Three Kings - - Five Towns Jewish Times
After a truly inspirational July Fourth, I awoke on the fifth and realized that our leader, President Obama, was going off on his trip to Russia, the state formerly known as the principal of the Soviet Union (and, intermittently, by only a symbol, the hammer and sickle on the bright red background). I immediately imagined the worst—our president greeting the Russian prime minister, King Putin, along with “Meddy,” his hand puppet, with warm hugs and kisses, while exclaiming “Lantsmen!” and then quickly tearing into a bottle of vodka with them, while the troika noshed on beluga caviar.
By The Legendary Danny O’doul
Published on Thursday, July 09, 2009
Almost instantaneously, I purposely changed my train of thought and averted my mind’s eye from this distasteful political vision, focusing my powers of imagination on a much more pressing matter—the 50 remarkable similarities between the alleged death of Michael Jackson (the King of Pop) and the alleged death of Elvis Presley (the King of Rock ’n’ Roll). While very few of you would ever be interested in such an arcane area of pop culture, the study of which requires years of careful training and occasional measured self-destruction, this highly complex discipline is as deeply mystical and difficult to comprehend as say, the Zohar (and by that I refer to the written treasury of Kaballah, not the ladies’ shoe store on Central Avenue). Without going into much detail, you should be aware of the Jewish connection to both the lives of Elvis Presley and The Gloved One.
While my attorney, the fashion-forward, truly “out-of-the-box” thinker, Daniel Friedman, Esq., is famous for frequently and irrepressibly espousing the idea that Elvis Presley is a one hundred percent halachic Jew (by birth)—which I also accept as “fact”—the Jewish connection of which I allude is each of these celebrities’ choice of friends and “spiritual advisers.” Perhaps Elvis’s “best friend” was none other than George Klein, the Memphis disc jockey who was also a member of Elvis’s inner circle, known affectionately as the “Memphis Mafia.”
Additionally, Elvis had a remarkable “spiritual adviser,” Larry Geller, the hairstylist who was responsible for Elvis’s jet-black mane—and who was referred to derisively by Colonel Tom Parker (Elvis’s notorious manager) and the “good ol’ boys” of the Memphis Mafia as “the swami” for the hold he exercised on Elvis’s “spiritual development.”
In fact, my attorney has spoken several times by telephone to Larry Geller (who developed into an observant, religious Jew), and they discussed the fact that, at the time, neither realized that Elvis was one hundred percent halachically Jewish, because neither was aware that Jewish law provides for matriarchal descent, although Elvis’s mother’s direct maternal ancestors were Jewish going back several generations.
Elvis not only knew of his Jewish roots, but had an appreciation for chazanus (Jewish liturgical music) and gave generously to many Jewish causes—including a gift of $150,000 to a Memphis Jewish welfare organization and the building of racquetball court at the Memphis Jewish Community Center—and even began wearing a gold “chai” necklace during his mid-1970s performances.
In fact, my attorney often tells the story of the time he was discussing Elvis with famous Five Towns Memphis émigré Glen Graber of the famous Graber’s of Memphis. Glen was telling my attorney about the time when Glen and his friends were unable to gain admission to this racquetball court because “Elvis” was playing there. My attorney then asked Glen if he knew why Elvis was playing there and was afforded such respect. Glen answered, “Because he was Elvis.” My attorney then calmly asked Glen, “Do you know who built that racquetball court? … Elvis!” Mr. Graber was astonished and clearly impressed with my attorney’s massive knowledge of Elvis lore.
So then, who was Larry Geller’s equivalent in the Michael Jackson organization? After careful consideration, I would have to say Rabbi Shmuley Boteach—the pop-psychology-practicing equivalent of the medical-science stylings of the great Rambam, who also specialized in a celebrity clientele. If the great Rambam had cared for the King of Pop, he probably would have fattened him up a little with herring, whitefish, fresh fruit juices, and some kichel. Surely with the Rambam’s mentoring, the King of Pop would also have eagerly embraced the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah and delved into difficult passages of Rashi and Targum Onkelos. By comparison, Rabbi Shmuley was ultimately unsuccessful, by his own account, in persuading Mr. Jackson to conquer his demons and be a “koveish es yitzro.”
But Michael Jackson—despite the thoughts of many Jews that he had some anti-Semitic sympathies (after the composition of a song which was at best controversial, at worst inflammatory) showed his deep, though possibly ambivalent, trust in Jews by hiring noted Five Towns attorney Ben Brafman as his defense lawyer. Mr. Brafman had a busy week, as media outlets converged upon him for his recollections and insights into Mr. Jackson’s complex persona. The heartfelt stories which Mr. Brafman recounted to the interviewers added a unique perspective on the singer, gleaned from a vantage point few others enjoyed.
I suspect that Mr. Brafman may have attended today’s tribute to Mr. Jackson in Los Angeles, while I am sure that my attorney did not—for he is a kohein and he had expressed his concern over whether the family would permit the transportation of Mr. Jackson’s casket to the Staples Center.
And, to further add to the mystery enveloping Mr. Jackson’s alleged “passing,” why would the President of the United States of America—who is roughly the same age as Mr. Jackson, and was certainly exposed to his vast musical accomplishment, as a young “Barry Obama” in America—not rush home from Moscow from his alleged “official business” to attend a state funeral of an American legend—unless, perhaps, Mr. Jackson pulled an “Elvis”? There must have been a reason other than “love” for why Mr. Jackson wedded Lisa Marie Presley—was it not for her possible intimate knowledge of how her father could have pulled off the disappearing act of the century? I think maybe yes!
And would there be anything more Jewish than a disappearing act? After all, the Torah teaches us the story of Joseph, who after grating on his brother’s nerves winds up with a one-way trip to Egypt, where he changes his name, becomes the “prince” and/or viceroy of the land, and dons a jumpsuit, regal headdress, and snappy golden sandals, which totally throw off his brothers when they pop in for an impromptu visit. Without doubt, Joseph was the template for Elvis and Michael—if they, indeed, disappeared. For those of you biblical scholars who refuse to believe that Korach was actually one of those whom the earth swallowed up—face facts, Korach is dead!
Closer to home, there are rumblings that local dairy bistro Tea For Two has closed its doors. However, there are those who believe that TFT is actually planning its own disappearing act and will suddenly reemerge as “Kalman of Korea”—featuring kimchi, sushi, and Korean barbecue. Each table will feature a tabletop indoor barbecue (in the style of authentic Korean barbecue joints) and offer “flameproof” bonnets to all female patrons wearing falls and sheitels. And perhaps Elvis will attend the grand opening, as I hear he is now really into kosher Korean barbecue. Mr. Jackson is not expected to attend, due to his strong aversion to food. And Korach? No, he will definitely not be there—despite his great love of grilled meats, alluded to in that famous Rashi.
This is The Legendary Danny O’Doul signing off and wishing all of you, my dear readers, a Great Good Shabbos—one in which you enjoy many sumptuous victuals and scrumptious delicacies and reflect on the lives of great tzaddikim and tremendous chachamim. But, if you just can’t sleep, then take a few minutes to contemplate the role of the Jewish People in the rise of American popular culture. And if you still can’t sleep, then contemplate some sweet, pungent kosher Korean barbecue!