Music · Tel Aviv

Live on Mars

I moved to Tel Aviv in 2007 and I guess one of the main purposes of this blog is to tell you why I’m still here. For sure back then, I didn’t really know what to expect, as always when you dive into the scary unknown. I came in January 2007 to “check it out”. I had an apartment to arrange and told myself I’d stay if I’d find work in my industry: the music industry. Certainly not a country with a big international live music scene then. So in my first year I worked as a music supervisor for tv, films and commercials with a genius music man called Koby Ben Atar. Then, in 2008, Paul McCartney announced he would perform in Tel Aviv and it was obvious I’d find my way to be part of that. The show drew 57,000 fans to the Hayarkon Park and was the beginning of a new wave of big concerts.  In 2009 Leonard Cohen announced his concert at the Ramat Gan Stadium and of course I joined forces there too. It was an unforgettable evening for the artist, the crew and 47,000 people in the audience (but wait, my history with him is not over).  And this is how it keeps going: I work as a freelance local promoter/production under Live on Mars. Doing shows like: Rihanna, Tom Jones, Julio Iglesias, the Pet Shop Boys, Harlem Globetrotters, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Justin Bieber, Metallica, Rod Stewart….

As these are outdoor shows and mostly happen in the summertime, in winter there are other things to do. Going on tour for example. In 2010 I had the honor to be asked by Leonard Cohen to be part of his crew and join a 5 month world tour.

You can watch the archive and photos here:  http://leonardcohen.tumblr.com/archive

So, my business is called “Live on Mars”. Why? Because as most of you know, they call me Mars since I’m a kid. For my creative world I use “Life on Mars”, but more about that later. What do I do? Many things; between organizing shows, events and production work. It mostly involves international visits where my side activity is to show these people around; through culture, food, hospitality and entertainment I have the chance to share with them this amazing city. Of course I say this because most of them arrive with a lot of prejudice. Besides the usual security questions they sometimes even ask me if we ride camels, if we have internet and stuff. So it’s an honor for me to be their first impression and to make it a positive impression. I feel safe in this city. Safer than anywhere else in the world. And so does every guest I’ve ever had, both for professional and private visits. All these visitors give me a great opportunity to view, review, discover and rediscover life in Tel Aviv. Stay tuned for more…

Uncategorized

Shabbat Shalom

While most of Europe is freezing in these horrible winter temperatures, we had a day of Spring today. Today is Saturday and Saturday is Shabbat; the 7th day of the Jewish week and the Jewish day of rest. On Shabbat, Jews recall the Biblical Creation account in Genesis in which God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days and rests on the seventh. That’s why weekends here in Israel are Fridays and Saturdays. So today, everybody just went out. Walking around the streets of Tel Aviv, there’s always so much to discover and to photograph. In days when blogs attract attention mostly by photos and less by words, I’ll just post this picture of Rothschild Boulevard hoping you’ll understand the sunny day and happy vibe in town.

Saturday also means free time for creations to me. Before reaching the textile and the yarn, I decided to make some Lokshenkügel. Say what? Kugel is a yiddish word and its definition is: “an Ashkenazi Jewish pudding or casserole, similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles or potatoes, though at times made of zucchini, apples, spinach, broccoli, cranberry, or sweet potato. It is usually served as a side dish on Shabbat and”. Didn’t know that but hey, fits my shabbes. It’s not a very common dish and not for everyday but once in a while you can really crave for it. I like the pasta tasting sweet. My recipe is a combination of others: first of all, cook about half a kilo of pasta, not necessarily egg noodles, but small ones. In a bowl, mix 4 eggs, +- 250 grams of sour cream (some people add cottage and/or cream cheese too), 1 cup of sugar (I combine brown and white), 4 tablespoons of melted butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Once the pastas are cooked (max. 5 minutes) and drained, add them to the bowl and stir. Meanwhile prepare the topping, and here’s when you can use your fantasy: I used Kellogg’s Special K, oatmeal, walnuts, some melted butter and a tablespoon of cinnamon. Then just put it in the oven for maximum an hour, on 180°C. Let it cool for 10 minutes when done and mmmmmm…

And now to the crafty part, I’ve just finished this beautiful worsted cotton raspberry scarf for a friend and I’m about to start a new one on demand – the color is called graphite. So maybe I should go do my sewing class homework? Not now. I’ll quickly finish this little pouch for someone first. And why do I always see something to clean, something to rearrange, something to do? Will I ever be able to relax in my own house on Shabbat?

Focus on

Focus on: Idan Raichel

Israeli “Singer of the world”

A country has its own musical styles, trends and roots. You would think Israel (also known as “Ingathering of the Exiles”) would offer a lot of interesting world music export products as it is a melting pot of cultural diversity – from Ashkenazi Eastern European Jews till Sephardim or Mizrahim from the Maghreb and surroundings. One of the secrets of making successful music is digging deep in your own and your surrounding roots. As much as Israel is a musical country, with a lot of talent and plenty of musicians; unfortunately, too many local artists these days are busy sounding ‘like’ others instead of creating original and authentic music. Only very few Israeli artists have had international careers – no, the Eurovision contest doesn’t count. One brilliant man called Idan Raichel (12/09/1977) has successfully combined all his influences, his talents and his fascinations into something unique and managed to break down all musical boundaries with his musical project: “The Idan Raichel Project”.

I’ve known Idan since 1998 right after his military service in the army’s rock band. He was then active as a counselor at Hadassim (a boarding school for immigrants, mainly from Ethiopia) and a successful keyboardist with Israeli popular singers. In 2002, from his home studio in the basement of his parents house in Kfar Saba near Tel Aviv, his experiments fusing Israeli pop music with Middle Eastern, African, Indian and other global sounds resulted in what would become the biggest-selling record project in Israeli history and propel Idan to a role as a major figure in the international global music scene. The songs are sung by guest singers and by Idan himself. This project has changed the face of Israeli popular music through a message of love & tolerance and original sounds coupled with sophisticated production techniques.

In 2006, after many number-one hits and a spectacular live show throughout the country, the project got signed to a world music label and embarked on an international adventure. Firstly known in circles of Jewish, Ehtiopian and Israeli communities, the Idan Raichel Project now regularly sells out concerts in large performance venues. Wherever they perform, the Idan Raichel Project unifies the audience into a celebration of what is unique about the cultures of the world, as well as that in which we are all alike.

“This one-man Middle East peace accord makes music that is an ambitious celebration of multicultural diversity. The ethnic elements are cleverly rewired with modern grooves to create an ambient journey that thrillingly bridget the traditional and the modern.” – The Times (London, UK)

Idan Raichel will be performing an acoustic set at the Centre Culturel d’Uccle on February 16th at 20h30.
Website: www.idanraichelproject.com/en
Videos: http://youtu.be/kmW2yAYhMmM (“Mim’amakim” meaning “From the depths)
Videos: http://youtu.be/CtpCGfRRToo(“Im telech” meaning “If you go”)

Tel Aviv

A day in Tel Aviv

Is there a better way to start your day than with a fresh fruit juice? My favorite combination is banana, melon and dates, but it sounds better to say it in Hebrew: “banana, melon, tamar”. Dates come from the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) and they have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients, and are a very good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%, or in other words, a perfect substitute for sugar. My juice in one hand, blackberry and Ipod-touch in the other (do you wonder how I manage that? Well, both have broken screens from falling), I go on to my next step: textile searching.

It’s only recently that I found myself interested in or should I say passionate for creating, crafting and D.I.Y. My latest? Sewing. I started a sewing class, ‘borrowed’ a real old-school Singer sewing machine and started discovering another yet amazing world. So I walk to Nahalat Benyamin Street, the textile center of the city, only a few minutes from my house on Rothschild Boulevard. This historic street was established even before Tel Aviv was born in 1909. Formerly a run-down province of the textile and haberdashery trade, recent years have seen it redeveloped and rejuvenated as a busy pedestrianized precinct full of fashionable cafes and arty shops. Today I’m looking for denim-like textile for a shirt for the next class, but as I discover a tiny store with so many colors and fabrics, I of course end up buying more. In my head it goes like this: here, this fits for pyjama pants, this for a scarf, this for a pillow, this for the inside of a pouch and so on.

Later today, after procrastinating for months, endless repeats in to-do lists and phone reminders AND one car ticket too many, I will get to the municipality for some parking stuff  (do you guys have Easy-park in Antwerp?). The Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality (http://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/english) is really very active, efficient, young, involved and hip. Today there is some art on the stairway.

No way I’m taking my car there, so there are 2 choices left: my bike or the “monit sherut”. FYI: my bike is a Belgian bike of over 35 years that I brought with me when I moved here in 2007. My mom used to ride it with me in the back. It’s an old school bike and people stop me in the street to ask me where I bought this retro cool bicycle. A “monit sherut” is a share taxi that falls between a taxi and a bus. Sherut meaning service, these yellow vans follow fixed bus routes and you can stop them anywhere. Payment is done by passing money to the driver in a “human chain” formed by the passengers seated before. The change (and the receipt, when requested) are returned to the person who paid by the same means.

As this being my first blog and just a fragment of my life and of this day, how do I end it? I’ll just share my last ritual of the day: my favorite Yogi tea in my favorite cup.

“Layla Tov” dear readers – meaning sweet dreams in Hebrew…

              Marilyn

 

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv… tell a vibe

Together with about half the world’s population, I wake up excited for one of many morning rituals: coffee. Where? Which? How? With whom? And if you can add something sweet: lamalo (lamalo meaning ‘why not’ in Hebrew).

It’s been over a year since I quit smoking and I’ve developed this          pseudo-need for sweet. I used to not even like chocolate, and  now I feel this urge for sweet taste in the mouth. So my favorite pastry of the moment: chocolate yeast cake. Doesn’t sound as good as it tastes and no it’s not a fungus. In Yiddish it’s called Babka, for all of those with Yiddish skills. Even Martha Stewart has a recipe for it, but it’s not the easiest to bake: http://www.marthastewart.com/312994/chocolate-babka

My favorite Tel Avivi coffee place of the moment is called Ben Ami (www.benami.co.il) and it’s very well located. First of all it’s a two-minute walk from my home. It’s located on a junction of 3 streets: Nahmani Street, Melchett Street and Montefiore Street. What’s in the middle? King Albert Square and yes it is named after our Belgian king that came to visit in the early 20th century. The view from the cafe is on one of Tel Aviv’s finest buildings and it’s called the Pagoda. Built in 1925, it is one of the most typical constructions of the eclectic style, combining oriental and occidental motives. It was originally built for a rich textile negotiator from New York called David Moshe Bloch. The architect, Alexander Levi, originally from Berlin arrived in Palestine in the twenties but went back to Germany in 1927 and died in Auschwitz in 1942. No one really knows if someone is living there, but it’s very well maintained. Rumor has it, it’s owned by a Swedish jewish family that owns Puma.

When wondering what it is that I and so many others like so much about Tel Aviv, there are many answers. How can we describe this vibe to those who never came to visit? To those who don’t get to see this side of Israel in their media? Enter my blog! Tel Aviv gets so many adjectives; it’s young, vibrant, happening, cool, hip, in, hot, fresh but why? Some say it is because it’s the city of contrasts, clashes and paradoxes. The mixture of old versus new. Orthodox versus secular. East versus West. Europe versus USA versus Middle East. Tradition versus innovation. A synagogue versus a gay bar. An old colonial house versus a Philippe Starck tower. It’s this clash that gives the city its surprising and slightly uneven gait.

Let’s keep blogging and unravel the secrets of my dear city. Till later, Marilyn

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: