Friday, June 09, 2006

 

Where in the World is Our Man in LA?

"It's been a long time since you wrote in the blog," Our Woman in LA mentioned to me the other day.

She's right, of course. A lot's been going on around the Wieland household, and as a result, the blogwork has suffered. I never meant for it to go down like this, you understand. But Our Man in LA hasn't even found himself at home in Southern California over the past few weeks, so that's meant no Tuesday Top Fives, no waxing in a semi-literate manner about THE REPLACEMENTS and the Mighty Mighty Longhorns.

Hell, it's even meant no ranting about LOST, for which Our Woman in LA should be grateful.

But look, as I get ready for a relaxing weekend, I'm back on the dole, ready to go, ready to spread the kind of ranting SoCal mirth that you're all used to. This weekend, Steph and I are celebrating her birthday in San Diego - deeper into the belly of the beast that is the Southland. So there'll be lots to report.

First, though, where have I been, and what have I been doing when I haven't been wasting part of your workday with an embarrassingly long and drawn-out blog posting?

You know, making a pilgrimmage to the Holy Land. Stuff like that.

But, you know, for work.

That's right, ladies and gents. Our Man in LA's new gig at the YMCA of the USA called for him to go to Jerusalem for about five days, to take in the sites, learn about our youth leadership programs over there, get a general sense of things. The lay of the land. You know.

Jerusalem's an amazing place. All of Israel is. I got to wander the Old City, meet some amazing people, and even step into the West Bank and Ramallah, where things are totally different than I could have imagined. More on that later. So glad I got to go. Can't wait to go back (probably later this year). Wouldn't change a thing about the whole trip, other than the 22 hours of air travel it took to get there, and the two and a half hours I spent being interrogated by Israeli authorities at Ben Gurion Airport (totally like something out of a Cold War-era B-movie spy thriller). More on that later, too.

For now, I think I'll let the photos do the talking for me. If you read this blog from time to time, you know that I'm no stranger to the long post. If a picture really tells a thousand words, than this is already shaping up to be a long one.

So here goes.



This is a map of the Old City of Jerusalem, painted on a tile in the lobby of the Jerusalem International YMCA, where I sometimes work. I might have mentioned that it's basically the only place in the whole country where people from all three of the major religions and cultures can gather peaceably.

How about some more?



This is the Jerusalem International Y itself, a grand tower on King David Street, right across from the King David Hotel. Designed by the guy who also designed the Empire State Building.





These are just a couple of cool random shots of the place. One is the Western Wall, where Jews, Christians, and Muslims all go to pray to their version of God. Been that way for centuries, and let's hope it'll be that way for a long time to come. The other shows the "skyline" (of sorts) of the Old City, with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the background.

That's the church that, allegedly now, was built over the sites where Jesus was killed on the cross and then laid to rest - maybe for only a couple of days. Our Man in LA doesn't have much to say about dogma and religion except when it serves his ability to make fun of the TV show LOST, so feel free to argue about the Jesus supposition elsewhere.

Finally, Our Man in LA thought he'd bring it back around with a few words from the original sponsor of the Jerusalem International Y - the man who dedicated the building, Lord Edmund Allenby, 1st Visount of the British Empire, Field Marshall, hero of World War I, and so on.

This plate, displayed out front of the JIY, expresses what Allenby had in mind for the place way back when. It still encompasses the JIY's vision today:



It'd be pretty dumb of Our Man in LA to try to top a First Viscount. So there it is. Quite a trip, with lots to talk about.

See you soon.

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