May 15, 2003
HEEB Goes Deep
Call it the "Brooklyn Invasion."
All traces of the solemnity and sadness of Holocaust Remembrance Day were gone by nightfall when the gang from New York-based Heeb Magazine threw their first West Coast party at the Hollywood-and-Vine hotspot Deep. Palm Pictures, celebrating the DVD release of Henry Bean's controversial 2001 film, "The Believer," co-sponsored the event.
About 50 yarmulke boys and Heeb-sters socialized over cigs and cocktails against the backdrop of the club's trademark exotic dancers in glass displays. One table boasted Heeb stickers and tees, while pieces of Streit's matzah could be found at every booth.
Heeb and "The Believer" may not be such strange bedfellows -- both have garnered attention touting radical Jews on the fringes.
Launched in January 2002, with a grant from the San Francisco-based Joshua Venture fellowship program, Heeb -- equal parts journalism and satire with a SPIN-style design and snotty, in-your-face celebration of Jewish culture -- embraces a punk fanzine sensibility in its humor-laced coverage of pop culture and an idiosyncratic Jewish nexus.
Past issues have included pieces on beat poet Allen Ginsburg, filmmaker Todd Solondz and porn publisher Al Goldstein; a Neil Diamond centerfold; and tons of references to hip-hop culture. The current issue, No. 3, continues the eclectic tradition of articles played for laughs, including pieces on the world's worst Jewish comedian and an homage to the late actress Nell Carter, who had converted to Judaism. The magazine's slogan says it all: "We're the kids your rabbi warned you about."
A quartet representing Heeb's staff, including editor-in-chief Jennifer Bleyer and publisher Joshua Neuman, spent their week in Los Angeles holed up at the Grafton Hotel on Sunset Boulevard.
Neuman, happy to be back in Los Angeles, revealed plans to throw Heeb parties in Montreal, Atlanta and Las Vegas within the coming months. The Deep party was a priority, because Los Angeles is Heeb's second-biggest market.
"It's Tel Aviv to New York's Jerusalem," he quipped.
Neuman, 31, who started out reviewing music for the magazine, recently became Heeb's publisher when the magazine's founder, Bleyer, decided to concentrate on her editor-in-chief role.
Bleyer, dressed in jeans and a Heeb T-shirt and sporting a tan from a recent assignment in Costa Rica, made some West Coast friends at the party. The brunette journalist, who last year gained the magazine some notoriety by talking openly about her sex life on Howard Stern's radio and cable programs, spoke about the progress of her enterprise.
"Huge amounts of people are not Jewish who have enjoyed it," she said.
Perhaps the most interesting revelation: Bleyer, who is most proud of the Heeb articles focused on social justice, has no real use for the satire.
"I'm not into a lot of the humor stuff," said Bleyer, who considers this "the sugar to make the medicine go down."
Politically, Heeb makes no bones on its far left-wing stance. It flaunts it and flouts those who can't deal.
"We want Jews on the left to realize that there are other Jews out there just like you," Neuman said.
Bleyer considered a recent Noam Chomsky article as one of her favorites.
"For me, as an activist," she said of Heeb's political side, "it's more important than anything kitschy and Jewish."
Neuman pointed to the late San Francisco Jewish radical rag Davka and Los Angeles' own Asian cult favorite Giant Robot as kindred publications from which Heeb draws the most affinity. A personal Heeb highlight for Neuman, who teaches philosophy at New York University, was researching a piece on David Deutsch, "the world's worst Jewish comedian." Deutsch got to hang out at the New York Friar's Club and in the Catskills, and brush funny bones with the likes of Jack Carter, Pat Cooper and Soupy Sales
"We're edgy and shticky," Neuman said, trying to bottle up the essence of Heeb.
As Heeb works out the kinks on an upcoming book deal and issue No. 4 in September, Neuman explained why he believes the magazine continues to fluff its ever-expanding subscription base, currently at 2,500.
"I think we have a really great sense of humor. We don't take anything too seriously," said Neuman, in a moment of seriousness.
For more information on Heeb Magazine, visit www.heebmagazine.com.
Book 'Em, Dena!
The Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles (JCLLA) has received a philanthropic gift from The Karma Foundation. Dina Karmazin Elkins, executive director of The Karma Foundation, presented the JCLLA with a check for $2,200. The gift will be used to develop and promote the JCLLA audio book collection. Dr. Aaron Willis, JCLLA chair, said that he is "delighted that the Karma Foundation sees such value in this new JCLLA project that promotes Jewish literacy to the blind, visually impaired and L.A. commuters."
Among the titles in the JCLLA audio book collection: "Bee Season" by Myla Goldberg and "The Diary of Anne Frank."
The Karma Foundation gift comes hot on the heels of several grants for JCLLA. The American Library Association presented JCLLA with $2,500 as part of the 2003 Gale Group Financial Development Award. That award will support JCLLA's creative project, "One People, Many Stories," a radio series for public radio. JCLLA also received an undisclosed contribution from Richard and Lois Gunther to purchase materials for the library's community beit midrash.
For more information, call the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles at (323) 761 - 8644; www.JCLLA.org.
More than 300 guests gathered at the Four Seasons in West Hollywood to honor "Temple of the Air," a program created by Rabbi David Baron of Temple Shalom For The Arts designed to reach the homebound and others unable to attend synagogue on the High Holidays. Monty Hall served as master of ceremonies, and several temple members entertained, including comedian Steve Landesberg (Det. Arthur Dietrich on "Barney Miller") and musical performers Theodore Bikel and Cantor Ilysia Pierce, who sang tunes from "Fiddler on the Roof." Anita Mann and Allen Kohl and Bobbie and Bob Stern were honored at the event.
Attorney Laura Stein of Beverly Hills, along with her mother and legal partner Sandra Stein, recently attended a seder hosted by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle in the Governor's Mansion in Honolulu. Lingle, who was elected in November 2002, became the first woman to govern Hawaii and the first Republican to hold the office in 40 years. The Steins have been long supporters of Lingle, dating back to her initial bid for governor in 1998.
"I'm just so proud to know her," Laura Stein said. "I think she sets the example for so many groups that are underrepresented." -- Staff Report
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