Tag Archives: Morrissey

Thank you, Pete . . . a Libertine in every sense

Bouncing home in the early hours of Friday from a second wonderful night of Pete Doherty at Barby Tel Aviv, I am ‘greeted’ by depressingly familiar facebook discussions about Roger Waters and BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) . . . aka the ‘respectable’, twenty-first century boycott of Jews.

I got into indie rock/post-punk revival band The Libertines thanks to a religious-gig-going mate. And something about its maverick co-frontman Doherty, whether his talented songwriting (my favourite example, from his subsequent group, Babyshambles) or even some of his offstage excesses, immediately struck a chord with this ‘nice’ Jewish boy from Hendon (I guess because of Jonny, I have always been drawn to the outsider/misfit/rebel). And soon thereafter, my then boss, duty soliciting, picked up Doherty as a client following one of his not infrequent drug-related indiscretions. So you can imagine my excitement when I spotted, on facebook, that Pete was actually coming to Tel Aviv . . .

Pete Doherty, Barby TA, 30.4.14

Springing out of the Central Bus Station last Wednesday evening, I at once purchased a few tins of Sudanese-strength lager for the walk through south Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighbourhood. They soon did the trick, also helping to make ma’ariv and kaddish in the local Beit Tefila somewhat less routine than usual.

Pete’s opening “Shalom” immediately warmed the heart. Sometimes it is hard living here. Not the day-to-day. Just the constant feeling that we are on our own and the regular reminders that “they” don’t like us, siding instead, quite incomprehensibly to us, with the brutally oppressive, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamofascist terror ‘state’ nextdoor.

"I like Tel Aviv!"

“I like Tel Aviv!”

So when artists like Doherty refuse to go along with the campaign of hate, speak their first few words of Ivrit (even if, like Pete, confusing their “tov me’od” and “toda”), swig from a bottle of Goldstar, draw on their first Israeli joint, and even relate their experiences from the Carmel Market that morning – see the clip (of Thursday night’s opening) at the bottom – it just means so indescribably much. Well it does, at least, to me.

Pete sussed the locals immediately. “You have to negotiate everything here,” he exclaimed, on emerging for his encore. “I just asked this bloke back there for two minutes [rest]. “No,” he goes, “you can have one”!” Tel Aviviot, too. “You’re a little optimistic,” he told one of them, on unfurling and reading out her rather forward proposal for after the show.

I have always liked to believe that I possess a good instinct about people. Even famous people. When I first saw Morrissey swing those gladioli on Top of the Pops, I knew that here was a man . . . and, sure enough, some 25 years later, he also ignored the anti-Semites to come and play Tel Aviv (see And we’re still fond of you, Moz!)

BDS represents nothing less than ‘respectable’, post-Holocaust, anti-Semitism. The obsessives who today demonise the Jewish state by calling for its economic isolation are the same types who, in centuries past, demonised Jews with caricatures, boycotts, and far, far worse; or who, in return for longed-for Gentile recognition and acceptance, were prepared to sell out their fellow Jew.

BDS’s Israel-only bashing and self-hating-Jewish proponents are not folk you’d particularly want to share a beer with . . .

Emma Thompson

“Why does he call me that?”

Let us begin, for horrible English toff example, with old horseface Emma Thompson (who, at an international theatre festival to feature productions from, inter alia, Iran, Turkey and China, saw fit only to call for the boycott of the Jewish one!) Her daughter attended the same Hampstead school as children of friends. And, while other celebrity parents – including Sean Bean, Damian Lewis and Bill Nighy – gave of themselves in a fundraising campaign for a sick pupil, Thompson just gave excuses (via her publicist, of course). She was, on the other hand, excellent at making lots of luvvie/“look at me” noise outside the school gates. A horrid woman, by all accounts.

And talk to anyone unfortunate enough to have known Gerald Kaufman growing up in Leeds. They will tell you what a singularly repellent individual he was, even then (see “Dame” Gerald: Our very own “Uncle Tom” and Kaufman: Enough to make your Rabbi anti-Semitic). And one hears similar things about most others in the List of Shame, headed by the (thankfully) late Harold Pinter, the abhorrent Miriam Margolyes (see here . . . though not on a full stomach) and, sadly, two artists whom I once very much admired, Mike Leigh and Alexei Sayle.

Roger Waters in uniform

“Suits me, ja?!”

I have little doubt that Waters is another fabrenter (as my parents used to refer to such people). He has had more than enough time to explain why he picks on Israel, and suspends Star of David-emblazoned inflatable pigs over his audiences. To my mind, there is only one explanation. (And I feel vindicated in my lifelong disdain for the clinical dirges of Pink Floyd – if Hitler had come to power forty years later, guards at Dachau would have alternated Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with The Dark Side of the Moon.)

Thompson and Waters clearly couldn’t give a Fliegenschwein about human suffering. If they did, they would be working tirelessly on Syria, Saudi Arabia, Darfur, Eritrea, North Korea, China, etc, instead of tirelessly obsessing with the only democracy in the Middle East (and one that has been embroiled in an existential, 66-year war on terror). Their issue is with Jews.

The boycotters did try to get to Pete. “They told me it was dangerous here,” he quipped, after stumbling, one (joint-injected) Goldstar too many, into the audience. And while his suggestion for resolving the Middle East conflict – “You might as well just have a drink and listen to some music” – may be a tad facile, it comes from a love of all people, not the hatred of one.

Clean-liver he may not be, but Pete Doherty is clearly just an everyday good bloke. And he is the very antithesis of the arrogant, hypocritical, self-righteous, morally dishonest Thompsons and Waters of this world, who hide beneath veneers of decency, while rabidly pursuing racist agendas of the most pernicious kind. What an upside-down planet we live on, where public persona and choice of lifestyle, rather than fundamental goodness, accord that pair of cunts – apologies, but sometimes it’s the only word that’ll do – more standing than him.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a “libertine” as “a person who freely indulges in sensual pleasures” – as a Queens Park Rangers fan (Doherty once penned a club fanzine) puts it so tastefully here, “any chap whos rearended [melchett mike: allegedly] Moss gets my applause!” – but also as “a freethinker”.

Throughout his litany of troubles, there is one Yiddish word that has almost certainly never been used in association with Pete Doherty . . . but for us, Pete, you will always be a mensch.

[For more photos/videos of last week’s gigs, search YouTube and see here.]

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And we’re still fond of you, Moz!

I knew you were something different, Moz, as soon as I – not-so-sweet sixteen, in November 1983 – saw you for the first time, swinging those gladioli on Top of the Pops.

And I can still hear my mother mimicking the “uh-huh-hos” blaring from my bedroom after I had raced back from Our Price, Brent Cross, with my The Smiths cassette.

I was in your audience in Tel Aviv, yesterday evening.

And at a time that most of the world is kicking us in the nadgers – the IOC refusing a minute’s silence for the 11 Israelis murdered in Munich and spineless muppets like Marc Almond cancelling gigs here, for fear of offending Islamofascist anti-Semites and their Israel-only bashing apologists – I thank you, Moz, for standing by us.

Unlike Leonard Cohen (who felt he had to ‘justify’ his concert here by turning it into a peace circus) and Dylan (who couldn’t bring himself to share a single word with his audience), you were with us heart and soul.

And seeing you parade and drape yourself in kachol ve’lavan means more to us (or, at least, to me) than you can imagine . . . I mean, I know it doesn’t make you Theodor Herzl; but sadly, in these dark days, merely not being ashamed to be associated with Israel is, in itself, huge.

Indeed, I will even pardon you for not performing the greatest song of all time!

Todah, Moz . . . you are our light that never goes out.

Morrissey in Tel Aviv, yesterday evening

[For more photos and videos of yesterday’s gig, click here.]

If I were a Jewish man: the Arab fiddler on the roof

The rape (by deception) conviction, last month, of an East Jerusalem Arab who posed as a love-seeking Jewish bachelor in order to get into the knickers of an Israeli Jewess prompted me to recall some of the more spurious yarns I have spun, over the years, to get my wicked way.

One summer, for instance, on a road trip across the US (during our break from Manchester University), I scored – with a Smiths-obsessed frat girl – with the whopper that Morrissey was our next door neighbour (a claim to fame which left her with no choice).   

In fact, the absolute ludicrousness of both the recent conviction and the 18-month prison term (appealed) handed down to Sabbar Kashur – a married, 30-year old, father-of-two who introduced himself to the complainant as “Dudu”, an Israeli nickname – caused me to do the unprecedented (forbidden?) and concur with Haaretz’s Gideon Levy: see He impersonated a human.   

“If she hadn’t thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship,” ruled Jerusalem District Court Judge Zvi Segal, “she would not have cooperated.” 

After approaching Kashur as he exited a grocery store in the capital, that fateful midday in September 2008, the “serious romantic” Israeli – in her late twenties – clearly did not need an awful lot of persuading to accompany “Dudu” for a quickie on a nearby roof (it is not only the Tel Avivit, it would seem, who possesses the Subtle Art of Seduction).   

Sabbar “Dudu” Kashur in his East Jerusalem home

And Kashur maintains that he “didn’t pretend” anything. “I said my name is Dudu because that’s how everybody knows me. My wife even calls me that.” (The penny perhaps dropped for our nice, naive yiddishe girl with Kashur’s cry, at the height of passion, of “Allahu akbar!” Okay, I made that bit up.)

The court then heard that Kashur – who has been under house arrest ever since – departed the scene without waiting for his Jewish princess to get dressed. 

But what exactly was he expected to do? To hold her for a few minutes and, looking into her eyes, tell her that she was his best first-date bunk up since his morning coffee break? 

“The court is obliged,” continued Judge Segal, “to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price – the sanctity of their bodies and souls.”   

While Kashur’s oral physiology and abilities are not matters about which I care to speculate, I suspect that his ‘victim’ may not have been quite as chaste as Judge Segal would have us believe. “Sanctity of bodies and souls,” indeed!   

“When the very basis of trust between human beings drops, especially when the matters at hand are so intimate, sensitive and fateful, the court is required to stand firmly at the side of the victims,” concluded Judge Segal, “otherwise, they will be used, manipulated and misled.”   

“Intimate” and “sensitive”?! Shagging a complete stranger on a roof?! 

No. The only thing that “drop[ped]” in this case was a pair of loose-fitting knickers (if, indeed, there were any to begin with). And, regarding our nice, virtuous Jewish meydl, the words that spring to mind are “gagging for it”.   

One thing is for sure: If an Israeli male had nailed an Arab woman by telling her that he was a Muslim, there would have been no case to answer (except, of course, with her brothers). Indeed, this whole sorry affair is an uncomfortable reminder of certain 1935 racial purity laws. And just when one thought it impossible for Israel’s world image to sink any lower.   

Anyway, if you happen to be reading this, you poor innocent thing: I really am a Jewish bachelor . . . and like nothing more than a bit of “serious” rooftop “romance”. 

http://www.justgiving.com/melchettmike

Story of Isaac[son]: Lenny and the Prince of Davka

I admit it. My behaviour can, at times, be strange. And in ways I can barely explain. Even to myself.

And my not even attempting to obtain tickets for the Morrissey (last year) and Leonard Cohen (last week) concerts in Israel was amongst the strangest. I am a hard-core fan of both singer-songwriters (add poet for Cohen), owning virtually their entire back catalogues, and both performed just a few miles from Melchett.

But I will at least try to explain (if only for myself) . . .

I guess I am a cultural snob. And, when Israelis suddenly feign interest in visiting musicians whose work I have spent much of my adult life exploring, it can just be too much. I mean it might be okay with your Depeche Modes and Madonnas (both of whom played Israel this summer), but more inscrutable artists like “Mozza” and “Lenny” should not be so easily accessible! It is not just a question of buying tickets, showing up . . . and catching up.

This distaste is similar to the one I have for football ‘supporters’ who only show an interest in their team when it starts to win (on that note, has anyone come across a Manchester City fan who goes by the name of “Seitler”?) . . . as opposed to loyal fools like me, who even go to watch them in shit holes like Scunthorpe (yes, I visited Glanford Park on my last trip to the UK).

No, the opportunist concert goer is no better than the “glory hunter”, or “part-time”, football fan. You don’t want to share your adoration of your idol(s) with either of them. Unlike you, they lack credibility (and snobbery).

And so it was, for the first performance by Leonard Cohen in Israel since 1975 – all 47,000 tickets were sold in less than 24 hours – I didn’t even pick up the phone. No, I voted with my feet . . . and cut off my nose, because a large part of me obviously wanted to be there.

In Israel, such behaviour is referred to as davka – loosely translated, in this sense, as “just to be contrary” – and I am the Prince of Davka!

Leonard CohenBut, last Thursday afternoon, staring blankly at yet another contract in my office, I started to become increasingly distracted by the thought that, a few hours later – while I would be walking Stuey and Dexxy along Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard – Leonard Cohen would be playing to a packed National Stadium just down the road, in Ramat Gan. And who were they to be there . . . and me not?!

At some point, the momentousness of the occasion then hit me even harder. It was three days after the Canadian’s seventy-fifth birthday. But, more poignantly, we were in the middle of the Ten Days of Repentance – between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – and Cohen would undoubtedly be performing a Holy Land rendition of Who by Fire, his cover of the High Holy Days’ “hit”, Unesaneh Tokef (as well as of other songs with Biblical themes, like Story of Isaac and Hallelujah).

I got into Leonard (and, indeed, Bob) in the sixth form at school, thanks to the precocious taste – for Hasmonean, at least – of my classmate, Jonathan Levene, to whom I am forever indebted. Who knows . . . if not for Jonny – who even now I believe, as a black-hatted frummer (called “Yoynosson”), occasionally (though perhaps clandestinely) still listens to Cohen and Dylan – I may have succumbed, like so many of my peers, to the relative poverty of Billy Joel, Elton John, Genesis, ELO, Meat Loaf, and even, God forbid, Dire Straits. I have seen Cohen “live” on just one occasion, at the Royal Albert Hall in 1993. (Any Lenny “virgins” would do well to check this out for starters . . . just to understand.)

So, leaving work on time for once, I raced home, threw Stuey and Dexxy into the back of the car without their customary early evening walk (thus risking bladders being emptied on the back seat), and headed down to Ramat Gan. Bringing the beasts meant that I wasn’t even going to be looking for a ticket – I just wanted to feel part of the “occasion”, and, if possible, hear just a little of the great man’s distinctive bass from outside the stadium.

Leonard Cohen (1969)I was not alone. There were a couple of hundred of us ticketless hobos, sitting on kerbs and the grass verges of the adjacent Ha’yarkon Park. I bumped into a journalist acquaintance, Lisa, who had hoped to bum a ticket through media contacts outside the stadium. But to no avail.

I fantasized, briefly, about approaching queuing Israelis (an oxymoron, I know), and posing a simple enough question (for any genuine Cohen fan):

Chelsea Hotel #2 refers to Lenny’s affair with which singer?”

I even planned my response for the (expected) failure to provide the correct answer (Janis Joplin):

“Right, get outta the queue! And gimme your ticket! It’s confiscated. Now go home!”

Back on planet Earth . . . following one round of the stadium perimeter, Lisa and I perched ourselves on the stretch of kerb where Cohen could be most clearly heard. To our chagrin, however, there were a couple of horribly annoying Israeli women also seated in the vicinity who insisted on vocally accompanying his every word. And not only that . . . but with the heaviest of “Hebrish” accents. Nauseating guttural noises accompanied Lover Lover Lover:

“Yes and love-airrgggh, love-airrgggh, love-airrgggh, love-airrgggh, love-airrgggh, love-airrgggh . . . love-airrgggh, come back to me.”

Lisa, eventually, could take no more and left. The opportunity I had been waiting for arrived when Stuey and Dexxy started barking at a passing canine, at which the irritating duet – far less attractive, I might add, than my hairy duo (otherwise I may have let them off) – had the temerity to deliver filthy looks in my direction. That was my cue. I assured them that I would keep the dogs quiet . . . if they would do the same with each other. I am becoming more Israeli by the day. (There was plenty other Israeli chutzpah on show – during the second half of the concert, for instance, as minibuses started rolling up, fellow freeloading kerb-sitters remonstrated with drivers about the noise of their engines!)

I had a hot date planned for later in the evening, and left early to avoid the departing hordes. To quote Suzanne, perhaps Cohen’s most well-known song, “[I] want[ed] to be there”. And, strangely, I felt as if I had been. It was well worth the effort.

In spite of having been ordained as a Buddhist monk (in 1996), Leonard Cohen still considers himself “one of us”:

“I’m not looking for a new religion. I’m quite happy with the old one, with Judaism.”

Legend has it that Cohen – who was performing for Israeli troops – shared cognac with Arik Sharon in the Sinai during the Yom Kippur War, and that he was plagued with guilt when he found himself relieved to learn that a passing convoy of bloodied bodies was ‘only’ one of Egyptians. He would later remark:

Lover Lover Lover was born over there. The whole world has its eyes riveted on this tragic and complex conflict. Then again, I am faithful to certain ideas, inevitably. I hope that those of which I am in favour will gain.”

The recollection of Israeli singer Oshik Levi sheds further light:

Leonard Cohen performing for Israeli troops (Suez Canal, 1973)“Leonard Cohen proceeded with us for three months, day after day, four to five – and sometimes eight – performances a day. And, in every place we arrived at, he wanted to be drafted. At one time he wanted to be a paratrooper, at another time in the marines, and another time he wanted to be a pilot. We would sleep in sleeping bags on the floor because there was no room, and Leonard – who didn’t want to feel like a star – refused when I tried to arrange a place for him in the Culture Room.”

Asked which side he supports in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Cohen has responded:

“I don’t want to speak of wars or sides . . . Personal process is one thing, it’s blood, it’s the identification one feels with their roots and their origins.”

Cohen hit hard times in 2005, alleging that his longtime former manager had misappropriated over five million dollars from his retirement fund (leaving just $150,000). And the Israel leg of his world tour will not have done much to help – Cohen donated all of the profits (estimated at two million dollars) to an Israeli-Palestinian charity (a political gesture, no doubt, in the face of pressure from the anti-Israel lobby).

Even international music legends are not guaranteed to make money here . . . though I am certain that Cohen will have enjoyed coming back to his “roots”.

God bless you, Lenny. And come back again soon (I promise, next time, to leave Stuey and Dexxy at home).

 

[For further photographs from, and discussion relating to, Cohen’s time in Israel during the Yom Kippur War, see the Leonard Cohen Forum. Other quotes and information from Wikipedia.]