A Jew who rocks and reggaes, and teenagers who shall lead the way

Tonight I had an amazing experience. Saw a concert by Matisyahu. He’s a Hassidic reggae singer, who wasn’t born a Hassidic Jew but became one after attending services at Shlomo Carlebach’s shul, just four blocks from my house.

His lyrics are mind blowing. I’m speechless. There’s so much I want to say and the words just aren’t coming.

I love being Jewish but was always just a bit ashamed. My vocal inflections are more Manhattan private school or elite Long Island public school than stereotypical Jewish inflections. It’s not Park Avenue or Locust Valley lock jaw, that belongs to older generations. It’s a cadence in my voice more than an accent.

We’re supposed to slurp seltzer, be schlemiels, nerds, moneymakers, secretly plan to take over the world. We scream about double dipping but probably secretly do it when nobody’s looking. We talk too loudly and too fast, not that there’s….Mostly we’re just not cool.

My parents really bought into that. All their good friends were Jewish, some practicing. My sister and I were expected to marry Jews, but be able to fit in anywhere.

I will forgive Adam Sandler anything for The Bar Mitzvah song both parts, which is our family’s official Hanukkah song. My eleven year old niece claims to cross out the dirty parts. She’s never explained how she does it without reading them and nobody has ever asked.

But Matisyahu, he’s major. His lyrics, his voice and presence are going to affect people for generations.

I felt a pride tonight that I have always felt but never been able to express before. I have always felt that any other group is hipper; any other group is cooler. Never really made sense because some of the coolest people I know are…

I went with Lucia and Little Luce, who is fifteen, with incredible skunk streaks on the sides of her long very dark brown hair. Little Luce is entranced by Matisyahu. I tried explaining the uncoolness factor and how i had always thought being Hispanic was too cool.

She didn’t get it. Not because she thinks being Hispanic isn’t cool, but Matisyahu is the ultimate in cool. LL has always had friends of many religions and many ethnic groups. Lucia expained that when she was married to a man with an Anglo name, doors opened for her that had been closed before.

My niece thinks that being Jewish is very cool. She’s into hiphop not reggae, but I think she might be into it very soon.

The concert was tame. The mosh pit was the least used I have ever seen; and I’ve seen them since they began. If you read Courting you might remember a post about me being carried over one. It was an incredible high.

So was this concert without me being carried over one. It had soul. The ghost of Bob Marley mixed with Bob Dylan and almost every major and minor Jewish holiday. I haven’t been exposed to many. That might or might not change. But tonight was a truly spiritual experience and I am in awe of Matisyahu’s talent and abilty to send people into controlled frenzies. Music at its best.

My friend Bone isn’t, but knows more about Seinfeld, you know he is, than I could ever know. He’s helped me put this contest into perspective and I would like to thank him for that.

Shayna made me an amazing video; when I tried to put it in, I lost the center template and right sidebar, but obviously got it back.

I feel amazed and wonderful because of the support I have been getting from my RLF and blogging friends. Vote and your name might appear here.

Though I believe that it’s not about winning or losing but the people you meet along the way.

Felt priveleged to have been at this concert with two of my very favorite people in the world. Lucia knew how important it was for me to feel pride in my ethnicity; and I guess LL learned something also.

To the people who were talking in back of us: almost took your pictures and plastered them all over blog lane. You were extremely rude. A bit too proud that everybody tried to make you be quiet, but my one “shut up” did it. Did make my throat hurt.

To the people who were smoking; if we’re going to smell and inhale your smoke most of us would prefer that it be pot. Except for LL of course, who doesn’t know what it smells like. Sure.

Just hit me; she’s fifteen, she goes out…but maybe she can get her highs from something bigger than herself. Though not a college boy, not yet….beginning to sound just like a mother.

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18 Responses to A Jew who rocks and reggaes, and teenagers who shall lead the way

  1. Miz BoheMia March 7, 2006 at 1:23 pm #

    YAY! I am FIRST!

    Sounds amazing! I wish I could listen to him though! My handicapped laptop won’t allow the link to open yet so I may just try again later!

    Little Luce and your niece both sound amazing…

    As stupid as this may sound, I am always fascinated by people who have a total connection to one culture and an identity in that sense…. being the mix that I am it is something that I shall never understand! But I live with a man who is of one culture and he will never understand what it is like to not be like him…

    Sooo… because of the above it fills me with joy that you love being Jewish and have a connection to your culture… and it is a beautiful culture at that! Our closest friends back home in SF are Jewish…

    “The ghost of Bob Marley mixed with Bob Dylan and almost every major and minor Jewish holiday.” I loved that line!

  2. Jason Gooljar March 7, 2006 at 7:26 pm #

    The reggae singer you speak of Matisyahu, I beleive I saw his video on MTV 2. If it’s who I think it is he’s doing pretty well.

  3. Lucia March 7, 2006 at 9:31 pm #

    I am still realing from it!
    I came in and my boss was playing his last CD Matisyahu: Live at Stubb’s. I highly recommend it. His new one drops today YOUTH. Am going to scoop it up on the way home from work.

    I think what impresses me is that his spirituality and passion is identifiable by the faiths that believe in the same G_d. Jewish, Christian and Muslium. What a gift in times where there is such a division among them. It is a reminder that we all believe in the same G_d, if you believe in G_d at all.

    I think he must be a new order of Hassidim. If so he is welcome.

    As for my Little Luce, I am proud to say that her openess and diversity in friends and experience come without thinking. One of the greatest accomplishments in my life as a parent, thank you very much.

    It was great to share it with you my buddy! We have to do it again!

  4. bonnie March 7, 2006 at 9:35 pm #

    “The ghost of Bob Marley mixed with Bob Dylan and almost every major and minor Jewish holiday”…

    That’s effin’ brilliant. I hope all the people looking at the Koufax stuff are coming over to see this. BEAUTIFUL post!

  5. Cowgirl March 7, 2006 at 9:50 pm #

    Wonderful post!
    I also am a hodge podge. Like Miz B, I wish I had something to identify with… don’t think being country or being surrounded by rednecks count,lol.

    To the people who were smoking; if we’re going to smell and inhale your smoke most of us would prefer that it be pot.Hmm…*raises eyebrow*

    Except for LL of course, who doesn’t know what it smells like. Sure. I think I claimed something along the lines of LL. Hmmmm…
    I voted for you BTW.

  6. Bone March 7, 2006 at 9:52 pm #

    Loved that last little paragraph in there.

    Your “shut up” wasn’t anything like this George Costanza moment was it?

    “Shut your traps and stop kicking the seats! We’re trying to watch the movie! And if I have to tell you again, we’re gonna take it outside. And I’m gonna show you what it’s like. Now, shut your mouths or I’ll shut ’em for ya! And if you think I’m kidding, just try me. Try me. Because I would LOVE IT!”

  7. Sar March 8, 2006 at 12:10 am #

    Glad you enjoyed the concert, Pia, and I hope you’re recovering well from your bout with bronchitis.

  8. Dawn March 8, 2006 at 4:04 am #

    LOVE LOVE LOVE him!!

    Have had “Live at Stubbs” playing non-stop for the past week and waiting to pick up “Youth.”

    Also looking to catch him live as well—-guess I just missed him as Hubster and I were in NYC Sat/Sun.

    Just my luck—although we had an amazing time and are planning another weekend for April.

    As I was driving down 9W into town I was trying to guess which building was yours PIa. I have one I picked out as THE one—but it’s just a guess.

    New fav place for pizza—Luzzo’s over on First, round the corner from St Marks Place. So good we went twice!

    When does the bloody voting start on the K awards??

  9. lisa March 8, 2006 at 5:47 am #

    The buzz on Matisyahu is really amazing! it seems he is crossing all kinds of racial and age barriers. more power to him!

  10. EsotericWombat March 8, 2006 at 6:27 am #

    Matisyahu is definately a dude who knows how to kick a flow. Haven’t discerned or looked up any of his lyrics though

  11. shayna March 8, 2006 at 11:13 am #

    Matisyahu is amazing and I’m tickled pink you got to hear him… and a jealous.

    You are so welcome for your little movie… Sorry it messed up your template… ;(

  12. Lily Branford March 8, 2006 at 6:54 pm #

    Hey Pia- Sometimes your comments are closed, and I’m not sure what that means. I haven’t been blogging very long so the whole Koufax thing has been kind of lost on me. I guess it recognizes talent, but yet what ends up popular is not necessarily what I go for in blogarama. I mean, what is it about this chronic need for competition? If I whore my blog url around eight hours a day and get oodles of comments from reciprocity, does that make me a great blogger? I think this quest for validation makes blogging become less enjoyable, less earnest. And too much about self promotion. I look at it this way: there are millions of blogs, and many are excellent and many are kind of ok. I am fine with being ok. I feel for some bloggers that pour their heart and soul into posts and then feel crushed. Even popular can become pretty vacant as soon as somebody else does it better- I don’t know. I’m just trying to make sense of it all, what these things mean. I guess I am confessing it doesn’t move me. Am I freak?

    I have heard alot about this guy, now, and I am intrigued as I have not heard the music. Thanks Pia for your posts and your stories- enjoy the break.

  13. Cowgirl March 9, 2006 at 12:24 am #

    I saw Matisyahu on Conan O’Brien last night. Now I am in the loop. Amazing.

  14. dan March 9, 2006 at 1:38 am #

    Matishyahu is everywhere right now. It’s kind of crazy.

    I actually saw him on an MTV buzz clip the other day whilst flipping through channels.

    It’s nice to see someone get recognition for doing something original and right rather than staid and directionless.

  15. Chandira March 9, 2006 at 3:38 am #

    Been seeing that name everywhere too..

    LOL.. Good for you for shushing the noisy people. Can I take you to the movies with me some time? I’d love you to shush the popcorn eaters in our local theater… 😉

    And you have a lot to be proud of, whatever it’s related to, being Jewish, or being Human.

  16. Blage March 9, 2006 at 7:36 pm #

    My husband is Jewish and we are raising our kids in the Jewish faith…as much as we can since neither of us is particularly relegious. Both are very proud to be Jewish and have friends in many other faiths. But struggle with this “coolness” issue that you mentioned.

  17. josh March 9, 2006 at 8:47 pm #

    Been hearing/reading a lot about this guy, and totally reisisted because I thought it was just trendy hype. Does he tap into the common, visceral spirituality at the core of Rasta and Orthodox cultures? Maybe I’ve been hasty…

  18. joe... March 12, 2006 at 12:27 am #

    the first time i heard his name, i thought it was a bunch of kids doing something of a knock-off of modest mouse.

    true story. but, then i listened and said WOW this is amazing.

    i was schooled and trained orthodox (via Chabad here in los angeles) so i definitely feel something of a connection… i’m gonna try n see him sometime.

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