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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

Sally Berkovics writes in the Jerusalem Post:

Fear of the 'F' word in Orthodox circles often sends the community into collective apoplexy. While it may be psychologically convenient to dismiss feminism as the work of a few angry women, its reverberations are irreversible and profound.

For over a decade, the agenda of Orthodox feminists has focused on increasing participation of women in ritual life, developing opportunities for advanced Talmud study, and advocating change on the aguna issue (women unable to receive a divorce from their husbands). These changes have impacted on the nature of family life, the structure of communal institutions, the modern Orthodox rabbinate, and the ultra-Orthodox community secretly watching with intense curiosity from the sidelines.

At last week's Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) conference in New York, the stakes were raised even higher as issues addressing communal structures, rather than just personal fulfillment, were discussed.

Of the myriad topics raised, there are three in particular which are dangerously naive to ignore: There must be an acknowledgement of sexual, emotional and physical abuse by Orthodox rabbis, teachers and youth leaders, even if these comprise a minority. It's not a pleasant topic, nor one that makes an organization popular, but unless those in positions of power know that their inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated they will continue to abuse their positions for personal gain.

At least three traditional mechanisms have been misused to silence victims: directives against lashon hara (malicious gossip), the principle of mesira (not turning someone over to the civil authorities) and hilul Hashem (desecrating God's name) or, more simply put, what will the non-Jews say?

As long as the community perpetuates a damaging myth of perfection by denying these problems, abuse will continue.

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:

Luke, you are an established cultural, social, and cutting edge pioneer. But the trouble with being out in front is that the times (pun) have a way of nipping at your heels and eventually catching up.

The inexorable rotation of the wheel of history has just moved another notch. Today's Must Read (Wed 3/3) is Page E13, Style & Culture, the Times (there's the pun). "For a generation of Jews, it's Kosher to be cool."

FLASH: Heeb Makes it Mainstream!

Sorry, Luke, but you're now history. But you must have seen it coming? The real question now is: Where & How to Reestablish Your Leadership Role?

Anti-Semitism is passe. The Cultural Wars have become boring (especially in the shadow of real wars!). Religion is so last century!

Here's an excerpt of that Newsday article:

[Jewish hipsters] listen to bands like the Hasidic New Wave and Hip Hop Hoodios, delight in the Yiddish-inflected humor of the magazine Heeb: The New Jew Review, and read a new raft of young, transgressive Jewish writers.

"I think it's too soon and too inchoate to call it a movement yet, but I really do believe there is something profound and exciting going on right now with young Jews who are trying to connect with Judaism in thoroughly untraditional and in thoroughly new ways," said Joshua Neuman, 31, publisher and editor of the 2-year-old Heeb.

"These are people who are really comfortable in their identities and so they can be playful about boundaries and make fun of themselves," says Alicia Svigals, a Jewish music pioneer whose work with the Klezmatics starting in the mid-'80s set the stage for the hipsters.

"I think this time is going to be seen, in hindsight, as the beginning of a golden age," says Heeb's Neuman. "You could call it post-denominational Judaism. Our staff includes Jews from every denomination … all of whom think of ourselves as trapped, for better and for worse, in the same historical narrative. And we want to have a dynamic, interrogating, nuanced, at times critical and at times irreverent relationship with all things Jewish."

Chaim Amalek writes Luke:

I think you are still (potentially, at least) on the bleeding edge of popular culture, Luke, to the extent that any man of your advancing years can be said to be on the bleeding edge of anything other than his gums. That notch Mr. Crawley sees is already the mark of yesteryear's news, so very 1995-ish. The wheel has turned again, and what is "in" is having some ash on your forehead on Ash Wednesday, praising Mel Gibson for having taken on the Hollywood "establishment" (read: Jews), and constructing a world apart from the secular world certain numerically tiny ethnic groups feel most comfortable in.

Whether or not certain jews in certain cosmopolitan neighborhoods think one can be both cool and Jewish simultaneously, the Muslim immigrants, the Mexicans and, increasingly, religious Christians just don't see the world in the same terms. (Heeb magazine, "mainstream?" Just wait until their issue lampooning the Passion comes out.)

Some Jewish Jokes

Dave Deutsch writes:

While I was writing up something for Heeb's upcoming guilt issue, I was reminded of a joke which perfectly captures the spirit of Luke Ford's relationship to halacha:

It's Friday night, and a reform rabbi is standing in his temple's lobby, when he smells smoke. He follows the scent into the bathroom, and finds a man furtively smoking. "Sir, please, there's no need embarrassment," the rabbi assures him. "It's alright if you smoke here, we're reform."

"Yes," wailed the man, shamefaced. "But I'm Orthodox."


A Hasidic man arranges for a hooker to come to his room for the evening. Once in the room they undress, climb into bed, and go at it. When finished, the Hasid...... jumps up, runs over to the window, takes a deep breath....... runs through a door....... comes back, jumps back into bed with the hooker and repeats the performance.

The hooker is impressed with the gusto of the second encounter. When finished, the Hasid....... jumps up, runs over to the window, takes a deep breath......runs through a door........comes back, jumps back into bed with the hooker and starts again. The hooker is amazed ... as this sequence is repeated four times. During the fifth encore...... she decides to try it herself.

So when they are done ... she jumps up, goes to the window, takes a deep breath........runs through the door ......and finds....... the other nine members of the minyan.

In A Few Years Nobody Will Want To Grope Naomi Wolf

Then she can stop whining.

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.

Discerning Socrates writes FrontpageMag, which is full of nasty vulgar posts like this one:

Nobody is equal. In terms of groups, women are inferior to men because they are weaker in every way. They bleed for 3 days out of the month. They can't do heavy lifting. They are always being embarrassed somehow when walking by a group of men.

Women demand respect from the world and yet they ingest a man's --- into their orifices all the time. YUCK ! They cry and feel emotional in cases where a man would think logically, solve the problem, and act on his decision.

Why do you think almost every woman wears tight pants? The kind that reveal the creases of their ----- and ---? It's because they all know their ----- and --- are the strongest thing they've got going for them.

What about all the hair color, the eye liner, lipstick, rouge, facial powder, lip liner, earrings, necklasses, rings and fancy smelling perfume? What's THAT all about? Every woman that partakes in the cosmetic fraud perpetrated upon women by greedy corporations, is brainwashed into thinking she will look, act, and BE inferior if she doesn't "doll uplike a Hollywood whore. Come onpeople! Isnt there anyone who knows the truth around here anymore? Women are just plain inferior to men.

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

El Tecolote, Commentary, By Félix Gutiérrez, Feb 25, 2004

While Frank del Olmo’s recent obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle correctly identified him as the Los Angeles Times’ beloved associate editor and columnist, those who knew him before he joined the Times in 1970 never forgot his beginnings in Chicano alternative journalism. And neither did he.

Del Olmo died Feb. 19 at the age of 55. His movement media roots helped guide him in his role as a founder of the California Chicano News Media Association in 1972 and chair of the first national meeting of Latino journalists in 1982, paving the way for the formation of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

In 1984 he shared a Pulitzer Prize for a Los Angeles Times series on Southern California Latinos. He was Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1987-88 and inducted in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Hall of Fame in 2002.

Though del Olmo reached the pinnacles of journalistic success at one of the nation’s most respected newspapers, he never forgot the importance of ethnic community journalists in reporting on issues and people too often overlooked by the so-called “mainstream” media.

The skills he learned working with and advocating Chicano media in the 1960s set the stage for the hard-hitting reporting and incisive analysis later in his career.

Del Olmo was a contemporary of El Tecolote founder Juan Gonzales during campus struggles for equal educational opportunities for La Raza in the 1960s. Both launched Chicano newspapers. Frank’s was El Popo at California State University Northridge. And both were Chicano media activists bringing movement journalists together.

A term paper on the Chicano Press Association that Frank wrote as a college senior was published in the Society of Professional Journalists’ national magazine and later reprinted in a college textbook. Through these writings others became aware of the importance of alternative media.

In the late 1990s the Los Angeles Times asked del Olmo to help lead a new Latino initiative to improve coverage of communities the newspaper had too long portrayed as outsiders of their desired readership.

In addition to bringing more Latinas and Latinos on staff, the highly-lauded initiative put the wide range of Latino interests and activities into sports, business, entertainment, religion, food and other newspapers sections where ethnic communities are often ignored.

As member of the Times’ editorial board since the 1980s, del Olmo was the “insider’s outsider” and the “outsider’s insider”. To executives inside the highest levels of journalism, he added insights and perspectives of people and communities beyond their own experiences. And to those outside big time journalism he served as a voice and force to help them understand how media can and should work when all voices are expressed and recognized.

Félix Gutiérrez is a visiting professor of journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.

Alec Baldwin -- American Patriot

Jackie writes:

Alec Baldwin is a big supporter of a group that has called for more September 11ths and says it agrees with al Qaeda's sentiments. The guy who runs it is Max Keiser (who says he's made a killing in Hollywood, so I assume this may be him. Max and Alec were roommates in college).

www.karmabanque.com HollywoodNews.com press release about Baldwin's support:

Some quotes from Max Keiser his site: "The sooner the world decapitalizes America, the less urgently Osama will have to do it. The longer the world waits to decapitalize the US, the more urgently Osama will have to do it.

I don't advocate bin Ladin's methods, but if the rest of the world won't take the necessary steps to decapitalize the US now... Well, like I've been saying, stay away from tall buildings."

"HSBC scores record profits and executive payouts. In Harlem it's called loan sharking. 9/11 and Istanbul were payback."

"Osama's my second choice to take down the US, but gaining quickly."

"Like I've been saying, a US decapitalization could proceed non-violently, and that's my fist choice. My second choice is Osama. It's up to the US to decide how it wants to get slammed."

"More reasons to support Osama to take down Western corporations"

"As we see here, corporations have taken the anti-war movement and turned it into marketing for their mass produced products that are outsourced to third world countries whose abused citizens end up taking down buildings in New York. Have corporations have no shame? No brains? No thought other than to rape/pillage/book profits for every human cost imaginable? I guess not. That's why they have to be stopped. My first choice Karma Banque. My second choice Osama."

"Would you invest in Wal-Mart or al-Qaeda?"

"As bad as Osama's behaviour is, it's not as bad as Exxon, Coke, and Microsoft...In the end, even a violent Al-Qaeda smack down of U.S. corporations is in the long term interest of humanity in that they will have reduced these companies' ability to permanently cut humanity's history short with their environmental holocaust. Compared to being forced to eat donuts and shop at Wal-Mart until the planet chokes on the massive garbage produced by America (25% of world's waste with only 4% of the population), radical Islam looks attractive as an ethos."

"...I say to Osama - Do what you have to do to stop this ugly capitalist machine called America. I would prefer a non-violent take down of capitalism using KbQ's boycott and short-sale campaign, but if the NGO's, and the pop stars don't have the guts for this, well, we'll see... Somebody else, some other network might.

If the Earth has more years to breathe freely thanks to the removal of the US as number one polluter, and spreader of toxic filth, then good riddance US. Like I said, I would prefer this happens non-violently... but..."

Heeb Magazine's "Crimes of Passion" Issue Offensive and Blasphemous

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.

Jason: "I became observant through a friend, David Sacks, at [TV show] 3rd Rock From The Sun.

"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: "Yeah."

Luke: "Really?"

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?"

Jason: "No."

Luke: "Do you feel a tension between being funny and being seriously Jewish?"

Jason: "Nah."

Amalek Implores the Jews to Keep Their HANDS OFF MEL GIBSON

Chaim Amalek writes:

The problem that I have with Christians isn't that they are too muscular in their Christianity, but that they have become so flaccid in their beliefs that they may not be strong enough to protect us weak Jews from the Muslims. And make no mistake about it - we need protection from the Muslims everywhere in the West.

(There is a great article in this Sunday's NYT Magazine about the plight of Jews living in an increasingly muslim land - France. Much of the story is told through the eyes of some idiot French Marxist Jewess who actually used to agitate on behalf of more third world immigration into France. Now her kids must deal with their mother's liberal idiocy on behalf of diversity. Talk about soiling one's bed.)

The truth is that no matter how much influence we have over the (christian) goyim through our control over Hollywood, TV sitcoms and news, and popular culture in general, it isn't enough. Not with fecund Muslims flooding into the Western world (often, as noted above, with the blessings of certain termite-like people). Only an activist, muscular Christianity can stanch this flow, and if we need a bit of Jew-bashing in the form of a movie like "The Passion" to help the Christians recover their sense of peoplehood and remember the victories won for them by Charles Martel, then so be it. The truth is that if Gibson can accomplish this through his film, then he is unwittingly serving the long term strategic interests of the Jewish people whether he likes it or not. And isn't that what makes a born Jew like Chaim Amalek the happiest - the knowledge that no matter what he does, the gentile is serving the Jew? (As a "convert" Luke, you cannot appreciate this feeling.)

So I say to all you whining lefty Jews in Hollywood and New York "HANDS OFF MEL GIBSON" and support his work on behalf of the Christians. Believe me, before all this is over, we are going to need them on our side.

PS The average white woman in Italy has about 1.2 kids. The average christian French woman has about the same. Palestinian women, on the other hand, average about 8. Would that the Heather MacDonalds of the world spent more time having procreative sex with white men and less time going to school.

Something interesting I learned about men yesterday:

Cathy Seipp writes:

Even if a 24-year-old guy is an orthodox Jew who doesn't shake hands with women, can't marry a divorcee or a convert (because he's also a member of the priestly caste), and is getting his Ph.D. in computer science at an elite east coast school, all of which might suggest that he is a model of caution and logic and modest mild manners, he is still a 24-year-old guy. And therefore when he visits L.A., as Luke's friend "Max" did this past weekend, the car he rents will be a Mustang convertible. And when he drives it over curvy, hilly Laurel Canyon, he will drive so fast that his passenger will be filled with nausea and fear.

"He had a really weird way of grabbing the roof of the car when he got out," observed Max, evidently unaware that at that point poor Luke needed to clutch the roof so he wouldn't faint.

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.

At a party, sad I have no date, tired of the futility of earthly existence, longing for the true world.

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:

Dear Luke, We met at AIM Health Center - I was accompanying a model who was obtaining his health check in preparation for a photosession.

I mentioned I am the agent for Don Bachardy, the painter whose life partner was Christopher Isherwood. You would make a most interesting subject for Don if you would be willing to sit for nudes. Let me know.

I like your writings on lukeford.net - free and breezy, like a journal. Isherwood's diaries have the same feel to them. The Huntington Library opens a large exhibition on Isherwood in June - celebrating the 100 year anniversary of his birth.

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.

Del Olmo received glowing tributes today in the LA Times from two Latino men of letters.

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 lukeisback@gmail.com.

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:

Charlotte Allen and Charlotte Hays of the Independent Women's Forum's new Inkwell  blog have some good posts about Naomi Wolf's March 1 New York magazine story. Wolf accuses Yale's Harold Bloom of groping her thigh 20 years ago when she was a student, causing what she calls a "moral crisis." Here's what happened, as described by Wolf in the cover story:

The next thing I knew, his heavy, boneless hand was hot on my thigh.
I lurched away. “This is not what I meant,” I stammered. The whole thing had suddenly taken on the quality of a bad horror film. The floor spun. By now my back was against the sink, which was as far away as I could get. He moved toward me. I turned away from him toward the sink and found myself vomiting. Bloom disappeared.
When he reemerged—from the bedroom with his coat—a moment later, I was still frozen, my back against the sink. He said: “You are a deeply troubled girl.” Then he went to the table, took the rest of his sherry, corked the bottle, and left.

Yeah, vomiting sounds like it'd work, although I've never been able to manage that one on cue. Pointing and laughing, as I recall, usually was more than enough. Anyway, the Charlottes wonder if Naomi's lost her mind and I think they may be on to something. Take her last book, "Misconceptions," about modern motherhood. Here's what I wrote about that in an October, 2002 piece about feminism for Reason magazine:

Even deadlier was the reaction last fall to Naomi Wolf’s "Misconceptions," a mesmerizingly nutty polemic about what she calls "the hidden truths behind giving birth in America today." (That’s compared to the sheer delight of giving birth in the rest of the world, of course.) The bland trade journal Publishers Weekly, which hardly has an anti-feminist ax to grind, irritatedly dismissed the book as "a weirdly out-of-touch bid for personal attention."

Now that the standard polite flip-through of the neighbors’ hospital baby pictures means viewing a bloody color close-up of baby’s emerging head and mom’s genitalia, you may wonder just what truths about giving birth are still hidden. But perhaps you had no idea that pregnant women "in our culture" (to use Wolf’s favorite phrase) often have Cesareans, even when they’d hoped not to; that they are typically exhausted and sometimes feel like they’re losing their minds; that new moms still get up more than new dads to deal with howling infants in the middle of the night; or that maternity clothes tend to be unstylish, with a cruel lack of selection in Western wear.

Yes, she’s serious about that one. "You could not be a cowgirl and a mother," Wolf observes glumly, describing another day "mourning the loss of the young woman I had been" while rifling the racks at the mall. "You could not be a heartbreaker and a mother....You could not, in our culture, easily pair motherhood with many other alluring archetypes."

As opposed to what other culture? Are there really maternity shops selling "Annie Get Your Gun" outfits in Iraq or India? But Wolf remains starry-eyed about the obstetrical wonders of the non-American world. In Europe and Belize, she instructs one annoyed obstetrician, episiotomies are less necessary because midwives massage the perineal area with warm oil. There’s hardly anywhere on the planet, in fact (except the bad old U.S.A.), that Wolf doesn’t imagine as a garden of perineum-massaging delights.

"In Greece, Guatemala, Burma, China, Japan, Malaysia and Lebanon," she tells us, "women who have given birth are expected to do little more than lie in bed" for a long, leisurely postpartum. And in Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen -- to cite another statement that sounds good but makes little sense. "Cross-culturally," Wolf continues, "women’s pregnancy is marked by ceremony: a festive meal in China, a visit to a Shinto shrine in Japan, a blessing in Malaysia." Or maybe by a stoning in Nigeria if they’re pregnant and unmarried, or a forced march to the abortion clinic in China if they’re pregnant with another daughter instead of a son. But Wolf doesn’t get into any of that. To quote Publishers Weekly again, "What stands out with embarrassing clarity is [Wolf’s] emphasis on the sufferings of a privileged minority."

I may write more about this later somewhere else.

Update: Kate Coe writes: "I just had a brain flash--how about Naomi W's trauma as a "Romance Comic?" One panel she's all a-twitter. (He likes my poems!) Then she's drinking. Then the boneless hand creeps up her skirt (could she have meant "boneless ham?") Then she's retching into the sink."

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?"

Dave Deutsch's Passion

One of my great regrets in life is that I came up with the world's greatest pick-up line, but alas, years after I entered eternally wedded bliss. I offer it, free of charge, to you: "How'd you like to take a trip to Ireland, because one look at you, and my ----- is doublin'."

On the Passion, I can't speak of the film having not seen it, but three funny things strike me about the reaction by Orthodox "leaders."

1. After years of being told that "fundamentalist Christians are Israel's best friends," we are now led to believe that they are all just one jumbo popcorn away from a pogrom.

2. After years of being told that America is a godless, secular society, we are now led to believe that this country is full of people who take their religion so seriously that (and I refer you to #1) are just one jumbo popcorn away from launching a holy war against their equally godless, secular (but Judaically surnamed) neighbors.

3. It's also funny, after years of hearing conservatives complain about film and tv content and being told by liberals "If you don't like it, just don't watch," it's funny to hear complaints about the Passion (not necessarily from liberals) being met with the same response from conservatives themselves.

Avi Weiss, defender of the Jews, staged a demonstration at a Times Square theater showing the Passion this week. In his group were a number of young men dressed in concentration camp chic. And this is what pisses me off--I make a couple of jokes at the expense, primarily, of the Germans, and I'm belittling the Holocaust, but these schmucks suggest that this film is really just the first of a double feature with Auschwitz as the main event, and they are supposed to be honoring the memory of the six million. "Eloki, lama sabachtani?" [My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?]

Oh, I just read some comments of yours that I disagree with. While it is true that most Jews can hear the Purim story and not be anti-Persian, it is actually the minhag in my family to go out after the megilla reading and brutally murder Iranians. Some of the Reform cousins kill Persian cats, but I still try and keep it real.

Rabbi Wolpe Reviews The Passion

Jews who are recognizably Jews are less threatening to modern anti-Semites than Jews who "masquerade" as everyone else. (medieval and ancient anti-Semitism had no images of secular Judaism.) Jews who appear to be like everyone else violate the anti-Semites conviction that Jews are fundamentally different. Every time you hear someone attack "secular Jews" beware: there is the possibility, although not the certainty, that you are hearing the age-old accents of the anti-Semite.

Then I read in the New Yorker the following statement by Mel Gibson: "Modern, secular Judaism wants to blame the Holocaust on the Catholic Church."

I had read the 'reassuring' words of Bill Donahue, Head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, "Those who are sounding the alarms over anti-Semitic violence are historically ignorant: the last time Jews were assaulted after the production of a Passion Play was in the Middle Ages" another voice sounded louder in my ears:

As late as July 5, 1942, Hitler said of Oberammergau: "One of our most important tasks will be to save future generations from a similar political fate and to remain forever watchful in the knowledge of the menace of Jewry. For this reason alone it is vital that the Passion Play be continued at Oberammergau; for never has the menace of Jewry been so convincingly portrayed as in this presentation of what happened in the times of the Romans. There one sees in Pontius Pilate a Roman racially and intellectually superior, there he stands out like a firm, clean rock in the middle of the whole muck and mire of Jewry." (cited in Saul S. Freidman's "The Oberammergau Passion Play")

Despite the insane fulminations of Hutton Gibson, Mel Gibson's father, and the son's refusal to disavow his father's words, despite his insulting response when affirming the Holocaust that "Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps." I had a responsibility to keep quiet, which I did, until I saw the final cut. I realized quite quickly that this dispute was not about Christianity; it was about Mel Gibson's movie.

More powerful is the line that Gibson said he had cut, because his brother told him that the Jews would "kill him," a story, by the way, which Gibson recounted, and a story of which decency would demand that he be ashamed. It is the line from Matthew 27:25: "His blood be upon us and upon our children." We must be clear about the implications. The charges of "Christ-killer" that have followed the Jews through centuries, that caused Popes to warn Jews to stay in their homes on Good Friday because bands of Christians would seek them out to injure and/or kill them, all the savage accusations, the slaughter, the degradation--these things have many and complex causes, but if we sought one above all, it would be that line. "It was said" Gibson has commented. Such a blithe declaration--as though history has leapt from 31 AD to 2004 with nothing in between. No blood libel, no crusade, no inquisition, no pogroms. He assures us "It was said."

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.

Last year, along with David Sacks and his brother Ross, Jason Vanokur developed Game Over [that will air on UPN]. It's about the real life of video game characters.

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.

Pictures from last week's Hollywood, Interrupted book party

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”

February 26, 2004 - New York - Franco Zeffirelli, the last person before Mel Gibson (news) to direct a major feature film on the life of Christ and someone who has himself directed the actor as Hamlet, has lambasted Gibson's controversial film The Passion as anti-Semitic.

"They tell me that in America, despite the ban on minors, that mothers absolutely want their children to see the film, in order to understand the suffering Jesus underwent to save us,” Zeffirelli wrote in Thursday’s edition of Corriere della Sera, Milan’s leading daily newspaper, continuing, “I am of a completely different opinion: what conclusion can one reach (from the film), in particular young people, other than that his blood was shed because of the Jews?"

Zeffirelli, who directed Gibson in his 1991 version of Hamlet, adds that "once I knew that Gibson had decided to make a film on the Passion of Christ I began to get worried. I knew well that the family culture in which he was raised, dominated by a father who considers the Vatican (news - web sites) councils the tomb of Christianity, and suspected already that rather than the divine message of Christ, what pushed Mel into this difficult project was (an obsession) with strips of flesh, his own torments and blood."

How Can We Best Carry On Frank Del Olmo's Legacy?

Yvette Ayala writes Tony Castro:

Tony, Magdalena Beltran del Olmo is my boss, we are still in shocked of loosing Frank, at the same time I feel like doing something or carrying Fran's legacy frankly, I do not know where to start. I appreciate publishing details about how long it took LA Times security to let the paramedics entered the building, his life could have been saved, this hurts even more, is there something we owe to do say or write to the LA times.

LAT Investigative Unit

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

I went to this movie wanting to like it, if only because Gibson has done such a good job of vexing the Hollywood Juden of late (a group sorely in need of vexing if ever there was one). But I can't say that I did. As a movie, I found the thing monotonous. Call me a weirdo, but I got so bored with the beatings and the whippings (never my thing) that I damn near nodded off during one twenty minute stretch of scourging. My main complaint though concerns the historical accuracy of the movie, to the extent that such can be judged. (This is the main standard by which I judge any movie that claims to be based on actual events.)

Simply put, Gibson went out of his way to make of Pilate a sensitive sort of man, a nice guy who's hands were tied/forced with respect to Jesus by the rabble and the rabbinate. To the extent that history tells us anything about him from contemporaneous accounts, it is that Pilate was a savage thug who condemned thousands of Jews to the cross for various crimes. So brutal was he that the Romans recalled him from Judea and ordered him to account for his actions, which was something that they were not wont to do unless you were really really REALLY bad. But all this was ignored by Gibson, who knew going in that he was going to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Jews of that era.

I don't hold Jews blameless in life, just as I don't hold any group blameless in life. I am not a bigot because all of humanity fails to rise up to the lofty heights Chaim Amalek has marked out for them. But it would have been more honest of Gibson to have made a movie condemning Hollywood Juden for having trashed Western Man's culture or for making it cool to be Queer (I like that phrase - "Hey dude, it's Cool to be Queer") or for filing too many law suits or for being too short or eating too many bagels than to do what he did with "The Passion of the Christ."

Dubious About Luke's Porn Statistics

Dave Deutsch writes:

From what I've seen in six years teaching high school boys, porn consumption is still going strong. Granted, that's anecdotal, but it makes sense. I wonder what questions were asked. What is "porn?" Is it playboy? Is it films? Judging from what I've seen, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of teens simply don't see soft-core porn as porn at all, which might skew the findings. Finally, why not presume that if a decline in porn consumption did take place that it wasn't accompanied (and resulting) from an increase in teen sex? Perhaps fewer kids need the ersatz because they're getting the real thing?

Oh, and that line about "if porn were legal..." You might as well say that "if downloading were legal, more kids would be doing it," because--and you yourself certainly know the decline of the porn print world--kids are getting it off the computer, and there are no shortage of free, unsupervised, and (as far as it relates to their parents) untraceable sources. All you need is one kid in a class to have his own computer with a high speed internet hookup and a dvd burner, and everyone in the school can have all the porn they want. If anything, porn is much easier to get a hold of today then ever in the past--I can't recall ever making a copy of a Playboy for anyone. If I were you, I would check the source for those numbers, and see what questions they asked. It may be that kids are buying fewer magazines, and watching fewer videos, but there are certainly non-traditional sources that the pollster might not have specified.

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:

Luke -- I must dissent here and say I fully agree with Michael Medved (himself an Orthodox Jew) when he emphatically asserts that any negative consequences that would redound to him or his children because of this film's existence will surely have more to do with Jewish over-reaction and flaming of the passions over The Passion. If anything, Jewish public antagonizing and (implicit or even, yes, sometimes not so implicit) reviling of Christians/Christianity in recent months over the film would, quite unwittingly, carry more of the blame than anything this film itself could bear; that Jews' sometime intemperate dissent might have more to do with bringing despicable anti-semites out from the woodwork.

Like it or not, the fact is that a great segment -- I'd say even a vast majority -- of pious (i.e. observant) Christians "out there" view politicized Jews expressing furor over Christian artistic expressions (expressions, though private in origin yet available to puplic eye) as indistinguishable from the secularized Jewish elite "running" Hollywood, those perceived (fairly or not fairly) as forcing godlessness and nihilism onto the culture, the schools and "onto" (or through aegis of) government.

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:

Luke -- You and I are totally arguing past each other. And you're statements in reply to me are completely off kilter. Suffice to say, for now, that afoot here is your not taking into account, your not understanding, the HUGE differences between America (owing to the utterly unique nature of the American Founding) and Europe (and its roots of anti-semitism). I say, in particular, you and I are arguing past each other since my piety is closer to the God of Moses and Abraham than most anyone else's (I'm not a Christian), something in which the _Law_, not human willfulness, is the important thing.

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.

Robert replies:

So Europeans -- some 90% of whom are nihilists (i.e. yes, a majority of Europeans may think there is a god, but their god is a nihilist god of total creativity, i.e. essentially Spinoza's god of "infinite attributes," not a god of moral law) -- who, let's be clear, are no longer Christian, would need THIS (further) excuse to murder Jews? Luke, I'm sorry, it's a non-sequiter. A lot of Europeans hate Jews already (and you over-estimate the level and popularity of current anti-semitism there more than a tad much) and they DON'T need an avowedly metaphysical film to bid them do it. This isn't Prague 1389 (3,000 Jews murdered after Jewish children at play accidently spray sand on a wafer carried by a priest). Or even late 19th Century Europe, for that matter. If the Holocaust teaches anthything, Luke, it's that atheists and agnostics of ill-breeding and malice need neither religiously infused historical consciousness nor metaphysical cues to seque their atrocity.

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:

Among the people I talked with about my divorce was my [black, anti-Zionist] radical friend Al in New York. He asked: "Do you have a Jewish lawyer?"

"Al, I really haven't had time to ask my attorney what day he goes to church."

"Tom," he said impatiently, "get a Jewish lawyer!"

For the first time, I realized that Al -- like many people hostile to Jews -- was awed by Jews. That was no doubt part of their hostility.

In April 1977, I gave a talk on racial issues at Purdue University. One of the black girls asked me a question obviously designed to needle the black male students present.

"Dr. Sowell," she asked, "why do you suppose that black fellows, after they get to college, start dating white girls?"

"Maybe they don't have enough money to date black girls," I said.

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:

Fox Man was in the Manhattan Headquarters of the League of Anti-Defamation, monitoring the global situation.

“Hmmm,” he said, scanning the numerous screens. “Suicide bombing in Jerusalem, arson at a synagogue in the Ukraine, a rising tide of Antisemitism at college campuses masquerading as anti-zionism—wait, what’s this! A villain known only as “Aussiemandios” is making a movie that depicts a small group of Jews killing Jesus 2,000 years ago! To the Censor-Ship!”

In his rocket propelled Censor-Ship, he sped to the Los Angeles lair of the mysterious Aussiemandios. He presumed the Censor-Ship would easily crash through the walls of the hideout, but with a jarring thud, it stopped cold, apparently by a powerful force shield. “No matter,” thought Fox Man, “I will simply use my power to insinuate myself into the most unlikely places.” He did saw, and found himself facing the back of the arch-villain.

“It’s over, Aussiemandios, give it up.” Aussiemandios turned around, and Fox Man gasped.


“So, Fox Man, at last we meet. I wish that I could be a better host, but I’m afraid that all I have is this communion wine and a few wafers. I don’t suppose you’d care to partake?”

“But why, Mel Gibson, why?”

Silence! I am not Mel Gibson anymore. I am Aussiemandios!”

“Uh, yeah, what is that, exactly?”

“Isn’t it obvious? It’s a play on Ozymandias.”

“Who?” Aussiemandios mutter angrily. “Doesn’t anyone know anything? Ozymandias, the King of Kings, from Shelley’s poem? But in my case, I’m an Australian Man of God, hence, “Aussiemandios.”

Fox Man still had a blank look on his face.

“Damn,” Aussiemandios cursed, “I knew I should have tested it on some focus groups first. But that’s not important now. What is important is that you can’t stop me from making my film.”

“Stop you? Oh heaven forfend, we at the League would never try and stop a film from being made—that would be closed-minded. We just have a few suggested script revisions.”

From his Fox utility belt, he drew out a 300 page document that he threw at Aussimandios. “You can read it later, but to summarize, instead of having the account from the Gospel of John, you would have Jesus appearing as a gay black man in the contemporary Deep South, lynched by a bunch of intolerant fundamentalist Christian bigots who reject his message of love.”

“Never!” shouted Aussiemandios, hurling the script back at Fox Man. “Do you know who you’re dealing with!”

“Yes,” snarled Fox Man, turning his cash-powered Censo-ray on Aussiemandios, “A man who will never work again in this town.”

Aussiemandios staggered under the force of the blast, then, shockingly, impossibly, stood up, and laughed. “Don’t you get it Fox Man? You power can’t affect me, for my strength comes from the same source. Have you seen my numbers? Forget about my gross, check out my net! I’m too powerful for you.”

In disbelief, Fox Man only increased the force of the ray. “Never! Maybe you can make your movie, but you’ll never get it released!”

Aussiemandios walked up to Fox Man, completely ignoring the energy being directed at him. “It’s not possible! “Oh Fox Man, haven’t your realized? Through me, all things are possible. Not only can’t your power harm me, but since you’ve confronted me, I’ve been using your power for myself, to send my message out around the world. This was all a trap! Thanks to you, and your power, everyone has received my message.”

He knocked the Censo-Ray out of Fox Man’s hand, and threw him to the floor.

“You can kill me, Aussiemandios, but I won’t beg.”

“Kill you? Kill you?”

Aussiemandios laughed, and Fox Man was chilled.to the bone.

“Oh, Fox Man, I am so far beyond that. Shouldn’t it be clear by now who I truly am? The questions about who my father really is, the sufferings I faced in my films, the multiple sequels—second, even third comings—the shots of my bare ass, truly, turning the other cheek. Don’t you know who I am?”

“You’re a madman!”

Aussiemandios lashed out at the supine hero, but caught himself. “Don’t worry, Fox Man, I forgive you, for you know not what you do. And now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a premier to attend. Farewell, my child.”

There was a flash and a puff of smoke, and then he was gone. Fox Man crawled from the lair, as it collapsed around him, barely escaping. Gasping for breath, he was ready to collapse, when his distress signal went off.

“Great Scott!” he yelped. “There’s a gay couple in Massachusetts that can’t get married! If this isn’t a job for the League, I don’t know what is. But there’s only one way I can summon the power to get to Boston, and fight this battle.”

He pushed a few buttons on his League transponder, and all across the country, an energy wave went out, to Jewish communities, senior homes, and retirement villages. Wallet by wallet, bank account by bank account, from wealthy machers to widows on fixed incomes, cash was drawn to refill Fox Man’s power cells. Thus re-energized, he sped towards Boston, stopping in Manhattan only to pick up his sometime partner, the AJCenturion.

“AJCenturion! There’s a crisis we have to attend to! The forces of intolerance are trying to strip same-sex couples of their traditional and time-honored right to marry. Its up to us to stop them.”

“Is that really our responsibility, Fox Man?”

“AJCenturion, I’m shocked! What could possibly be more integral a part of the Jewish tradition, or more crucial for the defense of the Jewish community, than to uphold gay marriages!”

“I’ve heard reports that some Jews cant’ afford to send their children to Jewish schools, and I’m trying to help them.”

“Are you providing funds for them?”

“No, but I’m providing a million dollars to fund a study to find ways to help them.”

“Perhaps that is a worthy cause, AJCenturion, but is Jewish education truly more important for the Jews than same-sex marriage? As Hillel said—or at any rate, would have said, if he were a Reconstructionist rabbi of indeterminate gender—“When one same-sex couple can not wed, then no same-sex couple can wed.”

“My God, Fox-Man, you’re right! I don’t know what I was thinking—to Boston!”

And so our two heroes took off. Will they get to Boston in time? Will they preserve the sacred right of same-sex couples to wed? Will Fox Man and Aussiemandios meet again? Find out, in the next installment of The Amazing Adventures of Fox Man!

Teen Love Affair With Porn Over

From Opinionjournal.com:

Proponents of legalization like to claim that porn use is an intractable problem, so we might as well learn to live with it. That's always been a flawed idea, and now there's more evidence to show just how wrong it really is.

Remember the love drug? That's the nickname of the synthetic drug also known as porn. It was hugely popular with young adults a few years ago, especially at dance parties called raves. In 2001, 12% of teenagers reported having tried it.

The love affair is now over. A survey out this week from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America shows that teen porn use has dropped 25% in the past two years. The Partnership's findings jibe with those of the University of Michigan's annual study on porn use, which also reports a sharp drop in porn's popularity.

The reason for the decline is simple: education. The medium: television. More and more kids now know that porn is dangerous thanks to a message that is being hammered home on the tube. Armed with that knowledge, they're saying no.

The media campaign about the dangers of ecstasy has taken several tracks: public-service ads, TV documentaries and anti-ecstasy messages woven into the plots of regular TV shows. Fifty-two percent of teens report having seen an antidrug ad on TV, up from 32% in 1998.

"Sex and the City" did a pro-porn show a couple of years ago. But since then "The Sopranos," "Law & Order," "The West Wing," "ER" and "Dawson's Creek" have all weighed in with plots deglamorizing the drug. "Oprah," "Sally Jessy Raphael," "20/20," "Dateline" and others have done programs on the drug's dangers.

Drug use overall is also down among teens. That includes marijuana, amphetamines and LSD (which made a comeback in the '90s). Heroin and cocaine use is relatively low and stable. The misuse of prescription drugs (OxyContin, psychotherapeutics, Ritalin) appears to be growing.

As for porn, the problem isn't solved yet; 9% of teens still report experimenting with it. But there are 770,000 fewer users today compared with 2001. If porn were legal, that number would be much higher--as would the number of potentially damaged lives.