Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ahoy Vey! Or, Will "Death to America" Be the "Yo Ho Ho" of the Future?

Last week, the Very Hot Jews celebrated the birthday of our dear friend Jim "Dinda" Dinda. His yogadelic babe lady-friend, Mollie, consulted Julia, Wife Of Simon, about how best to party up this auspicious event.

Dinda and Mollie, Wondercouple, enter le limo

If you know Julia, you will be unsurpised to hear her one-word suggestion: "PIRATES!"

And that, dear reader, is how the VHJs found themselves in the back of a cheesetastic, neon-veined, star-bespangled stretch limo, crawling through rush-hour clusterfuck on the I-5 toward that pirate mecca, Buena Park.

Remember when limos were a symbol of wealth? We remember thinking of them that way — when we were wee tiny Jewfants. But then everyone rented one for the prom and realization dawned: if any kid pulling 10 hours a week salting fries at McDick's can scrounge the dough to rent one, how rad are limos, really?

Mollie swears she asked for a "businessman" limo. To which the dispatcher said, "Sorry, they all have neon. But you can turn the neon off if you want."

Well, ultimately, we didn't want. Our desire to seem sophisticated or even (can you imagine?) businessman-like was squelched Godzilla-style by our need to bling out like video hoes on MTV2.

We wanted each pink 'n' green ocean wave detailing the side of our pimp ride to blaze proudly in strip-club-billboard-reminiscent glory. We fiddled with the radio — NPR? Who, us? Perish the thought! — until we found something with a bassline powerful enough to destroy an entire generation's ability to hear low tones.

Then we settled back into the plush pleather seats and popped open a bottle of Dom (which Sera used to wash down about 75 traffic-headache advils, because that's just how she rolls) and we watched the light show in the plastic ceiling, feeling a little more like a rapper on the way to the Vibe Awards than we ever had before.

Hebe Goddess Julia pours the bubbly while limo rattles alarmingly over freeway.

Every two minutes or so, we turned to one another with a look that said, "We are SO blogging about this."

And when Sera's phone rang and it was her agent calling to say she had a meeting with some British people about a thing, the limo erupted with cries of "She's on the phone to her agent! In a limo!"

We're that lame.

But hold on. Even our towering achievements in geekery cannot hold a candle to the epicenter of corn that we were even then approaching. Because B-Park's PIRATE DINNER ADVENTURE? It's the Buckingham Palace, the Kremlin, the Enterprise Bridge of Lame.

Have you been to Medieval Times? We haven't. But we imagine the PIRATE DINNER ADVENTURE falls squarely into the same category of faux historical Disneytainment replete with athletic yet not quite hot enough actors slumming it till they can score a brownie commercial and move the fuck out of Buena Park.

Here's what you need to know about the PIRATE DINNER ADVENTURE:

1. Pirates? Check.
2. Dinner? Technically.
3. Adventure? Not so much.

Your section, where you are served wilty lettuce salad and chicken and steak stew or chicken and shrimp in weird sauce, has a color. That color corresponds to the vest and pantaloons of one of the slick-chested actor-pirates. We were purple, and our pirate, sorry, was The Black Pirate. We don't feel too bad about reducing him to a purely racial descriptor, actually, because he didn't feel too bad about putting on some weird Jamaican-African mishmash accent and randomly singing "Daaaay-o!" (as in "The Banana Boat Song") for no reason while swinging from ropes attached to the "Pirate Ship."

Purple The Black Pirate was the smallest yet most handsomely built of the five color-coded pirates, and also the one with the superior skills. He was a real gymnast, leaping and tumbling and splatting gracefully. Hot. Very hot.

Jules LOVES pirates.

They served beer, and we lost the narrative thread, but we're fairly kind of certain there were wenches, and a kidnapped princess, and mean pirates as well as noble pirates. There was definitely a trampoline. There was some "American Idol"-style belting that showed a fearless indifference to pitch. A flintlock stage pistol was ocassionally discharged, as if to say, "SLUMBER NOT, YE COORS-BESOTTED TOURIST SCALAWAGS."

At one point, Blonde Frizzy Wench dropped her hoopskirt, revealing a raggedy Tinkerbell ice-dancer leotard, and proceeded to climb up a long swath of silk suspended from the ceiling. She did limber gymnast things while twirled up in the silk far above the drunken heads of the audience, prompting our pal Chris and his wife to exclaim, "Cirq du So Gay!"

There were moments that made it all worthwhile.

Yeah, that's kind of un-PC too. But we freely admit that we're totally that kind of gay on a Liberace-naked-on-a-bearskin-before-a-roaring-fire-flanked-by-supple-young-men-in-thongs-painted-on-velvet scale, so we're allowed to call things gay.

All Sera's pix came out this badly, but you get the gist.

Then Purple The Black Pirate did a triple aerial somersault off the trampoline ... and the other pirates caught him in a big canvas rucksack.

Simon leaned over to Sera and, in his best scared-little-boy voice, asked, "Mommy, why are the pirates putting the African-American man in a bag?"

It wasn't until five minutes later — when "dessert" (apple pie? Who can say for sure, but it sure was sugary, and lumpy, and some among us had multiple servings) was served and we beheld the pirates engaging in some serious stage combat consisting of knocking Purple to the floor and then kicking and beating him in eerily Rodney King-esque fashion — that the bigger picture became clear to us.

There is something very wrong with our culture.

Duh, you say? Well, Mr./Ms. High And Over It, we have one question for you. Seen any pirate movies lately?

Yes, we too would pay good money to watch Johnny Depp perform The Azusa Phone Book Letters A Thru G. We're not disparaging you for that. We're asking you to examine your thoughtless glamorization of pirates. Follow us here for a minute.

What we fear and what we fantasize about occupy adjoining neighborhoods in that kooky metropolis known as the Unconscious (not "subconscious," people — the psyche is not a high-rise). The things that fully creep us out invariably become domesticated. Witness the Frankenstein monster, a lurid and grisly being whose reanimated lumberings first scared the high holy crap out of moviegoers in 1931. By the late '40s the poor schmuck was a foil for Abbott and Costello.

A similar fate has befallen practically every squirm-inducing boogeyman, from vampires and zombies to muggers and serial killers. All drawn into the housebroken fold of genre spoofs and T-shirt slogans. All shiny rubber balls on the pop-cultural blacktop.

Pirates were the bad guys of the high seas. Basically, they sailed around looking for ships to hijack and rob — and after said plunderings, they'd either kill or impress into extremely non-Disney-like indentured servitude every hapless shmoe on board. They set fire to people's property and went a-rapin' and were, in general, horrible, nasty, sadistic sociopaths. You know how "cutthroat" is tossed around in those family-safe Pirate-ride flicks? Well, they actually cut people's throats.

In fact, they were what you might call terrorists.

Yet now everybody loves pirates. Really. Like, more everybody than the everybody that once loved Raymond. Folks line up around the damn block for those increasingly unwatchable Gore Verbinski blockbusters. Every little kid has "Dead Men Tell No Tales" underoos and a plastic cutlass with matching scabbard and Anaheim-style eye patch. Hot babes on MySpace advertise their upcoming pirate-wench appearances at comic book conventions. And people like us think nothing of slogging through rush-hour traffic for a pirate party in the O.C.

Just as others happily trek to nearby Medieval Times, where jousting and mead and pageantry erase the brutally violent, religiously extreme, disease-ridden nightmare of medieval history.

Which begs the question: what will the popcult funhouse of the future offer with its rubber chicken and bottomless pitchers? Ladies and Germs, we tremblingly present the Buena Park TERRORIST DINNER ADVENTURE! All singing! All dancing! Only when the bombs explode, no one will die. And there will be a trampoline. Oh yes, there will be a trampoline. And the grand finale involves a hydraulic stage full of syscrapers and a couple of airplane props. Sure, NOW it's too soon. But wait a couple of centuries. Or decades.

That's totally fine with us, just let's call it what it is. And also:

Just know that the time will come when the cool costume to dress up in and do wicked fight choreography will have jackboots. Five hundred years from now, if the Earth hasn't been all blown up and shit, party people might well pilot their space scooters to the Buena Park NAZI DINNER ADVENTURE. Sing it with me now! Yo, ho, yo, ho, death to all the Jews...

We're just saying.

It's kind of all the same: Celebrating brutal lawlessless as quaint and cute. Serving watery beer. Selling souvenir weapons. Beating up the one Black guy in the cast.

Look, even the most casual reader of this blog knows we love, live and breathe pop culture. But looked at from certain angles, it's ... oh, what's the word?

Totally whack. As in take-serious-shit-and-trivialize-it-whack. Take terrorists, make dinner theater. Take children, make them giant sexualized stars, then revel in their subsequent inevitable downward spiral into not-cuteness, drug addiction, the marrying of squicky backup dancers, calculated public underwearlessness, and other deathly serious what-have-yous that we blithely mock, never once considering that at the core of the chewy tabloid nugget lives a massively fucked-up young human whose pain gives us pleasure.

Damn, that was a long sentence.

Also: gross. Just, gross, people, gross like the sweaty, anachronistic tattoos on the naked backs of the color-coded pirates. Gross like Mojo's rubber chew toys after he coats them with French bulldog saliva. Gross to the tune of "Springtime for Hitler." Gross like taking the smoking, bone-strewn ruin that is human history and turning it into a fun theme park.

We'll resume our mountaintop Jeremiad about the sickness of our national conversation in just a moment ... right after we check in with defamer, Perez Hilton and Dlisted, and pop onto the phone for a quick reservation. We want to check out that Medieval Times. We hear the slave boys do a great little uptempo number, right after the one Black knight in the cast gets thrown off his horse.

Friday, March 23, 2007

How to Spend $75
(Wherein We Noodge You for Your Own Good)

It's pretty easy to find that the world has hoovered seventy-five clams out of your wallet, purse, mattress or whalebone-studded money clip.

You and your posse can spend it on about two rounds of drinks (before tip) at any Hollywood bar while straining to be heard above the latest Arcade Fire album and the cacophonous jingling of a million cell phones.

You can fork it over for a very average meal for two with no wine in an underlit boîte that overdresses the salads.

You can lay it down for some not-yet-assembled, piece-of-crap end table with a Swedish name, or a pair of socks from Barney's, or a lame gift basket full of indigestible baked "treats," or two months of fruitless online dating, or a Bedazzled frock for your shih tzu.

It's not really very much money, considering the underwhelming return on investment you can normally expect out of life.

Which is why we're writing to urge you to consider the value of a ticket to IN HAGGADAH DA VIDA, the stellar second-night Passover seder/feast/happening on Tues., April 3, which the Very Hot Jews are co-sponsoring (along with Reboot and Storahtelling) at hot L.A. club The Echo.

Go here for a larger image

Buy a ticket (although it's crazy to buy just one — bring your crew and share the love) and for once you'll truly get your $75 worth:

A hip, soulful, funny, interactive, modern, deeply meaningful seder ceremony conducted by young Israeli visionary/old soul Amichai Lau-Lavie. The founder of evening sponsor Storahtelling, he's one of a kind, with a fresh, deep take on the past but firmly rooted in the present, and blessed with a wicked sense of humor. This will be unlike any seder you've ever experienced, punctuated by ultra-modern stories, songs and observations. You'll leave inspired and energized, with new friends and an expanded sense of community.

An unforgettable feast — WITH WINE — provided by the culinary guerrillas of Ghetto Gourmet. When it comes to versatility and panache in the kitchen, the Ghet is as good as it gets, and when your taste buds first savor their version of the Passover meal, you'll experience a religio-orgasmic epiphany. And they'll serve it up to you with such grace that you'll feel like a mighty king. And don't forget the vino, selected for the occasion by local grape fiend and brainiac Brit Julian Davies (of The Echo's beloved Irregular Wine Tastings).

Fantastic live music by the splendorous Abby Travis, the magical Marvin Etzioni and others, incorporating the classic/psychedelic rock theme of the night and using some amazing tunes to further underscore the themes of Pesach in a way you never imagined possible.

The seismic turntable stylings of DJ Paul V, whom you may know from Indie 103.1, Bootie L.A. and Dragstrip 66, among other beat-mongering benchmarks. A master of the mash-up and guru of the groove, Paul has been a powerful force on the L.A. club scene for some years — and one of the first to get the kids shaking a tail feather to rock music again. He regularly rocks the Echo, but this is his first time doing it to commemorate a Jewish holiday, as far as we know. He's not an M.O.T., but he's definitely mishpuchah.

Comedy and spoken word from brilliant mensch Marc Maron, writer and hot Jewess Jill Soloway (Hello? She wrote for "Six Feet Under," people), the incomparable Ronna & Bev (whose new video is burning up YouTube), your favorite Very Hot Jews Simon and Sera, and more. These folks will not only add their wit and wisdom to the ceremonial richness of the holiday but will also be noshing and drinking and kvelling and schmoozing with you. It's unlikely that you've ever shared a table with so many hot, clever and accomplished Jews before.

Will you meet that someone special? Very possible. Will you make tons of friends and have the time of your life? You bet your ass. What's more, you can find the event itself and virtually all of the participants on MySpace — make friends with them now and leave a comment on their pages about how happy you are that you'll be attending.

So order your tickets today — or at the very latest by Mar. 28, so the Ghetto Gourmet folks know how much food to make for you nice people.

Don't make us come over there.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

All I Want From Jew Is Love

When the Very Hot Jews decided to investigate the key ingredients in Irresistible Jewish Hotness, certain ridiculously fine Hebes leapt immediately to our fevered minds.

Alluring Jewess Shana Levy is one of those. Her statuesque good looks and inherent cool allow her to taunt you with her very being in any crowd, regardless of how glutted with L.A. modeliciousness that crowd may be. Oh — and she's smart, funny and talented. And single, last we heard, though we assume there's a long line of Nice Jewish (or Jew-curious) Boys just waiting for a shot at the Shan-ster.

Shana, in other words, is a shayneh maidel. We vowed we would stop at nothing to bring her hotness to you.

Shana Levy grew up in sunny, Jewy Miami. She's not just Jewish (complete with charming, nutrition-centric Jewish mum) but also a first-generation American Jew. Her dad emigrated from Egypt. Hot.

She moved to the City of Angels for college, snapped up a degree in theater alongside the Sera half of the VHJ, performed in hilarious local theater productions (including one in which she and Sera starred as devoted lesbian lovers), and spent her scant off time putting her 13 years of classical piano training to good use on the Silverlake indie band scene. Her pile of witty lyrics and upbeat-yet-somehow-haunting melodies grew, and she had no choice but to use her power for good by founding Let's Go Sailing.

The sound of flesh straining against clothing that you are even now hearing is not what you think. Yes, we kind of get a boner for Ms. Levy, but what we're doing is bursting with pride. Because tonight, when you are watching Grey's Anatomy along with the other five billion people who need to know if Izzie and George actually banged or just slept together naked like girlfriends do sometimes, you will be hearing not one but two Let's Go Sailing songs.

Our personal fave, "All I Want From You Is Love," will be featured mid-melodrama; "Sideways" got the pimp spot — it's gonna play over that circle-jerk of tears known as the closing montage Grey's inflicts each week. (Go to their myspace to hear all these and more, plus ogle pics of Shana caressing her guitar.)

You know what this means. Oprah will be listening to Let's Go Sailing tonight.

What better time to share with you our searingly in-depth interview with Shana? Scrub up, people. We're going in the lab.

Profiles In Hotness: Shana Levy

Were you always a hot Jew, or did you go through an awkward phase/convert?

I was definitely not always a hot Jew. I was a chubby kid and a huge nerd.

When others praise your hotness, what particular attribute do they most often talk about?

They talk to me about my height and my overall ethnic hotness. I'm a huge Jew!

What do you believe is the key to your hotness?

That I started accepting my flaws.

Did you have a bar/bat mitzvah? If so, what did you wear? What was the most embarrassing this about it?

No, but I had a Gumby-themed 13th birthday party. My parents are pretty old school and bat mitzvahs aren't traditional, so I had the party instead.

I can't remember what I wore, but I ended up wearing the Gumby-themed "I had a blast at Shana's 13th Birthday Party" t-shirt on top of it by the end of the night.

If you didn't have a bar/bat mitzvah, how did you get whatever knowledge you have about Jewish tradition?

My parents and grandfather told me stuff and I went to school with A LOT of Jews in Miami Beach.

What kind of Jew are you, besides hot? Are you observant, just unusually witty and smart, or other? Please explain.

I'm not very observant but I try to fast on Yom Kippur. I think it's important to think about the stuff you did all year that was stupid. Other than that I have some very classic Jewish traits. I'm neurotic and I think I have some form of OCD.

Who is your favorite Hot Jew, besides us?

Tanya Haden.

Double hotness: Shana with Tanya Haden

Have you ever experienced antisemitism? If so, what was your very hot response?

I luckily have experienced very little antisemitism. I think my response to a comment about being a cheap Jew was "Excuse me?" Yeah, I showed 'em who was boss.

Was your family observant?

Yes, my mom lit the candles every Friday and we celebrated the high holidays.

How would you describe your religious or spiritual feelings, if any?
As an adult I realized life is easier when you believe in God.

Do you think your (hot) Jewishness played a role in your career path?

Yes, I think part of Jewish culture is a stress on education and hard work and both of those have helped me.

How frequently do you pepper your speech and/or writing with Yiddishisms?

I say a Yiddish word probably every day. My grandpa and mom spoke Yiddish to each other so it's part of my vocabulary.

Do you have children? If so, what specifically Jewish neuroses are you helping them cultivate?

No, I have cats, but one of them is already showing signs of OCD. I'm very proud.

What is your most secret Hot Jew Fantasy?

Me and Sasha Baron Cohen eating gefilte fish and holding hands ...

No, wait — my Gumby-themed 13th birthday party. Dang, I wish I could go back for just five minutes.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Go here for a larger image

Not to stress you out, but the time is now to make your rezzie for our second-seder extravaganza on Tuesday, April 3.

This is your big chance to actually have fun at a seder. Eat gourmet food (it's gonna be spectacular, and worth the cash), drink wine until you see animated Chagall images unfurling on the walls, experience the deeply entertaining stylings of those pictured on the flyer (most of whom can be found on MySpace, so you can make new friends before you even arrive), and soak up our ridiculous hotness.

If you are in any way shape or form living in, visiting or within a day's drive of Los Angeles, you really should make the pilgrimage. We believe this event is part of a fascinating, wonderful, humanistic, open-minded, philosophically bright, funny, sexy and soulful transformation of Jewishness. It's the next chapter.

We ache to see you there.

P.S. You can see a brand-new video from event participants and acclaimed self-help authors Ronna and Bev here. Words fail us.
What Do We Have To Be Happy About?
(by Sera)

First things first:

Mojo, as I mentioned before, had his munitions factory surgically removed last week. The vet sent him home in what I've been calling The Conehead but which is technically referred to as an Elizabethan Collar. When Mojo wears it, he becomes a bat with fucked-up sonar. He runs into things, he drags the bottom edge on the ground and then scares himself with the noise, he looks at me with a mix of self-pity and confusion: Why hast thou forsaken me?

So we decided to take it off him with the stern warning not to lick his nuts (or what's left of 'em) and lo and behold, he understands English including the vernacular for testes, and he's totally left himself alone.

Are you already bored of me talking about my puppy? If so, sorry. Sorry your heart is so ice-cold that not even the sight of this perfect manifestation of cute can thaw you.

In case you're wondering, the shaved bit on his arm is from the IV. And the look on his face? Well, that's 'cause we done took his jewels.

I talked to the vet the day after the surgery. He's a family friend, an earnest, excitable Polish immigrant running a pet hospital in San Bernardino. Judging by the waiting room the day I was there, San Berdoo boasts a highly inappropriate per capita share of the nation's pit bulls. They're cute when they're puppies, those li'l killing machines. It's all fun and games 'til somebody eats a toddler. My point is, Dr. Z's not only a nice Polish man, he also takes his life into his hands every day to serve the populace of SoCal and its cornucopia of hellhounds.

Anyway, so I call him the day after the surgery, and I go, "Mojo's just lying there. Is that normal?"

And Dr. Z goes, "He just had his testicles removed. What does he have to be happy about?"

This struck me as an incredibly Polish thing to say. In fact, "What does he have to be happy about?" was pretty much my parents' mantra about all things and people throughout my childhood. Sort of like — well, we survived the war, but it isn't like life's a fucking Chuck E Cheese.

There's an awesome Polish restaurant just down the street from my house, and they kindly provided me with another perfect example for you, dearest blog reader, of an Incredibly Polish Thing To Say. They recently hung a banner to advertise their happy hour drink specials. It invites passersby to the "Is Anybody Really Happy Hour?" The first time I saw it, I immediately called my mother. She cracked up, out loud, for approximately 0.8 seconds, which on the Polish scale of amusement falls somewhere between Tickled Giddy and ROTFLMAO.

I've been trying to parse the differences between the morose Jew in me and the morose Pole. It's a strange exercise. Both cultures wear this "We're bound to get fucked again" attitude like a waterlogged parka. I know Jews are all "Yes, shit happens, but why does it always happen to us?" But that specific tenor of We've Been Fucked Repeatedly feels different to me from the uniquely Eastern European brand of Yes, Of Course I'll Have A Vodka, Because Life Is Exactly As Shitty As Usual.

When my parents emigrated, they didn't go back to Poland for 25 years. That's because being Jewish in Poland is kind of like being Black in Lynchville, KKK County, Red State, USA.

I came with them on their first trip back to Poland. I was in college at the time. I watched them swallow down a pretty intense internal conflict: they were nostalgic for the country of their youth, but the country of their youth had treated them like shit. They'd been beaten up and called dirty Jews. Their own parents were trying to move on from the un-move-on-from-able: their friends, their cousins, everyone who didn't flee Poland in 1939? All dead.

So, suck city. The 'rents didn't feel at home in Poland when they lived there, but it remained the closest thing they'd ever had to a home.

Sime and I have written a lot in this here Hot Blog about the attributes shared by all us Jewsy types. My brother read it, and then called me to say he thought I had it wrong. "You and I have more in common with all those kids whose parents jumped the Mexican border than with Jewish families who have been here for three or four generations."

I've been thinking a lot about that. First of all, Ben usually talks about poker and chicks, so I was a bit surprised by the sudden introspection. And second, well, he's onto something.

I've always had a lot of Immigrant Kid friends. Perhaps this is fairly common in California, but my brother's comment prompted me to examine my relationships with all those I.K.'s. And I realized there's a reason we gravitate towards each other.

We know what it's like to grow up in two cultures at once — one at home, and one that began as soon as we stepped off the front porch.

We've been teased mercilessly for our difficult-to-pronounce surnames (no, Gamble isn't the last name I was born with. The name on my driver's license includes a "w" that is pronounced "v," an "i" that is pronounced "ee," and a "cz" that is pronounced "ch").

Whether or not our parents had money, nearly all of us were raised with the understanding that nothing we got came easy, and that our parents had to work way harder than their American colleagues.

We are almost always punctual. We experience great anxiety if we're running late. In general, we're trying to keep it together and be perfect in every way.

We are the force that Americanized our parents. And generally speaking, we yanked them in directions they were deeply ambivalent about.

We can talk to a wide variety of people flavors. Rich, poor, more or less melanin, jocks, geeks, we learned early to pick up social cues and blend.

We sound totally American. We are totally American. Some of us even look like regular old white Americans. And when you talk shit about someone's funny accent or clothes or customs, we may say nothing. But inside, we are taking it very, very, very personally. We would like to kick you in your stupid face.

Not you, of course. You'd never do that. But stupid people.

I went to that Jewish Day School — you know, when they showed us pictures of Auschwitz in the first grade? But I just gotta be honest with you here. I never felt like I fit in with all the other Jewish kids. I know, I know, I'm writing a blog about Jewishness. I'm supposed to be writing about how you and I and our Jewish pals in Tel Aviv and Tehran and Beijing are all hilariously similar, all slightly varied recipes of the same fantastic chicken soup.

But now you and I've gotten to know each other a bit. We've joined forces in celebrating the lusciousness of Rachel Weisz's breasts and Aimee Bender's prose, we've basked in our shared boredom in schul, we've swung bats in synchrony at the Very Hot Jew Perpetual Hitler Burning Effigy PiƱata.

So it's time to deepen the convo a notch. Talk about the ambivalent shit. It's time for me to tell you that when I'm in a big crowd of L.A. Jews, I don't always feel like I belong. I feel like my history is vastly different from most of theirs. (That even includes Simon. Obviously, we share many traits and get on like a house on fire, but there are also a lot of things about my background that I have to go into some detail to explain to him. And vice versa. And yes, maybe we could explain things more simply if we had the conversation before the tequila came out, but come on. Like we want to talk without our dear friend, Watermelon Margarita.)

Want to hear the funny part? I can only imagine you do. And by the way, thank you for hanging with me through so many paragraphs with no jokes. You're swell.

The funny part is, when you add up my Morose Jew DNA and my stressy Immigrant Kid childhood and my Existentialist Polish influence ... you get a pretty happy chick. Weird, right? I mean, it's not like I'm Little Miss Sunshine, but I'm not the Gay Proust Uncle, either.

Either the depressed Pole/oppressed Jew gene spontaneously mutated, or all their hard work being bummed finally paid off, because I seem to possess an unusually high amount of the "fuck it, this'll all work out somehow" hormone. I'm one of the most optimistic people I know. And I'm a writer. It's almost ... eerie.

I revel in discovering people's quirks. I love to hear folks speak broken English. I could write scripts full of cholas and Pakistanis all day. There is no cuisine I will not sample. Okay, well, I hear there's this nomadic people subsisting on rancid yak's milk, so maybe I'd draw the line there.

No, actually? I'd drink it. Life's short. Perhaps it is delicious.

All this is just to say: What about you, Jew? Do you feel like you belong? Are you One Of Us? What do you feel like you're One Of? That's what I want to know. What's your particular flavor?

And why aren't you shouting it from the rooftops?

Because "What do you have to be happy about?" is not a rhetorical question. That's what I discovered when I started writing about my very hot self right here. I discovered that when you stand up and declare yourself — it feels fuckin' hot.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sleep Is the New Sex

Of all the many kinds of abuse and addiction now available — because America is the greatest country in the world — Jews are most predisposed to prescription pill abuse. This is in part because we tend to view physicians as deities and will greedily swallow any bolus that comes in a little amber RX bottle.

We're also likely to gulp down sleeping pills, because we worry a lot and the wee hours tend to be when the little anxiety factory we call the brain starts mass-producing visions of loved ones dying in flaming wrecks or hangnails turning into metastatic cancer.

Not that we Yids are alone. According to the Prescription Access Litigation Project (PAL), the folks behind the Bitter Pill Awards, the top five prescription sleeping pills raked in $2.7 BILLION in 2005. "Sleep is the new sex," reads a quote on their site from Arthur Spielman, director of the Center for Sleep Disorders Medicine and Research.

Of course, sleep was designated the new sex waaaay back in 2006. By now, slumber has probably been knocked off its steamy perch by, oh, I dunno, knitting or vomiting or watching preteen girls eating spaghetti with chopsticks on YouTube. Nothing's the new sex for long.

The point is, Americans are popping Ambien and Lunesta and other yummy bedtime remedies like crazed toddlers tasting the Skittles rainbow. Which would be just fine if the drug didn't apparently cause them to rise from their pillows and somnambulate into their cars, embarking on joyless joyrides to they know not where. Frequently they go the wrong way on one-way streets and crash into lightposts; when the cops finally pull them over they seem blissfully unaware of what's going on and have no recollection of the incident afterward.

Yep, "sleep driving" is now a frequent occurrence. UNCONSCIOUS PEOPLE are padding out to their Ford Foci and snoozing their way onto the nation's roadways. The problem has become acute enough to cause the FDA — which, as a Bush agency, is normally inclined to allow pharmaceutical companies to boil children alive if they so desire — to step in.

Now this class of drugs will require special labels, lengthy supplementary instructions and possibly concerned facial expressions from Walgreen's dispensary employees. All of which will satisfy the 10-second news cycle but begs the question: What difference do these warnings make if, after reading them cover to cover, you pop an Ambien, slip under the ol' duvet and an hour later are barreling through the Holland Tunnel, stomping the accelerator with your footie pajamas?

To be fair, many of the worst instances resulted from folks mixing the current generation of sleep-inducers with booze, antidepressants and other mood-altering wild cards. But plenty of ordinary, directions-following patients also ended up driving, cooking, terrorizing planeloads of passengers and doing other wacky things while in the throes of a dreamless, pharmacological oblivion.

Upon reading about this, we Jews at first experienced the same mix of incredulity and opportunity that no doubt caused frissons in the ranks of the nation's comedy writers. But a clammy, dystopian light bulb of rationality quickly took its place.

The ephiphany was something along the lines of: Well, this explains everything.

It explains the narcotic political culture in which we plod on down an infinite corridor of corruption, aware we should be outraged but somehow unable to scream.

It explains the snooze-button salon of celebrity worship, wherein the world's dumbest pretty people sit on our chests like well-scrubbed succubi, commandeering our psyches with the rapacity of prospectors in the Gold Rush.

It explains the nightmarish papering over of every last vestige of space with advertising, the sponsorship of all things, the branding of every square foot until there is nothing that doesn't serve the message of some corporate giant.

It explains the syringes in the ocean, the chromium-6 in the water, the melting of the ice caps on which the polar bears are scrambling to escape the onrushing waves, the general cheerful flushing-down-the-loo of the world that sustains us, all permitted with the drowsy insouciance of a Lunesta road trip.

Welcome, in other words, to Sleep Culture. We've all just been dozing — yet still active enough to participate in our own impoverishment. Just ambulatory enough to drive to the polling place to vote for the vague smiling face that swore to protect us.

We are the Manchurian Citizen.

And you know who'd really appreciate it if we woke the fuck up? The polar bears.

The problem, of course, is that coming to terms with this waking horror really, really makes you want to down a couple of sedatives with a tankard of vodka.

So if you see us zooming over the 405 tonight, don't bother waving — it's our naptime.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More Thoughts on Hotness

Your loyal, lethally attractive Semite pals have spilled ink aplenty on this blog's crowning theme: What constitutes hotness, especially the Jewish variety?

We've delved into the damaged self-esteem of the proto-hot Jew, glumly hiding his/her light under the proverbial bushel — and we've brandished the burning mirror of truth.

We've proffered tips for cultivating and maintaining that hotness in the face of esteem-flattening photos of shiksa pop stars and phone calls from relatives.

We've delivered profiles of VHJs in our midst, complete with revealing personal insights and ravishing photos of smoldering Hebraic hotitude.

But there's so much work to be done.

And that work just got harder, because there's a new man in Sera's life and she's rather preoccupied.

His name is Mojo, and he looks like this.

The uninitiated might suspect that we're simply flashing cute puppy pics because it's an easy way to pad out a blog when in fact you've already chugged an aquarium full of Zinfandel and are out of ideas. But boy, would you ever be wrong.

Now, where were we? Oh, that's right; we're here to tell you that Jewish hotness is on the upswing.

We're here to tell you that the spectacle of waifish blonde singers shaving their hapless heads is a harbinger.

The sad sight of Fox News idiots foaming at the mouth is a signal.

The sorry tale of astronauts in diapers hauling ass over the highway is proof positive: The culture is ready for something else.

It's as tired and toxic as Brandon Davis stumbling sweatily out of Hyde at 6 am and barely managing to hoist his gut into the (luckily airbagged) passenger seat of Paris "I do it in the butt for coke" Hilton's gajillion dollar Whore Car while dozens of paparazzi just try to put their kids through school by snapping, snapping, snapping photos of every millisecond of the utter non-event.

Yes, our culture desperately requires something far removed from the white-bread, jailbait, powdered-suppository nightmare we've lived lo these past seven years.

We're ready for a renaissance of curly-haired, full-figured, sensuously verbal, playfully philosophical Judaic heat.

We're primed for dark-featured, mystically sexy, conversationally adept, Kabbalistic icons of desire, far from the desperate squawking of surgically enhanced, dancing-as-fast-as-I-can blonde anchorladies and helmet-haired political hatchet men.

Jewish hotness is on the rise. Hot Jews will storm the frigid battlements of conservative hegemony and plant a flag of freedom.

As surely as spring is in the air, the world is in for an infusion of smokin' Semitism. Will you recognize it when it arrives? Look for:
  • Brown-eyed talk-show conquerors who unravel the pathetic claims of would-be moralists with earthy good humor;
  • Ringleted troubadours whose songs neutralize the anxious narcissism of our time;
  • Proud-nosed citizen-leaders who pounce on bullshit like a cat ambushing a lizard;
  • Swarthy physicians with a cure for what ails us;
  • Shtetl-descended theoreticians wielding the Next Big Idea;
  • Eyebrow-wagging anarchists who defang the powerful with 100-proof nonsense;
  • Blogs that make you want to strip down to your underwear and tell the world: "I'm a Jew and I'm HOT!"

Keep your eyes peeled, world.

Okay, so you're dubious? You're not so sure Jewish hotness needing to be on the upswing is the same as it actually being on the upswing?

We understand. You've predicted the wane of Paris "If you enjoyed my drug-addled beaver shots, you'll love my snickering racist remarks" Hilton's appeal every year since she was fifteen, and when the AP recently ran a story detailing their efforts to ban all P-Hilt news for one single week — and failing — you threw up your hands in despair. You reached for the nearest analgesic (Merlot, Vicodin chaser) and drunkenly called your friends from oh, wherever, film school or schul or the dojo, and wept for the good old days when Madonna was considered disposable pop culture rather than a solid subject for a PhD thesis or, ancestors protect us, an emissary of Jewish mysticism.

In that case, let this blog entry be a rallying cry. There is a medicine for our ailing culture. And it's fantastic. The good stuff. Primo. When every channel on planet Earth obsessively covers the death of a spokesperson for Trimspa, AKA the second lead in Naked Gun 33 1/3, civilization requires a potent shot in the tuchus.

So: more Jews, please. We're begging.

More Jewish politicians, because Lieberman is stale as a month-old bialy.

More hot Jew singers, because if recent Pete Doherty impersonation photos are any indication, fantastically talented Hebe songstress Amy Winehouse ain't long for this world.

More hot Jewish actors (Sera suggests that specifically aiming to use the technology on Jake Gyllenhaal might make many people reconsider their stance on cloning).

More smokin' Jew writers, because we've long since loaned out and forgotten to whom our books by Jill Soloway and Francesca Lia Block and Aimee Bender.

And yes, more Very Hot Bloggers. Because, frankly, we're not that reliable. We know you crave daily Jew like a perfect cup o' java, but we can only do so much. And, as you know, are unlikely to do even that much.

More Jews. That's the ticket to grounding a popular culture so absurdly out there that if frivolity were rocket fuel we'd be waving buh-bye to Pluto.

Tonight, when you are watching that mensch Jon on his Daily Show, or out on the town whispering to your girlfriends, "See that tall one? Think he's Jewish?" or reading bedtime stories to the next generation of hot Jews, or surfing the internets for porn — whatever, we don't judge — do us a tiny favor. Send up a little prayer for increased Jewishness in the coming months. Jesus knows we need it.

P.S. from Sera: Mojo had his nuts cut off today, but the vet called to say he's doing well. So far, the little pisser is lucky he's adorable, because he demanded we go on ten walks yesterday. Also, just to give you an idea of how superstitious my Jewish mother is, she told me it was too soon to blog about the new puppy, because it might be bad luck. And just to show you how Jewish-superstitious I am, I wrote the preceding sentence in the explicit hope that talking about it would prevent anything untoward from happening. As the men in our reading audience would doubtless agree, getting one's testicles surgically removed is quite bad enough.