Thursday, November 27, 2014

For These I Am Thankful

Good morning America from Acherland. 

It was a wonderful day.  I spent it with my parents, my brother, and my girlfriend.  My mother was never much for cooking Thanksgiving meals, so she ordered take out.  This saved me cooking.  For the first time in a few years, I did not resemble a balabusta fressing over my food.  So this was the most peaceful thanksgiving I've had.  So now, with apologies to Arlo Guthrie, a Thanksgiving poem.

Riding on the Borough of Fair Lawn
NJTransit afternoon bus
20 miles and 40 restless minutes
One pissed off driver and 30 passengers plus

All along the Northwest bound odyssey
The bus pulls down Rt 4 out of Ft Lee
Rolls along past buildings trees and shopping malls
Passing cars that have no names
Bus stops full of old commuters
And the graveyards of childhood memories

Good morning America how are you?
Don't you know me, I'm your forlorn son
I'm the bus they call The Borough of Fair Lawn
I'll be 20 miles when the day is gone.

Reading Guns, Germs, and Steel wedged by the window
Turning a page a minute, ain't no one keeping track
Won't you pass the paper that reads today's news
Feel the hum of the road beneath the floor
And the sons of the transit workers
And the sons of the ticketeers
Ride their father's magic carpet made of steel
Mothers with their children asleep
Are rockin' to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the wheels is all they feel

Good morning America how are you?
Don't you know me, I'm your forlorn son
I'm the bus they call The Borough of Fair Lawn
I'll be 20 miles when the day is gone.

Nighttime in the City of Harlem
Changing pace out of Ft Lee
Half we home, we'll be there by evening
Through the Hudson darkness
Rolling to the Bay
And all the towns and people seem
to fade into a good dream
And the paved road still ain't heard the news
The driver sings his song again
The passengers will please refrain
This bus's got the disappearing transit blues

Good night America how are you?
Don't you know me, I'm your forlorn son
I'm the bus they call The Borough of Fair Lawn
I'll be 20 miles when the day is gone.


Now that I'm finished butchering this classic, here is my list of things I am thankful for.  I am 35 years old, so I will list 35, in no particular order.

1.  My family.  They have been with me for everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Strikes, gutterballs, when I was the king, when I was the fool, when I was in the trough, when I was on a plateau, and when I was completely nowhere at all.
2.  My wonderful girlfriend.  She has brought out the best in me.  I may not always be the best boyfriend out there.  But she has stood by me through it all.  It took me longer than Jacob to finally consummate my feelings for her.  But we both waited patiently.  And it all worked out for the best.
3.  My friends.  This list is too long to enumerate.  The older I get, the smaller my list of close friends get.  But better a smaller list of close friends than a larger list of asshole buddies.
4.  My books.  I've had a love-hate relation with them over the years.  More love than hate.  My attention span may not do them justice.  But from them, I have learned plenty.  Perhaps I have filled my head with too much useless information.  But books are the friends who can never reciprocate my love for them. 
5.  My students.  Each student is another learning experience.  Aside from teaching them, I grow from each one.  I can only hope that I spend many more years enriching the minds of many many more.
6.  My TV.  As Homer Simpson once said, "teacher, mother, secret lover."  Need I say more?
7.  Netflix.  The consummate time waster. 
8.  Beer.  Again, the Wisdom of Homer J Simpson, "The cause and the solution to all the world's problems."
9.  Food.  The quickest way to a man's heart.
10.  My apartment.  It gives me shelter, it gives me a place to entertain, to live, to love, and to be me.
11.  My coworkers.  They look out for me, they are there for me, they are great company.
12.  My previous job at Starbucks.  When I was at the lowest point in my life, this job helped me pick up the pieces.  It was there that I became the man I am today.  They put up with plenty of my bullshit over the years.  They kicked my ass when I needed it.  They shaped me into a fine young man.
13.  City College of New York.  When I first transferred there, I was a broken man.  I was in between many things.  It was there that I finally pulled my shit together.  It was there that I finally learned how to buckle down and apply myself.  It was there that I learned how to do research.  It was there that I was exposed to a diverse student body.  It was there that I learned how to survive in a multicultural environment.  And it was there that I met the love of my life.
14.  Music.  Ah music.  You sooth the savage beast.  You make me happy, sad, and everything in between.  I am so glad you are in my life.
15.  New York City.  The greatest city in the world. 
16.  America.  The greatest country in the world.  I may not have the best relationship with you.  But you haven't given up on me either.
17.  President Obama.  I have not given up on you either.  You have enriched many with hope who otherwise wouldn't have it. 
18.  My guitar.  I haven't played you in a while.  But from playing you, I was exposed to many genres of music I otherwise wouldn't have dreamed of touching.
19.  Judaism.  I may not consider myself Jewish anymore.  But you did shape my early life.  I have held onto some of the more important lessons you have taught me.  And hey, I still enjoy a good cholent and niggun.
20.  My health.  It may not be what it used to be.  But I have it. 
21.  My gym.  Great way to let off stress.  And it is making me more energetic.  It makes me feel better about myself.
22.  Video games.  I may not get the modern ones.  But the ones I play are possibly my biggest vice.
23.  My pets.  Lady the Turtle and Winter the Cat.  You are great company.
24.  Cartoons.  Never too old to enjoy them.
25.  My clothes.  I wear them.  They keep me warm.  They keep me from being naked. 
26.  My iPhone.  Sure, it's addictive.  It keeps me from human interaction.  But it is quite useful.
27.  My computer.  Currently a Windows Tablet.  I should use it more often.
28.  The MTA.  I spend a good chunk of my day commuting on it.  Your prices may have more than doubled since I've come to NYC.  But I still love you.
29.  Logic.  You may not always make sense.  But you help me put things in perspective.
30.  Mornings.  I am not a morning person.  But you make me smile when I see you.  I have survived another one, I like to say.
31.  The Nighttime.  When I really shine.  When I get most of my work done. 
32.  Weekends.  Even though I work through most of them, you give me a chance to recharge my batteries. 
33.  My hat collection.  From yarmulkes that I hardly wear to my favorite trilby, I have a nice collection.
34.  The stars.  I hope in my lifetime I get to visit other systems and see how they look from up closer.
35.  The world.  What a wonderful place to live.

Thank you all.  And Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Potentially the Most Offensively Tepid Post I've Ever Penned.

I don't know what it is about this bombing in Har Nof that pisses me off the most. Is it that the victims were not the ones who are the real enemies of the killers?  Is it that neither side can find a peaceful, more constructive way to ameliorate the tensions?  Or is it the copious posts bleating about how much the whole world hates the Jews?


I have tried remaining silent about this issue. After all, no good has come from my discussing my point of view. I'm not going to change any minds. After all, I am already perceived as a self-hating Yid (I'm not).  And so, not only have I denied my people, I have thrown out the baby, the bathwater, the crib, and most of the nursery too. Right?

After all, how can any decent human being seriously criticize Israel?  If you deny the Jews (even the secular ones) their Israel, you [insert Reductio ad Hitlerum here].


Where I stand (or shall I sit?)

For those following my other posts, you know that I am a pretty hard skeptic about the Bible as a reliable history source. This includes the traditional interpretation I was raised with.
-a one deity
-has all these rules that are imperative
-belief is intrinsic
-there are chosen people

Yes, chosen people. And a chosen nation for a chosen people.

Sure, everyone wants to believe they are special.  Everyone wants to believe they are loved by whatever spirits watch over them. And when bad things happen, why not blame it on the supernatural?

Israel. Palestine. Zion. Judea-Samaria. Whatever you choose to call it.

The chosen land.

Well, I don't necessarily subscribe to the biblical narrative anymore.

So why should I support Israel at all?

Answer: very minimally.

-the only fully Westernized country in the area. Sure, it is as a result of colonialism. But in this case, I would think the bad outweighs the good.
-humanitarian perspective. What other country has full rights for women, minorities, LGBTQ, and people of all stripes?  Israel is much closer to that than Palestine.
-anyone who denies that the Jews had a presence in the land does not know their history. However, the Jews do exaggerate how strong their ties to the land are.


And how about the group known as the Palestinians?

If I hear one more person say "there's no such thing as Palestine", I will blow my lid.

You don't hear Hindus say there's no such thing as Pakistan. Or Turks saying there's no such thing as Armenia. And do the Tutsis deny that the Hutus exist?  And does anyone deny that the Jews exist?

Okay, there are those who deny that Ashkenazim are "Real Jews;" those who say they are Kuzarim who converted en masse; they would say that the real Jews are either nonexistent or dispersed among the Sefardi/Mizrahim.

But other than that--saying that there's no such thing as Palestine is pretty damn pernicious if you ask me.

Sure, it is a synthetic definition. But aren't most regional identities synthetic to an extent?

I mean take my ethnic identities. I am an American. I live in Harlem. I was raised in New Jersey. I was born in Brooklyn. I was raised Jewish. My mother is half-Polish half-Hungarian. My father is a big mix of Polish, German, Galitzyan, and who know/cares what else. I am an ethnic mutt!  And I'm proud.

Palestinian. Until the early 1960s, it meant the people living in the Levant area, what's now called Israel and Jordan. Then Jordan became a Hashimite Kingdom.

Then, the PLO gave it more specific definition. They fit it to mean those who were expelled from their land between the years 1947-50 as a result of the Naqbaa (as they call it). Later, the definition was extended to include 1967 and the West Bank.

And I say so what if they choose to self-identify as Palestinian?

So what if the people who now call themselves Palestinian were not always Palestinian?

For how many years were the Jews considered wretches without a land?

And now, they have become the former slave torturing the former master.

Does that make it right?

Gah. Too complicated to answer in one simple post.