?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Hasidim? Acidim! - click opera
February 2010
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 09:26 am
Hasidim? Acidim!

I'm not sure when I began to triangulate the jewishness of my favourite 21st century Parisian musicians, but it can't have been long after becoming aware, circa 2002, of the labels Active Suspension and Clapping Music, and the interesting live events happening under the Placard and Shobo Shobo rubrics. The Paris scene represented by Mehdi Hercberg, Olivier Lamm, Shinsei, Hypo, Domotic, Discom and Davide Balula seemed to me the most interesting thing happening in music anywhere, and I was delighted to become a guest vocalist (alongside Japanese musicians like Sawako, Midori Hirano and Kumi Okamoto) on Hypo and o.lamm records. In addition to being significantly Jewish, these Parisians turned out to be significantly crazy about Japan.



But if I'd been obtuse and somehow overlooked the jewishness of this scene, the penny would have dropped when I saw Moishe Moishe Moishele, the latest music project from Mehdi Shobo Hercberg, Odot Lamm and Vincent Tordjman. Located at the exact crossover point (not, admittedly, a very crowded junction) between the Hasidim and Acid House, Moishe Moishe Moishele is a high-energy, high-concept Jewish supergroup capable -- in terms of racial-national self-caricature -- of giving bands like Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra a run for their money.



Taking their name from Moishe Holtzberg, the surviving son of a rabbi killed, along with his wife, in the Mumbai massacre last year (and already the subject of some much more sentimental music), Moishe Moishe Moishele are, according to taste, a joke band for weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals, the point where irony meets sincerity and hipsters meet orthodoxy, a proud example of asymmetrical multiculturalism, and a post-post-ethnic gesture.



As we've seen before in these pages, "asymmetrical multiculturalism" is a term Canadian sociologist Eric P. Kaufmann uses in his book The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America to point out that liberals have a self-defeating double standard: they want dominant whites to repress their ethnicity, but everyone else to express theirs: "the Anglo-Saxon should be transethnic and cosmopolitan, while other groups should be ethnically conservative". Symmetrical pluralism would see all ethnicities in a multicultural nation like the US relating to each other on a point-to-point basis; asymmetrical pluralism sees them all grouped around a hub of "Anglo-Saxon Cosmopolitans" who are disallowed from stressing their ethnic qualities (on pain of being branded "fascist"). For Kaufmann, this "remains consistent with the dictates of egalitarianism in that it weakens the power center while strengthening minority groups", but undermines both ethnicity and liberalism: "The majority, excluded from partaking in a meaningful ethnic option, turns its back on the entire concept in favor of a universalist individualism". Kaufmann rather optimistically envisions a world in which "all are taught the virtues and failings of both cosmopolitan and ethnic values".



I'm not sure if Kaufmann is Jewish, but his formula -- cosmopolitanism plus ethnicity -- is a particularly Jewish one. No people has been as intent as the Jews on preserving their national-cultural specificity, and yet no people has traveled quite as widely as the Jews, or become so cosmopolitan, either. It also strikes me that Moishe Moishe Moishele are both "meaningfully ethnic" and cosmopolitan. And this might be the point to mention the perfect aptness of the fact that Mehdi Hercberg's son with his ethnically-Vietnamese partner Khan-Linh La is called Zelig, after, presumably...



...the film in which we all began to suspect that Woody Allen might be Jewish too.

40CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 08:59 am (UTC)
Ethnicity is Fascism

"..other groups should be ethnically conservative". An asymmetrical fantasy!
I don't see that being forced at all. Ethnic groups are encouraged to speak the local tongue, for example. The rule of law insists on the number of wives anybody can have. People have to pay taxes and are free to worship. Also what is an "Anglo-Saxon cosmopolitan", if not Aryan (Germans and Poles have more blonde and blue-eyed), native English speaking (the Irish do)? Try again, Kaufmann.

What the West is trying to do is pull everyone out of superstition and into a 'Rational-Atheist Hub'. This is a very good thing. Who knows what exciting person differences will emerge when we finally shrug off the fascist legacy of 'group difference'. Who knows what unexplored continents of personal pride will emerge from the shadow of collective identity.


ReplyThread
krskrft
krskrft
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 01:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Ethnicity is Fascism

I think you're missing the point.

A good example of asymmetrical multiculturalism is how a lot of people in the American translation community constantly rail on America for not producing enough translation, and moreover for seemingly being averse to it. In their world, Americans are expected to repress their own culture and take in the productions of others. But at the same time, those "others" (the national literatures being translated into English) are supposed to constitute unbridled cultural expression. The French are supposed to be "French," the Swedish "Swedes" and the Bulgarians "Bulgarian."

There is a certain segment of society that says--and this especially seems to be the case for America--we are supposed to repress our own culture at home in order to make room for other cultures, thereby becoming more "cosmopolitan." But when we travel abroad, other national cultures are supposed to be completely "authentic" so we can have "real" experiences in them.


ReplyThread Parent Expand







blahsploitation.blogspot.com
blahsploitation.blogspot.com
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 10:50 am (UTC)
Max Pashm

Wasn't Max Pashm ploughing that jewish / acid grove back in the 90s. Now he seems to have gone Balkanic (if it's the same guy)


ReplyThread
rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 12:17 pm (UTC)
one step beyond

1. haha, what if moishemoishesputnik were not jewish?

2. too bad i cannot insert the short isaac bashevis singer youtube clip with this iphone
( search adding nobel to his name)

3 having a multi task dinner at a universalist's restaurant with assymetrical tables having to choose from egalitarian menu sounds like having a falafel in neukölln with friends from abroad?

4. what about bombastic filosofy?

greetings from rainy west germany

rinus


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
Re: one step beyond

haha, what if moishemoishesputnik were not jewish?

I think it would be fine -- after all, the Japanese are only almost Japanese, and blackface is the new anti-racism -- but no doubt there would be people queuing up to call them "anti-semites".


ReplyThread Parent Expand









(Anonymous)
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC)

Interesting, as ever. I'm alerting friends who will be curious about this scene. (Suddenly I realize: all my friends are Jewish!) Any opinions on John Zorn and his Tzadik Records and its Radical Jewish Culture series? (There's also a Japanese underground music series.) Until Tzadik's Marc Bolan tribute, I didn't even know my first favorite rock star was Jewish! Will Momus be listening to Mickey Katz next?

Dodo


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)

Any opinions on John Zorn and his Tzadik Records and its Radical Jewish Culture series?

Anyone on the New York art and music scenes is Jewish until proven otherwise, that's axiomatic.

Marc Feld / Bolan was my first favourite rock star too. Lou Reed, another glam Jew, was my third, after Bowie (who had a half-Jewish half-brother, if I recall rightly).

I'm going to put some more Zelig, because it's so great:


ReplyThread Parent Expand

(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand

(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand




(Anonymous)
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)

I much prefer Black Lace or Charlie Drake when it comes to novelty acts making music. Throw in a bit of "Weird Al" Yankovic for a jewish angle if you must.


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)

When are they next playing Paris ?

I think this would be the perfect opportunity to air my birdish outfit (Jewish suedehead girl with Londstein poloshirt and star of David braces) without getting my head kicked in.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)

No upcoming dates are listed on their MySpace page.


ReplyThread Parent
tchernabyelo
tchernabyelo
Brian Dolton
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)

Are you familar with the Hip Hop Hoodios at all?

Very interesting Jewish-Hispanic New York rap. Funny and pointed, ironic and self-aware... well worth checking out.


ReplyThread

(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)

Are you back in Tokyo, Stephanie?


ReplyThread Parent
newironshapes [blogspot.com]
newironshapes
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)

Funny that a Canadian sociologist should come up with "asymmetrical multiculturalism". In Canada, the "good lefty" consensus is that the Francophones should also repress their ethnicity and become anglo-saxon (or at least not defend their particularity in any meaningful way). Meanwhile, immigrants from abroad are encouraged to live in their appropriately-decorated essentialist ghettos. But you probably know all about that from your stay here...


ReplyThread
milobusbecq
milobusbecq
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
speaking of Paris

A child of yours, perhaps:

http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/2009/03/on-streetthe-big-knit-paris.html

As I understand it, you did get around...


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
Re: speaking of Paris

He looks more like the bastard lovechild of K*himi K*rie and her 90s boyfriend Pierre. Which would make him 15 or so. Not impossible...


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)

Funny, I just by chance found a (Joemus) Joe comment on a photo I took in 2007 of one of the Satmar Jews of Williamsburg, NYC:

"fantastically (well for 17th century hungary) dressed these guys!
i want to start growing ear locks (i'm jewish too) but i won't as i'm quite sure it'll be taken as being ridiculously disrespectful."

Joe, if you're around, did Moishe Moishe Moishele change your mind about that?

Edited at 2009-03-26 06:26 pm (UTC)


ReplyThread
slime_slime_sly
slime_slime_sly
slime_slime_sly
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)

I had a sudden flashback of the last time i was in paris, 2 years ago, and i saw a big circle of hasidic jews dancing in (circular)line to something that sounded a lot like that, but with a little less dancefloor drama and experimental glitchery that came from a loud distorted stereo on some kind of trolley. i have a clip of that somewhere in a hard drive ill post it later.
Cant tell if that memory adds or subtracts from those guys' mystique with the smiley star over there. In a way they are like just some 'electroclash band taking the piss' but then they are doing something funky with their heritage or something


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)

There's another angle to this that I want to highlight. If you listen to O.lamm's Monolith album, it's much more "Japanese" than any record I've ever made. We're all to some extent cultural ambassadors for Japan, but O.lamm is much more extreme in his attempt to boost Japanese culture. Same with one of my live shows compared with a Shobo Shobo show; you'd get a much more strongly "Japanese" energy from Shobo Shobo.

Now, this group of friends has also been interested in, say, American literature or Norwegian metal or other cultures. But they've steered well clear of "their own" ethnic culture, perhaps because of the right wing associations with settlers, ultra-orthodoxy, etc. Then again, American literature and Norwegian metal could have been seen as "right wing" in some contexts too -- it's hardly liberation theology. The daring of this current project (and we're probably by now overthinking things) is that they've just had the startling idea to bracket all the normal associations and just become, for once, ambassadors of (a part of) their own cultural heritage. They've mostly embraced it for the energy and the visual strength -- as a sign, and as pure frenzy. And they've hybridized it with a hipsterish revival of Acid House, which has emerged from its "anxious interval" in the last few years, and continues (to come full circle) to register in the Japanese culture they're attuned to:


ReplyThread
count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)

momus! at 1:33



Beat on Ice


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Mar. 26th, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC)

There's another at 8.20.


ReplyThread Parent