Mar 30, 2013

Passover...It's Smokin'!

Israeli children smoke cigarettes during another Jewish holiday--Purim. Smoking cigarettes is one of 
the celebratory rituals of the holiday, even amongst youngsters.  Purim, many argue, is how most
Israeli smokers begin a lifetime smoking habit. Creepy-ass photo via Associated Press. 

Welcome to my Passover post.

Yeah, yeah, I realize I'm almost a week late, but fuck it, I've never been a practicing Jew a day in my life.  Why, as a kid I'd only know it was Pesach when food service would break out the Rokeach matzo in the school cafeteria (prompting my friend Shana to complain about the goyim happily eating that shit when, unlike her, they could be enjoying a nice turkey sandwich or a slice of pizza).  Indeed, my only experience with formal Judaism was at weddings, funerals, and bar mitzvahs (bar mitzvahs being the most painful to sit through).  Oh, and there were the one or two instances when I somehow randomly ended up at the house of a deeply religious friend or distant relative for a Shabbat dinner or a seder.

Take for example, one Passover when I was a kid, when a woman named Miriam invited my family to her home for the holiday.  To this day I am not really clear as to why we were there, or even who this Miriam woman was to begin with.  From what I gather, she was a distant relative, not by blood but by marriage--the cousin of the husband of one of my grandmother's sisters, or something like that.  I had never seen her before, and I never saw her again after that evening, but somehow, at some point, someone decided it was a good idea for our polar-opposite families to break matzo together.

And it was pretty intense.

Miriam's family was strict orthodox, the kind that had not only had two sets of plates but also two separate dishwashers, one labeled for dairy and the other one for meat. You know, just as the Old Testament tells us our high-efficiency dishwashers must be labeled.

During the seder, I sat, bored and confused.  I ate the gefilte fish (like a boss), but was completely freaked out by the crusty lamb shank, and the whole slay-the-first-born thing kinda traumatized me as well.  Not to mention frogs and boils.  WTF, man?

Anyway, after several Manischevitz-lubricated hours of poring through the Hagaddah, the evening culminated in a big fight between Miriam's husband and her eldest son, over what the son felt to be insufficient financial compensation for his successful retrieval of the afikomen.  Because it's not a holiday until you've reduced yourself to the most stereotypical caricature of your people.

It was at this point I slipped away from the group and ran upstairs to use the bathroom. 

Now, when you're a kid, it's always interesting to see what other people have in their bathrooms.  This was especially true for me, for when it comes to brand loyalty, my mother is as unwavering in her fidelity as a member of the mob.  There was no product deviation whatsoever in our home. We had Dove Soap, White Cloud toilet paper, Vidal Sassoon shampoo, and Close Up toothpaste--the toothpaste that evidently shares a PR account with Newport cigarettes (hello, creepy smile campaign). 

And so, when I visited other people's homes, it was always fascinating to see people using Irish Spring (too drying) or Charmin (too much dust) or Agree (makes your hair greasy) or Crest (feh!). It was almost like traveling abroad, to countries with customs and products you'd only seen on television or read about in magazines.  

But that evening, I saw a brand of toothpaste I'd never seen, not in a home, a television ad, not anywhere.

Kosher toothpaste. 

Nope, never seen that before. 

I finished up in the bathroom, resisting the not-very-powerful urge to sample this mysterious Jewish toothpaste.  I had a vague suspicion that it tasted like chopped liver.

On the way home in the car, I told my parents.

"Did you know they had kosher toothpaste in their bathroom?"

"Really? No!" My mother was shocked.

"Yeah, " I said. "I didn't know that toothpaste could be unkosher."

"Traif," corrected my father.


"Traif.  Not unkosher."

I rolled my eyes.  "What-ever."

"How do you know it was kosher?" my mother asked.

"It said KOSHER in big letters right on the tube. I think it was Zofart brand or something."

My father let out the moan he reserves only for extreme cases of religious dogma he finds too absurd for words.

My mother laughed.

"Because you know," said my dad, finding his tongue, "that the Old Testament clearly specifies what kind of industrially pre-packaged, highly processed fluoride toothpaste God allows. I wonder if Moses used Zofart, or if he took a little chometz now and then in return for a dazzling Pepsodent smile?"

"Pepsodent? Feh!" said my mother.  "Tastes like chalk."

"I wonder what that kosher one tastes like?" my dad pondered. "Hmm..."

"Chopped liver," my mother and I responded in unison. "Chopped liver."

Alas, I never got to try the kosher toothpaste, but this Passover I hope they're making a whitening version of it, particularly one that will remove smoker's stains.  That's because this year, Israeli Jews  can enjoy not only a week of matzo-induced constipation, but also kosher cigarettes

Yes, kosher cigarettes.  Is this a politically correct act of inclusion towards smokers of all faiths or, as the Hipster Jew seems to opine, a diabolical money-making scheme of carcinogenic proportions?  You be the judge.

From Time:

The stamp of approval came from the Beit Yosef private rabbinic group, which certifies foods as compliant with Jewish dietary restrictions. Last month, Beit Yosef approved three local cigarette brands for smoking during Passover. The chief rabbinate in Israel,
however, disapproved of the measure, saying cigarettes are life-threatening and should not be approved by rabbis. “Poison is not kosher. For all days of the year, not just Passover,” said the chief rabbinate’s spokesman, Ziv Maor.

What?  NuPoison is not kosher?  Clearly Mr. Maor has not read my post about the palatability of Passover candy.  Oy.


Mar 17, 2013

Cloaca: It's Not a Clown Car


I know I write a lot about chickens, but rarely during the course of my research (yeah, research--stop looking at me like that) do I come across something that not only leaves my mouth speechless, but also my vagina aching with sympathy pain for chickens everywhere. 

Wait, did I just compare my vagina to a cloaca?  Yes. Yes, I did.

Anyway, here you go--the new Chinese "Miracle Chicken" with the huge vagina...I mean cloaca...I mean eggs.


Mar 11, 2013

10 Other Disgustingly Unhealthy Foods That Are Still Completely Legal to Sell to People in New York City


Image via Buzzfeed.

Behold, the infamous 7-11 Super Big Gulp. 

Some argue it is the poster child for America's deadly soda addiction. Ironically, it is also completely legal to sell under house mother Mayor Blooomberg's  "soda ban", which goes into effect tomorrow in New York City. New York Daily News:

Stores in the 7-Eleven chain — which sell enough groceries to escape regulation by the city Health Department — can keep selling their famous massive sodas, but all city restaurants and bodegas that do more prepared food will have to banish sodas larger than 16 ounces starting March 12.

But wait--before you put your hands together for slowest slow clap ever, here are just a few other obscenely unhealthy New York City foods vendors are still free to shove down the public's gullet:

1. The Choose Your Own Adventure sandwich at the Carnegie Deli. Pastrami, tongue, brisket, chopped liver. Really, there's nothing wrong with consuming a few pounds of cattle and pureed chicken innards in one sitting, just as long as you wash it down with a SMALL FUCKING SODA DAMMIT.  Make it the New York deli classic, Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda (AKA "the Jewish champagne"), because that stuff takes like piss, and everyone knows nothing goes better with organ meats than carbonated urine.

2.  Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster.  All-you-can-eat corporate arthropod, coated in your choice of cheese, alfredo sauce, batter dip, or good ol' fashioned butter. Also, you're in New York City and eating at Red Lobster--kill yourself.

3. Slice of pizza bigger than your kid at KoronetI used to live a few blocks from this place and I personally gained a shitload of weight as a result of their delicious, ridiculously oversized slices. Really. I used to be as small as this girl. And blonde. Fucking Koronet.

4. The KFC Double Down.  Role-playing with chicken. This is why we can't have nice things in America.

5. Twice-Fried Cherry Pie at Park Slope Chip Shop.  Great news for gluttons--this dessert is officially back after having been outlawed under one of Bloomberg's other famous nanny missions, New York City's 2008 trans-fat ban.

6. Chili Cheese Waffle Fries with sour cream and bacon at BLT Burger.  It's sad that in this day and age we must resort to gluttony and excess to satisfy our most basic...ugh. I ain't even gonna lie. That shit looks tasty.

7. Half-Pound of Deep-Fried Bacon at Fatty 'Cue.  I'm not even sure what you do with this.

8. 20 Piece Chicken McNuggets box at McDonald's.  Don't be fooled by the "Share Box" labeling; this ad is actually from Mickey D's the UK .  Share, shmare. Everyone knows Americans ain't gonna share shit--especially when it comes to 20 pieces of motherfucking chicken.

9. Sausage, Egg, and Cheese on an Asiago Bagel at Au Bon Pain.  I'm not just including this sandwich because its 760 calories (330 from fat), 36 grams of fat (17 grams saturated), 410 milligrams of cholesterol, and 1210 milligrams of sodium have made it one of Men's Health's 18 Worst Breakfasts in America, but also because anyone who is in New York City and orders a bagel at Au Bon Pain is obviously a huge cunt.

Image via Men's Health.

10. Red Velvet Cheesecake at Junior's.  It's like cheesecake stuck its fat cheesy dick inside a red velvet cake and made a big hypertensive baby with chronic rosacea.  Hey, if it's good enough for Diddy, it's good enough for Bloomberg (see photo below).


Soda bad, cheesecake good.  NYC Nanny Mayor Bloomberg schleps hella Junior's
cheesecake while paying a visit to his friend David Boren (D-Okla.).
Image via NY Daily News.



UPDATE: Drink up, New York!  Just minutes ago, New York state judge blocked Bloomberg's plan to limit sugary beverage consumption in the city. Bloomberg:

In October, groups representing beverage makers, restaurants and theaters filed a petition in state court, seeking to block the measure. They called the ban “unprecedented interference” with consumer choice.

New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling in Manhattan approved the group’s request, issuing a permanent injunction today preventing the city from implementing the plan. The city said it will appeal the ruling, which also held the law violated the separation of powers, as the city council, and not the executive, should promulgate such laws.

Now pass the motherfucking Big Gulp.

Mar 5, 2013

Integrated Israeli Buses and Cheap Fares for Chinese Immigrants: It Was Fung Wah It Lasted


 Behold the Masshole is its native environment (pahhhty). Note the characteristic pasty white skin
                                  and off-color local humor. Image via Barstool Sports.

One month ago yesterday, we celebrated the birthday of Rosa Parks, the woman credited with launching the Civil Rights movement when she refused to relinquish her seat to a white person on a bus in Jim Crow Alabama.  

Sadly, since then, it’s been a pretty fucked-up month in the world of buses.  

Take, for example, yesterday, when Israel debuted its new segregated bus service, launching two Palestinian-only lines in the occupied  West Bank.

Shockingly, this is not going over as smoothly as planned. NBC:

Palestinians with entry permits to work in central Israel must now all converge on one single crossing point, at Eyal near Qalqilya, where the new line operates, leading to delays.
A riot broke out Tuesday morning when Palestinians discovered there were not enough buses to take them all to their jobs in Israel.
According to Gal-On and other sources, the move follows pressure from Jewish settlers, who also cross from the West Bank into Israel to work, and who objected to sharing their buses with Palestinians.
Their reason: Fear that Palestinians could leave bombs on the buses and blow them up.

Right. Because everyone knows the path to peace and harmony is always paved with MOAR SEGREGATION.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, another segregated bus line is having its own issues, as just last week the feds put an end to an era of uber-discount Chinese transportation service.

Okay, I'm sort of totally kidding.  To be fair, Fung Wah never actually instituted Jim Crow-type legislation, but anyone who has lived in either Boston or New York City is undoubtedly familiar with the bargain bus line that catered largely to Chinese immigrants, with Chinatown-to-Chinatown (Boston/NYC or NYC/Boston) service priced at an unheard-of $15 per ticket. You might also recall images such as these:

Image via Boston Globe.

Image via Inebriated Discourse.

Image via Boston Globe
Image by Filippo Diotalevi via Flickr

Image via Democratic Underground.

And in case the pictures aren't enough, here's a brief history of Fung Wah's safety record via Wiki:

  • August 16, 2005: A New York-bound bus caught fire on Interstate 91 near Meriden, Connecticut. Though the passengers later criticized the driver for being unhelpful and untrained in evacuating the bus, all passengers were eventually evacuated and no injuries were reported.[9]
  • September 6, 2006: A bus rolled over in Auburn, Massachusetts and caused minor injuries to 34 passengers.[10] Excessive speed was cited as a factor and the bus company was fined.[11]
  • January 3, 2007: In Framingham, Massachusetts, a New York-bound bus lost its back two wheels. No injuries were reported.[12]
  • February 14, 2007: The driver of a New York-bound bus lost control in a winter storm and hit a guardrail on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) in Allston, Massachusetts. No injuries were reported.[13]
  • March 23, 2007: A New York-bound bus got stuck on a concrete barrier in front of a tollbooth on the Massachusetts Turnpike at Route 128 in Weston, Massachusetts, when the bus drove up on a cement lane divider. The driver had entered an automobile-only lane and tried to change lanes. No one was injured in the incident, but the bus was taken out of service and passengers boarded another Fung Wah bus that arrived later.[14]
  • June 23, 2008: A bus loading passengers was struck by an out of control dump truck at the corner of Bowery and Canal Street in New York’s Chinatown. The force of the impact pushed the bus onto the sidewalk and into a bank. As the result of the accident, a sign attached to a light pole fell, injuring a 57-year-old woman; the woman later died as the result of a heart attack. Several people, including two police officers, were treated for minor injuries.[15][16][17] State Department of Transportation inspectors found the dump truck, owned by CPQ Freight Systems, had eight mechanical issues including faulty brakes which led to the accident.[18]
  • There were no crash incidents reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (United States Department of Transportation) by states for 24 months prior to December 26, 2011.[19]
  • February 25, 2013: The company pulled nearly its entire fleet off the road with 21 of 28 buses after inspectors from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities found multiple structural cracks in several buses. The company reduced their service from every half hour to hour, and used rental buses in place of the fleet.[20]
  • February 26, 2013: As a result of the the structural damages discovered the day before the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered Fung Wah to "immediately cease passenger service" indefinitely and park its remaining seven buses.[21]
  • March 1, 2013: The FMCSA formally cancels the motor carrier docket (MC 405969, USDOT 954187) and operating authority of Fung Wah after Fung Wah blocked access to safety records. As such, Fung Wah cannot charter buses to meet service.[22]


    Sure, it's akin to hiring Gary Busey as your personal chauffeur, but with the competition's fares running two-to-four times what Fung Wah was charging, who wouldn't throw caution (not to mention human dignity) to the wind and take advantage of such a sweet deal?

    Alas, in an historic move that has Chinese grannies shaking their fists in outrage, the Department of Transportation shut down Fung Wah last week CBS Boston:

    This is the first time the Department of Transportation has revoked a motor carrier’s operating authority under a law signed by President Obama last year.
    “Bus companies that jeopardize public safety and refuse to cooperate with our investigators have no place on the road, and now, thanks to our additional authority, we can take them off,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Safety is our highest priority, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that unsafe bus companies are not on our roads.”

    Oh well.  It was Fung Wah it lasted.

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