Kibbutzes, Armageddon, Betzefer and Salem

What a day this one was. And all due to the hospitality and friendliness of several Israelis I’d met in random circumstances. Despite barely sleeping the night before (I think maybe 30 mins), this would be a cracker of a day. As usual when you stay with a mate, I sat up till silly hours talking to Hen and playing with her cats until we nodded off. Then realised what time it was, tried to sort ourselves out mentally and then set off to get a bus to the town center.

On the way, I bought a plain black t-shirt as I didn’t want to trash my nice-ish shirt later on and – as mentioned – all my stuff was with Noa in Jerusalem. For 10 NIS it would do the job. We got to the central station and then onto another bus for Megiddo. Here’s an interesting fact – Megiddo is a bad translation if the Hebrew word for “Armageddon” and the valley around it is where the Final Battle is due to take place. Presumably once Bush finally flips and presses that big red button. So if you’re a journalist after some great shots, this could be your place. If you don’t mind sitting and waiting for a while. Hopefully quite a while.

We hitched the few k’s from the main road to the kibbutz entrance, and then again up into the kibbutz itself. OK, what is a kibbutz? For the long version go have a look at Wikipedia’s article. In short, it’s a collection of dwellings, sort of like a compound. The properties are built by the people who live there and most, if not all, of the facilities are co-funded and shared. They got a bad reputation when they kicked off for being very “communist”. Everything had to be shared, no major personal possessions allowed and so on. These days they seem a lot more laid back. People volunteer to travel to a country and help build and maintain the places. Hen made a lot of foreign friends this way.

We met a couple of Hen’s local friends who provided us with drinks and then walked over to her dad’s studio. He makes small sculptures for the tourist trade, all by hand and all pretty cool in an offbeat kind of way. Ice cream was provided by her parents’ fridge and we explored the surrounds. The kibbutz is well-furnished for kids with climbing frames, slides and a kick-ass new swimming pool all to play on.

Now, I didn’t mention this the other day, but when I was in the Tower museum I got talking to one of the security guards. I was wearing one of those handy-dandy limited edition MOSH tour t-shirts I had printed up before I left and he recognised the writing. We got talking about music and bands and I gave him one of my cards. Lo and behold a day or so later, I got an email detailing a few gigs he was thinking of going to including one in Haifa tonight. Megiddo’s more or less on the way (he was going to pick me up in Tel Aviv) so Hen gave him directions and my chariot arrived around 5:30pm, containing Giora, Lior and Ma’ayan. How’s that for friendly locals?

We got to Haifa early, picked up out tickets (60NIS, around £7) and I pretended I was 13 years younger so I could stand around on the street drinking beer from an off-license with a crowd averaging 21 years in age. 27 years in age if you included me. Now, drinking on the streets in Israel is not illegal, in fact it’s very common especially outside of concerts. Unlike the UK where venues always (try to) open on time or early so you’ll spend your money over the bar, Israeli ones advertise a time and then always fail to open anywhere near it.

So for the old guy staggering round with a cart and two dogs collecting empty bottles and cans, it was very much a *kerching* evening. We managed to convince him that the devil horns were a way of saying “hello” and he became a huge star as crowds of people wanted their photo taken with him! He wasn’t complaining. A bit of attention rather than just being “the scruffy guy with the cart” and a load of empties.

The doors finally opened around 90 minutes “late” and in we poured to watch Prey For Nothing, Betzefer (Hebrew for “cool”) and Salem. I picked up a Betzefer shirt with a very nice backprint that I can’t detail on this page. Suffice to say your mother wouldn’t like it. At least mine wouldn’t. Which is why it’s not going on here.

I had a great night. The music rocked, the company was great, the beer cheap and the women stunning (and far too young for me not to be morally outraged at myself). Despite the beers I also noticed something of a coincident. In Hebrew, “fire” looks like the word “LUX” in a vaguely unusual font. Lux is Latin for “light”. Weird, eh?

Prey For Nothing got a good reception for a support act and Betzefer really ruled for me. They ended with a superb cover of AC/DC‘s Thunderstruck which even Gio went mad to and he doesn’t like Betzefer. I ended up with a very large lump on my arm and another over my thumb. This is strange as anyone who’s festivalled with me in the past will know I normally get a swollen wrist. I’m sure Caz remembers my arm after Green Day at Leeds all those years ago… She spent half an hour trying to get me to go to the Red Cross as she was insistent I’d broken it.

I confess I fell asleep shortly after Salem started. Yes. Asleep. In a metal gig. I’d had less than an hour’s sleep! What I saw was good but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. Afterwards, Gio managed to get the phone number of possibly the prettiest girl in the club. Way to go, Gio! I continued my sleep thing in the car on the way back to Jerusalem, so apologies to my travel buddies for being so antisocial. I’m just old, deal with it. I have to!

We pulled up at Jaffa Gate at around 3am and I dragged my luggage-less carcass to bed/roof and collapsed.

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