Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Calamities of All Types

That Rage in the World: Tefilat HaDerech, The Traveler's Prayer, asks for a safe journey. My Jewish Learning tells us that the prayer is said at the onset of a journey - when one embarks on a long trip, regardless of the mode of transport. 


The prayer asks God to deliver the traveler safely;
to protect the traveler from any dangers or perils
the traveler may encounter along the way;
and to return the traveler in peace.

Here is the text of Tefilat HaDerech: 

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ וֵא-לֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
 שֶׁתּוֹלִיכֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם וְתַצְעִידֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם
וְתִסְמְכֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם. וְתַדְרִיכֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם
 וְתַגִּיעֵנוּ לִמְחוֹז חֶפְצֵנוּ לְחַיִּים וּלְשִֹמְחָה וּלְשָׁלוֹם
 וְתַצִּילֵנוּ מִכַּף כָּל אוֹיֵב וְאוֹרֵב
 וְלִסְטִים וְחַיּוֹת רָעוֹת בַּדֶּרֶךְ
 וּמִכָּל מִינֵי פֻּרְעָנִיּוֹת הַמִּתְרַגְּשׁוֹת לָבוֹא לָעוֹלָם
 וְתִשְׁלַח בְּרָכָה בְּכָל מַעֲשֵֹה יָדֵינוּ
וְתִתְּנֵנוּ לְחֵן וּלְחֶסֶד וּלְרַחֲמִים
 בְעֵינֶיךָ וּבְעֵינֵי כָל רוֹאֵינוּ וְתִשְׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנֵינוּ
 כִּי אֵ-ל שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה וְתַחֲנוּן אָתָּה
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה

Or, in English: 

May it be Your will, Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors,
that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace,
and make us reach our desired destination
for life, gladness, and peace.
May You rescue us from the hand of every foe,
ambush, and wild beast along the way,
and from all types of calamities that rage in the world.
May You send blessing in our handiwork, and grant us grace, kindness,
and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us.
May You hear the sound of our humble request because
You are God Who hears prayer requests.
Blessed are You, Lord, Who hears prayer.


Abq Jew has always found that this phrase holds an especially poignant appeal:

וּמִכָּל מִינֵי פֻּרְעָנִיּוֹת הַמִּתְרַגְּשׁוֹת לָבוֹא לָעוֹלָם
and from all types of calamities that rage in the world

For all types of calamities certainly do rage in the world. And this past week. as we all know, has been one of rage: calamity after calamity, tragedy after tragedy.

Surfside Collaps

First, the building collapse in Surfside. Wikipedia reports:
On June 24, 2021, at approximately 1:30 a.m. EDT, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium building in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed. At least 11 dead have been identified and 11 others were injured. 
About 35 people were rescued from the uncollapsed portion of the building, two people have been rescued from the rubble, and 150 people remain missing as rescue operations continue. 

This calamity, Abq Jew hopes, did not affect any of us directly. And yet - the suddenness, the warninglessness, the middle-of-the-nightness. People just like us going to bed at night and expecting to wake up in the morning. Tefilat HaDerech? No one knew they were going on a journey; certainly not the final one. 

Instead, the Bedtime Shema:

May it be Your will, Lord my God and God of my ancestors,
that I lie down in peace and that I arise in peace.
Let my sleep be undisturbed by troubling thoughts, bad dreams,
and wicked schemes. May I have a night of tranquil slumber.
May I awaken to the light of a new day,
that my eyes may behold the splendor of Your light.

God is a faithful King.
שׁמע ישׂראל ה׳ אלקינו ה׳ אחד
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Praised be His glorious sovereignty throughout all time.

Hot-Air Balloon Crash

Then, the hot-air balloon crash in Albuquerque. Wikipedia reports:

On June 26, 2021, a hot-air balloon crashed in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States, near the intersection of Central Avenue and Unser Boulevard after it touched a power line, killing five people.

The balloon was carrying three men (including pilot) and two women. The balloon made contact with a power line, causing the basket to detach from the balloon and fall about 100 feet (30 meters) before crashing and catching fire. All five people on board died as a result of the accident.

This calamity too, Abq Jew hopes, did not affect any of us directly. And yet - the suddenness, the warninglessness, the middle-of-joyness. People just like us going to experience excitement in the morning and expecting to celebrate the day in the evening. Tefilat HaDerech? All knew they were going on a journey; none knew it would be the final one.  

Jerusalem Siege

And finally (please God!), the observance of the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz all over the Jewish world. Wikipedia reports:

The Seventeenth of Tammuz (Hebrew: שבעה עשר בתמוז‎ Shivah Asar b'Tammuz) is a Jewish fast day commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple.

The Seventeenth of Tammuz (Hebrew: שבעה עשר בתמוז‎ Shivah Asar b'Tammuz) is a Jewish fast day commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple.

It falls on the 17th day of the 4th Hebrew month of Tammuz and marks the beginning of the three-week mourning period leading up to Tisha b'Av.

The day also traditionally commemorates the destruction of the two tablets of the Ten Commandments and other historical calamities that befell the Jewish people on the same date.

This calamity, Abq Jew knows, has affected us all directly. And yet - the distance in time and place allows us to forget. Unless we purposefully remember, through fasting or in other ways. People just like us experiencing sorrow, and mourning the day through the evening. 

Messiah Tarry

Despite our prayers - over many centuries, in many different lands - our journey has indeed been long. May this be the last time we need mourn for Jerusalem and what might have been.

And thus began The Three Weeks.

Modeh Ani

Modeh Ani

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Shalom Aleichem 4 Times

Before The Three Weeks: Sunday is the Fast of Shiva-Asar (17) b'Tammuz, the beginning of the Three Weeks leading up to the Fast of Tisha (9) b'Av, the saddest day in the Jewish year, a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, as well as other disasters that have befallen the Jewish people.


It is no secret that Abq Jew is a fan neither of fast days nor of fasting. There is nothing that focuses Abq Jew's mind on food more quickly or steadily than telling him he can't have any.  In Abq Jew's view, if the purpose of fasting is to remind ourselves of the insignificance of food - fasting fails.

Shalom Aleichem

But today is Erev Shabbat, so Abq Jew firmly believes that we can - no, we must - laugh and sing. So please allow Abq Jew to wish you, his loyal readers - Shalom Aleichem. Wikipedia tells us (as if we don't already know):
Shalom Aleichem (Hebrew: שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם‎, 'Peace be upon you') is a traditional song sung by Jews every Friday night upon returning home from synagogue prayer. 
It signals the arrival of the Shabbat, welcoming the angels who accompany a person home on the eve of the Shabbat. 
The custom of singing "Shalom Aleichem" on Friday night before Eshes Chayil and Kiddush is now nearly universal among religious Jews.
Perri Yellin

This liturgical poem was written by the kabbalists of Safed in the late 16th or early 17th century. The traditional tune, which we all know, was written by Israel Goldfarb in 1918. Which we may not all know. In fact:

The slow, well-known melody for the song was composed by the American composer and conductor Rabbi Israel Goldfarb on May 10, 1918 while sitting near the Alma Mater statue in front of Low Memorial Library at Columbia University, and first published later that year as "Sholom Aleichem—שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם" in Friday Evening Melodies by Israel and his brother Samuel

The famous Goldfarb song is often presumed to be a traditional Hasidic melody. 

Chagall Moses

 I. Goldfarb wrote in 1963, "The popularity of the melody traveled not only throughout this country but throughout the world, so that many people came to believe that the song was handed down from Mt. Sinai by Moses."

Changing Times

But times change.

Abq Jew is delighted to bring you four (4) different musical interpretations of the Shalom Aleichem prayer - one for each of the four upcoming Shabbatot - for your own observance and enjoyment.

1. The Ruach

The Ruach is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to spread the joy of Judaism through new Jewish musical experiences that are meant to create and maintain personal connections and, inspire and engage people to embrace the religion and all that it has to offer.

This Shabbat, The Ruach will present The Shabbat Experience - No Evil Eye, Knock on Wood. Kinehora! About which The Ruach says:

The Shabbat Experience provides a break from the daily stresses of your life. Feel the renewal, beauty and joy of Shabbat through the inspirational words of Rabbi Rachel Smookler and the uplifting music of The Ruach. It is a Shabbat service unlike any other.

Here is The Ruach's interpretation of Shalom Aleichem, which is certainly not your grandfather's. Or Israel Goldfarb's, for that matter.

2. The Jerry W

Yes, Jerry Wicentowski a) sings and plays bluegrass; and b) is an observant Jew who proudly wears his kippa on stage. 

Note: That a Jew plays bluegrass is not especially remarkable; but that a Shomer-Shabbos Jew plays bluegrass is. As far as Abq Jew can tell, there are only two (see below) in the business.

Did you miss Third Coast Bluegrass's concert last week? Well, you can listen here! Abq Jew was hoping for some Jewgrass, but was happy to 'settle' for an hour and more of really fine bluegrass.

But Abq Jew was able to find this fine recording of Jerry Wicentowski and the Wiseman Institute (Chad Manning - fiddle; Paul Knight - bass; Jody Stecher - mandolin/vocals; Jerry Wicentowski -guitar/vocals; and Keith Little - banjo/vocals) performing Jerry's interpretation of Shalom Aleichem at the 2019 Sonoma County Bluegrass & Folk Festival.

3. The Maayan Band

The Maayan Band is a group of friends from Toronto who share the sense that the ancient sources, writings of the Jewish sages, are the highest expression of the art of being human. They draw inspiration and musical force from those sources. 

Here is The Maayan Band's interpretation of Shalom Aleichem. Yes, it's Israel Goldfarb's 'traditional' melody - but the instrumentation and vocalization make this version especially beautiful.

4. The Statman / Grisman

Andy Statman also a) sings and plays bluegrass; and b) is an observant, Shomer-Shabbos Jew who proudly wears his kippa on stage. As far as Abq Jew can tell, Andy was the first in the business.

For more background, here is what Wikipedia says about Andy Statman:

Andy Statman (born 1950) is a noted American klezmer clarinetist and bluegrass/newgrass mandolinist.

Statman was born in New York City and grew up in the borough of Queens. Beginning at age 12, he learned to play banjo and guitar, following the example of his older brother Jimmy, and then switched to mandolin, which he studied briefly under lifelong-friend David Grisman.

He first gained acclaim as a mandolinist as a sideman with David Bromberg and Russ Barenberg, as well as in the pioneering bluegrass bands Country Cookin' and Breakfast Special.

During the course of exploring a wide range of roots and ethnic music, Statman turned to klezmer music, traditional Eastern European Jewish instrumental music. This led Statman, who grew up in a traditional but secular Jewish home, to reconnect with his Jewish roots.

Statman studied klezmer clarinet during the 1970s with legendary klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras, who bequeathed several of his clarinets to him. Statman also produced Dave Tarras's last recording. 

As a clarinetist, he recorded several albums that were highly influential in the Klezmer revival of those years. Still forging ahead musically, he began playing Chassidic melodies, fusing bluegrass, klezmer, and jazz along the way. 

Given his apprenticeship with Tarras and his subsequent master classes at workshops such as KlezKamp as well as privately, Statman became a renowned exponent of traditional Jewish and avant-garde clarinet styles. 

And then there's Wikipedia on David Grisman:

David Grisman (born March 23, 1945) is an American mandolinist. His music combines bluegrass, folk, and jazz in a genre he calls "Dawg music".

Grisman grew up in a Conservative Jewish household in Passaic, New Jersey. His father was a professional trombonist who gave him piano lessons when he was seven years old. As a teenager, he played piano, mandolin, and saxophone.

In the early 1960s, he attended New York University. He belonged to the Even Dozen Jug Band with Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian. He moved to San Francisco, met Jerry Garcia, and appeared on the Grateful Dead album American Beauty. He played in Garcia's bluegrass band Old & In the Way.

Garcia named him "Dawg" after a dog that was following him while they were driving in Stinson Beach, California. "Dawg Music" is what Grisman calls his mixture of bluegrass and Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli-influenced jazz.

Songs of Our Fathers

And finally, there's Wikipedia on their masterpiece album, Songs of Our Fathers:

Songs of Our Fathers is an album by American musicians David Grisman and Andy Statman, released in 1995. 
It's a collection of Jewish songs, many of which are more than 100 years old. Much of the music is influenced by the Jewish instrumental folk music of Eastern Europe known as Klezmer.
Jewgrass Charles Street
Andy Statman Trio and Jerry Wicentowski perform in January 2010 at NYC's Charles Street (Darech Amuno) Greenwich Village Synagogue (where Mr & Mrs Abq Jew used to daven)

Here is Andy Statman's and David Grisman's live interpretation of Shalom Aleichem. Yes, it's Israel Goldfarb's 'traditional' melody - but this is the sweetest rendition of Shalom Aleichem. Ever. This will have you crying in your kiddush cup.

If you haven't listened to Songs of Our Fathers recently - well, you really should. Here is the album's long version of Shalom Aleichem.

Saxophone Heaven

Buy me a Ko-fi!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Fare The Well, HaMaqom

Lehrhaus Judaica Closes Shop After 47 Years: It is with great sorrow that Abq Jew shares the news that HaMaqom | The Place, founded in 1974 as Lehrhaus Judaica by Abq Jew's dear friend and mentor Fred Rosenbaum, will be ending operations after its summer 2021 term. 

HaMaqom Lehrhaus

HaMaqom | The Place has deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. For 47 years, the institution has provided inclusive and accessible adult Jewish education to students from all backgrounds. Abq Jew finds it extraordinarily difficult to see this phenomenal venture come to an end.

Abq Jew will (Billy Nader) post more about Fred Rosenbaum, Lehrhaus Judaica, and what they have meant to him over the years. For now, Abq Jew pays tribute with Dink's Song: Fare Thee Well.

Here is one of the sweetest recordings Abq Jew has found. It's from Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Concert (The Clearwater Concert), held at Madison Square Garden on May 3, 2009.

Dink's Song (sometimes known as "Fare Thee Well") is an American folk song played by many folk revival musicians such as Pete Seeger, Fred Neil, Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Cisco Houston as well as more recent musicians like Jeff Buckley ... 
The first historical record of the song was by ethnomusicologist John Lomax in 1909, who recorded it as sung by an African American woman called Dink, as she washed her man's clothes in a tent camp of migratory levee-builders on the bank of the Greater Calhoun Bayou River, a few miles from Houston, Texas ....
Now What?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Oy! Not the Trolley Problem!

Look Out! Here We Come! As you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, surely recall (see A Petri Dishes the 12 Days) - Alexandra Petri (@petridishes on Twitter)  is one of Abq Jew's most favorite columnists. Nowadays she gets paid to write for The Washington Post

Recently, Ms Petri wrote about the Trolley Problem as it relates to Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). We'll get to that. But first - here's a beautiful photo of a San Francisco cable car. BTW - the iconic fleet of cable cars will be returning to service (אי״ה) this August. Mazeltov!

 San Francisco Cable Car

The cognoscenti among you will, of course, point out (no need! Abq Jew's got this!) that a cable car, which is drawn by an underground cable, is not a trolley, which is powered by an overhead wire. So here's a picture of a true trolley.

Wash Post Trolley

The last time Abq Jew blogged about trolleys (though not the Trolley Problem) was December 2011 (see the unforgettable Deck Us All).

Pogo Boston Charlie

With the equally unforgettable Pogo cartoon song which began with 

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Which immediately returns us to the question at hand:

What the heck is the Trolley Problem?

The Trolley Problem, as it is fondly known, is one of the central ethical questions of our (or, indeed, any) time. How (or if) one solves the Trolley Problem shows the world just what kind of person one truly is. 

Or two really are, if a couple chooses to solve the problem together. Abq Jew knows you've heard this one. Thus, Wikipedia -


There is a runaway trolley
barreling down the railway tracks. 

Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:

  1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.
  2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

Which is the more ethical option?
Or, more simply: What is the right thing to do?

For those who wish to see a more visual representation of the Trolley Problem:

The Trolley Problem

And for those who wish to see a more visual representation of the Trolley Problem, with narration by Harry Shearer:

But for those who only wish to see how Alexandra Petri connects the Trolley Problem to the Sen Joe Manchin / Filibuster Problem:

Alexandra Petri

Which Abq Jew now displays in its entirety, in complete violation of an entire plethora of US copyright laws, UN resolutions, and international conventions.

Joe Manchin attempts to solve the trolley problem

These trolley problems should be difficult! They are supposed to create ethical dilemmas that force you to weigh priorities. Can you really have finished them in under one minute? Let me see your answers, Joe.

1) An out-of-control trolley is barreling down a track. Strapped to that track, a few hundred feet down the line, is H.R. 1, a voting rights bill that would roll back various anti-democratic encroachments. That trolley will surely crush the bill! People gather by the tracks, pointing and gesticulating: “Someone rescue that bill! The only thing that will allow our representative government to continue is in that bill!” Just a few feet down the line, there is a switch that can divert the trolley onto another track, away from the bill. But! Lying strapped to that length of track is the filibuster. Do you pull the swi—



Well, the filibuster is on the other length of track.

2) An out-of-control trolley is barreling down a track toward a commission to investigate the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. There is a switch that can divert the trolley onto another track, away from the commission, but lying strapped to that length of track is the filibuster. The filibuster would not even be killed, but it might be modified by the experience of colliding with the trolley. Do you pull the switch?

No. The filibuster could be CHANGED, and I like it just the way it is!

3) A trolley is barreling down a track to which is strapped the entire Biden agenda. The filibuster is on its siding just sitting there, not even really strapped down, and it doesn’t look all that worried. Do you pull the switch?

Next question!

4) A trolley is barreling toward six people strapped to the tracks. However, there is a switch you can pull before the trolley reaches them. This will send the trolley onto a siding where one person is strapped to the track. Do you pull the switch?

I save the filibuster.

There was no filibuster in that last question! It was just a normal trolley problem!

5) A healthy man comes into a hospital where there are five patients who would die without his organs. You are a surgeon. Do you take the man’s organs, killing him, and thereby saving your five patients?

I take the organs and give them to the filibuster.

This one isn’t about the filibuster either! In your scenario, six people have just died and you have offered organs to a Senate procedural rule that does not want them!


6) A man and his son are in an accident and are taken to the hospital. When the doctor starts to operate on the boy, the doctor turns pale. “I can’t operate on this boy! He is my son!” Why did the doctor say this?

The boy is the filibuster. The doctor loves the filibuster very much and doesn’t want to hurt it even by mistake. 

7) The filibuster is strapped to a length of track, and an out-of-control trolley is barreling towar—

I pull the switch.

Do you want to know what the trolley will hit instead?


8) What may be our last chance to take meaningful action on climate change is strapped to a length of track, and a trolley is barreling rapidly toward it. The filibuster is strapped to a siding. Do you pull the switch?

I gather a bipartisan group of legislators to stop the trolley.

You have to pull the switch.

We will stop the trolley together in the best Senate tradition.

Okay, but that trolley sure is moving fast!

9) An increase to the minimum wage is lying on a length of track, and the filibuster is lying a little farther down the same length of track. Pulling the switch will send the trolley down an empty siding, away from both of them. 

Oh, this is impossible! 

And for those who wish to see an extremely graphic, bloody, true-to-life yet comical visual representation of the Trolley Problem, as demonstrated by those good people on The Good Place, of recently-departed blessed NBC memory. 


And for those -  yes, Abq Jew knows you're out there! - who are wondering 

What Does This Have To Do With Real Life?


An actual case approximating the trolley problem occurred on June 20, 2003, when a runaway string of 31 unmanned Union Pacific freight cars was barreling toward Los Angeles along the mainline track 1. 

To avoid the runaway train from entering the Union Pacific yards in Los Angeles, where it would not only cause damage, but was also where a Metrolink passenger train was thought to be located, dispatchers ordered the shunting of the runaway cars to track 4, through an area with lower-density housing of mostly lower-income residents. 

The switch to track 4 was rated for 15-mph transits, and dispatch knew the cars were moving significantly faster, thus likely causing a derailment.

The train, carrying over 3800 tons of mostly lumber and building materials, then derailed into the residential neighborhood in Commerce, California, crashing through several houses on Davie Street. 

The event resulted in 13 minor injuries, including a pregnant woman asleep in one of the houses who managed to escape through a window and avoided serious injury from the lumber and steel train wheels that fell around her.

 Which reminds Abq Jew of one of his favorite sayings:

Problem Check

Which reminds Abq Jew of another one of his favorite sayings:

Troubles Marketplace

If we all brought our troubles to the marketplace,
hoping to exchange them for the troubles of others -

We'd all go home with our own troubles.

Good Shabbos

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

Monday, June 14, 2021

Da Doo Ron Ron Ron

Yes, That Wall Of Sound: It's Monday afternoon. and it's getting hot out there. 

Abq Jew is planning (Billy Nader) to do a few blog posts about some of the new Jewish music that's just coming out. But first! - Let's bring back a Golden Oldie which is one of the best examples of Jewish music ... available on YouTube.

Best of Blog
from June 2012

Wall Of Sound: It's Monday afternoon. and it's getting hot out there. 

This morning Abq Jew dropped off his son, Dov Yellin the Film Editor, at the ABQ International (one flight a day to Mexico) Sunport, after a wonderful but too-short visit (sort of like the wonderful but too-short visit of Abq Jew's daughter, BU Girl, a couple weeks ago).

So - on his way home from the Sunport, Abq Jew started thinking about how hard it is for folks to learn Hebrew. How, at first, everything seems like nonsense syllables.

And then Abq Jew heard this song on Sirius XM.  Or maybe he heard the song first, and then started thinking about the learning Hebrew problem.

Or maybe Abq Jew didn't even think of the learning Hebrew problem until he thought he needed some Jewish connection to post Da Doo Ron Ron on this blog.

Da Do Ron Ron, Wikipedia tells us, is
a 1963 hit single by The Crystals, produced by Phil Spector in his Wall of Sound style. The song was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Spector. The drummer was Hal Blaine.

That's gold. That's solid gold coming out of that speaker.
    — Spector to Sonny Bono, after listening to the final playback
On May 11, 1963, it reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100. It also reached number five in the UK.
When things slow down this afternoon, as the temperature rises, Abq Jew strongly encourages you to listen to this. As one YouTube commenter commented:
Wow - like electricity running up and down my spine. You just cannot hear this without your pulse going up to about 160 and your body can't help but move.

Songfacts provides some, uh, additional facts about Da Doo Ron Ron, including:
  • Phil Spector produced this song. He originally had singer Darlene Love record it at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles. After singing lead on the Crystals' previous hits "He's A Rebel" and "He's Sure the Boy I Love" with her group The Blossoms, Darlene Love was still working as a session singer and being paid scale. After singing on "Da Doo Ron Ron," she asked for an artist's contract, and Spector responded by erasing her vocals and flying in Crystals lead singer Dolores "La La" Brooks to replace the lead vocal. The backup vocals were provided by The Blossoms (including Darlene Love), and another one of Spector's favorite backing singers: Cher.
  • Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich wrote this song. The refrain of "da doo ron ron" came from nonsense syllables they stuck in as space filler, but Spector was fine with it. By this time, Spector had a lot of influence and insisted on a songwriting credit along with the writers he worked with, so he is listed as a composer of this song.
  • Although it has not been confirmed, legend has it that Sonny Bono was one of the many vocalists who sang backup for this song. Bono was a record producer at the time and knew Phil Spector.
  • With a massive drum sound, this was Phil Spector's biggest production to date, and it is generally regarded as the true beginning of the now famous Wall Of Sound recording technique. 
More interesting facts and Jewish connections:
  • Jew or Not Jew reports that, sadly, Phil Spector [was] a Jew. Wikipedia reminds us that "In 2009 Spector was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra, California home. He [was] serving a prison sentence of 19 years to life." Spector died on January 16, 2021.
  • Hal Blaine (born Harold Simon Belsky) is Jewish. Dawgnet reports the he was born "to Jewish immigrant parents .... "
  • Jeff Barry (born Joel Adelberg) is also Jewish (he and Ellie Greenwich were briefly married). His web site says: "Born to a working-class Jewish family, Jeff grew up in New York and New Jersey .... "
  • Ellie Greenwich was Jewish. Wikipedia reports that "Greenwich ... was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Catholic father and a Jewish mother, who both were of Russian ancestry. At age ten, she moved with her parents and younger sister to Levittown, New York."
Enjoy! Da Doo Ron Ron is Jewish music!
And it's a great tune for Adon Olam ....

Third Coast Bluegrass

Jerry Wicentowski & Third Coast Bluegrass
Wednesday June 16 @ 6:00 pm NM Time
Tune in here!

Did you miss May's Klezmarachi show?
Watch excerpts here!

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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

More Chickens

The Saga Continues: And yet, the subject of chickens is not exhausted. Continuing last week's tasteful poultry pulke theme, Abq Jew proudly (well, shamelessly) provides even more chicken stories. And chicken music.

Chicken Show 2

1. Under the Chicken Tree

Barnyard Dance

Let's begin with Maria Muldaur's 2010 Music for Little People album, Barnyard Dance - Jug Band Music for Kids

First of all - as the founding member and chief banjo player and vocalist for the Motherhood and Apple Pie Skiffle Band (we were big in the Santa Clara Valley in 1968), Abq Jew loudly and vociferously approves the use of jug band music for virtually any age group.

And then - as Jeff Tamarkin explains in his AllMusic Review

Jug band music is, by its very nature, a "happy, snappy, lighthearted, humorous, goofy, wacky, high-spirited" sound, which certainly would appeal to any child. 

Why this now-marginalized genre - born in the '20s and popularized in the '60s via acts such as the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and the Even Dozen Jug Band (of which Muldaur was a member) - was never marketed with kids in mind is a good question, but Muldaur hits the perfect note with this collection. 

As for the song Under the Chicken Tree (words by Irving Jones; music by Kerry Mills; ©1908; as recorded by Earl McDonald Louisville Jug Band, Columbia 14206D, 3/30/27) - Abq Jew learned it a few years ago from Albuquerque's own

Banjo Judy

Banjo Judy Muldawer. Who performs Tin Pan Alley and jug band music and all sorts of stuff with her husband of 55 years, Michael. Mazeltov! PLUGThe Muldawers are the recipients of the 2015 Southwest Pickers Entertainment Duo Award. They perform for private parties, as well as public venues.  

Anyway - here is Maria Muldaur's version.

2. There Are Chickens in the Trees

So hey - we're talking about kids and chickens in trees. So Abq Jew felt he should throw in this Sesame Street favorite.

Wait a minute! Sesame Street! What about ... ??? In case you were wondering, here is why (thanks, Wikipedia!) Abq Jew is not talking about Big Bird:

Big Bird
Big Bird is not a chicken.
The book “G” is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street cites a producer of Sesame Street who refers to Big Bird as a canary.
In an episode of Sesame Street, Big Bird was asked if he was related to the cassowary; he replied, "I'm more of a condor." 
On the January 23, 1976 episode of Hollywood Squares, Big Bird was asked what kind of bird he is and said he was a lark, causing host Peter Marshall to crack up.
In the film Don't Eat the Pictures, Osiris calls Big Bird an ibis. Big Bird appeared in a series 11 episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, in which he declares he is a "golden condor". 
Zoologist Mike Dickison suggested in his popular Pechakucha talk that Big Bird represents a unique species that evolved from the whooping crane.
Big Bird is always described as being flightless. For years, Oscar the Grouch has been calling Big Bird a turkey, more as an insult rather than a reference to his species.
3. Ghost Chickens in the Sky

As Abq Jew wrote (see Ghost Chickens With Borscht) in December 2012: "(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. 

Ghost Riders

And yes - it's another great tune for Adon Olam!

No, the original "Ghost Riders" song is not about chickens. But hold on - we'll get there! 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.

One of the best videos of "Ghost Riders" that Abq Jew or just about anyone else has seen is this instrumental version, featuring Neil LeVang, guitarist for the Lawrence Welk Show from 1959 until the last show in 1982.

Yes, The Lawrence Welk Show.

But what you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, must note (you must! you must!) in this video is the overwhelming exuberance of the band's percussion session.

And of the exuberant percussionists, the most happy fellow of all is the mustachioed gent on the maracas - Aladdin Pallante (Aladdin Abdullah Achmed Anthony Pallante (1912 - 1970). Who is clearly living his best life. 

Whatever he's had - we should all have some.

But let's get back to our chickens! Aside from the 'straight' performances and / or recordings of "Ghost Riders" - about a zillion parodies of the song have been performed and / or recorded.

One of the best (Abq Jew's viewpoint) is performed here by Leroy Troy on The Marty Stuart Show: "Ghost Chickens In The Sky". 

Now, everyone knows that chickens and banjos are Jewish (see Abq Jew's 2011 The Importance of Banjo). So, even though Leroy Troy probably isn't (and Abq Jew isn't sure about Marty Stuart) - that was a Jewish song!

4. The Chicken Dance

Which brings us, finally, to what may (or, then again, may not) be the final chapter in Abq Jew's Chicken Saga: 

The Chicken Dance
The Chicken Dance

Thanks again to Wikipedia, who has gone around the Web to collect very similar versions of The History of The Chicken Dance. Officially:
The "Chicken Dance", also known as the "Bird Song," the "Birdie Song," the "Bird Dance," or the "Chicken Song," is an oom-pah song; its associated fad dance is now a contemporary dance throughout the Western world. The song was composed by accordion player Werner Thomas from Davos, Switzerland, in the 1950s.
Unofficially: The original name of the song was "The Duck Dance," and was rumored to be a drinking song sung at Oktoberfest. Over the years, the song went through some things. So how, Abq Jew hears you ask, did ducks turn into chickens?
The dance was reintroduced in the United States in 1981 during the Tulsa, Oklahoma Oktoberfest. The members wanted to demonstrate their love through dance in costumes, but there were no duck costumes available anywhere near Tulsa. 
At a local television station, however, a chicken costume was available, which was donated for use at the festival, giving the "Chicken Dance" its name.
And then what happened?
In 1981, Henry Hadaway produced a version of the "Chicken Dance", which was released in the United Kingdom as an instrumental novelty tune The Birdie Song by The Tweets. It reached number two in the singles chart in October 1981, making it the most popular version.
In 2000, this version was voted "the most annoying song of all time" in a poll commissioned for the website dotmusic.
Also of note, at least for hockey fans:
During the 2015–16 seasonNHL club Philadelphia Flyers had the chicken dance played over the PA system at the Wells Fargo Center every time the Flyers scored 4 goals in that game. 
The Flyers had a partnership with Chick-Fil-A where customers could get free breakfast sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A the day after every game where the Flyers score 4 goals or more.
Chicken Soup with Kreplach

This concludes (for now) Abq Jew's Chicken Saga.

Coping Dog

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Chickens of All Types

Will Success Spoil? Way back in July 2016 (see Get Your Goat On!), Mr & Mrs Abq Jew had seen too many baby goat videos on YouTube to really feel good about killing (or having others kill) large, sentient animals. Or small, cute ones.

A Chicken

So, we decided to become pulketarian - that is, to consume as food only the parts of small, winged, domestic animals that had pulkes. Which is to say - drumsticks (for turkeys and large fowl); or legs (for chickens and small fowl?).

Chickens, especially, were simply not cute. Thus, Mr $ Mrs Abq Jew still were able to act as if chickens fall naturally Under the Chicken Tree, just as all kosher meat comes directly from Heaven in cellophane-wrapped packages.

This experiment was short-lived, perhaps due to (or perhaps despite) the age-old, historical - nay, historic - relationship between Jews and chickens.

When a Jew eats a chicken, one of them is sick.

But that was the old days, when Jews were perceived to be (largely) poor. In the Old Country. Not like here in America, when we can all afford kosher, catered meals - for weddings, brat mitzvahs, or other simchas. Or funerals. Or just for everyday.

Eventually Relevant Note:

Abq Jew recently saw a Facebook post:
We're using ABC Caterers for our wedding!

Abq Jew, alas, misread that statement as
We're using ABC Catheters for our wedding!

Confusion ensued until Abq Jew cleaned his glasses.

A Mighty Wind

Let us pause here for just one moment to remember, with great fondness and overwhelming affection, the 2003 film A Mighty Wind. In case you missed it - how could you? - Wikipedia tells us:

A Mighty Wind is a 2003 American mockumentary comedy film about a folk music reunion concert in which three folk bands reunite for a television performance for the first time in decades. The film was co-written (with Eugene Levy), directed, and composed by Christopher Guest.

The film is widely acknowledged to reference folk music producer Harold Leventhal as the inspiration for the character of Irving Steinbloom. More broadly, the film parodies the American folk music revival of the early 1960s and its personalities. 

Best in Show

And let us pause here for just one more moment to remember, with great fondness and overwhelming affection, the 2000 film Best in Show. In case you missed it - how could you? - Wikipedia tells us:

Best in Show is a 2000 American mockumentary comedy film, a spoof on American dog shows, co-written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy and directed by Guest. 

The film follows five entrants in a prestigious dog show, and focuses on the slightly surreal interactions among the various owners and handlers, as they travel to the show and then compete during the show. Much of the dialogue was improvised. 

Chicken People

But let us now return to the blog topic of which we were, with great fondness and overwhelming affection, speaking: chickens. As it turns out - yes, there is a film out there - 2016's Chicken People - about show chickens. In case you missed it - how could you? - Wikipedia tells us:

Chicken People is a 2016 documentary film about people who breed and raise chickens for exhibition. It is focused primarily on three subjects who compete in the Ohio National Poultry Show in Columbus, Ohio. A number of reviewers compared it to the mockumentary Best in Show.

CDC Logo

About that great fondness and overwhelming affection. It may (or, then again, may not) have come to your attention that the CDC, our very own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, upon whom we have relied for clear, actionable Covid-19 public health information, have issued a WARNING against ... chicken canoodling. Salmonella, wouldn't you know.

Be Careful Out There! Or Wherever ...

Stop Antisemitism

When it comes to embracing and caressing - these days - the first thing that comes to Abq Jew's mind is the recent rise in antisemitism. Across the political spectrum. Across the globe. Yes, even in the US.

Rutgers Flag

Fortunately (WARNING: SATIRE), Rutgers University was brave enough to stand against Jew-hatred. For a few hours. Before they chickened out. As Ben Sales reported (via JTA) in The Times of Israel
Rutgers University condemns antisemitism, then apologizes for doing so 
Following backlash from New Jersey school’s Students for Justice in Palestine, chancellor says he’s sorry for original statement and promises to be ‘more sensitive and balanced’

JTA — The chancellor of New Jersey’s flagship public university condemned antisemitism and then, following protest from a pro-Palestinian student group, apologized for the condemnation.

On Wednesday, the chancellor of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Christopher J. Molloy, released a statement condemning antisemitism, which spiked across the country during and after the recent fighting in Israel and Gaza. 

The statement also condemned “all forms of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, xenophobia, and oppression, in whatever ways they may be expressed” and told students who have been affected by antisemitism or discrimination to contact the university administration.

“We are saddened by and greatly concerned about the sharp rise in hostile sentiments and anti-Semitic violence in the United States,” said the statement, which was also signed by Provost Francine Conway. “Recent incidents of hate directed toward Jewish members of our community again remind us of what history has to teach us.” 

Sounds good! Sounds powerful! Sounds strong! So what happened?

The next day, the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine group released a lengthy statement condemning the chancellor’s statement.

Later that day, Molloy and Conway released a second statement apologizing for the first, and promising to “make sure that our communications going forward are much more sensitive and balanced.”

“In hindsight, it is clear to us that the message failed to communicate support for our Palestinian community members,” the apology said. “We sincerely apologize for the hurt that this message has caused.

Sounds bad! Sounds apologetic! Sounds weak! So what happened?

The apology did not satisfy SJP, though, which released a followup statement of its own. SJP said the chancellor’s initial condemnation of antisemitism “was unwarranted due to the absence of any publicly reported antisemitic incidents in the Rutgers New Brunswick community that had not already been addressed by the administration.”

The second SJP statement also said that it demanded a condemnation of Israel’s actions, not of Islamophobia.

Abq Jew would like to point out here that - in the World of Chickens - there are game chickens; there are show chickens; and, of course there are 

Game of Chicken
Chickens Who Play the Game of Chicken

in which everyone wins and everyone loses.
Congratulations, Rutgers! Congratulations, SJP!

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

And let us pause here for just one last moment to remember, with some fondness and meh affection, the 1957 film Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? In case you missed it - as well you could have - Wikipedia tells us:

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? is a 1957 American satirical comedy film starring Jayne Mansfield and Tony Randall ... The film is a satire on popular fan culture, Hollywood hype, and the advertising industry, which was making millions of dollars off the growing revenue from television ads. It also takes aim at television and the reduction it caused to the size of movie theater audiences in the 1950s.

Prize Rose

Mr & Mrs Abq Jew were watching Will Success Spoil? on TCM a few nights ago - neither of us had ever seen it. One of the characters (Tony Randall's former boss, now retired) exclaimed that he had never wanted to be a success in business - all he had wanted was to achieve true happiness by cultivating prize roses.

To which Abq Jew responded (remember, Abq Jew had not seen the film before):

Chicken Show

Or he could raise show chickens!

Tony Randall (the new boss) then responded: "All I ever wanted was to raise show chickens!" Mrs Abq Jew was impressed.

All of which goes to show (ahem) exactly how what remains, after all these years of under- and misuse, of Abq Jew's mind works. When it works at all.

Air Guitar