Aired Dec. 31, 2015 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L8JvYAnkF4
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the new year! January 1st, 2016.
It has been an interesting year, this 2015. Not terrible. Not miserable. Not even a dull headache like most years. 2015 had its ups, it had its downs—kind of like Liza Minnelli’s medicine chest.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. This was the year when terrorism said, “I’m baaack.” Not that it ever went away. Not that jihadists haven’t been wreaking mayhem all over the world since 9/11. Since before 9/11. But this was the year it hit home again: the year animals shot up a Paris cafe because they didn’t like Charlie Hebdo magazine’s cartoons. I mean, Gasoline Alley, I understand. Marmaduke, Rhymes with Orange—never funny. Even Hagar the Horrible is looking a little long in the tooth, but you’re gonna go psycho over French cartoons? Put down the Koran and eat a brioche.
But poor France; one attack wasn’t enough. The religion of peace struck again in November, when 130 people were killed in coordinated attacks and bombings. The murderers, of course, had ties to Isis. But whether it was chocolate isis or lemon ices, I don’t know. The good news is that Paris pushed back and killed the ringleader of the carnage, just weeks after three American friends on vacation in Amsterdam jumped on a knife-wielding turbanista and foiled his plot on a train. I guess he didn’t learn from New York that the best way to terrorize people on a train is to start breakdancing, yelling jokes, and then asking for money.
Wait, what? You’re not satisfied? You want more terrorism? Okay, let’s go to San Bernadino. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to kill everyone at a bad office party? But you had this couple – Sayed Farook and his charming wife, Tashfeen, being helped by a Hispanic neighbor to slaughter a group of white, Asian and African co-workers. Who said America can’t be multicultural?
And of course, not all murder is Mohammedan. Yes, you’ve got a civil war in Syria, where the Arabs are killing each other—so who cares? But this autumn also saw Robert Dear enter a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs and kill three people in the name of Jesus. “I’m a warrior for the babies,” he said. No, asshole, you’re a warrior for little blobs with heartbeats that no one wants to take care of. I just think the guy’s pissed because he looks like Nick Nolte on a bad hair day. Well, even-worse hair day.
Moving away from religious nuts with guns, this was also the year of authorities with guns—specifically policemen shooting first and suppressing evidence later. I’m not saying all the black men shot in the back by men in blue were choirboys, but if you’re not armed, and you’re running away or chained to the back seat of a car, you should be able to live long enough for an arraignment.
And speaking of dead black people, you’d think schvartzes would be safe in church, but no. Back in June, white supremacist Dylann Roof pops into a church in Charleston and kills nine in the congregation. And you thought my sermons were boring.
Well, there’s certainly nothing boring about politics this year. Though the presidential election isn’t for another ten months, we’ve already had 12 months of mind-boggling insanity, almost all of it on the Republican side. The front-runner is a businessman who’s gone bankrupt four times, a public speaker who makes fun of cripples, and a bully who thinks he can keep all Muslims from entering the USA. In other words, Donald Trump is a man after my own heart. And his competition? Right-wing Conservative Christian crazies, a brilliant heart surgeon who doesn’t believe in evolution, a Cuban novice who wants to give everybody a gun and nobody an abortion, Rand Paul . . . `nuff said, a fat guy from New Jersey who commandeers his own highway, and Jeb Bush, a man whose whole family should have a thousand-yard restraining order from coming anywhere near the White House. They shouldn’t even be allowed near regular houses that are painted white.
On the other side, you’ve got Hilary Clinton, who will do and say anything to stay in power. Any philosopher who says there’s no such thing as objective truth had to be studying Mr. and Mrs. Clinton. But hey, half of politics is knowing what to say—and what not to say—at any given moment. Or what to say when you’re actually doing the opposite. Or what to say when you’re doing nothing at all, which qualifies you for Congress. Hilary thought she’d cakewalk through the Democratic nomination, but then comes this angry brazen Jew, a cross between Jackie Mason and the math professor who terrified you in 12th grade. No, I don’t mean me, I mean Bernie Sanders. Can you imagine Americans electing a Jewish, socialist President named Bernie? It’d be wonderful but my God, the fireside chats? The man has two styles of rhetoric: yelling and louder yelling. He takes the oath of office, half the pigeons are gonna fly in a panic out of Washington DC.
Oh, and in the lighter side of politics, the biggest Broadway musical of the century so far is not about cats, it’s not about Mormons, and it’s not even about homosexuals. How the hell did it find a theater? But it did, and “Hamilton” is doing for our first Secretary of the Treasury what A Streetcar Named Desire did for streetcars. And desires. Meanwhile, “Star Wars” is back. No, I don’t mean Taylor Swift versus Katie Perry, I mean “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which is already the eighth-highest-grossing movie of all time. Somehow it beat out “Human Centipede III,” but that’s just because most people watched it on GAF viewmaster. Seriously, though, Mark Kermode, film critic for the UK Guardian wrote, and I quote, “this satire of grotesque American culture is as appealing as being force-fed warm diarrhea.” Unquote. Which begs the question, is that better or worse than being force-fed ice-cold diarrhea?
It’s a question they’re asking at Chipotle, where the food looks the same going out as it does coming in. And speaking of sickening, eight people were killed in Philadelphia when an Amtrak train going 100 miles an hour jumped a curve and turned over. On the positive side for Amtrak, it was their first on-time arrival all year.
The shock of the unexpected also hit sports, where the New York Mets made it to the World Series, the New York Jets lost a quarterback to a broken jaw from a fist fight, and Caitlyn Jenner killed a guy. Well, two guys, if you count Bruce. But it was a great year for gays, as the Supreme Court voted to make same-sex marriage as legal and binding as regular marriage. And no doubt as dreary and boring and sexless. Welcome to equality, guys.
And welcome 2016, you couldn’t come soon enough. There’ll be more tragedy, absurdity, beauty, stupidity, hilarity, vulgarity, disparity and, if the economy stays good, a bissel charity. Three weeks ago, nice Jewish boy Mark Zuckerberg, announced that he is donating 99 percent of his Facebook shares to worthy causes. What a mensch! What a example for the world! Oh, did I mention that I’m starting a non-profit organization to help Rabbis with rage issues? I’m kind of a test case, and I need a lot of start-up funding so Markele, if you’re listening, make the check out to Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York. Shana Tovah, everybody! See you in the New Year.
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