Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Star tracks, JBall edition

Filed under : Famous People
On September 11, 2011
At 12:05 am
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People, Quinn Freaking Cummings!

[blackbirdpie id=”112703250557452288″]

I think she meant “top,” but whatever! I’m too high on life to care. Quinn Cummings likes my name! (Thanks to Kay, one of my favorite people in the world, for bringing me to her attention.)

I also got answered by one of my tech education heroes, whose works I read all through grad school and is in the bibliography of my thesis. What a night.

Twitter: bringing famous people and their crazy stalkers admirers together since 2006.


What were you thinking of when you dreamt that up?

Filed under : Famous People,Food,Music
On August 23, 2011
At 2:00 am
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Rock stars: if you didn’t want to be one, you wanted to marry one. I fell into the latter category when I was about 12 and I am not naming the band or member of said band for reasons of non-Googlability. See last night, I made this great salmon and I got the recipe from a blog I follow which is a cooking blog, yes, but at the same time not really. It’s written by a former model who was married to the guy I wanted to have babies with when I was 12. Well, not when I was 12, but I imagined he’d wait. Instead, I discovered at 13 while on line at a checkout during a family vacation that he’d married this model. I was, let us say, saddened. I bought the People magazine and I think I still have it but I am not going down to my storage area to find out. Apparently, they had quite the wedding but they divorced ages ago.

I have long wanted to write about this woman’s blog because I can’t figure out what to make of it and the way I sometimes do that is to write about those kinds of things here. If it was merely a cooking blog, I doubt I’d subscribe. I mean, I do have lots of baking blogs on my feed reader and maybe a couple of food ones, as well, but the recipes on this one, I think, wouldn’t be enough to draw me. Each post, though, begins with some photos of her past and description of some wonderful time with the band in Ibiza or modeling for a fancee fashion house or being painted by a famous artist. And I wonder why she does that. Is it because the past was so much better than the present for her? If I had been a stunning model married to a glamorous rockstar and was now cooking for a living, I too would miss the past. But somehow I don’t think so. I think she is savvy. I think she knows people like me (and there were a lot then and a surprising number who still exist today) want to hear tidbits about what it was like to live that life and see pictures of it. Sometimes she repeats the pictures but I don’t mind. Sometimes there are pictures of their child who is now an adult, but I don’t think that’s a calculated gesture.

I thought about her as I made the salmon and I wondered if it would be better or worse to start out living a fabulous life and then end up as someone living an ordinary one. And I wondered if I were her if I would make my blog a repository of old memories. Every time I read her posts, I think, “I can’t believe you’re showing another picture from 25 years ago!” while simultaneously devouring it and knowing I wouldn’t be reading if she hadn’t. And so, maybe, it’s really me who shouldn’t be wallowing in the past. Too bad it’s so addictive.

By the way, she still looks great, and much more naturally beautiful than she was then. He has not aged as well.

Title comes from a song by a band I saw on that vacation in New Orleans.
Echo & The Bunnymen – Back of Love

Unrelatedly, I did just want to tell this story. When I was a freshman in high school, someone in my high school had a party and I wanted to go but felt like I didn’t have the right thing to wear. So on the night of, I told my mother that I changed my mind and wouldn’t go. She told me that when she was in high school, the same thing had happened, she didn’t go, and the next day everyone told her how great it was. She still remembered and wished she had gone. So I went. And had a great time. I remember very well dancing to this song. RIP Nick Ashford.
Ashford and Simpson – Solid


Free to be MOT

Filed under : Famous People,Judaism,Music,Travel
On April 29, 2010
At 7:30 am
Comments : 15

If you’ve been reading my Twitter updates these last few days you are probably either wondering who the hell Jaron is or what the hell Jaron and I are talking about. Well, I am here to explain all! Last week, Jane wrote a blog post which was ostensibly a letter to a country artist called Jaron and the Long Road to Love (try saying that ten times fast!) but was really a justifiable complaint about how lots of Christians use Jesus as an excuse to hate. Jaron and the Unwieldy Title of Band played the central role because they have a new record called “Pray For You” which is about wishing lots of bad things on your ex with a sort of churchy motif. You can read the lyrics in that post, I won’t reproduce them.

Now, I’ll get a couple of things out of the way here. While I reeeeally loathe those “Lord, I pray you take Obama in all caps” status messages on Facebook, the ones from my “friends” were all by Jews. Statistically, that’s about right since two thirds or more of my Facebook friends are Jewish. So I didn’t think of that as a particularly Christian thing. And OK, I’ll flat out admit it, as a Yid, people saying they are God-fearing Christians and yet not acting Jesusy has never been a particular concern of mine. I guess I’m just self-policing. I’ll let the Goyim handle that one, because I really couldn’t tell you what’s Jesusy or not.

No, in actuality, the thing that inflamed me most about the post was not hypocritical Christians at all but the fact that Jaron is Jewish. So the stuff about his church and his preacher and his Jesus, well, he doesn’t really have any of those. Or he’s not supposed to, one would think. For me, the issue wasn’t that a Christian wrote a hateful song; it was that he wasn’t a Christian at all! So why should I care that one Jewish guy wrote a song from a Christian point of view? Why was the central question in my mind, “what happened to Jaron????” This is the background.

A long time ago, Jaron and his twin brother had a band called, creatively, Evan and Jaron. If you are a religious Jew, that’s really the end of the explanation. For the rest of the world, they had a hit called “Crazy For This Girl.” But even before they had that hit, they were our band. When I was little, like most music-crazed kids, I wanted to be a rock star. Or marry a rock star. But it never occurred to me that that could ever happen because I was an Orthodox Jew and rock stars played shows on Friday nights and had TV appearances on Saturdays and traveled around to places with no Kosher food. More importantly, there just weren’t any, so you knew it wasn’t possible. Then we had Evan and Jaron who were Kosher and didn’t play shows on Shabbat. And I knew this earlier than most people because I worked at their first label (the one before the hit… but we did try hard).

And here’s the part where I take it really personally. When we were working Evan and Jaron, I think the person most excited about them in the whole entire world was my mother. Although not really a t-shirt person, she loved the “got shabbos?” tee we made to market them. She adored the list I showed her of Kosher restaurants staffers were given so they could take E&J out in any town. She was thrilled that the kids had a role model. I’m sort of glad she never got to hear Pray For You. I don’t think if she were alive I’d even tell her.

So I really, really wanted to know what happened to Jaron. Wikipedia has just a sentence about the new band (which is just Jaron, I think) and skips right from Evan and Jaron to that. I felt like there was a yawning gap there that needed to be addressed. The person who is always in the know about these things is Pious B, so I wrote her. She wasn’t sure but thought it was doubtful that he was no longer Jewish and that it was all just a reinvention. But it still bothered me so I called someone I know at his new label and this person said, “are you sure it’s the same guy?” I guess the Evan & Jaron backstory is not a huge piece of the marketing plan. Intriguing. I reported back to Pi to tell her I was still investigating, and she said, “I will be checking for a Jaron post. He may be a Jewish traitor but he’s still a hot bitch.” Indeed.

Later that day, I received this cryptic message:

From: Pious B
Subject: Add to Twitter


Yee haw!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

But I did not want to follow Jaron on Twitter. And yet… so I answered, “Oh, I don’t think so. But I’ll ask him if he’s still a yid.” Pi said, “I think he’s a MOT in name only. I always got the impression that the Evan portion of the duo was the religiously committed one, but you would know better than I.”

So I sent my own letter to Jaron, via Twitter. I asked him if he was still a practicing Jew. Now, I don’t for one minute think that account is actually Jaron. I assume it’s one of Jaron’s marketing people as it’s mostly retweets of people saying they like the song. And, in fact, after waiting a day and remarking that I still had no answer to my question, I finally got, “what question? Thanks for loving the song.” Well, I never said I loved the song and in fact I’ve never actually heard the song and don’t expect to. But I asked again. I said, “what’s a nice Jewish guy doing singing about church & preachers? Are you still a practicing Jew?” That was about as deep as I could get in 140 characters.

Finally, he answered.

I’d like to state, first and foremost, that Pi nailed it, as usual. Also, that whatever I think about Jaron’s decision to reinvent himself for the Country market, I respect this answer and the fact that he even answered at all. I’m not as religious as I was in 1998 either and would find it hard to respond to that in public, in fewer than 140 characters, and with a sense of humor. With regards to that reinvention, when I worked in the record store, for seven Christmases I had to listen to weeks of holiday music and a good portion of it was Jews singing Christmas songs. A Jew, as we all know, wrote White Christmas. I used to joke that I was going to put together a collection of these numbers and call it, “Shalom, it’s Christmas!” Let’s face it, it’s hard to make a living just marketing to MOT’s. But as I told Pi, I just wanted to know whether Jaron was doing a “Barbara Streisand sings Silent Night” thing or if it was a “Bob Dylan plays for Jesus’ team now” deal. Because it deeply matters to me and, I suspect, to a lot of girls who used to go to Evan and Jaron concerts in modest outfits.

The interesting thing, though, is that, as I said, I couldn’t tell you whether “Pray For You” is in the spirit of Jesus or not; that’s not my department. What I can say is that it’s actually a Jewish theme to wish these sorts of things on your enemies. Things like, “may you grow like an onion with your head in the ground.” Here it is on a cross stitch on Etsy. And here’s a list of some other traditional Yiddish curses. So it’s actually sort of a Mosesey thing. I once saw a documentary where someone said, “Christians never dreamed of white Christmases until Irving Berlin told them they should.” I’m truly happy to hear that Jaron still identifies as a Jew but maybe the Yiddish curses don’t translate as well. Still, I wish him well and much success on the new venture. And don’t forget, shuls rhymes with lulz. You can keep that one.

For those on Jesus’ team, MOT = member of the tribe = Jewish

Evan And Jaron – Crazy For This Girl


Six degrees of pagination

Filed under : Famous People
On March 7, 2010
At 11:15 pm
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Oscar night seems as good a night as any to tell you that I have a complicated relationship with famous people. When I was growing up, there were two famous people who went to my synagogue but they didn’t impress me as a tween. One is a sportscaster you have heard of if you lived in this area in the 70’s and 80’s and one is an actress who had a recurring role on Law & Order, although that isn’t really her claim to fame (although it is if you’re me). It didn’t really mean anything to me.

The first famous person I met who impressed me was Margot Kidder. She bought something at my store and that was the first appearance of my MO when I see a famous person to this day. I raise my eyebrow as if to say, “I know who you are!” and they smile back slyly as if to say, “yes, I am that person!” No words are exchanged other than the business ones. “That’ll be $12,95, Lois Lane.” It’s true that I’m shy of famous people but it’s really more that I have this feeling that they’d like to walk this earth unhounded by people like me. That is, strangers. Even when I was ten or eleven, I was pretty sure Sting didn’t have the same relationship to me as I did to him.

But this is not to say that seeing a famous person isn’t endlessly exciting. If I had to analyze it (and, well, I do, I have a blog!) I’d say that there is something almost awesome about seeing someone who seems fictional, who is always seen in a totally constructed way, living life as a real person right in front of you. David Bowie getting into a cab. Chris Noth crossing the street. Jerry Seinfeld on jury duty. Even when I went to work with famous people and got used to seeing them and having them be real human beings, there was still some excitement.

Lately, though, famous people and regular joes get to talk to each other a lot more through things like Twitter. I’ve actually written back and forth with a few tennis players, musicians, and newspeople and that’s been fun. Because I wonder, if I were famous, would I spend my day talking to my fans? But some people do and that’s very cool. But it never occurred to me that Facebook could rise to this level. You see, I have this friend. My friend is a publicist with whom I used to work (twice! we both got laid off and then ended up at the same place) and aside from her work, she just is a ridiculously great person who moves in circles with lots of cool music people. So while my feed usually contains things like “Liz Jones is now friends with Joe Blow,” items about her are more of this stripe: “Mary Music-Publicist is now friends with Your Childhood Idol” or “Mary Music-Publicist is now friends with That Guy in Your Poster and 5 Others” where the five others also appeared in concerts you attended and videos on 120 Minutes. I know I’ve discussed my favorite DJ’s of my youth and what they still mean to me and they’re her friends too. Sometimes when one of them posts on her wall, I have to bite my own hand to not post below, just for the sake of being in that conversation. Because that wouldn’t really be fair to her, would it?

Now, some of the famous people profiles on Facebook are just kept up by their management and will accept friend requests from anyone. But I wouldn’t friend them anyway. It feels somehow demeaning to friend Martin Gore. Sure, he was a great friend to me for someone whom I’ve never met, but not really in the normal sense we understand the word. Or even the Facebook sense. But there is a famous person with whom I once worked, the idol of my early twenties, and he’s on Facebook. I found him accidentally while looking for someone with whom I worked at my first label. I didn’t need to friend this workmate, I just wanted to know what happened to her. But then I saw she was friends with this artist and so were a couple of other people with whom I worked. Now, his profile is also maintained partially by management and says so. He probably accepts anyone who friends him, or his management does. But I think my former co-workers’ friendship with him is like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Friendship Approval. So I went for it, friended him, and added a note reminding him of who I was (it did not say “remember that time in ’94 where I made you stay an hour to sign autographs at Jones Beach? Good times!”).

But even if we don’t end up Facebook friends, I’ll still relish being the friend of a friend of so many people I admire from afar. And not even Mary Music-Publicist will know how surreal it feels for the fan that lives eternally inside me to see them in my feed.

Yeah, some of you won’t know who those people are, but for those who do.
Love and Rockets – Mirror People


When we played tag in grade school

Filed under : Famous People,Life in general,Music
On July 5, 2009
At 8:30 pm
Comments : 8

I actually wrote this a few days ago and then didn’t post it, mostly because of the holiday. A few days later it felt a little late. Then I watched tonight’s Simpsons, and Fox replayed the 1991 episode where Michael Jackson, er “John Jay Smith,” guest-voices (except for the singing, but the speaking voice is him and apparently he was actually very keen on doing it) and then I really wanted to post this.

I know, you are utterly exhausted by the glut of Michael Jackson “news” on TV and the Interweb and wish we could get back to serious coverage of Iran and Jon & Kate. You wonder to yourself, what sort of backwards, brainless yokel is still sopping this stuff up to such an extent that they have to concentrate on this one story? Who are these idiots they cater to?

The answer dear reader, is the person in that photo on the right in the striped pants, or, more precisely, who she grew up to be. Because I, personally, cannot look away. When they get past the Michael news, I pretty much turn the station unless they’ve teased a later story. It’s not so much that I am interested in the stuff that’s coming out (oooh, he couldn’t sleep! The ex “wife” might want the kids!), it’s simply that that keeps him in the news. Because I’m not done yet. There’s a Hebrew expression, “l’havdil” which literally means, “to differentiate” but when used in the beginning of a sentence means “I am totally not comparing these two things, please don’t think I am, but this example is so useful so indulge me.” I wish there were an expression like it in English but there isn’t so here we are. So I say here, l’havdil! But what this reminds me of is shiva, the Jewish mourning period where you sit for seven solid days receiving guests and all you really do is talk about the dead person. If that’s what you want to do; it’s up to the mourner, but if you’ve sat shiva, you know, that’s kind of all what you want to talk about. You’re in a sort of shock and you’re trying to process and if maybe we keep talking about it, something will get clarified and you can move on. You want to sort through all the facts and details of the person’s life and how you related to it so you can decide what it all meant to you. Maybe some new fact that you forgot or never knew will turn up. I don’t care what they say, I just want to talk about Michael Jackson. Please?

I can only speak for myself, but I don’t think I actually miss Michael Jackson, because, you know, I didn’t know him and hell, I couldn’t name you one song he put out in the last ten years. But back to the girl in the striped pants. It’s hard to get a handle on her, she lives way in the past. I guess she liked to play in mud puddles and not so much with the hair brushing. But this week, when I heard lots of songs she used to listen to, for just a few moments I was inside her head, sitting on the floor in her parents’ bedroom (the only room in her house with a TV) with the lights off watching variety shows. And I realized that when they replayed all those interviews of Michael saying he’d had no childhood that suddenly, I could remember mine, like some sort of time-travel serum. And I knew why he missed it, because it was really happy and carefree and sweet like nothing feels like when you’re an adult. That feeling. That’s what I can never seem to access. Being an adult is pretty kickass but when you can feel for a minute what it felt like as a child, you realize what’s changed and what you’ll never feel again. And it’s nothing I could possibly put into words but the music, well, the music… it transports you.

When I was growing up we didn’t have air-conditioning. My parents worked at a Summer camp so we were away during the hottest time of the year. And if it got hot before or after that, we’d turn on the attic fan and open all the windows and the breeze would come on in. Sometimes, if it’s hot and I just have the window fan on, I can feel it. But not as much as when I hear music like this (and title comes from).

Jackson 5 – The Love You Save


I’ve watched and read a lot about Michael Jackson this week; I think his story is really fascinating, the fantastically-talented kid who was forced to become an adult at eight and then never grew up and never wanted (literally) to be in his own skin. But if there’s one piece that really nailed why I want to remember him the way I do, it’s this one from Josh Tyrangiel at Time Magazine. They won’t let me embed it but here’s the link if you are something like me and want to see it.