The Corner

More Re: Mike’s Place

From a Corner reader (“IDF guy” his title of choice) who has served in those parts:

It is one convenience store away from the extremely well-secured American embassy. It is owned by two Israeli/American brothers–Assaf and Gil and caters almost exclusively to American expats–tourists, long term residents, embassy staff and even American forces ages 18-80 (literally). Assaf plays the blues in a band called Southbound Train, a band that has given many of us who have spent time in Israel a desperately needed taste of home. He is also a consummate bartender in the “Sam Malone” style.

They throw one heck of a Fourth of July party.

Mike’s Place started in Jerusalem where it was the bar of choice amongst a generation of American kids spending their junior year abroad at the Hebrew University. Mike’s was one of the only bars to have survived the horrible blow that the Jerusalem (and Israeli) hospitality industry has encountered since the intifada started. Their expansion to a second Tel Aviv location on the beach at a time when there are almost no new bar openings defied conventional wisdom, but was a natural as many of us “seculars” find ourselves spending more time in Tel Aviv.

Do any of you out there know the Talking Heads song “Heaven”?…well that is Mike’s Place…everyone knows you, they’re always playing your favorite song, but in the end nothing really happens–and that’s precisely what is so great.

I really don’t know what to say… so many people I know (myself included) have had so may great times there. People have met their wives there. It’s the only place where you can see a yeshiva student from LA, an African-American soldier, and an Israeli just back from Thailand sharing a stage belting the lyrics to Sweet Home Alabama “where the skies are so blue.” Mike’s had become a really important and unique part of the thriving and important live music scene in Tel Aviv that keeps many of us grounded. Hebrew not spoken here, yet frequented by Israelis who love the Americans that hang out there and American culture.

I wish I could have waxed more eloquent for your readers, but at this point I’m still waiting to go through that inevitable wince we all get when we first see that the names of the victims have been released. I just hope my buddies are OK.…

I don’t want to make any accusations about why this bomb went off here and why now. But whoever bombed it knew exactly what this place was and what kind of people were in it. It should give Americans pause to think.

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