Wednesday, April 5, 2006

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Tendler & "Jewish Voice" Sued For Slander

New Hempstead News writes:

In a lawsuit filed in Rockland County this morning, Leah and Richard Marinelli (Midwife 1),are suing Mordechai Tendler, Michelle Tendler, Susan Rosenbluth, and The Jewish Voice for defamation and slander.

In her first cause of action Leah says that the Tendlers and Rosenbluth "participated in the preparation and publication of a false, defamatory, malicious, and libelous article" concerning Marinelli.

In her second cause of action against the Tendlers and Rosenbluth, Leah says that they published and circulated an article that in fact stated "that Leah attempted to coerce a congregant of the Rabbi's Congregation, into becoming a false witness against the Defendant (Tendler)."

In her third cause of action, Leah says that the Tendlers and Rosenbluth falsely alleged that Leah "recruited" a rabbi and a businessman from Rockland County to give testimony against MT out of "personal animosity."

In her fourth and final cause of action, Leah says that Rosenbluth & the Tendlers "particpated in the preparation and publication of a false, defamatory, malicious, and libelous article, entitled "The Tendler Nine." In that article Rosenbluth said that Richard Marinelli made a "death threat" toward Tendler, by telling another individual that Tendler was in fact "chayev misa" (death penalty). They also claimed in this article that the FBI and local police were notified about this threat and that "the threat is being taken seriously." The FBI and the local police were in fact never notified.

The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight : Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, and the New Journalism Revolution

Gay Talese: "I learned [from my mother]...to listen with patience and care, and never to interrupt even when people were having great difficulty in explaining themselves, for during such halting and imprecise moments...people are very revealing. What they hesitate to talk about can tell much about them, or what they regard as too private or imprudent to be disclosed to another person at that particular time." (p. 60)

The Prestigious Thane Rosenbaum

When I read his books, I noted he kept mentioning he worked as a lawyer for a "prestigious" law firm. A Google search of his name and the word "prestigious" mentions he wons the "prestigious Wallant Prize for Elijah Visible."

Enough. If you feel your old firm or literary prize has prestige, simply state the name of the firm or the prize. The definition of the word "prestige" is: "Widely recognized prominence, distinction, or importance."

If your law firm or prize is not prominently recognized, then it probably does not have the prestige you claim for it.

Frankly, I have never heard of either Thane's old law firm (New York's Debevoise & Plimpton) or the Wallant Prize.

If you feel you have the truth or the fact, simply state it, do not give it advanced billing (E.B. White). If you feel you or your accomplishments have prestige, simply state them, do not give them advanced billing as "prestigious."


All my friends insist on the use of coasters. This is a middle-class trait. The upper classes, in Britain anyway, don't use them, according to the book Watching the English. As an aristocrat, I'm embarrassed by these plebian habits. I expect more.

14 Pellicano Indictments

I'm having a hard time tracking down claims in media that 14 people have been indicted in connection with the case. I only count about 12:

1. Pellicano himself
2. Mark Arneson (former LAPD officer)
3. Ray Turner (former Pac Bell employee)
4. Kevin Kachikian (software engineer who developed eavesdropping software for A.P.)
5. Robert Pfeifer (former Prez. of Hollywood Records)
6. Abner Nicherie (Vegas businessman who reportedly hired Pellicano to wiretap)
7. Daniel Nicherie (Abner's brother)
8. Craig Stevens (former Beverly Hills cop)
9. Terry Christensen (high profile entertainment attorney)
10. George Kalta (Valencia businessman and former client of A.P. who hired him to wiretap someone)
11. Sandra Will Carradine (Former client and ex-girlfriend of A.P. who got him to wiretap her ex-husband Keith.)
12. John McTiernan - Hollywood director.

The dominant man: The pecking order in human society

Humphry Knipe writes:

Vicious attacks and open mockery are usually confined to groups dominated by irresponsible adolescents and are all but non-existent in adult company. In adult groups, the vulnerable are often far less vulnerable than they feel.


The quadraplegics in this outstanding documentary have hot girlfriends and wives. Many women say they feel safer with guys in a wheelchair.

I bet that a woman in a wheelchair has a much harder time attracting a man than vice versa (all other things being equal).

The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt By Ruth Andrew Ellenson

I felt ambivalence through the introductory essay of this book by its editor Ellenson (she refused my interview request) but then came to love many of its essays (particularly those by Tova Mirvis, Dara Horn, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Lori Gottlieb, Rebecca Goldstein, Katie Roiphe, Binnie Kirshenbaum, Lauren Grodstein, Amy Klein, Daphne Merkin and Susan Shapiro).

Ruth begins in a muddle:

For Jewish women today there is a fundamental struggle: Where do we end and where do our people begin? Even more confusing, when our needs are pitted against those of the community, who's right?

This is muddled because these questions can just as easily be posed for members of numerous other groups, including Jewish men.

As for the first question, anyone who is truly a member of a group tends to identify at least some of his being with that of the group. If you are a committed Jew, then the Jewish people are a part of you. There is not a perfect demarcation because you are in the dance.

As for the second question, there is no answer. Sometimes the community's needs are more important than yours (if the community needs you to do something that would save a life while you would rather watch television) and sometimes they are not.

Ruth writes: "I couldn't help but feel a nagging guilt that our people's future was all up to me..."

This is a classic delusion of grandeur and the sufferer needs therapy.

A foundational myth about modern Jews is that they suffer disproportionately from feelings of guilt. As someone who was raised Christian, let me tell you this ain't so. Judaism teaches Jews to feel guilt only about their deeds while Christianity induces guilt over motives. Judaism is much easier. If someone practicing Judaism is feeling guilt this is probably a healthy reaction to his not living up to his ideals. It means that he believes he can do better.

Most of the writers in this book are not practicing Jews and their thinking, while entertaining, is muddled. They don't have a clear sense of priorities and responsibilities, only wildly diverging feelings.

I believe Tova Mirvis is the only orthodox Jew in the book while Dara Horn and Sharon Brous practice non-orthodox Judaism. It's no accident that their essays have the most moral clarity. These three women believe themselves responsible for more than just their own happiness and their own feelings about right and wrong (they receive guidance from an external and transcendent moral code).

Erica Jong's daughter Molly writes: "I am sexually repressed."

Jennifer Bleyer, hottie and former Heeb magazine editor, writes:

As an NPR-and-Pacifica kind of gal, I had actually never heard Howart Stern before and didn't know what to expect. It was basically like being stuck in a room with a bunch of fourth-grade boys making fart noises and sex jokes for forty minutes -- more bizarre than insulting, really. Howard railed against my magazine, commenting on the unforgivable offensiveness of its name...and making various tangential remarks about gas chambers and the ovens at Auschwitz... He also got me to show my ass.

Back home in Ohio, my proud and defensive parents had to fend off the inquiries of people at their synagogue on Shabbat, asking if that had really been their daughter on Howard Stern. I received shocked emails from friends I'd known in junior-high... They knew nothing of what I had done with my life except that I'd lifted my skirt (under truly irresistible pressure) on Howard Stern.

Why Do People Read Blogs?

Is there not enough in the Torah to occupy them?

Thane Rosenbaum's Big Cry

I read four books by Thane Rosenbaum over Shabbos. The essence of his work is a big cry.

His words are easy to digest but their moral import is odious -- that anyone who has suffered gets a free pass to do what they like.

It's hard to think of a teaching more contrary to the Jewish tradition. Surviving the Holocaust and other horrors does not entitle one to steal (either property or persons) or commit other sins.

What's particularly disgusting is that he seems to think that as the child of Holocaust survivors, he too deserves a get-out-of-jail card.

His novels are thinly-disguised autobiography about superhuman, super-successful, narcissistic rageaholic rock-star lawyers who become writers.

Here's the essence of Thane's personal philosophy in his own words:

Survivors had the right to do whatever they wanted with their lives. They had earned at least that much. They could live with abandon, or they could simply choose to abandon. The old rules don't apply, as much as they didn't apply to anyone anymore. That's because the Third Reich had killed off all the old biblical commandments, wiped the tablets clean; the Golden Calf has been the right religion all along. Mankind was left to finish out the century without any moral landmarks and signposts, forced to thrash and stumble about in a new world empty of faith, kindness, and love. (The Golems of Gotham, p. 3)

The "world empty of faith, kindess, and love" is the one Thane chooses to believe in. There are plenty of more uplifting worlds for him to inhabit but they don't allow him to screw around.

The notion that God died in the Holocaust is absurd but it is Thane's. The one benefit of such nonsense is that you can bang shiksas with impugnity.

Millions of innocent people were murdered before the Holocaust. Does the murder of millions of Jews particularly deny God's existence? What about the murder of Gentiles? What about the murder tens of thousands of Jews before the Holocaust?

What was God supposed to do during the Holocaust? Suddenly remove human freedom and stop people from murdering one another? God should only stop Jews from being murdered? That people exercise their free will to murder one another -- that denies God's existence?

Thane Rosenbaum makes a nice living from the Holocaust and resents those who intrude on his turf, such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and the 1997 allegorical film Life is Beautiful (about a father who goes to great lengths to protect his son in a concentration camp).

Rosenbaum writes:

Schindler's List, the movie, had become required viewing, with all its good-guy-triumphs-over-bad-guy sanctimony, its ultimate feel-good imperatives, its insulting inversion of contrasting truths. The Holocaust isn't about the fortuitous rescue of twelve hundred Jews at the hands of a repentant, benevolent German. That story line has mass appeal, but the Holocaust is about mass death. It may not do as well with test audiences, but it is the unsentimental grand narrative of why there is a severe shortage of Jews on the European continent. Some stories are morally entitled to be told in a certain way or not at all - even if unappealing, even if the world won't buy it. (Golems, p. 292)

At least Spielberg's stories aren't centered on a child of survivors who feels entitled to act as he pleases and screw as he pleases. Out of those two possible stories, the Hollywood one is more moral.

Thane's protagonists (read Thane's view of himself) love to play the tortured artistic genius, the sacrificial redeemer of us all. Because their insights into life are so keen, they get to trample on people with impugnity.

Thane's character in Golems, Oliver Levin, a bestselling author, is told by his literary agent: "Oliver, you're playing with fire."

He replies: "I know, literally."

That's how Thane views himself -- as a heroic moral crusader who plays with fire because of his obsession with genocide.

Not only do children of Holocaust survivors have no more inherent moral credibility than anyone else, nor do Holocaust scholars, Holocaust popularizers such as Thane, nor even Holocaust survivors.

Thane's protagonists, like Thane, have delusions of rockstar grandeur. Here are the thoughts of Thane masquerading as his protagonist Adam Posner in Elijah Visible: "My students themselves never know what to make of me..." (p. 167)

The word "themselves" is superfluous.

The students probably don't care. Most people don't think about you as much as you do. Few students care about their professors. It's a professor's delusion of grandeur to think that they do.

Thane writes: "The professor masquerading as Robert Plant."

A professor who tries to dress like a rock star is screaming for attention.

For some I was the window, the man with the law degree and the rock-star persona, a taunting reminder of the racy outside. For others, I was to be viewed with mistrust and suspicion. The green monster, tempting their most craven impulses, laying out land mines that might sabotage their mission. (p. 168)

Or they just don't care.

Like myself, Thane has wasted much of his life in delusions of grandeur that sabotage his relationships. He's a walking talking case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a crippling problem (take it from me who suffers from it) that isolates one from that which gives life meaning -- others.

I enjoy reading Thane. He goes down easy. My favorite character of his is Rabbi Vered:

Openly he boasted of having his way with the ladies -- Jew and Gentile alike. Beautiful single women -- many of whom half his age -- took turns escorting the rabbi as he entered the ballrooms of hotels along Collins Avenue, making his grand appearance at the various ceremonies of his growing congregation... There was even some talk of infidelities with married women -- members of his own congregation, no less. A shande like this was unthinkable -- even for him; so most people chose to focus their attentions elsewhere. The litany of allegations was so prevalent, it was best to just close your eyes and hope that the next morning's edition of the Miami Herald didn't have a front-page picture of Rabbi Vered embroiled in a sex scandal. (Elijah Visible, p. 130-131)

He ate rye bread during Passover and shellfish from Joe's Stone Crabs on Yom Kippur. After Saturday services, he hustled tennis matches from younger opponents, faking a bum hip... He played high-stakes poker with the synagogue's building fund, and was known to bang strippers -- and preferably not even Jewish ones -- in his office at the synagogue. (Golems, p. 6)

Once you learn that Rabbi Vered is a Holocaust survivor, you are supposed to understand his indiscretions.

Thane's most ridiculous book is The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What's Right.

Moral Justice depends on the supposition that there's a widely-believed mythology that our legal system does what is right and that what is legal equals what is moral. That is absurd. Who believes that because adultery is legal, therefore it is moral?

Like Karl Marx, Rosenbaum's work is one big cry best worked out through his own therapy self-discipline, and ethical regeneration, not through his moral prescriptions for society. Why doesn't he take his dreamy ideals and try to implement them in his own life?

On the back of Moral Justice, luminous legal mind Sidney Lumet (yes, the movie director) writes: "This deeply felt book..."

That's Thane Rosenbaum's work in a nutshell -- "deeply felt."

Everybody has deep feelings, even the most stupid football player. That does not make those feelings profound or moral.

The writing that lasts does so, not because it is deeply felt, but because it is deeply thought.

On page seven, Thane writes: "I spend my days writing fiction, but I also teach American law students how to enter their chosen profession with a deeper spiritual and moral awareness of what the law lacks."

Oy ve, if Thane Rosenbaum is teaching morals, then we are in big trouble (and he does teach morals and gets paid well to do so).

Rosenbaum ridicules belief in God, the one source for transcendent morals. All that's left are individual opinions and feelings about morals which are never going to corral the mass of people into decency.

His constant invocation of spirituality is another giveaway of Thane's moral worthlessness. "Spirituality" is what people claim when they want to avoid the hard work of participating in an organized religion.

Thane ends his first chapter complaining that American law "relies too much on logic and not enough on love."

Legal systems can not rely on intangibles such as love. Individuals can not rely on feelings of love to do the right thing.

Christianity trusts the heart, notes Dennis Prager. Judaism trusts the law. Thane's writing is profoundly unJewish.

Though couched in rational terms, Moral Justice is just a big cry about the cruelty of reality.

On page 12, Thane writes: "Law and religion are, in fact, largely and unfortunately not inspired by the same values..."

He obviously knows nothing about his own Jewish tradition where law is interlocked with values and continually demonstrates them.

Here is Thane's paradigm for a new legal system:

1. The law would strive to achieve moral outcomes.

2. The human spirit would also receive protection under the law, and the law should scrutinize the actions of those who are responsible for causing spiritual violence, indignity, and neglect.

3. Courts would provide moral remedies, such as in acknowledging the harm that was done, seeking apologies for them, and restoring relationships -- for the benefit of the entire community. (p. 33)

These outcomes are best achieved through religion. What kind of legal system would punish people for relaying true gossip? For committing adultery? Only a religious one.

Thane laments: "Stealing someone's wallet is a crime, but, for some reason, taking away their dignity is not." (p. 34)

I suspect that if Thane's legal paradigm were enacted, this blog would be a crime.

What a wonderful world that would be.

On page 43, Thane writes: "My father had been a lawyer, in Poland, before the Holcaust. After the liberation of the camps, he was never a lawyer again. Justice became a joke. Laws were used in the service of annihilation. Judges and lawyers were complicit in mass murder."

There is no profession that has not been complicit in mass murder, including plumbers. Did Thane's father stop using plumbers after the Holocaust because many plumbers became Nazis and killed Jews? Did Thane's father stop going to doctors? Mengele was a doctor. Ergo medicine is invalid? That is absurd.

On page 48, Thane writes:

The pain of injustice and unacknowledged loss does not disappear within the colorless, soulless ether of silence. Instead, the pain returns renewed, in another form -- with a vengeance, and in vengeance.

We see this in race riots and localized conflicts, when the prolonged suffering of an entire group leads its members to turn their experiences with economic and ethnic injustice into riotous, sometimes murderous, rage. The result is broken glass, property damage, and sometimes dead bodies.

How come only certain groups do this? How come Muslims tend to murder more people when they riot than do Christians and Jews? How come most of the perpetrators of the LA Riots were Blacks and Latinos (who I bet were not church-going Christians)? How come Christians and Jews suffer but don't go out and destroy the property and lives of others in their riots?

How come people like Thane Rosenbaum who tell endless tales of their own pain don't turn out to be any better human beings than the most silent repressed construction workers?

On page 277, Thane writes: "Those who hold absolutist positions with regard to the First Amendment -- believing in its sanctity and inviolability, asserting that it is the most fundamental of constitutional rights -- are grossly unmindful of the harms that insults and slurs can cause, or perhapys they simply believe that the body is more precious and fragile."

Or they simply believe that the harm of censorship outweighs the harm of free speech. Those who disagree with Thane are not necessarily unmindful of the soul.

Thane writes: "Words are not actionable when they are merely hurtful and offensive. This is the bizarre litmus test of the conventional legal paradigm..."

So Thane would like to see hurtful words made actionable? He'd like to be able to sue for his hurt feelings after reading this blog?

Thane writes on page 280: "The fact is, the legal system is kryptonite to the human soul. And it shows no interest in the soul."

If there is no God, there is no soul. Thane denies God. Why is he whining about the soul? And why is he employing useless conventions such as "The fact is." As E. B. White put it, "If you feel you are possessed of the fact or of the truth, simply state it, do not give it advanced billing."

Thane should do his own soul work, not wreck the legal system to fix his own shortcomings.

A legal system without interest in the soul is like a fish without a bicycle.

On page 289, Thane writes another cliche: "Most students attend law school for the wrong reason."

The reasons that people do things are generally not knowable (including to the persons acting) and not of much importance compared to what people do. That's why the law should only judge actions, not souls.

On page 299, Thane writes: "A novel is a work of imagination. What lawyers do is often a failure of imagination."

What would Thane know about works of imagination? His novels are pedestrian reworkings of a single odious theme -- that those who've suffered (particularly Thane Rosenbaum) are free to do what they like.

I've lost respect for the writers who blurbed Thane's books including Chaim Potok, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Rebecca Goldstein, Henry Roth, and Elie Wiesel (not that I ever had much respect for Elie's writings).

Taffy Akner and Claude Brodesser

Janelle Brown writes for The New York Times:

The wedding ceremony was strictly Orthodox, except that the bride and bridegroom entered to the music from "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Their 134 guests watched as the couple met under the wedding canopy — after not having seen each other for a week in Orthodox tradition — and received blessings in Hebrew, Aramaic and English.

The bridegroom covered his tuxedo in a white robe, and the bride, whose beaming pink face was concealed by a veil, valiantly tried drinking the ritual cup of wine without spilling it on her borrowed beaded white dress. A second rabbi, Chaim Tureff, who wore a pink and black zoot suit, provided the final link between tradition and irreverence.

I am in the back of the first picture standing next to Rabbi Tureff. You can only see half of my face.

'Hot Teen Sex'

A teacher at a liberal Jewish school (for kids around 15) would begin a class by writing "Hot Teen Sex" on the blackboard. The kids would immediately quiet down. She'd then say, "Now that I have your attention, let's read some scripture." And they'd dive into the Song of Songs and the kids would say things like, "I can't believe you could get laid by saying such things -- 'Your breasts are like wheat.'"

Esther saved the Jewish people on her back.

Most women in the Bible are beautiful and most everything they do for the Jewish people has to do with sex.

All the hookers in the Hebrew Bible are portrayed neutrally or positively (not because the Bible endorses hooking, obviously).

Miriam, the sister of Moses, is not a mom. She's just the mother of the Jewish people.

Gallantry is a virtue that dare not speak its name

Christina Hoff Summers writes:

ONE OF THE LEAST VISITED memorials in Washington is a waterfront statue commemorating the men who died on the Titanic. Seventy-four percent of the women passengers survived the April 15, 1912, calamity, while 80 percent of the men perished. Why? Because the men followed the principle "women and children first."

The monument, an 18-foot granite male figure with arms outstretched to the side, was erected by "the women of America" in 1931 to show their gratitude. The inscription reads: "To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic. . . . They gave their lives that women and children might be saved."

Today, almost no one remembers those men. Women no longer bring flowers to the statue on April 15 to honor their chivalry. The idea of male gallantry makes many women nervous, suggesting (as it does) that women require special protection. It implies the sexes are objectively different. It tells us that some things are best left to men.

Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context

Theophanu writes on Amazon.com: "The book's greatest strength is the way the author blends archaeological and linguistic information, building a convincing portrait of early women that gets past the wall of later Jewish patriarchal thought. Meyers is by no means a "rabid feminist," but gives a great deal of food for thought about how women "fell out" of the Bible and how cultural expectations have led to centuries of misinterpretation."

I'm tired of the Holocaust as a literary device

I'm reading Thane Rosenbaum's first book Elijah Visible. It's thinly disguised autobiography about a lawyer named Adam Posner (read Thane Rosenbaum), the child of Holocaust survivors who turns his back on the moral demands of his tradition and bangs shiksas.

Now, before I truly understood the profundity of the Torah, I enjoyed banging shiksas as much as anybody. But that doesn't mean I want to read about such behavior when it is excused by being the child of Holocaust survivors.

When I get married, sex is going to be special in a way that secular people such as Thane Rosenbaum will never understand.

If Luke Ford does not stand up for the sanctity of marriage, then who will?

I'm tired of writing about lawyers imagining themselves stuck in a cattle car instead of an elevator or spoiled brats drifting away from a Passover Seder and finding themselves in the Holocaust.

I'm tired of Jews (be they literary characters or real people) who weren't in the Holocaust using the Shoah as a get-out-of-jail card for their own bad behavior.

I'm tired of all the people begin their rants with "I'm a child of Holocaust survivors." Being a child of Holocaust survivors does not give you any more moral standing beyond that of children of divorce. You are not special because you are a child of Holocaust survivors. You are not a better Jew and you do not deserve easier access to shiksas.

Jane writes:

Elijah Visible is an important book for a couple of reasons.

First, it's one of the first "post-holocaust/second generation" novels. In a sense, he has the authority to write about the effects of the Holocaust because his parents survived it, and their legacy left a lasting impact on Thane. He's part of a new trend of second generation writing (Art Spiegelman and Melvin Bukiet are the other two heavy hitters in this area).

Second, it's interesting in terms of its literary structure -- it's been written about as a "short story cycle" narrative, in which all of the Adam Posners are different parts of the fragmented identity of the main Adam Posner -- the point is that this is the effect of the legacy of the Holocaust on its survivor's children. He has more authority than someone like, Dara Horn or even Cynthia Ozick for example, who are not second generation writers. The point of "Cattle Car Complex" is that Adam cannot see what needs to be seen because he can't separate his parents' trauma from his own; he's drowning in his parents' memories, to quote Janet Burstein. And his obsession with shiksas disrupts his memorialization of his mother -- it's like he's stuck in the web of Holocaust history and literature.

The main character has taken on the burden (taken responsibility for) of a past that is not his, but nonetheless haunts him in ways only second- generation writers can understand. And, finally, remember that this was published in 1996 -- so it's not like he's doing what a lot of other people are already doing -- he precedes them in many ways.

His next books -- SECONDHAND SMOKE and GOLEMS OF GOTHAM -- are much different and more sophisticated even though they address the same theme of the effects of the Holocaust on survivor's children -- the gift that keeps on giving.

Women say 'casual sex is immoral'

The Sex and the City image of women seeking casual encounters for pleasure does not quite fit the latest research.

Nine out of 10 women interviewed in-depth about their views said they thought one night stands were immoral.

Dr Sharron Hinchcliff will tell the British Psychological Society conference in Cardiff it made her question whether women have really gained the sexual freedom they are supposed to have enjoyed since the 1960s.

Elizabeth Spiers’s Wall Street: Not So Jewish

Steven I. Weiss blogs:

Good Jewish boys: there’s only one way to get noticed in this world. Start flipping desks, throwing phones, and sexually-harassing some leggy blonde shiksas, and someday soon, the Jews shall rise again.

LA Vs. NY Women

Chaim Amalek ran a singles ad for me on craigslist. He wrote the copy and posted the pictures and analyzed the responses he got from the identical ad posted in LA and NY.

"When I was doing this, I never got responses. Of course, when I posted the identical ad in NY last week, same pics, maybe one woman wrote back. NY bitches. LA women are easy. I wanted to see if NY women were harder to please than LA women and they are. Here, they want to see some proof of $$$$$$$$$$$."

I have never placed an ad or been complicit in the posting of an ad for the sake of an experiment or to find material for my writing. Never. I think that is wrong. It is wrong to toy with people like that.

I owe the teachings of Dennis Prager and Judaism for making me confront these matters.

Celebrity Tracking

Richard Abowitz writes: "How do we know where all those celebrities wind up going in Las Vegas? Publicists, actually, send out to media lots of e-mails like this one on the restaurant Stack at the Mirage. Publicists know the best way to get coverage in Las Vegas is to make it easy for us media to look on our toes while in reality allowing us to stay sitting on our...."

What Makes Anthony Pellicano Tick?

Nomi Fredrick writes:

Pellicano was brought up by his mother and doesn’t really ever mention his father.

Pellicano has been married six times and has nine children. His last marriage to a topless dancer in Las Vegas occurred right before his incarceration in 2003 and has already ended in divorce.

He is estranged from some of his daughters and used to wiretap their phone calls as well as that of his ex-wife Kat Pellicano. She is writing a tell-all book and one can only imagine about what. Pellicano would call grown women he dealt with professionally “girl” and “sweetie.”

The Light Of Heather Mac Donald

Chaim Amalek writes:

Tonight I saw the light. The light of Heather Mac Donald. She speaks in paragraphs and pages of clear, coherent thought.

"Never kiss a woman who leans away from you; never climb a wall that leans towards you; and never give a speech after Heather Mac Donald."

I just had to look up a word that she used in her talk: "Synechdote." Do you know what it means? When a small part of speech or a story stands for the whole. She used that word. It has been, well, decades since I had to look up a word that I heard used in a talk.

One hundred people showed up at least - a good, solid turnout. Not one hot chick in the audience.

In the Q&A that followed the talk on the state of the Republican Party in NY, some elderly gentleman starts a speech about how homos are all set to have a huge party in Jerusalem, and what we as Americans can do to make Israel more secure.

The guy identified himself as a retired foreign correspondent for some US paper. There is one like him at every meeting, reminding the goyim how central Israel is to American Jews.

She noted the absense of real leadership in NY Republican circles. But I noted the absence of hot women at Republican meetings. Provide hot young women, and the drones will follow. You could start a service in which you rent out porn chicks just to show up and prettify political meetings with their presence. Hot chix can jump start social movements.

Heather will remember me, as I chose to dress as a large woman this evening. A large woman in a blond wig who sat to her right (her favored direction) not three or four rows in from her. Oh yes, she will remember me, for we locked eyes and I saw her wink in my direction.

Louis Theroux's Book The Call of the Weird To Be Published In US In 2007

Louis now lives in London. He was in LA and Vegas for about a year while working on his book.

He's the son of author Paul Theroux.

Martini Republic Vs Kevin Roderick

Joseph Mailander writes:

Matt isn’t leaning to his pals at all. His blogroll is dead on. As a matter of fact, he’s featured precisely the same people Kevin Roderick features even now—notably excepting your present company, to whom the vindictive Kevin, who can’t abide criticism, hasn’t linked in about nine months.

Fear Of Communication

Casey blogs:

Reputations in academic writing are so fragile because (in my humble opinion) reputations are based in politics rather than scholarly contribution. This is why it is sometimes so difficult for academics to agree on what the good books are. Style is so difficult for many graduate students because the books that have been recommended to them by professors and peers are not necessarily examples of good writing. Occasionally, I have heard the argument that part of the bad-writing phenomenon has been critics' attempts at representing something that is elusive and, perhaps, beyond the bounds of language. But ask someone to explain what Derrida or Deleuze or Jameson or Judith Butler means, and a coherent summary is generally provided. If, for example, Baudrillard had wanted to defend his proposition philosophically and coherently, he would have written, "I think what Plato thought," and then cited passages from Plato's Parmenides to support his metaphysical assumptions. But Ezra Pound commanded: Make it new! and, seeking whatever fame they can find in the academy, academics have found ways to try to make old ideas seem new. In their efforts to update ideas that can be found at least as far back as pre-socratic philosophy (see Heraclitus, for example), theorists of the late 20th century asked language to carry more of a burden than it could bear.

Josh Alan Friedman Update

He replies: "Blacks And Jews has played about a dozen one-nighters at theaters in Texas. Next one in spring. It wasn't picked up right away. Kevin Page (the director) and I got caught up with other things, without having time to push it along. I'm finishing the Goldstein book (I, Goldstein: My Screwed Life), which should be out from Thunder's Mouth Press by Oct. this year. And I'm writing the memoirs of Leiber & Stoller, a well as doing an album with them in L.A. Blacks And Jews relegated to the backburner for now, but still expect something to happen."

I Have Fathered A Virtual Village

I hung out with a 19-year old girl this week.

Dear reader, how do I convince you of the tenderness of my solicitude towards someone who's read me since she was 13? Virtual virginity is as precious as the real thing.

Amalek writes:

Yes, there is nothing better than social intercourse with a truly young legal white woman. They got us by the balls. But I'm afraid that in the long run, she's not good for you. What you need is a woman your own age, someone you can grow old with. A woman who is past all of the tumult of baby drama and that part of life, who fits you like an old sofa in which has been spilled countless beers held by other men.

Jews, Gentiles, Jewish Goyim Celebrate Wedding Of MediaBistro's Taffy Akner To Convert To Orthodox Judaism Claude Brodesser

4 p.m. Sunday. The wedding ceremony is scheduled to begin at the Loews at 1224 S. Beverwil Drive.

4:15 p.m. I arrive clutching Richard Ford's The Sportswriter. The crowd is about one-third goyim, one-third Orthodox Jews, and one-third secular Jews.

It turns out that I need not have worried about securing a bow tie. Much of the men wore regular ties.

I spot many writers I know -- Richard Rushfeld (LA Times), his girlfriend Nicole (Variety), Anna David (novelist), Rochelle Levy (formerly with AFI), Dana Harris (Variety), Michael Sonnenschein...

Hanging out with the writers, I want to tell the outrageous stories I often divulge at writer gatherings, but I'm surrounded by people from my religious community, so I try to hold myself in check. I'm constantly aware of the tension between being holy and being honest with what I'm thinking.

Los Angeles freelancer Janelle Brown (cute, young and married) covers the event for The New York Times. She gets 850-words. There's also a photographer from The Times.

I charm MediaBistro.com founder Laurel Touby (she's short and blonde and has 21 employees, her husband writes for Business Week). Once she finds out I'm single and hetero, she insists on introducing me "to the most beautiful [single] woman at the wedding." Taking me by the hand, she walks me up and down the depth and breadth of the wedding until she finds her tall slender ex-employee Becky who now works for MTV.

I introduce myself to Becky and her two friends. When asked how I know Toby, I launch into a lurid story of how I picked her up while teaching at Smith's College and recovering from my third divorce, giving Laurel the A grade she so badly needed to get into Harvard Law in exchange for her services of a tawdry nature.

Taffy breezes in.

"Tell me about Becky!" I demand.

"You're 20 years older than her," says Taffy, and that's the end of that.

I spend much of the night chatting about meaning with Michael Sonnenschein. We have a Courtier and the Heretic thing going.

I dance with various Orthodox rabbis, one of whom never returns my "Shabbat Shalom" greeting. But Sunday night we dance arm-in-arm.

Richard Rushfeld suggests that I get a place near Yamashiro's on that one Friday night a month when various writers gather there.

I tell him that it is more important for me to be with my shul.

"Maybe your shul needs a break from you," he says.

In the middle of the wedding, Claude gives job-hunting suggestions to an acquaintance.

Jewish weddings are more relaxed and informal than most of their Christian counterparts.

After the wedding and the dinner, there's mixed dancing (women with men, rare in traditional Orthodox Judaism).

A friend tells me to ask Anna David to dance. "She's beautiful," he insists.

"I can't dance," I insist.

I win.

I leave at 9:30 p.m.

Don't take this in a gay way, but I only feel comfortable dancing with Orthodox men.

At the wedding, I read 42 pages of The Sportswriter. I got zero phone numbers.

I went home alone.

Jeffrey writes:

You seem to have carried your self centered aspeger's well into Jewish man middle age, when most functional orthodox men succumb to hemorrhoids and prostate problems.

Here are some tips. First, don't carry a book with you. Either it is a "prop" to get girls to ask you about the book, or you clutch it much like Linus.

As a prop, it does not work. Chicks do not notice things. No one notices anything. Watch the Shawshank Redemption: when is the last time you noticed a man's shoes?

If you want a prop, have lots of photo albums and ties in your hovel and handtowels in the toidy. Chicks love coming to a bachelor pad and seeing pictures and ties and towels in the bathroom.

As for needing security, don't think about this, just do it, leave the book at home. The sun will come up the next day.

Second, make small talk. Don't engage someone in conversation with your analysis of the interrelationship between Portnoy's Complaint and the Jewish Journal's sorry ass writing style. Instead, ask someone how they like the weather. Tell them you like their hairstyle. Ask them if they saw the UCLA game. Do not list the meds you are on.

Third, stop reading so much and donate some of your time. You mention etta israel - a jewish institution for kids with learning disabilities. Volunteer your time there. Walk a disabled kid to shul. People will say good shabbos to you - walking a disabled kid to shul is just about the highest form of good deed you can do.

As for mixed dancing, stay away.

You know the joke - a hasidic boy is getting married and asks his rabbi if he can ask some personal questions. The rabbi says fine. So the boy asks, can my wife give me oral sex? The rabbi says, sure, it is absolutely ok between a man and a wife, no problem. The boy continues, can i have sex with her by entering her from behind? The rabbi says, yes, anal sex is totally muttar (permitted), it is ok. The boy is relieved and asks the rabbi, may I ask one more question? The rabbi says ok. The boy asks, can i have sex with my wife in a standing up position? The rabbi becomes enraged and exclaims NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT, IT IS ASSUR (prohibited). The boy is shocked, he asks, why can i do all these other sex acts, but I cannot have sex standing up? The rabbi says, you cannot do that because it may lead to mixed dancing!

The Rock Star's Burden

Paul Theroux writes:

THERE are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment. If Christmas, season of sob stories, has turned me into Scrooge, I recognize the Dickensian counterpart of Paul Hewson - who calls himself "Bono" - as Mrs. Jellyby in "Bleak House." Harping incessantly on her adopted village of Borrioboola-Gha "on the left bank of the River Niger," Mrs. Jellyby tries to save the Africans by financing them in coffee growing and encouraging schemes "to turn pianoforte legs and establish an export trade," all the while badgering people for money.

It seems to have been Africa's fate to become a theater of empty talk and public gestures. But the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help - not to mention celebrities and charity concerts - is a destructive and misleading conceit. Those of us who committed ourselves to being Peace Corps teachers in rural Malawi more than 40 years ago are dismayed by what we see on our return visits and by all the news that has been reported recently from that unlucky, drought-stricken country. But we are more appalled by most of the proposed solutions.

I am not speaking of humanitarian aid, disaster relief, AIDS education or affordable drugs. Nor am I speaking of small-scale, closely watched efforts like the Malawi Children's Village. I am speaking of the "more money" platform: the notion that what Africa needs is more prestige projects, volunteer labor and debt relief. We should know better by now. I would not send private money to a charity, or foreign aid to a government, unless every dollar was accounted for - and this never happens. Dumping more money in the same old way is not only wasteful, but stupid and harmful; it is also ignoring some obvious points.

If Malawi is worse educated, more plagued by illness and bad services, poorer than it was when I lived and worked there in the early 60's, it is not for lack of outside help or donor money. Malawi has been the beneficiary of many thousands of foreign teachers, doctors and nurses, and large amounts of financial aid, and yet it has declined from a country with promise to a failed state.

Something Resembling Happiness

By Sheli Teitelbaum. The Jerusalem Report. Jerusalem: Apr 3, 2006. pg. 54

Hungarian director Lajos Koltai's film version of Imre Kertesz's 'Fateless' does not shy away from depicting the beauty that existed in life in Auschwitz.

Should it come as a surprise that what some critics are calling the finest Holocaust film ever made was the work of a non-Jew? In the case of Hungarian cinematographer Lajos Koltai, who found himself given the assignment by Hungarian-Jewish Nobel laureate Imre Kertesz of directing "Fateless," the screen adaptation of his 1975 novel of the same name, the question may well be worth asking. Especially as Koltai feels no compunction about informing The Jerusalem Report that in filming the quasi-biographical details of Kertesz's wartime experiences, he looked for inspiration to Jesus' ascent to Calvary. Not as a metaphor for his own ordeal in bringing off the most expensive Hungarian film spectacle ever attempted, mind you, but for that of Kertesz's fictional depiction of his own youthful self, arrested and sent to Auschwitz at the height of the Holocaust in Hungary.

"Oh, come on," Koltai snapped, when I expressed surprise at his choice of Jesus as a governing metaphor for the story of the author who was long denigrated in his native Hungary for making his fiction too Jewish. "You know Jesus was a Jew, and that everybody is carrying the heavy cross on his shoulder. It's made from wood, or maybe it is your faith. But everyone has one."

A Place For Aron?

Everybody needs a special place in the world, even Aron Tendler. A place where he can feel warm and secure and loved. What could be more appropriate than an all-girls (correction: all-boys) yeshiva started by his Uncle Shalom?

Sent: Friday, March 24, 2006 11:39 AM
Subject: important announcement re: YINBH

Dear YINBH member and friend,

After thirteen years of dedicated service to Young Israel of North Beverly Hills, Rabbi Shalom Tendler has informed the Board of Directors that he will be opening a new yeshiva high school here in Los Angeles. The demands of this new endeavor will not allow him to continue in his role as pulpit rabbi. Rabbi Tendler will maintain his present role until a new rabbi is selected and will continue to maintain an affiliation with Young Israel.

Jacob M.M. Graff, President
Mitch Parver, Chairman

PS: On a personal note, as President and Chairman, we wish Rabbi Tendler great success in building the new Yeshiva. The Rabbi has assured us that he is not abandoning us and that his continued affiliation with the shul will allow all of us to continue to avail ourselves of his friendship, guidance, and teaching.

Shalom Tendler did more than anybody to keep sexual predator Aron Tendler in positions of religious leadership after credible accusations of impropriety were brought against Aron by a couple of his female YULA students in 1987. I can't think of anyone more appropriate to head up an all-girls (correction: all-boys) yeshiva than Shalom Tendler (aside from Matis Weinberg) and nobody more eminently qualified to teach there than Aron Tendler.

Jack writes:

Your attacks on Rabbis are so devoid of context. Rabbi Brad Artson offers a download of his photo on his webpage. One of the great attributes of Moses was his humility. Any Rabbi who has his personal "statement" up on his webpage is a joke. You think Rabbi Moshe Feinstein claimed to have a personal version of judaism? Look, the Korobkin family is very wealthy. How observant they are is unclear, but if their kid wants a prime job at Yavneh, he gets it. You want to know how wealthy? Do some research in the Ninth Circuit, I am sick of playing wet nurse to you.

Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom's New Book Between the Lines of the Bible

Gil writes:

The book is an initiation of readers into the world of the New School of Orthodox Torah commentary through a series of compelling studies of Genesis. Over the past few decades, Orthodox Jewish scholars have carefully embraced many of the methodologies of modern Bible study. History, archeology, linguistics and many other disciplines-especially literary analysis-can serve to enhance our understanding of the Book of Books. In this book, Yitzchak Etshalom provides the first English introduction to the methodologies of the New School. In a number of popular essays, Rabbi Etshalom analyzes the familiar stories of the Bible and demonstrates the powerful tools of modern Torah commentary. In the process, Etshalom undermines many of the arguments of biblical critics and defends the Torah, through literary and historical methodologies, against attacks.

Rabbis give OK to premarital sex

According to an article by Professor Tzvi Zohar of Bar Ilan University, which has aroused fervent debate in religious Zionist circles, the answer is yes, but only if the relationship is based on mutual respect and the woman immerses herself in a mikve [ritual bath].

Zohar's article, which appears in the latest edition of Akdamot, an academic journal on Jewish thought published by Beit Morasha, analyzes the opinions of leading halachic authorities from the Middle Ages, such as Nachmanides, to the modern era, such as Rabbi Ya'acov Emden, and shows that many permitted sexual relations without marriage.

In the arrangement, sanctioned by Jewish law according to these opinions, the woman becomes a pilegesh, or concubine. Neither the man nor the woman has any obligations or rights. Both must adhere to family purity laws in accordance with halacha.

According to halacha, a man is not allowed to come into physical contact with a woman after she has menstruated until she has immersed herself in a mikve. This prohibition is called nida.

Young religious men and women who are committed to the halacha need no longer struggle with their libido, argues Zohar. All those hormones can be channeled into a kosher communion that is free of marital obligations.

60 ways to appear frum (Jewishly religious) & intellectual

From the internet:

1. Women: Shave Head (Really frum = Women with shaved heads)

2. Men: Play with the beard...the more you twirl it, the better!

3. Do the "Thumb Dip" (The lower you dip, the frummer you look)

4. Whenever quoting a Gemara in order to paskin, never quote from a Mesechta that has anything to do with the subject. For example: If the question is: "What bracha do I make on Apple Sauce?" Do NOT quote from Mesechta Brachos (that's too logical); quote something from Gittin! Always say, "I heard Rav Feinstein say...", even if you weren't alive when he was.

5. Always quote "The Rosh Yeshiva". Everyone will obviously know who you're talking about!

6. Whenever you're quoting someone to prove that you are right in an argument, always quote a name that is an acronym (i.e. Rashi, Ramban, etc). Heck, you can even use your own name, it won't make a difference! Frum thinking clearly states that, "if someone is commonly referred to as an acronym, he must be right!"

7. ***Do NOT do this!!! This is NOT frum!!!*** Bring up a siddur when called up for an aliyah, and say the brachos on the Torah from it. VERY not frum.

8. Have tons of children.

9. When davening with a minyan, remember it's very important to say out loud the first three (some hold four) words out loud, and then mumble the rest quietly.

10. "I don't hold by that Rav."

11. Always call your children by their first TWO names. i.e. Sara Yehudis, Yisroel Meyer, Pesach Yehuda, Noach Areyah, Shlomo HaMelech, etc. How many REAL frummies do you know with only one first name?

12. Put Hebrew dates on everything, and stop using civil dates altogether.

13. In the supermarket, peer into you neighbors basket and say, "You eat that type of cheese?"

14. Translate everything you say, every time you say it, i.e. Chazal -- our sages. This will demean your listener as uneducated and suggest that he can't remember the translation from one time to the next.

15. ***Do NOT do this!!! This is NOT frum!!!*** Sing that uppity NCSY benching tune.

16. Must speak in that annoying Brooklyn accent.

17. Meditation is completely assur. (G-d forbid you should spiritually become closer to G-d).

18. You should not wear a tie during Shabbos Mincha.

19. Girls Only: Get the "Bob"/Bais Yaakov haircut at 18 so everyone will know you're ready to get married.

20. Learn Gemara and lain out loud along with the ba'al koreh because maybe he'll pronounce a komatz as a patach and that pseudo-Sefardi Modern-Orthodox sheigetz with the small black beanie who stands next to him reading from a Chumash won't catch it because he's busy talking about real estate throughout the laining.

21. Got to do that hat-slanted-ever-so-slighty-backwards thing for the full gangsta-frumma look.

22. Go "coast to coast" without showering or changing your clothes, sheets, or shaving, until you truly look like a caveman.

23. ***Do NOT do the following:*** Wear shirt with stripes. Bobby pins and especially those shiny metallic clips. Yalmulke with a rim that's bigger than your head. Tweed jacket with non-black hat.

24. Never say "Thank You"; instead say, "Shkoiyach...". Remember it's only one word.

25. Pssshhhhh.

26. Videotape your wedding even though nobody on either side of the family owns a television.

27. Go to bars dressed in your hats and jackets, drink, stare at teenage girls, and claim do be doing kiruv.

28. You must go to the Hilton or any other expensive-type hotel on your first date.

29. Bikur Holim (visiting the sick) is for wimps, wusses, and girly-men.

30. When learning, make sure to have as many Sfarim open as possible. Many poskim hold you should have out: 2 Mesechtas of Gemara, a chumash, a chelek of Shulchan Oruch, a Ritva, and a sefer written by an achron that nobody knows.

31. Bow REALLY deep at the beginning of Shemona Esrei.

32. For the ladies, if he doesn't ask to marry you until he asks all the stupid petty questions like "what is your name", he's off limits, unless his father is a jeweler who makes big fat diamond rings.

33. Never wash your tallis.

34. Who needs kavanah when davening? Just scrunch up your face, purse your lips, shut your eyes tight, bang one fist into your palm, whisper the words loud enough to disturb your neighbor, let your spit be liberated from the confines of your lips, and get that really, really constipated look on your face. Only then will the Big Guy hear your supplications.

35. The answer to any question: "Mamash, takka, im yirtzeh hashem, bli neder, kanaina hora, lo aleynu, shelo nedah!"

36. Your wife (or you, depending on your gender and all), must wear a frummy robe Shabbos night.

37. When the Bais HaMikdash is built (G-d willing soon), you must dedicate something in honour of a dead relative or a family simcha, i.e., "This Mikva was built in the memory of so and so", or "This Korban Tamid was sponsored by the sisterhood in honor of Shmuel David's Bar Mitzva."

38. When you're engaged, you have a chiyuv to set up your friends too. You might not have anybody in mind for your friends before you're engaged, but once you are, you obtain a special power that makes it possible to sense a good shidduch when you see one.

39. Have a really expensive gold watch that, if pawned, would buy crates of sepharim in Israel.

40. Daven a really fast Shemoneh Esrei so that you can be the first one to say out loud "Ya'aleh V'yovo..." for Rosh Chodesh and other such inserts for special days in the calendar in order to remind others that are davening to remember to say these special paragraphs even though they already heard the clop on the bima and even though this burst of self-righteousness may mess up their concentration.

41. Make sure to get engaged after only three dates, but make sure the baby comes no sooner and no later than nine months from the wedding.

42. Make sure to always look miserable, because G-d forbid, people might think that you are taking some form of pleasure in this world.

43. On Shabbos, Take off your jacket after Hamotzi and put it back on right before bentching.

44. Separate your trash between milchig and fleishig.

45. On the days when you make it to minyan, make sure that your friends who didn't, know all about it.

46. The only pop albums you own are Billy Joel.

47. Go into Baskin Robbins when there're other Jews there and say really loudly, "I wish I could eat here," just so people know that you keep Cholov Yisrael. Then leave.

48. After you get engaged, married, have a kid, etc...go around to everyone else and say "Im yirtze hashem by you," even if they are 70 years old or under the age of 12.

49. If someone's name is "Doniel" or "Gavriel", pronounce it "gavri-kel" or "doni-kel" in order that you shouldn't say G-d's name in vain.

50. Download mincha, maariv, and bentching onto your palm pilot and stop randomly in heavily populated Jewish areas to daven from it.

51. Daven with your eyes closed and your finger holding open the page. DO NOT LOOK IN THE SIDDUR IT IS VERY NOT FRUM TO HAVE TO LOOK.

52. Wear one of the new Hatzoloh walkie-talkies that have the Secret-Service-type earphones. Keep the power off, but contantly concentrate on what everyone thinks is an important message.

53. Put mezuzas on the doors of your minivan and tell everyone "It's the latest chumrah, but most people don't follow it."

54. Use the term "Please G-d" in your conversations - anywhere "G-d Willing" can possibly be added.

55. Ban any fiction books in your house aside from those ridiculous "frum novels" which are neither frum nor novels.

56. Call a single man at the age of 32 a "boy," as in "I have a wonderful 32-year-old boy for you!"

57. Be extremely frightened by ANY kind of dog (even a poodle with a head the size of a golfball) and immediately cross to the street when you are within 2 miles of these beasts.

58. Dress your (13) children in matching outfits, girls get dresses, boys get vests and pants made out of same material (i.e. purple tafeta, blue velvet, plaid wool); do this until the oldest is 19.

59. The non invitation...never directly invite anyone to your house for a meal. It is better to tell them to call you when they would like to come. Doing this will be yotze you on the mitzva of hachnasas orchim, and it puts the pressure on to the other person to call you. When they never actually call you, because for some strange reason, they didn't think that you gave them a real invitation, come over to them in shul 2 years later and ask them why they never called you. Make sure to look insulted.

60. Whenever a friend gets married, stop looking at her in the face. Now that she is married, you must always look at her stomach to see if it's getting any bigger, because now that she is married, she will be getting pregnant any day. After a few months and no belly, talk to everyone you know about her.

I'm Starting A Support Group For People Injured By My Blogging

First step - get in touch with Jeff Wald.

Khunrum writes: "The rabbis complained about Jesus Christ lo those many years ago. You're in good company. Rabble rousers always stay in trouble with the powers that be. I urge you to keep up the good work but be careful. They may have a cross waiting for you."

Holly writes: "Everyone likes your writing unless it's negatively directed at them or someone close to them."

Shaarey Zedek Update

Members got a four page vague letter about its search process for a new rabbi.

"I'm revolted by Shaarey Zedek," says a member. "There are two guys who run the shul (president and chairman of the board). They've commandeered the shul. They sent out this four-page letter that said nothing. They're going to get a bunch of resumes and have some people in but we can't tell you who we're going to pick because they might lose their other position.

"There are no women on the rabbinic search committee when the whole reason we lost our rabbi was because of problems with women.

"There's a questionaire about the kind of rabbi people want. It's available on the internet, which is ironic because the last thing you want is shul members going on the internet."

At least there was no lecture this Shabbos to be good and stop gossiping. It was an Etta Israel weekend (for kids with special needs).

"I'll give you credit to Aron," says a member. "He didn't take the shul down with him. Mordecai is insane [just an opinion about Mordecai's tactics, not a medical pronouncement about his sanity]."

Partying With Babes

Emmanuelle writes: "What are you doing on a Saturday night at home instead of partying with babes? The blogger number one rule is: never post on a Saturday night, or people will see what a loser you are."

My January Book Sales

The Producers: 1
Yesterday's News Tomorrow: 1
Royalties: $8:82

'Why Does Rabbi Batzri Have Two Wives?'

Last Saturday morning, that was Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky's sermon at Bnai David.

This Saturday, he briefly brought up the topic again. This time he wanted to apologize to his fellow Orthodox rabbis (closest rabbinical friends in the RCC?) Elazar Muskin (Young Israel of Century City) and Daniel Korobkin (Yavneh) if he had inadvertently criticized them the previous week.

What's interesting is that not only did Rabbi Kanefsky not mention them last week, he did not make the slightest hint about them. He did note that the RCA does not react with alacrity to such matters (I assume he means chained women, agunot, women who can not get a religious divorce from their husbands and therefore can not remarry within Judaism) and Muskin and Korobkin are members of the RCA along with thousands of other Orthodox rabbis.

Rabbi Kanefsky said that it was better to address issues such as this publicly while his colleagues (Muskin, Korobkin and company) preferred to work quietly behind the scenes (as is the traditional way so as to not create a scandal for the goyim).

Rabbis Kanefsky, Muskin and Korobkin are the Orthodox darlings of the Jewish Journal (whose writers skew left-wing and secular).

This reminds me of the sticker: "You can either be right or you can in a relationship."

Rabbi Kanefsky is the boldest (I don't mean this as a compliment or a criticism) Orthodox rabbi on the West Coast. His shul hosted a screening for the documentary Trembling Before G-d (about homosexuals and Orthodox Judaism) and the press were allowed in. Several members of the shul left Bnai David because of it.

The RCC kicked Rabbi Kanefsky off its Kashrut committee (chaired by well-known and highly honored sexual predator Aron Tendler) for starting up a women's prayer group in his shul.

From the perspective of the Orthodox rabbinate in Los Angeles, it is a desecration of God's name to have female-only prayer groups in shul that read from the Torah (I have no position on women's prayer groups or any of these matters), but having a rabbi who likes to fondle girls and fool around in a position of religious leadership is not a problem.

Let me go off on a free-association rant that has nothing to do with anyone mentioned above.

Rabbis as a group tend to be thin-skinned. That's not a big deal. Almost nobody likes to be criticized. Where rabbis (and other clergy) take the cake is how they like to invoke God and religion to shut down any discussion of the way they conduct themselves publicly.

Anyone who poses for a picture for publication is a public figure and fair game for criticism of their public performance.

Also, rabbis seem to commit more plagiarism publicly than any group of which I am aware. I constantly hear rabbis taking ideas from others without giving credit. It's even a religious principle in Orthodox Jewish life. While the general standard is that one should cite a source, if that source is not orthodox or could be perceived by a substantial number of people as not orthodox or not acceptable, then it is fine to steal their ideas.

While Maimonides wrote that he accepted truth from any source, in practice he often did not cite sources who weren't Jewish. Rav Dessler plagiarized extensively from Dale Carnegie (he did not cite Carnegie because Rav Dessler worked in an insular world where quoting a Gentile as a source of wisdom was frowned upon). Saul Lieberman was the giant Talmudist of the 20th Century, but because he taught at the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, he's often stolen from (not credited) by Orthodox rabbis. (This paragraph comes from the pamphlet Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox by Dr. Marc B. Shapiro).

Ninety nine percent of rabbis and others who complain about my blog do not have the courage to confront me. They just whine to others.

Somebody plagerized Chapter One of XXX-Communicated!

Helpful notes: They just changed Luke's name to "Rusty." Shameless!

A Fine Romance

Lovely self-help book on romance by Dr Judith Sills. I learned about The Switch. Usually (the male) one person pursues during the start of a relationship and then eventually that person is going to back off and if the relationship is to continue, there's got to be a switch and the other person picks up the slack. It's a stage in a relationship.

I'm a slut for self-help books.

Portrait Of A Stripper

Lisa Hay writes in the book Surviving Crisis:

She tells me her fiance knocked her out after she accidentally called him the name of an old boyfriend. Her voice begins shaking like the ice cubes in my glass. "I went to the women's shelter, but they wouldn't let me stay 'cause I had no ID. I didn't have no money so I had to walk home." She downs a shot of Jack. "While I was walking I got jumped by some nigger. He hit me in the face, and raped me... I got the cops and they took me to the hospital. I tried to press charges but they arrested me instead for being drunk."

..."Stripping is hard on your body," she says. "I have to go to a chiropractor three times a week, and I have tendonitis in both ankles now. I fell off the pole and fractured my shoulder so now I have to and get cortisone shots."

..."Some men come in for conversation. Their wives don't give it to them, they are having problems at home, they just need someone to talk to that they don't know, and why not go talk to a beautiful woman? I could be a psychiatrist...because I've been doing this for four years, and because they tell you things that you would not believe."

Paul Theroux is a gorgeous writer

I am reading his 2002 trip through Africa. I've never been into travel writing, but digested a ton of late. Not because I am interested in descriptions of other lands, but because the travel writing I'm enjoying is just gorgeous realistic story telling with structure and realization.

I listened to some gorgeous Theroux short stories, particularly enjoyed one about a US State Department official falling in love with a lit professor who protested nuclear armament in 1982 Britain.

I've met Paul's son Louis a couple of times. Louis interviewed me for his first book (not yet published). His GF worked for the BBC.

Surviving Crisis (Creative Nonfiction Reader Series) is superb.

I read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez but I have no interest in magic and had to force myself to finish it so I could say I did. My fictional interests are limited to realism.

Good News On Wald Vs. Ford Lawsuit

Judge Bascue granted my motion March 22. He found my chronic fatigue syndrome, previous travel commitments before the lawsuit was served and other aggravating factors to be sufficient to find 'excusable neglect.'

Judge ordered my lawyer to file our formal Answer to the complaint within 5 days. It will just be a carbon copy of our 'Proposed Answer.'

Judge Bascue ordered both sides into mediation to try and resolve the dispute. There isn't a lot of hope for that given the disposition of the parties.

Is It A Good Sign When A Woman Calls You While She's Taking A Bath?

Amalek: "Yessssss. I once had a craigslist woman call me while taking a dump. Never met her. She wanted me to meet her at midnight to go for a jog. And a picnic."

Thou Shalt Be Holy

How can someone get started on a more ethical path? Rabbi Telushkin suggests a list of four warm-up exercises: “I tell people that if they make personal prayers to God, they should also make personal prayers for someone else, to help develop empathy. Also, they should start praying whenever they hear an ambulance siren,” he says, noting the shortest prayer is the one Moses made for his sister Miriam’s health: “Oh God, please heal her.”

He goes on to suggest that people try to observe a “24-hour complaining fast,” to hold back on negative comments and try to appreciate the good. And, he recommends that people try to “restrict their expression of anger to the incident that provoked it,” not to bring in other incidents from the past.

He quotes Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav: “If you are not going to be better tomorrow than you were today, then what need have you for tomorrow?”

Rabbi David Batzri

Bathsheva writes:

Today's Maariv: Judaism section: (I translated it from Hebrew): Rabbi Batzri, the Kabbalist, investigated for inciting racism. The Attorney General of Israel instructed to start a criminal investigation of Kabbalist David Batzri and his son. Among the "Pearls" that caused this investigation: "The Jewish nation is pure, The Arabs are a nation of Ass/Donkey." In Hebrew pure and donkey have similar ending sounds they don't even rhyme.

Rabbi Batzri response: "We just quoted the Torah."

Other "Gems" from Google:

* The Avian Flue breakout is a direct result of supporting Gay Rights in Israel: homosexuals should be “put to death”

SHAME.ORG: Rabbi David Batzri told the Israeli Ma`ariv newspaper that homosexuals should be “put to death” according to Jewish religious law.

* Hurricane Katrina is a punishment to the USA for causing Israel to evict Gush Katif: Rabbi Batzri told his students at the Hashalom Yeshiva that Hurricane ... The well-known cabbalist, Rabbi David Batzri, said that the devastation and...

* The guy is multitalented he is also an Exorcist: By Arutz-7 News Service The Israeli media have reported the removal ceremony of a dybbuk [wandering soul] that was performed by Kabbalist Rabbi David Batzri.

And on and on! You do the rest of the research. I'm getting tired.

I'll Blog Your Wedding

To make some extra coin, I've decided to rent out my blogging services to weddings, bar mitzvahs, baby showers, funerals and other happy occasions.

Rather than aim to be in The New York Times, why not seek to be memorialized on the pages of Lukeford.net?

This idea came to me today when I was talking to my buddy Rob about a wedding I must attend Sunday. The dress code is "black tie."

I asked the couple getting married if that meant I could wear my black undertaker suit I wear to shul every week. They said no. It meant tuxedo.

I don't have a tuxedo, not a clean one anyway with all the bells and whistles. I don't want to spend $50 to rent one. So I'm just going to show up in my undertaker suit (I'm getting it drycleaned and a missing button replaced) to this fancy shindig in Beverly Hills and pretend ignorance about the "black tie" clothing protocol. I figure that because I'll be dressed differently I'll be more attractive to chicks.

Rob lambasted me. He said I shouldn't even go to the wedding if I was not going to dress as instructed. He asked me what gift I was going to bring. I said the gift of myself. I don't give gifts unless it is to a woman I'm sleeping with (and I think it is tacky to sleep with my friend's fiance just before their marriage).

When Rob lambasted me for my miserliness, I thought that maybe I could blog the wedding on and that would be the greatest gift. Yes, The New York Times would have a reporter and photographer there, but my approach will be unique.

Now I just have to find the perfect book to get me through the long hours of feasting and festivity.

The Decline And Fall Of Your Moral Leader

Friend: "There is just a time in a woman's life when she must don proper clothing and realize she's not a tight 19 year old anymore. Though she looks good for her age, she's too old to be doing this."

I will not listen to any more hatred from you against the industry from which I earn my living.

Two of my meals today were chocolate-banana smoothies. Why must I degrade myself this way?

Friend: "Would you like me to make you some more basil-tomato soup? I am doing a big cookup this weekend to supply myself for next week, I can whip you up a few things. You will have the opportunity to try these things in private-- if you hate anything new you can spit it up immediately and I would be none the wiser."

I would be very grateful. I fear that if I see another chocolate-banana smoothie, I might cut myself.

I like potatotoes, lentils, beans. I love love split pea soup but with the pork on the side.

Why I Am A Conservative

The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

What’s really going on at The Los Angeles Times with Anthony Pellicano?

Initially, in their early reporting about Pellicano, they gushed like love-struck school girls about his daring feats and deeds of wonder from Delorean to Judas Priest to Michael Jackson fame. They were the first and often the only news organization to always report the incarcerated P.I.’s viewpoint. Everytime Pellicano said, “I wasn’t there” (when he was spotted outside Nicole Simpson’s house the night she and Ron Goldman were brutally murdered), “I didn’t sanitize anything” (when the coroner said that Don Simpson’s death scene had been altered) and down to “I’ll never snitch on my clients” (right before Pellicano went to federal prison in 2003) the LA Times was thoroughly Johnny On The Spot.

One of the Time’s staff reporters , Chuck Philips, who was the lucky one to get the gumshoe’s “I’ll never snitch” swan song, often bragged that he had a very “special” relationship with Pellicano. Again, it gives one pause to wonder exactly what sort of objective journalism was involved in the many stories he covered for the Times since 1990 where Pellicano had been an active player. These stories included Judas Priest, Michael Jackson and Don Simpson to mention a smattering. Philips appeared to be only one of a burdgeoning crowd at the Times though.

Film of artist's mass nude photo shoot being sold in pubs

Amabel Craig, 27, from Gateshead, who took part in the shoot, said she found it "very strange" that "cheeky" police staff might abuse their position. "I can't see what they'll get out of it," she said.

"They are abusing the camaraderie and innocence of the day. It was non-erotic, non-sexual ... feeling a bit silly standing around in the cold at times, but baring all in the name of art. It makes you feel a bit uneasy."

Tunick said in a recent interview: "These shoots are definitely not sexual, or I'd do 20 a year, rather than three. To see people rising, falling, taking shape, was amazing. It's sensual. To have so many bodies in one space produces a tension on that space."

Dennis Prager on his radio show: "When a young woman gets naked in public, it is not art. It is sex. It doesn't matter what is in your mind. It is what is happening. The way the male has been created, the exposure of female flesh has inevitably an erotic component. There's another factor with nudity in public and I am a libertarian on these matters in private. I don't think all stripclubs should be shut down. The more people are naked in public, the closer we come to the animal kingdom. The first difference between us and animals is clothing. The first thing God did in Genesis after the Garden of Eden was to clothe Adam and Eve.

"This notion that Spencer Tunick is a great artist drives me nuts.

"My first argument against public nudity is not sex but the animal argument. That it is our task to separate ourselves from the animal."

The Man Who Knew Too Little and Wrote Too Much

Paul McCreary writes March 20, 2006:

Sadly there's a fourth category of critics, whose reporting is as lackluster as their prose. The leader of this last bunch would likely be Marketwatch's Jon Friedman, who we've been reading for some time now, thanks in part to constant links to his thrice-weekly column on Romenesko.

Friedman is a puzzling case. At first, we wondered if he was just a fount for whatever the conventional media wisdom of the moment was -- but that's an unfair rap. Then the possibility presented itself that he was trying to get ahead of the conventional wisdom, which gave rise to his oddly disconnected body of work. But that one didn't stand up, either. So we finally settled on an option that seems to work: Friedman occupies the odd cultural space of both upholding conventional wisdom while struggling mightily to understand it himself.

...Friedman doesn't necessarily seem to practice media criticism as we've come to understand it. Instead, he fumbles over a wide range of media issues with little destination in sight and with few examples to back up what he's trying to say. At best, he needs an editor to clean up his goofy, at times embarrassing, prose (example from the Lou Dobbs piece: "Understand, this was an issue close to Dobbs' heart -- and mind, not to mention his liver, gallbladder and spleen. You see, Dobbs puts his entire being into a cause when he gets his mojo going"), and at worst Marketwatch needs to cut his writing schedule down from three pieces a week to two, or even better, one. He -- and, for that matter, most columnists -- just isn't up to the task of churning out three reported, reasoned columns a week.

How Many Rabbis Would Get Fired If They Required Their Congregants To Shake Hands?

Anne Dillard writes:

The new Episcopalian and Catholic liturgies include a segment called "passing the peace." Many things can go wrong here. I know of one congregation in New York which fired its priest because he insisted on their passing the peace -- which involves nothing more than shaking hands with your neighbors in the pew. (Pg. 84 of Surviving Crisis)

Anthony Pellicano Update

Ross Johnson writes:

Sunday, March 19, 2006; Los Angeles, Calif. -- Facing a day of reckoning and wiped out financially after having gone through two high-priced attorneys while spending 30 months in federal prison, jailed Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano has overruled his pro bono advisory attorney and will push for an expedited trial on April 18, said two Pellicano family members Sunday night.

The family members, fearing that the prosecutor in Pellicano’s wiretapping, computer fraud, and racketeering trial will push for a gag order in a hearing tomorrow in Los Angeles federal court, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Government prosecutors are also expected to press Judge Dale Fisher for a protective order that would prevent the press from access to any evidence proffered before trial, according to a source. Pellicano has told friends that he has little faith that a delay in his trial would be beneficial.

Though Pellicano and his pro bono advisory attorney Steven Gruel have yet to see any evidence the government has compiled pursuant to the wiretapping charges, Pellicano wants to go quickly to trial and is willing to do it without the help of a federal public defender, say the sources.