David Mamet's original cartoon.
David Mamet recently asked the following questions of “Jews planning to vote for Obama.” Herewith, my responses.
Imagine a new member to the family. The real or prospective son- or daughter-in-law is not sat down and explained the family ways, nor given diagrams, lists and rules for behavior. They are told stories.
In “At What Cost?” (July 27), David Mamet asserts that the national debt has doubled under President Barack Obama and that government has increased massively in size.
It has been suggested that the purpose of a college education is to ease the transition into adulthood. After several decades teaching college-age students, I would agree, only substituting delay and prevent for ease.
Even though organizations like JVS have WorkSource centers on Wilshire Boulevard and in Marina del Rey, the jobs through JVS are all online (“Still Unemployed: Out of Luck but Not Out of Hope,” Nov. 25). The process of finding jobs online is not effective.
David Mamet’s recent, meandering tirade demands a response, even if cogency permits only a partial rejoinder. So, I will limit myself to where he begins and I where I “live,” with the Reform Movement.
Letters to the editor
The old joke has it, how many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? No one knows — it’s never been tried.
Let me say right away that I am an ardent and devoted fan of David Mamet. I have only a very small collection of movies on DVD, but two of them are “The Spanish Prisoner” and “House of Games,” both of which I’ve watched repeatedly. My wife, Ann, and I were in the audience for Mamet’s production of “Boston Marriage” at the Geffen and again when he produced a magic-and-memoir show featuring Ricky Jay.
And so, my two favorite playwrights find themselves on opposite sides of a longstanding Jewish divide. "All sound creative art is rooted in a ghetto," the critic Ludwig Lewisohn once wrote. Once out of that ghetto, the roots bifurcate, and we Jews have fashioned two strategies for survival. For the Mamets, salvation lies in toughness and certainty, the People of the Butch. For Kushner, our promise is in compromise and doubt.
Nextbook, an organization devoted to Jewish literature, culture and ideas (www.nextbook.org) came to L.A. last weekend, staging a full day festival at UCLA's MacGowan and Freud theaters called "Acting Jewish: Film, TV, Comedy, Music," the first of what it hopes to be an annual event.
Just four years ago, Nextbook got its start as an organization committed to promoting public library programs dedicated to Jewish topics. In short order, the ever-evolving nonprofit has conquered a swath of territory in the contested realm of Jewish arts and ideas, steadily expanding while maintaining its focus on Jewish cultural and intellectual life.
David Mamet has written a book, "The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred and the Jews" (Shocken/Nextbook), that is by turns bold, courageous, and outrageous -- it is a book that calls Diaspora Jews to the table and asks: "In or Out?"
Jewish Book Month's Table of Contents
When David Mamet, the son of brilliant but emotionally abusive parents, was growing up in Chicago, his mother told him, according to The New Yorker profile of the playwright, "I love you, but I don't like you."