Monday, April 1, 2024

A Great White Horse

Athansor: This winter (and even now, during New Mexico's windy days of spring) Abq Jew has been rereading Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin's big, BIG "magic realism" novel of 1983.


In which Athansor, a great white horse - the stuff of legends - gallops with Peter Lake through an imaginary New York, leaping impossible distances and effecting impossible escapes. It's a great story, and Mark Helprin's beautifully descriptive writing is such a pleasure to read. 

Andrews Sisters

For reasons that Abq Jew cannot even begin to explain, thinking about Winter's Tale started him to thinking about The Andrew Sisters, who had their first major hit with "Bei Mir Bistu Shein" - the world's "best-known and longest-reigning Yiddish theater song of all time" - in 1937.

Abq Jew can't remember anything anymore - he is ashamed to admit that he had to look up The Andrews Sisters to jog his memory on which one was Maxene, which one was Patty, and which one was LaVerne. 

So - for those of us who also can't recall the particulars of American Yiddish theater (Mr & Mrs Abq Jew once lived a stone's throw from Second Avenue, when the 2ND AVE DELI was on Second Avenue), Wikipedia reminds us:

"Bei Mir Bistu Shein" (Yiddish: בײַ מיר ביסטו שיין, "To Me You're Beautiful") is a popular Yiddish song written by lyricist Jacob Jacobs and composer Sholom Secunda for a 1932 Yiddish language comedy musical, I Would If I Could (in Yiddish, Men Ken Lebn Nor Men Lost Nisht, "You could live, but they don't let you"), which closed after one season at the Parkway Theatre in Brooklyn, New York City. 

Five years after its 1932 composition, English lyrics were written for the tune by Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin, and the English version of the song became a worldwide hit when recorded by The Andrews Sisters in November 1937.

Paddington Bear Station

Since 1937, everyone and his brother and sister and assorted other relatives has recorded his or her or their own versions of "Bei Mir Bistu Shein" - from The Barry Sisters to Bette Midler & Paul Simon to The Hot Sardines to Zoe & Cloyd.

And then there's The Bear Missed The Train, written and performed by the Smith Street Society Jazz Band sometime around 1964. 

Abq Jew recalls that Al "Jazzbo" Collins used it as the theme on his late night jazz show in San Francisco - which Abq Jew and his father, Richard W Yellin  z"l, listened to on their way home from Giants games at Candlestick Park.

Aliens in America Gothic

Speaking of Aliens in America (which Abq Jew acknowledges we were not), Abq Jew would like to take this opportunity to remind all of us that there are three (3) places in the United States of America where nearly everyone agrees aliens have landed.

Abq Jew
refers to (of course):

Ellis Island

Ellis Island, New York

Grover's Mill

Grover's Mill, New Jersey


Roswell, New Mexico

Abq Jew has visited Ellis Island many times - he is, after all (actually before all), a New Yorker. And the grandson of immigrants.

Intel Logo

And once upon a time, when Abq Jew was working on the Digital Video Interactive (DVI) project at Intel's PRO Princeton Operation (located in Plainsboro, but Princeton has more yichus), the team had a picnic lunch near the War of the Worlds historical marker down the road.

Abq Jew has visited New Mexico since 2001, owned a home here since 2008, lived here since 2010, and pleads nolo contendere to the charge that he has not yet made the opportunity to visit Roswell, right in his own backyard.

Which brings us to the Great Swiss Spaghetti Harvest of 1957, which Abq Jew remembers quite clearly. A mild winter and the virtual disappearance of pests like the spaghetti weevil had resulted in a bumper spaghetti crop in - of all places - Switzerland, otherwise known for its seafood.

I love Purim

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