Mar 3rd, 2016
What to make of Bernie Sanders, the Jew. See, there is this whole thing going on among American Jews... is Bernie Jewish enough? Why doesn't Bernie talk about his Judaism more? I'll tell you why, because he doesn't have to. His Jewishness, to any degree, is the two ton gorilla in the room. Take this political cartoon by Pat Bagley. The whole joke depends on a single premise: that all Christians (even the Pope) are anti-Semitic, is a given. And why shouldn't that be a given? Donald Trump was endorsed by the KKK and the Nation of Islam. The only thing those two groups have in common is a virulent anti-Semitism. (Editing for clarity here, I'm not saying that I believe all Christians are anti-Semites, just that the whole premise of the cartoon depends on that assumption. Which makes the joke not funny, at least to me.) Just last month, I had a stranger use the phrase "he Jewed me" as she described a business deal that she felt had not been to her advantage. I had just told her my name, and she still used that expression and she was insulted by my response. I didn't slap her, so I don't know what she was so pissed off about. I only called her out on her appalling manners and overt racism. Is it racism? Because, you know Jews aren't really white. They're...Jews. Don't believe me? Try typing "are Jews" into your Google search engine. Auto-fill suggests the answer: Are Jews White? And how many hits does that get you? A cool 71 million articles. MILLION. And there isn't an easy yes/no answer to be found. Even in Israel, there are questions. Jews: are we a religion? A race? When you search the Ellis Island data base to find your Jewish ancestors, you have to search for Hebrew. I had this conversation many years ago: Jesus was not a Jew, he was merely of Hebraic extraction. I still don't know what that meant. But back to Bernie. Try typing Bernie Sanders into your Google search, and the number one result is "Bernie Sanders Jewish". That must be a less pressing issue than are Jews white, because that comes up with a paltry 11 million hits. Predictably, the headlines are "yes, but not enough", or "yes, but too white", or "yes, but he doesn't like to talk about it." Which is also a matter of media spin, because when he does talk about it, nobody seems to listen. Still, it doesn't matter, because in the American mind, such as it is, Bernie is a Jew, and if there is one thing everyone can agree on, that history has taught us, it's that nobody likes the Jews. Even the delicate dancing around of the problem that Bernie doesn't carry minorities because he's a white male is bullshit. Bernie doesn't carry minorities because he's a Jew and even though Jews were in the forefront of the labor and civil rights movements, when push comes to shove, a white woman is perceived to be a better choice than a Jew of any gender.
Jan 20th, 2016
As the great Bob Dylan once said, "Who says you can't go home again, of course you can." It's true. I did. What he should have said was that you can't start blogging again once you stop.
Jan 11th, 2016
R.I.P. David Bowie. When I heard the news, I was instantly transported back to autumn of 1972, when "Changes" played in heavy, yet always welcome, rotation on WVUM, the voice of the University of Miami, and WVUM played in the lobby of my dorm, and I wasn't a lobby rat, but I did spend a number of hours perched in the stairwell, drawing those who were. I met my friend Billy there in the '68 Building. The autumn of 1972 was when I left my home town for good and swore never to return, for reasons that were many and valid. I've been back in my childhood home for almost a year, so I suppose it is fitting that I was remembering what it was like when I left, and considering "Changes" when I had the following encounter this morning. A new face is telling me that she is a neighbor, and lives a street over on the river, or near to. I say that's nice. She tells me that the person she bought from was Mitt Romney's wife, Anne's, brother, a Mormon. I say that's nice. She tells me that he is actually a crook. I say that's nice, and not unexpected, really, although I say the latter phrase only in my head, I am sure. Yes, she tells me, he is a crook. When we bought the house, he Jewed us out of $7000 dollars. Stop, I say. Did you really just say that? Oh yes, she repeats, I did. He Jewed us... Stop, I interrupt. Really? You are using those words? Yes, she tells me with a shrug, I'm from Philadelphia, and... And I'm Jewish, I rudely interrupt again. So, good day to you. And with that, I turned and walked back into my home, and locked the door behind me.
Nov 29th, 2015
The following is a letter I wrote to Sirius XM and the Underground Garage. "Last night I was listening to the Underground Garage channel on SiriusXM. It's my favorite. Chris Carter's British Invasion was on and he made some disparaging comments about Barbra Streisand being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He began by saying that the award had been won previously by military men, and that giving it to Ms. Streisand was an insult. While it has been awarded to members of the military, it is primarily a civilian award. Indeed, it is the highest civilian award given by the United States. From wikipedia: The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with the comparable Congressional Gold Medal, bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award of the United States. It recognizes those individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors". The award is not limited to U.S. citizens and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform. But that is neither here nor there to my letter. What offended me was not his objection to her being given the medal, but that his dismissal of her was an off-hand misogyny based upon her perceived fuckability or lack thereof. His exact comment was that the only thing she had ever done for freedom was inspire the invention of the burqua. Harsh, and also the sort of insult that I would expect from the likes of Don Imus or Howard Stern, but certainly never by a person broadcasting under the imprimatur of Little Steven. All the more ironic was that it came mere moments after the Coolest Song in the World, "Girl Band" by the Dahlmanns. Well, this is a free country, you say, and I am free to turn the show off. I did. Then I took the time to write this letter, and to post an essay on my blog about careless misogyny, and to link to it from Facebook. Maybe a dozen people will read it, but that isn't the point, either. The point is that I expect better from the Little Steven brand." Careless misogyny. The unspoken acceptance that anybody can be reduced in worth to whether or not they inspire desire or mere lust in a viewer. Well, anybody female, that is. Last week I almost allowed myself to get into an on-line pissing match over "Baby, It's Cold Outside". I referred to it as our collective Christmas rape anthem, and was soundly disabused of that belief by a post-modern feminist who assured me that she is in fact a historian and I am in fact mistakenly reading too much into one line (Hey, what's in this drink). Clearly, she said, the woman is saying no, but she really wants to stay. She is using all sorts of excuses, but they are all based what others might think of her, and not what she herself wants, and so she is using alcohol as an excuse to remain overnight. It's a song about plausible deniability, not about really saying no. Um, and OK, but in my dottage, I seem to remember that no means no, and it doesn't matter what reason one gives for saying it. If you say no -- to anything-- does that mean that any person who thinks you should say yes is more in tune with your mind and can force you to, say, take cream in your tea? Or maybe you would like to have a little white sugar in your coffee. Is it the right of someone else to tell you that you really don't want that? And to prevent you by force, if need be, from getting it? Is it not the same thing? Self-determination is self-determination. I chose not to continue the fight with my feminist historian because a stupid song is not worth getting exercised over. But I see a thread here, and I have to tug at it. It's OK to dismiss someone for not being pretty. It's OK to sing a song about forcing someone to stay the night because the imaginary girl really wants it. It's OK to shoot up a Planned Parenthood clinic because those people shouldn't be there, shouldn't be pregnant, shouldn't be poor, shouldn't be doing something a white man with a gun thinks they shouldn't be doing. What was it someone said: evil is not just the actions of the few, but the silence of the many.
Oct 29th, 2015
If, as they say in most every mystic tradition, being the seventh son of a seventh son is a big deal, then what is there to say about me? I am the only daughter of an only daughter of an only daughter. Our line ends here. Is there nothing mystically inherent in that? One of my cousins asked me...well, actually, she asked me many questions and among them were these: Why are we still in communication with each other when there is enough of an age difference that we don't know each other very well? She was grown and out of the house by the time I was aware of her, but I adored her mother, who was my great-aunt. My mother adored both of them. So why wouldn't I want to be in touch with her? She is a link in a very tiny chain. Which brought the next question: Why am I so obsessed with finding Lillian Rube and the rest of my long-lost family? That I cannot answer. I can only say that I am called to her. Or she calls to me. I have her face. I took care of her child, my mother, at the end of her life when she was little more than the infant Lillian left behind ninety-odd years before. I have a piece of her handwork, an embroidered sampler which reads "The Last Rose of Summer." It was unfinished at the time of her death and is unfinished still, almost 100 years later. I can't finish it. I have considered framing it, but who would care about it after I am gone? My mother was the only daughter of her mother, indeed, the only child. Her mother was the only child (I think) of her father, but one of many sisters born to the same mother. So there I am: the only daughter of the only daughter of the only daughter. Who were these women? Are they the reason I work with my hands? Are they why I cook? Do I have their hands, their hips, their impossibly curly hair? Who were their mothers? Why is it so hard to trace the matrilineal line in genealogy?
Oct 5th, 2015
1. It's been so long since I wrote code (and enjoyed it) that I have done everything in my power today to avoid sitting down and banging out code. Which is exactly the task I have set myself for this week. Because I need to create a new web site. For the new brand. Which brings me to point 2. Tante Leah's Handmades started with custom tallit, and I love making them, but a line of bespoke prayer shawls is not going to be my golden ticket to fame and fortune...or even a brass ticket to 15 minutes and a buck two eighty...unless Bernie wins the White House and I can somehow finagle my way into becoming the official Tallis Maker to the POTUS...which would be a first for sure and thereby ensure fame..but that is never gonna happen, so I need to broaden my market. Which leads us to Plan B Plan B is this. Tante Leah's Handmades is dead. Long live Ma Groover's Artisan and Vintage Goods. Except that can't happen until I hit publish on the new Ma Groover site. And THAT can't happen until I sit my ass in this chair, chain myself to the fucking keyboard and painfully write enough code to launch a new Expression Engine site. Expression Engine: The choice of geeks everywhere who are too cool to use a simple program like GoLive or DreamWeaver or WordPress. Expression Engine, where there are no templates or plug and play options. Expression Engine, the impossibly undocumented bad boy to which I hitched my code-writing wagon and I am so long out of the day to day of web work that this hurts me.