Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Body Politick

Bibi the model shows up smelling of aftershave and asking for our votes. After elections? He won’t let us smell his socks… #13, Shas party list
Elections in 28 days. The rhetoric and ruthless backstabbing has begun.

But I wouldn’t know because I’m on hiatus from things political. The fun of that is allowing others to vocalize (rant) on my behalf. What a passive-aggressive way to share views, eh? Thinly veiled and entertaining at the same time.

Tamar, my Tuesday coffee pal attended a political forum last week; Here are her impressions (printed with permission, of course):

Roommate and I went to a candidate's/parties' forum recently to hear the raps. Very disturbing and fascinating. A lot of hatred. Why?

Speakers obsessed about security and Mr. Likud
Uzi Landau and the handsome Herut man had subtexts that felt racist as hell. Mafdal with kipot srugot (knitted skullcaps whose wearers are generally associated with nationalism) with the United Torah unmentionables were equally scare-oriented.

Kadima Russian “large-boned” woman constantly interrupted all speakers and a wig-wearing Meretz woman and Shinui pretty boy delivered shallow, uninspired rote.

The Labor man was intelligent and detailed yet he, too, was swept up in the Hamas-threat talk theme of the evening. I didn’t feel part of a country in the global economy of the 21st century. Rather, I felt in a tiny room with small-timers running for class president.

The one sane person was speaking for Tafnit (Democracy in Zion) addressing the short-term and longer-term platform. This I liked. Vision coupled w/bread and butter talk.

Most upsetting was a lack of understanding for or acknowledgment of the Hamas victory as at least partial commentary by Palestinians who had stuff on their minds besides blowing us up.

The evening was hateful because it offered no hope, no imagination, no compassion and it was filled with rhetoric of war, kill, defend, arm, enclose. Even Shinui, who has little military ring is saying the same thing in terms of platform. "We care not about who is in your bed or what you eat or who marries you." To me this is pap because it is, again, without context or a concrete program.

Audience of raptly attentive Anglos; Beautiful moderation by
David Horovitz.

I long for a government accountable to local constituencies. In the U.S. I enjoy phoning my congressional reps and demanding attention and deeds.
Did I tell you that Hebrew lacks the word for accountability?
Does this make me an American brat lacking proper understanding of the pap, er, I mean wisdom imparted?

..thanks Tamar

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Weekend at the Sportek, Tel Aviv


folk dance

fun, fun, fun
climbing wall

Saturday, February 25, 2006

La Petite Refugee Camp

I might as well finish out the week on the same happy note as it began: Raphael's brief hospitalization. I'll start fresh tomorrow in Tara, Scarlett willing (not Johansen).

Allow me to preface this entry by noting that although I don't blog about the Palestinian-Israeli situation, the Hamas victory, Putin's invitation, Israel's upcoming elections, the pitiful French response to gut-wrenching blatant anti-Semitism and other matters political, I'm not living in clueless realm. I simply choose not to write about this stuff because for years I was in the thick of it while working as a journalist for various international news organizations and for the time being I am in the backseat. Thanks for your support.

The above noted, ONE thing I learned while working in the hard news realm is how very grey life is. For instance, when at one point I was in Ramallah covering something or other, it boggled me to witness Israeli soldiers hangin' with the cousins (Palestinians) - lighting cigarettes for each other, trading jokes - you know, hangin'. ..until some silent code was emitted and everyone fell into his respective role. Cut. Friendship over. One side now throws rocks, chants slogans and burns tires and the other fires rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammo to quell the upsurge. I was like: What in the hell just happened?

So how does that relate to a 4-year-old's hospital stay? The room Rapha shared was with Mohammed and Noora. Mohammed is a 15-year-old from Gaza's Jebalya Refugee Camp suffering from Crohn's Disease and arthritis. Noora, 12 and also from Jebalya, was in the hospital for ongoing treatment of an ailment I didn't quite catch. Both were accompanied by moms in modest Moslem garb and as it turned out, Noora's mom heads the camp's Red Crescent Society's Womens Health Center and speaks fluent English.

On the opposite side of the room was Gal - a 12-year-old Israeli girl suffering from severe headaches in hospital to undergo brain scans. Her father took me aside to confide that he had been one of the original undercover agents used in crack units during the 1st intifada. He infiltrated Arab society to aid in the arrest of insurgents.

"I speak fluent Arabic and I know what they're talking about," he confided while sending a glance to the other side of the room. What were they saying? "Something about getting through the checkpoint to come up here from Gaza." State secrets.

With perpetual conflict and enmity in abundance how do Gazans end up sharing a Tel Aviv hospital room with a part American/part Danish kid (he doesn't draw cartoons. Yet) and a former undercover agent?

Grey grey grey. The closer you get the blurrier the view

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hotel Hospital

After being away from HLC (Holy Land Central) for a decade, spending time in a local hospital this week was a very different experience from what I'd grown accustomed to in San Fran - hardwood floors, sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, meal menus to choose from and jacuzzi bath in the UCSF room where I gave birth to Senior Raphael...hmmm... The differences between here and there in the healthcare approach are rather significant, no doubt. The bottom line - the medical care - however, is the same. Here's what I mean:
  • Emergency room attending nurses didn't wear gloves nor did the doc. Even while taking a rather spraying urine sample from a shaking child. I could care less but noticed it all the same
  • The examination table lining paper doesn't seem to change all too often. I'd like to think the brown stain was antiseptic
  • Patient room windows open to the outside wide enough to crawl through onto the ledge and jump. No bars. Obviously not too many people are thinking: Hmmm. I think I'll go up to floor 3 of the children's ward and end my life
  • Improvisation is king. Need a cold compress to bring down your child's fever? Grab a pair of infant leggings, soak and apply
  • Televisions in rooms are a commodity; They can be brought in and hooked up but it'll cost ya
  • Self service is the name of the game. Because at least one parent is with a child at all times (not a rule but it's just the way people here behave), that parent is expected to go out in the hallway and fix a tray from the meal cart for his/her child at each mealtime
  • Empowerment is also the name of the game. The same parent is expected to find and use the "buffet" cart next to the nurses' station stocked with glass thermometers in alcohol filled beakers marked "rectum" and "mouth", vaseline tubes and wipes. Kid running a fever? Then grab some supplies and take his temperature. Tell the nurse how high it was and she (there were no male nurses during our stay) will mark it on the chart and administer meds
  • Kid feeling bored and listless? Go take a walk outside. Noone will say anything or probably even notice. Or hang out in the children's room where computer games, art supplies, books and boardgames are manned by helpful "teachers" who play and guide
  • When the black cloaked 4-man Chabad brigade shows up on the ward it does not signal last rites. They're on deck to hand out sweets and Bamba and bid a refuah shleimah (full recovery) to the kids
  • Time to go home? Bye bye. No wheelchair or coddling. Take care. Now go

The bottom line: Lawsuits are not dangled threateningly overhead so self empowerment and independence fostering takes precedence.

And let's face it: Who cares about seeing the bridge during a contraction? I certainly didn't but paid dearly for that missed view. Here? Go home, thanks. No bill. Yes, I'll pay in other ways but let's not talk about it right now, eh?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


... the outpouring of support over the past days since Rapha's episode has been heartwarming, tear evoking and simply wonderful. Thanks, thanks, thanks to:

Tonny for being Rapha's dad and loving him so much, Mom & Dad for listening, advising and being there, Tonny's mom Linda for worrying and calling, Rachelle for care and concern, Josh for reaching out, Aunt Babe for calling, re-calling and calling again, Peggy & Doron for visiting, a coloring book & crayons, a thermos of coffee and much needed sandwiches, Tamar for dropping in, high grade chocolate, higher grade humor and Mentos, Jeff for love & concern, Steve for being there, Lauren for concern and offers of help, Laura for offering to dog-walk, Lisa for kindness, concern and offers of help, Allison for medical info, references and offers of coffee & alcohol, Orli the kindergarten teacher for calling and for rallying her classroom of artists, the kids in Rapha's kindergarten for drawings and sweetness, Nathan and his mom for caring, checking in and offering love and kisses, Ariel and her mom for calling and drawing a special picture, Gideon for well wishes, Swollen for concern and caring, Susie in Florida for thoughtfulness and a good heart, Natasha for advice and Noorster for kind thoughts and words (& impressive aerial shots)

The Longest Night

When Raphael (4-year-old son) was born, my sister Rachelle bought me The American Academy of Pediatrics Caring for your Baby and Young Child - Birth to Age 5. An invaluable resource, the Fever chapter is particularly well worn because kids tend to have fevers in multiples and in the early years it's a worry.

When first reading over the section on febrile seizures I was like: Excuse me? He could what if the fever spikes? No way. I wouldn't be able to deal with that. But it won't happen.

As my previous entry shows, it did happen and I did deal without freaking too severely. However, the most terrifying moments of my life used to be those sandwiched between first hearing the air raid sirens start up and feeling missiles thud into Tel Aviv in 1991. Rapha's seizure night has been added to the list.

After a day of up and down fever and incessant vomiting, mother's instinct awakened me at 03:00 to find a sweating and shivering Rapha beside me in bed. With an armpit temp of 103.5 F/39.72 C, I administered a fever reducer and applied cold wet compresses to cool him off. We spoke softly and even chuckled over the kitty's attempts at sneaking beneath the blanket. Then, without warning, his eyes rolled back and he began convulsing and gurgling as his tongue blocked his airway.

I screamed for Tonny to call an ambulance, grabbed a phone to call myself and watched in horror and desperation as the most precious person in my life flailed and struggled to breathe. As I took instructions from the ambulance dispatch, I dressed, threw underwear and clothing for Rapha into a bag and then whispered "I love you" into his ear when he lapsed into unconsciousness a few moments later.

Rapha came to in the emergency room of Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center and was admitted to the children's ward after blood and urine samples were drawn and vitals and a chest x-ray taken. His temperature was registered at 41.2C/106 Fahrenheit.

As a parent this was the hardest thing I've endured thus far. I get weepy when the images flash through my mind and I experience anew the comprehension of my son's (and my own) mortality. Rapha is home now and a virus has been deemed the culprit. His threshold for fever treatment has been lowered meaning in common-speak that he needs swift treatment when the fever starts. Medically it isn't as horrible as it sounds; personally, it is.

A few bits of information, factoids and things learned to pass along:
  1. 2% of children under age 5 experience febrile seizures. The general rule is one seizure per bout of illness; More frequent seizures may signal a more serious condition. Normal range seizures last for several minutes max
  2. If a child is seizing, ensure his/her head and body are safe from hard or sharp objects but don't attempt to hold the child down or stop the convulsions - a fracture may result.
  3. NEVER put anything - especially a finger - into a seizing child's mouth. You WILL lose it as the biting down instinct is particularly strong during episodes. DO, however, move the child's head to the side so that the tongue falls sideways away from the throat and saliva doesn't block the airways
  4. Underarm temperature taking is inaccurate. For a good reading purchase a high end digital ear instrument or use the standard under-the-tongue or rectal modes
  5. When sponge bathing a child to bring down a fever make sure the water is warm. Overly cold temps will cause chills in turn signaling the body to raise temps even higher
  6. If a feverish child has a vacant, "zombie" look in his/her eyes or begins talking or behaving in bizarre fashion seek medical help right away
  7. Try not to panic. Your child needs you to be calm and be there for him or her.
  8. Note the time so you're aware of how long the seizure lasted

Good health to us all

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bad News

Rapha had a fever induced siezure last night and is in the hospital. I'm home to shower, collect some things and go back to sleep. He's okay - stabilizing - but being watched.

Horrible, horrible, horrible. There is nothing more valuable or more important.

Monday, February 20, 2006

2-Second Warning

When I was about ten, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling ill. Scrambling out of bed and ambling down the endless hallway to my parents' room, I was sick mid-way on the carpet. My mother's irritation over being roused for a middle-of-the-night clean up has remained with me to this day. She didn't say anything but I knew. And sometimes I've thought: "How very unloving of her. I'm her offspring, for god's sake!"

Now I have offspring of my own and I no longer think those thoughts about my ma. For those without kids this is a warning. For those with, you can stop smirking now, thanks.


1) It doesn't matter if the child is your life's love, the warm soft bundle bestowed upon you from above or nature's blessing to behold: When he or she is sick in the queasy sense IT IS GROSS! No amount of love quells your nausea sorry to say.

2) You can be listening to the crescendo of the 1812 Overture at top volume on your AKG K 1000's, watching the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan in your home IMAX screening room or relaxing in the sauna in the mansion's outer outer wing but you will ALWAYS hear that sound a kid makes 2 seconds before he or she is going to be sick. You will bolt, sprint and dash to no avail. By the time you've heard it? Too late.

3) Regardless of rehearsels, subliminal messages arranged in alphabet soup and tape recordings played in sleep, a young'un can't be taught to sprint to the toilet in 5 seconds or less. When the moment of truth arrives he or she WILL NOT MAKE IT NO MATTER WHAT. And that is truly truly unfortunate because for the uninitiated ... well let's cushion it: Remember The Exorcist? Yup. Heck, after one particularly active night there wasn't an untouched bedsheet to be found at chez nous.

Sorry for the graphics. But for those who've been there you know that frustrating blend of ECH! mixed with Oh sweetie..

For those who haven't, it's really not THAT awful (wink wink, let's rope another one in). But seriously: You reconcile yourself to the situation at hand and later feel remorse over begging a 4-year-old to please, please RUN! (who responded with: Get away from me!)

Oh well so much for fun and games. Gotta run. The sofa cushions should be dry by now.

The Cat Lady, Tel Aviv

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Political Crisis

.. Here's the dilemma of the week:

You're a head of state traveling on a shuttle diplomacy mission in the Middle East aimed at rousing or at the very least determining support for intended Iraq sanctions.

After a successful visit with Bahrain's Emir you arrive at the airport to find two shopping bags sent personally by the chieftan himself.

Inside are Rolex watches for your staff and accompanying crew and a special diamond encrusted one for you. Problem is that your government's protocol doesn't allow accepting the gifts. Returning them, however, would be a serious faux pas.

What to do?

a) swear everyone to secrecy and keep the goods anyway. who'll find out?
b) pretend to return them but instead hawk them at the local souk and use the $$ to get going on that South Beach vacation getaway you've been dreaming of
c) auction them off for taxpayer benefit upon return home

Guess which option former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had no choice but to opt for? Geez, the hardships of working in upper management.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Big D in Da House!!!

One of my fave guys is in HLC (Holy Land Central) at the moment...

He is JUST all that. I saw him once by accident while walking down the street. He was riding in the holy limo through San Fran en route to a speaking engagement and the preceding police motorcade with lights a'flashin' screamed out: Take Notice. Person of Value En Route. 'Course, the D.L. being the D.L., the back window of his black stretch was open and he was semi-hanging out, smiling and waving to the crowds. And 'course being that at that very moment he was passing through a less fortunate city section (read: The Projects), several hoodsters noting my excitement ran over to inquire as to the celebrity's identity. Telling them didn't make a bit of difference. The who? Oh just make something up. Go home and tell your friends it was Prince.

Apparently His Holiness won't be meeting any government higher ups whilst in HLC. Newspaper speculation is that Israeli counterparts may be a bit too concerned w/what the Chinese may think...hmmmm

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Parallel Universe

Earlier this month I referred to one of my side vocations which entails phoning up about 150 new immigrants each month to ascertain that all is well in their worlds and offer advice, information or insight when needed. It's extremely rewarding and because people's characters, life stories and experiences are so very different, it's also fascinating at times.

Like today. A person on my list phoned me and quietly identified himself as Person X living in Tel Aviv's ultra-religious suburb Bnei Brak. He asked a few benign questions about financial matters and then got to the meat of it: I'm looking for a shidduch. I'll get back to you I promptly replied, hanging up the phone.

Oopelah! I didn't have to watch Crossing Delancey five times to get it: He wanted a matchmaker! A good old fashioned Fiddler on the Roof yentah to hook him up. I phoned up my contacts who phoned their contacts and we came up with the goods - a professional matchmaker's number - which was promptly delivered in a return phone call. There was glee in his voice.

Later when I got to thinking about it I was amazed by the fact that I wasn't amazed. I knew what he wanted and didn't contemplate it for a second. Look Ma! The Day School Education was not for naught! (No, Arranged Marriage 101 was not part of the curriculum) But seriously, I fancy myself so secular and far removed from someone of that ilk and yet...

Which reminds me that earlier in the week a rather hip, cosmopolitan friend sent through pictures of her relatives - ultra orthodox cousins and their brood of 14 offspring. I'm still warming to the thought of FOURTEEN CHILDREN...!!! But at least now I understand why an environmentalist I interviewed last month noted Israel's population issue as a critical topic demanding government attention.

It was oh-so-surreal studying the family's images in that photo: modest dresses, black hats, black coats, a wig for the wife...And I thought: We live in the same country and yet we're in parallel universes.

Sorta. It's easy to look at a picture and judge. I dunno. But hell, what would the guy in Bnei Brak have thought had he known that lil 'ol moi was sporting leave-nothing-to-the-imagination tights, a tie-dyed tee-shirt, cobalt blue nail polish and Doc Martens while arranging his arranger?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy V.D.

Over here in Holy Land Central (HLC) Valentine's Day is scarce. Surprise surprise considering the holiday's Christian/Roman roots. Up in Jerusalem, perhaps all the Christian Quarter priests are gathered this evening over candlelight passing out cards and "be sweet" candy hearts.

But in my realm, aside from red and pink heart appliques pasted to the neighborhood pub windows (whose young hip staff and clientele always rouses for a party) and a Valentine e-mail sent 'round by my pal Steve (from England) and a well-wish from our yoga teacher (from San Francisco), it's been nada bascada on the holiday.

And you know what? I'm happy. Call me sour puss, eternal Grinch, killjoy, deadbeat.. whatever but Valentine's Day was just one of those holidays I really, really didn't go in for living back in the U.S. of A. Because in that idealistic "burn your bra" sorta way I always maintained that if you really love someone, you show it year 'round. Not just on the 14th.

I know. Take a number. Not original. But still..

If nothing else I'm glad to be free of the commercial pressure surrounding V.D. This is one holiday where the less romantic person in a partnership - be it in a hetero or same-sex coupling - is doomed from the start. Because this is the holiday of Expectations. Chocolate truffles? Romantic dinner over candelight at home? Reservations at an exclusive hot spot? Bouquet delivered to the office? Hallmark card? Negligee? Calvin Kleins? All of the above? Of course, actually discussing wants and needs with a partner always helps, but that would render the fun & drama of a heated public argument over the roasted squash soup course null and void. And then what?

To all of you out there celebrating: Enjoy and don't take it too seriously. It's REALLY about chasing away winter blah's. So chase, chase, chase mein kinder; Imbibe the bubbly and save your money for a trip to Ibiza or Provence.

Monday, February 13, 2006

HLC & the Subconscious

Today is Tu B'Shvat here in HLC (Holy Land Central). It's a minor, feel-good holiday: plant trees, eat dried fruit and bless the almighty for the wonders of soil-grown goods. Amen. Any minute now, I'll sprout dates for arms and apricots for ears. Enough dried fruit already. I feel like my grandfather.

Next we head into Purim; the stores have begun stocking costumes, cans of silly string, make up, wigs, plastic hammers, noise makers, party poppers... Between the outrageous get-ups at last year's Halloween in the Castro and the costumed, silly string-wielding young 'uns running amok through Tel Aviv's streets next month, I figure I'll have hit my eye-candy/bonked on the head with plastic hammer maximum quotient by mid-March. Either way, fun is en route. I'm now trying to work out how to accessorize my way to four Super-Hero ensembles using multi-pairs of colored underwear, tights and various capes building on a base layer of body suit blue. After all, he can't wear the SAME costume to preschool each day for two weeks, now can he? Updates to follow.

Now to tone things down a bit - Whew! It was almost getting a tad too lively in here - I had a strange dream last night which brought my subconscious up to a scary conscious level. In it I was outside the supermarket with 4-year-old Rapha and sensed we shouldn't go in because a bombing was impending. As happens in the dream realm, moments later we were strolling down the fresh fruit aisle and I said to myself: How did we get in here? Did I ignore my instincts? And then we were outside again sitting at a cafe, safe and sound. End of dream.

But not the end of its message. Yes, I think about bombings (obviously). Yes, the prospects terrify me as a mother. No, I don't think about it too much because it's too overwhelming and I'd never get anything done, like supermarket shopping, for instance.

Even without television blasting a barrage of unfortunate tidings, the reality of the political situation and its implications constantly lurks in the background like an unseen virus. It slows everything down and intuitively you sense it's presence but you convince yourself it isn't so bad. That way you don't have to call in a doctor. But doesn't relief generally accompany a diagnosis, even if the prognosis isn't too hot?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Weekend Tidbits

A few "only in HLC (Holy Land Central)" vignettes:

Outside Gan Ha'Ir shopping mall in central Tel Aviv a cellist and violinist are jamming for spare change. Their musical selection? Adon Olam

Trying on clothing in a Tel Aviv boutique, the early-20's guy in the adjoining booth tells his friend: "Naw, this shirt won't work. Too bar-mitzvah

After 1/2 an hour of trying on muted brown and mauve lipstick shades at the local MAC store in a Tel Aviv suburb mall, I pick out two favorites. We have all of the reds but otherwise, we're pretty much out of lipstick, informs the young saleswoman who has been standing at my side the entire time

And a final vignette. In Margaret Cho's "I'm the One that I Want" (check out these clips from Notorious), she muses over feeling sorry for whites in the company of Asians because (paraphrase) Asian people will talk s**t about you right in front of you.

Apparently some HLC women graduated from the same Korean Finishing School as Cho's compadres. Walking into a boutique last week, a shameless saleswoman spoke disparagingly about me to a colleague in Hebrew and then approached with an enameled smile asking Can I help you with anything?

Where was Margaret with a comeback? (*sigh*)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Supermarket Guy

Back in San Fran, city dwellers generally have "their people" as in Yeah, I haven't seen my homeless guy on the steps lately. I wonder if he checked into detox or overdosed OR I brought a few blankets to my corner lady because she said her cardboard box isn't enough of a wind barrier at night.

You learn to accept homeless drug addicts as neighbors and as such they gain human faces, stories and personas. In other words, they become neighbors just like the indoor clean people and before you know it, you're caring and noticing when they're not around.

In Holy Land Central (HLC), I've found "a person". He's definitely too well groomed and pasty white to be spending much outdoor time on the homeless track and I can't call him "mine" because he doesn't hang outside my walk-up but he's certainly a fixture. He's "the supermarket guy", shared by all shoppers simultaneously.

The supermarket guy walks around the Hyper-Kol (a smaller version of Safeway or Kroger's), reciting facts in such high volume that you can hear his monotone, booming voice cutting through the din clear across to the frozen dessert section.

"Meggido Junction, June 5th, 2002. Fatal bus bombing. 14 killed." "Tel Aviv, January 19th, 1991. 3 Scud Missiles launched from Iraq. 17 wounded." "Nahariya, July 15th, 1981. Heavy shelling from Lebanon. 3 killed."

..and on and on he drones, citing war campaigns, hijackings, infiltrations, hostage-takings and any other Israel-related tragedy he can summon..

To say it's unnerving is like saying it's a tad warm here in the summer. It grates and is so chilling you just want Mr. Supermarket to shut up or get kicked out or something. But management puts up with him just like we used to put up with our odiferous street people back in SF because he and they have a right to be there and after the uncomfortability of the stench or the drone passes, compassion creeps in.

The supermarket guy can't help himself. I figure that somewhere in the recesses of his mind, his reel-to-reel got caught in a loop and can't stop so the only way he can purge the playback from his head is to recite it aloud. And THAT you have to feel for and wonder which of those campaigns was his.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hottie in the House

One of the blogs I occasionally plug into is Kevin Sites' In the Hot Zone. He's been tooling around the Middle East now for at least a month and I was kinda wondering when he'd make it oer' this way. He has landed. Check it out.

Sites is a bit of a phenomenon: While embedded with U.S. forces/working for NBC in Fallujah a few years back, he captured incredibly bothersome and controversial footage of a U.S. Marine shooting a lying down on the floor/can't move because he's already wounded Iraqi inside a mosque. Labeled a hero by some for going public with the material, he was concurrently deemed a traitor for "betraying" the U.S. military and America.

Backed by Yahoo, 2 producers and a researcher, he now travels the world as a "Sojo" (solo journalist), blogging text and video with the aid of a laptop, satellite phones, transmitter and camcorder. He has won a number of awards and is a breakthrough phenomenon for his style and method of bringing the world's trouble spots to the masses via his blog.

Doesn't hurt that he's attractive in the rough and tumble, stubbley, needs a shower kind of way...

True, True Confession

Game's up...It appears the posting I put up to purposely confuse those who don't know me and get a laugh from those who do, pseudo worked.

Uh, it's not me, uh....(but what a helluva belly laugh I enjoyed whilst posting)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Thursdays with Thamar

I read somewhere that the mark of a healthy friendship is the feeling of vim, vigor and enrichment both parties bring to the coupling and come away with after an encounter. You know what I mean: you hang out for awhile and walk away feeling energetic, full of ideas and downright tingly (And no, you didn't have zeeg-zeeg).

I guess I'm just a lucky person because my core friends of many years - you guys know who you are - bring this to the table each time we meet. Recently I've met a few other people of similar ilk who I genuinely feel blessed to have crossed paths with (And no, I didn't have granola for breakast this morning).

One is a fellow journalist type person who I could sit with hour after hour as we drain cups of coffee, discuss politics and world events, gossip and bare the darker shades of our backgrounds, sorrows and intimacies in increments.

The other is Tamar. I wrote about her last week after we met for coffee. Apparently this is to be our weekly ritual but we won't call it "Tuesdays with Tamar" because she says it's too ominous. "Wait, Tuesday was Morrie's day. Can't we make it Thursdays with Thamar?" she asked.

Tamar has moxie. She's petite, dark haired and well groomed East Coast/Upper West Side with a touch of Atlanta thrown in to soften the edge. She's warm, generous - "What size are you? I have a fantastic skirt you can have" - and with a far-reaching heart she devoted to implementing America's Head Start Program much of her adult career.

Part Israeli but never lived in HLC (Holy Land Central), she decided in recent years to spend half her time here and the other half in the U.S. "it's the only way to stay sane," she says.

If it isn't obvious, I like hangin' with her because the time flies, our exchange is lively and she's the type of lady you know is good for her word. Part of the reason she extended the U.S. version of this year's country-split is because she wants to spend time with a friend who isn't feeling all that hot these days.

Best of all, Tamar is just plain funny. She joined a gay synagogue not because she's a lesbian but because "it's more interesting", she calls her split country travel "bi-hemispheral living", she uses the word "dingbat" (which I haven't heard since Archie harrassed Edith back in the 70's) and she says outrageous things that make you wonder: "Did she really do that?" (sorry, no can share).

For those who have seen The Incredibles, she's a very toned down, human version of Edna Mode. Can you imagine?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Jewish Identity

Okay, back to serious matters after a fun-filled weekend of lingerie glory and celebrity bashing.

This Danish cartoon thing is gathering quite a momentum, isn't it? Makes me think about inherent natures of people i.e. if an offensive cartoon of, say, the Tibetans was posted in the NY Times how would they react? By burning down embassies in Tibet? Oh wait. The only foreign presence there is Chinese. My bad.

I know I've gone on ad nauseum about the memoirs I'm reading written by a former U.S. Secretary of State. Well I'm halfway through so expect to suffer through a bit more, wink wink. The latest round of elucidation:

The first comment several people have made upon learning of my current book choice has regarded the Jewish card. Do you believe she really didn't know?

First of all, that aspect of her life is somewhat insignificant to me for no other reason than the fact that her political life, the role she played as first female sec of state and the global setting during her terms as sec and ambassador are the compelling issues for moi. Plus, after trying to slog through my brother Andrew's copy of Years of Upheaval, it is refreshing to somewhat mindlessly glide through this comparable Easy Reading Guide To History. Wanna re-read sentences and run to the encyclopedia and dictionary every other chapter? Try Kissinger on for size.

For those who inquired, I just completed the part about her unearthed Jewish roots. The answer is: Yes, I believe she was in the dark. A few reasons:

  • She has 2 siblings. You wanna tell me that she kept it a secret for 60 years and convinced the other two to go along with her so there wouldn't be a stink in Washington?
  • Do you know what public figures of that scale go through before taking office and being sworn in? Grilling by a team of attorneys to ensure no past skeletons are conveniently purged by opposition or journalists while in office, hearings, background checks and extensive history pore-overs. The legal team asked her for photocopies of everything she had ever written. This is a lady who has several advanced degrees, was a professor, researcher, served on committees, drafted resolutions...Think about that. Everything she had ever written
  • One of the people she consulted upon learning of her past was Elie Wiesel. Elie has been around the block a time or two and I daresay he'd have smelled a rat (as would have dozens of other Jewish community leaders in the U.S. and Europe she consulted in the aftermath)
  • It was common for people to adopt Christian identities during WWII and hold onto them for decades or forever. Apparently the Korbel family was hardly the exception
  • Call me naive but what would she gain by concealing her past?

THAT is my take on Maddie's Jewish roots, her parents' concealment of them and the sad fact that her grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles perished in Auschwitz, Treblinka and Terezin.

I'm just getting into the chapters covering Saddam Hussein and the Middle East. Boy oh boy (clap clap)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

True Confession

Well golly gee, my oh my. I just realized that in all this time I have NEVER posted even a single pickie of lil' ol' me on this here blog.

How silly. So here goes. Never be shy, that's my motto. . .

Friday, February 03, 2006

& Now A Word from Our Sponsor...

Yes, there are earthquakes, violence and serious political machinations taking place around the world but I just HAD to share this one:

Reading the comment section of a
fashion blog I particularly enjoy, I saw mentioned another fashion related site and so clicked on over for a gander.

When the Village Voice calls the writers the meanest queen(s) in the cafeteria, they're not kidding. Well worth a visit for sheer fun and witty style. But wait. There's more.

On their site, they link to
this video. G'head and watch it. You'll die laughing.

Okay, back again? See what happens when you spend too much time in tight swimwear? Poor David. But at least he seems to be enjoying himself.

Now check out this one from Britney Spear's pregnancy and die laughing again.

Aren't commercial breaks just great? That was our Fashion Moment...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Miscellaneous Tel Aviv & Commentary

A few notes from writer-dungeon: It appears my 4-year-old offspring has found his first special friend. I am THRILLED to no end. Before I go on, for those of you non-parents out there contemplating offspring:

**I highly highly highly recommend it** It took me forever to do and then I berated myself for waiting so long. There is nothing as frightening as loving a person intensely while at the same time knowing you'll never be able to completely shield them from harm. The trade off is that the love creating that fear is fierce, one-of-a-kind and incredible.

Back to the point which is happiness over small stuff. Last month during a playdate, Rapha and his friend dressed up in Spiderman costumes, shared pancakes with syrup, ran amok in our apartment, ran amok on the playground and laughed the kind of belly laugh that hurts. Rapha hadn't cut up like that since August. His pal, unfortunately, returned to Canada when winter break ended. I wanted to cry.

So to see the former animated, radiant and mischievous Rapha resurface as he introduced me to "Natan" at kindergarten this week was heart soothing. He didn't need to tell me Natan's a special friend. It's obvious in the giggles, warmth and comraderie. How in the heck they communicate - Natan speaks Portugese and Rapha English only - is beyond me but who cares, eh?

And hot off the presses from Denmark: Tonny says "freedom of speech" and "the Danish newspapers can print what they want, dammit. What about offensive, Christ depictions in Arab language papers and magazines?" I personally think it may go south in a bad way but the important thing is that you heard it here straight from a Dane. Pass the Acquavit. Skoll.

Enjoy the pickies. They're completely irrelevant to the rant.

kindergarten pajama party

relaxation architecture

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

No Paradise

My cousin forwarded this letter on the eve of the film's Oscar nomination. **The letter is not from a family member (in the orthodox sense of the word); it's a forwarded letter from Yossi Zur, signed below**

Last night the
Palestinian movie "Paradise Now" won
the Golden Globe award. The movie shows
the route that two young Palestinians
take to become suicide murderers, up
until the minute they board a bus in Tel
Aviv filled with

The movie looks professional. It was made with
attention to detail, but it is extremely dangerous – not only to the
East, but to the whole world.

My son Asaf, almost 17
years old, was
a high school student in the eleventh grade who loved
computer science. One day
after school he boarded a bus home, as usual.
Along the way, a suicide murderer
from Hebron, 21 years old, a computer
science student at the Hebron Polytechnic,
exploded on the

17 people were killed, 9 of them school
children aged 18
or less.
My son Asaf was killed on spot.

watched the movie
"Paradise Now" trying to understand what it is trying to say,
what message
it carries?
That the murderer is human? He is not.
That he
doubts? He has none. After all, he is willing to kill himself along with his
That the Israelis are to blame for this brutal killing? Are the
Israelis to blame for the Twin Towers in New York, the night club in
the hotel in Egypt, the shop in Turkey, the restaurant in Morocco
or in Tunis,
the hotel in Jordan, the underground in London, the train in
Spain? And the list
goes on and on.

What makes this movie
award-worthy? Would the
people that awarded this movie the Golden Globe do
the same if the movie was
about young people from Saudi Arabia who learn how
to fly airplanes in the USA
and then use Islamic rituals to prepare
themselves for their holy mission,
crashing their airplanes into the Twin
Towers in New York City? Would this movie
get an award

This movie tries to say that suicide murder is
when you feel you have exhausted all other means. But a suicide
murderer who
boards a bus kills 15 or 20 innocent people, so how about a suicide
who walks into a city with a biological bomb and kills 10,000 people or
100,000 people? Is that still legitimate? Where does one draw the

I believe that the world should draw the line at one
The killing of even one person is not legitimate. My son was almost
17 years
old, he loved surfing, he loved loud music. Now he is gone because
a suicide
murderer decided it's legitimate to blow himself up on a crowded

Granting an award to this kind of movie gives the
filmmakers a
seal of approval to hide behind. Now they can say that the
world sees suicide
bombing as legitimate. By ignoring the film's message and
the implications of
this message, those that chose to award this film a
prize have become part of
the evil chain of terror and accomplices to the
next suicide murders – whether
they kill 17 people or 17,000

Name: Yossi
Email: Yossi@blondi.co.il
Web: www.Blondi.co.il