin is a great place to hang out in. The place is generously decorated with wild-humor posters, even in the bathroom – that can definitely very entertain you while getting drunk. The crew is also very friendly, like in the Charlie(in fact, its founders were working in Charlie before starting their own thing), but unlike the Charlie, they are not so pushy about the drinking part. In the Dovrin they won’t give you the disappointed eye if you say you don’t want another beer. Nevertheless, they are ready to participate with you in the house’s drinking challenge – just ask the waitress, or the bartender. Also, as far as I noticed, the Dovrin has much more of studential environment than the pubs that were mentioned before – meaning, I’d say that most of its clients are students, or at least in that age.
House playlist: Indie pop/rock with a little bit of electronic.
Recommended drink: A cup of Magners, OR the local beer brand – Alexander Ambrée. The green beer in the picture, by the way, is St. Patrick’s Day special.
Located in the German Colony area, this place that is basically a beer heaven. With a choice within
more than six taps sixteen taps(thanks, Emil) of high quality beer. The walls of the Dunk are decorated with different certificates and awards that are deeming it as the best beer pub in Haifa. And indeed, the job of pouring beer from the keg is treated in this place with the utmost seriousness and respect. All the beer is poured in a slow and patient method, that creates the affect of a beautiful foam-head(as it can be seen in the picture below). The prices are also very affordable, and as the bar opens up at noon, it is the best place to hang out after work(or during lunch brake) and to have a good mag of beer.
As the place is even smaller by size than all the other bars listed above, also the feeling of friendliness in the bar is very strongly felt. It is very easy to engage in small talk with your neighbors at the bar or at the near tables, as well as with the bartenders.
Another interesting thing is the part of the very strict House Rules(that are very visibly hanging above the bar) – one of them, for example, does not allow to mix beer with something else(other kind of alcohol, or syrup, juice etc). Another rule forbids more than 6 people to sit together(this includes even siting on near tables that will allow them to interact with each other like a single gang). If you don’t follow the house rules after 3 times that you’ve been warned, the owner of the place might as well just hand you the check and tell you to leave.
This sounds harsh, but that’s part of the nonchalant magic of the place. Unlike other bars, where you’re not sure if the bartender is extra-nice to you only because you’re supposed to pay him or because he really likes you, at the Dunk you won’t have such confusion. If you’re being stupid or an asshole, the pub’s staff will let you know that. But if you’re cool(like most of the customers there) – you will definitely enjoy there.
House playlist: mostly Classic Rock.
A downer: even though as I said before, the strict house rules are part of the special environment of the place – sometimes it might be still a bummer that you can’t come with a company larger than 6 people to that bar.
Recommended drink: It’s really hard to pick one beer out of the impressive collection of the bar, but I personally like the most – Alexander Porter. In the picture: Winter Ale.
HaMakolet, which translates from Hebrew as “The Grocery” is probably my favorite bar in Haifa, and maybe even in the whole Holy Land. Its rawness reminds me a little bit that of the bars Downtown(like Eli’s and Dovrin), only that it’s really located in the pastoral Kababir neighborhood in the Carmel Centre, and surrounded by green trees and a park. The bar originally began as an offshoot of the neighborhood’s popular “Shtaim Sukar”(“Two Sugar”) café, and is still located just the next door to it. Nevertheless, HaMakolet definitely has its own vibe, and its own style. The music is warm and happy, the bartenders are extra-friendly and outgoing. The general feeling of the place is that of regular, old-school bar, but with a local twist.
House playlist: Neo-Psychedelia, Blues, Rock, Jazz, Indie. 60’s/70’s/90’s/Modern .
Recommended drink: Home-made Arak shots in tastes. They are amazing – just try them. They are very tasty, and also unique for this place.
All the beer photos are taken from my tumblr blog The Daily Beer.
In the video you can see part of Carmel-Centre and Downtown areas, as well as the insides of local Egged bus, and the legendary Subway – “Carmelit”. The song is a cover of “Bitter Sweet Symphony”, that was originally preformed by The Verve. The video is by Jonathan Israel & Bar Karti. Guitars, vocals, production and mix by Bar Karti. Cello by Grisha Geles.
WHETHER you’re a big music fan or not, You probably already know that feeling, when you listen to a cover of a familiar song from the past, which have been made with such a different and original approach, that it feels like you’re listening to both familiar and completely new song at the same time. And your brain – it just has no choice but to go ka-boom in that very moment. Oh, what a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?
In this post, I’ve collected TOP seven Israeli covers of familiar songs from the past that did exactly that for me, and hopefully will do the same for you.
(To skip the wordy part you can just listen to the entire playlist here)
Acoustic Katy Perry
Ivri Lider, both alone and as part of the duo TYP, is by no-doubt one of the most prominent names in Israeli contemporary pop music. This cover of Katy Perry’s hit was originally recorded for the Israeli Galgalatz radio station, which asked him to cover it for 2008 chart toppers show. The cover became so popular that Ivri decided to record a music video for it. It might be that the melancholic tone, combined with the well-known fact(at least for the Israeli audience) about Ivri Lider’s sexual orientation – that gives this song an interesting, and maybe even more provocative meaning when he sings: “I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”.
Oriental-Metal Pearl Jam
This Oriental cover of the legendary Pearl Jam song was made by members of the Metal band Orphaned Land, as part of a campaign to bring Pearl Jam to Israel. Though the campaign eventually didn’t carry out it’s original goal, the cover that it reproduced is simply marvelous to my taste. Orphaned Land have rightfully earned their fame in the international metal-scene. Their unique blend of metal and oriental music, as well as the mixture of Judaic, Muslim and Christian themes, has helped their music to successfully cross borders where the band members themselves still literally can’t.
Funking Rage Against the Machine
It’s been for decades that Killing In The Name Of, is on almost every Israeli alternative-rock party’s playlist. And if the Dj won’t play it, then it’s a matter of time until somebody would request this song. And every time it pays, the crowd goes crazy.
I’m pretty sure that The Apples – a Funk/Jazz ensemble from Tel-Aviv – were aware of all that when they did their extra-groovy take of that song. And the outcome that they delivered is so dope that it might just make one’s brain to melt between his ears and to start doing little breakdance.
Besides that, I have to admit that I had the pleasure of seeing them perform more than just a several times in the past seven years. And every time I’ve seen them live, the concert-hall was crowded almost to the full – which is definitely very impressive for a non-mainstream indie-label band. If you want to dig-in their original music, I’d recommend you to listen to Powder and Buzzin’ About. But that’s just me…
Psychedelic Donna Summers
This truly far-out cover of Donna Summers’ hit was made by the Garage-Rock trio “Electra”, as the B-side of their “Dawn of Summer”(see what they did there?) single. Though currently(temporarily?) inactive, their truly electric and energetic concerts were such a prominent force in the local Indie scene during the last decade that I find it hard to talk about Israeli Indie scene without mentioning them.
Fun fact: Nitzan Horesh, their ridiculously charismatic front-man, is currently performing with a new and funky outfit, that is called the Cut Out Club.
Folk-Rock David Bowie
Geva Alon is maybe the Israeli most critically acclaimed Indie singer-songwriter, and is often being compared to the legendary Neil Young. I, personally, dislike these kinds of comparisons – Geva is doubtlessly a kick-ass musician by his own right, and any attempt to compare his unique musical imprint with someone else’s is just pointless, and does no good for either of them. Nevertheless, and with all that being said, I have to admit: sorry, David Bowie, but this cover just outdid the original.
In case that you don’t know this already, the word asli means “authentic” in Arabic. In Hebrew slang, it is often used to describe anything authentically oriental.
So this truly asli version of the Radiohead’s classic is the product of collaboration between Rotem Shefey(vocals), and Leat Sabbah(Cello), two Tel-Avivi musicians that were studying together in Rimon School of Jazz & Contemporary Music in Tel-Aviv. Their project’s Kickstarter page says:
“What seemed at first a satirical cover transformed into a full-blown multi-layered middle-eastern arrangement, recorded with oud player Yaniv Taichmann, percussionist Ori Dekel. The track was recorded at Bardo Studios in Tel Aviv by Avi Ein Zur”
They successfully crowd-sourced 1,939 dollars for the production of a musical-video for the track. The result was a video-clip with more than 887,000 views on YouTube.
Was it really worth it? The responses of my friends vary between – “wow, this is so awesome!” to “what is this shit?”
Some even accused the video of being racist because of the intentional Arabic accent that Shefey imitating during the song. I think those accusations are a bit over-the-top. Specially when considering the fact that Shefey and Sabbah, as it can be easily implied by their surnames – come from families of Oriental-Jewish origin – meaning, that Arabic was the primary language that their grandparents, and maybe even parents spoke in. So the Arabic accent is not something foreign for them to laugh about, but rather something nostalgic, and familiar, and part of their family heritage.
Bonus: If you fancy this cover, you might also like Shefey’s oriental cover of The Verve’s Bitter-Sweet Symphony.
Michael Jackson in Electronic-Jazz
Even though Jonathan Dagan and the members of his electronic project J.Viewz are currently based in Brooklyn – if to judge by the frequency of their visits to the Holy Land, it is hard to say that they forgot where they came from. Most of all, it is touching to notice the special treatment they give on their tours to Jonathan’s old hometown – the city of Haifa – which gets considerably lower prices(sometimes even free-of-charge entrance) for their concerts. In this video they present their interpretation of Michael Jackson’s immortal hit.
Trivia: there’s a shocking crime that is being committed during the video… Can you spot it?