Monday, October 30, 2006
Most of Religion is Drivel
Aside from the belief that God holds people accountable for how they treat other people, what people believe about God does not matter.
It does not matter whether you believe in the Messiah or in Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha or in the bodily resurrection of the dead.
Most religious people, most of the time, are preoccupied religiously with things that don't matter.
I give as an example of foolishness these excerpts of an email I received recently:
Whether the righteous of Christ is imputed or imparted to us or whether there is a bodily resurrection does not matter, nor do theological views on depravity. What matters most is the life we live today.
Before we can make a better world, we have to have an accurate picture of the problems that confront us.
While well-meaning people waste their lives in discussions of things that don't matter, I'll be in the trenches with the scum of the earth. It's what Jesus would do.
Racism - The Love That Dares Not Speak Its Name
Many of my friends don't like black people. Many of my friends don't like non-whites. Many of my Ashkenazi Jewish friends don't like Persians and Sephardim. Many of my friends believe that most illegal immigrants from Mexico are genetically dumb and destined to lead lives of low achievement if not criminality and welfare dependence. Many of my friends agree with the worldview of the book Bell Curve. Many of my friends don't like out homosexuals.
All of my racist and homophobic friends are careful to never harm a non-white or homosexual. I would never be friends with someone who treated people badly because of race, religion or sexual orientation. I do not share my friends views. I am happy to hang out with blacks, browns, yellows and homos as long as such people are smart and funny.
These friends of mine simply want to live their lives with other straight white people, just as my Orthodox friends want to chiefly spend their time with fellow Orthodox Jews and many blacks want to hang primarily with blacks.
I have Orthodox Jewish friends whose primary reason they send their kids to Shalhevet is to isolate them from Persian and other dusky Jews.
It's not my approach to life, but I don't see anything wrong with this. I see a huge difference between segregating one's life and deliberately hurting people you don't like. I have no problem if Koreans, for instance, only want to hire Koreans and live among Koreans.
Not all racism is evil. The only time racism is evil is when people deliberately hurt others on the basis of race. But if racist people want to peacefully segregate their lives without trying to hurt anybody, I think that's innocuous. Frankly, given all the painful commandments of the Torah, racism is one of the few pleasures left to the observant Jew.
Racism is no more heinous a desire than lust. It all depends on how you express it. For instance, I channel my lust, racism and homophobia into the study of Torah and that's what makes me a moral leader.
It drives Dennis Prager and many Republicans crazy when anyone has the chutzpah to argue that much of the Republican appeal and electoral success is because of racism. But I think this racism argument is an undeniable truth. Millions of Americans don't like black people (though most of these racists would not deliberately hurt a black person or homosexual, etc, just as many people who saved Jews during the Holocaust told anti-Jewish jokes), and most people who don't like black people vote Republican.
Openers, negging, proof of social status.
One Of The Things I Admire Most About Myself Is My Courage
On Oct. 25, I did an interview about bloggers getting sued and I realized that I must be the most sued blogger -- five suits so far for libel etc.
Why do I get sued so much? One reason is that I pursue stories that most journalists will not touch because they are afraid. For example, here are a couple of stories about billionaires that many people thought I'd get whacked for -- David Geffen and Bill Gates.
I don't believe libel law should be changed to make it more difficult to sue bloggers. America has the most press freedom in the world. It is very difficult for public figures to win a libel suit. I don't think there's anything in blogging that necessitates a change in law. The same standards should apply to bloggers.
Are bloggers journalists? Sometimes. A better question is whether a particular piece of work is journalism -- is it fair? Have all parties been asked to comment? Is it accurate? Is it in the public interest?
I am glad that people can sue for libel. Such suits give expression to rage without anybody getting killed.
I call Robb Oct. 25, 2006, the day before her 60th birthday.
Robb: "How did you find my books?"
Luke: "I heard about you from Caroline Leavitt."
Robb: "She should run my life.
"Are you over your flu?"
Luke: "I'm recovering. Three weeks now. I've had a cough for a week."
Robb: "Our whole family last year got whooping cough. I didn't know it still existed. Nobody diagnosed us until my oldest son [the gay one] quit his job because he couldn't stop coughing. It lasted six months. Nothing touches that cough, not even codeine. It was an exotic way not to have to go to a lot of parties I didn't want to go to. When you tell people you have whooping cough, they don't push you to come anyway.
"I was looking at your website and thinking, 'This is the most interesting person I've ever read about.'
"What kind of interview are you looking for? I'm not clear."
Robb: "Wow. I think that's more than my family has read."
"I have no education. I graduated from highschool by taking a correspondence course in volleyball. I went to LSU for a while, but I have no sense of direction and I couldn't find any of my classes, so I just quit.
"After I was invited to teach at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, I thought I better do that in case anything happens to my husband and I need to support my family.
"It was terrifying because I have never taught anything. I grew up in a family of writers. My grandfather was a poet. I read all the time but I didn't know anything. The first class I conducted, they started arguing about POV. I thought, 'I wonder what that is.'"
"Writing is almost a genetic imperative. If I don't do it, I get manic and start shopping on EBay. I have a terrific collection of samplers."
Luke: "How did you get your name?"
Robb: "I'm named for my grandmother Robb Reavill. The reason I use the three names ['Forman' is her maiden name] is that I wanted the people I went to highschool with to recognize that I wrote a book and I didn't think they'd recognize 'Robb Dew.'
"It never occurred to me to keep my own name. I got married in 1969 in Louisiana."
"I once got a review: 'This man writes wonderfully well about women.' I'll take whatever I can get. I just hope he hadn't seen the picture and still thought I was a man.
"When I change doctors, inevitably the nurse will look into the waiting room and disappear. Then she'll look again and finally she'll say, 'Robb Dew?'
"I've started putting 'Robin.'
"My husband and I answered the phone for P-FLAG (parents and friends of lesbians and gays). I can't do it now because I get so impatient with people. The first year you're figuring stuff out you're good at giving advice to other people.
"I answered the phone one day and this clearly teenage boy asked for P-FLAG. He said, 'It says Rob and Charles.' I said, 'I'm Rob.' He said, 'You sound like a woman.'
"I changed the listing to Robin.
"That poor kid. He never called again."
"My godfather is Robert Penn Warren. Growing up around writers, I didn't understand that other people did not want to be writers.
"If I'm not writing, I'm not stable. I'm manic and depressive.
"When my children were a certain age (five to seven), I wasn't able to write. I was too interested in their lives. I did things like spend three months wrapping little squares of Styrofoam to decorate a wreath."
"Two things broke my family apart -- religion and [the nuclear bombs dropped on] Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My father [a neurosurgeon] and his brother Brent (20 months older and a devout Episcopalian) never agreed. I remember my father saying he could not talk to Brent because he was not open to any other opinion."
"My father and my uncle lived essentially the same life."
"My father spent the Second World War on Staten Island training doctors. Everybody wanted to go to that war. Brent was an airplane navigator in the Pacific.
"My father thought there was no excuse for dropping a bomb like that on a civilian population. That the government should've dropped it on an unpopulated island and said, 'This is what will happen.'
"My uncle thought that was a romantic idea."
Robb: "You do..."
Luke: "Sound bad."
Robb: "I would love to believe in something but you just can't make yourself."
We agree that a predisposition to religious belief is probably, in part, genetic.
Luke: "I grew up with religion and God. Even when I was an atheist, I knew what I was leaving behind."
Robb: "My father was trying to integrate the hospitals in Baton Rouge (around 1960). At least so black doctors could operate.
"Somebody shot at my father and hit the windshield.
"Race is a passionate interest of mine but not one I can deal with in fiction.
"I remember my father liked Artie Shaw and my uncle preferred Benny Goodman. The whole room started taking sides. My father said, 'If you really like Benny Goodman over Artie Shaw, then you would like Dostoevsky over Tolstoy.'
"I was about ten. I didn't know who these people were."
"The publishing industry is determined to define me as sweet. Little Brown keeps saying, 'One of our most beloved authors.' I'm not beloved. I'm not even known. I hate that idea. I've always wanted to be terrifying and I've never frightened anybody."
Luke: "What was the practical effect of this feud? That people stopped talking to each other?"
Robb: "No. It was very tense. There was no way my father could win this competition. He died when he was 48. It broke his heart to realize that the person he was competing against was somebody he didn't admire. My father is a strange man. My mother is a strange woman. They were alcoholics. They were the first hippies."
Luke: "Do you have any friends who are conservative Republicans?"
Robb, quickly: "No. I don't think I could. Are you?"
Robb: "You are? You really are? Oh no. You can't be.
"Here we are in Williamstown, Massachusetts. What do you think? Of course not.
"How do you feel about gay marriage?"
Luke: "I am supposed to be a blank slate when I do an interview.
"I have no problem with partnerships. I have a problem with calling it marriage."
Robb: "A friend of mine and I had a conversation for about two hours on whether or not Hitler was evil. Of course we both think he was horrible, but as a little kid, he didn't think, 'I'm going to grow up to be evil.' Nobody does that. Everybody believes they're doing the best they can.
"Do you have friends who are liberal?"
Robb: "You don't think they're evil and trying to support terrorism?"
"You're secular and liberal. How difficult could your son's coming out have been?"
Robb: "It made me feel so stupid. The people who have the most trouble with a child coming out are the people who think they wouldn't have any problem at all. They can't forgive themselves. I talked a good game but I didn't even know that my own son was gay. You feel like you betrayed somebody you loved."
"My husband's brother John is a charismatic Episcopalian. It parallels the break between my father and my uncle. Since Steve came out, we just don't see John and his family. John is always very careful to ask how Steve is. John's wife tries to convince us to urge Steve to be cured.
"There's no point [in seeing each other]. They can't change my mind and I can't change theirs. Steve is uninterested in the whole thing."
Luke: "In the nature vs. nurture debate, where do you stand?"
Robb: "On the side of nature. Steve says he knew when he was three. I believe him because he went into a clinical depression at six. We took him to psychiatrists and he kept telling me that it doesn't help. We didn't know why he was so sad."
"You have the misfortune of being the first adult I've talked to today. I've just talked to my two dogs and cat. I like a solitary life, though not without my husband and dogs and cat, and, occasionally, my kids. But it's exhausting to be polite."
Luke: "When you were a child, what did you want for your life?"
Robb: "I wanted to become a writer. I remember having a boyfriend at age 20 and thinking, 'I'm not going to let him come between me and my writing.' I hadn't even published anything. It was so grandiose. I didn't think that when I met my husband."
Luke: "What crowd did you hang out with in highschool?"
Robb: "That's such a wise question. That will tell you more about people than almost anything.
"I alternated between two crowds [at Baton Rouge High School in Ohio] -- the Debuettes and the Spinsterettes. The debuettes were good citizens. Pretty. Sweet. The spinsterettes were pretty and wild. I was always a little nervous when I was with the spinsterettes, and I was always a little bored when I was with the debuettes.
"By the time I was 16, I was so depressed that I dropped out and went to live with my grandparents. My parents were in the middle of a divorce. My father was sick and depressed. My mother was manic depressive. She was addicted to Dexedrine, which my father provided.
"I used to be very shy. I was incapable of going to large parties or speaking to a group. I thought that was normal. Around 1985, I told my doctor that this was crippling my life not to be able to see my friends. He said, 'You may be suffering from social anxiety.' He gave me a low dose of Zoloft. Within ten minutes of swallowing that 25 mg pill, I felt I'd needed this since I was born. I had been so locked into various grudges, such as with my mother, that made no sense. I suddenly realized that she had been ill. It was the most incredible relief and it certainly made my family happy. It was this incredible disburdenment of anger. It made me understand why people say that depression is anger turned inward.
"Whenever I used to get mad and I was by myself, I would swear. I remember one day I was hanging pictures and swearing the most vile words was an incredible relief. I didn't think anyone was in the house. Then suddenly Jack looked out of the corner of his doorway. He was 10. He said, 'Mom?' He was horrified.
"I had been singing horrible curses to the tune of 'Girls just want to have fun.' It's come to be referred to as mom's swear song. But after I took Zoloft, I never did this again. Cursing is no longer a relief.
"Even my dogs like me better on Zoloft.
"I remember I was driving to a wedding with my family. I said, 'I don't remember if I took my Zoloft this morning. I wonder if I should take one just to be safe.' And Charles, Stephen and Jack said in unison, 'Take one!'
"When I was about 20, I broke up with my boyfriend. I felt incredibly depressed. I thought that if I died, nobody would care. I took a bunch of pills from my father's medical bag. I didn't want to die. I just didn't want to be awake.
"I must've been in trouble. Charles started calling me the next day. He called me at work and of course I hadn't gone to work because I was still asleep. Eventually, he drove to New Orleans, got the manager of the apartment complex I was in, and opened the door. I woke up. I don't know if I would've if he hadn't awakened me.
"We have never discussed that. It's odd that I'm telling you this and I haven't told him.
"Charles knew what he was getting into. His father was also an alcoholic.
"As we were walking into the church for our wedding, I said, 'Charles, let's not take this too seriously. We can always get a divorce.' I think he was comforted by the idea that this didn't have to be permanent."
Luke: "You guys sound a lot like Dinah and Martin in Dale Loves Sophie To Death."
Robb: "Yes, except neither of us has had an affair. Charles says he's liked the glamor he's accrued since being cast as an affair-haver.
"Charles and I are each other's favorite person. That is so unusual and lucky."
"I've never felt any desire not to be monogamous. I feel sorry for Jimmy Carter because I know just what he meant when he said he lusted in his heart. He just meant that he found other people attractive, but why would you mess up your life just for sex? Sex is nice but it is just not worth the hurt it would cause so many people.
"My father and mother both had affairs constantly.
"The parents of the so-called Greatest Generation are probably the most careless parents ever let loose on the world. They were so careless that babyboomers have gone out of their way to make the way their parents behaved against the law. My mother used to take me out of the playpen and she would get in it so she could read."
Luke: "Why are you guys monogamous if you don't believe in God?"
Robb: "Because it would be such a betrayal of the other person. I don't think anybody is monogamous because they believe in God. Look at John Updike. I have no idea if he's had affairs, but he has devoted much of his writing to exploring infidelity. He's deeply religious. He once couldn't go to something his agent was having because he was teaching Sunday school."
Luke: "What kind of church would have John Updike teaching Sunday School? That's throwing the lambs to the wolves."
Robb: "I love John Updike's writing but he's the only writer I read where I regularly skip the sex scenes. They're so clinical. If you're a woman, it makes you never want to have sex. He seems to have not advanced beyond a 10th grader's view of the amazement of having sex.
"I've met him once. He's gracious and attractive enough. But I can just imagine that anyone married to him would not want to read his books. They're unlustmaking."
Luke: "I'm gonna run now."
Robb: "I can't imagine why."
Back in December of 1998, I interviewed a videotape editor who talked about Geffen and his friend Barry Diller, another leading homosexual power in Hollywood. Shortly afterwards my website was hacked and I was off the air for a couple of weeks. About $40,000 damage was done to the server hosting my site.
A well placed source told me soon afterwards that Geffen and Diller were responsible for the hacking of my site.
SCSI Post editor Montel Bradford told me Friday, December 4, 1998 (and I published the interview that day):
"I’m the nicest guy in the world. I have nothing against gay people. But I didn’t want to blow the gay mob. I do have a problem with people discriminating against people based on their sexuality. The gay mob employ the boys who are in the know. Barry Diller is another huge gay mafia guy. He hit on me at the premiere of Grease [Greg was a background dancer]. The Grease producer, Carr, was my manager. He was the one David Geffen told me that I had to blow.
"I used to star in films with Patrick Swayze and stuff, but unfortunately the mainstream is just as seedy. Unfortunately, when you star in a major movie, guys like David Geffen come up to you and hit on you and say, ‘if you blow this guy, then you’re going right to the top.’ So I’m basically blacklisted from the mainstream industry [because he wouldn’t blow the gay mob].
"I starred in the movie Skatetown USA. My real name is Greg Bradford but in adult I use Montel Bradford. I did the TV series Facts of Life, and I did the movie Zapped where I played Heather Thomas’ jerk boyfriend. I got Willie Ames’ part."
The Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) lists Greg (Montel) Bradford for the following:
Montel Bradford: "I’m working in adult because it is the only avenue left for me to be creative. I see lots of crap but I believe that adult can become a mainstream thing if they make sure that the sex scenes advance the story line and develop the character."
On December 28, 1998, I faxed a copy of Bradford's interview to David Geffen's office. The next day I received this letter, via messenger, to my largely hidden home address:
Bernard Weinraub writes in the New York Times: "HOLLYWOOD, March 5 -- The first full-scale biography of David Geffen, which depicts the billionaire entertainment industry figure as brilliant but cunning and corrosive, has outraged Mr. Geffen, stirred tensions at his studio, DreamWorks SKG, and placed pressures on media companies as diverse as Time Warner, Dow Jones, and Bertelsmann."
NYMag.com: "While King's book is a meticulously reported and often fascinating account of Geffen's Zelig-like presence in American pop culture, a bodice-ripper it isn't. King seems to hold back intentionally when it comes to anything intimate, including Geffen's much-speculated-about sex life. (Geffen's comment about his relationship with Cher -- "I f---ed her countless times" -- is, alas, as detailed as it gets.) King is more focused on the melodramas of his business dealings, especially an ongoing pattern in Geffen's life of forging powerful relationships, then sabotaging them, or at the very least getting supremely pissed at his closest friends."
J.D. Considine writes Luke:
August Was A Blockbuster
I earned $68:81 in royalties, bitch. I'm gonna be kickin' it in shul tonight, home boy. Sponsoring kiddish on Shabbos in honor of my memoir.
Author Title Royalty MTD Qty YTD Qty LTD Qty
I Was Seduced By A Gay Movie!
I was dreading Brokeback Mountain but I checked it out of the library Tuesday and forced myself to watch it (with my remote in hand so I could fast-forward past the man-on-man action) because it's an important part of our culture.
The film started slowly and 15 minutes in I resumed work on my computer, letting it play in the background. Then a beautiful woman entered the picture and got naked.
Giving Brokeback Mountain my full attention, I was gradually overtaken by its unexpected power.
I agree with Anthony Lane: "Any attempt to promote this as an issue movie, gripped by an agenda, feels badly misplaced; the only issue here is the oldest and most sorrowful one of all."
I would feel so much stronger in my masculinity right now if I knew Dennis Prager liked the movie too.
Let me email Dennis. Let me keep it short. Let me keep it sweet. "I really liked this movie but I am afraid of telling anyone in case they think I'm gay. I am sure that if I could just say that you liked it too, what a wonderful world it would be."
I conclude that this film is worthy of all its acclaim (though I understand why most heterosexual men will not want to see it).
My one quibble with this film in particular and American cinema in general -- you don't have to be so obvious with your pictures of emotion. You don't have to show people crying or retching or throwing themselves about to convey strong emotion. Brokeback Mountain would've been stronger without these displays.
Chick Lit Gal Laurie Graff
I call Laurie Friday afternoon, Oct. 22, 2006.
Laurie: "How did you end up picking up my books? It's usually such a girl thing."
Luke: "There's a lot of the woman in me. And my friend Marc W. recommended your website and I went from there."
"Do you ever lie when people ask you if something you wrote about is true?"
Laurie: "No. I try to be as honest as I can without giving my soul away."
Two years older than her brother, Laurie grew up in Sunnyside, Queens. Her father left the home when she was five.
"His absence was a big presence in my life.
"My mother started working at the Jewish National Fund right after highschool and she worked there until her retirement, over 45 years later."
"At age twelve, I decided I wanted to be an actress. I remember announcing it.
"I like the limelight, the attention, the glamor.
"I did work on Broadway. I was in a Neil Simon play. I did these commercials. On the other hand, I did not break through. I didn't wind up with my own sitcom.
"As a writer, I am getting to do so much of the media stuff I though I'd do as an actor. I am my own persona."
Luke: "How much did you get what you wanted as a 13 year old?"
Laurie: "Emotionally I got all of it. Financially, I got about half of what I wanted."
Luke: "What have you sacrificed to get where you are?"
Laurie: "A normal life. In my head, I've thought that having this sort of career, if I married somebody, they would take me away from it. It's there in my diary at age 14. I thought it was a choice between marriage and the theatre. I've never married. I meet a lot of guys but I can only think of one that I would've married. And he died four years ago. My book [You Have to Kiss a lot of Frogs, which sold about 135,000 copies] sold right after. I feel he led me to these books, and these books will now lead me to love, because I have a different settled feeling inside me having made peace with the loss. Unconsciously, I've sacrificed marriage and family, but if there is a marriage meant for me, it will find me. Having kids was not on the top of my list. If it was, I'm sure I would've."
Luke: "What kind of reactions do you get?"
Laurie: "'Oh, she couldn't find anybody.' Or: 'Oh, she's such a slut.' Or: 'Oh, she's too picky.'
"I added up the number of guys the character Karrie Kline had slept with -- 13 in 17 years. That to me doesn't sound like a promiscuous girl. She's dating."
Luke: "How many men would be too many for Karrie Kline in 17 years?"
Laurie: "Let's say that six a year for 17 years would be a lot of guys. But I wouldn't call her a slut."
Luke: "What meaning do you ascribe to sex?"
Laurie: "I don't want to say mystical or spiritual."
Laurie: "Because that will sound like b---shit, don't you think?"
"I have to have a compelling desire for someone."
I call a model I know. "What's new?"
Courtney: "I got married in August [to a doctor].
"I have trust issues from being a model, though everywhere in the world you see married men hitting on you all the time. I kinda have a negative view of men. Getting hit on by married men all the time gives you a negative view. You see so many married men coming up to me at signings and making jokes, 'I can't show this to my wife.' Now that I'm wife... I never liked signing headshots when married men would act like that. When I hear the word 'wife,' I think of some frumpy woman. I don't want to be the stereotypical wife. From the way men talk, or comedians talk, it seems that as soon as you become a wife, you're automatically boring. Comedians say, 'I'm down in the basement masturbating...and it's not like I'm going to think about my wife when I'm masturbating.' As though that would be so horrendous. I don't want to be one of those women who the guy gets bored with. I get more excited by a person as I'm with them. Unfortunately, with men it seems that they get bored easily and start looking at models and younger women and masturbating to centerfolds in Penthouse magazine."
Surely this isn't true? Being a man of God, I don't know about these things.
Panel discussion (three rabbis, two Sikhs, one Christian coptic priest, moderated by a lawyer and enlivened by a pale Jew who served as the South Robertson Neighborhood Council environmental committee mascot and began the evening dressed as a green Robin Hood, I wonder if this kind of outfit attracts chicks? If so, I must try). Part Two.
I caught a screening of this Al Gore film Thursday night, Oct. 19.
The pain began with what felt like a full body cavity search by the bearded burly sinister security guard.
I tell myself that I'm surrounded by environmental whackos. That they have the glass-eyed stare of Scientologists and Moonies.
I sit down. I hear about a joke told on KROQ this week: "Where do you send Jewish kids with ADD? Concentration camps."
The joke triggered calls to the ADL which then lodged a complaint with the radio station.
I am downstairs in an Orthodox synagogue surrounded by people who are not Torah Jews. I don't have the strength to relate to them. At least I won't leave here with somebody and commit a mortal sin.
I hear the scrunching of brown paper bags throughout the room. There are numerous trash cans clearly marked so everything can be either recycled or composted.
I heard almost as much about the environment growing up Seventh Day Adventist as I did about Jesus Christ and I've retained zero affection for either. My van gets 10 miles to the gallon and my mien is anything but Christlike.
I can't stand Al Gore and I have no interest in global warming but the documentary is impressive.
Panel discussion time.
A bloke stands up and talks about showing this film to 4000 faith-based organizations.
I guess that excludes anything Jewish.
One of the rabbis on the panel, David Seidenberg, got a Ph.D. in Ecology and Kabbalah from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
I want to ask the panel but don't because I am too gentle -- what in a clergyman's training makes him an expert in global warming? And if he has no special expertise in the topic, why is he speaking out in public about it?
Rabbi Joel Rembaum from Beth Am: "We have to be like Al Gore. We have to be missionaries."
Rabbi Seidenberg halts the discussion. He says we have to make a commitment to do something to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. He waits for everyone in the room to make a commitment, to put one's hand over one's heart, and then express one's commitment to a neighbor.
Everybody (about 60 people, the others, about 60, left immediately after the screening) but me goes along with the rabbi. I feel like I am in Jonestown. I refuse to do anything but scribble. I remember feeling this kind of pressure when I was a kid and we had to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. I did not like that peer pressure then and I don't like it now. Everyone else drinks this Kool Aid but I stand firm in my CO2 emissions.
A woman stands up and describes farming as "amazing." She wants an interfaith garden.
I'd rather pray in a black church where there's lots of singing and everyone gets a hug.
In the moderately conservative Christianity I grew up with, sexual expression outside of marriage was forbidden. It was taken for granted that if you dedicated your life to Christ, you did not screw around.
One thing that surprised me in Orthodox Judaism (not to mention Reform and Conservative) is that single people screwing around outside of marriage is almost taken for granted. In my experience, unmarried Jews are more promiscuous than any other ethnic or religious group (and the most comprehensive sex survery, published by the University of Chicago circa 1994 backs this up).
I acquired this dark knowledge at the price of my soul.
Judge Charles Pickering - I Just Can't Quit Ya!
All I need now is a good woman to show me just how sweet heterosexual loving can be.
11:50 a.m. I walk into the WMC (sure, many are Jews, but the right sort, not too grasping) and taste the greatest love of all -- gossip about Cathy Seipp.
Why do Beverly Hills doctors have to deal with a disproportionate number of kvetchy patients? Because Beverly Hills is more than 50% Jewish, and as any rabbi will tell you, Jews are difficult.
Raising the awareness of my table, I empower the composer next to me by asking if he got molested at his posh British public school.
I believe my right-wing mates appreciated the diversity of my material.
let the photos be BOLD
Michael Finch, WMC's executive director, says David Horowitz can't make it today because he gave two talks last night at U.C. Santa Barbara. "Listening to David can be exhausting," says Michael.
The dean of the Chapman Law School gives a lengthy introduction. He says Charles has three kids and 21 grandkids.
Pickering tries to give three talks in one -- his own story, and two discussions of jurisprudence.
"How could they do this to me?" was his plaintive cry about the Democrats filibustering of his judicial appointment.
Pickering was accused of being soft on cross-burners even though his kids went to school with Missississippi blacks.
I gather he supports the rule of law rather than the rule of judicial opinion. And that we should never give up this fight.
"Liberals don't trust democracy. They want five [Supreme Court] justices to tell us right and wrong."
Pickering says that if it was not for the Left's judicial activism (for gay marriage, etc), John Kerry would be president. If there was not a ballot measure defining marriage as a male-female thing, Bush may've lost Ohio.
The judge said a mandatory textbook in Massachusetts told the story of a prince and a prince falling in love.
His talk feels like a constitutional law class.
I gain sympathy for the Democrats who tortured him.
It would've been better if he'd concentrated on the funny bits of his struggle against secular humanists.
As I leave, I see two people in line for Pickering to autograph his new book -- Supreme Chaos: The Politics of Judicial Confirmation & the Culture War.
The Rabbi and the Klan
Rabbi Zalman Manela (of EnglishTorahTapes.com) Threatens: 'Return My [Torah] Tapes Or I Will Kill You!'
"If they are not returned," Rabbi Zalman said, "I will go out and buy a gun and shoot you."
Rabbi Zalman continued: I know where you live. I will paint swastikas on your house and cause you a loss of thousands of dollars... If I see you, I will beat you up. I will tell everybody the kind of person you are. I will shmutz you.
T.O. Recommended Reading List
What Was Mr. Hollywood's Reaction To Toby Young's New Book?
So far Toby has heard nothing.
I am wondering who the mysterious Mr. Hollywood is. I'm betting on Joel Silver.
'I Don't Mean That'
I've noticed in recent interviews that whenever someone says, "I don't mean that...", it is precisely what they mean but are afraid to say.
The Taming Of Orthodox Judaism
It used to be the Orthodox tradition to get wasted on Simchat Torah and dance with Torah scrolls. Now an increasing number of shuls (such as Bnai David Judea and Young Israel of Century City) are going dry.
Chabad still loves to drink to excess. At Bais Bezalel, they wanted to dance only with themselves, but due to their interest in kiruv (outreach) they reluctantly let a few outsiders into the line.
I walked past Beth Jacob at 9:30 p.m. It was shut. It was about the only shul in the neighborhood that was. Everyone else was spilling out into the street with joy.
When my lust got the better of me, I headed over the Shtible minyan (Conservative) to observe the combustible combination of alcohol and mixed dancing.
After nobody did anything improper on a Torah scroll, I left.
Sunday. "Please don't get rid of Rabbi Weil," says a friend. "Put a chink in his armor, fine."
Another friend says: "You are the most cynical regular shul-goer I know."
I tell a rabbi: "I am sorry for mocking you for your orientation."
After the first dance with the Torah, my joy is incomplete knowing that a friend is sitting at home watching football. I walk over to his apartment, sit down with him, and pretend to enjoy the game.
I encourage him to return to God and mitzvos, then, at the end of the first quarter, I return to shul.
The mood in shul is happy. We sing, we dance, we clap our hands, and we eat well.
Kiddish. I warn a rebbetzin not to look at the Clancy Sigal memoir I'm reading.
"I'm glad I'm sitting with you," she says. "My family treats me like a bubbe [grandmother]. You treat me like a woman who can be corrupted."
EscapeToElmCity blogs: "I'm handing over the reins to Luke Ford today because there's no way I could out-snark his Simchat Torah entry (I tried but it was useless). I laughed so hard I had the hiccups for half an hour."
Liberty Film Festival Preview
Jason Apuzzo and Govindini Murty's ten point plan for conservatives to save Hollywood Andrew Klavan Cyrus Nowrasteh Scott Gardenhour Kevin Knoblock Jim Hirsen Roger L. Simon Myrna Sokoloff (David Zucker's producer talks about their Madeline Albright ad)
From the David Horowitz email:
I walk up at 7:15 pm and there's a long line. I haven't seen this before. Normally these events only attract about 30 people but tonight there's over 100.
This adoration of show business makes me question the authenticity of the conservative values espoused.
Who are we? What do we stand for? Where are we going?
Are we just here to bang hot chicks or are we going to listen to the moral clarion call emanating from Mount Sinai?
Luckily for our highest values, there are no hot chicks. That's something I appreciate about conservative gatherings. There's never anybody there that you'd burn in hell for.
The atmosphere is like a revival meeting but with booze and cheese.
The crowd grows restless as Jason and Govindini lecture them on how to save Hollywood. We're here for the celebs, not the Torah.
Govindini: "[We need] films that show the positive side of the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism."
She gives an elaborate description of an Algerian director.
Jason summarizes: "He's cool."
Govindini: "Hollywood is making a major propaganda effort to undermine the war on terror."
I learn that George Soros funded such documentaries as "The Women of Hezbollah."
I get excited. I know I shouldn't, but my body has reasons of its own that my mind will never understand.
Jason decries studios putting out "pro-terrorist propaganda."
The Liberty Film Festival got about 100 submissions this year. Sundance gets about 3,000 annually and the American Film Market about 6,000.
Govindini says there are about a dozen feature-length conservative movies released a year and that most of them are documentaries. I wonder if she's counting conservative-themed genre pics such as The Devil in Miss Jones?
G: "These films are quite good, as good as anything released by the Left."
Jason says that every major distribution company is extremely left-wing.
G: "We need more conservatives writing about film... We get more media coverage from the Left than the Right."
"Conservatives are going to assume The Path to 9/11 is left-wing because it is done by ABC."
The audience is ready to riot.
Govindini and Jason race through their final points.
G: "All the film histories are written by the Left."
I wonder who does most of the talking when Govindini and Jason are alone? Normally the man does most of the talking in public and the woman does most of it in private, but tonight Govindini spits out ten words for every one Jason drawls out.
I remember my father coming home from an evangelical swing and remonstrating with me: "Your mother says you have not said a word to her all weekend."
"I didn't want to interrupt," I replied. (This is just a joke my father told at my 21st birthday party.)
Along with Jason, most of the Hollywood speakers have shaved heads.
Cyrus, blessed with a full head of hair, says bloggers put his home address and phone number on the internet along with the message: "The gloves are off. Accidents happen."
Jim Herson says he's a friend of Mel Gibson and that Mel's diatribe against the Jews is not indicative of Mel's true character.
I try to put my finger on the difference between this gathering and a similarly-themed liberal one.
It's the absence of profanity.
Lumbering home in my van Thursday night, I figure there is no better way for me to live the values of the Liberty Film Festival than going to the Hollywood party for this new book.
Kate Coe at Fishbowl LA says she'll link my report but I have nothing of quality to offer, only more tales of woe.
I park on Sunset Blvd, West of Highlands, and walk a mile to the club. It's 10:15 pm.
I look around at the most frightening collection of hags and wonder which perverse celebrities wanted to bang them.
I engage in conversation with a couple of filmmakers -- Adam Grayson and Kevin Moore.
"I found out it was Rosh Hashanah from my Vietnamese friend Anh [whose company is sponsoring tonight's party with its anemic gift bags of vibrators and other perversities]," says Adam. "My parents don't make me feel like a bad Jew. Only you do. It is when I look at your noble countenance that I realize the depths of my depravity."
Kevin says that the only reason he goes to church is to meet with my approval.
Two hot chicks stop by and give each other a very tender french kiss.
Trindy, the blonde, is author Carly Milne's make-up artist. Her friend Arielle is a mystery. She asks me what I do. I say I am a truth seeker like Diogenes.
"Diogene's dog," she says.
"No, I meant the Greek philosopher."
"Do you know anything about Diogenes?" she asks me.
I think she's a Jew.
"Only that he was famous for going around with a lantern looking for one honest man," I reply.
"Diogenes was famous for saying that a man needs only one true friend and Diogenes' one true friend was his dog."
"Did you know that Stevie Wonder is next door?"
I get excited. "Did you know that my brother met his wife by telling her a Stevie Wonder joke?"
"No," says Arielle. "And I don't really care."
Arielle and Trindy laugh cruelly at my humiliation and high-five each other.
"Got you," Arielle taunts me. "Touche."
I turn my back on her and the pleasures of this world. I yearn to go back to the higher place I experienced on Yom Kippur. The deepest levels of pleasure are not to be found in seducing girls in bars at parties for books such as Hooking Up: You'll Never Make Love in This Town Again Again. Just ask Noach Weinberg. He would know.
Lois Lane Has A Pointy Chest
Why Am I Irresistible To Retarded Women?
Throughout my life, women with IQs below room temperature have gone mad for me. What inner beauty do they see that normal women do not?
I do not glory in my power over the incapacitated. It is frequently embarrassing. But it is the cross I have to bear.
Is A Torah Jew Allowed To Swear While Receiving Deep Tissue Massage?
Every week, I go see a WWII survivor who gives me a painful rub down. It is supposed to help with the tendonitis in my elbows.
When she hits particularly painful spots, I start saying the f-word. She laughs.
Some Jews, when they stub their toe, say "Blessed be the true judge." I just say the f-word, unless I am in shul, where it usually comes out "function."
Today when I was receiving my torture, a beautiful thing happened. A young intern walked in the room and started to give me a fondle (while the elder inflicted a brutal form of Japanese torture she must've learned during her days as a comfort woman). As I turned to look at the beginner, I was blinded by the whiteness of her teeth.
When I whimpered over the next 20 minutes, the young one apologized while the old one laughed.
When I got unwanted erections, I thought of my dead mother.
I See Dead People
I find walking down the street terrifying. I keep seeing horrific accidents about to happen -- drivers and pedestrians not paying attention while they barrel ahead towards disaster. Yet nothing ever happens.
It must be my medication.
The Awareness Center Makes A Strong Suggestion
Vicki Polin sent out this mass email:
Are such precautions necessary?
Are people in love boring?
Do they make for lousy dinner guests?
For how long can we one lust for one's spouse? doesn't that die quickly unless your spouse is freaky?
I've found that the half life of sexual desire is two months, which makes the prospect of a long relationship, let alone marriage, dismal.
Ken Layne emails,
When do we eat?
This is a great movie about passover. I saw three cantors i know from beth jacob and the happy minyan in the movie. it was weird that the hasid led the family in singing shecheyanu to the debbie friedman -- a reform jew and a lesbian -- tune, but they sang 'hashem' instead of 'adonai', i wonder why they accommodated orthodox sensibilities. and there's sex.
the director says that all the sex surrogates he met during research were jewish.
The movie is produced by a gay guy i interviewed five years ago -- steven j. wolfe.
Keeping Shabbat While Single
I've had the flu since Oct. 4 and watched many movies. I list them in the order of excellence (e.g. how compelling I found them, not on their message).
An Orthodox Jew emails:
A Friend Goes To AA
"I don't want to hang out with the dregs of society. I don't want to be with a bunch of losers who have no jobs. I don't want to feel like I'm that person or that I'm headed that way. I want to go to the upwardly mobile meetings and meet doctors, lawyers, producers, therapists... Successful people who are alcoholics who make me feel it's OK. If good looking successful people have this problem too, it makes me not feel like a freak."
Gay Talese: A Writer's Life
What a dull book. It has its moments at the beginning and end, but overall the writing is pedestrian, the pace plodding, and the plot nonexistent.