Gefilte Fish Out of Water


Feelin’ LOST
February 6, 2010, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Amerijones, Pop Culture | Tags:

I am pretty much set when it comes to getting my American pop culture fix over here in Israel.  iTunes and Limewire cover my music needs and TV Shack hooks me up TV & movie-wise. 

Then, there’s LOST.  If you’re a fan, you know what I’m talkin bout.  If you’re not, well then I’m not gonna try an esplain.  All you really need to know for this post is that I didn’t want to wait the day or two for it to appear on TV Shack.  I needed it sooner.  So, I broke out the Big Guns, the Slingbox

This is an amazing technology my friend hooked me up with.  Basically my computer is hooked up to a separate Time Warner cablebox in New York City he has set up just for his friends living abroad.  When I connect, I can literally control an actual Time Warner cable box (with TiVO !) and watch LIVE TV as if I were in the United States. 

Most of the time I don’t bother with it.  I can get what I need with less fuss using TV Shack.  But, you know, LOST is different.  So, I TiVO’d the 2-hour final season premiere and delighted in some kick-ass, bionic storytelling.

And because there’s no remote control from my lounge chair, I watched the commercials – in English (of course).  And the local news promos.  OMG – there’s Liz Cho!  And (cutie-patootie) Lee Goldberg!  I got to watch them warn me like 20 time that a snowstorm was going to ‘foil my morning commute.’  Plus, the promos for ABC’s other network shows that were coming back from winter hiatuses – Flash Forward, V, and the like.

Here’s the thing, why this was significant.  In some ways, I am kept very up-to-date on what’s going on, what’s hot, in America.  NYTimes.com gives me my news.  Perez, my gossip.  Mashable, my tech & social media news.  And I can watch new episodes of LOST, Project Runway, glee, 24 and other series.  But I watch them without commercials.  And it turns out – I miss Liz Cho and my rightful husband Lee Goldberg!  Seeing my local news team talk about the local stories as if I were still a New Yorker…and watching advertisements in English (instead of rapid-fire, smarmy, salespitchy Hebrew ads, like I hear sometimes on the radio), and seeing the promos for those shows, as if I were still in the U.S. – wowza!, I really saw home in a different way, through this media slice I’ve been missin.

Conversely, you know – it made me realize how much Israeli media I don’t experience over here.  It’s embarrasing, but if you ask me about domestic Israeli politics, I really don’t know how to answer.  I still read the New York Times; I only know of Israeli news when a headline gets big enough so that that the Times is reporting it.  And I don’t have a TV here.  Cable is expensive, and why pay for it, when I watch so little TV to begin with, and I can use my much cheaper Internet to get everything I might need?  But as a result, I watch no local Israeli TV news (which could really help with my Hebrew language skills) or Israeli pop culture and TV series.  It’s kind of really keeping me apart from my new culture, you know?

All that, I got from viewin’ my LOST on the ‘Sling, huh?

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TARאבא
December 27, 2009, 1:06 am
Filed under: Friends, Pop Culture | Tags: ,

I saw Avatar in 3D with Anna, Eric and Yoda Jeremy last week.  OMG, you guys – you have to go see it.  I feel like I have no other experiences to compare it to; it was a completely NEW experience.  Really, like the evolution of movies; how they are going to be in the future.  Shalosh daled 3D holograms that you feel like you are in the middle of.

The only thing was when the alien race was speaking in their native language.  The subtitles continued to be in Hebrew, and I could not understand those parts.  Eh, that’s OK, I told myself – that way, it’s even more authentic to what the main (human) character was experiencing in the story; he couldn’t understand the Na’vi‘s language either.

On the other hand, my friends all look fetching in 3D glasses.

Let's go, Daddy-O!



Separated at Birth
December 26, 2009, 4:35 pm
Filed under: Just Sayin', Pop Culture | Tags:

Saw these teens as I passed by on my bike.  First thought: how much do they remind you of Jimbo Jones and Dolph Starbeam – two of the bullies at Bart’s elementary school on The Simpsons?  LOL.



When in Rome, get sucked back into the Pop Culture orgy.
October 4, 2009, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Amerijones, Pop Culture

runway

As a two-bit Pop Culture junkie (no longer hardcore, but still like to at least know what’s going on), when I first considered moving here, I asked pretty superficial questions like Will they deliver my Entertainment Weekly subscription here? (No)  How will I watch LOST? (Easy: sites like TV Shack and TV Dome stream everything next day for free, and if they don’t have the program you want to see (like Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List), you can download a program called Hotspot Shield, which – when you change your computer’s clock to Arizona Time and then use the program, fools sites like Hulu.com into thinking you are in Arizona and allows you to stream.  More details are here.) Can I still buy from the American iTunes store here? (Yes, if you still have American plastic.)

But then you get here…and that just becomes so less important.  OK, let me rephrase: for me, staying current on all the new hit series just didn’t matter as much.  The essentials – LOST, American Idol, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List, Mad Men, Project Runway – these I had to find a way to watch, and I’d have been very disappointed if I couldn’t make that work.  But lesser stuff?  Meh, I was having a Real Life Adventure, man – pop culture just doesn’t compare.  Being an adult male in language school for immigrants, studying with Jews from all over the world – um, a little more compelling than then next episode of Top Chef (no offense, Foodies).

My system for finding out new music (first reading new reviews in Entertainment Weekly, then sampling the tracks on iTunes, then trying to steal them off Limewire, and if I can’t get a good copy buy it off iTunes), was kinda challenged, b/c I feel like not all the reviews are included on EW.com – but that plus hearing via Facebook what friends in the U.S. are listening to is enough to keep things in check.

And movies?  Most of them come out here the same weekend as in America.  I’m a big Indie Queen, so I’m a little concerned about what I’m going to do come Oscar time when I want to see all the nominees (plus, um, how’m I gonna watch the ceremony live at 3am Israel Time – is that even possible?)  But by and large, it’s not like ruffing it at all.

I’m getting a little off track.  The main point is the one I made earlier – that American pop culture just matters less to me now, b/c my life is just That exciting and new to me.  And technology makes it possible to get your absolute fix.

But, then plop me back in America….

….and I’ve got a stack of Entertainment Weeklys to gorge in, I can see sleeper hits like District 9 that aren’t available here, and I’m inundated with ad campaigns on the subway for new TV series like Cougar Town (with Courtney Cox!), the new Vampire Diaries from Kevin Williamson (with unrealistically intellectual teens talking just like on Dawson’s Creek!) , and that very LOST-y Flash Forward (where everybody in the world faints at the same time for 2 minutes, and everyone has a premonition about the same day six months from then – wow!) – I’m too weak, God !!  I cannot resist suddenly caring about these new shows!

But then, you know, I get back to Israel, and it’s like – meh, whatevs.  Maybe I’ll check some of them out.  But even with taking a break from Ulpan (language school) the next few months – who has time?  Although, my friend Court told me I can access his actual Time Warner cable box via something called SlingBox…



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

untitled

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.



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



I Have a Notion.
August 25, 2009, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Cool Things, Friends, Identity, Pop Culture

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Tonight I went to a screening of Were The World Mine, a musical, LGBT-themed film that has won many awards, been compared to “Hedwig & the Angry Inch” by The Advocate and gotten great writeups in New York Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, and many others.

It was a fundraiser to help The Aguda rebuild after the horrific hate crime committed there in which two LGBT youths were shot to death and many others injured.  I mistakenly thought it was last Friday night, and I showed up to the sound of crickets.

But luckily I didn’t miss it.  For a guy who has pretty much done nothing but study and work full time in Tel Aviv for the last 6 months, and who was active in the LGBT community in New York in many ways (e.g. singing in the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, volunteering at God’s Love We Deliver), I was feeling very enthusiastic about doing something for My Community here and if I wound up with a Date out of it, that wouldn’t be so bad either.

25608528I did “The Secret” on the bike ride over there, and declared to the Universe that I was going to meet my future Husband there.  I planned on putting myself on display in the lobby of The Cinematheque, but actually I was preoccupied Tweeting  about it (and was siked when I did my first ever Tweet with both  Twitpic and TinyURL links in it [bit.ly wouldn’t work on my BlackBerry]).

I forgot that in Israel, your ticket gives you an assigned seat, so by accident I sat in someone else’s seat.  He tried to explain to me, and I was just like, No, no one’s sitting next to me, thinking that was what he was asking.  Then, I figured it out a few minutes later when I watched someone kick him out of his seat, and I realized he probably thought I was a dick by not moving when he asked (in Hebrew).  I apologized and went to my own assigned seat.  Oops. 

The film was in English with Hebrew subtitles.  You could tell that most everyone understood the English, b/c of the way the laughter sprung in all the right moments where there wasn’t any dialogue.  (Sidenote: I’m becoming a little bummed that I don’t pay for cable TV here, b/c if I were to watch films and shows the other way around – in Hebrew with English subtitles – this is supposedly a really good tool for learning Hebrew faster.  So is listening to Hebrew talk radio, but I’m not doing that either.  :-/  )

Well, it was a faNtaSTic film !!!  Really got me in the mood to find True Love.25607810  Afterwards, I got to say Hi to both Yair Hochner, who runs the TLVFest and was responsible for tonight’s screening, and Anat Salomon, who programs TLVFest.  Both of them are filmmakers.  I met Yair during the Gay Pride Parade in June, and I indirectly worked with Anat when I did PR for the film Abomination back in 2007.  It was good to reconnect with both of them tonight.

HU005439I felt very happy riding my bike home, singing Ambrosia’s “Biggest Part of Me” on my iPod in the empty street with no hands!  (I’d been testing that out, remembering that I used to be able to do it in my bike-riding-kid days of the early 80’s, but tonight I just full-on went for it, and had sort of my Rocky/King-of-the-World-Titanic moment.

One last thing:  at one point in the movie, a character said, “C’mon follow titanic_king_of_world_dicapricrowme. (and then all dramatically Shakespeare-like), “I have a notion.”  Right after, I overheard someone a few seats away explaining what the word “notion” is, b/c the (native Hebrew speaker) thought the actress said “ocean.”  This was a total reverse moment of what it’s like for me right now (with Hebrew); all the time, I mis-hear and misunderstand words, b/c my vocabularly is so small.  I was a little comforted by the fact that it happens for the Hebrew speakers with my native language, too.  😉