Wednesday, July 27, 2005

apts part 2

we lost the apt we wanted. some other group of schmucks offered BNC or BMD or BMG or MGD more money than was listed on the price sheet. how i'm starting to resent capitalism, i can't even explain.

what if we were all communists? and each person had their own private room and shared utilities and private bikes and then the govt would control art and music and burn books. no, wait, that would suck big time.

i'm moving up to SB this weekend. the summer is quasi-ending, and i don't know how i feel about that. it's 107 here every day, all day, in the san fernando valley..that i won't miss...but bumming around, reading and writing a lot, playing tennis with my dad and music with my brothers-that's nice. round here, round here...

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Bris, The Orthodox Dating Circuit, and a Mohel

So I filled out the app for the rental co. and expecting to hear back from them soon. the place is-why am i tell you this- 12x12, backyard, 2 bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, huge garage-that's where the jacuzzi is going-and an enormous dining room in 70s decor. the tile is hideous and i love it. everything is big, big, big-like other things-cept for the rent, which is 600 per person...rental gods please don't screw me over this time...i'll sacrfice myself or a small child or something.

went to fersht's cousin's bris milah. something about a circumcision that always intrigues me. its so primitive, so savage almost, and so healthy at the same time. but it's still something id expect to originate amongst the aborigines, those aussie guys who wear loincloths, with their huge testicles flapping about their inner thighs...makes me shudder...

i've been to 4 of these, and never had i had such great seats! right next to the action! we stared right into the sandak's eyes, he looked terrified. and oy, so much blood! the rabbi was a showman, not only a guy who "cuts dicks all day," as my friend put it. he told people to get out of his way, and rightly so-he's been slashing through foreskin for over 20 years. and i'm proof. yep, he cut me up 22 years ago, the bastard. i still hate him.

the LA dating scene sucks, so i hear. and i hear from my cousins who are still shopping around at age 28 and 30. LA is a great place to meet someone if youre really connected, i.e. religious; the vastness of the city isolates and disillusions everyone else. unless, you play it hollywood and know a friend of a cousin of a surgeon who works in beverly hills and wants to have jewish children. then you're in good shape, chief.

It's ridiculous though. the LA circuit is a scene about being seen, dressing up elegantly so your mother's friends can pinch your cheeks-if you let em get that close-ask what your plans and whether you have a girlfriend, then the proceeding question: Why Aaron? How can you not be with anyone right now? Why? because I know every damn Jewish girl in this city that you do, and i'm not interested, that's why.

Weddings, bar-mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, kosher restaurants, circumcisions---it's all just a runway show before you take that final, murderous step down the real runway, under the white chupah with all your friends parents standing like salivating businesspeople about to watch the superbowl commercials, (because the game sucks- it's all about the commercials)

im making the move to santa barbara this weekend. better luck there? there the situation is jsut as bad...there are less Jews there, which means everyone knows everyone, so youre bound to be sleeping with your friend's friend's ex-girlfriend. or his current one. who knows. i'm gonna that mohel, leibowitz...maybe HE'S got some good tips.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Why watermelon is God

Seriously. Watermelon is king. Nothing comes close. Well, maybe a watermelon margarita. Do they have those? Is it possible to make those? Or a watermelon mojito? I'll put money down there are people who can spin margaritas with anything-chocolate, sashimi, babies.

A running joke my cousin has is that in Israel vendors don't sell ice cream. they run around yelling "Avateeyach!,"(That's Hebrew for the greatest fruit in the world) He's a liar, or prone on telling fibs, if you feel me, so I don't know if we can trust him on that one.

Why is the pronoun I capitalized? It's so annoying to have to go back and erase and erase every time you fuck up. i smell. i cook. i am Hungarian. i like Jewish girls who like hiking. Works? You tell me.

I jsut finished my first, full-length short story, if that makes sense. It's just under 5,000 words, and I really, REALLY like it. It's very Rothian, and it revolves around, of course, a Jewish family in Brentwood, CA and how they cope with Yossi, the youngest son who comes back a conservative, brainwashed asshole after studying a year in yeshiva in Israel. More of an asshole than anything else who disagrees with the way jews live in america. then there's the brother, Nathan, who is conflicted and debates going to law school. I sent it to an old prof so he can play literary surgeon and rip the fucking thing apart like Will Hunting does to Sean in that oh so kick ass movie Good Will Hunting. Those punks were like 25 when they wrote that screenplay. Sorry, penned that screenplay. Ridiculous. I need to get crackin.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

matinee time, suckers

Little obnoxious superjew over here has gotten lazy with the blogs, the updates, the goings-on about the town, so here's my valiant attempt to redeem myself, like God redeemed the Jewish people out of Egypt a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away. The land: Egypt. The time: I honestly don't remember.

Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka? Mr. Tim Burton, I commend you on taking up the challenge to replace Gene Wilder, but you should've known you're playing with fire-sweet, chocolate covered fire-and guess what? It burned the shit out of you. Willy Wonka is a creepy, discomforting, Michael Jackson lookalike, and even includes the parallel dream to be a "chocolatier/pop star/child molester" father<--> son conflict. The acting was bad-Depp failing below everyone else-the story was crap, but worst of all, the film contains perhaps, and I'm being generous here, 3 minutes when you feel all warm and gooey inside, when there's something good going on between the characters, and your 7.50 was worth it. But that's about it.

Vince Vaughn rules. Wedding Crashers is funny. My parents disagree. They were pulling out of our driveway as soon as J and I drove up. J(eremy):the old roommate during senior year, good guy, the one who bought me Schindler's List for my birthday. Matinees rock. You're basically alone, an entire theatre to yourself, save for the 4 older citizens, 2 single moms, and security guard who loiters around trying to bust kids who sneak in through the back. Why is movie popcorn so good, so bad a few hours later, and so damn expensive? Candy only comes in super-Deluxe-Ultra-Costco sizes, and that's why they charge you like 50 bucks for a Nestle Crunch. I sweardagod-taking a girl out on a movie sets you back at least, at least 40 bucks. Allow me to do the math.

9.00-Price of Ticket x 2 = 18
5.00-Popcorn = 5
4.00-Drinks = 4
1.75-Water Bottle (she wanted it) = 1.75
1.75-Second water bottle (you want to appear healthy)= 1.75
4.00-Gas (You got lost) = 4
2.00-Anti Gas Pills (Just in case you get lucky) = 2
5.00-Trojan Magnums (In case you get really lucky) 5

Around 42 Dollars! Jesus! I misunderestimated. How idiotic of me.

Hollywood is a great, fake place, and I'm beginning to like it. I need to find an apt right now. Don't forget to use plenty of sunscreen! Love you all. Hope your days are as good as they are supposed to be. And that's from the heart.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I am looking for an apt downtown Santa Barbara. yes, this counts as a post. My friends are crazy. I am going to see Willy Wonka tonight and only slightly excited. What is the world coming to?

Hint: If you know of anybody, that's got a place, for cheap, and smells meee!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Avateeyach! Anguria, Melone alla spiaggia di ponte cesaro, lecce, giu italia- Posted by Picasa

Statue in Budapest castle---a lil color tweaked Posted by Picasa

Matera at Night..Just like jerusalem.. Posted by Picasa

Matera, Italy with Shulie. City where Gibson and his anti-Semite father filmed The Passion Posted by Picasa

Suck it McCarthy-With Guiseppe and Rosario-Sono un communisto finche muoio.  Posted by Picasa

Synagogue in Budapest-2nd biggest in da world Posted by Picasa

me fighting a pink cow in Slovak republic Posted by Picasa

Paparazzi in Slovakia-Infinite Regress Posted by Picasa

Communist housing in Bratislava-Like prisons, right? Posted by Picasa

Steve checkin out Prague Castle...It is big. Posted by Picasa

Prague Cemetary-Jewish Quarter Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Need a shower

Seven plane flights (with a 2 hour delay in Newark-just another reason to hate the state of New Jersey), 5 mosquito bites, 2 rashes (won't tell you where), 10 train rides, dozens of bottles of red wine, and at least 40 gelatos later, I'm back in the United States.

We were made to sit idly for 2 hours on the plane in NJ, with Sandra Bullock from Miss Congeniality to keep us company. Then afterwards they showed the sequel. God Bless the iPod.
While waiting I composed a list of things to do to ensure you have a safe, exciting flight.

1) Be on the lookout for people trying to light their shoes on fire. Also, dark-skinned, casually dressed businessmen who pull out switchblades and box cutters must be stopped. Stop them.

2) Your chatty neighbor's voice still seping in through your decomposing earplugs? Throw up your dinner all over her, and her loser boyfriend. If you ate the kosher, hold it in as long as you can. If you fly Continental-which, you shouldn't-always buy kosher. Tonight, or Yesterday night, or last week, I can't remember, I ate apple strudel, peaches, fish, chicken, peas and carrots, potatoes, and Water! these jews...they think of everything...

3) Practice your Arabic drumming skills on your tray table if the forward passenger leans too far back. Jesus Christ: I have knees, people! They swell up when you compress them into my chair. Remember though, to lean back as far as possible. If the guy behind you gives you shit, just look him straight in the eye and say "Do you mind!? I haven't slept in 4 days!" Which, if you are like me, you haven't.

I feel like writing. A lot. I've been coming up with new story ideas every hour, on the half hour. I also just finished reading Charbon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It's well written. The Golem of Prague makes an appearance. They're Jewish and eat bacon. Goodnight. Call me if you want to get sushi.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Still Kosher, Still Here

I'm alive. You can stop worrying. In fact, you shouldn't have worried at all. (Mom)

Local Italian wine we drank at the centro sociale, a sort of anti-religion, procommunist community center-think the opposite of Chabad-has destroyed any previous thoughts I had for the blog, leaving me to fit all the fragmented pieces back together like a puzzle. And not my cousin's 12 piece puzzle. The 1200 Jigsaw of Monet's Bridge you find only in speciality toy stores, the ones where the cashier laughs when you buy it, because she knows and you know it's never gonna be finished.

Madonna Mia. I guess I should start by explaining what happened those first few days in Bologna, and how I managed to have a good time. 2 things I realized after my third day here: I'm not an Italian citizen, nor do I live here. Second, never agree to stay in a house where the only tenants are 2 Southern Italians who broke up five days before. To quote some Deepak Chopra or Dr. Phil (don't know who said it first), I was living in the past and wasn't living in the now. Which is to be expected, naturally, but not at all benefical. So instead I'm living the Italian lifestyle, b/c that's all I know how to do. Drinking wine, having exquisite panini made just for me, discussing politics and criticizing the war in Iraq lest I get kicked out of the communist stronghold which is the Bologna Dormitory system, figuring out bus schedules and not giving a shit when everything arrives late (it might be time for another Mussolini, it's so god awful here), old-people watching in the South-you know the type: baby blue short-sleeve shirt, grey trousers hiked up to the chin, and a maximum of 8 teeth in the mouth, with a tendency to discuss what life was like in the old days, the days of the Second World War when the American soldiers were some bravi ragazzi, the Germans were all bastardi, and life was a lot more clear. So I survived the test, and now don't want to leave, giving serious thought to starting an English-speaking school here, though the challenges of the Italian beaucracy are counterbalancing any hopes I have.

I met up with my dear high-school friend Shulie, who studied at Reed College in Portland. A kick ass photographer who's been traveling for over a month in Italy by herself. We met up in Napoli and spent 2 days in the city. It met my expectations of a tight, bustling, traditional city with vendors who yell their prices and the best tasting pizza I've ever had in my life. That's what's great about traveling-after spending some time in a country, you can actually say that "This the best ______ I've ever had." Because it's true. The city is infamous as the pickpocketer's Promised Land, and we kept our wallets in the hostel. Currently a war is being waged between Southern criminal groups in certain quarters of Napoli. 2 old Asians were shot the day we arrived. Napoli is nice, but really spooky at night. It's Italy, I should feel safe, but instead of pursuing a sinister looking alley, we got some beers and then went home, woke up the next day for-

a metro, two buses, a train, ten another bus to reach Matera, a UNESCO Heritage Site now famous for being the location of Mel Gibson's The Passion. We stayed in the Sassi, a Arabesque quarter with stone houses built into the caves, smashed together between churches. It looks like Masada, or Jerusalem. I can't tell you how many times I sang "If I was a rich Man" in Hebrew of course, or the first lines of "yerushalayim shel Zahav." No, wait, I only sang the chorus. I think I'm quickly gaining ground with the Italian but my Hebrew is disappearing at an alarming rate. The residents of the 2 Sassis were all evacuated in the 1950s. You won't believe how these people lived. A family of six lived in one tiny ass room, with a donkey. Chickens lived under the one family bed. Little kids slept in drawers right above the ones which held dung, hay, and chicken feed. Smart.

We also stayed at Lecce, which has fantastic beaches and plenty of guys in way-too-tight Speedos. They really have no shame. You could see their like, balls, and stuff, all the time, just there. Whatever. I think it's a remnant of Puritan America, which is somhow in all of us, that makes a piece of Spandex a serious turn off. Though I guess it is more comfortable, so what the hell. I can also attest that I was the whitest person on a beach of maybe 200, and probably one of 2 Americans. here I'm the odd man out.

Enough narrative. The South is beautiful, traditional, conservative, dangerous, and not poor, just neglected from the State, berlusconi, and most importantly, from tourists. Everything is so cheap here-it was like winning the lottery. The food is incomporable to anywhere else in Italy. The focus on farming and lack of industry makes the food so good but keeps the money so far. The sad part is on the new generation-the lack of funds, and growing up in a place where luxuries were sparse, has affected the Southerners' mentality, keeping them stuck in a life where opportunities are out of reach, where dreams can't be realized and chances shouldn't be taken because the risk is just too much. Usually they don't even get to take that financial risk because most parents are laborers, not lawyers or doctors or businessmen so commonly found in the North. On one hand I feel like I've grown in an American Neverland, where if I wanted to do something, most of the time I could. And I'm not talking about things, because fortunately we didn't get everything we asked for. But on the other hand, every person needs to take that risk, step out of the safety net, find an American and engage in language exchange, apply to schools, get a visa. Sure it's hard, but it's feasible.

The Passion. We ask every Italian to say it. I think i've been at this blog for too long. Guiseppe and Rosario are telling me I should put chapter titles, start it with the day I was born. By the way, did I ever mention I got a massage for a 350 pound Hungarian man? Did I mention I was naked? And that I liked it, just a little bit?

Oh, and screw radical Islam and the terrorist bastards who adhere to the good book, because it is a good book. Screw any fanatic who wants to kill other people in the name of God. My heart is with you, Brits.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sono cosi felice, Non vi posso spiegare!

Days can't start so miserably and end more positively than this one. Today, Sunday, I packed up all my stuff from the apt I was staying at, because it was a brutta situazione. My old roommates, after being and living together for 2.5 years, broke up. Then I showed up to italy the next day.

I'm at guiseppe's house, today we had lunch out at la brace, my favorite restaurant in italy-in the world!-had 2 gelati, talked about politics and globalization in piazza santa stefano-my favorite piazza-ordered some pizzas with about 6 neighbors, drank some wine...Then went to the park to hear a percussion dance band and listen to reggae, read some poetry by ani difranco, all before going to sleep and getting shulies email about where shes staying in napoli and how we're gonna meet up. can't wait yo. today i taught the italians the words : it's all G, everything good, its all good, and most importantly (thats not a word i taught them), are you chillin?

im not a tourist. i lived here. i can still enjoy italy. always.

domani vado a napoli, lo sapete ragazzini?? dai v voglio bene, tutti...

Zach Braff knows How I Feel...

Sometimes we tend to be overexpectant of the future, and hype up what's coming. I'm here in my old roommate's apartment outside of Bologna, and couldn't a more stronger mix of excitement, confusion, and lonliness as now. It's like coming back to your old hometown during the summer when everyone is gone-the buildings, the parks, the broken streetlamps are right where they should be, but you're not, and neither is anyone else.

It's all here-the heat, the piazza, the overpriced italian clothes with sexually inviting copy written all over people's chests. my favorites are You and Me, Tonight?, Faq You (No no no...Faq YOU), and I am Sexy. I spent most of the day alone while my friend Guiseppe was in recovery from the night before, walking around the city, involuntarily tracing back old memories from the year before. It was nice but excruciatingly painful to realize that something was missing, but I couldn't figure out what. I couldn't find that feeling of home that I possessed so strongly while I was abroad here, no matter how hard I tried. I'm looking for that same sentiment I had- knowing the city, feeling comfortable speaking Italian, having my American friends and my Italian ones, being able to make plans on an instant. I feel like a tourist in my own country, though I've come to the realization that no matter what type of clothes I wear or how much time I spend fixing my accent so I won't ripped off by the street market vendors, I'll always be an a Jewish American 20 something.

I can't stay here. This push and pull of feeling like a regular Bolognese or an American college graduate touring northern Italy has taken its toll and is literally pushing me out the door to continue my travels. Why stop now? I love Italy and don't regret coming here, but maybe it was too early to come to Bologna.

I'm meeting some friends for lunch then heading to Rome. From there, Napoli. From Napoli, who knows?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Lo Shock del Rientro

Allora. First of all, I think it's quite all right for me to say fuck Vienna, as a city, capital, center of transportation, and a staff and record label. No, I know I can't actually blame a city for screwing up my plans, but I think everything worked out for the best-I'm in Italy.

What happened was me and Mean Gene, aka a Mexican guy named Hugo (the h is silent, so it sounds like Oo-Go) who complied with a dare to not shave or cut his hair for three months, which in turn makes him look like a Colombian terrorist, made our way from Budapest to Vienna, when it started to rain. And rain and rain and began to flood as we went to two different hostels in Vienna. They sent me to another one , but before I made that trip I bought my train ticket for Italy for the next night. When I got to the hostel, some guy from North Carolina took the last spot in the hostel, and as I found out seconds later, in all of Vienna. ALL OF VIENNA. In the city, outside the city, all the hallways-occupied. Hugo and I ran to the train station, a pleasant Turkish woman with two kids at her side let me cut her in line (the wait was 55 minutes) and I changed my ticket. 2 kebabs later I made it on a night train, and arrived in Bologna at 5:30 a.m. I was falling asleep in the train station, and decided my luck would be better indoors, so with my mental map guiding me like a biological GPS on recharged batteries, my eyes barely open, I made it to my friends Stefano and Mario, on Via Strazzacappa.

The city is more beatiful than I remembered. It's quite undescribable to be honest, what I'm feeling right now. LIke nothing has changed, though everything is different. Not because of the anti-smoking laws passed in Italy, but I've grown older, different, graduated, yet the city stays the same, exactly as it was before. We're all just mere blips in one enormous space, competing with each other for everything. The woman who sells dried fruit recognized my face, she promises. I don't know if she was being totally honest, but I'll grant her the benefit of the doubt. I have an urge to go to all the locali I remembered, places where I made more of a deep dent than a shallow impression just to see if Italians remember me. That will be some sort of victory for me I think, but more importantly it'll feel like I'm really at home.

I miss home. I've been away for 8 days but it feels like 6 months. I don't miss the amenities, I can't deal without those. It's family, but what is that exactly? family is affection, and being appreciated by people who understand you, your personality, your flaws-YOU. When I saw Trenitalia, and the graffiti, written on the side of the train cars I knew I was headed home. I can't explain to you how excited I am to just EAT. Tortolloni, gelato, tagliatelle, ragu bolognese...And a shower!! I don't even KNOW how long it's been since I had one of those. Everyone I meet tends to keep their distance, and I haven't double kissed anybody here yet. I don't blame them though. I mean come on.

Alla doccia!!!