Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ahhhhhh, summer!

I'm so bored.
My summer vacation is too short to have a job, so basically my afternoons are mind-numbingly dull. However, I bought an iPod so that I don't have to shlep all my CD's (over 300!) to Eretz Yisroel, so I've been busy downloading them onto my dad's computer and then on to the iPod itself.
Another time consuming project is selling my now downloaded CD's back to various music stores in the greater Cleveland area, so as to turn a profit, and pay back my parents for the loan for the iPod. It was while engaged in this very act that I found myself involved in a water fight with a bunch of ten year olds.
You see, while I was driving to one of the malls nearby, I passed that staple of a boring, hot, summer afternoon: a lemonade stand. I don't like lemonade, and it wasn't kosher anyway, so I just drove past the five ten year olds frantically waving their arms, in a futile attempt to get my attention. As I glanced in my rearview mirror, I was shocked to see their desperation turned to anger, as several of these brats started grabbing their crotches and flipping the bird in the direction of my car. Jeez. Every ten year old's a little Eminem, now.....
But it gets worse.
On my way back, I was heading back the same way I came. I approached the area where those little freaks were testing their business skills. As I passed, I noticed that the stand was seemingly deserted. "heh," I thought to myself,"those little snots probably gave up---"
SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT!
Suddenly, my car was being bombarded from all sides by water baloons! Those little shits ambushed me! My windows were open, so I was soaked, my car was soaked, there was pieces of broken rubber stuck in the wipers...a real mess.
This means war.
Back in the day, I had this amazing super soaker, so I went to look for it. I dusted it off, and tested it to see if it still worked. A little leaky, but otherwise in good form. Next, I called some equally bored friends of mine, and told 'em to locate their old pieces, and gird themselves for battle. I went to the store and bought baloons, and as more guys showed up, we all pitched in to fill them to their ideal volume, to compensate for weight and wind, to be aerodynamic and yet still have enough water to do damage. These brats didn't know who they were screwing with. Aside from being hardened veterand of water wars, we were 18-20 year olds bored out of our skulls....
Finally, it was go time.
Ten of us, Five of them. These kids didn't have a chance. Myself and three other guys packed into my car for the initial attack. We were to do a drive-by, projects style. Four others would approach the brats' house from behind with heavy duty water baloon slingshots, to cut them off if they tried to retreat, and two were waiting as back up.
Bull Run. The Bulge. None compared to this glorious battle.
I ripped the corner at 30mph, with Iron Maiden blasting. All windows were down, and sunroof was open. The kids were on my left, so's I could get a shot as well. Two guys poking out the back, one standing out of the roof. "DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEE, PUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNKS!!!!!" I'm not sure who screamed it; it could have been me, could have been all of us. Frozen like deer in headlights, they fell prey to our first onslaught. I saw them running towards the back as we careened down the street. After I'd turned around, I saw baloons falling from all over; the four in the back were alternating between slinging and shooting, and the two back ups were slinging their artillery from two houses over. I pulled into their driveway slowly, so's not to hit one of the kids, and we spilled out and got into position smooth like mercury. One guy popped the trunk and pulled the back seat down so that he could snipe from in there, while the rest of us fanned out.
Then, I saw him.
It was, I presume, the leader of the clan; the crotch grabber. He was huddled down, facing away from me, most likely thinking about how he could regroup and salvage this battle. I spilled the pitcher of lemonade down his back, and he shot me in the face with what seemed to be a freaking water cannon (which turned out to be the latest incarnation of the super soaker line, a descendant of my own weapon..). Then the kid's mom came out and started yelling at us for picking on little kids. Anyway, I gave the kid ten bucks, and thanked him for giving me something to do. Then, my battalion and I headed back to my house to have pizza bagels and recount our personal experiences in today's fracas. Thank God for summer; I need a life.....
Originally posted Wednesday, 10 August 2005

Friendship...

Hey. Sorry it's been so long since I last updated, but the past week or so has been kind of crazy. Among other things, the zman is slowly ( dreadfully slowly) coming to an end, and thus I've been running around locating all my personal belongings and various flotsam, knicknacks, and assorted crap that I have accumulated in my 7 year tenure in the great state of New Jersey (motto: "the armpit of America!"), because next year, God willing, I'll be studying in Eretz Yisroel.
However, that is not the only reason I haven't had time to get to a computer save for sporadic, fleeting moments. And I'm not talking about lack of cash either. You see, a very close friend of mine's father is terribly sick. He has battled for almost two years, and last week, it apparently took a turn for the worse. The doctors, in their limited capability, have, from what I've heard, "given up." So, I've been literally sitting on the edge of my seat, doing whatever I can (i.e. saying tehillim, making phone calls to Eretz Yisroel in order to organize minyanim at the Kotel, etc.), and basically waiting for news on his condition. The problem is that my friend has basically shut everyone out, for the most part, and it's impossible to reach him. This, of course, is understandable, but I feel lacking. Because I don't have a vehicle, I can't drive out to where he is to see him, and be by his side, which is what I really want to do. But now that he doesn't answer his phone, it makes it that much harder for me.
I want him to know that he's got somebody other than his family by his side, someone who's carrying his banner, and is willing to stand and support him, come what may. I don't know if he knows this. I have no way of knowing. And although he might kill me if he sees that I've written about him on my blog ( and he most probably will...), nonetheless, I'm declaring my loyalty and friendship, unabashedly, for him to know. Because that's what real friends are for. A real friend isn't necessarily someone who claps you on the back and tells you what a great guy you are, when the going's good. A true friend- and this isn't limited to solely this example, obviously- is someone who, despite the fact that you're knee deep in shit is still helping you through it, and offering encouragement and moral support, no matter what.
So, _______. if your reading this, or you hear about this, just know one fact: If you need anything, you've got somebody in your corner, and I'm here for you. Even if I'm not physically present, i'm only a phone call away. even if you don't want to hear any words, I'm still available to be your shoulder, or your sounding board to bitch to....
Originally posted Tuesday, 2 August 2005

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An experiment...

I thought this would be funny...
Originally posted July 21, 2005

17th of Tammuz, 5765.....

Today is the 17th of Tammuz, marking the beginning of the three weeks until the 9th of Av, otherwise known as Bein Hametzarim. On this day in history, several events occurred, causing this day to be commemorated as a fast day, meant to mourn over the past events, and pray for the future. On this day, the first set of Luchos from Har Sinai were smashed, after the Children of Israel fashioned the Golden Calf. Another thong that happened on this day was that the walls of Jerusalem were finally breached by invading forces after a long and grueling siege. This eventually led to an idol being put up in the Beis Hamikdash, and the subsequent end of burnt offerings. It goes with out saying that obviously, we need to feel the proper amount of remorse.
It is no coincidence that these three weeks of mourning fall out during the summer months. Indeed, right in the middle of the most relaxed time of the year for the world in general, our vacation is seemingly interrupted by this time when no music should be listened to, no one gets haircuts or shaves, and toward the end, during the nine days, we don't even eat meat or bathe ( unless there is a seudas mitzvah, of course...). It's possible that the reason it falls out in such a way is as a lesson, more like a reminder, that despite what pleasures we may be experiencing, we are still, in essence, lacking. We are still in Golus, and no amount of creature comfort should ever allow us to forget that. We are not at home, nor should we think so. To forget is to repeat, and we know what happens when one forgets who he is, or from where he came....
So, during this time, when everyone is on vacation, and everyone's laid back, and the world seems to be as hedonistic as ever, God sends us a little reminder.
I remember when I was forteen, and I was spending the summer in Israel, the camp I went to took us for a tour of the underground sections of the Kotel. Our guide was a grizzled old woman, who seemed to have lived there for so long, her pallor was almost the same shade as the Yerushalmi stone at night. She was no ordinary guide. From the first minute, we could tell that she wasn't interested in kissing a bunch of american kids' asses. She was more interested in relating to us the importance of our heritage, both as individuals, and as a nation. Every time we stopped near the holy stones, she would caress it, and say a short prayer. We were joking around, and as this was during the three weeks, she found this intolerable. She sat us down, and for the next half hour, gave us such mussar, it would make the biggest Rosh Yeshiva blush. One of the things she said was that when she speaks to someone before a fast she never wishes them an easy fast. In fact, she wishes them a bad fast! She went on to explain that the point of a fast is to remind us of what we're missing, and indeed, it should be miserable, in order for us to appreciate what pain and discomfort is, and to inspire us to yearn and pray, every day, to be brought home.
At the time, my friends and I agreed that this was just a loopy old bat who had an opportunity to get on her soapbox, and we laughed it off (albeit, not in front of her, as we didn't want a personal shmooze...). However, as I get older, and I realize what the fasts are all about, I realize that she was in fact right. The fact that I can't forget what she said is a testimony to that, and if I could, I would thank her for it.....
So, although I won't tell you to have a terrible fast, or a miserable one, I can bless you that you should have a meaningful fast, and that we should all realize what's real in this world. And may we merit that this time next year, we shouldn't be fasting, but rather be rejoicing in the Holy City, bemehaira, amen.
Originally posted Monday, 25 July 2005

The apple doesn't fall far....

I had an argument with my father on motzei shabbos. It was an off shabbos, and he wanted to know what I was going to do on sunday.....
Dad: So, what's your plans for sunday?
Me: Well, I'm not sure, but I might be going to Morristown tomorr-
Dad: Morristown? Isn't that where the Lubavitcher yeshiva is?
Me: Yeah....
Dad: Why would you go there?
Me: Well, there's a baal teshuvah from Yerushalayim who came into town for the week, and he used to be a guru-
Dad: A what?!
Me: A guru. Y'know, like a swami type of guy?
Dad: I know what a Guru is! Why would you want to go there?
Me: Well, he used to be the Guru of Central Park, and-
Dad: You stay away from him.
Me: What? Why?
Dad: Did you hear me? You are to stay away from him.
Me: Why? What's the big deal?
Dad: What do you expect to gain from seeing him, or talking to him?
Me: Well, I would like to hear his perspective on things, and what would compel him to become fru-
Dad: Stay away. He's not like regular baalei teshuva.
Me: Why do you say that? How do you know? Why are you judging him?
Dad: (sighs) Listen, for some odd reason, you're interested in these kind of guys, right?
Me: Yeah....
Dad: I just don't think you should be focusing on these kind of people. You might get carried away, and-
Me: I'm twenty, man. I don't think you'll have to worry about being "carried away", as you put it, dad.
Dad: Don't call me "man". I am your father. (This gives me an image of my dad dressed as Darth Vader, and I snicker...) What's so funny?
Me: Nothing, nothing. You were saying?
Dad: You might be influenced by these kind of people, and-
Me: What are "these kind of people"? Who are you talking about? Baalei Teshuva? What?
Dad: No, not regular baalei teshuva, these kind of "spiritual" types; the former gurus and Buddhists and such.
Me: What's so bad about them?
Dad: Well, a lot of the time, they are just experimenting, and their not completely sincere about it. And it's possible that they might not be satisfied with it eventually, and revert back to where they were, and so on....
Me: That's a gross generalization, and you know it.
Dad: What I'm trying to say is that their becoming religious is egocentric; they're only doing it because it makes them feel good.
Me: But dad, every single frum jew is egocentric to an extent! We all want to feel good about what we're doing, and to recieve a reward! It's only after we reach a certain level that we can actually be completely selfless and leshma!
Dad: Yes, but by them, their constantly searching, never satisfied-
Me: We're supposed to as well! We are not supposed to be satisfied with our status quo! We're always supposed to transcend!
Dad: I'm just saying that by them it stems from a personal dissatisfaction, that they feel they're not doing anything....
Me: Is it possible, maybe, that you're just projecting your own feelings of "dissatisfaction" on them?
Dad: .... I'll speak to you another time ( hangs up the phone).
That was the gist of the argument; although I feel bad about that last dig, I do feel like I had a slight victory. A friend of mine told me that I should be a lawyer, because I out lawyered a lawyer....
I dunno.
In any case, I didn't end up going to Morristown......
Originally posted Tuesday, 19 July 2005

Shout out...

A few of you may know that my friend Pinchas made aliyah this week. You can read his blogg, the link's in my blogroll. I would just like to take a moment to congradulate him on this milestone in his life. I don't think I can express how much I envy him, certainly how muchj I respect him.
You can ask my buddies. They'll tell you that I often quote Benjamin Franklin as saying "Well done is better than well said." And the truth is, it's indeed better. I'm not sure to what extent it was, but I was told that Pinchas saved up several years of salary in order to afford this. I respect that. Instead of being content with his dreams, kept warm by their fuzzy happiness, he strove to actualize it, and bring it to fruition. He took the initiative. Before all you anti- zionists get pissed, I am speaking regardless of political affiliation, or any kind of groups. Regardless, it's admirable to see someone so devoted to something they believe in that they'd be wiling to do anything.
So Pinchas, here's my shout out....
BIG UP TO
YOU, MAN
May you be blessed with success in all paths you take, man.
I'd like to bless all of us that we should have the courage to take the steps we need to fulfill our dreams, and to constantly grow in service of the Holy One....
Originally posted Saturday, 16 July 2005

Off shabbos so far.....

So, you're all probably sitting on the edge of your seats, wondering where I've ended up for shabbos. Let me assure you, I indeed found a place in New Jersey, by relatives of mine, and am currently typing this entry on their computer. It's funny, because originally the place I was gonna go to was Morristown, but because I hadn't heard from the guy who was supposed to work it all out, I opted instead to indeed go to Passaic. Once I had already commited to going there, only then did I get a call from the guy, telling me to cancel, because a baal teshuvah from Jerusalem, formerly known as the Guru of Central Park was staying there for shabbos, and I had to meet him. Sadly, I has already made the arrangments, and couldn't back out. I would have loved to meet him, and maybe on Sunday I'll get that chance......
In the meantime, Jake and I made up to meet in the city ( Manhattan, for all you hicks out there....:P), at that world famous , renowned for it's culinary delightful entree's, venue of fine cuisine Dougie's. The train into the city was running late, and contrary to common sense, I drank two snapples on the train. Thus, when we finally arrived at Penn Station, I made a bee line for the bathroom.
When it comes to public bathrooms, the standard strategy of leaving one urinal between yourself and the next guy ( ladies, you can ask your brothers, husbands, fathers, or any male you'd like, he'll either blush or explain....), can become moot, due to the sheer numbers of people needing to take care of business.Obviously, the pressing urge "to go" will override even the most intense level of discomfort, and annul any inhibition..... The back up strategy is to either stare straight ahead, or if you're lucky and you got a corner, to examine the corner or wall with such an intense interest, as if the naked eye were an electron microscope, and you could find the cure for cancer in the grout between the bricks...
So, blessedly, I made it into a corner, and as I'm...ahem... relieving myself, I become the inner scientist and study that grout. Now, as much as we try, our heads do tend to swivel and we furtively glance around, yet always quickly returning to our research. This time, as my head automatically swiveled to the left, I noticed that I could see the top of the head of the guy next to me. The reason for this was because he was peering over the useless divider between us, examining me! Intently!
Me: Excuse me....(he looks up, and gives me this sheepish/knowing/gambling smile)
Him: Yeth? (just kidding, he didn't have the stereotypical lisp....)
Me: Do you mind? (he studies my face, and reaching the conclusion that I will not be his date in the last stall on the left, and realizing that I was getting pissed[no pun intended]....)
Him: ....bitch.
He promptly turns and walks away. No shake and zip, nothing. That means he was just lurking around the john, and wasn't even relieving himself as he examined me....
Very weird.
I took the subway to Dougie's, and we had a great time. Jake had just gotten some sefarim from a yiddish booksale, so we checked them out. It was a good way to relax.....
On the way back to Jersey, I sat across from this guy who works at the Conan O'Brein Show, and we talked music the whole way. It was really cool. Did you ever notice that music is the universal language? Anyhoo, I'll see y'all around.....
Originally posted Saturday, 16 July 2005

Seeking shelter.....

We're having an off shabbos this week, and due to the circumstances, I right now do not have a place to stay for shabbos. I'm checking into my options, but I really have no idea what I'm doing as of now....
Of course, worse comes to worse, I do have a rather spacious box that I can line with hefty bags ( in case of rain), and I know all the spots in Manhattan where the kosher joints throw out their leftovers (Dougie's, sadly, is not one of them; they save their leftovers and put it on buffet for monday night's all you can eat....). Plus, I have a meager cache of beef and chicken jerky, and some small bottles of Manishewitz Black Label.......
Originally posted Friday, 15 July 2005

A lesson in humility......

One of the guys in yeshiva just got a new speaker/ mixer system for his keyboard, and wanting to try it out, he asked me to bring my bass over so that we could play. Now, I know that I'm not good at all on the bass; I've only been learning for a few months, and I told him that I wouldn't be able to help out. Nonetheless, he told me to come over, "it'll be fun", he said.
So, at his behest, I brought it over, and we set up shop. Right away, he starts playing songs that a) I'm not familiar with and b) the style I'm not too fond of. Not to mention that in general I don't particularily like keyboard music......
Anyway, one of my buddies walks in at that point, and sees I'm struggling. He's pretty good at guitar, so he asks me if he can try out the bass. I hand it to him, and he fools around with it for a bit, not doing much better than me. While he's trying it out, a different guy walks in, one who is considerably better at guitar than the first guy, and seeing him struggling, tells him "when your done, I'll show you both how it's played." Now, I know that it was said as a joke, but there seemed to be an element of arrogance peeking through, but I paid no attention to it. Still, the guy takes it, and proceeds to real coax some nice tunes out of it. Although I know and he knows that he wasn't really playing the bass like a bass, but rather like a guitar, the other fellas in the room weren't aware of it, and there were comments along the lines of "dude, he doesn't even play bass, and he sounds better than you!", etc. I hadn't even had a chance to show them what I could do yet, and after about 40 minutes or so, when I got my beloved bass back and was ready to blow out their eyes with some deep grooves, they had already gotten bored with playing and were now fiddling with the mixing system. So essentially what happened was that I'd be going "bowmp bowmp bing!" and they'd be like "dude, hold on a sec..." or "shut up already!" It was all I could do to bite my tongue and not say anything back, because if I had, it would have possibly gotten nasty, and someone's feelings, including my own, would have gotten hurt......
The best I can say is that a few years ago, I probably would have taken the whole episode to heart. But, I know it wasn't personal, and I was just getting my ego deflated a tad.....
Originally posted Friday, 15 July 2005

Dust in the wind......

So, on shabbos I found out that one of the people who lives in the neighborhood's mother died. I knew this neighbor pretty well, because she's hungarian, and she's made me some hungarian dishes for me and sent them over with her kids to give me a little taste of home. She was worried that there wouldn't be a minyan of shomrei shabbos at the levaya, so a few guys from yeshiva, including yours truly, went. It's a million degrees, and the sun is baking down. The kind of day you'd rather spend lounging around, doing nothing but soaking the rays up like a lizard on a rock, but instead, I find myself sweating away in my hat and jacket, listening to the eulogies. After the hespadim were done, they turned to us strapping young lads to start filling the grave up.
So the five of us start shoveling away, as the chazan recites Kel Molei Rachamim in a haunting voice, and all I have running through my head is that song from Kansas, Dust In The Wind. At that moment, it all seemed to make sense, and I was struck by the profundity of the song. It was only when I got a kick in the shins from one of the guys that I realized I was humming it to myself.......
Still in all seriousness, once again I was struck with the same observation that I've had numerous times at different funerals: when the burial is finished, there's still a small pile of dirt left off to the side; the replacement of the space the body is now taking up. It's a real slap in the face to realize that, like Shlomo Hamelech said, "Hakol hevel", at the end of the day, whatever plans you make, whatever success you have, at the end, you return full circle to where you began: dust. It's a lesson, one that recedes in to the background all too fast. The clock is ticking; what kind of testimony are we giving?
Definitely food for thought.......
Originally posted Tuesday, 12 July 2005

Finally....an update....

I'm really sorry....it's just been pretty nuts here, lately.
So, I went home for shabbos sheva brachos for my recently wed brother. My father had told me earlier to prepare something to say, which I did, but I wasn't really interested in speaking. I kept pushing it off, through the friday night meal, and subsequently through kiddush and shabbos day's meal. I thought I was almost home free by seudas shlishis, when my eldest brother, who was helming that event took the initiative and introduced me to the crowd, thereby forcing me to act. Knees wobbly, I stood up and delivered my speech. I'm glad I did, because despite my fears that it wouldn't go over well, a lot of people came over to me to tell me how impressed they were. In the end, it was definitely worth it, and in all honesty, I even went for some extra ego strocking later on, in the form of feigning unhappiness with my own performance in front of various family members, etc., only to be mollified and assured that "No, no, you were great! Really!" Awwwwww, you don't really mean that!:)
Sunday morning, I flew back to New York. I'd been listening to Rage Against The Machine on the plane, and they have one song that has a really catchy refrain that starts off repeating "and now you do what they told you" over and over. Later on in the same song, the refrain is changed to a mantra that repeats "Fuck you, I won't do what you told me" backed by a really syncopatic beat and thrashing guitars. It's really easy to get caught up in it. So I've got it blasting in my ears, and I'm up to the second refrain, and I'm really feeling it. The stewardess ( flight attendant?) comes around to tell us to put our seat backs and tray tables up, and when she came to my row, I must have looked up at her with an extremmely dangerous/intense look on my face, due to the music, because she recoiled in horror! Realizing this, I removed my head phones and politely asked if there was a problem, which I think weirded her out more. She asked me to prepare for landing, and scurried away.......
After landing, I picked up my newly wed brother's car from the garage, because I was to keep it for the remainder of the zman in yeshiva. In addition, I was to go to Brooklyn to pick up 3 duffel bags that belonged to him and his new wife from her old apartement, in order to take it to the airport next week to give to my sister who was going back to Israel.
Fine.
So I'm driving on the BQE towards Brooklyn, and suddenly, out of nowhere, the road just splits. No warning, no signs, just the next thing I know, I'm on the Williamsburg Bridge. Well, I can't turn around until I'm off the bridge, so I just calm myself down, and wait for the nearest street to turn around and get back on the bridge. Of course, my luck has it that there was some sort of street fair for the first five or so blocks, plus they're all one way streets, so it was some time before I got myself headed in the right direction. Then, as I'm getting on the bridge, not only do I realize that I'm in the lane headed for Williamsburg, but that the lane to the BQE West, where I was headed, was on the other side of a cement divider. What the hell. No signs, again.
To cut a long story short, I was lost in Williamsburg for close to an hour, which can seem like an eternity. Among the highlights were driving up the sidewalk the wrong way on a one way street, breaking down the language barrier with an ancient hispanic dude, and being snubbed or misdirected by several of my hasidic brethren.
I finally arrived at my sister in law's old apartment, and over the phone, she guided me through the apartment to get the luggage. It was weird, but she explicitly warned me not to "poke around". What should I expect to "find", already? I asked her, but she sort of dodged the question........
After contracting a hernia from all the lugging I did, I called her back to ask her where the bathroom was. At first she didn't want to tell me, becuase, as she puts it, "her roomates were really 'finicky' about others using their bathroom." I cajoled and pleaded, assuring her I wouldn't "mark any territory", and that no one would know, etc. She told me where to find it, and warned me to be quick, cuz they could walk in at any second. I took care of my business, and sure enough, just as I was leaving the john, one of them walked in with her chasan, presumably. After getting an intense interrogation as to who I was, and what was I doing in her "inner sanctum", she offered me a drink, and I left to get back to yeshiva.
I figured I was scott free, and that my sister in law's roomates would never know that a stranger "defiled" their bathroom. I even congradulated myself on my smootheness and suave dealing with her roomate. It was only once I crossed the Verazzano Bridge that I realized I had left the seat up.......
Originally posted Thursday, 7 July 2005

Update.....

So, I'm back in yeshiva for a short time recuperating from this past whirling, crazy weekend. My brother just got married last night, and the chasunah was very nice. Crowd was rocking, band was jamming. The only annoyance was everyone coming up to me and reminding me that I'm the last one, and that I'm next, but you can't do anything about that anyway....
My flight home was on friday morning, and I had an interesting conversation with a woman sitting next to me. You see, when she came on to the plane, I saw she was dressed very bohemian like, with a flowing skirt and jangling bracelets, and such. She also happened to wear a big crucifix on her neck. Anyway, she takes the seat next to mine. At that time in the morning, I'm not in the mood of being particularily sociable, so I was strapped into my headphones, losing myself in the tunes. She taps me, and asks me what I'm listening to, so I politiely answer her, and go back to my music. That's when I noticed she's wearing a red woolen string around her wrist, apparently what she takes to be a "kabbalah bracelet".
Me: Excuse me, but can I ask you a question?
Her: sure.....
Me:(pointing to her bracelet) what is that?
Her: why, it's a kabbalah string!
Me: I see, and what is it for?
Her: to ward off evil spirits....
Me: and what faith are you?
Her: I'm a christian.
Me: Interesting........
Her: why? what's so interesting?
Me: well, kabbalah is a jewish form of study in order to understand the esoteric meaning of how the universe works....
Her: right.....
Me: and if you're a christian, that means that although you guys agree that our covenant, that is, the one that was formed with our father Abraham, and subsequentially the jewish nation, was real, God officially reneged on the covenant and formed a new one with the followers of Jesus, correct?
Her: I think so........
Me: hence, the "New Testament".....
Her: I got you.....
Me: so, when I see a christain person using things that they got from a religion that they purportedly believe has no credence anymore, I find that interesting.
Her: ......
At this point, the announcement came on that everyone is free to move about the plane. She excused herself, I guess to go to the john. When she returned, I noticed she was no longer wearing the bracelet.
The rest of the weekend was uneventful.
Originally posted Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Funny, albeit gross, story.....

Getting back to lighter and funnier things, allow me to relate a story that occured a few years ago. But first, let me tell you what reminded me of it. A few nights ago, I was listening to the radio, and heard a series of commercials that pissed me off, due to their lewdness. The first was a condom ad, and that's naturally sexual in nature. The second was an ad for Godiva's new smoothie blends. The woman takes on a husky, sultry tone, as if to connotate that there's something sensual about a drink. These commercials reminded me of the following story:
Two years ago, I walked into my relatives house to get something. One of my cousins, who I wasn't terribly close with was sitting in the den watching VH1's program I Love The 70's. One of the segments were about tv ads that incorporated sexual innuendo. The prime example was for some hot dog company, in which a busty chick ( who looked like the woman from Debbie Does Dallas) winks at the camera, says "you'll love the way we eat our weiners!" And then basically deep throats the frank. The foolowing conversation ensues:
Me: That's sick. That's really nasty.
My cousin: what? what's the big deal?
Me: they have to have everything revolve around sex!
her: what do you mean? some people just eat that way.....( I realize she has completely missed the boat here, so I try to drop the subject, but she insists...)
her: I don't see what the big deal is. i could eat it that way....
me: no one eats hot dogs like that.
her: I can. I'll show you at the next family barbecue.
Sure enough, two weeks later, at the family bbq at my house, she motions to me from across the deck, and holding up a knockwurst (which is like a thick salty frank) in her hammy fist, proceeds to deep throat the thing, promptly starting to choke on it. She starts gagging, and my father jumps up, and her father jumps up, and they both start yelling at her to " bite and swallow! Bite and swallow!" I crack open a beer and start laughing at the hilarity of the situation. Eventually, they pull it out of her throat, and everyone looks at me, trying to figure out why I'm laughing. Then, an older guy cousin of mine realizes the whole thing and looks at me. " You're a sick bastard." He tells me.
Hope no one's offended by the story!
Originally posted Friday, 24 June 2005

Yeesh......

Man, this has been a weird week. I've been in a deep funk for the most part. It intensified when my brother called to let me know that a cousin of mine got engaged. Normally, I would have blown my mind with joy, but that only made me feel worse.
You see, this cousin and I were really close. Talking to each other all the time, discussing deep things, encouraging each other, the works. However, over two years ago, when I was doing really bad in my previous yeshiva, I made a certain mistake which inadvertently affected everyone that I knew, because I lied to them. In any case, we made up, but I still didn't feel better about it. Then she went for seminary to eretz yisroel, so our contact was cut short. When she came back from the holy land, it was like she was supercharged, and we never picked up where we left off. We hardly spoke anymore, and although we had a long talk right before this past Rosh Hashana, I still don't feel the closure that I need. I don't feel like she's forgiven me, and last night, the first thing I thought was "well, now she's gonna get married, at that'll be it. No more time for her cousins, and I'll never get that old closeness back."
So, I moped around a little. But then I kicked myself. She's family! I believe she's forgiven me. But we haven't had that same closeness? So what? Doesn't mean we're not close or still friends! People grow, they change; they move on, and other people come into their scope of life! Naturally I felt better, and now I can't wait to go meet her future husband, to welcome into the family.......
Originally posted Friday, 24 June 2005

Disturbing observation....

This bothers me somewhat, by mere inconveniance: it is easier, at any time of day, to purchase marijuana in New Jersey, than it is to buy flavored tobbacco for hooka smoking.
I recently bought a new bowl, a nice glass one. Now, i wanted to sample it, but I'm not in the mood to blaze a ganja getaway. I decided a perfect substitute would be hooka tobbacco. However, I have not been able to find any in over a week. Not even smoke shops have it!
However, with a well placed phone call, I can have myself as much weed as I needed. I'm not complaining, but it is a little irksome....
Originally posted Tuesday, 21 June 2005

All dressed up and nowhere to go....

Well, thank God the whole thing with the politics in yeshiva has blown over. I emerged unscathed for the most part, and was able to clear things up with my Rosh Yeshiva. That chapter has come to a close.
To tell the truth, right now I should really be at a friend of mine's wedding. I even got all dressed up for it. However, I decided not to go in the end. Partially because I'm too lazy to travel all the way out to Crown Heights for it, but I'm pretty sure about the real reason.
About a year ago, I went to a family friend's wedding. My brother was at the same wedding, and contrary to my regular practice, I got quite sloshed. Mt brother did as well. In any event, we ended up getting into a serious fight. Physically and verbally. It ended when I told him to screw himself, and that I wouldn't be at his wedding, if he ever managed to get married, to which he replied that he didn't want a drug addicted little screw up with no direction in life at his wedding anyway. Obviously, we didn't really mean what we said, and after a few weeks, we made up with each other. Since then, I was matir neder, so I don't have to worry about his wedding.
However, I'm afraid that that whole experience affaected me deeply. I used to be a real wedding crasher type; I'd go to any wedding I could, and I would dance my heart out. Since that fight, though, I just can't seem to get into a wedding. I know that my enjoyment is not the main thing, and yet, I can't bring myself to even dance. By most weddings in the past year that I'd been at, I either caught up with friends I hadn't seen in a while, or just watched the bassist in the band. In short, a real party pooper. And this bugs me. A lot. I know I need to get it out of my system, but I can't seem to do it. And I really need to; my brother's wedding is next week. Who knows? Maybe by dancing with him in the middle on the happiest day of his life will bring things fuul circle. I certainly hope so. Peace.
Originally posted Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Between a rock and a hard place....

God, I was in such turmoil yesterday! Aside from the fact that I drove into Brooklyn yesterday to finally buy a suit for my brother's impending chasunah, and I was working on forty five minutes of sleep, I came back to yeshiva to find myself caught between the hanhala of my yeshiva and the guys in yeshiva.
What happened was that a guy, who apparently to everyone, including myself, was seriously growing in learning, etc. was kicked out after yom tov. Everyone was up in arms, and couldn't understand what was happening. I admit, I should have enough trust in my Rabbeim to implicitly back them, but I indeed found myself struggling with the whole thing. I understood that I didn't know all the facets of the story, and in an effort to assuage myself, and reenforce my confidence in the hanhala, instead of making a half assed protest, and completely condemning the hanhala, I called one of the Rabbeim and asked him respectfully to explain it to me. Not because he has to answer up to me, but because I really wanted to understand why this guy, who is growing, was kicked out before others, who it would be understandable for them to be chucked.
My rebbi went through an incredibly detailed process that brought him to his conclusion, and assured me that he didn't take my questioning as chutzpah, even if the idea may have been chutzpadik. He even thanked me, because now he was assured that he can go through his whole accounting and arrive at the same conclusion, free of guilt.
Now that I was privy to the information, I was able to stand wholeheartedly behind my hanhala, confident in their decision. However, all of my friends are pissed off at them, and now me, because I don't join in their indignance. And when I try to calmly explain that I went through it with them, and fully agree, I'm accused of kissing ass and being a lackey. Plus, because I don't want to argue, nor do I have the liberty to, when they ask me what my rebbi said, and I don't tell them, not out of any high and mighty reason, just because I think it's a breach of confidence, they get more pissed!
Plus, my Rosh Yeshiva heard that someone called my rebbi, and although he doesn't know it's me,I believe he took it the wrong way. He even went as far as telling another guy in yeshiva that anyone who has problems should tell him to his face. He was pissed!
So now, I'm caught between the guys and the hanhala, but part of the hanhala is pissed at me! Jeez! I didn't know what to do! And, because I was so tired, everything felt that much worse! I felt like crap! Anyway, gam zu yavor, and hopefully either I'll clear things up, or they'll blow over themselves....Good Shabbos, everyone!
Originally posted Saturday, 18 June 2005

Shavuos.....

Hey. I had an awesome yom tov. It was so beautiful! I'm not sure what exactly the big deal is with pulling an all nighter; that could be due to my sleeping problems, though. In any event, I looked forward to shacharis of the first day, because, at least for myself personally, it seems that when I'm physically exhausted, that's when I'm most tuned in to my spiritual self. The food was delicious throughout the chag; the yeshiva cook really outdid herself this year. Big up to her! The yom tov ended in a climatic round of dancing by our neilas hachag, and although I worked up a real heavy sweat, it felt like nothing. It's my hope that everyone out there had an amazing experience, and is able to incorporate that into their day to day dealings for as long as they can! Peace.
Originally posted Thursday, 16 June 2005

Introspection....

I got really depressed yesterday for about an hour and a half in the middle of first seder. I was sitting in the Beis Medrash, and I happened to look at a friend of mine, who can annoy me on occasion. I started looking at everyone in the Beis Medrash, and criticisizing them to myself, pointing out their faults in my head. That's when I realized what I was doing. I felt so ashamed of myself. Here I am, and I try to preach love and respect and tolerance, and I'm looking for fault in all of my friends. Needless to say, I got really down on myself, and for the next hour and a half, I walked around in a haze, berating myself. I couldn't look in the mirror; even my hair was messed up. I felt like I couldn't live with myself.
I walked around the lake for a while, and after a little bit, this little positive voice inside me told me that enough beating myself up, it's time to move on. In fact, the voice reassured me, the very fact that I felt that way shows that maybe I am growing, etc. I was reminded of a teaching from Reb Nachman of Breslov. Rebbe Nachman used to say that it's okay to feel guilt and shame over personal failings and shame, but that discretion is needed. That is, one has to know how long he can consider his deeds with out getting vexed and depressed; he has to use the regretful feelings as an impetus to improve, but once he's got it, he should move on. That sin happened five minutes ago; what are you doing about it now? Something to consider....
Originally posted Thursday, 9 June 2005

Off shabbos part II (see previous post first)

I didn't want there to be a system overload, so I saved some of the best for last.
While my buddies were in the mosh pit in front of the stage. I made myself comfy on the grass. Still, wanderlust struck, and I needed water badly, so I started to walk around. I ended up back on Fifth Ave., and started heading down in the numbers. At a certain intersection, there were a group of Neturei Karta dudes, protesting with placards, the whole nine yards. Aside from "fuck" and "shit", they spoke virtually no english. Opposite them, on the same side of the street, were a bunch of anti disengagement people. The two groups were exchanging words. At one point, the Gush men charged across the street, and they started shoving around. Next thing I know, there are fists flying, and these guys are having a rumble of Sharks/Jets magnitude (west side story, anyone?). I'm standing next to several big guys, so we look at each other, nod, and rush across the street, attempting to back the Gush guys away, and stop the fight.
Gush guy: what are you doing?! Get outta the way! (then, over my shoulder:)that's right, you crazy jerks! You're worse than Nazis!
Me: Listen man, stop. Stop! It's not gonna help. They won't shut up-
Him: I'll shut them up alright! (to them:) you even have a bris, you psychos?!
Me: Listen man, hey. Hey! Come back here! Come on! (I grab him, and he turns like he's ready to clock me. I plow on) today's your day. Our day, dude. It's unity-
Him: I can't unite with those nuts!!
Me: Just listen for a second! ( I swear, this guy's veins are popping, he looks like he's gonna have a stroke) No one's listening to them. They're hearing you. These guys don't even speak english. No one pays them any mind. Move on, man. There are cops laughing at both you groups,and goyim are watching. You want to tell me you'd like to be responsible for this massive chillul HaShem?
After some more cajoling, he and his posse go back acroos the street.
All of a sudden, three Ramaz girls come shashaying up to the Neturei Karta guys, in flying V formation. The two girls on the sides stop, as the leader proceeds another step or so. ( I swear this happened!) In unison, in unison!! they place their left hands on their hips, and their right hands go up in the universal teeny bopper Loser sign. If you don't know what it is, ask your sister. The leader looks the group up and down, and she says: "We're the fashion police, and you guys are just not gonna gel." Then, the three pivot away, and start shashaying back down the street again with the kind of look on their faces that tells you that they're thinking: "Uh huh. I'm jewish, rich, and hot. Don't mess."
I couldn't stop laughing for ten minutes.
That was a pivotal moment for me. Alicia Silverstone must be proud.
Originally posted Wednesday, 8 June 2005

Off Shabbos

Yo. We had an off shabbos this weekend, so I ended up going to my aunt who lives in New York. Shabbos was wonderful, food was great, and I really enjoyed myself.
In any event, I decided to head back to yeshiva on saturday night, even though yeshiva didn't start until sunday night. I get to the train station for the L.I.R.R., and lo and behold, there's a fellow jew there. We exchange greetings, and make a little small talk. After a few moments, he asks me what yeshiva I'm in, and I tell him the name of the place. He says he's never heard of it, and asks who are the Roshei Yeshiva. I tell him, and he says that there's no recognition, due to the fact that he, as he puts it, is a YU guy.
That comment intrigued me, because I don't see why being a YU guy should have any effect on his knowledge of other facets of judaism. After all, I'm not a YU guy, per se, and yet I know about YU, and things pertaining to "that"crowd. So we basically come out with the fact that all he knows, and a lot of people in general know, are stereotypes. We discussed this, and why it's that way, and why it's not good. At one point he made a back handed compliment of how ignorance is bliss (self deprecatingly). I told him that in my humble opinion, ignorance is not, in fact, bliss; ignorance is dangerous.
Our discussion moved on to shidduchim; he's apparently smack in the middle of the whole game. We had to switch trains at a certain point, and as we boarded the other train, I noticed two Lubavitcher bochurim sitting in the back of the car. In keeping with my personal philosophy, I waved to them, asked where the were headed, and then turned back to my new friend. Pointing in their direction, I told him that due to stereotypes, those guys have an especially hard time with shidduchim. After observing that I had neatly tied the two subjects together, he agreed with me. But by that time, we had alreadt reached Penn Station, and he went on his way.
So, I turned to my new Chabadsker friends, since we were headed in the same direction, and started shmoozing with them. Turns out that they were from far out places, one from Cali, the other from Oregon, and we walked through the station together, sharing a little bit of chassidishe torah. I asked them to watch my bag for a minute, so I could step outside for a smoke. As I'm smoking outside, first I'm approached by a black guy who asks me for a light. I give him a light, he says "God bless," and goes on his merry way.
Then, I'm approached by an older white gentleman, a real put together looking guy, and this is the following exchange:
White guy: I'd say peace, but I don't know how to say it in hebrw (chuckles softly)
Me: The word is Shalom, man.
Him: Right! Shalom, shalom! ( looks both ways discreetly) Are you orthodox? (I nod the affirmative) Are you Hasidic?
Me: I am of Hasidic descent, yes....
Him:Well, there used to be a lot of you jews where I live. I live in Seagate. You know, in Brooklyn?
Me: Sure, there used to be a school there. A rabbinical seminary.
Him: Yeah! Yeah! I tell you, there was a struggle for a while, between you guys, and the Reform Jews. Real fucks, those reform jews. Trying to change your whole religion? What for? You guys lasted fine for thousands of years without assimilating! I'm catholic, and you guys were the originals!
Me: Well, it's nice to know you feel that way. I guess you can say that reform to us is like Episcopelians to you....
Him: Why's that?
Me: Well, I've heard you call them Christianity Lite: Same religion, half the guilt..
Him: Ha ha! Yeah,you jews are alright! I tell you, I always knew that fuck Arafat was up to no good! Holding parties for nazis....
At this time I had finished my smoke, so I politely extrecated myself from the conversation, and headed back downstairs. My chabad friends and I exchanged blessings, and went our separate ways.
I arrived back in yeshiva close to one in the morning, unpacked, rolled myself a nice doobie, and drifted off to sleep with the songs of Rebbe Shlomo drifting around my head.
Woke up sunday morning kinda late, as there was no one back in yeshiva to get me out of bed. I prayed to the lord, and having nothing else to do, I went into Manhattan for the Israel Day parade. Man, was that fun! I'm not a zionist, although I have tremendous love for the Holy Land, and I don't get political usually, so I decided I was going as a show of general solidarity with my brethren. So many people, of all types from all over! It was beautiful to see such a gathering!
There was a concert in Central Park by 92nd street, and since I was at 53rd, I started to trek over there right away. Along the way, I was stopped numerous times by vendors, solicitors, and all the basic stuff you'd expect from a parade of jews. I got so ripped off, so many times! But who cares? I knew ( or hoped) that my money was going toward worthy causes. Along the way, I picked up some guy my age, and we walked together for a bit. He told me he was studying in YU, and we talked in learning a little bit, which I thought was really cool. We split up after a while, and I continued my journey.
Finally, I arrive at the concert! I made myself comfortable on a grassy spot, under the shade and sat back to relax. At one point, I started wandering around, and I see this huge black guy, wearing an Israeli flag like a cape, with massive dreadlocks. I asked him what's up, and he told me he's a supporter of Israel, that the jews are the chosen ones, etc. A really cool guy. Noticing my Bob Marley tee shirt, we started discussing brother Bob, and then went our ways.
I start heading back to my spot, and I see a guy I know. Now, this guy is straight out of Boro Park. Serious hard core chassidishe family. You can tell he's got his long peyos tied up under his baseball cap. The guy has no clue how to dress this way, so he's wearing short shorts and a polo shirt with the top button done up. I start to greet him, and he glances at me, and starts heading in the opposite direction. I chase him for a bit, and he finally turns around and with a deer stuck in the headlights look, begs me: "please don't tell my parents!" and bolts!
Anyway, the concert ends, and I made my way over to Dougie's for a meal of massive proportions. Then, I hopped on the subway, and went back to yeshiva. I have more exciting bits from the day's events, but not for now. I'll let you digest this stuff in the meantime. Peace.
Originally posted Tuesday, 7 June 2005

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tres' chic?!?

Note: This really happened. For some reason, I get a lot of skeptical looks when I recount this story, but it's true...
The craziest thing happened to me the other night. I'm in 7-11, buying myself one of those huge slurpies. Suddenly, this big ( and when I say big, a mean of goliath-like proportions), mean, scary looking black dude walks in to the store. This guy looked like he was straight outta Compton, had the whole limp thing going, etc. He's wearing an oversized Notorioius B.I.G. t- shirt, and one of those throwback Celtics caps off to the side, his jeans are halfway down his ass, really, the whole nine yards.
And, he was wearing tzitzis.
Now, when you've repositioned yourself comfortably on your chair after toppling over in surprise, I'll restate myself.
He was wearing tzitzis. Swear to God.
Now, I'd seen falashas before, and there are some black converts back home, but most of them dress like jews in some way or another; this guy looked like he just came down from the ghetto to buy an ounce of weed and some twinkies. Anyway, I think to myself that I gotta talk to him. He steps out side, I follow. He lights up a cigarette, and looks at me....
Black dude: Whatup, man?
Me: Whatup, whatup, man....( trying hard and failing harder to sound like I can jive....)After some uncomfotable silence, I try again:
Me: Yo, dawg, can I ask you a question?
Him: Whatup?
Me: Are you a falasha?
Him: a what!? ( he gets ths look like he's saying " that better not be a racial word, cuz I'll fuck you up, honky!" I quickly press on and explain)
Me: you know, those Ethiopians who claim to be from the lost tribes of Israel?
Him: (Laughs) Shit, no! I'm a catholic!
Me: well, in that case, why are you wearing tzitzis, man?
Him: what the fuck are tzitzit?
Me: you know, the strings that you're wearing? Those are tzitzis, man. ( he holds them up for me to see)
Him: you mean these? Shit, man, that jewish clothe is dope!
Me: Dope?
Him: that's right, it's dope! It's fly! It's stylish, yo!
Me: Dope.....
Him: what's the big deal? I see white boys wearing ghetto shit all the time, aint no reason I can't wear jewish shit, right?
Me: Can I see them? ( I examine them. They are real, and are wound perfectly...)
Me: where did you get this?( in truth, I thought he probably knocked over a guy from my yeshiva or something...)
Him: shit, I work in a warehouse in Newark, there some jewboys there. I said to one "that's some mighty fine looking shit I see y'all wearing! Let me get some of that!" He got it for me, and I made him do it up exactly like you jewboys got it. Authentic, like.
Me: Is it wool or cotton? ( I was referring to the beged)
Him: Dunno. Take a look, man. ( It's cotton)
Me: How much did you pay for this? ( he gets this sly look on his face, like he pulled off a good one..)
Him: Shit, man. I didn't pay near as much as you guys do! I got a bargain! He wanted 50 bucks, but I got him down to 40, man. He told me I was killing him. ( Great, some chassidic dude just realized a splendid business opportunity, and is running around making a killing now.)
Me: um, yeah.....that's a good deal, man. You wear it all the time?
Him: Naw, it's part of my outfit, dawg. Y'know, on occasion. When I want to feel.....individual.
Me: cool.
Anyway, we exchanged high fives and went our separate ways. You meet all types.
Originally posted Friday, 3 June 2005

Beautiful Torah....

I heard an amazing piece of Torah the other night, and I just have to share it:
Way back in sefer Bereishis, we know of the story where Reuven, the son of Leah, brought his mother dudaim. Rochel Imeinu approached Leah, and asked her for some of the dudaim that Reuven had brought her, to which Leah replies rather sharply: "it's not enough that you stole my husband, now you must take my gifts as well?" End of story.
Let's take a second here. Obviously, we don't understand the stories of the chumash completely, nor can we fathom the level our forefathers were on. Still, one might ask, "what kind of chutzpah does Leah have!?" Rachel stole her husband? Rachel gave her the simanim in order that Leah should be able to marry Yakov, and be saved from embarassment from being discovered, and Leah is accusing Rachel of stealing her spouse? What's going on here?
Now, let's go away from there for a second. We learn that there are three levels of chesed that one can do. I'll give you an example for all three.
1) I'm driving northbound, and I see a jew headed in the same direction hitchiking. I stop and pick him up, and give him a ride, free of charge. We'd all agree that this is a chesed, right?
2) I'm headed north, and I see a jew headed south, hitchiking. I flip around and take him out of my way, free of charge. Wouldn't you say that's a bigger chesed?
3) Same situation as chesed number two, only that when the hitcher gets in my car, what I say is: "Great! It's so good that I saw you! I was supposed to get something for my wife from the southside of town, and I completely forgot. If I hadn't seen you, I would have gone all the way home, realized that I forgot, gotten the riot act from my wife, and then I would have had to shlep across town again! Thanks for reminding me!" What happens is that the hitchiker doesn't even think that his driver is doing him a favor; in fact, he feels like he did the driver a favor! Now I think that this is obviously the highest of the three examples, don't you?
Getting back to our original question, what we see is that what Rachel probably did, in her greatness,was not make Leah feel indebted to her for the favor, but rather made it seem as if Leah was the one doing her a favor! And after all those years, Leah couldn't understand why Rachel stole her husband, etc.
We learn from here an invaluable lesson in life and judaism in regard to acts of kindness. If possible, you should make it seem as if you are not the one who's doing the favor but the other one is. It's a lesson we should all keep, and we should all merit to apply. Peace.
Originally posted Thursday, 2 June 2005

Introspection...

So I was driving in brooklyn a few days ago, when I stopped at a traffic light. Crossing the street in front of me were several young beis yakov type/ chassidishe girls. They couldn't be more than 11 or 12 years old, but I noticed that one of them was really beautiful. Not in a pedophiliac way, but rather that I was able to understand that this girl was probably a beautiful baby, and a gorgeous child, etc., and I was able to appreciate that this girl will one day grow up and develop into a beautiful woman.
And I was struck at the fact that as I was looking at her, I actually thought "damn, it's a shame that when she grows up, her potential, beauty- wise, will be stunted." I was obviously thinking about the shaved heads and bullet proof stockings that were on the horizon for her, no doubt, yet I was seriously bothered by the fact that I thought that at all. What I mean is: what standard am I holding her up to? Do I believe that for a woman to reach her potential in looks she must have big tits and six inch stilettos? Am I that affected by western culture? Sarah Imeinu was the most beautiful woman to ever live, and obviously her beauty was within the parameters of tznius.
I was really bothered by this. I felt shallow, and false for those few minutes afterwards, long after the group of girls had disappeared down the block. And then I felt stupid because the back up of cars behind me, who'd been stuck for three light cycles already, were screaming and beeping in unison.....
Originally posted Saturday, 28 May 2005

Ahhhh, youth!

The things we don't even realize when we're children.....
Recently, my roomate brought in some old kids' tapes, for nostalgic purposes. One of the tapes that he brought in was Dr. Middos and the Marvelous Middos Machine. I only had a vague recollection of the tape, plus I had watched the video, not heard the audio, but I was amazed at the whole premise of the tape. I'll explain:
Dr. Middos is a benevolent person who crafts this wonderful machine that via satellite, can monitor all the good jews in the world, and how they're behaving. If, G-d forbid, someone tells a lie, or makes fun of his friend, etc., there is a middos alert, and the machine streams music that has grave moral undertones throughout the tune down to the offenders area, in order for the person to learn his lesson, and rectify himself.
Very nice, but I was amazed at the whole concept.
First of all, isn't this teaching kids voyeurism? To snoop in other people's homes and invade their privacy? I now have this image of Dr. Middos as a creepy old man, airing out everybody's dirty laundry. Could this be the reason for the inexplicable spawning of several thousand yentas worldwide, and counting? It's scary!
And don't tell me that the most grave problem is Heshy spilling the milk and being caught in a moral dilemma as to whether he should lie or not; there's so much juicier dirt out there!
In any case, I am pleased to announce the release of the Dr. Middos and the Marvelous Middos Machine dvd, due out sometime around Rosh Hashana. Among other goodies such as director's commentary, interviews with the actors, and updated computer generated graphics, this deluxe package will include the deleted scenes, uncut, and uncensored!
A few of my favorite scenes:
Shnooky Shapiro: Well, it seems like everything is going well....( suddenly, the middos alert goes into full effect!!)
Dr. Middos: Shnooky, what's the problem? Have you been reading those goyish novels again?
Shnooky: I don't know, Dr. Middos! Let's look at the screen and find out! ( they both peer at the screen)
Shnooky: Hey! What's Shprintza doing with Zalman? Isn't she married to Berel? Where are they going?
Dr. Middos: One second Shnooky, let's wait and see...
Shnooky: They can't do that! Didn't you tell me that that's assur, Dr. Middos? We have to stop them right now-
Dr. Middos: Wait a moment Shnooky, this looks interesting...( microwave dings, and Dr. Middos pulls out a fresh bag of Cholov Yisroel Popcorn)
Dr. Middos: Shnooky, can you get me the slivovitz?
And so on and so forth. I could go on, but I don't want to ruin all the surprises....
Originally posted Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Dumb ass bumper stickers...

Here's a quick rant:
I was walking the other day, and I saw an energy efficient car that had many bumper stickers on it. One of the stickers, which was right next to a Kerry/Edwards sticker, had the following slogan: AT LEAST NO ONE DIED WHEN CLINTON LIED!! That one just totally pissed me off. I don't care what your political preference is; that's your business, and I respect your opinion. But don't have some bullshit statement on your car that makes you sound like an ass. Does this mean that the driver of the car would prefer to have a morally corrupt individual as the leader of the free world, rather than an apparently God fearing man of moral fiber who has the courage and conviction to stand by his beliefs? C'mon! It boggles my mind that people have been reduced to standing behind a petty reason like that; there are many reasons to hate President Bush, but that shouldn't be one of them.
Originally posted Saturday, 21 May 2005

To blaze or not to blaze?

Note: At the original time of posting, I was still "using" recreational drugs, mainly psychedelics. Thank God, since then, I have stopped using controlled substances for any reason, be it recreational, spiritual, or any other reason you can think of. I now try to get high on God. To anybody who uses any kind of drug, I implore you: stop before it gets out of hand. It's not an efficient means of escape, and it only exacerbates the situation.
To clear up any ambiguity, I am officially stating my view on Marijuana and other psychedelic drugs. First off, let me say now that I do not advocate any "heavy" drug such as cocaine, heroin, and the like. However, I do advocate the use of "recreational" drugs such as Marijuana, and most other hallucinogens, i.e. mushrooms, etc.
Speaking healthily, statistics show that while numerous deaths and illnesses are caused as a direct result of tobbacco smoking, alcoholism, and even mass consumption of coffee, not once in history has a person died as a direct cause of blazin' the good stuff. People have gotten into car accidents and have been involved in promiscuous sex, leading to AIDs and venereal diseases, but never from cancer or illness caused by inhalation. It is extremely hard to overdose on marijuana, though mushrooms can be dangerous in the wrong amounts. Also, marijuana has good medical benefits, such as lowering blood pressure.
For research and statistics, you can go to: http://www.geocities.com/healthmoon/smoking-marijuana/home.htm; for tobbacco stats: http://www.ash.org.uk/html/factsheets/html/fact02.html; and for alcohol stats: http://www.usnodrugs.com/alcohol-statistics.htm
Of course, I don't advocate the just blazing up in any particular setting, there are certain prerequisites, and these are my guidelines for smoking up:
1) Never buy directly from a dealer if you can help it; get a friend to do it for you
2) If possible, blaze it up alone; if not possible, don't smoke with chicks, it can lead to promiscuous behavior, and aside for health risks, G-d wouldn't be happy with it (even if you offered a toke...)
3) Try to make it a positive/ spiritual experience; when I blaze, I usually listen to Shlomo Carlebach's music, or try and learn something; it's a real intense experience, and new things are just opened up to you when in an altered state of mind.
4) Do not smoke too often; if your a heavy stoner, I suggest limiting yourself to no more than 3 times a week. This staves off addiction, and keeps the experience much more potent. Depending on your habit, use discretion.
5) Be careful of what it is you're buying; try to make sure you're getting natural stuff, without any of the new chemical additives. The stuff you hear about better highs is bullshit anyway. Hydroponics are cool, though.
6) Keep healthy food nearby for the munchies; most of the time, you load up on junkfood, try something with serious protein like a steak or a big shnitzel sandwich...
7) .....................................I forgot the other stuff I was gonna post, but enjoy, and be smart about it.
Originally posted Friday, 20 May 2005

.....that's deep, man.

Some thoughts, some profound, some profane:
I was sitting in the park yesterday, and I was wondering why when a frisbee approaches you, it seems to get larger...and then it hit me.
When keeping score in tennis, if the opponent has no points accrued, his status is "love". I wondered, why do we use the word "love"? What's to love about having nothing? I realized then, that if you love somebody, it doesn't matter whether they have all the money or the world; you can love someone even if they have nothing.
When you hug someone, your arms form the letter "samach"; and then you are mamash someich noflim...
If you're caught pissing in public, which is a pissdemeanor, then urine trouble...
Originally posted Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Helpless victims?

Maybe it's due to the world we live in, or society in general, but I can't for the life of me understand the victim card. It seems like no one in today's day and age has any need to feel a sense of responsibility for their own actions, or suffer the consequences of the choices they make. There is always a scapegoat, someone to point the blame at. It's absolutely ridiculous! That someone can file a law suit against a major fast food chain for causing their obesity?! Get real! No one told you that you needed a supersize fries and two large shakes! Your lack of self control allowed you to go wild, and you are to blame for it, and no one else! They give you an option to refuse the super size; no one has a gun to your head. In my opinion, that woman needs a cat scan more than she needs liposuction.
Aside from that, what about criminals today? It seems that each one was a victim of some sort of abuse, leaving them chemically imbalanced, and thus, they aren't accountable for their actions. Granted, there are cases like that, and in such cases, they should be counseled and treated accordingly, but that the majority of criminals out there all have issus? One word: bullshit (no hyphen, so I count it as one word...). People are content to shit themselves and have someone else clean up after them, and I say that that is wrong. The sooner we realize that when the chips are down, we are the ones who are solely responsible, the closer we'll be to the next logical step....
Originally posted Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Wife and death...

So I'm in the pool hall, and by the table next to me is this middle aged black couple shooting a game. The husband, who only has the eightball left, sets up his shot, the whole time telling his wife that he never misses this one. He shoots, and misses.
Husband: Shit! Damn! I never miss that shot! (throws his cue on the floor)
Wife: Oh, shut up and move so's I can get in there. (elbows him out of the way. She has a few balls on the table, which she proceeds to knock down in quick succession, right until the eightball, which she misses)
Wife: Damn it! This table is fucked up!
Husband: Move so I can show you how it's done. ( sets up nicely, and sinks it in.)
Husband: See? Like I tell you, this is a man's sport! Can't trust a woman to do a man's job!
Wife: Is that so? (one hand on hip, the other making the stop sign..) What about the times that I beat your sorry black ass? And what about the women who win those contests?
Husband: What? Never happened woman. Only time you ever beat me was cuz I let you! And those women aint women; they're lesbians or something.
Wife: Let me? Let me? You gonna tell me all those times were you letting me win? Bullshit.
Husband: What times? You beat me one in a thousand, maybe-
Wife: One in a thousand?! You are trippin' aint you? And another thing, those lesbians know how to do a man's job better than you do! You couldn't fu-
Husband: Alright, alright, I didn't mean one in a thousand like that; I meant like it never happens that often-
Wife: and I said you was trippin! And that-
Husband: I know what you said, woman!! The whole damn pool hall knows what you said! Now don't you go insulting my manhood like that or I'll-
Wife: What? You'll what? I haven't gotten any from your sorry black ass in months! Not that it was any good....
Husband: Now what the hell does that mean?-
Wife: It means: You don't know how to fuc- ( just then, they turn to stare at me.)
Husband and wife: what the fuck are you looking at, cracker?
Me: N-nothing. Nothing at all. Sorry....
Anyway, they go back to their argument, and I left. Ah, the pleasure of matrimony! Hope you guys liked that little story.....

Originally posted Friday, 13 May 2005

And another thing...( read previous post first)

To the international Gay/Lesbian community: what the hell do you need to parade about? Years ago, I could hear why- at a time when homosexuality was still considered for the most part by society as immoral and depraved, and homosexuals were subject to terrible discrimination and violence- you would feel a need to stand up and say "this is my choice, and I'm proud to stand by my convictions!" But today, when homosexuality is accepted in modern society and culture, to the point where there are tv shows about fixing up the straight man with a new look presided by gay men, and a show about a group of young hip lesbians, what are you bitching about? You're accepted! You've won! Move on already! By calling attention to yourself now, you're just opening yourself for further negative attention!You've got your cake, eat it quietly!
On a similar note, the African American community could use similar advice, in my humble opinion. Yes, you've been discriminated against, and been subjected to hate crimes and violence; but look where you are now! You have risen t the top of international culture! Statistics show that hip hop is the most emulated form of music in the world. You've revolutionized the way America talks, walks, and dresses. What are you complaining about? About the people in the street, the ghetto? Newsflash: it's not whitey's fault; it's the members of your own community who have ascended the social ladder and never looked back. The only basketball player that I know of that has given back to his community is Shaq. What about Michael Jordan?
Take a look at us jews. Throughout history, we've been subject to the worst discrimination known to man, for the longest time. And yet, we seemingly have the Midas touch (at least according to the world..). And it does ring true on certain points. Why is this so? Very simply, we don't bitch that much. Sure, you've got the ADL, and the JDL, but those people are a small minority in the international jewish community. For the most part, we have been content to hunker down, gig in, wipe our own asses, and show through action, not speech that we won't be knocked down, etc. Our respective communities ( the Jewish and African American communities, that is.) have much in common; we should utilize this and ally ourselves when need be. My father marched with Martin Luther King Jr.; the ideals were the same then, why can't they be the same now?
Originally posted Thursday, 12 May 2005

Hashgocha Pratis.....?

Whether you're for the disengagement plan, or against it and call it the expulsion, or you are just plain uninvolved, unbothered, and uninterested, I've still got some news. The World Pride parade might be postponed due to the unrest in the Holy Land. Now, don't write me off as a homophobe; although I personally feel that it's gross ( I mean, c'mon, it's an exit, not an entrance- and that goes for anyone doing it doggy style), not to mention as far as I know, assur, that's your business. If you want to wipe crap off your organ, or cum outta your ass ( depending on preference, I guess), that's your business. I respect your decision, if not your actions. On the other hand, don't bring your laundry to a place that's holy to at least three religions! It says that one who sins in Jerusalem is akin to urinating in the King's chambers. I believe that the sole purpose of the parade's choice of location this year is to give the proverbial middle finger to the religious-or conservative-part of the world, and say "fuck you! I'll go where I want to!" Go where you want to, but why be so obstreperous about it? We don't push our beliefs in your face ( for the most part), don't parade your promiscuity in ours!
If you want to read about it, go to http://www.jewschool.com/2005/05/disengagement-plan-may-force.php
Originally posted Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Yom HaShoah 2005

Today is Yom HaShoah. It is the world's official day of remembrance for the events that happened during World War Two that almost led to the annihilation of the Jewish People. For some jews, every day is yom hashoah, for others, sadly, it's not. I'm not saying we should live in constant grief; rather, we need to know what happened, and that, despite what we do, or how powerful we are, or how many protests and lobbies for other downtrodden nations we make, it can G-d forbid happen again. We are not home, even those living in the Holy Land. We are in golus, and we shall remain that way unless we do something about it. The world, much as we like to think the opposite, hates us. Oh, sure they allow us into any field of work, and in most places we can walk in safety. But that doesn't mean we're liked. We are grudgingly accepted, tolerated at best. So when we have a moment of silence, or whatever, think about what happened then, think how it can happen now, and what could you do about it.
"Never again" is right, but not the way the extremists and Kahaniks meant it. G-d, please help us in our spiritual journey to make it never happen again, and may we have the next Yom HaShoah together in Jerusalem, reunited with those we lost. Amen.
Originally posted Friday, 6 May 2005

I'm not crazy after all!

I just found this website and it confirms what I've been saying for a while! Check it out! http://www.maps.org
Originally posted Friday, 6 May 2005

Well, that wasn't as bad as I thought it would be...

I was really nervous about getting my teeth pulled, but it wasn't such a big deal! Of course there were some downsides, i.e. talking like a wino for several hours because of the novocaine. And let's not forget the constant drooling due to lack of sensation in my mouth. And, of course, there's my amazing impersonation of Marlon Brando with all this crap and gauze in my mouth....
Still, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and I've been drugged up since late afternoon, so no complaints. Well, actually, I'm not happy that the nitrous oxide doesn't last, but at least I got the pain meds....but I was so mellow at the time, that I went to my "happy place" and fell asleep in the chair....
Originally posted Wednesday, 4 May 2005

It's way too late to be pondering this crap...

Now before I start, let me assure you that this does not by any means reflect on how badly I want Moshiach, so bear with me.
The thing is, I can't fathom what life will be like after he comes. What will we do? There's no bechira, so what'll be the point? If you think about it, l'havdil, in all the movies that you see, and all the books that you read in which there's a quest of sorts, there is never an ending. It is never over. Whenever there is a victory, it's either not final, or the protagonists are rushing off again to find more adventure. It's like they reached the pinnacle, looked around, and said: "Yay. Now what?"
The point is, the end might be the goal, but the real part, the living part, seems to be the struggle. The turmoil as we grapple with our surroundings and ourselves, dedicating our life to refining and accomplishing our character. Of course I want moshiach; but I can't imagine life after he comes, without the chase, the battle, the hardships and the victory, the joy and the grief.
Chap arein, people! Moshiach can come tomorrow! Earn it.
Now maybe if I raid my mom's stash of valium, I'll be able to get some sleep...
Originally posted Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Waxing nostalgic...

Well, it's smack in middle of chol hamoed, and I still haven't recuperated from all the food yet! Anyway, my brother and his family are in town for the holidays, so of course the good uncle (ahem!) spent some quality time with his neices and nephews...
First we went to the toy store to get their respective afikoman presents. Man, they didn't have half the shit they do today when I was a kid! And in detail too! When I was young, the toys were basically molded plastic that vaguely resembled my favorite superhero. Today, it's like they used stem cell research or something! And the stuff is expensive, too! You hafta pay outta your ass for the smallest Transformer toy (which brings me to another question: when did the 80's become retro?). And while we're on the subject of Transformers, they are so hard to work nowadays! Ages 5 and up my ass! You have to have a doctorate in nuclear science to turn a plastic robot into a dump truck! And you'd think that with today's youth's attention span as it is, they'd be simpler, but of course not!
After the toy store, we played in the snow for awhile. Yeah, we had about a foot of snow over the chag. Since I got back to Cleveland I've gone through 3 seasons already. The weather in Cleveland is as volatile as a neurotic 15 year old girl, so if your moving here, the reason better not be cuz you like el nino...
We watched a movie together. I wonder if I was ever like them? The kids had a nonstop dialogue the entire duration of the movie, either screaming suggestions at the main characters, or "explaining" to their fossil of an uncle what the hell was going on. But it was a good movie. I think....
All in all, it was a good day though. It's good to spend time with the young ones, and in the end, I had a good time. Hope everyone has a chag kosher v'sameach!
Originally posted Thursday, 28 April 2005

Judaism and conformity

I had an argument with my parents the other night. They were giving me the guilt trip about certain aspects of my personality and dress that are different than your average yeshiva boy. One of the things they said is that people will judge me by those particular aspects, and it will affect me in the long run. My reply was that if they were the kind of people who judged someone by their outward appearance and would not spend the time to get to know someone and make a judgement based on the content of their character, then screw them, I don't give a fuck what they think.
Here is where the argument is mainly: my father believes that judaism is a conformist society/religion, and one must abide everything and do the "norm" just like everyone else to be considered a "good" jew. While I agree that there is a closely gaurded set of rules in regard to the way we conduct ourselves, from the most mundane to the most spiritual, and that we must be rigorous in our service, I still maintain that this does not mean we have to goosestep in every way. When it comes to matters of ritual, of course we have to follow our mesorah to the letter, but this doesn't mean we can't develop our own individuality within those parameters.
What do you think?
Originally posted Monday, 18 April 2005

Working my ass off and no one is helping (a vent)

What the hell. I'm am so sick of this place! Since the first moment that I got home, I've been doing every single stitch of work in the house. My hands are so fucking blistered I can't even feel 'em. My brother ( who is about twice as strong as me) is a chosson, so all of a sudden he's exempt from doing any work. Who's left to do all the bitch work while he sits on his ass or naps for a couple of hours? Me! But that's not the only problem! Since my brother got home, no matter what I say, it's twisted to sound like it is the most retarded thing ever said in the history of man, etc.
Now, having to grab my toes and grit my teeth is one thing, but I can not abide being ridiculed while I slave away in the labor camp that is my house in pre-pesach mode. And I won't! I am putting my foot down! I will flip the proverbial finger to the world, and tell those fascists to find some other rube to do their deeds! And as I fly out the door of that sweatshop into the dawn of my emancipation, there will be birds singing songs of freedom as the sun casts it's glow upon my upturned face. Free at last! Free at last!
That's right! I will demand my freedom from this slavery, and have my chains shattered and my bonds broken!....right after I finish unloading the car...
Originally posted Sunday, 17 April 2005

Crappy advertising slogans..

Okay! A little game here...I want you, the reader, to think of the worst advertising slogan you can come up with, and post it. The winner will NOT win anything, except for my admiration. I'd like to see where this will go, so by all means, pitch in!
Here, I'll even go first: "...can be used as a suppository and a breath mint!"
Let the games begin!
Originally posted Friday, 15 April 2005