Typewriters that heal

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You can see more of my artwork and artistic services at www.alfassibooks.com.

The Magic Bagel is an interactive children’s book I co wrote with my daughter Maayan.

I helped about 20 writers to find typewriters, I’m not in touch with most of them but I know of a lot of great writing that was produced.
Here are some of the colorful handmade sketchbooks I make from old record covers, you can see more at the Alfassi Books website

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Protest songs, protest letters

Bush is no longer a president, but this song is still powerful. Young said he read an article about the war in Iraq and started to sob, soon he wrote “Living with War”, not the most mellow protest album out there. He said he looked at the younger musicians and they didn’t say much against the war, so at the age of 61 he did it himself, and later toured with CSNY around the country and made a documentary about it

As far as I know, the only Israeli mainstream musician who sang more than 3 protest songs in his career is Shalom Chanoch. His last protest song was sang in 1997 – “A person is a person don’t call me a nation”. After the first Intifadah (1987) many Israeli singers vocalized what they think of the Israeli army treatment of Palestinians, like Nurit Galron (“Don’t tell me about a girl who lost her eye”) Shlomo Arzi (“we haven’t learned anything, apparently”) Si Himan (“I didn’t ask for a green plastic hero”) and Chanoch (“your enemy is just like yourself”). But soon after, a political silence came and there are almost no anti-war songs written in Israel these days, similar thing is happening in the US. Therefore Young’s voice is so special.

As a snail mail artist (yes, there is such thing, you can see some of my art here) who send a lot of letters to Israel and to the US, I often try to make political statements using the old fashioned method. Maybe it’s a form of a protest letter, I’m not sure.

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(a sketchbook made out of old record cover, see more of them here)
Lincoln: Who said “it’s better to burn out than to fade away”
Hendrix: Ecclesiastical?
Bird: Pirkey Avot?
Joplin: Mussolini?
Lincoln: What’s up with you? Are you on drugs? It was Neil Young in his masterpiece album ‘Rust Never Sleeps’
Lincoln: Abe, you forgot to mention that Young didn’t write it about anyone specific but about the spirit of the Rock’nroll, even though Kurt Cobain quoted it in his suicide letter

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Hendrix: What’s up Abe?
Lincoln: I’m worried
Joplin: is it because of the Israeli Palestine art world?
Hendrix: it must be the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, he’s a lefty
Woman: He doesn’t answer. Hang him!

Reflection of the recent restrictions on the freedom of speech in Israel and Palestine

See more talking stamps at http://alfassibooks.weebly.com/blog/comics-stamps

Don’t call me a nation / Shalom Chanoch 1997

If you come by our block

You’ll see an old writing on the wall

“God, save me from faith”

There’s no chosen nation, only individuals

Not everyone is a full, not everyone admits it

These are Jews, so are these

A person is a person

Don’t call me a nation

Same diaspora here, I’m working for nothing

How many more soldiers  against one suicide bomber

Not of God, I’m afraid of you

Again you’re riding on the blood

Again you think you’re smart

If you didn’t notice, I’m here too

Need nothing from you, from them

A person is a person,

Don’t call me a nation

When flowers are blooming, kids are happy

Old enemies are brothers today

Heros are resting, borders are open

The dogs bark, the caravan goes on

A person is a person, don’t call me

Don’t call me a nation

If you come by our block

You’ll see an old writing on the wall

“Even reality needs protection,

God, save me from faith”

A person is a person,

Don’t call me a nation

 

Let’s impeach the president / Neil Young 2006

Let’s impeach the President for lying
And misleading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

Who’s the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
They bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war

Let’s impeach the President for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?

Flip – Flop
Flip – Flop
Flip – Flop
Flip – Flop

Let’s impeach the president for hijacking
Our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected

Thank god he’s cracking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lots of people looking at big trouble
But of course our president is clean.

Thank God

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Coming soon – Perspective, a short picture book memoir

 

 

 

“Perspective” is a short picture book memoir I wrote. Here’s the beginning, if you like it you can order a copy at Alfassi Books’ website.

Alfassi Books is a publishing house I started. It is based on the model of gift economy and offers children and adults literature and unique artistic services, like personal letters writing, alternative certificates and more.

 

Ori

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Coming soon, I hope to finish the booklet in a week. Order your copy here 

 

Ori

An Army Draft

I was ready to go to the army. I was preparing my bag when I suddenly got a phone call from the supervisor of my program who told me that there was some misunderstanding and I actually had two more months until my draft. It was a few months after my dad died, a few months before I lost my virginity. I think I smoked my first joint during those two months, at a festival with a few strangers. It made me laugh a lot. My second joint was inhaled during the second Intifada, about a month before the end of my army service. (I’ll never wear a soldier’s uniform again). A friend came by while I was patrolling the northern Jerusalem Hill that was our army base, between a settlement and an Arab village. It made me fantasize. I told him, let’s pretend I’m Arik Einstein and you are my musical partner, Shalom Chanoch. I arranged my hair accordingly and sang into the night. I don’t remember if he sang with me. In a southern industrial hill of Jerusalem, a little later, in some weird art school, I still had no sense of control over my life. Only when I returned to Brooklyn, a seedling of mine already in Ana’s belly, I got some

   I didn’t want to supervise Palestinians so they told me to do some office work instead of manning checkpoints. The office was a trailer with an old couch, a broken chair and a table. The soldiers who did checkpoints told me ID numbers of men they had arrested over the distorted phone and I was supposed to call someone who would decide what to do with them. I might have misheard some numbers.

Continue reading

Report cards for extraordinary students

A Snail mail lover confession

   In first grade I got punished for writing ‘they fucked’ in a story in my little yellow memo pad. I was trying to describe something I saw on TV, got sent to the principal office but was so scared I hid in the bathroom instead. Eventually a shrink stated that I was bored and should attend second grade.

  I find the artistic form of writing creative snail mail letters on old typewriters the most efficient, fun and effective way to politely tell my first grade teacher ‘fuck you!’. Whatever shame or other issues she had around sex, she didn’t manage to stop me from enjoying to write like a little boy who just learned that craft, though after that experience it took me twelve years to explore creative writing again.

  I enjoy writing letters. Especially in the past few years, as the Internet is developing so rapidly, I’m constantly exploring this ancient way of communication. I see text as material, like a toddler sees clay and letters and envelopes are one of my main playgrounds.

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במקום גניזה Instead of Gniza

 
(English after Hebrew)
 

 אינני שומר מצוות

אך יש במצוות הגניזה

משהו נוגע ללב, מרגש

ביחוד לחובבי ספרים, כמוני

פעם

מול התחנה המרכזית החדשה

בירושלים

היה מבנה נטוש, מאוד נטוש היה המבנה

היו מגיעים אליו כלמיני

 בעבר היה המקום

בית מדרש

אולי בגלל זה היו מוטלים בו

אלפי ספרי קודש

על הרצפה, משכב לחסרי בית

יורם אמיר, ידידי הצלם, הכיר לי את המקום

הייתי בא, תולש ספרי קהלת מן התנ”כים

ומבצע בהם מעשים אמנותיים

במקום גניזה

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I’m not

an observant Jew

but the Gniza mitzvah

in which we are commanded

to bury holy text

when we’re done using it

is very exciting to me

Once

in an abandoned building

in front of the central bus station

in West Jerusalem

thousands of books

Bibles, Talmud, Mishna

laid on the floor

as beds to homeless people

The building used to be

a Beit-Midrash once

My friend Yoram showed it to me

and I would come

 tear the book of Ecclesiastes

out of old Bible books

and make all sorts of art with them

instead of Gniza

Ecclesiastes text glued on an 18th century Jewish Musar (morals) book Mesilat Yesharim (path of the righteous) by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lutzato –

1Meaningless! Meaningless!
    says the Teacher.
2 Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.
3 What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.

Alfassi Books

PLEASE VISIT ALFASSI BOOKS NEW (AND MUCH NICER) WEBSITE at alfassibooks.weebly.com

For about five years I lived in a beautiful old building at 31 Alfassi St. in West Jerusalem. The house was falling apart. Balconies got dislocated from the building, walls had scary cracks in them and leaks occurred every time it rained. The owner wasn’t interested in renovation and tried to cut the cost of basic maintenance. Our building was populated mostly by students who shared the 6 apartments and was known for its great roof parties and Shabbat potlucks.

Once an architect student pointed out to me that the cursive stairway created sort of a pier that wasn’t usable for living but only for aesthetics, and today no developer would build such a space. Soon after that conversation we brought some chairs and speakers and hung some artwork on its walls and the old stair room became one of my favorite places in the building. New stair rooms are often narrow, ugly and functional while the old ones are often beautiful and give an ease to the soul when you’re using them.

    When the owner demolished 31 Alfassi St. and turned it into a condominium, I was already in Brooklyn. Like all of my friends who used to live there, I felt sadness in my heart, almost as if a friend passed away. The building had personality, the walls could tell our stories and we had so many precious moments that took place within those old brick walls. On my next visit to Jerusalem, it was already a construction site and I couldn’t get in. Jerusalem has lost many of its most beautiful buildings over the past decade, often to much higher and uglier buildings than the luxurious condominium that is now 31 Alfassi St, which is ugly in its own unique way.

Alfassi Books is a named after that building and it’s a publishing company that celebrates the opportunity of having old and new dwell together. It offers an artistic metaphor of what a renovation of 31 Alfassi St. might look like. Alfassi Books is devoted to writings and art projects that combine old and new ways of creative expressions like typewriters and Facebook, old records and ebooks. Alfassi Books offers services that seem to disappear, like snail mail writing help, but doesn’t hesitate using modern technology such as this website in order to show them.

Alfassi Books is an independent publishing house based on the gift economy model. 

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    Alfassi Books products are offered for free via snail mail (what?? Are you serious? yes! let me explain)

Alfassi Books is based on the model of gift economy. The blood bank, Wikipedia and Freecycle are examples of gift economies, where people give their knowledge, blood or belongings not in order to receive money but for other reasons, usually to help strangers they’ve never met who might benefit from their action. There are many variations of gift economy. I chose to offer both a sliding scale if one wish to pay for a book/service and offer an option of giving some of your own time/money/talent to another cause you’d like to support. I wish to value art not as a commodity and I believe this model reflects that. Using that model I managed to raise $500 to Doctors Without Borders from the sales of the first Magic Bagel book, that I dedicated to a friend of mine who passed away a short time before he was supposed to start practicing medicine. I do have costs and spend a lot of time making this art, and I wish to at least cove my costs.

I don’t want to price the booklets and the services – each price might be too much for those who can’t afford it or too little for those who might not value something that is cheap. As for the letters writing service, some letters were rather silly or light and some were equivalent to a therapy session, some were very meaningful and helpful to the writers and some weren’t as much. I leave the pricing of such service to the receiver to decide how much it was valuable to him or her.

An average booklet cost me about $0.50 to make plus postage ($0.50-$0.70 within the US and $1.15-$2.20 abroad). Magic Bagel booklets are pretty fast to assemble while creating a sketchbook using a record cover is pretty time consuming. You can decide for yourself how to price such art based on how much you might pay for it. In book stores such booklets can go anywhere from $2 to $20. You’re welcome to either give something based on the hypothetical price you’d made or try to imagine the worth not in terms of money but in other terms that may speak to you depending on your point of view – love, energy, creativity, art, ideology, faith etc.

    I’ve decided to give that model a try. If you’re interested the booklets, you’re welcome to order them and either make a paypal donation that’ll help me make more booklets or support a good cause that’s important to you by giving some of your talent/money/time for free. creating these booklets is a true joy to me and I’d like to explore the idea that art is, after all, priceless.

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Sketchbooks and journals made out of old record covers

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“Facebook Statuses”, a collection of my writings on Facebook. Mailed inclusively via snail mail.

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“The Incredible Story of The Magic Bagel”, and “Around The World with The Magic Bagel”, interactive children’s stories that takes place in Beacon NY and feature a special kind of bagel with special powers. 

10177238_754648517911371_8574805603373609050_nThe Magic Bagel booklets

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A thank you letter from “Doctors Without Borders”

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Talking stamps

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 Part of “Letters, of all sorts” and a free service I offer occasionaly

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Learn more about The Magic Bagel at themagicbagel.com

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2 letters from an on going art project, more details at “Letters, of all sorts”, a new snail mail letters collection. . Available through Skype as well. Please contact if you need help in writing a letter and for more details

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families

 

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From “A Jew Killed”, a short picture book memoir by Ori Alon

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Work day at Alfassi Books

 

Coming soon – “Letters, of all sorts”, a collection of letters and artwork by Ori Alon

 Alfassi Books products are available by snail mail upon request (you can fill up this form or email oribeacon@gmail.com)

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Alfassi Books by Ori Alon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at themagicbagel.com.