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December 18, 2009

Someone stop him before he gets to Tu Bishvat

Jesse Lansner

At the risk of being pegged as "that new guy who cares way too much about holiday music," I have a few follow-ups to last week's post.

Thanks to the encouragement he received from people who are either tone deaf or evil, Orrin Hatch is hoping to ruin other Jewish holidays in song, starting with Purim. I'm not that troubled by this, since few gentiles have any idea of what – or even when – Purim is, and all good Jews, following the dictates of the Talmud, will be too drunk to care. [The actual commandment is "to make oneself fragrant [with wine] on Purim until one cannot tell the difference between 'arur Haman' (cursed be Haman) and 'barukh Mordekhai' (blessed be Mordecai)." And if you can't tell those two statements apart, you're certainly not going to notice Orrin Hatch singing in the background.]

But Hatch isn't the only Christian with musical gifts for the Jews. Garrison Keillor has his own suggestion for a New Year's song:

Grab your loafers,
Come along if you wanna,
And we'll blow that shofar
For Rosh Hashanah"

If Ben Stiller still had his variety show I'm sure he'd be dressing up as Bruce Springsteen and belting that out to the tune of Born to Run on the very next episode. Or not, because bloggers and tweeters across the country are up in arms about this, though that may have more to do with the context surrounding those lyrics:

Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite "Silent Night." If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write "Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we'll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah"? No, we didn't.

I'm on record as agreeing that most of the Christmas songs out there are dreck, but the chatter is not about defending the songs, but rather about defending the Jews. It's possible that Keillor actually does hate NPR listeners Jews, but I don't see it in that paragraph. Keillor's pretty much a crank in these essays, and this is a pretty tame comment compared to what he has to say about Unitarians, who have found far fewer defenders online. [It's worth noting that the Unitarian translation he objects to dates to the 1870s, which means the song is even older than Keillor is. Also, while many Unitarians are Jewish, the church does have some Christian members.]

In fact, the whole piece reads as a joke that doesn't quite work. Even more than most defense-of-Christmas screeds, Keillor's piece is muddled on exactly what the threat is or what we should be defending. Is he seriously arguing that gingerbread cookies are intrinsically connected with the birth of his savior, while a yule log and caroling are abominations that threaten the entire season? I know the man had a stroke, but he's still too sharp to actually believe that logic.

Finally, for those of you do like having songs rewritten, check out Rachel Sklar as "Lady Jew-Ga" singing Bad Shiksa. Sklar's costume is a little too demure compared to what Gaga herself wears in the video, but at least this atones for the fact that it's been almost a year since this site has had a photo of Rachel Sklar.


Thank you Daniel for this Hanukkah gift of Rachel Sklar.

Dont blame thank me.

I guess comments don't recognize strike tags.

When I went to Rachel Sklar's post, there was a pop-upmessage that said "This site has had its security certificate revoked. Do not trust this site." So I wondered if someone was outraged and offended enough to hack the site, and now I will get cooties for having visited.

"Dirty" or "Filthy" -- Not As In Hygienically Challenged

Re Rachel Sklar's "Bad Shiksa" -- from the soc.culture.jewish FAQ:

"Shiksa and Shaygetz are the Yiddish derivative of the respective feminine and masculine Hebrew words for something unclean, dirty. The appellations are customarily applied to gentiles who do things inimical to Jewish interests, such as vandalizing Jewish buildings, robbing Jewish kids of their lunch money, or becoming romantically involved with Jews :-). The root is "sheketz", which refers to house rodents and lizards. They impart ritual impurity, and therefore the term lends itself to the same kind of idea. Some have taken to using the term to refer to Christian women in general. If Christians were using the term against Jews in English, they would be saying "Filthy Jews" or "Dirty Jews", and we Jews would rightly be offended."

I know, I know, what's the big deal. I've met good old boys who bitch that anybody who can't deal with words like "nigger" and "kike" are a bunch of "PC whining faggots." Of course they never say such things in front of African-Americans or Jews, unless those African-Americans or Jews also happen to be petite effeminate men. Discuss among yourselves.

Meanwhile I shall entertain myself with another "Bad Romance" parody, far superior both in conception and execution (and general hilarity and affection for all of humanity) -- Sherry Vine's "I Shit My Pants."

Btw, anybody going after Garrison Keillor for antisemitism is reaching with an infinitely rubber arm. He works the Midwestern Lutheran culture he knows into his work, is that so wrong? No sin in that, except it has consigned him to low-rent NPR as opposed to a big bucks venue like Sumner Redstone's Comedy Central. Listen to him for a decade or so and get back to me on whether you detect anything except a shamelessly humanity-loving humorist. Yes he is getting old, which is why I suppose he peppers his patter with self-effacing jokes about ... getting old. Jon fucking Stewart is pushing 60 and I don't see anybody here trashing his sagging ass, even though his material is hardly cutting edge.

>> Jon fucking Stewart is pushing 60

I'll have you know he was born the year I was, and we're only 47.

(Neither of us is aging terribly well, though.)

Oops, I mean pushing 50. My bad. I'd still hit it.

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