Monthly Archives: November 2002


JUST ANOTHER SILVER: It has come to my attention that there is a relatively new adult film star that has recently arrived on the scene who goes by the name Cheyenne Silver. Now I want to make it perfectly clear that while I’m sure she is a lovely and talented young woman, Cheyenne Silver is certainly relation to yours truly, and she is certainly not my sister. I just hope she doesn’t get dragged into a national political scandal, like Long-Dong Silver did. And no, I’m not related to him, either.


FILM CRITIC QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “With dour killjoys like Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky serving as the public faces of progressive politics, the Republicans can’t help but come across as the fun-loving party of pony rides, keggers, and free lap-dances.” -The Onion AV Club’s Nathan Rabin, reviewing the Chomsky documentary “Power and Terror.” Not nearly as much of a stretch as that critic in Dallas who somehow shoehorned his slam of President Bush as a “trained monkey” into a critique of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”


QUOTE OF THE DAY: James Lileks, on the latest proposed New World Trade Center: “It actually reminds you of the WTC, but not in a good way; theres something creepy about the resemblance. Its the architectural equivalent of Peter Bogdonovich marrying Dorothy Strattens sister.” Also, lower in the post, a fine discussion of downtown Minneapolis architecture.


WALKING CONTRADICTION: If you live in New York or any other major city, chances are you’re familiar with the ever-present spectacle of idiots walking down the street yapping on their cell phones, not caring at all that they’re exposing everyone around them to every last detail of their latest psychodrama. Whether they’re talking to their broker or their baby-mama is immaterial; the conversation might as well always go “look at me! I’m a nuisance!”
Yesterday on Sixth Avenue I saw a guy with a better idea- he was typing on a laptop as he walked down the street. No, not a Palm Pilot, an actual regulation-size ibook, which he was holding up with one hand and typing on with the other. This guy may have looked goofy but hey, at least he was silent.


COLLEGE CRAZIES VS. HILLARY: I just watched the latest installment of Chris Matthews’ “Hardball College Tour,” this time featuring Sen. Hillary Clinton and taking place at SUNY-Albany. I was shocked enough that Hillary would agree to appear considering the not-so-nice things Matthews has said about her over the years, but the conversation between the two of them was actually quite civil. I just wish I could say the same about the audience…
Over the course of the hour-long interview, each time the conversation drifted to either the potential war in Iraq or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, students suddenly began screaming loudly at Hillary, who despite reservations about the president’s plans on both fronts voted for the Iraq resolution and has been outspoken about the need for a strong and secure Israel (even while continuing to support a Palestinian state). Of course, the “ruffian fake radicals” (to borrow Nat Hentoff’s phrase) were having none of that, and attempted to shout down the junior senator from New York nearly every time she opened her mouth on either topic. To Hillary’s credit, she kept her cool and even spoke positively of the “passion” exhibited by the students. At one point a student offered Hillary an apology on behalf of the school- and was of course himself booed and shouted down.
And all this time I thought Hillary was a hero of the left, one of the few “progressives” left in the Senate following Paul Wellstone’s death. Right-wingers have long considered Hillary the antichrist, yet I don’t believe any conservative audience has ever tried to shout her down in a public forum the way the wackos at Albany did tonight. Funny that these self-proclaimed heirs of the ’60s (the decade that began, you may remember, with the Free Speech Movement), have so little respect for speech they disagree with today. Then again, it’s pretty hard to take them seriously when they deride Hillary for not being liberal enough.


“PLEASE, NO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SEVEN-YEAR VULCAN MATING CYCLE”: When I interviewed Leonard Nimoy for The Blueprint a couple months ago, I was respectful and complementary throughout, and got all sorts of stimulating answers from him about his career and his new book. Unlike this guy, I did not bait the erstwhile Mr. Spock with sub-Stern questions about his sex life, and thus was not hung up on after two questions. And I didn’t ask him about the Shatner fart thing either.


JUDAISM BY THE NUMBERS: Excellent piece in the Times today by Douglas Rushkoff, who writes many of the same things about American Jewry that I’ve been saying for years. Namely, that it’s ridiculous to continue harping on “the numbers” (mainly about intermarriage rates), and even more ridiculous for Jews to continue to define ourselves first and foremost as victims.
Is American Jewry better off now than it was 10 years ago? 25 years ago? 100 years ago? The unqualified answer to all of those questions should be “hell yes.” Outside of Israel, at no point in human history have Jewish influence and Jewish power been more important to a society than they are to the United States right now- and overwhelmingly, we use that influence for good and not for evil. We’re not an endangered species, and for anyone to suggest so is asinine.
Rushkoff rightly points out that “it is in the short-term financial interest of Jewish philanthropies to paint the darkest demographic picture possible. And they do.” When the Chicken Littles amongst us attempt to raise funds by crying that the Jewish community is near death, they’re really employing the same strategy Commissioner Bud Selig uses when discussing the economics of baseball: attempting short-term gain through constant proclamations that things are considerably worse than they actually are. And just as Selig’s running down of the game has the unintended consequence of driving fans even further away from our national pastime, the strategy of scaring young Jews by speaking of Judaism’s impending death has had no effect other than turning them off even more.
So what if intermarriage rates are at 50%? That’s what happens in a pluralistic society. If the intermarriage rate were 0%, I would be much more concerned because that would indicate widespread isolation from mainstream society by Jews. Such a situation would be horrible, both for Judaism and for America, and should be no one’s goal. Rushkoff writes that “it would be a terrible shame if the religion’s biggest concern continued to be itself.” Amen to that.

WHACK THE DOG: I’m preparing

WHACK THE DOG: I’m preparing a big piece about “The Sopranos”‘ fourth season that’s soon to be published, but just a couple of thoughts on last week’s episode: with the untimely death of Adriana’s dog Cosette, this means that so far this season more animals have been whacked (two) than mobsters (one). And if a little dog on “Sopranos” can die after it was accidentally sat on by the relatively svelte Christopher Moltisanti, then I sincerely fear for Anna Nicole Smith’s dog.


YO IT’S SHAQ- I’M COMING BACK: Those of you hoping that Shaquille O’Neal will soon retire from the NBA will be disappointed, as it was mentioned in this week’s Sports Illustrated that the Lakers superstar plans to play “many more” seasons, with the hope that he can win more championships than past Laker centers George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (they each had five; Shaq has three). But the funniest quote in the story was from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak who pointed out that “this year, more than any other, I really feel like Shaq has a renewed passion for the game.” Gee, is that in spite of the fact that HE’S INJURED AND HASN’T PLAYED YET, or because of it?