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Interview with a Stranger

By Mariano Wainsztein

Born in Argentina and raised in Israel, LABA fellow Mariano Wainsztein is now a New York-based composer. He and his band the Ivankas will perform at LABAlive 2: LIFE + DEATH, Thursday, April 18th, 7.30pm at The Theater at the 14th Street Y. Get your tickets now.

The Ivankas current song-cycle is based on the poetry of another Israeli expat, Ha Loazy.* (Hebrew for “the Foreigner” or “the Stranger.”) Wainsztein explains his obsession with the poet:

In the early 2000s, during my first years as an Israeli expat in New York City, I became severely addicted to the poetry of Ha Loazy. His ability to seamlessly integrate the most profane aspects of the Israeli experience into a sensual and economical form resonated with me in a way that has forced me to compose music for his verses, thus making them my own.

I met with Ha Loazy in Stony Point, New York, in a little vegan café called Cunningham’s. He is in his late 40s, slightly shabby but with a hipsterish quality — he wore jeans, button-down shirt, a worn leather jacket, and clearly hasn’t had a haircut or shave in a while.

He claimed that this is the first interview that he has given in many years. He had three ground rules: first that I interview him in English, and second that we do not discuss any aspects of his private life, and third, no pictures.”

To hear the Ivanka’s version of the Ha Loazy poem “Targeted Prevention,” click here.

Mariano Wainzstein: It’s been 20 years since you left Israel. Do you miss it?

Ha Loazy: Miss it?!

Do you wish sometimes you were in your natural environment, you know, the only place in the world where people speak Hebrew?

There’s nothing more natural than to forget and move on. I can still smell it though, the dusty moist and misty musk of the Israeli dawn. In terms of whatever they speak about over there, it doesn’t make any sense in any language. What a sentimental question. I forgot that you’re a journalist.

I’m not a journalist.

Well you are now!

True. I’m sorry, let’s change topic to my band, the Ivankas.

What about them?

Are you happy with the music? With the way your lyrics sound?

Mariano, are you fishing for compliments? I couldn’t care less about your foolish band and the popular music you compose.

Prog-pop.

Huh?

Progressive Pop. That’s the kind of music I compose.

Who cares?

Okay, so let’s not talk about the band. Your poems are why we’re here.

What about them?

Where does your inspiration come from?

From the way humans abuse language. They use language to conceal rather than reveal. Most people do including, some 99% of those who call themselves “poets.”

Are there any poets you admire?

Of course. But mostly those who never considered themselves poets.

Such as?

That would be gossip. I’d rather not.

You must be kidding. There must be a list of books you’d take with you to a deserted island.

To a deserted island? I’d make sure to take a weapon in order to end my own life painlessly.

When I first contacted you, you told me to lose your number. What made you change your mind?

I listened to the recordings. It will help your fragile little ego to know that I liked your recordings. To hear my poems in a completely different light. The sound of the Ivankas was shattering to me in the best sense of the word. Your rendition of “Administrative Detention” made me high for hours. I had never felt so helpless.

Are you a Zionist?

The Zionists desecrated a language. They took words that were divine law and demoted them into prose. I took leftovers of that Zionist prose to compose some rhymes. I guess that makes me a Zionist songwriter.

I never heard you refer to yourself as a songwriter before.

That’s your bad influence.

Are you married? Do you have children?

This interview is over. I need to pick up my laundry. You’re paying the bill, right?


Targeted Prevention

by Ha Loazy
Translated by Mariano Wainsztein

From the memory of your dark figure
The grace has not eroded.
Just sand and sand — real estate fantasies!
A moment of stone fear rolling over liberty or worship.

If you meant targeted prevention how come you didn’t snip?
Why did you hesitate? Why didn’t you tear me instead of blooming?
If you got confused within implicit courtship, how come you didn’t dare? 
Why did you sweat? Why didn’t you open me alive?

From the memory of your elusive voice
The echo has not faded.
There’s no verse without chorus to a tower and a wall.
Balance and weight on a scale that was hanged by a string to the sounds of cheer.

If you meant targeted prevention how come you didn’t snip?
Why did you hesitate? Why didn’t you tear me instead of blooming?
If you got confused within implicit courtship, how come you didn’t dare? 
Why did you sweat? Why didn’t you open me alive?

To remember the belligerency of your soul
It is the end that hasn’t come yet.
Tiny with a mustache or mighty with a beard,
Rocky baldness and a sacred heart that shreds a people with blood.

If you meant targeted prevention how come you didn’t snip?
Why did you hesitate? Why didn’t you tear me instead of blooming?
If you got confused within implicit courtship, how come you didn’t dare? 
Why did you sweat? Why didn’t you open me alive?

סיכול ממוקד/ הלועזי
מוזיקה/ מ. וינשטיין 

מזכרון דמותך השחרחרה 
לא נשחק החן
רק חול וחול
הזיות הנדלן 
רגע של אבן
אימה מתגלגלת לה
.חופש או פולחן

אם התכוונת לסיכול ממוקד
איך זה שלא צלפת 
?למה היססת
למה לא קרעת אותי 
?במקום לפרוח

אם התבלבלת תוך 
חיזור מרומז 
?איך זה שלא העזת
?למה הזעת
למה לא פתחת אותי 
?חי

מזכרון קולך החמקמק
לא דהה ההד
אין בית בלי פזמון 
למגדל וחומה
שיווי ומשקל 
בסולם שנתלה
על מיתר 
.צלילי תרועה

אם התכוונת לסיכול ממוקד
איך זה שלא צלפת 
?למה היססת
למה לא קרעת אותי 
?במקום לפרוח

אם התבלבלת תוך חיזור מרומז 
?איך זה שלא העזת
?למה הזעת
למה לא פתחת אותי 
?חי

לזכרון לוחמנות נשמתך 
טרם בא הקץ 
קטנה עם שפם 
או גדולה עם זקן 
טרשים עם קרחת
ולב מקודש
שמרטש
.עם בדם

אם התכוונת לסיכול ממוקד
איך זה שלא צלפת 
?למה היססת
למה לא קרעת אותי 
?במקום לפרוח

אם התבלבלת תוך 
חיזור מרומז 
?איך זה שלא העזת
?למה הזעת
למה לא פתחת אותי 
?חי

*Ha Loazy is a completely fictitious character. Happy Purim!




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