Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hey Jewdy, Shall I Smoke that Wild Caught Chinook For You?

Personally, I find the phrase Jewish foodie redundant. But I guess Oregon Jewish foodie has some cachet, given that Oregon Jewish anything is a rare and wondrous thing.

And apparently I have earned some internet renown as an Oregon Jewish foodie (or Oregon Jewdy, for short - but you can't write it as Oregon Jewdie, I just realized, because that looks disturbingly like a meeting of the Klamath Klan). My cousin in Seattle even emailed to say I'd brought nachas (not nachos, which, though tasty, are more Mexicoodie than Jewdy) on our family.

So if an Oregon Jewdie tells you that one of the highlights of Friday night was 91 year-old Harry Rabinowitz, you might imagine some sweet little old Ashkenaz AK intoning the kiddush before Shabbas dinner. "Vat a lovely meal ve have. Pass to me the herring and a bissel Pepcid AC."

But Harry Rabinowitz was born in South Africa and moved to England in 1946. So instead of sounding Canarsie, he sounds Cary Grant (I'm not saying Cary Grant was Jewish, but it would explain the whole "Jewdy, Jewdy, Jewdy" obsession).

Harry Rabinowitz was on last night's LiveWire. An Oregon Jewdy might think LiveWire is just Liverwurst that changed its name for business purposes. But LiveWire is actually a super hilarious radio show hosted by Courtenay Hameister, quite literally the meister of Ha.

Courtenay has a history of Jewish Harry's, having locked horns, as it were, with Harry Shearer on the November show. But last night's rendition of When Harry Met Courtenay was exceptional.

Harry Rabinowitz is a film conductor, and if you've seen any movies in the past sixty years or so, you've probably heard some of his work. But you can know a conductor's entire oeuvre and still have no idea if he can string together a coherent spoken sentence . And most 91 year olds are not known for their witty repartee. So the interview could have gone over like an egg kichel on Yom Kippur.

But Harry "the Brit" Rabinowitz was more like lemon curd on rye bread. Tangy yet sweet, unexpectedly delish. Even if he didn't let Courtenay get a word in edgewise. When she finally had to seize control to wind up the segment, all she could say was, "It's been nice sitting here," because that's about all she'd been able to do, unable to keep up with the nonagenarian who'd played the whole interview shtick like it was a finely tuned fiddle.

It went so well they even let another Jew onstage, to exercise our tribal penchant for gathering the gelt (gelt is for gathering, guilt is for dispersing). Dave Weich of Powell's Books exhorted the audience to support LiveWire by telling us that he likes Portland because, "People here do such interesting things with their brains and their bodies."

Dave "If you want my body, and you think I'm brainy, come on baby, read a book" Weich

So with our brains we enjoyed the show, and then with our bodies we enjoyed some martinis. I got so emotional, as they say in the British press, I started doling out seder invitations two months early.

We may not have a lot of Jews in Oregon, but damn, we know how to use them.

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