Hebrew School

Jesus, Magic
February 28, 2008, 2:53 pm
Filed under: comedy, jews, nay-tcha | Tags:

“Not office friendly”

I guess I have the Love Child to thank for Sarah Silverman‘s star having risen. I’ll admit I’ve been a little remiss about returning all her calls lately. But when a recent article about virgin birth in Komodo dragons brought the magic of Jesus to mind, I figured I could at least write something about her here. The above clip is from Silverman’s concert film from a few years ago.

This is a clip of Sarah calling out Paris Hilton at last year’s MTV video music awards. It keeps going away from youtube so you may need to search for it again.

This is from The Aristocrats– Silverman’s take on the classic routine.

It’s an unbroken line of self-effacing bigotry that stretches between her and the literally-immortal Don Rickles. Now if she would only stop harassing my friends for my new number.


Norman Greenbaum’s Hebrew School may close
February 26, 2008, 1:19 am
Filed under: jewish, malden | Tags: ,


There’s an editorial today in the Jewish Advocate, a Boston Jewish weekly, about the possible closure of the Hebrew school of my youth, now called the Metro North Regional Hebrew School.

Part of me wants to simply say “good riddance;” Hebrew school for me was little more than a six-year-long speed reading and kosher hot dog eating competition, injected with repetitive song and pedantic, seemingly indisputable utterances of hegemonic notions of Jewishness. And part of me wonders if, without Hebrew school driving me crazy, I’d still have the same inspiration for this project.

What’s definitely saddening to me is the fact that the Jewish kids of my hometown would be overlooked, simply because they are small in number and not the kids of another upscale suburban Jewish community. A lot of the kids I went to Hebrew school with at the time were from low-income families (the school was blocks away from rows of low-rise public housing developments); most of us existed in an economic strata that I would refer to as working class.

It’s also saddening to think that the Hebrew school that Norman Greenbaum attended would close.

More Malden here.

I really like Electrelane’s new record
February 23, 2008, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Bands, music | Tags: ,

Their latest release, No Shouts, No Calls, calls to mind the strong suits of the Velvet Underground, Neu!, Stereolab, and the like. Ignore the hype if you’ve read all the encomia associated with this album, particularly its consideration as one of this past year’s best. It simply stands on its own. Interestingly, it’s apparently their first record to be recorded in entirely digital format, a tall order when you’ve been produced by analog purists like Steve Albini. (As a matter of course, Mr. Albini seems to have no qualms about releasing his music in various digital formats, but no matter.)

The record has the paradoxical minimalism of contemporary composers like Steve Reich, who build relatively simply ideas and ostenato phrases into fully orchestrated tides and swells. Here are two youtube videos from No Shouts for your enjoyment. “In Berlin” in particular has been known to frequently shake the walls of Hebrew School.

“To The East”

“In Berlin”

Much thanks to my cousin Erica Cohen-Taub for calling this record to my attention.

3rd Avenue
February 20, 2008, 4:23 pm
Filed under: brooklyn

This past weekend in the freezing cold I walked up 3rd Avenue in Park Slope towards a friend’s party. It was late and everything seemed, as Huck Finn might narrate, all sad and lonesome.

At 3rd St., I came upon this huge empty lot, with only an old and beautiful building at its corner, with a demolition company’s sign on it. It was bittersweet.

The sunset earlier that night.

Las Rubias del Norte at Barbès

above: Emily Hurst, Allyssa Lamb, Taylor Bergren-Chrisman

There’s been a fairly long-running trend in the New York music scene of various admixtures of traditional and “world” musics. Often presented in venues where folks (most of whom happen to be, well, blond) might not otherwise see them, it’s useful to witness what can be done with traditional and modern forms in these contexts. But to be honest, a lot of times I find the phenomena to be reactionary or mockingly fetishistic of the cultures represented– a particularity of a social world bereft of meaning, thirstily knocking on doors, but not venturing too far. Obviously this an issue prevalent in “Jewish music” as well.

So, it was particularly nice this past Friday to go out and see a band that, without affectation or smugness, eschews all these real and imagined boundaries, playing the music they actually love with exuberance and soul, and giving tender care to the material they’re performing. Las Rubias del Norte are deeply and uncompromisingly rooted in the 20th-century music of the Americas, with particular emphasis on Tejano, Columbian, and Cuban music (though they really do span the continents). Yes, Castro may have stepped down, but his cigar still explodes.

Greg Stare, Timothy Quigley, Giancarlo Vulcano

And then there’s the musicianship of these folks as individuals and as a band. The female vocal harmonies are locked in; the rhythm section, with two percussionists and an upright bass player, feels like being inside an atomically accurate mechanical clockwork while on LSD. Meanwhile, Lamb effortlessly switches out on melodica and piano, Hurst on glockenspiel. It all gets you open with the incessant but solid dignity of Conan’s cuatro, and absurdly tasteful and magical harmonies and interweaving lines delivered by Vulcano on electric guitar.

in the shadows with his cuatro (at far right): Olivier Conan

“S/S/S (sorry so shakey)”

* * *

Las Rubias del web

Las Rubias del myspace

on NPR

Holocaust in puppets / tree of life / Midway to Slovenia / killing your leader
February 15, 2008, 5:03 pm
Filed under: events, music, news, shows | Tags: , , , , ,

Nous Non Plus plays next month at Club Midway.

1. Last night, saw Six Points fellow Gaby Brechner’s Fabrik at Urban Stages Theatre. A brilliantly-crafted, visually detailed puppet show about the life of Moritz Rabinowitz (below), a wealthy and outspoken Jew from a small Norwegian town, and his fate during WWII. Check out the cool write-up they got in the Times. And in Time Out.

2. Added a new demo, “Tree of Life,” to music page (which you can navigate to on the left-hand side of this page).

3. Nous Non Plus will be playing on Saturday, March 22nd at Midway. We may not play in NYC for quite some time after, as we will then be packing up for Slovenia. So mark it down! (Check out the events page for deets.)

4. Long-time family friend Ben Olken dissects the economic anatomy of assassination in this month’s issue of The American.

So I’m putting music on here now
February 13, 2008, 8:57 pm
Filed under: music

Because Clare Burson (who just started a really cool blog of her own), in one of our artist development sessions, told me I should. See the music link on the left of this page– I’ll be posting various demos for brief periods of time and then removing them.

Hang on by watching this:

Ok, it’s ready.