New Article on NY History!

I wrote an article on Pinkster in New York, just in time for the Pinkster festivals this weekend. Don’t know what it is? Click the link below.

via Pinkster in New York

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Family Music

I remember.

I was a child, later an adult. Every holiday we gathered at my aunt’s house, taking in the scent of all the delicious Gramma food in the kitchen: chicken or turkey, kugel, chopped stringbeans, matzoh ball soup, all a beautiful blend of tradition that made me remember the Old Country that I never knew.

My Old Country is the Bronx. That’s all I have. No shtetls, no pogroms, no Holocaust. I only heard of those from my Gramma, and thank goodness I never had to live through them.

And we had music.

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Guest Post: Giftapalooza

The following is a guest post from my dear friend, Romance Author T.E. Ridener. Several years ago, she created a holiday charity called: Giftapalooza. I think that it’s a fantastic idea, and I have contributed to it from the start. I’ve donated copies of  of my novels (The Watchmage of Old New York, and Song of Simon), and also copies of Valerie’s Anthology, because I know that this is a charity that she’d love.

Not only does it help families in need, but the connection to authors gives added incentive for my fellow writers to contribute. In short: people give presents to the charity for children in need. Authors then donate books to those contributors. It gives some exposure to the author, and reward to the contributor for their good need. Most of all, it makes sure that these children have a happy holiday.

Take it away, T.E.

Though Christmas is still a while away, I wanted to ask for a moment of your time to talk to you about a cause that’s near and dear to my heart: Giftapalooza.

Giftapalooza is an online charity event I started in 2013. The only goal I had at that time was to help families in need provide a decent Christmas for their kids. Most, if not all of you reading this post, have been in that situation before. You know, the one where bills are piling up and you can’t seem to stretch your paycheck as far as you need to. I, too, have known the hardships of poverty, sickness, emergencies in the family, and unexpected financial changes.

When I created Giftapalooza, the only thing I wanted was to make a difference for families in need. I was thinking about the single mothers and fathers working two jobs just to put food on the table; the family who unexpectedly lost someone important in their lives and now scramble to pay for the funeral; the dad who just lost his job because the company couldn’t afford to keep him on. No matter the circumstances behind the reason for needing help, this is exactly why Giftapalooza exists.

giftapalooza-2016

I am aware there are tons of charities out there with this specific goal in mind, but what makes Giftapalooza unique is the fact it is for indie families in need, and the Santas are also from the indie community. Authors, bloggers, and readers come together during the months of November and December to make some serious Christmas magic happen.

In 2015, we gave $4,203 worth of gifts to 43 families. It is my sincere hope we can double that number this year, but we can’t do it without your help. Even if you only purchase one gift for a child in need, you’ve already made a world of difference. For more information on how you can donate a thank-you gift, join the event, or get assistance, you can visit our website. We are so excited to get this year started and to help as many families as we can. Hope to see you there!

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Toooo muchhhhh Christmas

Oy vey!  I went to Valerie’s mom’s place for Christian Christmas (as opposed to    Jewish Christmas).  So much food!  So many presents!  I’m in shock.

This is only the second time that I have celebrated Christmas with real live Christians.  I have to admit, it is a fun holiday.  The traditions, the egg nogg . . . ohhhh the egg nogg.  Yesterday I was craving egg nogg so bad that I went out in the snow storm to get some.

Egg Nogg — what makes family bearable

I was shocked at the huge number of presents that I got.  Stocking stuffers are a concept that doesn’t exist in Hannukah. They’re awesome, because you have more things to open up, and the surprise of unwrapping is the best part of any present.

This is my haul:

  • A box of Spree
  • 2 bags of Skittles
  • a Jets scarf
  • a Jets blanket (already draped over my couch)
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan DVD (My woman knows me so well)
  • Kermit’s Swamp Years DVD (more muppets!)
  • Jay and Silent Bob action figures

I am such a man-child.

So what I have to say is:  If Christians want to convert people from other religions, just expose us to Christmas . . . I ate ham!  A big baked ham, and while I never kept kosher as a kid, we never had baked ham for dinner either.  A couple of egg noggs and some “A Christmas Story” and you can convert the Ayotolla.

Have I mentioned that my girlfriend has a novel out?  It’s called “The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen,” and it is hilarious.  The greatest gay romantic stoner comedy ever (but it’s funny for straight people too).  You can buy it here for only 99 cents!

War on Christmas?

I promised myself that I would avoid politcal and religious rants here, and yet here I am. It’s because of what happened to me at Shop-Rite today. As I am collecting my bags, the cashier said to me “Merry Christmas.”

Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but today it did. There was something in the tone of his voice; something that implied that Christmas was the only holiday that happens. So what set me off?

  • Maybe it is because we are in the middle of Hannukah (no correct spelling, because the word comes from a different alphabet (an Aleph-Bet!!!  all the jews get it!)
  • Maybe it is because I am obviously Jewish (I had Maneshevitz chicken stock and egg noodles, and he rang them up no more than 30 seconds prior, not to mention that I look Jewish.)
  • Maybe it’s because we live in the county with the HIGHEST POPULATION DENSITY OF JEWS IN THE COUNTRY (Rockland County, NY) and he still acted like Hannukah didn’t exist.

So what did I do? Nothing.  But in my head, this is how the conversation went:

Cashier: Have a merry christmas

Me:  And you have a happy hannukah

Cashier:  But I’m not Jewish

Me:  Oh, I’m sorry.  I thought that we were playing the “presume to know the religion of someone and then condescend to them like a douchebag” game.

Jesus Christ on a pogo stick.  This isn’t Montana.  31% of the population in Rockland is Jewish, is it too hard to say “Happy Holidays?”

And since when did “E Pluribus Unum” mean “In God we trust” (god, of course, being Jesus.)  It means “From Many, One.”  We come from many cultures, and these cultures form together (Like Voltron, or a Megazord) to become one.  It does not mean “You come from many cultures, and then we eat them up and force you to celebrate our holiday through saturation and social shaming.”

And don’t even get me started on Jewish stereotypes in the media . . . (I’ll save that one for another time, maybe tomorrow) But for now, try to think of a Jewish tv character that is not a stereotype.

And Happy fucking holidays.  i have to go light some candles now.