By now only a lazy person didn’t make a trip to Bentonville, AR to check out the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – the first major art museum opened in the USA in the past 40 years. The road to Bentonville is fast and easy and if you are bored, there are places to see along the way like Nevada, MO, Precious Moments Chapel, or George Washington Carver National Monument (we did stop there but I didn’t take any pictures).
There isn’t much to do in Bentonville, unless you like playing golf. As a matter of fact, golf is so popular in Arkansas that you can get a special license plate with a golfer on it. For a non-golfing tourist Bentonville offers two points of interest – the aforementioned Art Museum and the Walmart Visitor Center.
Walmart Visitor Center is located in the Town Square where Mr. Walton opened his first store in 1950.
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I had an idea for this post for some time and what could be a better day to do this when Kansas City is swirling with football news (it’s like someone was just waiting for years to pull the trigger and update Wikipedia) and it’s cold as hell (and I know cold) so I am not about to go outside to snap some photos.
Looks like Kansas School for the Deaf – the birthplace of the football huddle maintains the most complete set of annual pictures of their football team. In today’s issue I will post some photos to trace the evolution of their uniforms (yes, there is evolution in Kansas, you just have to know where to look).
Note: I took a shortcut here and bypassed lots of uploading/linking, so all the photos link back to the search results.
This look at the past was brought to you by the Kansas City Lunch Spots : Celebrating 100’s meaningful post.
Also sponsored by: The Weather: It’s Frightful
Additional financing by: My Job: I am still employed!
Previous posts here.Continue reading →
This may be of interest to my 3.5 Jewish readers.
Few days ago Venus mentioned klezmer-punk band Golem in one of her posts. I looked up few of their videos and one song sounded vaguely familiar:
This is their take on the famous Yiddish song Rumania, Rumania originally composed and performed by Aaron Lebedeff. It just happened that the same day I was watching “The Komediant” – a documentary about a world famous Yiddish actor Pesachke Burstein. The movie mentioned that his son – Mike Burstyn grew up among famous Jewish performers and that Aaron Lebedeff himself taught Mike to sing “Rumania” while he was still in the stroller. The DVD included this version of “Rumania” performed by Mike Burstyn and Bruce Adler:
You can pick your own favorite, personally I didn’t care for the punk version. Not everything can be punked up.
If you made it this far, here is a bonus list of words that you may have heard before but didn’t know where they came from. By the way, the word “Shrek” means “monster” in Yiddish.
But wait! If you made it this far you must really be a fan of Yiddish and Jewish music. Enjoy:
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I haven’t done a recipe for some time so here is an easy one for the roasted bell peppers with garlic.
Sweet bell peppers are delicious and good for you, but most of the time they are not cheap. You can usually find them at the grocery store in three colors – yellow, red and orange (green is not sweet and doesn’t work in this recipe) but they almost never cost lest than $1 a piece. That’s why I usually buy them at the City Market where they are sold anywhere from 2 to 4 for a dollar. Today I got 8 peppers for 2 bucks. Pick the peppers that are not wrinkled without discolorations and soft spots. There is a reason why they are cheap so make sure to inspect them before paying. Anyone knows that a soft and wrinkly pepper is no good.
Wash your peppers and remove soft spots. Place in a 375F oven on a foil-lined sheet.
After a few minutes roasting pepper aroma will fill your house. Every 10-15 minutes turn peppers 1/4 turn. You will notice the pepper skin starting to look burned in places. Don’t worry, skin peels off anyway and that’s the way it’s supposed to look like.
The peppers will eventually lose their shape and will turn brown on all sides. Some amount of liquid is normal. 45-50 minutes should be plenty, after that the peppers may start drying out.
Let the peppers cool down, then remove the skin, seeds and separate peppers into medium-sized strips and pieces. Occasional seed or a piece of skin is perfectly normal.
Discard the rest.
In the meantime, peel some garlic and round up some oil, vinegar and salt. Do not use olive oil or fancy vinegar, olive oil solidifies in the fridge; any corn or vegetable oil will do. The amount of garlic, salt and vinegar depends on you. I did go slightly overboard with garlic but you can’t ever have too much.
Press the garlic and mix with oil, salt and vinegar. You should have about 4-8 tablespoons of the mixture. Just mix it wit peppers and adjust to taste. Store in the fridge.
Warning: If there is any chance of you making out (with a person), this will definitely ruin it, unless your partner eats the peppers too. Not recommended for work lunches or when you are around other people and pets.
Here is the rest of my photos:Continue reading →
The Jewish Federations of North America are conducting a campaign under the title “What’s your #ish”:
Being Jewish means something different to everyone. Whatever it means to you is your #ish.
(For those who are not familiar with Twitter, “#” denotes a tag that they can easily track and display the content on their website)
Cutesy marketing but the question is something I think about often. What does it mean for me to be Jewish, or Russian-Jewish, or even Russian-Jewish-American as the top of my blog announces to the visitors? This post has been stuck in my head for a couple of weeks, I thought how to make it non-offensive and given up; I made some mental notes, then some written ones and I am still not so sure what it will look in the end. All I know at this point that it will contain a lot more “I dont’s” than “I do’s”.
Here we go:
- I don’t believe in God, I don’t do anything religious, I don’t attend a synagogue and when I do on some occasions like weddings, I feel uncomfortable seeing how people are asking and thanking God for things. I don’t feel superior, I just don’t get it. I grew up with the notion that the “Religion is the opium of the people” and so far haven’t seen anything to change my mind.
- I don’t cover my head, I work every Saturday, I go out on Friday nights (if I am lucky); I spend most of the Jewish Holidays at work, and fast on Yom Kippur mostly to see if I can stay away from food for a day. Long time ago when I still lived in Ukraine, I went to a synagogue with a group of friends during a holiday, I think it was Simchat Torah; a group of men was dancing there like it was the best day of their lives. We looked at each other and left. Since then (late 80’s) I only visited a synagogue once (without being invited to a wedding or Bat/Bar Mitzvah)
- I eat whatever I like. My kitchen is the opposite of kosher. At any time I have enough pork in it to make a small pig. My Dad used to pack a slab of salt-pork when I went on trips – it didn’t require refrigeration. I like ham and cheese sandwiches; I mix meat and dairy at will. I have no interest in finding out which foods are kosher and what’s not allowed and why. If it’s tasty I’ll eat it, kosher or not.
- In my whole life I’ve only dated a Jewish woman for two months; I never made a point of looking for one (which cast a lifetime of not-so-well hidden-sadness on my Mom). My short experience was filled with drama, but I am sure both of us being Jewish had nothing to do with it. Sometimes I think it would be neat to try, but so far it didn’t work out this way. Lately, I’ve been thinking that only a Vietnamese woman who knows how to cook Pho can be my true love. Every week I go to the Vietnam Cafe hoping to get noticed.
- I don’t get conversions to Judaism. Things like this (watch the clip) don’t make me tear up with joy. To be fair, I don’t get any religious conversions; sometimes I try to guess the reason, most of the time I just shrug. Maybe we need someone to observe the rules we don’t like, pass around those righteous “I stand with Israel” emails and fight our battles on Facebook and Twitter. Whatever.
- I don’t stand with Israel, I don’t feel that it’s my country even though I have relatives and friends there. Israeli Independence day does not invoke any feelings in me. Let me correct that, I don’t stand with Israel automatically because I am a Jew. I stand with Israel because I am a thinking person who can see through the provocations and lies which are so transparent, you have to be an idiot not to see what’s really going on. I can go back through the last 100 years reciting episodes like this for hours. There are less and less people like me even among the Jews. It’s everybody’s loss, not because I am so smart but because the rest of the world may see it when it’s too late, but what’s new. In the meantime, I do what I can, just little things.
- I still prefer the sound of the Yiddish language to the Israel’s official Hebrew. I remember my Grandma speaking Yiddish with her friends in the little town where she lived and although I don’t speak and hardly understand either, Yiddish with its schlimazels and meshuggeners sounds like music to my ears, while Hebrew sounds foreign and cold.
That should be enough for now. The “I do” part is not nearly as extensive:
- I like Jewish food, more precisely Eastern European Jewish food, and even more precisely my Mom’s cooking. I am sure some of these recipes were passed down through generations, others were made up on the spot to use what little food was on hand, but it’s my comfort food. I don’t think I ever identified it as Jewish, just like I never identified spaghetti with Italian. And most of the time there is a box of Matzos in the house.
- I play the Jewish national sport – guessing who else is Jewish. It was a lot more fun in the USSR since many famous people hid their Jewishness as well as they could and during movies and concerts every Jew in the country was pointing them out.
I can’t think of much else. In my childhood it was easy, my Jewish nationality was stamped right there in the “fifth line” on my passport. Tens of thousands of people strove to have this line changed to something else, so their kids would not be subjected to the antisemitism and discrimination. Then the same people paid big money to change it back so they can emigrate to Israel or the USA.
I think about it a lot. Do my multiple “dont’s” betray the memories and dreams of my ancestors, who carried their Jewish identities through a lot tougher times than I could imagine? Would they be proud of me? I don’t know. When I think about my connection with my people, there is no place where I feel it more than at the Jewish cemetery. I wrote about it before, but the Kansas City cemetery I was writing about is faceless and sad. The Jewish cemetery in Odessa, Ukraine where some of my relatives are buried is full of life; it has faces, it tells the stories. Life stories, love stories, tragedies, achievements, accidents, births, deaths, emigration, relationships, memories. My Dad took me there once or twice and we walked around visiting our relatives, his college professors, famous restaurant singers, doctors, teachers, criminals; he knew many people there, too many. Now during my rare visits I walk around as well; I don’t know anyone, but it doesn’t matter: I come to feel my roots, or as some marketing schmuck would put it “my #ish”
Maybe it’s better that my parents let me figure this out on my own. It’s taking me a long time but some day I’ll get there. My daughter is a lot more decisive with these things, I never push her one way or another but she seems to have a pretty good idea who she is.Continue reading →
Maybe this #ish thing is just skipping a generation.
*I knew this would turn out long, and I didn’t even get to include the video of dancing Jews.