Friday, March 15, 2019

Urgent! Asylum Seekers Crisis!

How To Help: Mayor Tim Keller sent out the message below asking all of us to help with the ongoing Asylum Seekers Crisis.

This weekend, several hundred Asylum Seekers are being bussed to Albuquerque from ICE Detention Centers in El Paso.

Please see Mayor Keller's  list of
where to donate and some ways to volunteer.

Along with eleven other organizations in Albuquerque, Congregation Albert is accepting a bus of 50 people who will be arriving to the designated hotel in Albuquerque sometime on Sunday.

Please help Congregation Albert with this enormous task.

Please know that anyone who volunteers in any capacity MUST attend a training at the hotel at 1:30 pm. The time commitment on Sunday working with the Asylum Seekers should be about 2 hours post arrival at the hotel in addition to the 1-hour training.

Congregation Albert has an urgent need for 12 people to cook a hot dinner for Sunday night, as well as provide transportation on Monday and Tuesday.

If you can volunteer, please contact the Social Justice committee
of Congregation Albert ASAP through Rabbi Rosenfeld at

The Tikkun Olam Committee of Congregation Nahalat Shalom
is also helping in this crisis.

This is a very fluid situation, and we have some later updates:.
Latest News (Friday @ Noon):
We've got plenty of volunteers! Thank you!
Still Needed: Donations and phones!

Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Leviticus commands, "When a stranger resides with you in your land,
you shall not do them wrong. The stranger who resides with you
shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love them as yourself,
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" [19:33-34]. 

Letter from Mayor Tim Keller

Dear Community Members,

Just under 300 migrants - folks who presented themselves at a point of entry and formally (and legally) requested asylum status - are currently moving through Albuquerque. More families and individuals are expected in the coming weeks.

As part of the asylum process, each person has a sponsor somewhere in the US who is responsible for their travel, helping them acclimate, and hosting them while they wait for their application to be reviewed. They are in Albuquerque while their sponsors arrange travel either by plane or bus to their destinations.

The city is primarily playing a coordination and support role for work being led by private and religious charities in the city. We are helping to organize volunteers and collect donations.

Currently, there has been an overwhelming response for physical donations, so at this time we are asking folks to make donations online to Catholic Charities or Annunciation House. If you are interested in mailing gift cards you can do so by sending them to Casa de las Comunidades.

We are also looking for volunteer coordinators and bi-lingual speakers who can help take down information. If you are interested, please contact Albuquerque Interfaith or email Catholic Charities at Organizations with vans are encouraged to volunteer transportation services.

If you would like to help provide meals, new or gently used clothes for children and petite adults, or toiletries please email or drop donations off at St. Therese Catholic Church Parish Hall at 212 Mildred Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107

Thank you, together we are One Albuquerque!

Mayor Tim Keller

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Hal Blaine, Drummer, Dies at 90

May He Rest Forever on 2 and 4: You may not have heard of Hal Blaine. But you have heard Hal Blaine playing drums plenty, as he contributed something immutable and inspirational to all our lives.

Hal Blaine, one of the most famous drummers in the history of pop music,
poses in front of an oil painting of himself in younger days at his home
in Palm Desert.   
Gina Ferazzi / LA Times via Getty Images file

NBC News (via The Associated Press) reported:
Hal Blaine, the Hall of Fame session drummer and virtual one-man soundtrack of the 1960s and '70s who played on the songs of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys and laid down one of music's most memorable opening riffs on the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," died Monday. 
Blaine died of natural causes at his home in Palm Desert, California, his son-in-law, Andy Johnson, told The Associated Press. He was 90. 
On hearing of his death, the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson called him 
"the greatest drummer ever."
Hal Blaine in about 1970. He played drums on at least 40 singles that
reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

And Richard Sandomir of The New York Times reported:
Mr. Blaine, who played on at least 40 singles that reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart, was a reliable and adaptable musician, able to offer delicate brushwork on a ballad or a booming beat on records produced by Phil Spector, who was known for his so-called Wall of Sound
Mr. Blaine brought drama to a song’s transitions, often telegraphing a big moment with a flurry of strokes on a snare drum or tom-tom. 
If he had a signature moment on a record, it was on the Ronettes’ 1963 hit, “Be My Baby,” produced by Mr. Spector. The song opened cold, with Mr. Blaine playing — and repeating — the percussive earworm “Bum-ba-bum-BOOM!” But the riff came about accidentally. 
“I was supposed to play more of a boom-chicky-boom beat, but my stick got stuck and it came out boom, boom-boom chick,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2011. “I just made sure to make the same mistake every few bars.”
Hal Blaine, who died at 90 this week, was the drummer behind the famous
"Be My Baby" beat and many others.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

And then there was The Wrecking Crew.
Mr. Blaine was part of a loosely affiliated group of session musicians who in the early 1960s began dominating rock ’n’ roll recording in Los Angeles. 
Along with guitarists like Glen Campbell and Tommy Tedesco, bassists like Carol Kaye and Joe Osborn, and keyboardists like Leon Russell and Don Randi, Mr. Blaine played on thousands of recordings through the mid-1970s. 
He famously said he gave the group its name, the Wrecking Crew ...
Yes, it was Mr Blaine (not Dennis Wilson) who played drums for The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" - plus
Mr. Blaine’s other studio credits include Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” the 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Ms. Streisand’s “The Way We Were,” the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron” and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’s “A Taste of Honey.”

Wait a minute! Abq Jew hears you exclaim.
Where's the Jewish angle?

Funny you should mention it. 
Hal Blaine was born Harold Simon Belsky on Feb. 5, 1929, in Holyoke, Mass., to [Jewish immigrants] Meyer Belsky, who worked in a leather factory, and Rose (Silverman) Belsky. 
When he was 7 the family moved to Hartford, where he was inspired to learn drumming by watching the fife and drum corps of the Roman Catholic school across the street from his Hebrew school. 
“One of the priests noticed I was watching, and before long I was playing with these kids,” he told The Hartford Courant in 2000

So let's talk about Hal Blaine's signature hit "Be My Baby". Wikipedia tells us:
"Be My Baby" is a song written by Jeff Barry [Joel Adelberg], Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector. It was recorded on July 5, 1963 at Gold Star Studios Hollywood by American girl group the Ronettes and released as a single in August 1963 and later placed on their 1964 debut LP Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica
Ronnie Spector is the only Ronette to appear on the single; her future husband Phil produced their elaborately layered recording in what is now considered a quintessential example of his Wall of Sound production formula. 
It is considered one of the best songs of the 1960s by NME, Time, and Pitchfork staff members. In 2004, the song was ranked 22 by Rolling Stone in its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time ...

Want to hear more of Hal Blaine's work? 

Here's a guide by Christopher R Weingarten of The New York Times.
Hal Blaine: Listen to 12 Essential Songs
The drummer, who died at 90, was the beat behind Phil Spector innovations, Beach Boys experiments and easy listening hits.
Hal Blaine, who died on Monday at 90, was the greatest and most prolific session drummer during the turbulent Sixties crescendo from pop to psychedelia, keeping the nation’s heartbeat through dozens of No. 1 hits during the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. 
His resume included ambitious art-rock totems, easy listening schmaltz, TV theme songs, incendiary folk-rock, Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” and Steely Dan’s smooth softscapes. 
His beats backed a hall of fame of mid-20th century icons, including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, the Supremes, Simon and Garfunkel, Sam Cooke, Barbra Streisand, Herb Alpert, John Denver and Leonard Cohen. 
But his most legendary beat is the primordial thump-thump-thump-crack heartbeat in the first four seconds of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” 
Here’s just a fraction of what Blaine tapped into musical history.

Enjoy this blog post?

Monday, March 11, 2019

Marine Creature Attacks Japan!

Disaster Averted: You might have missed this. It's been a really tough week for us New MexiJews - indeed, for Jews all over the country - what with the "US Representative Ilhan Omar said this but US Representative Ilhan Omar meant that" controversy and the many repercussions thereof.

Which is not to mention the shocking (but not surprising) news of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's a) impending indictment; and b) cozying up to the Kahanists to get re-elected. And the attack on the Women of The Wall.

But Abq Jew digresses. CNN on Shabbat Pekudei reported:

Boat's collision with 'marine creature' leaves 87 injured
By Junko Ogura, CNN Updated 11:04 AM ET, Sat March 9, 2019 
Tokyo (CNN) More than 80 people were injured after a high-speed boat collided with a "marine creature" off the northwest coast of Japan, the country's Coast Guard told CNN. 
The boat was carrying 121 passengers during the collision, injuring 87 people traveling on the vessel, according to the Coast Guard from the Niigata prefecture. 
Five passengers had to be airlifted to hospital but they remained conscious. The crew of the high-speed vessel told officials that "it hit the object [which appeared] to be a marine creature." 
The Coast Guard dispatched vessels and helicopters to investigate the cause of the collision, but they have yet to find the alleged animal or any other cause of the crash. 
The incident occurred between Niigata and Sado Island, off Japan's northwest coast.

This nearly-tragic occurrence immediately brought to what, after all these years, is left of Abq Jew's mind - the second tragic event that occurred on November 22, 1963.

The first event - we of a certain age will never forget.

The second event - we of a certain age may not even remember, since its tragedy was drowned in the tragedy of the first event.

Abq Jew speaks, of course, of

The Staten Island Ferry Octopus Disaster

About which Abq Jew blogged in November 2016 (see Another Disaster, Another Memorial). Don't remember? Here is the story:
It was close to 4am on the quiet morning of November 22, 1963 when the Steam Ferry Cornelius G. Kolff vanished without a trace. 
On its way with nearly 400 hundred people, mostly on their way to work, the disappearance of the Cornelius G. Kolff remains both one of New York’s most horrific maritime tragedies and perhaps its most intriguing mystery. 
Eye witness accounts describe “large tentacles” which “pulled” the ferry beneath the surface only a short distance from its destination at Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan. Nobody on board survived and only small pieces of wreckage have been found … strangely, with large “suction cup-shaped” marks on them. 
The only logical conclusion scientists and officials could point to was that the boat had been attacked by a massive octopus, roughly half the size of the ship. 
Adding to the tragedy, is that this disaster went almost completely unnoticed by the public as later that day another, more “newsworthy” tragedy would befall the nation when beloved President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. 
Artist Joe Reginella has taken it upon himself to spread awareness of this maritime tragedy - via a website, a Facebook page, a documentary, and the Staten Island Ferry Octopus Disaster Memorial Museum.

The Staten Island Ferry Disaster Museum
hopes to preserve the memory of those lost
in this tragedy, and to educate the public
about the only known giant octopus-ferry
attack in the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area.

You can learn more about the Staten Island Ferry Octopus Disaster here and here.

Let us never forget.

Enjoy this blog post?

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Hate in NM: March 2019

Great News! For our beloved Land of Enchantment, which regularly comes in last, next-to-last, or elsewhere near the bottom of state rankings for such things as education, poverty, and child well-being (as well as overall state rankings), there is (at last!) some truly great news:

New Mexico Has Hit Zero (0)!

It's true! On its latest Hate Map, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports that

In 2018, SPLC tracked 0 hate groups in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, back in the [rest of the] US of A, the SPLC reports that

In 2018, SPLC tracked 1,020 hate groups across the US.

Now, Abq Jew (like anyone else who grew up in the '60s) always knew about Jew- and anybody else-hatred in general.

But he was not all that concerned about Jew- or anybody else-hatred coming up and biting him in the proverbial tuchus until that incident more than two(!) years ago, on Friday the 13th of January 2017 (see You've Got Hate Mail!).

Now, Abq Jew is a big fan of
the ADL, the SPLC, and the ACLU.

Abq Jew got the Hate Map numbers shown above from the Spring 2019 issue of the SPLC's Intelligence Report. Which also reported (in the entire US) -
  • 51 Ku Klux Klan groups
  • 112 Neo-Nazi groups
  • 148 White Nationalist groups
  • 63 Racist Skinhead groups
  • 36 Neo-Confederate groups
  • 17 Christian Identity groups
  • 17 Anti-Immigrant groups
  • 49 Anti-LGBT groups
  • 100 Anti-Muslim groups
  • 163 General Hate groups
None of them in New Mexico.

However -
The Intelligence Project identified 612 extreme
anti-government groups that were active in 2018.

Including four (4) in New Mexico (Google, if you must):
  1. American Patriots (Albuquerque)
  2. Constitution Party (Los Lunas)
  3. Reign of Heaven Society (Statewide)
  4. The Three Percenters - IIIers (Statewide)
And furthermore, in a letter to The New York Times, anthropologist Lyla Yastion states:

Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest
neo-Nazi groups in the United States, lighted a swastika last year
in Draketown, Ga. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Re “Rising Far-Right Extremism in America,” by Thomas T. Cullen (Op-Ed, Feb. 23), in which he cites statistics showing an alarming increase in hate crimes by far-right and white supremacist groups: 
Not enough attention has been paid to President Trump’s rallies as a breeding ground for inflaming the passions of such extremism. 
These rallies are dismissed as circus acts, but their power is insidious — dramas that agitate the hatred, anger and bigotry of a dictator’s followers. It is a parasitic relationship: Supporters of President Trump feed off his fame and wealth, which they know they will never have; he feeds off their adulation to validate the artifice of his presidency. 
Eric Hoffer, in his classic “The True Believer,” attributes mass movements to discontent fueled by frustration. The resurgence of overt white supremacist sympathies is evidence of deep-seated frustration released into action by a president whose only motive in life seems to be self-glorification.
And JTA just reported:

White supremacists exchange insults with counterprotesters as they
attempt to guard the entrance to Emancipation Park in
Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
White supremacists targeting message to neighborhoods and campuses like never before, ADL says 
White supremacists dramatically stepped up their propaganda efforts targeting neighborhoods and campuses in 2018 to never-before seen levels. 
Such efforts increased by 182 percent, to 1,187 distributions across the U.S., up from 421 total incidents reported in 2017, the Anti-Defamation League reported Tuesday. 
The number of racist rallies and demonstrations also rose last year, with 91 white supremacist rallies or other public events attended by white supremacists held in 2018, up from 76 the previous year.  
In addition, hate groups increasingly used so-called “flash mob” tactics to avoid advance publicity and scrutiny. 
In most cases the identities of individual members were hidden, according to the ADL.

you think this whole hate business
happened long ago and far away

Please allow Abq Jew to introduce you to Simon Romero.

Simon Romero is a national correspondent for The New York Times, covering immigration and other issues.
Mr. Romero, born and raised in New Mexico, graduated cum laude with a degree in history and literature from Harvard College and studied history at the University of São Paulo. 
In 2000, he held a Ford Fellowship in business journalism at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. 
He lives in Albuquerque with his wife and their two children. 
A historical marker to commemorate the massacre at Porvenir. Jessica Lutz

Mr Romero has just contributed an outstanding article to The Times. Which begins:
Lynch Mobs Killed Latinos Across the West. The Fight to Remember These Atrocities is Just Starting. 
Arlinda Valencia was at a funeral when an uncle told her a bewildering family secret: An Anglo lynch mob had killed her great-grandfather. 
“A mixture of grief and shock overwhelmed me since this was the first I heard of this,” said Ms. Valencia, 66, the leader of a teachers’ union in El Paso. “The more I looked into it, the more stunned I was at how many Mexicans were lynched in this country.” 
Ms. Valencia and other descendants of lynching victims are now casting attention on one of the grimmest campaigns of racist terror in the American West: the lynching of thousands of men, women and children of Mexican descent from the mid-19th century until well into the 20th century.
Much of the article deals with the Porvenir Massacre of 1918. Of which Abq Jew had never, ever, heard. And about which he intends (Billy Nader) to write in the future.

And then there was this historical nugget:

In Albuquerque’s Old Town Plaza, where gift shops and restaurants now cater to tourists, three men identified as Escolastico Perea, Miguel Barrera and California Joe were hanged by a mob of about 200 local residents in 1881 in connection with the murder of a geological surveyor, Col. Charles Potter. 
“Though lynching in general is to be condemned, yet to every case there is an exception,” The Santa Fe New Mexican reported at the time. “In the instance of the dastardly murder of Charles Potter, it is very doubtful whether justice can be too swiftly meted out.”

Abq Jew intends (Billy Nader) to write about this, too. Simon Romero's source?

Marc Simmons, who wrote a weekly Santa Fe New Mexican history column for more than 35 years. A few years ago, The New Mexican published reprints from among the more than 1,800 columns he produced during his career.
1880s murder in Sandias led to lynchings, shootout 
By Marc Simmons Apr 22, 2016 
In the fall of 1880, all of New Mexico was shocked to learn of the sudden disappearance of a prominent visitor, Col. Charles Potter. That he had become a victim of foul play, everyone believed.
A parade float at the Aalst Carnaval in Belgium featuring caricatures of
Orthodox Jews atop money bags, March 3, 2019. (Courtesy of FJO, via JTA)

All of which adds up to

More than enough hate to go around.

Let's try something different.

Monday, March 4, 2019

How Jewish-Americans Changed

Popular American Music: Abq Jew is happy to announce that noted composer, lecturer, and recording artist Jane Ellen will be teaching a class in March at Congregation B'nai Israel in Albuquerque.

Yes, this is a "D.S. Al Fine" (Abq Jew actually knew Al Fine in Aberdeen, New Jersey; but he digresses) of the three (3)-part class that Jane taught at OASIS Albuquerque in Fall 2017 - Spring 2018 - Summer 2018.

Which Abq Jew was fortunate enough to catch in situ. But if you were not - for lack of Senior ID or because, for example, you work[ed] during the day -

Here is your chance.

This three-part series will focus on the invaluable contribution of Jewish-American composers, musicians, and entertainers to the tapestry of popular music in the United States since the late 19th century.

Part 1: Broadway to the Big Bands & Beyond
Sunday March 17 @ 1:00 pm

Part 1 will trace the earliest roots from Tin Pan Alley to the Yiddish Theatre and finally on to the Great White Way, where Jewish-Americans almost single-handedly invented America's most valuable artistic export: the Broadway musical. Future installments will include jazz, pop, and rock

Part 2: Moving Music Forward Through Jazz and Pop
Sunday March 24 @ 1:00 pm

This lecture, Part 2, begins with entertainers in vaudeville and on Broadway; then on to the rise of the Big Band era and popular bandleaders during the 1930s-40s. Finally we look at those composers who brought life to our favorite films on the silver screen.

Part 3: Moving Music Into the 21st Century
Sunday March 31 @ 1:00 pm

The series concludes with a look towards the future in a myriad of styles including the diverse contributions of such artists as Stan Getz, Bob Dylan, Carole King, Laura Nyro, Janis Ian, Paul Simon, Bette Midler, Joey and Tommy Ramone, Billy Joel, Béla Fleck, Beastie Boys, Drake, Pink, and many more.

About Jane Ellen

Jane Ellen is an active composer, lecturer, and recording artist, with multiple CDs and over 60 print publications to her credit.

Currently living in the southwestern US, she considers herself a citizen of the world and travels at every opportunity.

Jane holds a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of New Mexico and received permanent Professional Masters certification from the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) in Washington, DC after completing 15 hours towards a Masters degree in composition.

And the Angels Sing