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Saturday, September 15, 2007

In Between the High Holy Days


Bob Dylan - popular music's most famous Jew.

This year - 2007 is the year also known as 5767 - to those who observe the Jewish calendar.

As I have a complete and utter disdain for dogma of any sort, I'm completely indifferent to religion to say the least. I try not to pay attention to any of it, lest I inadvertently start a Holy War. I do enough of that comparing and contrasting the Apple versus the PC. But today, someone asked me why in Hollywood last night, a party that is usually packed to the rafters was sparsely attended. Someone else told him, "Rosh Hashanah." Right! I forgot.

So, I'm thinking about it and slapping my head over and over again, saying YES...

Let us take a moment to celebrate Jew Punk! I say that because that's the web address for (and you'd already know that if you clicked it) Steven Lee Beeber's book, The Heebie Jeebies At CBGB's: A Secret History of Jewish Punk. Actually, this book has been in my consciousness for a couple years. I contributed this photo of Stiv Bators and Frank Secich doing a goose step.

If you go back in the Archives, April 2005 you'll read about that.

Punk Rock style was meant to shock. It did whatever it could, whether it was tasteless and thoughtless, to grab attention. One only needs to recall the Sex Pistols insulting the Queen as well as the presenter, Bill Grundy on his own television show. If people noticed, and especially if people talked about it... the antics continued. Indifference is the bane of any performer's existence, so shock and awe were the intention. There were a lot of swastikas. Not that these folks were Anti-Semites - some of them were simply WW2 collectors (like the Blitz brothers, Johnny, the Dead Boys drummer and Billy, the bbq genius).

There have been much more horrific displays of bad taste than the goose step. This particular goose step was meant to tease the German distributor of the record Stiv was making at the time. Some press photo! It did get a reaction.

Actually, one of the most beloved personages of punk rock was not only a dear, dear friend to Stiv and the Dead Boys, but was also one of punk rock's most well-known Jews. Joey Ramone was born Jeff Hyman. He's the cover guy on Steven's book, too!

I guess because of all the religions one is aware of, Judaism does have the reputation of scholarship and study, one's mainstream opinion of a Nice Jewish Boy is doctor, lawyer, mergers & acquisition genius first; punk rocker -- not on the radar!

But Mr. Beeber proves that mainstream opinion all wrong!

Being a Nice Jewish Boy himself, he went on a witch hunt for the Jews in punk rock and told the secret history.

The Round-Up, in no particular order:

The Dictators, Lou Reed (both pictured below), Jonathan Richman, Suicide, Richard Hell, Blondie's Chris Stein...even the mastermind behind the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren!

andy shernoff

Andy Shernoff, Dictators, 2006

Denise & the Handsome One
Handsome Dick Manitoba, 2005

Scott "Top Ten" Kempner and Ross the Boss in 2004

lou reed roxy 6-a96
Lou Reed, godfather of the NYC punk scene

One week from today is the highest of Holy Days, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. And then there's Sukkot, which no Nice Jewish Boy I know can really explain, but it is observed between September 27 and October 4. If you live in NYC, I believe that alternate side of the street parking is a free for all for you...

Anyway, these are not really the kind of holidays you'd say "have a happy...." but if your friends are suddenly not at the usual haunts, hotspots and parties next weekend, they could possibly be Jews and atoning for a variety of things and sins... yours included.

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