Another Side of Another World

Two adventures.

D’Artagnan. A dog. Not just a musketeer.

After twisting and turning through a dark alley, somewhere in the no-man’s land beside the sea, is a small white door. I would never notice it on my own. It’s locked – but we knock and are let in. The space is small but perfectly lit. Painted white cinderblock walls modestly display this week’s selection. Line drawings of women – I don’t look that closely. The small space is already filling with people. In the back room, the bar is maybe as long as I am tall, with a few select bottles of liquor on the back wall. The back door is open onto the patio, where regulars and guests lounge on chairs and couches and makeshift furniture, talking, smoking, drinking. The three or four bare multi-colored light bulbs create a festive but sparse atmosphere. Rejected Christmas ornaments dangle from the beams and the chain link fence, reflecting the wavelengths.

A couchsurfer from Holland, an archaeologist from Israel, a kite-surfing activist, actors, social workers, and an ex-pat American with an adorable dog. Arak is the drink of choice in this close-knit but welcoming community. One woman brings a plum cake to celebrate (mourn?) a friend’s going-away.

It’s what I would imagine some beatnik slam poetry session to look like except without the beatniks or the slam poetry. If someone had started passing around tabs of LSD I would not have been surprised. It’s like an international Israeli pseudo-hipster family. Everyone knows each other but if they don’t, they’re happy to. Everyone is welcome, no matter who or what or why you are. All you have to give is a few hours of your time, and your openness, and you are embraced.

The Godfather. Marlon Brando. Not just a movie.

For the second time in a week, I’m at a locked door. Private from 12-2 the sign says, but it’s not even 9:30. The windows surrounding the door are mirrors, and obviously one-way. Very police station crime show. We are buzzed in and take a seat at the bar. The place is dark, with pictures of famous fictional mobsters and a bigger liquor – scotch – collection than I’ve seen in a while. A tiny kitchen space with fabulous equipment is snuggled in at one end of the bar. A rotund older man cuts vegetables and yells directions to the pretty young bartenders. He’s the owner.

Trains go by and the place rattles. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Guinness, Beck’s, Carlsberg … and off to the side, in a shadow, St. Bernardus Tripel and Prior 8. My friend calls the older man Ezra and he is Yaakov not Ezra, then Ezra comes by and says they’re the same, really, why not be Yaakov and Ezra? Yaakov asks me where I’m from. I’m from the United States of Israel. Don’t forget it. He starts drinking. A part of the club. Just another night with the godfather.


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