Monday, November 30, 2015

More dense construction in Tel Aviv & Surroundings

View of Ramat Gan and beyond (Judea hills in the background) with dense construction typical of Israel's central region

On the last post I mentioned how the green central region of Israel is slowly turning into a "gray" over-built "Brooklyn". It was a comment based on the view from Gan Ha'Banim (boys or children park) overlooking Ramat Gan (and some distant eastern Tel Aviv suburbs.) Tel Aviv and surrounding suburbs construction density reflects the waves of fast construction the last century (Tel Aviv's first big spurt was in the 1920s and 30s). Ramat Gan and Givatay'im, the suburbs east of Tel Aviv have seen bursts of construction in the 1950s to the 1970s. Today's central region of Israel, surrounding Tel Aviv, is densely populated. Most construction styles were low cost, fast in deployment and answered the need for housing after big immigration waves. The last wave of construction came with a million Russian (former Soviet Republics) immigrants starting in 1991. Today there are still empty lots being filled with the smaller buildings rising to eight stories. Taller buildings rise from fourteen to twenty four stories. The lower construction style is seen filling sections where most existing buildings are four stories high. In new areas, where land is designated for new neighborhoods, buildings are at minimum eight stories and rise to twenty four stories. Debate over the intent and overall result of high density, high-rise construction, is a constant hum in the media. Resistance to create dense neighborhoods, sometimes referred to "Israel's Brooklyn" after the construction of large residential buildings in the famous New York city borough is strong.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Joshua Blowing a Shofar (Horn) in Ramat Gan

Joshua blowing a shofar (horn) overlooking Ramat Gan from a hill top park - is he blowing us a modern day warning?

Israel's central zone is slowly turning from tree dark green to concrete gray. Israel is one of the first and most distinct example of green environment policy. Israel's "green line" started out as somewhat of a public relation scheme to portray the state's tree planting effort as one proof of the idealism and strong effort in turning the land to an oasis within the desert. Pictures taken from the air showed a distinct outline of the state in green while neighboring states (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) are left brown. The state's proponents trumpeted the success of a tree planting and agricultural production as a testament to the right to inhabit the land. But in reality the "green line" only depicted the northern third of the state. It also did not prove to Israel's detractors of any realistic "proof". Actually, the green line turned into a territoriality conundrum which over the years proved as the most politically difficult fact to resolve (see Wikipedia).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mr. Gaga - Documentary on Ohad Naharin's Dance Career

Last night we saw Mr. Gaga. A wonderful documentary about the career of Israeli dance and choreographer Ohad Naharin. The story starts with his early career as a dancer in Israel, then in New York. This covers two thirds of the time. The last part is on Ohad's return to Israel and his work as a choreographer and director of Israel's Batsheva Dance Company. This is a wonderful peek into an incredibly creative Israeli and a small and wonderfully unique modern dance in Israel. Highly recommended if you are interested in the modern culture of Israel.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #5

Stencil like mural depicts some graffiti seen on Tel Aviv streets

Here is another mural from the Tel Aviv legal graffiti exhibit. This one in a stencil style looks like many small graffiti drawings seen on city streets. Stencil drawings are fast and easy to get on walls. They are also easy to create with simple computer programs. Some CAD machines can actually cut shapes in cardboard or thin plywood sheets. These make excellent stencils. Keep on coming, more pictures from Tel Aviv's streets and hidden "legal" graffiti life as I troll the city.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #4

This mural with a funky whimsical theme reflects a realistic cartoonist style, great colors make for a beautiful picture

Here is another mural from the Tel Aviv central bus station seventh floor collection. Actually there are more than twenty great pictures hiding there. Tel Aviv is a collection of so many different "bubbles" (essentially lifestyles, small communities, private interest groups) that this type of government effort to give one group a voice is hard to miss. Artists in Israel are a struggling bunch. While some have developed a voice, style and even a body of work, many are struggling just to get their art out to the public while holding a day McJob. But sadly it is hard to predict what will happen to government efforts to promote certain art projects. In the case of "legal graffiti" at the Tel Aviv central bus station, I don't think these artists are getting the benefit of their efforts. The area where these murals are drawn is mostly just a place where bus riders on local lines rush to catch a bus. In addition, there is the element of bus riders in general. These are usually the lower class laborers, students and conscripted soldiers (on compulsory duty from age 18 to 21). Which by itself is not such a bad audience, yet many will never make it to this hidden crevice in our vast urban sprawl. (sorry for the sarcastic-negative opinion, but it probably reflects the general view of many Tel Avivians).

Monday, November 16, 2015

Arabic Writing in Technology & Commerce advertising for Arabic (highlighted) content marketing positions / November 2015

There is a preconception "given" notion of a strict division between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Truthfully, a small minority of Jews interact with Muslims on a daily basis (work, entertain, shop, conduct business). Israeli politicians and some community leaders in mixed communities (Haifa, Nazareth, Acco) may tell you differently. Yet the recent violence in the Muslim world, from the long civil wars in Syria and Iraq to the recent attacks in Paris, are continue to push Israeli Muslims (mostly Arabic speaking) to work with Israeli employers. In the technology sector we see more push to adapt Hebrew and English products and services to the Arab world. Just a few days ago I noticed the high number of positions advertised for Arab writers, editors and promoters (advertising managers mostly for social media sites) in Hebrew job sites. In the past these positions were few and far between. It's not clear to me if Arabic marketing workers are using Hebrew sites more or looking for work in Israeli companies with services targeted at the Arab sector. I am also not familiar enough with this crossover business trends to judge if Israeli companies are targeting the Arabic speaking public with more effort. In general, both Hebrew and Arabic speaking Israelis are feeling more isolated from the world these days. Maybe this is a little bit of good which can come from all the violence in the world. (this opinion is strictly personal and my own)


Monday, November 9, 2015

Private vs. Public Gardens in Israel

Beautifully tended goldfish pool in north Tel Aviv, definitely raised the question of how public money is spent /

Once in a while I pass by a garden on a side street and stop to admire the plants or gardening work. Most times it is clearly not the city's gardener's handy work. In most private buildings, gardening is done by the residents (or as most areas under buildings, unattended). Last week on a walk to the beach we stumbled into a small goldfish pool. We were not sure who tended this wonderful creation, my guess was not the city, but my companion thought differently. Enjoy...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Breaks in Rain Storms Brings Surfers Out to Play

Break between rain showers bring out surfers, the wind is steady with little gusts / black flag indicated "no swimming" usually when the beach is not attended or waves are too high /

Winter in Israel comes down to comfortable temperatures and a few rain storms. Most storms comes from the west over the Mediterranean. Storm fronts last from a few hours to a few days. The last two weeks the coast has been experiencing days with rain lasting up to an hour with a few hour breaks between. When the weather clears for a few hours, the crowds stream out to the streets. Surfers (wind, para-sail & plain old short board) hurry to catch the wind and waves. The weather is a bit cooler than in summer, but a wet suite is all that's needed to enjoy the water. Tourists coming during inclement weather wonder how Tel Avivians are so quick to enjoy these breaks. But ask any surfer what it's like to be out in winter, and you will understand.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Givat Olga - After the Rain

Heavy clouds after morning rain, Givat Olga (Olga Hill) just north of Natanya on the coast - Looking East

If you head north on Rt. #2 (coast road, Kvish Ha'chof) from Tel Aviv, you will see a wonderful coastal plane. The sea is on your left and to the right (looking east) are hills and sand dunes, mostly tended by small farmers. Once in a while you will see a heard of sheep or goats. There are small towns lining up the coast road. This is the old road from Tel Aviv to Haifa. In some sections the road runs in the same path at the coast road paved by the Romans 2,000 years ago. At almost every intersection there is an access road to the beach. Some beaches are well tended and appeal to sun bathers and swimmers. Others are rustic and unattended. Just north of Natanya, about 50 kilometers north of Tel Aviv, is the town of Givat Olga (Olga Hill). Although a separate section of the city, and historically considered a village by it's own right, Givat Olga is officially a neighborhood of Hadera. The beach here is not attended and can be accessed by dirt roads. Just north of the beach is the large Hadera power plant.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Gan Ha'Ir - Baby Mommy Playground

Playground for babies and moms at the lower level of Gan-Ha'Ir (Iben Gvirol next to Rabin square

Tel Aviv has the image of a busy metropolitan center. Some assume it's all business, mostly for adults, and a bit of a playground for the millennials.  But as a city goes, there are plenty of babies and children being raised as well. Gan Ha'Ir is a somewhat misplaced high-ticket "mall" of sorts. A few upscale boutiques in an open air setting. It is hard to pin down this cluster of shops, although they seem to attract enough business to keep the upscale image. On the lower floor of this large open space, two fenced playground for babies and moms is a well known attraction. On most weekday mornings the playgrounds are buzzing with babies, mommies and nannies. Next to the playgrounds is a small counter with soup, salad and fallafel run by natural food supermarket. The two floors of Gan-Ha'Ir have a large selection of upscale shops, a wonderful place to buy boutique quality items and favorite gift shopping destination for Tel Avivians.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Hilton Park" Sunset Crowd - Saturday Afternoon

Lazy Sabbath afternoon on "Hilton Park" - overlooking sunset on the Mediterranean / Late October 2015

Saturday is Tel Aviv's relaxation day. Despite claims of being a Jewish secular bastion (some claim to the point of hostility), the city does rest on the Jewish Sabbath. Early fall brings warm days, brings crowds of walkers and bikers to the Tayelet (long promenade along the beach). "Hilton park" - once known as Tel Aviv's night-time gay meeting hub, is actually a nice hill overlooking the beaches and sea. On warm calm evenings, this is a spot to appreciate a lustrous sunset.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Early Fall - Tel Aviv Beaches Shift with Wind

Parasails floating in an abstract dance, dusk, Tel Aviv beach, early November 2015
This year's early rains and storms are keeping sun bathers away from the beaches. But when the sandy beaches clear, surfers and parasail surfing is going strong.The last two weeks weather has been swinging between warm calm days and blustery rainy ones. Parasail surfers are out in numbers, especially in the late afternoon hours when wind off the Mediterranean is strong and steady.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Live Tel Aviv beach webcam - Sheraton Hotel View

A view of Tel Aviv's beaches from high up on the Sheraton hotel.
Here is a static view in case the video is slow and hard to see in real time (hazy hot day surprised most Tel Avivians, after three days of cool and comfortable weather - 3rd of November, 2015)


Worried About Surfing Conditions - Not International Media

A blustery morning on theMed. Israelis have passed the days of worrying about security, international media is still there, Israelis for the most part don't really care anymore.

A few years back, a strange (some say disturbing) article in Time magazine portrayed secular Israelis as uncaring and shallow. An American reporter spoke and photographed young bikini clad sun worshipers on Tel Aviv beaches. Their big scoop: "Israelis care more about apartment prices and cost of living, than the state of Palestinian refugees in Gaza." It seems like Time readers were shocked, or verified their beliefs repeated over and over in the mainstream press. There is still a large contingency of traditional media (Radio, TV, newspaper & magazine) which write about the Israeli-Palestinian issue as they have done for decades. Obviously from a short walk on Tel Aviv beaches, this perspective has left the worries of Israelis a long time ago. While the mainstream international press is keeping most mainstream tourists away, many around the world realize how dated the reporting impacts today's state issues. While Israelis are helping countries around the world in business, science and government challenges, the Palestinians are essentially being held ransom by a small elite extremist Palestinian few. This point of view is not new here in Israel. It goes back decades, even before the Rabin assassination (which 20th anniversary was celebrated last week) ~ but that's another story waiting to be written.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Remembering the Altalena

Small memorial stone of the "Altalena Affair" overlooking Tel Aviv's beach - hardly noticeable to most visitors
Wikipedia entry to the "Altalena Affair" is somewhat of a neutral (and some say devoid of the emotions) which the ship, loaded with weapons critical for the defense of the state at this time, really holds for many. Today a small memorial stone (see above, half of the inscription, in English) stands in front of one of Tel Aviv's busiest beaches. The rains and cooler weather the last few days is keeping sun bathers and swimmers away from the beach. But recent security concerns and knife attacks at the borders (and Jerusalem) are again a reminder of the long history of keeping a secure land.