Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Existential Threats
Yet another rant by Simon

OK, campers — time for today's thought exercise.

Pretend, just for a moment, that the President of your country is a total douchebag. A smirking bigot who milks religious prejudice for political gain. An anti-Semitic, homophobic jerkwad who treats indisputable scientific and historical facts as, at best, untested hypotheses. A tyrannical hyena who fecklessly utters terrifying threats against sovereign nations. A power-mongering shitheel who's gutpunched a modern country until it staggered backward in the direction of the Middle Ages.

I know, I know. But try to picture it. Stretch that long imagination of yours!

Got it? Good for you. Now let's say that a seriously huge, badass foreign power has decided that your President is a threat to the security of the region and, indeed, the very globe. You might even be inclined to agree; fact is, if President Scumbucket choked on a lamb shank or a pretzel or something, you'd be unlikely to slip on a black armband.

But here's the catch: The danger posed by your leader, the big foreign government declares, necessitates that bombs fall on your neighborhood, your electricity grid, the closest hospital, the little market where you buy vegetables, all nearby sources of potable water, the buildings housing ancient treasures of your civilization, TV and radio stations, etc. Perhaps one of these bombs will fall right on your home, scattering the limbs of your relatives and pets into an interspecies jumble.

As much as President Creep makes your gorge rise, you might be thinking that this is not the preferred way to bring about regime change.

So as the weird reverberations of Ahmadinejad's visit to New York begin to subside, as the Liebermans, Podhoretzes, Cheneys, Bushes and other bloodthirsty excuses for human beings populating the political class amp up their demand for military strikes right now just in case Iran might one day build a nuke, I want you to forget about the leaders for just a moment and pretend you're just somebody who lives on a street in a city where bombs might go off.

Speaking personally, even if I believed our weapons could surgically scrub only evil leaders off the planet without collaterally singeing the flesh of the innocent, I'd still be agin it. America should finally hang up its illegal-foreign-intervention jersey once and for all. It was always wrong, and now it isn't even accomplished competently. But the fact is, our bombs aren't as smart as our leaders say they are. They can't tell a Caligula-like dictator from an apple-cheeked schoolchild, and guess which one is better equipped to survive an explosion?

Once again, I rant about this because we Jews are going to hear a lot, right in the wake of making our yearly amends for tiny wrongs and insults, about how Tehran going up in flames is somehow good for the Chosen. Even though Jews will be among those blown to bits by those righteous explosives. Even though Jews will suffer reprisals from idiot terrorists who glory in the extension of the war against the Great Satan. Even though Jews will be blamed by certain parties for how it all turns out, regardless of what we do or say.

Once again, with my full throat, with the flying, curly locks of all my Semitic forebears urging me on, I say: Fuck you, Neocons. Fuck you, Joe and Norman and Dick and George and fucking AIPAC. Go to hell. Even those of you who are nominally Jewish are not good for the Jews.

Once again, I say that if I really thought that being a Jew meant I had to go along with this destructive nightmare I would become an Episcopalian. But it doesn't. Jews have been great, strong voices against misguided militarism for eons. It's time for us to speak up, VERY LOUDLY, against a new, disastrous war in Iran.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Paging Dr. Sandman

Hi, guys. Whatcha been up to? I've been dreaming my ass off. Usually, I leave that to Simon. I generally wake up with only the vaguest notion that my brain was doing something off in the corner while I slept the sleep of the dead. But not lately. Lately I have full technicolor dream recall.

I think it might be because I'm writing something about dreams for my job. I've been ruminating on the twisty logic of dream images, reading about the unconscious mind and its weirdnesses. Perhaps it's unsurprising that I've remembered a disproportionate number of dreams lately. And so I've found myself doing the thing that I do when I recall my dreams: trying to figure out what the high holy fuck they mean. What can I say - I took Psych 101 in college, but I was kind of hung over that semester.

I've had a good dose of "the usual": trying to dial a phone, but I just can't get the numbers right; going someplace else but inexplicably ending up at my therapist's house; getting a tattoo I instantly, vehemently regret; discovering that a dead loved one has been alive all this time; and, of course, the one where I wander down to the ocean and everyone's taking their clothes off and jumping in. (Yes, I know that one's about sex; even I got the memo on water imagery.)

Dream of this tattoo, wake up screaming.

I've had dreams lately that have proved fantastically useful. I've plagarized them for work, for one thing.

And I had a dream where I ran into a writer who's in the middle of a ginormous and daunting project - a guy who'd slipped my mind for months. (In my defense, he lives in New York, which is really, really - check a map - really far away.) I woke up doing the "I shoulda had a V-8" head slap and emailed him copious good wishes. Because God knows that when I'm the one gnawing a hole through the outer limits of my brain (did that metaphor work? I'm thinking no) trying to write something hard, I like to be reminded that someone out there assumes my work is going passably well. So, file that one under Dreams Leading To Mildly Menschy Behavior.

And I had this other dream, about this other person, and in the dream I was beating the shit out of her. I didn't check the credits, but my guess is - directed by Tarantino. It goes without saying (I hope) that in life I rarely punch people so hard my hand goes all the way through their sternum. But in the dream, I was a total cartoon ninja supreme. I was scary. I was She Whom You Shouldn't Have Fucked With. It felt awesome and queasy, like a roller coaster ride at an amusement park known to occasionally kill a customer or two. And I woke up not angry but the opposite: in this zenlike state of blissful calm, fully aware for the first time that I really. Don't. Like. That person. At all. And therefore have a great excuse to use that new word I've been hearing tossed around, "frenemy." How awesome is that word? Wish I'd had it in high school. Coulda applied it to everyone!

And then. Oh, and then. I had this dream.

In the dream, I run into a male acquaintance. Someone I know casually. You know, a friendofafriend. (Quick, someone coin a shorter word for that.)

We're on some mazelike studio lot, don't know which - kind of like in waking life, where I've gotten lost on every lot in Los Angeles. I once walked around the Paramount lot for a fricking hour trying to find my car. And no, it's not that big. Anywho. He walks me to my car. We give each other a friendly hug. And then, out of nowhere, incredible, movie-caliber kissing ensues. If that kiss has really happened? Top five of my lifetime so far. No joke.

It bears mentioning that this gentleman has been entirely off my radar in real life. You know, the Radar Of Bangability. Never once thought about it.

So, naturally, I wake up feeling all tingly, and, well, slightly obsessed with that particular man. But more important to you, oh faithful Blog Reader, I woke up asking myself the appropriate question, which is, "What the fuck was THAT? What did it MEAN?!"

I've decided to stop at nothing to answer that question. But let me tell you, it's not simple. There are just so many rows to hoe when it comes to interpreting the Unconscious As Auteur. I asked a lot of people, and I got a lot of contradictory opinions. Then, I remembered this is a tangentially Jewy blog, and I emailed a real life rabbi. Posed the question to him: what's the proper Jewish way to interpret dreams?

I have so much to share. I'll tell you all about it... in our next installment. Unless there's an installment in between, which could happen. But point is, I'll be getting back to you, with rabbinical fruits of wisdom. In the meantime, enjoy your nap.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Great to see so many foxy Jews at the Dip't in Honey par-tay at the Echoplex. For those of you who couldn't attend, you missed a devastating spread from Provisions (the apple tartlets! the red velvet cupcake tree!); Jill Soloway's rockin' PowerPoint slides, which mixed sumptuous imagery with stirring messages; Mocean Worker's spontaneous DJ duet with a shofar blower, which was pretty much the essence of Reboot; Paul V's devious mash-up mixology; thought-provoking materials from PJA, Mazon and other forward-looking organizations; and lots of joyous schmoozing among a cross-section of sexy chaverim.

Thanks to Julie and Mitchell for the use of the hall, to Jane for organizational wizardry, to Lisa for going all out in the sweets department, to Adam and Paul for rocking the tunes, to Jill for inspiring visuals, to POM for bringing the juice, to Neil of Gilly Flowers for a typically wicked centerpiece, and to everyone else who helped make it happen. Can't wait for the next throwdown — it's always great to see your pretty punims.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dick Clark's Rockin' Rosh Hashanah

Yo, my peeps! What year is it? A new one, we're told, although your loyal ultra-secular pals freely acknowledge that we don't really spend much time cozied up with the ancient calendar. In the past, we further admit, our Rosh Hashanah activities have been limited to the pro forma get-togethers coordinated by our relatives.

So it's a new thing for us to be co-sponsors of Dip't in Honey, the Happy Jew Year spectacular set to go down at L.A.'s Echoplex next Tues. night (9/18), also brought to you by Reboot, Pom and the fine folks at KCRW.

But we're getting into the spirit, and we hope you will too — not only by attending, if you happen to be in town, but also by submitting your holiday blessing/wish/invocation, which will appear on a big screen as DJs Mocean Worker and Paul V lay down the smokin' grooves, Provisions LA's Lisa Feinstein serves the primo treats and scores of attractive Jews (and sundry chai-curious gentiles) sip on tangy, holiday-appropriate Pomtinis and shake their groove things.

So: Send us the good word, chaverim, and when we say we'll see you next Tuesday, be assured we mean it in the nicest possible way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Today Marks an Important Anniversary.

So, it's Sept. 11 again, and it seems like an appropriate time to remember something that happened a few years ago.

Well, yeah, that too. We mean, six years ago, when we were all clammy with fear and despair and body counts were rising and dire reports were raging and the newscasters and Republican politicians tried very hard to conceal their boners, we had an inkling this date would, you know, go down in infamy.

But 9/11/01 was also the day Sera and Simon's better half, Julia, had a date to drink tea together, and they decided — amid the shockwaves of that rough beast smashing into America's Jerusalem — not to cancel. Chado Teahouse was closed, even though they said they'd be open, so Sera and Jules proceeded to Elixir, where their disbelief was mingled with conversation about a host of other topics. The sense that "everything has changed" hadn't yet sunk in.

Sera came back to Julia and Simon's dingbat apartment in North Hollywood and they watched cable news reports of the unfolding nightmare; Simon, newly stricken with Hepatitis A (a delightful story in its own right), was stretched out on the couch, viewing the horrible footage with a literally jaundiced eye.

But despite the surreal terror of it all, there's a nugget of sweetness at the heart of this dreadful memory. Because we all became much closer, dearer friends that day.

Indeed, it was such a milestone in the history of our bonding that Sera came over to Julia and Simon's house five years later to commemorate the anniversary. And on that night, in addition to recalling the disorienting events of that prior 9/11, we proceeded to celebrate our friendship anew with quite a bit of champagne.

Out of that joyous round of toasts on 9/11/06 came a great deal of squealing, uproarious laughter and the first tenuous steps down the road that became this blog.

As we've mentioned in the past, Sera and Simon first envisioned a book, but stupid, stupid literary people were for some inconprehensible reason not prepared to cut us an enormous, debt-annihilating check. So, after a couple of weeks, we turned the scribblings engendered by our bubbly blowout into the nascent Jewy bleatings you've come to know and love.

So, to reiterate: 9/11 is, in addition to everything else, the anniversary of the birth of the VHJ. It's also a sacred holiday that honors a miraculous friendship for which we're hugely, incredibly grateful.

In a way, it was a foregone conclusion that right-wingers would see the fiery death of thousands of our people as an opportunity to shove their wretched Christo-fascist vision down our collective gullet. And it was probably inevitable that terror alerts would eventually become fodder for Jay Leno and that the "war" would simply be a new frame for the standard U.S. policy of blowing up whatever stood in the way of the oil supply. The solemnity of those first freakish hours and days gave way mostly to a bitter but not entirely un-hilarious comprehension of the frailty of our own system and the venal unworthiness of our so-called leaders.

But what are you gonna do, lay down and die? Not these Jews.

We don't laugh at the tragedy so many people are reliving today, but we go on laughing in spite of it. And we're able to do so in large part because we have some fantastic fuckin' friends.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

How I Crashed My Immune System

by Simon

I know quite a few people who live in perpetual cringing terror of catching some nasty bug. They don't shake hands (some give a non sequitur "namaste" gesture instead, while others prefer the Clintonian elbow grab); they have a dispenser of antibacterial liquid rigged into their sleeves like James West's derringer; and they swallow a daily bolus of mysterious, system-enhancing supplements.

I'm not like that; I maintain my health with the time-tested virtues of a positive attitude, gallons of coffee and at least seven hours a day resting on my divan watching premium cable. But sometimes I slip. I'm now enjoying day six of a delightful cold, and I blame it on too much of a good thing.

That good thing? Trayf, my friend.

Cards on the table time: Julia and I don't just celebrate our birthdays. We celebrate the entire birth month (and I've lately been lobbying for the birth quarter, but I don't think I have the votes). My birth month, a veritable orgy of comestibles and libations, came to its 1812 Overture of a climax with a meal at Cobras and Matadors, a tapas joint with a menu that can induce fainting spells in your average gourmand.

Faithful readers of this blog know of my fondness for pig meat. I have written passionate verse in its honor, and thoughts of its golden hue, crisp yet pliant texture and explosive bursts of fatty, salty flavor on the tastebuds forever distract me from whatever task is allegedly at hand. Still, I was half-joking when I asked Julia if she thought it would be possible to have a meal consisting entirely of The Other White Meat.

Some joke. Here's what we had, I kid you not:
  • Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with Cabrales and almonds, in a honey-port reduction

  • Bacon-wrapped prawns on toast points in a garlic cream sauce

  • Serrano ham and Manchego sandwiches on Catalan bread

  • Albondigas (veal-pork meatballs)

  • Breaded pork loin stuffed with bacon and ham
In addition to this pork-ucopia, we inhaled socca cakes in honey, beet salad with goat cheese and an onion conserve, a bottle of great wine and several glasses of killer sherry. It was an epic culinary debauch, and I delighted in watching Julia's customary gesture of food-induced ecstasy — her eyes rolling back in her head — almost as much as I enjoyed stuffing my face.

Then we got home and rolled into bed. Then I rolled out of bed. Then I tried to sleep on the couch. My head felt funny. My stomach rumbled ominously. I was visited by the ghosts of St. Augustine, Edith Piaf and Buddy Hackett, none of whom offered much encouragement. No sleep was forthcoming.

Julia is at pains to point out that among the first symptoms I experience with a cold is denial. I try to pawn it off on allergies or some damn thing, because admitting that I'm about to plunge into a vision quest of sniffling, coughing, throat-clearing and general whiny misery is too much to contemplate.

In any case, my immune system crashed like the L.A. power grid during a heatwave. Also, there was a heatwave.

Sera suggested the possibility that God was punishing me for my excessive flouting of the Chosen Peeps' dietary laws. I reject this hypothesis for several reasons. Among them:

1. Julia didn't get sick, and she ate all the same stuff.
2. Why hit me now, when I've been consuming the cloven-hoofed for ages?
3. I don't believe in God.

The question is this: Would I go back and substitute a healthier meal in order to dodge this bout of stuffed-up bullshit? I would not.

And that's what makes me the trayf-lovingest Jew in all of Christendom.

In fact... I could totally go for some bacon right now.