Gefilte Fish Out of Water


Zionism is like sitting in a movie seat instead of hoping someone saves it for you.
September 22, 2009, 4:44 am
Filed under: Identity, Preaching

row of seats

Hello from America !

I know I haven’t posted in a while, and I’m kinda truly sorry about that.  But I’m on my first visit to America since making Aliyah from here in March, and I’m using every minute to see people and buy shit, and I just haven’t had the time or energy for it.  But I am definitely getting loads of great material for G-Fish, and I think you will love the posts that eventually result from the experiences I’m having now.

Peeps I’m seeing over here are always asking me So, how is it over there? and Do you think you’ll stay there forever? and Why did you move there?  This post is about my answer to that third question.

I was explaining to someone my decision behind making Aliyah for probably the thousandth time, and an analogy spontaneously came to me, so I went with it:  You know how it can be really uncomfortable trying to save too many seats for your friends on opening night of a really hot movie, when the theater is packed?  Four friends are off getting popcorn, or still en route to the theater, or peeing, and you’re stuck all alone defending these four seats with only sets of keys or matchbooks on them, saving them for your friends.  Every five seconds, another person enters your row and tries to sit there, and you have to say No, I’m sorry – these are saved.  And it keeps getting harder and harder to do the closer it gets to showtime and the more filled up the theater gets.  Maybe saving one seat wouldn’t be so hard.  Or maybe if you had 2 or 3 people with you helping to save them, it would also be a lot easier.  But one person saving four empty seats on opening night, Friday 8pm show of like “Lord of the Rings” – it’s practically impossible.

This is why I made Aliyah.

There are approximately 5.4 million Jews living in Israel, out of a population of around 7.1 million.  The rest of Israel’s citizens are Arabs, and though it’s hard to find consensus on the specifics, it is believed they have a higher birthrate than Israel’s Jews do.  An op-ed by Benny Morris I read in the New York Times, Why Israel Feels Threatened, says that if the discrepancy in Jewish vs. Arab Israelis’ birthrates persists, Israel could no longer be a majority Jewish state by 2050.

So that’s what I’m doing in Israel, quite frankly.  I moved there to fill up another seat and to help save the country seats so that Israel remains a Jewish state.  The worlds 8.5 million (approx) diaspora Jews can’t remain far away just expecting Israel’s Jews to keep Israel a Jewish state for them.

Yo! World’s Jews:

If you want Israel to remain your homeland, ya gotta be there.  ‘Cause if you’re not, or unless at least some of you move here, it’s gonna be harder to for those of us that are here to “save all the seats” and keep it a Jewish state.

Dig?  Just sayin’.

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Kiss My Alef
September 13, 2009, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Feelings, Friends, Identity, Published Columns, School

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Did a whole week go by without any new posts from me?  Dang.

New column up today though at iGoogledIsrael, so chew on that.

Tomorrow’s my last day of intensive Kita Alef class at Ulpan Gordon.  I’m both happy and sad about it.



My Love Letter to Madonna
September 6, 2009, 11:00 am
Filed under: Cool Things, Pop Culture, Published Columns

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I reheated reworked my G-Fish post on Madonna’s Tel Aviv shows into a cleaned up Love Letter to Madonna on iGoogledIsrael.com, where I am a regular contributor.

My editor embedded a link into the article – a YouTube clip of Madonna’ first night monologue and “You Must Love Me” performance.  From 2:58-3:09 is the moment where she is totally looking at and singing TO ME !!

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BTW, here’s the clips of Lourdes and Rocco performing with Mum.



Sober & Toasty.
September 5, 2009, 3:21 pm
Filed under: Friends

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The day after the Madonna shows was my 9th sober anniversary.  I’ve been clean & sober and attending AA meetings for nine frigging years (thank God).

I decided to throw myself a housewarming party for the occasion.  I’d been wanting to have one, but prefered to wait until most of my artwork was up on my walls.  Also, I had a stupid notion that “I wasn’t good at throwing parties.”  I mean, I don’t cook and whatnot.  But my friend Anna said that was silly, and I could just use Facebook to invite peeps, buy snacks from the supermarket, fire up the iPod and violà!, I’d be in business.

And so it was.

My friends Jeremy, Samadar, David, Ron, Leah, Itay, Anna, Eric, Keitlin and Jean attended.  Some people brought cakes and desserts, one guest gave me a gift certificate to an art gallery, and one guest bought me a beautiful cactus in a pot that perfectly matches my curtains.

The three packages of appetizers I bought were all in Hebrew.  I figured I’d wait until an Israeli friend showed up so I would know how long to nuke them for.  Only one problem.  Samadar told  me they weren’t nukable, but for a stove only, and I don’t have a stove or even a toaster oven.  *wah, wah!* [Debbie Downer music.]  Samadar jumped into action, alternating between my hot plate (with makeshift tin covers) and microwave to cook the pizza squares I had opened.  30 minutes and some smoke later, we produced some soggy dough gobs!       And, scene.

Soggy, dough square, anyone?

Soggy dough square, anyone?

I planned the party to be from 8:30-11:30 p.m., and my guests arrived at 8:45 and left at 11:45.  Just perfect!  We really all had fun, gabbing and laughing and kibbitzing.  I had just enough chairs to accommodate everyone, with a few peeps grabbing pillows or whatnot and sitting on the floor.

We used my computer at times to look at Jeremy’s amazing paintings and my Madonna pictures.

When everyone left, I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude.  Here I was, 9 years sober, living in Israel, embarking on a writing career (having just discovered my passion for it after moving here and starting this blog), just saw my # 1 icon up close and personal in concert, just scored a major professional accomplishing (landing my client on PerezHilton.com), and having met a really nice boy this week I was to go out with the following night.  Do you think I ever imagined this would be my life when I put down alcohol and drugs on September 3, 2000?

I could not have imagined this for myself.  IT IS BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS.

With 15 minutes left in my anniversary, I called my sponsor back in New York (I have one in Israel, too) and got to tell him about my gratitude, the week’s activities, and hear him congratulate me, and us tell each other we love one another. 

I am just so blessed.

Then, I even cleaned up my apartment and got it superspiffy again before going to bed.  Here are some pics of most of my friends from the night.  I cheated with the lead pic above.  It’s from the next night, when I was a guest at Anna & Eric’s house, and they had people over for Shabbat Dinner Wings (*mmm, slobber*), which is totally in the Torah, I think.

Me & Anna

Me & Anna

Samadar & Jean

Samadar & Jean

Itay & Leah

Itay & Leah

Me & Jeremy & our Stars of David

Me & Jeremy & our Stars of David



Sticky & Kosher
September 5, 2009, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, Pop Culture

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I got closer to Madge on Tuesday than ever before in my life.  This was during the first of her two “Sticky & Sweet” shows in Israel.  I’d already seen this show four times last October in New York City.  Some peeps are like WTF? You’ve already seen this show, why would you see it again?  To which I can only respond

Duh.

Said another way, Madonna is simply my favorite artist and performer of all time.  Who cares if I’ve seen the show before and know (generally, b/c every show is nuanced and different) what is going to happen next.  I consider seeing Madonna perform live an excellent way to spend my time; it’s electric, happy, fun, theatrical – why wouldn’t I want to repeat that experience as much as possible ???  Let’s say you had an amazing hamburger blowjob hot stone massage at Canyon Ranch – the best one you ever had; you enjoyed it so much and it made you feel outstanding.  If you have a chance to enjoy another of the same rides on Space Mountain Wolfgang Puck crème brûlées State Dinners at The White House, wouldn’t it be a no-brainer to enjoy the experience again?  There is only ever THIS MOMENT: NOW, people.  Having an amazing time at a Madonna show can give you lasting great memories and maybe killer photos to enjoy, but I can’t enjoy the show NOW again.  For that, I simply have to see it AGAIN.  Anyway, I’m getting existential and off-track and hadn’t planned on writing a denfensive tirade to people who ask me why I saw the show a total of five times.  I feel a need to cleanse my palette and start again.  Shall we?

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Even though I’d seen her various tours a total of 12 times, I’d never paid for the top tier tickets.  I go to all her shows in the town I’m in, pay like the $250 range for one night, and the $150 range for the other nights.  But always, even when I’m in my best seats for the show’s run (maybe, first level side right near the stage), I can’t help envy the peeps below me in the first row who are like two feet from her.  I don’t care how much it costs, next time I’m going to spend the money to get THAT I tell myself, but come purchase time, I never do it.

Well, enough of that shiz.  This time, I went for it.  Life is abundant.  I can afford this.  There is enough money for it.  Because I’m a member of her fan club ICON, I was able to buy my ticket during a pre-sale before the general public could.  As M states in her Hard Candy song “Beat Goes On” – It’s Time! Your world! Your life! Your choice! It’s time! Live it up!

I bought three of the cheaper priced seats to the same show and sold them toIMG_2889 my friend David.  And went about my life.  The sun rose and set about 90 times.  She announced a second concert, but I put the breaks on buying another $400 ticket.  Anyway, my friend David said he knew the promoters in Israel who worked with Live Nation to bring her here.  He was going to try and get us backstage.  And because I booked a morning drive radio tour for her manager Guy Oseary‘s 2004 book On the Record and wisely had his assistant’s contact information tattooed on my arm held onto his assistant’s contact information, I pitched Guy on Madonna taking a meeting with the nonprofit organization I work for, re: M becoming our spokesperson.  (I know – longshot, but if you don’t try…)

So, finally it was showtime.  The first thing I wanna say about that was this was the easiest commute I ever had to a concert.  There was no backed up expressway traffic all vying for the same exit, no long lines for parking lots; none of that shizizzle.  No, because Madonna was performing 73959890_kzfdooo8in Hayarkon Park, I could ride my bicycle there.  But it’s better than that; I didn’t ride my bicycle through city streets with traffic or crowded sidewalks dodging people  or have to stop at traffic lights.  I got to ride the same trail I jog on regularly, part of the same route I ran the Tel Aviv Marathon on – something totally familiar and private and personal to me, something mine.  I rode my bicycle with no hands in solitude.  It was just a magical, meditative start to the night.

The expensive tix I had were known as “Golden Circle” tickets.  They were separated from the cheap sets by a barrier, but among we lucky Golden Circle ticket holders, they were still general admission.  Meaning – even though she never goes onstage before 9:30 p.m. and there was an opening act (DJ Paul Oakenfold) if you didn’t arrive early enough, you  would not get a spot up against the end of the catwalk, which is where I wanted to be.  I got there around 6:30 p.m., and was about the 3rd person deep from the barrier – pretty good.  The sun was going down, but it was still hot, and I didn’t bring any water, b/c I didn’t want to have to pee; if you left for the bathroom, there goes your good spot, and nobody likes a full bladder except maybe people into watersports.  So I had only chewing gum to keep my mouth moist.

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Golden Circle Ticket vs. the little people

I wound up next to a nice trio of young Israelis – Orly, Valerie, and [sorry, I forget your name].  We got along and joked, and I gave them only as many concert spoilers as they asked for.  There were also some nice diehard Baltimore queens I talked to that flew in for the show.  But right before showtime, this boisterous dyke couple showed up.  Well, really just one half of the couple was obnoxious; the other was totally just her follower.  I was distracted by some dancers who came out onstage to keep the waiting crowd entertained, and the Obnoxious Thing slipped past Valerie to get in front of me, but behind Orly.  So, the group of friends was now split up, and O.T. had s stupid, gigantic backpack  on.  Complaining ensued.  O.T. wound up staying the whole time, but she moved so Orly could be with her friends again, and she removed her backpack.  I prayed that she gets everything I want, and I blessed  her, and all the things AA and The Secret say to do.  It was fine.

I just wanna say that being that close to Madonna is totally thrilling.  Previously, I had gotten about 10 feet away from her at Rabbi Yehuda Berg’s book launch party for The 72 Names of God, and during one of The Confessions Tour‘s performances my chiropractor friend Greg was hired to adjust all the dancers and gave me the backstage pass for the on-call dentist hired by the tour who didn’t show up (but he made me promise not to actually go backstage) and I got really super close up seats next to a riser on the side, about four feet away from her.  She looked right at me at one point and gave me a beaming smile, and I remember I pointed to the Hebrew tattoo I have on my left bicep and smiled, since she is a Kabbalah devotee.  Cornball move, Scott!  Like, did I expect her to stop the concert and go Excuse me, everybody, look – this young man has a Hebrew tattoo on his left arm!DSCN2818

Anyway, for Tuesday’s show, when she was at the end of the catwalk, she was about 4 feet away from me, and when she got down on a smaller riser in front of the left of the catwalk – right in front of me – SHE WAS ABOUT 18 INCHES FROM ME !!!  *Swoon* *Die* *Faint* *Squeal*

Scott, Chris, Mike--GALAI was wearing a muscle shirt I got from 2004’s Re-Invention Tour.  It has Madonna’s name in Hebrew on it.  Most Israelis wouldn’t have this shirt unless they are jet-setters or lived in the U.S. at that time, b/c Madge hasn’t performed in Israel since 1993.  Two times I saw her look in my direction, and I got up on my tippy-toes and pointed to/ran my finger across her name in Hebrew, sort of non-verbally saying, Look, M, I have that Re-Invention shirt with your name in Hebrew on the front and no one else does. Aren’t I special?The second of those times she noticed me and smiled directly at me.  *Stun*

Well, then at the show’s most intimate moment, when she sings a Spanish-tinged acoustic “You Must Love Me,” I did a bit I’ve been doing since the New York shows.  After she sings the line You must love me… I answer her by yelling I do! I do! I do! I do, Madonna! I love you so much, Madonna! I do, I do, I do!  Well, this time when I did that for the first time, she looked and sang directly to me, and I got farklempt and gasped and brought my hands to my chest like a little girl and she responded by smiling wider and delivering the line again You must love me…

It was an indescribable moment for me – one of the best of my life that I will draw on whenever I need to feel happy & special.

*le sigh*

Riding home was a joy.  The trail was lit but isolated.  I basked in the quiet and rode no-hands all the way home, singing to myself.  I had too much energy to sleep, so I stayed up uploading a Facebook album of my best photos from the show.

Let’s wrap this mother up.  I went to the second show the next night and had cheap seats.  I went with my friends Steph and Nikki and had the most fabulous time at the show with them.  M designs her shows to be spectacles enjoyed by even the person in the furthest, cheapest seats, and I got to appreciate these visual elements of her work.  That – and all the space to dance my effin’ tail off !!!  Seriously, probably no need to do cardio for a week now; I was drenched by the end of the show, and I got some props from Israeli girls who dug my gonzo dance style and asked to take my picture.  Given a choice, sure, I’d rather be 18 inches from her again than so far back.  But I felt not a trace of regret during that second show.  It was a spiritually celebratory atmosphere, and I enjoyed it to the max.

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Oh, over the years I’ve become friendly with the editor of Madonnalicious.com – a woman whose fan site is so great it wins awards, yet her day job is actually being a bio-physicist researcher or some shiz like that (I am not kidding).  I sent Clare images and reports of both shows, and she posted them both times.

It gets even better.  There was a rumour Madonna’s daughter Lourdes was going to perform with her for the first time during the last show of the tour.  On the first night I told this rumor to the new friends I made and was standing with.  But I wasn’t on the lookout for Lola that night, b/c the rumor was she would appear during the 2nd concert.  But – boom! – it’s the last number of the first concert and Lola is onstage dancing with Madonna!  I didn’t realize it, but my new friend Valerie said That’s her daughter! That’s her daughter!  I was like Whatevs and ignored her, b/c I thought she was saying That’s her water! That’s her water! (like, she was excited that someone was drinking onstage).  But fortunately, I snapped a few pics of the moment anyway, b/c M took a fan’s Israeli flag and draped it over herself, and I wanted a shot of this.

Little blurry, but...

Little blurry, but...

...these are H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, man !!!

...these are H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, man !!!

So, the next day my favorite celebrity gossip blogger, PerezHilton, posts an image of M & Lola together from the big screen monitor during the first show, asking for peeps to send him video of the moment.  I didn’t have video, but I had the images I just showed you.  So, I sent him those, along with a picture of he & I together (I met him for work in 2006) and two press releases from the nonprofit organization I work for now.  [note: I’ve promised my boss I wouldn’t write about that organization on G-Fish, so I’m not going to post the link to what I’m about to tell you next).  Anyway, even though everyone visits Perez to read his “celebrity juice,” he periodically does posts about charities under the heading A Worthwhile Cause.  I’ve been trying to get him to do one about us, and I thought it was a no brainer b/c of what we’re about.  But he hadn’t done it.  Yet.  Until, I contacted him with these images and tacked on at the end of my email – …while (if?) I have your attention, I’ve been trying to get you to post about our nonprofit org…yada, yada… 

And he did!    Dudes, Perez gets 10 million unique visitors per month.  This is more people than read People magazine.  I usually skip over the A Worthwhile Cause posts when i read the site, b/c I’m there for the celeb dish, but if only 1/10 of his visitors read the post and click-through to our site – dude, that is just so huge.  In publicity terms, I consider  it up there with New York Times, Today Show, and even Oprah.  (Well, I’ve gotten NYT and Today, so maybe Oprah is next?)  Just an amazing cap to come out of these already amazing shows.

Here are some more images from both nights.  Enjoy!

Look at that tushie !!!

Look at that tushie !!!

Ray of Light

Ray of Light

She's Not Me

She's Not Me

Stephanie, Nikki & Me

Stephanie, Nikki & Me

You Must Love Me

You Must Love Me

Me the 2nd night, being happy

Me the 2nd night, being happy