Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bernie Bernstein, Salvator Mundi

And Beasties of Burden: Oh, yes! We'll talk about Bernie Bernstein, Salvator Mundi, Les Amoureux, and more! But let's start with this cute cow photo

A farm in western Germany. (Boris Roessler/AFP/Getty Images)

from Sarah Kaplan's article in The Washington Post, which points out that (according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature,) the First Cause of Income Inequality in the very old days Way Back When was not hedge funds, as you might expect, but cattle.

This is because, Ms Kaplan doesn't state directly, on Creation Day 6, The Holy One, Blessed Be He, for reasons known only to Him, decided to put ALL the major beasts of burden in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Sure, the Westies got alpacas and llamas, but just try to get them to plow a field. Or schlep heavy stuff from Point A to Point B. Which all goes to show that

A priori, the world was not a level playing field.

Salvator Mundi (Yeshiva Bocher Crosses Fingers & Hopes For The Best)

Which is certainly true in the Field of Art. And which, of course, brings us to Salvator Mundi, the recently rediscovered work by good ol' Leonardo da Vinci.

Travis M Andrews and Fred Barbash report in (again!) The Washington Post
Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “Saviour of the World,” sold for $450,312,500 Wednesday at auction, Christie’s said. The price, which includes a buyer’s premium, makes it “the most expensive painting ever sold at auction,” the auction house said in a statement. 
The previous record for the most expensive painting sold at auction was $179,364,992 for Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger” (“Women of Algiers”), according to Christie’s. The highest price previously paid at auction for a da Vinci was in 2001 for his “Horse and Rider,” a work on paper, which went for $11,481,865. 
The bidding ... coordinated out of Christie’s New York office, lasted a little less than 20 minutes, with four and then just two final bidders battling it out.
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

As Abq Jew has pointed out (see Jewish Druish Canadian), Gustav Klimt's 1907 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I sold for $135 million in 2006 - at the time, a record price for a painting.

Marc Chagall’s “Les Amoureux” (1928) showing the artist in an embrace with his first wife and muse, Bella Rosenfeld, sold for $28.4 million at Sotheby’s auction of Impressionist and Modern art. It was an auction high for the artist.
Credit 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Adagp, Paris

Abq Jew hesitates to but inevitably must point out that our most beloved MOT Marc Chagall (along with most of the Impressionists) just isn't in the same price category.

Not That Bernie Bernstein

In the meantime, Bernie Bernstein (of whom Google says this is a photo, although not of that Bernie Bernstein) is, says columnist Dana Milbank in (yet again!) The Washington Post, wants the world to know his name!
It is time for us as journalists to come clean and to recognize the great debt our profession owes Bernie Bernstein. 
After years of toiling in obscurity, Bernie gained national attention Tuesday when an Alabama pastor shared with a local TV station a voice mail left by Bernie. 
“Hi, this is Bernie Bernstein. I’m a reporter for The Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5,000 and $7,000,” it said. 
“We will not be fully investigating these claims. However, we will make a written report.”
This produced a rather harsh response from Marty Baron, The Post’s executive editor, about the person “falsely claiming to be from The Washington Post. The call’s description of our reporting methods bears no relationship to reality. We are shocked and appalled that anyone would stoop to this level to discredit real journalism.” 
To which Mr Milbank responds
I understand my colleagues’ reluctance to admit that The Post gathers its news by making robo-calls and paying people to say bad things that we do not confirm. 
That is why, for decades, Bernie Bernstein and his colleague Woody Woodward have toiled in The Post’s basement, doing random-digit dialing, 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Bernie and Woody broke scoop after scoop, yet they were always hidden from view while others got the credit. 
Until now. Bernie is speaking up. When I found Bernie in his windowless office Wednesday, he was distraught. 
“I can’t believe Marty said I don’t exist! ‘No relationship to reality’? ‘No Washington Post reporters or editors named Bernie Bernstein’? I made this paper!”
Indeed, you can’t quarrel with success. Bernie and Woody broke the Watergate story, while upstairs their more telegenic colleagues Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (no relation) got the glory. 
Woody and Bernie robo-called everybody in Washington and offered $1,000 — it was cheaper back then — for anyone willing to make damaging remarks about Richard Nixon.  

 Yes, it's been another tough week.
But at least the races for Abq Mayor and District 5 Councilor went well!


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Sabbath Peace, World!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

About Alma

As Profiled on 60 Minutes: Did you catch 60 Minutes last Sunday? The program opened with a story about the struggles of Puerto Rico, especially since Hurricane Maria. Then came a story about the Leaning Tower of San Francisco.

And then, 60 Minutes introduced us to Alma Deutscher.

Alma Deutscher could be as gifted as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but the 12-year-old prodigy gently pushes away a comparison to the musical genius, insisting she has her own unique talent. 
The young British virtuoso, a natural composer who plays piano and violin, discusses and demonstrates her incredible musicality in a profile by Scott Pelley ...
Deutscher has been playing piano and violin since the age of 3 and started playing her own melodies at 4.  She set herself apart from other prodigies when she composed an opera when she was just 10 -- a feat requiring mastery of all the instruments in the orchestra.  
When Pelley points out that Mozart also premiered his first opera at the same age, Deutscher is polite, but firm. 
"I know that they mean it to be very nice to compare me to Mozart," she says, "Of course, I love Mozart and I would have loved him to be my teacher."
"But I think I would prefer to be the first Alma than to be the second Mozart." 

Wikipedia tells us
Alma Elizabeth Deutscher (born February 2005) is an English composer, pianist, violinist, and child prodigy. 
At age six she composed her first piano sonata. At age seven, she completed her first major composition, the opera The Sweeper of Dreams. Aged nine, she wrote a concerto for violin and orchestra, which she premiered in a 2015 performance. 
At the age of ten she completed her first full-length opera, Cinderella, which had its European premiere in Vienna on 29 December 2016 under the patronage of conductor Zubin Mehta, and in July 2017, at the age of 12, she premiered her first piano concerto, and performed it on the same evening as her full violin concerto.
And yes, young Alma is a MOT!
Deutscher was born in Basingstoke in 2005, the daughter of Janie Deutscher née Steen and the Israeli linguist Guy Deutscher.
And she (of course) speaks Hebrew, as she showed on Intermezzo with Arik, a classical music program of Israel Educational Television.


Way back in January 2016 (see A Blessing for Bezalel), way before the political / socio-economic / existential mess that we're in, Abq Jew wrote about this quote from the 1984 movie Amadeus:

Antonio Salieri: [reflecting upon a Mozart score] 
Astounding! It was actually, it was beyond belief. These were first and only drafts of music. But they showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head! 
Page after page of it, as if he were just taking dictation! 
And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall. It was clear to me that sound I had heard in the Archbishop's palace had been no accident. 
Here again was the very voice of God! 
I was staring through the cage of those meticulous ink-strokes at an absolute beauty.
Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord.

There are those who will point out that Alma Deutscher's is an old story.

And they're right. Alma has been feted and featured since she was a child, and is hardly unknown in the music world. And, as you might expect -

Alma has her own website and her own YouTube channel.


Yet our troubled times call for hope. 

Therefore, to bring a little Shabbos joy to our world, here is the 2nd (slow; adagio) movement from Alma's new Piano Concerto in E-Flat Major, which she premiered this summer in Austria with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.


And in case you missed the 60 Minutes episode -



Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Sabbath Peace, World!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Anti-Semitic Incidents Surge in 2017

NM Again Near Bottom of List: ICYMI: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today announced that
the number of anti-Semitic incidents remain significantly higher in 2017 compared to 2016. 
In addition to the significant bump in the first quarter of this year, there was also a distinct increase after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August.

In fact, says the ADL -
Compared to 2016, each of the first three quarters of 2017 had a higher number of incidents year over year. 
These incidents peaked during the first quarter of 2017, and the pace slowed somewhat in the second and third quarters. 
Of all 1,299 anti-Semitic incidents so far in 2017, a majority (667) occurred in the first quarter of the year. 
An additional 632 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the second and third quarters of the year, surpassing the 488 incidents reported during the same period in 2016.
From January through Sept. 30, according to ADL, there were:
  • 703 incidents of harassment, including 162 bomb threats against Jewish institutions;
  • 584 incidents of vandalism, including 52 against Jewish institutions;
  • 12 physical assaults.
These incidents took place across the country, but consistent with prior reports, the states with the highest number of incidents tend to be those with the largest Jewish populations.  
These include New York State (267 incidents); California (197); Massachusetts (117); Florida (69) and Pennsylvania (58). 

New Mexico came in with
Vandalism 1 - Harassment 6 - Assault 0 - Total 7
Which is far fewer than New Jersey (52) or Virginia (22).
But which is way more than Oklahoma (2) or Utah (4).

Here is what the JTA says about the ADL report -
On the current pace, the number of incidents will nearly double the figure from 2015. 
Anti-Semitic assaults, however, have fallen 60 percent: There were 12 assaults in the first nine months of 2017, as opposed to 29 over the same period last year. 
Thursday’s report by the ADL, which fights anti-Semitism and bigotry, said that in addition to the waves of bomb threats against Jewish institutions at the beginning of the year, the main driver of anti-Semitic incidents was the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. 
Most of the 162 bomb threats are suspected of coming from an American-Israeli Jewish man living in Ashdod, Israel. 
Even discounting those threats, there was still a 46 percent increase in incidents. The seven weeks following the Charlottesville rally saw 221 incidents of anti-Semitism.

ICYMI: The Albuquerque / New Mexico office of the ADL is no more. As Jeremy Shaver, Associate Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League’s Mountain States Region announced in an email on September 14 -
On Sept. 1, responsibility for New Mexico moved to ADL’s Mountain States Regional Office (headquartered in Denver). Our region now covers Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. 
I am the member of our regional staff who works with Jewish institutions on safety and security. I hope to be able to meet many of you when I am able to travel to New Mexico. 
Jeremy Shaver, Associate Regional Director for the ADL’s Mountain States Region

The ADL Denver website announced on September 18 -
The Anti-Defamation League is pleased to welcome New Mexico back into the Mountain States Region.  The region now includes Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.  New Mexico has been a standalone ADL region since 1989; before that, it was part of the Mountain States Region, based in Denver.  
The Mountain States ADL staff is poised to deliver many different types of educational programs to New Mexico schools, law enforcement and religious institutions. In addition, ADL will continue to provide effective responses to incidents of anti-Semitism and hate that may arise anywhere in the region. 
“We are very grateful to Suki Halevi, who as the New Mexico ADL Regional Director had led our work in the state over the last three years.  Suki has been a strong community presence and has played a key role in elevating ADL in the region,” says Scott Levin, Mountain States Regional Director. “We look forward to working with the New Mexico community.”
In other words -


Suki Halevi has left the building.

But back to New Mexico's ADL hate results. In an email sent out today, Mr Shaver reported -
A new report released today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shows that the number of anti-Semitic incidents remain significantly higher nationwide in 2017 compared to 2016. 
ADL’s Mountain States Region, which includes Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, experienced a steep increase as whole, although New Mexico posted only a slight increase. 
ADL’s latest Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents reports that from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2017 there were 7 incidents in New Mexico compared to 5 for the same time frame last year. 
ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott L. Levin issued the following statement: 
“Any increase in anti-Semitism is concerning, especially since this is the second year in a row that the number of incidents has increased. It is deeply disturbing that some individuals feel emboldened and empowered to act upon their anti-Semitic beliefs by targeting Jewish individuals and institutions with vandalism, harassment and even assault. 
Anti-Semitism is often a bellwether for hate in a community. We know that the Jewish community is not alone in experiencing a significant increase in hate incidents and hate crimes. Refugees, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ individuals, Latinos and African Americans are also experiencing increased incidents of hate.” 
The Q1-Q3 2017 ADL Audit identified:
  • 6 cases of harassment and threats in New Mexico
  • 1 cases of vandalism in New Mexico
 The audit includes these specific incidents:
  • Albuquerque, N.M.:  The Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque received two bomb threats. (January and February 2017) 
  • Albuquerque, N.M.:  A Jewish blogger received anti-Semitic threats of violence. (January 2017)

Yes, Abq Jew was the Jewish blogger cited.
His story was in The New York Times!

For those of you, his loyal readers, who have perchance forgotten the hate mail Abq Jew received,


which is not to mention the bomb threats the Albuquerque JCC received, you can read about them all over again (O Joy!) by clicking


There are some things Abq Jew will never forget.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Paean to Mr Baer

From a Peterson High School Alumnus: Believe it or not, Abq Jew managed to escape ... er, graduate ... actually, be graduated from high school - Peterson High School in Sunnyvale, California, Home of the Pirates - without ever studying Biology.


Which only means that Abq Jew never had Mr Baer as a teacher. But Mr Baer was the Faculty Leader of Peterson's branch of the California Scholarship Federation (CSF), which is how (see, fittingly, The Walk of LifeAbq Jew came to know him.

Moreover, everyone knew Mr Baer. 
He was the guy with the perpetual smile on his face.

From Mr Baer's obituary:
Harry Daniel Baer, 81, died Saturday morning, Sept. 30, 2017 in St. George, Utah.  
He was born July 30, 1936 in Seattle, Washington to Harry and Dorothy Baer. Dan married Evelyn Smith on August 7, 1959 and they were sealed for time and all eternity in the Idaho Falls, Idaho temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 
Dan “Danny” Baer spent most of his adolescence running around the Coleman Fish Hatchery in Anderson, California where his dad was the general manager. Hunting and fishing were standard daily activities, which gave Dan much of his early love for nature and all of God’s creations. He attended Anderson High School, graduating in 1954 as president of his senior class.  
Dan started his college career at Shasta College and then to Chico State University where he focused his studies on Geology. He then transferred to Brigham Young University, where he finished his degree and met Evelyn.  
After graduation and their marriage in the summer of 1959, they moved to San Jose, California where Dan earned his secondary education teaching credential at San Jose State University and began teaching at Marian A. Peterson High School. He would later earn his Master’s degree in Biology from San Jose State University. 
Dan worked as a high school science teacher at Peterson High from 1961 [actually, around 1965] until 1982. 
It was during this time that he wrote a grant to the State of California that resulted in the building of the one-acre nature area at Peterson and the beginning of the Montebello Ridge program, an alternative section of courses that focused students on natural California history, including several annual river and camping trips along the Pacific coast, Sacramento River and Lassen National Park.  
Hundreds of students' lives were changed and inspired through this program, whose members are affectionately known to this day as the “Ridge Rats”. 
Dan ended his teaching career at Wilcox High in 1991. Dan and Evelyn retired to his old stomping grounds in Cottonwood, California, where they enjoyed life on a small 25-acre gentleman’s farm. 

The concept of simcha (happiness) is an important one in Jewish philosophy.

A popular teaching by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a 19th-century Chassidic Rabbi, is "Mitzvah Gedolah Le'hiyot Besimcha Tamid," it is a great mitzvah (commandment) to always be in a state of happiness.

When a person is happy, he is much more capable of serving God and going about his daily activities than when depressed or upset.

Happy is how Abq Jew will always remember Mr Baer.
May his memory be for a blessing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sad Times at Lord & Taylor

Attention, Shoppers! It is with a heavy heart that Abq Jew reports (via The New York Times, of course) an (alas) not unforeseen tragedy for all past, present, and future New Yorkers:

Lord & Taylor Building, Icon of New York Retail,
Will Become WeWork Headquarters
From the moment its doors opened more than a century ago, the Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan has stood as a monument to old-school retail. 
Complete with a grand entrance arch and copper cornice, the 676,000-square-foot store is a temple of urban commerce — and was named a New York City landmark a decade ago. 
But now, the forces buffeting the retail industry are diminishing Lord & Taylor’s presence as a New York institution. 
The company that owns the department store chain, Hudson’s Bay, said Tuesday that it was selling off the flagship store to WeWork, a seven-year-old start-up whose office-sharing model is helping to reinvent the concept of work space.
In selling its Italian Renaissance-style building to a WeWork joint venture for $850 million, Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay are acknowledging that even the grand physical shopping spaces of old are now worth more as office space catering to millennials.

To Jewish New Yorkers - especially those who grew up (or whose parents, or, more likely, grandparents grew up) in the shmatte business - Lord & Taylor has always meant two things:

1. Beautiful Christmas window displays.
2. Jokes* about the Lord & Taylor name.


* Actually, as joke mavens know, it's really only one joke. But told in so many ways! There's the Babylonian version; and the version that appears in the Yerushalmi; and, of course, the version found on a petek in the Cairo Genizah ....

The Lord & Taylor Name
Schwartz, a poor tailor, had two daughters, and he wanted to provide them both with lavish weddings but couldn't really afford it. 
One day in the temple, he was deep in prayer and asked God to help him find a way to give his first daughter a beautiful wedding. God whispered into his ear, "Make wide lapels.....make wide lapels....." 
So Schwartz the tailor started manufacturing hundreds of suits, all of which were made with wide lapels. These suits sold like wildfire and were the new rage, bringing Schwartz plenty of money to entertain many wedding guests with an opulent feast at his first daughter's wedding. 
A few years later, his second daughter was getting married and Schwartz was in temple again, praying to God to help him out. After much beseeching and pleading, God whispered, "Make narrow ties.....make narrow ties." 
So Schwartz started turning out thousands of narrow ties, which turned out to be the latest trend in men's neckwear. This brought him lots and lots of money and his second daughter was able to have a wonderful, expensive wedding, too. 
After his daughters were married, Schwartz the tailor went back to the synagogue and prayed to God, thanking Him for helping out. 
He was so grateful to God that Schwartz told Him he would be opening up a store and would name it "God and Schwartz" to honor him. 
Then he heard a little voice from God in his ear: "No......Call it Lord & Taylor!"

The Lord & Taylor Name
A Jewish tailor moved to the United States and decided to start a tailor shop in his suburb. He named it "Schneider" meaning Tailor. 
He did alright, but one night he was praying to God and asked, "How can I have better business?" to which God replied, "Add my name to to your shop" so he renamed his shop "God and Schneider" and he did even better. 
In fact, he did so well, he decided to move to the city. In the city, he did not do so well, so again he prayed to God and asked, "God, I'm not doing well anymore, how can I make my store prosperous again?" to which God replied, "You must make your name more English for the city people." 
So he again renamed his store, this time to "Lord and Taylor."

The Lord & Taylor Name
Three Jewish men arrive in NYC from Europe, and decide to meet again in 20 years to see how they all made out in America. 20 years pass... 
The first man asks the second, "So, nu? How’d you do?" 
He replies: Vell, you know...ven I came to this country I had no idea vhat to do with myself to make a livink. So I looked at my last name. Goldstein. So I vent into the gold business. And oy, did I make a FORTUNE!" 
He turns to the next man and asks, "So nu, how ‘bout you?" 
He says "Vell, like you I had no idea vhat I vas going to do in this vast country to make a livink, so I too, looked to my last name. Silverberg. So I vent into silver. And oy, did I make a fortune!" 
So they both turn to the last man and say, "And you? Vat happened to you?" So the third man said, "Vell, I too had no idea how I vas to make a livink here in America, so I looked at my last name. 
Taylor. I said, das no good. I never make money as a tailor. So I went to shul and prayed. I said "God, if you make me a wealthy man, I promise to make You my partner." 
So the first man said, "So, vat happened?" 
The man replied, "Vas the matter? You never heard of Lord and Taylor?"

Abq Jew knows what you, his loyal readers, are asking now -

How will we get into the Christmas spirit
without Lord & Taylor?

To which Abq Jew offers just one response:


Happy Holidays!
Yes, it's only October ....