January 19, 2019

Florentin: 10 things I learned about Tel Aviv’s hippest neighborhood on Guy Sharett’s walking tour

The slow yet steady gentrification of Tel Aviv's Florentin neighborhood is hardly news around here.

Florentin, a Los Feliz-sized patch of warehouses, workshops, bakeries and bars — “>an entire 13-pager on Florentin as “a key-space where to observe and decipher how globalization impacts on the daily-life scale and banal forms of identification and territorial appropriation.” Yikes.

All of which made it difficult for this recovering snarky news blogger to resist tagging along on “>New York Times “>an Israeli fisherman's village upbringing any hipster would die for, and knew his way around Florentin like the Little Mermaid around a quirky shipwreck.

In short: I had a lot to learn. Below are the top 10 things I'm glad I now know about Florentin that I didn't know before.

“>Nitzan Mintz, a local street artist who regularly stencils Hebrew poems onto telephone poles and other outdoor surfaces. Sharett said that she was once caught in the act by some policemen, who then proceeded to live debate over whether her half-finished poem would be considered art or vandalism. As the story goes, they decided it wasn't, yet still wouldn't let her finish the piece — so she had to come back in the shadows of night to top off her poem.

Still better than we can say for “>Anita Falali (or אניטה פללי in Hebrew), an Israeli singer and former underwear model who in her prime was known as “the ass of the country,” has become one of Florentin's finest local characters. She walked by with her little dog during the tour, giving a coy ex-model wave to our guide as he explained the nuances of a manhole cover inscription at our feet. It was all very… Venice Beach.

“>Which exists.

5. The rundown maze of warehouses and artist workshops, and even a longboard factory, on the west end of Florentin — known widely as the “workshop area,” or “that cool part of Tel Aviv with all the graffiti” — is scheduled to be torn down and replaced with modern buildings in the next few years, according to Sharett. This helps graffiti artists feel more free to scrawl as they please, but is obviously depressing because, R.I.P. everything awesome in Tel Aviv that isn't a skyscraper. 

“>Dede; the one who does the gangster eggplants is Eggplant Kid (EPK); the one who draws the tiny box people is “>the Florentin 28 apartments. He also happened to be the neighborhood psychologist. “We would come to fix our shoes and talk about life,” said Sharett. Tragically, though, the shoemaker recently died, and all that's left of his practice is a tattered paper obituary taped over the door.

1. There is such a concept as the “archaeology of graffiti,” and Sharett would love to tell you about it. Worth the 50-shekel tour fee in itself, even if I feel a little geekier for knowing it.