fear and loathing

Dramatization of Michael talking to God if God were a Samoan attorney driving a beardless Michael to Las Vegas.

(cross-posted from Kosher Eucharist)

I’ve tried to studiously ignore the Jewish-Israeli Blog Awards. They incite discord and strife within our e’er-so loving and tight-knit community, and they reward and promote topic-free writing and a suffocating flurry of political commentary by amateur pundits whose main source for information is Little Green Footballs. But now that Beyond BT has elected to go the Shas route and opine that a vote for them is a vote for God – next year’s JIBs will doubtless be wracked by controversy when SerandEz are found to be distributing talismans from the Baba Sali’s grave in exchange for votes – I’ve decided that something must be done. The JIBs, and their winning blogs, purport to carry on with the aid of Ha-Kadosh Baruch-Hu himself – yeah, I see that בס”ד up there – but nobody has thought fit to actually ask the Lord what his feelings on the matter are.

So, possessed as always of an investigative spirit, I took two tabs of the very finest blotter acid and embarked on a voyage to the King of Kings’ celestial abode. Barely ten minutes had passed before I felt a sense of profound peace and fulfillment descend upon me, and my eyes and ears were filled by the radiant Presence of the Lord.

The booming reply seemed to shake the very firmament.
It turns out the T-shirts were right. The Lord, by all sonic indications, is indeed black.
“So…uh…You must be the big cheese. Hashem. Ha-Makom. Ribbono shel Olam. The Lord of Hosts. Adonai and I. Haile Selassie?”
“None of those. Ever since I’ve embraced the Noble Eightfold Path, I’ve distanced myself from the names I was once called.”
A beat of awkward silence passed between us.
“So…uh…You converted to Buddhism, huh?”
The Lord kissed His teeth, or at least produced the equivalent sound effect.
“Yeah, I mean, I’ll be the first to admit it…even a cursory examination of history shows that the whole ‘God/human’ relationship wasn’t working out well for either of us. You transgressed, I smote, it always ended in tears. I even sent my only begotten son to save you, and you let that one slip through your fingers.”
“So You mean Jesus–”
“No. Why does everyone think it’s Jesus? Remember all that London graffiti circa 1967 about how ‘Clapton is God’?”
“I’ve heard tell.”
“Well, he was.”
“Was? But he’s still alive.”
“Have you heard ‘Clapton Unplugged’? He’s certainly dead to me.”
The Lord’s critical pronouncements thundered with the sort of finality that would make a Pitchfork Media reviewer wet his skinny jeans.
“Granted. But You’re the master of the universe and You couldn’t think of a more effective way to transmit Your message than graffiti? No lights in the sky? Rains of fire? You know…old-school flavor?”
“I gave you Layla, didn’t I? Besides, you people are perfectly willing to accept that a gaggle of fragrant Galilean fisherman could be apostles, but not London graffiti artists?”
“Good point. But I have to tell You, God, us Jews always kinda thought You…you know…had our backs.”
The Lord snorted mightily.
“Oh. Yeah. I have your backs. Right. Remember the Holocaust? I stopped meddling in you hook-nosed Shylock motherfuckers’ affairs after you managed to let your second Temple get burned down.”
“Profanity isn’t very Buddhist of You.”
“4000 years of vengefulness and jealousy is hard to shake. But I’m trying to follow the Buddha’s teachings and break the cycle. Right speech. Right action. Right view. Right intention.”
“Oh, like kavanah?”
“Will you stop being such a fucking Jew about this?”

I cleared my throat uncomfortably. Clearly, and somewhat perversely, discussing religion with God wasn’t getting anyone anywhere, and God’s revelation of his anti-Semitism, while perfectly logical, placed me on an awkward footing. I decided to gingerly press forward with the intended topic.

“So…God…You’re aware of the Jewish-Israeli Blog Awards, yes?”
“Motherfuckers spammed my inbox.”
“Right…well, if you don’t know, they’ve advanced to the final round, and one of the blogs – Beyond BT – has implied that a vote for their blog in the finals is in accordance with Your Eternal Will.”

I heard what seemed to the sound of a cosmic keyboard clacking, followed by several minutes of increasingly irritated grumbling. Then the Lord returned, His voice a pillar of whirling flames.

“They think this shit is what I want? They think this is what I created the universe for? And I fuckin’ quote:

“‘I was reviewing the Parsha Friday morning and I realized that I hadn’t informed my Partners in Torah chavrusa that it was a double parsha. My chavrusa loves to learn and each week he reads *every* Art Scroll note and translation on the parsha.

I gave him a call around 10:15 to tell him. He said that he was just sitting down to learn and he noticed Behar was short and he wondered if perhaps it was a double parsha. At exactly that moment my call came in to tell him that it was a double. Pretty cool.’

“They think I don’t got anything better than manufacturing mundane coincidences to do with my time? Motherfucker, we got weed up here!”
“…I see. Tell me more about this Noble Eightfold Path. But, uh, first, God, do You have any picks for the JIBs? Which blog would You shine Your countenance upon?”
The Lord grumbled.
“A contest in which a fiercely mediocre, Reader’s Digest-worthy cartoon and a dozen blogs by American Orthodox Jews who are just so refreshingly unorthodox win every year? Who’s supposed to win, that Kike With Cap guy? And you want my picks?”
“If it’s not too much trouble.”
The Lord released a long, hissing breath.
“Alright. JSpot.”
“Really, Lord? But I think they’re quee–”
“The Lord is down with downtown,” said the Lord, sweeping away 4000 years of religious certitude with one slightly inelegant play on words.
“Okay then, Lord. But one more question. Since You’re a Buddhist now, what would You, the unfathomable entity who brought the universe into being, want to be reincarnated as?”
“Art Blakey. God out.”

And His Presence left me.

There you have it, J-Blogosphere. The word of the Lord.

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  • Everytime Michael posts, I think, “OK, I’ll read it. But it’s just not possible for him to be any funnier, acerbic or painfully spot-on than he was last time.” But I’m always wrong. And I think Michael’s learned his lesson to not ignore the JIBs. Because ignoring something means you can’t craft humor around it.

    I have no doubt that God’s a cursing JewBu by now. Wouldn’t you be? Personally, I would have asked whether God meant the “real” or the “unplugged” acoustic version of Layla, but that’s me.

    And in reading between the lines of Michael’s words, I feel the need to point out that in order to see God, Michael took two tablets. This is a clear reference to Shavuot and the re-acceptance of the original two tablets, the Ten Commandments.

  • I date from the Sixties. I heard Art Blakey live from fifteen feet away, and he was great. I could really hear him, because I hadn’t taken, or drunk, anything.

    I date from the Sixties: I knew, and knew of, lots of people who died of drugs. One of the very best, a close friend, died from LSD, at almost-eighteen.

    Esther, you are encouraging use of stuff you would not use yourself, because you are too smart, and it’s too dangerous, by someone much, much, much younger than you. Sweet. If you’re so motherly toward him, why aren’t you worried sick about him? Because there are lots of fine rehab programs? Have you any idea what that is like?

  • Yes. Believe it or not, no actual LSD went into the writing of this post. Not the hugest fan of the hallucinogens, really…

  • JM, I object to several things in your post. 1) The implication that I’m advocating drug use by invoking the image of two tablets (although the Marxist point could be made that perhaps drugs and religion are the same substance), 2) your use of the word “motherly,” and 3) your first two uses of the word “much” in describing the age difference between me and Michael. Really uncalled for.

  • I resent the idea that Michael isn’t naturally a subversive enough individual to come up with such ideas sober. He most certainly is.

  • This was my first exposure to Judaism on the web. I was appalled. This is your ides of how to express yourself? Aren’t there enough people calling us calling us names without you contributing to it?

    I was raised in the sixties in a conservative home (my father was a kosher butcher, my grandfather was a macher at synagogue) to believe that antisemitism still exists and lurks around every corner,

    So far, I have yet to have to see where that is not true. Why on Earth would you contribute to it with a writing that suggests that not only are we not the chosen people, but that G-d ignores us.

    Really, I’m a pretty liberal guy and I enjoy well-crafted satire as much as the next guy, but this wasn’t well-crafted, it was borderline sacrilege and over the-the-border in bad taste. I was offended.


  • Esther, Michael is [DELETED: OBJECTIONABLE NUMBER] younger than you are. You are still a young woman, and quite an eyeful, from your photographs, but do the math. [DELETED: OBJECTIONABLE NUMBER] years is a long time.

    You were too being cute about LSD use. Not around me. Not with the yahrzeit just two weeks ago. That particular death took place in 1965. You weren’t even born. I am still crying. There were plenty of other deaths too, from various drugs.

    What’s wrong with being motherly?

    You neatly sidestep my remark that you are fine with activity you are far too smart to engage in yourself.

    In twenty years Michael may be a little bitter that people who could have said something, didn’t; that they were too happy to be amused by his wit, while bad stuff was happening. They figured he could handle it. But Michael is very young. He seems to do an awful lot of recreational ingesting, frokm what he writes. All in fun of course. But, could he go a week without anything? Just a straight, totally clean, boring week? Just to prove a point? Not in theory, in practice. Let him do that ,and report back that it was all right. But he can’t. He is in. How funny is that?

    I am on your side too, Esther. Do you want to feel guilty at fifty? You are pretty young too, now that I think of it.

    Marx? Chico? Groucho? You can’t be serious.

  • Roiuven gets it! Michael’s post was indeed sacrilege! That’s the point – it was at least as sacrilegious as invoking Hashem in the name of garnering votes for a blogging contest.


  • I was offended.

    Oh God, it tingles! Somebody bottle this feeling!

    Although can we please give credit where it’s due? Stating that the God of Israel is a profane anti-Semitic Buddhist with a drug habit isn’t borderline sacrilege, it’s territorial violation sacrilege.

    Jewish Mother – I went from spring 2006 to winter 2006 without taking any drugs. And it was all right. If a little, you know, boring. And I take far fewer drugs now than I did several years ago. And I go for a week at a time without drugs regularly – when there aren’t any in town, when I don’t feel like doing any, when I have more important things to do…if this is “in,” I’d make a pretty fucking awful anti-drug public service announcement.

  • OK, glad to hear it.

    I hope that includes alcohol too. Nothing at all.

  • Art Blakey was a Muslim. Hmm…. make that Kenny Clarke or Joe Chambers.

  • Most recent God sighting:

    “It was in Game 2 of Chicago’s first round matchup in 1986 against eventual NBA champion Boston. In the hallowed halls of the Boston Garden, Jordan set a playoff record by scoring an amazing 63 points against what many considered to be one of the greatest NBA teams ever. The Celtics won the game, 135-131 in double-overtime, but Jordan’s record still stands.

    ‘I didn’t think anyone was capable of doing what Michael has done to us,” marveled Larry Bird afterward. ‘He is the most exciting, awesome player in the game today. I think it’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan.'”

  • Rouiven:

    Can you go out and buy a funnybone? I hear there’s a sale at Walmart.

    I knew there was something about Beyond BT that pissed me off, but fewer things express it better than that quote. Buncha “OMG, being frum is just so cool!“, navel-gazing, sanctimonious crybabies.

  • oh michael, u are so wonderful! how might i sing your praises? and don’t say by returning your Heroes DVD b/c i don’t have it yet… (sorry!!)

    but anyway, can u please write down your conversations with God more often? they are quite entertaining– there’s just something comforting about a pot-smoking God who is also a struggling buddhist.