Welcome To The Sprawl?

The clunk of another Uzi joining the pile on the table sounded louder than the music that filled the bar. There was little light except that from the wall-sized video-screen behind me, from which giant rock stars gazed down upon us. I was beginning to wonder when and how I’d stepped into a William Gibson novel, sitting here drinking beer and discussing how to set up web sites while men and women toting serious automatic weapons prowled around. My trench-coat fit the mythos, all I needed were the gaunt look and the mirror shades.

Well, that was my last night in Jerusalem! Not really quite as dramatic as it sounds. One of the things that suprised me when I arrived was that it was difficult to walk more than a hundred yards without meeting a group of people with M-16s and Uzis slung over their shoulders, or turning to talk to someone in a bar and spotting the holstered pistol on their hip. As a long-term shooter I got used to it in a few minutes, and given Jerusalem’s reputation for terrorism actually found it rather comforting to know that any trouble would be met with a hail of gunfire.

It’s still odd though that while in most of America taking a gun into a bar will get you locked up, in Israel everyone does it. And no-one gets shot. Maybe it’s just me, but the Israeli attitude seems much more civilised. If the price for that is widespread service in the armed forces, maybe that’s not such a bad idea after all.

Anyway, I’m on my way home after a long time spent with the security people at Ben Gurion Airport. They probably have the strictest security precautions in the world, for obvious reasons. Trying to explain the Net, technomadism, email, net.friendships, etc to them was not particularly successful, so I ended up in a back room having all my gear searched. I think I’m going to have to default-boot into DOS rather than Linux in future, since they booted my computer up and switched it off rather than shutting it down. Aaaaargh!

Well, goodbye from 35,000 feet over Europe. I’m going to get back to my whiskey and ginger ale, and slice up a few demons with a chainsaw in Doom! I could really get into this technomadism business. Cheers!

Hi From Israel!

Welcome to Jerusalem! I’m currently staying in the Capital Hostel near Zion Square. It’s really convenient, with loud techno music in the Jerusalem Underground club downstairs, and an Internet Cafe only a couple of minutes walk away. I’ve mostly just been wandering around so far, yesterday I went exploring the Old City, which is very Middle-Eastern and unusual.

I’m used to old cities, the city where I was born is nearly a thousand years old itself. But Jerusalem is celebrating its three-thousandth birthday this year, which puts it in another league entirely. While most of it is a lot like ‘America in the Middle East’, the older parts are very picturesque. There’s a lot of night-life, little of which closes before 2 am, but the beer is expensive, around $4 per pint!

The night before last I was dancing for five hours in the club, and it took a while to recover! It’s not a bad place, but gets so crowded at 2 am that it’s very hard to dance without bumping into people. Last night I discovered the local Internet Cafe and caught up on email, then finished off an article I’m writing for an Australian music magazine. Today I went to the Israel Museum, which is very impressive. Unfortunately, although I spent most of the afternoon in there I only got about half-way through the Jewish history/culture/art section. Now I’m going to have to go back tomorrow to finish it off. I also have to meet up with a guy who’s trying to get one of the local newspapers onto the Web, and wants to discuss what exactly he could do.

I’m back home on the sixteenth of February, then probably heading off for several months of travel early in April. I just need to pick up the last of my gear and sort out a plane ticket. I may even come back here for a few weeks to start the trip off.