Stefanella's Drive Thru

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

Pedestrian Beware! May 23, 2009

My backpack loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables, I exited Tel Aviv’s open-air Carmel Market & hopped on my bicycle.

Twenty-five minutes to get home, unload purchases, drink something cold and get to my son’s school in time for pick-up                   


I zipped through traffic, weaving from sidewalk to street and back again in an effort to beat the clock.

REALLY not a smart thing to do anywhere but particularly in Israel where offensive driving and fatal traffic accidents are commonplace.

I saw the light turn red but decided to go for it anyway.  I know.  Tsk tsk tsk.  Bad cyclist.

I zipped into the crosswalk and in my peripheral vision sighted the portly, middle-aged male in bermuda shorts, tube socks and running shoes as he stepped off the curb.

I didn’t brake.  Bad bad cyclist.

The pedestrian hastily retreated to the sidewalk and in a thick Scottish accent protested loudly to his companion:

But the light is Green!”

And because I was zipping, I didn’t call out an apology.  I was already gone.

But internally I chuckled.

Yes it’s green. But this is Israel!  Must be a Tourist.  

Technically I guess it could’ve been Manhattan or London or San Fran or Cairo.  It’s sort of an urban thing but it doesn’t make it okay.

I know.  Irresponsible and selfish.

Bad bad bad cyclist.


Iran Controversy May 18, 2009


Did the Reagan campaign sign a deal with Khomeini’s Iran to delay the release of the American hostages held in Tehran until after the presidential election of 1980, thereby assuring Ronald Reagan’s election victory over President Carter?

My friend Brian Josepher (B.J.) thinks so.  Or according to his new book, that’s the case.  Brian has penned his third and most recent novel, a “faux” history of events.

The Complete and ExtraOrdinary History of the October Surprise is a faux chronicle of Iran-U.S.-CIA-Reagan-Carter-Economic downturn-Hostages, collaboration, dirty dealing, conspiracy theory, tons of info.

Mine came in the mail yesterday so I best get crackin’.  You can look at it or order following thes links here.

Congrats, B.J.!  Goodonya, mate!


Mid-East Advertising April 6, 2009

What kind of crazy advertising do they get up to in Israel?  Judge fer yerself.

Thanks to my very funny friend Benji for this one – Benji blogs over at What War Zone.

I am trying to imagine this mini-van with its logo and image of the guy on the magic throne bumping along the streets of my parent’s manicured, Ohio condo community. AHHHH!!!



Bad Hair Day March 23, 2009

See these beautiful shiny solar dishes? They are located on a new Israeli solar farm on the brink of going operational. Yesterday Stefanella was privy to a press tour of the grounds and interview time with the scientists who innovated the farm’s new solar harnessing technology.

See the nice man in the picture? Come closer. Notice that wee bit of raspy smoke appearing to rise out of the crown of his head? Nope, it’s not Photoshop.

Heed this lesson kiddies: When standing in a field amidst solar dishes, position yourselves far far away from the reflective panels.


Uh Oh. I’m ONE OF THEM!!! June 8, 2008

You know when you first move to a different country or state or city how you’re painfully aware of all the differences?

All the things that were “done like that” in the place you just came from but in the new transplant place aren’t “done like that” anymore? Now they’re done “like this”.

Which is infuriating.

– “What do you mean you just went over there for a minute to get something but you were really standing in front of me in line?” You were not! Okay. Okay. Maybe I’ll go down the street to pick up my dry cleaning and catch a movie on the way back and then come back here and reclaim my place in line! What do you think of that, hmmm? You don’t care? OMG!!! Where in the hell am I?

Is that guy going to move out of the way or is he going to keep walking on MY SIDE of the sidewalk and run me down? By God he IS going to run into me! But he’s on my side of the sidewalk! Right Side! Right Side! It’s like DRIVING! He Ran Into Me! OMG!!

– Honey can you go into the kitchen and get a new serving spoon? Why? This one’s fine. Trust me. Just get a new one and keep your voice down will you? The guests might hear you. What’s going on? The Vassberger kid – Noah- tasted the egg salad directly from the serving bowl, alright? Ooohhhh! You’re kidding! Did he double dip? No, thank god. I grabbed it out of his hand in time. His parents saw the whole thing and they didn’t say a word. Is that something people DO here? God, I dunno. Please. Just get a new spoon and don’t make a big deal out of it, okay?

These are but a few samples. And yes, they’re real.

I think, however, what’s more frightening than the above is suddenly realizing you’ve morphed into one of them! “When on EARTH did THAT happen?” you ask yourself.

And no, I’m not slandering Israelis. I became “one of them” in San Francisco when I took up meditation and Yoga, in Colorado when I planted skis on my feet and took to the hills and in the Sinai Desert when I resigned myself to languishing on the beach, snorkeling, languishing, smoking a cigarette or two, languishing, eating dinner, languishing and playing backgammon in a languished pose.

I must’ve been morphing all along these past few years in Holy Land Central but I wasn’t paying attention. Until last week. . .

– At the supermarket, the checkout ladies were having a helluva struggle with the new computerized cash registers. “ITZIK!” they’re yelling for the duty manager holding the magic register key. “ITZIK!” the customers in the snaking down aisle 4 line are calling after the manager with the magic register key. In fact, it’s one big chorus of ITZIK! ITZIK! ITZIK!

And instead of getting angry and fuming over idling in the 10-item only speed line for 20 minutes, I start laughing. In an uproarious sort of way. And the cash register lady pauses between “ITZIK!”‘s and asks: What are you laughing at? And I don’t know what to tell her. So I bust out some more and internally dialogue: this scenario is SO absurd it should be a sketch or episode of something somewhere. I’m not upset about “them”. I’m laughing.

– Or, as we’re exiting the pediatrician’s office in a posh Tel Aviv neighborhood, my 6-year-old steps into the nearby bushes and begins tugging at his trousers. “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” I roar. “MARCH RIGHT BACK IN THERE AND USE THE TOILET! AND DON’T YOU DARE DO THAT WHEN WE GET TO GRANDMA AND GRANDPA’S IN AMERICA!” My lord, he is morphing too.

We’re a regular comedy tag-team act we are.

Clap.  Clap.  Clap.


Lost Lamp April 23, 2008

Filed under: advertising,cool,Culture,Fun,Quirky — stefanella @ 7:52 am
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Rent Control Now!! October 12, 2006

As I venture into the Tel Aviv jungle each day on an apartment hunt quest I’m realizing that the British law governing home ownership and rental in Holy Land Central (HLC) is outdated, sad and sorry. Israel is in need of an urgent housing law upgrade to benefit both tenant and landlord.

Take squatting, for instance. No such thing in HLC as the U.S. “Pay Rent or Quit” giving a tenant three days to cough it up or get out. And by get out, I DO mean EVICTION. No mucking around in Yankee-ville. Padlocked front door, all things inside are lost to the landlord and if you have kids, well ya shoulda thought of that sooner, hmmm? On the street. Harsh as hell but..well it’s the American way.
Here the tenant can refuse to pay rent and squat. For an eternity. Because the law states that if children live on the property, the landlord CANNOT forcefully evict. True to life nightmare scenario: Tenant (with Mafia ties) moved into deluxe apartment with his family. He promptly changed the locks and halted rent checks. He and his family (read: KIDS) lived rent-free for two years. One day the owner goes berserk and takes a hammer to the electricity box and to the front door. She is arrested for breaching the law.
Flip side: There is no such thing as rent control. The sky’s the limit on rent increase as is the interpretation of the law when it comes to who fixes what in an apartment gone amok. Landlords will demand the renter insure property or pay for major repairs not linked to normal wear and tear. Exploded water pipe? “Your problem,” sayeth evil owner.
And let’s just say you’re negotiating a new contract agreement with the landlord and the give & take goes awry. “Get out. Your contract is up in a week. Leave.” No thirty days for you, sorry to say. Never mind that the talks broke down and said landlord is unwilling to budge. You leave. Refer back to the bit on squatting for a quick solution to this problem.
It’s time to form an action group, mes compadres. I’ve seen it voiced in public forums. Yallah. Let’s go.