Email Luke Essays Profiles Archives Search LF.net Luke Ford Profile Dennis Prager Jun 5
Why Orthodox Judaism Turns Me On
Israel Young of Young Israel writes: "Mister Ford, feeling as you do, why have you chosen to be Jewish, and why have you chosen to aspire to the very branch of Judaism you take to be the least rational?"
Because I believe God's behind it. I believe it is good for me and for the world for me to struggle with Orthodox Judaism. I believe I would be more wicked without it. Without Orthodox Judaism, life seems drained of meaning. There would be no color and excitement. There are no shiksas if there is no Orthodox Torah. For me to get very excited, I have to feel like I am sinning. There's just no sense of sin in non-Orthodox Judaism.
Israel Young of Young Israel replies:
Mister Ford, do you realize that these are not Jewish concepts that you are relying on to justify your chosen Jewishness? Might I suggest that you set aside some time in which to further develop your philosophy of Judaism so that the less churched amongst us might delve more deeply into it? Possible working titles:
-Shabbos without Shiksas
-Pornography to Praeger to Piety
-What God Wants You to Do
-I Am My Own Rashi
I think there is a solid tome in this for you, and if you do it right, it will be required reading at various religious institutions in no time, thereby providing you with a nice little annuity.
XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul
From the cover of my forthcoming book: "XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul explores the tensions between freedom and friends, faith and reason, reality and religion."
Explain This One Luke writes: "What exactly, Luke, is the tension between REALITY and RELIGION?? Showing your true colors here, aren't you, puke? I mean Luke?"
Here's what I mean:
* As exemplified by you, religion often makes people behave uglier. I suspect that if you were secular, you would be more courteous. Religion has taught you to react to such sentiments as mine by being a schmuck. You met a part of reality you found disturbing, and you reacted, as you had been religious educated to react, by vomiting on someone who raised a thought you disliked.
* I don't give a damn that many of you are so nasty in the comments. It's water off my back but it certainly doesn't speak well for the supposed civilizing influence of religion. I would say that about a third of the posters on Protocols make religion and God stink. (Not that I claim any merit on this score.) I bet most of the nasty posters on Protocols would not be as nasty if they were not orthodox. You wouldn't get as worked up and needy to hurt someone who disagreed with you.
* I doubt that much of the readership of Protocols that is, judging by their comments, racist and bigoted, would be as racist and bigoted if they were not Orthodox Jews. Religiosity is frequently an excuse for bigotry, for despising those who are not similarly religious, and for denying their humanity. Hence all the religious wars. (Disclaimer -- I fear I enjoy practicing racism and bigotry more than the ordinary guy but never to the point where I do not recognize the humanity of those who are different from me.)
* Religion is grounded in belief in a transcendent God, Who, by definition, transcends reality.
* In the case of the topic of my first two books, religion prohibits discussion of the topic except to condemn it. The subject of my books is an active part of the lives of millions of men but religion forbids studying or discussing this except to condemn it (which is not a discussion or an honest examination). Thus religion and reality are at odds.
* A lot of religious people are so religious that they are stiff. They don't react in a human manner. They don't laugh. They don't frolic. They're not real.
* Jewish humor is overwhelmingly a secular creation. There's little humor in the sacred texts of the Jewish tradition. It wasn't until Jews became secular that Jews became funny. They weren't known for their humor when they were largely observant.
* Religion actively opposes reason in many areas. I ask for reader comments for examples but Biblical criticism is just one that comes to mind.
* Religion, particularly in the way Orthodox Judaism is practiced, calls for the believer to absent himself from much, if not most, of reality.
* Religious Jews rarely succeed in many spheres of reality, such as the arts.
* Religious Jews are not at the forefront of making social policy in any country but Israel.
* A rational secular person would react to THE PASSION by saying, let the Christians tell their story the way they want.
* Overwhelmingly, religious Jews actively opposed the creation of the modern Jewish state of Israel and opposed immigration to the United States from Europe in the early 20th Century. It was generally the religious Jews who died in the Holocaust. The secular ones, more rooted in reality, fled Europe.
* In spite of massive overcrowding and overpopulation in many Catholic parts of the world, the Catholic church actively opposes birth control.
* When you are religious, you can't just meet reality as it is. You meet it through the filters of your religious ideology. Thus a tension between reality and religion. Evidence for this lies in the fact that very few great journalists are religious, and religious groups rarely publish great journalism.
I kinda get the feeling that this whole "religion vs. reality" issue is less a rigorous intellectual examination than a feeling you have, and let me say, in a non-ad hominem kinda way, this feeling is at best vaugely defined.
I'll try to explain by adressing your points: Religion made the guy rude: completely unsupported supposition on your part, a religious person may express stronger feelings when religious issues are brought up but that applies to anyone with a vested interest in a particular subject. Tell a "secular" person who is into rap that you think it sucks and see what language they use or visit an "indymedia" site to see the corteous language used by the mostly secular community.
Transcendant God:OK, nice word, but does that mean G-d transcends reality? is the spiritual realm real? Try the idea that orthodox Judaism beleives God transcends the physical univers and all of its dimensions of space and time (which is also a physical dimension), but unless you are claiming the spiritual realm does noit exist as part of "reality" your statement makes no sense. It is also probable that I am not fully understanding what you mean by "reality" but my reading as just presented is not implausable so the burden falls on you to clarify.
Religion vs. Reason: Biblical criticism is hardly a hard scientific venture that therefore pits "reason against belief. Considering its history of wildly fluctuating theories and considering that THEY HAVE YET TO UNEARTH ONE VERSION of the pentatauch with passages from a later author "missing", they have not one piece of hard evidence to support their theories. In fact, there are demands, miztvoth that would make most "reasonable" people reject a human who presents them with these rules especially the rules calling for societal suicide (as opposed to individual sacrifice like burning of babies which existed at some point in the history of religions) I mean in an agricultural society asking every farmer to not plant or cultivate? what reasonable people would agree to a rule like "shmitta" if they did not experinece themselves a revelation from God. Or rules requiring every able bodied male to travel to Jerusalem three times a year and thus leave the borders unguarded, the arabs figured out about yom kippur, certainly their enemies could have exploited the three pilgramige holidays, who would accept such a book if they did not see God was giving it to them. Look at what other religions promise, the kingdom of heaven, 72 virgins, all things dont require intervention in this world.
Religious Jews Absent themselves from most of Reality: Again I dont know what you mean, how you can absent yourself from "reality." Yes there are certain constraints on the actions of religious Jews, but there are restraints on the actions of everyone at leat through societal norms and laws. Have you ever felt what its like to kill someone Luke? to look into their eyes as their life ebbs away, to feel their warm blood cascade over your hands with the slicing of the knife? No? Well you dont know what you are missing you, you, self denier of reality.
Success of religious people in certain spheres: I guess success should be judged by what you make a priority, how many orthodox Jews were national spelling bee champions? None, well they are failures at spelling. Or, they would rather their kids memorized mishnayos or biblical verses that ancient greek root words. Ask a religious Jew how important is it for him to study light and shadow in oils on canvas and he'll tell you he has more important things to worry about. Whose the person so accomplished in the arts that can break down a complex legal or moral argument in the way most true Torah scholars can? There have been great religious Jewish artist in religious silver artifacts and religious poets that can put together God's praises in ways we can only envy, or express our laments in kinnot that will cause any feeling heart to cry, but have they made a great movie? concerto? Priorities my friend.
Religious Jews at the forefront of policy: Well list me a country where there is any significant percentage of the population that are Orthodox Jews. 10% of US's 2%? We are .2% here, virtually nothing evberywhere else, welcome to democracy in action, but we do have our share of influence in government local and federal and an occaisional politician as well, Also again think "priorities" why waste time setting policy for so many other people who have no connection to our priorities and way of life.
Generally opposed creation of Israel/died in holocuast: Two different points to make, they opposed zionism as a substitution for othodox Jewish Identity knowing it means nothing witout a religious basis, Two major "religious groups actively acted agianst the formation of Israel and one does today the N'turei Karta but there are far more "secular" people arguing that Israel is racist and must give up its "jewish" identity to make a one state solution possible. And as far as the Holocaust you as always bring no supporting evidence, Religious Jews were more prevelant in Eastern Europe which bore the brunt of the Nazi assault and being from Eastern Europe were poorer with less ability to escape. I dont even understand the point you are trying to make, the 3 million religious Jews of poland did not have the years of warning that the more secular german/dutch Jews had to see Hitler in action, why they should have forseen Hitlers devastation of Poland, land never claimed by Germany, or White Russia after there was a signed treaty is explains what they saw by the reality they lived. Many more Secular German Jews kept pretending that all would be ok.
Catholic Church: I wont even try to explain what they do, they have a lot worse record than keep advocating birth control.
Religious Filter vs. "Reality": Umm well we all have "filters", right mr. White male American? Through in religion or sexual orientation or attractiveness or a million other chararcteristics that influence how, what, and why we see things. Pretty poor way to frame an argument that religion filters out reality more than being a white supremecist or a black male or anything. Try using persuasive proofs next time. They definately help an argument.
Luke, Stick To Your Guns
Charlene writes: "Robert Light in your blog says aids originated in buggery. Totally not true! Aids began when the virus 'jumped the species' after men ate undercooked monkey meat. This is well documented in many books like 'The Hot Zone' by Richard Preston. If people didn't eat meat we wouldn't have aids now as a problem. Yet another reason to be a vegetarian."
Tom Berman writes: "Ack, Luke. I think it's pretty rich for a former "porn observer" to reprint and endorse a tract that denigrates the lifestyles of others for supposed "perversions." Any reader without an interest in demonizing homosexuals is sure to conclude that your superficial "scientific analysis" of AIDS is politically motivated. This kind of passive-aggressive gay-bashing makes it difficult for me to continue to recommend your writing."
Robert Light writes:
Luke -- stick to your guns on the AIDS issue. AIDS is a venerial disease. The etiology of every case of AIDS -- whether we speak of children born of AIDS or bad blood transfusions -- can, from everything I've read, be traced to buggery as its point of origin. Have your detractors read the following absolutely fair-minded statement by Andrew Sullivan (who, let us not forget, is HIV positive). Then they can shut up:
In the polarized atmosphere of the beleaguered gay ghettoes of the 1980s, one also wonders what an instruction from Ronald Reagan to wear condoms would have accomplished. As for research, we didn't even know what HIV was until 1983. Nevertheless, the Reagan presidency spent some $5.7 billion on HIV in its two terms - not peanuts. The resources increased by 450 percent in 1983, 134 percent in 1984, 99 percent the next year and 148 percent the year after. Yes, the Congress was critical in this. But by 1986, Reagan had endorsed a large prevention and research effort and declared in his budget message that AIDS "remains the highest public health priority of the Department of Health and Human Services."
In September 1985, Reagan said: "[I]ncluding what we have in the budget for '86, it will amount to over a half a billion dollars that we have provided for research on AIDS in addition to what I'm sure other medical groups are doing. And we have $100 million in the budget this year; it'll be 126 million next year. So, this is a top priority with us. Yes, there's no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer."
But the sad truth is also that there was never going to be an easy answer to HIV in the Reagan years. Throwing even more money at research in those days would not have helped much. Anthony Fauci's NIH, goaded by heroes like Larry Kramer, was already pushing for focus and resources; FDA red tape was loosened considerably; and the painfully slow scientific process continued. The fact that we got revolutionary drugs in trials by the early 1990s was itself an heroic scientific achievement - arguably the most miraculous progress in a medical emergency since the polio vaccine. Should Reagan have done more? Yes. Were people like Bill Bennett and Gary Bauer responsible for delaying a real prevention response because only gays were dying? You bet. But was Reagan ultimately responsible for so many tragic, early deaths? No. HIV was. Viruses happen. It's a blemish on his record, but not as profound as some, with understandable grief, want to make it out to be.
Noteworthy too: Everyone would do well to carefully ponder how Harry Jaffa (Moses II !) ever so gently puts it:
The first cases of AIDS — and the first isolation of the HIV virus in the United States — occurred in 1981. In its origins it was entirely a disease of male homosexuals, generated in and by anal intercourse. At the present time, according to the latest statistics I have seen, more than eighty-five percent of AIDS cases are male homosexuals. AIDS can be contracted by women from bisexual men, and they in turn may spread it to other men and thereby to other women. Infected women may transmit it to their unborn children. Intravenous drug users may contract it by sharing needles with infected persons. Others may contract it from transfusions of infected blood. While the proximate cause of AIDS may not now in every case be sodomy, the etiology of every case leads back to sodomy as its point of origin.
Why AIDS now? That the first case was diagnosed a little over a decade after the "Gay Rights" and "Gay Pride" movements gained momentum may not be coincidental. It was as if the number of smokers had increased by a factor of four or five, and the per capita consumption of cigarettes per smoker had gone from one to three or four packs a day. The result would have been a sudden jump in the incidence of lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Homosexuality has always been with us. But in the last generation we have seen it "come out of the closet." We have seen growing public acceptance of the doctrine that there is no moral distinction between promiscuity and chastity and that the only morality of sexual behavior is conformity with personal preference and personal choice. That nature itself seems to reward chastity with health, and punish promiscuity with disease, is seldom if ever mentioned. For AIDS is a venereal disease, and as much as the result of promiscuity as ever were syphilis and gonorrhea.
The reigning assumption is that it is the function of science to emancipate human behavior from the restraints of nature. But it is by no means clear that is possible in the long run. There was a time in the 1960's when antibiotics appeared to have conquered syphilis. Together with the the birth control pill, this seems to have promoted an increase in heterosexual promiscuity. It would certainly seem that nature had an interest in the morality that is conducive to the family, and punishes behavior inimical to it. I would suggest therefore that the quest for a cure of AIDS, unaccompanied by any attempt to modify the behavior out of which AIDS was generated, is ultimately futile. I would venture to suggest that if a cure for AIDS were discovered tomorrow, it would not be very long before a new venereal disease would make its appearance, just as herpes did in the 60s and AIDS did in the 80s. What is needed above all is not a medical miracle cure but a moral and behavioral change.
As an abstract debater's point, one might perhaps distinguish between homosexuality and promiscuity. Some homosexuals, especially women, maintain "exclusive" relationships. These may reduce somewhat the incidence of venereal disease. If they are sufficiently discreet — that is to say, if they remain in the closet" — they may avoid the evil of scandal. "Marriages" between homosexuals would not solve any problems, however. It was not the lack of marriage certificates that produced the bathhouse culture, but rather the uncontrolled indulgence of sexual perversion. Legalizing sexual perversion could only make matters worse. Promiscuity, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is best controlled by moral constraint.
No civilized person today wants to persecute homosexuals, or to see them suffer and die from horrible diseases. But it is equally true that no civilized person should wish to see homosexuality accepted as an equally valid "alternative lifestyle."
Lost in Translation
I abandoned the final minute of the Laker game to drive to Torah Ohr to hear the two spiritual leaders of Shas (Israeli Sephardic political party) -- Rav Ovadya Yosef (via teleconferencing) and Rabbi Reuven Elbaz.
I knew both men would speak solely in Hebrew. So why did I come? Because I told a yeshiva bocher who called me last week that I would. I had a moving meeting with R. Elbaz almost two years ago.
Tonight I shake his hand as he walks down the aisle. I understand about 1% of what he says to the crowd of 300.
There's a metaphor in my two hours at Torah Ohr tonight. The richness of the Hebrew tradition washes over me without wearing a groove in my soul.
There are four rows -- three for men and one for women. About half the women wear tight blue jeans, which you would not see in an Orthodox Ashkenazi shul.
I read my Consolation book. I talk to nobody and nobody talks to me. I do not feel like queing up to speak to R. Elbaz at the end. I don't stand in line. I just sit in the back and read until 11PM and then walk to my car.
On the way, I pass by a trafe restaurant. A shiksa in a blue strapless evening gown walks out and smiles at me. She's the first person all night who's smiled at me.
Shiksas and Torah. There's no torment in my soul that can not be cured by a generous serving of each.
Oh wicked man that I am! Why do I not long to understand the words of the rabbis with the same desire I have for this young woman?
As the Talmud says, the greater the man, the greater his lustful impulse.
I drive home cursing at the cars around me who do not move with sufficient briskness.
I can't remember the last time I prayed with fervor, studied Torah with fervor, proselytized Judaism with fervor. The thrill is gone.
Religious highs come and go but shiksa temptations are forever.
What a pity that you haven't even begun to experience self control, and conquer the chains of your hormones. How many years of your life, have been and will be wasted, before your hormones diminish, and you can finally begin to live. At what age will you awaken to life's genuine and deeper realities? 40? 50? 60? (ever?) When more than half your life is gone?
You have a fleeting glimpse that there is more to life, but your head swims - nay, drowns - in the pool of your hormones. You are a creature, a being, an animal - like all other animals. Human or otherwise. Instinct machines. Meanwhile, the intelligent, spiritual, divine, soulful, Godly potential within you... continues to shrivel and wither away. And in the end, after so much time has been so totally destroyed and wasted, never to return again, chasing the impossible shkisa, drowning in the prison of your hormones, the swamp you refuse to emerge from - one day you will wake up. Perhaps, perhaps not. But if and when you do, you will look around in horror at how little life you have left, and how much of your life you have murdered and squandered. And a primal scream will explode within your very being.
What you have lost, will be lost forever. But will it be too late to salvage at least ... something?
Top Jew writes:
Rubbish. Remember, high status Jewish men from Moses to Spielberg have been passing over their Jewish sisters for hot shiksas throughout our history. And increasingly, this is going both ways. I know a modern orthodox Jewish woman who has chosen to shack up with a dark skinned Roman Catholic Puerto Rican. She tells me that one of the benefits to this union, other than sex that is lots better than any she previously had known with a yeshiva boy, is that she does not have to go to the mikvah or worry about being a needa with him since after all, he is not Jewish. A people can take only so much inbreeding before something in the soul cries out for fresh genes. So listen to the wisdom of your genes, listen to your heart, and follow the example of successful Jews from Moses to Spielberg. Get yourself a warm, friendly, pretty shiksa to be your mate. You won't regret it.
A Friend Of Mine Became A Nazi
Where did I go wrong? I tried to be both a mother and a father to this girl.
Willy Wankowitz writes Protocols: "Perhaps if Judaism were more welcoming to the convert, Luke could have won her over to the faith and saved her from both whoredom and national socialism."
What W Wankowitz said is utterly disgusting. It is not up to one religion to save Luke--one man is on earth to save himself. Reform Judaism is more welcoming as it is openminded--it seems like Luke was exposing his own vulnerabilites when he converted. Because Stalin had no relgion, he was a horrible man. But if it weren't for his wife Nadia, he would have killed a lot more people although he almost killed all of Russia. If Luke had no religion, he would be sleeping with the whole town and would not be writing on this blog anyway. In an odd way, religion is helpful to Luke--or else he would go insane. Sure it is obnoxious to read his writing--as he is one of those rare egotists around. But his writing helps his mental health--although he's already nuts.
Shayne Shiksa writes:
The spies who refused to go to the land of Israel were concerned about the spiritual effect of life in Israel. Their existence in the desert was very spiritual, their food was provided and they spent all their time studying torah with Moses. The spies were concerned that if the Jews will leave this spirituality in the desert and will go Israel They will have to get a job, work the land, build kibbutzim , high tech industries etc, The “bad” spies preferred to stay in the desert and to study torah all day. Just like ultra-orthodox of today.
Rebbetzin June writes:
I'd rather read the spot-on commentaries of a Luke Ford that be exposed to another discussion of whether a wig made from hair harvested from Hindu heads is kosher. Judaism needs less rabbinism and more rationalism; less calculation and more hormones.
AIDS is the single most preventable disease
Wayne Wright writes:
Dear Mr. Ford:
You said in your weblog, "AIDS is the single most preventable disease and my heart doesn't bleed for those who engage in obviously self destructive behavior that shortens their lives."
As a child of a heterosexual male who died from AIDS after receiving the virus from a blood transfusion, please explain to me how it is "the single most preventable disease" for someone like my father and what the "self destructive [sic] behavior" is in which he engaged?
His leg was badly lacerated because his lawn mower exploded, and he needed an emergency transfusion during surgery. So it was self-destructive for him to cut the grass? To bleed too much that a transfusion was required?
I want to pass all your important knowledge and special information along to my mother, who is dying of the AIDS she contracted from my father. I'm sure it will be a great comfort to her.
That's not the way the overwhelming majority of AIDS cases are contracted. I'm not going to soft peddle a point because there is a minority exception. Some people die in car accidents because they wear seatbelts. Our nation's blood supply was abysmally handled in the 1980s because people did not want to offend homosexuals and drug users by asking them not to donate.
Dear Mr. Ford:
Your callousness is only matched by your ignorance. For a number of years, no one knew AIDS was being transmitted by blood transfusions. Once that was discovered to be the case, the screening process was erratic for several more years. Had you cracked a basic history text about AIDS, you might have learned this. Many Americans, like Elizabeth Glazer, and my father, contracted AIDS during this period. They contracted AIDS because of a lack of scientific knowledge, not because of some concern for political correctness.
Then, of course, there are the children who contract AIDS from infected mothers while still in the womb. That has nothing to do with blood transfusions. What sort of self-destructive behavior can be blamed on these children? That a child allowed himself to be conceived in the womb of an infected mother? Also, there are the women who contract AIDS unknowingly from infected, promiscuous husbands. The great majority of African women infected with AIDS contracted it from their husbands.
Apparently you feel some need to demonize homosexuals, so you will utterly ignore the facts about AIDS. Thus, you will ignore these countless hundreds of thousands of innocent people who have contracted AIDS, many who have never committed any sexual act. I'm sure these hundreds of thousands of innocent people would be reassured to know that you, a pompous jackass gasbag, have written them off as merely a "minority exception."
The majority of people don't die of cancer. So, using your logic, should those with cancer be ignored, as some "minority exception"? Perhaps you could demonize them conveniently, too, to assuage yourself about any lingering guilt, or sympathy, you might feel. Have you considered a career in political speechwriting? Your use of spin without substance is masterful. It takes a truly special fool to stand up on a soapbox and pretend to speak knowledgeably while clearly and proudly remaining an utterly clueless idiot.
You ask about AIDS statistics for the Western world. The non-Western world does not matter? You're not worried about non-white people? They don't count? And, rest assured, I'm quite certain that unborn children who contract AIDS in the womb aren't lying about homosexual activity nor sharing needles. A child who is infected with AIDS from birth usually dies before his or her fifth birthday.
But to answer your question broadly, of the 21.8 million people worldwide who have died of AIDS through 2001, some 4.3 million are children aged fourteen or younger. So that means about 20 percent of those who have died of AIDS were children. One out of five AIDS deaths has been that of a child. "Minority exception" indeed.
By the way, the great majority of males who contract AIDS on the African continent do so during heterosexual activity.
And on what basis do you accept the veracity of these third world statistics? I don't believe them and very good reasons have been spelled out for not doing so.
Rodger Jacobs writes: "No, friend, do your homework. Please. AIDS crept into the national blood supply in the 80s because a federal theocracy overseen by Ronald Wilson Reagan refused for seven years to recognize AIDS as a health threat to the public at large, thinking it was indeed relegated to gays and IV drug users and that they couldn't possibly "infect" the rest of us. In fact, until the last year of Reagan's two-term, blundering, impeachable Presidency AIDS wasn't recognized by the party in power in Washington as an issue. Study more and your opinions will have a mantle of truth behind them. Your comments on this issue - and I've known you for years - are among the most ignorant I have ever seen from you. No, Luke, don't soft peddle. Do some research."
The Revenge of the Goyim
Rabbi Gadol of West End Avenue writes to Protocols: "Luke, Luke, and more Luke. Why is it that I seldom see an authentic Jew posting here (other than in the comments section)? I swear, the goyim are on the march. First they retook the medical schools (Indians are goyim, no?). Then they began muscling their way into television (FOX). Then one of those shkutzes had the temerity to make an antisemitic movie about a Jew who lived thousands of years ago, despite our pleadings to the contrary. They dominate the internet with their hate, and not they have come to dominate Protocols. The irony is too obvious to state."
Who Was The Hottest Chick At Reagen's Funeral?
Mutt writes: "The grandaughter, definite model potential. Looked to be in the 15-17 range. Patty Reagan hit the wall - hard - repeatedly. There were several blonde Beverly Hills MILF types (Bo Derek was there, and Wayne Gretzky and his hot wife Janet Jones. Wayne Newton, Mickey Rooney - not exactly the Hollywood A List) sprinkled in amongst the hump backed dowagers but the damn commentators never would identify them. I believe that if you had opened the casket it would have revealed that the deceased Gipper's complexion was only slightly less waxy than Governor Schwarzenegger's and that in death after 10 years of deteriorating health and 6 days of rigor mortis he still looked 15 years younger than Larry King."
Corrupting The Youth
Remember that great Monty Python bit about the philosophy department of the University of Woollamalloo? Everyone is named Bruce.
Australian Philosophy: Corrupting the Youth. The need for God and ethics down under.
ABC.net.au Quadrant.org.au Theage.com.au This week.
Race matters so much that people want to deny it any significance.
During my entire life, my father, who lived through WWII in Australia which was threatened by a Japanese invasion, has referred to the Japanese as "Japs." I would always correct him. I'd say that "Japs" was not a nice expression.
Now I realize that my father's words were just fine.
I interviewed TV producer Rob Long about two years ago.
Luke: "Let's talk about race. I was raised in America to believe that race doesn't matter but in casting characters in TV and movies, race matters."
Rob: "When people declare things like that, that race doesn't matter, what they're really saying is that race is the only thing that matters. It's the biggest giantest hugest thing. It's a giant subcurrent in every political or financial conversation. It's like the sub woofer. It goes through everything. You may not be able to see where it is coming from, but it's there. And you are not allowed to talk about it. It's rude."
Selena Roberts writes this clueless commentary in The NYT:
Bird's offensive lapse was out of ignorance; Parcells's racial slur was out of arrogance. Bird was prompted by a question; Parcells was prompted by pomposity.
In a roundtable discussion with Bird, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Magic Johnson that is scheduled to be shown tonight on ESPN and was reported by USA Today yesterday, the host Jim Gray said, "Does the N.B.A. lack enough white superstars in your opinion?"
Granted, the inquiry by Gray was a leading question, but Bird chose to advance the loaded topic when he said a white superstar would be good "for a fan base because, as we all know, the majority of the fans are white America.''
"And if you just had a couple of white guys in there, you might get them a little excited,'' Bird said. "But it is a black man's game, and it will be forever. I mean the greatest athletes in the world are African-American."
Unable to pick up his dribble, Bird, the homespun folk legend from French Lick, Ind., went on to say that he loathed being guarded by a "white" guy during his Celtics days, adding: "As far as playing, I didn't care who guarded me - red, yellow, black. I just didn't want a white guy guarding me, because it's disrespect to my game."
Maybe he was kidding, but Bird managed to denigrate the white athlete, marginalize black players and Euro-bash the influx of foreign stars to a league that, under Commissioner David Stern, is regarded as the most wonderfully diverse in the world. Bird's backward accounting of the league's current makeup must be a product of anachronistic thinking steeped in an N.B.A. era of ugly stereotypes during the early 80's. The league has progressed; Bird should join in.
As most understand, the N.B.A. isn't desperate for a superstar of a certain color, but it craves a colorful talent who transcends race the way Michael Jordan did in the 90's - and the way Yao Ming just might do in the coming years.
Bird's rationale is out of touch; Parcells's is out of control. As the lord of discipline on the field, as the issuer of gag orders for his football assistants, as the only voice he wants to hear, Parcells is a narcissist in the reflection of his own pithy prose. "She's making progress," Parcells once said on the health status of the New England receiver Terry Glenn. Very clever.
On Monday, Parcells outperformed. On his very own, he turned a phrase into a slur against Japanese when he said "no disrespect to the Orientals" then likened the surprise-attack offensive schemes of the Cowboys to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
An uncomfortable murmur spread through a press gathering that included a Japanese journalist. Later in the day, an apology from Parcells was released through the Dallas Cowboys.
I would never apologize for making "Jap attack" comments and plays. If people don't like it, tough.
A black columnist at The LA Times, J.A. Adande, had a more intelligent comment:
Bird got into trouble this week when he said the league could use more white stars. To some degree, he's right. You can't tell me the affection the Staples Center crowd showed for Luke Walton from the first exhibition game didn't come in part because he's the only white American on the Lakers.
That doesn't make the fans racist. Rooting for your own doesn't mean you're against anyone else. It's like pulling for the woman from your home state in the Miss America pageant. Or African Americans suddenly watching Wimbledon to see the Williams sisters.
The NBA would not have reached the heights it achieved during the 1980s and 1990s without the racial dynamic of Bird vs. Magic Johnson. Johnson, for all of his charisma and dazzling game, couldn't have lifted the NBA on his own without Bird.
Today, while America is far from a color-blind society, we've moved past race as an impediment to popularity. Look at how hip-hop dominates radio and MTV. And look at how many white kids still wear the jersey of Bryant, a black man accused of rape.
Angry Disruption At Friday Night Live
Early in the service, Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei gave a brief talk. He said he didn't want to talk politics. He wanted to remember President Reagen's love affair with Nancy and his commitment to friendship. After he read a letter from Ron to Nancy, a young man in the audience of about 800 people, rose and started yelling something like this:
"I'm sorry. This is my first time here and I'm going to have to leave. Ronald Reagen refused to talk about AIDS for seven years. My friends are dead because of Ronald Reagen. He wouldn't fund health care. He wouldn't admit there was AIDS."
Dozens of people clapped in support. Nobody booed him. Two of his friends walked out in support of his tender feelings. The rabbi was all understanding of his hurt feelings.
If I had been the rabbi, I would've said to the fool that Ronald Reagen wasn't the bastardl backdoor bandit who buggered his friends. AIDS is the single most preventable disease and my heart doesn't bleed for those who engage in obviously self destructive behavior that shortens their lives.
I have never seen a conservative act out like this fool, even though Jewish conservatives, about 80% of the time, have to listen to rabbis who are to the political left of them.
Rav writes: "Thank you SO much for writing this. I am so SICK of people who pretend that AIDS is some sort of mystery illness that afflicts tzaddikim. (See Tom Hanks' acceptance speech when he recieved the Oscar for Philadelphia to see what I mean.)"
Shayne Shiksa writes: "Reb Luke, I agree with you %100 , AIDS is a preventable disease, we do not ask them not have sex, we only ask them to put on a rubber."
Leaderless Sam-on-Rye writes: "This blood libel has been going on for 20 years now. I remember that during the 1984 Democratic National Convention, one of the speakers, on national television, called Reagan a murderer - literally - blaming him for the HIV he and his friends were catching because the were sodomizing one another."
Dipping Your Finger In
Luke, writing to you is like dipping a finger cautiously into a cauldron. Will it be a tasty stew, full of healthy vegetables and lots of the good meaty parts, nicely spicy, or boiling gold, very beautiful and exotic, and surely lethal? Thanks for sending me the links to your new book. I like the mustardy cover and the theme. I think it could sell well - but isn't the price a little high? Make sure you write a scrumptious description about it for amazon, if you haven't already.
I'm reading it slowly. I am totally captivated and drunk on your writing, more in your blog, etc, than in your journalism. How much courage it takes to be so vulnerable. Of course, the narcissism can't be overlooked, but a good storyteller is so valuable that I think maybe one shouldn't question how he came to be so, right? I am so curious whether any of us will get what we want.
Spontaneous Demonstration To Rock Pico/Robertson
A spontaneous demonstration in honor of Orthodox Judaism and its leaders will be held at Pico and Robertson Blvds at 8PM sharp Monday. Songs will be sung and speeches orated in honor of our way of life. OJ officials report mitzvah production is up seven percent over last year and study of Torah has grown by an astounding ten percent. Our leaders will announce the new five year plan in a spontaneous oration Monday night. The evenings festivities will be culminated with the joyous burning of a Reform temple. All Jews of goodwill are urged to attend.
News Flash: Luke Ford and Cathy Seipp To Marry This Summer!
I just got off the blower with Luke Ford. It's all over the Internet and I wanted to get the confirmation from Luke and Cathy themselves. Unfortunately, Cathy Seipp no longer speaks to me (something about writing inappropriate stuff about her on my blog), so I don't have two sources to confirm the news, like a real journalist (e.g., Luke Ford) needs. But since one of my sources is the groom to be himself, I'm almost certain that it's true. Luke Ford and Cathy Seipp will wed in a matter of weeks! Here's the transcript of my June 10, 2004 phone conversation with the lucky gent.
Luke Ford Fan Blog: Hey, Luke, I just heard. Congratulations!
Luke Ford: Huh? ... What?
LFFB: Congratulations on your upcoming wedding to Cathy Seipp!
LF: Oh yeah, thanks ... I guess.
LFFB: You don't sound too happy.
LF: I'm fine.
LFFB: Is there something wrong?
LF: Stop pestering me, mate!
LF: Oh, I might as well tell you. Promise you won't tell anyone else?
LFFB: I promise. I'm your number one fan. I would never betray your confidence. You know me better than that.
LF: Of course, of course, it's just that I'm a little disappointed.
LFFB: With yourself?
LF: Don't be silly.
LF: No, I'm a little disappointed with Cathy.
LFFB: She seems wonderful.
LF: She is, I guess, I mean, it's just that she's ...
LFFB: She's what?
LF: Well, I guess my dream was to marry someone, er, younger -- much younger -- and she is kinda ... I mean ... sorta ... old for me. There I said it.
LFFB: But your old, too. 43, right?
LF: Yep, I just turned 43 a couple of weeks ago. Although I tell everybody I'm 38. But who am I kidding? All the Grecian Formula I use can't disguise the fact that I've hit the wall, and I have to reconcile myself to the idea that there will be no teenage bride for me. I would've even settled for a twentysomething.
LFFB: But even with a twentysomething you would've been old enough to be her father. I mean that's kinda creepy, huh?
LF: That's the awful conclusion I came to as well. So I just threw in the towel and proposed to the first woman I thought might say yes.
LFFB: And that was Cathy?
LFFB: What did she say exactly when you asked her to marry you?
LF: She laughed.
LFFB: Then what happened?
LF: Then she laughed some more.
LFFB: And then?
LF: More laughter still. Finally she had some kind of a seizure, I guess from laughing so hard at me. I had to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save her life.
LF: Yeah, it was pretty erotic for her, I'm sure. Although, admittedly, she was unconscious at the time.
LFFB: I'll say and erotic for you too, no doubt!
LF: Er, no.
LF: No! I already said no! Stop pestering me, damnit! I'm only attracted to eighteen and nineteen year-olds!
LFFB: But those days are over. Time to move on, huh? These should be the happiest days of your life.
LF: Yes, your right -- as always. But I'm a little unsure about her motives. I don't like the idea that she feels obligated to marry me simply because I saved her life. I mean, it was my fault that she was laughing so hard to begin with. Besides, I don't want to be merely her sexual plaything. I want to be respected for my mind and not just my body. And then there's the money.
LFFB: What money?
LF: I fear she's after my money.
LFFB: What money?
LF: Listen up mate, one more smartass question out of you and I'll hang-up!
LFFB: Sorry. Where are you going on your honeymoon?
LF: I want to go to Bangkok, or perhaps Rio de Janeiro.
LF: The women.
LFFB: What women?
LF: What do you mean, "What women?" The young women in Bangkok and Rio! They're supposedly really hot, sexy, and available!
LFFB: But you'll be married. Taken. Monogamously committed. That's what marriage is all about: no more sex for you until you die -- except with your wife.
LF: Oh dear! What have I done?
LFFB: Can you back out?
LF: Too late. Cathy has already sold her house and given all her money and possessions to the working class. She and Cecile are moving into the hovel next week.
LFFB: Oh no.
LF: I'm sorry, I have to go.
LFFB: Goodbye and good luck, Luke!
LF: What to do, what to do, what to do .... [click]
Luke Meets A Rabbi Who Loves Him
On Saturday night, October 5, 2002, I met this incredible Sephardic rabbi Reuven Elbaz, who I called "Rabbi Gadol" in the story below.
Rabbi Elbaz will speak at Torah Ohr at 7200 Beverly Blvd Sunday night, June 13, at 8:30PM. Rav Ovadya Yosef will speak via a video conference hookup.
Here's my report from almost two years ago:
Since I was a goy, I've chased after shiksas. I know I'm a wicked man. I've been told that all my life. I don't observe all the laws of the Torah as I should. I lust in my heart, and other places too, include Coffee Bean.
So I'm used to Ashkenazi Orthodox rabbis throwing me out of their shuls. I figure I deserve it.
On Tuesday, something weird happened.
My friend Fred phoned at 8:30AM. "There's some guy calling from Israel. He wants you to meet his father who's a big Sephardic rabbi visiting LA. He read about you in an Israeli newspaper. Let me threeway you."
Israeli man comes on the line: "My father, Rabbi [Gadol] gets thousands of people to do teshuvah [repentance]. Have you heard of him?"
Luke: "Not sure."
Israeli: "He's very popular in the Jewish world. He'll go speak before one thousand people. He's a very good speaker. He has 25,000 students in Israel. He has many universities and many yeshivas. He is very ruchanim. He has a big heart.
"Yesterday he came to LA. I think it is a very good idea for you to meet him and get a blessing. A lot of people want to come to him. Prime minister, millionaires, everybody. It's very hard to get him. I told him to make an appointment with you, somebody with a very good heart.
"I also study a little bit of Torah. I'm also studying acting in New York for six months. You just tell my father you're in Hollywood. You know a lot of people. You have power and influence to bring people to peace.
"He came to LA to build a building for 5000 people. A lot of people want to give him, $20,000, this, this, that... I don't want money. I want you to see him. You know people like Steven Spielberg, who are Jewish?"
Luke: "Yes, I know some Jews in Hollywood."
Israeli: "If you see my father, if you see his eyes, they are unbelievable. There's a thousand years in there. He is 53 years old. He has big big power. He can tell you everything about yourself. He is very famous in the Jewish world.
"He speaks Hebrew and French good and Moroccan. Believe me, you'll understand him. He speaks every language. He speaks with the heart. He's unbelievable. He's very big.
"Bring him something from the heart because he's been sick. My father wrote a blessing for a friend and now he has everything good.
"I saw something in the newspaper about you and I feel you have a big heart and I want to help.
"I have five companies in Israel. I have a big company in London. Do you know Uri Geller? I'm connected to many people in the world. I like Torah and business."
So I do some research and find out Rabbi Gadol (not his real name) is the real deal. He is a huge rabbi in Israel. I learn something about the Sephardim. Askenazi religious Jews tend to throw up huge walls between themselves. Religious Ashkenazi Jews tend to shun secular and less religious Ashkenazi Jews. But the Sephardim operate differently. They never broke up into divisions of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. All their shuls are nominally Orthodox but they welcome everyone.
Highly religious Sephardim, aka the 'charedim' (God fearers) don't wall themselves off from less religious Jews. They welcome them. They're more tolerant. They urge them to move slowly with their religiosity.
So I learned all this and got some hope.
So Friday, I get a call from Michael. He tells me to meet him at a Sephardi synagogue at 9PM Saurday night, 10/5/02 and he gives me his cell phone number.
Saturday night, after the end of the Sabbath, I call Michael. No answer. I call again. No answer. I decide to show up anyway, clutching Rabbi Emmanuel Feldman's popular tome 'Biblical and Post-Biblical Defilment and Mourning: Law as Theology' (bookstores can barely keep it in stock it's so popular), having no idea what Michael looks like.
I sit in the back. There's loud enthusiastic Sephardic rock musc. Then a video about Rabbi Gadol and his Godly work in Israel reaching out to non-religious Jews and teaching them Torah.
About 10PM, Rabbi Gadol arrives. Loud music blares. It's like the entrance of a rock star. People are kissing his hands, reaching out to touch him. People are ecstatic. I sit in the back. I stay away. I'm not such a righteous person. I don't want to contaminate this great rabbi.
And this rabbi suddenly stops at my row. He starts shaking everyone's hand. He heads right for me. He has a huge smile on his face. He radiates love. He says my name. My English name - Luke. I nod my head. I say, 'David', his son. I make my hand like a telephone to communicate that his son David from Jerusalem got me to come here.
This great rabbi embraces me and pulls me towards the back of the shul. The whole shul is staring at me. Normally this is terrible for me because with much scrutiny, everyone quickly sees what a wicked person I am. Most Ashkenazi Orthodox rabbis, if they knew of my past, would not come within 20 feet of me.
But this rabbi embraces me and showers me with blessings and introduces me to Michael and other important people. And I become the star of the evening, the belle of the ball.
At 11:30PM, we go upstairs for refreshments and Rabbi Gadol pours a drink for me and selects a plate of food for me and gives it to me. I'm overwhelmed. I get more blessings and embraces from him. Flash bulbs are going on. A man with a video camera is capturing everything. Suddenly everyone wants to talk to me and invite me to Sabbath meals.
Now, since my great fall from Ashkenazi Orthodox Jewish grace, about 15 months ago, hardly anyone in my Orthodox community has said hello to me. Almost nobody invites me for Sabbath and holiday meals. I sit home alone in my hovel and curse the world.
Tonight I'm treated like a righteous man. My cheeks burn. I'm terribly embarrassed. I'm not so righteous. I feel guilty to take this great rabbi's time. I feel guilty that there should be pictures of him talking to me and hugging me.
So, I'm overwhelmed and feeling very loved.
The great rabbi speaks Sunday night. He only speaks Hebrew and there will be no translator. But I will be there. Why? Because a hug needs no translation. Any rabbi who's willing to hug a dirty boy like me, well, I'll go hear him speak in any language.
Cynics can say the great rabbi wants my money, but as any loyal reader should know, I have no money. And I can't exactly deliver Steven Spielberg on a platter.
Locked Out Of Protocols
Protocols readers are jolly lucky. A Mafia soldier I know asked me to delete his blog because he was in big trouble. He gave me his name and password but I couldn't do it. Then I was logged out of Protocols and it took me ten panicky minutes to get back in to lend you these words of wisdom: I am happy to worship anywhere there's a lot of hot single woman.
WSJ on Do It Yourself religion: For example, many members of New York's Kehilat Hadar, a Jewish worship group, follow kosher dietary laws and strictly observe the Sabbath. But the group allows men and women to sit together during prayers and permits women to lead services, both of which are forbidden in Orthodox synagogues.
On The Red Carpet With The Forward
J.R. Taylor from the New York Press writes Luke:
I just returned from covering the Songwriters Hall of Fame event here in NYC. There were these two older gals working the red carpet who were giving us all the creeps. They didn't really seem interested in covering the event. They were kind of weird and stalkerish. I finally asked one of them which paper they were with, and she replied, "The Forward." I asked if that was a Socialist/Communist paper. I don't know why. They just had that pinched look of bitter old Commies.
Anyway, the woman solemnly replied, "It's not a Communist paper. It's the opposite of a Communist paper."
Then she walked away, and came back to add, "The Forward is the nation's leading Jewish publication."
"Oh," I replied. "Weren't the Rosenbergs Jewish?"
"What does that have to do with it?"
"Um," I said, "I dunno."
She then scurried off to confer with her comrade. The other lady then came up to me and said, "What you said about The Forward is unforgiveable!"
Since I hadn't said anything about The Forward, I was kind of confused. Mainly, I just wished they had said they worked for The Jewish Forward, and there wouldn't have been any misunderstanding. Then I came home, checked your site, and saw that link to the blog of Forward national editor Ami Eden. Looks like I was right the first time.
'You Know I'm Mad At You'
It's amazing that Cathy Seipp and I have maintained any kind of friendship for 15 months considering that for half of that time, she's been furious with me about something or other.
That's our Cathy. She's a dear, but what a ball buster.
We had a chat on the cell phone this afternoon while she was out walking with Cecile du Bois.
"You know I'm mad at you," she says. I know she's been mad at me for about two weeks. How? The icy silence on her end of our intermittent email exchange.
Why is she mad at me this time? Because I read a book through Cecile's confirmation and then I did not go back to Cathy's for the after-party.
A few words about the confirmation. It was one of those pointless Reform appropriations of Protestantism. It has no basis in the Jewish tradition. It makes no demands on Jewish kids other than to attend a weekly two-hour class and do some charity project.
I could not in good conscience take part in the prayer liturgy due to the way it severely hacked apart the tradition. With all the congregational readings and theatricality (the service was largely done for you), it would've been like playing tennis with the net down.
I particularly loved all the flashbulbs going off in the sanctuary, during prayers, on Shuvuot. Truly a sacred occasion with great religious meaning for the pious pork-eating souls in attendance.
So I felt no guilt for reading my book Shiksa and forcing Cathy and her sister Michelle to awkwardly share the Reform prayer pamphlet.
I love it when Jews who go to temple three times a year lecture me on what I should do during an emaciated Reform prayer service. I only went to the stupid thing to show support for Cecile and bring her a gift from a friend. I loathed all the smiley happy-face therapeutic claptrap the rabbis spouted. The whole church-like temple gave me the queers, in more ways than one.
I was driven by my moral compass to flee a building of immorality for the refuge of my sturdy Orthodoxy.
Cathy wants me to think about her reproof and when I'm ready, to apologize. "You know I'm right," is her favorite saying to me and the world.
I told her not to hold her breath.
Our chupah must wait.
PS. You can't be as free with words such as schwartze, shiksa, shaygetz, and goyim in the Reform world.
PPS For those who ask why I didn't just pray quietly on my own. Let me remind you again that I was sitting next to those who bleed. How could I possibly be expected to have spiritual thoughts amidst such impurity?
Yehudit writes Protocols :
So you couldn't just do your own davening quietly and respect the occasion, instead of using it to show off how frum you are? Cathy's right.
You went "to show support'? Who do you think you're convincing? Clearly, you did nothing of the kind. You knew it was a Reform synagogue. What did you expect? Yehudit's right, this was just an opportunity to display your frummier-than-thou self. If you wanted to avoid being a hypocrite, you should have refused the invitation in the first place. You were deliberately rude and there's nothing pious about that.
Poor Richard writes:
Obviously, Reform instituted "confirmation" to keep kids in synagogue for several years after their bar mitzvah. Otherwise,their Jewish education would effectively end at age 12/13. It has nothing to do with Christianity.
Cathy Seipp writes:
For the record... I am not furious with Luke half the time. I am sometimes annoyed, and often bemused. Mostly I find him funny and even endearing.
Usually I brush off his misbehavior with the thought, "That's just Luke's schtick. It's weird." But this last episode...for the first time, I found myself thinking, "That schtick of Luke's, it's getting old."
Someone of your diverse spiritual background KNOWS that it's what's really, really "in your heart" that counts with God. Notwithstanding the foregoing, some of us enjoy immensely your anarchistic theatrics.
I've been reading the Web log of Forward national editor Ami Eden. If he didn't have conservatives to hate, his well would be dry. It feels like he grew up in the McCarthy era and never grew out of it.
Reading Miriam is such a contrast to reading myself. She produces thoughtful intelligent posts. Here's one on Maariv's (Israeli tabloid) coverage of religion.
I have a feeling that most subjects and persons get the type of coverage they deserve. Persons of dignity tend to get more dignified coverage (compare coverage of Meryl Streep, serious actress, to freaky Sharon Stone or Demi Moore).
The Day the Music Died - banned in the UK Haredi stars Avraham Fried and Mordechai Ben-David.
Why We Hate Liberals
Rich, beautiful, coastal types are liberal precisely because their lives are so wonderful. They want to preserve their lives exactly as they are. If I were a rich movie star, I'd vote for peace and poverty relief. War and domestic insurrection are the greatest threats to their already-perfect lives—why mess with it? This rational fear of the peasantry is frequently misinterpreted as rich guilt, but that's not the case. They just want to pay off all the have-nots to keep them from storming their manors and impaling them on stakes.
A Fantasized Love Story Between Ariel Avrech And Cecile du Bois
Oh Cecilia, I'm Beggin' You Please To Come Home writes Protocols:
I'm not sure if I feel like barfing or calling the girl's mother to ask her what steps she is taking to protect her daughter...
I'm not really understanding why all of these freaky bloggers are so obsessed with the fifteen year old blog chick. Its actually pretty disconcerting, and if I were her, or her mom, I would really start putting up some boundaries.
These blogging jewish men dont seem to be the most stable bunch (luke, SIW, Avrech), and I would really prefer if they left the girl alone.
In addition, Luke, its wonderful to get an occasional grief-ridden post from the Avrech blog, but to be honest with you, having his private grief center stage too often is really bringing the blog down.
While I'm at it, the vast majority of your readers are undoubtedly East Coast Jews, yet you insist on pretty much ignoring the East Coast while reporting on flat tires in the West Coast Jewish community. Serve your freakin audience.
She-LA writes: "Too many middle aged men thinking too long and hard about a fifteen year old kid. If this girl were a boy, would his talent be as noteworthy to you all?"
Vandals For G-d
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, the most religiously liberal of the West Coast's Orthodox rabbis, had his car vandalized last week. Two nails were hammered into his tire. I suspect Orthodox zealots are behind this. R. Kanefsky was kicked off the RCC's kosher supervising committee a few years ago when he allowed women's prayer groups in his shul.
Smells Fishy writes: "How do we know Luke isn't behind this, in an attempt to smear the right wing?"
A fantasized love between Ariel Avrech and Cecile du Bois.
Mattel Announces New Jewish Barbie Line
In an effort to prop up lagging sales for their Barbie dolland Ken doll line, Mattel has targeted the little Jewish girl market with Barbie dolls that reflect Jewish culture.
Kollel Barbie comes with several jobs as her accessories and a tummy that inflates and deflates in nine month cycles. Kollel Ken comes with a bench to sit on and a table to put his gemara on. Ken's head fits perfectly into the contours of the gemorah accessory and is equipped to drool and snore away the day while Barbie tends to the babies and her 17 jobs.
Hasidic Barbie comes with permanent stockings and is bald, but you'll never know because it's covered with a state-of-the-art shpitzel and pillbox hat. Hasidic Ken comes with downward-looking eyes because he's not allowed to look at other dolls.
Yeshivish Barbie comes with 84 snoods, 174 hats, 24 non-Indian hair sheitels and one tichel that allows her hair to show a bit when she's feeling naughty. Yeshivish Ken comes with one suit, one crumpled hat, and one pair of tzitzis that drag on the ground.
Modern Barbie comes with pants, plus a helmet and body armor to protect her from the stones thrown at her by ultra-orthodox Ken dolls that come with the Meah Shearim playset.
Upper West Side Barbie comes with 74 single Ken dolls she considers friends because she doesn't think of them "that way." Little does she know that 37 of the Ken dolls have like this totally huge crush on her. She also comes with Kleenexes to wipe away the tears that she sheds every time Skipper reminds her that "Friends" is over.
These new dolls, with their controversial accessories, did not go uncontested. Several organizations, including the Anti Defamation Kollel League, the Anti Defamation Hasidic League, the Anti Defamation Yeshivish League, the Anti Defamation Modern League and the Anti Defamation Upper West Side League have voiced concern over the stereotypes these dolls represent.
In a press release, Mattel said, "Tough noogies, just WAIT till we come out with Nidah Barbie, we KNOW that's gonna push some buttons!"
Keeping It Hard For Louis Theroux
Louis Theroux, son of novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux, visited me this week. He's writing a book about weird subcultures.
I sold him a copy of my first book. He asked me to autograph it. I asked him how I should inscribe it. He said to just put my name and date. That way he could sell it.
"You don't want me to write, 'Keep it hard for me'?"
"That's good," he said. "Do that." So I did, though I felt a little funny.
He was with his girlfriend of two years, Nancy. They met while working for the BBC.
XXX writes: There was a bit of a tabloid to-do about him a couple of years ago, when it was discovered that his longtime "girlfriend" was actually his wife. they divorced in a fairly weird case where not even the media ever seemed to know what was going on.
Cecile: 'Why My Mom Should Marry Luke Ford'
Cecile du Bois, 15, writes:
1. She doesn't take bull and nor does he.
2. They both are weird--but in different ways.
3. She wears too many pagan tattoos and needs to keep kosher. He wants children, but really has chutzpah and I could still serve as his protege. Mom is too tired to have children after me, and Luke is not feminine enough to care for them.
4. She is wise and has good looks, and he has a pretty boy charm that always intrigues her. She could be the next Mrs. Robinson--if she gets bored with him, she can have an affair with a 20 something year old 'Andy Garcia/Colin Farrel' look-alike who just happens to study Torah.
5. Her 'cousin' Mari would stop teasing her about her relationship with Luke Ford. Instead of laughingly asking, 'How is your boyfriend Luke?', she would calmly ask after the welfare of Mom's new husband.
6. Also, when I talk about Luke to my school mates, all I would say is 'My Mom's Husband', or if I dare, my stepfather.
7. Mom doesn't have a dowry to offer, but I, as her dutiful daughter, would clean the floors and wash the dishes while Mom could watch many films with Luke that are about Luke.
8. He would not have to worry about where he would go for his next Pesach or Purim service--he would dine with our extended family in the O.C and feel comfortable there since it is lily-white.
9. Luke would not have to worry about his weight or his mental health because under the tight care of Mom and her accurate scale, he would be fit to be a model for the YMCA.
10. They would make a perfect shidduch.
New Orthodox Shul Starting In Culver City
Due to the escalating real estate costs in the Pico Robertson vicinity, there will be a community meeting at 6:00 pm on June 13 to discuss various options and solutions to resolve this issue or move forward to starting new cheaper, dynamic and exciting communities elsewhere. People will present options that they have researched as well as professionals will be available to answer practical questions regarding specific areas, and the future of Pico Robertson. If anyone has any questions they can Email Luke.
Women, Women Everywhere
And not a drop to drink. What's a Torah Jew to do?
Paris When She Fizzles
Cathy Seipp writes:
Lack of middle-class values is usually considered an underclass problem. But watching season two of The Simple Life, the Fox reality show that throws heiress Paris Hilton and her friend Nicole Richie (daughter of Lionel) into the lives of ordinary working Americans, it occurred to me that the moneyed set's lack of middle-class values — such as restraint, hard work, and a willingness to make the best of a bad situation — can cause equal damage to the character.
In these new episodes, which begin next week, Paris and Nicole are sent on a road trip from Miami to L.A., sans cash and credit cards. For a while they mooch off strangers at gas stations, a few dollars at a time, which works because they're cute, giggly and trailed by a camera crew at all times. But soon the producers set them up with a series of grunt-level temp jobs, like cleaning up cow patties at a ranch.
Shana Hiatt's Ex
I met Tommy. He was married for three-and-a-half years to Shana Hiatt. (More pictures) (Pictures) (More info)
Shanna was on the cover of Playboy and in its spread for girls of Hawaiin Tropic (September 1995) and was a hostess on Wild on E!. Now she hosts the World Poker Tour.
Shanna is in the latest issue of FHM. Brooke Birch is on the cover. Shanna bashes Tommy in FHM. She says she used to date this guy who was obsessive-compulsive about ----.
"She danced. She was a make-up counter girl. I made clothes. I designed swimwear. I'm 37. I made all the outfits for her contests.
"Through all her Hawaiin Tropic and Playboy experiences, she got a lot of red carpet treatment. She saw the life she could have vs the life that she had with me. I was struggling.
"She called me one Valentine's Day to say, 'I think we should get divorced.' She was in New Orleans with her boyfriend, Dick Van Patten's son Jimmy.
"I heard they are no longer together. I heard through the grapevine he had been a drug addict and wasn't treating her well.
"She is not the princess she comes off to be.
"I'm not throwing stones. It's just a question of... We divorced five years ago.
Luke: "You haven't stayed in touch?"
Tommy: "I've tried. On three or four or five occasions to simply call on Christmas, birthday, congratulating her on being in Stuff magazine. The last time we spoke, 'I don't think it's a good idea that you call any more. This is me and my husband's number now.' Hey, cool. That's fine with me.
"Considering for three-and-a-half years, I was in your house. I loved you. We walked down the aisle."
More Proof that the Modern Orthodox Jewess can be Overeducated
Chaim Amalek writes:
I waddled out of my hovel the other evening (not easy for a man of my girth or years to do, but then that's what canes are for) to attend a lecture. Well, not really to attend a lecture, but to enjoy some of the free food that had been promised following said lecture. There I met the woman Luke would be dreaming about, had he met her. Still under 30, a lawyer, over 5'10" tall, willowy, built (big rack, tiny waist, sharply curvy hips, long slim legs), fertile looking. And the product of 12 years of a modern orthodox yeshiva, and modern orthodox herself. Knows the 613 and keeps them, she said. So imagine my heartbreak and concern for the fate of modern orthodoxy and the Jewish people when I learned that this tall, fertile, smart cute woman was not only living with a SHAGETZ, but a swarthy hispanic shagetz at that! Is this what modern orthodoxy has come to, creating modern orthodox women who reject Jewish men like me for goyim from the third world? Sure, I'm too old for her, too fat, and way too short, but then I thought of you, Luke, and you are none of these things. Yet had you been there, you too would have felt exactly as I do. What to do . . . what to do.
Protesters Rally for County Seal Cross
From the LA Times.com:
Pastors, professors, mayors and homemakers all defended the cross, with many people citing the historical influence of Spanish missionaries, the importance of Christian values, and the money it could cost to replace the seal. They started with a boisterous rally outside the Hall of Administration, attended by more than 1,000 people, before going inside to speak out at the meeting.
"We are a country that celebrates freedom of religion, not freedom from religion," said Lev Stark, a Jewish man from Hancock Park who wore a yarmulke as he testified. "The cross on the seal of the county of Los Angeles reminds us, even as Jews, that religion is free here."
The demonstration was led by Dennis Prager, a conservative talk show host on KRLA-AM (870), who has been talking about the supervisors' decision for days. As he approached the podium to address the supervisors, audience members leapt to their feet and cheered.
"I don't think you understand the severity of what you've done," Prager told the board, accusing supervisors of obliterating the county's history. "Totalitarianism is not possible unless you erase the past."
Robert J. Avrech responds to the comments on Protocols: "My daughters are bright and funny and their materialism is no worse than it should be. It is fine to attack me with empty feminist slogans, I really don't mind. Ad hominem attacks are a sure sign of an undisciplined mind and a weak argument. But my girls do not deserve nasty comments. They are accomplished beyond anything you sad people could imagine. You entirely missed the point of writing about the shoe rack. In this grief-stricken household putting together a stupid shoe rack is our way of being together, it's our way of letting life go on. It is another expression of the deepest love we feel for one another. As for blaming the victim, God forbid. I believe that ideology blinds some people to ordinary common sense. I never suggested that rape does not happen to good and modest and fine women. Just as I would never suggest that my son died because he committed a sin. Bad things happen to the best people. Every day and every hour."
Hadash West Seminar
Rabbi David Woznica (Jewish Federation of Los Angeles) moderates a discussion ("Where are we going?") between panelists Dr. Beryl Geber (UJ) and Dr. Steven M. Cohen (Hebrew University).
R. Woznica: "I gave a Federation speech about a year ago to 750 women. I said that Jews do not necessarily look to Judaism as the source of their values. For example, how many of you believe that it is a woman's right to do what she pleases with her body? You can imagine that out of those 750 women, 748 raised their hands, and the other two I couldn't see. How many of you hold that Judaism would support that perspective? Every hand went up. Then I said, how many of you can cite the Torah, Talmud or rabbinic tradition in support of your belief? Not one hand went up.
"Just because you believe something, doesn't make it a Jewish value. It isn't a woman's right to do what she wants with her own body any more than a man has the right to do what he wants with his own body. You can't get a tattoo. For it to be a Jewish value, it has to be something more than what Jews feel."
Dr. Cohen: "I disagree. A Jewish value is what Jews hold in distinction to their non-Jewish neighbors. In mid-twentieth century America, Jewish values meant support for civil rights and opposition to the war in Vietnam. Jews hold those values more than other people. That's a Jewish value. The people define Jewish values, not just the rabbis."
R. Woznica: "No, no, no.
Dr. Cohen: "Jews are radically distinctive in all matters related to sex. Pornography, homosexuality, marriage, adultery, abortion. Therefore, these are Jewish values."
R. Woznica: "Jews without Jewish values will only be distinctive in the cultural and political spheres, and not in the ethical sphere. What was left out [in Dr. Cohen's equation] was any reference to Judaism.
"Should there be a Jewish requirement to be on a board of directors and [to lead out in Jewish life]? Should you have to have Jewish knowledge?"
Dr. Cohen shakes his head. "Should their be norms and aspirations and expectations?"
R. Woznica: "That's too sociological. I want clarity."
Dr. Cohen: "Have expectations for Jewish learning have significantly increased since [some 1969 conference they were both at] to now? Yes, that's a good thing. But these aren't requirements. You just can't. It's unAmerican.
"I'm not worried about Jewish continuity and Jewish future."
R. Woznica: "I don't like the focus on the next generation. It's like parents who say to me, how can we keep our kids Jewish? I say, what are you doing to live a Jewish life now?"
Dr. Cohen says day schools are the most important factor for predicting someone's likelihood of leading a committed Jewish life. "I know kids who get more hours of Jewish study [in an after school program] than those in Jewish day schools. I fear we have schools for Jews rather than Jewish day school."
R. Woznica: "Most Jews I find don't see a lot of beauty in Judaism and don't see Jewish values as unique...and have no sense of mission.
"The more passionate people who love Judaism, the more that will fire other people up. We have secularized our foundations. We are increasingly less able to fire people up."
Dr. Cohen: "I wish you could've been more passionate in the way you said that.
"Orthodoxy has grown and strengthened over the last 50 years. I was raised Orthodox. Most Jews of my generation [violated the Sabbath, ate non-kosher food]... Orthodoxy has firmed up. Most people (90%) my age did not go to a day school. Downside, Orthodoxy and the rest of Judaism have split.
"Conservative has been declining in size since 1950. I believe it will continue to decline in size. It has grown in piety and learning. It is being eaten by the right and the left.
"Reform has been growing, by seeding new congregations and by becoming more traditional and throwing off its anti-traditional patina."
R. Woznica: "The lack of passionate non-Orthodoxy is the biggest problem."
Is Ken Layne Writing Defamer?
Check this evidence.
Ken Layne responds:
Nope, not me. If I was going to be a Nick Denton blogger, I would be Wonkette. I love Wonkette. Of course, Wonkette is a hot babe, so I guess I cannot be her. I actually talked to Nick about doing an "LA Gawker" a long while back -- I've known Nick for about eight years, I think -- but my idea / interest was to have it be like LA Examiner (the web site I did with Matt) and not a bunch of Hollywood stuff.
I hardly ever see movies & don't know about the hit teevee shows (except for cartoons; I watch King of the Hill & Simpsons & South Park!), but Nick really wanted something that would focus on showbiz. And people seem to like it, so that proves once again that Nick is a smart businessman and I'm not. Anyway, once I moved away from Los Angeles it was all sort of moot. Which is good, because I finally, finally got to retire forever from "journalism."
Tiny Symbol, Huge Fuss
An LA Times editorial:
Today, however, crowds of residents, goaded by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager, are expected to storm the Hall of Administration, furious that the supervisors agreed June 1 to remove the cross and redesign the seal. The deal came after the ACLU pressured Redlands into eliminating a cross from its city logo in April and then threatened to sue Los Angeles County officials if they didn't do the same.
The civil liberties group has portrayed the presence of the cross on this cluttered government seal as a church-state issue of monumental constitutional importance, equal to mandatory school prayer. Hardly.
Nonetheless, the supervisors were right to agree. Their alternative was to squander tax dollars they don't have on a legal battle they'd probably lose — if lawsuits over the seals of other cities and counties are a guide.
But an expensive and pointless legal battle is exactly what many residents are spoiling for. In recent days, supervisors say they have been deluged with phone calls and e-mails demanding that they reverse their decision and keep the cross. A motion before the board today from Supervisor Mike Antonovich would do just that; he and Supervisor Don Knabe opposed the ACLU proposal. As silly as the ACLU's obsession with government seals is, for the board to reverse course would be even sillier, ensuring that the matter lands in court.
A Sneak Peak At My New Book, The Producers: Profiles in Frustration
Proofs are out on my new book, The Producers: Profiles in Frustration. About half of my subjects are Jewish. The book will be available through Amazon.com in two months.
Journey Of Hope
Alan Abbey (ALAN-AB@y-i.co.il), author of the book on Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, writes: My secret is out - I have left the Jerusalem Post and have moved to Yedioth Internet, the online arm of Israel's largest newspaper, to build an English-language web site for Ynet.co.il, the leading Hebrew-language web site in Israel. I hope to bring - along with Ynet's top of the line news - a little of the blogosphere to the mainstream. (I followed your stint on Protocols - good stuff - and you provoked a lot of reaction!) With that in mind, I will be looking for commentators, etc... who can bring us a younger audience that isn't spending all of its time on the existing Jewish/Israeli web sites.I am beginning to get a staff together, design a site and spread the word. So, if you know of people who might be interested, interesting or curious, send 'em my way."
Is AIDS Reagen's Fault?
Leader Sam-on-Rye writes Cathy Seipp: "The argument against Reagan is as follows: If only he had gone on national television and urged America's homosexuals to stop buggering one another without the benefit of condoms and had urged junkies not to share needles, they'd all have complied, and the spread of AIDS would have been halted. Now, you can't argue with that."
What's The Right Age To Buy Yours Kids Condoms?
Two of my friends are going through a tough time and they've been giving each other therapy over the phone. During a recent session, they had me listen in for moral support.
Samantha: "I'm messing around on my computer. I've got paperwork."
Rob: "What are you, an office lady?"
Sam: "My divorce."
Rob: "I'm going through that too. How's your boyfriend?"
Sam: "I don't know if he's really my boyfriend any more."
Rob: "You go through a lot of guys."
Sam: "I know."
Rob: "You're like a doorknob. Everybody gets a turn. When was the last time you got ----?"
Sam: "Last week."
Rob: "Was it by your father?"
Sam: "No, it was your's."
Rob: "How's your kid?"
Sam: "She's great. Her birthday is Saturday."
Rob: "I've got to buy her a present."
Sam: "She's going to be eight."
Rob: "You can get her condoms. As long as she was eight before she was nine."
Sam: "I'll wait until she's 15."
Rob: "Fifteen? Where are you from again?"
Sam: "North Carolina."
Rob: "They do it when they're eight there."
Sam: "No, they wait until they're about twelve."
Rob: "How old were you when you got ------ the first time?"
Rob: "You're lying. When was the first time there was a ---- -- ---- -----?"
Sam: "About nine or ten."
Rob: "Ohmigod. That's sick."
Sam: "It was my uncle."
Sam: "Because he made me. I didn't even know what it was when I was nine."
Rob: "You thought it was a lollipop."
Sam's getting rid of her trailor.
Rob: "You want to live closer to your uncle."
Sam's moving back to North Carolina in July.
Rob: "Could I come stay with you?"
Rob: "Where would I stay? Because I sure don't want to stay at your uncle's."
Sex and Happiness
Jackie writes: "It's a wonder you're not suicidal, o chaste one. The sacrifice you make for your holiness is great."
Jack writes: "Luke -- I haven't had sex (considered as love-making, the bone-dance, full-on coitus) in two years. I also happen to be a rather unhappy bloke. Oh sure, there've been many opportunities I could have taken advantage of in that time. But, basically, if they don't look (and perform) like, er, uhm, Paris Hilton, then I'm not interested. So considereth me as miserable 'til then. [No, don't post this to your site -- unless anonymously]."
From the WSJ.com:
Mr. Blanchflower calculates that going from having sex once a month to having it at least weekly is roughly equivalent to the amount of happiness that an extra $50,000 of income would bring to the average American. "The effect of sex on happiness is statistically well-determined ... and large," the authors conclude. "This is true for males and females, and for those under and over the age of 40."
The paper is titled, "Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study."
One recent paper by several economists, including 2002 Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman, found in a survey of 909 women in Texas that sex rated as the activity in day-to-day life that produced the single largest amount of happiness.
Among their other findings, Messrs. Blanchflower and Oswald found that higher-income individuals do not have sex any more often, or have any more partners, than lower-income individuals; that people who have paid for sex are considerably less happy than others; and that the happiness-optimizing number of sexual partners per year is one.
Beth Jacob In Beverly Hills
An out-of-town frum-from-birth (FFB) friend found Beth Jacob (O) in Beverly Hills a disturbing experience Shabbat morning. The place is filled with stained glass iconography that many Orthodox Jews will find borders on the idolatrous. Much of the imagery, which runs on the mechitza, represents the Holocaust. My friend was davening next to pictures of Nazis. He felt like they were commanding him to pray.
Then Rabbi Steven Weil rose to speak. It was difficult to concentrate on his words because his head bobbed so much. Out of nowhere, Rabbi Weil launched into the most hate-filled denunciation of Reform and Conservative Judaism my friends has ever heard. The rant had nothing to do with the rest of sermon. It just poured out. Something about Reform and Conservative will never understand the prophecies of Moses.
Rabbi Weil is not afraid to express his feelings. I've heard him call The Los Angeles Times a "filthy rag." The paper certainly has its problems but it is not a "filthy rag."
While R. Weil won't serve on the Board of Rabbis, he does participate in panel discussions with non-Orthodox rabbis.
Orthodox and non-Orthodox relations are worse in Los Angeles than any major American city. Only two Orthodox rabbis (R. Yosef Kanefsky and R. Levi Meir) sit on the board of rabbis.
I was in LA on January 17th and had the opportunity to hear R. Weil speak. In his remarks that morning, R. Weil addressed (somewhat in passing) how divisive the split between the orthodox and conservative/reform communities (in LA) had become. Calling his congregation to task, R. Weil compared Beth Jacob (and included himself in the analogy) to the “ghettos in Brooklyn” and demanded that it was his and his congregation’s responsibility to reach out to the other parts of the Jewish community. Rabbi Weil has a history of inter-communal work (stemming to his previous position in Detroit) and is very much interested in bridging gaps between and fostering relationships with the conservative/reform community. Indeed, I suspect that was a primary reason why he was brought to LA in the first place. Though I did not hear his remarks this past weekend, I am aware of his views and suggest that his criticism of the reform/conservative community’s failure to understand certain traditional Jewish concepts is not mutually exclusive from a sincere interest in bridging gaps with said community.
'Crouching Jew, Hidden Tears'
Robert Avrech writes:
This Friday at the library, I was prowling the shelves when I got hit by a wave of grief so strong that I could not move. I don't know what brought it on, it happens so frequently that I'm no longer surprised. Through my tears, I glimpsed a man checking books out, he was a bit goofy looking, wearing ill-fitting shorts and clod-hopper shoes and I thought, "Oh no, another schizophrenic haunting the library," but then I realized that it was the infamous blogger Luke Ford. I wanted to go over and say: Hello, Good Shabbos, and thank him again for linking me to his website. But my face was bright with tears and mucous was running down my nose so I just crouched between the high metal shelves and waited for the grief to pass.
Marry Off Cecile du Bois
Cathy Seipp was so impressed with Steven I. Weiss Sunday afternoon (he was dressed in a tux on the way to a friend's wedding) that she wants him to marry her 15 year old daughter Cecile du Bois and have babies together.
Rabbi Louis Jacobs, one of the giants of our age
I read all his books early on in my Jewish journey. It is interesting that his Orthodox critics never meet his arguments. They can't on the basis of evidence, only on the theoretical purity of theological faith.
Now I believe traditionally. I believe the Torah is divine. I do not believe that Orthodoxy can sway from this or it will cease to be Orthodox. But I won't pretend that the evidence points in this direction. To be Orthodox means to march in step with the Jewish tradition's methods of interpreting text and to religiously reject modernity's ways of studying text that clash with Orthodoxy. Just as scholarship must reject the influence of religion in its pursuit of truth.
Orthodoxy and modernity are incompatible in numerous ways and few divides are more important than this one.
Jeff Bloom writes:
Luke, I liked this post a lot. Easily the most intelligent thing I have ever read on Protocols. Maybe I think its smart because I largely agree with it. On this topic, you might like Leo Strauss' essay "Progress or Return" or his preface to his book on Spinoza. (Strauss' Jewish thought is collected in a book edited by Kenneth Hart Green.) The essays are tough and I don't pretend to understand them fully, but (for my money, at least) they hit bedrock on the question of Orthodoxy and modernity.
Where Are These People?
We have several black and asian members of my Orthodox shul. These members have black and asian children. In my ten years there, on and off, I do not recall one comment about their race. I side with Gary Tobin. I look forward to thousands of black, Latino and Asian converts in the next couple of decades. I know about a dozen already (of the Orthodox variety).
It's a shame that for most Jews, Jewishness is primarily a thing you are stuck with rather than a joyous affirmation. Those who are passionate about their choice will perpetuate Judaism while those who feel stuck (and their descendants) will get flushed down the toilet of history.
I've noticed only ridicule on the Jewish blogosphere for Tobin's prediction of thousands of colored converts. People should read Tobin's powerful book, Opening the Gates: How Proactive Conversion Can Revitalize the Jewish Community.
Yidden, you can either throw open your gates or you can become increasingly irrelevant to the world.
It's well known that the Black man (or the legal Mexican immigrant) in Los Angeles has no better friend than Luke Ford.
If your shul does not have Black and Latino and Asian members, than you should ask yourself what are you doing to create a hostile prayer environment so persons of color do not feel comfortable joining with you?
I believe the rabbis should decree that all shuls have a minimum 10% membership rate of persons of color. If necessary, jiggle the yearly shul dues along a Bell Curve:
* Asians and Ashkenazim - $1200
* Sephardim - $1000
* Latinos - $800
* Blacks - $600.
If that does not do it, you should be required to recruit members in Black, Latino and Asian neighborhood. We need rabbis making special missions to gang members, writing books such as The Magen David and the Switchblade.
If that fails, shuls should have to rent persons of color from such fine services as this one.
I have a dream that one day our shul members will resemble a rainbow. And let us say amen.
'I Never Read Blogs'
Rivka writes on Protocols: "I was talking to this guy recently (a rabbi, incidentally) - he said he heard I was blogging - "not that I read that stuff," he said, chuckling."
A person may not read Protocols, but if the story is powerful enough to affect his life, it is going to affect his life whether he reads it or not. The pen is mightier than the sword. If the story is powerful enough, it can reach anyone, even if they proclaim they never read the particular publication. People kill or commit suicide over things that are written. Words have the power to ruin lives or to elevate them. It's a basic Jewish teaching, one that sneering rabbis should understand. The Rav Shacters of the world may claim they never read blogs, but blogs like this one reach them, whether they like it or not.
Should I rape the 'fame machine' or the 'fame goddess,' or should I go and rape no more?
I'm tinkering with Rodger Jacobs epilogue to my memoir. He writes in his final two paragraphs:
Luke Ford is a piece of performance art. Think of all the men and women over the decades who stepped off the bus from some sleepy little town in a sleepy little state with hope burning in their eyes that they would become a name to reckon with in the movie capital of the world. And then as rejection mounts upon rejection that hope in their eyes turns to terror. They realize that they must live out their remaining days in the left coast dust as waiters, parking lot attendants, hotel clerks, secretaries, assistants to assistants. They burn, they seethe, they hate. So did Luke Ford. But he turned his hatred and resentment into art. He held up a mirror to the machinery of fame and said "If you’re not going to seduce me, then I’ll force myself upon you."
The beauty of it is that it worked. Luke Ford raped the fame machine and the machine sat back and took it, validated his clumsy but successful attempt to not end up as a waiter, parking lot attendant, assistant to an assistant. It’s a joke, really, a testament to just how illusory Hollywood success is, that he has done so well at it.
I want to change it to:
He said to the goddess of fame, "If you’re not going to be seduced by me, then I’ll force myself upon you."
The beauty of it is that it worked. Luke Ford raped the fame goddess and she sat back and took it, validating his clumsy but successful attempt to not end up as a waiter, parking lot attendant, assistant to an assistant. It’s a joke, really, a testament to just how illusory Hollywood success is, that he has done so well at it.
Heather Mac Donald says:
1. you'll probably not have too many feminist readers to begin with so don't need to worry about Andrea Dworkin calling for a boycott of your book;
2. I don't think many people think of machines as "she," so if you want to keep raping, goddess is better.
From Jeffrey Meyers biography of Edmund Wilson: "During his senior year [at Princeton], sitting in his favorite Morris chair with a serious book in his hand, he would suddenly have a spontenous ejaculation."
I hate it when that happens.
Why have there been no movies made about the life of America's greatest man of letters? He bedded Edna St. Vincent Millay, Anais Nin and Louise Bogan.
From the Luke Ford Fan Blog:
It's hard to believe that these sorts of things still happen in America in the year 2004. But obviously they do. Luke Ford, moral leader, scholar, memoirist, raconteur, and all-around colossus of the blogosphere, was the victim of an outrageous act of discrimination last Saturday: he was prevented from being a panelist at the American Cinema Foundation's roundtable discussion on blogging and the news and entertainment media.
Cathy Seipp, the event's moderator and prime mover, told Luke that the decision to exclude him was based purely on merit, that he, the Internet's premiere vanity blogger, simply wasn't good enough to sit alongside Los Angeles' leading bloggers. What an utterly implausible argument, especially as it comes only days after Luke's recent "triumphant" stint as a guest blogger on Protocols (see below), which has led to upcoming guest blogging assignments on LA Observed, Instapundit, Kausfiles, and NYTimes.com. Yet somehow this in-demand blogger was cruelly rejected.
Let's compare Luke Ford's credentials against those of the actual panelists to see if any sensible person could possibly justify this outrageous snub:
• Luke Ford is a published author of a scholarly monograph (and will soon release his second book, an absorbing autobiography of his fascinating life). How many of the panelists have produced scholarly monographs? Nil. (Roger L. Simon is the author of detective novels, but these will hardly be mistaken for Luke's treatise, which Publisher's Weekly lauded as "rambling," "contradictory," and "offensive." To the best of my knowledge none of the rest have nary a book credit between them.)
• Luke Ford was recently the subject of a major study on Internet celebrity by a team of leading researchers at Stanford University. How many of the panelists have also been studied by scholars at a prestigious (or for that matter non-prestigious) university? Nil.
• Luke Ford is the beloved moral leader to millions of lost souls across the blogosphere -- poor, pathetic, snivelling losers in need of guidance because they are too stupid or lazy to think for themselves. How many of the panelists are so blessed? How many even go to church or synagogue on a regular basis? Nil.
• And most significantly, Luke Ford has a non-ironical fan blog. How many of the panelists have a fan blog? Nil. (The only other moral leader of Luke Ford's stature with a fan blog is Michael Medved. But Medved, although a superb intellectual and moral leader in his own right, is not a blogger. Besides his fan blog is something of a joke, I think, although I have a rather childish sense of humour and I'm not very good at determining these things.)
I submit to you, my dear readers and fellow Fordophiles, that the evidence that our moral leader has been wronged is overwhelming. It is persuasive. It is irrefutable. Orthodox Jew Luke Ford is the victim of anti-religious discrimination! He is the Rosa Parks of the blogosphere! Just as Parks was denied a seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 for no reason other than her race, Luke was denied a seat on the panel of the American Cinema Foundation's discussion on blogging for no reason other than his faith. Outrageous!
(I suppose that there is another possible explanation for Luke Ford's exclusion: jealously. It wasn't long ago that Luke was named one of Los Angeles' ten best bloggers. Who was notably absent from that list? None other than Cathy Seipp -- the same Cathy Seipp who placed herself on the panel of leading LA bloggers! You may recall that at the time I wrote how painful this must have been for Cathy. Perhaps she still hasn't gotten over the humiliation? And yet I have rejected this explanation because, well, frankly I don't think that you can sue a person for jealousy, and I'm hoping to be called as an expert witness at the upcoming Luke Ford anti-discrimination trial where I will finally meet my moral leader in person -- I just hope I don't faint in his presence like I did when I saw Clay Aiken during the Seattle stop of the American Idol tour last fall. Boy, was that embarrassing!)
To be fair, I should point out that Luke was allowed to ask one question from the floor during the political segment of last Saturday's event. Yet even here Cathy Seipp, according to published accounts, snorted her disapproval. I'm of the opinion that Luke's question simply reaffirms the argument that he belonged on the panel. Please judge for yourself. Mr. Ford waved his hand and when called upon politely asked:
"I want to know if blogging has ever gotten the panelists ----?"
Notice the complete absence of a rambling introductory sentence. His question was concise, relevant, and to the point. I must admit, however, that I'm a little unclear as to the hidden word. I blame myself for this as I'm not very good at word games and I can't make out this four letter word. All I know is that it was about politics, blogging and thus on-topic. If someone knows, please contact me at email@example.com. Thanks.)
UPDATE: That rat bastard! I have just been informed what the missing word was. Luke Ford stood up at the American Cinema Foundation and shamelessly asked: "I want to know if blogging has ever gotten the panelists laid?"
I feel sick. I would like to apologise unreservedly for all those I have unjustly criticised, especially Cathy Seipp. It's no wonder Luke wasn't allowed on the panel. Just think of the havoc he would have caused with his outrageous behaviour. In fact, I'm shocked that Cathy even took his question from the floor. I'm surprised that he was allowed to purchase two tickets for the event: one for himself and, Luke being ever the optimist, one for a nonexistent date. I'm shocked that he is even allowed out of the house, er, hovel. It's one thing to be obnoxious in a private situation with his friends (assuming he has any left), but in a public place! What on earth was Horrid Boy thinking? The only thing I can come up with was that he was so excited to see Shiksababe Moxie in person that he forgot to take his lithium tablets.
Shayne Shiksa writes Protocols:
I am a conversion candidate, I am not ready yet because (a) I do not live in a Jewish Community, (b) I do not know how to set up an eruv (c) I do not remember all the 39 melachos ( I reminds me when I got my American citizenship I had to name 8 out of the 13 colonies).
I read the regular Jewish blogs and web sites (Aish, Jewish World Review, Arutz 7, kesher, protocols. etc). Thanks to your blogging I discovered a new angle of the Orthodox world I did know exists. ur da man!!! Thank you!!!
Because you are an expert in both fields Halacha and sex I have a sheilita for you. In one of my study books I saw that the only position allowed in bed is the missionary position. Is there an hetter for other positions (plays) ? The people who trash you on this board are violating mitzvah # 252.
Shayne, this is too sensitive a matter for me to discuss on the Web. Suffice to say, different rabbis have different sexual positions.
I believe it would be most appropriate for you to contact me privately so we can give your question the attention it deserves until we are mutually satisfied.
Mister X writes:
Twenty centuries of inbreeding and hostility to outsiders has left its mark on the Jewish genome. (And it is getting worse! In Brookyn, among the hassidim, it is common for first cousins to marry one another!) My primary criticism of you Luke, is that you have failed to disseminate your much need goyishe seed amongst the parched wombs of the Jewish spinsters, wombs that otherwise are fated to be barren. Stop thinking about what sort of a husband you would be, and start thinking about how badly the Jews need new blood and higher numbers. Every jewish child that you can create by having sex with these spinsters is a mitzvah even greater than avoiding shatness or designing a hot and sexxxy sheitel with which the inbreeds inflame the Lukewarm blood of their husbands. It is a mitzvah that the inbreeds of this board who criticize you likely will never match. So get out there and get busy!