Terminal Nostalgia

Having Feelings for the Blue Jew Yorker

By Jake Marmer

Published January 19, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Sure, I have a soft spot for the Blue Jew Yorker, the on-line journal dedicated to the “culture of ecstasy and survival”, because a few of my own works have appeared there. But, even the strictest seekers of objective opinions would be impressed by the rag’s young, crisp and acidic intellectualism, as well as the propensity for absurdist humor and a certain nostalgic stance that bypasses the contemporary pop-culture. But don’t take it from me, take it from U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, who described the magazine as “smart and rowdy.”

Click for larger view
Click for larger view

In the new issue — their seventh, aptly titled “Terminal Nostalgia” — what stands out most is the quality and diversity of the work which ranges from “Rivulets of a Dead Jew,” a waltz by Charles Bernstein, founder of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E movement, to “The Other Universe of Paris Hilton,” a hilarious piece by Matthue Roth, performance poet and writer, who has been featured on Def Jam.

The Jewish discourse, advanced by the BJY, is a particularly fluid, all-embracing one. Not by a long shot do all of the works refer directly to Judaism. In fact, a good deal of contributors are not Jewish. The journal featured Palestinian-born poet Edward Salem whose narrator, in “Soil Poem,” professes pluralistic lust for both Israeli and Palestinian women. The most recent issue features a work by Francisco X. Alarcón, self-described “Chicano poet,” whose bilingual poem, “Crazy Loco” shimmers with spiritual ecstasy.

Another memorable contribution to the new issue is “Ocean Parkway,” authored by the rag’s chief, Adam Shechter. It is a quirky “found” video-poem, full of urban noise, slanted shots, looping sequences and snatches of conversations. The Dziga Vertov meets Grandmaster Flash style of filming evokes the fascination and repetitions of a poetry recitation. Stanza-like segments alternate with choruses and the rhythm of sequence changes merge into something like visual hip-hop. Numerous repetitions not only establish a musical feel, but are the visual double-takes of the ever curious eye of the poet.

Equally compelling is the magazine’s previous issue, co-written exclusively by Shechter and Daniel Y. Harris. It is a collection of fictive bios, published by imaginary, ridiculous and self-important poets. The authors parody the traditional back-page of poetry journals, which contain contributor’s biographies, where the lengthy list of awards (many of them, self-bestowed) and publications (largely, obscure no-name ones) becomes more significant than the poetry itself. Thus, in the parody, the bios overpower the actual works, and “Jacob Schwartz by Phallus Unmasked” and “Dr. Rabbi Ari Ben Lieb Tov by The Brooklyn Son of the Pastrami Sandwich” are every bit as good as they sound.

Small journals tend to have a lasting, if underestimated, effects, and the Blue Jew Yorker, is a valiant candidate for progeny’s nostalgic research and qualms about their ancestors — us.

Watch “Ocean Parkway” below.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.