The Shmooze

Jill Abramson Champions Freedom of The Press

By Masha Leon

“She was reading the New York Times before she could transfer to a bottle,”Gail Sheehy said of Jill Abramson, at the July 15 reception she hosted at her Manhattan duplex for the former executive editor of The New York Times.

Author of 16 books — including megahit “Passages,” Sheehy touted Abramson as “among the first to invade the all-male testosterone preserve at Harvard…and because of her, the New York Times has an equal number of men and women on [its] masthead.”

Sponsored by The Common Good as part of its Leadership Series, the more than 50 guests included former, still active and young wannabe journalists. Standing on a white plastic stool — so she could be seen — barefoot in-a-chic-black and white pattern sleeveless dress, Abramson declared: ”The First Amendment is first for a reason… Jefferson famously said if you had to choose between having a country with a government and no newspapers — or the opposite — he would say that having newspapers is more important than the government. The founders of this country were desperately afraid of highly centralized power and believed that a free press was necessary to hold the government accountable to the people” and that “stories from [accused] whistle-blowers — if they are indeed the sources — were very much in the spirit Jefferson envisioned.”

Karen Leon
Jill Abramson

Abramson stated: “When Obama came into the White House, he pledged to have the most transparent administration ever… and in certain ways the Obama administration had been good — declassified millions of documents. But in terms of these leaks… they have been unusually tough, aggressive and I see that as a really disturbing trend.”

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: new york times, jill abramson, jewish, common good

James Franco Calls Out New York Times Critic

By Anne Cohen

James Franco is good at lot of things (acting, directing, teaching, writing, selfies) but taking criticism isn’t one of them.

The actor took to Instagram to post a positive review by Variety praising “Of Mice and Men,” in which he currently stars with Chris O’Dowd. He also used the opportunity to call New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley “a little bitch.”

Brantley had apparently called the play a “respectable, respectful and generally inert revival” of the John Steinbeck classic.

The comment has since been deleted but here’s a screenshot, per Gawker (also included in Franco’s instarant):

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: new york times, jewish, james franco, broadway, of mice and men

Gary Shteyngart Finally Out-Blurbs Himself

By Anne Cohen

Novelist Gary Shteyngart is known for being an “enthusiastic blurb-writer.”

But nothing can possibly beat this one.

Writing about “Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy,” a book by Pat Morris and Joanna Ebenstein, which, as the name suggests, tells the story of Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter, Shteyngart said:

“Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy” is one of hte most important books I’ve read on Victorian taxidermy in months. It’s like Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure,” but with squirrels.” — New York Times: T Magazine

Rapper Cee-Lo Green, featured opposite Shteyngart in a T Magazine “Take Two” had this to say about the book:

“I can’t imagine the type of special individual it takes to do this. I don’t have any animals that are stuffed, but I’ve got some stuffed animals — a panther, a Rottweiler, a couple little doggies I’ve found along the way.”

Budding taxidermists can place their order here.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: new york times, jewish, gary shteyngart, cee-lo green, blurb

James Franco Defends Shia LeBeouf in the New York Times

By Jana Banin

(JTA) — James Franco has added yet another couple of lines to his epic resume. It seems the film actor, soap opera star, professor, muralist, and selfie-master is now also a New York Times contributer and defender of erratic celebrities—in this case actor Shia LeBeouf.

In an OP-ED piece titled “Why Actors Act Out,” Franco analyzes LeBeouf’s recent antics, which include alleged plagiarism, plagiarized apologies for the alleged plagiarism, a skywritten apology for the alleged plagiarism, wearing a bag over his head at a movie premiere, and wearing a bag over his head and staring at people at an art show (also possible plagiarism).

Is LeBeouf nuts? Maybe. But one thing’s for sure, per Franco: The guy is artsy.

“…I know that this idea has pretentious or just plain ridiculous overtones — that his actions are intended as a piece of performance art, one in which a young man in a very public profession tries to reclaim his public persona,” Franco says, before going on to list other examples of actors who fought back against the industry’s control over their images. Like Marlon Brando, Joaquin Pheonix, and of course, James Franco.

“At times I have felt the need to dissociate myself from my work and public image,” he writes. “In 2009, when I joined the soap opera “General Hospital” at the same time as I was working on films that would receive Oscar nominations and other critical acclaim, my decision was in part an effort to jar expectations of what a film actor does and to undermine the tacit — or not so tacit — hierarchy of entertainment.”

To Franco’s credit, the “General Hospital” stint was a pretty awesome way to stand up to the hierarchy of entertainment. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if LaBeouf pops up on mid-day TV sometime soon, too. Franco would surely be flattered. As he said himself, “I think Mr. LaBeouf’s project, if it is a project, is a worthy one.”

Photo credit: Getty Images.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: shia lebeouf, op ed, new york times, jewish, james franco, celebrities

Reactions to Dylan Farrow's Open Letter

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Dylan Farrow has renewed her allegations of sexual abuse against Woody Allen, this time, in her own words.

In an open letter published on Nick Kristoff’s New York Times blog, the adopted daughter of Allen and actress Mia Farrow (who now goes by a different name), repeated her claim that the director sexually assaulted her when she was just seven years old.

“What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me.”

The letter had scarcely been posted that reactions started to surface on Twitter:

Tavi Gavinson, editor-in-chief of Rookie Magazine, echoed the dilemma that many face when it comes to Allen and director Roman Polanski, in a long introspective rant on her Twitter feed.

In her letter, Dylan appealed directly to the actors appearing in Allen’s movies, asking them not to turn a blind eye:

“What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?

Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.”

The allegations against Allen resurfaced in a 2013 Vanity Fair profile of Mia Farrow, in which the 28-year-old Dylan described the abuse.

Allen, 78 has always denied the allegations. He and Farrow split up in 1992.

A tribute to Allen at the Golden Globes and an Oscar nomination for “Blue Jasmine” have re-awakened the discussion about whether or not the iconic director is in fact a child-molestor.

During the Golden Globes ceremony for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, presented to Allen by Diane Keaton, his estranged son Ronan tweeted:

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: sex, woody allen, ronan farrow, new york times, mia farrow, jewish, dylan farrow, abuse

Man Who Would Buy NY Times Makes Remarks About Jews, ADL Angry

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Double “oops” for Chinese recycling tycoon Chen Guangbiao: After an unsuccessful bid to buy The New York Times (not for sale), the business man gave an interview to a Chinese newspaper saying he has an “equally competent IQ and EQ” as Jews. He also added that he is “very good at working with Jews.” (Good to know)

As expected, the Anti-Defamation League was none too pleased.

“How sad and how deep and how ingrained are the offensive stereotypes about Jewish brains and success in business,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman wrote in a statement. “These stereotypes, plus the false notion that Jews control the U.S. news media, infect even educated and successful people such as Chen Guangbiao.”

Apparently, Abe had long been under the assumption that China, unlike Europe, does not have stereotypes about Jews. “Unfortunately, it seems to be seeping more and more into the mainstream,” Foxman lamented.

Far more likely however, is that Guangbiao throught he was paying the tribe a compliment by striving for our level of intellect. But Foxman has an answer to that too:

“For decades, self-help gurus and widely available books have exhorted the Chinese to emulate the Jews in order to achieve financial success. For the most part, those perpetuating this call believe they are being complimentary about Jews and Jewish success, and have no idea that they are repeating deeply ingrained anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish brains and success in business. Given his prominent position, Chen has a responsibility to educate himself – and his countrymen – about the deeply prejudiced roots of these statements.”

Now that he won’t be running the Grey Lady, he should have lots of time to do just that.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: new york times, jewish, china, adl, Chen Guangbiao

Jerry Seinfeld Stands Up to Test of Time

By Susan Armitage

getty images

Jerry Seinfeld is a master comedic craftsman still keeping his standup game in top form.

That’s the takeaway from this weekend’s New York Times magazine profile in which Seinfeld shares his writing process (including his notes) and talks spirituality with the Times’s Jonah Weiner.

Seinfeld describes growing up on Long Island in a “pretty Jewish” family that went to temple and kept kosher. Despite forays into Zen Buddhism, Scientology and transcendental meditation, Seinfeld told the Times he still identifies as Jewish.

“I was very flattered recently to hear about a Nazi rally in Florida where they took DVDs of (my) show, sprayed swastikas on them and threw them through the windows of a synagogue,” he said. “That was nice.”

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: new york times, twitter, seinfeldtoday, jerry seinfeld, jewish

Date Set for 2nd Jerusalem Marathon

By Michael Kaminer

As Jerusalem continues to shake off its, er, parochial reputation, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism this week announced the second annual Jerusalem International Marathon will run its course on March 16 around some of the Holy City’s most iconic sites.

The race, whose 2011 debut drew more than 10,000 runners from more than 40 countries, will include a full and half marathon, as well as a 10K run, according to a press release. The race “will bring participants through sites within Jerusalem’s historical landscape, including the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, the Knesset, Jerusalem Promenade and various Old City sites such as Sultan’s Pool and the German Colony,” the announcement said.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Nir Barkat, Jerusalem International Marathon, New York Times, Matt Gross

Hipsters Embrace Hasidic Headwear

By Nathan Burstein

When Hasidim and hipsters have shared headlines in recent years, it’s most often been because of tensions dividing the two communities. So it’s nice, for a change, to see a story about something the two groups have in common — specifically, their love of a distinctive type of headwear.

The New York Times reports that Williamsburg’s hipster population is now embracing the Borsalino, the brand of black fedora long worn by Hasidic men as a way to identify themselves and each other.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: New York Times, Hipsters, Hats, Hasidim, Fashion, Brooklyn, Borsalino, Williamsburg

Is It Immoral To Re-Steal Previously Looted Holocaust Memorabilia?

By Michael Kaminer

For a Jewish visitor to Poland, is it moral to steal souvenirs that may have themselves been looted from Jewish homes during the Holocaust?

Not according to yesterday’s Ethicist column in the New York Times Magazine. “Traveling in Poland, I visited antique stores offering Jewish items — menorahs, mezuzas — that seemed more than 65 years old,” wrote Randy Malamud of Atlanta. “[I] found myself unable to pay for what was probably stolen property. Part of me wishes I had stolen (liberated?) some of them. Would that have been justified?” In his response, Ethicist scribe Randy Cohen quoted Marilyn Henry, a Jerusalem Post columnist who “has written much about such sad relics.” Cohen advised that “while the items may have been looted during the Nazi era, they may have been treated as legally ‘abandoned’ when the family was deported; they may have been sold at fire-sale prices by the original owner/family to raise funds to flee; they may have been held with the best of intentions by neighbors in anticipation that a Jewish family would return, and the family did not return.”

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ethicist, Holocaust, Nazi, New York Times, Poland, Silver

Tel Aviv and Beirut Compete For Gay Tourism

By Michael Kaminer

Tel Aviv, 2007. Wiki Commons

Israel and Lebanon are at it again. But there’s no heavy artillery in this battle — unless you count giant sums spent by tourism boards in Tel Aviv and Beirut in a furious competition for gay tourists. With both cities “boasting a trendy nightlife, warm climate and carefree attitude,” reports the Jerusalem Post, efforts to lure “pink dollars” are ramping up.

Earlier this year, the Forward reported on Tel Aviv’s ascent as a gay destination; in April, a pair of U.S. gay tour operators even made headlines with dueling, ultra-luxe packages for gay travelers. There’s also a new, official Facebook page, Tel Aviv Gay Vibe, that touts the White City as “a dashing piece of gay heaven.”

Beirut, however, earned the moniker “Provincetown of the Middle East” in a 2009 Travel story in the New York Times. And according to the Post, industry powerhouse the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association held its first symposium in the city a few weeks ago. The owner of the gay travel agency LebTour also tells the Post his company now escorts 500 gay tourists around Lebanon every year.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: New York Times, Provincetown Of The Middle East, Gay Tourism, Jerusalem Post, Beirut, Tel Aviv

'Barbra Streisand' Goes Viral

By Abigail Jones

Afternoon blues? Plug in your earphones and check out this hilarious new clip by the DJ duo Duck Sauce, posted on the New York Times ArtsBeat blog.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: New York Times, Barbra Streisandm Viral Video, Duck Sauce, DJ, ArtsBeat

Producers Plan To Dispute Holocaust Film's R Rating

By Michael Kaminer

What does a new Holocaust documentary have in common with “The Kids Are All Right,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “Predators”? An R rating, according to the Classification and Rating Administration of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Yesterday’s New York Times reports that “A Film Unfinished,” which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, earned the R rating, which requires viewers under the age of 17 to be accompanied by an adult, for “disturbing images of Holocaust atrocities, including graphic nudity.”

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: A Film Unfinished, Holocaust, New York Times, Nudity, Rating

Are Steve Carell and Paul Rudd Schmucks?

By Devra Ferst

Paul Rudd and Steve Carell will be united once again in bro-mance in the upcoming “Dinner for Schmucks,” due out this July, according to an article in yesterday’s New York Times.

The movie, which will be directed by Jay Roach of “Meet the Fockers” and “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” is inspired by the 1998 French film “Le Diner de Cons” (essentially, “The Dinner for Assholes”). It follows the unlikely friendship between Rudd, an executive who nearly has it all, and Carell, an eccentric and clumsy IRS employee who creates dead mice dioramas for fun. Rudd plans to bring Carell to his boss’s annual “Dinner for Extraordinary People,” where the employee who brings the lamest and strangest guest to dinner is rewarded at the office.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yiddish, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Meet the Fockers, New York Times, Jay Roach, Dinner for Schmucks

Food & Wine Magazine Honors Israeli Chef

By Josh Tapper

Defining Israeli cuisine is tough work, as Forward Ingredients columnist Leah Koenig recently pointed out. But difficult or not, Israeli food culture is thriving, and the global gastro community is taking notice.

Food & Wine, the influential American culinary monthly, named Israeli Yonatan Roshfeld a top “Rising-Star Chef” in its 2010 list of the 100 “Best New Food & Drink Experiences.”

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Tel Aviv, Rising-Star Chef, Roshfeld, Tapas, New York TImes, Momofuku, Leah Koenig, Israeli, Herbert Samuel, Frank Bruni, Food And Wine, Adad Ha'am, Cuisine, David Chang, 100 Best New Food and Drink Experiences

Pastrami With a Side of Sustainability

By Devra Ferst

In the world of Jewish food, the iconic deli and the sustainable food movement seem like strange bedfellows. But in a post-Alice Waters world such is no longer the case, at least according to an article by Julia Moskin, “Can the Jewish Deli Be Reformed?” in today’s New York Times.

Delis, which once thrived on the fact that they could sell cheap meat brined, smoked, roasted or ‘cued and smothered in seasoning, are no longer up to snuff for discerning deli aficionados. And, as David Sax, author of Save the Deli, points out, old delis with overly long and poorly executed menus are dying by the dozen.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Smoked, Save The Deli, Saul's Restaurant And Deli, Salami, Roasted, Peter Levitt, Pat La Frieda, New York Times, Mile End, Deli, Julia Moskin, David Sax, Corned Beef, Brooklyn, Brined, Alice Waters, Sustainability

Food Programs Define Israeli Cuisine

By Devra Ferst

If you think Israeli food comprises just hummus, falafel and shawarma you have a lot to learn (and taste). Modern Israeli cuisine is hip, fresh, local and heavily influenced by the loads of immigrants living there. For your convenience, we’ve found two food programs, both happening this week, sure to bring you and your taste buds up to speed.

Photo by Michael Lionstar

Celebrity Israeli Chef Haim Cohen, host of the cooking show “Garlic, Pepper and Olive Oil,” will be preparing a dinner at the venerable James Beard Foundation tonight in New York. Serving up dishes like whitefish ceviche, labaneh filled torellini, and seared calamari with hummus, he’ll incorporate traditional and new Israeli ingredients into the meal.

For a more in-depth look at modern Israeli cuisine, you can sign up for the New York Times’ course “The New Israeli Cuisine,” a week-long online seminar led by Times food writer Joan Nathan and Janna Gur, editor of Israel’s leading food magazine, On The Table.

Leave the schnitzel and falafel at home.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: torellini, the new israeli cuisine, shawarma, pepper and Olive oil, on the tabel, new york times, labaneh, janna gur, james beard foundation, israeli, immigrants, hummus, haim cohen, galic, food, cuisine




Find us on Facebook!
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.