My Palestinian Post

Well, originally I didn’t intend to write here about politics, but I guess that saying something like that in the middle east is like saying that you’re not gonna think about sex during an orgy.

So that’s the deal: A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times dedicated two articles to the urban culture of two Israeli cities: Tel-Aviv and Haifa. Funnily enough, the original headline of the article about Haifa was “In Israeli City of Haifa, a Liberal Palestinian Culture Blossoms”(which I highly recommend to read here). 

This headline has obviously made some people very pissed-off, namely: Israelis who were offended by the claim that there’s a “Palestinian culture” inside the borders of Israel, and Palestinians who didn’t like to see Haifa described as an “Israeli city”. Yes, welcome to the Holy Land: where people are pathetically touchy and insecure about anything that has to do with their little fragile national identity.

It seems to me that both of the “offended” parts by the NYT headline, share something in common: they are both denying reality.

This is not a secret that about 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs. In Israel they are being mainly referred to as “Israeli-Arabs”, to stress out the difference between them and the Palestinians that are living in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. But the reality is, that many of them are openly identifying themselves as Palestinians, or at least “Israeli-Palestinians” – meaning, Palestinians with an Israeli passport. And why wouldn’t they? After all, they are ethnically similar to the Palestinians inside the green line, they speak more-or-less the same dialect, and many of them even have relatives there. This is perfectly normal, and you can find this also in other areas of ethnic dispute – like for example the ex-Yugoslavian Kosovo Republic, where there are minorities which are obviously identifying themselves as Serbs, even though they have a Kosovarian citizenship, and they vote at the Kosovarian national elections, just like Israeli-Palestinians vote at the Israeli ones. Nevertheless, in Kosovo, so it seems, nobody says to them “why are you calling yourselves Serbs and not Kosovarian-Slavs, huh?!”

Unfortunately, however, nobody listens to me, and that’s why(probably because of Zionist-readers’ complaints) the NYT article’s headline was eventually altered from “Palestinian culture” to “Arab culture”…

From the Palestinian side, however, harsh criticism about this article actually came from one of the main interviewees in it: Ayed Fadel, the owner of Kabareet nightspot. He wrote:

First of all I think that this interview was my last interview ever, I am done with media!! In Arabic we say KHALLASNA !

I actually found this piece disturbing. It refers to certain aspects and neglects so many others that I personally mentioned during the interview, it portrays the modern Palestinian in a “Western” image that comforts white readers and make them say, “oh, they’re just like us!” Well no, we’re nothing like them, in fact, we’re very different and deep into the shit, and having to portray us in this image is insulting.

On the other hand, I do agree our community has developed and evolved and I love going to the places mentioned in this article, they feel like home, and because they feel like home, it’s disturbing the way they were illustrated.
While I do understand the writer and what she tried to convey, and I appreciate the effort being put in investigating this topic, but it’s a wider topic than this, and can’t be summarized in one article, there are so many points missing, crucial ones, that the lack of them make this article shallow, offensive and degrading.

Plus on that 90% of the interview we were talking about how the culture of the cultural resistance is growing and taking a place in so many levels, such as music, art, spaces etc. And how the Palestinian underground scene is getting bigger and bigger and full of creativity and how literally it is being a place full of intelligence and rebel agenda.

About quoting me: “We want a gay couple to go to the dance floor and kiss each other, and nobody to even look at them, this is the new Palestinian society we are aiming for.” Yes I did say that, but it was a whole build up for the conversation until I reached this sentence, and I was actually trying to explain how Haifa became a place where everyone can feel safe and comfortable, so I used one of the most extremist views that our society could accept. Also mentioning the Kooz queer film festival that we hosted without mentioning that one of the most important topics in it was the Israeli pink washing- IS MISLEADING – especially when I’ve been totally used as a “pink washer” with the quote above!!

I don’ know if what I am writing now is even enough to cover all what have been written in this article, but hopefully that could explain the situation and make it more clear that it was another trap by the white media, that is always trying to show us as the cool yay hipsters full of tattoos and piercings – far away from the grounded reality that we are facing and fighting every day!

We agreed to do this, thinking the results would be different, but they weren’t. Last chance given to white media and media in general, next time we’ll be more cautious, and we don’t allow anyone to categorize us under ” Israeli City of Haifa, a Liberal Palestinian Culture Blossoms” – dear editor, please liberate your liberalism aspects.

While he has a point in some of his criticism towards this article(like the pink-washing part), I found it funny to see that while he’s claiming that they’re not at all like western hipsters, he’s responding to this article exactly in a way that a western hipster would react.

In general, his complaining about the exclusion of his political agenda from the article is kind of silly. After all, this was an article about the Palestinian nightlife culture in Haifa, and not about political activism.

Also, unlike what’s implied from his comment, I really didn’t feel at all that this article is intended to give the Israeli government a pat-on-back for being soooo liberal and soooo accepting towards ethnic and sexual minorities, but rather to describe the special and relatively tolerant environment in Haifa city – which is quite unique both for the Jewish and the Arab societies in the Holy Land.

The funniest part, though, was when the guy wrote:

“this interview was my last interview ever, I am done with media!”

Dude, I have no doubt that the thousands of “white-press” reporters that were counting on interviewing you would be deeply disappointed!

Well, I think that’s all with Dead City Radio for today, kids! And remember:

All nationalisms are imaginary!

 

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A J.Viewz Special, and other Gay stuff

Whoa, it’s been some time since my last post, but there’s happened so much to write about. i’ll start from the earliest event: 26 of June, when J.Viewz came back to their hometown to kick some ass. 

Accidentally or not, the concert was held on the day of Haifa’s Pride Parade, which resulted in the city being decorated all over with flags like this:

it felt a bit like Israel’s independence day, only gay independence day. ANd in a way, it was EXACTLY that. It was only four days after I attended my first gay wedding ceremony(a friend of mine finally married his boyfriend), And a day before the historical RULING OF THE US SUPREME COURT about gay marriage.

Anyway, let’s get back to the topic…


I’ve already wrote here once before about J.Viewz, Jonathan Dagan’s live-electronic project, in my post about 7 Israeli covers that should blow your mind, where their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” topped the list. They are currently based in Brooklyn, but still visiting their homeland quite often. And every time they come, they always give Haifa the special treatment, for being the city where Jonathan grew-up in.

This time, the special treatment was another free mid-day concert, that was dedicated to 10 years anniversary of their debut album – Muse Breaks.

As usual for a J.Viewz summer-gig in Haifa, their concert was accompanied with small waterworks, that were hanged on cables above our heads. From there, they sprayed refreshing water-drops over the crowd.

There is something very natural in the combination of these waterworks with their music. Specially with their 2011 album Rivers and Homes, which always gives me the feeling of a gentle summer’s rain, or salty sea-breeze. In a way, resembling Jonathan’s old hometown – Haifa.


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Quite ironically, J.Viewz had their first taste of fame thanks to another Israeli electronic act: Infected Mushroom(if you’re really into PsyTrance scene, you’ve probably have heard about them). They did a mix of Muse Breaks title track, which made it an instant dancefloor hit. Anyway, the original piece sounds like this:

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I don’t really need to re-introduce their jazzy version of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal, but I’ll do so anyway, because it’s so awesome. It appears that this version had some success also on BBC Radio 1, and the British JazzFM. If you didn’t had the chance to listen to it yet, just go ahead now:

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If this wasn’t enough glamour for you till now, Salty Air, from Rivers and Homes album was made famous in Revlon 2011 advertising campaign, starring Halle Berry. The full track is much better, thought… Listen to it here:

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And now, we finally get to my all-time favorite: Oh, Something’s Quiet was created out of recorded voices of J.Viewz fans from around the world. It also features Kelli Scarr – that is mostly famous for doing vocals for Moby‘s album Wait for Me. Except for being just an awesome song by its own, it also has a kind of trippy, sensual, and mesmerizing musical clip. Watch it here:

And here’s my take of the live performance in Haifa:

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Unfortunately, J.Viewz did only one encore this time(despite the calls from the audience for another). Maybe they were tired. Anyway, there is nothing else to do than to envy THIS EPIC ENCORE that they did a few weeks before that in Jaffa:

5 Coolest Friend-Bars in Haifa

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.

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Eli’s Pub

Derekh Yafo 35

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.

Eli’s Pub. Newcastle(left) and Goldstar Unfiltered(right)

4

Charlie Bar

Sha’ar ha-Levanon St. 2

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.

Charlie-bar. Pouring of Guinness in progress… Under the legendary tap.

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Dovrin 7

Nahum Dovrin st. 7

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.

2

The Dunk

Sderot HaMeginim 95

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.

The Dunk. Winter ale.

1HaMakolet

Kadima Street 1

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.

An Awesome cover of Bitter Sweet Symphony, that was filmed in Haifa

Video

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.

5 hottest Alternative-spots in Haifa

This post will be a short guide the Alternative nightlife-scene in Haifa. This is written in favor of those wish to travel to the Holy Land, and want get wasted there. When talking about nightlife, tourists are usually naturally attracted to Tel-Aviv as they come to Israel. Amazing amount of ink and pixels were already used to describe the nightlife there. But, believe it or not, there are other large modern cities in Israel that are worth getting wasted at. Specifically Haifa.

Haifa is the third largest city in Israel(after Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv), and the capital of the second-largest metropolitan area. This post will focus on the Alternative nightlife. What is Alternative nightlife in this context? Basically, what’s opposite to the mainstream taste, and intended for audience with specific and different taste – including music, art, parties etc. Meaning, you won’t find on this list any of the most popular nightclubs and and bars. After all, they’re not interesting from the first place. What is really interesting when you travel – is the rare and the unique, and not what’s most popular and common. And this city is not just a good spot for music and nightlife that’s alternative to mainstream, but it’s also aspiring alternative to the nightlife scene of Tel-Aviv as a whole.

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HOUSE Gallery

Address: Derekh Yafo 30, Haifa

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(photos via House Gallery FB page)

This wonderful place is located at the Jaffa street, downtown, and as the name suggests, this is first of all a gallery: a place for art. But instead of being just a regular gallery, this place(which also has a stage, and relatively non-expensive alcohol-bar) hosts a numerous musical events, concerts and parties. The music is traditionally something in the range of blues/ethnic/middle-eastern/folk, but sometimes they might surprise you with something like a Hip-Hop party. The environment at the place is somehow middle-eastern-hippie-like.

Recommended drink: just grab yourself a black bottle of GOLDSTAR – Israeli most popular dark-lager.

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Syncopa-bar

Address: Khayat Street 5, Haifa

 Syncopa is a place with style. When you enter, the first thing you

Place with style (Photo credit: Syncopa FB page)

Got style (Photo credit: Syncopa FB page)

notice is the design – which is crazy, even psychedelic in a way. The bar has two floors: the ground floor is like a regular bar, while the second floor hosts concerts, parties and even poetry-slam and stand-up evenings. It’s probably one of the very few places where you can find Elecro-Swing, Rockabilly, Funk, and even Balkan parties – all of which are coming with a specific dress-code, that will make you feel like you’ve came back in time, or at least traveled to the Balkans. Except of that, the place hosts a large amount of Indie and Alternative concerts.

Recommended drink: Pint of Hobgoblin and/or Vodka-Caramel shot.

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Wunderbar

Address: Derekh Khativat Golani 18, Haifa

 The first thing there’s to say about Wunderbar – is that it’s a REAL club. Not a pub with stage, not a dance-bar, but a real, full-blown, alternative-music club. It’s a large building, with 3 dance-floors with 3 well-equipped alcohol-bars, and monstrous sound-systems. There’s a different music on each floor. Wunderbar also has a stage for concerts where various alternative-music acts can preform. What concerns the parties – they vary: may it be Rock, Indie, Reggae, Dubstep & Drum’N’Bass, dark 80’s, and 90’s, or even Psy-Trance & Techno.

Wonderbar - a full-blown Alternative-music club

Wonderbar – a full-blown Alternative-music club (photo-credits: Nati Gold)

But nothing could be said about it without mentioning it’s legendary founder and owner: Shlomi Mangar. The guy is the UNDISPUTED GODFATHER of the Alternative-scene in Haifa. Wunderbar is the third reincarnation of Shlomi’s vision of the city night-life. The other two were “The Second City”(1987-1995), and “City Hall”(1995-2010) – both of which became mythological places for whole generations in the city. For me, personally, the name “City-Hall” will always bring-up warm memories of drunken nights and wild parties, crazy hook-ups, and awesome concerts. At one of it’s peaks, “City-Hall” have hosted a Rage Against the Machine concert. And to whatever concerns the legendary “Second City” club – it even makes appearance at Ari Fulman’s Waltz With Bashir movie, at the sequence where he returns shell-shocked from the war in Lebanon:

Both of those clubs were eventually closed only because of municipal bureaucracy and red-tape. Nevertheless, Shlomi refused to give-up, and so we got the new Wunderbar club.

Recommended drink: 0.5 litter of Tuborg-Red and/or Vodka-cranberry-juice.

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Kartel

Address: Ha-Namal St 10, Haifa

 Say whatever you want about Hipsters, but you can’t accuse them in having a bad taste. And “Kartel” is definitely the Hipster item on this list. First thing you see when you get there is those giant ruins of a building, covered from the ground to the top with mind-blowing graffiti. There are some tables outside, and a bar, and deep inside the building there is a dance-floor. In this way, it reminds very much the Tel-Avivi Teder-bar – or at least so it seems at first sight.

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(Picture-credits: Kartel / קרטל FB)

The truth is, if you really accept this term “Hipster” – you must understand that Haifa-Hipsters and Tel-Aviv-Hipsters are totally different breed. First difference: Tel-Avivi-Hipsters are assholes – while Haifa-Hipsters are not. Second difference: Haifa-Hipsters actually have talent – Tel-Avivi-Hipsters only think they do.

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That was taken in one of the “art exhibitions” opening. The guys really know how to party (Picture-credits: Kartel / קרטל FB)

I think10549245_776623619068394_2480779179004227877_o that’s makes “Kartel” so great: that kind of awesome combination of a party, a bar, and an art exhibition. Whether you came there to party hard, or just to sit with friends and talk, or maybe to see some interesting urban art – this place fits best for all these needs.

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The dancefloor at the Kartel.

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Syrup

Address: Ha-Ne’emanim St 2, Haifa

The man behind “Syrup” is Ben Rifftin. An ex-Tel-Avivi band-manager and one of the founders of the Indie-label “Pit/kit“. In it’s core, Syrup is a place for Indie music. Specially the more edgy/noisy/punk-rock/psychedelic/distortion spectrum of it… But it’s also a host for a bunch of other different events – like various parties, “random text” evenings, stand-up nights, and even “Syraoke”(typically, the song choice that you’ll find there is different from a regular Karaoke). And even though there are other places in Haifa that host Indie acts(Syncopa, for instance) I think that every local Indie-lover could feel the difference after “Syrup” was established in Haifa. It brought with it some kind of new spirit that finally managed to awaken this city from it’s sleep.

Recommended drink: For both Kartel and Syrup – I recommend to try Maccabi(an Israeli light-lager) from the keg with a shot of Tubi60(a local alcoholic drink, made in Haifa. Containing herbs and other awesome stuff. It is specially popular among Hipsters all over the country).

ILLY

The band ILLY preforming at the Syrup. (Photo credits: Me)