Resident New Yorkers have long enjoyed a love affair with a famous confectionary institution called The Magnolia Bakery, made ever-more famous by the “Sex & the City” foursome who couldn’t get enough of Magnolia’s trademark cupcakes, and more recently, by the “Saturday Night Live” skit “The Chronic of Narnia Rap” (a must see if you haven’t already watched it), which features a narrated trip to Magnolia.
But can cupcakes extend your life?
I certainly can’t get enough of Magnolia’s cupcakes (the best is when they have a daily special with cream cheese frosting), and am willing to stand in the lines that go out the door and around the corner on sunny days, but I can’t imagine going so far as to special order cupcakes made with Borba Age Defying Water. That’s right! With just a phone call and a special request, The Magnolia Bakery will make you as many Borba-Age-Defying-Cupcakes as you so desire.
Perhaps you can pre-order your honey a Borba-infused red velvet one for Valentine’s Day this year and hope for immortal love as well?
It may seem like a movie such as “The Aristocrats,” out this week on DVD, would hardly be fodder for a self-respecting spirituality blog like Idol Chatter, but My Friend the Rabbi offered up some wise insights about this film, which consists entirely of well-known comedians reciting their own versions of a raunchy joke–and trying to outdo each other in making the joke filthier and filthier. The joke always starts with the same opening and ends with the same punchline, but everything in between is up to the teller’s imagination (and those featured in the film have quite, um, vivid imaginations). It may not sound like the most promising premise for a feature film, and as I said, hardly the usual fare for spiritually-minded folks.
But My Friend the Rabbi points out that the movie really is depicting the transmission of a faith. Think about it: There is a a defined group, in this case professional comedians (who, the movie tells us, don’t generally tell this joke to audiences, instead reserving it for their own post-show, backstage sessions amongst themselves). And there is a text that is at once unchanging and in need of interpretation, a scripture of sorts that serves as a guide.
The joke always contains three sections–the standard opening, involving a family act and a talent scout who says he doesn’t represent family acts; a middle that is improvised, describing the raunchy act that the family performs for the scout; and a set punchline, in which the scout asks what the act is called and is told, “The Aristocrats.” This joke, which is not even funny in any inherent way, is dutifully passed on from generation to generation in the comedy world, with each generation adding its own layers of interpretation and seeing it through its own unique eyes. Why this joke? Tradition. It was the favorite of the iconic comedians of years past, men (and the occasional woman) who are worshipped by every comic who’s come along in years since. Where’d the joke come from? No one’s sure, but there may have been earlier, slightly different versions that spawned this one.
And should you see the movie and convert to Aristocratism or something like that? Well, only you can decide for yourself if you’ve got “The Aristocrats” in your heart.
There’s a people in this country clamoring for wholesome but engaging entertainment that speaks their language and addresses the concerns of their Scripture-based lifestyle. I refer, of course, to haredi Jews–the fervently observant, sometimes called ultra-Orthodox. At last, they are getting a movie of their own. Shot in Monsey–a New York ex-urb and one of the major hubs of Orthodox life–”A Gesheft” (“The Deal”) is said by its producers to be the first completely Yiddish-speaking movie to made in the United States since the once thriving Yiddish-language film industry collapsed some 60 years ago.
“We decided that religious Jews needed their own movies far from the dangerous influence of Hollywood,” explains a press release from Mendy and Yakov Kirsh, who make up Kosher Entertainment. What’s so kosher about it? Though full of drama, car-crashes, and lots of dudes in traditional black hats and topcoats, the movie has no women, out of respect for Orthodox rules restricting men from being entertained by the opposite sex. The unisex cast is not as striking, however, as the total dedication to the tongue of Eastern European Jewry: Even an African-American cop speaks his one line in Yiddish. The filmmakers are looking to make a tour of festivals later this year.
John Lennon declared the Beatles to be bigger than Jesus Christ, but at least they didn’t try to be Jesus Christ.
Kanye West, the multi-platinum selling rap artist and outspoken celebrity who criticized President Bush’s Katrina relief efforts last year, will grace the upcoming cover of Rolling Stone as Jesus Christ, complete with a crown of thorns atop his head–ensuring that he’ll be drumming up plenty of controversy in 2006.
To be fair to West, he’s not the first rapper to play God, in the person of his Son, Jesus. In 1999, Nas stirred up quite a bit of controversy playing a “Christ-like” figure who is crucified and stoned in his video for “Hate Me Now.” Mentor, producer, and collaborator Sean “Puffy/P. Diddy/Diddy” Combs is also shown being crucified. Apparently, Combs had second thoughts about his inclusion, the video was re-edited to remove the image–but the wrong version aired on MTV’s Total Request Live. Within minutes of the broadcast, Combs reportedly barged into the offices of Nas’s manager and beat him about the head with a champagne bottle. So much for turning the other cheek.
And on the cover of his posthumous release “Makaveli,” 2Pac (Tupac) Shakur is seen crucified like Jesus Christ, adding to conspiracy theorist speculation that the rapper isn’t actually dead.
But Kanye West’s Mel Gibson-like devotion doesn’t stop with his coverboy imitatio Christi. West, whose hit single “Jesus Walks” was prominently played in the “Jarhead” trailer, has a reproduction of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his dining room, and has–with the help of Jacob the Jeweler, jeweler to the stars–designed a line of jewelry featuring diamond encrusted Jesus heads.
Still, West does his bit for ecumenicism, also posing for Rolling Stone as boxer Muhammad Ali, the world-famous convert to Islam.