Friday, June 04, 2004

One week in the Goldene Medina with my eishes chaver was just what I needed. As finstere goolis goes, it's one of the better ones. We did something we never do: a Broadway show and dinner at Le Marais. We saw The Producers, which was Mel Brooks for dumb goy hicks from Iowa. Every joke telegraphed for the humor-impaired. And why didn't someone tell me it was a Musical?! A Spectacle, an Extravaganza! Help.
Le Marais, on the other hand, lived up to its billing. A hunk of beheimah at 11:00 at night, coconut ices (sorry, sorbet) for dessert -- now that's what goolis is for. One jarring aspect of eating out in New York is seeing chassidishe chevre in fancy restaurants, which doesn't happen much in Yerushalayim t"v. Which is not to say that I've ever seen a chassidishe yingerman in NY out with his wife r"l. But I do see them in small groups of men and occasionally with underdressed women clearly not their wives. I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation but it does kind of pique my curiosity.
And of course the key to the trip is multiple visits to the kodshei kodoshim, Barnes and Noble. Much browsing but I didn't actually buy anything except Stephen Jay Gould's posthumous collection of essays on baseball. (The snobs are snickering but I remind them that Barnes and Noble doesn't carry Shev Shmaatse.)
I suppose here is the spot where I'm supposed to begin pontificating on the vacuousness of Modern Orthodox life in America, on the vicarious Zionism of the Teaneck shenishba set, blah blah blah. But no. Most people in NY work too hard and play too hard, but so what? For every survival skill that Israelis have honed and Americans have not (so that Israelis think of Americans as a bunch of wusses), there is a communal survival skill that frum Americans have developed and Israelis have not. Finding the perfect balance between alienation and involvement and pulling it off with class -- when it works, it's a beautiful thing. We could use some of that here.

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