Saturday, February 25, 2012

Purple People

This video comes from my friend Pesach, who was recently hired as a Spirit Guide for Spiritual Judaism.  Forget any pretense you might have about what that might mean or look like to you, and just look beyond the barriers because I think this is good stuff.

Two people in my life who I have felt close to both love the color purple.  That would be my friend Mik the Fish and Purple Girl.  I hope they watch this video and like it as much as me.

I love that comparison of am segulah, a whole nation, as a Purple nation, since the Hebrew word for purple is segol.  Pesach is a wise, wise man and I am glad to know him even a little bit.

I also love that my real brother-in-law's name (in Hebrew) is Pesach.

So, what is your take?
Do you think Adam Purple, ultimate squatter gardener, would be into Pesach's message?  I have no idea if he is Jewish, but I don't think that matters.  I think he would like Pesach's vibe and message..

Friday, February 24, 2012

Don't Worry Be Happy

Today is the Rosh Hodesh (New Moon) and the start of the Jewish month of Adar.  Purim is around the corner, which means it's time to get happy!  Easier said than done.  I plan to do that with getting myself to the Nars counter at Saks this morning where they have a special event, makeup artists, blah blah blah.

My friend and teacher Sara Esther Crispe has some good ideas, too.  Probably better ideas than mine.   Sara Esther is an wonderful speaker and very easy to listen to (for someone like me, at least).  She offers up a great lecture on finding the good and finding the joy.

I can't embed the video, but click here, it is worth it.

In the meantime, I will listen to the classic Bobby McFerrin tune.

Boy, I forgot how much I love Bill Irwin and Robin Williams in that video.

Do little kids realize that Mr. Noodle is a comic genius?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grandpa Norman, Minnie the Moocher and Sabrina

Everyone could use a Grandpa Norman.  No, he wasn't my grandpa, but he was to my friend Aryeh.  Grandpa Norman would have been 100 today and sounds like he was a lovely man.  According to Aryeh, Grandpa Norman was "a lifelong Chicagoan and South Sider and proud Jew who understood, better than anyone I have ever known, the nobility and dignity of honest work."

Call me culturally ignorant, but I never watched the Blues Brothers from start to finish.  Growing up, that was more my brother's department.  Later, I learned that my husband Stango did his own time on stage with his boyhood friend, nicknamed "Famous", as their own Belushi-Akroyd impersonators.  His family's 1977 yellow Volvo station was nicknamed "The Bluesmobile."  I owned the cassette tape, though, and listened to it frequently.

Which is why Grandpa Norman's favorite song by "Minnie the Moocher" Cab Calloway resonated with me.  I know that Calloway is an American icon, and yet I feel quite the uneducated soul to not know too much about him.  Especially since I purport to love music.  It is one of those things my mom would be surprised at, like, "Wow, Rachel, I am surprised that you didn't know that."

So, now I know that Cab Calloway was a huge jazz musician.  

Anyway, here is Cab, Old School:

Here is Cab in 1980

And, back to 1933, Calloway's popular tune "Reefer Man" which appeared in the film International House.
Check out the wonderful tap dancing which I feel personally connected to since I took tap for many years.  Love the beautiful clarinets and the white tails outfits of the band.  It's all too much!  (Note:  this is just another tune by Calloway which I happen to think is quite the entertaining bit, not particularly a Grandpa Norman pick, lest you get the wrong idea about Aryeh's grandpa)

I think I would have liked Grandpa Norman.  He also loved this tune...

...Sabrina should be required viewing for every breathing soul.  Hollywood doesn't get much better than Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.

If you have gotten this far, I should let you know that my daughter, Concealed Light, has entered the room and told me to stop playing the music.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

High Priestess of Soul Singing Land of Milk-n-Honey

Just finished a frozen medjool date as a late-night snack.  So it is appropriate to post this one:

Thank you to my sister's husband's brother-in-law's mother-in-law (by easy logic you should have quickly shortened that confusing connection to this woman is also my sister's mother-in-law) for sharing this. The woman who shared this did go to Woodstock, after all, so it's gotta be good!

 And here is the article in Jewcy from a few years ago that explains it all.

Nina Simone passed away nearly 9 years ago and was known as the "high priestess of soul."

In case you didn't catch the connection with the intro to this blog post about medjool dates, the translation for "Eretz zavat halav u'dvash" is Land of milk and honey.  But the honey isn't bee honey but the honey that comes from the date tree.

Jonathan Adler Isn't Miesian. And That's Okay

The simple excuse for not getting myself until last weekend to the Jonathan Adler store in Old City is that I am new to town.  Just ignore that I moved here more than six months ago.

You would think someone like me who loves Bauhaus minimalism, midcentury design and pines for a Barcelona Chair wouldn't be into all of Jonathan's colors.  Oh no!  I am!  I am!  I am!

Everything that I have read about Jonathan's great style is true from the looks of this fabulous shop.  Jonathan is a design sweetheart.  Sure, he speaks to the current zeitgeist of reclaiming trendy stuff from the 70s (like needlepoint pillows), but I know he will continue to wow the design world when tastes change.  Stango, who is my husband and sometimes a pessimist, said it is all too obvious and wasn't as impressed as me.

Like, when I showed him this awesome wall from the back of the shop, he wasn't too psyched:

I love that quotation!
You know what, Stango?  Take two happy chic pills and get back to me in the morning.

I loved the wallpaper in the junior section downstairs which caters to the younger set.   It reminded me of the wallpaper from my own 1970s room as a baby, but after texting her the image of it from the store, my mom disagreed.  Hopefully I will upload a photo of it here one day and you will see where I was going with that.  At least nice women in the shop gave me a sample.  What was I gonna do with the sample?

With glue and a blank book, in an instant I made a cute notebook.   Yay for utilitarianism!

Finally, at the entrance of the shop, they were selling Simon Doonan's book.  In case you didn't get the memo, Jonathan and Simon are married.  Simon is also a design guy.  He is a big guy at Barney's.  Haven't I already told you somewhere on my blog that I love W Magazine and that's where I get a lot of good info?  But remember to read the articles more than study the fashion.  Don't focus too much on the photos, other than for art's sake.  I'm not joking, BTW.  There's a lot of narishkeit (nonsense) there.

if you go to his website you can buy it there!

I guess if it is your own store, you can sell your husband's stuff up front and center.

A Letter to Deborah Feldman

Dear Deborah,

We have a lot more in common than you might initially think.  We are both moms, Jewish and wear funky glasses.  I often drove past the campus of Sarah Lawrence College when I lived in Da Bronx, which was just a stone's throw from your school.  I don't watch much television, so I am grateful to my mother for pointing out your appearance last week on "The View" where you promoted your book Unorthodox:  The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots.  Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I sometimes describe myself as "Ultra Unorthodox" since I have difficulty in labeling my Jewish practice.  I hope to read your book soon.

 First, I commend you on your journey.  I can not fathom the strength you garnered to separate from your upbringing.  Kol hakavod (kudos) and a hearty yasherkoach (your strength should continue) on your accomplishments, as they surely are filled with overcoming tremendous obstacles.  I am fascinated with the "Ex-O" (Ex-Orthodox Jewish) community, and loved attending Chulent gatherings on Thursday nights with my husband, Stango, when I lived in New York City.  We met great people there.

Second, your poise and presence is so impressive.  Knowing a bit about Hasidic life, I would never have pegged you as from Villiamsburg (Williamsburg).  You seem like you could be a college friend who lived in The Towers in Madison (a private dorm where a lot of East Coast Jewish kids live...lest they intermingle with the cheeseheads, or local Wisconsin residents).  Or, you could have been that camp friend who met me in the city for frozen yogurt at 40 Carrots in Bloomies' basement before this ridiculous Pinkberry-inspired froyo craze (alas, if they only made it cholov yisroel, J&J would be doing the community a service!  Who knows...maybe there is something I don't know?).

In other words, you seem smart, contemporary, and with-it.  Your interactions with Barbara Walters were nothing but professional and polished.

You mentioned that you have a lot of cultural catching-up to do.  Feel free to check out my blog for a lot of really good cultural references!  I'm no Jon Stewart, but a lot of friends like what I have to say.

Finally, as a fellow shvester (sister), I hope that you maintain a connection to your Yiddishkeit (Judaism).  I would say the same thing to my real sister, Reba, despite the pain that I knew or didn't know about.  Of course, it is all easier said than done, as the saying goes.  I don't know how much contact you have with people like me, but I offer an invitation to you and your son to spend Shabbes mit mein ganse mishpucha (Shabbat with my whole phamily) here in Philly.

A zei g'zunt (Take care),


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chai Lifeline Makes Dreams Reality For Children with Illness

This beautiful performance from a few days ago of Luke Weber, a boy who has been battling cancer for several years, and Matisyahu is not to be missed


From the YouTube comments below this video, it seems that Chai Lifeline made this performance happen.  Kol HaKavod (kudos) to this wonderful organization whose mission is to" restore the light of childhood to children whose innocence ended when life-threatening or lifelong illness was diagnosed."

It seems as though these days I keep hearing stories of young children afflicted with serious illness.  More so than ever.  Just the other day I learned of a friend's  1 1/2 year old nephew who was diagnosed with a cancer that is surrounding his spinal chord.

I'm not sure what is happening, but I pray for a complete and speedy recovery for Luke Weber.  And offer a great thanks to Chai Lifeline for all of its efforts to bring happiness back into the lives of countless sweet children.

To life.

Ghetto Love To You, Daniel Son

Leave it to spin class to make me feel old.  I am not talking about knee pain, muscle soreness or not being able to keep up with the peppy 20-something instructors.  As I frequently mention, spin class keeps me in check with new music.  Even if it isn't exactly my speed, it gives me a sense of being down with popular culture.  I am not the hippest of mamas, but I know more music than the average Whole Foods shopper.   So when Karl Wolf's "Ghetto Love," which samples Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love," played on the speakers at this morning's class, I was instantly reminded that my memory is going everywhere but up.


As long as you didn't live on some hippy commune or in Satmar Williamsburg, if you came of age in the United States during the 80s, you most likely recognize the familiar refrain "I am the man who will fight for your honor, I'll be the hero that you're dreaming of."  It was in a really popular movie that I saw a lot.  The problem was that I could not recall which one.  Or who sang it.  And I knew that I saw this movie many, many times over.  I kept knocking on my brain and no one answered.  I was sure that I slow-danced to this tune with my first boyfriend at a BBYO Beau-Sweetheart Dance.  I most likely cried many tears to it while listening on a Maxell II-S mix tape entitled "Rachel's Love Songs."  And yet, I.Could.Not.Remember.  Oy, I thought to myself, now I am really turning into my mother.

The thing that really got my goat was that none of the other women in spin class could place it either.  But for a different reason.  Not because their brains have been fried from working, cooking, cleaning, homework-checking, schedule-managing, and all the other stuff that comes along with parenting.  These women were obviously younger than me, and I realized that their lack of recognition was likely because they were still in diapers at the time of the debut of "Glory of Love."

As we were all toweling off at the end of class, one woman Shazamed it and reported that the original song was by the band Chicago.  Ah, this made sense to me.  It did, after all, SOUND like Chicago.  Thank God for Wikipedia to inform me later on that Peter Cetera released this song as a solo shortly after he left Chicago.

To the rescue came a guy who was spinning in the front row and whom I will call Daniel.  He was clearly closer to my generation than the young women I previously asked:

"Karate Kid, all the way," Daniel said.  Phew!  What relief!

But he didn't get it fully on-target.

Daniel Son, it was Karate Kid II.  Time for us Gen Xers to get a brain check.