Even Sapir, Jerusalem
Monday, December 1st, 2003 http://adamkhan.net/rambles/ode-to-salame
t’s supposed to be the arsehole of Tel Aviv, Salame Street, running east-west at its southern tip, but it always does me darn good. I can’t really think why, because it’s not pretty. It’s noisy and commercial. Maybe it’s the time of day: In the late afternoon it takes on pink, which is highly improbable for such a hard-ass street. Maybe it’s because it’s cheap: Around there things generally cost 20% less than you’d find them elsewhere.
It’s the unofficial national center for motorbike showrooms. There are whorehouses galore too. You have to walk a fair way into town to come close to any sort of franchised eatery; the only brand names are those on the motorbikes (Yamaha, Suzuki, etc.), the banks (Discount, Leumi) and the gas station (Paz).
It’s lively without being frenetic, competitive without being cut-throat—perhaps because both Israelis and foreign workers feel equally at home here; it’s the only street in Israel where I’ve seen groups of half a dozen or so Africans sitting around doing nothing in an almost threatening way. Excepting them however, people on this street are about their business; there’s little or no poza as it’s called, self-consciously showing off how hip or beautiful one is.
I was there today and picked up some cockpit spray for my car for NIS 10, about $2.10. Okay, that’s probably what ArmorAll costs in the US, but for swindly Israel that’s cheap.
At the corner of Salame and Herzl there’s a bit of a hill, among the steepest in Tel Aviv. The whole area, like most of town, is all on a grid, and yet it’s higglety-pigglety.
It sort of loses its diesel charm west of Herzl. I wonder when one of the new national coffee chains, such as Hillel or Aroma, will take the plunge and open something here. Aroma did well opening on the semi-grungy Yehuda Halevi, but that’s in actuality only about 30 seconds away from leafy Rothschild, so you get to feel like you are hanging on the edge of Good Things looking south. Towards such roughness as Salame.