Go Watch *Monsters*

I had no idea they even had free feature-length movies on YouTube. Anyway, go watch Monsters. It’s just as good as I remember it being in the theaters; back then it felt like it was mostly about U.S. foreign/immigration policy with a smattering of Chernobyl anxiety (this was back in 2010). Now, in the midst of a plague year, it feels like it’s sort of about a lot more.

Also, are you finding that, when watching old movies now, you’re often distracted by how close people stand to each other, how blithely they enter each other’s homes or push into crowds, maskless? How we used to live was crazy, right? 😷

Xappy XrismanuKwanzXanukahNacht!!! ♪♫♪♬🎅🏿🎄✡️🐲🔥🇺🇸⛄️🕎

I’m a Jew—born and raised—but I come from a “mixed” family (they say “interfaith” now).  My dad is a Jew, but my mom was raised Christian.  Both my maternal grandparents—with whom my sisters and I spent a lot of time—were practicing Christians. Interfaith families are really common now (my wife and I are mixed), but were much less so when I was young.

As you’re likely aware, back when I was a kid there weren’t a lot of Xanukah songs for us Jewish kids. But there were absolutely zero songs for mixed half-a-Jews with an Xmas tree and a Xanukiah and a cat that managed to catch fire in the Xanukah candles every year and Xtian grandparents who came to town on Xmas Eve specifically to partake in the Jewish tradition of Xmas Chinese food.

There weren’t many mixed kids like us—and there weren’t any songs or holiday specials or children’s books that reflected what we saw and felt and loved about wintertime.

So these are my songs, for all the little intersectional mixed kids out there, who don’t have any holiday songs to sing.

Pay Toilet Locks—“The Lock Defeated By Feminism”

I sat there behind the wheel of my car, not sure what I should do, wishing I was someplace else, anyplace else, trying on shoes at Thom McAn’s, filling out a credit application in a discount store, standing in front of a pay toilet stall with diarrhea and no dime. Anyplace, man. It didn’t have to be Monte Carlo. Mostly I sat there wishing I was older.

—from Christine, by Stephen King

This is Not a Peaceful Transfer of Power; It’s a Frog Boil 🇺🇸🔥🐸

This whole article is sorta astounding. I mean, nothing is really surprising, but it’s sorta shocking to have all of your assumptions confirmed:

20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election

I can’t help but imagine all of what’s happened over the past month from the PotUS’s perspective: 

art by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/
(art by DonkeyHotey)

He’s never had a real job—not one that he could actually lose. And now a bunch of losers—people with no wealth, no audience, no “pull,” folks with meager incomes and dumb names, with little (if any) power, many of them women and people of color—they took away his toy.

And they didn’t do it by force: They didn’t pull a gun on him, they didn’t have to “see him in court!!!” They didn’t have to look at him or talk to him or even acknowledge him. They just ticked a box and mailed a stupid scrap of paper.

And all of those “they”s in the previous graff: those are “you” and “me”; we did this. We, who are weak-ass little pussies and cry babies and retarded faggot snowflakes, we hurt him, deeply. And we did it while hiding in our little shithole houses in shithole towns and bullshit states.

I imagine that, in his heart of hearts, he simply never believed such a thing was possible, so insulated from reality was his 70+ years on this earth. 

The most petulant 46 minutes in American history

It is all so astoundingly pathetic. If he hadn’t done so much to hurt so many, you’d weep for his loss of innocence.

Just to be clear: Although no shots have been fired (yet), this is not a “peaceful transfer of power.” At best, it’s a tremendous waste of the most precious resource in a time of crisis (like this one): Attention

At worst, it’s an incitement to violence. 

His blood is boiling, and we are the frogs.

What Comes After the Paint and Swastikas

(N.B. I originally wrote this for my congregation, but I figured some of the rest if you might benefit from the message, too.)

You almost certainly heard about the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids shortly before the election,“TRUMP” and “MAGA” spray-painted over the names of the honored dead.

[source]

Maybe these pictures worried you.  Maybe they frightened you.  Maybe they embarrassed you—because, let’s be honest: it’s shameful to be bullied, to get the “Kick Me!” sign pasted to your back again and again, century after century.  

Or maybe you didn’t feel much of anything. Maybe you’ve grown numb; one more slap in the face at the tail end of four years of unprovoked suckerpunches, it can all sort of blur together. I get that.

I don’t exactly have words for how it made me feel.

I saw these pictures of the Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids, and I immediately thought back to the swastikas spray painted on Temple Jacob last winter, way up in the Upper Peninsula town of Hancock.  And I thought about the dozens of swastikas and slurs defacing our local skatepark back in 2017.   

(I go to that skatepark a lot.  It was hard not to take it personally.)

And I thought about the increase in anti-Jewish hate-crimes here in America over the past four years.  I thought about the increasingly violent nature of those crimes.

I thought about the bomb threats. And the synagogue shootings.  And the stabbings.  And the rallies.  And the men with guns in the capitol.  

And so on.

And I felt hopeless. And I was afraid.

So I emailed the rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Israel (who maintain the cemetery in Grand Rapids that was desecrated on election’s eve). I wrote to voice our support and solidarity, and ask what they might need to restore the cemetery.  

Rabbi David J.B. Krishef replied almost immediately:

“Hi Dave — the cemetery was cleaned by a small group of people who live around the corner and took it upon themselves to clean the stones without even letting us know what they were doing, and a few other people, including one from Ann Arbor, who drove in and decided to wash the paint off. We are grateful for all of the love and support and positive notes we’ve received.” 

It dawned on me that this second half of the story is rarely reported, but often the case:

A lone jackass skulks around smearing his petty foulness in the dark; the whole community—not just Jews, but people from all over the community unwilling to let ugliness linger—return in the light to set things right.

That’s what happened in the cemetery in Grand Rapids.  And when I went back and checked, I discovered it’s what happened at Temple Jacob in Hancock.  

And that’s what happened here in Ann Arbor, too; I know, because I saw it:  I went to the skatepark the day after it was tagged. The city had already power-washed away the paint. And unknown members of the community at large had come through with colored chalk and, evey place where there’d been a symbol of hate, replaced it with a message of welcoming and love:

[source]

What I saw in Ann Arbor was not the exception; it was the rule, even now, in this time of widely reported “unprecedented division and unrest.” And maybe it feels like we’re mired in a time of unprecedented division and unrest because we only report the first half of the story—the smeared paint, the thrown punch, the shots fired—and then move on to the next catastrophe, without checking back to see what comes after the paint and the screaming: a nation of folks ready to take it upon themselves to fix whatever any single angry loner chooses to break.

Our Most Important Thanksgiving Traditions #gobblegobblegobble 🦃💀

I’m a child of the 1980s, so most of my nostalgic holiday memories are TV-related. 🤷‍♀️

1. “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”

THANKSGIVING TURKEY GIVEAWAY! (WKRP in Cincinnati) from Tony DeSanto on Vimeo.

(Yeah, I repost this every year, because I love this gag, and because watching this on TV—and rehashing it with my mom and sisters each year—is one of my fondest holiday memories. But it is, in my humble, a damn-near perfect gag. That’s saying something, because I find single-camera laugh-track situation comedies almost entirely unbearable to watch. If you wanna read more of my thoughts on this specific gag and what it can teach writers, you can do so here.)

2. “…your people will wear cardigans and drink highballs; we will sell our bracelets by the road sides…”

3. ♬♫♪ “Caught his eye on turkey day / As we both at Pumpkin Pie … ” ♬♫♪

4. “What do Jews do on Thanksgiving?”

(I wrote this essay a few years back; every word is both true and factual—which is a harder trick than you’d think.)

You’ll be 15 minutes into that Lesser Family Feast in Michigan when your mother-in-law will turn to you and ask:

“What do Jews do on Thanksgiving?”

You should be prepared for this sort of thing in Michigan. But even though I’m warning you in advance, you still won’t be prepared.…

(excerpt from IN MICHIGAN: A PRIMER, A TRAVELOGUE)

I hope your day is good and sweet.  Gobblegobble! 🦃💀

I was having trouble wrapping my brain around a quarter million Americans dead from COVID since March…

… so I made this:

250000dead/zl.pl 😷

Building this didn’t make me feel better, per se, but it’s giving my mourning a proper place to latch onto things. z”l

May your memory be for a blessing, Leviticus Erlewine (z”l); he was a commercial pilot from Wolf Lake, MN. He hated go-karts and loved his wife.