We finished it yesterday.

For those playing the home game, yesterday was my birthday. With its triple tradition of Langer’s pastrami, hot fudge sundae and a movie or two or three.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

Actually, I prefer to be skiing on my birthday, but the prednisone has my calf freaking out and every time I think I’m out of the woods I’m pushed back into rehab/frailty/recovery and it’s getting damn old. Somehow I missed the whole ski season, and I ain’t happy about it.

Anyway, Saturday I interviewed Moby for a podcast at the L.A. “Times” Festival of Books, and only one person left during the whole presentation, that may be a new record! You see Richard Melville Hall was riveting. He’s soft-spoken, but what he says… He defies the image of nonverbal musician, he’s smart, erudite, he’s thought about it and when he speaks…

He tried really hard to follow up “Play,” he wanted to continue to surf the fame/model continuum. But he couldn’t. And he’s adjusted in the wake, given up drugs and alcohol, happy to be blessed by the little things in life. We call that perspective, and few have it.

Then we moseyed over to a tent to hear the L.A. “Times” editorial board give its perspective. Which was pretty interesting. Because the paper has more power than any entity, just less power than ever before. I realized this at the “Alta” party the night previous. “Alta” is a new California magazine and they commissioned a story from me so I thought I’d better show up and meet the brass. I connected with “Alta”‘s owner William Randolph Hearst III, who I’d spoken with on the phone for an hour the month before, and I connected with the editor and his number two, but I was stunned how many people didn’t know who I was. Because fame ain’t what it’s cracked up to be anymore. I realized this when my inbox filled up with messages from people who’d never heard an Avicii song. I realized this when everybody at Coachella was raving about Beyonce’s performance and everybody who wasn’t there couldn’t care less. This is not a judgment on the art, although I’m willing to do that, are Beyonce’s songs as memorable as those of Prince, Aretha or Joni Mitchell, is that how far we’ve come, where performance trumps music? And the truth is you can’t say this, because she’s black and a woman, but it’s this same groupthink/silence that’s preventing progress. Unless we can hash these issues out, discuss them, include men in the #MeToo movement, as David Chappelle so eloquently said, we’re not gonna get to the destination.

And Saturday night I went to this charity function in Calabasas, way up in the hills, behind the gates, at the home of producer John Feldmann. There were a lot of players there. Jason Flom, John Alagia, ZZ Ward, Robby Krieger, and talking amongst ourselves it became clear…

It’s a business again.

It used to be the fame game, a way to make millions, now everybody’s hustling and struggling and to tell you the truth, the highlight was the charity component, these ex-military men at VETPAW

Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife

saving the rhinos. But Greta Van Fleet performed and I can trumpet my inclusion but the truth is…

I enjoyed watching “Fauda” more.

That’s right, after sneaking away from the Festival of Books to get a #19 at Langer’s before they closed on Saturday, since they’re not open on Sunday, partaking of their pastrami chili cheese fries in addition

Langer’s pastrami chili cheese fries

we went to Brent’s for brunch on Sunday, where I loaded up on lox and whitefish, and then went off to the Holocaust Museum and finally to the couch, to finish “Fauda.

Arab/Israeli relations. We’ve got the biased, like the anti-Semitic Roger Waters, imploring people not to perform in Israel, and we’ve got Natalie Portman refusing to accept an award, which I think is more about her image than her politics, and the truth is…

I’m not in support of the settlements.

I’m not in agreement with Netanyahu on so much.

But the truth is Israel can only lose once and it’s done. All over. And that’s the goal of Hamas. No two state solution. No hashed-out agreement, just extinction. And I deplore the deaths of Arabs at the hands of Israelis at the border but you must read Bret Stephens from Saturday’s “New York Times” for perspective. This is the goal of Hamas, to gain sympathy, to get the world’s support for their position:

“Jewish Power at 70 Years”

But it’s not only that, the truth is anti-Semitism is rampant, and Stephens delineates this, and one of the head-spinning experiences at the Holocaust Museum is all the newspapers highlighting what was going on in Europe back in the thirties and we Americans did nothing. We’re always told we didn’t know, but there it is, we did.

And “Fauda” is a Netflix series about the Arab/Israeli conflict on the border.

I watched it because Cliff Burnstein recommended it. And I trust him, he’s one of the most intellectual people in the music business.

But the ratings are not as good as some other shows but we were a bit sick of whodunits, although the fourth season of “Bosch” is STUPENDOUS! You must watch it on Amazon Prime.

Anyway, “Fauda” is twelve episodes about an elite Israeli team trying to kill a supposedly already dead terrorist. And people are blown up and killed willy-nilly and you realize how precious life truly is. And the landscape is raw and in so many ways inhospitable, the most modern things are the cars.

But the people…

The Israelis focus on the mission more than their everyday lives.

And the Arabs…are willing to be martyrs.

And you wonder how there can ever be a solution.

And this is not American television, where everybody’s beautiful. But by time you watch a few episodes you fall in love with some of the characters. The lead, Doron…he’s fierce and driven, he’s not a hothead, but he will follow his own direction, he’s more of an American hero than anybody in our movies or government today. And Shirin, the Arab doctor, has one of the worst noses in film history. But you watch her long enough and you no longer see it, she too is beautiful, illustrating character trumps image.

And everybody else…

Is living on the edge.

Wanna feel really alive?

Be close to death.

And is the mission more important than humanity? Can you park your feelings at the door and just execute? And can anybody lose their life in a terrorist incident just that quickly? And…

You see modern warfare.

We hear so much about the NRA and guns and the Second Amendment that we fail to realize today’s combat is done via drones and technology. They know where you are, they can spy on you via satellites. And both teams know each other. That’s right, the Arabs and the Israelis interact constantly, trade secrets and prisoners and it’s hard to keep the characters straight and you watch long enough and you wonder what they’re fighting for.

And if the fighting can ever end.

So I’ve seen more watchable series. And if you don’t like to grimace and groan, this is not for you. But “Fauda” exposes you to truth that’s out there that we ignore, or are unaware exists.

And that’s what I did last night, finish the series, and eat some carrot cake and left over pastrami. After having a Carvel hot fudge sundae. After not going to the movies.

I looked, I tried. I could go see the horror movie “A Quiet Place” or the autism love story “Keep The Change” at the Laemmle, yet why go to see them or the poorly-reviewed Amy Schumer comedy when there’s so much entertainment at home and speaking of entertainment…

I like mine visceral, I like mine real, I like to feel like I’m being tested, brought to the edge. And I’m sure attendees at Coachella had a good time, but I didn’t see any envelope pushing, that’s no longer the point, it’s all about feeling good in a world where musicians have turned themselves into second class citizens, pawns in the game, believing if they’re getting paid then success is achieved, not knowing message is paramount, and that message must be in the record itself.

Maybe a change is coming, I certainly hope so. Hell, if you want to see zombies, just look at the walking dead who’ve been in the music business for thirty years, like my compatriots at the charity event, we’re shell-shocked.

And then I fire up Netflix and feel fully alive.

On my birthday.

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