Life in Echo Park 2

Life in Echo Park 2

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Trip'in on Israel... (aka The Holy Land)

the mysterious land of enchantment

A few years back i had the opportunity to visit Israel. It was something i always wanted to do and all the hostility going on wasn't a problem to me. Besides, at that time it was calmer than in recent days.

I had the best time and experiences there. I hiked Masada and crossed the Sea of Galilee.
One night after dinner i decided to take a walk (alone) and i did a lot of walking that night - from 9 to almost 2 A.M!
I went down to this lil jazz place for awhile ,then just felt like strolling. It was a pleasant and warm night. I covered a lot of ground that evening and it was strange to be in a foreign land where laws and people are so different and anything can happen. I can't explain it but i had such a inner peace and never felt any fear what so ever.

Well...I did get lost! Thats why i walked for so long, but as i remembered seeing certain local landmarks, i eventually found my way back to the Jerusalem Hilton. I was tired but thrilled at what i did. I thought that i could have been in the next days news as a kidnapped tourist or something (even worst) but the bottom line is... enjoy life , be smart and experience what you can. I wasn't smart but hey....

I also went on a tour that took us everywhere! I loved it! Climbing Masada was a trip but being on the top was really something! I went off on my own exploring everything i could. Going down into tunnels and caves in the old ruins was a very mysterious feeling as was everything. I would listen for a while to the tour guild give some history on these places then break away from the group. That made it so much more personal, just me and the ghosts of the past. And then traveling on a boat across the Sea of Galilee and actually seeing the calm turn into choppy rough waters as the winds blow across it reminded me of a story i once read. They did get a little scary too. To me it was also a very spiritual time along with having fun. They really do go together very well.
My favorite place to explore, and even certain places inside we were told not to venture into -
The Old City of Jerusalem.
This old city takes you right back to bibical times for sure. Like a movie set for some middle eastern movie.
As i traveled through the open air corridors past the merchants selling their goods or just sitting around a beautiful brass "water pipe" puffing on who knows what, i could hear the voices all around me saying ONE DOLLAR... $1... Very good! - very nice for you!
I guess no matter where you go in this world you'll hear that phrase.
A lot of wood and brass items too.
Well... it seems i got myself lost again one day as i was going through the different "quarters" as it is broken up into 4 different ones. I found myself in the one i was warned about - the Arab quarter. As i walked it became more and more narrow and then finally with long canopies running on top , darker. The looks on their faces had a lot to say too but , oh well...

It was amazing to absorb so many exotic fragrances in the air. Spices from all over the world filled my nostrils and it gave me such a head-rush! They were all potent and mysterious odors! That quickly changed as i went past the bloody carcasses hanging on hooks and the blood trailing down the middle of a small narrow gutter where everyone walks. That was a whole different kind of world in itself! As i left the area someone in a rocking chair shouted "Y'all come back now ya ear! (not really) ha-ha !

I made my way back to familiar territory and decided to step into this lil bookshop named - Fountain Books. I wanted to buy some maps of the land from before times and of these times. The gentleman stepped out and we talked for awhile. I wanted to know what his thoughts were on this whole situation with the Jews and Palestinians. It was very interesting , getting a different point of view from one who was the oppressed being Palestinian and Christian, and just being Non-Jewish was reason enough to treat him every single day to and from work as the enemy. He offered coffee and soon returned with two lil cups and cookies. I let him know that i personally favored Israel on the whole issue but that i felt bad how he and his family were being treated. The land IS Israel's, but they want it what can i say. He wasn't happy with that but he knew my ignorance as just being a tourist and hearing only what the media puts out as gospel. We soon said our good-byes and i thanked him as i stepped out.
His name was Issau - a good man too. My heart goes out to him and all people there.

That night i asked my friend who i met earlier, if he wanted to go down to (new) Jerusalem Downtown. You know..The place where terrorist like to blow everybody up! It was only a few blocks away so off we went. As we went past this lil bar, we could hear this was a old Beatle tune but we heard something else we back-tracked and decided to go in.
Everybody was singing along to Yellow Submarine and having a good time. On the wall was a old Tom & Jerry cartoon going on along with the music from a old projector just behind where we sat. Nobody paid much attention to us or gave us any looks, everyone was just having fun. There were even Israeli soldiers with uzi's strapped on their backs having a beer. We sat down and decided to have one beer. It was one called Red Star and it was from Russia and it was strong! It had a very good taste and flavor to it but one was all we would dare have! It really was fun watching these locals singing and all.

After that we just walked around the streets and occasionally said hello to a pretty girl which i had practiced saying in Hebrew "you are very beautiful" and another one similiar to that. They always got a kick out of it too and would ask where we were from. I found most were there from the USA but were attending school there. If your not in school or married? You have to do 3 years military duty and the guys 4years regardless. Seeing some young women in kakkis was a real sight, and they were ready for anything.
Well the next time i spoke to a girl was in Tiberias in the lobby of my Hotel. That was interesting . She had told me that the next day she was off but i didn't pursue anything other than just talking to her and left it at that.
I can't remember her name but it was a pretty Israeli name.

I traveled to many locations and sites and they were all so intriguing and fascinating.
Soon after , it was time to head home. I was there for 2 weeks and it flew by quickly.
The flight back was close to 18 hours but it was much shorter going. I found that to be interesting. So that was my trip to Israel.......
My first one... not my second one! The 2nd trip over 2 years later, i did stop in on Issau again to say hi and we sat down and had coffee again and discussed more resent events since the last time i saw him. It was the same strong Arab coffee as before and it was just as good......It was good to see him...he was doing alright.

For some reason, I fell in love with Israel, There was something about it, a romance that drew me back again and if i could i would return, but i just had to let her go.

There is so much rich history in that tiny State of Israel, a Land of much hidden beauty and wealth and sorrow. Caught in a time over two thousand years ago and then froze.

A land where so much happened in the world, in a different time and in a land where it all began......could all end today or tomorrow.

Her future, is uncertain but then.....

Jury Duty Experience

Jury Duty 101

I found it a strange place for me to be at first but i soon overcame any prejudice on my part.
I was about to learn the system from the inside-out, not as i did earlier in my youth... from the outside-in. This was going to be interesting to say the least.

I once had the rare opportunity to give my point of view as i stood before an old judge. When he asked what i thought about the system? Well... knowing me, I couldn't resist but to tell him and you know i did!
Oh, what did i say to him? Simply, in a few words: THE SYSTEM DOES NOT W-O-R-K !
His reaction? Pretty red-faced as he replied; Young man are you going to stand here in front me and tell me that the people on a jury are wrong ? I couldn't answer that and he knew it. I really thought for a minute there he was going to fall over backwards! I was only there for a traffic citation! Its not my fault! He shouldn't have asked if i wanted to say anything! geeez!
<>Well, true to my word and as time passed, the day arrived when i was now to serve, to do my civic duty and earn big money in the process, all $5.00 of it (per day!) WOW!
I had no problem, at least "I" wasn't paying!

I served in total so far 5 times going on 6. In those 5 cases, each were completely different and each had many obsticles and flaws. Our job was to overcome them and come to a final agreement if possible. That was a real challenge because everyone always has prejudice to put aside to be a fair juror. It seems not everyone can do this and so begins the breakdown of a "fair" trial.
I have on occassion mentioned (as we all give our first thoughts and comments) that we need to be objective and look only at the facts presented before us... no more - no less! Easier said than done!

It made little difference to the ignorant set in their own narrow mentality! That really stressed everyone else out, but then that was part of the process, to weight out the facts and results coming to a final conclusion one way or another. WE dead-locked many a time! Now if i were to ever see that old judge again - which i doubt (unless i dig him up!) I would tell him the same all over again! Its not an easy thing to do, judging someone BUT when you only have SOME "basic facts" and short on REAL PROOF it makes it difficult...or easy.
I usually do it the scientific way, I flip a two headed coin! (just kidding!)

One of my last couple cases involved a wife who cut her husbands b---s off with a big sharp pair of scissors...home018 (1k image)But we dead-locked. A year later i saw the case on the news again and for the 2nd time it was a "hung" jury (ironic). No, it wasn't "that" case but close... ouch!! The latest news was that the wondering husband now stays close to home. (so did my dog too)

The very last case hit closer to home-(boys), as we had no trouble putting these guys away for a very long time, after terrorizing and robbing poor hard working people in their own neighborhood. They did what they did and we (I) did that I did or as it comes down from the Ol' School...You Play-You Pay.
Everyone has their own opinion, but as i learned, if you haven't been there on both sides you just will never know that feeling of justice served or the injustice!
My personal belief is if i do wrong i better be prepared first to do time. My mindset isn't there to even think that way and regardless of "anyones" potiential we just know better...yeah right! How does it go? With every action - There is reaction!

And so i reiterate...The System Does Not Work...PERIOD! (but... its all we got!)