My parents both remembered being hungry and waiting for handouts and charity during the depression and there was something about them, and others I’ve known who suffered during this time, that was permanently and irrevocably fucked up by this. I am over an hour in the car with the kids each day and they hate my music so we listen to the endless loop of Morning Edition and they sit innocently with their backpacks and lunchboxes while the phrase "worse than the depression" is bandied again and again and I am chilled to the bone.
Despite, and because of this, I struggle through my annual pre Days of Awe prayer and reflection. My New Year’s message was going to be about religious tolerance, particularly for Israel, even though the Peace Now movement has pretty much faded away and most Israelis are cynical about any rapprochement. My own naive hopes (I have never visited the country) were pretty dashed when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said "Zionism has greatly weakened and, God willing, it will be destroyed soon." I made a big deal about Jews cynically taking money from certain Evangelicals, knowing that the Christian’s hope and vision hinged on the obliteration of the Jewish faith. Perhaps even stranger bedfellows are Ahmadinejad and certain anti Zionist ultra Orthodox Jews he had a friendly meeting with. These anti-Zionist Haredi ironically live in Israel, where they are exempt from military service, get enormous amounts of public money for their schools and wield political control what is way out of whack with the percentage of the population they represent.
Also overshadowed by the financial news was some nasty business that came to light about that champion of deregulation, John McCain. When McCain was running against Bush, Carl Rove dreamed up something called push polling. This is a diabolical form of spreading lies, disguised as polling. In the Bush vs. McCain instance the "pollsters" asked McCain supporters if they would be more or less likely to vote for McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child. This was in reference to the daughter from Bangladesh that the McCains adopted. The daughter is not McCain’s love child at all and he made a righteous stink about this despicable spreading of disinformation. The daughter truly was adopted from an orphanage in Bangladesh. Cindy arrived home with the baby without having asked or informed McCain. She claimed that Mother Teresa herself had handed her the infant and begged her to take her home. Actually, Mother Teresa was in a different hemisphere at the time Cindy nabbed the baby girl and this is a pretty creepy thing to lie about I think.
For all the umbrage McCain took at Bush’s push polling, New Republic Writer Jonathan Cohn received a call from "Central Polling" and agreed to participate in a poll. One of the early questions established that Cohn is Jewish. At this point, either suspicious or just writerly, he began to take notes. He was asked if his vote would be influenced if he were to learn:
Obama has had a decade long relationship with pro-Palestinian leaders in Chicago
The leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yousef, expressed support for Obama and his hope for Obama's victory
The church Barack Obama has attended is known for its anti-Israel and anti-American remarks
Jimmy Carter's anti-Israel national security advisor is one of Barack Obama's foreign policy advisors
Barack Obama was the member of a board (sic) that funded a pro-Palestinian charitable organization
Barack Obama called for holding a summit of Muslim nations excluding Israel if elected president
The Dodgers, after sucking royally at the beginning of the season, miraculously made the playoffs and I shouted and wept with joy. Himself and I are about as unlikely sports fans as there could be. Himself is chintzy in the snack department and Spuds says he gets too emotional so I am the preferred escort for most of the games. We seldom see other kids accompanied by just moms. It’s usually dads or whole families. I don’t wear Dodger gear but I promised Spuds that if we made the playoffs I would go blue and I picked up a hoodie at the last regular game of the season. I also promised Spuds a Manny Ramirez dreadlock wig and a blue doo rag. I bring a radio to the games and listen to Vin Scully call the shots through my headphones as I watch the game. Once I repeated to Spuds something Scully had said and one of our seatmates, marveled, "Wow lady. You’re listening to Scully? I thought you were listening to classical music or something."
Professional sports is pretty much anathema to most of what I believe, if I think about the big picture. The parking lot at the stadium is a sea of beer bottles and SUVs with the most profane hip hop there is, blaring. Inevitably, some drunken lout gets thrown out of our section. Many of the chicks present are hootchie mamas with fake tits and bare midriff baby tees. Grossly obese fans wobble up the steep aisles laden with trays piled with nachos, rancid french fries and flaccid Dodger dogs. The beers are eight bucks and the food is ridiculously expensive and comically repulsive. Although, we have yet to try the new Canter’s concession and Spuds has been promised a corned beef sandwich and I will try the matzoh ball soup during the playoffs. I have been suckered in though and feel like the boys in blue are family. Furcal is back from back surgery and Jeff Kent pinch hit just three weeks after knee surgery. The cutest Dodger, Andre Ethier is a new father and rookie pitcher Clayton Kershaw, at age twenty, is the youngest player in the league. I have bought into the boondoggle and just don’t let myself think that it’s really all about big dicks and big money.
Another great pleasure is seeing Spuds at his most self assured navigating the stadium. Some huffy Padres fans accused us of being in their seats and Spuds calmly examined their tickets and explained that they were in the even section and that their seats were about a mile away, on the other side of the stadium. He elbowed me for snickering when they set off on their hike. I am starting to get it about the sports thing. Life is a bitch and the news is the worst in memory and it is blissful to take refuge watching our sluggers and holding each other tight while Nancy Bea plays "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the 7th inning stretch. I will wear my Dodger hoodie and accompany my child clad in wig and doo rag to the third playoff game with no trace of embarrassment and I will be wistful when the season ends.
This week we reflect on the metaphor of God opening the book and deciding who will be blessed for another year. Our economy is on the verge of collapse and inevitably some greedy Jews have been contributed to this. My family has benefitted from the largesse of (former?) scoundrel Michael Milken and (current?) scoundrel Sheldon Adelson, who both launder their money with staggering contributions to Jewish causes. I have purchased Kosher poultry that was probably produced in conditions absolutely contrary to the spirit of Kashrut, even to the extent of using child labor in the slaughterhouse. My children grow so rapidly that I often buy them clothing made in the third world because it is so much cheaper than that made in the U.S. and I assume there are Jews involved in importing these goods. I wish everyone in the world would behave better but I hold my own people to higher standards.
Tomorrow is the birthday of the world and Spuds will be 13 and I will officially be the parent of two teenagers. The stock market continues to plunge as I write this. The election seems neck and neck and we could actually end up with a president who doesn’t believe in evolution or birth control. Sunday we will be at Chavez Ravine watching the Dodgers vs. the Cubs and eating the stadium version of deli food. I cooked all weekend to provide lunch after services at the little temple. Our banal little lives rattle on in a big scary world. I will pray as ardently as I can for the atonement of my people and for the people of the world. My own sins are many. May I be graced forgiveness and made stronger to turn away from sin. My fears are great but my blessings are many. I know that the world needs a fuck of a lot more than our prayers but I believe that millions of Jews praying together throughout the world lifts us all to a better place. The God of fear and the God of love are one and it has never been more urgent to strive to feel this. Happy birthday to Spuds and to the world and L’shanah tovah.