FULL WRAP-UP: Madonna in Israel, Why It Matters, and Jesus Makes an Appearance! In 3…2…1…

Buckle your seat belts, my loyal readers, it’s time to put the events of the last 48 hours into perspective. In case you’ve been living under a rock or in Yerucham, you know that Madonna’s in Israel and performed two much-ballyhooed shows in Tel Aviv. (I’m just teasing, people living under rocks.) She met with Kadima leader Tsipi Livni, she dominated social media sites, and caused a rabbi in Tsfat to urge her to dress appropriately. After all the hype, scrambling for tickets, and rumors about certain FOM (friends of Madonna) showing up, here’s a complete wrap-up of what went down and why this is actually a big deal in the Middle East.

With apologies to my favorite writer Bill Simmons, here’s everything you wanted to know, put to Madonna song lyrics:

“Every little thing that you say or do, I’m hung up, I’m hung up on you”
Hey, did anybody notice on my Facebook page that I was a bit hung-up on Madonna this week? I blame you people for responding and encouraging me. I already covered these a couple of blog posts ago but here are my last few favorites (the third one got reTweeted eight times to my glee):

  • Remind me again, why is everyone in Israel talking about Dimona? (That’s the last one! I’m off to the show! Thank you and good night!)
  • Just added to Madonna’s playlist! Translated version of “Papa, Don’t Preach”. “Aba, B’emet, Nu.” (This will all be over soon.)
  • If Madonna meets with Khalid Meshaal, will she sing “Like 72 Virgins”? (Is this getting old yet? I can’t tell.)
  • I hope Madonna sings her anthem to South Tel Aviv: “Don’t Cry for Me, Florentina.”

A couple of days ago, my dear friend Sarit responded to one of my statuses with “Enough about Madonna already!” It was then that I was inspired to write this post. I thought about what my friends living in America must have been thinking when I posted about her 4 times a day and I realized that it’s impossible for them to understand what it means here and why everyone and their eema was obsessed with her this week in Israel. We’ll get to that later…after these messages. (Do kids today know what that means? Do I have any kids reading this blog?)

Get ready….you’re about to get a lot of Madonna, buff arms and all. Would anything be more embarrassing than getting beat up by a 51 year-old woman? What if it were her? More or less embarrassing?

“If we took a holiday, took some time to celebrate, just one day out of life, it would be, it would be so nice”
There was definitely a palpable level of excitement in the air the last couple of days among people. In the papers, on Facebook, in conversations, everybody was talking about it. So many people looking for tickets at the last minute online and offline.

Here are a few of the status updates from yesterday:

  • All i can say is: M.A.D.O.N.N.A!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)))))))))))))
  • Looking forward to seeing Madonna tonight in concert in Tel Aviv!!!!
  • MADONNA live in israel- A T T E N D I N G ! ! !
  • M A D O N N A is in the house!! Tik Tak, Tik TAK…..
  • Madonna dress modestly in her concert? Sorry, rabbi, not going to happen…
  • Madonna and Tzipi Livni – just two chicks out on the town
  • Good mood? Yes. One ticket to Madonna in the park? Yes.
  • ______ thinks she may be the only person in Israel not seeing Madonna tonight.
  • and here she is ……………..Madonna!!!
  • I got a ticket! I got a ticket! I got a tickey hey, hey, hey, HEY! 🙂 🙂
  • Are you driving Jerusalem-Tel Aviv for Her Madgesty’s gig tonight? Do you have room in your car?
  • Feeling Sticky & Sweet!
  • I have tix to Madonna to sell. Whoever’s interested, talk to me.
  • I’m NOT going to Madonna tonight !!!!! (This person has a sense of humor.)

These were all posted within an hour. And why do I feel like these half of these were written by 14 year-olds? (If that offends you, you’re in the other half.)

Apparently Tel Aviv was pretty slow the last two nights with bars slow. Think about it….50,000 people, two nights in a row….ok, ok, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s keep going…

“And you can dance…for inspiration…come on…I’m waiting….”
And we waited…..and waited. Since I was in Tel Aviv and free, I got to Park Hayarkon around 4:45, forty-five minutes before the gates were to open. Standing in the crowd, I pretty quickly saw a familiar American face, identified by her accent, command of English, and Heineken in hand. Around 5:15, someone in charge moved an eyelash a fraction of a millimeter, causing everyone to react and huddle up in line ready for run in. Once 5:30 rolled around, it was announced that the gates weren’t to open till 6, giving us another 30 minutes to crowd up and sweat on one another. Good times.

“BOOM!!!” Hey, is that an air force exercise? Nope, just a sound check. Only in Israel

5:55 PM “The natives are getting restless,” says American friend. This then sparked a conversation about who the real natives of this country are. Just kidding.

My phone beeps. It’s an SMS from my Google calendar, reminding me that the Madonna concert is tonight. Thank G-d for Google.

Thank you, Google!
Maybe I can get it to remind me to go tinkle in the morning.

“Quien es esa nina, who’s that girl?”
Waiting in line, we see some freaky-looking arseet dressed as Madonna with long blonde hair and leather outfit. Madonna? How about Mafreicha?

Quien es, esa nina, who’s that ars?

“Keep on pushing me baby, don’t you know you drive me crazy, you just keep on pushing my love over the borderline”
How about all the pushing? I’m not going to take the easy route and say it was worse than a comparable American concert, just that the verbal jousting was louder. Before the opening act came on, some of us sat down to rest with those standing above us just a loss of balance away from toppling down on our heads. It was just tightly packed enough for the inevitable confrontations between the sitters-standers, and of course, the standers and the standers. Heck, let’s everybody get in fights! Look, what do you want? There are 50,000 of us, we’re all here for hours, who didn’t know what they were getting into? Apparently the sitting woman next to me and the standing man next to her didn’t, as evidenced by their fighting with one another while making too much body contact with one another. The woman made herself feel better but forcing her elbow into the back of the man’s leg, essentially saying “fine, take that!” The standing man proceeded to get into it with another standing mine who said “don’t touch me! Test me and see what happens!” Hey, we’re all a big, happy family in Israel!

Everyone running like wild animals through gates 1-6 to the left, everyone pushing and shoving through gates 7-12 through the right.
(You know I love you, Israelis….wait, are any of them even reading this?)

Well, it’s not all bad….

“I made it through the wilderness, somehow I made it through, didn’t know how lost I was, until I found you”
Once the (flood)gates were opened, everyone ran in to get good spots on the grass. I got split up from the people I was waiting in line with and knew that none of my friends had arrived yet. Basically I was by myself at that point which wouldn’t have been so terrible anyway but I quickly befriended a few people around me. Within a few minutes, they’re offering me their water (a true commodity at this concert), food, and just schmoozing it up. I could be here 30 years, I can’t imagine not being phased by that. I brought some leftover carrot sticks with me and offered them some.

Gezer???” they said incredulously and amused. Like “who brings carrots to a concert”?

Ten minutes later, one of them breaks out a big container of grapes and offers us.

“Hey! What’s the difference between carrots and grapes???”
“Gezer eez vegetable, anaveem eez fruit.”

Thanks for clearing that up, Dr. Science.

I mentioned to my new friends how amazed I was that they would just pass their grapes and water around, as that would never happen in America. “Israel eez a beeg kibbutz!” Yes, it is.

That’s the uniqueness of Israel. Had the stander fainted, there’s no doubt that the sitter would have been the first one to offer him some of her water. You know, as soon as she removed her elbow from his knee.

“We are family,
I got all my sisters and….ehhhhhhhhhhh……..”

“Something’s comin’ over me, my baby’s got a secret.”
Is he or isn’t he? This was the big secret of the week, whether or not friend and collaborator Justin Timberlake was on his way to Israel to perform with the Material Girl. Let it be said, if people were excited about seeing Madonna, they were beside themselves about the possibility of her being joined by this star in his own right, former lead singer of N’ Sync, current star and sex symbol, and of course, legitimate funnyman from “D*** in a Box” and other SNL cameos.

My friend in the States first brought the rumor to my attention a month ago despite it not having been reported in any Israeli newspaper (at least not that Google News could find in its archives.) In recent days, it was even reported by the Jerusalem Post that he had landed in Israel and according to people at the show, apparently by Ynet that he was GOING TO PERFORM last night, the last night of her tour.

Me: “So do you think he’s coming?”
Random Israeli Guy: “Jah-steen shmah-steen! Zeh rak speculatzia!

And now it’s time for everybody’s favorite game show, “Milah o lo milah?Speculatzia: I say it’s a word. Can we confirm this?

RIG: “Now if Britney were coming, that would be a big deal.”
Me: “Britney? She’s trashy.”
RIG: “I like trashy.”
Me: “Justin’s better for Israel. It sends a more positive message.”
RIG: “Israel?!? I don’t care about Israel! I care about Britney…..naked.”

The future of Israel is in good hands, everybody!

(I also said to this guy at some point that Madonna had to be the undisputed biggest female musical artist ever. He responded with “yeah, she is the queen….her or Mariah Carey.” What?!? Are we just pulling names out of hats now? Ok, on second thought, I nominate Golda Meir for biggest female singer ever. Nobody brought it night in and night out like Golda.)

Anyway, someone else I talked to before the show seemed to confirm the rumors. “Ynet says Justin’s coming.” Oh yeah? Well, B-net says he came over on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight. (That’s Benji-Net for the slow people, as well as Bibi Netanyahu’s rap name.)

As for the rumors? A big, fat screw-you to all the rumor-mongerers, I knew it was too good to be true. After the Stones, Britney, and Snoop, I am not believing that a musician is coming here until he comes to my Passover Seder. Here’s a rumor to any media outlet who reported that he was performing or is even in the country. If we don’t see his face in the next day or two, you suck. And unlike yours, that rumor was confirmed last night.

We got virtual Justin. This is where the whole crowd was about to crap their pants in anticipation. Sadly, pants stayed dry. I’m being figurative of course.

“Hey Mister D.J., put a record on, I wanna dance with my baby”
Around 7:20, opening act and DJ Paul Oakenfold comes on, prompting me to say to the guy next to me, “Who’s Madonna? I came for this guy.” I think somebody laughed. Wait, seriously, who is this guy? Apparently he’s one of the best DJs in the world.

Ok, I know this is very non-Israeli of me (or maybe I’m just old) but I don’t get DJs. There were two dudes standing behind a big table. One was just dancing, the other I don’t remember doing anything as far as I could tell. At one point, he did put on “Personal Jesus” and then a Black-Eyed Peas song. Not to be cocky but I can do that too. Jay-Z, what up, dog? Can I open for you? And what’s Beyonce doing for dinner Friday night?

Hey, Paul-next time you want to show images of New York City on the big TV, perhaps use something from the last eight years. Just a suggestion.

“Time is waiting, we only got 4 minutes to save the world!”
Apparently the pushy bastards behind me thought she was singing “We only got 4 minutes to encroach on my personal space.” An hour-plus into the concert, why do people suddenly appear trying to push their way to the front? What are they thinking? “Hmmm….people have been here for 6 hours. There are over 50,000 people in attendace. She’s been rocking the stage to a passionate crowd who’s hanging on her every word…let’s see if we can find an aisle to the front row!!!” Note to those idiots: if Israelis won’t let you cut to talk to a sweaty falalel vendor, what makes you think they’ll let you get close to Madonna? Think about it and come back to me during the next shmita year.

By the way, I may as well mention now that I never did see “Desperately Seeking Susan” nor do I know a thing about the movie. I am however, at all times….(here it comes)…desperately seeking chumus.

“Faster than the speeding light she’s flying, trying to remember where it all began”
Once she got onstage, like most concerts of superstars, it flew. She simply has too big of a music catalog to fit them all in. I saw a setlist on Haaretz earlier this week so I knew she wasn’t going to do more than a handful of pre-1990 songs. Yes, I am stuck in the 80’s; I would have been happy with more of her old stuff and not set to remixed, dance beats. Good for her, I guess, for staying modern and relevant.

For a full musical critique (and a very positive one at that), check out the reviews from Jpost or Haaretz. And the short Michael Jackson tribute was much enjoyed.

Rest in peace, Michael.

“Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight”
Whether or not you love her music or not, I don’t know how you couldn’t have walked away being super-impressed, amazed, wowed, whatever. Some musical acts are simply icons. I’m not a fan of the Rolling Stones but I’d pay to see them just to get a taste of one of the most influential bands of all time. And everyone says, however old he is, Mick Jagger still puts on a show. Same thing here. Madonna was simply unbelievable. I kept thinking, I cannot believe this woman is 51. While she was dancing up a storm, I was afraid I might pass out from dehydration just standing in the crowd. (By the way, did you know her boyfriend is 22? JESUS! No, that’s his name, “Jesus”.)

I saw a Broadway show last month and was mesmerized by the stage, the sets, the colorful stimulation and amazing dancing going on all over the place. Last night, I felt the exact opposite. I didn’t want to take my eyes off Madonna. The flashing images on the screen, the dancers probably half her age, the scenery….I kept thinking, “Man, I would rather do without all this stuff and just have more songs.” The flip side of that is that the crazy visuals just reinforced that she still puts on a SHOW, even at 51. Seriously, how many of her dancers were born when she was on the MTV Music Awards in 1984, rolling around in that wedding dress? (By the way, I’m guessing that was not a dati wedding.) Yeah, I’m sure she has the best of every health and fitness resource at her disposal but for pure entertainment purposes, she was superimpressive. I mean, if someone came to planet Earth and saw a clip, could they even know she wasn’t 41? Or 31? (Why do people call it “planet Earth”? To differentiate it from Sun Earth? Or potato chip Earth?)

One of the images during a song.
What is this, “Cocoon”?

To use a modern sports term of affection, the woman is a FREAK. I used to think, “I gotta see Michael Jordan before he retires so I can tell my kids about him.” I don’t know if my kids will care about Madonna (or if they’ll even listen to music in the future, I’m afraid they’ll just plug wires into their brains and make robot noises), but I’m putting this out there: if you can see this show in the future and you are a music fan, I highly recommend it.

“So you choose to look the other way, well, I’ve got something to say”
I don’t think anyone’s looking the other way but here’s the moral of the story. When I got Sarit’s comment, it hit me. How bizarre must my statuses look to my friends in the States? Here’s a sample newsfeed:

“I just walked the dog.”
“I can’t believe Adam Lambert didn’t win. What the hell?”
“Blah blah blah Madonna Madonna Madonna….” (four times in one day)

Looks weird. What the hell, why is this dude posting about Madonna 10 times? If you saw my newsfeed, you’d see that it’s full of Madonna updates from tons of different people. When I lived in the States, I hardly even paid for bands I did like. But when they announced this concert, I knew I had to go. Partially because I screwed up and missed Paul McCartney last year, possibly the biggest concert in Israel’s history (at least till this week). But partially because that’s just it….this isn’t America. Here’s an analogy that popped into my head last night during the concert. “Ok, let’s pretend you live on the moon. Ok, now let’s pretend you’ve lived on the moon for 5 years. Suddenly you get news that New Kids on the Block are coming from PLANET EARTH all the way to perform for whatever life forms exist there. Wouldn’t you go? Ok, now forget it’s NKOTB….now it’s….Madonna.” Don’t forget….YOU’RE ON THE MOON!!! Imagine telling your friends you saw Madonna ON THE MOON!!!!!!!! HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!

People still talk about the Michael Jackson concert of 1993. Or Madonna 1993. Or Guns n’ Roses 1993. (WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON IN 1993???) Depeche Mode….Paul McCartney….these are landmark moments in this country that people remember because it doesn’t happen every day and sadly, it says something about a musical artist who is willing to come here. Because there have been years where artists DIDN’T want to come here and it looks like that might be changing this year.

When I bought my ticket and was in the crowd last night, I felt a little more Israeli, like I was part of something. And when she screamed “hello, Tel Aviiiiiiiiiv!”, there was something magical about it. “Hello, Des Moines” just doesn’t hold a candle. (Or even “hello, Yerucham!”) In New York City, Billy Joel and Elton John could come three times a year and you wouldn’t even know it. And I’m American. Imagine people living here who may have NEVER seen a concert of this magnitude or even close. We do things big in America and even the biggest Israeli artists just aren’t going to have performances of this magnitude. With that, all the buzz, the media attention, the dinner between her and Tsipi Livni, the rumors about Justin….this felt less like a concert and more like a national event. If 100,000 people attended out of 6 or 7 million over the last 2 nights, that’s like 4 million people in America proportionally. And that probably shouldn’t even count the large number of people who aren’t even in reasonable driving distance of Tel Aviv…

AND of course, since Madonna met Tsipi, now she has to meet Bibi. That doesn’t happen after just a concert.

So that’s it, my loyal readers. I hope you enjoyed my review and editorial. If you went to the concert and you’re reading this, add your thoughts to the bottom. If you liked it, feel free to use the brand new “ReTweet” button at the top of this post. And if you want to hear me talk about something other than Madonna, please, do a mitzvah.

Get Aerosmith to come visit.

For your enjoyment….

Here are some of the jillions of clips
A good review from Ashley, another blogger, with more video clips.

High quality video, new song “The Beat Goes On”

“Like a Prayer”

Dancing with an Israeli flag:

Here’s a classic clip of Madonna and the “Wayne’s World” guys, circa 1990:

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