Saturday, October 24, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #3

Subtle style yet incredible moving, street artists can be as skillful and meaningful as political as any mainstream artists.
This is a third in a series of Tel Aviv central bus station "legal graffiti" series. (see article 1 and article 2) Some of the wall size murals are subtle, hints of something dark or sinister. Interesting how street artists can be as subtle, intentioned and political as mainstream artists. The interesting collection at this hidden spot reveals a wide range of styles. The messages are not always subtle or anti establishment. There are beautiful "Keith Haring" like impressions. This is expected with the western (especially American) influence in the urban gritty lifestyle of Tel Avivians. There are also influenced of Arab and Russian drawing styles. Both a strong component of daily Israeli experience. More "legal graffiti" coming - not just from the central bus station.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ Wok Repulic

Urban graffiti mural inside the Wok Republic restaurant on Ben Yehuda | Copyright © 2015 DAVider
If you read the last few posts, we covered a few graffiti drawings in Tel Aviv. From the last story about the Wok Republic, here is a mural on the wall inside the restaurant. Gritty urban lifestyle has not taken a hold in Tel Aviv. There are many theories, mine is simply based on the wide range of people and lifestyles you can find in Israel's central area. Tel Aviv is a home of countless lifestyles. The gritty urban flavor, mostly imported from rundown cities around the world (US and Europe in particular) is not an attractive mainstream hit. But Tel Avivians still like to imitate the world's style. In general, there are not many Tel Aviv businesses decorated with graffiti like murals. This one is a nice one.

Wok Republic on Ben Yehuda

WOK Republic on Ben Yehuda, brisk business on a Saturday night |

Tel Aviv's fast food restaurants are popular, especially at night.Where you find young couples and singles, you will cheap fast food. Cheap in Tel Aviv is 30 to 50 shekels (US$ 8 - 13) for a meal. Wok Republic on 177 Ben Yehuda is one of the many fast food restaurants dotting north Tel Aviv. The place has a gritty graffiti design style with funny urban characters and scenes on the wall. On this particular Saturday night (after the Sabbath) - about half of the orders were called in to go. A few tables in the back are packed most nights and give the feeling of a "hole in the wall" somewhere between Hong Kong and Beijing. Despite the high-rent (fairly upscale) location, you can find enough on the menu for a one dish plus drink for 50 shekels. Chicken curry on rice was well seasoned, the portion small with lots of fresh hot steamed sticky rice filling half of a takeout Chinese carton. Noodle dishes are popular, served in an interesting flat cardboard box that "opens up" like a plate. If in the neighborhood and in need of a quick meal, it's worth it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Visiting Tel Aviv - A Surprise in Building & Quiet

Gail (a visitor from the US) with the Tel Aviv "duck" | © 2015 DAVider

The past few years, maybe going back a decade, Israel has not been a destination for visitors. This is even true to Jewish and Christian visitors who would have considered a trip to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the past. There is no getting away from the massive negative image Israel has experienced internationally. But the ones who came to Israel more than fifteen years ago take the stories of fear and violence here with a grain of salt. Gail F (an old friend visiting from the US) found the central part of Tel Aviv modern, lively with shops, cafes and restaurants buzzing, and a great place to see the strong new building trend. Comparing Tel Aviv's expensive Real Estate prices to the ones in San Francisco was just one interesting comment. She is also somewhat surprised by all the construction (building cranes filling the horizon) in the central part of Tel Aviv. For me it's just another point of reference on what we notice daily (but sometime forget). 
What's with the Tel Aviv "duck"? Search "Tel Aviv duck", here is one story in the Forward.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #2

Futuristic, robotic funky graffiti mural in the Tel Aviv #Israel central bus station | Copyright © 2015 DAVider

The last post included a picture of a graffiti mural at the Tel Aviv central bus station. While the project as a whole received criticism, overall the station still serves thousands of riders every day. The station serves two large bus companies: Dan and Egged. Dan serves the central region of Israel. Here riders transfer mostly from buses and trains (there is a train station walking distance from the station) to destinations usually 20 to 50 kilometers from the city. Egged buses serves mostly the what is referred to as the "peripheral" regions of Israel, outside the central region (Gush Dan). The lower floors serves as a large mall, with the first floor (essentially the basement below ground) as one large shoe emporium. Yes, we have shoes from as low as $5 flip-flops to mid-range stilettos (this phenomena is worth a series of articles all by itself). The sixth floor is the Dan bus lines center. The seventh floor is the Egged bus line center. The murals, sort of graffiti done legally, are on the seventh floor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station

Beautiful mural size "legal graffiti"; Tel Aviv central bus station; 7th floor | 
Copyright © 2015 DAVider

The story of Tel Aviv's "new" central bus station is an interesting one. Tel Aviv's "new" bus station is essentially a neglected and mostly unused "white elephant". Mostly turned into one part bus exchange (not useful due to the neglect of investment in the intercity bus system) - and part outlet and low cost shops mainly catering to foreign workers and young army soldiers. Combination of fast change, with an incredibly fast growth in private car ownership, with slow bureaucratic government decision process, ended up with essentially an outdated central bus station. Located near an old (what Israelis call "THE OLD") open air bus station, makes for a strange and often ridiculed example of the ineptness of Israel's government. Sometimes blamed at the transportation department, sometimes blamed at the ineptness of government to carry out large complex projects. But overall simply and example of what happens in Israel when government (but not only government) stays in one place too long without noticing real life changes. More on this in later posts...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

New Ramat Gan Residential Construction (Kofer Ha'Yeshuv)

Stark contrast between old and new apartment buildings, Ramat Gan, Israel / @ DAVider 2015

Ramat Gan is still building residential units at a fast pace. First builders go after empty lots between existing buildings. They are also looking for older buildings with residents willing to "demolish and rebuild". A program backed by the state to renew older sections of the central region. Israel's central region is densely populated and demand for housing is strong. Housing prices have seen 10% rise in prices year-over-year for over a decade. With government statistics not exactly reflecting real street valuations. This makes affordable housing almost an impossible task for new buyers. High housing prices (including rentals) is pushing new construction at the high-end segment (luxury apartments are being built at a fast pace while affordable construction is very weak). This picture is a contrasting view between apartments in the old style (40 to 50 years ago) to the new construction. In the past, affordable construction was the state's priority. This is not the case with Benyamin Netanyahu's last two terms. Fast cement block and stucco beige outer walls is being replaced by glass and aluminum. Looks aside, very few Israelis are able to buy the new luxury homes.

Yarkon Park Looking at B.S.R. Cluster

B.S.R. building cluster (Abba Hillel @ Ben Gurion in Ramat Gan from Ha'Yarkon Park / @ DAVider 2015

Ramat Gan is the smaller less know city just east of Tel Aviv. It is sometimes considered an alternative (essentially a second choice) for working and living. But the city has been growing and building modern business and residential areas much faster than Tel Aviv and any of the cities nearby. Ha'Yarkon (the green river) park is a big swath of green bordering the northern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Petach Tikva. On a sunny Saturday, parts of the park are busy with families picnicking and cooking on small portable BBQ grills. More on Ha'Yarkon park in future posts.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Bright Hilton Beach after the Rain

Hilton beach after the rain, cool weather keeps the beaches empty / @ DAVider 2015

The last few days, light rains broke the hot late summer days heat wave. Temperatures are down to the mid 20s to low 30s (from mid 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit). The beaches are almost empty from sun worshipers. The political security issues of the last week is also keeping some tourists away. But the weather is glorious. Two days of light rains has cleared the air from dust. The beaches are clean. Light winds are kicking up a few waves, keeping the surfers happy. Come to the beach, take a walk and a quick dip, enjoy the great breeze and just take in the scenery.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Jaffa Skyline at Dusk

Jaffa skyline at dusk, a beautiful place with interesting people & places / @ DAVider 2015
Jaffa, the original city on the Israeli coast has been written about since biblical times. Today it's a mix of original residents, hip communities of artists and plenty of restaurants, cafes and clubs. From the Tel Aviv perspective, the skyline is classic. ENJOY!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Modern Klezmer at Simchat Torah

Modern Klezmer kept the horns & added electric guitar and synthesized drumd / @ DAVider 2015

Klezmer music is not what it use to be. At it's roots in eastern Europe, a small band of musicians playing "Klei Zemer" (literally in Hebrew & Yiddish "Musical Instruments"), shortened to 'Klezmer', was comparatively tame to today's rocking new-age style electrified hard beat version. Then it was eastern European folk music adapted to a small group of roving musicians bringing dance music to small community, shtetl events (holidays, weddings, bar-mitzvahs).  The clarinet is still here, front and center, kept for a traditional sound, but losing it's solo leading role. What is new is a heavy synthesized drums, electronic keyboards and a prominent electric guitar beat. Jewish Orthodox events in Israel are often accompanied by a loud rocking group of musicians. The melodies are new, pushed by heavy drum beat and guitar-keyboard combination, closer to mainstream rock than to anything coming out of 1880s eastern Europe. Find your favorite rock-pop-Jewish-Orthodox music on YouTube and comment below.

Simchat Torah Celebration in Givatay'im

Modern and traditional mix at a Simchat Torah celebration / @ DAVider 2015
Simchat Torah [Wikipedia / HE] is a celebration of the start of reading the Torah. The weekly reading of the Torah in Jewish synagogues starts a new cycle. This event is celebrated all around Israel with dancing and sometimes big musical events. This year, the town of Givatay'im (probably with some influence from a newly elected mayor) put on a big event. At the clearing in front of Givatay'im mall (the main commercial attraction in the town). A "modern Klezmer" band followed a short prayer and a political speech from the mayor.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stencilled Graffiti Near Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv

Some small graffiti stencils are designed to promote a product or a message / @ DAVider 2015

Tel Aviv's Graffiti artists are not always out to show their artistic creativity. Some are simply out to promote a product or even an event (a musical concert, street or public gathering). Hidden in side alleys and walls away from the main foot traffic, these small stencils are interesting commentary of some of the hidden culture in Tel Aviv. This small stencil was painted on a wall a block north of Dizengoff Center. One of Tel Aviv's largest shopping malls (and oldest ~ most established one).

Graffiti in Tel Aviv's Gordon Beach

Graffiti in walkway (clearance) above Gordon beach and pool, Tel Aviv beach @ DAVider 2015

Tel Aviv's walls have their share of Graffiti. A few years back street artists were going at it with energy and creativity. To Israelis, Tel Aviv, the big city, is sometimes a world class metropolis. But in reality, the city is too small and tame in international terms. The city also does not have large rundown sections with empty walls ready to be painted. With Israel's continuous economic growth and leveling social support policies, Tel Aviv also does not harbor a large poor population who is constantly at odds with the established government and commercial institutions (government agencies, public institutions and corporations). These factors make for a relatively tame, and some would say, small graffiti activity (at least visible in most public spaces).

Tel Aviv Gordon Pool all Blue

Gordon pool with the Tel Aviv marina in the background / a sunny "blue day" @ DAVider 2015

The Gordon pool was rebuilt a few years back. Once a busy destination for Tel Avivians, today less of an attraction for locals. The pool is on the beach in front of the marina. This sunny morning the pool and sea were bluer than normal, great scene.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Volleyball on Tel Aviv Beach & Jaffa at Sunset

Volleyball games are going strong all the way to sunset on Tel Aviv's Gordon beach @ DAVider 2015

Volleyball games are a permanent fixture on Tel Aviv's Gordon beach. This year's late summer warm weather with the Sukkot holiday dates combined to give players one last chance to go at it. The beaches attract less bathers, especially families with small children. This makes for easier playing conditions. Come to the beach and enjoy the late summer weather.

One Last Dip at Gordon Beach, Tel Aviv

Bathers at the last rays on Gordon Beach (#TelAviv) / 2 Oct. 2015 / @ DAVider 2015
This year's combination of hot late summer with long new year school vacation is giving Tel Avivians a bit longer on the beach. End of summer is less hectic and there is plenty of room to stretch out (or read a book or have a quiet conversation with a friend)  Dogs are not missing out on this one.

Sunset on Gordon Beach

Gordon beach #TelAviv at sunset - Sukkot vacation and warm weather keeps bathers out late / @ DAVider 2015

Gordon beach is a popular destination. It attracts a mix of families, boaters (kayak & wind surfing) and leisurely strollers. A good selection of bars, restaurants and hotels keeps people close by all day long. [see Tel Aviv's municipal beach page] This week, with the Sukkot school vacation and warm weather, is keeping Tel Aviv's beaches busy. Not as busy as the hot summer days, yet pleasant enough for a dip and great to stretch out on the sand. Half empty beaches are great when you need a bit of quiet and more space. Gordon beach is sometimes considered the prototypical Tel Aviv beach. ENJOY!

Friday, October 2, 2015

ZeSushi at Basel Street Square

Eden starting out with a salad at ZeShusi on Basel @ DAVider 2015
ZeSushi (This is Sushi) is a small neighborhood Sushi restaurant at the Basel Street commercial square. For a local restaurant, the food and service are above average. The atmosphere is quiet and on a less busy night there are tables open even during dinner hours. Tel Aviv's love for Sushi has gone through a love affair phase. Then the government decided to limit the number of visas for Japanese Sushi makers. The move a few years ago put a stop to the Sushi craze, but most restaurant kept on going.

Frankie's September Moon

Moon rise over Tel Aviv & Ramat Gan, Frankie's Sept. picture @ DAVider 2015

Moon over Tel Aviv, looking east. Aviv tower in Bursa section, Ramat Gan at the right side (silver tubular building).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

With Jerry at Brasserie

With Jerry @ The Brasserie (see previous post)
I am usually at the other side of the camera. Here is a rare picture of me (with Jerry L.) last week