Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Another travelogue

Filed under : America,Travel
On March 30, 2006
At 8:33 pm
Comments : 2

Tomorrow I jet off to…steam off to….argh, I’m taking the train to Baltimore. Charm City. Of course you knew that it’s called that, didn’t you? I know you think charming when you hear Baltimore. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is. The other name for it, that is when I was in college, was “The City That Reads.” This was plastered on park benches and the like. The running joke was that the tagline should actually be “the city that breeds” since it had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. Everyone was so proud.

Once, when I lived down there, someone had defaced the sign on the bus that said “For your safety, please ride behind the yellow line” to instead state its case in Bawlmawrese, so it read, “Fo yo safety….” Yes, this is Baltimore, where even vandalism is clever.

Sadly, my favorite radio station, WHFS, is gone. When I first arrived at school, it was free-form. And when “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode came out, I called to request it and they laughed at me and hung up. Well, that’s not precisely true. First they told me they had already played it that day. Can you imagine a radio station today only playing something once a day? Ye gods. So I asked, “Could you tell me what time you’ll be playing it tomorrow?” That’s when the laughter and hanging up commenced.

And then there was that Nine Inch Nails show in 1990 at Hammerjacks. It was so crowded you didn’t need a bra. Other humans kept your breasts afloat. I think Hammerjacks is gone too. Pity.

As you can guess, I worked at the record store when I was in college, down at the Inner Harbor. There, in the boredom of selling overpriced CD’s to tourists, we honed our snappy answers to stupid questions. A sample:

Q. Do you have Ice Tea?
A. No, we’re a record store, we don’t sell drinks.

Q. Do you have Anthrax?
A. How could I be talking to you if I did?

Q. Can you show me your 12 inch section?
A. Um…..

And so forth. Hilarious.

Yes, these were the days when I couldn’t use an ATM because the minimum was $20 and I never had that much in there. So I’d write a check to myself for $7 and cash it at the teller’s window. Good times, good times. I think I’ll buy a diamond when I’m down there. With cash.

BTW, I am terribly sorry that I couldn’t figure out the comments function until today. They’re all up there now and thanks for your kind thoughts. Just to bring this full circle, I notice that some of my readers are in college. Rock on! Please take heed to the time I blew an unexpected windfall on kamikazes for myself and my buddies and ended up spending the night on the floor of my bathroom so I could hang out near my dear friend, the toilet. So if you drink, drink responsibly – near a bathroom.


Shut up, so I’m an Anglophile

Filed under : International,Music,Royalty,Travel
On March 28, 2006
At 9:45 pm
Comments : 2

I have been for a long time. Since childhood. I mean, when you’re Jewish and your ancestors each come from a different Slavic country, Brits just seem so exotic. Plus they have those fantastic accents where even their janitors seem smarter than you.

And then, of course, there was the music. I suppose if I had come of age in the grunge era I might worship Seattle or something. God knows, the way they have good coffee even at the gas station is worthy of great heaps of admiration. But as you have no doubt figured out, I was a teenager in the 80’s and Depeche Mode, the Cure, the Smiths, and New Order were my objects of affection. I figured any place that could breed these awesome bands had to be like a Promised Land of some sort. It didn’t occur to me that England might be a miserable place what with all the moaning and complaining. I guess the fact that they all made minor-chord music to commit suicide by should have clued me in.

But I loved it anyway. I took my first trip to London as a nearly 16 year old, with my father on a business trip (his, not mine, otherwise that’s kind of unlikely, right?). While he was at work, I was scouring record shops for obscure cassettes (we listened to cassettes back then, whippersnapper) and buying black clothing. Suddenly, all the bands that didn’t even warrant their own header cards at the local Sam Goody were huge! Frankie Goes to Hollywood had a billboard! It was tremendous.

I still love the UK. I’ve been back many times, to London and other cities, to Cornwall and to Wales. I meant to go to Manchester but I chickened out at the last minute with the thought that it might be something like being a tourist in Detroit. So I kept going and went to Scotland instead.

And I read their newspapers online every day. Their news just seems to be so much more fun than ours. Today, Prince Charles was featured in the Daily Telegraph wearing a lei. Then there was the “Talking parrot gives away girlfriend’s secret lover” story. Not that that was funny. No. Breakups due to avian issues are sad. Very sad. I’m so sad.

But people there use fun words like “chuffed” and “gobsmacked” and “telly.” Aren’t they adorable? Couldn’t you just pinch their cheeks? I think it’s their mysterious mixture of delightful fun and dark depression that has always attracted me. Or maybe I’m just confusing the United Kingdom with the Cure. Whatever.

By the way, should you be British and feel dismayed that I have used England and the UK interchangeably, please send your complaints to G.W. Bush, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC, 20500. I know they’ll get right on that.


Matisyahu: I am not related to this guy

Filed under : Famous People,Judaism,Music
On March 26, 2006
At 7:55 pm
Comments : 4

This morning I saw a piece on the CBS morning show about the singer Matisyahu. I use the term “saw” loosely as I was in bed half-asleep, but since my TV is almost always on, I caught bits of it. People ask me about Matisyahu all the time. I’m sort of the perfect storm of person who can answer your Matisyahu questions because I not only work in the music industry but I’m religious Jewish, like Matisyahu. We’re even (fun fact!) from the same town, although most people don’t know that.

But here’s the rub. I think Matisyahu’s music blows. And I sort of hate him for that because I find him a huge embarrassment. At first I thought people would see him as a novelty act and not actually listen to the music. But they did and it seems like a lot of them like it. I have no idea why. I mean, it’s not really reggae like Bob Marley or Jimmy Cliff. He uses a fake Jamaican accent (there aren’t too many Hassidim in Trenchtown, as far as I know) which is just humiliatingly awful. And as far as pop, it doesn’t really pass either. So I don’t get it.

Jon Pareles, my favorite music critic at the NY Times, thinks it’s sort of in the Phish and jam band tradition which Matthew Miller, er, Matisyahu, was into before he became a Hasid. But really, it’s in the Jewish music tradition. Jewish music often just takes real music and substitutes words about Torah and Jewish life. Blech. I hate that. And they never do a good job either, you know, like Weird Al would do. Whenever I meet someone at a Friday night dinner (an Upper West Side singles tradition) and they, hearing me say that I work at a label, ask, “Do you sell Jewish music,” I want to run and hide. Or kill them. Or the second and then the first.

So stop asking me about Matisyahu. Then I can continue pretending he doesn’t exist. Thanks, you’re a pal.

In other, more important, music news, it seems they are making a biopic on the life of Ian Curtis. Anton Corbijn is going to direct. Should be a laugh riot! But seriously, I’m reminded of the Biblical story of Rebecca and Isaac. Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac (shut up, I’m going somewhere with this). The servant asked God for a sign so he’d know the right chick for Isaac, since there were no JDate profiles back then. The sign was, if the woman offered water to not only the human guest, but also the camels, she’d be The One. Rebecca did that, yadda yadda yadda, they lived long and happy together.

My sign is this. If a guy asks me on a date to the Ian Curtis movie, I’ll know he’s my soulmate. Gentleman, take note. I think it’s coming out in 2007. I’ll wait.


And on the 7th day, God didn’t blog

Filed under : Judaism,Meta/Blognews
On March 24, 2006
At 4:14 pm
Comments :Comments Off on And on the 7th day, God didn’t blog

So there won’t be any entries on Friday nights or on Saturday daytime. That’s because of the little thing in the profile about me being Orthodox Jewish. That’s not strictly true. I was raised traditional Conservative. If you’re in the 99.9999934159% of the world who this means nothing to, rock on!

Anyway, bottom line, I can’t use the computer or electricity from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. God told me that. OK, that’s a lie. Which God also told me not to do. I’m really a mess, aren’t I? But here’s how I think it went down:

Ancient Israelite: Can I talk to you, Moses? Today I went to get my camel a hump-maintenance job and while I was crossing the myrrh-field, I saw the strangest thing. Oh, that reminds me, my fields aren’t bringing in the yield they used to and –

Moses: Say, Josiah, I really think the Lord was against you telling me your bloggy little details on the Sabbath. Yes, I’m positive. I think I dropped that part of the tablet, but I feel really sure that I have that recollection.

Ancient Israelite: But it isn’t sundown yet!

Moses: I think I hear my wife. Didn’t you hear that? Zipporah! Yes, coming!

See you next week!


Random Thoughts

Filed under : Life in general
On March 23, 2006
At 12:02 am
Comments : 2

When a person smiles to themselves on the subway, like they have a special secret, they do. They are insane.

You know how sometimes you want to see a Netflix movie so bad that when it arrives you run to put it in, not even stopping to pee, so that you are squirming uncomfortably for the first 15 minutes, till you can’t take it anymore? No? Just me then, OK.

If you are Jewish, or perhaps a lapsed Christian, when a person wants to share good news with you, it’s never the news you were hoping for.

Buying chocolate as a gift for someone you won’t be seeing for several weeks is seldom a good idea.

Some people blog for art. They don’t care if you like it or if you don’t. They have expressed themselves. I am not like them. Laugh, damn it, laugh!

Last week, my Amazon Gold Box offered me a New Order album and a book about the Smiths. Today I was offered golf clubs and Prilosec. For a moment, I was afraid I had awoken in the distant future. I checked to make sure my address was not Miami. Phew.

If you were on a double-decker tour bus in New York recently, and you passed a line of enthuiastic people waiting to get into a hot club, it wasn’t a hot club. It was Trader Joe’s. You know, the grocery chain, Trader Joe’s. Maybe the bouncer at the door confused you. Luckily this one hasn’t killed anyone. Yet