A Berg Above The Rest

yet another jewish controlled media outlet

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Cause We Jewish Chicks Are Every Man's Dream

...for serious...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Happy Late Shabbat, Y'all...

Here's a fake recruitment ad...

Friday, April 28, 2006

London Jews: Just Say "LO!"

Jews in London have started a campaign against Mayor Ken Livingstone. There are now bumper stickers showing up that say "So Lo To Ken", the "LO" being in Hebrew (as seen above).

The reason for this campaign was because of Livingstone's verbal attacks on Israel and members of the Jewish Community as well as his "using innappropriate Holocaust references."
Two weeks after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel should be wiped out the map, Livingstone told a UK Jewish publication that questioning the morality of Israel's foundation was "a perfectly valid thing to say after so many wars."
He also went on to compare a well known Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard. Because of this, he was suspended from duty for a month. Jewish organizations in London are now looking to get him suspended permenantly.

Out of the first print of 1000 stickers, over 200 have already been sold.

The Unofficial "Minister of Rock & Roll" Is Visting the Holy Land

...no, not Graceland. The Real Holy Land.

Lenny Kravitz announced this week that he's coming to Israel.

During the Jewish-African American reception earlier this week, Kravitz told Israel's consul general in New York, Aryeh Mekel, that he will be arriving in Israel in the next two-to-three months to visit friends in Tel Aviv.

He hasn't decided if he will perform or not.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gentiles in Jewish History: Chiune Sempo Sugihara

So I know that "Remember the Holocaust" day was the day before yesterday, but I'm a bit behind in my posting. So I thought I'd do a tribute to a lesser known, but very important figure in Jewish Holocaust history.

Chiune Sempo Sugihara (1900-1986) was the Japanese consul to Lituania during World War II. During his time there, he went on to help thousands of Jews escape from the Nazis.

Many Polish and Russian Jews came to the Japanese consolute looking for Visas to Japan in order to escape the oncoming terrors of both Germany and the Soviet Union. Even though the Japanese government had pretty strict codes and requirements in order to obtain a visa, Sugihara (who was later dubbed the Japanese Schindler) went against these rules and granted visas on his own. There is speculation on the amount of visas Sugihara wrote (sometimes by hand). The number ranges from 2,139 to 10,000. Many whole families went to Japan on one 10 day visa. There was even one day when 30 people came over on a visa for one "Jakub Goldberg." Sugihara was so dedicated to giving Jews visas that he was still signing them while sitting on the train to evacuate Lituania.

When he returned to Japan in 1947, Sugihara was almost immediately fired from Japan's Foreign Service. Though the Japanese government never came out and said it, his firing was due to his helping Polish and Russian Jews. His name was only cleared in 1992, six years after his death.

Now, Nippon Animation, one of Japan's biggest film studios is making a full length feature animation on his story. The studio enlisted the help of Israeli ambassador Eli Cohen, who agreed only after the studio promised to coordinate with the Japanese Foreign Ministry first.

The film will be marketed in 2008, in order to also commemorate sixty years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Japan.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Kikes with Mics...Yeah....

So, I want to blog about a bunch of things going on right now, one being the fact that all of a sudden, May is now Jewish American Heritage Month thanks to good ole George W. Bush, but I can't at the moment. I got like two hours of sleep and then spent almost all of today at the hospital. No need to ask. Everything's fine. Don't be a Yiddisha mama.

To make up for it, I'm posting another YouTube video (cause they make life so easy). This time, it's the Beastie Boys!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The guy who built the "Stairway To Heaven" would be a Jew, wouldn't he?

Most of you probably aren't familiar with Spirit, an experimental psyche-rock band whose biggest successes are relegated to the late '60s and '70s, decades when most of you probably weren't even born. On the other hand, you're likely far-more familiar with Led Zeppelin and their controversial ( play it backwards some time to find out why ) stoner classic "Stairway To Heaven." What you surely aren't aware of though is the wide-spread belief that Spirit guitarist Randy California ( born Randy Craig Wolfe; he was re-named "California" by his former bandmate Jimi Hendrix during his stint in Jimi's "Jimmy James & the Blue Flames" ) is the true author of the haunting guitar intro heard on "Stairway To Heaven," not Zep' guitarist Jimmy Page.

It should be noted that Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit during the supporting tour for their 1968 LP 'The Family That Plays Together' ( so named because guitarist California and drummer Ed Cassidy were step-son and step-father ) and were known to cover the Spirit tune "Fresh Garbage" in concert. Jimmy Page has also stated that he began using the Theremin after seeing California use a model that he had mounted to his guitar. Despite this obvious connection, and although the chord progressions on "Stairway" are nearly identical to those of the California-penned Spirit instrumental "Taurus" ( from their self-titled debut album ) no aknowledgement of inspirition has ever been forthcoming from anyone in the Zeppelin camp crediting California or his band.

Anyway, this story, as fascinating as it may be, wouldn't be getting retold here at A Berg Above if it didn't have some bearing on Jews in popular-culture. And of course, it does. Ya see, Randy California ( who unfortunately passed away in 1997 while rescuing his son from a riptide near their home in Molokai, Hawaii ) was a Jew ( I mean just look at that magnificent beard ). And like all other good Jewish boys he's got a Jewish mother. And you can bet your ass that his mother, Bernice Pearl ( who admits that "Stairway To Heaven" is, in her estimation, "the greatest rock and roll makeout song ever" ), is not too psyched about her son ( who was only 16 years old when he wrote "Taurus" ) never even getting a "thank you" for inspiring the mega-hit.

In an interview with Jewsrock.org she says:

"After `Stairway to Heaven' came out, Randy knew they took what he had written -- everybody talked about that," says Pearl. "But when people would ask Randy about it, he used to always say, 'Let it go.' There should have been at least one telephone call from Led Zeppelin, some sort of `Thank you.' Something. But it never came."

Which isn't exactly surprising, as rock musicians have historically been far-more tight-lipped about their own "sampling" than modern hip-hop artists have. And in a genre like rock, where issues of race, inspirations and the origins of the music have always been a bone of contention I could see how something like this would only add fuel to an already tediously burning fire. I mean, Led Zeppelin's appropriation of the black man's Blues to create their heavy rock sound is pretty self-evident, but who would have every thought they were appropriating from us Hebrews too?

Though California rarely dwelled on his Jewishness ( his mother says he briefly attended Hebrew school but that "Randy was interested in all cultures," and "just happens to have a Jewish mother and father" ) he dedicated at least one song, the plainly titled "Jewish" from the 'The Family That Plays Together' album, to his Hebraic heritage. The song opens with almost nyabinghi-like drumming and a Hebrew ( I've seen some articles say it's Yiddish, but that sounds Hebrew to me jack ) vocal from gentile Spirit vocalist Jay Ferguson, giving it an air akin to that of an ethnic folk song or a religious hymnal. But then the cowbell starts and the song totally changes into a jazzy hippie-rock jam with bubbling Rhodes, delicate guitars, an airy bass groove, sizzling hi-hats and a soaring lead guitar solo before going back to the tribal vibe of the intro. What's really funny though is how similar the escalating guitar notes that end the tune are to the horn riff on experimental folky Donovan's jazzed-out "Get Thy Bearings" from his 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' LP, which was released at almost exactly the same time as Spirit's 'The Family That Plays Together.'

Maybe rock music just all sounds the same?

Regardless, I've provided an MP3, ripped from my own crackly original vinyl pressing of Spirit's 'The Family That Plays Together,' for your downloading and listening pleasure.

Spirit "Jewish"

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I Heard It Through The Manishevitz Grape Vine...

So, The Weinstein Company (i.e. Bob and Harvey Weinstein) posted the first 8 minutes of the new movie Lucky Number Slevin on YouTube. Check it out:

I really want to see this movie. I'm always a big fan of Jewish gangsters.

Friday, April 21, 2006

For some reason, I keep picturing Orthodox women screaming "GET JIGGY WITH IT"

Will Smith Crashes Bar Mitzvah

He never got an invitation and he certainly didn't R.S.V.P., but that didn't stop Will Smith from crashing Atir Cohen's bar mitzvah at Jerusalem's Western Wall.

Cohen, 13, was deep into his Torah reading Thursday when he heard shouting and saw girls pushing against the barrier separating men from women at the holy site to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood superstar.

"At first I didn't know who it was," Cohen said. Smith compensated for the interruption by shaking the bar mitzvah boy's hand and posing for a picture with him.

Even better, the rabbi giving him the tour was named Shmuel Rabinovitch (Shmuel being one of my favorite Hebrew names.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

If Your Grandfather Dressed Like Paul Wall...Old Jews in Commercials Pt. 1

Butterfinger (as in the candy bar) has launched a new ad campaign called Follow The Finger. Now, this ad campaign is definitely questionable when it comes to whom exactly they are marketing. Their commercials so far have made fun of people in India, China and Russia. On their website, a game (which is under construction at the moment) will allow you to go searching for the "Follow the Finger" finger in the "Ghetto." And finally, the point of my post, they have this commercial:

So, I don't want to go into what this reminds me of (I've already been scolded for "looking too deeply" into this commercial), but while many might find it funny, I just can't. (Although, I admit, I kinda want a Butterfinger...damn corporate advertising...)

There is something about the idea of old Jewish men rapping that people find HILARIOUS. Two Live Jews knew this in 1990, when they created their hit song "Oy! It's So Humid" to the tune of Two Live Crew's "Me So Horny." There have been numerous Jewish holiday e-cards and online websites that show older Jewish men (and even Jewish robots) rapping. While all of these are based in some form of stereotype, the difference, I feel, is that the image of Manny G getting all blinged out traces back to an older image. It's pretty reminiscent of anti-semitic (there I finally said it) images from the late 1800s through WWII. Images of Jews with diamond rings on almost every finger.

I may sound naive when I say this, but it's sad to me that advertisers still think it's a good idea to use stereotypes to sell their products. What's worse is that there are some ad writers/creators who use stereotypes of their own people to sell products. And what's even worse than that is the fact that the character Manny G. doesn't have to announce his Jewish-ness. It's already understood, meaning the stereotype is so far ingrained in people's minds, they recognize all the signifiers. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a Jewish writer working on this ad campaign. I'm just hoping that some day people come to their senses.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's a slow day...

I'm still getting over my night last night, and there's nothing to really report aside from TomKat had a baby girl named Suri. So for your enjoyment, here is this video clip. I have no idea where it is from, but I feel like it's from an Israeli sketch comedy show. If you know, leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just Another Brick in Co-Existence

Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters has switched concert venues for his upcoming concert in Israel. Orignally, the concert was supposed to take place in Tel Aviv, but, because of Palestinian criticism, the show will be taking place in Neve Shalom, the Arab-Israeli (also called Wahat el Saalam) town near Jerusalem. The venue change was made in hopes of supporting co-existence.

In an open letter to Waters after the concert was first announced, dozens of Palestinian artists urged him to stay away "at a time when Israel continues unabated with its colonial and apartheid designs to further dispossess, oppress and ultimately ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their homeland."

Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall has become something of an anthem of resistance to the massive barrier Israel is building across the West Bank, although the lyrics have been adapted to read: "We don't need no occupation. We don't need no racist wall."

During a time when many musical acts don't put Israel on their tour list, Waters says he isn't apologetic for going there.

"I would not rule out going to Israel because I disapprove of the foreign policy any more than I would refuse to play in the UK because I disapprove of (British Prime Minister)Tony Blair's foreign policy,"

For those of you who don't know, Neve Shalom/Wahat El Saalam was made famous in a Benetton ad campaign called "Enemies" back in 1998. It sparked much debate and contraversy, especially because of this photo showing an Arab and Israeli kissing.

While I don't support what the Palestinians wrote in their letter, I do think holding a concert in Neve Shalom is a good idea. It could be worse. Waters could have backed out completely. But instead, he chose a diplomatic way of handling the situation. Music brings people together. And if music, for even one night, can bring people together in Israel without conflict, then I'm all for it.

What's A Nice Jewish Boy Like You Doing In A Place Like This?

Marc Ecko is claiming that he tagged Air Force 1 (the plane, not the shoe). And he has videos to prove it.

In the undated footage, you can see two hooded figures climbing over a fence to get to the sitting duck airplane. The third person (holding the camera) says ominously "This never happend." Once the other two get over the fence, they run over to the plane and tag the words "STILL FREE" on it.

How they weren't caught is beyond me. Also how anyone could get that close to Air Force 1 is beyond me. Which makes me wonder if this was perhaps shot pre-9/11. Perhaps it wasn't even shot during the George W. Bush administration. Who knows? If it was shot post 9/11, then way to go Homeland Security. If two guys with spray paint can get that close to the planes outer engines, imagine who else can.

At any rate, video is pretty cool, even if Marc's explanation as to why he did it, isn't.

Thanks to Stone over at The Couch Sessions for the link.

Ok, ok...

For the Non-Jews who read this site:

Awww...it's the giant bunny again! (And so what that it's late...it's the thought that counts!)

Monday, April 17, 2006

MC Y-Love in DC

Always up on his YouTube-ing, Mobius, of Orthodox Anarchist and editor of Jew School, posted a video short about Y-Love (Yitz Jordan), an emerging rapper from the Orthodox community (you know, other than Matisyahu).

I've had the chance to spend time with Y-Love...he even let me have the honor of photographing him. And now, he's coming to the Washington DC JCC to perform in the Jewish Music Festival. He will be performing along with dj handler and DJ Shotnez on May 20th at Bourbon (what was formerly Blue Room). Tickets are $10.

You can also read Y-Love's musings at his website, This Is Babylon

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bobby and Whitney Approved!

A couple weeks ago, I posted about Eddie Butler, the Black Hebrew pop singer who is representing Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest in Athens.

Now, in today's New York Times, there is another article about Butler's struggles for recognition from the country in which he lives.

He will be performing in Athens on May 20th.

Only the Goyim...

From Reuters

The caption reads:

Jason Schwenke glides above the sea floor of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo as he hides eggs for an underwater Easter egg hunt April 14, 2006. Schwenke's dive center, as well as other Keys dive shops, are staging underwater egg hunts during the Easter holiday weekend.

Wait...doesn't Schwenke sound like a Jewish name? And what do you think they put in the eggs?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Cute...very cute...

Robert J. Elisberg over at Huffington Post wrote an article about the plight of the Jews in Egypt...had the whole story taken place in this modern day. Here's a selection:

The Egyptian parliament met in Cairo yesterday in a late night session to deal with the nation's growing immigrant problem with its Jewish population. The ruling party of the Pharaoh -- as well as the minority party, and in fact all parties -- want to keep the migrant Jews in the country as indentured slaves, while the Jewish immigrants all want to leave.

Though all government parties are agreed about keeping the serfs within the borders, terms of subjugation have rival parties at crossroads.

"This is a critical situation for Egypt," said palace spokesman Anwar Motabek. "The Jews are an important part of the national economy, performing jobs that no Egyptians would dare dream of doing. They pyramids and Sphinx would barely be started, if begun at all without the slave labor force."

So, I wonder if there are any Jewish lawyers in this story...

Friday, April 14, 2006

"Shamu is Jewish?"

There is one thing almost every young Jewish man looks forward to/dreads in his life. His Bar Mitzvah.

Traditionally, the Bar Mitzvah was a celebration of a young boy's passing into manhood at the age of 13. It was when he can officially become part of a minyan and assume his rightful place in temple and on the bima.

In more modern traditions, i.e. Reform, Reconstructionist and even some Conservative synagogues, this is extended to young girls during their Bat Mitzvahs as well. But recently the traditional role of the Bar Mitzvah in the shul has been overshadowed by an even greater aspect...the party.

In recent years, there has been a focus on the Jewish rite of passage...on television or in books. Acts like Ashanti, Jah Rule, 50 Cent , Aerosmith and Tom Petty have pushed back touring to perform on the "Bar Mitzvah Circuit."

American Jews in particular go on to spend thousands...nay...MILLIONS of dollars even, just so their son or daughter can have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah suited for royalty. The outcome is that the young teen forgets entirely about the traditional part i.e. the reading of the haftorah, and focuses too much on the excessiveness of the the party afterwards. Basically, these Jews are completely missing the point.

In response (I'm hoping), writer Mark Zakarin and director Scott Marshall have created a comedy that looks into the deep and philosophical world of...Bar Mitzvah planning.

Keeping Up With The Steins follows the story of Adam Fiedler (Jeremy Piven...check out his interview in Heeb), a hot shot agent in Brentwood, CA whose son (Daryl Sabara) is about to embark on his Bar Mitzvah. While Adam has big plans for the Bar Mitzvah party (in order to show up their neighbors, The Steins), his son Benjamin, has other ideas. He wants to bring his father and estranged grandfather back together. Hilarity, Jewish jokes and funny one-liners ensue.

The movie also stars Jami Gertz (Muffy Tepperman from "Square Pegs"), Doris Roberts, Garry Marshall (Director Scott Marshall's dad), Larry Miller, and Daryl Hannah (I'm guessing as the shiksa girlfriend of somebody.

This is a movie I'm actually kind of excited to see. From the trailer, it seems that this film is questioning the reasons why so many feel the need to spend so much money, when in reality a Bar Mitzvah (like most other Jewish events) should be about family. Plus, it's nice to see a movie where Jews are portrayed in a positive light every once in a while, and where the cast does not include Barbra Streisand.

I keeed, I keeeed.

Keeping Up With The Steins comes out on May 12th.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

As if Goyim Eating Bagels Wasn't Enough...

So according to an article in The Washington Post, there are groups of Christians who have been conducting Passover seders. Everything was the same as the Jewish seders, except for a few facts:

The Seder meal was served before the Seder service started, instead of two-thirds of the way through.

There was dancing.

And Jesus was everywhere.

The stripes and the holes in the matzoh represented his whipped and pierced body. The wine (actually grape juice) represented his blood. The matzoh was wrapped in white cloth, symbolizing the way Jesus's body was wrapped for burial.

While many churches do Passover seders to learn more about the Jewish culture, some are beginning to make seders a more "Christian" event. Seeing how the Last Supper was a Passover Seder, Christians see it as a way to "connect with the heritage" of their religion.

Jews aren't so excited about this new Christian interest in Passover. For starters, some don't like the fact that...well...Christians are once again trying to gank our shit...i.e. Cultural Appropriation.

But on a more serious note, many fear that Christians, specifically Evangelicals, might use these seders to try and proselytize among Jewish people.

Objectors point to the involvement of Messianic Jews, those who believe in Jesus Christ, and Jews for Jesus, a missionary group that seeks to bring Jews into Christianity, in the growing popularity of the ritual among evangelicals.

Harris and her husband, Michael, who led most of Immanuel's Seder, are Messianic Jews. And they readily acknowledge that the Seders are "a major evangelistic tool," Meri said. "Lots of people bring their nonbelieving Jewish friends, to give them the idea that Christianity is really connected to the Jewish people."
Ok, if there is one thing I cannot stand, it's when Christians say "But there are Jews who believe in Jesus..." That's besides the point though. I don't mind Christians enjoying a Passover seder. My mom always invites non-Jewish friends to our seders and almost all of them ask to come back, because they enjoy the gathering of family and friends, not the religious aspect.

If anything, these days, the Passover seder is about religiousness, yes, but it is more about coming together to tell a story. A story that rings true to night only Jews but to others as well. A few years ago, while I was still in college, I attended a multi-cultural seder, hosted by the Black Student Group, the Jewish Studend Union and the Multicultural House at UMass in Amherst. It was supposed to bring together the two groups together to look at their similarities, rather than their differences.

But I'm sidetracking...

Personally, I agree with the Jews who are concerned. The last thing we need right now is for Christians to find other excuses for Jews to convert. It seems like they could use our own traditions against us in order to (in their minds) "save us."

And remember kids...Jews who believe in Jesus are not real Jews. They are Christians who just want to be "ethnic." (That is a joke.)

No, "Creeping Death" is not another name for your uncle Mort's post Seder flatulence

While none of the members of Metallica seem to be Jewish themselves, those goyim sure know how to have a head-bangin' Passover. Their tune "Creeping Death" from 1984's 'Ride The Lightening' LP details the night-time plague that killed all the first-born of Egypt (including the Pharoah's son) while sparing the Israelites from the point of view of the Angel of Death who did the killing. It's a pretty awesome way to remember the Passover that resulted in our people's Exodus from bondage in the "the black land" if you ask me. And since it happens to be Passover right now there couldn't be a better time to rock out to it.

Metallica "Creeping Death"

Hebrews born to serve, to the Pharaoh
To his every word, live in fear
Of the unknown one, the deliverer
Something must be done, four hundred years

So let it be written
So let it be done
I'm sent here by the chosen one
So let it be written
So let it be done
To kill the first born Pharaoh son
I'm creeping death

Let my people go, land of Goshen
I will be with thee, bush of fire
Running red and strong down the Nile
Darkness three days long, hail to fire

So let it be written
So let it be done
I'm sent here by the chosen one
So let it be written
So let it be done
To kill the first born Pharaoh son
I'm creeping death

Die by my hand
I creep across the land
Killing first-born man
Die by my hand
I creep across the land
Killing first-born man

Rule the midnight air, the destroyer
I shall soon be there, deadly mass
Creep the steps and floor, final darkness
Lambs blood painted door, I shall pass

So let it be written
So let it be done
I'm sent here by the chosen one
So let it be written
So let it be done
To kill the first born Pharaoh son
I'm creeping death

In The Passover Spirit...

I'm going to post about a movie that everyone has already posted about.

When Do We Eat? is a film about your typical dysfunctional family seder.

Directed by Salvador Litvak, this film stars Michael Lerner, Jack Klugman, Lesley Ann Warren, and Ben Feldman, just to name a few. The story is about "the world's fastest seder gone horribly awry." Ira Stuckman (Lerner) just wants to get through the family seder without any problems from his stubborn and picky family especially his difficult father (Klugman). His wife (Warren) is occupied with making the seder as different as possible and one of his sons (Feldman) decides this night (as opposed to any other night) would be a good night to spike Dad's drink with some Ecstasy. Arguements and religious hallucinations ensue.

This movie looks like a great family flick. I mean it. I showed my dad the trailer and he said almost immediately "We have GOT to go see that." (There are few movies my father actually enjoys watching, aside from Steven Seagal movies.) At the moment though, it is only playing in New York, California and Florida (where else do you find Jews?). Fortunately, (and according to the website) the film will be opening in the rest of the country in the next few months.

You can check out the trailer here

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chag Sameach To All and To All A Good Night

I'm not going to be able to post anything today (aside from this disclaimer) because I am helping my mother get ready for her Passover seder (actually this whole thing kind of rhymes). We have sixteen people coming over, including some of my mother's relatives (OY! the stories I have).

So to all I wish you a good Pesach and a good Seder. Next year in Jerusalem, right?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

New Exhibit in Amsterdam

The Amsterdam Historical Museum is exhibiting Anne Frank's life through her letters.

A special exhibition of Anne Frank's letters here reveals the fiercely independent spirit of the Jewish girl whose diary of life in hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam made her world famous.

"I am independent in both body and mind. I don't need a mother anymore and I have emerged from the struggle as a stronger person", the young author of the "Diary of Anne Frank" wrote in one of the letters, on display in a show opening Wednesday at the Amsterdam Historical Museum.

The letter above was written to her father in discussion of her feelings for a young man with whom she was hiding. She later added:

"Don't think of me as a fourteen-year old, since all these troubles have made me older."
Should be a good exhibit. If you're reading this and you happen to be in Amsterdam, go see it and tell us how it is.

I don't even know where to begin...

They went and re-did The Ten Commandments.

Ok, so yeah, it was bound to happen. I mean they re-did Psycho. They re-did The Chronicles of Narnia. Now, Robert Dornhelm (Into The West fans may recognize the name) has tried to re-capture the beauty (cough) and majesty (cough cough) that was the Charlton Heston version (COUGH).

The cast includes Dougry Scott, Linus Roache, Mia Maestro, Naveen Andres (One reason to watch...he takes his shirt off. Female Lost fans understand), Padma Lakshmi and finally, a very old Omar Sharif.

Oh lord does this thing look like a piece of...well...something Moses may have stepped into while walking through the desert. And I don't mean manna. And not sand. Shut up. And apparently, the critics aren't exactly thrilled.

Not that I know that much about names that movie stars have before they change them. But to the best of my knowledge, none of these actors are Jewish. Not that you need to be Jewish to play Moses (coughCharltonHestoncough), but still it's hard to take the story seriously when Moses looks like a GQ model instead of a suffering Semite.

To be honest, I didn't watch it tonight when it premiered, namely because I didn't know about it and honestly, there were good episodes of Law & Order: CI on. But maybe tomorrow, if the mood is right, I will turn to ABC and catch it just in time to hear him say "Let my people GO!"...wait, what? He doesn't say those exact words? F*ck that...

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Kingsley without a Crown

There seems to be a pretty wide-spread belief that terms like "soulful" or "funky" and the creation of musical art that posesses the qualities associated with said terms are intrinsically a "black thing." Ask pretty much anybody (and by anybody I might mean the people who post on the Okayplayer message board) and they'll tell you, white guys just don't have "soul." And, much like their apparent inablity to "jump," they are biologically prevented from "getting funky" as well. We Jews fare no better. Even if a guy in a so-called "Jew costume" comes along and makes some half-way decent "black music" (yes, I'm talking about Matisyahu, and no, I don't believe that there is such a thing as "black music") his success is attributed to the fact that when it comes to the recording industry "Jews run it, niggas run around in it" (thank you very much Mr. Ras Kass), not because the guy is actually expressing his heart and soul through song and people feel that sort of thing. Oh no, Yahweh forbid, it's not like the people who invented The Bible could possibly have any soul!

Of course, most of the people having arguments about such things have probably never heard of Jewish composer Gershon Kingsley (pictured above), much less actually heard any of his music. Though a few of them may have nodded along to his beats and grooves unknowingly in the form of samples here and there. You see, Kingsley (alongside sometime partner Jean-Jacques Perrey with whom he created the groundbreaking 1966 LP 'The In Sound From Way Out') was an early proponent of "moog music," an early precursor to much of what we think of today as "electronic music." Combinging elements of classical, jazz, traditional pop, funky rhythms and avant-garde experimentation with the then brand-new advancements in synthesizer technology Kingsley was instrumental in introducing American listeners to electronically created compositions while laying the groundwork for pretty much everything that's come after in the world of electronic dance music.

Kingsley's biggest hit (which you've probably heard in some form at least once, as it's been covered countless times by artists of every stripe) was the bubbly dance number "Popcorn" from his 1969 album 'Music To Moog By.' Lesser-known though (and in keeping with the "season" as it were) is the decidedly Axelrod-ian Passover Seder "rock opera" 'The 5th Cup,' which he recorded with 'Love Story' lyricist Norman Simon, singer/actor Theodore Bikel and a crew of studio musicians in 1974. Originally an under-distributed indie release that remained an obscure thrift-store treasure for years, the album was allegedly re-released as part of the Kingsley collection (spanning his output from 1968 through 1974) 'God Is A Moog' on the Reboot Stereophonic label last year. However, I still haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of this classic of Judaic electro-funk-fusion, so good luck finding it in any form yourself.

Even though I can't give you a taste of his legendary Passover-themed composition I still wanted to show you all that a nerdy (c'mon, he spends all his time playing with creaky electronics and writing songs about Passover) Jewish guy can throw down the funk like a bad mutha. To that end I'm offering up this MP3 download of the Gershon Kingsley tune "Hey, Hey," from his 'Music To Moog By' album. The song is just frightening in it's circuitry assisted funkiness. And I'm not the only one who thinks so, as it's been sampled by the likes of RJD2 (who may also be Jewish) and Edan (who definitely is Jewish) to create a couple of modern hip-hop masterpeices.

Gershon Kingsley "Hey, Hey"

Haredi Sex Commando? Sounds Like Something Else

Apparently, there is a group of Ultra-Orthodox hackers who hack into Israeli porn sites, erase what is there and instead leave a photo of the Lubuvitch Rabbi. They are being called "Haredi Sex Commando." Oooo, now that is sexy.
A group of ultra-orthodox hackers, shocked by the obscenity of some porn sites, has launched an internet campaign in a bid to cause such sites to crash. The hackers, already named at some internet forums the "ultra-orthodox sex commando," or the "ultra-orthodox electronic underground," focus their efforts at this point on Hebrew sites.
I could go into how there are many Ultra Orthodox, that I have encountered, who do not look at porn, but get their rocks off in other places. But I'm not. I'm just going to enjoy the hilarity of this article.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

" ... dirt-born bloggers get shadow boxed for trainin', y'all still eatin' bacon!"

Okay, so in case you couldn't figure it out on your own, I'm El Keter ben Tzadik, the new guy here at "A Berg Above The Rest." And yes, by "guy" I do mean "human with a (circumcised) penis." Which means Miss Hipstah is gonna have to change this blog's subtitle from "a jewess who likes blogging way too much" to something a little more gender inclusive. I'm thinking something like "yet another jewish controlled media outlet" might be appropriate, but I somehow doubt Miss Hipstah will agree.

Anyway, I crossed over into the blog world (much as Abraham, our forefather, crossed over from the land of Shinar to the land of Canaan, thus becoming a "Hebrew" lo so many years ago) when most of you johnny-come-lately blog schmucks were still using WebTV. I've been running an "underground culture" blog called Imageyenation.com since 2000. Prior to that I spent a lot of time tearing various people to shreds in religious debates all over the internet. I don't argue about that kind of stuff any more though. I'm just too busy playing records on the radio, posting MP3s to my blog, and now, contributing Hebrew-themed miscelany here at "A Berg Above The Rest."

If you're wondering where I'm "coming from" (as the kids say) you should know that... I'm 28 years old. I'm flat broke (I mean it, no matter who you are you probably have a lot more money than me... yes, that even includes you black people). I don't support the state of Israel or the "Palestinian cause." I don't get down with Rabbinic/Talmudic Judaism. I maintain that "Jewish" is an ethnic identity, not a religious identifier (and no, I don't accept that Jews are "white/caucasian"). I practice the ancient vow of the Nazir'Elohim (see Ba-Midar Ch. 6). I'm a DJ/beatmaker. I love music more than anything (accept maybe Diet Dr. Pepper). I like cool stuff (even though I'm not particularly "cool" myself). I need clothes... bad (some day Miss Hipstah will take me shopping). And finally, I'm single and looking for girls to cuddle with (ahem... ladies).

Look for me to post pretty regularly. And yes, I'll even be posting on Saturdays.

As long as he doesn't use the Schwartz...

Mel Brooks is adapting Young Frankenstein for Broadway:

The comic filmmaker, who made a monster hit musical out of his 1968 movie "The Producers," says he is adapting another of his classic film comedies for the stage -- this time the 1974 "Young Frankenstein," a spoof on the Frankenstein saga which he says is perhaps the best movie he ever made.

With no deadline set, Brooks says he is in the middle of writing the score, including a song for scary Frau Blucher, the caretaker of the Frankenstein castle still madly in love with that late, unlamented mad scientist.

When the whole musical is completed, Brooks says he will make a formal announcement to raise money.

"It is going to be wonderful," Brooks said in a telephone interview, just before he burst into a German-accented version of his Frau Blucher song:

"He vus my boyfriend; He vould come home in a snit; He vould have a terrible fit; I am the first thing he vould hit but I didn't give a shit; He vus my boyfriend."

I'm gonna give this 4 out of 5 OY!s. You think he's gonna make Blazing Saddles a musical medley any time soon?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Just a little friendly reminder

Passover's coming...start getting rid of your chometz now.

Like Cornbread and Gefilte Fish: E-Shy Ft. Daddy-O "Blacks & Jews"

So this is the latest track from E-Shy, the Jewish "Eminem." The track is called "Blacks and Jews" and asks the question of what really is the difference between Blacks and Jews. We've both, at some point, been enslaved. We've both faced oppression and segregation. We're both hated by White Supremacists. So really, what is the difference?

What E-Shy forgets to mention is how Jews have, through the luck of having lighter colored skin, assimilated into mainstream White majority culture. While Blacks are still very much a visible minority, Jews are not. There are less restrictions for Jews than there used to be.

Still, that does not mean we are completely accepted. Though some might claim that anti-Semitism (or just plain Jew-hating) is on the decrease, there still are a lot of people out there whose dislike towards Hebrews manifests in other ways. Also, Jews still have to fight against perpetual stereotypes, which we ourselves sometimes help perpetuate.

Look at the recent riots in Brooklyn. Or the fact that there are self proclaimed Nazis running for political office. And that's just in the United States. Don't get me started on Europe. Or better yet, the Middle East.

E-Shy is touching on a subject that has been in continual discussion for YEARS. Starting with the Civil Rights Movement going through the Crown Heights Riots up until today. And he's doing so through music, which is an outlet in which Jews and Blacks have always been able to communicate. Both groups do have a lot in common. Still, it's interesting that he is using a form of Black culture to open up this discussion. That move in and of itself opens up a new issue of appropriation, one that is very touchy when it comes to Black and Jews. In a recent article from the New York Times, Hip Hop writer Kelefa Sanneh discusses, in his review of Matisyahu, the issues of whites appropriating Black culture in order to base a music career. New faces, old story. What he doesn't touch on is the role in which Jews have used Black culture in order to assimilate into the white majority culture. Or worse, elevate themselves into mainstream pop culture. I.e. Al Jolson in blackface. I.e. The Beastie Boys.

The similarities and conflicts between Blacks and Jews is not going anywhere any time soon. Until we can all sit down and "just get along," I doubt E-Shy's song will really make a dent in the every growing issues.

Ed. Note: In my haste to publish this I forgot to add a shout out to Jewschool for the original video link. A big slicha to Mobius...I'll do better next time.

A Bunny To Make Any Jewish Mother Proud

No, the rabbit is not Jewish. I just have a thing for oversized and obese pets. Here's the story. My question is this....is this for real or is it a joke? Cause the photo looks real, but then you can't see the bunny's left ear. Is it photoshopped?

Friday, April 07, 2006

American Film Maker? Or America's Next Top Director? Whatever

So Steven Spielberg is joining the Fox television network to create a new reality tv show to find the next great filmmaker.

Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director behind "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List," will develop the new Fox show, "On the Lot," with Mark Burnett, the producer of such TV reality hits as "Survivor" and "The Apprentice."

The upcoming series, slated to air sometime in the 2006-07 broadcast season, will pit a group of aspiring filmmakers in competition for a Hollywood development deal on the lot of DreamWorks, the studio Spielberg co-founded.

DreamWorks was recently sold to Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom Inc.

Fox reality programming chief Mike Darnell told Reuters that Spielberg would appear on the show but that the nature or extent of his role on the series had yet to be decided.

I'm really hoping that it will be ala Project Runway and not ala American Idol. Because then, I could maybe watch it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

AbsolutKravitz or Miss Hipstah's Teeny-Bopper Moment of Zen

So I love Lenny Kravitz. Always have, since I was about 13 and my mom bought me his music because she thought he was a nice Jewish singer. Which is still up for debate.

At any rate, Lenny got together with Absolut Vodka to create an ad campaign called...AbsolutKravitz. For the campaign, he wrote a song entitled "Breathe" which was later remixed by the likes of Chromeo, Eric Roberson, and Jazzanova. All in all there are 12 tracks (the original and 11 remixes). If you go to the website, you can download them all...FOR FREE!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"Ze Hazman" for Black Hebrews

So Israel's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest this year comes from a very unexpected place. Pop singer Eddie Butler will be performing the song "Ze Hazman" (This Is The Time) at the song festival in Athens.

Eddie Butler is a Black Hebrew, a group of black people originally from Chicago who came to Dimona, Israel claiming to be one of the lost twelve tribes. The began coming to Israel in 1969.

The group has struggled for recognition and citizenship for a long time. The Israeli government (and many Israeli citizens) discredit the group for being nothing more than a religious cult. Still, many of the people in the community have grown up in Israel and for all intents and purposes, are Israeli.

Butler doesn't seem to be too concerned with the politics at the moment though.

"I love the state of Israel," Butler said, "and I want to show every black and white person, here and abroad, what we can do."
If he wins, he definitely will be representing one of the lesser known marginalized people in Israel.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spring = New Films!

The Washington DC Jewish Community Center has posted their spring movies listings. Here's the link.

The listing includes films like Commune, Passover Fever, Forgiving Dr. Mengele, and Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic.

The first screening will take place on April 10th (this upcoming Monday).

Monday, April 03, 2006

Oldie, but Goodie...

He'Brew beer finishes the line "Two Jews walk into a bar..."

Bloody Vey!

In Hip Hop history, there has always been a connection between Jews and rap music. Producers, record label execs, jewelers, etc. But there are some who take it to a different level by using their Jewishness as inspiration for their music. Rappers likethe Beastie Boys, 3rd Bass, Hip Hop Hoodios, Blood of Abraham...the list goes on. Right now, Matisyahu is bringing a dose of Jewish identity to the normally Gentile American pop music.

Now, however, young Jewish "Heeb Hoppers" are taking London by storm.
A recent article in Metro, the free daily paper distributed in London's subway and train stations, heralded the rise of hip-hop artists promoting themselves with their Jewishness, including Chasidic New York-based beatboxer Matisyahu, whose latest album debuted on the American charts at No 4.

More surprisingly, though, Britain's youth is getting in on "Heeb Hop" more and more, as homegrown Jewish klezmer/hip hop acts like Emunah and Ghettoplotz are cropping up and winning awards.

Even London's hip-hop parody television personality, Ali G, whose real name is Sasha Baron Cohen, began his career rapping about Jewish life.

And who doesn't love Ali G?

In addition to mentioning Ghettoplotz and Emunah, the article also mentions Antithesis, a Zionist rapper out of Cambridge University. He says:
It's great to hear someone standing up, not being aggressive or anti-British but proud of their Jewishness
I have to admit...it's really great to hear this, especially since I'm moving to London in a few months. And now after Punk Purim in London (put on by Jewdas and NYC's own Jewish Hipsters, Heeb), it seems that maybe there will be more underground Jewish parties to look forward to.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Music Update: New Orleans International Jewish Music Festival

For those of you who want to go down to New Orleans or for those of you who are already there, this weekend is the International Jewish Music Festival. Some of the top Jewish musicians and music groups will be playing: Neshama Carlebach, RebbeSoul, New Orleans Klezmer Allstars...the list goes on.

The event is sponsored by The Hiddur Mitzvah Project from the Gary Rosenthal collection. Here's the page for the program benefiting the victims of Hurricane Katrina.