The great thing about working with NPR — and, really, there's like a MILLION of 'em — is all the cool stuff I get to do for the public. Meet the president. Hang out at the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas. Drink a $10,000 martini. But since most of that was for radio, I haven't often gotten to share the full experience with you, the people.
Well, now I've got this great blog where they let me do whatever I want all the time. Seriously. Whatever I want. So, I thought I'd share some pix of the cool stuff I do every other day. Unfortunately, most of the pix I take are with my iPhone camera, and, despite the fact that all things Apple are better than a permanent foot massage, the iPhones take really crappy pictures:
Last week I attended a very cool book signing at the Santa Monica Museum of Art hosted by National Book Award winner Dr. Josh Kun (he's the guy in the overexposed shirt on the left). Dr. Josh (along with Roger Bennett) is the co-author of the new book And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost.
I know you're thinking: "That's cool?"
It is when Dr. Josh plays "Name That Tune" with Jewish music with Leonard Nimoy (Nimoy is to the right, but there's, like, something reflecting all up in his grill.) Yes, that Leonard Nimoy, who — in addition to being a Mr. Spock — is also a human vault of Jewish history. And the night is even cooler when Leonard Nimoy is naming tunes like Eartha Kitt's rendition of "Ki M'Tzion," and Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations blowing out a Fiddler on the Roof medley (not to Leonard's liking). There were also some mambo-spiced Jewish tunes, Korean comedian Jon Yune giving "Cantor of Shabbos" his best shot ... and music by some real cantors, too, who apparently cleaned up during the Holy Days.
But the night wasn't just about laughs. It was a historical tour of a people trying to keep their faith and their traditions relevant in the ever-changing music scene. It was funny, yeah, but it was touching and a little heartbreaking in spots and amazingly universal — the gap between Yiddish music and "race" music being surprisingly narrow.
The book itself is a great read. And the event was seriously the most entertaining evening of "Name That Tune" involving Jewish music and a star of Star Trek I'd ever attended.