The two greatest Jewish inventions of the 20th century are, to my mind at least, Hollywood and Israel. Jews founded Hollywood to help the world escape reality; they founded Israel to help Jews escape the world.
I was going through some old boxes the other day when I found a beat up old notebook that contained a journal of my trip to the Philippines almost nine years ago.My travel journals haven't been quite so detailed in the years since I returned from the Philippines -- mainly due to the professional demands of travel writing, which takes up most of my note-taking time on the road.Nevertheless, I believe that keeping a travel journal can be one of the most rewarding habits a person can keep on the road.
Jewish Book Month's Table of Contents
When sexy authors like Erica Jong and Jerry Stahl get together onstage, you expect fireworks. But when I drag my friend Kay up to Skirball for the Writers Bloc conversation, the room is too bright, and Kay tells me Jong's blue-framed eyeglasses and gold necklace make her come off more Carol Channing than "sex goddess."
7 Days in the Arts
Like her protagonist Sophie Katz, Kyra Davis has skin the color of a "well-brewed latte." That's why she has spent a large portion of her life fielding comments about her ethnicity.
There was her supervisor at a clothing store, for example, who asked about her Star of David necklace, since how could Davis be Jewish when she looks black? Or all the times people have assumed she's Puerto Rican and lecture her on taking pride in one's heritage when they discover she can't speak Spanish.
"Occasionally, when people ask me where I'm from, I'll make up some country in Africa and act really offended if they say they never heard of it," Davis said.
Lev Nussimbaum lived as though life were theater, inventing an identity, dressing the part, shifting scenes, seeking audiences everywhere. He thought he could keep rewriting the ending, believed he could talk his way out of anything including his Jewish past, but ultimately he could not.
Chug on down to the Getty today or tomorrow, as they present Sharon Katz and the Peace Train as part of their Garden Concerts for Kids series.
I've been thinking a lot recently about French philosopher, journalist and filmmaker Bernard-Henri Levy (only in France can philosopher hyphenate with filmmaker).
We had lunch about six months ago. At the time, Levy's English-language edition of "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?"(Melville House), had just been published. The book had received a mixed response for its controversial thesis that Daniel Pearl was murdered because he was on the trail of a larger story, of connections between Pakistani security forces, Pakistan's nuclear establishment and Al Qaeda.
Joan Nestle is one of many Jewish lesbian writers with work catalogued at ONE, an archive similar to New York's Lesbian Herstory Archive, which Nestle co-founded in 1973.
You know that harmless-looking body part inside your mouth? The tongue? It sure looks nice enough, but it gets a lot of Israelites into trouble in this week's parsha.
"Welcome to Heavenly Heights" by Risa Miller (St. Martin's Press, $23.95).
Many writers have imagined the Jewish immigrant experience, setting their novels and short stories on the Lower East Side and places like that, where newcomers can forge their way to become Americans. Risa Miller's debut novel, "Welcome to Heavenly Heights," is a different version of that story, with American Jews making new homes in Israel, reversing the exile. This transition can be more pressure cooker than melting pot, mixing idealism, religion, bureaucracy, family complexities, shifting expectations, love and, never far away, violence.
In between schmoozing with kids for his acclaimed Fairfax High documentary "Senior Year" in 1998, filmmaker David Zeiger hung out with the funny old guys who did lunch with his dad on Tuesdays at the Mulholland Tennis Club.
You don't plan to become a trivia writer, it just happens. The next thing you know, you're a one-woman trivia carnival, packing up your trunk of battered almanacs and dictionaries and moving on to the next show.
According to the Hebrew calendar, this Yom Kippur marks the 28th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. It's an unrounded number, the kind of date that might otherwise go unnoticed if it weren't for the fact that America has just entered its own version of that war.
Whenever one of our writers or contributors -- or I myself -- use the term "Jewish community," I think of Lew Wasserman. An interviewer once asked the former MCA chairman and power broker about the Jewish community here. Wasserman shot back: "I don't know of a Jewish community. It is nonexistent."
Middle-aged, mild-mannered Barney Cashman craves excitement in the form of an extramarital affair. Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" follows this bumbling protagonist as he attempts to seduce three women, including his wife's best friend, in his mother's apartment.
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
David Margolick, writer of books and articles on legal issues for The New York Times and Vanity Fair, has hit a raw nerve with his haunting book, "Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights" (Running Press). The book is an account of the scalding impact of one song - a song about a lynching - on scores of Ameri-can activists, writers, musicians, artists and intellectuals.
"Blood Simple" put the brothers on the map (Ethan quit his job as a statistical typist at Macy's), and the Coens went on to write, produce and direct a series of off-center, ironic, unsettling fables peopled with vividly drawn cartoon characters.
It is remarkable how many great Jewish American writers first came to the public's attention through a volume of short stories.