Thursday, January 31, 2019

So this happened...

I wanted to write about this on Monday, but it was a school half day, so I didn't get to it. Then our heat and fridge broke. Obviously, in frigid temps those two things took precedence. I didn't want to forget to put it out there though, because I think it's important. Especially in light of other things I'm seeing on social media, from people I used to have very warm feelings for growing up, that turn my stomach. I can't blame them though for being in a bubble. These two happen to be typical white American males. They've never had to experience what I did this past weekend.

It was E's birthday and we went to the Palisades Mall in Rockland County NY last Sunday. There are all kinds of things to do for/with kids there. He'd gone there with a friend for the friend's birthday so he knew what he wanted to do. B took him to do the activity he wanted to do- 5 Wits. It's some kind of Escape Room thing. I went to walk around the mall.

I never go to this mall. I think the last time I went there it was over a year ago. Or more. I think we went there a few times when E was much younger. It's out of the way, it's huge, and we have three malls by our house. Like within ten minutes of me and each other. Then two more still closer than Palisades. However, Palisades is four floors and has stores we don't have. Like, an As Seen On TV store. You all know how much I love As Seen On TV.

The Palisades Mall is in West Nyack, NY. That is in Rockland County. People who live there and around tend to just call the whole area Rockland instead of using town names. I don't know why. Maybe because it's a small county? Bear with me while I give a short backstory on the area. The demographics always included Jews and Orthodox or Hasidim to be exact, but the population has exploded in the past few years. I don't know how many years this has been going on.

I'll also tell you that I don't know the difference between Orthodox and Hasidim. To me, they're the same or very similar. I actually tried reading what the differences are and I didn't get it. If I didn't get it, as a Jew, then you KNOW the rest of the non-Jewish population doesn't know the differences or that there ARE differences between ANY of the sects of Judaism. Let us not forget that I once wrote about how a mom in town said I can't be Jewish because I'm "sexy Jew and don't wear the outfits..." and another said I don't "have the big nose or the curly hair".

The situation in Rockland is a hugely controversial topic because the Orthodox community is very insular and doesn't use the public school systems. They build houses of worship and schools that are tax exempt. It screws anyone not in their community. I get that.

Let me just put it out there, as I'm sure I have before- I'm against any form of extreme religion. I'm also against religious institutions having tax exempt status. They make plenty of money and they can pay taxes. From what I've read, the whole scene is a problem in Rockland with what's happened to the public school systems there because of how everything has gone down with this particular sect of Jews. If I had to pick a side, I wouldn't be siding with the Hasidim. I stand by thinking their loopholes on how to get around the "rules" are complete BS. If you're going to observe, then do it. You don't want to observe it, you don't. A string or a pole doesn't magically do anything.

The bigger problem, for the rest of us, is the rise in Antisemitism in this area, that has come from the Rockland takeover, as it's been called. First of all, I need to say- Orthodox/Hasidic Jews are not my people. I'm pretty sure they don't even consider me Jewish. I'm Jewish by DNA but I'm not religious and most people who read this blog know I call myself "the atheist Jew". If I had to be pigeonholed into a group, I'd be considered Reform. Most American Jews I know are Reform or Conservative which, in layman's terms is Jew-Lite and Jew-Middle. The non-Jews in Rockland see us as all the same though. We're all just "Those JEWS".  When people are spewing hate against "those Jews", they become my people, and I become theirs.

Whether we are or aren't the same, none of us should have swastikas painted on our homes & businesses or other Antisemitic acts done to us. And, trust me, if  you're any kind of Jewish and read the comments section in any of the articles about this topic in our local papers, you'll be building a bunker in your yard and asking your closest non-Jewish friends if they have an attic to spare, just in case. B likes to measure people in terms of whether he thinks they'd throw us in the ovens or hide us in their attic.

If you think I'm exaggerating, here's what happened to me...

I'm in the Palisades Mall. It was Sunday, so that means Shabbat was over and the Orthodox Jews flock to the mall because they can't shop on Saturday. I was waiting for an elevator with an Orthodox family of five. The elevator door opened. There was an older white guy with a cane - I'd say probably in his early 50's but looked older because of crazy and a hard life. The other was a couple of unidentifiable minority status. I don't even know that they were the same. She looked Latina and he looked Indian to me. It's important to the story to know they weren't white, but clearly something that led him to assume they were not Jews. I'm white, and don't look like any particular group. I could be anything. People typically are surprised to hear that I'm Jewish. In my experience, often, people of other cultures that only know stereotypes and few to no Jews, don't realize that people who are very pale, with blue eyes and straight hair can be Jews.

The Orthodox family, in clearly in stereotypical modest/black dress, got on the elevator and I followed. Immediately the cane guy got loud, saying we're all going up, and asking where they were going but not really listening. It's very confusing there- it took B and I about twenty minutes to find an exit and it still wasn't the correct exit. The family appeared not to be paying attention to the guy, probably because he seemed like someone who would/could get belligerent.

The family and I got on at level two. I was getting off at level four and so was this man and the other couple. The family decided to get off on the third level. As soon as the door closed, the man started yelling, sort of more to the minority couple, saying, "Of course they don't know where the F they're going because they're f'ing Jews". Presumably he thought they'd agree to his rant since they didn't "look" like the Jewish family. The couple immediately were annoyed and said something like, "Just stop, that's not cool". He just kept going on, belligerent, "F'ing Jews! They're ruining everything, taking over Rockland, taking our jobs. They own everything and everyone...." I just raised my hand and was like, "I'm Jewish & you really should shut the f*ck up..." and I walked out of the elevator. He yelled, "Well, I went with a Jew once but I didn't like it!"

That's all I had time to say. I was in that elevator for like sixty seconds and this all went down. All the things I could say or do flashed through my mind, but they all ended up with me in handcuffs. I had seriously considered grabbing his cane and then beating him with it. I can totally see how violence happens because I felt violent.

I left that elevator so pissed. On the one hand, I don't live in Rockland. The stories I've heard of Hasidim aggressively going to people's homes trying to get them to sell so they can make some kind of a compound, are insane, rude, and whatever else you want to call it. On the other hand, just like not all Christians are hate mongering fanatics, not all Jews are these Jews either. Not all the Jews in their own community are doing anything but just living their lives. Like, the family in the mall. They were just doing their thing, shopping and walking around like anyone else. Any time you start talking about groups of people with blanket statements, there's going to be a problem. He's certainly not the only person to think this about "the Jews". ALL THE JEWS.

I saw him hobbling behind me and I debated going back three times. Three times I turned around, looked at him, and decided to keep moving. What was I going to do? I wasn't going to change his mind. He also looked crazy. I thought to myself- What if E had been with me? Would he have said something? Would he expect me to do more? Would he have wanted me to do more? What would the conversation be like after? What if I confronted the guy further and he had a gun? It's not like it would be a foreign concept for a crazy angry white guy to start shooting up the place.

I was angry that E would've had to hear such ignorance, but knowing he'd be hearing it somewhere, at some point, because, as people who can fly under the radar because our skin is the same color as theirs, we always do, eventually, hear it. If only I made money every time I heard "Jewed them down" in my life.

The scenario is real. Antisemitism is real. Hate crimes are real. This is why I have a problem with the comments that I'm seeing from people I grew up with, that are pro the current administration. Calling democrats "pieces of shit" on Facebook. Still yelling Benghazi when I see none of their outrage about the troops that 45 has gotten killed. Definitely no call outs when 45 stays silent on hate crimes.

I feel like it's because of 45 that people think it's okay to say stuff like this guy said in the elevator. The President isn't denouncing any of the hate that's come forth. Am I a "snowflake" for being angry over Antisemitic ranting? Would they brush it off, saying that's it was just one guy? I've had conversations with non-Jews where they've expressed surprise that there have been incidences of Antisemitism in North Jersey. Or they just full on refuse to believe it's rampant enough to be an issue. If you've never had an experience like mine, then you don't know what it's like to have a real fear that you or your family could be attacked just for being born with certain DNA, color, sexual orientation, etc.

That guy at the mall just represented to me a whole unknown number of people who will always find a reason to hate the Jews. Crazy or not, he just reminded me that I don't have to even be dressed the part or do anything negative, and it doesn't matter what positive contributions to society I make, I will just be hated for the blood I was born with.

The real pieces of shit are those who refuse to see they live in a very safe bubble and stand silently as those who don't have that cushion continue to have hate perpetrated on them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Winter 2019: ATNY News, Classes, Workshops, Etc

Actors Technique NY | ATNY at Pearl Studios, 519 8th Ave. 35/36th St., 12th Floor, New York, NY 10019
TV/Film On-Camera Kids & Teens
Act & Audition Technique Classes

Begins January 26th/27th, Beginner/Advanced.
Saturdays l Sundays l Tuesdays l Wednesdays

Starts January 26th/27th
Ball, Hepburn & Davis.
What did these TV/Film legends have in common?
They Worked on Their Craft. Success Followed.
Control what you can.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Dirty Little Secret

Most of our clients at work are seniors. If not seniors, then like fifty and above. We get random younger people, especially for repairs, but generally, the soccer mom is not our clientele. For anyone that doesn't know, the quick explanation of what we do is that we make custom lighting and repair people's old lamps, other lighting, and lampshades. That's the short version. The reason that seniors are our main clientele is because that is who seems to care about quality. People closer to my age tend to go to Home Goods and when something breaks, they just get rid of it. Our clients are usually bringing in lamps or chandeliers to shade or repair that they've had for years or that have sentimental value.

Because social media tended to skew younger in the past, and even having smartphones, I didn't always ask customers if they had any kind of social media accounts. We didn't even really do much for work on Instagram until much later than we could or should have because I didn't get it. It seemed foreign to me and I felt like Facebook was enough. Then, Facebook bought Instagram so I decided to check it out again.

I was able to post on Instagram and have it go directly to our Facebook page too so it was getting a two-for-one. We also have so many photos of product it was easy to post on a semi-regular basis. We're not particularly tech-y with the computers and devices so we actually couldn't update our real website for awhile. We'd used a company to make and manage the site, and they were basically holding it hostage, not allowing us to do anything to it on our end, even once we ended the relationship with them. At least with social media, we could post and it immediately current stuff would be out there for people to see.

Now. we probably post a few times a week. Some weeks, it's daily. People are very visual and what we do is very unique. Since there are very few people that make things in this country, there are even fewer that seem to fix things. We do, so we show that. Also, most of what we make or do to reinvent things, comes from our heads. We don't necessarily have an example of what we plan to do, physically, in our store. So we take photos. We post them so someone might see and say- hey, that looks like my lamp. I didn't even know I could do or have something like that done to it. Sometimes, people get nervous when we try to push the envelope of creativity, so it's much easier to get them on the same page if they can see we've done something along the same line as what we want to do with their piece.

If a customer or couple seems interested in what we do as a whole and seems to be considering doing other things than what they originally came for, I'll show them photos on our Instagram from my phone. But really, the best thing, is if they have a Facebook or Instagram account, is for them to like our page(s) and look at their leisure.

I ask. I say, "Do you have Instagram or Facebook?" and the responses range from frustrating, to confusing, to hysterically funny. The commonality is that none of them seem to want to ADMIT they have an account. Like it's Tinder and they're married. Sure, there are some, with flip phones, that say they don't do social media, and it's legit. I can tell. Then, there are others, who I KNOW, just don't want to say they do. And I'm not sure what the big deal is and why it's like their dirty little secret.

When the answer is, "No, no...I don't get involved in all that...." but they sort of trail off and there's a, face. A face where I just know they do and they just don't want to tell me. I then ask them if there is anyone in their household who might just have an account. I follow that up, QUICKLY, with something along the lines of - "I don't need you to POST anything on it. I just want you to be able to look something up..." Then they almost always admit they HAVE an account, but just don't go on it. Which, I'm not sure I really believe either, but who knows?

Once they admit to an account or two, I get a whole long explanation of WHY they have it at all. Most of the time, I could've already guessed- they opened it, or their kid opened it for them, to see pictures of the grandchildren. That's the answer ninety percent of the time. Not that I needed one. If only they'd just say they have an account to begin with. We could avoid this whole bizarre exchange and just get to where they can see the photos much quicker.

I get seniors being suspicious of social media. I know smartphones and social media apps are new to many of them. I know that hackers take advantage of seniors often, using Facebook messenger to make them think a loved one is kidnapped, to get ransom money. However, this pulling teeth kind of conversation just trying to give them a better way of seeing our work can be exhausting. The funny thing is, once I get them to our page(s), they're thankful to have the photos to look through!

So, if I ask you if you have Facebook or Instagram, and you DO, just tell me! I won't sign you up for a dating app, I won't try to get ransom from you. I just want you to be able to access photos of our work! It's to make you more comfortable when you've shelled out money for a magenta and green lampshade and you originally came to me thinking you were leaving with a plain white lampshade. Yes, that tends to happen often. You never have to use the account for anything else, except to look at our stuff. I promise.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Lonely Boy

B put this on our Shades of Soho Facebook page so I'm copying & pasting it here below:

I wanted to give a shout out to another small business owner Corey at Cocoon Recording Studio. I met Corey thorough FB marketplace. I was purchasing a turntable for E from him. In the short conversation we had, he mentioned he had just opened a recording studio in Jersey City.  

I told him my nine year old son was into writing and performing his own music. He said that I should bring E there one day so he can show him around, since he is so into music. Nine months later, out of the blue, I messaged Corey that E had off from school for the holiday break and asked if the offer still stood. 

Without hesitation, Corey made time for us in his busy schedule. Corey really went over and beyond giving our son an incredible experience in the three hours they spent together. I never expected Corey to do all this, for no charge, no less, as I thought we were just going for a tour. I was taking some video with my phone just for fun when I realized this might make a fun music video. I didn't even capture all the fun that both my son and Corey seemed to have. I can't thank and recommend Corey enough to anyone looking for an intimate recording studio with a great all around caring guy. Hope you enjoy their work together!

E wrote all the lyrics and music to this song. When he first played the song for B, B got all emotional. B came to me and said something like- "He's a deep kid. Did you HEAR the lyrics? It's about a kid with no friends, who finally finds a friend, the friend gets cancer and dies! I don't know if we should be nervous?"  I'm just looking at him, apparently expressionless. He said, "What? You have no feelings? This doesn't make you emotional?" 

I then explained that E got this idea from Oscar Nero's story on General Hospital. E has been watching GH with me since in the womb. At some points, some stories, he's more invested than others. Oscar is a teenager and he tends to like the teen stories and he just likes the character. That story had been in it's infancy when he wrote the lyrics and he was quite captivated.

Ultimately, to any of you, it can mean anything you want it to mean. But, alas, no worries that E is feeling isolated or depressed himself, as one might question or interpret.  Enjoy!

Also, Ethan did his first commercial this past September for Barkbox. I'm putting it in here if you want to see. You have to watch for him til the way end. But he's there! 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Golden Globes 2019

I love the Golden Globes, usually, and watched the whole thing. Except of course, the last ten minutes when my DVR cut off right as Rami Malek started to speak (Best Actor, Movie). That's always the way it goes.

First, I'll say, while I love Sandra Oh and have no feelings whatsoever about Andy Samberg, I think they were really lackluster hosts of this type of event. I wanted to think they were funny but I didn't. It was great that Sandra was the first Asian women to host, and her parents were adorable. The two of them were kind of awkward and just weren't FUNNY. I'm sorry- we're used to Ricky Gervais, and it being a bit of an uncomfortable roast by a drunk uncle at a holiday dinner. Even Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler had a bit more edge and were just more comfortable being up there. Sandra is beautiful and accomplished, but for a drunken award show with a history and reputation for being bawdy and rowdy, these two just didn't do it for me. I only really know Andy from Dick in a Box so that's my small frame of reference. Dick in a Box was infinitely funnier.

I'll give them that they had a few money moments. Not enough moments though.

I meant to write a month ago, when we saw both A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody. We couldn't WAIT to see A Star Is Born. We got a babysitter! I LOVE Lady Gaga. I like Bradley Cooper. I was so resistant to going to see Bohemian Rhapsody. I didn't know much about Queen and I didn't really care. Movies are a big commitment for me in respect to my time and brain power. I get into it in the theater but before going, I'm always thinking of all the other things I should be doing with that time. When I watch TV, I can multitask. I listen. With a movie, I have to really watch.

Let me preface this by saying that I've never seen any of the three earlier incarnations of A Star Is Born. I didn't even know the story. All I knew from the trailer of this one is that it seemed to be a story about an established male singer bringing a newbie female up. After seeing A Star Is Born, I can say the following positives. Lady Gaga looked beautiful all stripped down. It was very refreshing to see her like that. She can act. I think she did a great job with the material she was given. Bradley Cooper did a great job and he really embodied that character. It was the first time, for me, that he wasn't playing the same character he has in every other movie.

Now for the negative. The major negative. It was a terrible story! Not terrible as in, depressing. Terrible as in, there was no connection. This movie has been done FOUR TIMES. I don't know if the others went exactly the same, but I assume they kind of had to, or the movie would be six hours long. None of the characters were developed, therefore the story wasn't developed.

The beginning was great. You had her relationship with her father, which wasn't fleshed out in any way. I don't know if it was said and I missed it, but we didn't know what happened to her mom or what her life was like before. So we had no real reason to root for her from the jump. It wasn't like we saw her REALLY struggling or whatever. She worked in a Drag club. She wasn't on the street or in some dingy apartment eating Ramen though. She lived with her loving dad.

Then, she meets Bradley Cooper and he just scoops her up and puts her on stage and she's a star? I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for something awful to happen, which didn't happen, until the way end. But they just got together. No push-pull, no chase, no real adversity. Even his addiction didn't see ALL that bad. Then there was this whole side wtf of her starting as some kind of singer-songwriter and then she went into a whole Britney Spears pop tart thing. It was really disconcerting.

It was also really hard to tell how long of time was passing between events. It seemed like a whirlwind with no build up to anything. The meet- she's on stage! Five minutes later, she's a star. She wins a Grammy! We didn't see the background of him and his brother. I didn't even realize it was his brother until a decent amount of time into the movie. I thought it was just someone who worked with him. Also, parts of the movie made it seem like it was set in the 70's or 80's but they had iPhones, so it had to be now.

I just found the whole movie to be disjointed and without feeling. I don't think I really cared that he died at the end. I didn't know he was dying either. It just seemed so weird for him to do that. Because they were supposed to be so in love and there was no cheating or taking breaks or whatever, it just seemed to come out of left field. You have to remember this is coming from someone who had no clue what the story was going to be. We cry at The Voice. I'm pretty sure neither of us shed one tear.

Now- Bohemian Rhapsody, I just was lukewarm about going because I didn't even realize how many songs I know that are by Queen. I went somewhat unwillingly and we took E. I was riveted and I didn't want it to end.

I think I liked it so much because it was like a giant warm fuzzy. Yes, Freddy Mercury had a lot of adversity and died of AIDS, but the movie was really like a tribute. It wasn't salacious and you really got the sense of how much the band loved each other, even when they felt Freddy had been a dick. That's an age-old story where the lead singer gets to big for his britches. In this story though, he comes to realize his mistakes, apologized and they were able to get over it. It was really awesome to see that.

I really enjoyed seeing how they started, how they made the music, and how he was so charismatic and dynamic. Seeing how they used their strengths and weaknesses to be a team and create was inspiring. It was really nice to see how they stuck together against the powers that be to make the music they wanted to make.

I also found the connection between he and Mary Austin to be fascinating. It seemed like Freddie was like a light that everyone couldn't help but want to be around. You really rooted for him personally and the band.

At the end of Bohemian Rhapsody, even though it had already been out in the theaters for about a month, everyone was cheering and clapping. I've only had that happen in a few movies and I can't remember what others. I just know it's happened maybe three times to me. This one totally deserved it. I'd have to look up pics and videos of Freddie Mercury, which to be honest, I haven't, but I feel like Rami Malek did an outstanding job embodying Mercury and really doing him justice.

I was watching The View this morning, which is what prompted me to write this, and Meghan McCain was talking about how Lady Gaga and A Star Is Born were robbed all around. No surprise that I disagree with Meghan on pretty much everything anyway, but I couldn't disagree with her more about this. Maybe Lada Gaga could've won for Best Actress- I didn't see Glenn Close in The Wife (the movie she won for). Gaga did do a great job. However, the movie itself had a sucky story and didn't deserve the win.

Other noteworthy things- Not all the actors I was rooting for won. A guy I never heard of in a show I've never heard of won over Matthew Rhys, who I felt should've won for The Americans. I always feel like if someone is nominated in a show that's over, they should most likely get it since they don't have another chance. They were good enough to be nominated so they should get that honor. He was consistently overlooked and that was a great part, and a great job by him. Keri Russell was in the company of so much talent, while I think she definitely deserved it, I'm sure Sandra Oh deserved it too. Both B and I were crying just from how cute her dad was when her name was called. I was really happy for Regina King too. SHE should've won in the past for other shows. Really, she should've won for Southland.

I was really happy The Americans won since it's over. I'll miss it. I was happy for Rachel Brosnahan for Marvelous Mrs Maisel. She doesn't seem to have much personality in real life though, so that's a bit of a downer. Alas, the award IS for acting, and she clearly acts her butt off, so she deserved it. I haven't seen the show that won, so it's hard to judge, but I still think Maisel should've won for comedy. Alex Borstein is amazing as Suzie so I can't see Patricia Clarkson being more deserving. Jason Bateman should get his own category for being great in everything. I still think Matthew Rhys should've walked away with the Globe, but Bateman was also robbed. Too much talent in one category!

Last but not least, Christian Bale's speech was EVERYTHING. I didn't see Bale as Dick Chaney in Vice yet, but I will. I'm sure he turned in another stellar performance, and the speech alone was reason enough to give him a statue.

"Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration on how to play this role."