Gefilte Fish Out of Water


Wild & Crazy Comedy

 

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Leah and I rode a sherut to Jerusalem to see a sketch comedy & improv show by a new English-speaking group called Hahafuch. (Join their Facebook group!) 

 

Cafe Afuch is a type of hot coffee drink in Israel.  It means “upside down coffee,” but it’s basically just a cappuccino.  So, Hahafuch is a play on words on that – like “haha funny” – get it? 

Anyway, the show wasn’t held in a bar or club like we expected.  It was held in the theater of an old “absorbsion center” for American Olim (place for new immigrants in Israel).  Sad story.  The place used to be thriving, but the owners lost everything thanks to Bernie Madoff.  For realz.  #sad  Anyway, after the sherut, Leah and I hopped in a taxi, and we were kind of like WTF when it dropped us off on a quiet, residential street.  We were on the right path, b/c we saw a Hahafuch sign, but we were like, climbing over fences and walking past abandonded buildings and whatnot.  I was ready to start making Friday the 13th/Jason noises (ch-ch-ch-ch…kill-kill-kill-kill), but finally we came upon the theater, and all was normal again.  We paid for tickets and entered an already packed theater, as the show had already started.  My friend Debra had saved us seats. 

The first act was improv.  Some very funny stuff, with contributions from the audience and without a net for the performers. 

Then, how much did I love the fact that two very talented women came out and did an acoustic set of Madonna’s 1999 top 20 hit (and one of my favorites), Beautiful Stranger!  Honestly, this made the whole trip worthwhile on its own. 

After intermission, the performances switched to sketch comedy.  We liked this even better!  Some *very* funny stuff!  Like this sketch, “Benyamin Netanyahu’s Speech as Translated by a Struggling First-Year Ulpan Student.”  Benji Lovitt played Netanyahu.  Benji is part of this social media savvy Israeli crowd of mostly Olim I’m getting to know on Twitter.  Benji was the straight guy in this sketch, doing a really authentic and kinda angry/passionate Netanyahu.  The student would translate a few sentences right, and then botch something to comedic effect.  (Like you can imagine Netanyahu was talking about keeping Jerusalem our undividied capital, and the student would say something obviously wrong, like, “So we can have more onions!”  Then, Bibi would give him an awesome stink-eye, and yell the word in Hebrew again, and the poor student would repeat it incorrectly again, making it worse (“Onions!”) 

#guessyouhadtobethere

 

Another sketch I really enjoyed was one called “Aliyahonics Anonymous.”  It was a bunch of Olim like me bitching about the often incredulous and rude behavior from native Israelis directed at immigrants. 

Here’s a shot from a “Weekend Update” style segment, complete w/ video still shots on a screen for added effect. 

 

Here’s two funny videos the group prepared in advance to add to the show as multi-media elements.  This first one’s a travel commercial spoof about taking a trip to the “real” Israel, where Israelis try and make tourists look like “friars” (suckers). 

This one’s sort of a “man on the street” style news package segment, making fun of Israeli’s without their consent, in the style of old school Letterman, or Billy Eichner’s Creation Nation

[Damn, sidebar!  Billy Eichner is just so damn funny !!] 

Anyway, so is Hahafuch, and I will be going back to their next show – and trying to get my friend Anna Becker Barkin to audition for them!

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Let’s Go Camping!
March 13, 2010, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, Friends, Outside TLV | Tags:

Forgive me, Father, it’s been two weeks since my last post.

Two Fridays ago, I was slammed w/ mid-ramp up of  a PR campaign for a new client.  And last Friday, I went…..camPingYoda Jeremy and Samadar get married in ten days, so we did a weekend camping/hiking trip as a Bachelor Party weekend, minus the strippers and cocaine.

Kudos to Vice President of the Becker-Barkins Eric for putting the whole thing together.

We were a group of four: Jeremy, Eric, Itay and me.  We met in the morning, packed up, and then made a pit-stop on the highway to get some grub and plan the drive up.

Our second stop was in the town of Tiberias, where we ate lunch on a deck overlooking the Kinneret, a freshwater lake in the North and Israel’s most important water resource.  We enjoyed an awesome lunch at a restaurant called Decks.

When we got to our first choice campsite, Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve, we found out that the trails were already closed, even though it was only 1:00 p.m.  Thanks, Shabbat!

We could have still camped there, but we wanted to get a hike in first, so we went to another campsite – the Jordan River Peace Park.  You know what?  The parks were kind of self-segregated – this one had many more Arabs, and maybe that’s also why it wasn’t closed early for Shabbat?

We did our first “hike.”  The quotation marks are there, because although we chose a medium, 45-minute trail, we kept losing it and wound up basically walking in a circle that had some nice views, but was over before we knew it and not very challenging.  So, we broke out some beers (except me, who doesn’t drink) and talked about girls (except me, who’s gay).

Then we set up camp…next to the parking lot and bathrooms (and later we found out, in the direct aim of a stadium-sized klieg light).  We gathered firewood and Eric did his magic grilling us wings and hot dogs.

Itay had to go back to Tel Aviv, but Eric, Jeremy and I delighted in tripping out on our campfire, leading me to proclaim:

 

which I promptly tweeted.

Then our campfire converted to Judaism:

I got a headache from all the smoke, I think, so I went to bed early until I was awoken the next morning by Eric’s elephant cry-like snoring.

We headed back to Yehudiya and did our real hike.  More challenging – and more beautiful!

Lunched again in Tiberias on the way back.  Great time !!!   Northern Israel is really so pretty – much more green and hilly than the Center or South.  Hopefully, we’ll go camping again soon.

Here’s some video of our fire (which had temporarily gone out), coming back to life after we put new kindling and leaves on top of it.  (Sorry, it’s sideways).



Epic Foursquare Dork
February 20, 2010, 4:21 pm
Filed under: Cool Things | Tags: , ,

Location-sharing and geo-tagging are social media trends for 2010.  Twitter, Facebook, you name it – with more people having GPS in their phones, everybody’s service is going location-specific.

That’s fine and all (although, a cautionary tale – are we all asking to be robbed?)  Personally, though, I thought it was a little Big Brother to let everybody know where I am all the time (although I seem to have no problem telling them what I’m doing round the clock).  But if I was gonna do it, I’d probably choose a service like Yelp, which is all about sharing local reviews of places, restaurants, etc.  That makes sense to me.

I would certainly most NOT be participating in the “game” called Foursquare.   You’ve seen people playing this, even if you’re unaware of what it is.  Did you ever see in your Facebook newsfeed, updates from people that just say that they “checked-in” somewhere?

That’s it.  That’s people “playing” Foursqure.  Wee!  not  Ooh, or maybe they became the “Mayor” somewhere?

The Mayor.  Gimme a break!  I don’t care if early adopter Marko is doing it.  I don’t give a crap about checking-in anywhere, and I will not be doing this!  Except that Mashable wouldn’t shut up about location-sharing, and well, as you can see by the two updates I cut/paste into this post, yeah, I’m doing it now.  And, ahem….

(loving it – shh!)

OMG, I can’t wait to check-in wherever I go.  And becoming the Mayor feels da bomb – who knew ?!   In fact, my life’s mission now has become to usurp “Enrico M.”  He’s currently the Mayor of Dog-Park Park Hayarkon…..but not for long (heh, heh).



Scouts Gone Wild
February 20, 2010, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Cool Things

  

I’m fortunate to live next to Park Hayarkon, Tel Aviv’s version of Central park.  Although I’m not jogging in it like I used to, Pete and I go to the main Dog Park inside almost every day.  

Last Shabbat, I woke up to the sound of tribal drumming.  I’m not still at the club? i thought  Srsly, though – what was it?  There were also periodic announcements from a megaphone, whistles, and cheering.  Obvs, some type of event was going on there.  I was curious enough to check it out, but was getting a late start and figured it would be over by the time i got over there.  

Hardly.  The easiest way to describe it was Color War.  Everywhere you looked, kids with face paint going apeshit.  

  

  

I met up with my friend Danny (and this 3 dogs – Michelle, Sika & Yoko) in the dog park, and we walked back over towards the chaos on our way out.  Oh, those are the Sea Scouts, (aka Israel Boy and Girl Scouts Federation) he told me.  

It looked fun.  They were having boat races, and whenever a new one started – look out!  Because swarms of kids would follow along the river bank, yelling for their team.  

The yellow boat looks like they could be senior citizens! I guess, counselors are allowed to play.

 

And they completely tricked out the park with colorful signs and tents.  

  

After some tug-of-war, it looks like the “blue team” won.  

  

Nifty.  That’s it.  



Tel Aviv Blossom of the Week
January 23, 2010, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, Just Sayin' | Tags:

Taken with my BlackBerry camera, so you don’t get the full effect.  But this a blossom from a tree on me & Pete’s regular walk.  It has been in bloom for about a month now.  (In Tel Aviv, plants bloom all year, because it never gets very cold.  I think the blooms have something to do with when the tree/bush/flowers were first planted.  So, while not every plant is blooming all year long, all year long there are new blossoms on various trees/plants/bushes.)

These are soft & fuzzy – a bit like these, but longer and shaped more like pine cones.  Here’s another beautiful blossom I posted about last summer.



The Big 4-0
January 16, 2010, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, Feelings, Friends, Identity | Tags:

I usually don’t throw parties for myself, but you only turn 40 once each lifetime.  So, this year I knew I must.

I went with my friend Phil last month to see this place my friends the Becker-Barkins recommended called Betty Ford.  By mistake, we went into the wrong place, but we liked it immediately.  Called Nachalat 52 (creative!, it’s the address), it had a Western-sort of vibe, with a lot of wood, which you typically don’t see in Israel.  The shister manager Ronen promised me the upstairs room to myself for the party.  They had a pool table up there and Guitar Hero hooked up to a big flat screen.  I told them I needed to take a look at some other places, and I did check out Betty Ford, but I got a slimy vibe from the BF manager, who wanted my guests to each pay a minimum charge, so I went with Nachalat 52.

T.I.I., baby. It’s an expression my friend Liron’s friend made up; stands for “This is Israel.”  It’s sort of a catch-phrase for whatever ridonkulous shiz goes on here or peeps try and pull.  Ronen, the Nachalat 52 manager wound up imposing the same minimum charge per guest bullshiz that the other guy wanted.  Basically, we had to spend 3000 ($790) shekels total or else I’d be responsible for paying the difference.  You know what?  I was inviting a lot of people, and I told everyone to bring their friends, so I wasn’t worried.

I mainly invited people through Facebook:

And I was so excited when the actual party came around.  Although, there was a speed bump and I was pretty peeved when Ronen called me last week to confirm.  At the end of the call, he tries to casually throw in – Oh, yeah, and there’s just this one little thing.  You won’t be able to use this one couch and table in the corner of the room.  You see, I, er, ah, booked another party of 15 for it.

WTF ??

T.I.I., baby. I had a choice – I could have flipped out and ripped him a new one over the phone.  But I didn’t feel like doing that.  And it was too late for me to find a new venue anyway.  So, I just said – Look, I know what you did.  When I booked the party, the place was only open two days and you jumped at my business.  Since them, you’ve become a big hit, and you just want to make more money.  Well, I just wanna say ‘I’m very disappointed about this.’ The vulture He promised me free drinks.

Anyway, last night was the big event.  And it was super.  It wasn’t just those 15 other people, though.  When I got there around 8:40 p.m., the upstairs was kinda close to filled up already with random peeps.  I put my shit down on two big tables (I had “just happened” to bring along a duffel bag and two big shopping bags “in case” people “happened” to bring me gifts.  Look – normally, I made a point to say – NO GIFTS!  Your being there is all I need or want. But this year, I’m 40,  bitch, so you better be packin’ present when you walk in that place, ‘mkay?  No, really – I didn’t expect everyone to give me something, but I knew my closer friends would, and that’s just how I wanted it.)

So, if I could plan it again, I would have picked a quieter place.  At it’s peak, it was loud and crowded – and smoky.  There is a anti-smoking indoors law in Tel Aviv just like in New York, but not every place enforces it, and this place didn’t.  But, you know what – it served its purpose.  I was so happy greeting each of my guests.  And it gave me great pleasure to watch my different groups of friends interact with each other.  There were my ulpan friends, my Tikva friends, my gay friends, friends from work, friends I made from the dog park, people I’ve schtupped and more – like some people I met on Atraf, the Israeli gay dating site and a new friend I met at a Nefesh b’Nefesh Olim welcome ceremony last month.   My friend Danny had his professional cake baker friend make my cake.  It was 100% from scratch – including homemade chocolate on top and homemade raspberry puree inside.  [Said in the over-the-top style of Oprah introducing a guest on her show:]

Delicious !!!

I also ordered a bunch of bar food for everyone to nosh.  I chose chicken fingers, calamari, little fajita-type things, and Israeli platters of humus/olives/tahina/pita.  But it took a long time for the stuff to get served (delaying the cake/Happy Birthday song), and it was a lot more salad-y type stuff than I realized.  Not really finger food.  I’m sure we wasted a lot.

But whatevs.  It was great, and I shined very brightly.  I knew I was going to hear from people – 40 !?!  You do NOT look 40, Scott! But I wanted to maximize that effect, and for the pictures from the night, so I shaved instead of sporting my usual stubble.  With my longer hair, baby butt smooth face, and Paul Smith textured/patterned shirt that I got at a sample sale I earned every compliment I attracted.  Peeps started to leave around10:30 p.m., but diehards stayed until almost midnight.  Here’s some pics from the night.

Me with Danny (left) and Phil.

The Becker-Barkins, Moosh and Rotem

Shabi, Nir, Me

Ilana and Chris

with Leah & Itay

It's actually my 5th decade (but who's counting?)

With my Honey, Liron

Jeannie, Phil, Alon

Abi & Me (Stan in back); That rose I'm holding from the cake is 100% homemade chocolate. It was soooooo good, you guys !!!

A rose by any other name...

Stephanye & Regev rOcK oUt !

David, Keren, Caitlin

Jeremy & Eric

Dancing on the Table (move, Eric! You're blocking my ass!)

Booty Haul




A Fun Ride.
January 16, 2010, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Cool Things

I’ve been seeing this guy most mornings when Pete & I are on our walks.  It’s this guy, and on the front of his bicycle is, like, a big playpen and there’s 3-4 kids in there playing while he leisurely rides around.  I’ve actually seen a few people with similar contraptions, but this guy’s was the largest with the most kids in at once.  It just looks like a simple pleasure for everyone involved – him, as much as the kids.  Hard to get a photo while they were in motion, but I got this one of their back.  You can’t really see the kiddie contraption part, buy you get the idea.  Nice.