Hebrew School

Frogs! Passover in Retrograde
April 29, 2008, 1:17 am
Filed under: jewish | Tags: , , , ,

Raining frog passover seder fallout

photos: Jill Vogel


Štiri: Nous Non Plus in Ljubljana

Upon our arrival in the center of Ljubljana, we are greeted warmly at Movia’s wine shop with a bottle of Puro Rose.

We roll in to the Roxly, where we sound check and get ready to play.

View from the front of the Roxly. “Who would put a castle up there?” Clouds gather…

Our Slovenian cell phone commercial plays on a loop at the front of the bar.

…Crowds gather, packing the club past the bar, out the door… Amazingly, our song’s appearance in an ad seems to have captured Slovenia’s imagination. We are told repeatedly that everyone in Slovenia knows this song, and has wondered about the mysterious American artists behind it (some even [erroneously] concluding that we are secretly the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). The crowd sings along to “Lawnmower Boy” in a dizzying hybrid of Slovene-Franglish.

Verdict: Success, with the distinct possibility of returning to this magical part of the world some time in the future. Merci, Ljubljana!

Check out this Slovenian blog for some great photos of the show, offset by 180 degrees.

Tri: Sloveniating at the mouth

A tempting schmear of things consumed and imbibed while in Slovenia and surroundings…

A glass of Puro Rose, along with the spiritual conviction of its creator, is enough to command the attention of everyone in the room.


Tagliata di manzo in Brda


Fresh salami in Movia’s kitchen

Razor clams, obtainable only by saying the shema at an Adriatic coral reef ; tagliatelle al tartufo

 Hearty digestifs, not for the faint of stomach

Carpaccio on a bed of arugula in Ljubljana. We later had a chance to try the original carpaccio preparation– as well as the original freshly-puréed bellini– at the famed Harry’s Bar in Venice.

Ljubljana.  Student discounts available


Potato purée topped with bacon

Sgroppino: lemon gelato mixed with Prosecco and a little vodka

Dva: 186,000 Movias per second
April 22, 2008, 9:15 am
Filed under: adventures | Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s really difficult to talk about our time in Slovenia, and particularly our time at the Movia winery, without attempting to convey a sense of place. So much of what we learned on this trip, both in terms music and wine, needs to be grounded in the natural environment and politico-historical context we found ourselves in. With what follows, I hope to shed some light. 


Views from the back porch of the Movia estate. 

The following days (at least the daylight parts) were spent somewhat more quietly at the winery, giving us time to poke around with the occasional excursions to nearby towns, eateries, etc.

Movia’s on-location wine shop

A leisurely lunch

A walk through the neighborhood

Swords used to ceremonially “circumcise” corks from their bottles.

A trip to Gorizia, on the Italian side of the border.

Mural at a restaurant where we ate dinner, nestled in the hills near the winery.

A World War I memorial, outside that restaurant.

More time was spent in the wine cellar, from whence, in one corner, the flash of a neon light emanated…

The words of the prophets, written on the cellar walls

At the Movia winery, Brda, Slovenia
April 20, 2008, 11:58 pm
Filed under: adventures | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Winding our way back and forth across the Italian border as we make our way to the Movia estate. Those yellow stars don’t lie– no border control. Slovenia’s in the EU now.

Nous Non Plus converged on Venice last Monday and took a drive along the Adriatic to the Movia winery, just on the other side of the Italian border in Slovenia. Our journey took us up and down hills and valleys…

…until we arrived, slightly sickened by our bumpy ride in a boxy diesel van with all our gear and luggage, but in one piece nonetheless.


 Inside, the band gears up for a dinner party hosted by owner and our soon-to-be wine rabbi Aleš Kristančič. In attendance will be wine writers, sellers, and luminaries fresh from the important Vinitaly wine show held the week prior in Verona.  Some high-level Slovenian political figures will also be present.

The Movia begins to pour, and we dine.



An invigoratingly fresh asparagus soup

Aleš decants. Much of the wine is made in a hyper-natural style which leaves an earthy sediment in the finished product.

After playing, we retreat to the cellar, bottles of sparkling Puro Rose in tow. Silliness ensues. It was this Puro, more than anything, that brought us religion in the coming days.

 Vodpod videos no longer available.

In the dark of the cellar, Aleš draws a 2005 barrel sample with a decorative glass instrument, which he routes directly to our glasses.

More to come…

Happy Passover from the Prophet, the Führer, and Shirley Cohen
April 16, 2008, 8:24 pm
Filed under: records, wfmu record fair | Tags: , , , , , ,

*** catch hebrew school live! april 14, 2009 in brooklyn. details here.

Passover Music Box, Shirley R. Cohen (1951)

Hebrew School celebrates its second Passover (can you believe it?) this weekend. Following on the heels of my Purim post, I’ve got more of Shirley Cohen’s oeuvre. This is another find from my excursion to last fall’s WFMU record fair. It’s a scratchy 78, with takeoffs on renditions of the “traditional” Passover songs of American Ashkenazic Jewry. Once again, apart from the decorative sleeve (why do children’s illustrations from half a century ago look so eerie?) and the thick, leaden beauty of the format, there isn’t much substantive here in terms of music, good or bad. Apart from what I’ve previously discussed as the presumptive marketing notion behind these records, there’s not much thinking outside of the music box here.

There were, however, some bizarre and melancholy moments when I slowed the record down from 78 to 45 rpm:

According to the diasporic Ashkenazic traditions, Passover’s first and second seders occur on the 19th and the 20th this year. Because of a strange conjunction in the lunar and solar calendars, the night of the second seder also has several other significances. On the 20th, while we’re munching on matza and getting charoset stuck in our teeth, the birthdays of Hitler and the Prophet Muhammed are also being celebrated. Among marijuana enthusiasts, the day is celebrated as “4/20,” often with communal gatherings of smokers in northern California, Vancouver, etc. Unfortunately for these revellers, cannabis has been declared by rabbis as unfit for the holiday.

Lest we forget… Let this puzzling PSA spoof serve as a reminder of how the enslaved become enslavers themselves, or just plain bigots. I’m not sure if that’s in the Maxwell House Hagaddah.

Last year’s Passover with Abbie Hoffman.

Having trouble getting a clean break when splitting the matza for the afikomen? Let this Japanese instructional video light your way.

Graffiti in Ljubljana
April 15, 2008, 11:58 am
Filed under: adventures | Tags: , , , ,

As it turned out, neither time nor the availability of reliable data transmission permitted my posting while abroad, so Hebrew School returns to Brooklyn with a series of posts on my Italo-Slovenian adventures. As an appetite whetter, here are some pictures of graffiti taken in the center of the Slovenian capital, in the immediate area of our show at the Roxly Bar.

The politics of the graffiti ranged the full spectrum, often in a flux of interplay…

…and escaped into infinity.