On A Lighter Note…

So my dad is telling me, “What’s this show that everyone keeps talking about? Have you heard of this show? It’s called Willing Grace.... What’s so good about Willing Grace?”

And I replied, “Yes… Willing Grace RULES!”

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The Long Night

The Long Night by Nadav Samin

Click to Listen
Key
H=Hebrew
A=Arabic
E=English

The Long Night

Verse One

H: If you had a minute, tell me what
hurts, and frustrates, and itches at your soul,
[let’s] talk about “the situation,” that has no end and no line, with
a

fence, without a fence, there’s no place to hide.

A: My brothers, times are tough! ! , the hatred has increased along with
the sound of the helicopters behind your children, I know your father
is
an engineer, but he sits in the street selling coffee, there’s no
justice, there’s no solace.

H: All the time, chaos, there’s no take, its only give,
they don’t want peace, they want us in the ocean.

A: Settlements surround us, we want to go swimming,
but all of the pools are in the Jewish areas.

H: There is a partner, there isn’t a partner, they’re dragging us by
the
nose,
A: The army is everywhere, politics has failed.

H: Settlers and terrorists, politicians are corrupt,
A: And we don’t want to live in one-fourth of Palestine.

Chorus

A: My night has grown long, for the love of one I fear does not draw
near,
H: The night goes on, stretches on.

Verse Two

A: And at the checkpoints, you can see the ugly ceremonies, the true
! reality, without all of your rose-colored dreams.

E: Hardly a moment before the party starts,
another flower drops and from her mouth a lollipop.

H: So that another one doesn’t fall at a club, at a Bat Mitzvah
celebration,
A: or at her wedding celebration.

E: Jerusalem’s cheeks are ruddy red hills and vales,
how many cheeks will be drained, pale?

H: I’m just a soldier standing at the checkpoint,
standing and praying that I return home safely.

A: Hey soldier, let us through! Even though I’m patient, there isn’t
even [enough] food in our land for you to confiscate!

H: The government is poor, they’re closing hospitals,
but somehow, they’re building bypass roads for the bypass roads.

E: And the music plays on even after we’re gone,
from Brooklyn to Qadima to Ramallah and on…

Chorus
A: My night has grown long, for the love of one I fea! r does not draw
near,
H: The night goes on, stretches on.

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No winners…. All have lost

In Munich, at the 1972 Olympic Games, 11 Israeli atheletes were killed at the hands of an Arab extremist group known as “Black September”. Speilberg, decided to make a movie about the events that followed and were triggered by this tragic event. I saw Munich tonight with Ron, David, Denise, and Juan… If someone took a snapshot of our faces before and after the movie it would look something like this:

Before

After

The film hit us pretty deeply… we all left the theatre with few words, but by looking in each other’s eyes, I could see truly what each heart was saying…. i knew what MY heart was saying… “how could this be?” do we not bleed the same blood? do we not eat and shit the same way? the arab-israeli conflict is almost as old as history itself…. though many would explain it away as a conflict of faiths, but I would argue that it’s more about two groups of people who desire a home… a place to call home… a home that’s safe, prosperous…. peaceful… a natural right, due to every human on the planet….

What fuels this conflict is the dehumanization of both sides, by leaders, affecting and manipulating the common person, causing this horrible cycle of events that just won’t stop… and will not stop until some drastic change takes place.

And that is really the fact that brought me to tears, as I walked down 30th Street towards Lexington…. My heart was broken… broken for every Israeli and Palestinian child, that by nature, knows nothing of hate, until they are faced with the necessity to survive as those who have survived before them….

again… this is the fact that broke my heart…. the fact that this movie documents events that took place over 30 years ago, and nothing has changed… in fact, it has gotten worse… the conflict has arisen to the global level, and we’ve seen it on our own soil, in September 2001.

While watching the film, I wondered if Speilberg chose an inappropriate time to make such a movie. I watched the messages, and the motives, and the propaganda from both sides, on screen, being rehashed over and over again….. those messages that have ignited mass murders and destruction in the middle east, being recounted time and time again, and I asked myself… Does this world need a work of art that will continue fueling this anger in such a polarized manner? And as I walked away, all I was left with, was a sense of anguish… it was all so clear… no one will win. No one will win… No one … and it hit me, that’s exactly the message that was communicated through this film. If only this message was understood by leaders, by those who have the power and INFLUENCE to change….maybe some sort of change could occur…

But maybe art can have more of an influence than money and power…. just maybe…

we can only hope…

I remember visiting Israel in 2004… My attempted return to the states at the airport in Tel-Aviv, was an experience many Americans will not have to face in their travels. I was part of a tour group, all of whom were white, many of whom were midwestern, and I stood out like a sore thumb, as my egyptian features called out to the soldiers and security officials like neon lights beckoning patronization…. and i was immediately pulled from the line, and entered a 90 minute ordeal of harsh interrogation. I was a threat. Not because I had done anything, not because anyone in my family and circle of friends had done anything, but I fit the profile of one who possibly could harm the well being of the state of Israel… Ironic that a 26 year old male from New York City.. a musician… who’d never even got into a fist-fight in his life, was a threat to the country… and it pissed me off, but at the same time, I understood…. Their country is surrounded by neighbords who would have them destroyed… Protection is their key to survival.

But I was angry… I was angry because I was judged… For a moment, I was no longer Paul… but I was “possible threat”. And these officers, who are humans with souls, and loves, and passions, like you and I, were no longer people, but they were a threat to me… And so the cycle continued, and continued…

Until…

I was taken into a back room, where I was asked to remove my shirt and belt, and the security officer, a young man, in his early 20’s, put on a rubber latex glove… And no this is not the beginnings of a twisted romance… just bear with me, and it will all make sense… I was hoping to be 50 years old before I had my first rectal exam, so you can imagine my nerve as I was unpreparedly pushed to the front of the queue… And I looked him straight in the eye and said “before you do anything, just let me know what you do, before you do it.” Maybe it was the sincerity in my question, maybe it was something in my own eyes that this officer saw, but he looked at me with the same intensity as i looked at him, and took off the glove and said that it would not be necessary.

I asked him “How old are you?” he looked back at me and said “23…. you?” “26”, I replied as I would have if I was introduced to an acquaintance…. “So, is this what you will do for the rest of your life… is this your vocation?” “Oh no”, the young officer replied… “I’m a humanitarian… I wanna do something that will do well for the soul, and the souls of others… this is just until I finish school…. how about yourself?” “I’m a musician…” and tail end of a 90-minute interrogation session had morphed into a dialogue of souls…. where two people caught in the cyclical web, were able to break away for a moment and see the humanity…. I was no longer “a threatening passenger”... i was Paul.. and he was no longer “a threatening officer”, but he was Elon… And he decided to escort me to my flight, taking me past the rest of the checkpoints, and saw me to my gate on time… And we shared a wonderful talk, and wished each other well….

I’m not sure if there’s something to be learned here, but I took away something very special… that beyond our agendas and motives, within each person resides a soul, a soul that desires connection, that desires peace, and that desires respect… how much easier a lesson is learned on a person to person level… in a back room, away from the onslaughts and viruses that corrupt our innocense… but for a second, being removed, one can see the truth, and one can appreciate life… it gives me hope… but, hope is all we have.

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Christmas + Egyptians = Streetfighter

Another family get together, and as usual, it was a friggin blast… Last night, we went to the Mikhail household in Plainview, NY to share some vegetarian delights over good conversation, and holiday cheers… It sounds corny, but it’s really a lot of fun.

Let’s run down the major events:

– Nadia promised to get me a plate of appetizers and didn’t – George made a kickass dessert – We almost played the ‘Kafka’ game – My pride planted a seed in the hearts of many during a game of classic Street Fighter – We discussed the CD circle – I got to pass on some wisdom to my bro Luke – we bonded – And that’s really that.

It’s always good hanging w/ these family friends. Like I said on Thanksgiving, it’s awesome seeing everyone at every holiday just growin up – we used to be a bunch of rugrats, and nothing has changed really….




But alas Christmas has come to a close, i may need to blow my nose, because when it comes to holidays, that’s just how it goes…

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Merry Christmas

So it’s Christmas morning, and I already got a great gift. My brother posted this in his blog: CLICK HERE

All i gotta say is that this guy is a true friend… Johnny Balls, is what the natives call him. Reading this really helped me realize a few things, and it was a great way to start Christmas Day. So, enough sappiness – wait, one more… John, I LOVE YOU MAN!

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Life Changes…

Christmas Eve…. another holiday, come and gone… mistletoe dancing on an open fire, and chestnuts roasting in a microwave…. and i love the rain, and the sunshine, but snow just kills me for some reason.

Desperate for something bigger than myself, I have a healthy frustration these days. Frustrated because my desires and goals are so much bigger than myself, but that in no way means they cannot happen.

I’m planning on spending the next few months in East Africa, until my new job starts up this spring. I’m looking forward to the change, though i do admit there’s much fear involved. Fear of being in an unknown place. I’ve never lived that long away from home, away from people who I knew… it’s funny how the idea of backpacking across europe seems a bit more inviting. Maybe its the fact that I’ll have very little control over where I move, where I go, what I do… for three months… it has to be a humbling experience for sure, but can I handle it? I guess time will tell. The door has been open for a while, and I’ve said “Nu-uh” many times, but it’s become very clear… i must do this.

I do have to say I’ve been learning a lot of things in the last few months…

1) Acceptance – Sometimes we have in our hearts a clear and vivid picture of what is true, and right, and no matter what anyone says, we know that what we want… should just… be. And often times, what we want, just cannot be. What do we do? Acceptance is a hard thing, because it presupposes that maybe I am not in control of everything around me as much as I would like to think I am :) But indeed, there might be something better than our own dreams. I’m learning to take a chance at letting go, and learning to live. Life is much simpler when we have an open hand…. did I say simpler? I meant to say sweeter.

2) Fear of Success – Sometimes I’m afraid of my own strength. I know that sounds kinda funny… I’m no Bruce Lee, but I fear at times what I’m made of. It’s often funny, many people fear failure… I fear success. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but it’s there, and it’s true. Maybe it’s the huge responsiblity that comes with success… or maybe it’s actually realizing that I do have an impact on this world…. sometimes wouldn’t we just rather hide than triumph? Just kinda get by, without having to stand out…. But it’s in my blood, to make an impact…

3) Life – Just live it… it’s here, and as long as we have it, we have a choice to make it sweet or sucky…. sucky sucks.. sweet rules… and that’s all i gotta say about that.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Kwanzaa, Eid Mubarak… and to the rest…Happy Holidays. Lay off the egg-nog.

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Jesus Car-Jacks Truck Driver

Three weeks ago in I-80, a local truck driver was car-jacked by someone who appeared to be Jesus of Nazereth. There is no direct evidence except for this police sketch, provided by an eye-witness in a nearby automobile:
driving with Jesus
Any further information should be sent to the local law enforcement office.

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What happened to Atlas?

Remember Atlas? The man who carried the Earth on his shoulders. No easy task for a man as strong as he was. You remember his pose…. hunched over… he felt the weight, not just of the trillions of tons of mass… but I’m sure the problems and troubles of each of the 6 billion lives who inhabit the planet add that slight bit of resistance that made beads of sweat appear on his forehead, trickle down his brow, and burn his eyes red.

What would happen if a meteor hit…. would Atlas be able to hold it, when this unexpected force just slammed. Would he be able to adjust in time, or would he be crushed?

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