Aug 30, 2010

Restoring Honor II: Electric Boogaloo

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Before I start, let me just say that I do not have a problem with Mormons. Some of my best friends are Mormons! 

That's right, even my favorite dolls up until the age of 9 or 10 were my Donny and Marie action figures. Furthermore, it’s not the fault of the Osmond family or Mormons as a group that I frequently made Donny and Marie engage in simulated doll incest in my big, very seventies Barbie Bubble Bathtub. For that, I blame my precocious, 10-year-old neighbor, Cara Applebaum.


Anyhow, my post today has about as much to do with Mormons and Mormonism as Glenn Beck’s recent “Restoring Honor” weekend had to do with Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Civil Rights Movement. Indeed, this piece has as little to do with Latter Day Saints as seeing Russia from one’s window has to do with foreign policy. 

Nonetheless, the key players in this past weekend's "Restoring Honor" event at the Lincoln Memorial--most notably Beck and his Tea Part-ner in crime, Sarah Palin--have been wildly successful in weaving that same hypocrisy and non-sequitir into a cheap, Bedazzled knock-off of the American flag. And so it is thus, in this same absurd vein, that I have been organizing my own event, "Restoring Honor II: Electric Boogaloo", to take place next weekend on the front steps of The Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.*


Of course, some of you might ask, “Where does an opinionated, culturally Jewish, religiously agnostic woman get off using a place of such profound and sacred significance as a platform upon which to spout her own very personal, wildly unclear agenda?”


Wait, what?


Some of you might be thinking, “Isn’t it in poor taste, to use a place intended for spiritual reflection, as an arena for unrelated esoteric discourse?”


Wait, what?


In my contemplation of "honor restoration", many people, places, and things came to mind. Airport men’s rooms (dishonored by Larry Craig). Falafel (dishonored by Bill O’Reilly). Bristol Palin (dishonored by Levi Johnston). Levi Johnston (dishonored by himself and, later, by Kathy Griffin--but then who hasn't been dishonored by Kathy Griffin at one point or another?).  Human hair (dishonored by Mitt Romney's hair--again, no offense to Mormons, as some of my best friends are Mormons).

While all of these things are worthy of mention at "Restoring Honor II: Electric Boogaloo", none are as deserving of reflection (a term repeated almost as many times at this weekend's rally as the word "God") as those who were dishonored five years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 

As I watched the Beck rally this weekend--a rally supposedly organized to "reclaim" the Civil Rights Movement--I waited with great anticipation to see how he would address the proverbial elephant in the room, otherwise known as the civil rights violations in post-Katrina New Orleans, now being investigated by a federal grand jury.  Given Hurricane Katrina's five year anniversary, I was certain that somebody would broach the topic, if only to pay lip service to the rally's skeptics and critics. Surprisingly, however,  there was no mention of Katrina at all, not even in passing. Then again, perhaps this is a touchy subject for the pervertedly pious Beck, the same man who five years ago referred to the impoverished hurricane victims as "scumbags".  In the immortal words of The Church Lady, "Well, isn't that special?"


I see at this whole paradox as a little like A.A.; the first step to reclaiming honor is identifying and acknowledging dishonor.  Yet, in the several hours it took me to watch the rally footage, I did not hear one person articulate substantively how our nation had been dishonored.  In my opinion, a discussion of Katrina and the pending investigations of such atrocities as the Danziger Bridge shooting would have been a really good start in that regard.

And finally, to those who might take issue with my playful sideways jab at Beck's Mormonism (did I mention some of my best friends are Mormons?), who feel that political discourse is one thing, but that an individual's religion is off-limits, I offer the following: Without civil rights, religion has not a leg on which to stand (a dynamic playing out right now two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City). Political correctness aside, the question remains--which is more sacred, Beck's god, or the movement that secured his right to worship that god? Furthermore, who is Glenn Beck to use that movement as free advertising for his unrelated, politically motivated shenanigans?  Indeed, Beck pulled the ultimate bait and switch when he invoked the sanctity of the Civil Rights Movement and the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. in an effort to publicize and sensationalize a rally that, in reality, had nothing to do with either. 

In the end, it doesn't matter that Beck's event centered around a nebulous discussion of "God" and "honor", or that the Civil Rights Movement is not technically a religion.  In the opinion of this heathen, what Beck so cleverly orchestrated this past weekend was nothing short of blasphemy.

*Restoring Honor II:  Electric Boogaloo is a satirical, fictional creation of the author and not a real event.  Please don't actually appear at the Mormon Tabernacle for this, people.  Sheesh.

Aug 10, 2010

Alive With Sadism!

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Aug 7, 2010

Selling Purple Drank to the Gentiles: Keeping Lemonade Stands Safe and Legal

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Officials in Oregon shut down a local lemonade stand this past week because its operator, 7-year-old Julie Murphy, failed to produce a restaurant license when confronted by the county's Health and Safety inspector.

My initial reaction upon reading this story was complete disbelief.  Have we become so concerned with regulating every aspect of our society, that our children cannot participate in the summertime joy of selling tangy beverages in dixie cups to thirsty patrons?  Fast food chains can market fecally contaminated ground beef on a daily basis, but little Julie Murphy can't sell a cup of lemon juice and sugar water to her parched neighbors? Well, slap my ass and call me a mad cow.

But then the debacle caused me to reflect an event from my own childhood, an event that perhaps even lends a tiny shard of validity to the inspector's concerns. 

When I was a kid, my parents used to shop at Spag's, a giant discount mart in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Spag's was a local institution, a bargain emporium where one could find any number of completely random items at rock-bottom prices. From pepper-jack cheese, to Barbie Dream Houses, to rubber hip-waders for shellfishing, the fun of Spag's was that you never knew what you were going to find on any given visit; their stock really depended on what old man Spag found cheap on closeout or overstock that week.

Anyway, on one particular visit, a large canister of generic powdered grape drink, or “purple drank” as we call it here in Oakland (not to be confused with the recreational codeine/cough syrup cocktail favored by rappers and pro-Athletes everywhere), made it into our shopping cart. I can’t remember if I slipped that fucker in clandestinely while my folks were distracted over a potential purchase, or if I caught my dad in a moment of weakness and he agreed to buy it for me (as my mother surely would never have done so), but somehow the big-ass can of discontinued and expired purple drank powder made it home with us that day.


This story would seem to have a happy ending, i.e. me living happily ever after with a lifetime supply of purple drank, if not for one thing—when we got it home, my mother wouldn’t let me drink the stuff. She was a health-conscious Jewish mother, and giving her daughter sugar water mixed with large quantities of FD&C Red and FD&C Blue was tantamount to child abuse in her eyes. And so, I was forced to stare down that unopened canister of drank in our cupboard for weeks—tantamount to child abuse in my eyes.


Of course the reasonable thing would have been for my mother to have thrown the purple drank in the trash the moment she discovered its existence in our home. But again, being a Jewish mother, she didn't believe in wasting food (regardless of its obvious toxicity), and so, that canister remained in its place on the shelf, taunting me incessantly, until one Easter Sunday in April, when I had a play date with Amy Bernstein.


Truth be told, Amy and I were not really very good friends, but she was one of the only Jewish kids I knew, and consequently the only one available to come over on Easter.  We didn't have a whole lot to talk about, and being that it was Easter in then-blue law-governed Boston, just about every single business was shut down, rendering us pretty much housebound. Television broadcasts that day consisted of Vatican services and The Ten Commandments.  We were very, very bored. 

Then my mom had an idea.

"Why don't you girls make a lemonade stand? People will be leaving church soon and it's a hot day.  You might make a lot of money!"

We thought this was a brilliant idea.  One problem, though: we didn't have lemons or lemonade mix. 

Again, the light bulb in my mother's head went off.  She went to the cupboard and produced the canister of purple drank.

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon hawking copious volumes of expired, generic purple drank to parched churchgoers. It was a sight to behold, two grubby Jewish kids positioned strategically between two of the city's most prominent Catholic churches, quenching the thirsts of hordes of gentiles in bonnets and lightweight wool suits. 

Indeed, it was a Jewish Easter to be remembered. Our drank stand was so successful that we burned through that big canister of drank within a couple of hours. Better yet, we earned enough money to stock up on half-priced Peeps and Cadbury Creme Eggs the next day at CVS. Forgive me if I sound presumptuous, but I really think Jesus would have been proud.

Anyhow, back to little Julie Murphy in Oregon--there's a happy ending to her story, as well. Officials later called her to apologize for overreacting, and told her that her stand was welcome to reopen for business.  You can watch Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogan eat crow here.


Aug 4, 2010

Taking Prophylactic Measures to Improve Oakland

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The other day I was having a conversation with a friend, about her daughter’s preschool in Oakland:



FRIEND: The co-op is wonderful, so nurturing.


TSADA: That’s great! So, "co-op" means you have to work there, right?


FRIEND: Yes. It’s a lot of hours, but it’s worth it. The sense of community and all.


TSADA: So, like, you go there, teach, help with snacks, clean the classrooms--stuff like that?


FRIEND: Yes, among other tasks. We also tend the grounds on and around the property. There’s an expansive city park area adjacent to the school.


TSADA: So, like, you have to mow the lawn?


FRIEND: On the school grounds, yes, but not on the city property. We just pick up garbage in the park. And on weekends, we search for used condoms. Lots and lots of used condoms.


TSADA: *vomits on FRIEND*


Kudos to my saintly friend, as I don’t even like to touch my own genital refuse.

Similarly, kudos to mayoral candidate Don Perata for launching a campaign effort disguised as a philanthropic project to literally clean up Oakland.




Since 2008, nearly one-quarter of Oakland's Parks and Recreation workers have been laid off due to budget cuts.  This means, among other problems, an enormous increase in general funk and nastiness in the places where Oaklanders live and play.  The cuts have gone so deep that many of our parks no longer have any waste recepticals. That means visitors have two options--pack their trash and take it with them, or litter. Enter: The Condom Brigade. 

While I am still undecided as to who will get my vote for mayor, I did enjoy getting the postcard from Perata today, inviting neighbors to participate in the project and gently coaxing us with promises of "refreshments" at the clean-up sites (because everyone knows that the way to a lazy Oaklander's heart is an offer of free snacks). I must say, Perata looks rather mayoral with a girthy broomstick in his grasp, and shoot, I'd like to see current Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums scooping cat turds and brimful Trojans at Burkhalter Park.  Come to think of it, I'd like to see Ron Dellums do anything to effect a positive change in the city.

Regardless of how you feel about Perata and his motives behind this project, it's great to see a politician cleaning up after blow jobs on a local level, rather than administering them on a political one.

Nice work, Don.  Now if only you would come to my house and change the cat litter...

To RSVP for the clean-up, call (510) 922-8397.  For more information, visit http://www.perata4mayor.com/.

Aug 2, 2010

It's Not Unusual...Okay, Maybe Just a Little

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My great aunt Vera was an eccentric old woman who spent most of her later years housebound, under the care of her nurse, Kelly. She never left her apartment unless she had a doctor's appointment, and subsisted on a diet of Spaghettios, Hunt’s pudding Snack Packs, and meatballs that Kelly purchased at the sub shop down the street from her house. Vera called these meatballs “monkey balls”, because she was genuinely taken by their resemblance to chimpanzee testicles. Oh, did I mention she had a big fresh toilet mouth that would rival me on a good day?



Anyhow, Vera was a tremendous fan of Tom Jones, and one day Kelly surprised her with tickets to see him in concert at the Nassau Coliseum. Vera called us, apprehensive but overjoyed.


“I’m going to see Tom Jones!”


“That’s wonderful!”


“Heh heh.  He wears tight pants. You can see his balls! Heh heh."

"I know!"

"I’m scared!”


“Why?”


“They're going to make me go all the way to the Coliseum.”


“It’s going to be fine! You’ll have fun! Are you going to throw him your underpants?”


“My feshtankeneh hazen? FEH!”


“If you do, he’ll wink at you!”


“If he winks at me, I’ll give him the fucking finger.”




Fortunately for everyone involved, Vera ended up having a great time at the concert, and there was no giving of the finger that evening at the Coliseum. She called us elated the next day and told us that the only part she did not like was when the ladies in the audience threw their underpants at Tom.

“FEH!”


Shocker of shockers, it appears the 70 year-old Jones has been having the same reaction these days.



From the Telegraph:



[Jones] told The Times Magazine: "It's just wrong. I'm laying my soul down here. And people start laughing."

The soulful nature of Jones's forthcoming album has not been well received by some of his bosses at Island Records.
Praise & Blame was described by the vice-president David Sharpe as "a sick joke" in a leaked email.
Mr Sharpe, who had expected an album along the lines of the Welshman's previous upbeat hits, said his
latest offering was more akin to the "common book of prayer".

Jones signed with Island Records in a £1.5 million deal last October after leaving his former label EMI.

Jones will be hoping that songs from the new album will not prompt a shower of women's underwear when played live — they have titles such as Lord Help the Poor and Needy, If I Give My Soul and Burning Hell.


Really? Nu?  NU?!

I'll tell you what's nu, Pussycat: Tom Jones says throwing your verkakde gatkes is a shonda! Oy.


For Vera, this would have been a mitzvah.  For the rest of us, it's the anti-mazel of the century.

RIP, Vera.



Aug 1, 2010

Floor Trader or Fist Pumper? The Fiscal and Fecal Ramifications of Wall Street and the Jersey Shore

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There were three items one could always find, without fail, in my grandparents' bathroom: Prell shampoo (in a tube), medicated talcum powder, and The Wall Street Journal.

One of my most vivid memories of being a young person at my grandparents' house finds me perched upon their emerald green toilet, in search for some nearby emergency reading material, the WSJ  the only printed item in reach. Perhaps this is indeed TMI, but I'm sure that you too, Gentle Reader, at one time or another, have found yourself in a similar situation-- indisposed and jonesing for a little textual laxative, as it were. Perhaps you've even reduced yourself to reading a toothpaste label or instructional Tampax booklet out of sheer excretory desperation. Come on. You know you have.

Anyway, it was this same desperation that caused me, on more than one occasion, to naively reach behind me for the folded newspaper on the top of the toilet tank. Yay!  A newspaper!

I searched for the Arts and Leisure section. None.
I searched for the comics. None.
I searched for an advice column, a crossword puzzle, a rogue ad for men’s underwear. None.

Nope, none of the above.  Only page after page after page of reading drier than the kichel my grandmother used to buy that no one ate (except my uncle who, for some reason, enjoys eating fiberglass). Having to produce a shit with this dry, indigestible text as the only available reading material was kind of like dying of thirst and being surrounded by nothing but gallons and gallons of salt water. Okay, maybe not quite like that, but almost.

In retrospect, methinks WSJ is missing out on a profitable dark horse in their potential audience: young Americans who simply want a little something to read when they take a crap at their grandparents' house. 



That’s why I’m surprised that the WSJ didn’t jump at the opportunity to cover the Jersey Shore cast's Wall Street debut last week. MTV's favorite fist-pumpers appeared on behalf of massive media conglomerate Viacom this past Thursday, when  they rang the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange. 

credit

In my opinion, the WSJ dropped the ball here, and in a time when print media is in peril, appealing to one's demographic is paramount. In short, this is nothing to pump a fist at.

I am confident that a front page story on Snooki and the gang could have won them the readership of hundreds, maybe thousands, of young Jewish American Princesses, not to mention, "guidos" and "guidettes" (TM Jersey Shore), across America.  I know, had the WSJ featured a weekly analysis of Trapper John MD (more specifically, the Gregory Harrison shower shot in the opening credits) back in the day, or at least offered an occasional coupon for TCBY, that I might have given the rest of the newspaper a chance and, perhaps, grown up to be a little more fiscally responsible. At the very minimum, I would have had more satisfying bowel movements on the weekends I visited my grandparents.



Alas, the WSJ passed on this opportunity to appeal to a wider demographic, to garner a more diverse, regular (no pun intended) audience. Fortunately, you can still read more about this story, as well as watch Angelina, Jenni “J-Woww,” Mike “The Situation,” Nicole “Snooki,” DJ Pauly D, Ronnie, Sammi “Sweetheart” and Vinny ring the Opening Bell, on the NYSE website.

*fist pump*
 
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