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(You Gotta) Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the negative...

Pay no attention to the number by the month.  Here's a good thought for the New Year.  Shannah Tovah. Ron                        ...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Who Cries at Christmas?

OK.  I admit it.  I love Christmas.  It’s not a theological, religious or faith thing.  No, it’s more sociological, psychological, and nostalgic, I believe.  Nevertheless, I love it.  My friend and colleague Rabbi Ben Kamin wrote that Jews are outsiders at this time of the year, outside looking in, or something to that effect.  How not true for me. 

I never wanted a Christmas tree.  I never asked to put lights up on the house (although we always lived in apartments in Chicago).  I never wanted to go to midnight mass (although I did go several times with high school buddies, all of whom were Christians).  But I certainly remember riding around Chicago with my dad looking for the best light displays.  And, later on when he lived in Deerfield Beach, Florida, driving over to the National Inquirer’s headquarters to see their world renowned Christmas light display. When Juca and I were first married we lived on Addison on the North side (just a few blocks from the cathedral…I’m referring to Wrigley Field) and would love going downtown to the Loop at this time (Ba’yamim Ha Hem, Ba’Zman Ha Zeh) to see all of the store displays and marvel at the shoppers on State Street.  Good times. 

But I expect that that’s not it; not the real reason that I love Christmas. It is the sentiment, the warmth of the holiday.  It’s the hope and wish for peace on earth goodwill toward men.  Christmas is Pesach.  It’s family time; family history; family stories; it’s over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.  That’s Christmas.  How great to think of kids excited to wake up on Christmas morning to see what is waiting for them under the tree. 

Thank God Judah Maccabee and his gang saved the Jewish People so that Jesus could be born 168 years later so that we could have this wonderful holiday. 

So the real confession here is that whenever I hear Bing Crosby sing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” or “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” or The Weavers sing, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” or especially whenever I hear Judy Garland sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,”  the tears come.  (I cry whenever I hear Judy Garland sing anything…even “The Trolley Song.”  But I digress) Right, so who cries at Christmas?  Me, that’s who,.  Right Ben, it’s not my holiday, but it means a lot to me and in my own way I’m right in the middle of it.  I don’t feel like I’m on the outside looking in.

The Weavers and Pete Seeger add a line after the goodwill toward men sentiment.  They sing, “Why can’t we have Christmas the whole year around?”  With all that’s going on in Connecticut, Israel, Afghanistan, etc. etc. we certainly could use it. 

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas.


Friday, December 14, 2012

A Must See From TV's 60 Minutes

You may have seen this on 60 minutes.  If yes, you'll still find it interesting and like many second viewings will see missed information.  If no, I think it's a must see.

The Holocaust List 2012 has finally opened up to public
Subject: Incredible The Holocaust List found. This story was aired on CBS on "60 MINUTES" ** about a long-secret German archive that houses a treasure trove of information on 17.5 million victims of the Holocaust. The archive, located in the German town of Bad Arolsen, is massive (there are 16 miles of shelving containing 50 million pages of documents) and until recently, was off-limits to the public. But after the German government agreed earlier this year to open the archives, CBS News' Scott Pelley traveled there with three Jewish survivors who were able to see their own Holocaust records. It's an incredibly moving piece, all the more poignant in the wake of the meeting of Holocaust deniers in Iran and the denial speeches in the UN. We're trying to get word out about the story to people who have a special interest in this subject.
It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.
This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests...............who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the Germans looking the other way.  Now, more than even, with Iran, among others claiming the Holocaust to be "a Myth" it's imperative that world NEVER forgets.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brubeck is Dead

No words can express how I feel at the passing of Dave Brubeck.  

Ronald Klotz has shared a video with you on YouTube
Blue Rondo A La Turk - Dave Brubeck
by muzbey
First track from the best Dave Brubeck album Time Out. Name comes from the 9/8 turkish rhythms as 2+2+2+3 and 3+3+3 which are played consecutively in this piece.

Ronald Klotz has shared a video with you on YouTube

1966 in Germany

Dave Brubeck - piano
Paul Desmond - alto sax
Eugene Wright - bass
Joe Morello - drums

                                                                                                December 29, 2009

Dear G.U.C.I. Alumni:
I've been thinking lately about the year 1960.  It was a big year for me.  I entered high school that year, I saw Pete Seeger for the first time that year, I put on a football helmet for the first time.  It was in 1960 that I would hear the jazz album that would direct my musical interest for the next fifty years. 

A couple of years earlier my parents moved us from the north side of Chicago back to the family reservation on the west side of town.  But, I still got on the El often to return to Rogers Park to see my best friend Gene and spend time in the old neighborhood.  It was on one of those trips that Gene told me that his uncle had left him the keys to his apartment and that he wanted to go spend the weekend there.  It was a different world then and my parents had no problem letting me go with Gene.  So, two fourteen year olds go off to spend a weekend alone in an apartment on Waveland Avenue in Chi town.  Perfectly normal, right?  Well it was kind of normal.

My buddy Gene was a budding jazz fan and brought a few albums for us to hear on his uncle’s record player.  That’s when I heard it.  I’ve been listening to it ever since.  Gene showed me an album cover with some weird abstract art on it and said, “Wait ‘til you hear this.”  The album was “Time Out” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.  I never heard anything like it.  It was thirty-four minutes of energy, improvisation, changing tempos, swinging and not swinging and then swinging again, jazz.   I’d soon learn that Paul Desmond was the alto sax player in the quartet whose unique sound would uplift and haunt you at the same time; and that Joe Morello was the drummer who could actually play a melody (in any time frame) on the drums.  We must have listened to that album twenty-five times that weekend.  I had the two best known numbers, Blue Rondo ala Turk, and (of course) Take Five, embedded in my psyche by the time I caught the train home. 

Later I bought the album.  I wore it out, literally.  I bought it again, then once more before it finally came out on CD.  Last month “Time Out” was re-mastered and re-issued along with a DVD of the Brubeck Quartet to mark the fiftieth anniversary of its first release.  It’s magnificent!  It’s the music that led me to investigate and fall in love with jazz.  It started with “Time out” and expanded chronologically in both directions from traditional jazz to swing to be bop to modern; from Armstrong to Goodman to Basie, to Davis, Pepper, Getz, Rich, et al.  It started with that abstract art album cover and my buddy, Gene saying, “Wait ‘til you hear this.” 

Brubeck is being honored tonight on the Kennedy Center Awards program.  I owe him a deep debt of gratitude; and to my buddy, Gene.