Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

Who Knows Where The Time Goes? So, as long as we're talking about Judy 'Blue Eyes' (see Ghost Chickens With Borscht) ....

Abq Jew was able to find this video of  Judy Collins singing the Sandy Denny ballad in a concert taped at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in 2002. Apropos of the season, Abq Jew thinks.


But on a more upbeat (and - in keeping with Abq Jew tradition, completely unrelated) note - did you know that
Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.
The benchmark against which all others are measured is, of course:
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
— Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
Some recent Abq Jew favorites include:  
Primum non nocere, from the Latin for “first, do no harm,” one of the principal tenets of the Hippocratic oath taken by physicians, was far from David’s mind (as he strode, sling in hand, to face Goliath) in part because Hippocrates was born about 100 years after David, in part because David wasn’t even a physician, but mainly because David wanted to kill the sucker.
— David Larson, San Francisco, CA

A small assortment of astonishingly loud brass instruments raced each other lustily to the respective ends of their distinct musical choices as the gates flew open to release a torrent of tawny fur comprised of angry yapping bullets that nipped at Desdemona’s ankles, causing her to reflect once again (as blood filled her sneakers and she fought her way through the panicking crowd) that the annual Running of the Pomeranians in Liechtenstein was a stupid idea.
— Sera Kirk, Vancouver, BC
Corinne considered the colors (palest green, gray and lavender) and texture (downy as the finest velvet) and wondered, “How long have these cold cuts been in my refrigerator?”
— Linda Boatright, Omaha, NE
She wasn’t really my type, a hard-looking but untalented reporter from the local cat box liner, but the first second that the third-rate representative of the fourth estate cracked open a new fifth of old Scotch, my sixth sense said seventh heaven was as close as an eighth note from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, so, nervous as a tenth grader drowning in eleventh-hour cramming for a physics exam, I swept her into my longing arms, and, humming “The Twelfth of Never,” I got lucky on Friday the thirteenth.
— Wm. W. “Buddy” Ocheltree, Port Townsend, WA
 And Abq Jew's all-time favorite (from 1987):
The notes blatted skyward as the sun rose over the Canada geese, feathered rumps mooning the day,
webbed appendages frantically peddling unseen bicycles in their search for sustenance, driven by Nature’s maxim, “Ya wanna eat, ya gotta work,”
and at last I knew Pittsburgh.

— Sheila B. Richter, Minneapolis, MN
A Happy Healthy Prosperous 2013 To All!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ghost Chickens With Borscht

What's Borscht Got To Do With It? "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend" is a country and cowboy-style song. It was written on June 5, 1948 by Stan Jones. And yes - it's another great tune for Adon Olam!

Wikipedia continues:
A number of versions were crossover hits on the pop charts in 1949. The ASCAP database lists the song as "Riders in the Sky" (title code: 480028324), but the title has been written as "Ghost Riders", "Ghost Riders in the Sky", and "A Cowboy Legend".
The song tells a folk tale of a cowboy who has a vision of red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle thundering across the sky, being chased by the spirits of damned cowboys. One warns him that if he does not change his ways, he will be doomed to join them, forever "trying to catch the Devil's herd across these endless skies". Jones said that he had been told the story when he was 12 years old by an old cowboy friend. The story resembles the northern European mythic Wild Hunt. 

The song was first recorded by Burl Ives in 1949. After that - about a zillion (Abq Jew's estimate) artists have performed and / or recorded the song.

But more importantly (Abq Jew's viewpoint) - about a zillion parodies of the song have been performed and / or recorded.

One recent parody is performed here by Leroy Troy: "Ghost Chickens In The Sky".

Now, everyone knows that chickens and banjos are Jewish. So, even though Leroy Troy probably isn't (and Abq Jew isn't sure about Marty Stuart) - that was a Jewish song!

Many yuppies are / were Jewish, and singer / songwriter Tom Paxton wrote a parody for them, too: "Yuppies In The Sky".  The words start out with:
As I went out one evenin' down Columbus Avenue
All the sushi bars were shuttered, dark cantinas too
And I stood there in the darkness,as an empty cab rolled by
Then all at once I heard the sound of yuppies in the sky

Then the herd came down Columbus, for as far as I could see
All the men were wearing Polo, and the women wore Esprit
Each yuppie had a walk-man and as each one passed me by
I saw their sad expressions and I heard their mournful cry 
And the chorus:
Condos for sale! Condos to buy! Yuppies in the sky! 
Programming Note:
AMP Concerts announces that
Tom Paxton
will be performing at
the South Broadway Cultural Center
on January 13!

But Abq Jew still hasn't answered the question he asked at the very beginning: 

What's Borscht Got To Do With It?

First of all, from Wikipedia:

Borscht (also borsch, bortsch, borstch, borsh, borshch; Ukrainian: борщ) is a soup of Ukrainian origin that is popular in many Eastern and Central European countries. In most of these countries, it is made with beetroot as the main ingredient, giving it a deep reddish-purple color. In some countries, tomato is used as the main ingredient, while beetroot acts as a secondary ingredient. Other, non-beet varieties also exist, such as the tomato paste-based orange borscht and green borscht (sorrel soup).

But you older members of the Abq Jew gang know where he's going with this. The Greatest Parody of "Ghost Riders In The Sky" Ever was by Mickey Katz, the father of actor Joel Grey and grandfather of actress Jennifer Grey.

Wikipedia tells us:
Mickey Katz was born Meyer Myron Katz on Sawtell Court in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Johanna (née Herzberg) and Menachem Katz. Although originally one of five children, Mickey lost an older sister to diphtheria when he was about four years old. Mickey's father provided for the family by working as a tailor, but money was always tight in the Katz family. As children Mickey and his siblings contributed to the family's finances by entering amateur musical contests in the neighborhood theaters and bringing the prize money home to their parents. Even after graduating high school Mickey continued to support his family with the money he earned from his music.

Out of high school Katz was hired by Phil Spitalny to go on a road tour. While waiting at the train station to leave, Katz met Grace Epstein, his future wife. He was seventeen and she was fourteen. In 1930, at the age of 20, Katz married Grace Epstein. They had two sons, Joel Grey and Ronald. Each of Katz's sons had two children. Joel fathered Jennifer Grey and Jim Grey, and Ronald fathered Randy Katz and Todd Katz. In 1977 Katz told the story of his life in a biography called Papa Play for Me.
And so, without further ado, is

Now Abq Jew knows what you're asking:

Can't Anyone Play This Song Straight?

The answer is.of course, yes. (See above Abq Jew estimate of zillions.) First of all, Burl Ives. Johnny Cash, Duane Eddy, Frankie Laine, Elvis. Even Debbie Harry (of Blondie).

But if you want to hear the song sung straight, here's a much better idea:

Let's Let Judy 'Blue Eyes' Sing It!

Says Wikipedia:
Judith "Judy" Marjorie Collins (born May 1, 1939) is an American singer and songwriter, known for her eclectic tastes in the material she records (which has included folk, show tunes, pop, rock and roll and standards), and for her social activism.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh. Abq Jew could listen to that golden voice forever. But, he hears you ask, why Judy 'Blue Eyes'? For you younger Abq Jew gang members, here is some Wikipedia history:
"Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" is a suite of short songs written by Stephen Stills and performed by Crosby, Stills and Nash (CSN). It appeared on the group's self-titled debut album in 1969 and was released as a single, hitting #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. The song is ranked #426 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
CSN performed "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" this song at the Woodstock and Live Aid festivals. The title may be a play on words for "Sweet Judy Blue Eyes"; also, the song may be considered a suite in the classical music sense (i.e., an ordered set of musical pieces, usually four in number).
The title "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" refers to Stephen Stills' former girlfriend, singer/songwriter Judy Collins, and the lyrics to most of the suite's sections consist of his thoughts about her and their imminent breakup. Collins is known for her piercing blue eyes, which are referenced in the title. During a July 15, 2007 interview for the National Public Radio program Just Roll Tape, Stills revealed that Collins was present in the studio when the demo tapes were recorded. Collins had advised Stills "not to stay [at the studio] all night." Stills later commented that their "the breakup was imminent...we were both too large for one house." Stills said that he liked parts of this demo version of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" better than the released version.
CSN actually formed in order to record "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes". Stills and David Crosby had discussed the idea of creating a three-man vocal group, but were unable to find a suitable third partner. Among those seriously considered was John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful. At an informal gathering one evening, Stills and Crosby performed a two-voice version of a new song entitled "You Don't Have to Cry". Graham Nash, who was present at the gathering, asked the duo to sing the song again repeatedly. After several performances, Nash began singing the missing high vocal harmony, resulting in him joining the group shortly thereafter.
Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A New Year's Celebration

New Year's Eve with The Figueroans: The Figueroa Music and Arts Project Symphony Orchestra, with Guillermo Figueroa, conductor and violin, presents Viennese classic masters such as Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Strauss.  The evening's music includes waltzes, polkas, and Hungarian dances and rhapsodies.  

New Year's Eve in Vienna!
The Figueroa Music and Arts Project Symphony Orchestra
National Hispanic Cultural Center 
Monday December 31 - 8:00 pm

Tickets:  $22, $34, $46, $60
Available from the NHCC Box Office
In Person - By Phone (505) 724-4771 - Online
For an additional $10, enjoy a post-concert reception!
Includes complimentary hors d'oeuvres and wine from Casa Rondena Winery!


Banco Sabadell [a province of Barcelona] is the fourth-largest banking group funded by private Spanish capital. It includes several banks, brands, subsidiary and holding companies spanning the whole range of financial business.

On the 130th anniversary of its founding, Banco Sabadell wanted to pay homage to its city by means of the campaign "Som Sabadell" (We are Sabadell) . This is the flashmob that Banco Sabadell arranged as a final culmination - with the participation of 100 people from the Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the Lieder, Amics de l'Òpera, and Coral Belles Arts choirs.

The music, of course, is the Ode to Joy of the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Which the Figueroans may (or may not) perform on New Year's Eve. Wikipedia tells us:
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827). Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best-known works of the Western classical repertoire. Among critics, it is almost universally considered to be among Beethoven's greatest works, and is considered by some to be the greatest piece of music ever written.

The symphony was the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony (thus making it a choral symphony). The words are sung during the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus. They were taken from the "Ode to Joy", a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803, with additions made by the composer. Today, it stands as one of the most played symphonies in the world.
Abq Jew does not accept the historicity or theological import of the events that are supposed to have taken place during this week. And he firmly believes that January 1st merely marks the beginning of a new accounting cycle.

Yet Abq Jew strongly approves of the verisimilitude of joy and gladness that seems to overtake us all at the end of December. We all need more joy and gladness in our lives.

This has not, alas, been a very joyful Season of Joy. Tension and tragedy have filled the air and the airwaves. But Rebbe Nachman (see Burnt Books and Na Nach Nachman) taught us:

And thus ... in this Season of Joy - let us all take a moment to be joyful!
Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the star-canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Be embraced,
This kiss for the whole world!

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
Spark of the gods!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Elias Plays Gershwin and More

Pianist to Perform Benefit House Concert:  Noted pianist and Albuquerque native Elias-Axel Pettersson will perform at a house concert to benefit Congregation B'nai Israel.

Elias-Axel Pettersson
Sunday December 30 - 2:00 pm
Gershwin, Chopin, Liszt, & Mozart
 9414 Oakmont Road NE
Albuquerque, NM 87111

 Admission Free
Gratuities gratefully accepted
CDs available for purchase

$5 Raffle Tickets
to benefit Congregation B'nai Israel available

One $100 ticket to Congregation B'nai Israel's Big Event
with Maestro Guillermo Figueroa

Reservations Required
Please call (505) 299-5856

Born in Sweden and raised in New Mexico, Elias-Axel Pettersson began playing piano and violin at an early age. He studied piano and violin at the Eastman School of Music. He received a M.M. from the University of Maryland, and a Doctorate of Music (DM) from the Université de Montréal.

As he did last year (see Elias-Axel Pettersson Performs in NM), Mr Pettersson is planning a series of concerts and recitals during his annual return to the Land of Enchantment. Stay tuned for details!

While we're waiting for his concert - here is Chopin's Etude in C Major, Op. 10 No. 1.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Train Near Magdeburg

(AP) HUDSON FALLS, NY: A World War II veteran from New York whose account of liberating Holocaust victims from a Nazi train led to reunions with the survivors 60 years later has died.
You may have missed this story, which appeared online today at KOB picked up the story from Associated Press. But the headline caught Abq Jew's eye, and he decided to follow it up.

NY WWII vet who liberated Nazi train dies in Fla
A World War II veteran from New York whose account of liberating Holocaust victims from a Nazi train led to reunions with the survivors 60 years later has died.
Matthew Rozell, a friend of Carrol Walsh, tells The Associated Press that Walsh died Monday at his home in Sarasota, Fla. The retired New York judge was 91. A cause of death wasn’t immediately available.

Walsh and other American soldiers liberated 2,500 Jewish concentration camp prisoners from a Nazi train at the end of World War II.

His story was posted on a website Rozell created for the history class he teaches at Hudson Falls High School in upstate New York.

That led to a series of reunions involving veterans and train survivors in New York, South Carolina and Tennessee.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Here is the website that Matthew Rozell created for his Hudson Falls High School history class. The story begins with this excerpt from Wayne Robinson, Move out Verify: the Combat Story of the 743rd Tank Battalion  (Germany, no publisher, 1945):                    
There was another sidelight to the death of fascism in Europe.  Only a few of the battalion saw it.  Those who did will never forget it.
A few miles northwest of Magdeburg there was a railroad siding in wooded ravine not far from the Elbe River. Major Clarence Benjamin in a jeep was leading a small task force of two light tanks from Dog Company on a routine job of patrolling. The unit came upon some 200 shabby looking civilians by the side of the road.  There was something immediately apparent about each one of these people, men and women, which arrested the attention. Each one of them was skeleton thin with starvation, a sickness in their faces and the way in which they stood-and there was something else.  At the sight of Americans they began laughing in joy - if it could be called laughing.  It was an outpouring of pure, near-hysterical relief.

The tankers soon found out why.  The reason was found at the railroad siding.
There they came upon a long string of grimy, ancient boxcars standing silent on the tracks.  In the banks by the tracks, as if to get some pitiful comfort from the thin April sun, a multitude of people of all shades of misery spread themselves in a sorry, despairing tableaux  [sic]. As the American uniforms were sighted, a great stir went through this strange camp. Many rushed toward the Major's jeep and the two light tanks.
Bit by bit, as the Major found some who spoke English, the story came out.

This had been - and was - a horror train.  In these freight cars had been shipped 2500 people, jam-packed in like sardines, and they were people that had two things in common, one with the other:  They were prisoners of the German State and they were Jews.
Included on the website is the witness testimony relayed by Sgt George Gross to Matthew Rozell in March 2002.  About the picture, Sgt Gross says:
Major [Clarence L] Benjamin took a powerful picture just as a few of the people became aware that they had been rescued.  It shows people in the background still lying about, trying to soak up a bit of energy from the sun, while in the foreground a woman has her arms flung wide and a great look of surprise and joy on her face as she rushes toward us.
Sgt Gross concludes his account with this:

I spent part of the afternoon listening to the story of Gina Rappaport, who had served so well as interpreter.  She was in the Warsaw ghetto for several years as the Nazis gradually emptied the ghetto to fill the death camps, until her turn finally came.  She was taken to Bergen-Belsen, where the horrible conditions she described matched those official accounts I later heard.  She and some 2500 others, Jews from all over Europe, Finnish prisoners of war, and others who had earned the enmity of Nazidom, were forced onto the train and taken on a back-and-forth journey across Germany, as their torturers tried to get them to a camp where they could be eliminated before Russians on one side or Americans on the other caught up with them. Since the prisoners had little food, many died on the purposeless journey, and they had felt no cause for hope when they were shunted into this little unimportant valley siding.  Gina told her story well, but I have never been able to write it.  I received a letter from her months later, when I was home in San Diego.   I answered it but did not hear from her again.  Her brief letter came from Paris, and she had great hopes for the future.  I trust her dreams were realized.
There is more - much more - on Matthew Rozell's website, including links to Teaching History Matters and Holocaust Survivors, Liberators Reunited, an ABC News report.

Remember their stories!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Starting With: Many, many years ago, Abq Jew attempted to learn to play the violin.

His parents, of blessed memory, along with all Jewish parents in Brooklyn, believed all their children to be young Jascha Heifetzes, just waiting for the right muse - in his case Abq Jew's Great Aunt Lil, who really could play the violin - to let our musical genius shine through.

Many years ago (Before Children), Abq Jew again attempted to learn to play the violin. He even acquired (for $400!) a well-made instrument. This time, he had some success, progressing to double stops, arpeggios, and playing more or less in tune.

Years ago (After Dov the Filmmaker), Abq Jew put the violin down ... temporarily. Two homes and 30 years later, he still had the violin. So he was able to lend it to a family friend, who took it with her to Boston University.

Said family friend later acquired her own instrument, one more appropriate to the BU milieu. And following a complex series of transfers, the violin was again in Abq Jew's possession, last Saturday night, on the NYC MTA's Manhattan - Queens F train.

Where a thought suddenly and without warning came to Abq Jew's mind:  

Let's make some money! 

How do you make money on the subway with a violin? The way so many of the masters have: You open the case - and keep it open. You take out the violin and the bow. You play. And money just falls into the open violin case!

The nice thing about all this is:

You don't have to play well!

It's true. They've done experiments. Commuters can't tell Joshua Bell from Norman Fell. You can believe Abq Jew about this.

As Abq Jew was conjuring cash, he (naturally) thought of ... Tom Lehrer and his song In Old Mexico. In particular, he remembered the fortuitous line

The mariachis would serenade,
and they would not shut up till they were paid;

which, as you remember (don't you?) concludes with

we ate, we drank, and we were merry,
and we got typhoid and dysentery.

Thus, Abq Jew said to himself: If he could not be paid to play - surely he could be paid to stop! And here, for your enjoyment, is In Old Mexico:

Aside from its being a paen to the glorious sport of bullfighting, In Old Mexico is, too, a tutorial in the correct pronunciation of the x in Mexico. Which is not to mention the j in Guadalajara.

But we're not done yet! Listening to the x in Mexico and the j in Guadalajara reminds Abq Jew (and you, too, he is sure) of the sound(s) Felix (of The Odd Couple) made while clearing his sinuses. You don't remember? Well ....

But wait! There's more! Listening to Felix clear his sinuses reminds Abq Jew (and you, too, he is sure) of the sound(s) once too often heard on the NYC MTA's Manhattan - Queens F train. Which is not to mention on the Boston MBTA's Harvard - Washington "T" subway line.

About which - you guessed it! - Tom Lehrer also wrote (in 1944!). And here, for your ... enjoyment ... is The "T" Subway Song.

Dedicated to Abq Jew's daughter, Alex the BU Student

Abq Jew firmly apologizes to all those - and there will be many - whom he has offended. He just does not have good taste. But he does have his violin.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Newtown:  There is a section in the Book of Deuteronomy (21:1-9; Parshat Shoftim) that deals with a curious ceremony known as that of The Egla Arufa (The Heifer Whose Neck Is Broken).

If, in the land that YHVH your God is giving you to possess, a body is found lying in open country, and it is not known who struck the person down, then your elders and your judges shall come out to measure the distances to the towns that are near the body. The elders of the town nearest the body shall take a heifer that has never been worked, one that has not pulled in the yoke; the elders of that town shall bring the heifer down to a wadi with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer's neck there in the wadi. Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come forward, for YHVH your God has chosen them to minister to him and to pronounce blessings in the name of YHVH, and by their decision all cases of dispute and assault shall be settled.
All the elders of that town nearest the body shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the wadi, and they shall declare:
Our hands did not shed this blood, nor were we witnesses to it. Absolve your people Israel, whom you redeemed, YHVH; do not let the guilt of innocent blood remain in the midst of your people Israel.
Then they will be absolved of bloodguilt. So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, because you must do what is right in the sight of YHVH.
What is going on here? Commentators both old and new have puzzled over this. If the one who is guilty of the crime cannot be found, why is atonement required of others?

Here is Abq Jew's take: The town elders gather, wash their hands, and - on behalf of the townspeople - publicly proclaim:
It's not our fault! We didn't do it!
when, in fact, it is their fault - even though they didn't personally do it. Why? Because the town elders and the townspeople did not do enough to protect the people who lived in or passed through their town.


Abq Jew is deeply afraid that - through our nation's deep obeisance to the gun lobby and clear inability to face our mental healthcare responsibilities - we are sacrificing our children (and our adults) in a way that allows us to absolve ourselves of guilt and place the full blame on others.

We have been doing this in America for a long time.

Our leaders will give speeches, and perhaps shed a tear. Once again. And then nothing will be done, because it's "not the right time."

But here is what Abq Jew is really afraid of.

On Friday, Abq Jew's daughter Alex the BU Student published When I'm an Elementary School Teacher, I'll Keep My Shotgun in my Desk in her blog My Fantastical Thoughts On Life. Here is a portion of what she wrote:
Lately I've been narrowing down potential career options, and I've come to the conclusion that I'd be happiest teaching elementary school. Children of that age are the most fun. They're creative and curious, eager to learn and socialize. In my opinion there is no such thing as an evil child. But there are evil men; there are evil adults. So if and when I find myself teaching 1st grade in a suburb of new york city, I plan to keep a firearm in my desk. Because I'll be fucking damned if I'm going to let anyone hurt a bunch of innocent children just because they feel like it. 

But Rebbe Nachman taught us:

Yidden, yidden, do not despair! Zeit sich nisht meyaesh! 

And Judaism teaches that evil - for that is what it is - must always be fought and must never be accepted. So Abq Jew turns to The Tisch, Rabbi Menachem Creditor's blog. Today he writes:

Channel the grief into anger and action.
Sign every petition, call your faith leaders,
and contact your legislators.
There are a few petitions that are moving faster, but it's still a bit early to gauge which one is "the one." I'm driving colleagues to sign the PICO network clergy call, and the moveon petition seems to be gaining steam. But my advice, fwiw, is to fire on all cylinders for the next week, trying to end the trend of "flash-in-the-pan" activism and actually tip the scale toward progress.

Maybe this time.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lena From Palesteena

Lena From Queensa: Mr & Mrs Abq Jew have returned from the wilds of post-Sandy New Jersey, where, after two years plus of ... discussion ... they finally convinced Great Grandmama (of Lena Rose; see Welcome, Lena Rose!) to give up the solitude of the Garden State and join them here in the Land of Enchantment.

Speaking of Lena Rose: Here is a picture from November, but which Mr & Mrs Abq Jew could have taken during their visit to post-Sandy Forest Hills. Is she cute, or what?   

Mr & Mrs Abq Jew and the machetonim had the pleasure of babysitting Lena Rose last Saturday night. For a few hours, our uniquely intelligent, remarkably beautiful, and incredibly talented almost-four-month-old granddaughter had the full and undivided attention of all four of her love-smitten grandparents. What an honor!

And speaking of Palestine: OK, we weren't. But Abq Jew covered Palestine (see 5 Years, 65 Years, 19 Years). So while we're talking about Lena and Palestine:

The popular 1920s song Lena from Palesteena was written by Con Conrad and J Russel Robinson, and first recorded with words by Eddie Cantor in 1920.

That was a great old version by Frank Crumit, of which Savta Dotty says:
"Lena from Palesteena", written by J. Russel Robinson and Con Conrad. It was originally recorded by Eddie Cantor in 1920 (released by Emerson Records, record number Emerson 10292).

My family had the Eddie Cantor recording and I remember the tune (I think this was the first thing I ever heard about the Middle East).
The complete lyrics (not all sung here) are:
In the Bronx of New York City
Lived a girl, she's not so pretty
Lena is her name.
Such a clever girl is Lena
How she played her concertina
Really, it's a shame.
She's such a good musician
She got a swell position
To go across the sea and entertain.
And so they shipped poor Lena
Way out to Palesteena
From what I hear now, she don't look the same.
They say that Lena is the Queen o' Palesteena
Just because she plays the concertina.
She only knows one song,
She plays it all day long
Sometimes she plays it wrong,
But how they love it
Want more of it
I heard her play once or twice.
Oh! Murder! Still, it was nice.
All the girls, they dress like Lena
Some wear oatmeal, some Farina
Down old Palesteena way.

Lena's girlfriend Arabella
Let her meet an Arab fella
That she thought was grand.
On a camel's back a-swaying
You could hear Miss Lena playing
Over the desert sand.
She didn't play such new ones
All she knew were blue ones
And Yusef sat and listened by his tent
And as he tried to kiss her
She heard that Arab whisper,
"Oh Lena, please play your instrument!"
They say that Lena is the Queen o' Palesteena
'Cause she shakes a wicked concertina.
She plays it day and night
She plays with all her might
She never gets it right,
You think it's funny,
Gets her money.
There's nothin' sounds like it should.
So rotten, it's really good.
While the Arabs danced so gaily
She would practice aily-aily
Down old Palesteena way.

Lena, she's the Queen o' Palesteena
Goodness, how they love her concertina.
Each movement of her wrist
Just makes them shake and twist
They simply can't resist
How they love it
Want more of it.
When she squeeks
That squeeze-box stuff
All those sheiks
Just can't get enough.
She got fat as he got Lena
Pushing on her concertina
Down old Palesteena way.
And "Willie" commented:
Late in 1920, Eddie Cantor introduced "Lena from Palesteena" in George LeMaire's "Broadway Brevities of 1920." But the character of Lena Strauss in the song was borrowed by its composers from a 1910 Ziegfeld Follies song by Ballard McDonald and Harry Carroll, "Nix on the Glow-Worm, Lena." The 1910 song introduced Lena, who played "The Glow-Worm" on her concertina until the other boarders in her boarding house couldn't take it. And, it seems, Lena's comic character was still remembered in 1920. The 1910 song was introduced in the Ziegfeld production by Grace Tyson, and was recorded in 1910 for Victor by Ada Jones, and also by Billy Murray.
What, Abq Jew hears you ask, could be better than "Lena From Palesteena" and "Nix on the Glow-Worm, Lena?"  How about ...

"Rebecca Came Back From Mecca"
She’s as bold as Theda Bara
Theda’s bare but Becky’s barer

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Happy Last 2 Days of Chanukah, Everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A New Milestone: 60K+120

To Life! To Life! L'Chaim!  On December 12, 2012, at 2:12 pm New Mexico (Mountain) Time, this Abq Jew Blog achieved 60,000+120 All Time Page Views.

We achieved 50,000+150 All Time Page Views
on October 22 - just over seven weeks ago.
That's about 190 Page Views per Day.

Thank you!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rabbi Min on Gemilut Chasadim

Bestowing Loving Kindnesses - Basic Jewish Value #7:  The mission statement of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico reads: “Guided by Jewish values, we offer targeted social services that help preserve and improve the quality of life for New Mexicans.” What are these Jewish values? How do they help guide the day-to-day work that we do at JFS? When new employees join the staff of JFS, they are introduced to eighteen of these basic Jewish values.

The Jewish value of "gemilut chasadim" literally means "to bestow loving kindnesses." This is a value which is widely applied and inclusive, including every kind of help: visiting the sick, comforting those who mourn, escorting the dead to the grave.

The Mishnah (a collection of early oral interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures that was compiled about AD 200, and which forms the first part of the Talmud) counts it among the things for which no limit has been prescribed by the Torah (Peah 1:2).

Since gemilut chasadim consists of personal acts of kindness, it can be practiced by rich and poor alike.

Gemilut chasadim finds expression in all efforts of goodwill, and is exemplified by receiving all people cheerfully, by loving peace and striving for peace (Pirkei Avot 1:12, 15).

Among JFS's Jewish clients this value is applied by the Chaplaincy staff of Rabbi Min Kantrowitz in Albuquerque, Chaplain Miryam Levy in Santa Fe and Chaplain Linda Friedman in Rio Rancho by visiting the sick, arranging for burial, attending funerals, and comforting mourners. The majority of JFS clients are NOT Jewish, and yet benefit by how the staff embodies this Jewish value.

Since gemilut chasadim consists of personal acts of kindness, it is practiced every day by all JFS staff and volunteers. Whether assisting a slowly moving elder using our Senior Transportation Program aboard the JFS van, packing a food box at the JFS Food Pantry specifically addressing the needs of a specific family, or meeting with a group of seniors committed to maintaining their independence through participating in Wellness Programs - every day we practice this value.

Gemilut chasadim finds expression in all efforts of goodwill. Anyone who goes through a day with sensitivity and a desire to care about others will find multiple opportunities to practice gemilut chasadim!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crazy in Clovis

A Long Way From Albuquerque:  Abq Jew often complains to Mrs Abq Jew that she is driving him crazy. "We don't have to drive," says Mrs Abq Jew. "It's not that far."

Which raises the question, in what remains, after all these years of intermittent use, of Abq Jew's mind: How can you tell if you're crazy?

Fortunately, in our time, Google has come to signify or point to the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. So this is what Abq Jew found out.

From Hub Pages, we have an article called Six Signs You Might Be Crazy, which begins:
Perhaps the most important step in becoming sane and/or normal, is admitting that you might be crazy. Which is harder? A crazy person trying to convince everyone else that they’re not crazy, or that same crazy person trying to convince themselves that they are crazy, or a frozen duck? All three of these are hard in their own way. Trying to convince someone that you’re not crazy, is like telling people that the moon is made of cheese, even though they know it’s made of rock or whatever ....
The Six Ways, incidentally, are:
  1. You just talked to yourself.
  2. You're hearing voices.
  3. You just had a conversation with an animal.
  4. You have an imaginary friend.
  5. You just bit the head off a goldfish.
  6. You say you're not crazy.
Interestingly, the page (when Abq Jew opened it) featured an ad from self-publisher that asked the question Are You Writing A Book?, which may be the Seventh Way.

Yahoo! Voices (the Second Way above) features 100 Signs You Are Crazy and Losing Your Mind. Among the many ways:
  5. You can hear mimes.
12. Your IQ test results were negative.
14. You notice that a boxing ring is square.
15. The wall ran into you.
40. Your dog is laughing at you.
49. You found the end of the rainbow.
55. You know Sam I Am by heart.
65. You know how much wood a wood chuck could chuck
        if a wood chuck could chuck wood.

Which of course brings us to ... the tale of Rebbe Nachman entitled The Tainted Grain.
The king’s star gazer saw that the grain harvested that year was tainted. Anyone who would eat from it would became insane. “What can we do?” said the king. “It is not possible to destroy the crop for we do not have enough grain stored to feed the entire population.”

“Perhaps,” said the star gazer, “we should set aside enough grain for ourselves. At least that way we could maintain our sanity.” The king replied, “If we do that, we’ll be considered crazy. If everyone behaves one way and we behave differently, we’ll be considered the not normal ones.

“Rather,” said the king, “I suggest that we too eat from the crop, like everyone else. However, to remind ourselves that we are not normal, we will make a mark on our foreheads. Even if we are insane, whenever we look at each other, we will remember that we are insane!”
As it turns out ... Abq Jew has a mark on his forehead. But you knew that, didn't you?

Not quite as distinct or as distinctive as Harry Potter's, but still quite noticeable. His parents z"l always told Abq Jew that the mark is the scar left by 10 stitches required to repair a crib-jumping injury. But perhaps that is just the tale they told ....

And Abq Jew does hear voices. In particular, those of Mrs Abq Jew, Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, and Jim Kweskin. Not constantly, but often. Hmmmmm. So why, Abq Jew asks you, do hummingbirds hum? Because they don't know the words!

When men of a certain age think crazy, we think about Patsy Cline. Wikipedia tells us:
"Crazy" is a ballad composed by Willie Nelson. It has been recorded by several artists, most notably by Patsy Cline, whose version was a #2 country hit in 1962.
Partly due to the genre-blending nature of the song, it has been covered by dozens of artists in several genres over the years; Nevertheless, the song remains inextricably linked with Cline.
Nelson wrote the song in early 1961; at the time he was a journeyman singer-songwriter who had written several hits for other artists but had not yet had a significant recording of his own. Nelson originally wrote the song for country singer Billy Walker who turned it down for the same reason Roy Drusky turned down I Fall to Pieces the previous year - that it was ``a girl's song. The song's eventual success helped launch Nelson as a performer as well as a songwriter. 
Patsy Cline, who was already a country music superstar and working to extend a string of hits, picked it as a follow up to her previous big hit "I Fall to Pieces." "Crazy", its complex melody suiting Cline's vocal talent perfectly, was released in late 1961 and immediately became another huge hit for Cline and widened the crossover audience she had established with her prior hits. It spent 21 weeks on the chart and eventually became one of her signature tunes. Cline's version is #85 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
But how do we get to Clovis? Abq Jew hears you ask. Well ... "Crazy" was (famously) covered by country star Lee Ann Rimes. When it was time for Ms Rimes to record, she "headed to the studios of Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico, where rock-n-roll icon Buddy Holly cut his first album."

There will be more about Clovis (where Abq Jew has never set foot) sometime in the future. But in the meantime .....

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Happy Chanukah, Everyone!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kirtan Rabbi in Santa Fe

To Benefit UNM Hillel:   Santa Fe's Temple Beth Shalom will be hosting Rabbi Andrew Hahn - aka the 'Kirtan Rabbi' - for a performance to benefit Hillel at the University of New Mexico.

Kirtan Rabbi Andrew Hahn
Temple Beth Shalom, Santa Fe
To Benefit Hillel @ UNM
Saturday December 8 @ 7:00 pm

A Kirtan Rabbi event unites a celebration of Torah and music in a way that allows people of all ages (and faiths) to discover renewed energy within their Jewish or spiritual practice through singing, dancing, and exalted communal feeling.

A long time martial arts instructor with a doctorate in Jewish philosophy, Rabbi Hahn laces his simple, alluring chants with meditation techniques and traditional learning.  Rabbi Hahn characterizes Hebrew Kirtan as, "fully participatory call-and-response chant where short, sacred phrases from the Jewish tradition are treated as powerful, universal meditations. It is at once contemplative, ecstatic, and simply fun."

Rabbi Hahn received rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion and earned a Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary, both in New York City. He has two musical CDs: Kirtan Rabbi: Live!, recorded at New York's fabled Congregation B'nai Jeshurun on Manhattan's Upper West Side and the recently released, studio production, Achat Sha'alti (One Thing I Seek).

Tickets: $36 Community / $10 Students. 
Available through Brown Paper Tickets.