Category Archives: Music

The traditional Rosh Hashanah blog

A couple of times a year, any uncertainty about what is a Jew dissipates, and I become a true member of a singular tribe, the American Jews of the diaspora, when I perform, with sincere and profound humility, our only major tradition: Googling to see when the holiday begins, what we’re supposed to already have started cooking, and what the greeting is.

1. Tonight; 2. brisket and sweet stuff; 3. L’Shana tovah.

The brisket is in; the jumble of blocky tzimmes precursor is heating around it. The boys have been guided by paternal threat and prattle through the evening pouring of the cheap red wine over meat, the morning grocery shopping with their own carts, the splendor of beef turned purple by grapes so it looks like a giant tongue, with sound effects, and onion-chopping best practices with The Good Knife. They will be recalled from the Wii for kugel insertion and the basting ceremony. I don’t know that basting is necessary when observing loose tinfoil protocol, but also can’t see a down side to it. Teach your male children to baste.

Tonight’s challah is round instead of braided because so is the cycle of creation; this is, after all, a new year’s celebration. It’s sweetened because so may your year be sweet.

This has always bothered me as a metaphor, ever since I was a child, because it’s just too facile to be recognizable. Years aren’t sweet or bitter; life is sweet and bitter. Even horrible years have the stray golden raisin in there, and good years harbor the roots of bad ones to come—much as savory tzimmes contains root vegetables (see, it’s genetic; that took no effort).

What I wish for you, and for myself, is that what has taken root in the past, no matter what kind of manure or burnt field it first sprouted in, bears good fruit in the future. I also wish you an easing of droughts and destructions, so that orchards can once again be maintained by one standard orchard’s worth of toil.

May your troubles convert to gelatin in the heat of your efforts, as melts brisket collagen at temperatures over 180°F.

May you question and break free of the traps of your childhood, just as we all, at some point, ask, “Why am I drinking Manischewitz?” And may you pass your mistakes on to the next generation, just as in the same breath, we pour Manischewitz for our own children, so that they in turn may taste the fuller flavor of rejecting the overly sweet nonsense of their parents.

L’shana tovah. May you be signed in the…sealed in…crap, I don’t know. I googled it twice already. Here:

Eat up.




Filed under Cooking, Family, Fatherhood, Favorite, God, Heresy, Kids, Music, Parenting, Religion, Senseless Acts, Whatever


A man was playing kora on a subway platform a few months ago. I found the recording on my iPhone yesterday and did this today.

Best in headphones.

If the playback widget isn’t working, click here to go to the track.

Kora: Guy on the platform at Columbus Circle
Orchestration: Me
Consider this piece an amuse-bouche before the next big course.

Like it? Give a buck to a class project you like on donorschoose.



Filed under Favorite, Music, Senseless acts of beauty

Song for a Monday

If the playback widget isn’t working, click here to go to the track.

Summer Song - Best in headphones - 4:15

Riff and commentary: Boy on left
Train status: Boy on right
Saxophone: Some guy across the tracks on the uptown side while
we were waiting for a downtown train.

Vocals and saxophone recorded on iPhone.
Thanks to Paul Heitsch for pointing out some mixing stuff.

Like it? Give a buck to a class project you like on donorschoose.



Filed under Family, Fatherhood, Favorite, Kids, Music, Parenting, Senseless Acts, Senseless acts of beauty

Prayer for the Man

Gerald So invited me to participate in the Lineup blog tour for National Poetry Month. He asked writers to say something about their favorite poem from Issue 4. I did this audio setting instead.

Prayer for the Man who Mugged my Father, 72

by Charles Harper Webb
in issue 4 of The Lineup

Best in headphones.

Edit: At least one person thought this was my poem. Just to be clear: This is my rendering of Charles Harper Webb’s poem, which appears in issue 4 of The Lineup.

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Fatherhood, Music, Poetry, Senseless Acts

Finished Diamond Ruby short (my music!)


Filed under Film, Music, Self-promotion

Canción en tren

I finally found a way to express my feelings, musically,
about the romantic Mexican guitar duos who serenade
the passengers on NYC subway trains. I hope you enjoy it.

Canción en Tren

Recorded on iPhone, uptown A train between 125th and 145th Streets
instead of reading my book.


Filed under Music, Senseless Acts

Downtown to go Uptown

Two guys were playing congas on the E train platform at Lexington/53rd
after I got off a freelance day gig.

I hope I run into them some time when I have a CD to hand them.

Recorded on iPhone.

Best in headphones.


Filed under Favorite, Music, Senseless Acts, Senseless acts of beauty