Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Diffiulty

I kind of dropped the ball ...

... on responding to other people's posts. It's not that I didn't read my classmates' blogs, because I did. I guess part of me felt kind of silly because I would rather have told them in class what I thought of their posts - but I didn't even do that. I will probably make up for this by posting on them in the future when I reminisce.

This is a unique course. I've never been in one like it (and may not ever be again). It challenges your ideas about learning. It's making connections with people involved in a specific topic that allows you to cross this ever-thickening wall of misguided information and contradictory stories - two things that Jerusalem knows all about. I think realizing that this is what it takes to even begin to slightly understand something (that you aren't directly a part of) is scary and difficult. But it has taught me that people want to talk to you about their struggles, strife, and victories. I think this has encouraged me to reach out to people far away more often. And for that, I thank Living Jerusalem!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oh, the city of borders.

"Jerusalem is really a city of borders" is the first line in the City of Borders documentary. How true this is. In the preview for the documentary one of the interviewees says that before the Arab-Israeli taboo relationship was one of homosexuality. How powerful this divide must be in Jerusalem, a city of such extreme religious ideals. As Open House puts it, the struggle is "navigating the all too familiar divide between religion and LGBTQ acceptance." Seeing the Palestinian in the film illegally crossing the wall, not to endanger the lives of those on the other side, but to "have fun and live life," puts a huge grin on my face. How profound.

One thing I really like about alQaws is their langage/dialogue intiitative between LGBTQ Palestinians and other Palestinians. Fostering a dialogue like this is essential to understanding each other. And, as we all know, there is no hope for peace and acceptance and understanding of another group of people if you cannot connect with your own people. I hope this has been successful and I hope Open House has a similar intitative.

alQaws provides a great list of films and books on the subject. And a wonderful list of LGBTQ organizations throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world. Watch This.

I did not know, prior to reading Open House's annual report , that some therapists use "repairative technologies" to "fix" one's sexuality. How horrific. I think it's great that Open House has 3 therapists and 2 psychiatrists.


Here is an Interesting Article on homosexuality within Israeli government. And this one.

Man stabs 3 people at gay pride parade.

Former PM Ehud Olmert's daughter speaks out about gay pride. And here's an impressive collection or articles on Jerusalem and LGBTQ. And another.  The Jerusalem Open House website probably has the best collection.

I'm really glad that this is one of our topics for the course. It's important, I think, to look at issues that transcend religious and nationalistic borders - issues that apply to all peoples. The LGBTQ fight for the right to live one's life does not discriminate between color, religion, or history. And as we know full well through our exposure to homophobia in the states, the fight against the community pays no mind to these distinctions either. In spite of the discriminatory acts revealed above (and beyond), it is groups of people like the LGBTQ community that we must turn to to find the answers to our questions of, and quest for, peace.

On a highly unrelated note, through my roaming around, I think I found my calling.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hasen-Rokem & Amiry

In "Not the Mother of All Cities," Galit Hasan-Rokem writes, "Nothing in me wishes my kind of relationship to the city to be the only possible emotional option. There is room here for many loves." This is a nice way to describe Jerusalem. As we've seen time and time again in this course, the city evokes an infinite amount of  emotions. Like snowflakes, no two people can describe their Jerusalem experience with perfect replication.

I am intrigued by Suad Amiry's story, and have been since we were first introduced to her through the Jerusalem Project. The Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation, which she founded and directed at one point, is profoundly important for the preservation of Palestinian and Arab history and culture. How appropriate her marriage to Salim Tamari, the wonderfully intuitive man of culture we spoke with earlier in the semester.

In Amiry's gas mask story, I could not help but be awed at the degree of humor she and her neighbors were able to pick and scrape from this event. It reminded me of an article I came across a while ago on intifada humor. But we all do this. In difficult times, we use laughter and humor to cope. It is comforting to realize that Palestinians can use this is a defense mechanism.

"I don't know what it is with Israeli soldiers. They all have a fetish for making Palestinians stand in an orderly line. They complicate our lives with all sorts of permits, make them unbearably chaotic, then insist we stand in straight lines." This is the paradox of control. 

Worth seeing is TedxRamallah. Amiry was one of the speakers in the series. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What is it not?

Music. Right now my obsession is this. It makes me happy. And watching Barenboim perform is amusing in and of itself. I've got mad respect for this guy.

My relationship with music, like most things in life, is a roller-coaster. 

 These are songs that move me, for one reason or another. Wow, I know there are more. A lot more. But I guess these are the ones that I can remember the easiest. They all have their own story. They definitely aren't necessarily the "best" songs, but they're the ones that showed up at the right time in the right way. When I was a sophomore in high school I started this group on Facebook. I wish I had kept it going. It spread really quickly. (It got eaten up by advertisement. You may have to scroll for good content.)

I have always loved love songs. Mind you, good love songs. I can't say that I would necessarily seek them out. It seem that, in many cases, the love ones are the best. Are you surprised? I'm not.

Also, you'll notice the R&B above. It is easy to be critical of R&B, 'specially if you've only been exposed to the mainstream crud. But dig deep and you'll find gold. And I guess they are the most memorable, because it's nearly the only genre I can remember!

Oh man. Listening to all these old songs is bringing me way back. The memories flow.

As my current Beethoven obsession suggests, I cling to songs and listen to them repeatedly. Literally over and over and.  There have probably been about twenty to thirty songs like that for me. I wish I could remember all of them. It isn't always the words - in fact, it's usually the sound, rhythm, and melody - that enchant and mesmerize me. Incidentally, now that I think of it, Barenboim and "We All Good People" are the first obsessions I have had in years. How sad.

I used to spend hours searching for music. Hours everyday. In my first two years of high school I got B's and C's instead of A's because I would spend so much time surfing around to find music. Although my grades suffered, I am pretty proud of what I was able to find. It was funny. I barely ever listened to the radio, but I would often hear a song a friend was listening to and tell them that I had first heard it months ago. At first they didn't believe me. But then they caught on. A few examples: plain white t's, The Weekend, OneRepublic, the Script, Justin Nozuka, Michael Franti. And others. Check out my skills below.

The greatest concert(s) I have ever been to have been those of Michael Franti. See him and touch him before you die. Please.

I have lost my music way too many times. Dead or sick computers. Crashed hard drives. I don't know if I have ever been as angry as I was when I lost fifteen thousand songs. I have completely given up on building up a music library. Well, that's not entirely true. I have a pretty extensive record collection. I need to clean those buggers. For the last couple of years, I have not been keeping up with music. My obsession with music has turned into other obsessions. But this reminiscing is putting me in the mood again. And life just isn't the same without music.

Music has made me who I am today. It has inspired me. It has scared and scarred me. It has punished me. It has lifted my chin. It has spit in my face. It has hugged and kissed me. It has breathed with and me and into me. It has shaped me. And it has taught me. All of these (and more) are prerequisites to reality, conciliation and reconciliation, understanding, defeat, victory, and peace. Music's place in this conflict needs no explanation.

(In other words, I'm using this post as a means to vent my long lost love of music. I did do the reading! If you look closely at some things in the post, you'll see some Jerusalem parallels- on purpose and on accident.)

Here's some songs I most recently (over the summer) got into. I wish I could share more of my past gems. Because they are a thousand times better! Heck, I haven't heard these since summer myself. A lot of these have poppy beats and the typical "dun-dun dun" start. I guess that's the thing nowadays. I'm not sure how much I dig it, but it definitely gets me dancing. And, well, I love to dance! Here are some bearables (no particular order):

KO KO/\/\Summer Camp/\/\Bwani Junction/\/\All We Are/\/\Glowbug/\/\Calexico/\/\Archie V/\/\Broken Fences/\/\Alamo Race Track/\/\Stepdad/\/\Adventure Club/\/\Deadmau5/\/\MHYH/\/\Steve Gray/\/\Baby Monster/\/\Xavier Rudd/\/\Madeon/\/\Lucy Rose/\/\The ILLZ/\/\Danny Brown/\/\Zella Day/\/\Flume/\/\Baby Monster (again)/\/\Seven Lions/\/\Scissor Sisters/\/\Modeselektor/\/\Pickster One Trap/\/\Cry Wolf Acoustic/\/\Clams Casino/\/\The Lighthouse and the Whaler/\/\Goldroom/\/\futuresequence/\/\Stubborn Heart/\/\Treeless Forest (and again)/\/\Debo Band/\/\Mike Musikanto/\/\Way Yes/\/\Chill Bump/\/\DrDr/\/\Birdy/\/\Society/\/\Synkro/\/\Brett Detar/\/\Aer/\/\Com Truise/\/\JJ/\/\Hoodoo/\/\Piilotpriest/\/\Peking Duk/\/\Passion Pit/\/\Purity Ring/\/\Macklemore/\/\Mikky Ekko/\/\New Navy/\/\HAIM/\/\alt-J/\/\Flume again/\/\Soko/Hannes Fischer/\/\Lumineers/\/\Blood Diamonds/\/\Gypsy and the Cat/\/\Gavin Glass/\/\Julia Stone/\/\Broke for Free/\/\S O H N/\/\Teen Daze/\/\Eyes Lips Eyes/\/\Dads on Display/\/\Nicolas Jaar/\/\Mt. Wolf/\/\Wake Owl/\/\

Phew! Hope you enjoy a few.

Monday, March 4, 2013

G-Spot, Hummus and Mushroom

This was a lot of info to take it in. At the beginning of the semester, I went through a browsing frenzy of Palestinian Rap. I found a lot of great content - both on the general, existential grievances of  Palestinian life and on the pursuit of peace. I didn't run into much Israeli rap. I didn't get the whole picture. This additional dimension to the rap scene really complicates things. In the case of the protagonists of "Channel of Rage," Palestinian and Israeli rap reveals (nearly parallel to life on the "streets") a public, yet political rhetoric that exists between and divides Israeli and Palestinian popular culture. The movie guide does us a favor when it puts the words of each rapper next to the other. As one article points out, these icons have a profound, impressional effect on their respective youth cultures. This is far from surprising, seeing as how the similarly representative icons of American hip-hop have in many ways changed American youth (and general) culture.

The Tablet Magazine piece was especially interesting (and at times hysterical). As the Ha'aretz article too argues, Israeli rap has perhaps missed its mark or misinterpreted its place in the context of its attempt to emulate American rap (with its anti-establishment, anti-police, poverty, racism, etc themes). The article goes on to quote an Israeli rapper, "Here, you see a policeman chase someone and you’re going to help the policeman, because that person [running away] is probably a terrorist or a purse-snatcher." Contrast that with this. Israeli rap seems to be less about relieving potentially violent stress and more about legitimizing daily life and, when relevant or pertinent, justifying Israel's politics. Although, of course, there are exceptions.

Subliminal, one of "Channel of Rage's" stars, is seen by many as one of the original Israeli rappers, yet now many rappers see him as selling out for fame and money. Lukach (pictured below) is one of these rappers. (If you didn't get a chance to read about Lukach and Subliminal's first encounter at the G-Spot club, I suggest doing so. Hilarious.) Lukach apparently received his call to fame as a result of the response to his parody of this video. Also hilarious. He also did a parody of one of Subliminal's songs, but I couldn't find it. Lukach's other music videos are really funny. I think he gives the Israeli rap scene a really fresh, ironic spin. Not that I really know "vat" I'm talking about

Equally interesting is another rapper introduced to the mix in the Tablet piece, Nechi Nech. I checked him out because Lukach himself refers to Nechi Nech as "a world-class rapper, great not only by local standards but even in comparison to MCs from New York or L.A." Of course, when you hear a praise like that, you've gotta check 'em out. I tell ya, this guy is really something else. Good shit. So far, he and Lukach are my favorites. Unfortunately, I have no idea what they're saying.

Hebrew Martial Arts