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Friday March 23, 2007

Two Jews Go into a Bar in Kazakhstan

"It is not unnatural that the best writers are liars.
A major part of their trade is to lie or invent and they will lie
when they are drunk,
or to themselves, or to strangers.
They often lie unconsciously
and tend to remember their lies with deep remorse."
Ernest Hemingway


Hi Folks,

The illustration above is from the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest:

" Amitai Sandy, graphic artist and publisher of Dimona Comix Publishing, from Tel-Aviv, Israel, has followed the unfolding of the "Muhammad Cartoon-Gate" events in amazement, until finally he came up with the right answer to all this insanity - and so he announced today the launch of a new anti-Semitic cartoons contest - this time drawn by Jews themselves!" site

Here's another shocking one:


I finally got around to seeing the 'BORAT' film. A bit of advice: don't watch this film right after you have eaten. It's not good to laugh that hard on a full stomach. It hurts. You will be coughing up and spewing bits of food everywhere.

That said, it is a very unethical movie.

That's one of the reasons I consider it essential viewing.

Any film that causes such a cathartic reaction of laughter in me - when I realize that it comes at the expense of people being manipulated to their detriment - is an important film worth thinking about. Why am I laughing at this stuff? A good question that needs to be answered. And I don't have the answers yet.

There are a few times in the film when Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) is in over his head: when he confronts a group of seasoned feminists, who just walk out on him (good on them!) - they don't really understand what he is doing, but still intuitively understand that as far as women are concerned, he is one cuckoo short of a cuckoo clock; when he is engaging with members of the San Francisco male gay community who are not only not intimidated by his sexual aggressiveness but even more aggressive than he is, which makes him appear timid and genuinely homophobic; and in the religious revival meeting, when he is penned in by a crowd of babbling, talking-in-tongues serious religious fanatics trying to bring him to Christ. Borat is visibly lost for words here and cannot find anything really Boratian to say, just some wimpy one-liners. (Cohen needs to watch John Safran's exorcism scenes in 'John Safran vs God' to see what the word 'surrender' means.)

The scenes supposedly on location in Borat's Kazakhstani hometown were actually filmed in the impoverished Roma village of Glod in Romania. USA Today reports that poverty-stricken villagers were offered between $3.30 and $5.50 (US dollars) to bring animals into their houses and perform other acts which ended up degrading them for the benefit of the amusement and profit of others. The studio contends that participants were paid double the rate recommended by the Romanian film office for extras. (Right. $6.30 - $11.00 sounds a lot fairer, doesn't it, considering the film has made $280 million to date on an $18 million investment!)

Two villagers of Glod have hired the reparation attorney Ed Fagan to sue the makers of the Borat film for human rights abuses. Fagan intends to submit lawsuits in New York and Florida state courts, as well as in Frankfurt, Germany.

In his own defense, Baron Cohen is himself Jewish, and is reported to be observant of Orthodox Judaism (Note: I'd like to see some proof of that.). He explained his character's racist nature by stating that the segments are a "dramatic demonstration of how racism feeds on dumb conformity, as much as rabid bigotry," rather than a display of racism by Baron Cohen himself. (ie. It's not me, Judge, it's my monkey.)

"Borat essentially works a tool. By himself pretending to be anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice," Cohen explained to Rolling Stone.

In the movie, Borat documents the fictional annual 'Running of the Jew' celebration, portraying Kazakhstan humourously as an ingrained racist and jew-hating country, but in August 2004, the Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan, addressing an international religious conference in Brussels, stated that in 10 years in the country he had never faced a single case of anti-Semitism. He praised the Government of Kazakhstan for its pro-active protection of the Jewish community. Nice way to say thank you, Sasha.

Cohen, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, says he wishes in particular to expose the role of indifference in that genocide:

" When I was in university, there was this major historian of the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw, who said, 'The path to Auschwitz was paved with indifference.' I know it's not very funny being a comedian talking about the Holocaust, but it's an interesting idea that not everyone in Germany had to be a raving anti-Semite. They just had to be apathetic."

Apathy. Or just going along with the herd? No real empathy with the victims. Watching, like a voyeur, something happening to someone else - not themselves. Much of the same audience that guffaws at 'Borat' would go to see 'Jackass'. Does he seriously think this audience is going to wake up after watching his movie? Or even stir in their sleep? No way. They go to see 'Borat' They go out and buy a slab of tinnies. They go to see 'Jackass 2'. More tinnies. Then they queue up for 'Borat 2'.


The reason I like Cohen is because he's a kind of Andy Kaufman/Norman Gunston for our times. He has a couple of degrees perspective shift on many of the peckerheads he engages so they can't see where he's coming from. Interesting to note, though, that much of the material that Borat and Ali G (Cohen's other alter-ego) draw on feature the same themes: degradation of women masked as hyper-sexual goddess worship, a fixation on anal sex (batty boys) and making jokes at the expense of jews and gays (naturally, in their best interest, of course). I'm waiting for serious Jewish and Gay rights activists to come out in support of him. I think I will be waiting a long time.

I dislike Cohen because he lies to, and manipulates, people in the film for his own personal financial gain. We used to call those kind of people con-men once. No wonder he's being sued! I hope they win.

So why did I laugh so hard at this stuff? I know that somehow I get tricked by Cohen's non-invasive harmless comedy sequences (wrestling naked with another actor in a hotel room) which then segue into agressive and nasty invasive sequences (dragging the naked fight into the hotel elevator, and lobby, in the faces of innocent bystanders, including young children, as in the instance of the rodeo.) There is also a large element of dropping-your-pants-in-public humour, which is ok, but juvenile. I'm not exactly sure yet why I laugh till I choke, but I think it has more to so with my own shortcomings (and undigested food) than with any particular saving grace of Sacha Baron Cohen. I'll let you know when I know. wikipedia article on Borat

No good opera plot can be sensible . . . people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.  -
W.H. Auden

Re: Superman and the Ku Klux Klan
I loved the bit about Kennedy and the KKK.  I wish that the same could be done for the arms dealers and their elected representatives around the world. Think of all the fun the kids would have with Bush, Cheyney, Howard and Nelson. John

Dear Joe,
I was talking to my mum the other day, who lives up in Toowoomba, Queensland. They've taken quite a few Sudanese refugees up there. Anyway, apparantly the KKK have arrived in Toowoomba and are dropping leaflets in letter boxes trying to drum up support. There was an article about it in the local paper, which I think is the Chronicle. Charming. Take care you, Fiona

(Note: Fiona, I was surfing the net for more information on this and I ran into the website newsletter for the neo-Nazi group, White Pride, called 'Stormfront,' which had the following quote on the homepage:
' Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.' Adolf Hitler

There was also link to this article in the Cairns Post:

Outrage Over Ku Klux Klan Drive
Kerri-Ann Hobbs


COMMUNITY leaders are outraged that white supremacists are on a recruitment drive in Cairns, dropping Ku Klux Klan propaganda in inner-city letterboxes.

The recruitment campaign to join the "White Legion Knights of the Ku Klux Klan" was found by a Lake St resident who was shocked at the violent group's emergence in the Far North.

The pamphlet, believed to be from the same group recruiting in Toowoomba, described how Australia was being "mongrelised" by migrants. (more) article

Re: Fame in the Hall
[you wrote:]
" Patti Smith questioned whether it is even appropriate for someone as contrary to the traditional music industry as she is to even accept such an establishment 'induction'. She came to the decision that it was OK and that she was accepting it - not for herself - but on behalf of all those battlers who would never be allowed anywhere near this Hallowed Hallway."

Sounds like good ol' GB Shaw, who I believe was offered the Nobel Prize (or maybe it was a Knighthood), and went thru great indecision about whether or not he should accept it, because he was so anti-establishment in his nature and attitude. WaylandN

(Note: WaylandN, orders of knighthood have totally degenerated since the days of Sir Lancelot, transformed from warrior fraternities into tools of political privilege and influence. Many historians believe it was due to the invention of the gun - the great equaliser - which changed the classical nature of the warrior. Now days, instead, we have: Sir Mick, Sir Paul and Sir Elton. Even New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was given an honorary knighthood: Sir Rudy.

George Bernard Shaw was the only person to ever win both the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Academy Award (screenplay for 'Pygmalion') but declined the Order of Merit:
' . . . to Shane Leslie from GBS, 7/28/1943 refusing the Order of Merit: "Not on your life, Shane. I could have had it years ago; but I refused on the ground that I had already conferred it irrevocably on myself, which was better than a revocable award from any other source. Titles and honours are for those whose services are beyond public knowledge and comprehension. Literary stars are monstrously overrated. . . "

Shaw also said the Big NO to the offer of a Knighthood, thereby joining the illustrious company of T.E. Lawrence, who refused a Knighthood and the Victoria Cross, and whose book Shaw edited, and poet WB Yeats, who refused his Knighthood, in 1915.

Little known fact: Shaw invented his own alphabet known as the Shavian Alphabet, conceived as a way to provide simple, phonetic orthography for the English language to replace the difficulties of conventional spelling. You can still order a copy of his play, Androcles and the Lion, 1962, on Amazon.com, written in parallel texts of conventional English and the Shavian alphabet. wikipedia on Shavian Alphabet


(. . . and speaking of knights:)

Hi Joe and other readers,
I feel it is important to spread around news of this site where a photographer did a tour of the Chernobyl region. It should be a reality check for people who are getting fond of the nuclear power option. cheers, marni

(Note: Marni, I've visited this site before but this time I noticed this amazing entry:

Elena's Motorcyle Ride through Chernobyl
" . . .Usually, on this leg of the journey, a beeping geiger counter inspires to shift into high gear and streak through the area with great haste. The patch of trees in front of me is called red - or 'magic" wood. In 1986, this wood glowed red with radiation. They cut them down and buried them under 1 meter of earth. The readings on the asphalt paving are 500 -3000 microroentgens, depending upon where you stand. That is 50 to 300 times the radiation of a normal environment. If I step 10 meters forward, geiger counter will run off the scale. If I walk a few hundred meters towards the reactor, the radiation is 3 roentgens per hour - which is 300,000 times normal. If I was to keep walking all the way to the reactor, I would glow in the dark tonight. Maybe this is why they call it magic wood. It is sort of magical when one walks in with biker's leather and walks out like a knight in a shining armor. "

The pleasure we obtain from music comes from counting, but counting unconsciously.  Music is nothing but unconscious arithmetic.  -
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Dear Joe Dolce,
How are you? My name is Alena. I from Russia, city Cheboksary. To me 28 years. I shall tell to you about myself a little. I corresponded with the man from the your country before. His name Mark. He is from your country. We had a long correspondence and Mark wanted, that I have arrived to him in the your country that I have seen what life there. We have together submitted the statement on reception of the visa in your country! Mark spoke, that will help my in our meeting. I thought, that have met on the Internet the love.
I and Mark made the big plans for the future, but in a flash all has changed. From the moment of submission of the statement for the application of the visa has passed 5 months. For these five months there was for what I least waited. Mark informed, that his former wife has returned to him and lives together with him. Soon they should get married. And now in Mark plans there is no me. I wrote to him some times after that, but Mark have wished me only good luck in the further searches worthy men and have told, that our ways miss. And in October to me there has come the invitation in embassy behind reception of the visa.
In the beginning I wanted to throw out the invitation in embassy. To me it was sad, because my dreams were failed, I have nobody to fly in the your country. But my uncle have dissuaded me from resolute actions and have told, that else there is a chance to find worthy the man and to use the visa to a meeting with him. I well know English and practically I have visa your country. My uncle speaks, that it really solves many problems.
Approximately in 7 days the visa will be ready, and I should go to Moscow behind reception of the visa. I write to you because in my heart there is an empty seat. I do not search rich or poor. I search careful and responsible man which wants to enjoy a life together. Is this person you? I think, that I ask not much. I have told to you a little about my life. I have told not all about myself, but it will be easier to me to write about myself if you will ask questions which interest you. I have told to you my history, and now I shall look forward to hearing from you with impatience. Write to me! I shall send you more photo in the following letter. I wait you answer. Alena.
P.S. I shall answer with pleasure if you write to me.

(Note: First BORAT - and now I get an email from Russia this morning. Co-incidence? I think not. (ie.Send photo of plow.) It's nice to know that there is an empty seat in her heart for me. I hope it's an aisle seat - with an airsickness bag. Con-persons come in both sexes.)

RE: Fame in the Hall
Great piece, Joe. You could have called it 'Fame in the Mall'. All awards, medals, gongs and all other demeaning recognition contests that pluck the individual out of the group are complete crap . . . until you win one.
John K

Dear Joe,
Thank you. I look forward to reading week's issue, to the demise of the Howard government, and the observation of human rights for Indigenous Australians - and everybody. Are these things connected?
Today, Sri Lankan Tamil Asylum Seekers, innocent people are today being shifted to Nauru, into prolonged distress and mental illness. By contrast, the great majority Asylum Seekers, wait for their cases to be determined while living in the community. One man had fled a massacre scene in Africa, to land in Melbourne on Australia Day, when I was the only one working at ASRC. He made us some lunch, and we heard some Aboriginal music at Treasury Gardens, got him a fresh t-shirt and a room for the night. Years later, his case is still not determined, but he plays in a band, and has a great circle of friends including a Church community and a beautiful partner. The events he fled and separation from his family and culture are aggravated by his not being permitted to work, but he seems to be coping brilliantly. Another friend was tortured in Sri Lanka, and lost several family members in the fighting and disruption to there. He achieved refugee status and Australia's protection while living in the community, so he already had work lined up, and a place to live. As I see it, both men remained mentally well because they have safe homes in which to recover from their horror and adjust to the life they sought. In contrast, remote detention in hopeless and artificial conditions produces excessive rates of mental illness, as Prof Harry Minas has reported.If you are interested, updates on the detention of refugees are available from: pamelacurr@justfreedom.org.au cheers, Marion Cincotta

The joy of music should never be interrupted by a commercial.  -
Leonard Bernstein



Young Take Up Signs Against Iraq Conflict
by Hector Gutierrez

 Nina Fernandez, her younger sister, Mia, and their friend Emma Dayney got their homework done right after school Monday and headed to the state Capitol to perform what they believe is their civic duty.
"We are the new generation (of war protesters)!" Mia Fernandez, 11, said.
From the classroom to the Capitol, the youngsters joined about 300 other demonstrators to continue the weekend of protests across the country that marked the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Monday's event was organized by MoveOn.org, a nonprofit group with liberal leanings.
The group had hoped to ring the Capitol but managed to make it only halfway. They were gratified, however, with the response of passing motorists who honked in support of their message to bring U.S. troops back home from Iraq. They held candles and waved U.S. flags in memory of the more than 3,000 American troops who have died and the thousands of Iraqis who have been killed by battling forces, terrorism and sectarian violence. Protesters held a large banner at East Colfax Avenue and Broadway reading: "Bush lied; 1,000s died."
"All these things that are happening with our government, all these choices our government is making - I'm unhappy with," said Nina Fernandez, 14, who was joined by her father, Bryant, and uncle, Bruce. article


Most people use music as a couch; they want to be pillowed on it, relaxed and consoled for the stress of daily living.  But serious music was never meant to be soporific.  -
Aaron Copland

Why Do Straights Hate Gays?
72-year-old Gay Man Isn't Hopeful About The Future.
by Larry Kramer

Why do you hate gay people so much?
Gays are hated. Prove me wrong. Your top general just called us immoral. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is in charge of an estimated 65,000 gay and lesbian troops, some fighting for our country in Iraq. A right-wing political commentator, Ann Coulter, gets away with calling a straight presidential candidate a faggot. Even Garrison Keillor, of all people, is making really tacky jokes about gay parents in his column. This, I guess, does not qualify as hate except that it is so distasteful and dumb, often a first step on the way to hate. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama tried to duck the questions that Pace's bigotry raised, confirming what gay people know: that there is not one candidate running for public office anywhere who dares to come right out, unequivocally, and say decent, supportive things about us.
Gays should not vote for any of them. There is not a candidate or major public figure who would not sell gays down the river. We have seen this time after time, even from supposedly progressive politicians such as President Clinton with his "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military and his support of the hideous Defense of Marriage Act. Of course, it's possible that being shunned by gays will make politicians more popular, but at least we will have our self-respect. To vote for them is to collude with them in their utter disdain for us.
Don't any of you wonder why heterosexuals treat gays so brutally year after year after year, as your people take away our manhood, our womanhood, our personhood? Why, even as we die you don't leave us alone. What we can leave our surviving lovers is taxed far more punitively than what you leave your (legal) surviving spouses. Why do you do this? My lover will be unable to afford to live in the house we have made for each other over our lifetime together. This does not happen to you. Taxation without representation is what led to the Revolutionary War. Gay people have paid all the taxes you have. But you have equality, and we don't. (more) article


" A good composer does not imitate; he steals." -
Igor Stravinsky


Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
By Jeremy Scahill
Blackwater was founded in 1996 by conservative Christian multimillionaire and ex-Navy SEAL Erik Prince-the scion of a wealthy Michigan family whose generous political donations helped fuel the rise of the religious right and the Republican revolution of 1994. At its founding, the company largely consisted of Prince's private fortune and a vast 5,000-acre plot of land located near the Great Dismal Swamp in Moyock, North Carolina. Its vision was "to fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing of firearms and related security training." In the following years, Prince, his family and his political allies poured money into Republican campaign coffers, supporting the party's takeover of Congress and the ascension of George W. Bush to the presidency.

While Blackwater won government contracts during the Clinton era, which was friendly to privatization, it was not until the "war on terror" that the company's glory moment arrived. Almost overnight, following September 11, the company would become a central player in a global war. "I've been operating in the training business now for four years and was starting to get a little cynical on how seriously people took security," Prince told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly shortly after 9/11. "The phone is ringing off the hook now."

Among those calls was one from the CIA, which contracted Blackwater to work in Afghanistan in the early stages of US operations there. In the ensuing years the company has become one of the greatest beneficiaries of the "war on terror," winning nearly $1 billion in noncovert government contracts, many of them no-bid arrangements. In just a decade Prince has expanded the Moyock headquarters to 7,000 acres, making it the world's largest private military base. Blackwater currently has 2,300 personnel deployed in nine countries, with 20,000 other contractors at the ready. It has a fleet of more than twenty aircraft, including helicopter gunships and a private intelligence division, and it is manufacturing surveillance. (more) article


"... the hardest studio music to play is Tom & Jerry cartoons.The music makes absolutely no sense, as music. You can't get into hearing it. There's nothing to hear--'bleep!, blop! scratch!' and it comes fast; everything's first take. That'll change the way you look at life." -
Howard Roberts - Jazz Guitar



The North American Embassy of Anaphoria Island


The non-profit wing of the North American Embassy of Anaphoria Island is dedicated to the promotion of music in alternative microtonal tunings. While opening the possibilities of new forms of music, sounds, and scales, we foresee alternative tuning as being possibly the most fertile environment where different musical cultures can not only interact, but stand with equal dignity. We envision this future not in a homogeneous consolidation, but in music that continually moves through a diversified texture and celebrates those culturally irrepeatable characteristics found around the world and in the worlds of imagination. website

Example: the Lake Aloe: Anaphoria Island Musical Instrument:
The 'Lake Aloe' spans 2 1/3 octaves and is a  22-tone instrument in the tuning known in the west as an Eikosany, constructed out of the harmonics 1-3-7-9-11-15. lakealoe.mp3


"There was mass hysteria in the Chess Recording Studio when I did the "Shapes of Things" solo . . . they weren't expecting it, and it was just some weird mist coming from the East out of an amp." -
Jeff Beck / Yardbirds



The latest from Apple! videoclip

(thanks to Stephen Ross)

Debating Islam versus Christianity
(thanks to Stefan Abeysekera)


"You can't play anything on a horn that Louis Armstrong hasn't played" -
Miles Davis



Amazing Italian Ice Cream

You will need:

3 mixing bowls
4 eggs, separated
200g/7oz sugar or caster sugar
400-750 mL cream
2 tablespoons ­ 12 cup liqueur, sherry, marsala, brandy, port etc.

In the 1st mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with sugar until this is pale and fluffy
In the 2nd, whip the cream until thick but not solid
In the 3rd bowl, whip egg whites to form stiff peaks.

Use a large metal spoon to fold alternating thirds of cream and egg white into the yolk mix. Try to keep it all airy. Finally, fold in the alcohol, which magically prevents ice crystals forming. I did these additions into a greased crystal serving bowl, the placed it in the freezer. No need to take it out and re-whip, as it has perfect consistency already.


Vanilla and port. You can shake dried strongly scented flowers such as lavender, gardenia, honeysuckle, sweet pea or jasmine with the caster sugar some days before making, and garnish the ice cream with flower petals for serving.

Other options are coconut, strawberries, cherries, mulberries, grated chocolate, ground cardamon, pistachio nuts. You can go over-the-top with lots of currants, spice and mixed peel, or very subtle with finely grated orange zest.
(thanks to Marion Cincotta for the recipe)



Picnic, Lightning 
It is possible to be struck
by a meteor or a single-engine plane
while reading in a chair at home.
Pedestrians are flattened by safes
falling from rooftops mostly
within the panels of the comics,
but still, we know it is possible,
as well as the flash of summer lightning,
the thermos toppling over,
spilling out on the grass.
And we know the message
can be delivered from within.
The heart, no valentine,
decides to quit after lunch,
the power shut off like a switch,
or a tiny dark ship is unmoored
into the flow of the body's rivers,
the brain a monastery, defenseless on the shore.
This is what I think about
when I shovel compost into a wheelbarrow,
and when I fill the long flower boxes,
then press into rows the limp roots
of red impatiens -- the instant hand of Death
always ready to burst forth from the sleeve
of his voluminous cloak.
Then the soil is full of marvels,
bits of leaf like flakes off a fresco,
red-brown pine needles, a beetle quick
to burrow back under the loam.
Then the wheelbarrow is a wilder blue,
the clouds a brighter white,
and all I hear is the rasp of the steel edge
against a round stone,
the small plants singing with lifted faces,
and the click of the sundial as one hour
sweeps into the next.
~ Billy Collins ~
 (Picnic, Lightning)




Peter met Sharon in a nightclub.

They enjoyed each other's company very much and at the end of the evening Sharon invited Peter to her place, where they quickly got involved in a very passionate and energetic session in bed together.

Finally, tired and satisfied, they both lay back in the bed and snuggled up close to each other.

After a short while, Sharon began tenderly stroking Peter's manhood.
Surprised but appreciative, Peter commented, "Surely you can't be ready for more already?"
Sharon replied, "No, but every now and then I get a bit nostalgic, and I miss the days when I had mine."
(thanks to Dai Woosnam)