Thursday, July 31, 2003


Pumpernickel Bread - Besides, being good for the ole' "I hardly know her!" routine, the brown bread is non-existent to me. This is perhaps one of the most common of foods that I have never tasted. And also perhaps for the weirdest reason: it's brown and looks too much like chocolate cake. Even though it doesn't taste like chocolate cake--which I'm told it doesn't--my mind cannot fathom the combination of a salty, i.e. cream cheese, with something that merely appears potentially sweet. Granted my tastebuds could supply undeniable proof that Pumpernickel (I hardly know her! Ha ha ha. Never gets old) is indeed a salty just as whole wheat and rye is...still, I have yet to take the plunge.

Peanut Butter & Celery; Cottage Cheese & Strawberries - When I was a child, I had a very close friend (who shall remain nameless) with an incredibly weird palette. His house was my first exposure to tofu, brussell sprouts, and faux hot dogs and hamburgers (also appetizingly known as "Links" and "Grillers"). Needless to say, I left his house on many occasions really, really, really hungry. Sorry. Rice cakes are not the fillers you thought they were.
Anyway, after long afternoons of running wildly around the basement, we were sometimes offered PB & C as a snack. I was repulsed. Offended. As a sensitive impressionable child, I considered this abusive. As if I asked for a snack and in return, I was slapped across the face. To this day, I cannot eat this said snack because this said snack reminds me of the depravity of youth. The horror of candy denial.

This same family offered cottage cheese and strawberries for breakfast instead of the expected and always pleasing sugar cereals. We always had sugar cereals at home, I would think. I mean, Dad encouraged them. Have breakfast, he would say, start the day off sweet. And to this moment, I maintain a pretty strict diet of non-sugared foods but yet I cannot abandon the need for a good bowl of Cap'n Crunch. Giving that up would be like asking me to start speaking Japanese after relying on English for a quarter century plus. Where else would I get my morning sugar rush from? Does a bowl of cottage cheese provide that necessity? No. Sadly, it does not. So I went without my Toucan Sam or my Tony the Tiger (not even Snap, Crackle or Pop made the cut). None of them were invited to my friend's house. But in reality, they were lucky. They at least got decent snacks.

Pork, Lobster, Ham, Shrimp; i.e. Things That Crawl Or Roll In Mud - I observe the laws of Kashrut. Which means I only eat kosher which doesn't mean that a Rabbi has to bless my food. It's way more complex than that. I assure you that those complexities would bore you to death.


Chalk - My mother, being an educator, had educator-like things in the attic. She had a desk with papers, red pens, clips, markers, etc. But one of the items in the desk eventually and disturbingly became a delicacy to me. Every so often, I would sneak upstairs, as if I was taking a ultra-secret cigarette break, and I would open the top drawer slowly as to avoid any tattle-telling creaks, pull out a piece of chalk and bite into it.

I don't know what it was about the chalk that made me want to eat it. It didn't have much of a taste really. It actually just tasted really....chalky. Which come to think of it gives me the validity to don foods "chalky" and actually know what I'm talking about.

Eating the chalk, I guess, was my way of rebelling against educators. This was the one tool they had, the one instrument of educating that I could devour in the privacy of my own home. Chalk was also the potential source of embarrassment. When a teacher called you up to answer something on the board, chances were you didn't know the answer. Hence, the eating of the chalk. The big pumping fist of my childhood.

Or more realistically, none of this could have ever occurred to me. Perhaps I was just a very weird little boy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


My bones this morning feel like a haunted house, creaky and uninviting. They are angry about something but won't tell me what. They are uncooperative bones but they are also the only ones I have.

Now, I know I'm not old enough to have arthritis but I can't help but think that this morning's spontaneous symptom is a result of getting older. And if that wasn't enough of a reminder, as I walked to the subway this morning I saw a small boy pass me by and I noticed my jealousy for his age, his naivete. Being a child is a very enviable place to be, it's a time when everything is, to simplify it, quite simple. In retrospect, I don't remember specific scenarios of disregard and carefree-ness but I do vaguely recall that I had nothing on my mind, not of any importance. Nothing of any weight penetrated my gummy bear-ed life.

My father would always chide with me how great it was to be in my position. How every Friday he would take me to the comic book store and he would wait until I picked out all the desired titles, and then we went home. Now you've taken care of your responsibility, he would joke. We can rest until next week.

And as silly as that sounds, that is completely accurate. With him in my life, I worried about nothing.

The funny thing is that even though I am older, and I feel the aging regularly like a flaming post-it note reminding me to count another day passing, I still very much need my father. Yesterday, someone asked me about my insurance policy and how I signed up for it. The sadness of that is that I had no idea--my father had filled out all the paper work. While many saw it as a spoiling of sorts, I saw it as his duty. This was the job of Daddy, to make things as uncomplex as possible for his child. It is something I look forward to with my own. I will gladly embrace that duty.

On occasion, I have conversations with some friends about the relationships they have with their parents and I always hear the same thing; you don't understand our relationship. It's very different, they'll say. It's not like you and your father's.

Well, the truth is that--as far as I can tell--all relationships with parents take a great deal of effort. It requires an uncountable amount of patience from both sides. Patience, unfortunately, I no longer have to employ (although, my dear Mother, who I love greatly, sometimes keeps me in practice).

The child I passed this morning also grabbed my attention because he was walking hand-in-hand with his father. He had not reached the cynical age when affection was no longer cool. In fact, in pop culture today, as it has been for quite some time, it's very uncool to adore a parent. But not as far as I'm concerned. Truly there is nothing more wonderful than a child enjoying time with a parent. On occasion, I will become conscious of a father and his son and I will appreciate it like art in a museum. Observing the infinite points that make it worth more than any bidder at an auction could raise. And it doesn't make me sad, it makes me very happy, it brings memories back. The times when things were simple.

I also once had a conversation (I have them often) with a very close friend about the responsibility of raising children. He was nervous about the concept of bringing people into this world and releasing them into the chaos of every day. I passionately contested his philosphy. To bring a child into this world is so inspiring that I anticipate it like a bursting water balloon.

Oddly enough, my bones are hurting a bit less. It could be that my analogy of a haunted house was more appropriate that I thought. Perhaps I ache because my father is with me right now, flowing in my blood, circulating in my brain. Occupying the marrow in my bones. Perhaps my memories are holding his hand, swinging hands, carefree and childlike.

I miss him.

Monday, July 28, 2003


"HOW does someone like me find out about stuff like this?' My roommate Ezra asked as we listened to the shimmering pop of the Pernice Brothers emanating from my stereo speakers.

"I mean, how does someone who doesn't read music magazines regularly," he continued, "find out about amazing bands like this?"

And as I stood in my room, in my apartment uniform (boxers and a T-shirt), I actually had no answer for him. Because in truth, Ezra's question is a great one.


For as long as I can remember, music journalism has always been snobby and intimidating. It's written by music obsessives for people who are striving to become music obsessives. Basically, it's by geeks for geeks. The words that you find in most magazine articles and record reviews are like bouncers standing outside a popular club: you won't get in unless you look like you're dressed (i.e., informed) properly (or if you happen to have a hot blonde hanging on your arm). These tirade-like segments usually and all too frequently display the writer's vast knowledge and intricate pop-culture arsenal. It's not a forum for educating but rather an opportunity to show off who has a larger storage facility for useless information. I should know all this because I am one of them.

And in reality, there are more Ezras in this world than there are non-Ezras. Which is not to say that my roommate is not unique but rather, his frustration is shared by millions upon millions of dabblers. I'm certain that most people don't even read album reviews because, well, if you're not into music, then why would you care to read a 500 word essay on the Rapture (the who, you ask? Exactly.).

It's almost laughable to see the reference points in certain pieces--almost a mockumentary but without the winking. These people are for real. Their words, sadly, are not. In a meeting the other day, someone mentioned Kalefah Senah, a new New York Times music writer who has proclaimed that he wants to be the next Lester Bangs. All I have to say to that is; why?

Aside from Seymour Phillip Hoffman's portrayal in "Almost Famous," Lester Bangs means nothing to most people but to the snobby indie crowd, which deifies him as the legend of rock writing of all time. Bangs, who is no longer alive, is likened to the Jesus Christ of the written word. He has died of a drug overdose for our rock and roll sins. I have read Bangs and yeah, he's pretty interesting and his free-flow unrestrained delivery made him unusual back in the day but his writing was also cynical, angry, rude and tedious. Reading a Lester Bangs essay is an activity, like a mental game of Twister, not a leisurely way to pass the time. It's like living inside a headache, complete with a hangover.

Initially, I began writing about music because I was interested in turning people on to new things, not telling information to the informed, psalms to the...err...psalmed. It's a dang shame - the music industry as it exists now possesses random hidden treasures amongst a world of infinite cubic zirconium. Yes, sometimes, upon closer inspection we eventually realize we were lied to and that we believed too quickly. As a result, readers become more cynical and tend to believe critics less (see; how many people read an article about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Millions? How many of those people actually bought the album? Hundreds?).
All too often we (I'm humbly including myself here) tend to jump on a media-frenzy bandwagon hailing each "unique" band as the one to save rock n' roll. Only months later to find out that we were duped and that we fell for a boat-load of shtick and converse sneakers.

Other times, though, there are many--the diamonds--who fall through the cracks because of the regurgitating nature of this business (remember Len?). The casual listener never gets a chance to hear the valuable output because they're too caught up in a world floating between commercial and commercial posing as "alternative" (do you recall that term, "alternative," ever being relevant? Neither do I). I don't blame the innocent or the uninformed. Heck, there are even times when I am actually curious enough to put on a White Stripes album...but then thankfully that moment quickly passes.

The aforementioned band that peaked Ezra's curiosity is just one of the accessible, most pleasurable bands that people should hear but chances are, never will. Joe Pernice, lead singer of the Pernice Brothers is a pop mastermind effectively creating moving displays of harmony-charged poignancy. Believe it or not, he has also been doing so for almost ten years. For the uninitiated, their new album, Yours, Mine & Ours is a great place to start and a satisfying sans-hype release. The first song, "The Weakest Shade of Blue" is contender for song of the year, providing us with the summer sunshine we've been otherwise denied.

I saw the band this past Saturday night and it was straight-up spectacular. A mixture of bombastic power-pop and gentle acoustic fare. As I smiled in euphoria, nodding my head in agreement/rhythm, I felt comfortable in a crowd of non-scenesters. In a venue half-full but noticebly full of fans, my accompaniment turned to me and said, how is it possible that this place is not sold out?

For the second time that night, I had no answer. Another great question.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


One of the major complaints my parents have is that I do not share with them the minutiae of my daily life as my sisters do with them. My parents knew just about every wise, profound statement that my four-year old nephew spouted like, don’t whales live in the ocean (genius!). They also knew what brand orange juice my other sister preferred. And in this time of desperation for understanding, I wondered if perhaps I had gone about it all wrong, all these years. Maybe they did have the insight I needed. Maybe they possessed the answers I desired. Or the ideas that would change everything for the accountant from Ohio. Or the ones that the waitress who served me my veggie burger looked everywhere for. After all, my parents had both been very successful in the fields that they had chosen. Maybe they knew better than we did.

My father, a selfless individual, serves as a man of the Lord. He is a Rabbi that most respect and revere. He is the perfect combination of secularism and religion. He lives, as he would say, "in both worlds." My mother is a principal of one of the largest private schools on the East Coast. Every ex-student of the school that I encounter has nothing but the up-most respect for her, insisting that at the time of their education, they feared the slightest mention of Mrs. Dworken but now they understood everything she did was in their best interest. I am still waiting to reach that same enlightenment.

"It seems as if nothing had turned out the way I had planned it to, father," I said on the phone.
"Look, the times are tough. The economy isn’t so good," my father retorted. I had heard this line in a number of variations from a number of people. Like a character in a game of Clue, the economy did it. In the living room, of course, with a pipe.
"Did you plan on being a Rabbi when you were young?" I asked.
"Are you kidding? A child dreaming of being a Rabbi? Sure, it was up there with astronaut and superhero."
"So what was it that you hoped to be?"
"A baseball player." Besides being a spiritual leader, he is an avid Red Sox fan.
"Then why aren’t you one now?"
"Because, Arye, there are dreams and then, there are "dreams.""

Recently, I had discovered that I like to write. I would be most happy finding a stable job as a writer, preferably writing about music. It is something that I could do for the rest of my life. It is something I want to do for the rest of my life. But I always ask myself, is it a dream or is it a "dream"?

Every time I write something, I can barely stand to read it over and edit it (I hope that is not so apparent). I cringe at my own choice of words. I am angry at myself for thinking that what I have to say is important. That people should read it. I am bewildered by that need for self-fulfillment. Having grown up in a family that is for the most part, givers, I wonder where this egocentric desire came from.

And even if I did have the persistence to work at writing, do I deserve to work at it? Like my father had said to a friend of mine after he had asked why someone would want to be a garbage man--maybe he was meant to be a garbage man. Well, maybe I was meant to be anything but a writer. Maybe I should consider the department of sanitation.

Sometimes I fantasize about an alternative world where writing is as practical and lucrative as being a doctor or a lawyer. Where my grandmother says with pride "my grandson is a writer." I imagine all her friends cooing with envy. I often wish for that world so people would persist from saying, stop being so impractical.

"You should know that your mother wasn’t always so practical," my grandmother revealed to me. "Oh, she wanted to be a painter so badly. She would go the Met and walk around, spending hours analyzing each artist’s process. Their brush strokes. Their technique. To her, this was where she was most satisfied."

"Why did she stop?" I knew about her passing interest in painting because I had one of her works hanging in my room but I did not know that there was much more to it.
"Well, we were always supportive of her art. We were so pleased that she painted." My grandmother’s facial expression turned to a warm smile. A smile that revealed memories. "I remember her last painting. I remember the day when she said that I am through with painting. She screamed that she could not do it anymore. Painting, she said, had taken and taken from her and given nothing in return. She felt exhausted. She felt used. It was enough."

The funny thing is that I understood exactly what my grandmother had said. I too felt used.
Maybe this is why every time I wrote I needed to take a nap afterwards.

Monday, July 21, 2003


Sometimes, people raised on comic books have weird conversations. This is no shock, I know. But besides the standard who-could-beat-who debate or the which-super-(female)-hero-would-you-sleep-with, there is one in specific that provides some serious psychological probing. The topic I'm referring to is; if you could pick one super power in specific, which one would it be?

I have thought about this many times, believe it or not. I have taken many long uptown subways alone when there was nothing else to do than to crawl inside the deep reserves of my mind. Where I consider the location I would buy my first brownstone (94th, between Columbus and CPW), what I wish I was better at (playing basketball) and what it would be like to be an astronaut (scary). Sometimes, though, I would consider that if I had actually come from a far away planet (like Staten Island), landing on this planet in an astroid or had been victim to a radiation experiment, what kind of secret power I would possess.

The answer to me is always obvious. I would have the ability to read minds.

While some powers are more attractive, none is more practical than telepathy. Sure, being bulletproof is cool but if I'm getting shot at, then I've got other things to worry about than whether bullets are penetrating my skin. Like, I've got to start re-evaluating my life. And walking through walls is also quite the ice breaker at parties but other than getting into subway cars (post door slamming), what else is it good for?

Telepathy. Do you understand the greatness of this? Being able to intrude, unbeknownst to the victim, another person's mind. Besides using privy information for blackmail purposes or for impressing random attractive girls, one could determine the sincerity of others. If someone actually says, it's not you, it's me, for once you'll know if it's a line or not. I tried to make it to your party, he'll say and you'll be hearing, I was too lazy to make it to your party. A-HA! Caught in your web of lies!

Imagine walking into a job interview and being able to determine all the favorite things of the person sitting across the desk from you. You also like eating cookie dough raw, they'll ask in disbelief? And you love Mozart? This is uncanny. You're hired.

Reading the minds of others could also save a great deal of guesswork. Like why is this person in such a bad mood? Should I avoid her? Is it that time of the month....ahhh, I see it is. I best come back tomorrow.

At lunch today, a co-worker of mine and I discussed mean people and the over-whelming presence of them in our world. Are people inherently rude and we have to fight our inner-programming to act otherwise? I responded that if I was a telepath, I would see if their attitude was unwarranted or actually the outcome of being previously mistreated, much like lawyers defend murderers because they were abused as children. Only then would I know who to tolerate and who to give the finger to.

Of course, flying helps you avoid traffic but let's say you're afraid of heights. Not that I am, per se, just throwing a hypothetical out there. And lasers out of your arms is pretty wicked but then no one wants to hold your hand. Instead, telepathy is safe. It's fun and could be done right in the comfort of your very home (read your roommates minds!).

As a child, my father would every once in awhile bring home a Slurpee or a strawberry milkshake. With great happiness and joy, I would ask him how he knew I was in the mood for one. He would smile and respond, I could read your mind.
To this day, I'm not sure if he was joking or not.

And also, if he wasn't, then why couldn't I have inherited that gene instead of the one that makes me crappy at basketball?

Friday, July 18, 2003


Dear Jon,

You're Jewish and so am I. Yet, I sit here doing research on Sandra Bernhardt for the upcoming Sexy Issue of New York Magazine and you're dining with the editor-in-chief. Where is the justice here? How did this happen?

And speaking of sexy; how did you convince the female Gentile population of America that you, a nebbish, short, graying Hebrew is one of the sexiest men alive? What is the secret? Is it the self-deprecation. Because if it is, I am a master at that.

I suck.

See. Are you convinced? Where are the women? Why are they not flocking already?

Maybe it is your sense of humor. I know, I know...I've heard the line so many times I almost (almost!) believe it--women love a guy who can make them laugh. Well, Jon, did you know that I do stand-up comedy? Yes, I do, on occasion. I've performed in Caroline's, the Comedy Cellar, Gotham...all these places. Yet, still, I sit here in this dreary cube listening to the irritating thwack of the passerby's with their flip-flops (shouldn't there be an office ban against these?) while I should be on a beach in Ibiza with scantily clad waitresses bringing me my every whim...or at least, more practically, in the conference room upstairs having lunch with you.

Pass the salad, I would say.
And you would say, Arye, are we watching our weight?

Just about every night, my roommates and I watch you on TV. The Daily Show has been a highlight of my day ever since you seized the reigns from the perptually smug Craig Kilborn. Sadly, like a great number of people my age, its where I get a lot of my news (really, Jon, is Saddam Hussein hiding in New Jersey?). And while the material itself is funny, your delivery is what's most wining about the show. The shy, humble reporting as if you're enjoying it along with us. It's not stoic or unatural like Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon. They could learn a thing or two from you. That comedy is all about performing for an audience and not accumilating more female high school student crushes. Despite having "me" in the middle, Comedy (big C) is all about the audience. Not about the ego. And I think you know that.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. For being funny. For being a role model. And finally for showing me Jewish guys have the potential to win over shiksas.


[I waited outside my office for about twenty minutes. I waited and waited. Pretended I had phone calls to make, looked (very convincingly) busy and finally, Jon walked out. I went over to him, introduced myself and handed him the letter above. I said, I work at New York Magazine and I heard you were there. I just wanted to give you a thank note. He looked at me, very warmly and appreciative, and said, thanks so much. That's really nice of you. I said, nice meeting you and ended our encounter on a high note.
Granted my letter is not perfect or all that eloquent but it's all I had time to write. In fact, in retrospect, I'd say "I can't believe I gave this to him." But anyway, what's done is done.

I don't expect anything to come of it (just in case, though, I attached my business card to it-ha) but nevertheless, if I was in his position, I would want people to let me know that I'm doing something good. Because so much of comedy is the reaction, not the delivery. It feeds off satisfaction, comedy is by no means self-sufficient.

God, I hope he's not insulted by the grey-haired and short reference]

Thursday, July 17, 2003


Thankfully, we have Hallmark for the emotionally uneloquent. There are millions upon millions of people who just can't find the right thing to say, so they spend $1.75 saying it for them. It's an incredible business (just ask the Stone family), one that never has a bad season. There is always a holiday, there is always a birthday and there is always, always, always an occasion for me to screw up and a need to apologize thereafter.

But while sometimes you may care to send the very best, other times, you want to send the bestest. And a mix is like that. Because a mix is impressionable and eternal. Moreover, a mix has a practical use other than just sitting on your fireplace and winding up eventually in a drawer because you feel too guilty about throwing it out. [If you remember, ages ago, there was a musical card fad which went nowhere fast. Because it attempted to combine both useless and annoying and God knows, we already have a great deal of that in our lives]

The first mix that I made for someone else was for a girl (obviously). Not just any girl, though. She was my first serious girlfriend. While I had had a few in school, I never had one that was so "meaningful." Over the span of two years, this girl and I dated off and on and I created about 12+ mixes for her. On the rare occasion, I made her copy them for me, so to this day, I still have some of them. Needless to say, in retrospect they are embarrassingly bad. Not like retro-cool embarrassingly bad but just senseless. Like a Long Island teenager from the late 80's had gotten her hands on Casey Kasem's exclusive album collection and put a cheese platter on cassette.

A random sampling of Mix #2:
Out There Somewhere - the Moody Blues
I'll Get By - Eddie Money
Unforgiven - Metallica
Silent Lucidity - Queensryche
The One - Elton John
Lift Me Up - Yes
Glory of Love - Peter Cetera
Round Here - Counting Crows

Painfully, it goes on for at least 14 more songs. I am trying to spare you here by stopping.
While some of those songs, in their individuality are acceptable or even great, together, this was a hodge-podge of mush. And at the time, I may have wanted to relay a mushy sentiment but now, in retrospect, I think I was a massive dork. But that's fine. She wanted a massive dork and I was, as it appears, more than happy to comply.

After that relationship, I began listening to "better" music ("better" is in quotes because while it is better for me, it may be not better for you). I used that quarter you gave me and finally bought a clue. I attended small venue shows, checked out small obscure bands--sometimes, even by myself-- and consumed a great deal of new sounds. My ears were disoriented. They asked me why they no longer heard from Peter Cetera.

I had a close friend, Sarah, who was spending her year studying abroad and she asked me to make her a mix. I sent her one (all you have to do is ask) and she loved it. Well, that's because it was good. I put thought into it, I sat down and simmered over what this girl would like to hear and I put it together in a High-Fidelity format (start strong, keep your pace, third song-slow down a bit, then pick up again, etc). I didn't just rely on walking up and down the aisle of a card shop looking for amusing-yet-touching banter.
Eventually, I began making Sarah almost monthly mixes. I was her Music Ed. instructor and she was climbing the proverbial gym rope.

Some time later, I met a friend of hers who attended this school with my Sarah. This new acquaintance had revealed to me that the girls of the over-seas school had taken all the mix tapes and selected certain songs from them and then, made that into a master mix. They called it "Arye's Greatest Hits." So I asked her, so you mean to tell me there are random girls walking around with copies of my mix?
And she said, yes.
Ahhh, the life of a rock star.

What fascinates me about making a mix, as mentioned before, is eternity of it. Songs that I or someone else introduce you to, are forever associated with the introducer. Even though I may not keep in touch with the mix-receiver, they will think of me every time they pull out the dusty cassette (now a CD-R) from their closet. They'll put it on and think, hmph, whatever happened to Arye? That is more potent than any photo or any memory. In fact, this girl--the friend of Sarah's--didn't even know me but she knew my music. She may have attended concerts of bands that she found out about merely because I made her friend a mix. She might have gone onto sending someone else a mix with the bands I introduced her to. The path of her life was forever changed by one "silly" mix tape. Dramatic? Sure. Accurate? Yes.

The truth is, it's selfish. I love making mixes for people. In fact, just this week I made two. One for a co-worker and one for myself. The co-worker's mix was all up-beat summery songs (all mixes have themes. My greatest one yet: The Autobiography Mix which told the story of my life through music). Over the years, I've made hundreds. Naomi has three (or four). I made one for Ilana, two for Alisa, seven for Christy, one for Sarah...I even made one for Jonathan Safran Foer (a long story). The thrill of introducing someone to a band or to new music is addictive. It's also one of the reasons I love writing about music.

And here is my proposition: Because you're here and because we love one another, I am making you an offer. Email me the sort of music you're into, the type of sound you enjoy. Or a theme like "Sunday morning coffee mix" or "Saturday night drinking 40's mix"...and I will make one for you. As soon as I can (which may be a week or two depending on requests (HA!) and my busy social life (double HA!).

Yes, I will put a choice collection of finely selected songs on a tape/CD for you. And if I'm not lazy maybe I'll even design the cover. Hey, I'm good like that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

A "Bring Back Sincerity" Exclusive Interview with Arye Dworken

BBS: Spearmint or Peppermint?
Arye Dworken: Definitely peppermint.

BBS: Interesting. What are you up to nowadays?
AD: Wondering where life will take us.

BBS: Sounds...ominous.
AD: Well...hmm...well, I'm trying my damnest to be optimistic about things. I'm waiting for it all to start happening again.

BBS: For what to start happening again? You're speaking so ambiguously.
AD: The quality of life. Everything is so expensive and yet we don't have the money to afford much. We are surrounded by people all the time, so many personalities but yet none of them make us feel truly and completely whole. We work so hard to get jobs only to realize we don't want them and we wish we didn't have to go to the same place everyday.

BBS: Jeez, I didn't realize...but I can't help notice that you don't really seem upset. You still have some positive energy even when we talk about the dire times.
AD: What else do we have to hold onto other than optimism?
BBS: Not much.
AD: Exactly.

BBS: Do you ever think about getting married?
AD: Hmm...sometimes. It's been a long time since I dated someone seriously so it's hard for me to make a jump to thinking about that. It's like heading out on a road trip and focusing on a destination, instead of the wonderful rest stops along the way.

BBS: A-ha. I see. Let's talk about your writing? Why this need to be so sincere?
AD: That's a loaded question actually. Let me think about the right response. [Long pause] Ok, well, as you know, because I talk about it quite often, my father passed away.
BBS: Yeah, sorry to hear about that. Truly.
AD: Thanks. But one of the...uhhh...changes in my life is that I can no longer really function with irony and sarcasm. I mean, I'm not perfect and I may slip on occasion but there needs to be a return to this realness of being. A truthfulness to ourselves and to each other.
Ever since mid-January snarkiness has exhausted me. I get so tired of bitterness, of anger, of ironic empty gestures. My father was a very sincere man--he cried at every family get-together. He woke up every morning at 5:45 AM to make every minute count. Every sincere second. That's an incredible feat. It's also one of the reasons I can't sleep late anymore.

BBS: Lets talk about this weight of dealing with something of this heavy nature...
AD: How would I know? Who knows if I'm doing it right.
BBS: Well, like I mentioned, you seem to have a really healthy disposition.
AD: Yeah, I sure hope so. I was talking to a friend yesterday who lost his mother a while back and we were wondering if people know they are surpressing their grief. I don't feel like I am. What do you think?
BBS: I don't know. I truly don't.
AD: Listen, let's switch topics. This is too heavy to talk about. Ask me, instead, about Lynda Carter.
BBS: Ok, that was a smooth transition. Tell me about her.
AD: My first crush. I have an autographed photo of her on my desk.
BBS: Do you really?
AD: Yeah. Seriously. Hotter than Erin Gray any day.

BBS: Now that you're on your way to becoming a world-famous music journalist, tell me why people love music so much? Why is it such a popular medium?
AD: Everyone can relate to music in some form or another. It speaks to something as intangible as the soul. I don't know about you but when I listen to good music, I become suddenly aware of being alive. Most of the time, I just am. But when I hear a great tune, my aliveness becomes almost three-dimensional. Like I feel a stirring in my body, not like blood flowing or my bowels moving [laughs] but my essence.
BBS: Heavy. Pass the joint [laughs].
AD: [Laughs}

BBS: How do you take your coffee?
AD: Skim milk. One Equal and one sugar packet. I like it on the lighter side.

BBS: How do you avoid being egocentric on a blog?
AD: Impossible! The very nature of having a blog is egocentric. The concept of writing, in general, is egocentric. How dare I think that what I have to say is important enough for someone else to read it?
In fact, this interview is the most egocentric thing I have ever done.
BBS: Are you afraid of coming across as too self-involved?
AD: Every day. Every minute. Tell me, do you like spending time with someone who always talks about himself?
BBS: No.
AD: Bingo.

BBS: Let's play a word association game right now. I'm going to say some phrases and you have to respond immediately.
AD: Ok, I'm ready.
BBS: Tea.
AD: Home.
BBS: Perfect.
AD: My nephews.
BBS: Your favorite word...
AD: Hope.
BBS: Your least favorite...
AD: Confrontation.
BBS: After 120 years, when you reach the gates of heaven, what do you want them to say?
AD: Your father is waiting to talk to you about your credit card charges of the past 90 years.
BBS: Where do you want to be in the year 2033?
AD: At a PTA meeting.
BBS: Favorite 80's song?
AD: "The Promise" by When In Rome.
BBS: Time is...
AD: ...a gypsy caravan that steals away the night to leave you stranded in dream land. Ha ha. you know, that's actually a quote from a Rush song.
BBS: Who do you need to thank?
AD: Wow, the people who read what I write. I am so appreciative that it's insane. Writing for me is such a continuous and wonderful experience. And the people who come along with me, with their patience and their beautiful eyes that lusciously taste every word...I want to thank them more times than I am capable of, ya' know? Without them, I would be speaking in a vacuum and as my childhood cleaning lady taught me; you can't hear anything when the vacuum is on.

BBS: Thank you so much for your time.
AD: Oh my God, don't be silly. This was a blast. Really great speaking with you.
BBS: Sincerely?

Monday, July 14, 2003


Was Bob Dylan truly a genius when he pointed out the astute observation that time is perpetually changing? Didn't we know that already by merely looking at our watches and seeing the second hand move, against our will, beyond our control?

Sometimes, though, Dylan was sayin', we need more obvious and blatant signs. Sometimes we need to walk down the street and see an extreme tranformation from a past to a future, for us to know that the times, indeed, they are a'changin.'

One such sign showed itself to me today as I walked past a Mr. Softee truck and noticed a hand-written declaration in the window. "We have frozen yogurt," the white high-calorie-contained truck announced. Apparently, you, I and we can all scream for ice cream but thanks to the health-conscience audience, we also need to quiet down for a bit and allow the weight-conscience to scream, as well.

I never thought this day would come. Ice cream and Mister Softee, the two things in the world I thought went hand-in-hand. The broadening of the menu was to me, a compromise. And this concerns me.

Not because Softee is serving frozen yogurt--I would be hypocritical if I did not admit that I never eat ice cream anymore--but because I find that everyone around me is so concerned with their weight and image, to the point of obsessiveness, that we are encouraging eating disorders. Yes, I know about the people in Africa but people in New York are starving, as well. And it's sadly on purpose.

[Hour later: I have attempted to finish this post but to paraphrase the Everly Brothers (and Tom Cruise] I've lost that urgent feeling. It seems to me that this process of writing is a release in its purest form. It is what I'm feeling when I'm feeling it. Like MTV News, you hear it here first...or you don't.

Everything is pure. My brain flows to you like single malt at a Bar mitzvah. All the words you see before you or the ones you've skimmed because you just don't have the time to actually "read" were written in one sitting, mostly, as you can tell, without editing, rewriting or beautification. And for some strange reason, I'm learning, that when I go away from an entry and come back to it, I lose the passion of my initial outpouring.
I no longer feel the need to continue the cathartic experience of release [in fact, to prove that the desperate urge does happen, I am writing this at 7:12 AM mere seconds after I've woken up because I had a dream/nightmare about not completing this entry. I cannot remember the details but I do remember that it disturbed that I didn't finish--not the specific thought above, but that I did not complete a thought and bring you a resolution. It bothered me to the point where my subconscious awoke me like a violently disturbing (aren't they all) alarm clock.

And most interestingly, the thought I was working on was, in my opinion, important (don't we all think that our thoughts are important?). I truly believe that there is a social pressure amongst our generation to look a certain way, to feel a certain way, to fit into the glossy ads of our shallow magazines. And this saddens me. People everywhere aren't satisfied and would change something about themselves. This is not a revelation. You know it and so does the heavy set IT guy in your company.

Nothing will change. One need only take a walk in Soho just as I did the other day, to see that people everywhere are skipping meals. Things in the world of Am I Hot Or Not will just continue to focus on the superficial (which I am too so guilty of--just ask my mom when we talk about dating). What do we do now? It's too late for all this to change. We're a run-away train to waify-dom and vegan stores. When did this happen? When did we start making people feel like crap for not looking like Ashton Kutscher or Demi Moore? And yes, I'm talking to you, Mr. Softee.]

Thursday, July 10, 2003


This morning I took the subway while listening to Damien Rice's new album, "O." And suddenly, just as soon as I embarked on my violently-shaken commute, I was transported to a place of calmness, a yoga-like trance. Everyone on the train immediately had become beautiful to me, truly beautiful. Every single person.
The black-clad Asian girl with her bubblegum lip gloss and black stiletto heels which certainly looked better than they felt.
The middle-aged woman sitting down comfortably reading a romance novel of some sort, looking to her left and then to her right, and then picking her nose so gently as if the act wasn't offensive if it was done half-heartily.
The exhausted old man with more stories revealed by the wrinkles on his face than any library could ever possess.
I fell in love with one girl in particular, though, her brown rustic hair up in a bun and a long sleeve red shirt even though temperatures would inevitably climb later on in the day. Her short jeans mini-skirt, displaying her average-length-yet-satisfactory legs. Her face accentuated with a few freckles and almost-dimples around her mouth, which I'm sure exploded when she smiled like the final firework of a Fourth of July extravaganza. I wanted to talk to her, get to know what her favorite ice cream flavor was. Ask her if she preferred the shade to the sun. Excuse me, I would say to her, do you cry during sad movies?

And this is what a good album could and should do. It should perk the ears, open the heart and penetrate the soul, if you believe we still have one after living in the City for so long. I stumbled across "O" just a few months ago and it has been on repeated rotation since then. The unadulterated poignancy of songs like "The Blower's Daughter" and "Older Cheats" make me afraid that perhaps I'm becoming too in touch with my emotion.
Lest you think that his style is unprecedented or innovative; that's not the case. Rice is a folk musician in the classic sense. He created this album in his bedroom with no pretentiousness, insisting its release on a small independent label to keep its home-y feel. He uses a guitar, a violin (to an assassin-like degree), finger-picking and a female vocal accompaniment that conjures the temptation of Eve offering Adam the apple. The last song, "Eskimo,' a fifteen minute paean to Alaskans even incorporates opera successfully.
In the second half of "Cold Water," which speaks of baptism and the urgency of being heard by none other than God, Rice manipulates his vocals to create a haunting yet soothing effect that wouldn't be out of place on a Pink Floyd album. It's this kind of eclecticism within a structure that makes a brilliant debut.

Many critics have been comparing Damien Rice to David Gray and to "folk" music of that ilk but that's incredibly short-sighted and inaccurate. Gray's music, which I have casually enjoyed, sounds canned in comparison. His love, his emotions, his feelings, sound premeditated and dictated while Rices' sound so urgent and immediate that you want to ask him if he's ok and bring him back from the brink of insanity (hear "I Remember" for a specific point of reference). This is why "O" is as successful as it is; it's an emotional album without emotional being surrounded by quotes. Even records in the past that I've bestowed with so much heart have been my emotional impositions. I have attached the significance because that is how I saw it and how it connected to me. "O" is different in that it will most likely connect to all people in the same way. It is a singular vision of an artist- -it's all sincerity, all the time. When there is an absolute concentrated focus on creating a wholeness, a purity of ideas, the artist, in the end, will succeed. And this is just what Damien Rice has done with "O."

Maybe next time when I'm on the subway and I'm listening to this album and I see the girl in the red long sleeved shirt, I will walk over to her while I am engulfed with heart. I will turn the music off for a moment, after I've been inspired and say to her, excuse me but do you cry during sad movies?

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


Welcome to my world, a world that doesn't exist but hopefully one day will. This is a world where I am editor-in-chief of a wonderful magazine. The name of the magazine is unknown as of now but it would be something inspiring, hopeful, joyous, refreshing, educational and celebratory. It would be a Slurpee on glossy paper.

The coverage is unimportant. It would obviously be interesting but not necessarily interesting in a mass audience way. Like the topics written about would be written about not because of popularity but because, as I mentioned, they would be interesting. That being said, if there was a popular subject we wanted to cover like a hot new buxom blonde pop singer, we would cover it from an unusual angle. We would make her shop for groceries or we would surf the web with her or we would make her work as a waitress in a busy, high traffic restaurant. But we would not let her show us her childhood home, or introduce us to her mom, or cruise with her in her new sportscar while pontificating on the hardship of success. No, we would do none of this. Because this has been done and will be done to death.

The most important and innovative thing about my magazine, though, would be the staff. People who don't take themselves too seriously. People who don't try so hard to be ironic or cool. People who respond to emails within the ten minutes that they get them. This last trait is the most important. I can't tell you how many unanswered emails I've sent to people at magazines. They all lie in the electronic limbo, unanswered, unloved like scorned children who have no choice but to live on the streets. Sounds pretty unfathomable, right? People I know, people I thought would write me back but don't actually write me back. You're shocked. Well, don't be. All the emails I send out have a 47% reply rate (even people I work with and I see in the hall). And if you're thinking that I write them too frequently or that perhaps I'm crowding the editorial staff; think again. I give them more room than the dictionary has words.

This above all frustrates me and if I desist from writing in this industry, it will be the uncooperative nature of the business, not the business itself.

My magazine office would be carefree and laid back. We will drink beer (in moderation) during the day. We will order pizzas for the staff, leaving off mushrooms if there was enough of a protest. We will sit around and tell stories and have brainstorm sessions and listen to each others' ideas and say "nice one" when we hear one we really like and we will smile and then head back to our cubes and start working on the "nice one." We will not ignore one another in the halls. We will ask the people sitting near us if they "want something because I'm about to order some lunch." Employees will look forward to work as they will look forward to putting every word on paper. Because they love to write and talk about music and movies and things. Its not the byline that matters to us (while in private we would admit that "it is pretty damn cool"). Mutual encouragement is a must and if the executive staff feels someone wasn't so nice, we would deduct from their paycheck. We are ruthless like that. This is not the New York Times. We are not trying to be, thank God because we value our morals, our sanity and our blood.

We will let personalities shine through. The magazines will not be an indistinguishable blob of snarky one-liners. If one writer is funnier than another, then that article will probably be funnier. But if one writer captures the essence of nostalgia better then his fellow writer does, than his piece will most likely feel more nostalgic. We encourage uniqueness. You are working at this magazine because we are individuals that make up a whole. Not a whole with indispensable parts. Now give me a hug.

Our issues will first come out monthly. And as we gain more interest, we would come out weekly. We think there is so many wonderful things in the world being ignored because it doesn't have enough mass appeal. So we will be the ones focusing on them. For example, I want an article on Sam Waterson and Jerry Orbach from Law & Order. All in favor, say "aye." Staff disapproves, we don't do it. If they do, then I am giddy with goosebumps.

Also, there is no need for hating. We are not in this business to make people cry even if they are famous and sometimes deserve to cry like J. Lo, for example. So, I say to my staff, if you have nothing nice to say, then say it in the nicest way possible. Moreover, our reviews will have conclusions. We have read too many critical pieces that leave us with a "huh?" at the end. Did the writer of this "huh-piece" like the book/movie/album/product/food etc? Because I've just read 500 words on it and I still have no clue.

Our philosophy would be idealistic. Everyone dismisses idealism saying, oh, that's so 1991. Well, hopefully, we would bring it back. We are not there to sell issues. Although, that would be nice. We would be there because we cared about this topic strongly enough to want to share it with our countless (or very countable) readers.

And anyone who deals with our magazine will never feel frustrated. I know how it feels all too well and it's not something I wish on others.

This is my magazine that doesn't exist and judging by how the magazine world functions now, it never will, either. But that being said, would you like to order a subscription?

Monday, July 07, 2003


It's no secret that I have a crush on Audrey Tautou. It is as clear as the fog is not. In fact, I'm very vocal about it on this very website. The place that you are on right this very second.

But the other day, I received a very unusual email from someone who hides behind the anonymity of the internet, claiming that he or she is Audrey Tautou.

This was "her" first email:

"This is your dream woman writing you, I am sorry it has taken so long to let you know that I love reading about you on your website. I never thought that my true romantic revelations would become a reality. At least you have me on film until we should reunite as soulmates yet I am left without anything tangible of you in order to enjoy. I count the days until we meet and then we can be pensive together whilst looking at the stars. je t'embrasse tres fort et j'attends avec les pensees de toi.
Ton Amelie...."

The last sentence is in French (I'm not even sure if it makes sense) to give it the air of authenticity. While I didn't believe this was Audrey Tautou, I was nevertheless curious. Which one of my friends would pretend and even create an email account solely for the use of pranking me as a beautiful young French actress. An email from Soleil Moon-Frye would have been more credible.

This person then attempted to contact me via Instant Messenger. I asked her which one of my friends it was and no response. It appears this Audrey is not very tech-savvy--she can send a message but not respond to them.

But then after the weekend, I recieved this email:

"Allo, sorry about not responding before on aol. my computer is really
bad (ps. I hate computers) It died on me.
lets just say I keeping who I am from you for a reason, I know who you are
and we have never met. I am a female who resides currently in the eastern
part of france maybe we will talk soon by way of computer.
do you utilise msn at all?
-Madame Mysterie...."

Interestingly enough, both emails were sent from different accounts. This person should be working for Al Quaeda, considering "her" elusiveness and secrecy.

Sigh. I can't afford to waste my time on another cyber-prank (next time you see me, ask me about the time i IMed "Meg Ryan")
On the other hand, though, I don't have much else to do.

Thursday, July 03, 2003


My soda machine seems to play hard to get. If I put in a quarter like I really want a soda, it seems to refuse my change and the 25 cents slides down to the change slot.
But if I non-chalantly slide it in like la-di-da-here-goes-my-quarter, I-don't-really-care-about-this-soda, you-know, I-mean, I'll-drink-it-if-it-comes-but-I'm-not-thaaat-thirsty, then it gives me my Coke eagerly like a little child with a secret.

If there was a rude security lobby person contest, mine would win in a heartbeat.

I spoke to my sister the other night and I mentioned the rain.
"Oh, I need rain like I need a fourth eye," she said.
And I said back, "so, how's that third eye doin'?"


I remember when I was a very young child, my father, who I spoke about so fondly of just yesterday, picked me up from school in his Chevy Celebrity station wagon (which he had driven until about two years ago when the motorcycle sound it made drove the neighbors mad, forcing him to sell it). I got in the front seat, put on my seatbelt, of course, and he surprised me with a long box CD of Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The USA."

At this age, I was just a dabbler of the music. I had my fair share of Billy Joel, Elton John, Chicago, Air Supply, Richard Marx tapes but I had yet to buy a Bruce Springsteen one--and moreover, on CD. But Steven Dworken encouraged my interest in music even though he was--yes, believe it--a Rabbi. In fact, he took me to buy "Achtung Baby" the day it came out and to this very moment, it remains my favorite album of all time. Music was important to me, so it was important to him even though his taste was nothing like mine (his first favorite band: the Temptations).

I took the CD home and threw it into my barely used CD player and the song, "Born In The Usa" came on. I wasn't a deep thinker or if I had any significant thoughts at that age it was about Lynda Carter, but otherwise I probably would have been truly moved. But instead I thought, damn, this guy has to clear his throat.

Over the years, though, this album has revealed so many layers into the psyche of America and an incredibly in-depth insight into the lower-class, blue collar population I knew very little about. Every song exuded sweat, hard labor jobs, coffee in those silver tall mug-things, small talk about "broads," and lunches in matching (unintentionally) silver lunch boxes (the last of which I actually could relate to, being that my dad put my lunch every day in a metal G.I. Joe lunch box). "Glory Days" gave me an opportunity to live the glory days I had never lived and chances are, would never experience. My days were not of a glory-like nature, they were more like days at the mall.

But the songs that had the largest impact on me were not the hits. Maybe it's my snobbish refusal to like the things that everyone else likes (geekdom, be damned!) but tunes like "I'm On Fire," "Downbound Train," and "No Surrender" pierced my impenetrable middle-class soul and the white shirt it wore, providing it with a collar of blue. To this day, anytime I hear "No Surrender," I am moved. Springsteen does an acoustic version on a box set that hushed a stadium of 50,000 people. That's no easy feat. Search it out and download it (on the way home from work today, while listening to my iPod on shuffle, this song came up. I was in near-tears on the 1 & 9).

The words, though....oh, the words:
"Well, we busted out of class/
Had to get away from those fools/
We learned more from a three minute record, baby/
Than we ever learned in school..."

So true! Bruce had basically written my biography. I too had learned more from music and its culture than anything I learned as a Marketing major. Sadness.
He goes on:

"Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim/
The walls of my room are closing in/
There's a war outside still raging/
You say it ain't ours anymore to win/
I want to sleep beneath/
Peaceful skies in my lover's bed/
With a wide open country in my eyes/
And these romantic dreams in my head/"

To this day, I dream of this scene, where me and my woman (Audrey Tautou, of course) lie on the hood of my Mercury Sable and look up at the constellations. She is the only one who understands me and I am the only one who truly gets her. This is why we love each other. And despite the closing walls of the poor economy, the political turmoil, the bleakness of the future, we have our romantic dreams to embrace.
This song encapsulates hope and strength. The refusal to give up.
The mantra of "no retreat, no surrender" is an important one. One that Bruce sang to me, for me and about me and also, it is one that I will never forget.

A few weeks ago, I went to a Karoake bar wearing a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt. The bartender, a stereotypical New Jersey/Italian guy instantly bonded with me because of my choice of apparel. A six foot, muscular drunk wanted nothing more at that time than to hang with a 5'8 nebby Jewish guy from the Upper West Side. Suddenly, it was his turn to sing a song. He turned to me and asked, what's your favorite Bruce song. Come to think of it, he most likely said, "Broooooce song." I said back, No Surrender.
"Let's do it together," he shouted.
At that point, I was slightly drunk so I agreed. Why not?
Moments later, I was on a small stage with the aforementioned bullyish man of the drink, singing my lungs out with his arm around me, him screaming along in his own designated microphone.
As we were enjoying ourselves with this hearty rendition, I realized two things:
1) How Bruce got his sore throat.
2) I love this song so much.
And we did that song, pulling out the stops. Full force, with all our might and power. Our respective hearts! Our voices did not matter--who cares about talking tomorrow? This was now and we both knew that when it came to Karoake, as the chorus goes, there was no retreat, no surrender.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003


It has been six months since my dear father passed away and not a day goes by that I don't think about him. While he was alive, though, I didn't think of him very often considering we spoke about three times a day. We had shared a great deal together over the years. Most say that personality-wise, I am his dead-ringer. Unlike most children, I now take that as a compliment (obviously that wasn't always the case.)

My mother called me this morning and asked me if I had any feedback for the inscription on his tombstone. I said that I would be more than happy with what she chose and I didn't have any suggestions. Besides, I thought, everything he taught and everything he was to me would seem silly or uncharacteristic on a tombstone.

And after I hung up the phone, I began to think about all the things he taught me and the memories I have of him. The most significant ones. Well, maybe not the signifcant ones but the ones that make me laugh and the ones we refer to as "good times." Those, in retrospect, are the most important. And those are the ones we don't appreciate enough when our dads are around.

Here is what I came up with:

- Buy no-frills products because it will save you tons of money with the exception of Pepto Bismol, Tylenol, air fresheners, aluminum foil, and shampoo. All else is safe. And incidentally, once you taste Pathmark cottage cheese, you will never go back.

- Always start a speech with a joke. And try to start a conversation on a light-hearted note.

- "No Son of Mine" By Genesis (the lyrical content was irrelevant to him) is a great pop song and "Get Out of My Dreams (And Into My Car)" by Billy Ocean is an even better one.

- Sometimes listening to an oldie music station is the best way to cheer yourself up.

- Don't talk about yourself too much. People think that the letter "I" is so much more interesting than the letter "U."

- Never open your car door while the vehicle is in motion. And never let the gas tank get below a quarter of a tank. Also: take care of your car and your car will get you places.

- Whole wheat bread is good for you. White bread is not.

- Treat yourself to sugar cereals on occasion (and always get the name brands, not the no-frills ones. For example: Fruity Pebbles; yes. Fruit Stones; no.

- It's ok to cry.

- Seek out good deeds but not the credit for them.

- Sleeping late is a waste of time but respect the rights of other peoples' laziness.

- Get to know your mechanic, your pizza man, your dry cleaner, your doctors and most importantly, your barber.

- You don't need a reason or an excuse to buy a loved one a present.

- Never trust a cat especially when you're allergic to it.

- Be on time to places and if you can, even be early (which I have yet to perfect).

- Sometimes there is nothing as satisfying as a "shoot-em-up" movie.

- Happiness is a Ritz cracker with a) chopped liver on it or b) herring onions on it. And a cell phone, like life, is complex.

- Thursday night is Pizza night. And Sunday night is either chinese food or a Bar-B-Q. Deviating from this system could change the order of the universe.

- Weather every ten minutes on the ones (1010 WINS) or on the eights (880 WCBS).

- Bonding is sometimes as simple as splitting a black and white cookie.

- Traffic report is usually right before weather.

- Always be embracing, not abrasive.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003


We've been through a lot together, weather-wise, you and I. We've had our fair share of rain and pour, drenched shoes and make-shift umbrellas. We've spent many hours in our respective apartments because going outside and getting wet made everything so truly irritating. Simple acts like walking or talking, for example, became chores, up there with cleaning out your roommates' shower which always seems to accumulate insane amounts of hair regardless of how many times they empty it. So needless to say, the weather this morning came as a welcome relief, a respute, especially considering how moody you've recently been because of the rain (geez. Lighten up, girl/guy).

As I left my apartment and got dressed...or was it the other way around...I couldn't help but feel reminded of the weather in the Middle East. Like I was in Israel, a place I nostagically long to re-visit. I even joked with a friend this morning that we should head over to the "makolet" (hebrew for "market") and pick up some "lachmaniyot" (bread rolls). Granted it wasn't so funny...but he understood what I had meant because he had been there too. The mornings there were my favorite part of the day. The calmness of the slow Israeli pace, the smell of cafes brewing their insanely strong coffee which I, the lightweight, could never handle and the sound of giggling children as parents let them run to the bus on their own.

This whole positive-weather-experience (a name for a band perhaps?) made me think about my pop-culture-centric life and perhaps, a lack of seriousness or, at least, a lack of depth reflected by my blog. And one of the areas I think I have been ignoring is Israel, a once-hot, now lukewarm topic of discussion. It used to be that I couldn't go anywhere without people bringing up the "situation" (or the "matzav" as Israelis call it) but now I find it skirted over, if not mostly avoided.

And before you label me "naive," this actually doesn't surprise me at all. We live in a time of over-saturation, where because of the media we get tired of things so quickly that, as the line from "Kicking And Screaming" goes; we're nostalgic for times that haven't even happened yet. How many people truly cared about September 11th a mere few months after the event? I mean, truly cared.And the Middle East conflict, like September 11th, is a horrible tragedy that people are unfortunately tired of hearing about. We want to move on, some say. Haven't we seen enough footage, say others.

Interestingly enough, in the recent months or years, since the conflict began my perspective has changed a great deal. There is no clear definition of who are the good guys and who are the bad guys (besides, obviously, the suicide bombers). There are Israeli families suffering losses just as there are Palestinian families who mourn. There are soldiers that act out of sheer violence and anger just as there are Palestinains who condone random killing. And while I am Jewish and my allgiance lies with Israel, I am confused. In risk of disappointing you, I don't have the answers or the clear solutions but you're obviously not looking for them here, either. I am not Thomas Friedman. I am not a middle aged man with a mustache.

I haven't been to Israel in six years--which is ages for me--considering I had been there seven times before that (and once was for a year and a half). And the truth is that I have had opportunity to do so since then, on affordable trips sponsored by the affluent. I am shamed to say that I have not gone because I am human. I worry. Maybe I worry more than most humans. In fact, I worry more like a robot programmed to worry. But I will go back soon. Because weather like this makes me determined. And while I only have to remind myself of the previous downpours and perhaps crappy weather in the coming weeks and months, I know this is not the real thing. People don't come to New York for weather like this. They leave New York to find it. It's true that the real glorious thing is thousands of miles away, on an eight hour flight somewhere near the Mediteranian Sea.

And when I am there, I will wake up and enjoy the temperature, the cool breeze, the unrepentant sun. And then I will go to the Makolet and buy me some lachmaniyot.