LAPD Chief William Bratton - Without Peer
Heather Mac Donald writes: "You're absolutely right--he is without peer as a police chief. But what an awful couple of weeks the dept. has had -- crime may be down, but it sure looks like the Wild West out there, what with shoot-em-up bank heists and police assasinations. I must say that I find Bratton's suggestion that a car backing up in slow motion into an officer presents no lethal threat to be rather fanciful. I know I'm a total ignoraumus about cars, but I did think that there's something called an accelerator which allows for a rapid change of speed."
Fear Of The 'F' Word In Orthodox Judaism
The writer is author of Straight Talk: My Dilemmas as an Orthodox Woman. The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance website is www.jofa.org
Time To Reposition
David Crawley writes:
Chaim Amalek writes Luke:
Some Jewish Jokes
Dave Deutsch writes:
Fred writes: "Ya know, all things considered, Wolfe is lucky. If some English prof invited me over for a Cask of Amontillado, I'd be pretty nervous about what he had in mind."
Women, it is when men no longer want to sexually harass you that you are in trouble.
BevD writes: "The personal anecdote as lede....(and the fact that people now spell it "lede" instead of lead) has ruined journalism. There must be some sort of "Black Arts For Journalists" manual floating around in media land that instructs them to "hook" the reader with a confession and then suck them in with the sordid details of their lives. We no longer have reporters giving us the story, we have reporters as the story. If it isn't some reporter's gut wrenching ordeal, it's some poor sap's sad life. Today's writers have made journalism small."
Is Lukeford.net A Hate Site?
I just realized I was no longer linked by LA Observed (and was some comment added about no hate sites?). My unorthodox comments about the late saint of Latino activism Frank del Olmo were the last straw, I think. And it didn't helped that I had published that much of religious community prays that Kevin Roderick's friend, Tracy Wilkinson, a bizarre critic of the Jewish state of Israel who poses as a reporter (just like del Olmo, a Latino activist, posed as a journalist) dies.
Cathy says I deserved the de-linking and I should stop writing horrible things about people dying. "Way to notice, Luke."
Lunch With Cathy Seipp, Kate Coe, Doggy Style
I chat with a movie producer with the rights to the story of an American hero in the recent Middle East conflict. He's been turned down by four studios. They say they will never make a movie about a white American who loves God and country teaching Muslims what to do in the Middle East.
I pick Cathy up in my van and we go to lunch down the street with Kate Coe, a mother of two kids, and a TV producer. Kate looks like a mother of two. Seems to be about 50. She has a razor-sharp caustic wit that I love.
I'm bugged why I did not bug TV producer and Orthodox Jew Jason Venokur about writing for two of the biggest WASPs in Hollywood on the TV show 3rd Rock From The Sun -- John Lithgow and Kristen Johnston.
Kate's had this hideous image in her mind that I'm some 25 year old guy with greasy hair and stubble. I'm more pleasant in appearance than my tight whitey walkman underwear shot gave her reason to believe.
Cathy tells Kate that she will have to pick the scary mushrooms and onions off my salad if she comes to the Wednesday Morning Club with us.
Kate went to Yale.
Cathy whines about going to Harvard. She looks at me as I reach for my recorder. "You are not allowed to blog this."
I pull out my tape recorder and start muttering.
Cathy: "Put a note to self."
Luke: "Note to self."
Kate appears to have an orgasm every time I add a "note to self" remark into my tiny but functional digital tape recorder.
Kate, from Montana: "This lunch is a blog-free zone."
Cathy whines: "Nobody encouraged me to go to Harvard. When I went to college, everyone [in her family and community] whined, why aren't you going to Long Beach State?' UCLA was cheap. I had a full scholarship."
[4:30PM, Cathy writes: "I perkily remarked that I should have gone to Harvard instead of to UCLA!"]
Luke: "You were like a poor little black child in East LA who grew up without expectations.
"If you had gone to Harvard instead of UCLA, you would've never met your first boyfriend..."
Cathy: "Adam Parfrey. Forget my first boyfriend. I would've never met you.
"If I had gone to Harvard, I'd be working for some big glamorous powerful magazine instead of [slumming it] with you."
Luke: "Note to self."
Kate gasps and moans like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. People start looking at us (which is a nice change from the way I was looking at some of the young hotties).
Many people think Cathy is bitter but I just don't see it.
Luke: "Cathy, if you had gone to Harvard, you would be in the same place you are today."
Cathy continues her "I could've been a contender" speech. "I could've been somebody instead of begging Luke to pay for my lunch with my father, ex-husband, daughter, and Jonah."
Cathy remembers a highlight from Sunday's lunch. I'd asked Jerry what Torah class he was taking from his temple on Sunday morning while his daughter Cecile and son Jonah went to Hebrew school.
Jerry: "They only offer one class now. It's on grieving."
Luke: "Have you taken the one on testicular cancer yet?"
The table is aghast but Jerry, who has a Masters degree from the Columbia School of Journalism, smiles. "I took both of them."
Cathy: "There is a reason I married Jerry."
Kate says we should give this story to Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm and he could work it into his show.
On a pilgrimage, Kate walks half a mile out of her way to see my hideous van. I fire up the engine.
We drive away. Cathy turns to me. "Which one of us do you think she likes better?"
She's not competitive or anything.
I race Cathy back to her home so I can beat rush hour traffic. We scream downhill past Cecile's former elementary school, just a few inches separating us from other people and property. There are kids and parents running around.
Cathy yells at me to slow down. "This used to be Cecile's playground."
Luke, not slowing, roars: "Now it's my playground."
Cathy: "What's that supposed to mean?"
Cathy has the directions all bollixed up so I have to do some fancy maneuvering with my van, ending up with me backing up into onrushing traffic.
Cathy: "There's a car coming."
I don't pause. "There better be a car stopping."
If there's a collision, with my monster van, I'm going to win.
We spin past a store that used to be "Doggy Style." It was a dog grooming establishment owned by two gay men. Cathy thinks the name is in poor taste being next to an elementary school.
She struggles with my door before finally wrenching it open and collapsing outside. "I'm tired," she moans.
Kate Coe writes on Cathy Seipp's site: "I'll hijack this to say that Luke disappointed me a lunch by not putting his boneless limb on any part of my body. But he's a good sport with that tape recorder. And Cathy is was witty as one could wish and cuter than her photo. If Naomi appeared in porn, what would her specialty be?"
Luke writes: "I would've except my firm strong thrusting morals prevent me."
Kate replies: "That and the fact, now in cold hard etherprint, that I'm a 50ish mother of two."
Cathy writes: "OK, Luke, here's a how-to-get-on-in-society lesson for you: DO tell the person you've just met that she's even cuter than her picture, even if that's maybe not true. (But much appreciated!) AVOID cracks about looking like a 50ish mother of two. Try it sometime! See what happens!"
Luke replies: "Whoa, I guess if I tried that, I might get lucky with 50ish women who have children... I'm afraid the Lord has blessed me with the gift of chastity."
Chaim writes: "Why are you always having lunch with menopausal women? You'd be better off taking ---- chicks (the kind that have natural breasts, no tats) to lunch."
Loh Life Off Air Because Of Obscenity
Connie writes: Sandra Tsing Loh of The Loh Life will no longer be on our air. What happened, you ask? Well, unfortunately, she uttered a certain banned word the that could have cost us our license with the FCC. As you know, these are not the times to mess around with such words and much less on our public station. We have received many complaints as a result.
From LA Observed: Update 3:25 p.m.: In a piece in tomorrow's CityBeat and Pasadena Weekly, Cathy Seipp - a friend of Loh's since their Buzz magazine days - says it was the f-word, recorded onto the tape but not bleeped for humorous effect by an engineer as Loh intended. She was fired by KCRW general manager Ruth Seymour.
Ross Johnson writes: See, that's why I pay 29.95 a month to subscribe to Cathy's World. It's scoops like these that keeps Cathy on the air. So please, please call our operators - who are standing by - and pledge to this blog. We're shooting for $500,000 by the end of Friday. Oh, it's Cathy's friend Bob Evans on the line. He has no money, but says this is a great opportunity for Ms. Loh to finally "come to the mountain" and fulfill her destiny to be the next Ashley Judd. In my experience, Sandra could've save her gig if she would have gotten down on the studio rug and groveled and said, "Please, Masta Ruth, I didn't mean 'f---' in a sexual context!" Fat chance! Time to tune into KPCC.
Frank del Olmo: Guiding Light in Chicano Journalism Passes Away
Félix Gutiérrez is a visiting professor of journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.
Alec Baldwin -- American Patriot
New York, NY, March 1, 2004 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed outrage at a shocking parody in the winter 2004 issue of Heeb Magazine that plays on the recent controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ."
Among other destructive images, the magazine's "Crimes of Passion" photo display portrays Jesus as a sex object with his genitalia wrapped in a Jewish prayer shawl. The Virgin Mary is shown as a seductress with exposed breasts and body piercings.
"Heeb Magazine's irresponsible attempt at parody is deeply offensive and blasphemous to both Christians and Jews," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "There is a point when parody crosses the line into tastelessness. With this issue, Heeb not only crosses that boundary but engages in highly destructive anti-Christian themes that are both insensitive and ill-timed."
From the magazine's debut in January 2002, ADL has expressed misgivings about the magazine's attempts at irreverence, including the use of an ethnic slur as a name. In a letter to Heeb Editor-in-Chief Joshua Neuman, the League said the winter 2004 issue confirms those earlier concerns.
"For us, it is no more acceptable to be anti-Christian than it is to be anti-Jewish," Mr. Foxman said in the letter to Heeb. "Coming at a time when a major motion picture is threatening to turn back the clock on decades of positive interfaith relations, your magazine's irresponsible attempt at parody has done a great disservice to the Jewish community."
The Secret Lives Of Video Game Stars
I interview TV writer and producer Jason Venokur, an Orthodox Jew, on Wednesday, February 25, 2004.
"I was born in Brooklyn. I grew up in Scarsdale [New York]. I went to Dartmouth college. I majored in English. I came out to LA in 1992, right after college. I worked as a production assistant on Sliver with Sharon Stone. Then I became a computer editor on On Deadly Ground with Steven Seagal. The editing bay was a big computer on skis and I'd make a hut with a C-stand, sit in the hut and I'd edit the movie as it got shot. I worked at MTV for few different shows such as Road Rules and Singled Out. I was a production assistant on a TV show called Platypus Man. In 1993, I met my writing partner Dave Goetsch through some friends. I was answering phones on a UPN comedy called Platypus Man. 'Which was your favorite episode?'
"Dave and I would read each other's scripts. Neither of us liked the other's writing. So we decided to partner up for a nine year trial period. In 1996, we went on staff at 3rd Rock From The Sun for five years, going from staff writers to executive producers.
"We stayed around Carsey-Warner [production company] and developed shows. We wrote movies for different studios that never got made but at least they paid us. Last year, along with David Sacks and my brother Ross, we developed a animated show called Game Over [that will air on UPN, starting March 10 at 8PM]. It's about the what video game characters do when they get home from work. Lucy Liu stars as a mom caught between chasing after the emerald monkey and making lunch for her kids. The neighbors are Shaolin monks who have kung fu battles on the roof. It's very educational."
Luke: "When did you become interested in Judaism?"
Jason: "Through 3rd Rock From The Sun. I was basically trying to schmooze David Sacks because he was much higher up on the show than I was. I was quickly won over by [Judaism] intellectually. It was the practice that took years. It was tough to become observant, to change my identity. But once I decided to go ahead with it, every thing gelled.
"Thank God, at 3rd Rock, there were observant Jews there already. When I declared I wanted to keep Shabbos, my boss said, 'Wow, I wish I could believe in Jesus.'
"In keeping mitzvot [Jewish Law], I've had a blessed path. As far as reconciling it on a content level, that's something everyone has to deal with themselves. 3rd Rock lent itself to examination of what motivates people. It was theme driven. There was frequently an opportunity to drop in thoughts that were meaningful. I think that was the inclination of the show runners. From a comedy appreciation angle, I've never been pulled towards the lewd."
Luke: "How many people on Game Over are observant?"
Jason: "Just me and David, but we have a kosher grill.
"The show goes in all directions. We worked in a TuBishVat joke, but that's not the mission of the show. The main thing is to make it an entertaining show. Video games are so huge. They are bigger than movies and TV combined."
Luke: "In total sales?"
Jason: "Supposedly. I say that a lot. I hope it's true.
"It's just a market that hasn't been serviced in this way and people love video games. Our real world is so out of control, the hyper-realized world of video games seems like our generation's last hope for satire. Super Mario is very Swiftian. I don't know if you've played any games recently?"
Luke: "I haven't played any videogames since high school, which was the early 1980s. Were you a big player of video games before the show?"
Jason: "No. But when we got the order for the show, we hired a guy named Fish to sit in the livingroom of the office in front of a huge screen TV and just play videogames all day long. We would walk back and forth and he'd show us different things and we'd all gradually get into it and found games that we liked."
Luke: "What's harder? Being a television writer who is an Orthodox Jew or being an Orthodox Jew who writes for television?"
Jason: "In the Orthodox world, everyone's great. Nobody cares. More often than not, they're interested because it is unusual in the Orthodox world. In the TV world, it's similar. There are a few of us. It's not bad. It's nice to know you are in the center of the nonsense center of the world. But you can still feel grounded and inspired. Neither world is unaccommodating to the other."
Venokur lists off a dozen Orthodox Jews he knows who write for television. "You have to have a job and it [writing for television] is a great job to have. You have the potential to have a huge impact. It's hard to have a pure huge impact. Everything comes through so many channels. When you're writing television, your job is not to change the world. If you're too literal, you are probably not going to have too much success."
Luke: "Do you find it jarring transitioning between the two worlds?"
Jason: "I don't know. I go home to a community, friends, people who know what I am about. In the snap of a finger, it could be much more difficult."
Luke: "Has God ever spoken to you?"
Jason chuckles: "Not per se."
Luke: "Has He ever intervened in your life?"
Jason: "You have to say He intervenes constantly."
Luke: "Is marijuana trafe?"
Jason: "Only because it is against the law of the land."
Luke: "Are you more positive or negative about the future of Jews in North America?"
Jason: "Oh wow."
He thinks for a few seconds. "There's an enormous resurgence now in the observant world. That's a counterpoint to losing people through intermarriage. I'm optimistic."
Luke: "Would you like to see an Orthodox Jew as president of the United States?"
Luke: "Do you feel a tension between being funny and being seriously Jewish?"
Amalek Implores the Jews to Keep Their HANDS OFF MEL GIBSON
Chaim Amalek writes:
Something interesting I learned about men yesterday:
Cathy Seipp writes:
So as my life flashes before my eyes, I yell at Max, "Slow the ---- down."
Max: "You're supposed to say shmai yisrael before you die."
Luke: "---- you, shmai yisrael adonai ellohenu adonai echod."
Cathy Don't Preach - I'm Keeping Our Baby
I know I've always been your little boy. I know you've taught me right from wrong.
The one you warned me all about. The one you said I could do without.
Cathy, Cathy, if you could only see inside of me, you'd give me your blessing right now.
My friends keep telling me to give it up. I'm too young, I need to live it up. But I'm keeping my baby.
Luke writes the photographer: "Thanks for granting me the favor of not using my real name. Perhaps you might consider another favor on this line. Please, no more photos. I truly wish to stay on the downlow for a while."
He replies: "I more than understand, but it was such a beautiful and poignant photo, that conveyed so much sentiment of your position in this industry, that I could not resist. I could have run it alone."
Should Luke Pose With Nothing But A Smile?
David Koslow writes:
Cathy writes: "Hey you should pose for Bachardy. You'd get yourself a ton of publicity, and be in a valuable piece of art to boot. Or just have him use that pic of you in the headphones and use his imagination! What if Bachardy painted you sitting at the computer, in the hovel, but, you know, nude. Would you consider that? "
Rodger Jacobs writes Luke: "I would not miss out on the opportunity to pose for Bachardy if I were you. Have you ever read Isherwood? I think you would like him. Try "Berlin Stories" or "A Single Man" (an L.A. novel). I just read "Jacob's Hands", a movie treatment-turned-novel that was a collaboration between Isherwood and Aldous Huxley. Interesting stuff. If memory recalls, Bachardy is the executor of Isherwood's estate."
Who Will Be Next Honorary Latino On LA Times Masthead Now That Super-Accomplished Messianic Figure Frank del Olmo's Kicked The Bucket?
It's a provocative question because there are not exactly a plethora of leading journalists who are Latino. Quick, name one? Gerald Rivera, I guess.
A source writes, "I understand some of the Latino activists in town are already badgering people at the Times for a Latino on the masthead. They're throwing out names like those of Steve Padilla, an editor of some sort there, as someone they want to push into that role."
I guess it will be up to the Latino Mafia at the Times to choose. I think they should call the position the Frank del Olmo Honorary Latino Token Editor.
A journalist writes me: "Don't know what to make of that Garcia Marquez and Carlos Fuentes BS. Just out of curiosity, I ran the names of del Olmo and each of them through the LA Times archieves. Nothing came up. I mean, if you're a journalist -- especially one supposedly on top of Latino affairs -- and you have a chance to be in the same room, much less get an abrazo, from latinos of letters of this magnitude, wouldn't you write something? Even a suckup piece?"
I believe that soon his holiness, Pope John Paul II, will declare Del Olmo a saint and there will be a national holiday throughout America on the day of his election to the holy cardinals of editors of that terrific newspaper, the LA Times.
Tom Berman writes Luke: "Come on, dude. Your racism is only amusing when it inspires clever writing."
Luke replies: It is the LA Times that promotes racism, not me. The Times hires and promotes many blacks and Latinos on the base of race rather than merit. I believe in only merit-based hiring and promotion. I think it was demeaning of the Times to advance to editor a man solely on the basis of his being Latino. Nobody can remember Frank del Olmo breaking a story. He was no great shakes as either a reporter or writer (his columns were dull). He was a heckuva nice guy and racial activist but since when do those traits deserve an editorship at a major general-interest newspaper?
Working With The Homeless
My friend Rob runs a mission in the San Fernando Valley looking after the homeless. It's an expression of his fervent Roman Catholic faith. I took Thursday off work to help him work with a challenging new case, Luigi. Luigi, Rob and his assistant Randi.
9:30AM, Thursday, 2/26/04. Rob's assistant Kenny wanders over and talks into my digital tape recorder: "Put on your website. Kenny Carolina. George Bush sucks ------ -----. This Jesus movie is going to ---- everything up. They took Howard Stern off the air for saying ----. I've just got one thing to say: ---, ----, ----."
Rob's getting agitated. His 18-year old assistant Randi tries to calm him down. "Listen, there's no reason to be upset because I'm with you.
"He looks like Luigi from Mario Superbrothers. He's a little crazy."Rob: "A little crazy?" Rob booms to Luigi: "How much medication are you on?" Luigi: "Nine hundred milligrams of lithium bicarbonate." Luke: "I'm on the same dosage." Randi: "So am I. I had to take lithium when I was 12. It made me sick."
Rob yells to Luigi: "You want to show them your house?"
He means his car, because that is where Luigi lives. It's filled with trash.Luigi: "No." Luke: "It bloats me. I put on ten pounds."
Randi: "Really? I was vomiting."
On the one hand, I shudder at what Rob says to Luigi. On the other hand, Rob has taken an interest in a homeless guy, lent him money, and done him favors.Luke: "How did you find Luigi?" Luigi: "I came to him. I chose him. He didn't choose me." Rob: "Excuse me. Put some water in the thing. When I tell you to do something, you do what I tell you to do."
Luke: "What group did you hang out with in high school?"Randi: "The bad group. I had my own girl clique. Not drugs. We'd ditch class and we didn't care about school." Duke: "Where are they now?" Randi: "They're in junior colleges and stuff. I go to a private fashion school. I have a 4.0. I'm going into digital communication, being a stylist for celebrities. Advertising. Billboards." Luigi: "It's Master Devious, not Luigi." Rob: "No, I changed it to Luigi." Luigi hovers over Randi: "If you call me Luigi, you are never going to feel 12 orgasms within ten minutes." Randi: "Too bad I'll never find out."
Luke to Luigi: "Can you do the same for a man?"
Luigi: "It's physically impossible."Rob yells: "Luigi, can you sit and talk? Yes or no?" Luigi hovers above us. Luigi: "The complementary Tantric technology for males is called the lingum massage. Lingum means staff of light. When that's combined with a prostate massage, you can build up six orgasms before the final explosion. You rebuild, you let off. You rebuild, you let off. You rebuild, you let off. You cycle it about six times and then you give them one helluva an intense orgasm." The Colonel steps outside to smoke a cigarette. "The youth of America," he complains. "They don't care what The Colonel has to say."
Ron asks Rob where he gets his assistants. Off the street? Yes. Rob has a weakness for bizarre characters, which is why he likes me.Rob asks Luigi to say hello to people by belting out an operatic Italian tune. Luigi seems like a pretty good singer. Rob asks Luigi to fetch a leash. Luigi says the color doesn't suit him.
"I don't want that going in a magazine," Luigi says. "That's off the record."
Rob: "Nothing's off the record with him."Luigi steps close to me and stares me down: "Do you understand that's off the record?" I nod. Rob: "He's a computer genius." Luigi: "I am a computer genius." Rob: "I said, 'Shut the ---- up. Don't repeat what I say.'" Luigi: "Aye, aye, sir. Strike Master Devious from the record so my fans won't know." A man walks up. "Say hi to my dog," says Rob about Luigi. Luigi says he served in the US Marines reserves. "I think he got hit in the head with a rocket," says Rob. Luigi: "I'm a performing artist, lyricist and soon to be recording artist." Rob: "And a mental patient. And a computer genius." Luigi coughs. "Cover your mouth," Rob orders. Luigi spits. "Don't spit in front of me," Rob orders. Luigi walks off to spit. Rob: "See this mental patient? There's another one, about 6'2" and weighs about 250. They're homeless. I've adopted them. "He's [Luigi] really crazy. He lives in his car. "I feed them. I get them a hotel room once in a while. This one's gay. The other one's straight. I made them share a room the other day. The big one told this one, 'I'll do it. But if I wake up in the middle of the night and you're over me with a hardon, I'll kill you.' "He came to my office the first day, carrying on. He says he has some women's lingerie for sale. I said, 'Do you wear it?' He looked at me and said, 'Are you crazy? Can I go down to my car and show it to you?' I say yes. He starts walking out. I say, 'I'm going to watch you on this monitor. If you come up here with a gun, I'm going to kill you.' He comes in the door with a rifle case. I have my gun. I tell him to back up, open it up real slow. It was full of whips and chains. He carries it in a rifle case. "I'd like to open up a homeless shelter, state-funded." Taking a Scientological approach to bio-chemical solutions, Rob turns to Luigi: "I will give you $5000, I've got it right here, to eat all your pills at one shot."
Luigi refuses. He uses nail polish remover to clean up.
Donations to help Rob's mission can be sent to my paypal account at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rude Jews Rage For Bush
Sunday morning, I meet for the first time my IM friend "Max," an Orthodox Jew from NY. He says my adventures came up at a Shabbos meal. The topic was: At what level of misbehavior, do you kick a Jew out of shul?
We drive to the home of Bruce Bialosky, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition of Los Angeles. We arrive at 20 minutes early but the home is already filling up. Max and I reduce the average age by 10 years.
John Podhoretz is the featured speaker. An author, pundit, columnist, and a Jewish Policy Center fellow, his new book is called, "Bush Country: How Dubya Became a Great President While Driving Liberals Insane."
As we get our name tags, Bruce's boy asks if we want to buy a book for $24. No, Max and I are too poor.
John trundles in with his beautiful wife and Bruce moves him to the kitchen to sign autographs. The son of Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, neo-conservatives with Commentary magazine, John has beautiful manners and strives to make personal signings on each book on the correct page, the title page.
John's sister's husband is Elliot Abrams. His wife's father is a rabbi.
John jars me when he talks about the Old Testament and New Testament. Jews do not call their Bible the Old Testament. They call it the Bible or the Hebrew Bible or the Tanach to use the Hebrew.
Cathy Seipp arrives and buys a book so John can autograph it for her 14 year old daughter Cecile du Bois, a big fan. John writes that she's a "brave new voice," referring to her blog. John also acknowledges that he reads Cathy's blog. He likes her new picture. She's pleased.
I ask Cathy why the LA Press Club doesn't throw a party for John's new book. She says the LAPC would never do that for a book praising Bush, and neither would her party-throwing friends Amy Alkon and Emmanuelle Richard.
I plant myself in between Max and Cathy when making the introduction so she won't humiliate me again and try to shake the hand of an Orthodox man. Cathy gets her own back, however, and humiliates me by giving me a big hug and kiss.
Normally, Cathy and I never touch, because if we did, given the vast amount of what we have in common, the results could be volcanic, and I've got too much respect for her to venture into that realm.
I see a woman I dated two years ago. She got married on Saturday.
I look anxiously out the window for my date. She arrives 20 minutes late. When I spot her, I shoot my hands up to wave, knocking over one of Bruce's pictures, the glass frame shattering, and shards spilling across the floor.
"Don't worry," says Bruce, "It wasn't anything I cared about. Only family."
I spot novelist and screenwriter Roger L. Simon slipping in, wearing an orange baseball cap.
John speaks extemporaneously for 20 minutes. So far so good. Then the questions come in. Hands sky angrily and people start yelling. Sheesh, Jews just won't wait their turn like Protestants and Englishmen, who know how to que. It threatens to become a riot when one liberal says we need to tax the rich more to pay for the Iraq war.
Podhoretz says this past week's Passion movie and Bush's support for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage will hurt Jewish support for the Republican party. But in the country as a whole, the marriage amendment will not hurt Bush politically (similar to how support for the Second Amendment -- right to bear arms -- has helped Republicans in three elections in the past decade).
Max and I meet Cathy, Cecile, Cathy's ex-husband Jerry, her father Harvey and Cecile's half-brother Jonah for lunch at Dennys. Max and I can't eat anything because the restaurant is not kosher. I order a strawberry milkshake. Max won't even have coffee or Coke.
I have taken off my yarmulke in this trafe place, but Max leaves his black beanie in place.
Cecile and Jonah studied about Purim in their Sunday school.
Because I've always wanted to say "Who's your daddy?," I say it to Jonah. He looks confused. I repeat myself. He points at Jerry.
Cathy tells Jonah she wants her quarter back from his magic trick. He dallies. Cathy looks mightily unpleased. Time for an intervenetion. "Jonah," I intone, "never come between Cathy and a quarter. That's why the Jews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. We were looking for Cathy's quarter."
The check comes and lies limply on the table for 20 minutes until the waitress swings by and asks if anyone wants to pick the damn thing up. Nobody moves. Silence falls over the table for the first time and everybody looks away.
I fear that Cathy may have to leave behind her firstborn as ransom. Visions of tears streaming down unhappy faces overwhelmes me until I flip the waitress my www.lukeford.net Master Card. $43:44. Then bills shower down upon me from Jerry and Harvey. I push them away, manly man that I am. I can support a family for one meal.
I harangue Cathy to put a "FightNicely.com" bumper sticker on her car to advance her ex-husband's new career as a mediator. Place it alongside the "Give War A Chance" sticker.
Out of all the disputes I've heard about between Cathy and her ex-husband Jerry, I side with Jerry 90% of the time (even though I am closer with Cathy). My strong stance in this regard must serve as a stern reprimand to Cathy's tendency to veer into profanity when certain subjects rise to the surface (which they do with disconcerting frequency).
"Fight nicely," was the most common phrase Jerry heard from his father growing up.
We discuss female rabbis. Cathy does not dig them. She doesn't like listening to female rabbis and she doesn't like a woman telling her what to do. But when it comes to a man, Cathy swoons. A manly man can do anything he wants to her -- just ask any of her many male editors, Cathy was always suggestible -- a fine feminine trait.
Cecile has been writing about me in English class. Her stories make the boys very excited. When I hear the details, I blush. I've polluted young lives.
"Don't worry," says Cecile, feeling compassion for my plight. "I will tell them that I lied when it comes to.... I'll just tell them I'm a ----- girl."
I cover my face with my hands and wish to disappear.
Cecile wants to bring me to her English class this week for "Show and Tell."
Cathy and Cecile have an Oscar tradition -- they get into their jammies and watch the awards.
I have a tradition too -- never watch the awards unless I am lying (clothed on a plastic sheet) on top of a beautiful woman.
Naomi Wolf's Self-Annihilation
Heather Mac Donald writes: "I don't know if Naomi Wolf's self-annihilation in New York mag. has reached Calif. yet, but it's absolutely delicious. Had Yale never taught a female to regard herself as a victim of the patriarchy, I might feel sorry for it, but as it is, Wolf's ludicrous attempt to revive her sex-based notoriety couldn't have befallen a more deserving institution. The most interesting question is whether her husband, NYT op-ed editor David Shipley, is on suicide watch."
Fred writes: "I heard Ms. Wolfe give a talk on NPR once. Unbelievably vacuous. The person who introduced her to the audience described her as an intellectual. Oy vey. If I were the head of Yale, I'd ignore her too."
Mark Twain writes: "The penis mightier than the sword."
Cathy Seipp writes on her blog:
Sheitelstock is Coming!
Chaim Amalek writes: "Whilst wandering through my boyhood haunts on the Lower East Side today, I stopped off at Katz's deli for some pastrami. Sadly, I found it disappointing, which, though bad for my palate, likely will prove to be better for what remains of my heart. I left feeling unfulfilled, and continued my Sunday stroll down Ludlow to Rivington. The interesting thing about Rivington Street is that not only is it the home of the First Roumanian Hebrew Congregation (which gives it that important "heimishe" feel), it also has a women-run sex toys store almost directly across the street from the shul. The store is a fine, welcoming place, where an elderly gentleman like me who depends on a cane to get around can stop for a chat and some converstion with nice young lesbian shiksas. In the course of our chat, I learned that in a few weeks, the orthodox lesbians of New York will be having a Purim party of their very own - "sheitelstock" (www.orthodykesny.org). Does your kehilla in LA offer similar social outlets, and are they keyed towards Purim?"
Luke's Favorite Pick Up Line
"Scream and I'll kill you."
Do You Allow Publicists The Final Word?
Tony Castro blogged a story. Martha Goldstein, the Times' vice president for communications, emails Kevin Roderick that Castro was all wrong. "...Totally inaccurate and irresponsible. The fact is that a Los Angeles Times editor met the paramedics upon their arrival at The Times building and immediately escorted them to Frank del Olmo's office."
Kevin Roderick responds on his blog: "Wouldn't be the first time that newsroom scuttlebutt turned out to be erroneous."
Since when does a reporter automatically accept the word of a publicist? Kevin Roderick apparently does. He apparently thinks that because a Times flack, a paid liar, tells him that a story is wrong, it is wrong.
Mark Glaser of OJR.org has the same inclination. He writes out in his stories his belief that publicists and studio flacks tell him the truth.
Kevin and Mark are establishment journalists. They believe what the establishment tells them unless there is strong evidence to the contrary. I, on the other hand, instinctively distrust official sources and I regard publicists, without evidence to the contrary, as paid liars.
Why on earth would anyone automatically believe the Times VP? Why does her public relations immediately dismiss the reporting of other sources? This flack may be telling the truth here just like a stop watch will tell the correct time twice a day. But there's no correlation between publicists and truth.
'I don't really hate women'
I call a 22-year old community college dropout at 10:40PM. "I was really mad when I got off the phone with you," she says, "because normally when you vent, you are supposed to feel better. And I didn't feel better. So I called [our mutual Jewish friend] KB and told him that neither he nor Luke Ford made me feel any better and both you guys said I needed therapy and ---- you and hung up on him."
Kevin Blatt has not been himself the past two weeks. He's been in love with a barely legal girl and just not been his normal bouncy spiritual self.He sounds deeply congested when we talk on the phone Friday afternoon, right before I begin my meditation practices for the weekend. It is a time to re-evaluate who we are and where we are going with our lives. We decide to focus our brief chat on what is most important. Luke: "Is your GF still into you?" KB: "Well..." Luke: "Is she having --- with you?" KB: "Well...You know..." Luke: "Has she allowed you to put your ----- in her ------?" KB: "No comment. Did you like the call I gave you last night with Lyra [a 22-year old Italian-American friend of KB's]?" Luke: "I only heard Lyra." KB: "I put her up to it. She called from my phone, didn't she?" Luke: "She did. I thought that came from her heart, not from your suggestion." KB: "She likes your accent." Luke: "So she's 5'7" and 133 pounds?" KB: "She slept over last night and looked adorable. She's hot." Luke: "OK, I'm going to have to do something about that." KB: "Big natural -----." Luke: "I'm into that." KB: "I know you are. Who wouldn't be?" Luke: "I need to give her a good reason to come to LA. The Shabbos?" KB: "Your kiddish cup will runneth over. To be honest with you, I don't think she'd last in a room with you for two minutes." Luke, deeply hurt: "Why?" KB: "She'd be so weirded-out by you." Luke: "How?" KB: "You're a little different in person than you are on the phone. You're very docile [read medicated], let's just say that." Luke: "I'm restrained?" KB: "In a literary way. "You're not one to dance on tables." Luke: "You think she'll get bored in two minutes?" KB: "Yeah. She likes crazy people. For you, craziness could mean not brushing your teeth before going to bed. Or not keeping kosher." Luke: "That's way beyond crazy." KB: "God forbid she spills some pork crackles on you, you'd go off." Luke: "I'd run." KB: "You wouldn't kiss a mouth that had had swine in it." Luke: "I don't want her to even drink." KB: "It wouldn't work." Luke: "I strongly encouraged her to go to Church this Sunday. "I am trying to reach out to lost souls." KB: "So am I. It does me no good."
Cathy Seipp phoned Saturday night. I tell her about my interview last week with an Orthodox Jew who has a TV show debuting Wednesday.
I think I went to shul with Jason when he lived in LA.
Cathy: "If you were nicer to Rob Eshman [editor], you could get these things in the Jewish Journal."
I snort. "The Jewish Journal. Why would I want to be in the Jewish Journal? It's a dull paper. He's a lovely guy though."
Cathy: "You secretly love the Jewish Journal. You'd love to be in the Jewish Journal."
Luke: "I don't think so. If I wrote for them, I'd have to stop writing about how much I hate the paper for being boring."
Cathy: "So give it up."
Luke: "That's not authentic."
Cathy: "I think it is. You say you hate it but you really want to be in it, like your deal with women."
Luke: "I don't really hate them. I just want to be in them?"
We dissolve in laughter.
Cathy Seipp, Cindy Ebner, Luke, Ross Johnson
Cathy Seipp writes: "Did you like the Hwd Interrupted pix? You should put the one of you with that lady lawyer on your site, as it's a rare documentation of Luke On a Date."
Luke, David Poland
Author Mark Ebner with Cindy Ebner, no relation
Zeffirelli Brands Mel Gibson's Passion Anti-Semitic; Calls Director “Bloodthirsty”
How Can We Best Carry On Frank Del Olmo's Legacy?
Yvette Ayala writes Tony Castro:
Jaffe gives lightweight examples for this supposedly heavyweight investigative emphasis at the LAT. What exactly has the paper turned up that is so shattering? The paper's still a snore, and the majority of the copy is so dull, it is not worth wading through the muck to find the good stuff. The LAT still does not have one fifth of the national impact that the NYT has. It's far from a must-read for East Coast decision makers while most smart people on the West Coast read The New York Times.
Chaim Amalek Views The Passion Of Christ
Dubious About Luke's Porn Statistics
Dave Deutsch writes:
The story I linked to on Opinionjournal.com was about the decline in Ecstasy use. I simply replaced the word "Ecstasy" with "porn" to provoke.
Dave replies: "Gee, Imagine that, a guy with a penchant for quoting bloviating moralists like Dennis Prager posts a story that suggests that America is winning its long and bitter war against porn, and I didn't catch that it was actually a Swiftian satire. For satires to be successful, you need to make them sound like things that other people find significant.
"Your satire may be as subtle as you wish, my gazelle, but do not expect the same from my love. Oh, and just saw the pictures on the site--you need a haircut. You look like a soap opera star."
Seen The Passion Yet?
Heather Mac Donald writes: "I just love this moment--the Jews are suggesting that the Christian story can no longer be told because it implicates them. That they can even suggest this without being laughed out of the polity shows that no one really takes religion all that seriously anymore; our culture is operating with some sort of implicit understanding that the Bible is just a fictional story anyway, so why not edit it a little so as not to give offense."
OK, you have hit an emotional tripwire here.
Jews are not saying that Christians can not tell their story because it implicates them. Christians have been telling their story implicating Jews for 2000 years. It is embedded in their Bible. Christians tell their story of Christ every day and every week, without a peep of protest of Jews.
Most Jews, however, are tired of Christians whipping themselves into a Jew-hating fervor through particular tellings of the Passion that lead to Jews. Tens of thousands of Jews have been slaughtered by Christians after fervent tellings of The Passion over the past millenia, and just a generation ago, the children of Christians murdered six million Jews (with little resistance from organized Christianity).
The only thing most Jews want from Christians is that they keep their hands off us and off our kids.
Good people can apparently look at THE PASSION and come out the other side with different views on whether or not Jews are going to be murdered because of this film. Count me among those who expects Jews to die because of this particular telling of THE PASSION.
You can tell a story integral to your religious tradition in a way that leads to criminal violence or in ways that lead away from criminal violence. For 3000 years, Jews have been telling the Passover story and it has not led to Jews going out to murdering Egyptians. Unfortunately, Christians can not say the same thing about their tellings of the Passion.
"How do you tell a story that is central to your tradition that celebrates vengeful killing of one's enemies without leading to such murder today" asked the rabbi in my shul this morning. "Of course, I'm talking about Purim."
On Purim, we retell a bloody tale of slaughtering our enemies by the thousands. But Jews don't tell such tales in ways that lead us to criminal violence. Other religions can't say the same thing. Christians and Muslims, when they've been able to, have slaughtered en masse when inspired by their religious tales.
Those Jews opposed to Mel Gibson's THE PASSION are not calling on him to edit the Gospels. They are asking him to tell the story in a way that won't lead to criminal violence.
This happens all the time in other contexts. For instance, theater owners don't want to play movies that attract an "urban audience" because such an audience so frequently gets very excited and starts shooting up the screen, each other and innocent bystanders.
Religion, like any other institution you can name, has always been influenced by its surroundings. Modernity has taught us a different way of viewing texts than we had 300 years ago. This shapes our reactions to Jane Austen and the Gospel of Matthew. What's so difficult about understanding this?
About 40% of Americans go to a house of worship weekly. Obviously religion is still taken seriously in most of America, just not in the godless nihilistic circles you run in.
Have you seen it yet? I do not intend to see this movie. It sounds repulsive.
Robert Light writes:
Dear Robert, precisely how many millions of Jews have to be slaughtered by Christians (or the children of Christians) before you realize that fanning these flames of Jew-hatred is not OK? There are only 12 million Jews in the world. Almost half of them live in Israel, a state that could be extinguished at any moment. So precisely how many Jews must die before you stop accusing us of over-reacting to a film based on Passion plays that led to the murder of almost every man, woman and child born Jewish just a generation ago in Christendom? Please tell me precisely how much more Jewish blood must be shed? If Israel were obliterated in a nuclear bomb, how many more dead Jews would you need before you stopped accusing us of over-reacting to people like Mel Gibson who perpetuate the deicide charge that has slaughtered us in the millions? Put your cards on the table.
I understand that Orthodox Jews like Michael Medved and Rabbi Daniel Lapin have their own views on the film and how Jews should react. They are entitled to them. It is like reading the prophet Isaiah in shul and hear him say how lousy and stiff-necked we are. It is when non-Jews say they don't understand what all the Jewish fuss is about over the Christians telling their story that I, the son of Christian theologian, Bible scholar and evangelist who eventually converted to Judaism, go nuts. People aren't going to watch THE PASSION and hunt down Robert Light and kill him for killing god. Instead, they will be coming after me and my people.
I haven't prescribed any one reaction to THE PASSION. I have published more material reflecting Robert's views than contrary to them.
Over a decade ago in Crown Heighs, you had rampaging blacks charging down the street screaming "Death to the Jews." It was a pogrom, in America. They stabbed to death an innocent peaceful Australian Orthodox Jew. The police stood by and justice was never done to those who murdered.
I don't think my fears, and those of Abe Foxman and Rabbi Marvin Hier, are misplaced.
Robert Light replies:
Robert, this movie will be shown all over the world, not just the United States. I am arguing precisely. Europe already hates Jews and almost succeeded in murdering every single one of them a generation ago. I dread what will happen to my people when Europeans and Arabs see this film. When Jews die because of THE PASSION, I'm sure their family and friends will be comforted to read your argument that it was the Jews fault that goyim have slaughtered Jews again. As you put it so eloquently, "...[A]ny negative consequences [to Jews]...will surely have more to do with Jewish over-reaction and flaming of the passions over The Passion." Yes, once again, Jews will die for our own sins, for putting to death the god of the goyim. I suppose the Holocaust was our fault too for over-reacting to Nazi anti-Semitism.
Why Black Boys Date White Girls
I love writing about race because it makes people so nervous.
I read Thomas Sowell's memoir, A Personal Odyssey, in six hours. I've read half a dozen books by the black economist, including three in the past three weeks. He's written great stuff on race and ethnicity, including the IQ debate.
Like all of Sowell's work, it is not light reading. The man is all about substance, not rhetorical tricks. It took me a while to get into the memoir. It seemed like just isolated incidents and he makes little explicit effort to develop a theme. I was also put off that 80% of the stories put Sowell in a good light.
I learned a great deal about the ineptitude of Cornel, Howard College (Washington D.C. college for blacks with low standards), Urban Institute, the Nixon, Ford and Reagen administrations (the latter particularly inept with race).
Here are some of my favorite sections:
I'm sure there have been identical exchanges (but replace black with Jewish) at Hillel, the college group for Jews. I would not stigmatize Jewish women as excessively more materialistic than other women of their class and education. They go out with me and I have nothing.
A Sabbath To Focus
A few weeks ago, my shul had a Shabbat to Focus. That means you're supposed to focus on your prayers and the Torah reading. Fine. We have one once a year. I can handle it. Now I find out that just a few short weeks after the last Shabbat when we were supposed to pray with focus, we have to do it again. I don't know if I can handle this. If I ever start internalizing any of the words I'm supposed to say, I'm going to have to change my whole life. Fear of God. Love of Torah. Hating evil. Forgiving your fellows.
The Amazing Adventures of Fox Man
David Deutsch writes:
Teen Love Affair With Porn Over