The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Times They-Are-A-Changin

The Bar/Bat-Mitzvah is a sacred time in the youth of every Jewish child. In front of an audience consisting of his parent's dreary middle-aged friends and his snickering Junior High classmates, the Bar-Mitzvah child completes a Faustian Bargain of reading several convoluted Hebrew passages in exchange for vast sums of cash that he inevitably will squander in the stock market when he's 16 years old and believes himself to be an Internet genius.

This tradition has gone on for several millennia, mainly because if nothing else we Hebrews like a party. Nothing fulfills our cheap sensibilities more than free food, free drinks and free music. My Bar-Mitzvah was a simple affair, held at the Mulholland Tennis Club (I had dropped out of my Hebrew School class....disciplinary problems, we'll leave it at that) on a beautiful October night with a panorama stretching across the Santa Monica Mountains.

Being the young Weiss that I was, I held passionate convictions about the way my Bar-Mitzvah was going to go down. There was to be no Horah, no candle-lighting ceremony (though originally I tried to convince my father to let me play "Losing My Religion" while presenting my born-again Christian uncle with a candle) and most importantly no "YMCA." Blessed with preternaturally good musical taste, I delivered a 15-minute diatribe to Bar-Mitzvah DJ, Dave Aude (now a major house DJ...who knew?) about the sheer lameness of "Y.M.C.A." Of course, it was a simple time then. The year was 1994. Clinton was in White House. Peace was breaking out across the globe. And for an entire season, the world was transfixed by the saga of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, and for a full five minutes every American knew the name, Jeff Gillooly.

Of course, change is the only constant in our fleeting lives and a great deal has gone on in the Bar-Mitzvah circuit, as witnessed by this article published in the New York Daily News today.
The article details the Bat-Mitzvah of Elizabeth Brooks of Long Island (where else?). Her father, a billionaire manufacturer of bullet proof vests decided to throw young Elizabeth and her friends the biggest party held on Long Island since Jay Gatsby was throwing wild and sordid affairs in the 1920s (look it happened, I swear).

"For his daughter's coming-of-age celebration last weekend, multimillionaire Long Island defense contractor David H. Brooks booked two floors of the Rainbow Room, hauled in concert-ready equipment, built a stage, installed special carpeting, outfitted the space with Jumbotrons and arranged command performances by everyone from 50 Cent to Tom Petty to Aerosmith."

According to the article, Brooks paid Aerosmith $2 million to perform. But Aerosmith wasn't the only hopelessly mediocre act that played this festival of lights.

"The party cost an estimated $10 million, including the price of corporate jets to ferry the performers to and from. Also on the bill were The Eagles' Don Henley and Joe Walsh performing with Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks; DJ AM (Nicole Richie's fiance); rap diva Ciara and, sadly perhaps (except that he received an estimated $250,000 for the job), Kenny G blowing on his soprano sax as more than 300 guests strolled and chatted into their pre-dinner cocktails...For his estimated $500,000, I hear that 50 Cent performed only four or five songs - and badly - though he did manage to work in the lyric, "Go shorty, it's your bat miztvah, we gonna party like it's your bat mitzvah."

My primary complaint with this isn't the fact that he spent $10 million on a Bar-Mitzvah (that's a different topic for a different day). My problem is that he spent $10 million on the shittiest acts he possibly could've found. 50 Cent? Kenny G? Ciara? The Eagles? What happened, could he not convince Reo Speedwagon to play? Was Chingy unavailable? Was Rod Stewart too busy begging his daughter not to marry a teenager while simultaneously knocking up some brainless model to attend. And my other fascination is, how is it possible that a Jewish man could've consented to spend $10 million ona party. Isn't there a cheapness gene hard-wired into our genetics? Where was the voice of David Brooks' father telling him, "Are you outta' your fucking mind! $10 million on a Bar-Mitzvah! You know how much my Bar-Mitzvah cost? $7.92. The year was 1933, times were tough. And you better believe that $7.92 included a whole lot of Lox N' Bagels. You give me that $10 million, I'll invest it in some conservative mutual funds and some real estate, maybe set up an IRA."

Where has our innocence gone, Jewish people? When are we going to return to our roots: secretly stealing rolls from restaurant baskets when the waitress isn't looking and taking them home to feed our families for days. That's the Judaism I've come to know and I stand by my heritage, damnit. Do you?

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