Archive for November, 2012


November 8, 2012

Okay, so I’ve just seen that Al Sharpton credits his weight loss to “vegetarianism,” but seriously, did anyone else not watch the election coverage and worry that Al had developed a wee amphetamine habit?

This ain’t just broccoli.

I’m very worried about the Reverend.  Who will keep it real if he kicks the bucket?  Who will tempt us with threats to run for President?  Who will make surprise appearances on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Saturday Night Live?  Ain’t nobody to replace the Rev!

Three Random Things

November 6, 2012

1. I hate this category the most of all my blog categories, but please please please buy me this for Christmas:


2. My beloved is working at the voting centers in Virginia, and when I asked him how it was going, here is what he said:

“nutso super busy these people are crazy talk later”

Seems about right.

3. My blog is getting WAY more hits the past few days than normal, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I mentioned MM Schneerson.  So!





Keep ’em coming, folks.

Once Again…

November 6, 2012

Check out what’s happening at BAM Cinematek this week:

Hello movie lovers!

This weekend, BAMcinématek’s Puppets on Film series returns by popular demand. One of the best attended programs of last year, this interactive, family-friendly series will feature live performances and workshops for children, a confetti-filled Labyrinth sing-along, Oscar-winning favorites like Babe and Jurassic Park, and unsung gems like the visually stunning Strings.

The week kicks off, though, with our week-long run of Quadrophenia (in a pristine 35mm print!), a classic portrait of British mod culture featuring music from The Who’s epic double album.

We hope to see you here!
—The BAMcinématek Team

Nobody panic.  I’ve already contacted BAM about next year doing A Muppet Christmas Carol.

The Rebbe and Gertrude Stein

November 4, 2012

On Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s time in Paris:

“Hotel Max [where the Rebbe lived] was located moments from the junction of the boulevards Raspail and du Montparnasse, where at a cafe called Le Select one could find the most outrageous bohemian behavior; the Scheersons had chosen to live in what was an extremely colorful area.  The other nearby cafes –– places like La Coupole, a favorite of Sartre and de Beauvoir, Le Dome, and La Rotonde –– were also gathering places for existentialist writers and surrealist artists.  Until 1939, this neighborhood teemed with writers and artists from all over the world.  Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas held court at 27 rue de Fleurus, only a five-minute ride away.  Philippe Halsman, the photographer, had opened a studio in Montparnasse in 1934 where people like Gide, Chagall, Malraux, Le Corbusier, and many other writers and artists came to have portraits made.  Between the wars, rue Campagne-Premiere, two blocks from where the Schneersons lived, was the haunt of such artists as Picasso, Modigliani, Miro and Kandinsky.  Could the Schneersons and the Horensztajns have remained completely ignorant  of this life around them?  Did they want to be?  Did they never walk the boulevards, stop in the cafes, visit the galleries, or feel the energy around them?  Had this couple who stayed out late in Leningrad while they were courting and who may have attended the theater there become homebodies in interwar Paris?”

The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson by Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman

FOILED Part a Million

November 2, 2012

I pitched recently a story to an editor of mine about the Haredi Jewish desire to eradicate technology, specifically the Internet and smart phones. Here is my pitch, briefly:

You’ll know, of course, about the battle the Hasidic world is waging against the Internet.  In late May, more than 50,000 Hasids attended the first Anti-Internet asifa at Citi-Field, and similar smaller events were held in London, Zurich, Vienna, and Antwerp in the first week or so of September.  (This, of course, is in addition to the myriad smaller ways various rebbes/rabbis urge followers to abstain from Internet use or, at the least, use filtering software.)  Most of the analysis up until now has been “Of course, religion hates free speech!”  But I’d like to use the 100-page-plus booklet handed out at the first asifa –– which I’ve read twice –– and other sources regarding the secular culture’s attitude toward the Internet to compose a piece directed at the issue from another angle, namely, “Why We Should Approach the Internet Like Hasids.”

And my editor’s response:

I think, honestly, this doesn’t quite work for us either. Thing is, we’re very conscious of engaging with discussions that are taking place at any given time, so this is an idea that may have worked well in the days leading up to, or just after the large Hasidic gathering. But for now it doesn’t seem pegged to anything on people’s minds.

And yet AND YET… today, in Tablet, an article by Liel Leibovitz who I love perhaps to an extent that is sort of creepy, entitled “iPhones Are Bad for You: What the ultra-Orthodox campaign against smart phones as a ‘spiritual Holocaust’ gets right about technology.”  (Full article here.)


“The rabbis, then, have it right. Their reasons for banning smart phones may be different—they are primarily concerned that device owners will use them to access corrupting content like pornography—but their hearts are in the right place. We may not want to follow their advice and banish our iPhones altogether, but we should heed their warning and realize that our new shiny forms of connectedness come at a steep spiritual cost.”

He basically took my thesis!  Instead of being annoyed that he did this, though, I’ve decided that I’ll be happy that Liel and I are on the same wavelength.  (If he were here right now, I’d point my fingers at my eyes, and then silently at his, as if to say, “I’m watching you, LL.”)

PS I’m confused because I’ve always pictured him as a little old man, and yet…

Neither old nor particularly little?