Monday, November 10th, 2008
Born in the Bronx to Russian Jewish immigrants, Studs Terkel (who was to become “the walking anthology of all things Chicago) didn’t particularly see himself as Jewish, except as an agnostic’s ethnic curiosity. But his recent death underlined, for me, at least, the serious difference between Stud’s leftist politics and that of Bill Ayers.
The left of Ayers, and his Weather Underground, was nihilist, born of rage, leading to bombings and death, to a culture of loathing for anyone who disagreed.
A new book explores Bob Dylan’s Jewish inspiration and prophetic voice.
Bob Dylan showed up in Greenwich Village in 1960 dissembling tall tales of who he was, riding in as a mystic, mythic, out of the American West, one of Woody’s children, raised by Bessie Smith or Mother Goose, now you see him, now you don’t, born in a dustbowl or on the Burlington Northern, a never-ending kaleidoscope of biographical masquerade.
Ruth Magied sits down at the piano in her Midwood apartment and dives into Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Her fingers lightly, fluently, dance over the keys.
The music stops after a few minutes and Magied stands up. She turns from the piano, the instrument that filled her childhood, to the topic that occupied her adolescence — pain.
“Pain,” she says, “can destroy your brain. It’s like having four root canals that never go away. It’s like having someone hitting you over your head with a frying pan.”