Saturday, November 10, 2012

Polanski and The Bear

Living on top of Mt. Carmel has its perks: beautiful views of the city and sea, cooler temperatures, and an overall sense of serenity that is hard to find elsewhere.  However, I'd be a terrible American if I didn't take this opportunity to bitch about living in a location that most will never be fortunate enough to experience. There is a feeling of isolation here that quickly can turn from peaceful to mind-numbing-get-me-the-hell-out-of-here cabin fever, so any excuse to escape--even if just slightly down the mountain--is a welcomed one.

Thursday such an excuse arose.  Thanks to the connections of our Polish friends Tadek and Jan, we learned of a film screening and music performance at an independent theater in the Horev area of town.  The theater, about fifteen minutes from campus, was participating in a series of events celebrating the ties between Israel and Poland in the week leading up to Poland's Independence Day (11/11).

If you read my first post, I alluded to an "interesting" experience in Warsaw on my way to Israel.  Long story short, a gypsy tried to steal my wallet before plucking out my hair and spitting on my feet.  I'm pretty sure she put a curse on me, too.  Maybe that's why I can't sleep or figure out how to repair my toilet seat.  Or why my bathroom has toxic mold growing in it.  Or why my fingernails are growing so damn fast here.  ...I'm losing focus.  Maybe that's her fault, too.  I digress.  Regardless, the Polish students here are incredible; they have completely reverted any ill-will toward their people or homeland I briefly felt from my rumble with the Roma, and I was excited to catch a better glimpse of their culture.

Upon arriving at the theater, we sat at a table outside and found ourselves chatting with some other Poles who had also just arrived in Israel.  When the show started, we were surprised to find they were actually the musicians, and had prepared a unique but extremely impressive performance.  It's hard to accurately articulate what the show exactly was.  They had taken excerpts from Roman Polanski films, removed the audio, and provided us with a "live soundtrack" of sorts.  Using clarinets, beatboxing, chimes, whistles, and looping audio, they magnificently captured the essence of Polanski's work.

After the show, the night was still young, and we found ourselves at a bar across the street aptly named "The Bear".  No, it didn't have hairy gay men in leather passing out shots while prancing to Pat Benetar.  It was a Bear in the sense that you wake up the morning after feeling as if you were attacked by one.

There is a word in Polish I learned at the beginning of my trip with no real English equivalent.  It's crude, but sometimes is the only expression that seems appropriate for a situation: zajebisty.  Roughly translated, it means "fucking great".

Being off the mountain.  The performance.  The bar.  The friendships.  Well, there's no better way to put it.  It was just, just...zajebisty.   

 A clip of the performers, Sza/Za, from a show in 2010.  
See why it's hard to put into words?

L-R: Poland. America. Poland. Britain. I'm glad the Iron Curtain fell. 

The group, mid-Bear attack.

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