Saturday, July 30, 2011

Welcome to the western world... ish...

"I've lived here 26 years and I can't think of enough reason to stay here 6 months. What were you doing here?!"
"Eh, I dunno. Biking around a ton? Writing?"
"Right!" *smiles awkwardly*

So all in all, I was way too over-prepared for my Palestinian Sympathizer Airport Exit Experience©. I got through Israeli security no problems. Chalk another privilege up to being white, American, non-muslim, and generally charismatic. The agents were low key and generally nice, though still I was taken aside as a heightened risk person and half-stripped, swabbed down for bombs, every article searched, and email/computer combed over. I got away with a 3 out of 6 for dangerousness, which essentially just means I'm weird. And I can handle that. Funnily enough, after I was safely through the gate I opened my phone and realized, after months of alternate-email generation, uploading photographs, Facebook deleting, alibi creating, re-naming arabic songs in my music library, etc, I had left my phone's browser navigating to this blog, where of course ALL of the recent posts illustrate in clear detail just how big of a liar I am. Eh. Well, I got lucky! And then I was free.

Fittingly, I was pre-welcomed to Eastern Europe with by my flight-mate, who sat down, shook my hand, and stuffed a giant vodka bottle into my carry-on. At first I thought this was some kind of insane gift, until I realized that I was to supply him, our neighbor, and myself with surreptitious vodka pours from time to time. The flight commenced in wild style. I was worried David Zion, for that was his name, was going to be a super-zionist,and he may well have been, but our common language turned out to be Arabic. We discovered this about halfway through the flight, which heretofore had consisted of generous vodka pours, expressive shrugs, and dismissive hand gestures. The third fellow was Moses, who sleeps. The pair were on a pilgrimage to visit the tomb of an important Hasidic Jew, Rebbe Nachman, in Uman, Ukraine, a trip they did often. Our flight was largely uneventful, excepting a kurfuffle concerning the ripped packaging on their kosher flight food, an episode which resulted in me eating 3 tin-foiled religiously-soiled chicken dishes. Also a substantial quantity of vodka evaporated on my lap. Good times.

Now happily in Kiev- a sprawling green city with terrifying grids of cheap housing towers surrounding the center. It's a poor but flashy, beautiful place with plenty of decrepitude, Soviet era factories with windows broken out contrasting gilded onion-dome churches and sinister black SUVs. I like it a lot, quite the transition from the West bank, thought the medium income's probably pretty close. Return of brick to my vis. Lexicon. I don't have a camera anymore, so I'll subject you to my feeble drawings:

Actually, it's probably the polar opposite of the West Bank. This country is home to literally the most beautiful women on planet earth, everyone looks like a model, and huge sexual adverts hang everywhere. The women march around in designer clothes with these intense soviet grimaces, while in the west bank you encounter only men who grin hugely and want to know your story. I guess I'm getting what I asked for, an emergency dose of western alienation.

Wandered into the Pinchuk Art Center, where Andreas Grusky (99 cents and Kathedrale 1) Gregory Crewdson, and Olafur Ellaison were all together. It was Pretty amazing. Best so far, besides Kathedrale 1, is the insane gallery bathroom, all mirrors.

The mirrors also connect your gaze between genders, there's no privacy, except the actual stall. A pretty bold and interesting move in such a sexualized place where eye contact comes heavily into play in maintaining social norms.

That was trumped 100 times over by an Ellaison piece thick with fog, spectral lights effectively blinding you with a specific color, destroying your notion of space, losing the viewer in a field of hue. The colorshifts were so strong yet imperceptible you were sure you were hallucinating. You literally couldn't see your hand in front of your face, and would run into walls and other people. Very spooky, very amazing.

If it was 2005 I'd have a sweet myspace pic.


AmalJaiwarra said...

Not true. The most beautiful women, and men, are in Ethiopia.

Too bad it's not 2005!

Jessica said...

Yay yay yay drawings are sooooo gooooood! I also love the flight description. So great.

Elaine said...

I love your drawings! And descriptions! And insta-crash into different cultures! (Crash with all the brilliant and beautiful and challenging connotations). And myspace reference!

And! I get to see you in, like, a week!

Exclamation point!

Stephen Goldsmith said...

Eager to spend time with our shared reflections on our most recent trips -- trust you are following the protests throughout Israel (are they protesting among other things the fact that you left). As for over-preparing for your departure and your security experience, it happens to me nearly every time I leave as well, despite the fact I'm married to an Israeli. They pull me out of line and grill me for awhile. Last year I was pulled out of line again just as I was boarding the flight. Good aerobic activity to be sure.

If you are still in Russia and can find a copy of Jonathan Safran-Foer's book Everything is Illuminated it would be a nice read on your way a back to the US, even if you saw the movie.

Safe travels my friend.

Davey D said...

Thanks Stephen, glad to hear I'm not the only one! Sadly on my eastern europe trip I had only the dry and pensive Jane Eyre as my company, but she did well to raise my standard of behavior to that befitting the old country. ;) I'd love to read Everything Is Illuminated, as I love Mr. Foer and have heard great things about that book, it's set in the eastern european cities I've been haunting, correct?

Blog Archive