Saturday, July 26, 2008

JewsRock.Org - A Challah Fame

Personally, I don't invest much time in speculating on whether Scott Ian of Anthrax's Judaism impacts his music. Unless he says it does, I'm not going to think much about it. But JewsRock.Org is "devoted to illuminating the intersection of rock and roll and Jewish culture. We've heard a lot about what the Jews have contributed to science, literature, the fine arts--all the high brow stuff. Well, we're going low." Cataloging and speculating on Ian's Judaism is exactly the sort of thing that keeps JewsRock up at night. According to their website, here's how it all began...
"Do you remember the anthrax-in-the-mail panic of 2001? At the time, David Segal, who was then the pop music critic of The Washington Post, was without an angle on the most important news story of the week. He had just one idea: Call the legendary speed-metal band Anthrax and ask if the group was thinking of changing its suddenly infamous name. He wound up on a cell phone with Scott Ian, the lead guitarist, who fired off one quip after another about his groupメs new predicament. Ian said that friends had been joking about how funny it would be if he were to die from anthrax poisoning, prompting him to start taking Cipro, the anthrax antibiotic. Why?

"I have vowed that I will not die an ironic death," he deadpanned on the phone.

The story ran in the paper, and Segal soon got a call from his friend, Jeffrey Goldberg, who was, at the time, the Middle East correspondent of The New Yorker. Goldberg told him he loved the quote from Ian. "I bet that guy is Jewish," Goldberg said. Segal asked why. It was that peculiar combination of irony and hypochondria in Ianメs answer, Goldberg said, that offered the best clue. A little digging, and Goldberg and Segal found out, of course, that it was true: Scott Ian is a member of the tribe."
The article lead to a website devoted to, well, cataloging and speculating. And if you're the sort of person that grooves on knowing that Paula Abdul is of Syrian Jewish descent, that David Lee Roth is dedicated to overturning Jewish stereotypes, that you can read a d'var Torah based on Steely Dan's "Any Major Dude", or that "[m]any of Judaism's most dearly held traditions are also prevalent in indie rock" than this is the place for you.

In honor of JewsRock.Org's connection with Scott Ian, here's a live concert video of Anthrax covering Joe Jackson's "Got The Time." Great track. I could say that the obsessive urban work driven alienation of the song comments on Jewish cultural tendency toward knowledge- and work-based forms of identity development. But if I did, I'd be speculating.

Hat tip to YouTube user Thraxfan54 for posting the video.

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