Cracked-out Sesame Street marketing.

I once wrote about a bizarre and freaky Israeli marketing technique employed by the phone company using a cracked-out bird cartoon for a new campaign.

It seems cracked-out Sesame Street marketing is popular around these parts.

Call the Bezeq alcoholic parrot the Big Bird approach, if you will.

Well, here comes more freakiness – the obese and sketchy Bert and Ernie approach, brought to us by the electric company…

What’s the deal? Why do I have to do a double-take and then run under the couch with my tail between my legs when I get an electric bill? Why can’t you bad people leave Sesame Street alone? It nurtured me and raised me and made me what I am today.

Even if whatever I am today is also a little freaky.

The every-day.

There comes a point – after you move far away from where you grew up – when you realize that you’ve been cut off from the every-day, and even from the once-in-a-while.

A few months into the self-induced separation, the happy birthdays and mazal tovs flow; you invite each other to happenings from across the oceans as a courtesy, purely out of love and appreciation. There are enough phone calls to remember the names of your friends’ weekly dates (for the most part).

After another while, you’re still sent and sending courtesy invites and “hey, what’s up” emails and maybe even phone calls. Then it wanes. And wanes further. Even the mazal tovs are barely shared. On your trips back home, most people don’t contact you or know you’re there; maybe it’s because out-of-sight, out-of-mind; maybe it’s because you just didn’t bother to tell them.

Months become years, and the courtesy invites are long gone. There are rarely anymore emails and the phone calls are mostly from your mom. The only reason you know what’s going on is because you get Facebook updates, but that’s a bit embarrassing so you don’t use them as guidelines.

There comes a point when you realize that most of what you have is, and will always be, wherever it is that you are. Your job pays the bills, and if you have one in Jerusalem, then you don’t have one in New York. The people you go out with on a weekly basis – whether you feel like it or not – are just going to be the people that know more about you, more than your ‘closest friends’ back where you came from.

It doesn’t matter where you move to – Israel or elsewhere. It’s a fact that you grow to accept over a very long period of time, and the more you try to fight it, the more painful it is. And the more you go with the flow, the less you remember or care – but then you’ve lost something that was very special.

And when you finally let go, you’ve forgotten so much. And it takes the very, very big things in life to remember it. And then it’s painful again. And then you go back to work the next day, enter the every-day, and wait to forget it all over again.

Same, same but different.

I saw not one – not two – but three different guys wearing “SAME SAME/BUT DIFFERENT” t-shirts today.

When young Israelis finish the army, they collect whatever savings they have and venture off into the wilderness that Southeast Asia has to offer. One of their main stops is Thailand, where everything is cheap and shopping is plentiful. Looking for (somewhat) designer jeans? Brand-name (sorta) electronics?

“Same, same. But different.”

It’s the chant of the natives, and somewhere along the line it got printed on t-shirts and sold to tourists. My guess is that most of these tourists are Israeli. Not a week goes by that you don’t see one floating in the crowded streets around you. The front of the shirt reads, SAME SAME and the back proudly states, BUT DIFFERENT.

And veteran backpacker Israelis think this is so freakin’ clever.

How to get by these days.

These are hard times. There’s war in the air.

If you’re feeling despair, here’s an exercise to make you feel better:

1. Open a new file or folder in your computer.

2. Name it “Ehud Olmert”.

3. Send it to the trash.

4. Empty the trash.

5. Your computer will ask you, “Do you really want to get rid of “Ehud Olmert?”

6. Firmly click “yes”.

7. Repeat with Amir Peretz.

Israeli is to chic peas as Russian is to dentistry.

Sometimes I’m amazed that I still have new experiences to write about here.

I had my first Israeli dental experience today – or should I say Russian dental experience? It seems that to be a dentist here, you have to be Russian, and you also have to be way harsh about poking around in there. I know that going to the dentist isn’t supposed to be fun, but jeez, man. It freakin’ hurts to stick metal toothpicks into my gums. I found myself subconsciously whimpering, “but I’m just a gentle American…”

And the results?

The good news is, I don’t have to go back there for a while.

The bad news is… I do need to go to a dental surgeon to get a wisdom tooth removed.


Typical, every day.

Today is a typical day in Israel. A weekday, a Thursday, a typical day in the State of Israel.

And three articles in today’s newspaper brought me to tears in the middle of a bus ride.

The first told stories of Ethiopian Jews who died or were killed on the way to Israel.

The second was the voice of trauma and ongoing grief of Koby Mandell’s mother and other Israeli parents like her.

The third was about what a young volunteer witnessed in yesterday’s massive attack of kassam rockets on Sderot.

I often find myself in tears while I read the paper on the bus.

That’s a typical day in Israel.

Home center.

I rag on Jerusalem a lot. Blame it on the love/hate. And the weird rain. But, in honour of Jerusalem Day today, I will make an announcement that is happy; for the city, anyway.

We’ve decided to stay in Jerusalem for at least another year. This is not out of charity (that the city really needs middle class young Israelis to assist in demographics). It’s out of the fact that our living situation is actually not actually bad – the apartment is in a great location with a great deal. Also the fact that there’s nothing for us out there in exo-Jerusalem; we’re not a young family with kids looking for suburbia.

So, here’s to another year – nearly my third – of living in Jerusalem: the capital of conflict, the capital of peace, the capital of us Jews for as long as we can remember.

Another rainy Jerusalem day… in May.

It’s unnaturally pouring outside. Dark cloudy sky, thunder, lightening, the whole package. It rarely rains like this in the winter, nevermind summer. It’s also not a blessing for it to rain at this time of year.

Is God angry at us? Well, he couldn’t have picked a better day to express it. It’s Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). Think about what we’ve put ourselves through in the last year. Think of all the corruption, misguidance, ignorance.

Ok, fine. I’m being dramatic and I probably don’t believe in ‘God’ that way anyway. But it’s still bizarre.

Nevertheless… happy Jerusalem Day.