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Flip the Script Friday: Martin Sherman, When She Danced

It’s 2020, and do my eyes deceive me, or is the classic WordPress editor back? Or did it never leave? Either way, this is good news because I was basically writing entire entries on Google Docs and then copying and pasting it.

I am extremely tired and haven’t been reading much of anything, but I did take a look at some plays today, and chose one about which I want to write something. Eventually. Stay tuned.

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Dehydrated on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I realized the other day that I hadn’t blogged for a while, and though I normally don’t like to post a lot of real-life stuff in here, it’s been quite a busy November for me. Mostly in a good way. I managed to get a lot of work done in time for Thanksgiving, a break I needed more than anything. I was too overworked and stressed to read, basically. But on Tuesday, after teaching, I flew from Madison to Charlotte to Philadelphia, and was picked up by my parents for a ride down through Delaware to Ocean City. This is the fourth year in a row we’ve done Thanksgiving here at the beach. I’ve spent most of the past few days sleeping at odd intervals and dreading going back home; I leave tomorrow evening, but at least it’s a nonstop flight from Philly back to Madison. Once there, it’s back to the grind, but only for another 2 weeks. Due to Thanksgiving being late, we only have 8 more days left in the semester.

Not too much else to share; I have finished some books, and I’m hoping to get back to writing book and play reviews, as well as some personal writing projects of my own.

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A Very Full First Day of Being 32

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 32.

I opened my box from my parents this morning, and uncovered some chapstick, coupons, a Reader’s Digest, two crisp one-dollar bills, among some cookies and candy, most of which were promptly eaten. I managed to get to the post office and a not-too-terrible parking spot despite insane campus traffic. I shared my birthday cookies with my office floor mates before class. After class, I had sushi on the terrace and shared a cupcake and chat with Rini. 3 out of 4 students showed up for meetings today, and I got to see my APO brothers at meeting and go to dance class. Just found a geocache and now I’m at home, in bed, where I belong. Only a little more lesson planning to do before tomorrow, then off to bed.

Happy birthday to me 🙂

And yes, I did watch my favorite YouTube videos, and sang the Maude theme.

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Reading My Way Across America: Back to Bawlmer

After five months (finally!), I finished the book that I checked out of the library to fulfill the Reading My Way Across America challenge, stop #2 as determined by Siri: the 7th state to join the Union, my home state of Maryland.

Image result for maryland flag

The options were numerous, but I narrowed it down to two, one book about towns on the Chesapeake Bay, and one about Jewish Baltimore, which is also exactly where I grew up, as did both of my parents (in fact, I later found out that both of them had indeed read the book despite it being relatively recent). I read a book about Smith Island earlier this year, so I decided that the Western side of the bay deserved a shot, so Jewish Baltimore it is. It was quite the trip down memory lane and beyond, and interesting to learn about Jewish life in Baltimore before my family showed up in 1939.

On Middle Ground: A History of the Jews of Baltimore was written by Eric L. Goldstein and Deborah R. Weiner. It was published only last year, so it’s pretty up to date. My dad found it to be a little dense on history and less focused on narrative, to which I agree; the first half of the book was kind of a snoozefest with the occasional interesting tidbit or photograph thrown in. On the whole, the book talked about the different waves of Jewish migration and settlement in and around Baltimore, first downtown, then gradually toward East Baltimore and finally into suburban Baltimore County, where I grew up. The first Jewish settlers in the area were recorded as early as the 1770s, before Maryland even became a state, so it’s pretty clear that the Chosen People of Baltimore are truly among the OGs along with the Anglicans (Note: There were probably Native Americans in the area, but on the whole, the central part of Maryland has never had much of a Native American presence. Even today, Maryland is one of the few states without an Indian reservation or any recognized tribal groups.)

A lot of the book focused on the relationships that Jews had with their neighbors, both the white, Christian community, and the large (and historically, relatively affluent) African-American community of Baltimore. The theme of “middle ground” really hit home and reverberated the most when placing the Jewish community in between the other two. Maryland has historically been an even-Steven kind of place, neutral in the Civil War, geographically south of the Mason-Dixon line but culturally closer to the northern states. Baltimore was, for quite some time, host to both the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Interestingly enough, back in the 1920s, the Jews of Baltimore were more closely affiliated with the Republican party, as the Democratic side leaned more towards the “know-nothings” and white Christians who wanted nothing to do with the Jews. This prompted both the growth of independent Jewish institutions as substitutes for areas exclusively reserved for white Christians, as well as the community’s turn towards an alliance with the similarly disenfranchised black community.

Speaking of the connections between the Jewish and African-American communities, there were quite a few which surprised me ,beyond the obvious demise of The Buddy Deane Show post-integration as chronicled in John Waters’ Hairspray. In 1927, a Jewish female doctor opened Baltimore’s first birth control clinic, which led to the 1938 founding of Northwest Maternal Health Center, the first hospital in the nation where black and white doctors worked side by side. Hot off the heels of Brown vs. Board of Education, the large Jewish presence on the county school board pushed for and ultimately achieved public school desegregation, one of the first districts south of the Mason-Dixon line to do so. And a year later, in 1961, Sinai Hospital (where I was born) became the only hospital in Baltimore to accept African-American interns among its staff, aside from the all-black Provident Hospital.

Of course, the Jewish contributions to life in Baltimore did not go unnoticed. Jews founded Baltimore’s earliest department stores, and had a hand in cultural institutions from the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to Center Stage to the Baltimore Museum of Art. On the religious side, Baltimore’s first bat mitzvah occurred in 1936, only a matter or months after the first ever bat mitzvah took place in New York City. By 1951, Park Heights Avenue was known as “Rue de la Shul” (plausible although I’ve never heard anyone call it that, but then again we also have the so-called ‘Gucci’ Giant, the history of which is beyond me), and yeah, it’s still full o’shuls. And Ner Israel, Baltimore’s notable yeshiva, was the first institute in America to offer a doctorate degree in Talmudic law.

Probably the most interesting parts of the book were the details of Baltimore’s Jewish community during the civil rights movement, where private schools and even country clubs were restricted to white, Christian members only. A particularly interesting photograph of Meadowbrook Country Club’s sign warning against blacks and Jews intrigued me. Towards the end of the book, names of people and places became more and more familiar, and on page 223, there was even a picture taken in a classroom at my high school; obviously, a decade after I graduated, but still very recognizable and very…odd to see in a history book. And who knew about Jewish boxing? There could have been way more information about that in the book.

So anyway, upon finishing, I asked for a number 1-50 from Siri, and she picked 39, so North Dakota, here I come! I have already picked out a few books; hopefully it will not take me another five months to read and recap a book from that state.

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Flip the Script Friday: Nick Green, Body Politic

That’s So Jacob Presents: Flip the Script Friday

Episode #46: Nick Green, Body Politic

Image Credit: 49thshelf.com

The Basics

Body Politic premiered on 21 May 2016 at Buddies in Bad Time Theatre in Toronto, Canada. It closed on 12 June 2016, hours after the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Characters

  • Phillip – gay man in his 60s. Member of the Body Politic collective in his youth.
  • Deb – young lesbian activist in her 20s. Member of the Body Politic collective.
  • Steven – gay man in his 20s. Original member of the Body Politic collective who leaves quickly.
  • Calvin – gay man in his early 20s. Member of the collective.
  • Victor – gay man in his late 20s. Member of the collective, latecomer who joins with Brian. Played by the same actor who plays Steven.
  • Brian – gay man in his late 20s. Member of the collective, latecomer who joins with Victor.
  • Josh – gay man in his 20s. A barista at the Starbucks where Phillip goes every day, in the present-day storyline.

Setting/Plot

Present day and 1970s, Toronto, Canada. There are two simultaneous storylines. In the present day, Josh goes over to Phillip’s apartment after encountering him on the Grindr app, where they have sex and argue about the differences between gay men in their respective generations before a revelation by Josh. In the 1970s storyline, Phillip, Deb, and the others start a gay-themed newspaper entitled Body Politic, and in their attempts to express their views, they encounter resistance from within and without, leading up to a major raid on Toronto bathhouses and a demonstration which changes everything, including the breakup of Body Politic and the relationships between its former members and allies.