Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The making of an artist...

What is an artist?
How does one become an artist?
What are the ingredients?

1. An artist is one that has the ability to observe and perceive (chochma).
2. To take those perceptions and formulate formulate concepts, motifs in music, art, poetry or any other form..(bina).
3. To be able to create a whole out of those ideas and abstraction (daas).
4. Finally to have the means and ability to have others see what you see (chessed).

This is the most difficult challenge to the artist.
There are those that have wonderful ideas in their head but no way of sharing them.

Another major hurdle for a budding artist is confidence. The belief in oneself. He sees a great painting and instead of being intimidated he says to himself, hey I can do that.
When reading a great story, to be able to pick up a pen and start writing one yourself.

And finally the most important component to being an artist. Is actually doing it.

It's always a treat to encounter new talent. I recently discovered a phenominal composer named Jay Greenberg.
I can't stop listening to his music.
His Symphony Number 5 is such a joy to listen to.
And then I think about everything it takes to get to that point. To the point of creating a great album. All the creativity, the hard work, the converting ideas into full orchestration, the believing that you're good enough to compose great music and finally the actual doing it. The signing a contract with Sony records.. To having your pieces premiered by the best musicians and orchestras in the country...

And then the pay off..
The critics are crazy about his music.
“The Fifth Symphony makes it obvious that Jay is a craftsman: an orchestrator, a developer, a technical whiz. And his musical ideas seem to flow easily, naturally …The Quintet, if anything, more impressive than the symphony. Like the larger piece, it is well wrought, and it has the intimacy – the immediacy of communication that chamber music should have … even if he composes nothing else – unthinkable – he has already given us something to listen to.”

“Greenberg pieces reveal a major talent …The orchestration is remarkably assured, showing a keen ear for how sections of instruments can complement and play off each other. There’s a clear sense of direction and purpose to the work, a build-up of drama and tension that ends with a blaze of high-spirited energy …Greenberg creates real music, fresh music …The disc provides an introduction to a composer who has probably only just begun to surprise the heck out of us.”

Oh..there's one thing I forgot to mention...

He's only 14 years old...


Monday, October 29, 2007

be heart...

Have you ever floated above..?
Kissed the one you love?
Have you ever felt that ..taken away?
A red circle..on her wedding day

Have you scaled the heights..
Danced through nights?
Have you been pushed down?
the deepest pit....alone?

remember what it was like..?

The first time you took your bike..
Down that hill..
The wind
in your face..
heart race..
spinning wheels..
of pure......

have you ever felt
true choking dark?
A vicious dogs bark..

Have you ever lost
your daughter
In a mall..?
Only to wake..
To her shiny blues..
The very next day..

Have you ever been given
A blood red rose..?
The reddest of roses..
On the whitest of tables..
With the sweetiest scent..
And the richest of textures..
Amidst the sharpest thorns..
that match..
The petals..

The remarkably
Delicately durable..
Just remarkable..

be still..
my heart..
But not


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Friday, October 26, 2007

Sticky Situation

from old blog

The familiar sounds of my fighting boys
What is it this it books or toys?
Enough!..Stop! I plead (shout) in vain
As they wrestle around.. each one shrieking in pain

I come to inspect and lo and behold
For there in the midst of their stubborn stranglehold
Was a sticker from those new tzaddikim album books
So they stopped for a moment in lieu of my stern looks

How can you fight and bicker over such holy Rebbes?
What would they think
If they knew
How you’re fighting like babies..

Then I took a good look
At the face in the book
Of the rebbe ...whose name I won’t mention
The one that caused this massive altercation
I turned around and walked toward the door
As my argument, my logic...fell flat on the floor



Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Humanity senses..
Our six senses
we get this feeling..
We’re hearing
Faint footsteps..
o’ some kind
Oo end of time
Some kind of Messianic
Something, someone
has in store..
for us..humanity
So we so
Force the endgame
While stuck in a timeframe..
Sorry..I have to get this call
Why’s this computer sooo slow!
Noo I neeed the next flight..
You don’t understand...!
Oh..I do
I do understand..
Its almost as if
Weve been asleep
For millennia..
Only to be told that the bus
In 5 minutes..
Suddenly inventing..
Kicking down the door..
Do we sense this?
Does this make any sense?



Friday, October 19, 2007

The Gods never forget...

Chaim crept through the corridors of his dark mansion to his impressive mahogany study.
He sat down in his leather chair leaned back and closed his eyes. It was 5am in the Weiss home.
He pulled out a cigarette and puffed langurously while spinning his chair slowly. The center of his shrine. This was his daily ritual but today he had a worried expression on his broad face.

It has been 7 years since he had discovered his new religion and his God. Out of Yeshiva his father in law bought him a nice 5 bedroom home in the posh part of town. His eyes opened to a new world and new desires.
One chilly October morning he was sitting in his study analyzing the overnight markets when he had a vision. It was an incredibly lucid apparition. His God appeared to him and spoke to him. The Almighty Dollar told him he must be worthy of his benevolence and must follow his instructions to be bestowed by it. He explained that he receives his almighty power from Judaism, and so Judaism must be used to transfer energy to Him. Certain chants and rituals are especially potent and that if he obliges then he will be handsomely rewarded.
After a few weeks of daily communion and following instructions, The Almighty Dollar started keeping his end of the bargain. But he also made more and more demands. He said, I need you to show your devotion to me by buying a new car that wlll be the nicest car on the block. Chaim gladly obliged enjoying the pleasures of his riches and the gawking of those not enlightened.
Just before Pesach, Chaim was told by The Almighty Dollar that he was not alone. There are many other hidden co-religionists hiding within the ranks of Judaism supplying TAD with his power and influence. He was taught to learn how to identify them and gravitate toward them in shul. He was cautioned to make sure not to get caught in the lure of Judaism. To especially avoid reading Koheles on Sukkos. To sit and talk and not listen to the distracting words.
Before Yom Kippur, The Almighty Dollar came to him in a more somber voice and told him tomorrow would be a big test. TAD gets a lot of energy from this day and from the devotion of his followers. In order to counter-act the strong spiritual pull of the day he was advised to focus instead on bidding and buying Maftir Yonah and Pesicha for Neila. He expected his followers to bid exhorbant amounts, thus illustrating their allegiance and devotion to him.
And so life cruised in this fashion for many years. The house became bigger and bigger, the shrine more elaborate, his wife and kids dressed up to please their new Master.

Everything came to crashing halt last week when the stern looking Doctor told him the words every human dreads to hear “I’m sorry, you have cancer..”
Cancer? How can that be? I’m young. I’m in pretty good health. Chaim was not used to feeling this way. He was used to being the one to call the shots.
He came home to a very somber atmosphere. Suddenly the 10 foot ceilings and the excessive mouldings looked disgusting to him. The chandeliers were too much. The mirror mirror on the wall did not reflect back the fairest of them all.
Here he was in his leather chair, eyes closed in the stillness of pre-dawn. His God was angry with him and was ignoring him now. He desperately needed to summon the Almighty God of Health. He went through prayer books and books of Segulos but could find no way to please a God of Health.
It didn’t take very long. In 3 months he was gone.

His wife made sure that he had the nicest and most expensive tombstone and every year on his yahrtzeit as his wife and children drive up in their brand new,shiny cars, wearing the most expensive clothes, they would always find a mysterious red rose at the foot of the tomb.

The Gods never forget...

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

...I see a village..

I see..
A village..
in the dark..
forsaken hours..
I see houses..
on awkward angles...
on hills..
..and in valleys..
I hear crickets..
And I see windows..
faintly lit...
from somewhere..
And I see faces..
Lonely faces..
red eyes..
tears on cheeks..
I see so many..
So many..

And then
I see this village..
Slowly... the sun..
Climbs the horizon..
And cars leave driveways..
and people smile..
and drive..
and drive
and smile..
and talk..
and laugh..yes
And then..
The sun goes down....
the crickets come out..
And the village


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Sunday, October 14, 2007

MY element..

I wipe away
The long day
the last drops
Of sweat..
Along with the
Kiddy pool..
And the bug spray..

I stand tall
under the tall
Red and orange..
The one
next to the huge oak
Brown and yellow
My hands ..palms up..
My face
facing the north..
For this breeze
With the old silver cork opener
I slowly...
Every pore in my body..
I inhale..deeply
And let it coarse through
Every vain...
Every cell and blood vessel..
Rush..over every muscle...
Entice..and caress..
My quickening heart..

You see...
The cold..just conceals..
A warmth..
Summer can never hope
To produce...
Like the cool silver wrapper..
Around a dark chocolate bar

and chminey smoke..
and hot chocolate..
and fashionable scarves..
and whisps of white breath
around me
With the leaves at my feet...

I’m in my element...



Wednesday, October 10, 2007 I get to a fork in the road..
and take it..

and then..
they end up serving



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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Modern Birchas Kohanim sketch...

This post will only be understood by those in Chutz La'Aretz.

It is about the 11th Commandant.

Thou shalt bring thy children and babies and place them under thy Tallis during the Priestly Blessing on my Holidays.

Outside of Israel when Birchas Kohanim is done only a few times a year, it becomes a whole production. There are special Prayers added and special chants intoned by the Kohanim 3 times during the Blessing.

There are 2 traditional songs sung.
One is the more popular song used by the Litvishe world and the second is the lesser known Chassidish chant, which according to tradition descends directly from a song sung in The Beis Hamikdosh and one can distinctly hear oriental motifs there.

The problem is that most modern shteeblich have Kohanim that were raised in the Litvish and Chassidish traditions and suffice it to say, these 2 songs do not compliment each other at all.

Since it's such a rare event, it has become a custom to bring children, and for some odd reason the blessing for children only works in the mens section, so the room promptly fills with toddlers, infants and newborns (i could've sworn there was one baby still attached at the umbilical chord).

The custom is to cover everyone under a tallis because it is harmful to see the fingers of the Kohanim.

This past Yom Tov, about halfway through Birkas Kohanim suddenly the day care center in the Tallis behind me started screaming all at once "I want Mommmmyyyyyy!!" "Ahhhhhhhhhh" "MOMMMMMMMYYYYY"
The flustered father balancing his Machzor, the screaming kids and the shushing Mispallelim...
I turned around..

Two people went on a camping trip into the wild and about halfway through the night they were awakened by a rustling sound. They groggily opened the flaps of the tent and a huge grizzly bear rushed in roaring a terrible sound. A horrible struggle ensued and the tent collapsed on the 3...

I only mention this tale so you can sort of envision when was going on under the tallis next to mine.

Now my memories of being "under the tallis" are far from pleasant. I somehow always ended up under my Gradfathers Tallis. He insisted on bringing the Tallis all the way down to the table in essence vaccum packing us under the old yellowed fabric.
Since there are alot of prayers said during the few minutes under there, the only source of oxygen filling our mini tent was directly from his mouth.
It's a miracle we didnt die of carbon monoxide.

So while I keep up the tradition with my kids I always make sure to use Scope and leave some room for fresh oxygen to flow through.

So now you women know what goes on in the mens section...

The most important thing is that..the Blessings should all come true...



Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Chol Hamoed Roundup

So we joined the caravan of minivans across the Delaware River to the Mecca for frum people in the tri state area called Hershey, PA.
Truth be told, its beautiful to see such diversity and vitality.
There mustve been close to a 1,000 people davening in the 8am Minyan at the Hershey Lodge, from every strain of Orthodoxy (who needs Uman?)
And although there were some things that upset me a bit, I made a conscious decision to focus on the postitive...and I’m sticking to it.

Frum people in amusement parks.
I could just sit back and people watch all day.
It looked like 2,000 candidates on a campaign trail Men pounding the flesh “Hey, How are you..”good..How’ve you been..?” Waving to people in the distance... Holding little children in their arms.. Wife a few steps behind, black sunglasses, dressed for a cocktail party (hey, our campaign manager never said anything about rides!).
Hey, as long as the kids had fun (although on the car ride home..all I kept hearing were long lists of the rides they did not get to go on...)

On an aside, it was eye opening to see white people driving cars with Pennsylvania license plates.