Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hotness and Goodness!

A few breezy paragraphs from now, we'll unveil the latest delectable Hebraic entry in our ultra-of-the-moment "Profiles in Hotness." But before we do that, we want to talk about goats.

Well, about one goat, actually, because it's the one that your Very Hot Jews co-sponsored (with Editorial Emergency) at a recent benefit for the ultra-wonderful nonprofit organization Heifer International.

Jenna Perlstein, a sexy dynamo who reveals all in the Q&A below, is doing a marvelous job of spreading the word about this phenomenal org, which enables regular folks like us to pay to send livestock to needy families both in the developing world and urban and rural areas of the U.S.

Unlike many other aid organizations, Heifer helps guide people to self-sufficiency rather than merely handing over one-time gifts. A goat, heifer, llama or other animal can make an incredible difference. What's more, the recipients pledge that once said animal has offspring, they will "pass on the gift" to another needy family. In other words, Heifer not only helps people who've been trapped in a cycle of poverty but creates sustainable self-reliance.

Whether you're a Jew or not, you'll find that making a contribution to Heifer is truly a mitzvah. Just go here, click your mouse a few times and be a force for good.

And Jenna? She lent her PR skills to a fabulous recent event at Zanzibar in Santa Monica, where musicians from around the world, INCREDIBLE food (Mama's Tamales will change your life) and an overall joie de vivre signaled that this was no ordinary charity confab — it was a life-affirming, world-embracing party. Yet for all the various stimuli, we couldn't help but gravitate to this spectacularly hot Jewess. And not just because of her luscious lips and divine d├ęcolletage. But best to let her introduce herself in her own words.

We're proud to present the dishy Jenna.

Profiles in Hotness: Jenna Perlstein

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

Hmm. I’m not sure how others saw me, but in my mind’s eye, I wasn’t always a Hot Jew. I would have to say that my Hotness emerged in college and has been heating up ever since. By now, though, I’m pretty damn hot!

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

Typically the praise starts with either my rack or my hiney (thank you to J.Lo for standing up for us pygobombes, and to Joe’s Jeans for giving us a fine denim showcase). Once they get to know me better, I believe that wit and charm enter the picture.

What do you believe is the key to your hotness?

Aside from my T & A? I care. I listen. I get involved strategically. I invest energy and enthusiasm, my voice and funds (when possible) into situations I care about, and away from things I think are destructive. I think the key to my hotness is directed energy. I could be wrong though. It might just be the T & A.

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

HA! Did I ever! I decided that I WOULD have a bat mitzvah, in spite of the fact that my family was not temple-affiliated. My parents kindly assisted me in my search for Jewish education, but only Chabad would take me without my family. I went through three-plus years of Jewish education at Chabad House in Santa Monica, terrifying them with ceaseless questions.

My mom decreed that since I had gone through an ultra-Orthodox educational program, I would conclude with a bat mitzvah in the same mode. I had a gender-segregated service and party, and a Klezmer band. I did have a nice dress, though. It was a square-necked, ivory lace dress over a matching slip. I still have the dress.

The whole service was embarrassing for me. I was painfully shy about speaking in front of groups, and I think I was scarlet and stammering throughout.

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

I am ethnically Jewish. I have always known that, practicing or not, when they come for us, I’m on the list. When push comes to shove, I’m in.

If I go to a synagogue, I prefer a Conservative service. Mainly, though, I believe in the culture of it, and in the underlying reasons for many of the rules, Commandments, etc.

Who is your favorite Hot Jew, besides us?

Right now, you guys are my favorite Hot Jews. Who else? My friend, Seth Levy, is a terrifically Hot Jew — a mensch extraordinaire. Also Danny and Lesley Wolf, both super-hot, and rising comedic star Andrew Goldenberg.

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

It’s not mine to claim, but when I was in junior high, we were on a school field trip and a man at Grand Central Market told my friend Marla Mandel that she looked “very Jewish”. I froze, but she looked him straight in the eye and said, “Thank you!” I was so proud of her! I remember her 12-year-old's moxie and conviction whenever I have an insecure moment.

Was your family observant?

We were not. We did the big holidays. My mom has since converted away, so I do a lot of the cooking now.

How would you describe your religious or spiritual feelings, if any?

Sometimes I’m sure there’s Divine intervention. Mostly I’m still working it all out.

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

Well, my careers involve prudent application of money and words, so some might say it has.

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


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

Presently I have no children, but I can foresee that much craziness will be bred into my eventual offspring.

Give us a hint about your most secret Hot Jew Fantasy.

I might enjoy having my hair brushed and delicious snacks fed to me in a certain scenario. I’ll have to finish this glass of wine before I’m really ready to dish the goods.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Talking Shit About Modern Life

(A pungent meditation by Simon)

OK, I'm going to share now. About home ownership, modern existence and how both really stink sometimes. I believe it will shed some light on a dark and fearful corner of the Jewish-American psyche. But if it doesn't, at least I'll get to vent. That's gotta be a good thing, right?

So the lovely Julia and I are blessed (you know, in the secular, "I'm not religious but I'm also not a jerk" kind of way) to live in a beautiful home that sits on a glorious hilltop — but that also sits below street level. I won't get into the topography of the neighborhood except to say that our driveway is mighty steep and the shlepping of garbage cans up to the road each week is a hamstring-stretching delight.

Another consequence of our house's placement is that rather than being connected directly to the main sewer line, we have a sewage ejector. That's a pump that shoots our black-water waste alllllllll the way up the hamstring-torturing driveway to the happy shitline shared by all the neighboring primates.

For three-and-a-half-years, this system worked like a charm.

Ah, yes. I can hear your moans of compassion from here. But before we get into the icky ordeal that followed, a quick observation about modern life.

I would hazard the assertion that Jews like myself are particularly prone to the far extremes of squeamishly contemporary fussiness. Though it's handily shoehorned into the category of neurosis, I believe our sensitive faculties also bespeak a certain awareness that we are fugitives from the fearsome dirt of the shtetl.

Our ancestors lived in a horrible, filthy foulness and called it normal. The odors to which their noble noses became accustomed would cause us to retch continuously and beg for sedation. Let us say, they owned their stank. Not so we lily-livered, deodorized, groomed and exfoliated modernites; our unsustainable, globe-warming lifestyle has allowed a great many of us to push the acrid smells of our own biology off to the far margins.

But if any part of our laughably dandyish existence is to be praised as a miracle, I think, it would have to be the fabulous and deceptively humble advent of indoor plumbing.

Not only because it ushers our jobbies out of sight with the aplomb of a loyal valet, but because it functions with such heroic consistency even as we take it utterly for granted.

But sometimes the loyal valet falls ill and takes to his bed. Perhaps he dies outright in the midst of his daily chores. And then, oh, the wailing and lamentation!

So let us say that the failure of our sewage ejector evoked in me an unbidden panic. In typically undramatic fashion, it simply stopped working, and the pit in which it resides began to fill with a rank liquor that I noticed only because I happened to open the bathroom window and inhaled a septic breeze.

We called a rooter company, which charged us a hefty fee to stop by and say there was nothing they could do because they didn't work on sewage ejectors. (Nice of them to mention that on the phone; I plan to drop by the owner-operator's home around dinner time some evening and demand 80 clams for not working on his Web site.) A brace of phone calls to what seemed like every vendor in the L.A. area led to a scary pu-pu platter of possibilities. These included:

  1. Paying thousands of dollars.
  2. Having to sit with our septic stew for an entire weekend if it rained.
  3. Going without our ejector for days while it went to the pump hospital and had its boo-boo checked.
  4. All of the above.

As this mini-drama unfolded — and mind you, I realize this is an everyday homeowning inconvenience and doesn't hold an electric candle to the daily agonies suffered by most earthlings — I was covered with a semi-permanent layer of cold sweat. I became, in fact, a freakin' baby, whining and hurling imprecations and just about throwing myself on the floor for a good, old-fashioned, wah-wah tantrum.

Julia, on the other hand, was philosophical and good-humored about the matter. Why?

I guess because for me, the failure of the sewage ejector was a kind of metaphor for the apocalypse that looms in my psyche — the day that will come when modern life just breaks down and we must descend, like our pestiferous forebears, into the primal muck once more.

I believed, on some level, that our bubbling menace would not stay confined in its pit but would surge back whence it came, shooting out of toilets, shower drains and sinks like the brown geyser of fate itself, besmirching our lovely, comparatively antisceptic refuge with the intractable gunk we moderns had labored so mightily to banish. That our house would be ruined, that our lives would be ruined, and that this was merely the overture to the Wagnerian opera of envirnomental collapse we'd been promised since we made the first pinpricks in the ozone layer.

I felt we would have to go native and forage for walnuts in the despoiled wilderness of Northeast L.A. while the infrastructure of civility corroded around us.

Wah, wah, wah.

We went away and stayed with friends in sparkling, sunny, dazzlingly clean Orange County for part of the weekend, far from the dark pool of yuck, and this morning the nice septic-service people showed up with the tanker truck, cheerfully sucked it all out in, like, five minutes, and requested their (rather reasonable) fee. Then the pump-repair guy came right over and got to work replacing our ravaged mechanism (pricey, but not outrageous).

The world had not yet gone to pieces. We picked up the phone, the people came, paper money still functioned as currency, and a new valet stood ready to attend to us.

And I will never flush again without a shudder of gratitude.

Thanks to Jo for the awesome baby skunk photo.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Why Sainthood Ain't Just For Catholics.
(by Sera)

Once upon a time, in an innocent era when people thought the worst thing that could ever happen to the U.S. was the president getting head from someone who wasn't his wife, I was living more or less like a gypsy in the wilds of Van Nuys. No health insurance. No credit line. Toyota with 199,992 miles on it that I drove relentlessly all over tarnation to audition for indie films (the rule: if it paid, I didn't get the role). Hilariously inappropriate boyfriend. Sketchy job. Producing theater the only way I knew how, by posing more or less nude on the flyers. (Seriously, it takes a fucking act of God to get L.A. people to go see live theater. They're, all like, "But where will I park?" "But the neighborhood!" "But they're doing a 90210-a-thon on SoapNet!")

I remember walking into a bookstore around this time and picking up a copy of Kierkegaard. I read a line that basically broke down to the following sentiment: when a certain kind of guy works his ass off to convince himself he's not in a state of despair? The state he is in is precisely one of despair.

I was like, oh, shit. I thought I was a happy-go-lucky unemployed actress ... but I'm so that guy! I'm in despair!

So I searched my soul for answers, and I heard a voice. It might have been God, but more likely it was my inner upper-middle-class Jew.

The voice suggested I pursue a career in writing (which I secretly liked better than acting anyway, but no way would I have admitted it before that moment, because one's early 20s are a fun-filled time motivated almost solely by the desire to prove every single person who thought you wouldn't make it totally wrong wrong wrong as can be and then not invite them to the Oscar party).

Sure, breaking into the writing business was hard, but, come on. Couldn't be as hard as auditioning. Auditioning is the level of Hades below the one where Sisyphus pushes a rock up a hill for all eternity.

I decided to seek wisdom from this lady I knew who was a successful writer. She was this bogglingly sexy Jewess. You know those people like, say, Angelina Jolie, who prompt you to say, "If I was gonna go gay, it'd be for her?" If I was gonna go gay, it would be for this smoldering tribeslady. She wore rocker t shirts and straw cowboy hats and wrote funny, dirty, personal stuff that got published in books and aired on TV, and she had just bought the cutest house ever — and then renovated it. I went to visit her and when I peed in her bathroom I stared at the shiny new tile on the floor, imagining how much money it cost, imagining being paid enough to risk putting money into your bathroom tiles.

(At this point I'm going to stop the story for one second just to say, this entry is supposed to be about the fabulous Jewish lady I am describing to you. Yet, it is turning out to be mostly about me instead. In this way, it is reminding me of an episode of the Tyra Banks Show. So, yeah, I know it seems maybe slightly narcissitic. But my intention is to get real personal with y'all, so you can feel close to this person we're discussing. There's probably a way for me to do that without coming off quite so much like an asshat, but probably not without doing a rewrite, which I would classify as work. So I won't be doing that. I'll be talking about myself instead. I mean, it's a blog, people. There's a reason my friends and I call updating one's blog "blogsturbating.")

So anyway. I asked that lady what to do to become a writer just like her. That lady proceeded to talk to me about TV writing for over two hours.

She was sweet and not condescending and wished to help in any way she could. Little did I know — people asked her for exactly this advice all the frickin' time. So often that eventually she wrote an entire chapter about it in her book so that she could finally stop repeating herself and instead tell people to go buy it. But that day, she sipped iced tea with me and explained what a spec script is in generous detail.

It didn't stop there. When my writing partner and I wrote a screenplay that you could tell was misguided before you even opened it (because, um, the title was Genie In A Bong), this lady nevertheless passed it along to her agent. And even though her agent must have told her I was the crap-assiest writer ever to load Final Draft software onto my computer, she still believed in me enough to recommend me to a different agent a couple of years later, who did sign me and then got me tons of work. (And health insurance! And I can totally buy as many tiles as I want!!) She continues to do many things on my behalf and on behalf of many, many other people. Yes, she is my friend, and she is also a Jew performing her mitzvot-- and, by helping out another Jew, sticking it to Hitler. But ultimately? I think maybe, just maybe... underneath it all, she's a saint.

Still on the fence? What if I tell you she wrote and produced four seasons of the best TV show ever in the history of ever?

Yeah, I thought you'd climb on board. Because that lady is Jill Soloway.

Buy this book immediately.

Yes, that Jill Soloway. Co-executive producer of Six Feet Under, author of Tiny Ladies In Shiny Pants, creator of Los Angeles comedy institution Sit 'n' Spin, writer of a short story entitled "Courtney Cox's Asshole" that will make you pee yourself laughing, devoted mother, generous friend, and owner of rack so stupendous it makes Katherine Heigl weep with envy.

I have been trying to nominate her for canonization, but the Vatican has yet to return my calls. So in the meantime, I interviewed her for our ongoing investigative report into the origins of Hebraic Hotness. It is my profound pleasure to present to you:

Profiles In Hotness: Jill Soloway

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

I was awkward from about eleven to twenty-two with my hotness and about zero to forty with my Jewishness. I am so excited to finally be able to be both.

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

People think I have lovely Jewish skin, which I hope doesn't mean they think it would make good lampshades. The people also enjoy my breasts.

What do you believe is the key to your hotness?


Did you have a Bat Mitzvah?

No. I didn't know from Hashem at that age.

Since you didn't go the whole Bat Mitzvah route, how did you get whatever knowledge you have about Jewish tradition?

Jewish dinners at Aunt Ruth and Uncle Howard's house. All I ever need to know about Judaism came during their basement slide shows of their family vacations.

What kind of Jew are you, besides hot?

I am a Rejewvenation Jew. It's like Renewal and Reform with some gay disco thrown in.

Who is your favorite Hot Jew, besides us?

My boyfriend Josh, Sacha, Jessi Klein, Raelle Tucker, Natalie Portman and Lake Bell. I used to like Rachel Weisz but she dropped out of my movie.

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

In college I found my boyfriend's letters to his best friend where he had drawn 3-D swastikas in the borders and referred to a third party as a jew bitch. I confronted him, cried, then wrote a bad essay about it in a creative writing class years later.

Was your family observant?

Only of the religion of Jewish Melancholy.

How would you describe your religious or spiritual feelings, if any?
Last week, I would have said I was simply "spiritual". This week, however, after a number of freaky coincidences, I am certain I believe in Hashem's power and am awed every day by it. This may or may not be due to having recently figured out how to get a prescription for medical marijuana. (It's a lot easier than it looks!)

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

Every writer's room needs one hot jew bitch.

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

Not infrequently.

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

I have one son. I am teaching him to fear other races.

What is your Most secret Hot Jew Fantasy?

Sex on Shabbos.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Good News: Sera's Aura Totally Cleansed!

Have you heard of Esalen?

Esalen is an institute founded in the late '60s, at the height of the Human Potential Movement, as a place for the brightest thinkers of the time to go work whilst surrounded by natural beauty. People like Aldous Huxley and the dude who invented Gestalt therapy. It's one of the only places like it to survive the subsequent shameful decades of humans so not giving a shit about their potential, and it remains an aesthetically designed, well-intentioned, workshop-packed, organic-foodie, vaguely hippie oasis that you too can visit should you desire to develop your Tai Chi or poetry or alternative self-healing vegetarian baking skills.

It is situated in the glowy clifftop seaside heart of paradise. The weather is in a perpetual state of balm, the air is sweet with the smell of pine, hawks swoop balletically overhead, and there are butterflies flitting all over the place. I shit you not. It's like Legend.

Did you ever see that movie? It takes place in an Enchanted Forest so amazingly special that both unicorns and Tom Cruise dwell therein.

In order to create the proper ambiance of Enchantedness, the Legend production designers opted to fill the air with something magic-y in each scene. The fantastical butterflies of Esalen are clearly retired extras from that movie. Ahhhh, how I loved that movie when I was but a wee lass, too innocent to fully grasp the implications of Tim Curry's girthy goat horns. I loved all the magic shit floating through the air. Tom and Mia Sara would be emoting through copious motes of dandelions, say, or — my personal fave — bubbles. Yes, bubbles, as though an angelic choir of small children armed with dripping soap wands was standing just out of frame, joyously blowing iridescent streams at the virile locks of tree-scaling Tom Cruise's hair.

God damn, that was some good hair.

It didn't make a proper reappearance until Mr. Cruise's best role ever, as Asshole Motivational Speaker With Gigantic Daddy Issues in Magnolia. Which I digress towards in order to aside the following: before his current incarnation, in which he is known almost exclusively for PDAing the living bajeebus out of Katie Holmes and proselytizing a religion explained in far more thorough and hilarious fashion than I am willing to attempt by the writers of South Park? Dude could act. When he set his mind to it, he had the special genius.

No joke. I'm not trying to trick you here, then slam you with a punchline. I thought he should have gotten the Oscar for Magnolia. I wish he'd make another movie like that. He is really awesome when he's playing the type of bad guy he never ever plays any more.

Tom Cruise's insistence on only making giant blockbusters and implying not very subtly that several members of my family are evil simply because they have dedicated their careers to working with people so acutely mentally ill that if they aren't medicated they'll kill themselves (or whoever the voices are telling them to kill)? It saddens me.

It saddens me, because I'm about the art. I really could give a fuck about people's personal lives. Sure, I emailed with my old boss about Tom and Katie every single day of their whirlwind Parisian courtship, I deconstructed that "it's a baby bump-- no, it's a basketball" photo, I had a dream in which I found myself wandering a Scientology compound that turned out to be their home, and was invited to a casual lunch with the couple, whereupon I discovered that they actually were into each other. Okay, yes, I recounted this dream to several people the next day. Hey, get this, I had a dream that Tom and Katie were like a real couple! They loved each other and they, like, had tons of sexy sex and stuff! What do you make of that? Do you think they could be a real couple? I'm starting to think, maybe they're a real couple and they're just terribly misunderstood by the tabloid media. I think maybe the media has been tricking us! Tom and Katie are the victims here! Seriously, I feel bad for them. Shut up, no, I do!

But I totally don't care about that stuff at all.

Right-o. So, good segue to tell you, Esalen is not as culty as you may imagine. Yes, there's a fire pit, and guitar, and people in tie-dye who play said guitar sittin' around said fire. There's a workshop designed for your particular flavor of group therapeutic interaction, or drum-banging, or — in my own case — ecstatic dancing. But just because I like to dance ecstatically doesn't mean I'm susceptible to weird influences.

My roommate — because you must have a roommate, my friend, there are no single rooms at Esalen, for Esalen is about community — was a rare gem of a woman, a New York shiksa goddess businesswoman with an enviably yogalicious body who somehow made me laugh every time she opened her mouth. I don't know why this was so. She swears she's not funny. She swears the people in her life never tell her she's amusing in the least. And yet, when she told me, "Mr. X in our dance group was delightful this morning, but I have to warn you, Mr. Y is sporting some serious B.O., so try not to land with your nose in his pit," I found myself crumpled on the floor, heaving with laughter. Maybe it's all in the execution. Maybe I laughed so hard to relieve the tension of being in a place where everyone is working on themselves on this deep psycho-spiritual level, and they're serious as a Mac Attack about it. Whatever, point is, she told me not to mention her in this blog by name so I won't, but I will say she's one funny-ass chickie poo. Let's call her "The Lady With The Hot-Ass Condo That Sera Gets To Stay At Next Time She Goes To New York, So There." Or, you know, "P" for short.

"P" was also my roommate last time I scrubbed up my chakras at Esalen. We were randomly assigned that time, but decided to return together. This strategy guaranteed for each of us a roommate who showered frequently and with vigor, as well as a pal with whom to compare notes on the subject of who on the premises is most fuckable. Five days at Esalen: a little over a grand. Having a friend who warns you that the hot guy you're about to saucily chat up bats for the other team: priceless.

"P", as you may have gathered by now, is not a Jew. In fact, one of her relatives boated on over to New England on the actual Mayflower. She is rocking some serious gentiletude.

"P" recently entered into a business relationship with an organization which counts several Jews among its highest-ups. She's working some big-time project, and she is suddenly swimming in Jew. She confided in me that it was kind of weird, being the only non-Chosen in the room at these meetings. Like all the Jews were speaking a subtly different language. She felt slightly at a disadvantage, and it bothered her because she wants to do the best job she can for the organization. (Which involves telling the Jews what to do — that's part of her job. This has proved challenging.) She told me she was stoked to read my blog, because she's gathering intel on our people. Trying to decode Jewishness so she can nail this project.

A few things came to mind when she told me this.

1. We totally rock. We meaning Jews, but more specifically the Jews who are very hot and who write this blog. It is rockin' to babble on about whatever's clever, and inadvertently help a chic businesslady do her Very Important New York Businesswoman Job That Beneficially Impacts The Jews.

2. There is much still to be done. "P" is not living under a rock. She lives in Bagelville, USA, for fuck's sake. And yet, she admits to finding our people mysterious and unknowable.

So: the Very Hot Jews would like to help our goyische readers to know our people just a little bit better. How? By answering your questions. We hereby invite you to send in your inquiries into Things Jewish, and we will answer them to the best of our ability. Actually, we'll answer them beyond the best of our ability, because if we don't know the answer we're going to make it up. Consider us a resource, a veritable font of useful yet potentially erroneous Jewish information. Have at us. Nu? Ask!

We'll be posting our answers to your questions on no particular schedule, when we feel like it. On the plus side, we're not that busy, at least while I'm on hiatus. On the minus side, we're fantastically unreliable.

Oh, and one more thing about "P". She asked me, delicately, if I "really drank that much." Apparently the blog paints me as something of a lush. This puzzled her, because the one time we had wine, I didn't even finish my glass. I may as well tell you what I told her — I don't drink half the shit I claim to on this blog. I'm not sure I've ever had a watermelon margarita. What I am sure of is that I do not want you, my dearest reader, to expect me to produce writing in a consistent or timely fashion. I have therefore created a "Blog Persona" who drinks like the fifth ho on Sex In The City.

Though, come to think of it, when I really do get down and dirty, and drink like three or four entire servings of an alcoholic beverage? It tends to be when hanging with Sime.

We really do bring out the best in each other.

Before the Very Hot Jews go back to posting amusing frivolities, we want to take a moment to say we are stunned beyond words by the shooting at Virginia Tech this week.

Our thoughts are with the families of the victims.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Simon Respectfully Wishes You a, Well, Not Happy, So Let's Go With Meaningful Yom Ha'Shoah.

Just real quickly, today was Holocaust Remembrance Day, which would've been a great day for President Ahmadinejad of Iran to apologize for comparing said historical event's actual historcial veracity to that of unicorns and leprechauns and other beings that apprently caper about in his head when he isn't inciting impoverished farmers to take up their pitchforks against the hook-nosed enemy.

You know who else could've taken today to reflect on the past instead of opening his capacious piehole? Tommy Thompson, the "conservative" (that's code for "I hate you if you're not exactly like me or much richer") Republican who recently announced his bid for President. At today's function at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington D.C., he unhinged his yap to utter the following: “I’m in the private sector and for the first time in my life I’m earning money. You know, that’s sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that.” Nice work, Tommy. Have a knish.

How did I, personally, commemorate this auspicious yearly event? By writing taglines for an upcoming movie about, I shite you not, one of the architects of the Final Solution!

Professional discretion prevents me from being more specific, but let's just say his name rhymes with "Play-Golf Trike-Man." Spinning out dozens of pulpy teasers (in partial tribute to Grindhouse, about which more in a moment) for this undoubtedly gripping and dark production caused my mind to unmoor itself very briefly and to drift about airlessly like those hapless astronauts in Kubrick's 2001 who pissed off HAL the computer. As the darkness of genuine atrocity and the mad hyperbole of one-sheet convention deranged one another, I found myself typing things like "There's a New Adolf in Town!"

Not good. But it does afford a somewhat linear segue (for me, at least) to something that's been sticking in my big Jewy craw lately. OK, not just lately — it's been there forever, like a fetid caraway seed stabbing indefatigably at the inter-molar gums of my soul.

It's the way people still talk about Jews in the entertainment business, as though our Starbucks grande cups are really filled with gentile-baby blood and we spend each day wondering how to demoralize and degrade America.

It's the way "Jew" and "entertainment" bounce off each other in the reactionary-dumbfuck popular imagination, each making the other seem more evil and twisted and unwholesome.

And most of all, it's the utter hypocrisy of blaming the Jew-entertainment complex for all of America's problems but never once saying anything like, oh, gee, "The DEFENSE industry, which is largely run by non-Jews (many of whom give ample lip service to the merciful word of Jesus), is responsible for untold real destruction, unlike the entirely virtual mayhem of Hollywood (or, more accurately Vancouver)." Or, "The OIL industry, peopled by the evangelical golfers of Dick Cheney's inner sanctum, is truly and literally ruining America, unlike the squib-heavy pantomimes that glimmer fleetingly on the screens of your local multiplex."


Still, it's likely that the blame-Jewy-entertainment-firsters took heart at the much-ballyhooed underperformance of the Weinstein-produced Grindhouse. I suppose if you hate that kind of entertainment and consider it moral poison, I can't really blame you. But if you're one of those people who enjoyed this flick but have since, ahem, revamped their opinions in light of what the dunderfucks who consider opening box-office to be Holy Writ called its disastrous performance, well ... stop it.

I freakin' loved Grindhouse. I ate up every gnarly bit of gore, every geeky allusion, with a knife and fork. It afforded me more than three hours of delirious enjoyment. That America, the same America mentioned above, did not clutch this fearlessly gross and meta-referential labor of love to its bosom the way it did such worthy cinematic benchmarks as Norbit and Wild Hogs does not give me pause.

To reiterate: I heart the gun-legged Rose McGowan. I dig the crazy stuntman and his car. I relish the trash-talking chicks who take revenge. I adore the lurid trailers. And I love the fact that it was all hatched in the fever dreams of two movie freaks who didn't give a fuck if the focus-groupies didn't get it. I don't care either.

I love this movie because it takes all the funky compost of exploitation moviemaking and uses it to grow a beautiful film-fanatic's garden. It's a tribute to a fantasy realm full of fantasy violence. No doubt some will take today's horrifying headlines and try to blame the real-life carnage on the out-there imagery of Grindhouse and kindred flicks. Count on election-season sermons about our "sick" culture, alluding to some subversive element that rots America from within. They will tell you that guns don't kill people — movies do. And between the lines of their diatribes you'll know they mean movies made by Jews.

As far as I'm concerned, they can go sit with Tommy Thompson and President Ahmadinejad and shut the hell up. I'm trying to watch a fuckin' movie here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Letter to My Unconscious Mind

Simon here. Sera's in Esalen, getting her aura massaged or whatever they do up there, so I'm posting this bizarre entry behind her back. No doubt many of our readers will be puzzled by the following; I freely admit that I share your confusion. But to those of you who ask "What does this have to do with being hot and/or Jewish?" I can only wearily reply that ... um ... did I mention that Sera's out of town?

To Whom It May Concern,

I write to express my supreme disgust and overwhelming disappointment at the quality of last night's dream.

I refer, of course, to the meandering tale of a man — evidently supposed to me, but someone I can only characterize as a repulsive boor lacking the faintest shred of the social graces — who urinates in the middle of a car-audio store and then adds insult to injury by telling a dismayed salesman, "You guys wouldn't have this problem if you had a bathroom."

Were this a mere "blackout" sketch it would be shoddy enough. But your decision to make such instances of public self-relief the basis of an epic dream, a sleep-narrative of Tolstoyan length, Rabelaisian vulgarity and Warholian tediousness, is unfathomable.

For shame, sirs and/or madams. For shame.

Why, I must ask, does the character known only as "me" have to pee constantly throughout this interminable story, informing all who will listen that "I have the bladder of a camel"? Why must he unburden himself on a series of in-dash stereo consoles before the stricken eyes of floor managers and audiophiles alike?

Perhaps some toxic mixture of boredom, malice and homosexual panic prompted this golden shower of the sandman — I can scarcely be expected to divine what goes on in the drunken halls of the id. But I hasten to remind you that while some people might enjoy a feature-length snooze-story about pissing endlessly and repeatedly on the linoleum floor of a downmarket retail establishment, "some people" don't dream my dreams. I do. And this one both offended my sensibilities and tasked my patience.

Have you given no thought to what it is like to wake suddenly from such a dream and realize, to one's horror, that one must pee? And then to stand drowsily and barefootedly on the frigid bathroom floor in the dawning light and relive the whole sodden fantasia while emptying oneself, ever so boringly, into the porcelain abyss?

This will not be tolerated. In point of fact, the quality of my dreams has been distressingly poor of late, giving rise to the nagging suspicion that you imps who populate the far shores of my psyche are, well, phoning it in.

I refer in particular to the obsessive recycling of the shopworn "I have a Spanish final but I forgot to study all semester" dream, with its predictably mortifying third-act nudity; last week's protracted and deeply annoying "driving around my neighborhood but I'm lost" dream (in which your creative bankruptcy revealed itself in the cheap shock tactics of me crashing into another car driven by ... me); and your arguable nadir, a scene-for-scene recapitulation of the movie Zardoz with Carrot Top in the Sean Connery role.

I would caution you to put more effort into the scenarios that flicker on my inner eyelids, or you will force me to send you packing. Opening up a new can of imps, I assure you, will be no big thing.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What a Night!

Thank you, thank you, thank you. That's all the VHJs have been saying all day, as we express our profound gratitude to everyone who participated in our rock and roll alterna-seder.

No one seemed to know quite what to expect, but the incredible mixture of profundity and irreverence, pop songs and ancient invocations seemed to leave everyone feeling elevated. At least that's how your humble Hebrews felt, especially after tons of wine, food, comedy, music and good vibes. Plus, the attendees raised a tidy sum for our Afikomen recipient, Progressive Jewish Alliance.

It was an astounding mix of the traditional and the entirely unexpected; even the Easter Bunny showed up. We shit you not.

So the least we can do to express our thanks to the wonderful folks who performed at our event is to tell you what else they're up to.

Mesmerizing chanteuse Abby Travis — who sang killer versions of "Go Down, Moses," "Should I Stay or Should I Go" and a medley from "Tommy" — will be appearing at Bordello in downtown L.A. on 4/27. The cover is a mere five clams.

Inspired comic Marc Maron, whose soliloquy on the bittersweet "sandwich" of life was fierce and hilarious, will be doing a series of evenings with Janeane Garofalo and Henry Rollins entitled "It's Not a Play and There's No Music" at New York's Gramercy Theater April 10-15 and at L.A.'s Silent Movie Theater April 24-29.

Rebekah Del Rio, who sang a haunting Ladino (that's Spanish-Jewish, in case you were wondering) number, "Los Bilbilicos," will be appearing with her all-female ensemble, W.O.R.L.D., at Molly Malone's in L.A. on April 21 at 10 p.m.

Ronna & Bev, who brought the Wet-Naps for the ritual handwashings and whose give-and-take with the various presenters was the kind of Pesach horseradish that brings tears of laughter, are all over YouTube with their unforgettable video. Look for a new installment soon. It's only a matter of time before these ladies of the tribe are jumping up and down on Oprah's couch, so get in on the ground floor. As they would say, wonderful.

You could've heard a pin drop when Marvin Etzioni sang his ravishing song "You Are the Light," accompanied only by his mandolin, without microphone or other amplification. Go and make friends with him here.

Andy Corren, who gave a riveting, unrehearsed reading of Julie Hermelin's superb short story "Blood on the Doorposts" (with impromptu band backing), can be found over at Generate LA.

The smokin' hot Jill Soloway read a very funny piece about anticipation, filled with delicious reminiscences and sweet dreams of The Grove. Go and bow down before her here.

Our wonderful house band, The Afiko-Men, featured drummer Jim Mills, who played every damn instrument on his gorgeously trippy album "F R Double E," recorded under the nom de rock Extra; guitarist Josh Pickering, soon to be heard rocking covers in a club near you (stay tuned for details), and who is also a gifted photographer; and virtuoso bassist Jason Chesney, who is currently available for session work (but hurry, because he's going to have a very full dance card). These dudes rocked it all night long — and responded to the most spontaneous moments with menschy, melodic flair.

And your Hot Jews? We read some pretty heartfelt stories and observations about Sera's Polish-immigrant family and Simon's left-wing family seders and atheism and faith and crossing the deserts of history and intolerance, some of which you'll probably see in some form on this here Jewblog. And with all due modesty, we saw some moist eyes out there in the crowd.

(Afterwards, Julia, Wife Of Simon, threw her arms around Sera and said, "I wept! And by the way, you were clearly nervous and next time you need to take a Xanax." Ah, yes. Jews and their Xanax. Perhaps we should do a five-part series.)

We'll have more updates for you shortly. In the meantime: a million Mazel Tovs to Amichai, who officiated with warmth, humor and the patience of Job; to Jane Steinberg of Reboot; to Jill, Julie, culinary temptress Alexis and everyone who helped make this happen; and to everyone who bought a ticket and got into the wild spirit of the occasion. We all created something new together.

What a blast! We can't wait for the next big Jewy shindig.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tonight's Rock & Roll Seder: $10 Afterparty Tickets!

Want to check out the postmodern Jewy fabulousness of tonight's "In Haggadah Da Vida" second-night seder happening at L.A.'s Echo but can't afford the $75 ticket? Good news, my friend:

We'll be admitting folks for an after-dinner schmooze starting at 9:30 pm. The cover will be $10, and depending on when you arrive you can hear some raucous live music and/or the ultra-funky DJ stylings of Paul V. — and meet a bunch of superhot, brilliant, friendly and, by this point in the evening, probably very tipsy Hebrews.

The ten bucks will get you in the door. The bar will be fully operational. If you "know someone" (wink, wink) you might get a little Pesach wine hookup, Elijah-style.