Monday, August 11, 2008

"The Office" (workstation series) 108 (Gevult! edition)

One of the things I appreciate, retrospectively, about growing up in my home town--along with the crystalline skies, Atlantic shoreline, history that came up between the cobblestones, none of which I registered as anything special when a child--was that there was a sizable Jewish population. As a the offspring of Anglo-Germano-Celts on both sides, raised in a blue-collar neighborhood but attending a seriously white-collar incipiently-preppie high school (full of yachting-and-skiing punks), I appreciated the ways in which Jewish family culture had had some distinctive ethnic character. My best friend in high school told Myron Floren jokes (I had no earthly idea who Myron Floren was) and stories about his Russian rabbi grandfather (best one--Simon flipping over his brand-new Model T, which he hadn't yet learned to drive before taking it courting, and his date responding "Simon, don't play moviesss!!!") and through him, and that community, I got a little bit of a sense of what it would be like to grow up in a culture in which family, and learning, and most of all language were prized accomplishments. They (the kids coming of age in the mid-70s) were maybe the last generation whose parents, or grandparents, had been emigrant Ashkenazim, and thus my friend Larry had actually known the people who came from the Old Country. When that immigration generation started to fade away, when there was no longer direct person-to-person contact from those who Remembered and the young, a lot of culture and folkways got lost too (it's not coincidental that the mid-70s is precisely the same period when young Jewish college kids started turning away from playing like Dock Boggs and Bill Monroe and began rediscovering klezmer).

I feel fortunate that I grew up with some proximity to that culture. Especially because Yiddish is such a profoundly satisfying language, sonically. Especially in terms of the imprecations. Especially as I hit Monday morning of the last week of summer break, and contemplate everything that was on my list and didn't get done. And everything on my fall list that's still to be done.

Now playing: Brass Monkey - Da Flooer O Taft - The Lass O Patie's Mill
via FoxyTunes

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