How many hours do you spend watching TV shows with her you would rather not watch?
How many hours do you spend having stupid conversations with your GF (per week)?
How many hours do you spend watching TV shows with her you would rather not watch (per week)?
How many hours do you spend doing other stupid things with her you would rather not do (per week)?
I found the above hilarious because it mirrors my life experience. I've watched a lot of stupid TV shows with girls to achieve higher objectives - keruving them into Orthodox Judaism (haven't succeeded yet but I'm still trying).
Reb Yudel writes: The survey ommitted a few important questions:
* How many hours does *she* spend watching TV shows she would rather not watch?
* How many of those TV shows are more fun because of her comments?
* How many hours of wonderful discussions do you have a week?
* How many hours spent doing stupid things you would rather not do are more bearable because you are doing them together?
But What Does The Torah Have To Say?
I made my weekly 90-minute visit to my healer/biofeedback guy. He said I need to wear lighter colors. That my perpetual black attire holds in my negative energy.
I wondered what Judaism's sacred texts have to say about this matter.
"No more of that. We're married now"
Ruth Shalit's Fiance Converts To Judaism
Cathy Seipp writes: Cecile and I went to see Ruth Shalit's fiance, Rob Barrett, convert to Judaism Friday night [at a Reform temple]. They're getting married in New York in a Jewish ceremony this coming weekend. The New York Times Sunday Styles will have an item about the wedding on Sept. 5, which Cecile is especially looking foward to reading, as she loves those wedding announcements. Because Ruth and Rob moved to L.A. a little over a year ago they don't know that many Jews here who can, as Ruth put it, "joyfully welcome Rob into the community," so we were happy to be there, along with some other friends.
It was a lovely, moving ceremony, and Rob looked very fine carrying the Torah around the outdoor chapel. But he didn't look any more Jewish than he did before his conversion. He still looked exactly like who he is: Henry Robertson Barrett IV. We got him the paperback of "Goodbye, Columbus" as a joyfully-welcoming-him-into-the-community conversion present.
Afterwards we all went to Canter's, one of those not terribly good restaurants that I'm nevertheless very fond of because I've lived in L.A. so long and have been there so many times.
Lord Peter Luther Christian OBE writes: It truly is shameful for a Christian man to abandon the love of Christ Jesus for the temporal and temporary pleasures of a woman's love for him, if love indeed be what it is. Better that she should accept him as he is, cross and all.
Do your rabbis accept such conversions as authentic?
Dwight Owen Schweitzer Of The Jewish Star Times
In December 2002, I read two articles online from the Miami Herald about Dwight Owen Schweitzer. He was the editor and publisher of the now defunct The Jewish Star Times. He'd been arrested [but never prosecuted] for allegedly kicking a hooker, whom he had befriended three days before.
I laughed and laughed.
Today I interviewed him.
Tickled To Death
I just got back from a half-hour appointment where a very naughty doctor and nurse spent half an hour tickling me from head to toe. The thing is, I was strapped down completely: arms, legs, torso. And they found my super ticklish spot, which really got me. They said they never had a patient like me before. You see, I am SOOOO ticklish that I scream and cry, I just can't take it!!! Somehow I still enjoyed the whole process. There is a good feeling that comes with being totally exhausted... My therapist had recommended I do this to channel my aggressions. It's better than lithium.
Israeli Spy In Pentagon?
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 - The F.B.I. is in communication with a Pentagon official suspected of passing secrets to Israel and is seeking to gain his cooperation in their espionage investigation, government officials said.
The Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, a midlevel analyst who works in the policy office of the Defense Department, has been in contact with investigators with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, officials said. It could not be learned whether he was talking with the bureau directly or through a lawyer.
Government officials say they suspect that Mr. Franklin provided classified documents to officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington, and that the group in turn handed the materials over to Israeli intelligence. Both the lobbying group and the Israeli government have denied any misconduct.
Reb Yudel writes: The place to go for coverage of this story is Laura Rozen's blog, http://www.warandpiece.com. Rozen was working with Joshua Micha Marshall (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com) and the Washington Monthly on an article about Feith's rogue Iranian policy.
Amidsts the wildly anti-semitic comments on her blog is a lot of speculation about who leaked this and why,and what the broader background is.
The Problems With Jewish Journalism
Here are some of my opinions (composed after conducting my interviews) on what is wrong with Jewish journalism.
#1. Failure of imagination.
Jewish journalism is predictable. It rarely catches the reader offguard. You read the headline and you know the story. There’s no need to read more. It’s just the same old actors on the Jewish stage repeating the same old lines. To hold the attention of an infant or an adult, you have to defy expectations.
#2. Lack of courage.
Why would you want to write something critical about somebody you will see again? This particularly applies to fellow Jewish journalists. Not one, except Yossi Abramowitz, was willing to offer me an on-the-record criticism of Gary Rosenblatt, “Mr. Jewish Journalism,” even though the quality of the journalism he’s published has declined dramatically at The Jewish Week compared to his previous employer, the independent Baltimore Jewish Times.
#3. Lack of clarity on mission.
You can be good. You can be truthful. You can be kind. You can investigate. But neither an individual nor a newspaper can do all these things equally well. Jewish newspapers need to clarify if they are primarily in the propaganda game (which is where I would place all Jewish weeklies except the Forward) or in the news game. You need to know what your primary mission is. Is it to report the news in your community or is to act omnisciently in the best interests of the community by frequently withholding the news (the stance of virtually all Jewish weeklies except the Forward)?
#4. Lack of technique.
It is rare to read a Jewish weekly and feel that you are right there in the story. To emotionally rivet the reader, you must:
• Employ scene-by-scene construction moving towards a climax. There must be desire, struggle and realization, the three acts of a screenplay.
• Realistic dialogue.
• Abundant attention to status details.
• Multiple points of view.
#5. Stuck in the past.
Blogs are an increasingly preferred way of getting news, yet few if any Jewish newspapers offer blogs, or use blogging techniques in their print editions. First person news accounts written with attitude can be more interesting and powerful than the old standby objective stance. There’s no inherent reason why the journalist writing a news story has to be less interesting than the people he’s writing on. Jewish journalism could develop stars by allowing those with talent to experiment with different techniques of telling a news story. We need more Yossi Klein Halevis.
#6. Desire to be loved.
Many Jewish journalists yearn to be loved by their readers (or, have more fear of being hated than desire to be respected). This attitude rarely makes for compelling reading. We need more J.J. Goldbergs who place their commitment to journalism above their desire to be popular.
# 7. Delusions of grandeur.
Jewish weeklies could do a good job of covering their community if they wanted to, but most of them, particularly the Jewish Journal, suffer from delusions of grandeur. They devote considerable resources to national and international stories where they have no expertise. They are rarely going to improve on what The New York Times has to offer on Israel or national politics, but they insist on publishing second rate material anyway because it makes them feel like they are big time.
#8 Unwillingness to treat religion with the same seriousness and specificity that it treats politics.
That’s where The New Rabbi was revolutionary. It gave a large synagogue the same treatment other institutions of similar size receive routinely.
#9 If you only publish positive book reviews, you don’t take ideas seriously.
The only weekly that takes books seriously is the Forward. All the others treat Jewish authors with kid gloves.
#10 Sensitivity, tact, restraint are only three good traits among many.
Some stories call for insensitivity, tactlessness, and lack of restraint.
Do You Want To Marry Luke Ford?
Of course you do!
Oh, I suppose if you brainstormed for a hundred thousand million billion zillion years you might be able to come up with one lame reason not to marry Luke. But you don't have the time. Your biological clock is ticking, and Luke isn't getting any younger (or thinner) either.
Where to begin your quest to become Mrs Luke Ford?
These days a (good) man is hard to find, and a (very good) man, like Luke Ford, is especially rare. To snare such a man will take lots of initiative, dedication, and saleswomanship. Let's face facts, ladies. When it comes to romance, it's a buyer's market and you're selling.
Preparation is the key. This means reading everything you can find on Luke Ford.
What is a producer exactly?
Rodger Jacobs writes: In Hollywood, most people will tell you that the term has various definitions but in Luke Ford's massive exploration -- nearly seventy interviews with film and television producers, some whose name you may know, others who have been relegated to obscurity -- what emerges is a portrait of the producer as artist.
Don Phillips' tale of the making of the groundbreaking "small" film "Melvin and Howard" is worth the cover price alone. Did you know that Jack Nicholson and Mike Nichols were nearly attached to the picture? (Phillips didn't want to wait a year for Jack's availability)Elvis Presley was next considered for the role of Melvin Dumar:
"Elvis was on his last leg," Phillips tells Ford. "He was fat and jowly and passed out."
Elvis agreed, in June 1997, to do the film after he finished his latest concert tour. Six weeks later the legend was dead.
On a related note, producer Judd Bernard's anecdote about actress Annette Day -- who starred in only one film, "Double Trouble", a 1967 Elvis Presely vehicle -- was so telling about the capriciousness of show biz and life in general that I adapted the tale into my new play about an obsolete Hollywood producer, "Last Summer at the Marmont."
Among the other notable names in the book -- and there are many -- are TV wizard Stephen J. Cannell (God bless "The Rockford Files" and keep it in syndication for many years to come), Jay Bernstein, and a particularly touching interview with the late Edgar J. Scherick, creator of ABC's "Wide World Of Sports."
I have known Luke Ford in both a personal and professional capacity for almost seven years now. Often I have been one of his biggest detractors. "The Producers: Profiles in Frustration" is a piece of work that I would never thought an autodidact like Luke capable of, namely a book that is a must-read for anyone contemplating a career in the entertainment industry and, more importantly, the unknowing millions who believe that producers are nothing more or less than Hollywood fat cats with a cigar in one cheek and a bikini-clad babe in their lap. The interviews in this book prove that in the Hollywood food chain, producers are too often overlooked as -- dare I say it? -- fountains of creativity.
'Don't Defame Me'
From JTA.org: The former editor of a Florida Jewish newspaper is suing The Miami Herald for defamation.
Dwight Owen Schweitzer, who served as editor and publisher of the now-defunct Jewish Star Times, which was owned by The Miami Herald, says the Herald defamed him in two “false and misleading stories” published in December 2002. The stories reported that Schweitzer was charged with misdemeanor battery for an incident involving an altercation with a prostitute at Schweitzer’s home.
Jeffrey Wells: 'Low-Key Genius In Luke Ford's The Producers: Profiles In Frustration'
Jeffrey Wells writes: There's a kind of low-key genius in Luke Ford's "The Producers: Profiles in Frustration" (iUniverse), a just-released book composed of question-and-answer interviews Ford did with 68 producers. It's in his decision not to write a damn thing about who these people are or what any of it finally means. He lets them say it, and lets us draw our conclusions, and that's that.
This is hardly an original approach, but it sure gives you food for thought and then some. In a way you can almost feel THE PRODUCERS: PROFILES IN FRUSTRATION taking flight inside you after you've finished reading it, like a bird. Because it's not just about "producers," but the life force inside the practitioners of this profession.
Ford, an ace-level gossiper and story-teller (his website, www.lukeford. net, has lots of telling Hollywood profiles, including one about me), has, in any event, chosen his subjects well.
Top Ten Rabbis
Chakira's top ten list of most influential [Orthodox] rabbis:
* Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon
* Rabbi Hershel Schachter
* Rabbi Avi Weiss
* Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum
* Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz
* Rabbi Herman Neuberger
* Rabbi Norman Lamm
* Rabbi Elya Svei
* Rabbi Jack “Yaakov” Perlow
* Rabbi Kenneth Brander
Some that didn’t make the cut: The Bobover, Rabbi Willig, Rabbi A Schechter, Rabbi A. Feldman, Rabbi A. Kaufman (Waterbury), Rabbi JJ Schachter, Rabbi H. Lookstein, Rabbi Y. Krinsky, Rabbi K. Auman, Rabbi Y. Blau, Rabbi S. Carmy, Rabbi M. Kotler, Rabbi A. Kotler, Rabbi D. Feinstein, Rabbi E. Greenblatt, Rabbi A. Shafran, Rabbi M. Klein, Rabbi Y. Abbadi, Rabbi J.D. Bleich, Rabbi S. Greenberg, Rabbi Y. Belsky, Rabbi M. Heinemann, Rabbi T.H. Wienreb, Rabbi M.D. Tendler, Rabbi R. Feinstein, Rabbi E. Feldman...
Menahem Butler IMs Chakira: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING WRITING Rabbi Hershel “The Monkey” Schachter U HAVE NO RESPECT FOR GEDOLIM!
i'm sorry, but i cant speak to you anymore. u crossed the line with this post. please dont IM me again
Chakira tells Luke: ppl were mad pissed at me. they were telling me im going to hell
Professor Mark Silk Interview
I call professor Mark Silk, who's Jewish, Thursday, August 26, 2004.
Mark Silk was named the founding director of the Center and adjunct associate professor of religion at Trinity in July of 1996. He is also editor of Religion in the News magazine. He joined the Center from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he worked for nine years as a reporter, editorial writer, and columnist. He holds a bachelor's degree and a doctorate in medieval history from Harvard University, where he taught from 1983 to 1985. Silk also edited the Boston Review from 1985 to 1987. Silk is the author of Unsecular Media: Making News of Religion in America (1995) and Spiritual Politics: Religion and American Society Since World War II (1988). He co-wrote, with his late father, New York Times economics columnist Leonard Silk, The American Establishment (1989) and Making Capitalism Work (1997).
Naming The Woman
Marty Kraar. He was head of CJF (Council of Jewish Federations) for ten years. He was at the end of a marriage. He had a sexual affair with a woman in her 20s, Liz Hollander, who worked under him at the CJF. After he ended their affair, she threatened a lawsuit in 1999 against Kraar and the Federation (spearheaded by her New Jersey father, Sandy, a lawyer with The Jewish Agency). News coverage was slow. Liz moved to Israel and had at least one more affair with a married man (in Marty's Israel's office, broke up a family south of Beersheva with four kids) and then a relationship with a Holocaust survivor who worked for the Jewish World Service. In most, if not all, of the press coverage, only Marty, not the woman, got named. Marty remarried. Liz apparently resented that. Apparently, the Federation gave her about $60,000 to kill a lawsuit.
David Twersky (head of MetroWest Jewish News at the time, now called New Jersey Jewish News) says: "Gary Rosenblatt wrote a signed editorial about it. Marty was furious. He said to me that I had to write a response. I wouldn't do it. The woman involved, her parents lived in Metro-West [the district of Twersky's Jersey Jewish News]. I thought there was no point in dragging them through the mud on this. There's no higher goal here. Marty Kraar's done. He's not going to become the head of this new entity UJA. I can't save him or do him in. It's been aired in a gigantic Jewish forum. If I go after this any further, I am going to do to that particular family what Philip Roth did to the parents [Patimkins in the novela] of the girl in Goodbye, Columbus. There are still people in my synagogue who do not forgive Phil Roth."
'I imagine he must be very lonely'
From a profile of James Taranto: Yet as he’s risen steadily in his profession, Taranto has remained, by his friends’ account, much the same geek he was back in his L.A. adolescence. “I imagine he must be very lonely, as are many talented writers I’ve come across,” says Laurel Touby of Mediabistro. “Regular people have trouble relating to him. I recall hosting parties, and women would later ask me, ‘Who is that guy?’ because he was so intense. He’s a force, a bigger-than-life brain at a party. People are used to idle chitchat, and he would be in there with serious issues. Girls can’t wait to get out of there.”
Rabbi Mordecai Tendler Accused Of Sexual Harassment
Rabbinical Council Is Probing Claims of Sexual Harassment
By Rukhl Schaechter
August 27, 2004
The main union of Modern Orthodox rabbis is investigating allegations of sexual harassment against the scion of a prominent rabbinic family, the Forward has learned.
Officials at the Rabbinical Council of America, an organization representing more than 1,000 Orthodox clergymen, confirmed that the organization is examining sexual harassment allegations against Rabbi Mordecai Tendler. He is a son of Yeshiva University professor Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a leading Orthodox arbiter of bioethical issues, and a grandson of the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the Orthodox world's most respected religious arbiter for much of the 20th century.
Plastic Surgery To Look More Jewish
Jerry writes: Mr. Ford,
Having noticed you on several links pages (Defamer, A Fly on the Wall, etc.) I popped over to your site one day to have a look around. Your profiles and personal history alone ate up several work hours . I cheeked out your print publications and found that, indeed as popular opinion has it, you are not a "good" writer (whatever that means) but I was struck by your chutzpa. (Did I spell that word right?) You have a straight-ahead, brain-on-the-sleeve style that makes up for your apparent lack of talent.
However, what most impressed me was the story of your conversion to Judaism from Christianity; a particularly Conservative branch of Judaism which you are happy to bring up before a hat is even thought about being dropped.
I like it.
I know it is not easy to convert and I applaud the hard work you put it to meet your goal. But if you don't mind me asking, admittedly this is a shallow question, please pardon me- but did you surgically alter your looks as well to look more "Jewish?" The reason I ask is because you look EXACTLY like my roommate from college.
Finally, I wanted to clear up a rumor that floats (is floating?) around that you converted to Judaism in order to further your career in the United States? I told my media-savvy friend that the gossip mongers, obviously upset at the lack of success they have cobbled together in the Holy Land, are just green in the face at the success you have achieved.
Luke Makes Great Reading
Gene Ross says to head for the hills when it's your turn.
I found a great book over the weekend - The Rule of Four. I predict that it'll be this year's The DaVinci Code. I couldn't put it down until, that is, I started reading Luke Ford's XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul - about a gossip monger's spiritual journey through the Valley. Put it this way. When you got four naked girls running around a house - such as it was on Mitch Spinelli's shoot - and you're rather turn to the next page for amusement, you know you got a book to grab your... by.
Luke, the Internet guy who did it before any of us, certainly knows how to push buttons, and I found myself drooling over sentences that I never expected to see printed in a legitimate format. Yeah, Luke even whacks me on a couple of occasions. And, truth be told, I busted his balls when I was over at AVN, so why not. But I would feel safe to say that he and I have come to a mutual accord regarding specific industry sacred cows and see the filet for what it truly is.
And Luke's book, which even does the gotcha on himself, swings the verbal machete without compromise. My only criticism - and I've already told this to Luke - is that the book should have been twice the size. Three times the size. Not only because he has the material for it, but the exhilaration of reading about familiar names and faces described in a context they deserve is revenge best served cold...and calculating.
Okay. Let's get into it. Mark Kernes who he describes as prone to falling asleep at any moment. "Which is why he was removed as managing editor [at AVN]," writes Ford. And I should know because I did the removing.
"Mark's old and ugly," Ford continues. "He loves porn and hates its critics. Fond of wearing suspenders and thinking of himself as a lawyer [he was once a court reporter], he looks at the world through beady, suspicious, pig-like eyes, squinting between jowls of fat."
And this is just for openers. Jenna, move aside. A whole new batch of soundbites are in town.
Two Points On Yossi Klein Halevi
Jonathan Mark of The Jewish Week writes: Two points on Yossi Klein Halevi. You can't bust Yossi for writing Loshon Hara about "Steinhartz" at New Jewish Times. Yossi was using a psudonym for the real individual, who was every bit as sleazy as described. That Yossi doesn't use the person's real name can only testify to Yossi's discretion, a remarkable kindness in this instance. You can't "loshon hara" someone if you hide that someone's identity.
Second, not all "scoops" are the same, and it's meaningless to hold Yossi to an arbitrary standard for what a writer should be writing. Knocking Yossi for not having scoops is like busting DiMaggio for not dating redheads. Give the man credit for what the man's done.
Let's go way back in time, even aside from his work at the Voice and New Jewish Times. In the mid-1980s, when I was senior editor at the Long Island Jewish World and Yossi was sending in pieces there, I remember some of his essays that foretold the intifadah when most everyone in Jewish journalism was still writing about the West Bank like it was Willy Wonka's. Yossi, better than anyone else, gave a clue that the West Bank was about to blow. In the Jewish World, and elsewhere, he wrote essays from Europe that were startling, journeys through the end of the old Eastern bloc, and the Europe we knew, or thought we knew. Over the years, he's written about the Jewish Defense League and the Soviet Jewry movement in ways that were a revelation, and before anyone else. He's been able to explore the souls of Jews, Christians and Moslems in Israel in stunning prose and reporting that ought to be studied -- proof that no one can write, or interview, about the landcape of the soul as well as he can. His analytical pieces in this current war have been consistently wise -- free of rant, party or predictability. In each of these areas he was either first, or as good as anyone in the ring. Just because he doesn't look for front page stories on schemes and scams within Jewish organizations and Jewish leadership (I'm glad that others do) doesn't mean Yossi ought to be questioned on not "breaking stories" in the simplest sense of the term. Instead, Yossi has broken through and illuminated every key Jewish turning point of the last 40 years, with a clear, distinctive writing style, a voice all his own. It's a tremendous loss for this book not to have had a serious conversation with Yossi about what Jewish journalism ought to be about.
Yeah, I'm his friend, as I'm friends with a lot of people in this book, and a lot of them have inspired me, but when his collected works are published it would be the first book I'd hand out in journalism class, Jewish or otherwise.
'You Look Like A Whore!'
Dadist writes: Tell an Italian girl that she looks like a whore and she'll get all offended. Tell a Jewish girl the same and she'll say "Do you think so?"
Should I Pose For Safe Sex?
I Almost Had an Accident
I was driving my manly worker's vehicle up La Brea when what do I see, but a billboard depicting a naked middle aged white man and a naked middle aged black man hugging one another. Now I have problems with this, beginning with the sad fact that I could well be that naked middle aged white man on the billboard. To make matters worse, as I approach it I see the caption: "I told him I only play it safe."
So that's what this is all about - making the world a safer place for sodomy? Why no billboards advising the goyim to obey the seven Noahide Laws, or warning Jews against wearing garments that contain both linen and wool? No wonder I find it so difficult to get a date in this town.
My typing says I would never pose for this billboard but my finances say yes. I fear for me.
Mystery Visitor from the East Critiques Luke's Party
He Who Must Not Be Named, the Man of Mystery, writes Luke:
Yes, it was a fairly impressive gathering, and a good time was had by all. But I am writing about the other people who might also have had a good time there but who did not because apparently no one thought to invite them.
To begin with, there were quite a few Jews and Christians in attendance. But where was the Muslim, the Sikh, the Hindu and the Other? I saw pretty, happy heterosexuals and gay folk out and about (including quite a few strikingly attractive lesbians), but where were the transgendered? So far as I could see, there were none. And then there was the racial factor, which I know you hate to discuss but which progressive folk must discuss because, after all, this is America. The entire crowd was white. Not a black face in sight. No people of color as invited guests - NONE. In fact, the only Hispanic-American present was the nice, hardworking Mexican-American woman who was serving bacon treats to your guests. (I suspect that I was the only guest who even spoke to her, which was their loss.)
I wish you well in your future publishing endeavors and hope for you much success. Hopefully, the next time Cathy throws a party for you, you will insist that she permit people of color to attend, no matter how much their presence might discomfit the neo-conservative right.
Have I Already Met My Future Wife?
Jonathan Mark On Jewish Journalism
'Where were all these protestors when ABBA broke up?'
“Where were all these protestors when ABBA broke up? Where was the rioting in the streets?”
Jason's good friend actor Angel Benton, upon seeing the rally for gay marriage rights in West Hollywood last week.
The Anti-Chomsky Reader
The Anti-Chomsky Reader by David Horowitz, Peter Collier
This description is based on the MIT professor's writings on linguistics in the 1950s; but beginning with his criticism of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Chomsky became much better known for his radical politics than for his theories of language. Over the past forty years he has gained a devoted following in the United States and Europe for his increasingly bitter--some say hysterical--censure of U.S. "crimes." Chomsky has complained about being ignored by mainstream publications such as the "New York Times," but in fact his steady stream of polemical works, like the best-selling "9-11," have made him the center of a veritable cult.
In "The Anti-Chomsky Reader," editors Peter Collier and David Horowitz have assembled a set of essays that analyze Chomsky's intellectual career and the evolution of his anti-Americanism. The essays in this provocative book focus on subjects such as Chomsky's bizarre involvement with Holocaust revisionism, his apologies for Khmer Rouge tyrant Pol Pot, and his claim that America's policies in Latin America in the 1980s were comparable to Nazism. Scholar Paul Bogdanor writes about Chomsky's hatred of Israel. Ronald Radosh and David Horowitz discuss his gloating reaction to the September 11 attack. Linguists Paul Postal and Robert Levine reevaluate Chomsky's linguistics and find the same qualities there that others see in his politics: "a deep contempt for the truth, descents into incoherence, and verbal abuse of those who disagree with him."
"The Anti-Chomsky Reader" presents a fascinating composite portrait of a man who arguably is our most influential public intellectual.
Luke's Book Party II
Devan writes: Upstairs, on the rooftop nearly the pool, with the fantastic view of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Press Club was hosting a book party for Luke Ford, and his two newest books. This is what I blew off XRCO to attend, the celebration of the newest works of a man who I have had a tumultuous and terrible past with, a man who is neither my friend nor my enemy, but who has been constant during my tenure in the adult entertainment industry. Despite imagining a wild mix of adult personalities commingling with prominent Jewish intellectuals, or an empty party with Luke and Rob Spallone sitting in front of a stack of books, I was shocked to see a large crowd of sophisticated adults. For a minute I thought I was in the wrong place. I did not recognize a soul. I wandered to the cash bar and picked up a Perrier then wandered around until I found Luke, flitting back and forth like a social butterfly between different parties. Until I saw him I assumed I had crashed the wrong party, or that the invite had been a joke, and that I alone had fallen for it.
Luke greeted me warmly then excused himself and told me he would be back. I sat alone at a table and watched the proceedings for a while, until a woman named Gabriella joined me. Well into her thirties and possessing a raw candor she informed me that Luke looked like he was after the cheap and easy p----, and explained that she was a psychoanalyst that worked with young men on probation. She told me that the operative word they used for sex was poonany and that she spent the better part of her counseling time listening to them talk about their dicks. She claimed she lived in a dickcentric universe.
I asked her if this was Luke’s book party and she told me that she had come to help play wingman for a needy friend who had hooked up with a man and gone off to have tea with him at his apartment. I told her she must be pretty good at her job to pull such a feat off and she laughed and took no credit. Scores of pretty and young and desperate Jewish girls flocked around Luke and any other man, except me, because I had Gabriella and that was just fine by me.
Luke finally joined us and introduced us to several girls that kept jocking him and I told Gabriella that men wrote books to get laid, a remark she immediately agreed with. Then I told her I had written a novel and couldn’t sell it and she laughed. Although she had never met Luke before, and knew it was his party, she immediately began to pick on him, telling him candidly that he liked cheap women. I couldn’t help but adore this mysterious lady who was keeping me entertained at what surely would have been a rather dull and introspective evening. Sensing that things were going downhill rapidly, and not wanting to kill the buzz, Luke excused himself and floated off.
Luke and I talked momentarily and I met his friends, a beautiful copyright lawyer and the producer of an independent film, but I was not right after that. Luke was either being funny or embarrassed of me because he kept trying to tell them I was a novelist (make that failed novelist) and that I was working on a book on how to protect Christian youth in the new millennium. Playing along I told them that I was a screenwriter, relying on my one credit for an obscure horror film that Lion’s Gate may one day put out on video, and that I was working on a book about Pop Culture and it’s influence on rape.
Competition in Jewish Journalism
I asked Jonathan Mark about my interview with Yossi Abramowitz and whether Jonathan was the one who chewed him out over the JNF story (it was not).
He replies: I don't remember having anything to do with any of the JNF stories, outside of office conversations. I may have spoken to Yossi at the time, perhaps to explain my understanding of the paper's position, but it was never within the realm of my responsibilities to veto or authorize a major investigative piece, or these kind of news items. Those responsibilities strictly belong to the managing editor and the editor-publisher, alone. So I doubt I chewed anyone out, as I was peripheral to Yossi's interaction with the paper.
But the idea that one paper publishes what another paper won't is why I don't think of any Jewish paper as being "in competition" with another. I think of the Forward and anyone else, in blog or paper, as brothers-in-arms, each of us better because of the other, just different pieces on the chessboard, but the same color. The idea that someone else would print what another won't creates a pressure on editors that offsets the many other pressures that are at work. Federation or not, each of our papers, and blogs, too, has someone, or something they don't want to touch, or choose not to go with after honest journalistic deliberation. But the more of us that are writing, the more likely the Great Story of the Jewish People will be told, somewhere. I actually hate it when anyone, particularly in Jewish journalism, thinks of Jewish papers as rivals to be undermined. That kind of thinking is in the interests of businessmen, not Jewish writers and journalists. The competition, as far as I'm concerned, are only those that don't read, don't care, don't write, and don't encourage. I don't remember the details of Yossi's experience, but for all my loyalty to The Jewish Week and respect for its choices, I'm only glad that he had other places to go and other success along the way.
JDate banners feature pictures of p--- models
By Yoav Ribak
Her name is Hila. She is 22 years old and lives in Tel Aviv. She is very attractive, single, looking for a Jewish husband from a good family, and most important - she is a mouse-click away. This is how the banner persuades you, the Jewish bachelor, to enter the Jewish dating site JDate and find the love of your life.
But Hila in the banner is no other than pornographic model Kari Gold, 18 years old, who lives in Hungary. She is, indeed, very attractive, has a boyfriend and is not looking for a Jewish husband at all. Gold says she is not looking for spiritual qualities in men.
JDate is one of the most popular dating sites among Israeli singles and Jewish surfers throughout the world. A considerable part of its success - it claims more than half a million registered members, tens of thousands of whom are paying subscribers - can be attributed to a massive publicity campaign appearing in recent months on all major Hebrew Internet sites in Israel. The ad campaign is specifically targeted at the Hebrew-speaking local market.
However, Haaretz has found that the site's banners systematically use fictitious characters based on pictures of models taken from pornography sites.
I Want To Write A New Book
* Struggling desperate ambitious young hot actresses who haven't made it yet. Off the bus girls 18-25.
* The Assistants. Assistants to producers, directors, stars, agents.
* The UCLA Economics department. I studied there and for a few years of my life, I wanted to be an economist.
* TA: The Inside Dope On The Hottest Teacher's Assistants At UCLA
* The Men Who Clean Toilets: The Inside Story On The Men And Women Who Clean The Restrooms At UCLA's Economics Department. Never before have these persons been interviewed until now. They tell all. What astringents to the porcelain to make it shine so. Which chemical solvents. How they protect prosperous PhDs in economics from rectal infection as can be transmitted by toilet seats. A story of pus and cleanliness, their hopes, their dreams, their hatreds, and the secret influence they exert over our intellectual leaders.
* I'm starting the Luke Ford Book Club. If you pre-order these books, you are guaranteed a first edition signed by me. Send in your $20 checks (per copy) now.
* The Happiest Gabbai in Los Angeles.
* A Luke Guide To LA Shuls. The inside story.
The uniting theme in all my books is that I am looking at underdogs, people who are ignored by the mainstream media. Hookers, producers forgotten by time, Jewish journalists, janitors...
Things At Shul That Made Me Mad
* Teenage girl wearing a clingy see-through white shirt on her wet skin. Distracted me from my prayers and book-reading.
* Men walking through the women's section at the beginning of prayers.
* Two middle-aged women walked in the door in the middle of the silent Amidah and said, "Hi guys."
* Chewing gum.
* Guy sitting next to me chewing his nails through the service.
* Snorting, sneezing, coughing, spluttering. If you're sick, stay home.
* Strangers coming into our shul and loudly admonishing us to hush up during the reading of the Torah. If you're a guest, you should know your place, unless you are a great Torah sage.
I Need A Journalist To Do Me
A journalist I interviewed for my Jewish journalism book (a distinguished journalist, not a wanker) writes: "I think something is missing from your book: an interview with you. people are going to want to hear your motivation and hear your take on what you've uncovered."
So I need a journalist to interview me. As my book's final chapter. Someone who has been following my Jewish journalism interviews. Someone with professional clips. It's an advantage if you are hot, free and in LA.
Heather Mac Donald vs Tamar Jacoby On Immigration
How did the debate go? Heather writes, "We hissed and spat and clawed each other to a draw. She undoubtedly thinks I showed myself to be the crude race-baiter that I am."
My Jewish Journal Problem And Our's
Normally, I would headline this, Why I Hate The Jewish Journal #26.
But editor Rob Eshman has been such a gracious help to me with my book, it would be ungrateful to do this entry Luke Ford style.
Anyway, the cover story of the latest issue is on the threat posed by Iran.
Come on. If it wanted to, the Journal could provide superior coverage of Los Angeles Jewish life. It does not have the resources to provide unique national and international coverage. This cover story does not give anything new on Iran, nothing that I haven't read before in superior publications such as The New York Times.
Now, I understand why the Journal has these delusions of grandeur. It feels so much better to do some national and international cover stories. You feel like you are a big time journalist and a big time editor of a big time paper. But it is a delusion. You have nothing unique to contribute. When editor Rob Eshman and managing editor Amy Klein write about religious, political, national and international issues, I yawn and drop out of their columns after a paragraph or two. Why would I care what they have to say on these matters? They have little more expertise here than I do. I care what Daniel Pipes or some specialist has to say, not some local journeyman journalist who wants to pontificate on Middle East affairs.
When Rob and Amy write about their love life or some other subject they know well, they are interesting.
I am by no means immune to these delusions of grandeur. When I worked for a small AM radio station in Auburn, KAHI 950, I wanted to do stories about international economics (my major at college). But my bosses wouldn't let me get away with that crap. I had to cover city council meetings and the San Francisco 49er summer training camp at Sierra College.
The Journal covers religion fairly, but in a dull pedestrian plodding manner. Latest example: "New Prayer Communities Seek Spiritual High"
Puff pieces on three new minyanim. Not a surprising word. Writer Jane Ulmann doesn't even mention that two of these new minyanim are breakaways from Ohr Ha Torah -- Ikar and Ahavat Torah. An interesting angle, says Larry Yudelson, would be to look at the type of person who stayed and the type of person who broke away. I know someone at Ikar who goes there simply because his friends go there.
Rob Eshman has friends at these new minyanim who could provide interesting insights but to be interesting would be to go outside of the Journal's approach to religion.
Father, Forgive Me, For I Have Sinned
I sat in the bar until 2 a.m. Friday persuading French journalist Christelle Laffin to convert to Orthodox Judaism. She said Orthodoxy held down women. I said no, Orthodoxy puts them on top, on a pedastal.
Two hours of sleep.
Friday night I read David Rensin's new book in an hour -- The Little Stuff Matters Most by Bernie Brillstein.
I was so sleep-deprived, I couldn't sleep until sunrise. Woke up at 9:15 a.m. Got to shul at 10:30 a.m. The cute security guard was there. I listed off all my sins to her. By the time I was finished, shul was finished. I didn't even set foot inside. I shmoozed with my friends, went to Kiddush.
The Professor says you can know you are a part of a community when people talk about you. He said I am now a part of the community.
LA Press Club Party For Me
For days leading up to Thursday night's affair, I felt excited. I wouldn't play basketball for fear I'd throw out my back or sprain an ankle. Thursday evening I couldn't eat a proper dinner, just a few peanuts and soy milk.
I arrived at 6:25 p.m. and valet parked, something I normally hate to do (both out of concern for what immigrant drivers might do to my van and because I don't like to waste money when I can walk a mile and park for free).
I lug my boxes of books to the rooftop. It's hard to decide how many to bring. It will be embarrassing to lug them back. It will mean that few have sold. (I ended up selling about $500 worth, more than half to manager/producer Jay Bernstein, who also gave Producer books to Jeffrey Wells and Nelson Mandel, and tipped Cecile du Bois $10, who manfully manned my book booth the whole night -- if I ever caught her away from it, I yelled at her). I think a few people may have stolen books.
It appears that no colored people were allowed into my party except to serve the white man.
XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without A Shul
The Producers: Profiles in Frustration
My friend Luke Thompson came and bought a book and drank a lot.
Movie producer Jonathan Todd Harris gave me a great interview a couple of years ago. It's not on my Web site. Only in my Producers book.
He came and grabbed a copy and sat down by the pool. He read it and shook his head. He told me stuff he had never told his wife, such as taking $100,000 from their personal account to fund a movie. He called his wife on his cell. He looked mortified.
I got to introduce many people who wanted to meet each other, including Jay Bernstein to Robert Avrech to writer/producer Adam Gilad.
Raquel Devine. Jessica Jewel (has a law degree, I met her in 1998). Ron Sullivan. Devan Sapphire. Tod Hunter. Adella from Digital P. Dean Sussman. My straight friends worried that my outlaw friends would misbehave. But I know and love my outlaws and they were impeccable in dress and decorum. I could've taken them to shul.
My Orthodox friends Ian, Lisa, Dani, John, Rabbi David, Robert and Karen who I introduced to Moxie. They had a long conversation.
Ilene Proctor. Jill Stewart and her boyfriend Norm Jenssen. David Rensin. Ross Johnson. David Bloom (MGM). Anne Beatts. Tony Pierce and his stunning blonde friend Karisa Allen. Robert Light. He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN) but has been my ghost writer and right-hand man for five years.
HWCBN tried to get a latino waitress to serve me pork. He also persuaded various girls to ask me questions about birthrates and the use of a certain consumer product.
Adam Parfrey (Feral House). Sharan Street (LA Weekly managing editor). Mickey Kaus (Slate.com). Heather Mac Donald (everything a female intellectual should be and more, at Manhattan Institute). Michael Finch from the Wednesday Morning Club. Defamer. Dawn A., my copy editor and more. Justin Levine, producer of KFI's Bill Handel Show. Steve Smith. Judd Bernard and his wife. Judd gave me the subtitle for my producers book.
Susan Leibowitz from NBC's Dateline. Novelist Aphrodite Jones. Journalists Richard Rushfield, David Finnigan. Dr. Kate, formerly health reporter for LA Times, laid off in June.
Michael Rainin, director of Waiting for Woody Allen. French beauty and journalist Christelle Laffin, who has a deep interest in Judaism. LAPC party regular Vik Rubenfeld from Forthright Productions.
One producer left upset because my book had been so critical of Michael Ovitz.
In short, anybody who is anybody was at my party, as they should be.
I got a lot of emails and phone calls Friday morning telling me what a wonderful group of friends I have.
A Man Without a Name writes: "This was as good a mix of people as I've ever seen. Torah Jews and goyim; the celibate and the not, all mixing it up on the roof of a fancy hotel with even fancier views. At the rate at which you've been cranking 'em out, you should have one of these every other month. (Next time space the release of your books out a bit! Seriously, doing two at once is like CHOOSING to have your birthday on Christmas, or something like that.)"
A bunch of people at the party got an email warning them not to say anything to me they didn't want to show up on this blog, and that they should not give me their full name. Even after talking to harmless ol' me for 10-15 minutes, several woman stuck by this advice.
Friend: "I was however, very disappointed that there were no wild and crazy chicks there. I was hoping for some loose limbed women to disrobe and dance on the tables then jump in the Jacuzzi. Sigh, Hollywood is never wild when I'm around. The turnout was wonderful and it really shows that you have gained acceptance in the mainstream."
It was a frightening mixture of my opposing worlds. Normally I like to keep things separated. Thursday night, all my friends, outlaws and frumies, mixed together. It was a success, thank God.
The strain made me dizzy. I wanted all my guests to feel welcome. I tried to introduce myself to everyone and make them feel comfortable. I tried to connect people. I tried to remember names and things people might have in common. I tried to express my appreciation to those who have so enriched my life over the past few years.
My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome kicked in around 10 p.m. and I was not fully coherent thereafter. I hung out in the bar till 1:30 a.m. Went to bed before 3 a.m. Fell asleep an hour later. Awoke at 6 a.m. Drank two cups of coffee.
She took one loook at [Hollywood character] and said: "Player."
He's married to that woman, no?
How do you know?
No married woman flips her hair like that, every twelve seconds, like clockwork. She's working him.
How do you know he's a player?
What about them?
Maybe he's well, hungry.
For someone so smart and sophisticated you really are incredibly naive.
True. So true.
Phil writes Luke: "I was disappointed you didn't seal the deal with that French woman as a means of properly capping off a wonderful Luke-night."
Giving my speech (Photo by Emmanuelle Richard)
Luke, Adella (photo by Dawn A.)
Emmanuelle and her friend Charles (photo by Dawn)
My captive audience
Luke and Cathy
Here are my prepared notes, from which I deviated significantly. I usually find it boring when authors read aloud from their books, or talk for more than five minutes (most writers are not good public speakers), so I just made some off-the-cuff remarks and took questions, chiefly about blogging and sex and the lack of relation between the two (thank God my religious values do not permit me to participate in this degradation):
When I committed to a life of chastity, poverty and humility, I expected that I would be rewarded in the world to come. How was I know that I would also be rewarded on this fallen earth?
One plug for my books. There’s a certain inherent drama in reading the work of a mentally ill man. People expect a high degree of mental instability and needless conflict in any Luke Ford work, and I’ve tried to live up to that. I didn’t have to try very hard.
I checked Amazon.com this morning.
• 1 person recommended Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Consumers, and Providers (4th Edition) in addition to XXX-Communicated : A Rebel Without A Shul
• 1 person recommended Radically Gay : Gay Liberation in the Words of Its Founder instead of XXX-Communicated : A Rebel Without A Shul
• 1 person recommended How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art in addition to The Producers : Profiles in Frustration
One famous movie producer and manager called me this week. He was disturbed by the press release for my party. He had only known me as a nice young man. But all this talk about: “a bottom feeder” (Village Voice), “He has elevated moral and spiritual schizophrenia to surreal proportions” (Salon)…
Why would I talk about myself that way?
Look, I’m only a vessel for my words. I have no choice. I was born this way. God made me the way I am.
Ever since I've been writing in depth on obscure topics on the Net and elsewhere, my subjects have been telling me exactly the same thing: "I don't know who is going to want to read this."
It's interesting that no matter where I go and what I write on, my subjects keep telling me:
* I don't understand what you're doing.
* How are you going to market this?
* Do you make any money doing this?
I’d like to thank Emmanuelle Richard, Amy Alkon and Cathy Seipp for enabling my mental illnesses and moral pathologies for the past few years and promoting them into the august Los Angeles Press Club and this swanky hotel.
1. "Why do so many men wear earrings? Do they think women are really attracted to sensitive wimps?"
2. I know all these people came out to honor Luke, but would it hurt for them to have their clothing cleaned and pressed.
3. That woman has the largest breasts I have ever seen on a homo saphien. What shul does she go to?
4. I've seen four noses that are exactly the same. The plastic surgeon should vary his technique.
5. This is better that men's gymnastics...isn't it?
6. Why is everyone crowded over there... oh, it's the bar. Goyim drink instead of eating.
"Most of these people are probably Jewish."
"It's called assimilation."
Friday, a Hollywood player tells me about my party: "The women could've been prettier."
And I'd been in hog heaven in the chick department. I guess we have different expectations.
Tony Pierce writes:
the crowd was diverse educated funny engaging polite. both karisa and i were amazed at how much people wanted to talk to us, when for the first time in a long time i found myself seriously interested in talking to the author about his new book.
the LA Press Club turnout was so good, and karisa and i were so late, that we didnt have a chance to really do much talking with mr ford per se but perhaps since he's now knocked out a few IMs maybe he's ready to get interviewed via it.
Cathy Seipp writes: "I chatted for a minute with Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, who protested furiously when I told her she was great on Dennis Miller a couple of weeks ago: "Oh, no no no I was not! Don't even suggest that! I was awful!" But really, she was very impressive, I don't know why she thought she wasn't. When you get Heather on the Patriot Act or immigration or any number of wonky subjects she knows a lot about, it's like watching a Lamborghini accelerate past all the other cars onto the freeway."
Heather Mac Donald shares my disgust for the Dennis Miller show: "Blame Bill Maher for the idiotic idea of blending celebrity "glamour" with "serious" political discussion. Miller is just aping the formula. I can't imagine why anyone would watch it: if you want political debate, go to a cable talk show, if you want celebrities, thar's plenty of them everywhere. Yet [folks] regularly fly out from NY to do it."
Cathy writes: "I found out later, though, that a possible scene was avoided when a friend of mine decided to leave early rather than run into one of the non-porn Hollywood types profiled in Luke's book "The Producers," because they'd had a big falling out a few years ago over some project and (as my friend told me later) "The guy threatened my life! I'd seen him buck-naked! He walked over to me once by the jacuzzi, his Kibbles and Bits just inches from my face!" Well, that's Hollywood for you."
Cecile du Bois writes: I have never been to a party before where I can converse with a Sephardic rabbi, turn around the corner and chat with a '-----grapher' or (really a ---- star) Ron Sullivan. I was surprised to learn that he was, um, in the 'biz' because he appeared so learned and gentle, almost rabbinical. I don't want to say grandfatherly, but Donna Barstow, a cartoonist, and I were impressed by his Jack Bennyish Chicago gang-meets-New York radio impressario accent. He replied, making different accents, that he used to watch a lot of Channel 9 when he was a kid. He's the kind of man I would rather associate as a teacher at school, not you know what, but he was very polite along with his friend Tod Hunter, also in the biz compared to a thirtyish man who was blunt. When Mr. Hunter and Mr. Sullivan heard my age, they politely withdrew their business card from my hand and were a bit embarassed. I felt apologetic.
A woman whose nom de '---- consists of 'Jewel' purchased a book, and I saw her around with her female friend and this blunt character. I heard them talking about her professional name, and I asked conversationally, 'Is that your non de plume', because the name Jewel sounded so interesting, as I wondered how she got it. The blunt man, whom I was tempted to ask in my head, Are you her um, 'Master'?, dove, inches from my face, cackled, and said, 'Its her non de...porn!!!' I thought all ---- people were sleazy, but he was the only one.
I paled, taken aback from his aggressiveness, and was comforted to find Amy Alkon, a few feet behind me. I've never been talked at like that in my life.
Later, producer Jay Bernstein bought eight books of 'The Producers', being very generous to Luke. I helped down as he had a stylish cane with a duck head on it that made it hard for him to carry all the books down. He was very nice, although I was embarassed to mix up Farrah Fawcett with Goldie Hawn, but I did know she was in the Charlies Angels TV Show, but unfortunately, I did not know who Linda Evans was. These were two ladies he managed back in the day. He behaved Hollywoodesquely, generously tipping everyone, including me. I was taken aback, since I was never tipped before, if not from a producer.
Luke Y Thompson writes:
...I was planning on doing a snarky write up on last night's Luke Ford book party in the style of classic LF, but I had too good a time and enjoyed everyone's company too much to mock them. His moral leadership must be rubbing off on me.
Luke claims I drank a lot. In my own defense, I actually turned down several offers of drinks from others so that I'd be okay to drive. His book so far is a better read than I expected.
Talking to outlaw publisher Adam Parfrey was a highlight. I had met him briefly once before, but we actually conversed this time. I think we like a lot of the same things. I gave him my card and supposedly will get on his guest list. Adam, if you're reading...don't forget.
And I somehow ended the evening getting shouted down by Andrew Breitbart and Moxie (sporting a fetching sunburn that we both agreed matched half my hair). Not bad people, but they didn't really let me talk, and when they did, it was usually to tell me that I didn't actually believe what I said I believed -- I couldn't possibly, because Hillary Clinton (for example) thinks something different and as a leftist I must obviously agree with her on everything. Tough to have a meaningful debate when someone else is telling you what you believe and then arguing with that instead of figuring out what you actually believe, but it's not like we'd convince each other anyway.
PLEASE HELP - a friend of mine is destroying his life on whores
Yep, whores. Everytime I see him, he is banging another whore. He seems happy, but deep down inside I know he is not happy.
Khunrum writes: Thanks for not using my name. You are right. I am back in school getting ready for the next semester. It's a total drag. I am miserable.
Now if I was back in T-land with my working girl friends and monger buddies I'd be a happy man. If you really want to save me send money so I can retire and move to Asia.
Velvel responds: What do you mean by "whores?"
Real, by-the-hour, call girls? Or just loose women who will screw for drinks?
Khunrum replies: "What do you mean by "whores?""
That is a crass archaic word that should never be used by any right thinking individual. Especially the intelligent renaissance types reading Luke's column (please refrain from printing it again Luke). What we are talking about are sociable ladies who work at various professions to support themselves, their children and many times mother and father up country.
"Real, by-the-hour, call girls? Or just loose women who will screw for drinks?"
Women like all women, who enjoy traveling, riding the waves in Phukett, laughing and relishing life. Perhaps having a drink or two. How quick we are to place people into categories (especially sordid ones) whilst not even knowing the minimum circumstances of their lives.
Who would begrudge a young lady enjoying life a few baht to help support herself and her family?
Nikki Finke Chews On The Bones of 'GQ'
From Gawker.com: "It's not too often that the taut and tanned Hollywood set gets a chance to smackdown the pasty New York media circuit, but leave it to LA Weekly's Hollywood writer Nikki Finke to make it happen. Someone's leaked an email fray between hellcat Finke and an unassuming, unnamed GQ Editor, and I just started twitching uncontrollably. So many LA flashbacks before breakfast! Sample some serious bitch-slappery after the jump."
How to start your day with a positive attitude
1. Create a "new folder" on your computer.
2. Name it "George W. Bush".
3. Send it to the trash.
4. Empty the trash.
5. Your computer will ask you: "Do you really want to get rid of
"George W. Bush"?
6. Answer calmly, "Yes", and press the mouse button firmly
Deep Inside Madonna's Mystical Message
From my interview with Yosef Abramowitz:
YA: "The Jewish press has totally failed to do a deep enterprising story about what Madonna has been studying, how deep does the stuff go. Everyone reduces this to shtick and kitsch. The secular press is only going to go to a certain level. This is an entertainment story to them, not a religion story. The Jewish press has missed a historic opportunity to go five levels down on this thing. It's not seen as Jewish journalism.
"I went to the reinvention tour. Within that tour and the messages are revolutionary seeds for the world and Jewish life. She gets the meaning of kabbala..."
LF: "What kind of kabbalistic message was sent when she had writhing people simulating sex on stage at her concert?"
YA: "I saw her concert three years ago. It was god awful. I didn't want to be there. She was trying to provoke. I saw her Reinvention tour. I could've taken my two daughters aged 11 and 9. And I'm a bigtime censor [to protect their innocence]. She kept her clothing on. She was hitting major messages that I would want anybody who was concerned about social change to hit. It was a deeply Jewish experience that was filled with integrity and made amends for her concerts three years ago and indicate a certain maturation in her own path. If I had the time, I'd be writing that one."
LF: "I've never heard anyone voice that."
"I'm independent. I have an essay unwritten in my brain about this but I can't do it now."
LF: "I only hear the pat put-downs."
"Of course. The Jewish establishment has to do that. Anybody who sees himself as a Jewish religious or organization leader has to discount this because saying otherwise would be taking a risk, and reducing their own claim to leadership. She knows something that they don't about reaching children. She knows something they don't about aspirations of Judaism. She knows something they don't about how to unite people and bring the world together. That's really dangerous. Heaven forbid that she should have any legitimacy. But their kids fall for her stuff."
Serious Question About Black People
Mutt writes: watching the Olympics - and i still am not sure why there ain't no black folk in the swimming. black people are the finest physical athletic specimens on the planet, i've heard theories and not from racists that black people have different physical characteristics which make them poor swimmers, also heard theories that it's a socio economic thing - black people don't grow up with swimming pools with coaches all around them.
well either way the Olympics are biased against the blacks. If blacks are at a disadvantage when it comes to swimming, I propose - no i demand, the International Olympic Committee create a new event that isn't racially biased - The Running Through The Open Fire Hydrant and/or Lawn Sprinkler Event.
that's fair. but it won't happen because they know the black man will own that event just like he owns the 100 meter sprint.
I'm Having a Party, and Some of You are Invited
As many of you know, I recently came out with two new books: XXX-Communicated and The Producers.
A party is going to be held in my honor at a very swanky locale here in Los Angeles in a few days, and you are invited. Well, some of you. If you are a hot looking woman, or someone who works at sufficiently high a level in the entertainment business to offer me a job, you're in. Just forward a recent photo (if you are a chick) or some resume-type info to my official screener, Rabbi Gadol at RABBIGADOL@YAHOO.COM, who will pass it on to me for my final approval. Trust me, if you are a hot chick or a Hollywood Gadol who can help out me or my friends, you don't want to miss this party. There are going to be some very special people there, about which I am sworn to secrecy. Let's just say that "Page Six" would want an invite, if only they knew.
The following appeared in a family newspaper, The New York Times, this past Sunday, and concerns a certain politician who stands a mere 5'6" tall and who is gay:
"Mr. McGreevey's aides said that in a series of conversations outside different events, the governor emphatically denied all of Mr. Cipel's claims that their sexual encounters had been coerced. But it is impossible to evaluate those statements because neither side will reveal precisely what charges were discussed, nor would they name the people who Mr. Cipel's lawyers said witnessed the encounters. Two people involved in the negotiations — one on each side — said, however, that the most serious allegation was that Mr. McGreevey forcibly performed oral sex on Mr. Cipel. But Mr. McGreevey's lawyers said the sex was consensual."
Now, the party that I am having is going to get pretty wild, but I don't want there to be any oral sex forcibly performed on me by any of you.
Important Pubic Announcements
Dating Tales From The Yellow Side
I go every couple of months to the library to check out books. I saw this nice Vietnamese girl. I thought she was cute. I had enough courage after the third time checking out books to ask her for a date. Now she's my assistant on Protocols. She's fitting right in.
We frumies take things for granted. We're so desensitized.
I had a bunch of gemaras in my trunk. Black ones. White ones. Big huge ones. I think we'd gotten back from the yeshiva and I needed them for a blog.
I forgot I had them. They'd been there a couple days. I open the car. She sees all these things. I don't think she knew what they were but they definitely looked Jewish. I said, honey, let's have dinner. I've got to tell you what I do.
At first, I told her I blog on Protocols. That kinda breaks you in. I didn't mention that I was a moral leader at Bais Yaakov. Then she looked at me and long pause. Six out of ten girls would walk. She thought about it. Then she ordered dessert. She was cool about it.
She was very practical. She knew I didn't do drugs. I come from a good family. She said, you don't kill anybody. You're trying to make money. I'm up for that.
The Best Catholic Fiction
Another Orthodox Rabbi Guilty Of Sex Abuse?
Steven I. Weiss reports: "Word on the street is that the Forward is preparing to expose an abusive rabbi this week."
Gaon writes: "I heard about this last week. If it is who I've been told, this is very big. And it is a rabbi who has been in the forefront of women's rights in the Orthodox world (and who is quite unpopular among other rabbis)."
Me writes: "Are they finally going to deal with Rabbi Mordechai T.? If the rumours are true as to the focus of the story it is but one of several major stories that Rosenblatt has sat on for years (as I reported in my comments months ago)."
The Most Overrated Jewish Journalist
I nominate The Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt for a prestigious Rockower "Most Overrated" Award. Not one journalist for a Jewish publication has been willing to criticize Gary on-the-record to me. Gary holds too much power, and too many purse strings, and is just too nice a guy. All they want to tell me is that he is the Dean of Jewish Journalism. This is how Neil Rubin puts it:
"The current editor of that paper, Gary Rosenblatt, is widely seen as the profession's dean of ethics and fearless of reporting whatever the news may happen to be."
Now, either Gary Rosenblatt is a god like figure unworthy of criticism, or the Jewish journalists I spoke to are cowardly.
Anyway, today things changed. I spoke to Yossi Abramowitz, the first guy with the balls to put his criticisms of Gary on the record.
Yossi brought Gary his JNF expose in 1996 and Gary told him to get lost, and subsequently blackballed him from the paper. The series was nominated for a Pulitzer and led to a complete overhaul in how the JNF did business. It lost $12 million in donations that year. Twelve Jewish papers ran Yossi's JNF story but not The Jewish Week (though they did put their top investigative reporter on the story, Larry Cohler-Esses).
Fascinating IM With Cathy Seipp
Miss Seipp: Fascinating IM exchange with me for all to see!
Luzdedos1: This is so hot
Luzdedos1: Let's talk Torah
Miss Seipp: No emoticons!
Miss Seipp: No emoticons in Torah!
Luzdedos1: Depends on the translation.
Luzdedos1: How was your day, honey?
Miss Seipp: Well, dear, it was actually not bad. Finished a story... Then had anchovie pizza.
Luzdedos1: I can feel the excitement building towards a shuddering climax Thursday night.
Miss Seipp: Wow. You need to get out more.
Luzdedos1: I am rewatching State of Play, the BBC series we saw
Luzdedos1: I am honing my Jewish journalism book to a fine climax
Miss Seipp: Another several hours of pleasure you owe to ME!!!
Miss Seipp: State of Play, I mean, not Jewish journalism book.
Luzdedos1: Who else have you IM'd with today? Isn't this fun?
Miss Seipp: Just one other compulsive person.
Miss Seipp: I mean obsessive person.
Luzdedos1: What are you wearing right now?
Miss Seipp: Shorts and a tank top. V. exciting!
Miss Seipp: And my fake tattoo of course.
Luzdedos1: Anyone get offended by this LAPC party for me?
Miss Seipp: Not that I know of, but then you know I never care who I offend.
Luzdedos1: Read any books lately?
Miss Seipp: Yeah David Sedaris's new book, "Killed," and I gotta finish the K Starr one for the WSJ. OK, gotta go!
Best Pull Quotes On Jewish Journalism
I'm putting together the best quotes I heard while researching Jewish journalism and placing them at the front of my book. I estimate that I am a month away from going to press.
“Yesterday’s news tomorrow.” Yori Yanover’s description of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency
“If you publish this, I will fuck you for the rest of your life.” Malcolm Hoenlein (Vice-Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations) to journalist Walter Ruby
“I guess it’s new for a journalist to go in and treat a congregation journalistically.” Stephen Fried, The New Rabbi
“If you beat believed in a God and a Final Judgment, would you have written the book the same way?” Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Rosh Yeshivah of the University of Judaism, to Stephen Fried
“Dear Mr. Ford: I do not wish to be included in your book. If there is anything negative about me or my family in your book you will hear from my attorney." Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, former president of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
“I am the moderator of the AJPA listserv and I will be sending out an e-mail to all the editors later today to tell them of my unprofessional and discourteous experience with you.” Benyamin Cohen, Jewsweek.com
"I don't understand what you are doing here. Who's your publisher?" Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Kosher Sex
“We're all kinda mediocre.” Eve Kessler, Deputy Manager Editor of the Forward
“Larry [Cohler] was essentially driven out. He found out that Gary [Rosenblatt] was without balls. Larry may sometimes be without brains but he is never without balls. Gary tends to be tame and timid.” Dr. Michael Berenbaum, former director of the United States Holocaust Research Institute
“Of course Gary lacks balls. He's the editor of a Federation paper. If you want to keep these kind of jobs, especially long-term, lacking balls is a requirement.” Jewish journalist
“The Jews who look to Jewish journalism tend to want to be anesthetized.” J.J. Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief of the Forward
“I can do a better French manicure than any French manicurist you can get in Manhattan. I can put lipliner on in a dark cab. I'm a well-honed JAP." Alana Newhouse, Arts and Culture Editor of the Forward
“Why is it important to know the private lives of Jewish leaders? Would that make better Jewish journalism? What is Jewish journalism? Does it have a commitment not only to truth but also lashon harah?" Yossi Klein Halevi, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist
"You want to be involved with Israel because it is a sexier, crookeder, funnier, nastier, more backstabbing, more backbiting, crazier, more psychotic place than Hollywood.” Larry Yudelson, formerly of the JTA
"You don't want Jewish journalism. You want an orgasm." Tom Tugend, JTA
"I felt like this was the junk bond of the Jewish community.” Rob Eshman, Editor of the Jewish Journal
“I don't plant bombs but ideas.” Rabbi Avi Shafran, Public Affairs Director for Agudath Israel
"The main problem with Jewish journalism is one organization runs almost the entire show. Almost an entire ethnic media is subservient to one organization.” Steven I. Weiss, formerly of the Forward
Evan Gahr - Cheap Date
I email Evan: "I heard this dating story about you: She was very excited he'd gotten tix, but then after about an hour of driving, she realized it was a high school production of the Producers."
Evan replies: "That's a comic exageration of the facts. Sometimes, I look for cheap dates because there is no correlation between the amount of money expended and what transgresses thereafter. One time I picked out of City Paper a college production of something. I think it was The Crucible. Then I changed my mind and we went to see an excellent play about blacks and Jews at the Kennedy Center."
My First IM With Cathy Seipp
IM is an ancient Aborigine bonding ritual. It's the first time I've had it with Cathy. Now we've done everything a man and woman can do together. It makes us feel very close.
Luzdedos1: Hi Cathy
Luzdedos1: It's Luke
Miss Seipp: Eew! IMing!
Luzdedos1: We've never done this before.
Miss Seipp: I know it is Luke!
Luzdedos1: I've never done this with any girl before.
Miss Seipp: Yeah...kind of weird....
Luzdedos1: Be gentle with me.
Miss Seipp: Oh right you only do it with W. right?
Miss Seipp: Shaddap. You're even awfuller on IM.
Luzdedos1: How did you suddenly show up on IM?
Luzdedos1: I'm composing my heartfelt inscriptions for your books.
Miss Seipp: I figured out how to enable it, as an experiment, but it might not be a good idea. Are you going to Brian Doherty's book reading?
Luzdedos1: No. Where is it?
Miss Seipp: It is Wed Aug 18 at Book Soup.
Luzdedos1: Will Heather be there?
Miss Seipp: You could ask Heather.
Luzdedos1: What have you been doing, delight of my eyes and love of my life?
Miss Seipp: I been working...
Luzdedos1: the mean streets of Silver Lake
Miss Seipp: Yes you should give her, and Emmanuelle, and me, and Lori the Bel-Age lady, copies of your books.
Luzdedos1: sheesh, anyone else?
Luzdedos1: can i give paperbacks, they are cheaper?
Luzdedos1: Emmanuelle already bought mine
Miss Seipp: Paperbacks are fine, however, this sort of thing is basic, and I have a mental note I needed to explain this to you after your clueless "if she wants one" response to our suggestion you give the Bel-Age lady a copy. Although in her case, only The Producers one.
At shul this morning, the rabbi implored us to be quiet during the Torah reading. Then, as he walked back to his seat while the reading began, he was repeatedly and noisily congratulated for his speech.
In his sermon, the rabbi talked about this week's Torah portion. Caring for the Levi. Not just secluding him to the housing project but including him in the community. As the Leviim don't need to bring offerings to the temple, they may feel out of it. Include them, says Moses.
We have Levis in our community. Those who feel out of it. They might be physically or mentally disabled. They may be single or childless. They may feel apart from the community. They might sit at home when the rest of the community is together. We need to reach out to the Levi. Because at various times, all of us are that left-out Levi.
Cecile du Bois writes: Yesterday my friend Julia came over and after walking for two hours, we ordered pizza and watched Pillowtalk (starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson) followed by two episodes (on DVD) of the second season of 'Curb your Enthusiasm'. Pillowtalk is about a cad (Hudson) who sharing a party line with Jan (Day), plots to win her over. Hudson's character Brad Allen reminds me of Luke Ford in a way. But the happy ending is only possible if 'Marvin', his character decides to reflect on himself and live happily ever after. And its just not as easy as ending connections with 10+ skanks--it means making sacrifices etc. There is a scene in the film in which Jonathan Forbes (Tony Randall whom I believe resembles the headmaster at my school), Brad Allen's best friend, tries to convince Brad to get married. He says that he would willingly have his bachelorhood cut down like the branches of a tree to settle down and supply his 'wood' towards the making of a crib and so forth. Brad Allen is amused by his analogy and refuses to settle down so soon.
Although it may seem unlikely, Brad Allen easily transforms into a likeable protagonist. Luke Ford, on the other hand, has issues that are not easily seen in the lens of a camera, and is very immune to the idea of marriage or settling down. Perhaps a Jan Morrow should come in soon so Luke can willingly have his branches cut off.
Luke asks: Is she saying I'm gay like Rock Hudson?
Debbie Friedman Does Russia
Debbie Friedman has long been a favorite Jewish singer of mine. I have six of her CDs.
She recently led a Project Kesher trip to Soviet Union and brought her cute blonde girlfriend along.
Trust in Dad Equals Trust in God
This post of grief left me speechless.
Ariel Avrech and I both learned to relate to God and religion and the clergy in the same way we related to our fathers. Ariel with trust. He had the same trust in his rebbes as he did in his father.
His father R. is like My Name is Asher Lev, with the son set to carry on the traditions of the family line, while R. goes his artistic way (while still observing the tradition).
I was struck by Ariel's absolute trust in his parents. It never occurred to him that his parents could be wrong to him in significant matters. From everything I know, he was right.
I've long related to authority dishonestly. Not overtly so. I just never want to tell authority anything that will upset them. In their domain, I obey the rules. Outside, I do what I like. As a child. As an adult.
What the McGreevey Scandal Reminds Luke
1. A man should not lie with a man the way he were a woman.
2. Jewish men should not mess with goyim.
I promise you that I do not accept any of the sort of back-door shenanigans that brought down Mister McGreevey. And, with the exception of a few lapses, I do not mess with the goyim. At best, their women are for practice.
No, Amalek must've said that. Human beings are not means. They may not be treated casually, Jew or Gentile.
Backdoor To Hollywood
Hollywood Actresses: Their Amazing Tales.
They came chasing a dream. They lived through nightmares.
I think that will be my next book. The stories of girls who get off the bus in LA at age 18 or so and try to become actresses. Their harrowing tales. Has anyone done this before? Luke Ford style?
I think this could be a lot more fun than writing about movie producers and Jewish journalists.
So I was talking to an ex-girlfriend and inviting her to my book party.
"Have you made any rude comments lately that have been reported to your rabbi?" she asked.
"Nope," I said.
She's reading My Life by Clinton. Up to page 580. Just 400 or so to go. She said it was good.
"Well, it's no XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul" I protested.
"How long is your memoir?"
"One hundred seventy four pages. Just a quick swallow."
"I'm going to ignore that," she said.
"No, I think I'm going to call your rabbi to complain. What's his number?"
Why Didn't Heather Mac Donald Slap Dennis Miller?
Why didn't Heather Mac Donald get offended when Dennis Miller called her "comely" on his MSNBC show? She could've starchly said, 'Would you describe a male guest that way?'
Polishing My Dvar Torah For Thursday Night
I'm polishing my dvar Torah for my simcha Thursday night. All the gedolim of Los Angeles will be there along with Chayyei Sarah. They have written letters of approbation in Hebrew for my two latest seferot. I will urge my listeners to abjure worldly pleasures and to instead set their sights on the true world by healing the broken vessels all around us through good deeds.
Never expecting kavod (honor) in this world, I'm overwhelmed and humbled by all this attention. Fool, I am but dust and ashes. What care I for earthly rewards when I am sure of good things to come.
The event will be strictly kosher (with Cathy Seipp serving as mashgiach, not to mention moshiach) and shomer negiyah (no touching of opposite sex) will also be enforced by burly bodyguards. Anyone who dares to touch a woman will be thrown out.
Four of the Lamed Vavniks have RSVP'd: Kendra, Jewel, Jenna, Raquel.
Yossi Klein Halevi will give a speech. Then there will be a symphony followed by pictures at an exhibition.
Rumors about the attendance of the Barefoot Jewess and Chaim Amalek are rampant.
The Bottom Line on the McGreevey Affair
Chaim Amlek says:
Very, very bad for the Jews. Just see the write-up in today's NY Post. The Jewish angle is hit again and again and again. Goyim read this paper (most of us Jews read the New York Times), and are apt to form linkages among Jews, political corruption, Israel, and sexual depravity that we would rather they not. A true shanda - even worse than the great shatnes scandals of '02.
Barren Jewish Singles
I've been talking about the plethora of "Young Jewish Professionals" events (attended by folks in their late 30s and early 40s) with my friends.
Khunrum writes: How old in the Jewish Community to be ineligible for all these "young" oriented things?. When I think "young" I'm visualized kids in their late teens, "very" early twenties. Yet Luke is pushing 40 and is still attending "Young Jewish Singles." Luke's friend was at Kitty Hawk with the Wright Brothers and is still doing "Young" this and that. Can any Jews help me out on this one? Damn if I am not feeling younger by the minute. I'm ready to start a "Young Jewish Tourists" club right here in B'Kok.
In keeping with the spirit of this crone being involved with Young Jewish Whatever, we have founded the first chapter of Young Jewish Tourists, B-Kok Chapter. My dear friend and fellow monger Izzy (last surviver of a Polish family wiped out by the filthy Hun in WWII) is President. He is 77 years young. Goyem and even German goyem are welcome to join. There is no age limit and anyone who can love is considered "young."
We meet in the Nana Hotel lobby monthly. Dues are optional. See you there.
Chaim Amalek writes: Khumrum points to the shame of the Jewish community: the delusional manner in which non-orthodox Jews approach the matter of sexual reproduction. Of course you are right; these people are not "young" in any
sense that a Palestinian or a Mexican would understand and use the term. Rather, they are barren.
The fate of these barren women of the community is a scandal, not the least because it is seldom discussed in public, for fear of offending these foolish women. Simply put, it is dysgenic in the extreme for such women to be spending their very limited child bearing years working on "leadership" roles when what is needed is for these women to take the lead in making babies. Whatever "leadership" they provide can wait
until they hit their late thirties - forties, AFTER they have born and raised their children.
Someone needs to tell these people that they are not young. Someone needs to warn the truly young of what awaits them if they wait too long.
Fred writes: In light of Chaim's remarks, LF should announce that the organization is now being re-named Barren Jewish Singles. (Optionally, we could call it Childless
Earlier I commented that "Old Jewish Singles" would not work as the name of an organization. I think that Childless Jewish Singles would actually work for a
singles organization. But query, Chaim, aren't you equally guilty on this count?
Sticking Up For Luke
Marc writes: just lunched with luke, following our time last night at moxie's pad ... he seems in good spirits despite being a bit poorer than usual. cathy and amy seem geuninely excited about throwing this party for him ... so, unfortunately, i can't really buy into this bleak view of his existence.
Khunrum writes: Geeeeeeeez! After a four month paid sabbatical in Asia followed by a semester teaching and then another three months in Thailand and Laos I thought I was doing pretty good. If not "successful" then darned happy to be here. Perhaps I need to reevaluate my life?
Robert writes: I'm stickin' up for Luke. He's spent a decade as his own boss. I don't think he's ever experienced a callus. He'll never have an ulcer. I think he's doing better than some shmoe slaving in some cubicle praying for the weekend. There are worse ways to make a living than munching protein bars at a shoot...
Everyday is a vacation for Luke except, of course, the Sabbath.
Luke, have you submitted your book to Oprah's Book Club yet? I hear her endorsement makes the cash registers sing. Why not comp her one? Ya never know ....
Chaim Amalek Explains New Jersey Politics to Me
With respect to Jewesses and the powerful, I think the cause of this connection is the Esther Syndrome, the idea that the young Jewess has it within her thighs the power to twist the mind of the powerful goy ruler to the benefit of the Jewish community. (In fact, I read just such a favorable interpretation of the doings of young Monica Lewinsky.) And the origin of this notion is, of course, Purim. Jewish girls are socialized to look with favor upon the deeds of the courtesan Esther (no queen she), who saves the jews with her moist sexual favors, all under the approving gaze of her Uncle Mordechai. As the Homosexual is merely a stunted man cursed with the mind of a girl, it is easy to see why a young jewish homosexual would identify with Esther and present himself in similar terms.
I think this answers your question completely and fully.
New Jersey Governor Resigns
A Question For Nick Denton
I emailed the owner of Defamer.com, Fleshbot.com, Gawker.com, Wonkette.com: "Dear Mr. Denton, I was chatting with a fellow journo the other day. He said you were out of the closet, that you used to be straight, and that the catty gay mentality pervades your Web sites, which I thought was an interesting assertion. Does your sexual orientation affect your Web sites?"
Nick Denton replies: Hey, Luke -- what a curious email! It's not a particular secret that I'm gay. Though I think Wired Magazine was the first publication to out me in print.
As for the impact that my sex life has on Gawker... Haven't a clue. Introspection has never been my forte.
And what does Matt Drudge say to these questions?
Emanuelle Richard writes Luke: Do you really think this cattiness is necessarily "gay"? Strange Wired description of Nick: "matter-of-factly gay"! Aren't the editors of Fleshbot and Gawker gay too? I don't think it means anything. The ladies love Nick. I remember his 30th birthday party in Budapest (or farewell party? Mmm...) in Budapest at a cool underground jazz club, in a basement: smart babes in micro-skirts were everywhere, including a stunning, curvy Russian Debbie Harry look-a-like. You would have loved it, Luke. Ask Nick to fly for your party next week and to bring his girlfriends.
As for Matt Drudge: some his pals have said that they have no clue about his sexuality, or at least, that they were never given a hint by the man himself. I would be more interested to find out where his sick obsession with abortion comes from.
A narcissist could not be happier with the Web
From the Barefoot Jewess: Let us take on the case study of said, "BigBad". In reading his own words in his virtual "book", the words of his mother, and the words of a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, one gets the sense of why he is attracted to Judaism, especially Orthodox Judaism. His clever words, salacious world, and ambiguities, also explain those attracted to him, those who like to flirt with the demimonde. And because confession has become the hallmark of our times- no matter what one confesses, we will be enthralled and we will tolerate or forgive because someone had the cojones or chutzpah to tell it like it is- or so we think, and so we can live vicariously and safely away from the unsavoury reality. A narcissist could not be happier with this- because a narcissist does not care about the content, but they care a whole lot about the impact and the more they can push the envelope, the happier they are.
The Day The Rebbe's Words Poked Out The Eye Of An 85-Year Old Woman
Who was the editor of Jewish newspaper that got Walter Ruby fired for this story?
"In the late '80s, I talked to a gentleman named Barry Gurary. [He was the son of Rabbi Shemaryahu Gurary, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson's elder son-in-law, married to his elder daughter. Menahem Schneerson beat out Rabbi Shemaryahu to become the leader of Lubavitch.] There were books at 770 Eastern Parkway that he claimed belonged to him. Lubavitch claimed they belonged to them. He took the books and sold some of them. That led to a court suit. He was found guilty and forced to pay back much of the money.
"Barry sent me transcripts of fabrengens that the rebbe had preached that these books were like living documents, pieces of flesh, and that anyone who would sell them, it was like killing somebody. After the rebbe delivered one of these fabrengens, one of his young followers went upstairs, knocked on the door of Barry Gurary's mother and knocked out her eye. She was 85 years old. The fellow who did this was put on the first plane to Israel before they could prosecute him.
"The police didn't come around very fast, as a local [African-American] police sergeant in Crown Heights said to me, Mayor Kotch doesn't put a high priority on looking into this as the Lubavitcher Rebbe delivers 40,000 votes to him every election.
"This story was laid on my doorstep. I told the story. I submitted it to the consortium of Jewish newspapers. Then I went on a long trip to Russia in late 1989. When I came back from Russia, I found that I had been fired. One of the editors had showed the thing to someone in Chabad who had threatened to sue. Then I was going to sell it to New York magazine. I didn't get around to it. I did see it published in New York magazine by somebody else."
Shmarya writes: "The guy that hit her had apparently helped her load some boxes (apparently filled with those books) into a van earlier that week He heard the Rebbe screaming as Walter Ruby describes, went upstairs to the Gurarie's apartment in 770 and knocked on the door. Barry's mother opened the door for him and he beat her badly. Chabad arranged (on Shabbos) to get the guy to Israel on the first flight out after Shabbos. The police looked the other way long enough for the guy to get on the plane. According to my sources, Mrs. Gurarie phoned her sister, the Rebbe's wife, on Shabbos to get help. She answered the phone. No caller I.D., either. There's a history of the Rebbe provoking just this type of violence. Rabbi Rivkin, a Rosh Yeshiva of Torah VoDas and a Chabad hassid, suffered a similar fate in the early 1970's when he refused to go along with the Rebbe's wishes on an issue. (He thought the Rebbe's desire to put someone in cherem was not Halakhicly correct.) he was spit on, called a nazi, had his home defaced and vandalized, received death threats, 3 am threating phone calls, and was harrassed at evey turn. An elderly man, he suffered a massive stroke soon after and died. His son-in-law, Rabbi Shurin, wrote a couple of pieces in the Yiddish Forward about Lubavitch terrorism as a result. The Forwad even published pictures. The Rebbe's response to this was to say that no one who learns Chabad chassidus could do such a thing. Oh yeah, where did Rabbi Rivkin live? Crown Heights.
"I forgot to mention that Chabad in Israel allegedly treated the thug that beat up Mrs. Gourary as a hero. Made a good shidduch for him, etc. Great organization, nu?"
Malcolm Hoenlein to journalist: 'I Will F--- You For The Rest Of Your Life'
It's late at night. I'm going to bed. First, a cozy and heart-warming tale of good cheer about Malcolm Hoenlein [and the courageous Jewish establishment at The Jerusalem Post and JTA] from my interview with Walter Ruby.
"Did you have any dealings with Malcolm Hoenlein?"
Walter laughs heartily. "The story got published and almost 20 years later, Malcolm still doesn't speak to me.
"Around 1986, Cardinal John O'Connor, the late Catholic Archbishop of New York, had gone to Israel and he was doing some diplomacy. The Presidents Conference people were unhappy because he seemed to be saying some mildly critical things about Israel. For me it was almost indiscernible but for them it was a shanda. The Presidents Conference ruminated for several days about issuing a statement. Hoenlein wanted to get this statement out before Shabbat. It was already Friday morning. They couldn't hammer it out. So he went ahead and wrote the statement and wrote the names of every one of the 53 president of the major Jewish organizations.
"Cardinal O'Connor returned to New York. Reporters were waiting for his response. He looked at the statement and blew up. He said it was outrageous. How dare they? I do everything for Israel and now they're attacking me...
"Monday morning. I was writing for The Long Island Jewish World. Editor Jerry Lipman called me. He said he was getting all kinds of calls from presidents of Jewish organizations saying they never signed that letter. He asked me to look into it.
"Until now, I had had a decent relationship with Hoenlein. A month earlier, my editor at The Jerusalem Post, Ary Rath, had been in New York and Hoenlein had made a point to say to him, 'Walter's a wonderful reporter. You are so lucky to have him.' I guess he figured he bought me with that.
"I call him. I told him I'd heard from about 20 of the 53 presidents who said they had never signed this document. The first thing Malcolm said was, Walter, this would be a terrible thing for the Jewish people if you published this. It would cause grievous damage. I was like, Malcolm, come on. Give me a break.
"I thought about it for a day. I asked the editor if we should go ahead with it. He said yes. I called Malcolm back. I said, we're going to press tomorrow. We'd like some response. He said, 'If you publish this, I will fuck you for the rest of your life.'
"And he did. A month later, he and the chairman of the Conference, Morris Abrams, the Mort Zuckerman of his era, went to Israel and had lunch with the editors of The Jerusalem Post and asked that I be fired. David Landau, who was then managing editor, said your ass was hanging by a thread, but they couldn't stomach it. They felt Hoenlein was so right-wing and they were liberal left. On the other hand, they said, why do we need the tsures [trouble]?
"Later on, there were moments when I felt like he was hurting me behind the scenes. Years ago, when I was in Russia, the JTA position in Moscow opened up. I was the only logical person for the job. They offered it to a young businessman who was not a journalist. He said to the editor of JTA, why wouldn't you offer it to Walter? And he [editor Marc Pearl] said, according to the businessman, 'Walter Ruby has no credibility in the Jewish community.' That felt like the hand of Malcolm Hoenlein."
Ignoring Truth, Sticking Head in Sand = Religious
Paul Shaviv writes: "I am always struck when reading these two great magazines at the almost total absence of Orthodox Jewish scholars from the field. Why aren't we interested in archaeology?"
Very easy but very painful answer. To be Orthodox means to ignore scholarship on difficult issues such as the historicity of the Exodus, the literary composition of the Torah etc. To be a scholar (in the secular sense), means to be not Orthodox. Those who try to be both, like James Kugel and the other Bar Ilan Bible scholars, are being neither true scholars nor true Orthodox Jews.
Anyone who says they've reconciled Orthodox Judaism (or orthodox Christianity or any form of normative Islam) with modern scholarship (literary, historical, etc) is either ignorant, self-deceived or lying. Please list in the comments those scholars who you believe have reconciled the two. JB Soleveitchik, for instance, simply ignored Bible scholarship. He didn't rebutt it. He just ignored the Higher Criticism, as have most of his followers (and YU). One is welcome to ignore evidence, scholarship and truth. Just don't expect to be respected for doing so by those who value truth.
I talk to the best minds in Modern Orthodoxy in LA about these matters and they give me such fatuous answers as:
* The latest Bible scholarship no longer follows Julius Wellhausen and rejects the Documentary Hypothesis.
Well, yeah, Bible scholarship, like all other scholarship has advanced over the past 130 years, but not towards the doxy of Orthodoxy.
I ask for great Orthodox Bible scholars and I get the names of 19th Century Germans such as David Hoffman.
Some of Halacah is based upon faulty science. I wonder how many people want to get operated on by doctors following the medical dictates and cures of the Talmud?
It reminds me of talking to Christian Bible scholars. I ask them if the Apostle Paul knew Hebrew.
"Well, yes," they say. "He was a Pharisee. He was a student of Rabbi Gamliel."
"Really? How do you know?"
"Because he said so."
In fact, there is no evidence that Paul knew Hebrew, that he was a student of R. Gamliel, and there is considerable internal evidence from Paul's writings that he did not know Hebrew, was not a Pharisee, was not learned in Jewish text, and that his created religion of Christianity was a mixture of Hellenic mystery cults and other forms of paganism with a Hebraic gloss.
Joe Schick writes: To say that someone can't be Orthodox and a secular scholar who deals with "difficult issues" that question the Torah is an exaggeration. To be Orthodox need not be to "ignore scholarship."
On the issue of the Exodus, see the piece by Lawrence Schiffman, professor at NYU.
For an article about an Orthodox archeologist, see...
The Wicked Priest writes: "For a fantastic piece on this issue, see Prof. Moshe Bernstein's seminal piece in Torah UMadda Journal 3."
Shmarya writes: "Lawrence Schiffman's piece is frightening. He misstates the thesis of Biblical 'minimalists' in order to 'prove' his point. The is no evidence for any
armed conquest by Benei Yisrael as described in Yehoshua. 'Evidence' for the Exodus is also lacking. Then we come to the 'unchanged' Torah. Marc Shapiro has some interesting quotes from Rishonim that indicate a much higher degree of editing and compilation than most of us have been taught. The point is thar Schiffman's piece would be laughable, if it were not for the issue of his position. Clearly, what Luke wrote is true: In this day and age, one can either be an Orthodox Jew ***or*** a
Bible scholar (or archeologist, etc.), but not both. As Orthodoxy is currently (mis-)defined, there is no other choice. It's either the pusuit of truth or the defence of dogma. Always the apologist, Schiffman has chosen the latter."
Five Questions: Dawn Eden, NY Post Copy Editor
Seipp vs. Silver Lake: it's a draw
Which Kind of Blogging Do You Prefer?
The astute reader of this and my other wife blog will note that there seem to be two sorts of contributions here: those directed towards Jewish Journalism or Jewish ethics; and everything else. People complain no matter what, but still, I want to do the right thing, which will require some data from you. So, tell me, which of the two do you prefer
1. blogging on Jewish journalism; or
2. blogging on the other stuff?
I want to serve my readership more than I want to serve my ego. Tell me what you want to see here, and either I or my yetzer hora will get to work on it.
Islam: Religion of Peace
I want to reassure you all that Islam is the religion of peace. So don't blame them if someone drives vans full of explosives into Jewish temples in the months to come,(say, during the recitation of the Kol Nidre). Nosireeebob, Islam is the religion of peace. And let's not have any finger pointing either, if any subway cars get dynamited or any prominent building get blasted. Likely some other group will be to blame, like Christian white males. I know this because I see lots of movies by Hollywood Juden, and they assure me, through their decision NOT to address the question of Muslims and terrorism, post 9/11, that Islam is the religion of peace. White hetersexual Christian males, on the other hand, are responsible for all of the evil currently afflicting the world.
Baltimore Jewish Times Senior Editor Neil Rubin
Why Can't I Be Like That Nice Boy LukeFord.net?
I don't use the old format because well, because I very badly want to fit in. Young women seem comfortable with this blog format, and I want to fit in with them. I want them to see me as nonthreatening, and that means that I must dress and blog as they expect me to dress and blog.
Why Don't I Write About My Life Anymore?
I used to keep the masses in stitches writing about my humble life. But these days, I write about the rabbinate, oral law, and the nexus between the two. Should I write less about Judaism, and more about my life living amongst my betters in Los Angeles? Amalek says I should. What say you, readers?
PS I am thinking of offering a free X-Box to anyone who can convincingly make the case one way or another.
My Wife Blog is Back
And I had a boo-boo, several revelations and more. See lukefordseeksawife.blogspot.com for more.
I want a wife. A new wife. One that makes me feel like I do when I'm with you (and you know who I'm talking about).
Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist
Robert J. Avrech attended Brooklyn Talmudic Academy at the same time as Yossi Klein Halevi.
Robert replies to my email of inquiry about Klein's Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist:
Yes, I read the book. It was accurate and exactly mirrored my experiences. I knew who he was, but I kept my distance because he hung out with the Betar, JDL guys. They used to go to the basement, behind the lockers, and smoke cigarettes and discuss how they wanted to kill Arabs and goyim. All of them were children of Holocaust survivoirs. Their collective pathology was so naked, so raw that we who had American parents, kept a respectful/fearful distance.
I was not part of any group. I was solitary, poetic, sensitive; I would sit in a corner reading "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." One of my Rebbeim once caught me, as I had it hidden inside my gemara, he leafed through it and grimaced:
"Avrech, what are you readng?"
"It's great literature."
"How would you know?"
"Um, it's tauight in all the universities?"
"Goyim and goyishe kups. Your father, does he know you read such narishkeit?"
"I guess he's aboout to find out, right Rebbe?"
"Such a smart boy."
Israel's Museum of Tolerance
Samuel G. Freedman writes August 1 in the NY Times last about Rabbi Marvin Hier's Holocaust Center in Israel. He keeps calling the rabbi "Mr. Hier."
"At the most hyperbolic edge of the debate, the American architect and critic Michael Sorkin claimed in Architectural Record that the Gehry design's use of large, irregular stone blocks "uncomfortably evokes the `deconstruction' of Yasir Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah into a pile of rubble by Israeli security forces.""
I believe Rabbi Hier has asked for equal space to respond in Architectural Record to the Arab academic Dr. Sorkin.
Does Secularism Cause Cancer?
Miriam Shaviv writes: "A new book of responsa by Rav Elyashiv includes a statement that cancer -- which he refers to as 'the incurable disease' -- comes as a "punishment" because people (in general) have "distanced themselves from religion" and because there has been an increase in disrespect to Torah and its scholars (See Maariv / NRG for the more detailed Hebrew original).
"I do not need to elaborate on the hideousness and insensitivity of such a statement."
Rav Elyashiv's statement is basic Torah. It is not intended, I believe, to be said to anyone suffering from cancer. But that is how the Torah sees the world. That there is one law ruling the universe and that law is moral and physical. When bad things happen to us, we should examine where we have gone wrong morally.
It is not an excuse for us to tell those who are suffering that they must have done wrong. It is an exhortation for us to morally improve and to see everything that happens to us, including parking tickets and cancer, as warnings from the Almighty that we need Him.
Look at Devarim and the paragraphs in the liturgy after the shma. If we follow God's will [assuming we live in a vacuum], we will, all things being equal, lead blessed lives.
From a Torah perspective, everything that happens to us is the will of God.
I do not think there is anything hideous in the rabbi's words. If he went around saying them to cancer sufferers, that would be hideous. But he is not. He is speaking Torah. If people think they can flaunt the Torah and the admonitions of the sages and not suffer for it, they are fooling themselves. There will be physical repercussions for violating God's will. This won't be measured out equally to each person and it won't all come in this life, but there is a Judge and there will be Judgment. What's so controversial about that?
Frankly, if you don't agree with those simple sentiments, I don't know why you would be religious (of any religion, this is basic to all of them).
The rabbi's statement is no more than a religious analogy to "smoking cigarettes can cause cancer." Not everyone who smokes will get cancer and not everyone who defies the sages will get cancer. But doing both things will increase your odds of bad things happening to you.
As with Rav Shachter's remarks of a few weeks ago, we will soon hear hysterical condemnations (Miriam's critique, by contrast, was thoughtful, specific, and courageous even though I disagree with it) of the sages by those who are comparatively ignorant.
Now, I think great rabbis should be held accountable for their words. I think they should be publicly analyzed. I just don't think that those who know less Torah should fly off the handle and react with public rage and thoughtless emotion to statements that are basic to the Torah-perspective.
And for the record, I am fully aware that the most pious Jews were most likely to die in the Holocaust and the most secular were most likely to get out of Europe in safety before WWII.
My mother, a pious Christian, died of cancer in her 30s. I don't believe it was caused by her sins and I don't believe any decent Christian would ever have told her such a thing. I have a good friend, a secular friend, who has cancer, and I would rather shoot off my foot, as would any decent soul, than tell her that her cancer was caused by her secularism. But that doesn't negate the rabbi's teaching. It is just not for us to inflict that teaching on those who are suffering. The rabbi's teaching is a call for repentance.
As Rabbi Avigdor Miller put it, when you see a one-legged Puerto Rican hop down the street, that is a call for repentance to klal Yisrael.
Everything that happens is a call for Israel to repent and to cleave to HaShem. That the Dallas Cowboys cut their starting quarterback Quincy Carter this week, is, in the Torah view, a call for us return to G-d.
Judaism is a complex balancing of many competing values. Compassion for sick people is only one value among many. While Judaism condemns homosexuality, it has compassion for homosexuals.
You can't shout down a public comment because one suffering group may find it offensive. If a person directs needlessly painful remarks to specific persons, then he should be called on it. But if a rabbi gives a Torah view on cancer, then, if it springs from the Torah, it is a legitimate Torah view, even if it makes people uncomfortable.
Black comic Chris Rock makes jokes about black people which are funny. But if I, as a white man, were to tell them to black strangers, the jokes would be legitimately offensive. Context is king. The good rabbi here was not addressing a cancer ward.
Some human beings, being human beings, will bollix things up. I remember sitting around with a couple of Orthodox rabbis whose comment on Rabbi David Wolpe's brain surgery of nine months was that the Gemara says that those who hold heretical views will have brain problems. But even these rabbis with their harsh views would never have gone to Rabbi Wolpe and his family and friends and repeated these statements, at least not while the rabbi was suffering and fragile.
Shmarya weighs in. Can you guess where he comes down?
Tisha B'Av As A Window Into Denominational Judaism
I went to a shiur by Rav Yosef Kanefsky this afteroon.
In 1859, radical Reform rabbi David Einhorn devised a Reform liturgy for Tisha B'Av that acknowledged past Jewish suffering on this day (the destruction of the two temples, the last one in 70 CE by the Romans) but said that we should look for new temples springing up around the world as we create a universalist messianic age. Reform is the most universalist of the three major Jewish denominations. It started in Germany. It held that Jews should be Germans in the street and Jews at home. That Judaism was a religion, not a nation with a homeland in Zion.
In the Minhag American (1857) prayer book of moderate Reform rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise there is a moderate amount of litury for Tisha B'Av but no call for a fast as traditional Judaism requires. In the revised 1872 version, there is no litury for Tisha B'Av.
Following the Holocaust, Reform became more inclined to Zionism and to observing Tisha B'Av in some form. Some 1959 camp liturgy observed the day but did not mention the Shoah. But 1964 Reform camp liturgy is filled with references to the Holocaust, as is the Reform practice to this day (some Reform temples read Lamentations on erev Tisha B'Av and observe other parts of the traditional liturgy while other Reform organizations have swimming meets on the day).
Reform has varied the most with observance or lack thereof of Tisha B'Av.
Conservative Judaism has always officially stood by Tisha B'Av in theory, but aside from rabbis, few Conservative Jews have observed the day.
Orthodoxy has always held by Tisha B'Av and Jewish Law. Then in 1967, Jerusalem was recaptured. How could Jews then keep praying for the rebuilding of a desolate Jerusalem as the traditional liturgy demands? The Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv amended one verb and added a word to the prayer to make it fit modern realities. He was widely denounced. Why? Because Orthodox Jews have nightmares about changing their liturgy or other practices.
How many Orthodox Jews does it take to change a lightbulb?
Changes? We never change.
Once You Go Paki, You Never Go Backi
Hilly: I am not normally racist but I have a load of pakis just moved on top.
Rob writes: once you go paki you never go backi.
Links Between Prison and AIDS Affecting Blacks Inside and Out
RALEIGH, N.C. - Fiddling with a cigarette, Louise, a straight-talking 23-year-old who has been living with H.I.V. for four years, grimaced as she discussed life in the black neighborhood of her small town, a sleepy outpost east of the state capital.
The only jobs, she said, were generally at fast-food places, farms or factories. Entertainment consisted of hanging out on the street corner or at the strip mall. And as for men, she said, with an air of resignation, "They've either been in prison, they're married or they're gay."
It never seemed unusual, said Louise, who asked that her last name be withheld because some people close to her are unaware of her H.I.V. status, that nearly all the men she had been involved with - including the one who passed the virus on to her - had been in prison.
"In a grocery store you have a big selection of meat laid out in front
of you, and you can chose which grade you want," she said. But in her town, she added, "you don't have that choice. There is no way to really decide the good from the bad. It's all what you decide you can deal with."
Patients With H.I.V. Seen as Separated by a Racial Divide
Last January in Manhattan, at the memorial service of a colleague who died of an AIDS-related illness, Joseph Bostic lost feeling in his legs and had trouble standing. A friend, Keith Cylar, hailed a cab, crumpled some bills into the driver's palm and sent Mr. Bostic home to Brooklyn.
Two months later, Mr. Bostic died of heart and kidney failure related to H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Within three weeks, Mr. Cylar, too, was dead of heart disease related to the virus.
The loss of these two men - both of them AIDS activists who had lived with H.I.V. for years - shocked many who had nearly forgotten the days when attending funerals and memorial services was a constant, unsettling ritual.
In the United States, death rates from H.I.V./AIDS have sharply dropped
in the past eight years as new medications have made the disease manageable
for many patients. But among African-Americans like Mr. Bostic and Mr. Cylar, AIDS is still a killer.
In 2002, almost twice as many blacks with AIDS died compared with whites,
a gap that has been increasing since 1998. Researchers say the reasons include late diagnoses and inferior care, along with complications because blacks are more likely than whites to suffer from other illnesses.
The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden
The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden
I read this novel by Robert J. Avrech straight through in two hours Friday night. I laughed out loud a dozen times. It is terrific and a much-needed contribution to fiction for religious Jewish kids.
A soldier approaches the frum family.
"You get back to your Cossack friends before I knock your head in, you dirty little sheygitz." Mama lifted a cast iron skillet.
"Please, ma'am, I'm not a sheygitz. My name is Schulman. I'm a landsman. A Jew."
The mother yells at this Indian maiden Lozen. "So you be careful who you call a witch. Let me tell you something, you might scare the goyim with your whoops and hollers and guns and knives, but to me you're just a little shicksah pisher. And a little advice, maidel: you should spend a bit more time on your looks... You think a man is going to want to marry a wild girl? You should be thinking about a shidduch, not riding around like you're on the warpath!"
Mama was practically shouting. Lozen nodded mutely.
The book is written from the perspective of Ariel, a 12-year old about to celebrate his bar mitzvah in the Wild West of the 1870s.
It's clearly crafted by an accomplished screenwriter. All the scenes have conflict and move the story forward. Most of the chapters end with a hook that compells you to keep reading. The story often heads in the opposite direction of what you'd expect.
Dialogue is an Avrech strength. His emails are frequently hilarious when he paints his life with spare dialogue.
While Ariel is the book's most sympathetic character, momma and Doc Holliday are the most entertaining.
The book reminds me a great deal of Robert's movie A Stranger Among Us with its romantic view of Jewish mysticism. Both works have lead characters named Ariel who dabble in kaballah.
I love the absurd tensions of an Orthodox family trying to deal with the goyim in the Wild West.
The book comes out of a robust confidence that must flow from Robert's life that Orthodox Judaism is strong enough to tackle the wider world. I believe that Robert Avrech (who comes from a long line of Orthodox rabbis and his son Ariel would've carried on that tradition) is the first Orthodox screenwriter of feature films (with Brian De Palma's Body Double in 1984). In the world in which he grew up, Hollywood was at best foolishness.
So Robert must've learned at his secular college, and at his secular kibbutz in Israel, and in secular Hollywood, how to interact with non-Jews, righteous and otherwise, while maintaining his Orthodoxy.
Robert's life reminds me of My Name is Asher Lev, probably my favorite Jewish novel.
I read The Hebrew Kid for fun, but I reflect on it as an allegory of Robert's journey through the non-Orthodox world.
Like the frum family in his novel, Robert has long strived to practice Orthodox Judaism within a frequently hostile environment.
Avrech is not of the "Yossi Klein Halevi school of Orthodox Judaism," which simply posits that Orthodoxy is the language he learned to communicate with God. Robert is authentically Orthodox (literally means correct belief) in the sense that he truly believes in the Thirteen Principles of Maimonidies, and not just in some figurative sense. I know. I've grilled him on these.
I believe that Yossi and Robert both went to Brooklyn Talmudic Academy, aka Yeshiva University High School of Brooklyn. Yossi writes about it in his Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist.
The lead Jewish characters in this novel have meaningful interactions with non-Jews. Their worldview divides people not just along Jew and non-Jew, but most significantly along the lines of moral and immoral. The Jews learn from the goyim and vice versa. The Jews constantly face pressures for which they know no immediate halachic answer, but instead have to search themselves and their sacred texts for direction.
[This is the opposite of the fretful Orthodoxy embodied by Gil Perl and Yaakov Weinstein, graduate students at Harvard and MIT respectively, in their pamphlet “A Parent’s Guide to Orthodox Assimilation on University Campuses,” which warns Jewish parents of the moral and spiritual corruption that awaits their children should they send them to elite secular universities.]
Because they live in the real world, the Jews in the novel sin. They're real. They're not cookie-cutter characters like much religious fiction for teens.
Three years ago, Robert told me he could never write a novel.
Three years ago, Robert didn't have a son who was dying.
As he worked on this novel, Robert used to read portions to Ariel, who laughed when he had the strength.
A Tale of Two Jews
Evan Gahr writes: When I first arrived in DC I interviewed Michael Kinsley for the Washington Jewish Week. He was much better known then--on Crossfire--than Peter Beinart. But he was devoid of any pretense and had no problem giving me an interview; he even was quite apologetic about cancelling when Marty Peretz called a staff meeting and that interfered with the time slot.
The smaller the person the bigger the attitude.
Beinart is not strikingly briliant the way Kinsley is. He's just a rather pedestrian partisan putz. The partisanship being his own: needs to show everyone how he is so great he can prove both conservatives and liberals wrong on every issue.
On Saturday afternoons, I like to go see a white Jewish lady friend and her two kids.
I knocked on her door this afternoon. And a striking black woman opened it.
I opened my mouth, flapped it several times silently. The lady laughed.
I forget the name of my friend. "Is she home?" I ask.
"No. She just left. Should I take a message?"
"Just tell her Luke came by."
"Luke. Ok. I can remember that. I can't write it down because it's Shabbos."
The black lady must be Orthodox. Strange days indeed.
She laughed at my confusion.
I walked off.
I found out later that she is Muslim.
The White Stuff?
From the WSJ: After a 30-year career at National Public Radio, Bob Edwards found himself sacked as host of its syndicated news show "Morning Edition." In an interview with Talkers Magazine, Mr. Edwards gave a surprising answer when asked what kind of people listen to NPR. "Bright people," he replied. "People of all economic strata. It's a whiter audience than we would like and we're trying to fix that." Now substitute "GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie" for Bob Edwards and "Republican Party" for National Public Radio and think what the reaction would be to a statement that could be read to imply that white people are somehow brighter.
WEHT To Raoul Wallenberg?
I talk to veteran Jewish journalist Charles Fenyvesi about Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during World War II.
"People accused me of besmirching Wallenberg's name because I called him an American spy. The word 'spy' for a CIA asset was irresistable and my idiotic editor insisted on it. It was WW II. The guy was helping the Allies achieve victory over the Nazis. That would never occur to me that that was besmirching someone's name.
"I didn't go into the [American government] archives with the notion that I was going to prove he was an American spy. I found the material.
"Did I write my story about the fall of the Romanian regime with the idea that I would save Ceausescu or kill Ceausescu? No. It was a story that came to me."
"What do you think happened to Raoul Wallenberg?"
"That's a terrible story. I think Wallenberg survived until the 1990s."
"In Soviet prisons?"
"Even after the fall of the Soviet empire?"
"He died of old age?"
"We don't know. He would be 92. Yesterday was his birthday.
"In 1995, he no longer knew who he was because of all the drugs and all the treatments given to him by the KGB.
"The man who was convinced that Wallenberg was alive [in 1995] was his best friend from Budapest Per Anger (a modest, self-effacing man who never claimed anything for himself). Per started out giving passes to Jews, a piece of paper that said this person was connected with the kingdom of Sweden. He gave about 100 or so to people who had something to do with Sweden, business connections.
"Then, when Wallenberg came in, he said, that's terrific. Let's make something that looks like a passport. It was in color with the Swedish crown colors.
"Per Anger became Swedish ambassador to all sorts of places including Canada and Berlin. I interviewed him in 1995. He was the same age as Wallenberg. He was still in good shape. He told me that he was convinced that Wallenberg was still alive but that he no longer knew who he was."
"Why would the Soviet Union hold on to him?"
"Because it would enormously embarrassing for them to release him. It would be much easier for them to say, we can't find him. Or, we killed him, which is what they eventually said, then to release a broken man whose mind was no longer there."
"Did the US try hard to get him out?"
"No, because the damn Swedes said they would do it. President Truman offered. He was told no, we will handle it."
"Why didn't we, the US, apply more pressure to get him out?"
"According to my best source in the State Department, we never made it clear to the Russians that it would be in their best interest to release him. There was no US intelligence on where he was. The Swedes knew where he was."
"The Swedes found him an embarrassment?"
"Yes. It was their fault that the Swedish government did not press rigorously enough for Raoul's return. If he returned a broken man, can you imagine what would the reaction have been? Why didn't you do this sooner? Why didn't you get him out? It's a very nasty ugly story. The Swedish government behaved abominably."
The complete Fenyvesi interview here.
The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden
Robert and Karen Avrech have set up Seraphic Press, a publishing house for young adults to honor the memory of their son Ariel (a rabbinical student at Ner Israel for four years), who died of pulmonary fibrosis a little over a year ago.
Robert has signed an exclusive distribution deal for Seraphic Press with the largest distributor of Jewish Books in North America, JD Books, who feel that these works should easily cross over into the general readership. JD are in every Jewish book store in the world and all the major chains.
The first novel is by Robert Avrech, "The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden."
Reviewers who want an advance copy should contact Marvin Sekler at JD Books: (718) 456 - 8611.
The layout, typeface and illustrations of the book are beautiful. "There will be an illustration for each and every chapter--22 in all," writes Robert. "The ones that are there now are not the final ones. They are just examples of Obadinah Heavner's work. She is my illustrator. I have hired a team of very fine and very sought after artists who work regularly for the big NY publishers. They love what I'm trying to do, love the book, and agreed to work for Seraphic Press. I am a lucky man. The font we are using is called Janson: it was originally cut by the great Hungarian typographer Nikolas Kis in the 1680's. It has a lovely humanist feel to it; the forms of the letters suggest older times. It is easy on the eyes and for children it is one of the best fonts you can use."
The official publication date for "The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden" is January 2005.
Before I Die...
Before I die, I want to have dinner with Teresa Strasser, Chayyei Sarah, Alana Newhouse, and Lori Gottblieb.
I also want peace in the Middle East.
I'm not sure which of these desires is the least likely to come true. Probably dinner with Chayyei Sarah.
The Koby Mandell Act To Pursue Terrorists
Abandoned By The Justice System by Sherri Mandell
According to the State Department, the American agency in charge of pursuing the killers of my son Koby, he was killed by “persons opposed to the Middle East peace process.” This language is so maddeningly benign — as if Koby’s murderers were standing outside of a supermarket with a petition or organizing a demonstration in front of the local high school.
At The Entrance to the Garden of Eden
Some random reflections on Yossi Klein Halevi's book, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden.
Overall, it's great.
Yossi writes in the Intro: "I wanted to test whether faith could be a means of healing rather than intensifying the conflicts in this land?"
How banal is that? Of course faith, like anything else, can be a source of healing or conflict.
"Though raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, I abandoned ritual as a teenager, having been shocked out of religious complacency by biblical criticism."
Yet Yossi never mentions Biblical criticism in his first book.
"My eventual decision to return to Jewish observance wasn't inspired by any sudden realization that Judaism was the "true" faith after all, Judaism simply was my language of intimacy with God."
That is not an acceptable approach with Orthodox Judaism. Nobody could convert to OJ through a normative Beit Din with such an approach. It is not an approach that will keep the Jewish people alive. Jews won't stay Jewish simply because Judaism is their "language of intimacy with God."
I love it when all these people who not normative to their faith start writing books on their ecumenical journeys, such as that "Muslim" lesbian who wrote a book on what's wrong with Islam, yet she cannot read the language of the religion, Arabic.
"So when I began my journey into Christian and Muslim communities, I inevitably turned to their mystics, for whom montheism isn't a theology but an experience of oneness."
This is why I'm skeptical of mysticism in general. It withdraws one from this world. Its practicioners are primarily concerned with their own feelings and spiritual highs and salvation, rather than God's demands for their actions to benefit a wider world. Mysticism is an essentially solitary, self-centered and solipsistic pursuit. Unless it is married to a demanding code of behavior, it is never going to make things better in this world.
Yossi consistently misuses the word "disinterest" in the book. It truly means unbiased. He uses it to mean uninterested.
On page 205, Yossi tells a nun: "Can you imagine the reaction when my friends and relatives in the Orthodox community find out I've been going to monasteries?
"Gabriel, I need to learn from your courage."
Give me a break. Yossi spent almost a decade with the JDL. He described it in detail in his memoir. He describes many things he did that the Orthodox community would find heinous. He glorifies in his uniqueness and never misses an opportunity to write about how he's different. So what's another aberrant behavior?
Yossi davens with his tefillin in a church.
The last sentences of the book: "I am suddenly aware of the muezzin, summoning me from the next hill. I get on my knees, press my forehead to the floor, immobile with surrender."
Rabbi: 'You Will Hear From My Attorney'
A few weeks ago, I had this discussion with Forward editor J.J. Goldberg:
"How would you handle a story about a leader of a major Jewish organization who is involved in an ongoing extramarital affair that is disrupting his work life but he's not doing anything illegal."
"It came up. [Reform Rabbi] Sheldon Zimmerman. We ran the story. I hear he hates me. I don't see the guy."
"But you didn't run any details on what he did wrong. Nobody did. You just said sexual indiscretions."
"At the time, we couldn't find out. Once we got the details, we did."
"You got sexual indiscretions. Everybody wants to know what they were."
"By the time I found out, it was ancient history. The guy's already dead. Why shoot him again? At a certain point, it becomes pornography. The issue is, what's going on in Jewish life. If we had known that week what had gone on, we would've printed it. But everybody clammed up on that. Nobody wanted to talk. My family and friends who are involved in these things [Jewish organizations, not necessarily sexual indiscretions], and they won't tell me. Everybody is afraid to talk to me.
"It took weeks and weeks to find out what it was about. If it is only interesting because we can find out who stuck what where, then in it is pornography."
"He is now at a major Jewish position. [He's now Vice-president for Jewish Renaissance and Renewal at United Jewish Communities.]"
"And we wrote about that," says J.J.. "He's really mad that we wrote about that. Now, it turns out that what I gather he did is so unexceptional. It wasn't with children.
"If it is [a certain type of sexual indiscretion], we'd have to have it lawyer-proofed. Maybe they don't sue bloggers because bloggers don't have any money. It's amazing how many more letters we got from lawyers once newspapers reported we had sold our radio station for $70 million. Suddenly everyone is interested in the details of what we wrote. I can't [publish] anything I can't prove in court."
I talked to Ami Eden, Forward national editor:
"There was the head of a seminary [Sheldon Zimmerman at HUC]. Did we want to get into the details of what he did? I was not sure how important the details were. The guy had been severely punished [fired from his job for adultery, etc]. Everybody seemed to agree that the Reform movement dealt swiftly and responsibly. He's accepted the punishment. There's no sense that the person who made the complaints is now complaining. Did we need to get to the bottom of what this thing was? I don't think so. From a lashon hara perspective, getting into the sordid details would be crossing the line. What's the justification?"
"The problem by not spelling out what his sexual sins were is that everybody then wonders what were his sexual sins. Now he's in a responsible position somewhere else (UJC)."
"That's a valid point. I don't think anybody cracked the nut about what he did. It's not like anybody was sitting on a pile of info and didn't publish it. When he got a new position, I said to myself, I didn't think that through. Maybe I need to reevaluate it. Then again, maybe the people who hired him for his new position did due diligence. Then again, that's not my role as a journalist."
On July 20, I emailed Rabbi Zimmerman:
We met briefly at the Renaissance conference in Woodland Hills.
I'm writing a book on Jewish journalism.
Some of my questions to journalists have to do with how we should handle sex scandals.
I've had so many in my life that I wrote a book about them (I make you look like a choir boy): XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul.
Anyway, I did not write to plug my book. I just interviewed JJ Goldberg, editor of the Forward, who told me that his impression is that you are very angry with him for his coverage of your sex scandal.
What's your view on all this stuff and how it relates to journalism on Jewish life?
Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman writes August 5: "Dear Mr. Ford: I do not wish to be included in your book. If there is anything negative about me or my family in your book you will hear from my attorney."
Yossi Klein Halevi - Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist
A few weeks ago, I emailed Yossi Klein Halevi a link to my work-in-progress on Jewish journalism and asked him for an interview. He replied: "I looked up your web site and have to admit to being troubled...by the lashon harah aspect of your work. Why is it important to know the private lives of Jewish leaders? Would that make better Jewish journalism? What is Jewish journalism? Does it have a commitment not only to truth but also lashon harah?"
After a few desultory exchanges, Yossi refused me an interview.
I was confused. I'd read a lot of his work. I did not notice any difference in his approach to reporting telling personal embarrassing details from any other journalist, Jewish or otherwise. What was I missing? Surely his concerns with lashon hara weren't only about the writing of others? Surely it wasn't his fellow writer's soul and his own income that he was concerned with?
So I read his book Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist. It's a terrific read. Beautifully written like most of his work. But as far as lashon hara is concerned, it is indistinguishable from other memoirs.
For instance, this paragraph on page 208 about the poor sucker who funded Yossi's 1980 paper New Jewish Times:
"The answer was Marv Steinhartz [fictional name for a real person], a young businessman who'd made his money running private hospitals. Steinhartz was what they called in Yiddish a chazir fesser, a gluttonous consumer of pork, an expression that described not merely his diet but his being. Marv was always on the make -- for quick bucks, quick lays, quick highs. A cigarette dangled from his thick lips, a Humphrey Bogart effect ruined by traces of spittle. His favorite words were "chick" and "chic," and he prounounced them both the same way. "The chicks will be lining up at the door if we put out a chick product," he said, explaining his vision for the newspaper."
So how is that not lashon hara by his own standards? He's delving into the embarassing personal details of a prominent Jew.
Now, you could argue that his book is more thoroughly fact-checked than the transcripts I've placed on my site. True. But that has nothing to do with lashon hara. It's lashon hara when it is true.
As Yossi is not answering my emails, I can only conclude that he is a big phony on this matter. Like other Jewish leaders who cry lashon hara when you ask them a tough question, he carries God's name in vain. He invokes divine law to escape from accountability.
I hope he proves me wrong one day and answers some elementary questions about his work.
Conservative Women Rabbis Getting Screwed
Study finds women Conservative rabbis earn considerably less than male counterparts.
Another pious, dull, boring, sanitized story from The Jewish Week. Why not give sizzling examples?
Buggy writes: "If those women rabbis would show a little more cleavage maybe they would get paid more."
Buggy, that is exactly the sort of hurtful speech that is holding women down in the Conservative movement and screwing them.
Which leading Conservative rabbi said that the only position for a woman in his shul was prone?
I think I'll do my next book on the secret lives of lesbian Conservative rabbis? What really goes on in those all-women Talmud groups? Either that, or, The Happiest Gabbai in Long Island.
What's the percentage of dykes among female rabbis? I'd guess at least a quarter (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Minority Journalists Applaud John Kerry
Minority journalists give John Kerry huge ovations.
I really trust their journalistic integrity. There's no reason for racial journalism groups. For black journalists or yellow journalists or brown journalists. Anyone who joins one of those must have no respect for themselves as either persons or journalists. I would never join a white journalist association or any group based on race. I think it is disgusting and I despise anyone who joins a race-based group, including most of these race-based groups at this conference who are drooling over John Kerry.
Here's an example of drooling over a Latino editor (Frank del Olmo) at the LAT who was completely without distinction in his work.
As for my book on Jewish journalism, Jews are not a race. Jews are composed of every race, from black to yellow.
Ideas People Have For Me
My friend Fred suggests that I become a patent lawyer. This would require of me a three year course of study in one of the engineering disciplines followed by three years of law school. All to work in a field so boring that it has driven some to drink or worse. (And Fred tells me that you can't even use this to get girls.)
My friend Chaim tells me to become an office worker or lawn care expert. He feels that my accent and ethnicity will help me rise a lot farther than the average Mexican with whom I would be competing but then, Chaim has always been one of my biggest boosters.
My friend Rum wants me to chuck it all, move to Thailand, and become a man-about-town. But I dislike tropical weather.
My friend Fleivel wants me to go on welfare, and be what she calls a "mule," a job he says pays a lot. How a man can earn a living pretending to be a half-breed animal is beyond my thinking.
My friend Cathy no longer even tries to offer me useful advice. I fear that she has given up on poor Luke, and that she views me as something of an embarrassment to have around when her successful friends are near, sort of like an incontinent relative.
These people mean well, but they offer me nothing but talk and talk, as they say, is cheap. If you want to help me out, I suggest you drive by in a recent model car and offer me cans of food, furniture, clothes than fit, and, if you are really feeling generous, legal title to the vehicle you used to stop by. But if you don't want to help me, that's okay. I still am willing to help you.
Does Luke have the courage to change?
In a word, NO. I am sufficiently content with my life as it is for me to spend the remainder of my days here on earth (I'm already 38) living on the floor of a converted garage, driving a decrepit van that no decent woman would ever want to be caught dead in (literally).
Consider this missive from New York nudge Chaim Amalek (who at over 350 pounds and counting is in no position to lecture me on how to live my life):
"Do you have the courage to change? Because I really
believe your prospects in life would be enhanced by a
quickie marriage with some nice girl from the -----
industry. Not necessarily a --, but maybe the
daughter of one of the key guys, or perhaps a
newcomer. Then you could get a divorce in a few
months at almost no cost to you and, given your finances,
quite possibly come out ahead money-wise. You need a
woman to beat you into shape so that you can get
yourself a better woman. Perhaps you ought to forgo the step-wise plan for ascending the ladder of wives, and go Chinese at the outset. A solid Chinese wife will not let you sleep on the floor or drive an embarrassing vehicle or waste your days blogging. The question though, is this: do you have the courage to change?"
In case you didn't hear me the first time Chaim, the answer is NO.
And I've decided to support George Bush, spend my days blogging and eating berries (no true 7th Day Adventist can stomach the thought of eating a nice brisket), and pretending to be a homosexual man pretending to be a straight man. Those of you who want to see Luke Ford erupt, chrysalis-like, from his cocoon are fated to be disappointed in me. So either accept me as I am or don't. The choice, as always, is yours. In the meantime, I've got lots of books to write, people to interview, and free lunches to attend. I'm living well (enough) and (thanks to my meds) loving life. And if it just isn't the life YOU would be living, well, tough.
I'm a Yeshiva Boy
looking for Jewish maidele to knit yarmulkes for me alone... all colors.
An Interview With Shmuley Boteach
XXX-Communicated Expanded Edition Available
By popular demand iUniverse announces the release of an expanded edition of Luke Ford's smash autobiography, XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul.
This new version completes Ford's epic saga with many of his delicious low-carb diet recipes that are guaranteed to melt away unsightly belly fat, unpublished photographs of Paris Hilton's "lost weekend" at the hovel, a detailed analysis of how Luke cracked the da Vinci code and solved that grisly murder in the Louvre, a CD-ROM of Luke Ford's various restraining orders, plus one randomly selected copy includes a golden ticket which grants a lucky reader a guided tour of Luke Ford, Inc.'s Beverly Hills facility and dinner with the author at the Baja Fresh across from the Beverly Center.
This expanded edition is available for a limited time only. Order today!
Snorting Lines At AJPA
Luke to Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal: "Have you ever seen one of your peers snorting a line, smoking a joint, or getting rip roaring drunk at an AJPA conference?"
Rob replies: "Put us in a room with the Chicago Manual of Style and a six pack of HeBrew, and things get out of control."
The Inside Life of Accountants
Fred writes: In the interest of following in Luke's footsteps, I have starting writing a book about the movers and shakers in the world of patent law. I am doing
interviews getting the inside dirt.
After that, I plan to write about the nations hottest accountants. I plan to ask the hard questions. Exactly who was in the smoke-filled back room when they decided that debits should be on the left and credits should be on the right?
Exactly who were the members of the cabal that dreamed up double declining balance depreciation?
Would any of you like to pre-order?
Cowboys cut Carter after positive cocaine test
Dance With Them That Brung You
Khunrum writes: All that cash to publicize the Sid Bernsteins of this world? Luke, soon The Hovel will be so cluttered with your unsold books that you will be sleeping on the lawn. I beg you. Stop Publishing NOW.
Chaim Amalek writes: I have respectfully counseled Mister Ford that he ought now return to his roots, and pen a book of interviews that describe the career arcs of some of the many interesting characters in the ---- trade: how they got into the business, what happened to them once they got in, and how they plan on getting out (or what happened to them once they got out). He could easily get interviews with most of the key "talent", the producers, the distributors, but mostly the "talent."
This is something that he could turn out in short order, and SELL. For that sort of a book there would be a market, and he'd get a real publisher, the kind that throws parties and promotes books on MTV and Spike and pays its writers money.
Not so for a book on Jewish journalism. No market for such a book at all. Sad, really. Remember, we are talking about a 38 year old man, not a confused 21 year old.
Do Conservatives Have A Speech Code?
From Washington Jewish Week May 2001, Eric Fingerhut writes: Do conservatives have a speech code? Will they refuse to tell the truth about one of their own if the truth is uncomfortable? Evan Gahr thinks so. Gahr has been fired from his job as a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, only a few weeks after calling longtime conservative activist Paul Weyrich a "demented anti-Semite" because of an Easter column in which Weyrich blamed Jews for killing Jesus.
My unironic interview with Evan Gahr August 3, 2004.
My Ex-Wife Found My Other Blog
She writes: A friend of mine found this blog and said it was you. I can't believe it, you miserable scumbag. For those of you who might be considering hooking up with this guy, a little bit of background. My name is Linda, and I was married to him twelve years ago. Not for a long time, but long enough. Yes, he was pretty (then), but he never worked a day in the time we were together. Never. Would not clean the house, help out with the kid, nothing. Luke always plead that he had some sort of illness, which as far as I could tell, is otherwise called "laziness." Oh, he wrote, and he wrote, about what he would never say. But I had to hold down two jobs then while he "wrote." What a dick you are Luke. Still playing that old con. You still owe me money, and you know exactly what for. I'd take him to court, but he has nothing to take. And that was the plan all along, right? Well guess what, the moment I hear that you have anything, I'm coming and collecting it.
Rob writes: Yet another woman pissed off because she couldn't turn a gay man straight. The flames were practically leaping off of him and you married him?
Your vagina ain't magic, honey. Wise up!
Jack writes: Only gay men use words like vagina. They are so terribly afraid of it. Gay men devalue every body part, because they think only physically, not spiritually or romantically. Right, honey?
Why Not Write On...
Robert writes: Why not write on subjects that you are more intimate with like: Live in Beverly Hills on $5 a Day or Seventy and Single: My Life as a Pariah or Thirty-Eight Years in the Closet, A Biography or best yet, I ------ Kendra Jade ... For Free! That would sell in the low hundreds easily eclipsing your previous catalog.
Next time use Kinkos copies. They're very helpful and would never smirk at your run size.
Khunrum writes: Remember Dr. Al Julian who was a guest on Luke's defunct computer radio show? He sold 10 copies of his vanity published tome (forgot the title) 990 to go. I got a free copy for getting him on the program.
Lay Your Hands On Me
As I finish my evening prayers, and ready myself for bed, I start to put on some soothing classical music.
Then, overwhelmed by the emptiness of my hovel and my soul, I feel compelled to listen to some Thompson Twins, who are wholesome in a goyish sense but still sing sentiments contrary to Torah. "Back and forth across the sea, I have chased so many dreams... I was tired and I was cold... With a hunger in my soul... Lay your hands, lay your hands on me."
It makes me wonder again about the tension between Orthodoxy and modernity and where exactly I come down.
I'm glad that my prospects are so poor that I am no longer tempted by available young women.
The Agonies of Creativity
Alice Dax took D.H. Lawrence's virginity. "I gave Bert sex. I had to. He was over at our house, struggling with a poem he couldn't finish, so I took him upstairs and gave him sex. He came downstairs and finished the poem."
Bloggers As Celebrities
A print journalist writes me: "Every time I read anything about an LA Press Club event I always see your name along the lines of 'blogger Luke Ford.' I think bloggers are far more suited to celebrity than mere journalists!"
I don't think bloggers or journalists are more suited to celebrity. It depends more on the importance of your work and the intriguingness of the character you cut than upon your medium. I would not have received less media attention if I had been a print journalist or TV journalist or magazine journalist the past decade instead of a blogger so long as I broke as many stories and infuriated as many scary and powerful people.
Bloggers as Failures
Rabbi Gadol writes: "I am converging on the position that blogging is for losers, and that time spent on the internet is time not spent forming real relationships with people. The happiest people I know do not spend time sharing their thoughts with total strangers on the internet. They are too busy living their lives. And most bloggers I know of are failures in their personal and professional lives."
Dr. Luke Talks To Men About Sex
I got an email: "Hey - you're a fella who's had to balance the lures of the 'outside world' with the strictures of frumkeit - and you opted in! I'm just now (at age 35) finding out what my more rebellious friends discovered in their late teens and early 20s - that easy girls are easy to find, that naughty flirting and drinks and dancing with gentile coworkers can be a blast, and that nobody gives a shit if you're married or not. What's the best way for me to avoid exploring that world too thoroughly and find peace and contentment at home, with the wife and kids? Got any insight for me?"
Watch the movie Carnal Knowledge, read my memoir, read Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor, and such about the meaningless of promiscuity and vacousness and soul-sucking nature of its pursuit...and you might find some inner peace on these matters.
Anon writes: More practical advice follows. Know this - if you have casual sex with these women, you are very likely to contract at least herpes and venereal warts, which you will pass on to your wife. Have you thought through how you are going to handle matters when she breaks out in sores that she cannot account for? And don't think that condoms will protect you. Used properly, they neither cover everything that can cause infection nor everything that can be infected. And they break, slip off, are used improperly, etc. Keep your focus on venereal disease, the consequences of bringing STDs into the marital bed, and you will be less likely to stray in your marriage. More fundamentally, do you really have to work with gentiles? Maybe a more yeshivish lifestyle is called for?
My Friend Had A Good Weekend
KB: "I hooked up with a stripper."
"How did you meet her?"
KB: "At a strip club."
"How did you get her to go home with you?"
KB: "She was all over me. She was just attracted to me. She loved feeling my aura."
KB: "I don't know, man. I just had it all working for me. I left her place at 7 a.m. She lives in the gayest area of San Diego. I walk outside and the gay pride parade was going on. Half a million fags walking up and down the street."
I'm Sorry I'm Not Who You Want Me To Be
I stopped by a friend's home today. I had referred him to a proofreader I know, who, while turning in his work 60 days late, did it at a tremendous discount.
My proofreader friend, like everyone else in life, has strengths and weaknesses. If you can avoid getting your panties in a knot over his tardiness, you can benefit from his good work. If you know a good person, and you can live with their weaknesses, then live with them and don't kick up a fuss when they are who they are.
So this afternoon I got a long friendly email from a friend detailing marketing tips for my books. I know this is an important matter, particularly for Americans. They're constantly asking me, how are you going to market your books? Well, guess what. I'm not going to market my books. They are going to sell themselves while I move on to write further books. I could spend my time marketing my books or I could spend my time writing. I choose to write.
So I sent back a perfunctory "Thank you for the tips. Good stuff" reply email.
And a few minutes later, I got back this: "I'm never writing to you again. Your emails are perfunctory and unfriendly, bordering on rude. Your writing is stupendously funny and good, your personality at other times, maybe not so."
Look, I am not a good email correspondent. Only on occasion. I spent most of my day sitting at a computer and writing. I'm not into exchanging chatty emails. I'm sorry I am not who you want me to be. As long as I acknowledge your email, I'm not going to berate myself for lack of length and chattiness.
I only exchange long emails with a lover or a couple of close male friends.
JimmyD - A Shot in the Dark
James writes: yeah, i think this qualifies as a "wild" request. have you been drinking? smoking crack? do you need further therapy? jewish journalism? i know something about this? (that last question was rhetorical and sarcastic.) is this request spawned by your self-destructive nature? is this topic of any interest
to me? gee, i don't know. I'm not even sure what the topic is? jewish journalism? it's a topic? i figured jewish journalism might HAVE topics: you know, stuff
like did the jews really wander the desert for thirty years, did moses really part the red sea, or isn't it about time jews start eating pork? (it's safe to eat
it now, ya know... ya don't even have to overcook it anymore.)
Chaim Amalek writes: As a writer, are you ashamed at all of using such a publisher, or do you follow the teachings of the rabbenim, who routinely make use of such services to hawk their wares? Do you feel that Cathy Seipp does not respect you as much as she otherwise would had you convinced a regular publisher to publish your works on their nickel? What was the point of writing books like that? Why, for real and just between us, are you spending time writing that book on jewish journalism? What's the plan, Luke, what's the plan?
Tick tock, tick tock.....
Anonymous writes: There are too many self-hating jews in your life, Luke, men (and women) who would deny their specialness in a hopeless attempt to blend in with the goyim. You can do better. To begin with, you need to start sending email out to every working journalist in America, beginning with the words "Are you Jewish? I'm making a list and checking it twice."
Pulling Myself Up By My Sandal Straps
I'm done with this, I think. The time has come for me to turn over a new leaf, and given the lateness of the season for me, I think what I must do is turn over thousands of new leafs, all at once. And you can help me. I need a leaf blower and other garden utensils to place in my van. My new business, "White Boy Lawn Care," will position itself by appealing both to Anglo racists who fear the Mexican, and Mexican Americans who might get a big kick out of treating a white man like some wet back just over the Rio Grande. This job will pay me money, which I am sorely in need of, and it will make me known for something other than my pitiful blogging. And it is outdoors, which is good both for me and for my community, which thinks jews don't do manual labor. Well, I will, and I'm Jewish. So please, if you see my truck in your neighborhood, don't hesitate to stop by and say hello.
Ralph Nader's Anti-Semitism
John-Paul Pagano writes on Ralph Nader and the New Anti-Semitism:
In the month of June, Mr. Nader granted interviews to the United Arab Emirates' al-Khaleej newspaper, which in recent years distinguished itself by defending Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, and to Pat Buchanan's American Conservative magazine. Buchanan has referred to Congress as "Israeli-occupied territory", described ex-Nazi John Demjanjuk as a modern-day Dreyfus, and praised Hitler as "an individual of great courage".
In both of these interviews, Mr. Nader referred to White House officials and Congressmen as "puppets" of the Israeli government. In one, he said the Israelis "control" and "coerce" American officials, shaking them down for money and arms.
The Protector of Jewish Virginity
Because of Alana Newhouse's article, I no longer wish to be addressed as "Luke" or "My Moral Leader," but "The Protector of Jewish Virginity [intellectual and otherwise]."
Nobody is doing more to keep Jewish women chased than I am.
Reb Yudel writes: Luke Ford: The chaster women chaser.
A Warning From History
Before he became leader of the German nation, before he volunteered for service in the German Army, Adolf Hitler sought to become an artist. That's all - just a harmless little artist who might have eeked out a living painting water colors of public squares. But the powers that be denied him admission to art school in Vienna, and the rest is, as they say, history. But think just how inexpensive it would have been, in the long run, had someone recognized in young Adolf the future possibilities, and bought him off with a few lessons in drawing.
I intuit that Luke Ford is in a similar position. Oh, he SEEMS like a harmless nobody, but don't be deceived. There is a manic intelligence at work here, an intelligence that can go one of two ways. Either one of you gedolim help him out here by throwing him a bone (i.e., a job in journalism/entertainment/Jewish Federation even), or it is inevitable that he will grow dissatisfied with what has been done to him over the years by you and turn on all of you. And he's not just another dumb goy - this guy knows our weaknesses better than al Qeada knows the layout of the CitiGroup Tower on West 53rd street in Manhattan. Why take a chance on what tomorrow will bring by ignoring him, and leaving him to fester in the puss of his poverty? The cheaper, better course of action is coopt him NOW, while you still can, and at a bargain rate. Just write to Chaimamalek@yahoo.com and let me know what you can offer him.
Ladies, Do YOU Have an Unusual Hobby?
If so, you are what we call a "hobbyist." Well, I share your "hobby" and stand ready to consult with you for all your hobbyist needs, no matter how obscure. My consulting fees are as follows:
1. Quick thirty minute consultation: $150.
2. A 60 minute consultation: $300.
3. The Luke Ford Experience: this includes all of the above, plus dinner and a show, and me saying nice things about your cat(s). Cost: $650.
4. A weekend with Luke, wherever you choose (travel expenses extra, of course): $3,000.
For an extra $400, I throw in a special seminar, bare-bones.
Ladies, you know you've long wanted to get to know what I'm all about. This is your chance.
Should I Return to Man-Whoring?
In the words of Chaim Amalk, yes. My life as a writer has thus far been a failure, as an increasingly illiterate, foreign-born population refuses to buy my books. Sure, it has brought me invitations to hang out with my betters, but you know what? Hanging out with people who are better than you, all the time, can get really depressing. Sometimes it is better to hang out with one's inferiors, which may be why I get invited to so many blogger/writer events these days. But I wasn't always bottom man.
Ten years ago, on my first (and thus far only) sojurn to New York City, I was the kept man of an Upper West Side woman who lured me to New York with the promise of a fun time, all expenses paid. As it turned out, she took advantage of the situation, reducing me to the status of man-whore, a job that it turned out I was very good at. No bottom man I then. I was somebody, a force to be reckoned with, a man with all sorts of prospects. Oh how I have fallen since then.
So what should I do, dear readers, what should I do?
Friend to the Black Man
Robert writes: "What about all that time you spent with Mr. Marcus? How about that time you went hot tubbin' with those brothers? How about that time you dated those black chicks in your first year in LA? Your record speaks for itself. Luke Ford: Friend to the Shvartzes."
Rodger Jacobs Writing, Producing Play 'LA Stories'
Rodger Jacobs writes me:
It’s based on my collection of L.A. Stories shorts. I’m assembling a cast now and will look for a venue soon. I’ll probably be doing it as a charity production, most likely for Project Angel Food, as a two-to-four day preview in late September, early October. Once we have our charity in place we’ll be needing an Angel – fund-raising parlance, as you know, for an investor – to help defray small costs, just a few thousand, tax deductible, so if you know of anyone let me know. Here’s the foreword to the play:
This collection of short stories adapted for the stage represents a tangential trip into the mind of a Los Angeles writer – which is not to imply that the inner and exterior life of a left coast scribe is any different from that of, say, a New York writer with one obvious exception: geography does indeed shape and inform the writer’s work.
A casual glance through these tales reveals one glaring and deliberate omission: gone are the references to earthquakes, mud slides, brush fires, congested freeways, celebrity murder trials, psychoanalysis, the Chateau Marmont, male hustlers on Santa Monica Boulevard, and all the other subjects that tend to preoccupy writers of L.A. regional fiction. What we get here instead are credit dentists, celebrity stalkers, Oklahoma transplants, unhinged actresses, disaffected bartenders, fast food restaurant poltergeists, Iranian porn stars, Shannen Doherty on a good day, and scrap metal thieves, among others.
The stories contained in this body of work are slice-of-life melodramas that, for the most part, could have occurred in any city on any continent in the world. They just happen to have occurred in L.A. because that’s where I live. Some of the tales are completely autobiographical, others are expansions of strange episodes I either read about in the newspaper or in the daily crime blotter of the Los Angeles Police Department.
In the words of Randy Newman, I Love L.A.
Book Pimpin' Ain't Easy
It appears that the sales of my autobiography, XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul, have inexplicably tapered off (four copies were sold in June, two in hardcover, for total royalties of $11:76, zero copies of The Producers sold that month) and just when sales were on that critical cusp of going from a few dozen to several dozen sold.
To date no major media outlet has opted to run any of my witty press releases or dashing head shots. Even aljazeera.net has passed on my offer for an exclusive interview. Perhaps the dust jacket is a tad plain or maybe I just need some crackerjack testimonials to pimp ... er, promote my book?
Dear readers, if my humble tome has touched your lives in any positive way won't you please write a few lines of praise to help a brother Jew out?
I await your glowing endorsements.
Chaim Amalek writes: Things would be very different for you if you had a Chinese wife. She'd be working to make you into a more successful man, beginning with your choice of topic, the manner in which you pursue it, write about it, and most of all, publicize your work when done. Honestly, what have you done to sell you work? Any
ads in trade publications, like Variety, letting the relevant markets know that this book, which conceivably is of interest to various Hollywood types, is even out there? Posting to a blog or to usenet or whatever other sort of invisible activity you have been up to JUST DOES NOT COUNT.
And next a book about jewish journalism. I mean, speaking on behalf of the world's genetic jews, just how large a market even exists for such a work? And of those who define that market, what fraction do you expect will actually buy such a book? You just don't have any sense of how to market yourself outside of the ---- shtick, which you just wandered into anyway. You need a Chinese Wife to do all of this for you. And - sorry - Cathy Seipp is not your Chinese wife.
My Struggle Against Hate Speech
Chaim Amalek has a brilliant idea for me to use in the battle against my inner racist demons. From this time forward, every time I feel the Touret's-like urge to rag on rag-heads or blacks or women or Jews, I should begin the task of blunting that urge by using nouns not commonly understood to refer to the group in question. For example:
Icelanders are lazy, dumb, and violent. (No telling who I am speaking of here, right?)
The world could do with far fewer coffee pots.
Tinkerbells do not deserve to have sex with hot morpehous Kronos women.
Buzzcocks ought to get rid of the cats, unless they want to remain Buzzcocks.
I'm going to change the vocabulary of hate speech, making it untenable to express a racist thought. And as expression goes, so too will the ability form racist thoughts.
An Update From Our London Bureau
"Nancy Rommelmann is here and we have been talking about you. Your ears should be burning like a cross on MLK's lawn.
"We've been cooking and cleaning and playing with babies. You would approve, I suspect."
The Forward - The Jewish Paper of Record
Judaica professor Alan Mittleman writes: The only Jewish paper I read--the only one I know of worth reading--is the Forward. If there is such a thing as a national, serious Jewish paper of record, the Forward is it. As you know, there are no longer intellectual journals that "everyone" must read. The general intellectual world is too divided and diffused for there to be central addresses for intellectual discourse. That's the case in the Jewish world too. The Forward is about the best we've got, as far as a newspaper is concerned. I also like the Jerusalem Report, but for current Israeli news I try to read to Haaretz online regularly.
One thing I've noted recently is the proliferation of online digests of news stories, commentaries, editorials, and analyses such as those produced by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs or the research center in Montreal. In these cases, editors look over dozens of publications and put together links to useful
articles on a daily basis. This is good for the news consumer and it also provides intellectual stimulation (e.g. you can contrast a Washington Times or NYPost op-ed with an NYTimes op-ed very quickly). I suppose that this sort of thing, as well as blogs, will increasingly displace traditional news sources for busy readers.