Last Week I covered my european dates while on tour and this week, I wanted to talk about my brief time in Tel Aviv Israel.
I gotta lot to say about this.
First off, I wanna point out the opposition I received on Facebook concerning my trip to Israel. As soon as I posted that I was playing in Tel Aviv, A handful of people started bombarding me with “Boycott Israel” memes and basically telling me I was a piece of shit for playing there. Well, let me explain.
I’m a musician. My job is to play gigs. i don’t pick where I play and , for what it’s worth, this is how I make my living. Beyond that, I’m not at all informed of any political dealings in or out of Israel.I have friends who both support and do not support Israel but that’s the extent of my knowledge. I simply don’t pay attention to much news. I’m half jewish but I feel but I feel no deep bond to people in Israel. To put it bluntly, I don’t give a fuck. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. I simply don’t think about that kinda stuff. Perhaps I’m a shitty person because of that but I tend to only worry about what’s within my control. I’m speaking of any political aspect to any country I play in. I’d play Palestine if they asked me. So, when people started coming at me on some “How dare you!” shit, I was shocked. The idea of me playing a show anywhere angering people had never for a moment crossed my mind. Once the backlash started coming in, I was like “Oh shit…” but, you know what? The show must go on and, fuck it, I wanted to see what Tel aviv was like. People on Facebook were acting like I was performing for the fucking leaders of the country and not some regular young people who simply enjoy music and going out. I think that’s what gets lost in a lot of political bullshit. Yes, there are some shitty people in many places. Some more than others. But the second you think a whole country is evil cause you don’t agree with their leaders policies? You’re really not being fair. There are good , kind, normal people everywhere. In fact, a decent amount of the Israeli’s I spoke to were adamantly against what was going on in their country. It reminded me of the first time I went to the UK and I struck up a conversation with my cab driver. He started going in about how great G.W. Bush was and I was like “uhhh….fuck that guy”. So, to the people who had an issue, I respect your right to feel some sorta way about that country. You’re obviously more involved and informed than I am…but I’m just a dude who makes music and plays shows. I have no dog in this fight and really don’t care to. Also, taking firm political stances on the Facebook pages of niche underground hip hop artist is fucking ridiculous. Go find a message board or something. Better yet, talk to a friend.
Now that that’s out of the way, lemme talk about my trip there. It started rough. I arrived in the Tel Aviv Airport around 12:30 am. People had warned me that they were tight about letting people in. Obviously. It’s fucking Israel. So, I was mentally preparing myself for some bullshit. So, I walk to the passport inspection line. It’s a mile long. Not only that, it’s not moving. Each teller is taking 5 to 10 minutes with EVERY person. It might as well have been a doctors office but with like 200 people in it. So, I’m waiting on this line and theres a group of russian women get in line after me. i notice them hedging to cut me. The line is so slow that it’s very clear to spot. With every half step forward, this dumpy one slowly angles her body to be a centimeter ahead of me. I’m watching this happen and trying to figure out what kind of argument I’m going to get in once the line gets shorter. At this point, we’re so far away that it doesn’t even matter. I simply must stand my ground. I notice a teller walk into an empty booth next to the one I’m waiting for.. He’s an angry looking bald man with a flack jacket on. He’s taking his sweet time setting up , turning away people who think they might catch a break. Like I said, the line I’m on is very long. Looking into the booth of my lines teller, i see a girl who could literally be a sports illustrated swimsuit model. No joke. She looked almost exactly like Claudia Shieffer. Suddenly, the angry bald teller start accepting people. I have to make q quick choice. Do i wait on this never ending line and deal with the pretty woman or do I leap into action and jump on the short line with the angry bald guy. As I always do, I impulsively go with the quicker choice and get on the line with the bald guy. For better or worse, I’ll take slight discomfort and speed over luxury and waiting. I”m now behind 3 people, as opposed to the 35 on the previous line. The Russian lady cut squad is now definitively behind me and they can’t do shit. So i’m feeling pretty good about that. Waiting for my turn, I look at the bald guys body language as he deals with people. Unlike the other tellers, he’s standing. He’s obviously very much on a power trip and looming over all those before him is a big deal. His face scrunches up as he asks questions. Grilling 75 year old women and making their husbands wait their turn, instead of taking both at the same time like the other tellers. At this point, I feel as though I fucked up. I coulda just waited and dealt with an angel who probably just wanted to get off work so she could go meet her hot friends at a hookah bar but, instead, I got a guy who probably resents his penis and takes it out on any and every person he comes across.
Finally , I get to his booth. He looks me up and down with a somewhat disgusted look on his face.
“Why you here?”
i tell him I’m a Dj and I’m playing a show. He asks where and tell him. he then asks “Where are you?”
I give him a confused look and say “Israel?”
He responds, “No! Where are you!?” I pause and ask him to repeat the question. He does and it make just as little sense as before. I say “RIght here…standing in front of you?” And I was not being snide. I literally didn’t understand what he was asking. This exchange goes back a forth a few more times and begins to feels like a “who’s on first” routine but with an angry israeli dude who wants to strangle me. Turns out, he wanted to know what part of Israel I would be staying in.
“ohhh…Tel aviv. I’m sorry I was confused”
He does not accept my apology and asks me if I’m getting paid for my gig. I sheepishly say yes , now realizing that I might be missing a work visa. I’m kinda shitting my pants. He then snatches my passport and says “Go to passport room…wait”
I ask if I can get my passport back and says “I bring there. You wait”.
And wait I did.
I went to small room where others like myself were sent. It was a room full of frustrated people literally holding their heads in their hands. Women with babies. Sweet old ladies. Rude eastern european cunts who refuse to sit quietly. I’m waiting there and unsure if my passport has even made it into the room. Not having my passport with me in Israel is definitely stressing me out. So, the waiting continues. Everyone in this small room is cursing every passing second. It’s seriously one of those moment where every five minutes pass you just sit there and say “Fucking motherfucker…” to yourself under your breath. As the herd thins out, people who who came in much later than I did have come and gone. At about the 2.5 hour mark, I’m finally called into a room. I sit down, the woman takes a look at my passport, asks me two quick questions and lets me go. Fucking motherfucker…Let this be a lesson to you all. When faced with a fork in the road, even if one side of the road is longer, always take the one with the hot girl at the end and not the angry bald dude.
Side note, the people in general who worked at the Airport were all attractive. Not only that, they girls dressed up a little. Wearing fancy shoes and tasteful make up. I saw them all getting off of work and I don’t doubt they all went straight to the club.
So, I’m finally in Tel Aviv. it’s about 3 am at this point. Thankfully, the promoters are still at the airport waiting for me. I was definitely worried they might have bailed after the second hour of waiting.
They are two local guys where are awesome. friendly and accommodating. They take me to my hotel and I sleep my dick off. The bright side of this late arrival is that I have an entire day to check out the city. I wake up and go get lunch with the promoter. The food is great. Like the kinda shit I could 5 times a week no problem. I walk around most of the city and it’s just a really cool place. old and new. A much wider variety of people than I expected. The one downside is that the city is infested with stray cats.
If you read this blog or know me, I fucking hate cats. So, to see them by the dozens everywhere…not my shit. Apparently, the city was over run with mice a long time ago so they bought in 1000 (or so) cats to handle that business. Well, they handled it…but then bred like the animals they are, leaving over a million stray cats roaming the city. Fuck that shit. So, all you cat lovers? Go to Tel aviv and eat your fucking heart out. It’s crazy to say but I’d rather have the mice.
So, yeah, Tel Aviv is beautiful. The weather, the beaches and buildings. And I don’t even typically care about shit like that. But I do appreciate a good city and Tel Aviv is one of those without question. The people I met were awesome and it might be the “straight men dancing with straight men” capitol of the world (refer to last weeks “Notes from the road for what that means). It’s an ill sight to see so many swarthy dudes sweating and in motion and for it to be completely heterosexual.
So, my show ended at 3 am and I had to be at the airport around 6 am. Why? Cause you need to be at the airport 3 hours in advance. Why? Cause it’s Israel, that’s why. I get through the first part of the airport pretty smoothly. There’s a whole lot of Passport checking and question asking but it’s much less intense than the way in. I get to the bag x-ray portion of the trip and this is where things hit a wall. Keep in mind, there are people LEAVING the country. They make you take everything electronic out of my bag (which is quite a few things as I’m traveling doing music). After waiting for them to meticulously check the peoples bags in front of me for 30 minutes, it’s my turn. I strike up a friendly conversation with the security guy as he asks me question about the equipment I have. He’s a drummer and is curious about the launchpad I use. The conversation somehow angles into us talking about the movie “Whiplash” and how he felt the scenes where the lead actors hands are bleeding were bullshit. Hey, he’s a drummer, he’d know better than me. I feel as though this friendly rapport might speed my process through the bad check. MMMMMMNOPE. They send my shit through the x-ray machine and focus on my backpack. This is a backpack I carry all my equipment in and pretty much any important thing I need when I travel. It’s also where I stuff random crap. Papers, cd’s, stickers, loose change. It’s got all sorts of nooks and crannies , which I had honestly never considered until I saw israeli security go through it. They plucked every loose coin and painstakingly looked at each one. Every old gum wrapper. A box of pepto bismal. It took about 40 minutes of them removing things, rubbing some electronic stick on everything and re-running my bag through the x-ray over and over again. They even went through my dirty cloths. Lucky for me, they had no idea i was keeping a tiny bomb tucked under my nut sack. SUCKERS. Nah, but seriously…feeling secure is cool and all but…jesus fucking christ Israel. Relax a tiny tiny bit. I Know you’re a target bit the tired american hip hop producer with the jewish last name , who is on his way out is not a threat.
So, even though it was one day, it felt like more. I would have loved to say longer and actually gotten to party there. It’s a great city and despite the haters, I’d go back in a second. I just wish the getting in and getting out parts weren’t so fucking awful.