King David Menby Eyal de Leeuw | 05.02.18
Eyal Rob is a busy bee. A respectable DJ, music producer and a writer. He also teaches at IDC and gives lectures at various US universities about Israeli culture & music. In recent year his Instagram feed is full with street style photos of elderly guys, reminding us there is timeless style, putting the Normcore trend in its true essence.
Hi Eyal! thanks for your time. Can you tell us please what made you take those photos in the first place?
We moved to my late grandparents apartment at King David blvd. 2 years ago. I was amazed to notice that both neighborhood and it’s residents were pretty much the same as I remembered from my childhood days, almost 30 years ago. Myself, being an avid walker with a tendency to gaze at people while doing so, I’ve noticed a certain characterization of old school, often classy, sartorial aesthetics. Seeing those local gentlemen, made me miss my grandfather, who was the most elegant person I have ever known.
Knowing you I can also see this project as a statement on local culture and society – tell me a bit about your fascination with those old-school gentlemen.
Tel Aviv is a true youthful magical city, with its own legacy and culture. However, you wouldn’t immediately associate ‘Elegance’ with our over heated climate, only to be amplified by the ‘no personal space at all’ middle eastern attitude. Nostalgia aside, I consider those gentlemen as the ones who stayed true to their code. Unlike future generations Tel Aviv’s men, they didn’t go for flip flops comfort but maintain their elegance and wear it with grace. In a sense, they didn’t succumb to the time or to the climate. Elegant stubbornness. I’m just fascinated with old people, love to listen to them, learn from them and look at their manners with utter respect. When we interact, I’ve noticed that i really need to slow down. Way down. It could be slow down my walking pace, decrease my speech rate, and lay off from being consistently online. So I guess – take it slow – could be another potential theme for this series.
How do you, if it all, approach them?
For most cases, I’ll see them from a far and just politely wait for them to slowly pass by, so that I can quickly take the shot. It’s all done with my rather old fashioned IPhone 6 cam. I don’t ask them to stop and pose or ask their permission. Some will be seeing me noticing them and seem encouraged by that, nodding their head or give a hint of a smile. A few will engage in conversation, those are the ones sitting on a bench or walking their dog. None of them ever asked me to see the picture. Very often people tend to ignore the elders. Sometimes out of gerontophobia (fear of getting old) or just being themselves – too busy and always on the run. It feels like elderly folks are outcasts from daily urban life, and that saddens me deeply.
I know you recently became a dad (Mazaltov!), perhaps this spontaneous project is a generational thing?
Thanks bud. such a radical experience, early stages of fatherhood, and yes, I couldn’t agree more about the generational factor. I guess being a dad, the second crucial millstone in my life since my birth, had sharpened this notion. My own dad is a grandfather now and I come closer than I probably ever was to gain elderly intelligence and responsibilities. With the risk of sounding like a cliché, fatherhood made me feel closer to them. Walking King David Boulevard with a newborn son in the baby carrier sets you to a slower, more relaxed walking pace, just like the old folks do. So now, we are walking together. Kinda grounded me to life’s bare essentials, life & death, realizing that more than ever, I feel like I’m on their side now. In a way this on- going relationship with old aged people and raising a child now, somehow made time my friend rather than my opponent.