Posts Tagged ‘public sphere’

zimmer in the north

August 21, 2010

it’s summer. hot. boy it’s hot.

time to be together. ‘vacances’;  not high-end.

mid-end, mid-east, mid-life,  vacances . the whole family bar one. and friends. 6 adults and 10 kids. a few quiet days. and cool if possible.

air condition and shade.

together. north. zimmer.


its morning. i wake up last.

breakfast is wonderful. omelet. salad. fresh bread and jam.

the pressure is building up; make sure the salad juices do not touch the omelet.

am i still not grown-up? by now i better realize there are some things i got to have a certain way:

coffee. fresh coffee.  my day has not started with out a cup of good coffee.


most of the kids are ready for the pool. in  swimsuits.

mothers are starting the ritual of sun tan lotion. sentences are shorter. patience is smaller. a kid is crying.

the pressure is building up;  ‘נו כבר’  to the pool


we made it to the pool

noise. i do not like israeli public spaces full of noise. but the noise here is good noise.

everyone stuffed together. trying to draw imaginary territories. where to lay down the towels?

is there room for the ‘מחצלת’ ? (what is the word for them in english? much more than ‘mat’.  i think there is a reason why they are so popular here these days. they grab a lot of land.  real quickly and clearly, and the family and all strangers know that the territory is marked. even if the kids in the mat-next-grass  will step over the edge of our own mat. they are educated and know not to step on their own mat.  they are considerate and step on our own mat in a de-militarized zone; the ceremonial 20 cm close to the edge)

we israelis are good at it. making rooms for mats.

a country with no borders. a country with no limits. looking for markers, looking for territory to call our own. with no challenges.

the lady who took my chair is claiming i did not use it. ‘שלך מהבית?’,

i give up. unhappy about the lost chair, but happy she is not able to piss me off


it is time for fun.

and we are having fun

water. jumping. no-jumping. megaphone.

the lifeguard proves his authority; important in a country with no limits

sun. sun. sun. water.

in the water. out of water.

the pressure is building up; i need to urinate.

in the pool? no-way. i would rather do it מהמקפצה . and even i try to be more proper than that.

it it time to march to the public toilet. we have come a long way in the last few decades with public toilets. you would not consider using them in the past. but today, i am not afraid.  about 10m away from the toilets it is noticeable. not the smell, that comes later, but the mud on the tiles. i am barefoot. damn. should have brought the flippers. what’s next? how to proceed? a real dilemma. i am able to make it within 2 meters from the toilet on my toes. but i give up.

i find a tree and water it. saving our dry country some water. hey, and making it more green.

still our ‘public space’ is not social. not minded to ‘together’. not enough respect for the other. not enough respect for the ‘next’. i am afraid that includes me.

sun-tan lotion.boy it’s hot.

some water polo with the kids.

total pleasure.

kids climbing all over me.

laughter, fighting for the ball.

even the little ones get to score goals.

and more laughter.

people giggle and smile like they have not for a long time.



its night time.

little kids are a sleep. the teenagers are out at night. it is time to teach them poker

it is fun to teach and see how quickly they learn. smart

a few turns to try it out and then its time for the chips, the bluffs, the strategy

each kids displays in a different way a side of their personality that was not evident previously

their eyes move in different directions. a hidden smile. a stern attempt at poker face.

in a few years they will all be soldiers.

serving with others for others.

rosewood – luxury hotels

March 18, 2010

had the priveldge to stay at rosewood sand-hill road

luxurious hotel. we got special rates

still, it is too much

over-service and under-value for the customer. i guess i am not their target customer:

  • you can not open a door yourself. they walk you to your room. the extra service means they try to park for you, they open and close the curtains in your room for you. too much
  • decor is fancy but does not have harmony. fake
  • a phone in the toilet. again, too much. at certain times i want to be with myself
  • another annoying service. every evening the come in. put on the radio, put on your bed a laundry bag and a request for you to comply with no change of sheets. i am ok with no change of sheets. i do not change them daily at home.  i would have preferred a chocolate bar on my bed instead.
  • another service that diminshes value. in the shower, i leave the temperature knob at a certain position, in this case around 9 o’clock, or 42 degrees celcius. as a service to me, the change the position to 12 o’clock. thanks. it who did that actually help?

some nice stuff however:

  • walk in closet
  • shampoo and soap are out of a nice dispenser. seems cleaner, feels more like home, and costs less. smart
  • location is fantastic
  • great restaurant
  • and great atmosphere with people laughing and interacting in public spaces till late at night. very unusual for california hotel. definitely not the sleeping warehouses i usually stay at.

under value:

  • parking, i do not do valet – just the wrong upbringing i guess cost $20 per night.
  • wifi? free? nop. how about $12.99 per day?
  • bowl of fruit for $5? $6.99? why not $15? all before tax

i really believe in buying in supermarkets. try it every trip. it is local, fun, and inexpensive

fancy restaurants once in a while to average the costs

has paris lost its charm?

November 15, 2009

I love paris
I am here for 2 days on business
In the last 3 days I had 2 red-eyes
Tel-aviv to boston and boston to paris (way too short)
My plane landed far from the terminal. waited for a bus. rain. coat is in the suitcase. cold.

paris doisneau baiser

It is now 23:30
I am sitting at ‘les deux magot
Just ate a chevre chaud on toast and am drinking mouton cadet


Has paris lost its charm?
CDG was once an architectural masterpiece, with fantastic understanding of flow, moving lots of people in style to far away, romantic places. It had vision, and lumiere, the lighting was jet-age
It is now a dark, decaying structure where people wait in long lines, bump into each other, exits are too tight, the place is dark and resembles orly, a terminal of a developing world

Bonjour paris

I order a double espresso machiatto and a croissant
Who says I can not speak french?

The coffee is out of a machine, the croissant is with abricot
I ask for the original croissant beurre

Both coffee and croissant are not as good as in israel
What happened in 30 years?
Well, israel has become a coffee empire and the croissant is mass produced, not by a artisan boulanger with love
It is stale.
Is paris stale? Has it lost its charm?

The tour montparnasse is old, still erect, still out of place
La couple is not full of artists. Modiglianni is dead

Has paris lost its charm?
The closhard are not french, they are homeless immigrants

It’s not you, it’s me
Have I lost my charm?
I am not as youthful as 30 years ago
Have I ever had charm?

Well paris sure did; and it does
The museums are full of art
The streets are alive, with the sound of music
Hausmann did a good job. A very good job.
The light falls on the city with grace
paris_night Some stores (gap, mcDo excluded) are breathtaking
I walk into a book store
Fall in love with the smell, the paper, the books
Liberte,Egalite, Fraternite
velolib, still world leaders in smart mass transit
From here, israel looks like an isolated place in another world
One without justice, or values

Paris is still desirable and expensive
The art in the streets and museums still take the wind out of me
The grey skies add ambiance
The shoes are still exquisite
The cafes still have plastic straw chairs on the sidewalks, chairs side by side, overlooking a couple walking hand in hand, stopping for a kiss

The restaurants still have simplicity, authenticity and  produce with appellation controlee

Has paris lost its charm?
The girls are sexy, and have not lost their french
The students of the latin quarter still have round glasses
The waiters still wear papillon and give you good advice if you speak french
There are people from 50 countries on the streets, mostly smiling and highly satisfied with their latest purchase, hidden in beautiful shopping bags, from boutique shops that have been around since 1817
The invalide shines when the sun comes out
The sacre coeur is still beautifully kitsch
The Swedish lady sitting next to me smiles

Has paris lost its charm?
It like a high-school sweetheart you see after 30 years
Not the same, has had better days, but still your heart misses a beat
Once loved, always in love

revolutionary road

November 8, 2009

just saw the movie revolutionary road for the 2nd time, and i think it is better than i remembered.

my friend Moshe says movies should be watched twice. the first time is to get the plot out of the way. especially for us israelis who spend most of the time looking at the subtitles at the bottom of the frame.

kate winslet is becoming one of my favorite actresses.

mike shannon, was nominated for best supporting actor  because of this scene. seems a bit of an underrated actor. expect great things from him.

check out this scene. extremely powerful

i love it when ‘the truth’ comes out.

it is there. we all know it. we do not forget its existence. we just live every day to hide it. deeper. then, it pops out. when you least expect it.

i believe most people like the truth in small doses. the beauty of this scene is that it comes in large portions. ‘super-size’. a bit too much to swallow.dreams are crushed.

the price people pay to live within expectations of others.

bring your own laptop?

July 30, 2009

there is an Aroma branch in the piazza of the building where i work.

it is currently israel’s largest coffee retailer and has quite a few branches abroad.

israel’s coffee chains have done a great job locally, have been able to kick out starbucks, and have been expanding internationally. Their rise has been greatly due to the economic depression of 2001-2004 post the burst of the bubble and fall of NASDAQ. it is great to see that some business do well in an economic downturn. the main reason is that people still want to go out and have fun. instead of a restaurant and $30 per person per outing, you can go out, have quality time and spend $10 or less.

during this economic decline (2009), sales of premium wines in the US ($15-$50 per bottle) are up. the reason? again, people want a quality evening. a night at home over a quality bottle costs less that going out!

Aroma is a quality operation. the formula is well defined. the processes are extremely efficient. they are extremely minded to how long you stand in line. so there are not too many choices in the menu. everything is freshly made, including the breads which are baked on premise. yet lines are shorter than at starbuck’s. they do a good job of changing the menu just a little bit every few months. they also promote music and are exclusive distributors to some great records. for example, Arkadi Dochin’s Nekudat mabat (2007 – try song number 2, eifo at ahuva for which i could not find a good youtube link, or Dmyon Chufshi – a great song by churchil, itzhak klepter, later on in his career)

Aroma’s latest innovation, which i think is really cool:

an acer aspire one netbook for you to use while you are in the shop.

netbooks are a great alternative to laptops. i am considering buying one for my kids

and having your own mobile netbook with free wi-fi while drinking coffee is a great alternative to doing emails on you iphone

this is smart marketing and value creation. it costs aroma very little and benefits all of us much more than it costs aroma. how often are we able to do that in our own business?

nice move, aroma

left of center, wondering about you

July 20, 2009

Went to see suzanne vega last night. really enjoyed it

a few thoughts:

  • in one of her songs, she claims NYC is a women, sometimes a lady. and Tel-Aviv, she asked? “Gay man” was one of the responses
  • we sat row 15, not close, but not far. there were 2 large screens to the right and left of stage. i noticed that most of the crowd looked at the screens, not towards stage. interesting. you go to a live show and you watch the screen.
  • a few hours before the show, i suddenly had second thoughts. after the show i was wondering how i could have been in doubt. has that ever happened to you?
  • research shows we are better at predicting short term happiness than long term happiness
  • Tom’s diner, 112th and broadway, where seinfeld et al were sitting so often is such a beautiful capture of the moment, and also of semi-public sphere in america

we went to the cocert with our roomates from the late 80’s, ronit and lior

really brought back memories

people’s park

November 18, 2008

urbanism with garvin – public parks

remember vaux-le-vicomte, near melun? garvin commented, ‘the world seemed rational’

think of italian park in the 16th century

french in the 17th century

english in the 18th century

key takeaways:

  • where do people do physical recreation? in private – home or around – in privately owned public spaces (semi private space, e.g. country club), or in open public parks?
  • public park as multi-purpose, multi echelon entity
  • government or municipality can invest in a park. e.g. drying a swamp, and collect rates from real estate around it and concessions within it.
  • trees as part of the public realm
  • interesting to assess planed communities
  • parks are not reserves, they are continuouly eveloving and will reflect differences in nature and society


public parks stated in london in mid 19th century. darby arboretum, birkenhead park. actually started as a consequence of a free day to workers and what to do with it. victoria park in london set up in 1845. fredrick olmsted, a failed farmer, then journalist, visited london and was fascinated with the fact that it is multi class.

his book: Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England described the beauty of peoples parks

“five minutes of admiration, and a few more spent studying the manner in which art had been employed to obtain from nature so much beauty, and I was ready to admit that in democratic America there was nothing to be thought of as comparable with this People’s Garden”.

Olmsted also commented on the “perfection” of the gardening:

“I cannot undertake to describe the effect of so much taste and skill as had evidently been employed; I will only tell you, that we passed by winding paths, over acres and acres, with a constant varying surface, where on all sides were growing every variety of shrubs and flowers, with more than natural grace, all set in borders of greenest, closest turf, and all kept with consummate neatness”.

avenue fauche, in paris is a ‘parkway’ , brinign the park to the city.

riverside, IL a city designed inside a park.

some keys to public parks success:

  • need a sense of enlarged freedom
  • providing for pysical and mental health
  • fun, available to all

freedom of speech

November 10, 2008

in the United States

has an effect on human rights around the world. in europe ‘scope of right’

key takeaway:

  • difference between speech and action
  • democracy requires suspension of community norms. but requires it first. a ‘person’ requires socialized community norms. self governance precludes community. democracy has to understand the public sphere in which differences are worked out. marketplace as the origin of public sphere. (had to have standard weights and measures). newspapers are the first creation of a public sphere. public sphere, requires respect.
  • broadcast media and internet interfere with socialization by parents of kids.
  • mobility as a measure of democracy (and weakening of community)


what do we mean by speech. every contract is a form of communication, but that is regulated by contract law.

wittgenstein – all words are deeds.

  • cognitive – marketplace of ideas. greater access to truth. all ideas are equal. knowledge and progress. in science there is a distinction of quality.
  • ethical – persons are equal, ideas are not. autonomy. but often we do not let autonomy. we value autonomy when people are equal. that is not always the case. e.g. doctor patient. so autonomy is not a good predictor. a better predictor is when do we ascribe autonomy. that is in the formation of public opinion
  • political – needed for communicative processes essential for a democratic form of government. self government and the general will. formation or participation of public opinion. necessary but not sufficient. perpetual outvote of minority or lack or delay in response by the state.

the right to have rights. hannah arndet.

John Locke (1689) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762) are the most famous philosophers of contractarianism, which formed the theoretical groundwork of democracy. Although the theory of natural rights influenced the development of classical liberalism, its emphasis on individualism and its rejection of the necessity to subordinate individual liberty to the sovereign will stand in opposition to the general tenets of social contract theory.

bad tendency test. eugene debs vs united states. any sppech can have a tendency to cause harm. direct causual. clear nad present danger is a test. this line is moving. in the short-term governement has a tendancy to supress.

community or social norm – an inherit ‘law’ socialized into your personality. law enforces what you already are. chicago in 20th century is a public of many different communities.

‘heckler’s veto’ – your speech will make me riot


November 3, 2008

friday night was Halloween. like most non-religious holidays, it is a great deal of fun.

Tal, calls it Talloween. She dressed up as the little mermaid, but most people thoughts she was a princess. it was cute to hear her say ‘thank-you’ in english to each ‘donor’.

a few thoughts about Halloween and trick-or-treating:

  • no one asks for a trick
  • no apples this year
  • it is interesting to see how in the 40 seconds or so you are in front of a person, you feel so much humanity and ascribe so many traits to that person at the door: according to how they open door, greet the kids, what they say, and how they pass on the candy. some people love giving, some do it without a smile
  • as a 3 year old kid, what goes on through your mind when all of a sudden, people you do not know give you candies and act so nice to you?
  • in a society in which kids hardly walk the streets, and greeting strangers is so uncommon, it was great to see, the streets full of kids at night, the many, many decorations, the smiles, greetings. the basic instinct of disliking strangers and protecting the private space changes to liking strangers as a default, feeling a sense of community, and opening up. what a difference a day makes

to see your child’s eyes sparkle – priceless

alienation despite proximity (or because of)

October 28, 2008

new haven and the american city

policing public spaces and public life

key takeaways:

  • public spaces do not just exist, they are produced socially by being there
  • right of expression vs privatizing public space. think of 2×2 matrix. x-axis, exclusive, y axis sameness (private club vs downtown street) (diner vs airline business lounge.
  • “It is difficult to design a space that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.”
  • sign saying ‘drug free zone’. ‘do not throw garbage’. a place where information is disbursed and consumed. graffiti. roman forum. internet today. cafe as a ‘third place’ semi private. price of admission is a cup of coffee. open realm, people watching (latest fashion). get a newspaper


design of public realm

e.g. central park NYC. designed for stroll. think victorian stroll, tip of hat. a teaching place for lower classes regarding civil norms in the public realm. individuals engage as public citizens

a man sleeping on a bench by the public library. is he privatizing the public space? a declaration of problems of the homeless.

rockefeller center, public participation. corporate plaza. statues. privately developed public places.

william h whyte . street life project. place-making. places need to be managed? programed (e.g. reading room in bryant park)? does this make them less public? stay off grass vs lay on grass. where and why do people skateboard. is their reason appropriation of space (vs designed skate park?)

book City: Rediscovering the Center (1988). others re urbanism: Is Anybody Listening? (1952), Securing Open Spaces for Urban America (1959), Cluster Development (1964), The Last Landscape (1968; “about the way metropolitan areas look and the way they might look”),The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (1980), City: Rediscovering the Center (1988).

also wrote a book: 1956  The Organization Man (CEOs and organizations)

modernist public spaces are cold austere? see neoclassist plaza di’italia in neo orleans. yale dean designed. yack

seagram plaza, nyc, where do people get food? sit? kids love getting wet. people look for shade on a sunny day (millinium park, chicago). design matters.

skateboarder as a pivot for policing. not always welcomed. corporate plaza.

polic officer as a leader, mentor. not as reactive to crime. europe is better at this than US or israel. why. just walking the beat. whistling and making circles with the rope of a whistle (hashoter azulai?)

sign saying drug free zone. do not throw garbage. a place where informatiion is disbursed and consumerd. graffiti.