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Monday, Sep 13, 2010

Rabbis will tell you there are no Jewish ghosts. Just like heaven, the concept of ghosts cannot be found in the Torah (the Jewish Bible). Gentiles have the Holy Ghost, but not Judaism. Christianity and Judaism have less in common than many Americans would like to believe. But in Jewish culture—ghosts abound. This is especially in the writings of the great Yiddish Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. Ghosts, imps, demons, the spirits of the departed and such inhabit the world of his fiction. Who knows, he might be right? During this High Holiday season, it is good to be reminded of those departed whose spirits still live within us. These glimpses of Singer offer a pleasant reminder of his humanistic joy. And if decides to come back and haunt us, like Casper, he will be a friendly ghost.



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Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010
These days, beer drinkers in Washington, DC can be guaranteed that the cascades in their pints of Guinness will not be settled before three or four new “microbrew” bars spring fully-formed from the city sidewalks.

These days, beer drinkers in the Washington, DC area—as well as in so many other American cities—can be guaranteed that the cascades in their pints of Guinness will not be settled before three or four new “microbrew” bars spring fully-formed from the city sidewalks. The trend is getting pretty expensive, and pretty tired. The trend is, also, not without its fair share of irony.


Witness BrewDog’s music-themed line of beers, some of which have migrated to Washington in recent months.


Here’s BrewDog’s Punk IPA.


And here’s BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA.


And here is the band Minor Threat performing their famous song “Straight Edge”, a track that found the architects of (DC) hardcore denying the imperative to mix alcohol with rock and roll:


Whether or not the latter should inspire us to protest the former is up for all of you to decide in the handy comments section below. No matter where we all come down in that debate, can’t we all agree that this whole End of History thing is a truly ghastly idea?



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Monday, May 3, 2010



Many of the IPL’s leaders of fanatic glee and cheer hail from Australia. Would it be immodest or perhaps ill-advised for Indian women to gyrate and shake in the nearly naked costumes of India Premier League’s cheerleaders? Whatever the take, it is, however, clear that with foreignness AND fair-skin on their sides, these white recruits easily circumvent the normal social sensibilities that keep the flesh trade in the shadows. Yet, just as the tightly bound bopping bosoms provide a well-needed respite from the seemingly endless cricket matches, one only need observe the commercial interventions in the telecasts of these games to see the underlying cause of what cultural critic bell hooks calls ‘worshipping at the mantle of whiteness’.


Sales of the famed skin bleach Fair and Lovely have been trumped in recent years by the introduction of Fair and Handsome, which tries to bring men out of the closet by rebranding the same product with masculine colored packaging instead of pink. Commercial breaks in cricket matches now show products such as Vaseline’s local line of body care products recently released a whitener that promises to match the corps with the already bleached face. “Fanta face / Coca Cola body,” says one old disco chime heard throughout West Africa where the skin-bleach phenomenon nearly rivals that of South Asia. The best, however, is Fela Kuti’s song “Yellow Fever”, which makes small work of mincing up the worship of whiteness to a darn funky beat.


Nonetheless, globalizing consumerism has accelerated the trend like a sticky pedal, as all sorts of Americanisms spread worldwide with local flavors. Star endorsements and proper packaging spells profits, by any means necessary. Yet, not to be outdone, the India Premier League importing white women to titillate the fans is a new high (or low) in the internalization of native inferiorisation. It celebrates native ugliness with Pom-Poms and glitter, fair feminine flesh set against glitz of this region’s favorite pastime. Few fans seem to peel away from their zeal. Fair and Handsome is one of the most widely selling skin creams on the planet according to many marketers. Hence, sitting in the stands, under cloak and cover from the sun’s darkening rays, fans in India can enjoy whiteness while their boys play ball. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.


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Saturday, Feb 13, 2010
Lavish extravaganza overshadowed by an athlete’s tragic death.

A crowd of about 60,000 people was present at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Details about what exactly would happen were kept secret, though expectations were high because of Beijing’s expensive and critically renowned 2008 ceremony. In America, it garnered publicity because of the debut of the music video for the remake of “We Are the World”, which will raise money to aid Haiti. (Actually, the video aired about 13 minutes prior to the event.) $30 to $40 million dollars was spent on the LED screens that simulated tribal animal constellations, fabric hangings designed to look like icebergs and totem poles, high-wire acrobatics, pyrotechnics, lighting, costumed performers, and 108 projectors as Canadian celebrities including Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Nikki Yanofsky, Sarah McLachlan, and k.d. lang performed.



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Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010

Apparently the UK pub scene is a frightful place because the British ad firm Design Bridge has just designed a new pint glass which is touted to be “safe” in the bars. In other words, they can’t be handily turned into weapons with a swift crack of the glass. Reportedly a resin will hold the glass together even if it breaks. Something tells me football hooligans will still find a way to beat on each other. (via Fast Company)



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