Stefanella's Drive Thru

Israel, U.S., conflict, war, peace, humor, travel, romance, fashion, fun

Flip Sides July 30, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 3:32 am

Everyone was pushing and shoving. Women were crying, saying, “Here’s my passport, here’s my children. Take my children, just take them.” Monika Esseily, describing her evacuation from Beirut with her family after the start of Israeli airstrikes…from Newsweek Magazine

You can’t imagine the numbers of refugees down here from the North. You see them around and you can tell – they don’t have homes and they won’t stay up there with the rockets landing every day. My own son is terrified even though we’re in Tel Aviv. He refused to leave the house for an entire week. Relayed by Tel Aviv friend during IM conversation


San Francisco Candids July 29, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 2:27 am

Building a street shelter; Homeless in San Francisco

Friends: Antonio & Bo



A Day @ The Ranch July 27, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:34 am

I hesitated to input this entry because yesterday was a sad, shit day back in Holy Land Central. My daily goings-on seem trivial. I think about parents and children and my own son and our future. And all the while, I miss home. Home being Holy Land Central.

That noted, I’m blogging my day anyhow because…just because.

Yesterday I drove from San Fran due north to lunch with friends/work associates who toil at Lucas Ranch. Skywalker Ranch is its proper name. It’s the creative and work venue of George Lucas. No I didn’t see him. He’s apparently in Europe at present moment.

I did see, however, the pristine white mansion or “Main House” – an office space (HIS office space)/dining area/relic display fashioned after a sprawling Southern mansion with beveled glass windows, a wrap-around porch, stained glass skylights, original oil paintings by Norman Rockwell et al and a two-floor oak library.

Set completely inconspicuously amidst the rolling hills of Nicasio California, the 4700 acre (nearly 20,000 dunam) ranch also houses horses, barnyard animals, a few thousand employees, The George Lucas Foundation and Industrial Light and Magic. I was itching to stare boldfaced into the security camera at the gated entrance and proclaim: “Edna Mode”. Wrong movie. Wrong production house.

After touring the ranch and dining on grilled shrimp over cous cous with grilled zucchini, Kalamata olives and marinated artichoke hearts, my friend/colleagues showed me some of the Star Wars relics housed in glass cases: original Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker light sabers, the model images of Jaba the Hutt and Boba Fett and numerous recognition awards for outstanding film achievement.

We then moseyed to my friend/colleagues’ offices and then to the gift shop to purchase a few memorabilia.

I could go on and on about the setting, the feel and the impression. This is special stuff, it was a wonderful, unique opportunity and the day was fab. But my heart hurts, the timing is off and I’m torn between wanting to return home to HLC and wishing I could remain on perpetual vacation, not wanting to face the mood and atmosphere there.

No original images of the ranch to share, unfortunately. Against security rules. Over & Out.


Proxy Penetration July 25, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 2:57 pm

While pausing between intense politi-talk with Colleen on Sunday, I pondered a few issues.

Colleen grew up in the mountains beyond Beirut. She was raised Christian in a French-speaking home and her family exited Lebanon in her fifteenth year. She remembers the country’s civil war and vividly recalls traveling by taxi from Beirut to Tel Aviv via Cairo in 1982 – months prior to Israel’s arrival on the scene to root out PLO operatives.

She has family in Hamra – an upscale, culturally diverse West side area characterized by universities and home to the country’s prime minister, Fouad Siniora. Her family recently evacuated.

Colleen and I discussed the region’s history, the current incursion, the struggle of mainstream Arabs to live mainstream lives while surrounded by extremists and the sense among many Arab mainstreamers that the U.S. is vilifying Arabs and Islam in an attempt to suppress or eradicate the Arab world, leaving no choice but to identify with extremists who will fight for their ultimate survival.

The issue I pondered was Israel’s role, my living in Holy Land Central and all. And while I am fully aware that the current war/conflict/incursion/offensive is much larger than a handful of kidnapped soldiers and several hundred rockets, it struck me full force while speaking with Colleen.

And I was perturbed: Is Israel akin to the kid in the classroom who the other kids agree to pick for their soccer (football) team only if he first takes out all the trash and cleans the blackboards? I read Yossi Ben-Ari’s commentary and thought Bingo. This is about the U.S., Syria, Iran, global extremism, nuclear weapons, etc. etc. and Israel is the country getting its hands dirty. Israel can handle the condemnation, the criticism – mostly symbolic thus far – and being the fall guy. What’s new?

Not that Israel is a completely reticent partner but I have been thinking about trade-offs, partnerships, deals and the price paid for receiving foreign aid and retaining certain weaponry privileges, wink wink. And what about costs of re-building?

For that matter, what about re-building Lebanon? That’s a heart breaker, truly. Here they go again. It’s a paradox and I don’t claim to have the answer but Lebanese moderates are paying an incredibly heavy toll. And so are Israel’s citizens and businesses. As Ben Ari notes, proxy maneuvers should be considered cautiously. Terms should be firm. It’s no accident that Olmert looks so strung out.


Were it This Easy… July 24, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 9:26 am

Yesterday was spent in San Francisco’s “East Bay” area with old friends.

Pictured are Naheed in the foreground with her children and colleague Colleen in the background…

“Nah” is originally from Tehran; Colleen grew up in the mountainous region beyond Beirut.

Of course politics were discussed; it’s somewhat unavoidable considering the current climate.

It’s so much easier from these safe and calm environs.


Should & Should Have’s July 23, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 12:48 pm

Here I am back in San Francisco – the gorgeous and highly aesthetic city I called home for a decade prior to relocating back to Holy Land Central (HLC).

I should be writing about the mixed impressions of being here: the incredible eclectic hodge podge of multi-culties living within the city’s 7.2 mile radius, visiting former haunts and old friends and feeling the glib of a jammed social calendar within hours of landing, inhaling the vibe of funky vintage shop fashion, beaming over a hand crafted 10-foot high bicycle piloted down a public street by a teenage Mad Max type, the hideous face of pervasive homelessness and a burly bearded gentleman strutting downtown in his lace and pearl bordered white wedding dress.

However, circumstances prevail…

I received multiple messages my first morning in San Fran from the person back in HLC looking after my flat. I phone her. “Did you have anything of value in your apartment?” she asks.

We all know what that question meant.

And while the burglars were inside, the cat apparently ran away. Two hits in one. What a bargain. Burgled apartment and no cat. That definitely made an impact on sightseeing entertainment value yesterday.

So what in the hell is a person to do from THOUSANDS of miles away?? How does one assess what might have been taken? No damage, apparently, and I’m not worried about valuables since that was “seen to” prior to departure. But…???

Here’s the clincher: It went down in the passing hours between one friend moving out of the flat and another moving in. Chew on that one while I order a room service cocktail at 6 a.m.


Fresh From the Oven July 20, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 8:16 pm

I like funny. Funny, quirky, eccentric, creative, eclectic and lively.

While traipsing through Blogoland over the past days I came across those very elements and felt the need to share.

First of all, there’s Noorster. I’ve been reading her for some time. She’s got the funny, lively and totally eclectic going on at all times with just the right dash of taboo. No telling what one might find in the garden upon passing through the gate of her realm. A full on rant? A recant of service industry woes told from her I loathe this type work vantage point? Or a link to porn fashion? (sorry, can’t find that particular link anymore, hee hee)…Her writing rocks as does her photography…She definitely gets my vote for the hottest Hungarian/Israeli/Struggling Rock Star Idol.

Via Ms. Noorster I arrived at Nominally Challenged‘s A Whiff of the Med. OMG! Laughed so hard the tears rolled. From the lexicon, I gather Nominally is an ex-London drag queen transplanted to Tel Aviv. As a warm up, try this bit about the electric outage on for size. Now graduate to the taxi story….See what I mean?

And THEN, via following assorted comment trails, I found this gem, Overheard in New York. Do yourself a favor and scroll. Some of it is unbelievable.

Over & out. Flying to San Francisco tomorrow. Can’t wait.