Sometimes a good cry, one that comes from real pain that’s left only in me, is the answer to the question of why happiness is important. Today, when my father ran to hear my story of how I intend to quit smoking, I came to understand that he wasn’t really present to listen to me and that really bothered me. When I directed his attention to that in the gentlest way I could muster, he got annoyed and raised his voice to me, as is his habit. I looked him in the eye, directed my gaze with the Egyptian seriousness I learned from him; after a while I smiled easily and told him, “No.” I became immediately aware that he still didn’t exactly understand what could be done about that.
After a while he decided to smile back at me, and only afterwards he said gently, “Yes, I want to listen,” and said right away, “but without all the stories around it, without complicating it,” with the same hard look whose strength he doesn’t gaze at in the mirror every morning. At that point it was difficult for me again but I decided to see it as a challenge, and this time I didn’t respond to him with the same sword, the one he conceals in the hands of those who surround him so they can fight him.
My father summed up the conversation nicely, “I don’t want to hear any more about that; learn to talk to the point!” and I decided to breathe in his energy and right away let it out again, towards the carpet, the one my parents had to spread from wall to wall by court order because my mother sings at home for a living and the neighbors didn’t know how to ask nicely, and I ended the conversation, with a smile to the world from inside and outside, but for some reason I didn’t find the strength to smile also at him.
Earlier in the day he decided to take down from the attic his old drawings, from the period when he remembered that creative power was hidden first of all in him. He put one drawing aside for me and said, “I knew you’d like it,” definitely! Moving and rich in his inner world that was unknown to me, disappeared. He also told me about the drawings of nude women and how in his past as a soldier, his commander forbade him from drawing things like that because it was considered dishonorable. I could have given up what I had to do and jumped at the chance to go over the drawings with him as he had certainly hoped, but I preferred to keep practicing as I’d planned, as my “living room time” was almost up; I also offered to go over them together another time, but he immediately didn’t want to.
There will always be excuses and we’ll never understand our parents and all the hidden meanings behind each one of us in a conversation, but it seems to me that if we don’t try, there’s no chance that we’ll know. True, there was a Holocaust, the good Jew doesn’t travel on Shabbat, Stav Shaffir covers homeless people with blankets in Levinsky Park, the book “The Teddy Bear No No” actually has a positive message, and my father can keep not wanting, but I’m not sure that he wants to not want, and maybe he just doesn’t know how to ask another way. We’re taught that money brings wealth, that a drawing of a nude woman is impure, how to do business, to get cable TV, to confront the institution (the word “confront” in Hebrew has the same root as “voluntary association”), read, write; they want us to learn how to know how to speak well, but in the end today everything is measured by what happens between one person and another in the street.
For all those who had neither a voluntary association of their own, nor money, I sang my songs and I did my best to give them the love they’d never received. The simple truth is that something has value only when we decide to value it. And the simple truth of the reality that surrounds us is that a politician of Israeli background, and in general many men in the Middle East, don’t dare enjoy a random street performance by a good artist because an occurrence like that simply doesn’t happen. No, not “I can’t!” I don’t want to. A politician will never be able to appreciate the real need for a street performance-not-dependant-on-anything in a way reminiscent of the way Moti knew how to appreciate it when he saw me perform last summer on Rothschild Boulevard, right after we cleaned the wounds on his legs in the first aid tent, the one that finally appeared for Moti in the street.
Photo: Lior Rothstein
Poem, Feb. 2, 2012
Everything comes from home
And everything is like a ball of energy inside a ball
Everything comes from home
And from what’s allowed and forbidden
Everything begins in me
In birth, in laws that I invent
And we are inside a big energy ball
A stripe, a creature of imagination and reality on a paintbrush
Judaism says don’t know! Why not!?
(If I decide to get a degree in higher education, it will be in government and religions)
My father always wanted me to have money when I grow up and for me to go study
But I have known from the beginning forever that in life there’s taste and more
It’s my first album, my only identification card, it has “why no” songs, at the end, which is, as far as I’m concerned, mostly just a beginning, and it’s distributed up to now mainly at street performances where, next to it is placed on a cloth sign a small “Why No” newspaper whose only direct connection to the music is its name and the meaning of that question in my adult life. Anyone can listen to it, it’s there when one searches for my name in Google, in English and in Hebrew, no matter what language (in this case), the main thing is to write the name in your way.
Many times I fear that I won’t worry differently and they’ll always be able to link me to the Jewish religion as an artist in the world, and as a good Israeli of our day, I don’t want one more person to hitchhike on me and tell me who I am. Just because I was born in Israel and my mother agreed to declare me as such? Because of that I have no desire to belong to a religion, not “mine” and not any other. If they had let Jewish women write the religion, it could be that I would find in it more points of connection to my life, but that is not the case.
Many have asked me, by the way, why I don’t try out for “A Star Is Born” (Israeli Idol) or the other TV program that’s on now, and I already can’t wait for them to stop asking one day. Maybe they can understand that I made my own way, for better or for worse and with all the mirrors that were exposed to me in forgiveness, and in my way I learned all that I know, everything I taught myself ‘not to necessarily know’ and I also learned that I still have much to learn.
That’s the closest to the truth that I can find within me at the moment and like a ‘good Jew’ I believe that everyone must know it and learn it in depth, but at least I allow those around me to listen in their spare time or to buy a CD for however much they want.
There is good music and real and brave creation everywhere, in the music club close to your house, on certain radio stations and in the eyes of many people in the street, but unfortunately most of it is stuck in the attic of our heart, in an unattractive rental apartment, in a big city and with endlessly indecent habits.
We must open our eyes and ears and let every emotion in us live. I don’t use the word “must” very often, but we must readjust to the abundance of sweet sounds that exist in us as children of mother earth and agree that those which bring her to our world, are after all just characters that want to encourage us to deal anew with our emotions.
For convenience and in insubordination to the widespread and erroneous Israeli economic system, on my personal behalf, my music can be purchased directly from me at my organized performances, at my street performances or from the internet store near your home. Cheers.
Translated from Hebrew by Susan Lewis Hadash