Friday, May 27, 2005

A Manic Panic Shidduch?



I know it's none of my business, but when I saw this photo on Jewlicious yesterday, everything fell into place.

This is my pal Aaron's dream girl.

Check out him reading his poem at Mimamaakim's Def Midrash Jam last year, or check out the text of the poem, and you make the call.

According to her blog, she's moving to Israel this summer. Better act fast, brother!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

You Are Not Even A Jawa



I didn't like Episode III. There, I said it. With their combination of utterly reprehensible casting decisions, tepid screenwriting and favoring of way-too-overstimulating CG over actual character development, those alien invaders at LucasFilms who have hijacked Lucas' brain have transformed Darth Vader's whole legendary journey toward the Dark Side of the Force, which once represented the epic struggle of light and shadow within all of us, into a shallow, adolescent, sissy-boy parody of itself.

However, not even the die-hard cynics of the Old School can escape the multitude of parodies-of-parodies that circulate around offices like mine. Here's some of the better ones this week:

• Pit your feeble human mind against the all-powerful Dark Lord in this interactive seance (Flash required).

Store Wars, a movie that quite reminded me of The Meatrix, which is also worth checking out.

Revenge of the Brick. Lego madness. Beautiful.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Wagging The Rebbe



An Exclusive Work of Short Fiction by Correspondent Hank Magitz
(Illustration by Paty Cockrum)


It is a widely held Jewish belief that there are no coincidences in life. Everything has a reason and is part of a construct of divine events on behalf of some lofty, arcane purpose. Consequently, when Baruch Katz’s grandmother—an elderly, olive-skinned woman from the old country—put the evil eye on Moshe Herson for mistreating and humiliating her grandson, it came as no surprise when the miracle occurred.

The physical seeds of the miracle were planted one memorable day at shul. It was a Saturday morning and while the skies were overcast, it seemed that we’d be spared any rain. This was noteworthy only to the rabbi and a few of the old-timers. Old-timers wouldn’t ride in the car on the Sabbath, so rain was something they preferred on Sundays or Mondays or Tuesdays and so forth. The rest of the congregation at the Chabad Center of Northwest New Jersey forgot about the Sabbath the minute they left the building and got into their cars. Most of them had already forgotten about Baruch Katz, too. They knew even less about Chabad’s inner workings than they did about Judaism—indeed, the instrument had not yet been invented that could measure how little they knew about either, so they had no idea what Katz had done or hadn’t done to get himself fired from the organization and besmirched and sent into exile. A small cadre of Russian immigrants from the community briefly petitioned Moshe Herson, dean of the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown and head of New Jersey Chabad Inc., to intervene on Katz’s behalf. How naïve some immigrants are!

In any event, the incident had been pretty much swept under the carpet as both Moshe Herson and his son, the titular rabbi at the Chabad Center, had anticipated. No one ever went broke underestimating the naiveté of the average Chabad contributor. And the Hersons were far from broke. They controlled properties all over New Jersey.

(more)

Keeping Up With The Joneses



On the left: Indiana Jones. On the right: Vendyl Jones. Both righteous non-Jews. Both archaeologists. Both seekers of the Holy Ark of the Covenant. Both considered nutty by their fellow archaeological peers.

The main difference between them: Vendyl has the blessing of a secret Kabbalist, and Indy does not.

The above article says that Vendyl predicts to discover the Ark's whereabouts by this summer, on or around August 14, 2005, which will be 5 days after my wife is supposed to be giving birth to our first child. That would be a pretty freakin' cool birthday party, man. That is, unless it brings about the End of Days.

If Vendyl really does wind up causing The Apocalypse, then I guess we won't ever have a chance to play The Ark of The Covenant Board Game, because we'll be playing the REAL THING, BABAY! Perhaps Vendyl truly is the ANTICHRIST after all... Hmmm...

(thanks to Bar for the heads-up on this)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bar's Random Rantless Emes (Vol. 8)



•  Anarchy in Israel? Here's a quote from a new community page:
Amora = Gomorrah, the most 'evil' place on earth; Moria = Mount Moriah, the most 'holy' place on earth; AMORIA = an intentional community based on amore, love; there's no 'us' and 'them', there is only 'us'; no one knows the 'truth', the 'right' way to live -- and that's why we're committed to constant and continuous revolution, always striving for more health, equality, and freedom. Long live (A)narchy!

• Here's a link to Rabbi Avraham Sutton's website, Pathways to Redemption.

• Jewish Arts group Mimaamakim is having a funky get together on Sun. June 5th in NYC - Poetry featuring Matthue Roth and music by Juez (breakbeat klezmer jazz) and Sway Machiner (ashkenazi punk blues). Also, Jake from Mimaamakim is teaching "From King David to Allen Ginsberg," a Jewish poetry reading/writing workshop at Makor in July.

• The Soda Tab Holocaust Memorial.

The Small World Phenomenon - you may know it as Six Degrees of Separation.

Carleebach Shul is having a pre-Lab B'Omer Kaballistic Trail (whatever that means) in NYC:

WHAT'S NEXT!!! WHAT'S NEXT!!! WHAT'S NEXT!!!



Dude. This guy rocks. His platform is fresh, his style is right on, and his messages are just, well... judge for yourself. Makes me want to start vlogging! (Be sure to check his rant labeled People who defend Celebs (Morons), with which I wholeheartedly agree.)

Once again, copped from the evil forces of Screenhead. Damn, they're good.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The New Proto-Jewish Avant-Garde...



... starts here, with the most "WHAT IN THE HELL WERE THEY ON WHEN THEY MADE THIS?" video I have seen in a long, long time. Made by Jew B. and Milky Whyte, who are seriously... seriously cracked. Thank you to Screenhead for once again providing me with my recommended daily allowance of terror-filled shreiking before a CRT monitor.

New Mitzvahs and New Sins



Yup, he's at it again.

Lovable, furry old David Byrne is takin' it to the street in Toronto, where his public art exhibition entitled The New Sins is being displayed all around town, courtesy of the CONTACT Toronto Photography Festival. A series of 16 to 20 bus-station-style lightboxes (such as the ones pictured above) duplicated God-knows-how-many-times and scattered all over the city, exhort John Q. Canada to rethink all the values that he's learned over the years from his parents, church, and TV... mainly from church, it seems, though. Or in my case, from temple.

Byrne actually conceived of this piece in 2001, when he printed these pages out and bound them together in a leather-bound, prayer-book-looking little volume whose texture, fonts and color scheme scarily resemble those of the Artscroll Siddur. Then he travelled to various random hotel rooms across the U.S., placing these books inconspicuously next to or atop the Gideon Bibles that have awaited the American wayfarer in his/her hotel room since time immemorial. Evidently, the spawning of bemusement, confoundment and/or perturbation amidst the great, anonymous masses of wayfaring American citizens has become one of Byrne's artistic preoccupations, but hey... what's a few nutty preoccupations among us world-famous artists, after all?

Below is a page from his book that I thought was pretty challenging (posted without permission, but I figure, if it drives people to his site, he may not mind s'much, after all, he's David Byrne, not Metallica):



"Honesty presumes an essential truth, a truth that is self-evident, obvious and agreed upon by all concerned. It presumes that the facts don't lie, that objective reportage is the news and that any portion of the truth is as valuable as all of it.

But can we not see that this is plainly not so, that fiction more often conveys the essence, the truth behind the truth, the golden seed that lies at the core of an even or person?

A fiction, a lie, a blatant yet well-told untruth -- do these not convey more of the essence of the matter or person, more of the reason why and who? The more fanciful this fiction, the more fabulous, inventive and mercurial -- is not this imagined universe more real that the one broken down into legalese, endless streams of data, charts and graphs?

How and why should love be honest? Love is a lie, a beautiful lie, a lie told by God to all His creatures. Is not this Lie better than Dirty Honesty? Our loved ones demand honesty, but what they really want is better fiction."

Friday, May 13, 2005

Join The Dark Side, You Shmendrick!



Top Ten Things That Would Be Different If Darth Vader Had Been Jewish (courtesy of bangitout.com, who are sometimes actually quite funny)
 
10.  Under his usual black attire, he'd be wearing a white-on-white shirt, and his cloak would have tzitzis.

9. Along with a Light saber in one hand, he'd have an esrog in the other.

8. The Death Star would be renamed, The David Star.

7. "Luke, I am Your Father, Nu?...now cut that hair and get a real job!"

6. Instead of trying to conquer the galaxy, he and Natalie Portman would try finding a place to settle in Ramat Bet Shemesh.

5. His rebbeim, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, may have tried keeping him on the derech by having him read Mesilas Yesharim a few more times.

4. He would have renamed trusty robots -  C613PO and r770d770

3. He never in a million years would have allowed his tznius daughter, Princess Leia, to get involved with a wild guy named Han.

2. Getting people to come to the dark side would have involve a mitzvah tank. 

1. The term, "May the Force Be with You" would end off with an "Im Yirtzeh Hashem."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

TQTJ Talks to Harlan Ellison (Part III of III)



In this installment of our Tough Questions for Tough Jews series, author Clifford Meth interviews fellow tough Yid and award-winning author Harlan Ellison. This is Part III of III -- for Part I, click here, and for Part II, click here.



METH: Last question and I’ll let you go. You’ve told me this before but I don’t think it’s ever been printed. Your solution for Israel and the Middle East, please.

ELLISON: Okay. Here’s the story. It’s got to be 10 or 15 years ago when I get a call from the USIA, the U.S. Information Agency, the ones who do all the propaganda for the United States. They said, “Mr. Ellison, we’ve had a request for you to come and lecture in Israel. As an American-Jewish writer who is very popular—your works have been reprinted over there—they’d like you to come and lecture in Haifa at the university. So I said, “Yeah, that’s all right.” Now, in truth, I have about as much interest in going to Israel as I do in going to Germany, into which I have never set foot. That’s one of the three or four things I’ll never do. I did a list of things I will never do in my life: I will never do an ad for McDonald’s; I will never step foot in Germany; I will never eat lima beans; I would never harm a child; and I will never voluntarily read a book by Judith Kranz. Those are five of the things that are uppermost in my life. So then when I say voluntarily, I mean if you put a gun to my head, I probably would read a book by Judith Kranz, but I wouldn’t like it. As for lima beans, as I have often said you show me someone who will eat a lima bean without a gun to the head, and I will show you a pervert.

So, to get back to where I was: An entire nation of people who are like my relatives, a whole country of yentas and kvetches, is not my idea of a good time. Now, I would love to see Petra, I would love to see the pyramids of Egypt, but I really have no interest in going to Israel. But, what the hell? Free trip, and Susan and I would go and we would do whatever. And maybe I could get to Petra while I’m there. So, I say, “Sure, I could do that.” And they’re going to pay me a nice fee. Okay.

About a week goes by and USIA calls again and they said, “They would like to do interviews with you prior to your arrival so that they can warm the country up for your coming” and I said, “That’s terrific.” They said, “Well, The Jerusalem Post will be calling you, which is one of the biggest newspapers in the world,” and I said, “Great” and “Thank you very much” and “I’m looking forward to going” and blah, blah, blah and all that bullshit.

So one morning, soon thereafter as the crow flies, I get a call from a guy and I can’t remember what his name was, but let’s call him Eleazer ben Yehudi. And he calls and he says, “Hello, this is Eleazer ben Yehudi and I am the senior editorial reporter for The Jerusalem Post and I would love to interview you.” And I said, “Just fire away.” And the first question out of his mouth is: “What do you, as an American Jew, think of the situation in the Middle East?” And I said to him, “Well, why would you ask me that? I’m a writer. I write amusing little fantasies. I’m not a political commentator. I don’t know what you people are going through over there. I have no opinion.” “No, no!” he says. “We’re anxious to hear what you think!” And he nuhdjes and nuhdjes and nuhdjes and pushes at me—already I know I’m going to hate Israel—and he keeps saying, “I want to know what you think! We want to know you want!” He sounds like Jackie Mason. So I say, “Listen. Trust me. You don’t want my opinion.” “Yeah!” he screams. “We want your opinion! We’re dying for your opinion! We’re plotzing to have your opinion!” He goes on and on and on; he will not let me off the hook. So finally I say, “Okaaay… but remember the old Chinese adage, ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might get it!’” And he goes, “Ha, ha, ha! Extremely clever… So? What is your opinion?” And I said, “Here’s my opinion: all of you guys out there in the Middle East are out of the same melting pot, and you’re all as crazy as a butterfly on absinthe. I don’t know whether you’re all Canaanites at the base, or you’re all Jews at the base, or outa the Land of Nod, or whatever the hell you were at the git-go—Semites or what not—but you’ve been fighting there now for something like 8,000 years! You’ve never had five minutes of quiet and peace; you’re forever killing each other over the Holy Grail, or whatever the hell it is, and the rest of the world has had to suffer with this. Great things have come out of the Middle East, but stupidity seems to be your chief export—stupidity and violence are your cash crops, all you.” (And this was before September 11). I said, “My solution to the problem in the Middle East is this: We erect a wall 26 miles high around the entire Middle East. That’s Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Egypt, all of you—the whole bunch of you—26 miles high with one door, like a regular door in the front of a house. And every 10 years, we will open the door and look inside. If you’re still fighting, we close the door. Loz ze gein, you should live and be well—go and fight and kill yourselves. But if we peek inside and it’s safe, if it’s nice, if you’re not fighting, and you’ve got peace and quiet, you can come out and play with the rest of us like human people.

And the guy says, “What?” And I said, “Do you want me to repeat that?” He says, “No, thank you very much.” Bamm! He hangs up on me. Within an hour—an hour—USIA calls up and says, “Tour’s off. Pffffft!” And I tell you, I was relieved!

Being a tough Jew is like being a tough Oriental kid in an all-black neighborhood. When you’re an outsider, you’ve got two choices: You either become a target for people to hit you, to bully you, and con you, to take advantage of, and you wind up marrying people you shouldn’t, and you wind up in a job you shouldn’t have with people who bully you, or, you get tough. Now tough doesn’t mean hard. I’m not a hard guy; I’m a tough guy. That means that I take no shit and I’m wrong more often than I’m right, and when I am, I admit it. And that’s another part of being a tough guy. When you’re in the wrong you’ve got to face up to it and you’ve got to take responsibility for it. You can’t keep pushing it off on other people, and you can never blame the fact that you are a Jew! That’s what gets the goyim pissed off at us.

We just had a little fender-bender up here and I’m talking to the woman at AAA and she starts talking about “You people.” She was a black woman so she probably didn’t know that she was actually quoting the thoughts and philosophies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, but that’s what she was doing. I tried to straighten her out but it was impossible. It’s widespread common lore that Jews own everything, to which my response is, “Well, if there is actually a great international Jewish money conspiracy, there’s some Jew out there with two shares, because I’m working my ass off!”

You’ve got to be able to accept responsibility for what you do, and you’ve got to be able to try and convince a lot of people who aren’t bad people, they’re just ignorant—not stupid, just ignorant; big difference—that Jews are not the arrogant, all-knowing “Chosen People.” That is as elitist bullshit as the Christians who think that when the Rapture comes, they’re going up and we’re going down. That’s just elitism, and it’s a bad kind of elitism, as opposed to my elitism, which is based on intelligence. Which is a good elitism.

And if you don’t like it, I’ll punch the shit out of you.


© The Kilimanjaro Corporation, 2005

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

TQTJ Talks to Harlan Ellison (Part II of III)



In this installment of our Tough Questions for Tough Jews series, author Clifford Meth interviews fellow tough Yid and award-winning author Harlan Ellison. This is Part II of III -- stay tuned for Part III tomorrow.


METH: You talked about Avram Davidson with great affection. He was a tough Jew.

ELLISON: Yeah, Avram was a very tough Jew. He was also frequently as crazy as a Jewish bedbug.

METH: Tell me again, that story you told me once, about what happened with you two in New York City.

ELLISON: Well, Avram had been in the Israeli Merchant Marines and he’d been all over the world. But Avram, when I knew him, was a pudgy, little Jewish guy wearing a yarmulke who used to walk down from the Upper West Side with rye bread for me when I was living in the Village. And one time we decided to travel together to a science-fiction convention in Philadelphia, and I was going to drive. I had an Austin Healey—an open-air little convertible, nifty set of wheels, very sexy, gun-metal blue, with a louvered bonnet. And, as always, I was going to take my typewriter with me. (suddenly starts to laugh) So I told you this story?

METH: Yeah, you told me once upon a time; so tell me again.

ELLISON: (laughs hysterically) It’s the G-d’s truth! Avram came up to my apartment. I was living down in the Village at 95 Christopher Street, right at the corner of Bleeker, and I had packed my bag, but I had my typewriter out. I used an office manual in my apartment, but I had my portable way up on the top shelf of a clothes closet and I had to get up on a little stepladder to pull it down. Avram was behind me and he was catching these things that I was throwing down for the car—he’s standing behind me and he’s catching them. I didn’t quite turn around—I just assumed he would grab it because I was turned awkwardly on the top step of this short ladder, so I held the typewriter out for him and it clearly said “Olympia” and that’s a German-made typewriter (laughs so hard he can barely continue). And as I let go of it, I heard Crash! I turn around and the thing has fallen on the floor and smashed open. I said, “What the fuck was that all about?” He says, “It’s German.” He wouldn’t touch a German typewriter. He wouldn’t even touch it!

Avram would not allow his stuff to be printed in Germany. He would not sign a contract with a German publishing company. Avram knew that… You know that great quote from Owen Miller, the poet? “Of all liars, memory is the sweetest.” Avram knew that as time passed, schmucks like that neo-Nazi who shot the 10 people in Minnesota recently would resurface and the lies would start being told again—the Holocaust deniers and all of that. Avram understood that, and he held a grudge almost as well as I do. Anybody who wants to see how tough I am should read the piece I wrote called “Driving in the Spikes,” which is in The Essential Ellison. It’s an essay on revenge. I’m still working on grudges from 1962.

METH: That’s why I love you.

ELLISON: Look, Clifford you know this to be an absolute. I mean you can attest to this personally. As good a friend as I am—and I am loyal to the death—a guy who treated me well last year when I went to lecture in Phoenix had a little traffic accident; he got hit by a guy and I was in the car as he was taking me to my lecture. I said, “Fight it and I’ll come back and I’ll testify.” He said, “You’ll come back from L.A. to testify?” I flew back to Arizona at my own expense to go to traffic court with him. But as loyal a friend as I am, that’s how implacable an enemy I am.

Most sins against me are so minor and stupid, I can ignore them, and I do ignore them. I just cut that person out of the world. But every once in a while, something will happen where somebody evokes the kind of anger that I would feel as a Jewish kid in Painesville, in the school yard when they beat me up. You know the story that I tell. This is not long after the Depression, and we were not very wealthy. I mean we weren’t destitute by any means; my Dad worked and had a job, but it was very, very hard times. And one winter they ganged up on me and beat me up and tore my clothes off. I was buck-naked. If you’ve ever known an Ohio winter, they are terrible. The only place worse is Chicago. But I was so ashamed that my clothes had been torn off and that they were ripped, because my mother was very fastidious and very conscientious that because we were Jews, my clothes were always clean and never patched. You know, you had to look like a mensch. And I was so ashamed and so chagrined to go home and show my mother the torn tatters of clothes that I was clutching, that I hid in the snow in the bushes for about four hours, until it was dark and they came and they found me. Blue. I was fuckin’ blue. Hypothermia. Pneumonia.

METH: I know Beckwith (see Part I of this interview) shows up as a character in “City on the Edge of Forever,” but whatever happened to Wheeldon?

ELLISON: Wheeldon died. Wheeldon shows up in my story “Final Shtick”—that’s me going back to my hometown. It’s a Lenny Bruce character, but it’s actually me. And the town is Lanesville... Wheeldon is dead. He wound up as a used car salesman; he was a milkman for a while, then he was used car salesman, and then he died. If you look at The Essential Ellison, you’ll see that photograph of me and my 3rd or 4th grade class and I’m smaller than everybody. I’m smaller than the smallest little girl. And we’re standing in rows on the steps of the school, Lathrop Grade School; and if you let your eyes track up to the top row, where the tallest kids stand, almost directly behind me is Jack Wheeldon, you can see him. It’s in the caption—there’s all the information there.

METH: I remember that picture of you smiling.

ELLISON: Actually, I’m not in fact smiling—it’s really very strange. Every kid either stands with hands at sides, or with hands clasped in front of them, little Dutch girl style. At the end is this little pugnacious-looking kid with his hands on his hips, leaning forward, wearing a Captain Midnight Secret Decoder badge, and a bandage on his face from some brawl. He looks like an escapee from The Newsboy Legion or one of the other kid gangs Jack Kirby used to draw. He’s looking right into the camera and his lips are skinned back like a feral animal. And it’s me. It is not a smile. There I am at age what? Nine? Ten? And I’m already a tough Jew.

METH: The story that I recall about you and Avram Davidson had the two of you facing off against a bunch of guys down in the Village—

ELLISON: That’s in print. It’s in Partners in Wonder and it’s the introduction to the story that Avram and I did called “Up Christopher to Madness.” Avram tells the true story about how I stood off an entire gang of Italian street kids.

METH: It wasn’t a Jewish thing?

ELLISON: Nah, it had nothing to do with being Jewish. It had to do with they came on broyges with us, you know—“on the muscle”—trying to give me a hard time, or they were bothering Avram, or whatever the hell it was, and I went after ‘em. And I drove off the whole goddam gang. There must have been 12 or 13 of them.

© The Kilimanjaro Corporation, 2005

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tough Questions For Tough Jews: Harlan Ellison



In this installment of our Tough Questions for Tough Jews series, author Clifford Meth interviews fellow tough Yid and award-winning author Harlan Ellison. This is Part I of III -- stay tuned for Part II tomorrow, and Part III on Thursday.


METH: The first thing I read of yours that knocked me out was the intro to Approaching Oblivion where you talked about…

ELLISON: (interrupts) “I’m sick and tired of the world, and fuck the lot of ya.”

METH: Yes, that’s what it was. But there was a strong Jewish message in there. Here’s this little Jewish boy and his very Jewish experience. An experience that still affects you.

ELLISON: Yeah.

METH: You’ve always been conscious of being a tough Jew.

ELLISON: Yeah.

METH: Did you have Jewish role models who were tough Jews, because in the 1930s it would have been guys like Bugsy Siegel and Dutch Schultz representing that image.

ELLISON: No, I’ve never had a Jewish role model of any kind.

METH: So you thought Jews were a bunch of wimps.

ELLISON: No. You want to ask the questions and answer them, too? You can hang up and you won’t need me and I can go back to work.

METH: (laughing)

ELLISON: So, are you ready?

METH: Go.

ELLISON: Okay. I was a Jew in a world where there were no Jews. The only Jews I knew were my mother and father, and they weren’t all that Jewish. They were High Holy Day Jews. We would go into Cleveland and we would go to the synagogue there, and I would see all these people and they would be mumbling in a language I didn’t know. So I didn’t have that much contact with them. The way I knew I was a Jew was when I first learned that I was a kike, and I learned that at the end of Jack Wheeldon’s fist and feet, and his pals at Lathrop Grade School in Painesville, Ohio.

In my grade school, I was the only Jew for some while. I couldn’t have been any older than four years old when I moved to Painesville, and we lived on Harmon Drive, and there were no Jewish families at that time. Soon thereafter, there were Jewish families, but the kids were not in my class—I was a little bit older than them. And when I went to grade school, which was right around the corner from us, I was the only kid. Now, this was Ohio in the 1940s—‘39, ‘40, ‘41 that kind of thing. And these kids were the products of their parents inbred anti-Semitism. If they believed anything, they believed that Jews had horns and killed Christian babies to make their matzos. Now, you hear people sometimes talking about this, and they say it as a gag. I actually heard it. It was said to me.

Jehovah’s witnesses were big around there and I remember very clearly one day when I was walking home from school and this little girl started following me. And she started saying, “You’re gonna’ go to hell because you don’t believe in Jesus Christ. You’re gonna’ go to hell, and when you’re in hell, you’re gonna’ want water, and I won’t give it to you!” And I started crying and I ran on home.

Years later, I had to laugh: What a terribly loving, “Christian” attitude that was on her part.

I knew I was a Jew because they would not let me forget I was a Jew. We’re talking here about the middle-America version of The Protocols of the Elders of Fucking Zion. And I became a tough Jew because I had no alternative. I was very small and when we were all small, I was able to hold my own and I could brawl pretty good with the best of them. But as they got older and taller, and I stayed a dwarf, they were able to beat on me like a big door. When I got to high school—Champion Junior High School in Painesville—one day I was sitting in an auditorium because there was an assembly, and behind me were Wheeldon and Beckwith and Jividen and the rest of those assholes whose names, of course, are burned into my memory because they were those memories that never leave you, no matter how well-adjusted you get. And people say, “Well, let it go, let it go.” Fuck you, “let it go.” You let it go. I think bad memories are as valuable to a writer as good memories. Pain is a much greater friend to a real writer than pleasure because the pleasure takes care of itself—it’s what sustains you. But what gets you passionate and angry enough to write are the hurtful memories. And one of ‘em behind me called me a kike, and I turned around and I slammed the guy—I think it was Wheeldon, but it may not have been Wheeldon; it may have been another one of his no-neck cronies. I slammed him in the face with a geography book. And when he recovered from being hit, he punched me, and he hit me so hard, he tore the chair out of the floor. It was an old wooden high school, and the chair was pulled straight out of the floor.

So did I have any role models? Yeah. Me. Is that tough enough for you?

© The Kilimanjaro Corporation, 2005

Truth In Advertising



Got two new advertising spoofs in my inbox today... this one, from an outfit called Bikini Films, which is quite saucy, and another one by someone named Alex Blagg which is also quite amusing. The truth is, I'm not directly involved in the advertising world in my work, but people with these types of attitudes never seem quite far enough from my reach, especially when it comes to directionless creative content, meaningless double-talking office jargon and adherence to arbitrary, pulled-out-of-the-arse deadlines. Enjoy...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Why Harlan Ellison Is Such A Badass Mofo



Leaving out the fact that the above photo screams "Badass Mofo" over the rooftops of the world, Harlan Ellison is perhaps one of the most enduring figures in literature that I've ever had the privilege of having received a personal phone call from on a Friday morning.

I was at home, a remarkable occurence in-and-of-itself, wrapping up various odds-and-ends of my Masters' Thesis DVD (a project for which I had asked Harlan's webmaster, in a single, benign e-mail, to send me rights-acquisition information for a small fragment of Ellison's "Repent, Harelquin!" Said the TickTock Man (a short story which you should go read or listen to immediately, especially now that Robin Williams has headlined the Audible.com book-on-tape version)), when my phone rings, and the voice on the other end says, "Mr. Silverman? Harlan Ellison. Do you know what the word 'upbraid' means?"

Fucking shitting Harlan Fucking Ellison! What the...! Okay. Upbraid. Braid. Hair. No. Challah. mmmmmMaybe. Translate to English. Bread. There. Say it.

"Uh... uhh.... um.... something to do with... uhhhh... bread...?"

The All-Hallowed Great-Grandaddy of Dark Fiction Literature, winner of more Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker Fiction Awards than I could feasibly shake John Wayne Bobbit's severed member at, deigns to visit his attentions upon my shrinking, quivering inadequateness on some random morning in February, and the first words out of my mouth are about...Challah?

'Do you have a dictionary available to look it up? I will hold," he said, in a voice that simultaneously exuded the utmost courtesy, saintlike patience, and the calm, measured purr that emanates from within the throats of predatory jungle animals instants before they wreak claw-and-fang devastation on their unsuspecting prey. I unceremoniously gashed my shin on the coffeetable en route to my Webster's Third New International Dictionary, cursed under my breath while rifling through its 1300-and-some pages, and ultimately pinpointed the word, which simply means, "to reprove sharply; reproach."

Which is what, in the ensuing few minutes, Ellison decided to do to me.

What did I do, you ask, to deseve such an "upbraiding?" Why would a world-famous author/screenwriter/voice talent/badass mofo call some un-famous, unheard-of shlubb that he's never met before, never even heard of before the previous day, to launch a ruthless, unprovoked character assassination against him?

Beats me, man. But the fact is, Harlan Ellison was the one upbraiding me. Harlan freaking Ellison called my house, and y'know what? I would have endured a lot worse to keep him on the phone another couple minutes. But I didn't have to -- after an initial few moments of you-kids-these-days-with-your-newfangled-gadgets and when-i-was-your-age-i-had-to-walk-uphill-in-the-snow-both-ways-to-get-to-school gerontological BS, he actually calmed down enough to allow me to ask his permission to use a few lines from his story in my thesis (P.S. I never actually wound up using them, although I did fork over a hefty $10 licensing fee, just in case), and to talk about other things, like the fact that I was Jewish, and so was he, and hey, whoopty-do.

He's like, "You're religious? I've got this friend, Clifford Meth, who's a religious Jew too. You remind me of him. Buy his book."

Next thing I know, he's got Meth calling me up. These guys all know each other, and all of a sudden, I knew them all too. With the tiniest extension of my own brittle literary phallus into the world of rights-acquisition, I was on the road to becoming... pals? peripheral creative soul-brothers? amusing anecdotal fanboy-fodder? with these giants of dark fiction literature. And one thing lead to another, and I bought Meth's book, entitled god's 15 minutes, and it changed my life.

Leaving out all the inspirational frabbajabba, you've got to check out this book. And then, you've got to check out the interview that I will be publishing in the next couple of days, Meth interviewing Ellison, about Ellison's Jewish background, starting off in the far-flung, Semitically-challenged archipelago of Painesville, OH. Unmotherfreakingbelievable stuff. I could sit here and be all, "I can't believe I get to publish an exclusive interview with one of my literary idols going all the way back to the 7th grade, right here on my blog," but I won't, because somehow it all makes some kind of twisted sense.

Stay tuned... you definitely won't be sorry.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Bar's Random Rantless Emes (Vol. 7)



AltarBoys -- A Christian Boy Band with one token Jew.

A Play about Rachel Corrie's Life - oh my Lord, this is sad but unfortunately too true.

What do you call a female ass, a jennet of course?    Find this and more at the Beastly Garden of Word Delights.

Over Pesach we met the woman who is editing the Memorial Book for Jews from Chelm, Poland who died in the Holocaust.

Matthue Roth, slam poet and writer is engaged.  Maybe I will write a review of his book Never Mind the Goldbergs.

Listen to the new Nine Inch Nails album.



Flashback 1984: Mr. T gives some fashion tips.