sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

December 31, 2013

The Forward Krupp

Filed under: Jewishness, politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:26 am

Is Ethan Krupp Jewish because The Forward said so (via Instapundit)?  I suspected the boy might be of Hebrew lineage when I saw the picture of the anonymous hipster clad in Christmas pajamas, but since my Jewdar is known to be too sensitive I figured I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.  Then it turned out that the imp bares a not so nice surname.  I seriously doubt that The Forward “fact checkers” require a poof of tribe membership as onerous as Chabad’s, so allow me to remain agnostic on the matter of boy Ethan’s Jewishness.  Especially since, as it turns out, blacks also claim him.

In a very excellent post Susan L.M.Goldberg noted that Krupp is Jewish the way Marx was Jewish.  Marx, who, if we recall, was born into a Christian German family, was haunted by his Jewfro and wrote anti-Semitic tracts.  Similarly, boy Ethan is Jewish because somebody somewhere might think he looks like a walking Jewish stereotype, in which case Ethan himself is guilty of perpetuating said stereotypes.  Why-oh-why couldn’t he style himself into a Zionist?

Blond Jew found!  A Zionist!

Needless to say, The Forward presented no evidence of any anti-Semitic right wingers pounding on poor Ethan because of his presumed Hebrew curls; I am yet to read of anyone saying: “That Jew, to the oven!”  As RS McCain said:

Jay Michaelson [The Forward author] tells us very little about conservatives who made fun of a silly ad, but tells us an awful lot about the strange ideas that swirl around inside Jay Michaelson’s deranged mind.

A pj onesie could be good humor, but, evidently, not in an act performed by a hipster.  Being a humorist is a tough job, a bit above the pay grade of the hopelessly insecure residents of Williamsburg.  The insecure feel the need to create an air of superiority about them which destroys comedy.  One can imagine Groucho Marx wearing pj’s, or Woody Allen (I’m pretty sure he did it on films) and be hilarious, but the boy Ethan with his all-knowing eyebrow hardly raises to aesthetic standards of Jewish comedy.  He doesn’t wear his pj’s to let the audience laugh at him, he wears them because it’s like irony dude: you think he’s a dork, but he’s actually brilliant, and to make sure we all get that he’s brilliant he makes a haughty face. He’s not funny, he’s irritating, and his “comedy” is designed to defend existing power structures.

One problem with American secular Jews is that they don’t know how to be secular Jews.  Russian Jews are for the most part non-believers, but would a Russian Jew ever brag, like The Forward-defended twenty-something, “We have no morals”?  No, that’s wholly idiotic, because, as Jews, we have to understand that our greatest contribution to civilization was the introduction of monotheism.  Only Jews totally oblivious to their heritage can run around yapping about “no morals”.

Equally antithetic to anything Jewish is boy Ethan’s one venture into the abortion debate, which he admits he lost, but:

To this day, I haven’t fact checked Chip’s scientific report. Beyond the women’s rights implications, I’m afraid it would be the ultimate surrender if I knew the truth.

A former co-worker of mine converted to Judaism because she liked the idea of doubt being an essential part of faith.  This is what a Jew is required to do: doubt the existence of almighty to prove it.  Jews take the spirit of vigorous debate to worldly matters; that’s why we are so successful in letters and sciences.  And in politics — just watch the Knesset at work.
From time to time my fingers start typing paragraphs about the sad state of American Jewry of the last quoter century.  Then my head prevails, and I move the post into the garbage bin.  Because, really, what Russian Jews think of American Jews is not that hard to find out if one knows how to use Google translate.  And it’s that: they’ve been hijacked by know-nothings whose idea of debate is bashing Israel, and who are only too happy to squander their political capital.  Their greatest achievement of the post-Cold war period is a nuclear Iran.  Is it any wonder that the Forward defends boy Ethan?

February 7, 2013

Canto Talk!

Filed under: Jewishness, music, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 3:42 pm

UPDATE: Here is the podcast.

I’m going to appear on Canto Talk radio tonight at 7:15 Pacific.  I will be talking with the executive producer Leslie Eastman and the host Silvio Canto about parenting, politics and life around here as well as Michelle Obama’s fashion sense or lack of thereof.  I want to thank both Leslie and Dr. Canto for the opportunity.

Canto Talk is mostly a political show, but last week Dr. Canto mentioned that Patty Andrews, the last surviving member of the seminal swing band Andrews Sisters, had passed away at age 94.  Being a fan of mid-century American pop, I’d like to celebrate Patty’s life with one of the Sisters’ greatest hits, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen:

It was one of the songs we played at our wedding, and it has an interesting history:

The story of this tune’s stratospheric rise is as unlikely as that of Yiddish swing itself. “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” was composed by Sholom Secunda for a 1932 Yiddish musical that opened and closed in one season. Fast-forward to 1937. Lyricist Sammy Cahn and pianist Lou Levy were catching a show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem when two black performers called Johnnie and George took the stage singing “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” — in Yiddish. The crowd went wild. Cahn and Levy couldn’t believe their ears. Sensing a hit, Cahn convinced his employer at Warner Music to purchase the rights to the song from the Kammen Brothers, the twin-team music entrepreneurs who had bought the tune from Secunda a few years back for the munificent sum of $30.

Cahn gave “Bei Mir” a set of fresh English lyrics and presented it to a trio of Lutheran sisters whose orchestra leader, oddly enough named Vic Schoen, had a notion of how to swing it. The Andrews Sisters’ debut 78 rpm for the Decca label hit almost immediately.

The song became a hit not only in America, but Europe as well, and that included Germany.  The Nazis initially thought the title lyric was in a South German dialect, but when they discovered that they were dealing with a Yiddish tune, they had to ban it.

Bei Mir was translated into many languages.  During World War Two, Soviet jazzman Leonid Utesov recorded an anti-Nazi Russian version Baron Fon Der Pshik:

Utesov was also Jewish, born 1895.  Many American popular musicians of early/mid 20th century hail from the Russian Empire.  Utesov stayed in Russia where he fell in love with jazz.  He was one of the few entertainers who, during the Stalin years, was allowed to perform American-inspired music.

Speaking of Jews and mid-century American music, here is a video of the funeral of New York Mayor Ed Koch’s (via The Last Tradition).  His casket is carried through Temple Emanu-El to the tune of New York, New York.  Way to go, Mr. Mayor:

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