Thursday, January 15, 2009

'Uncle' Bernie (Madoff) and the Jews

From Newsweek: Read on and you will understand why Joseph Epstein is simply one of the best (and funniest) American writers.
Sample: There is something deeply trivial about golf that is unseemly for Jews, who have traditionally been accustomed to taking themselves seriously. Whacking away at a little ball, hoping, at the end of four hours' effort, to arrive at the finish a stroke or two fewer than the previous time one wasted a morning at this game—no, no, no, I'm sorry, but this is all wrong for Jews. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers didn't undergo pogroms and the struggle to evade conscription in the tsar's army to come to America for their descendants to put on peach-colored pants, spiked Nike shoes and chemises Lacoste to appear on the first tee promptly at 8 a.m. A Jew should be studying, arguing, thinking, working, making money, contemplating why God has put him through so many trials. A phrase like "dogleg to the left" should never pass his lips. If Madoff's depredations will bring a few Jews in off the links, perhaps that is not entirely a bad thing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Legendary Israeli Rock Band Churchills - scrapbook

Some pictures recently discovered of the legendary Israeli rock band Churchills (also known as 'The Churchills'). They are of interest (to me and my kin at least) because the cute guy in the middle with longish hair is my uncle Stan Solomon, who's recently come back 'home' to Montreal after spending most of his life Stateside. Growing up in the late sixties and early seventies I remember receiving records (vinyl) in the mail from Israel that had been either performed, written and/or produced by Uncle Stan. Of course, the significance of these recordings completely escaped me at the time. What did I know from Israel, or music for that matter, I was six or seven. Uncle Stan's stint with Churchills (and Israel) were shortlived, though even as he went on to illustrious careers in the shmatta business and then as an art dealer in Florida, he maintained producing, recording and musical management activities on the side with aspiring young bands. For years, the old Churchills records gathered dust in a cardboard box. I only became aware of the gold I was harbouring when, in 1990 I was in Israel and wandered into a Tel-Aviv record store called HaOzen HaShlishi (The Third Ear). I was greeted by huge posters of my uncle and his bandmates wallpapering the inside featuring a photo from the Churchills debut album in which my uncle flatteringly appears in his underwear. I asked the manager why the display? He answered that the eponymous album had just been 'rediscovered' as a lost classic and one of Israel's most important albums. It had just been re-issued in CD format. Of course I bought a half dozen copies to bring home and distribute among family. When I told the store manager that Stan was my uncle and I had an original copy of the album he offered me twenty-five CDs in exchange. Turns out that the vinyl is a much sought-after rarity fetching significant sums among collectors. Now, the news from Israel via two of uncle Stan's former bandmates (Florida-based Rob Huxley who also played with the legendary British band The Tornadoes, and Israeli Miki Gavrielov, who went on to a major solo career, Churchills guitarist and bassist respectively,) that a small reunion tour scheduled for the fall 2009 is set. Uncle Stan is already warming up his vocal chords. He'll need to work hard. Besides the three decade hiatus, warming up anything this week when Montreal is expecting temps of -25 will be tough.