Shahar Golan: “Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated”

I first learned of my passing by Twitter: my TwitBird app routinely checks for my name in the Twittersphere and found this tweet. Apparently there is an Israeli website which aggregates obituaries and tweets new departures. A few hours later, a couple of people contacted me to find out if I am, in fact, dead. Well… I am happy to report that no, I am not dead. I am also not a retired Egged bus driver who died this week. We just have the same name:
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Hey! Associated Press, Please Sue My Newspaper!

I am sure everyone had seen the Obama HOPE poster by Shepard Fairey, but I am not so sure many people follow up on the legal issues behind it. The basic plot goes like this: before creating the work, Fairey used Google to search for an Obama image as a reference. He found an image he liked and created what became a ubiquitous poster. More than a year after the poster went viral the Associated Press contacted Fairey, claimed they own the original image and wanted to sue him for damages. The best thing about it is that the photographer who actually took the original photo, Mannie Garcia, is not an AP employee but a freelancer who claims he holds the copyright and is not just fine with what Fairey created – he is proud of him. Here’s Fairey in his own words:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-56rcLxmk4

We live in interesting times. Technology is evolving so fast, we can barely keep up with the ethical and moral questions raised. And so if the AP chooses to put themselves at the wrong side of progress and sue Fairey for his use of the original photo, I plead with them to please also sue my newspaper Maariv and its caricaturist Zeus (Ron Zisenbach) who yesterday published the following image, in clear violation of the AP standard of fair use:
Obama Caricature in Israeli Newspaper Maariv - July 21, 2009
The Hebrew text says: “solar eclipse”

Israeli Newspapers Aren’t Dying – They Are Committing Suicide

[singlepic id=195 w=300 h=446 float=right]I watched a few of the first episodes of Israel’s first season of Survivor, but saw enough shots in which the female contestants’ backsides where filling up the entire screen, in order to determine this was no mistake, only another step closer to imitating the raunch culture oversees. When the Israeli media started referring to contestant Marina Kavisher as the “National Rump”, I noted to myself that this just might amount to sexual harrasment as defined by Israeli law – but kept my mouth (and keyboard) silent. As Israeli Survivor’s season 2 comes to a close, Maariv‘s fashion supplement Sig’non decided to commemorate this important event with “The Big Ass Quiz” which urges readers to match each backside with a face.

I don’t have anything particularly smart or funny to say about this. I just think this is another sign my countrymen are growing further apart from me – or vice versa.

Update: You can read this post in Hebrew here.

Walking Without Excessories Is Like Walking Around Naked

In the last couple of years it became common practice for Israeli newspapers to stuff themselves with supplements which look at first like genuine newspaper addition, but are actually just advertisements posing as articles. This is an effort, I assume, to give the inherit deceitful nature of advertising an air of objective news coverage.

[singlepic id=9 w=150 h=230 float=right]There is one such monthly supplement about cell phone models, one about office equipment, and a few that feature an array of products, linking fashion trends with things you can purchase. A new supplement which fits the latter is titled: URBAN – GET A LIFE STYLE [sic].
When I first laid my hands on it I thought I was reading it wrong, as I myself often feel the uncontrollable urge to tell people searching for style to get a life – and so having the very source of evil inadvertently tell the same to its readers, thinking it is a clever play on words – well, that just brightened up my day.

I started flipping through the magazine and had to really fight my gag reflex. The pages were filled with pseudo-new-age mantras, one nauseating mantra before each of the magazine sections [emphasis and capitals theirs]: It’s not who you’re sleeping with BUT where in the lodging section, Food is like desire. It’s much better in a PRETTY package! in the dining section, It’s not who you’re talking to BUT what you’re talking with in the cell phones section, There are two ways to achieve HAPPINESS: Be in love or drink fine wine in the wine section, There’s electricity in the air GET IT! – yes, you guessed it – in the electrical appliances section.

And then I hit the mother lode in the accessories section:
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You see, it is quite rare to be able to summarize a critique into a single sentence, much rarer to be able to summarize it to a single word – but to find one such word published by the very people the critique speaks against, well that is as close to force majeure as you can find.

Yes, excessories is exactly how I would spell the unnecessary daily purchases done by people trying to fill the void in their soul, and here it comes from the advertiser’s mouth. Oh! The humanity…

Epilogue:
When I first stumbled upon the website Engrish.com which meticulously documents the Japanese’s futile attempt at mastering the English language, I laughed so hard at ‘those stupid Japanese’. I assume this is exactly what non-Israelis do when they look at us, as we also show the same negative correlation between how cool the natives revere the English language and how poor their actual English-language skills are.