Of Men and Eagles

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Recently, Bust Magazine posted this piece about “manspreading” – the habit that some men have of spreading their legs so wide on public transit that they sometimes take up two seats.

The point that the article makes is strong and I agree with most of it. I, too, have suffered the wrath of men’s long legs on buses, pushing me to the edge of my seat and forcing me to squish up against one of the windows on the bus.

However, the video that they posted shows that the man is not only spreading his legs but also takes up an extra seat by putting his bag on it. That, my friends, has nothing to do with manspreading.

I think it’s a question of communication between people and how it differs from region to region, country to country, depending on people’s mentality in that particular place. I’m just speaking from my own personal experience in Montreal, Canada and Jerusalem, Israel – two separate countries, two completely different mentalities.

For example, in Montreal, if a dude puts his bag on the seat next to him, chances are people will just let that pass because actually approaching a stranger and asking him to move his bag so that you can sit is simply not something that you do (unless you’re an Israeli like me or you got guts). The man is a stranger. You do not talk to strangers. You don’t even acknowledge their presence. I remember riding the bus or the metro in Canada, people would not even make the slightest eye contact. Everyone would suddenly find their shoes extremely fascinating and stare at them during the entire ride. Same thing would happen on elevators.

In Israel, however, people don’t give a shit. If you are sitting on the bus with your bag taking up an extra seat, nobody would have a problem coming up to you and asking you to move your bag. Some may even do it politely: “Is this seat taken?” or “May I sit here?” That’s because the mentality in Israel says that there is no such thing as personal space and there is certainly no such thing as “object” space and if you are riding with heavy ass luggage, you should have stored your bag in the luggage compartment or on yourself.

This issue of no personal space is indeed a problem when it comes to actual manspreading when bags are not involved. So yes, squishing up on windows is wont to happen in Israel, too.

Another thing, I’ve noticed that if a man is manspreading, it may not necessarily be because his balls are too big, but rather because his legs are too long. That is something I’ve noticed with my husband when we ride on the bus. My husband is a tall dude, probably over 180 cm, and his legs definitely reflect that. His femur is twice the size of mine. So when we sit on the bus, it’s rare to find a seat where the seat in front of us is far enough for my man to sit comfortably without manspreading his way to a split. Maybe on the subway it’s a different issue. I guess we’ll find that out when we travel to the States in June.

The major problem in Jerusalem, and I think it’s the same in every Israeli city with a significant religious population, is that if you’re a chick and you see an orthodox dude sitting on the bus with an empty seat next to him, you should not sit next to him. The orthodox reasoning for that stupid more is that if a woman sits next to a man and they are not married, a hard-on may occur and that is a sin.

Now, most buses in Jerusalem have a sign that reads “Every passenger is entitled to sit where they choose (unless in places marked for people with physical disabilities). Harassing a passenger on this matter may be grounds for criminal offense.” Or something along those lines. So technically, you can play the dumb tourist and sit next to the dude. He might say something, or he might just do the polite thing and go sit elsewhere or just stand up.

But there are some buses – mainly those that drive to and from settlements around Jerusalem like Beitar Eilit or Gush Etzion – that fall under the category of “Mehadrin” buses. A funny term, usually associated with dietary laws, to refer to something that is very kosher. It’s just a better way of saying that this bus is fucking segregated! That’s right, men sit in the front, and women are relegated to the back. Now THAT, my friends, is MANSPREADING!

I dare anyone in the diaspora to find a single man who can manspread so wide that he takes up half a bus, and sends all women to the very back. You can’t. And Mehadrin buses or Mehadrin subways do not exist in the diaspora.

Therein lies the real problem. Men will be men living in a by-men-for-men world and will keep manspreading to their hearts’ content, not that I’m justifying it or anything. But the real problem, where I come from, is when men start segregating women completely. There is word that they are actually starting to do that also on international flights. El-Al is screwed.

Lucky for me, I’m married. So if my meaty metalover decides to manspread, I will have no problem stretching out my legs and put them right on top of his. I do that all the time anyway – on the bus, at a bar, on the dinner table, even when we’re home, sitting on the couch, watching TV – and it’s comfy as hell!

Peace, love and I manspread too, and with pride!

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IZM – Day 17: Review a Zine

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Today’s activity came at a perfect time. I just checked my mail this afternoon and found the zines I ordered from Bottles on the Sill Distro earlier this month. I ordered a zine called Orange & Blue by Isabelle Bourret from Quebec, and got a complementary zine Katzilla which is apparently a zine from Germany about the Israeli punk scene. I’m somewhat reluctant to reading the latter due to the fact that I know the Israeli punk rock scene and am completely put off by the swamp of anti-Zionism that comes with it. Just skimming through the zine and coming across some of the extremely anti-Israeli names these so-called bands give themselves made me upset and made me want to read it even less…

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Moving on! I just finished reading Orange & Blue, the Intro Issue. I ordered this zine primarily because it’s from Quebec, where I spent 15 years of my life. Reading any zine that comes from this province always makes me feel nostalgic and always makes me smile. Amber’s zines (Culture Slut) are especially powerful on that aspect because she’s based in Montreal, which was the city where I lived. She mentions things and places that I knew or have been to so many times throughout my high school, CEGEP and university years, and I can’t help but giggle with glee.

Isabelle, however, lives in a part of Quebec I’ve never been to. In fact, I don’t recall being anywhere else aside from Montreal, when I lived in Quebec. I think I was in Laval once, but that’s it.

In any case, she still mentions things that I remember from my years in Quebec. In one of the articles, she talks about French and French Canadian. She mentions words, mainly curse words, I haven’t heard in ages, and it made me laugh hysterically as I could just hear these words in my head the exact way they’re pronounced.

The Intro Issue of the zine is exactly what it is, and I don’t think I could have come across a better intro issue for a zine if I tried. She introduces herself and the little town she comes from, describes Quebec City and the ancient style architecture of the city. She talks about the important things in her life, her love for the colors orange and blue, her cat, her diaries, train rides and more. There are also some additions and updates she made to the zine since it was written earlier on. I love how she added those updates. It’s an aspect I don’t find in almost no other zine.

I especially loved the first few pages where she talks about how she feels alone with her zine as she has yet to find other French-language perzines from Quebec (Orange & Blue is originally a French-language zine), and has not managed to do so. I strongly identify with that feeling, maybe even on a larger scale because I don’t know of any zines (perzines or others) or zinesters from Jerusalem. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you Google “zines” and “Jerusalem,” my zines will most likely be the only ones to come up. I even tried to look for Hebrew zines from Jerusalem, and found none. I mean there is Af magazine, but it can’t exactly be called a zine because it’s more of a magazine with sponsors and some other capitalist bullshit that has no space in independently produced publications. There are tons of other zines in Israel but all of them are based in Tel Aviv or wherever else. So yes, I do feel alone in my Jerusalem zine scene (or lack thereof).

Another thing I liked about Orange & Blue are the illustrations. The drawings are impeccable, and fit the subject matter of the respective article perfectly.

I loved learning about Isabelle’s charming little town of Levis, how she has a view of the St-Lawrence River from her apartment window, her 10-minute ferry-boat rides whenever she needs to go to Quebec City, which is practically every day.

I laughed again when she was talking about how some Americans have no idea what Quebec is, and how they think that Toronto is the capital city of Canada. She expressed exactly what I feel when people from outside of Israel think that Tel Aviv is the capital city of Israel. For those of you still ignorant on that matter, Jerusalem is the capital, dudes! Get it right next time!

The only thing that kinda bothered me about this zine, and I don’t know if it’s Isabelle’s doing or if the distro I got it from reprinted it this way, is that the order of the pages seems to be completely off. I’m pretty sure it was not intended, and it’s no doubt a mistake on the printer’s part, but reading the second half of an article on one page and finding the first half of it a few pages later kind of takes away from the pleasure of reading it.

Again, I’m not saying this was intentional, as I strongly doubt it, and it’s still a great read despite that glitch. And just in case Isabelle reads this, I hope she doesn’t take that to offense. I’m sure it was not her fault.

I highly recommend this zine to anyone who loves perzines.

I don’t know if Isabelle still produces this zine, or any other one she may have today (the edition of the intro zine I have is from 2004), but I will definitely try to get in touch with her. Maybe we could trade zines or perhaps share laments of our respective lacks of local zine scenes. It might make us feel less alone.

Peace, love and I love finding new zines that I enjoy reading!

Smells Like Weed Spirit

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I don’t quite know what status marijuana reached in Canada nowadays (Decriminalized? Legalized? Sold in depanneurs alongside cig boxes?) but I know that possession of a couple of grams is not considered a crime. Here in Israel, you’d get busted for so much as smelling like grass.

So if you ever browse my older posts on this blog (mostly the ones from 2005-2006, when I still lived in Canada), you’ll find me mentioning Buddha on more than one occasion. I was a straight-up pothead back then. My collection of bongs and pipes all had names, I had a constant stash, a favorite strain, a good dealer, a pre-set munchies first-aid kit, the works. I baked my share of space brownies, and I even had a pretty good idea of what it would take for me to grow my own weed. I knew where to get seeds, what kind of light, temperature and liquids the plant would require, how and when to harvest, basically everything. I read about it, in-depth research, listened to music about it or influenced by it, watched movies that had any remote connection to it… I was immersed and I loved it.

Despite that, I never smoked more than once a month. The first time I did it was when I was 21, and I started by drinking it as tea. And when I did start smoking, I used pipes. I didn’t know how to roll joints, even if I researched that as well and tried it many times. And anyway, I preferred bongs mostly. I would get creative with it. Instead of water, I’d fill the bong with mint Sprite or Orange Crush. And I never ever mixed the chronic with tobacco. At first, it was mainly because I didn’t have access to tobacco. But later on, it was because I realized that if I was in the company of other people who passed around a saturated joint, I could not get high with it. I needed the pure stuff, and lots of it.

Anyway, I did all that shit and wrote about it non-stop, as is obvious from my older posts. No authorities ever came to my house. I never got arrested. I could even smoke in the open air at Mount Royal with cop units roaming the area, and still get away with it.

Because I was in Canada. And in Canada, nobody gives a shit.

But in Israel… that’s a different story. One that I cannot write about today because if I did, I’d get all paranoid. And maybe authorities would then come to my house and raid the place.

Once again, freedom of speech is hindered because when you post your life online, you can never be safe. And in a country that considers marijuana-consumption to be a criminal act, and alcohol-consumption to not be one, and fails to see the absurdity of that fact, you can never admit to still be as big a pothead as you once were. Especially in a public forum.

So we’ll just leave it at that.

Peace, love and chocolate mint is the best mix

Kathleen Hanna for Prime Minister!

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Election time is coming up, and as the good feminist that I am, I will not let my sisters’ suffrage movement go to waste and I’ll go vote. The problem is that Canada seems to have a no less corrupt government than any other country so although I’m a flamboyant liberal, for saving the environment and legalizing marijuana, I still don’t know who to vote for. To be honest, they all suck, and if I could vote for a perfect (fictional) political party, this would be a better place. Speaking of fictional politics, I would vote for Shane McCutcheon because she’s fucking hot.
Political campaigns are not making it any easier on me. What’s the deal with political commercials on TV? Instead of stating the good things the party will do if it wins the elections, the campaigns talk about all the bad things that happened when the other rival party was in power (The sponsorship scandal? "You paid for it!"). That has absolutely no effect on me. Everyone knows the sponsorship scandal was a scandal. That’s why we’re on elections now – so that something can change. But telling me that the Liberals are responsible for it is not gonna make me vote for the Block or Conservatives or anybody else because I have no guarantee that the same thing won’t happen with them as well. Give me something concrete like tax reduction, welfare programs, the de-anal-ization of politicians concerning marijuana laws, then I’ll think about it.
As for the Green Party, I once thought they were pretty chill until I found out that they’re against the State of Israel. How the fuck did I miss that? After all, I’ve been to college. I know that non-Jewish, pot-smoking, living-in-exile hippies are against us, and I found that out the hard way.
So what now? I have no faith in Green Peace because they’re closeted Nazis, I have no faith in Liberals because they feed on my broke ass, and I have no faith in the democratic system and this capitalist society because it just doesn’t work. So who do I vote for? The fucking Marxist-Leninist party?
Peace, love, and yes, there is a minority of Jewish hippies known as Keren Kayemet (unfortunately they’re in Israel).

Mono

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I haven’t been writing much lately because there really is nothing going on. As much as my teachers kept telling us that there are always stories out there, and that there will always be subjects that nobody has ever dealt with, somehow I find that impossible at the moment.
In Israel, I never stopped running. Whether it’s running to a meeting, or to an interview or after the bus or whatever, there was always something going on. I never ran out of stories to cover or people to talk to. The current issue would have barely made it to print and we would already be well within the next one. It was stressful yet exciting, and at the end of the day I felt exhausted but fulfilled to the max.
Now, all of a sudden, I felt like I hit a brick wall. All my friends are back to school, working, studying. And I’m in front of L7’s the whole day. That is, squares. Whether is the square screen of the computer or the square screen of the TV. It’s awefully depressing. The weather just makes it worse. It was raining the entire Saturday and it’s still going on now. Everything is gray outside, and allergens are still running wild and my nose runs just as wildly as a result.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t spend my time vegetating willingly. If I’m in front of the comp the whole day, it’s to look for a job or post my CV or look for story ideas… so far, nothing, as usual. You can’t expect anything more than nothing under those circumstances, with that state of mind and with such weather.
It’s in Israel that I realized that most of our lives we spend waiting and that life is just one long waiting game, but it’s here in Montreal that I actually run out of things to do to kill time and grasp the full scope of what it’s like to wait.
Peace, love, and fuck this explosion-free city.

Missing in Both Senses of the Word

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September 1st. Man!
When I got here it was fucking May 10th. Time flies, it’s so scary.
It’s my friend’s birthday today. I have to call her. I bet I’ll forget as I always do, but I’ll write it here so that in case I forget, at least I’ll have some proof that I thought about it. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right?
Anyway, I missed so many important dates while I was here in Israel. In Canada, I missed my parents’ anniversary (June 9th), Canada Day (July 1st), my dog’s birthday (July 15th), today my friend’s birthday and, in a couple of days, my dad’s birthday (September 4th). But I got gifts for you guys! Which reminds me, I have to get something nice for my Booxa doggy.
At least I won’t be missing my birthday and the holidays. I will be missing Jerusalem though, but I’m repeating myself…
So tomorrow I’m going to the pool with a couple of my cousins. Until then, I still have to unpack all the stuff I brought with me from Jerusalem. I had such a hard time packing, both physically and emotionally. I was so deeply affected, I felt the sudden urge and overwhelming inspiration for writing some poetry. And I did, but I won’t share it because that’s getting too personal for worldwide online publication. Speaking of which, somebody from the UK googled my full name. If you’re that person, please identify yourself because the curiosity is killing me.Yesterday I saw the final episode of Telenovela Ltd. It was great but the end kinda leaves you hanging a bit. The show is like Days of Our Lives meets Friends mets Queer As Folk all Israeli style. If you like stuff like that and you speak Hebrew, I strongly recommend it. For more info go to:
Anyways, here’s a couple of pics from the show.

Self On Hold

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Earlier on this year, I’ve been talking about how oblivious I am about my future and how freaked out I am of graduating because I have no idea what my post-studies-self will be like.
Now, I realized I completely underestimated my freak-out-ism and my lack of future planning. I’ve never been as confused about my future as I am now. Forget PMSing, that’s already over. Now I’m just utterly depressed. On the one hand, I can’t stop thinking about my parents and my dog and my comfy life back in Montreal. On the other, I know that the minute I set foot there, I will wanna go back. And I know I’ve said this before but just now I begin to actually grasp the enormity of it. 
Today, I came back from work at 5 or 6, I don’t remember really… I walked into my shitfilled apartment which ran out of toilet paper two weeks ago but never runs out of garbage. I collapsed on the bed telling myself I won’t fall asleep, but eventually I did, as I always do. I woke up at 7 or 8, I still don’t remember, feeling like a washed out pair of jeans, if you can imagine what that feels like. I don’t even know what time it is now. I could look at my watch but what’s the use? In any case, today will end, tomorrow will end and the day after will end on my ass like a ton of bricks. Then the week after will also come to an end, and then it’s goodbye Israel.
I was thinking about all that, then I thought of my Booxa boy, then of my parents and then of my friends, and then of my family here and the Post, the nice PR people I spoke to, the kickass bands I interviewed and even the few over-opinionated assholes I came across, and I felt my brain splitting in half. I love this place, but despite myself, I’ve grown accustomed to the Canadian reality I’ve lived in for 14 longass years.
This is basically what happens when I don’t have my guitar with me (I had to give my cousin’s guitar back to her because she asked for it last week). I have shitall to do and I think too much. I put on some music to chill me out and it helped a little. L7 is particularly helpful in those situations:
"I haven’t changed my clothes in a week/ I’m wallowing in my own stink/ My ass is sore from lying in bed/ Am I alive or am I dead?"
Nirvana is too. They’re always helpful. In any situation. Whether I’m mad, sad or glad.
Today I had some kickass food. I think I finally got the hang of these noodles. I have to trim my nails but this also doesn’t really matter because no guitar, no point.
It’s great that I learned some new songs and stuff but no guitar, no point.
It’ll also be great if I get some much-needed indo, but yet again, no guitar, no point.
I think it’ll be cool to start an online fringe mag called Weekly PMS or The Daily Rant or something where me and my fellow readers can just bitch about anything that comes to mind. Make up their own Shitlist. You hate Hitler? We all do. Let’s hear your bitching about him. You hate one or all of your ex’s? Let’s hear it. You wanna add a feminist touch to it? For shizzy! That’s gonna rock. 
I’ll do that once I get my guitar and my inspiration back…
Two days left at the Post and I have one major article to work on. I may get some more work tomorrow. If I don’t, it still doesn’t matter because no guitar no point… no, just kidding. It won’t matter because the deadlines are pretty much passed, so I doubt I’ll get anything new.
Writing is great. I already feel better. Now, there’s not much left to do. Go check out the photos I have. Israel Stuff is particularly interesting.
Peace, love and the serenity and comfort in being alone.