Thursday, January 30, 2014

Richard Kaye Remembers Bob Tashman at the New York Review of Books

A nice memoir of our late friend by one of his co-workers at NYRB:
The other aesthete—unkempt, straight, Jewish-guy division—was Bob Tashman, as nervously fast-talking as David was mellifluously smooth-talking, an assistant editor for many years at the Review. For some time Bob and I did not get along. It was an office joke, of sorts, our everyday friction and bitchy bickering, and thinking about this now I am not sure why. But then, suddenly, we did get along, a development that may have had something to do with Bob’s basic sweet nature and perhaps my telling our mutual friend Arthur Goldwag at the Reader’s Subscription that I thought Bob was one of the smartest people I had ever met. Heck, he was the smartest man in the office, in the entire Fisk Building. It got back to Bob, as I wanted it to. Usually dressed in a bland preppy blue shirt and jeans, hair sprouting from everywhere, Bob would careen from office to office at the Review and do fiendishly accurate impressions of people, myself included. (Something about me saying “Iknow!” into the phone when I was talking to a friend.) 
Very tough-minded intellectually and yet hilarious in a way that would have served him well in vaudeville, Bob had all sorts of complex, fancy tastes in literature and plays and music and art and he could get quite emotional about some of those opinions. He loved to pick little fights about cultural matters. Wasn’t Orson Welles’s Chimes at Midnight absolutely the best film adaptation of Shakespeare ever made? Wasn’t James Joyce’s story “The Dead” the “greatest piece of fiction in the language”? He would become almost physically taunting about—or alternately physically gratified by—your tastes in books or music, depending on whether your judgments fit his own finely honed refinements. He would rant, cajole, become irritated. Bob was one of those brilliant people who almost always drop out of Ph.D. programs in which they are uneasily enrolled, as I would later understand, because their brilliance invariably is too ornery and unsystematic. Seldom would he yield to another person’s argument or a “school of thought.” Somehow Bob always brought to mind T.S. Eliot’s comment about Henry James having a “mind so fine no idea could violate it.” (Bob passed away from cancer several years ago.)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Eliyho Matz's New Year's Blessings for 2014...

Blessing, Blessings for 2014
A Compilation, by Eliyho Matz

For the past 35 years, I have been working in Manhattan in the Stationery business (i.e., pens and pencils), and it has been my daily habit to read The New York Times.  I cannot testify to my mental condition after analyzing the many complexities and ideas found in this newspaper.  

Following are some interesting pieces I have accumulated over these thirty-five years as a result of my work and my daily meditations on life and the Times.

An Ode to “Best” Pencils

 O’, God, give me Black Wings, to fly among the Mongols, to see the Ticonderoga river, and the Velvet birds in the Valley of Lead, where the Best pencils are made.

Of Blintzes, Lox And Poetic Expression

            “The muses on the Lower East Side must have been hungry to inspire such an ode. 
            It is taped to a milk machine at the B&H Dairy Restaurant at 127 Second Avenue, between Seventh and Eighth Streets.  The manager, Raul Morales, promises to keep it there ‘for quite a while.’
            Two patrons, Jonathan Robbins and Peter Lamborn Wilson, handed the poem to Mr. Morales one day after lunch.

Blessings on your counter tops,
Bruchas on your pans and pots,
B&H, the Dairy princes,
Lords of sour cream and blintzes!
Young and fresh or old and gnarly,
All must slurp your mushroom barley;
Even wealthy uptown fogeys
Grab a cab for your pirogies!
If we had a dozen wishes
Never could we wish a dish as
Good as your gefilte fish is!
Though your premises be narrow
You have stuffed us to the marrow;
Still, we cannot leave your table
Till we wheedle or finagle
One more lox or one more bagel!

                                                Susan Heller Anderson
                                                David W. Dunlap
                                                The NY Times: April 8, 1985


“One of the most celebrated haiku by the poet Basho, Japan’s Wordsworth and Shakespeare rolled into one, is: ‘furu ike ya/kawazu tobikomu/mizu no oto.’  Translated: “’old pond/frogs jumped in/sound of water.’…The beauty in Japanese comes from its allusions; to the season, the setting, and the sound of water conveyed by the onomatopoeic ‘oto’.”

                                                      (I do not recall the source – E.M.)

Chinese Poetry

[At age 102, Mr. Qian is back in school, with many like him.]

         “Mr. Qian manages to walk to the class on his own, and he hears and sees well enough to follow the teacher most of the time.  The first class he took was on health care for the elderly, and he says he found it very useful in looking after his wife, who died a few months ago at the age of 100, and his daughter, who is 81 years old and in fading health.
            A lover of traditional poetry, Mr. Qian scarcely paused when asked for a few lines of his favorite poem.  The room fell silent as he recited from memory this ancient Chinese poem:
                        The clouds are wispy this morning,
                                    the breeze is light.
                        As I pass the pond, I see flowers
                                    and willow trees.
                        The passers-by don’t know the joy
                                    in my heart.
                        I’m like a kid at play.

                                                                                    The NY Times:            December 6, 1990           


[One of the most tragic poets of the Twentieth Century, Papusa was a Polish Gypsy and an exceptionally great poet who suffered because of her writing.]

                        No one understand me,
                        Only the forest and the river.
                        That of which I speak
                        Has all, all passed away,
                        Everything has gone with it –
                        And those years of youth.


For a further understanding of humanity, please read Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan.

Following is a short example of The NY Times reports on events:

First Example – On November 19, 1986 (p. A4), The NY Times reported

“’The camel is an extremely smart animal,’ said Dr. D.P. Singh,
a livestock official.  “He can easily recognize his master and his environ-
ment.  He knows how to perform and please his master.  But if you beat
him, he will take revenge, even if he has to wait for a year to do it.’”

Second Example – On February 3, 1988 (p. B3), The NY Times reported in an AP news item titled “Park Fined in Camel Attack”
“JACKSON, N.J., Feb 2 (AP) – The Federal Occupational Safety and
Health Administration has cited the Six Flags Great Adventure Amusement
Park for two safety violations in a camel attack on a worker last July 4,
officials said.  The camel knocked down the employee, Susan Wright, 32
years old, of New Egypt in Ocean County, and sat on her.  Each violation
carries a $1000. fine.”

Dear Reader, please feel free to connect the dots!

New Statesman: Will We Regret Pushing Christians Out of Public Life?

Cristina Odone writes:

Without a change, the work that faith groups have carried out for millennia – charities, hospitals, schools, orphanages – will disappear. Communities will no longer be able to rely on the selfless devotion of evangelists and missionaries who happily shoulder the burden of looking after the unwanted, the aged, the poor. Feeling stigmatised and persecuted by the authorities and the establishment, Christians, Muslims and Jews may well become entrenched in the more fundamental shores of their faith.
Equality is already becoming the one civic virtue universally endorsed; equality legislation, the overriding principle of law. In this new scenario, yesterday’s victims are today’s victors. Gays and women, among other scapegoats from the past, now triumph over their former persecutors. But they have learned no lesson from their plight. As they promote a one-sided tolerance, they act as if their rights now include this: to have no one disagree with them.
This is not the sign of a healthy society. Ordinary citizens should not live in fear of saying or doing “the wrong thing”. Diversity means respecting conscientious objections and making reasonable accommodation to let subcultures survive. Erasing God from the public square, and turning religion into a secret activity between two consenting adults in the privacy of their home, leads to what the poet Seamus Heaney calls the hollowing-out of culture. A no-God area can only sustain a fragile and brittle civilisation, a setting worthy of a broken people.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Pamela Geller on Israel-Hating Jews in the Los Angeles Times 
Read my column here in today's Jerusalem Post on the execrable Carolyn Karcher, who maliciously flaunts her Jewish birth in a LA Times article to provide cover for her unbridled anti-semitism and vicious hatred of Israel. Truth be told, had she not identified herself as a Jew (which she does almost immediately), the unsuspecting reader might think her a member of a neo-Nazi or jihadi group.
You'll notice that I never mention Karcher's name in the piece. This was at the request of editors who were worried about legal troubles. I understand that, although everything I say in this piece is true and accurate. But it is interesting that Karcher can feel free to libel Israel, but Israel's defenders have to be extra careful, in today's political climate, when responding to such libels.