All Purpose Dark

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Girls Night In @ agua Spa at the Delano


The agua spa event at the Delano Thursday night can be described as many things, but comfortable really captures it. Located on the Delano's scenic rooftop patio, "Girls Night In," heavily promoted by Tara, Ink was a rousing success. Luckily I arrived early enough, but I heard battle stories of women vying for spots on the packed elevators, though the party never seemed overly crowded.

Without men around these women were free to eat, chat, receive hand massages, and revel in the evening glow. The passed appetizers were dainty and imaginative with plenty of options for those who don't dabble in shellfish and pork, the usual staples of Miami nightlife nibblets. A popular favorite was the "shots" of watermelon juice (above) with little cubes of feta cheese on the bottom of the cup. They were topped with little pancake discs - very fun. That watermelon-feta combo is super popular in Israel in the summer, it's at every event there.

The curry noodles with lobster and cilantro(above) were big hits as well. Of course the food platters were also attacked by the melange of female hoi polloi who were sucking down the weak Bacardi mojitos and putting their names on an endless list for free mini-facials.

This woman really reminded me of an aunt in Israel, "Doda Shoshana." Let's just say, Doda Shoshi is that particular brand of Israeli that never met a sparkly shirt she wouldn't wear and sports a look that combines a lifetime of sun-worship with a love for over-peroxided hair. Man, Shoshi would have rocked the Delano, straight, up.

The spa itself is nice enough - not the sprawling behemoths you'd find at other hotels like the Setai or Mandarin Oriental. Each treatment room is separated with the Delano's signature white gauze curtains and there are hydrotherapy and bath treatment rooms. It's cozy and romantic, with a staff that seemed incredibly accommodating and pleasant.
But if you were content not to subject yourself to the waiting list, or not in the mood to be massaged in public, then the evening lent itself a certain relaxed laziness. With the sun setting over the Miami skyline and the efficient Delano staff assiduously clearing the tables and providing ample food and drink, the lovely ladies of Miami were able to bask in the glow of female camaraderie, just as long as the spa didn't run out of gift bags. Then you best take cover, Tara, Ink.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Miami Restaurant Review: Sheba Ethiopian


Sheba Ethiopian Restuarant
4029 North Miami Ave.
Design District

Ethiopian cuisine presents uncharted territory for most diners. It hasn't quite caught on like the exotic exports of other far off locales. Like the African continent itself, it is often only the adventurous, the unfearing, who brave the mysterious depths of this ancient culture and emerge from the experience having encountered something new, and perhaps gratifying. So it was with Conradian courage that we ventured upon the Design District to sample the cuisine of Miami finest Ethiopian restaurant. I was already a professed fan of the spicy and filling cuisine - while in San Francisco I frequented a great Ethiopian dive in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and on recent trips to Israel have added Ethiopian restaurants established by new immigrants in Jerusalem to my dining rotation there. I was familiar with spongy "Injera" bread used to scoop up the usually mushy, stewy consistency of most Ethiopian dishes and was looking forward to a refreshing Castel beer. I approached Sheba with high expectations and was not disappointed. Everything about the restaurant - from the gorgeous African textiles and small gallery boasting sculptures and crafts to the gracious and accommodating service, to the exquisitely prepared food was delightful.

Our lunch consisted of a starter of "zaalouk," diced eggplant sauteed with ginger, lemon, cumin, and garlic. Superbly spiced and cooked, this dish was fantastic proof that this versatile vegetable can work with any food genre, from Japan to Africa. For main courses we opted to try several vegetarian dishes (since each entree comes with 2 vegetarian sides). Standouts included the "ful," fava beans cooked with tomatoes, onion, and hot green peppers, and "mesir wat," lentils cooked with onions and garlic, each with adequate spice and sauce to provide enough kick to the delicious beans. Other choices of collard greens and "atakilt wat," mixed vegetables of potatoes, cabbage, and carrots provided textural difference and a welcome low-spice respite from the fiery counterparts on the platter. Accompanied by generous portions of injera bread and washed down with a cold Haitian beer (they were out of Ethiopian varieties that day), and you have a happy dining excursion.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mr. Wong, Cartoon Butler


While doing research on Asia I have become smitten with a certain cartoon butler and his mad-cap antics and wacky hijinks. Long famed Internet cartoon cult favorite Mr. Wong debuted in 1999 and only lasted 14 episodes, but oh, the laughter remains. Sure, these cartoons are completely racist, filled with profanity, and utterly cringe-worthy, but they are also belly-clutchingly funny. (The show is so upfront about its offensiveness that when the cartoon is loading, the screen says "rroading.")
Mr. Wong may be the star but I would argue that "Miss Pam," his WASPy, insensitive, cocktail-swilling boss steals the show each time. Her character gets better as the episodes progress, with her relationship to Mr. Wong being at times playful and patronizing. The show's early demise leaves its theme song's question of "Is it love or is it hate?" unresolved, but one thing is for sure, Mr. Wong still sleeps on a wooden plank with bricks for a pillow.
Watch an episode here, and see other cartoons at Icebox.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Miami Spice Review: Blue Door @ The Delano

You know the drill at the Delano: billowy white curtains, whimsical light fixtures, candles everywhere, used to be only filled with pretty people but now the door policy is less snooty and more inclusive, etc. She may be played out and copied in boutique hotels around the world, but the Delano's still got it, and so does her flagship restaurant, Blue Door.
Service was excellent, with courses coming out in timed precision, water glasses always filled, and absolutely no attitude from the staff. So refreshing!
The food was fantastic, with equal parts experimentation and traditional french-inspired options.
My Miami Spice menu choices:
Appetizer:BIG RAVIOLI (Jumbo Ravioli Filled with Taro Root Mousseline, White Truffle Oil and Light Mushroom Foam). Loved the foam, loved the taro root filling, all of it was earthy, light and pleasing. A generous portion, too.
Main course: THON CONFIT (Caramelized miso tuna with oven sweet tomatoes, shallots, capers, garlic and parsley, vinaigrette and crispy beignets). Very nice piece of tuna, expertly cooked as ordered, I am sucker for capers so I was immediately sold. (A side note: at $37 normally priced, I would not have been as satisfied - not enough to justify that price.)
Dessert: CHOCOPISTACHIO (Melted Chocolate Cake with Pistachio Ice Cream). The cake was delectable molten chocolate lava. The ice cream provided the necessary nutty coolness.
Overall: A great dining experience, only one more week to try it at the Miami Spice price. Highly recommended!

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Persian Food in the Media


Persian food makes it into Heeb magazine's "Best 50 Foods". Represent!
33. Homemade Persian Food
Tell one of your Persian friends you want to have dinner at their parents’ place. And while you’re at it, insist that they serve gondis (spiced meatballs), sabzi kuku (“all things green” pancakes) and pilau khoresh (rice-based stew). And then, ask them how they make those Persian miniatures so damn miniature.

And Joan Nathan, Jewish food maven, raves about "gundi," Persian dumplings made with chick pea flour. I may try her recipe, though my grandmother's gundis were the best because she ground the chick peas by hand, and because she was my "Maman Basorg," of course.

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Miami Fashion Week Part Deaux


The guest lists from Ocean Drive's fashion week are not yet cold and now Funkshion announces their Fashion Week Miami extravaganza taking place October 11-15. Predictably most of the events and "after parties" take place at Funkshion Lounge. If the Heatherette show is even half the circus freakshow it was in New York, then I am so there. Read the Fug girls hilarious analysis of the show here . Slap on a pair of gold lamé bike shorts and watch the slideshow here.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Details about the Eichmann Trial

For a story I am working on: Research on Adolf Eichmann, a high-ranking Nazi captured by Israeli Mossad agents in Argentina in 1960. His trial in Israel lasted 4 months and was widely televised around the world. He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 1962 he was executed by hanging.

- His capture in Buenos Aires was a result of coincidence. His son Klaus dated the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who also lived in Argentina. When Klaus boasted of his father’s past as a Nazi, the girl’s father began investigating Eichmann, then living under a pseudonym, and helped the Israelis kidnap and spirit the war criminal back to Israel for trial.

- During the trial, Eichmann insisted that he was only "following orders" - the same defense used by some of the Nazi war criminals during the 1945-1946 Nuremberg Trials. This defense inspired the Milgram Experiment whereby participants repeatedly applied electric shocks to other participants even when they knew they were causing pain, simply because an authoritative figure was instructing them to do so.









- Eichmann sat behind bullet proof glass during the entire trial, with an unemotional expression throughout the proceedings.

- The trial included 14 weeks of testimony where 100 prosecution witnesses, 90 of whom were Holocaust survivors, retold the horrors of the Holocaust.

- Apparently many Israelis favored sparing Eichmann the death penalty.

- Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, president of Israel at the time, turned down Eichmann’s petition for mercy and quoted the Book of Samuel: "As your sword bereaved women, so will your mother be bereaved among women." (Samuel 1:15:33 , Samuel's words to Agag king of the Amalekites).

- Eichmann allegedly refused a last meal, preferring instead a bottle of Carmel, a dry red Israeli wine. He consumed about half of the bottle.

- The most controversial analysis of the trial came from Hannah Arendt. In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt concluded that, aside from a desire for improving his career, Eichmann showed no trace of anti-Semitism or psychological damage. She called him the embodiment of the "banality of evil," as he appeared at his trial to have an ordinary and common personality, displaying neither guilt nor hatred. She suggested that this most strikingly discredits the idea that the Nazi criminals were manifestly psychopathic and different from ordinary people.

Other books inspired by the Eichmann capture are: The House on Garibaldi Street, by Isser Harel, head of the Mossad at the time, and Eichmann in My Hands, by Peter Malkin, a member of the team that captured Eichmann.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Product Review: Body Glove Rashguard

Swimming in South Florida is sometimes the only way to beat the scorching, moist, sauna-like climate that graces this lovely pocket of the universe. But one thing I noticed when I started swimming regularly is that I get way more sun exposure than necessary. I may be dark, but there's no way I'm getting darker. And taking a quick survey of the leathery, fluted hides of my fellow Miamians reveals that sun damage is nothing to scoff at; thus the rashguard.
The body glove is the new tan. I simply lurve this swimming accessory. If only I could cover my entire body in this skin-protecting lycra! But alas, the long-sleeve version will have to suffice for now. Plus, I'm not sure how the folks at my community pool would take to my doing laps in a full wetsuit. Bottom line: I feel like an aquatic superhero when I wear this bad boy.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Happy Miami Cross Blogination Day!


It's time, folks. Time to cross-blog your world. My post can be found at Miami Gringo, so go there now all you APD readers. It is the post wherein I explain what the hell the title of my blog means. I know you're dying to know. Marc from Hidden City is posting here. And James from MG is posting on his blog, thereby creating an intimate little blog-triangle. See all the participating blogs here.
Enjoy, unsuspecting reading public.
*****************************************

Holly

We met in a odd sort of social club. People came there to play games, anything from pinochle to Monopoly to D&D, maybe listen to some music and eat some bar food. It was a bottle club, so drunken rowdiness was rarely a problem.

Holly played cards; I just hung around a lot. Once I was drawn into a game, and started up a conversation with her. I liked her from the start: she liked games (but just as a diversion, not as a lifestyle), she was quite cute (curly black hair, gorgeous smile, fabulously zaftig), and quite bright (a biology teacher at Broward Community College). She also had a delightful sparkle in her deep brown eyes, and had am embarrassed way of telling a dirty joke that was utterly charming.

Most importantly to my twenty-something self, though, she said yes when I asked her out.

When I picked her up from her tiny one room house I brought her a gift: a goofy-looking fifteen foot long hot pink stuffed snake. It was an irrational choice, but she previously mentioned liking stuffed animals and snakes both, so I gave it a shot. She was taken aback, but amused, and -- as she later admitted -- a little touched by the naivete shown. The snake ended the night wrapped around her table, and we ended the night looking out her window at the moon. Holly believed in romance.

Two nights later she showed up at the little shop I managed, having called first to tell me she was picking up some Kentucky Fried Chicken for my dinner. She went into my office carrying a large wicker basket, and when I closed the store a short time later I found my office table cleared. In its place was a red and white checkered tablecloth, china plates and crystal glasses, silverware, white candles, linen napkins, a chilled bottle of wine, and a bucket of the Colonel's best with all the sides. Holly didn't believe in skimping on class, even for friend chicken.

Our relationship progressed swiftly past the first and second dates and into the "yes, we're dating" stage. She became accustomed to my eccentricities as I became enamored of hers. Granted, we didn't go out all that much, as our low-paying jobs didn't afford us many options; we enjoyed staying in more, anyway.

We started spending weekends together, and our conversations turned toward the future; we both liked what we saw. I would go back to school and work on completing my degree, while she would start work on her master's. In a few years we would both be in better places career-wise and financially, and then we'd take the world by storm.

Then I was fired from my job. I hadn't done anything wrong other than point out the things the owners needed to do to become competitive, but that was enough. I was devastated. I had never lost a job before, and I had bills to pay, and tuition to save toward. Holly was supportive, and tried to help me find another job, but my fear of bankruptcy was too great. I ended up taking the first job that would have me -- packing boxes in a warehouse. I didn't plan on staying there long, but I needed to get some money coming in.

Holly didn't approve of my job choice. I was rushing to get a job, she said. I was too desperate, she said. I didn't see the big picture, she said. I wasn't ambitious enough, she said.

We can't see each other any more, she said.

***

I ran into Holly at the Olive Garden ten years later. I recognized her immediately -- the eyes were a giveaway, as was the smile. I didn't know if she knew me, though, until she approached me by the hostess stand.

They were simple pleasantries, nothing extraordinary except her casual mention that she approached me while her husband was in the men's room. "He's a dentist," she said, "a nice man. My mother approves." "I'm happy for you," I told her, and meant it. Then she leaned forward, quickly kissed me, told me she still thought of me from time to time, and then rushed back to her table.

My date returned from the rest room and asked who the woman was. "Holly," I said. "I haven't seen her in years. I never expected to see her again."

Holly believed in romance, and raised it to an art. Like memory, though, romance is sadly fragile and impermanent.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Almond Paste Art


Harry from The View From Here visited the Marzipan Museum located on the foothills of Mt. Tavor in Northern Israel. LOVE the mini-backgammon. I'll be sure to add the museum to my next Israel itinerary. He has more great pictures here, including a marzipan Elvis. If you love almonds, or Elvis, it's a must-see in the Holy Land.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Red Cross Young Professionals @ Karu & Y


I really wanted to like Karu & Y. Really, I did.
But the resto-bar/megalounge/great-white-hope of the Miami nightlife vortex did not capture my heart, nor did it cause me to swoon. Maybe it is because the place loves itself much too much anyway. And in a city brimming with optimism that sometimes verges on the delusional, an overabundance of self-love can go a long way.
Set to officially open in October (after many delays and rescheduled opening dates), the restaurant has been hosting several invitation-only tastings, one of which was transpiring as we filtered in for the Red Cross YP event, a lovely shindig offering an unlimited open bar and lots of friendly pretty people. First, the space. A cavernous warehouse property in (where else?) Wynwood, Karu and Y's neighborhood is rough. While that hasn't stopped the Pawn Shop and other clubs from proliferating in the unsavory district, there's no guarantee Miamians will brave the streetwalkers no matter how badly they crave duck prosciutto lollipops.
The decor is wildly ambitious without being imaginative. A dramatic touch in the dining room of the restaurant, Karu (the bar/lounge is the Y, don't ask me why), is the Chihuly glass chandelier (pictured left), stunning and menacing, a fine greeting for the overwrought design throughout. The Y bar (pictured above) feels like something from the New York meatpacking district circa 2001. As I looked up at the undulating plastic panels covering the duct work on the ceiling and stared at the far wall covered in multiple plasma screens arranged at different angles, I yearned for the old days when Philip Starke injected some humor, a patronizing gaudy touch, that reminded club goers, that no, you are not all that, and yes, let's look at the world in a joyous irreverent way; sit on that Aunt Jemima chair, you're not too good for it. Even the staff uniforms which only hinted at playfulness are designed by Miami firm Dulce de Leche (though a tulle-encsconced employee said they were designed by Valentino). The gray-vested ensembles for the guys, frilly choker-collared black dresses for the gals can only be described as Matthew Barney meets Barnum & Bailey.
As patrons at the bar eagerly ordered and reordered from the cocktail menu which featured creative concoctions using fruit foam, green tea, and marshmallow cream, anxious food runners carried trays of delicately-plated small-portioned food to the diners encased in the private tasting room. Some lucky patrons at the cocktail party were priveleged enough to taste from the tapas menu, and each arrival from the kitchen was greeted with much ceremony and even applause at one point. When others asked for tastings they were told the kitchen was backed up, a fact that was reinforced when several patrons left the private tastings, complaining that the dishes were taking too long to come out.
A leisurely stroll to the restrooms offered a glimpse into the frantic and overburdedned kitchen, churning out thier scientific creations one flavor syringe at a time. Requests to see the menu of this other-worldly cuisine were futile; apparently there is no menu at Karu but the food is really good, one hostess assured me. Called "alta cocina," it's based on the masterful methods pioneered by Spain's superstar chef Ferran Adria. But Adria's restuarant, by comparison, is a simple place on a coastal town with only 50 seats. A place, I imagine, where the food provides enough dining drama to last a lifetime.

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To Do This Weekend: Open Bar @The Sagamore








Saturday, September 16, 2006
Social Miami at The Sagamore
1671 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

9:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Featuring Complimentary Cocktails
$18 minimum IEF gift requested in advance
We are unable to accommodate walk-in guests

RSVP by September 14 online at www.JewishMiami.org
or call (786) 866-8444.
Tax-deductible donations will go directly to support Federation's IEF.

Host Committee
Rachel Baum, Alice Gabrieloff
Alexander Lewy, Suzy Mehrpouyan
Cayla Tenenbaum
For more info, e-mail thenetwork@gmjf.org.

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Edge-a-ma-cation on the Streets

I've mentioned before how I ride my trusty Citizen bike to work. There are a few things I've learned on my erratic adventure-filled mornings in the Miami urban jungle. I will share them with you now.

1. Biscayne Blvd. is a great place to shatter glass.
Got some empty beer and liquor bottles lying around? Too lazy to throw them in the recycle bin? Then come on down to Biscayne Blvd (preferably between 79th and 42nd st) and break those pesky glass bottles in the street. Yes, there's plenty of nice glass-shattering concrete available to satisfy even the drunkest crackhead on his way back from renting a motel room at the hourly rate.

2. Moms in minivans are the worst.
Enough of all this talk about minivans being so safe. Maybe for the passengers, but certainly not for your friendly neighborhood bike rider. Each time I see a minivan pull out of a parking space or try to turn onto the street I make sure to make eye-contact with the mother load otherwise you know that they are gonna heave themselves out there without looking in both directions because they are going nuts with junior in the backseat smearing chocolate all over the velvet seats and you know they wish they were driving an Audi but no they had to buy the minivan because of carpool and AND AND!!! Believe me, I know, my own mumsey owned a Ford Windstar ("Windstaah" for us Bostonians) and being a passenger was like riding in an unwieldy barrel that's been tossed down the hill in a Loony Toons cartoon.

3. Crossing Guards are the sweetest.
The nicest people. Really, take a moment to thank your crossing guard next time you see him or her.

4. The silence when the bridge goes up is sublime.
Recently when I ride across the causeway the bridge has been up and rather than get annoyed with the minimum 6-minute wait until the bridge resumes its position, I take the time to enjoy the silence of all the cars being forced to wait patiently until they can roar over the bridge's metal grilling. I catch my breath, walk my bike up to the drawn gate and look out over the sparkling Biscayne Bay. Beautiful. This is why people live in Miami. It's nice to be reminded of that sometimes...Maybe I should take a jet ski to work...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Art Loves Baked Goods


Saturday night was Art night in Wynwood, a time to get real, get gritty, and enjoy the fruits of our city's young art world labor force. Marc Roder's show (above) at Dorsch Gallery was clever, or maybe I'm just drawn to the title, being a word gal at heart. This gallery-night phenomenon is transformative; usually desolate streets near downtown Miami are suddenly filled with the shouts, giggles, and clickety-clacks of high-heeled art patrons. There's always some cheap wine being offered, and in the case of Kevin Bruk's gallery, a mountain of delicious chocolate chip cookies just ripe for the taking. Some gallery goers approached the pile delicately, unsure whether or not it was an installation piece or for snacking. It was the latter, though a cookie installation piece sounds really good....

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

First Condo Party Ever, 1924


The Jewish Museum of Florida unveiled their new exhibit Monday night to an enthusiastic crowd of developers and those that love them. "Bonim," (builders in Hebrew) focuses on the Jewish builders and their impact on Florida's cherished industry - real estate development. The crowd, though not as sprightly as the usual SoBe party goers (let's just say these people cruised South Beach before Diddy was born) were nonetheless eager and interested in the voluminous exhibit. At nearly 600 images it was hard to balance a potato latke, glass of Baron Herzog Merlot, and read all about those buildings, builders, build, build build! Rise, Florida, RISE!


A fascinating discovery was the very first condo party ever - in a tent, on the beach in Surfside, sponsored by French Jewish developer Henri Levy. Humble beginnings for a tradition that now includes the perfunctory open bar, the spectacle of caged dancers, and in some cases the presence of Star Jones. One longs for those nostalgic days of yore when all a developer had to was set up tent (literally) on the beach and offer a refreshing beverage and a lease or two.

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To Do This Weekend: Art in Boca


The University Galleries in Florida Atlantic University’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters will present an exhibition of works by recipients of the 2006 South Florida Cultural Consortium Media and Visual Artists Fellowship. The exhibition will run from Friday, September 15 through Saturday, October 28, 2006 in the Schmidt Center Gallery and the Ritter Art Gallery on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road. There will be an opening reception in both galleries to honor the artists on September 15 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.

The 2006 recipients are John Bailly (Miami-Dade), Tim Curtis (Miami-Dade), Jacin Giordano (Miami-Dade), Julie L. Kahn (Miami-Dade), Chad Tingle (Miami-Dade), Giannina Coppiano Dwin (Broward), Eric Freedman (Broward), Christina Pettersson (Broward), Asser Saint-Val (Broward), Amy Gross (Palm Beach), Denise Moody-Tackley (Palm Beach) and Rock Solomon (Monroe). For further information, call 561-297-2966 or visit www.fau.edu/galleries.

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More Persian Jews in the News

A female Iranian producer becomes the first Iranian Jew to win an Emmy. Go Lila!
Roya Hakakian had a great op-ed in the NYTimes recently discussing the strange dynamic of being rendered "obscure," rather than singled out for being Jewish as an Iranian Jew living in Muslim Iran. Since the piece is now accessible only for Times Select readers, I'll quote some of it here:

Of all the pain that Muslim Iranians have inflicted upon the Jews, the most persistent is obscurity. We have always been admired for being ''completely Iranian,'' the euphemism for being invisible, indistinguishable from Muslims. We speak Persian. We celebrate the Iranian New Year with as much verve as the next Iranian. Our kitchens smell of Persian cuisine. At our Jewish festivities, we dance to Persian music. In the United States, we have often angered our American counterparts for not wishing to pray in their temples, because we insist on conducting our services in Persian.

Yet Muslim Iranians, even those who have loved and befriended us, have never known us as Jews: in our synagogues, wrapped in prayer shawls, at our holiday tables recounting the history of our struggles. They lack even the proper vocabulary by which to speak about the Jews: ''What shall I call you, 'Kalimi' or 'Johoud?' '' they sometimes ask. These words are the Persian equivalents of ''Jew'' and ''kike.'' And occasionally, as if to inflict punishment, they ask: ''Do you consider Iran your real homeland?''

Four years later, the regime did its best to instate policies and practices hostile to religious minorities. Water fountains and toilets at my high school were segregated, some marked with signs that read ''For Muslims Only.'' But by and large, Iranians were not receptive to such bigotry. We crisscrossed among the stalls until the signs became meaningless.

The post-revolutionary regime has had the misfortune of ruling a people reluctant to embrace its radical message. That is why Iran remains home to the second-largest community of Jews in the Middle East -- second only to Israel.

So is Hakakian suggesting that being indistinguishable has preserved the Jewish community in Iran? The situation is the same in Turkey, where most of the Jews I lived with had a strong Turkish identity and prided themselves on their national allegiance. Perhaps that is the fate of minorities living under Muslim rule, there is "peaceful coexistence" but not without compromising pluralism, and one's own religious identity. It's interesting to note that Iranians were less receptive to bigotry, than say, Eastern Europe in the 30's, but it's still disconcerting when the President of the country repeatedly evokes Nazism and anti-Semitism as a rhetorical device, and the world doesn't do anything about it.

When will Iran, once an example of cultural progress, a beacon in the Middle East for things other than religious extremism, return to its lofty heritage of civil society, accomplished in the worlds of arts, politics, and science? My mother would disagree with Hakakian's portrayal of nostalgia for the homeland. My family never yearns to return to the Caspian coast, they do miss the intense taste of the produce, the vibrant flora, the fragrant spices. But ultimately, they have nothing to return to in Iran, and until I can take a bus from Tel Aviv to Tehran, neither do I.

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Miami Blogger Mischief Afoot


If the true test of a community is how well they can cooperate towards a shared goal, then prepare yourselves for the Miami Blogging Community equivalent: Miami Cross Blogination. On September 19 we'll all leave our blogging comfort zones and play house on someone else's blog. Check out the randomly chosen assignments here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Khatami Gets Served

A group of Iranian Jews whose relatives mysteriously disappeared during former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's reign are suing him for an unspecified sum. Apparently they have word their kidnapped relatives are still alive. Let's hope one day they are reunited.
[Thanks, Simi]

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Miami Restaurant Review: Michy's


Michy's, 6927 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, FL 33138. (305) 759-2001

Michy’s makes the case for fine dining on Biscayne Boulevard. And from the looks of the dining room on recent weeknight – filling up steadily before 7 pm, there is definite demand for high end cuisine on Miami’s ever-gentrifying strip of hourly-rate motels and funky antique stores.

The restaurant’s décor is at once playful and sophisticated, making use of mismatched white chairs, cheerful wallpaper and orange suede banquettes. But the food is the reason those tables fill up quickly. They’ve come because of the buzz, because she might be in the kitchen tonight, the namesake, the chef with the golden whisk. Michelle Bernstein has certainly proved her mettle as a chef helming The Mandarin Oriental’s Azul and winning against male competitors on TV’s Iron Chef.

The proof is on the plate, or half plate as the case may be with this eatery. Each selection can be ordered either as a full or half portion allowing diners to graze among a sea of carefully crafted salad, seafood, and pasta dishes, never quite forcing you to commit to traditional appetizer/entree dining paradigms. There’s a nice selection of wines available by the glass adding to the casual choose-as-you go dining odyssey. The white gazpacho ($7/$11) was hearty and smooth composed mainly of pureed almonds, cucumbers, grapes, and topped with herbed croutons for a welcome textural distraction. Those grapes showed up again in a fresh watercress salad ($8/$12) with goat cheese and tarragon, clean and crisp as English morning. The truffle infused polenta ($7/$11) topped with a poached egg (sans bacon for us, to the dismay of our server, but hey, that’s how we roll) was rich and decadent, the egg adding layers of creamy goodness to every satiating spoonful. The miso glazed cod ($16/$25, pictured above) though not the most creative selection (an homage to Nobu, perhaps ) was delicate and piquant, with flash fried bok choy and mushrooms providing appropriate heft to the dish.

Our server was extremely knowledgeable about the menu (and the recipes which he easily shared) and incredibly attentive but seemed to take offense when we ordered only half portions or passed on his suggestions, but it appeared to stem more from a love of the food than a desire to pad the bill. And Michy’s certainly is pricey but well worth it. Just make sure you go before Art Basel when the hordes will be sure to descend.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

To Do This Weekend: Borscht Belt Humor

Indulge your Catskills side as author Michael Wex (Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods) discusses what make Yiddish so resilient, so original, so "hach" worthy.
Time: Sunday, September 10, 2006 12:00 PM
Location: Books & Books, Bal Harbour Shops

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Free Concerts from New World Symphony


Dates: September 15, 16, and 24 at 8pm
Location: Lincoln Theatre, 541 Lincoln Rd
Cost: Free!
Website

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Open Bars Newsletter Fun

Scoring free drinks just got easier with this little gem of a site. They have listings for open bars events in New York, LA and San Fran with Chicago, DC, and Miami on the way. Love the snarky blurbs too!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Country Music with Indie Cred


Good friend Andrew Condon (above, right) is an accomplished musician, (he single-handedly scored the indie cult hit Jewish archaeological thriller Artifact) and together with Andew Bean comprises The Two Man Gentlemen Band, a zany country-music performing duo. When TMGB gets their upright bass and kazoo going, one can't help but toe-tap or all out dosy-doe on the sidewalks where they usually perform. Catch a taste of their whimsy on this video featured on the Time Out New York website.

A Breach in the Dam

Ariel Beery has a thought-provoking op-ed in the JPost about well-intentioned "New Jews" who attempt to save the world while ignoring the needs in thier own community. Hmm.
A quote:
The good news is, then, that Jewish education works. A generation of young Jews around the world have internalized the message that "being Jewish" means fixing the world in its totality, without regard to race, religion or nationality.

The bad news for the Jewish state and people is that this generation of American Jews have taken from their education that acting Jewish means doing justice without regard to nationality or peoplehood.

While it feels good to support all peoples and all victims, the nature of the world in which we live in - where Hizbullah amassed thousands of rockets and attacked Israel; where Iran edges towards nuclear weapons; and where over a third of Israel's Jews, and, surprisingly, 20 percent of New York Jews live under or close to the poverty line - makes an ethics of universalism simply irresponsible at the moment.

It is at times like these that we who care about our families need remember the inherent obligation of peoplehood: Justice means providing full support to those whom you live with, those who would die for you, and the people whom you came from, no matter what the world thinks.

I agree insofar as Beery invokes the adage, you take care of your family first, then others. This recent war with Hizbulllah crystallized for me the need, more than any other recent Israeli crisis did, for Diaspora Jews to provide help in whatever form possible - financially, emotionally, spiritually- to our battered, courageous family in Israel.
But it gets complicated when you negotiate Beery's argument in light of another JPost article, about the anniversary of the staging of A Flag is Born, a 1946 Zionist play starring Marlon Brando portraying a Holocaust survivor who criticizes American Jewry's response to the Holocaust and makes the case for Jewish statehood. More inspiring was the activism and social sensitivity exemplified by the play's creator, Ben Hecht:

The Baltimore engagement was the most controversial. A planned performance at the National Theater in Washington, D.C. was relocated to Baltimore's Maryland Theater because Hecht would not permit his works to be staged at theaters, such as the National, which barred African-Americans. But Hecht discovered, just before the Baltimore showing, that the Maryland Theater restricted blacks to the balcony, which bigots nicknamed "nigger heaven." The Bergson Group and the NAACP then teamed up against the theater management, with the NAACP threatening to picket and a Bergson official announcing he would bring two black friends to sit with him at the play. The management gave in, and African-Americans attending the opening night performance on February 12, 1947 -Lincoln's Birthday- sat wherever they chose. Exuberant NAACP leaders hailed the "tradition-shattering victory" and used it facilitate the desegregation of other Baltimore theaters in the years to follow.

A Flag is Born was a triumph. It influenced American public opinion by reaching large audiences with an inspiring message about the plight of Holocaust survivors and the need for a Jewish state. It raised enough funds to purchase a ship - renamed the S.S. Ben Hecht- that tried to bring 600 survivors to Palestine, and focused international attention on the refugees when it was intercepted by the British. And Flag scored an important victory over racial segregation in Baltimore, demonstrating that, as Hecht put it, "to fight injustice to one group of human beings affords protection to every other group."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ocean Drive Fashion Week

Mark your calendars fashion hounds!
Ocean Drive
just unfurled their list of events for Miami Fall Fashion Week - September 18-23. Best in show seems to be the Perry Ellis extravaganza at the Victor Hotel on Sept. 21. So what if there are no leaves changing colors and frosty nights to look forward to, we in the tropics deserve trench coats and leather boots, too!

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

MPAC Picks: Sigur Ros + Idan Raichel

The Carnival Center just released its lineup of performances - there are still $15 seats available!
Two hot picks:
Idan Raichel January 28, 8 pm
Israel's hottest singer, songwriter, and world music artist, platinum recording star Idan Raichel mixes his country's multi-cultural pop and ethnic Ethiopian music into an irresistible fusion of raw energy, ambient hymns and touching love songs.
Sigur Ros performs "Split Sides" for "Merce in Miami," a contemporary dance troupe, February 25, 7:30 pm.
A collaboration between Sigur Ros, Radiohead and the legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October 2003 and was later performed in Paris, Seoul and Bergen, Norway.


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