I’d been meaning to make a rec list for a while, but now I’m finally getting around to it! I’ve read or started to read most of the books on this list, and I own 95% of them. If I haven’t read it, but someone has recommended it to me, I’ve included it. I know that there are books
I’ve read or have been meaning to read that aren’t on here because my memory is
shit and I never write anything down. Titles link to Goodreads.
An asterisk (*) indicates a book I haven’t read yet. A pound sign (#) indicates a book I haven’t read yet, but which others have recommended. A tilde (~) indicates a book I’m in the process of reading and would recommend up to the current point (aka “I don’t know if this book has a terrible second half, but so far it’s good”). Italics indicate a personal favorite.
Amalia Blank playing the part of Tevye’s daughter in the play Tevye the Dairyman, with her partner in the Jewish theater in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, 1938.
“My favorite part [of working at the Jewish theater] was the role of a girl in the play of the Jewish poet and playwright, Perets Markish, Feast. It was a tragedy, set in Ukraine in the 1910s, during pogroms. There is no need to retell the content of the play. I would only say that I played the part of the Jewish girl who was forced to dance before she was killed by pogrom-makers. The director of that play decided to invite a ballet master who would work with me on that dance. I objected saying that his guidance would be no good here and asked to be allowed to dance the part myself. I didn’t even rehearse that dance, I improvised on the stage, when the tragic music started playing. I was a leading actress of the theater and played mostly tragic parts. I was happy that I didn’t have to play comic roles. I felt happy that spectators would forget about their problems thanks to my work.” —Amalia Blank
So today’s another birthday, but it’s a little more of a roundabout reason. Today, in 1859, is the birthday of Sholem Aleichem (at least, according to Old Style dates - if you look at New Style, his birthday is actually March 2nd). Regardless of which date, Sholem Aleichem wrote a collection of stories about Tevye the Dairyman, which eventually became the musical Fiddler on the Roof. So to celebrate Sholem Aleichem’s birthday - whether you want to celebrate it today or on March 2nd - here’s a song!
This is such a tough question and I don’t think there’s really an easy answer. So, bear with me, because this is going to be long.
I think it’s important to look at context when talking about this play. Shakespeare lived during a period and in a country that was decidedly anti-Jewish. Jewish people had been expelled from England in 1290 and weren’t allowed back until Oliver Cromwell took power and well after Shakespeare died. Those Jewish people that remained in England had to convert or practice in private. Jewish people were viewed as lecherous, greedy, and g-dless. So, in some respects, Shakespeare wrote what he knew. Jewish people were only allowed to be money lenders in Europe, so that’s what Shakespeare wrote. He was told that Jewish people were ruthless, so that’s what he wrote. What’s more, Shakespeare’s peers were also writing Jewish people as villains. Marlowe’s Barabas makes Shylock look like Tevye the Dairyman and Marlowe was one of Shakespeare’s chief influences.
HOWEVER, I think Shakespeare also had a fascination with the “other” and a keen eye for societal injustices. Shakespeare came of age during England’s shift away from Catholicism to Protestantism; when the very nature of justice and what it meant to be forgiven had shifted radically. And with that shift came a new justice system and a new relationship with G-d. Of course this is just speculation, but I feel like it would be naive to say that Shakespeare wasn’t effected by that seismic shift in religious culture. Shakespeare’s father was a Catholic and it’s entirely possible that he remained so even after Elizabeth became Queen. So, Shakespeare would be going to Protestant church services and then going back to a Catholic home. It’s highly likely that he spent his whole life grappling with those two cultures, trying to understand why, beyond political reasons, one group was marginalized and the other favored.
So, in Shylock, Shakespeare wrote a man that was unyielding and merciless, but he also makes it abundantly clear why Shylock is that way. He is treated like shit by everyone besides Tubal and you get a very clear sense that this has been a constant in Shylock’s life. To paraphrase, Shylock says, “Yes I am a monster, but you have made me that way.” Shylock is not a great guy, no, but I kind of like that he’s not perfect. Most modern writers write Jewish people either as saints, lambs to the slaughter, or neurotic, arguing New Yorkers with pushy wives and mothers. It’s kind of refreshing to read a Jewish character that’s, you know, an actual fucking human being. He’s got a harsh world view, but that’s necessary to the world in which he lives. You get the sense that he’s never quite recovered from the loss of his wife and he has no idea how to parent his daughter. That’s not that different from a lot of other fathers in Shakespeare. I think it’s completely fair to play Shylock as an imperfect or even a cruel man, so long as it’s made abundantly clear that he is oppressed because of his religion and not his personality.
Then, we also have to remind ourselves that, to an Elizabethan audience, Shylock would have been a figure of fun. The audience would have spent the whole play laughing at him, rooting for him to fail, but then, when he loses his court case, is forced to convert, and is effectively silenced, you cannot help but feel the injustice of the situation. Shakespeare does this a lot, particularly in his comedies. The trial in The Merchant of Venice feels very similar to Malvolio’s treatment at the end of Twelfth Night. Again and again, Shakespeare shows his audience how people are other-ized. You get comfortable, fall into entrenched ways of looking at people, and laugh right along to fit in. But then Shakespeare always turns it around and forces us to question why we’re laughing. We also have to remind ourselves that Shakespeare’s plays had to pass a censor (the Master of Revels) and we know he had to make edits to a number of his plays. He had to be subtle in the ways in which he made socio-political statements or his company couldn’t perform his plays.
It’s hard to talk about Shakespeare’s intention when all we really have of what he was thinking and feeling beyond what’s in the plays is lost to us. It’s entirely possible and perhaps likely that he intended to write an anti-Semitic character and, because Shakespeare just didn’t write stereotypes, accidentally gave the man some humanity. But, when I look at Shakespeare’s larger body of work and the way in which he focuses on issues of justice and marginalized people, I just don’t think that’s the case.
15-mar_546x-72 by Scott Hess the Whitney Home, 312 6th St, Petaluma, CA. A stickstyle Victorian with sunburst design over the entrance gable. Built in 1882 by Senator A.P. Whitney as a wedding gift to his son A.L. Whitney who married the stepdaughter of dairyman Ezekial Denman. The house is often referred to as the Rainbow House.
from notes in the Petaluma Museum.
The LSD water supply caper made us so excited that every time we tried to hold a meeting to plan it we became so frenzied that the meeting fell apart with us rolling on the floor screaming, drooling, and shooting dope. Only thru sedatives and by contemplating pictures of plane crashes were the Yippies able to calm themselves down enough to scheme out this great project.
During the summer of 1968, Augustus Owsley consumed much of his personal dope fortune in the preparation of LSD for the Chicago water supply. Owsley has always thrilled the Council of Eye Forms by his dedicated chemistry. This great man, scheduled to head the Ministry of Karma in the forthcoming Aeon of Yippie, spent eight months cooking up acid until he had the four swimming pools at his Ozark estate in Cabool, Missouri, completely filled with 800 dodecatillion doses of LSD, bubbling in hostility, ready for the reservoirs.
8:00 A.M. Tuesday, August 27, the day before the nomination, was chosen as the proper moment for the dope dump so that a bit of our sacrament might be shared by all the deliberating Americans preparing to select the Democratic candidate for president. I must admit that the Chicago Seed people were extremely hesitant to get involved in the acid caper. They gave the usual argument they gave whenever the Yippies sneak-zapped a cub scout pack, upper-room class, or DeMolay chapter with the sacrament. That did not prevent Abe Peck, the editor of the Chicago Seed, his voice trembling with need, from begging that we dump the acid in a waterproof cellar under his apartment building. “We’ll get rid of it later, heh heh ehe ha haw! hawrl! howrawhl!! hlwrahsh!! he said, being led away by his bodyguards. We decided to give them one hundred gallons which they put to good use. It was thrilling to see the Seed staff charge the Hilton thru teargas, laughing uncontrollably, while glub glubbing from their canteens full of hallucination.
We rented five milktank trucks from a Muncie, Indiana, dairyman (a product of dope and the Farmer-Labor party–chortle chortle–commies and Yippies are everywhere) to haul in the acid. We managed to get the trucks hidden in a Chicago warehouse owned by a babyfood manufacturer, but the National Guard was guarding all possible entrances to the water plants and reservoirs. Our plans were all over the newspapers and we became so panicky that we almost charged the convention building with our convoy of dope. Frankly, I was in favor of this. We would crash the dope-trucks into the Amphitheater, ax holes in the tanks and slosh the LSD on all the reporters, soldiers, cops, and conventioneers. There was an hysterical fifteen minute genital-fondle and hashish break after we considered this proposal. Praise Ra that we decided against it. After the break, Abbie laughingly (I hope) proposed that we get all the girls at the weekend rock shows at the Electric Theater to take a mouthful of acid and try to slip past the guards at the reservoirs and spit it into the water. To solve the matter, Jerry got on the phone and ran the data thru the computer. The reply was negative on the LSD caper. There was too great a danger that some of us would get snuffed.
What actually happened is that we poured it into the tanks used to clean the meat coming out of the Chicago slaughter plants. Hope you had a happy trip at Tad’s steak house. As it was, the LSD water supply cost us four good men, one eager fucker of step-aunts who chugalugged two quarts directly from the spigot of the tank-truck, and three who were stomped off by the Mafia, who wanted the acid for their Norwegian market.
Ed Sanders, Shards of God: a novel of the Yippies: The National Defense Planning Council Documents in American Civilization: The LSD Water Supply Caper–an example of left wing terrorism in the United States of America (1970)
The chuga-chuga sound is one any dairyman would want to hear — daily. It’s the sound of milking machines collecting the white liquid, which is turned into edible products that support their farm.
For Greg and Ana Kelly, the chuga-chuga sound means fresh milk from their flock of 80 milking ewes – milk to be made into cheeses and caramel at their Gallant, Ala., sheep farm, named Dayspring Dairy.
The Kelly’s own and operate Alabama’s only sheep dairy, with their two children – Everett, 14, and Sofia, 10 — and several part-time employees.
Greg Kelly had wanted a different career than his prior corporate path as an I.T. manager. So he and Ana researched different occupations that could provide an income, and a lifestyle better suited to family living.
“Greg wanted a farm, and animals,” Ana says, “and I wanted to make cheese. You either buy lots of milk, or you raise it.”
“We visited a sheep dairy in Knoxville,” Ana explains, “and we were rocked. We loved the animals and products, and saw how many products can be made from sheep’s milk. Sheep have the richest milk, the most protein, carbs, fat, and a high yield.”
After visiting several sheep dairies across the U. S., they purchased their 30-acre farm in northeast Alabama in 2010.
Hello! 60% of global farmland is used to raise beef, however only 5% of the worlds protein intake is beef. It requires 15000 liters of water to produce 2 kilograms of beef for consumption. I'm just a little confused as to why you advocate beef farming. It's totally understandable if you've never heard this info before, it's just that the world is really hurting to feed its population right now, and running out of usable water at an alarming rate. Beef just takes up more resources than its worth.
First and foremost, I support the beef industry because I was lucky enough to be born into an operation that is at the very heart of the industry and where it all begins. I’ve seen the miracle of life and all the way to death where the animal is then processed and further utilized in every products we use.
The land on which my calves are born and cattle graze is not suitable for farmland because I live in a high altitude climate with hard soils and low humidity which is not ideal for growing grain commodities. Therefore, the buffalo grass and prairie hay is converted into a high quality protein source.
The United States is the world leader in beef production because of careful selective breeding that has developed an animal that is continually producing more protein with less and less inputs such as the land you speak of. Majority of the commodity produced in the United States is exported to countries that cannot sustain feeding large ruminants such as China, Argentina, and Uruguay as the top three.
In regards to water usage, both crop farmers and cattle ranchers use diligent water management of the water table and adhere to regulations set by the EPA as well as USDA whether it is irritated or dry land. In agriculture, all of us at some point pray for rain because without precipitation neither corn nor calves would grow. We know the worth of water and sure as hell don’t take it for granted.
I encourage you to research reputable sources such as the USDA, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, Cattle Today and AgDay. Better yet, I highly advocate visiting a farm or ranch in person to see with your own two eyes and decide for yourself with your very own brain rather than be just another sheep willingly jumping off the cliff (no pun intended).
Whether it is a small scale swine farmer, the dairyman with a milking parlor that fits 18 head, or the King Ranch in Texas that developed the original Santa Gertrudis cattle breed, we all strive for the same goal: sustainable agriculture.
I don’t often turn my hand to music journalism on here, but I wanted to share some thoughts on a record that’s given me pause for thought. It’s been one week since Kanye West released his “problematic opus”, a phrase that I’ve placed in quote marks because I don’t understand what it means. By now, I’ve listened to it enough that I’ve started to form some thoughts about it that are a little more nuanced than “wow”, “neato” or “jeez” — or “buhbuhbuhbuh”, for that matter — the thoughts that initially typified my emotional response to The Life Of Pablo.
As, like an infant baby confronted by a small Lebanese cucumber, I’ve slowly and weakly clenched my mind-fingers around the album, which follows Kanye’s 2011 debut “Yeezus”, one question keeps coming to mind: what if Kanye was actually Tevye, from Fiddler On The Roof?
Hear me out. What if, instead of being a famous rap singer from Chicago, Kanye was, in fact, the humble Tevye, father to six troublesome daughters and protagonist of the award-winning musical Fiddler On The Roof?
Let me finish: what if instead of working with collaborators like Jay Z, Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar, Kanye’s songs were, in actuality, written for him by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick?
First, consider how easy it would be for these two men to be swapped, in a modern Prince and the Pauper-esque confection: both men’s given names end in “-ye”, pronounced like “yay”. Administratively a moment’s work. Furthermore, Kanye has two troublesome daughters: North and Saint (editor’s note: Kanye is yet to go on record on the matter of daughterly troublesomeness, but let’s assume.) While it’s a far cry from Tevye’s whopping brood of Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, Shprintze, Bielke, and Teibel, one thing is beyond dispute: both men have an amount of troublesome daughters that is greater than one. (Will North or Saint ever be even half as troublesome as Shprintze? Entirely another matter.)
Next, let’s ask what stands in our way. What impedes a swap between Kanye and Tevye? Institutional inertia can be a challenging mistress. For many, it’s simply easier to let Kanye remain Kanye and Tevye, Tevye. It’s also undeniable that Kanye is a real person who is also a millionaire, while Tevye is a dirt poor fictional Russian Jewish dairyman who was concocted in a series of stories by Sholem Aleichem between 1894 and 1914. In this instance, as in life, money talks — and you can bet that money will be saying “Don’t give me to Tevye! I’ll only be used for a dowry. Please! Please!”
Ultimately, while it would be nice to swap Kanye with Tevye and just see what happens, the fact is that it probably won’t happen. I give The Life Of Pablo 7.5 out of 10.
Part 1 Animal Scientist here to clear some stuff up! I don't eat veal personally, sounds pretty gross, but I'm here to educate the masses who didn't get to grow up on a farm like me. My first issue with that article: people project human emotions onto animals. Not saying they don’t feel, I’ve worked with every major livestock species and I’ve loved some of them more than people, but they are NOT people. The maternal instinct is very strong for the first day or so after birth.
[The rest of this post is copypasta from amurra99′s subsequent asks:]
If the calf is taken away soon after birth she may look for it but she will soon forget about it. People say “Oh but she lost her child! She never got a chance to raise her own baby!” That is a very human thing to say. Cows don’t see it as losing a child like we would. Once the maternal instinct shuts off she’s looking for the next bale of hay.