Sunday, February 28, 2010

Articles, Shmarticles. I Read It for the Pictures.

Prepare yourself, gent(i)le reader, for what may be your first exposure to Jewish porn:
What is hotter than Glatt-Kosher Premium Angus Beef, fresh out of the oven, with a bissel kosher wine in soft focus at the edge of the frame?

Welcome to my second-favorite magazine: Hadassah, named not for the wife of everyone's least favorite sell-out Demo senator, but rather for the Jewish women's organization that finances hospitals in Israel by holding fashion shows and mah jongg tournaments in every Hebraic enclave from Brooklyn to Boca.

Because we Jews are all about values that matter. Like tzedekah. And tradition. And ease-of-use.
Who doesn't love homemade gefilte fish and saving fifty cents (maybe even a buck if you go on double-coupon day)? Whenever I long for the sweet meatloaf of fish just like my beloved Bubbe used to make, what greater comfort than ad copy that mimics her broken English:
Yes, the latest issue of Hadassah Magazine reminds me that it's time to start thinking about the Passover Seder, that special holiday meal we look forward to all year . . .

and then try to rush through as quickly as possible.

Now, I realize it's wrong to stereotype an entire group of people, to act as though millions of Jews are all the same, when in fact there is a rich diversity among us, as a casual skim of the magazine's ads reveals.

For example, some Jews prefer this sort of Romantic/ceramic hideous style of Judaica . . .
while other Jews prefer the more lucid hideous of Lucite . . .
Because it may be okay to break tradition, but g-d forbid you should break that glass cube commemorating Sarah and Jonathan's joyous union.

Speaking of break, what if, again g-d forbid, your elderly parent should break a hip? Fear not, as the fine advertisers of Hadassah offer any number of services for outsourcing the guilt, um, I mean the caregiving:
Although if your no-good offspring aren't willing to shlep down to South Florida to care for you themselves, even after all you've done for them, maybe you should take matters into your own hands. Because if they don't seem to care whether you're alive or dead, they certainly won't care once you actually are dead. But don't worry, because for a small fee, I mean generous donation, somebody will:
Yes, this single issue of the magazine seems to offer everything a Jew could ever want. Where else can you shop for discount prescription drugs and support Eretz Yisrael?
You'll be feeling so good and saving so much when you're downing that fabulous cocktail of prune juice and discounted Plavix and Flomax, you may even make it to the Holy Land yourself.
After all, who would mind wandering the desert for forty years, with this handy fold-up scooter, delivered right to your hotel.

Just imagine how excited the Cheez was about all the ads for trips to Israel I was leafing through.
How unfortunate that we already have plans for the week of what promises to be a very memorable See Israel with Hadassah and Song tour. Because the question is not how many times can one tour group sing Hatikvah? The question is in how many different keys--at the same time?

Difficult as it is to choose among the Israel travel packages advertised, the real challenge is choosing among the ads for Jewish-themed retirement homes. They offer golf, tennis, beauty parlors, entertainment, and a reminder that for thousands of years, across every continent, there have always been certain constants of Jewish life:
Namely, Torah, and male pattern baldness.

Of course, if you're going to enjoy your Golden Years, you need the peace of mind that comes from knowing your children and grandchildren are flourishing. And great news, because once again the products available in the ads in this month's mag come through for you:

Your daughter ...
may she marry a Jewish doctor!

Your granddaughter ...
may she be a Jewish doctor (and believe me, the athletics is good for getting into a competitive college, and at least with the swim team there's no chance of a ball hitting her in the face and ruining that brand new nose).

Your son . . .

may that zhlub at least stop chasing the shiksas long enough to read Hadassah Magazine.

You never know, there might be something in there that interests him.
Yes, blond Jewish triplets, born in Hadassah hospital to a Hadassah Magazine writer, now all grown-up and sporting their Israeli Air Force uniforms.

I told you it was Jewish porn.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Schmaltz Across Texas, Part Two

It's so nice 'n' romantic to keep a little mystery in the relationship.

Our first morning in Houston, Cheez was indeed mystified by me.

Specifically by my comprehensive knowledge of the lyrics of every song played on 97.1 FM Country Legends, the radio station I found on our rental car radio.

Okay, maybe hearing your girlfriend belt out the Oak Ridge Boys' Tryin' To Love Two Women isn't exactly romantic. But when your full up on the Hyatt's continental breakfast, it puts you in the mood for something.

First stop of the day: the Rothko Chapel.

Which I have to admit, had me kind of confused.

Mostly because:

1) I could figure out where all the Rothkos were;


2) I didn't understand why they need so many acoustic panels in such a small room.

So yes, I wasn't much of a fan of the Rothkos.

Although I'll grant you that it's better than what they usually mean when they say We have a Jew hanging in our Catholic church.

Being a wandering, rather than a hanging, Jew, I was ready to ramble over to the Menil Collection, one of those lovely museums where rich people put all their stuff on public display for the edification of the masses.

It was indeed very edifying.

There was a three-foot-tall wood carving of a humanoid figure with long red hair.

It looks like one of those Hawaiian totems I said.

Or like a leprechaun Cheez said.

I squinted at the curatorial tag. Turns out, we were both right. Memorial figure from New Ireland, Melanesia it said.

How edifying is that? If it weren't for the Menils of Houston, I would never have learned there was any place to get a pint of Guinness and a plate of boiled cabbage is all of Oceania.

The Menil also had a large exhibit of Surrealist works on display. But we hurried through that gallery. Surrealism doesn't really melt my butter I noted to Cheez although I guess it does melt my clock.

Next stop: the Museum of Fine Arts. Which was a focal point for our Texas trip, actually. Because they were having an exhibit of Moon Art.

Again, edifying. Such as footage of Mission Control during the moon launch. That is so amazing said Cheez, who has loved lunar landings ever since those long childhood days he spent reading old National Geographic magazines at his grandparents' house (note: Labrador is not a vacation paradise for nine-year-old boys. Or anyone).

You mean, that we really sent people to the moon and back? I asked.

No, that the guys who worked at Mission Control could smoke RIGHT AT THEIR DESKS! he answered.

Other learnings: eighteenth-century telescopes were made of cardboard. We had just bought a kaleidoscope for Cheez's nephew, on which we squandered an extra eight bucks to get a metal rather than a cardboard specimen. Turns out, we were robbed. We could have had a more authentic ocular device if we'd started with the core from a tube of toilet paper.

We also watched this lovely 1902 French film, La Voyage Dans La Lune

It was no Panic in Year Zero, but still it was the second best film of the trip so far.

Doougie Rocker, PhD and Little Lord Portleroy had to wander off and leave us, because we were spending way too much time in the moon exhibit. Indeed, it soon became clear that though they are dear friends, we were not entirely perfectly matched traveling buddies, being as they are the sort of people that believe vacation should be leisurely and relaxing. Whereas I believe it should be crammed full of as much nuttiness as possible.

Thus, after the museum closed, we agreed to all return to the Hyatt and freshen up before dinner. At which point Cheez and I doubled back to the Menil compound to see the separately housed Dan Flavin exhibit.

Can we take pictures in here? I asked the guard.

You're not supposed to he answered but I can't be following people all through the building watching what they're doing.

Given that it was 6 pm on a Sunday night and we were the only people in the entire facility, I realized he was not going to be taxing himself on our account.

So here, without further ado, is the Flavin exhibit:
Unless of course you who are reading this happen to be a lawyer employed on behalf of the Menil Collection, in which case those brightly colored lights you're seeing are just part of the fabulous decor of Tan Tan, the Vietnamese restaurant where we had dinner.

After a long day of fine art, who doesn't want to unwind with a refreshing Salt Plum Soda?

Which, in case you're wondering, is a small bottle of soda water, which is brought to the table and then poured by the patron into a glass that contains a salted plum.

Be sure to stir vigorously to distribute the salty plum flavor evenly!

After eating a ginormous amount of delicious, deep-fried delights, we wandered around the neighborhood, taking in the neon-lit sights.

The adjacent strip malls offered everything you could possibly ever want or need, from fashion to housewares to groceries to law enforcement.

We couldn't quite figure out why Johnny Law needed quite so much wattage, until we wandered into the Asian grocery store and spotted this sign:
In one form or another, this sign is ubiquitous throughout Texas.

What a helpful reminder to bring only your LICENSED weapons with you when you run out to the store for that oh-so-adorably packaged squid or anchovy snack.
And so ended day two in Texas, with Oak Ridge Boys tunes in my head, art of all sorts amazing our eyes, and visions of salt plums dancing in my belly.