A friend of mine received a text message about the possibility of a blackout in Tel Aviv today, and whether or not it happens it’s ridicu-hot, so I’m trading a real workout for this digital one before powering down. So toasty is it, in fact, that it could make one pine for a picnic with Sarah Palin on top of some glacier in Alaska. But then she might shoot a seal, and that would make someone like me hot under the collar.
Which brings me to briefly enumerate the six most unsightly (?) sounds of Israel this summer:
1) The sound of a Kassam rocket or other non vomit-related projectile landing in the Eshkol Regional Council, or elsewhere. I don’t know exactly where the Eshkol Regional Council is (and, sigh, I suppose I could look it up, but I’m doing my bit to conserve electricity here), but is it so wrong to not want to have the image of a rocket crashing into a kindergarten the only one that comes to mind when hearing the words “Eshkol Regional Council?”
2) The thundering silence of both the Obama administration and the Palestinian Authority whenever the above occurs. The former came to power on the basis of empty rhetoric, and have made inaction an unspoken mantra. In the meantime, Obama’s “team” is busily robo-calling my parents. It’s an embarrassment.
3) Matkot. I am a champion and defender of pretty much all beach activities, as long as they don’t make too much of a ruckus. But this one does. Honestly, how am I supposed to get a word in edgewise with the Bar Refaeli lookalike two beach towels away from me with those dudes slapping their balls back and forth in front of me? Matkot (paddle ball for the uninitiated) is a hideous activity, at least in auditory terms, and should be relegated to the southern end of the beach in Bat Yam.
And why is it that it’s only guys who are into matkot? The correlation between balls and hitting things should be investigated and effaced by any means possible — racket confiscation to ease the racket would be a start.
4) Sandals scuffing pavement. I will doubtless take some heat from both sexes on this one (just simmer!) but the truth is there are few more irritating urban noises than those made by someone else’s footwear. In Tel Aviv, that is the scuffle of sandals on pavement. If everyones’ feet made so much noise in New York or London, there’d be a run on earplugs.
It isn’t a question of price. I have both cheap sandals and ones that spell out P-R-A-D-A on the soles, and with both I can walk down Dizengoff as stealthily as an alleycat. And that should be the prerequisite of living in a crowded city: make your presence felt if you must, but not through your feet! A city’s public spaces are not your living room, so pick those feet up people, don’t drag them noisily along.
5) The hideous sound of French people on cellphones. Trying to please the French is one of the most futile exercises known to man or weasel, so here it goes: the sound of French tourists yammering into their cellphones as they look for a seat on the bus, or stand next to you in line at the AMPM, or refuse to leave a tip, is one of the most annoying in the galaxy.
Now, you could make the argument that Israelis aren’t exactly titans of tact when it comes to their use of cellphones in public. They aren’t. But at least their conversations are generally absent the whiny quality so often exhibited by our Gallic guests, who seem unable to grasp that it actually is humanly possible to speak without always complaining at the same time.
Suggested punishment for said summer tranquility offenders: witnessing a 24-hour round of Gordon Beach matkot, or in the spirit of French culinary innovation, being force-fed a jellyfish.
6) The sound of wheels going up as a plane leaves Ben Gurion. The jellyfish, the sweltering heat, the protests that no one pays any attention to, the intractable regional tensions, and the banks that charge a fee to deposit a check into your own account and consider it normal could all leave you thinking hey, maybe New York really is the center of the world. But it hasn’t worn that crown since disco but the dust and I don’t relish a mid-summer’s New York trip.
Seriously bitches, next time you can come to me.