a farewell to shmaltz

     Shmaltz
Fat, especially chicken fat. Used in place of butter in kosher homes when a meat meal is served. The cracklings left after chicken fat is rendered are gribbenes or greevn. My mother made her own chicken fat and kept it in the refrigerator in a Skippy’s Peanut Butter jar.
    There’s a Romanian-Jewish restaurant on the old Lower East Side, Sammy the Waiter’s, that has one of those glass pitchers other restaurants use for cream or maple syrup, filled with schmaltz on every table. Marvin Hamlisch’s dad used to play accordion at this restaurant. It was during one of his breaks that Zero Mostel stood up and shouted at the top of his lungs, “This food killed more Jews than Hitler!”
    My theory is that although Jews in Eastern Europe were poor, we were fairly certain of two good meals a year; for the new year in the fall and for Passover in the spring. So we invented a cuisine we could taste for six months just to remember.
    Shmaltz and its Americanized adjective, shmaltzy (in Yiddish it would be shmaltzik), also refer to high-cholesterol styles of music and tear-jerking drama.

    —Joel Siegel, Lessons For Dylan: On Life, Love, the Movies, and Me, PublicAffairs, 2004, p. 239.
Zero Mostel’s restaurant review is corroborated by The New Yorker, Volume 50 (1974), p. 84.


European cultures are of three kinds: wine drinkers who cook their food in olive oil; beer drinkers who cook their food in butter; and vodka drinkers who don’t much care for cooking, or food. My lifelong project is to ascend from the last position, to the first.

our 4:20

…certainly beats the Old World version. Then again, we have inherited a bit of that latter in our New World. Founded by Josef Bischof in 1978, the Old World German Restaurant has long hosted periodic celebrations of Hitler’s birthday and conferences of Holocaust revisionists. In 1997 Josef exercised his inalienable rights under the First Amendment thusly: “Aust these no good [Santa Barbara County] supervisors. They deprived me of my property rights! They deserve the Auschwitz treatments.” Here is his daughter putting a spin on it:

He probably would have been better off saying, “The Santa Barbara County Supervisors should be sent to Siberia”—maybe then he wouldn’t have been such a “Bad Guy”. If you know your history, Stalin was just as evil as Hitler, and during WWII, people were deathly afraid of being sent to Siberia. However, the remark about Russia would not have pushed the buttons of so many, nor will Stalin ever be as memorable to the American public because of the significant amount of Jews in this country.

—Cyndie Bischof of Huntington Beach, 20 January 2000, OCWeekly

For my heritage of a GULag survivor, the best part is the mass noun amount used in lieu of numbering Jews.


Unheimlichen Geburtstag, Herr Schicklgruber! I’m taking Bragmardo and my Swiss friends on a stroll in the Old World.

your christmas message

I am about to write the world’s profoundest poem, with apologies to William James, the only one who has touched my my level of genius:

Hogamus, higamus,
God is polygynous.
Higamus, hogamus,
Christ was androgynous.

— Northrop Frye, Late Notebooks, 1982-1990

(William James, the author of Varieties of Religious Experience, was frustrated by the impression that he had forgotten numinous insights achieved while inhaling nitrous oxide. He finally resolved to write his thoughts down. A profound poem ensued: “Hogamus, higamus, / Men are polygamous. / Higamus, hogamus, / Women monogamous.”)

— Что такое женитьба с точки зрения физики процесса? — вопрошал один. — Это когда человек взял с собой в будущее поебаться, а оно по дороге протухло.
—Именно, — хихикал второй, тревожно косясь на Олега. — Женщина предлагает крайне некорректный контракт. Купить на все деньги много-много этого самого продукта, оптом на всю жизнь. Но продукт-то скоропортящийся! Даже если сначала будет хорошо, очень скоро станет плохо. А мужчине надо немного, но чтобы свежее и разное. И это, кстати, указание природы, требующей распространения генома, а не мнение какой-то там церковной общественности или климактериальных феминисток, которых в этой жизни не трахнет уже никто кроме инсульта. Короче, совсем разные бизнес-планы…

— What is marriage from the standpoint of process physics? — asked one of them. — It is the case of a man stocking up on fuck fodder for his future use, and then it rots along the way.
— Exactly — the other one giggled, glancing anxiously at Oleg. — A woman offers a highly improper contract. Spend all your money on lots and lots of the said product, wholesale for a lifetime. But the product is perishable! Even if at first it is good, very soon it will turn bad. And a man needs only a little bit, but fresh and assorted. And this, by the way, is a mandate of nature, which requires dissemination of the genome, and not some sanctimonious parochial notion or conceit of menopausal feminists no longer fit to be fucked in this life by anything other than a stroke. In short, very different business plans…

— Victor Pelevin, Pineapple Soda for the Lovely Lady