July 27, 2006

Twin Levin

The Jewish Robot (left ... or am I the guy on the right? I'm so confused!) and Todd Levin

About a year ago I was warned that I have a doppelganger in the neighborhood. My evil twin, comedian and Heeb contributor Todd Levin, not only lives around the corner from me in Park Slope, but also happens to share the same last name, though he pronounces it LEH-vin and I pronounce it leh-VIN. Early this summer we had a brief encounter in the street, and after overcoming our mutual confusion and attraction, we agreed to be best of friends, and stand in for each other whenever a body double was needed.

So last night I went to see Todd's comedy show, How to Kick People, at Mo Pitkin's in the East Village. The venue was packed, standing room only. And for good reason--the show was fantastic! Levin, together with his life partner, Bob Powers, and a team of guest comedy writers hailing from the ranks of Saturday Night Live, kept us laughing until we all realized that we had not accomplished everything we thought we would by the time we turned 34.

July 24, 2006

HEZBOllAH in lONDON

Rarely do I have crossover content between my ShaBlog and my more eclectic lowercase L blog, but this HEZBOllAH post makes the cut.

lowercase L is an examination of the bizarre but ever-increasing occurrence of signage written in all uppercase letters, except for the L's, written in the lower case, making them confusingly similar to an uppercase "i".

Having just returned from Israel earlier than I would have liked because of all the missiles raining down in the north, I felt this HEZBOllAH image was relevant to both blogs.

Anyway, I'm happy to be back in BROOKlYN!

July 22, 2006

Viva Tel Aviv

I am writing from the comfort of my home, safe and sound in Brooklyn.

Graffiti in Jaffa

I spent the last 5 days of my holiday in Israel in Tel Aviv with my buddy Ephraim, who lives within walking distance of many great restaurants, caf├ęs, boutiques, beaches and clubs. Even though the city is about 60 miles from Haifa, where most of the rocket action was taking place, Ephraim told me that the mood was tense, quieter than normal, especially on Saturday night when we hopped from one empty lounge to the next.

Still, there was plenty to do and see, even during a time of war. We took a day to walk to Jaffa, the ancient port city next to Tel Aviv.

Jewish Robot sits and stairs in Jaffa

I ate like a carnivorous king in Israel, and had some of my best meals in Tel Aviv. My favorite restaurant was aptly named Meatos. I think they feed the cows other cows just to give them that double meaty flavor.

Vegetarians are not welcome at Meatos

All sorts of cool creatures came out at night, like big fruit bats and giant cockroaches that put their Brooklyn counterparts to shame. There were also these tank-like Egyptian desert roaches, about the size of a quarter dollar, that scurried around on the sidewalks. If you flipped them onto their backs they had a difficult time rolling back on their feet.

The bugs come out at night

I liked the graffiti art all around Tel Aviv. There was the usual "Meat is Murder" that was also prevalent in Jerusalem. But there were some other, more cryptic messages penned on practically every block, usually in permanent marker. "KNOW HOPE" was a popular tag, about as ubiquitous as de la Vega's chalk art in Manhattan. And there was also the "Imagine Someone's Watching" series, often accompanied by a funky drawing of something I couldn't quite make out. Looks like an astronaut embryo reaching for bubbles ... Anyone got a clue?

Here's another cool one:

"No bears and no forest"

The bear looks happier watching television than he would be in the stupid forest.

Before I left, I got to meet Amit, Ephraim's workout partner and current Mr. Israel (80kg class) bodybuilding champion. The secret to their massive musculature? Meatos!

Ephraim and Amit - here to pump *JEW* up!

Next post: my afternoon with Mr. Dry Bones!

July 20, 2006

Ramot location

Driving down the west bank of the Kinneret

Our original plan was to go to Tzfat through the weekend, but as we were driving north, we heard that Tzfat had been hit in a missile attack, so the Judapest team and I stayed further south. After driving around the entire lake, we ended up staying at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Ramot on the hills of the east side of the Kinneret, near the Syrian border.

Brigitta gives a big wa-wa-wee-wa to the Mango Man

The B&B was owned and run by the Mango Man and his wife. I can't remember their names, but they grew their own mangos on the premise, which they brought to us fresh in the morning. And we had fresh mint and spearmint plants growing along our bungalo, that we plucked and used for fresh tea. We also had a friendly family of horses around the bend.

The most stable condition in Israel

I was feeling a little horse

After a fantastic few days with the Judapest lovebirds, we parted ways early on Friday. My Hungarian friends dropped me off in Tiberias (which was attacked by Hizbullah the next day!), where I took a sherut to Tel Aviv to stay with my buddy Eprhaim.
Cowboy Ephraim, outside his apartment complex

Next post: Tel Aviv

July 17, 2006

Waterblogged

Judapest bloggers Bruno and Brigitta living it up at the Dead Sea Oasis Spa

After sorting out a complicated banking mishap in which all of Bruno's money was accidentally transfered to an expired credit card, the Judapest gang were finally able to rent a car in Jerusalem, and we headed south to the Dead Sea.

We spent three relaxing days in the Prima Oasis spa, soaking in the sun and mineral-rich water of the sea. Not much to say about this time of floating, soaking, eating, sleeping, drinking, and watching Wimbledon commentated in Hebrew, so just enjoy these few photos.

You can hear the sea in Bruno's phone!

The Judean Hills are alive with the sound of bloggers

Don't make Bruno angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Brigitta received several offers to help finish with the mud covering

Mud in my circuits

On our way up north heading toward Tzfat, we happened to catch the news on the radio that Tzfat was hit with rockets from Lebanon. So we wisely chose to stay further south on the east bank of the Sea of Galilee, so close to Syria that Lebanon wouldn't dare fire rockets there, and risk hitting their sweet friends.

Watching the news while the news goes on outside

Next post: a night on the Kinneret, and then Tel Aviv

July 15, 2006

Last Night in Jerusalem

For all those who have expressed concern for the Jewish Robot's well-being, I am safe in Tel Aviv with my friend Ephraim. Thank you for your support!

All shuk up

July 10 was my last night in Jerusalem. While I had not seen the rest of Israel, admittedly I did not want to leave this wonderful holy city. My new friends made me feel so welcome, and the German Colony where I stayed with Aharon and Alieza had the coolest vibe. But the rest of the country was calling, so I made one last round in J-town before heading down to the Dead Sea with my favorite new Hungarian friends, Bruno and Brigitta of Judapest.org.

The evening started with a visit from my old buddy, Ephraim, originally from NYC, who made aliyah in 2002. We went to the Jerusalem shuk for a taste of marketplace bargaining, and then dropped by the Old City for a final jaunt through the Jewish Quarter.

Ephraim and me, old friends in the Old City

The evening concluded with the Existential Rabbi Avi Poupko's Ishbitz Full Moon Party, where DJ Mobius rocked the house between live sets of South African Hassidic Reggae and human beat box freestyle poetry.

DJ Mobius spins vinyl like a tweeker spins the dreidel for crystal meth gelt

The next morning I left the comfort of the German Colony to venture south.

Aharon and Alieza's flat in the German Colony felt like home

Heading south through the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea

More photos from the Dead Sea and more in following posts!

July 10, 2006

Jerusalem Repost

The Jewish Robot returns to the Kotel, alone

I spent most of Sunday alone, walking through Jerusalem into the Old City, to really absorb my surroundings without the distraction of friends and conversation. I started off in the German Colony, where I have been staying with my new friends, Aharon and Alieza. From there I walked through the center of town, and ended up entering the Old City in the Christian Quarter, and passed through the Muslim Quarter. I would have taken some photos, but there seemed to be very few tourists, and I stuck out like a Jewish Robot wearing a funny hat in a land of burkas, so I kept the camera in my pocket.

Once I emerged in the Jewish Quarter, I had a chance to revisit the Kotel, which I had been to twice before: first with the ROI120 group, when I was tired and disoriented, (and apparently looking like Rick Morranis); and also on Friday night for a memorable Shabbat with the Existential Rabbi Avi Poupko. This time was a more peaceful and reflective experience.

From there I headed south to an observatory deck overlooking the City of David, where I encountered a group of young soldiers in training.

Young Guns

I can see David's City from here!

As I left the Old City I walked along the perimeter of the outer walls. I snapped this photo of the Old City from behind a section of the fence that had been replaced with barbed wire.

Security fence around part of the Old City

Sunday night I reconvened with some friends from the ROI120 conference, and we went out for dinner and the World Cup final match. After the match, the streets were taken over by crazed football fans, swerving and speeding down the road, yelling out their windows. Then I was told that's how Israelis normally drive.

Aryeh and The Jewish Robot, representing Brooklyn on Jerusalem stone

Alieza, Aharon, me, Aryeh, Esther, and Ariel

July 09, 2006

Jerusalem Times

The Jewish Robot towers over the Second Temple

I've been in Jerusalem for almost a week now, with very little time to post to this blog. But now that the ROI120 conference has concluded, I've got a moment to share some photos before I head out again. I'll write about the conference in future entries, after I've collected my thoughts on this robust topic. For now, just some quick fun photos and captions from the conference here in Jerusalem.

Mobius of Jewschool.com practices yawning before the conference

Fellow ROI120 participant and Brooklyn musician Michelle Citrin of Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad joins the Jewish Robot, inexplicably dressed like an Israeli soldier, at the Kotel. (In the background, Judapest.org's Bruno Bitter and his fiery friend Brigitta of Hungary share a tender moment of appreciation and butt-squeezing.)

My favorite New Media track moderator Esther K. and Sarah Lefton of Jewish Fashion Conspiracy at the Israel Museum

Ariel Beery and Aharon Horwitz (my gracious host for these last few days) of Blogs of Zion flank Sarah Chandler of Zeek Magazine at the ROI120 banquet.

Ausi ROI120 class cut-up, Dave Burnett, expresses his love for the Jewish Robot. Turns out Dave is my Number One Fan!

The charismatic From Jerusalem with Love blogger and future Israeli reality tv star Matt Lebovic refers affectionately to the Jewish Robot as his "Muffin"

ck and Laya of Jewlicious with the Existential Rabbi Avi Poupko

Aryeh Goldsmith--hotel roommate and IBS sufferer-- of TwentyFourSix.com agrees with the graffiti: Meat = Murder. Especially on his bowels.

Protected by the mesh enviro-bubble, the Jewish Robot finds a moment to blog, even as noxious fumes produced by my IBS roommie permeate the third floor of the Prima Kings Hotel.