Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: amir bar lev (page 1 of 5)

Amir, A Mirror


Bobby, that’s not a rando. That’s Amir Bar-Lev, director of the acclaimed Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip.

“Ah. I’m looking forward to watching it”

It came out several months ago, Bobby.

“I know. I’ve been, uh, binge-watching Friends. There’s like a million seasons.”

True. Friends? You like that crap?

“Great stuff. Y’know what that show’s really about?”



Uh-huh. A certain kind of relationship, to be specific.

“When I watch, sometimes I like to wonder who in the Dead was who. For example, Phil is a Chandler.”

Could Phil be more Chandler?

“He couldn’t. And, uh, I’m a cross between Phoebe and Joey.”

Accurate. Garcia?

“100% Rachel.”

I can see it.

“Oh, and–and I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this–that Rachel girl always has her headlights on.”

Like Garcia?

“No. Jer was famously soft-nippled.”

This conversation has gone in a strange direction.

“Conversations often do.”


“Wait. I know why I’m here.”

It always comes to you eventually.


Right. What’d you have?

“Vegan charcuterie.”

How was that?

“They just brought me an empty plate.”


“And this is the director fellow.”


“Amyl Ben-Nitrate.”


“Amy And-Steve. No, that’s a couple me and my wife–”

Natasha Monster.

“–play parcheesi with. Was I close?”

Close enough.

“He seems like a decent sort. You sure he’s in show biz?”

Positive. Why?

“He didn’t molest me at all.”

He’s an ally, Bobby.

“Good to know.”

The Parable Of The Chinese Farmer

There once was a farmer in China. He had many fertile fields of broccoli, beef, and also orange chicken. One day, the farmer’s horse ran away. The villagers came by his farmhouse that night.

“Oh, this is terrible,” the villagers said.

The farmer answered, “maybe,” because he had insured the horse for three times what it was worth and secretly shot the horse.

The next day, the horse came back and with him came seven wild horses.

“This is wonderful,” the villagers said.

“Y’think? They’re wild fucking horses. One of ’em just kicked my daughter’s head clean off.”

“At least it wasn’t your son,” the villagers said.

The farmer answered, “Maybe.”

The next day, while trying to break one of the wild horses, the farmer’s son broke his leg. The villagers came by the farmhouse that night.

“This is terrible,” they said.

The farmer answered, “Why do you people come to my house every night? You don’t even call first.”

“This is a parable,” the villagers answered. “There are no telephones in parables.”

“Maybe,” the farmer said.

The villagers asked, “Are you seriously not even going to offer us anything? Some coffee, a nice piece of cake?’

“Get the fuck out,” the farmer answered, and they did.

The next morning, the man in charge of conscription for the Emperor’s army came by the farm.

“Listen, man,” the farmer said. “I am having a motherfucker of a week. Can you come back, say, in April?”

“April’s no good for me,” the army man said. “How’s your May look?”

“Terrible,” the farmer said. “Cuz, you know, I’m a farmer. That’s when we plant everything.”

“Oh, okay,” the army man said. “I’m a city kid. Food comes from the supermarket, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Sure,” the farmer said.

“I totally forgot what we were talking about,” the army man said.

“Don’t ask me,” said the farmer.

“Oh! Your son. I need him for the army,” the army man said.

“Sure, sure. That makes sense. But he’s got a broken leg.”

“Then I cannot take him,” the army man said.

“You’ll be back in May. He’ll be all healed up then, and then you can conscript the shit out of him. Useless little bastard,” the farmer said.

“May, gotcha,” the army man said, writing some notes to himself. “You’re in the book.”

He left, and that night the villagers came by the farmhouse and asked the farmer,

“What has happened here?”

The farmer said,


The villagers nodded, and after they left, the farmer noticed that one of them had stolen a chair.


For Amir.

J Like In Junior

It must be noted for the record that Jew-hatin’ was not even the ninth-worst thing about Roy Moore before tonight; I would have been hard-pressed to offer it up as one of the man’s endless list of faults, and as you’re most likely aware, I see Antisemitism fucking everywhere like the canary who cried wolf. Sure, he let loose with some good ol’ Soros-bashing and talked about the Globalists and New Yorkers, but it never seemed like his heart was in it. Negros and homos were Roy’s bread and butter, with a helpin’ side o’ Radical Islamic Terrorism. Jews were just the parsley on the plate full o’ hatred.

And then his wife took the mic.

“Jew” is a tonal word. It belongs in Mandarin or Vietnamese because–depending on how you say it–it has two entirely different definitions. The first is the diminutive or casual form of “Jewish” and used to denote an individual claiming the religion much in the same way “Muslim” would be a referent for one of the Islamic faith. It is acceptable in both conversation and respectable newspapers. In pronunciation, the “J” is gently eased into and the “ew” is trailed downwards; you just let the syllable fall out of your mouth. Phonetically, it would look like this: /ǰu/.

Then there’s the other way. It is a slur, and not acceptable in conversation or respectable newspapers. It is used in situations when an anti-Semite can’t get away with saying “kike” and thinks they’re being subtle. The “J” is not eased into, but struck harshly, and the “ew” sound becomes “ee-yoo.” Phonetically, it looks like this: /Dǰ-yu/.

And Jews can hear the difference. You think your dog can hear you opening up the pretzels from far away? Try saying Jew the wrong way around Jews; you’ll see their ears perk up. We’re like Daredevil when it comes to picking out that hard J sound.

So it comes to this. TotD sat by while Roy Moore worked against the interest of blacks, gays, women, and Muslims, but now that his wife said Jew wrong, no longer can neutrality be maintained.


“Dude, I am really busy right now.”

Someone said Jew wrong!

“Honestly, I don’t care right now. I’m campaigning for Oscar glory.”

Is that all you care about?

“Right now? Yes.”

You’re not helpful.

“I didn’t offer my help.”

I’m glad Mickey didn’t like the movie.


I’ll get a better Jew. Sam? Sam?


I need your help, Sammy Davis, Jr.

“Anything for a fellow member of the tribe. Lay it on me, my man.”

The Jews are threatened, Sammy.

“Not on my watch, kid. Do you want a watch? Here, take my watch.”

I don’t want yourJESUS how heavy is this thing?

“Not as heavy as what the Jews have gone through, mishpuchah. I want you to have that as a token of our everlasting friendship, and I’m gonna dedicate this next number to you. A wonderful and talented man named Johnny Reo wrote the music and a dear, dear friend of mine wrote the words, Ms. Leslie Bricusse.”

Leslie Bricusse is a man, Sammy.

“Not after a couple drinks. HEY!”


Where the hell did they come from?

“I travel with a full backing band at all times.”

You are a showman, Sammy Davis, Jr.

“Now let’s go fight intolerance, man.”


“You drive. I’m so tired I can’t keep my eye open.”


You’re fucking awesome.

“That’s the truth, man.”

A High Honor

For Your Consideration

Those are three important words in Hollywood, Enthusiasts. There’s “I love you,” and “Where’s the coke?” or “Ronan Farrow called,” but “For Your Consideration” has ’em all beat. They are a mantra of supplication, your opening bid for immortality (or a temporary version of it); those words are a magical incantation, Enthusiasts. Say it once: tuxedos; say it twice; gowns; say it three times, and Jack Nicholson’s sitting up front wearing his sunglasses inside. But if you say it juuuuuuust right, then your asking price quadruples.

Long Strange Trip, Enthusiasts, is up for an Oscar, sorta maybe. The acclaimed documentary has been placed on the Short List for Best Feature Documentary: out of 170 films, the voters picked 15 for further perusal and another round of ballots. On the 23rd (1/23/17, if you insist), the final five nominees will be announced and then the winner gets…excuse me, the Oscar goes to one of ’em in the dead middle of a four-hour show hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Now, you and I and the Academy all know that LST is much better than those other 14 pieces of dogshit, but this is Los Angeles and “the movie actually being good” is only one of the interlinking qualities a film must possess to win the coveted golden tchotchke. (Fun fact: neither Chachi nor Greta Schacchi has ever been nominated for a golden tchotchke.) Winning an Oscar requires three avenues of attack:

  1. Quality.
  2. Bribery.
  3. Schmoozery.

Let’s take LST‘s artistic achievement as a givenand move on to number two: bribery. It takes a shitload of cash to win an award worth about $400 in gold plating. “For Your Consideration” really is a bit of a magical phrase: you have to slather it all over full-page ads in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety to let the town know you’re serious about being considered. You can’t just send out a mass e-mail or post on your Instagram account, nuh-uh. Full. Page. Ad. At least once a week in both rags from now until voting is over, and that’ll run you.

And parties. Gotta throw a party or two for the Academy. Cocktails for the rank and file, maybe host a dinner party for the influential folks, and this ain’t some Milwaukee kegger, no: this is a Hollywood party with extra expenses. Cocaine, and orifices, and alibis have to be provided.

You have to throw these parties because they are where you schmooze. Cajoling, wheedling, dealing from the middle of the deck, buttonholing, hollering, strategic negging, rumor-spreading, blackmailing, flirting, nipple-tweaking, negotiating in shaky faith, bullshitting, horsetrading, bird-dogging, begging, threatening, fetching the universe from within your ass, insinuating, massaging the facts, accusing the messenger, assaulting the bartender, and–if you feel it won’t hurt–just being yourself.

You know: schmoozing.

What we need, Enthusiasts, is a solid plan; a path to victory. (I won’t lie to you: I need this one. I think an Oscar can fill an Al Franken-sized hole in my heart. Let’s start out 2018 right.) Luckily, I have such a plan, and here’s what the key players need to do:

Amir Bar-Lev, Director You know what show biz is, Amir? It’s a game of inches. You win by inches, you lose by inches, and sometimes if you want something bad enough, you take some inches. Or give some. Basically what I’m saying, Amir buddy, is that you’re gonna have to fuck your way onto that stage. God gave you those blue eyes for a reason, and now you’re going to fulfill your destiny. Men, women, Martin Landau’s corpse: doesn’t matter what you think, pal; if they give you the green light, take your dick out.

(WARNING: this is the single worst moment in American sociopolitical history for a straight white man to try to fuck his way to the top. Nevertheless, I believe in you. Fuck for all of us, Amir. Fuck us up that mountain.)

Eric Eisner, Producer Eric, you need to call your father, Michael Ovitz, and have him do something.

Justin Kreutzmann, Producer Justin, you need to call your father, Bill Kreutzmann, and have him do nothing.

Ken Dornstein, Producer Ken, I don’t know you, so you’re going to be the tech guy. Every team needs a tech guy. You’re like Ving Rhames in the Mission Impossible movies, but–I am assuming–not an enormous black man. Or, if you wish, the one guy in Ocean’s 11 who wasn’t famous or Chinese. You get a van with all sorts of knickknacks and doodads, and you get to deliver tense, whispered dialogue like, “You’ve got twenty seconds,” and “I’m in!”

Alex Blavatnik, Producer Martial arts expert.

Nick Koskoff Master of disguise/help Justin keep his dad out of the process.

Martin ScorseseExecutive Producer Please don’t get accused of anything in the next few weeks.

Bob Weir, Bob Weir Bobby, put the guitar in the Tesla, drive to LA, and sing some cowboy songs for fancy people in a living room off Benedict Canyon. You’re our secret weapon. If you could bring Josh with you, so much better.

All right, everybody got their assignments? Okay, “Grateful Dead” on three. One, two–


–three. Yes?

Did you think to, perhaps, congratulate Amir and the rest of the team on an incredible honor?

Is that not what I’ve been doing for 800 words?

No. Not at all.

Well, that’s what I meant. Hollywood types are smart enough to read between the lines.

Something something cocaine joke.

Miles On Democracy

What is this?

“Decided to try out being one of you hillbilly motherfuckers. It’s nice. I see why you’re all so fucking happy all the time. Listen to some bullshit song about your fucking truck. Eat some spaghetti with fucking ketchup on it. String up a n—-r.”

Please stop saying that word.

“I’m allowed to say n—-r. I’m a racist white motherfucker.”

Wow, does that not make any sense.

“C’mon, let’s say the fucking Pledge of Allegiance.”

No. It was Election Day today, Mr. Davis. You a regular voter?

“Fuck that. I ain’t down with democracy.”

You’re not down with democracy? Why not?

“All men are created equal. That’s the foundation of that shit, right?”


“I ain’t fucking equal. I’m better than everybody. I should get a couple hundred votes. Any system gives Miles Davis and Steve Miller the same amount of votes is bullshit.”

You’re still mad about Steve Miller.

“Motherfucker, I’m still mad about everything I was ever mad about.”


“But especially that no-playing motherfucker. I shared stages with the greatest fucking musicians on the planet and I gotta open for this teenybopper motherfucker? Yelling about ‘Somebody get me a cheeseburger.’ I’ll shove a cheeseburger up your fucking ass, motherfucker. Take some fucking music lessons.”

“Oh, great. You’re still here.”

“Who the fuck is that?”

“Mr Davis? I’m Amir Bar-Lev and this is my daughter Hamentashen.”

“I don’t give a fuck.”

“We’re big fans.”

“Course you are. I’m a fucking genius.”

“And it’s such an honor to meet you. Just such an honor.”

“Hey, the other Jewish asshole.”


“Yeah. You see how your cousin treats me?”

He’s not my cousin. We’re not all related.

“He’s respectful. Doesn’t bitch about my language and ask me stupid fucking questions and make me talk to Russian dictators.”

And he’s a great director. You should let him do a movie about you.

“They already did one. It was fucking bullshit. Only good thing about it was they didn’t cast no light-skinned motherfucker to play me. Other than that, nothing good about it. Motherfucker wants to make a movie about me, he gotta make a pornographic film. Show off my fucking.”

You do see his kid standing there, right?

“Gotta shoot that shit in 70mm. I stroke long.”

Can we be done here?

“Go get me another Seven & Seven.”

Yes, sir.

Talking Points

Like Amir told you before Donna Brazile replaced him on the ticket, Long Strange Trip will be doing a few screenings in selected cities this week. (“Selected cities” always means New York and Los Angeles, maybe San Francisco and Chicago. Milwaukee never gets selected.) If you’re in the area, you should go by and–and I cannot express how sincere I am in this request–ask Amir stupid bullshit. Here’s the sign-up for San Fran; here’s New York. I would suggest saving the truly dumb bullshit for New York, as he will be goofy from all the travel.

“TotD,” you argue. “I am not a creative dynamo like you. For example, I did not come up with Sleepy Batman. I don’t know what to say.”

And I would reply, Who the fuck told you that you could have dialogue?

“I just assumed–” you say, but I cut you off and…


…shoot you in the face. For those of you whom I did not shoot in the face, these are some good topics and questions to annoy Amir Bar-Lev with:

  • Director’s Cut. (I would like to organize a flash mob to attend the Q&A and instead of singing or dancing, every single one of them asks about the Director’s Cut until Amir stabs someone.)
  • Quantitative easing and its effects on the international currency markets.
  • Has he ever met Kevin Spacey?
  • 20-minute story about your first show/how your dog needs LASIK surgery, followed by an attempt to pass the hat around the theater.
  • The plenty of youth, and the hardening of life’s winter.
  • Boobies.
  • If you were forced to travel back in time and fight a member of the Algonquin Round Table, whom would you fight? (Difficulty level: cannot choose Dorothy Parker.)
  • Bring some kitchen/household items with you to the screening and make Amir play Price Is Right-style pricing games with you.
  • Demand to see his feet, begin screaming the N-word. (Quentin Tarantino only.)
  • Do the silent letters in the word “doughnut” make you go “ugh?”
  • Make him work out the problem with the river and boat and the fox and chicken and the wheat.
  • “Didn’t I meet you in Vienna on a chilly Monday morning?”
  • And if Amir answers…
  • “You’ve got the weather right, but it was Tuesday in Munich.”
  • …then he’s your contact; exchange the microchip for the bearer bonds and get to the safe house.

The Wildest Team-Up Yet, True Believers!

What are you doing?

“The photographer’s holding a stick with a meatball at the end of it. She usually works with pets.”


“But I’ll be honest: I can’t stop looking at the meatball.”

It’s a good trick. Did you have some news for the New York Enthusiasts?

“I did. We’re having a special screening at the Village East at 6:30 pm on 11/7, and I’ll be doing a Q&A during intermission. You can RSVP right here.”

What would you like the questions to be about?

“Exclusively about this site.”

You heard him. I have it here in writing, Enthusiasts. Hey, wasn’t Long Strange Trip also nominated for some more awards?

“Yes. We’re up for Best Editing and Best Graphic Design or Animation from Cinema Eye Honors.”

What is that?

“An organization that gives out film awards.”

Ah. Well, congratulations on all the success with the film. It’s well-deserved.

“Making movies is a team effort.”

What about the awards?

“I keep those.”

Are you still looking at the meatball?

“Dude, it looks SO fucking tasty!”

“Okay, this is nonsense. Mr. Bar-Lev, I’m replacing you as the main character of the post.”

Who is that?

“This whole post has been poorly executed, in fact.”

Get out of here, Donna Brazile.

“I am exercising the power given to me in the bylaws of this site–”


“–and replacing Amir Bar-Lev as our main character with Miles Davis.”

You can’t do this.

“Dude, it’s kind of an honor to be traded for Miles Davis.”

Amir, stay out of this. Let me handle Donna Brazile. Listen, lady–”

“I am no lady. I am longtime Clintonista-gone-rogue Donna Brazile and I’d like you to close all the blinds because there are Russia snipers everywhere.”

Aw, fuck, you’re as crazy as the rest of them, aren’t you?

“I saw Amir Bar-Lev faint. Gotta be replaced.”

He didn’t faint.

“Dude, I did. I saw a really big spider.”

Shush, you. Donna Brazile you have no authority here. You can’t replace Amir. He’s here because he’s supposed to be here.

“I just see no joy in Amir’s dialogue. Besides, Miles is so popular with the college kids.”


“Don’t you shoo me!”


“So, I don’t get to meet Miles?”

No, Amir. You don’t get to meet Miles.


You’re not missing much.

The Glitz And The Glamour

As I told you yesterday, Enthusiasts, the instantly irreplaceable documentary Long, Strange Trip will be coming back to theaters for limited runs in New York and Los Angeles; I did not mention the reason. The spectacular film and its heroic director, FoTotD Amir Bar-Lev, are up for some prizes. The Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards has an illustrious history stretching all the way back to 2016, when trolley cars ruled the avenues and baseball was still segregated. So the critics have a chance to see the flicks before voting, they’re all screened in a theater before the show.

Literally none of that is true. You made all of that up. 

Who gives a shit?

History. History will care, and history will judge you for your intellectual malfeasance.

Explain to me what intellectual malfeasance is, and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong.

Just try to get information correct.

That is most assuredly not my job around here, bucko.

The awards ceremony is being held November 2nd; the Los Angeles run isn’t until the 3rd. 

There might be Time Sheath technology at play here.

There is not. You made up the thing about why LST is going back to theaters. You saw there was an awards show and you conflated the two ideas in your head without thinking about it any further.


Get your shit together.

I’m ignoring you.

The world’s ignoring you.

Anyway, the movie’s up for Best Music Documentary and Amir’s up for Best Director. The betting door at Offtrack Betting on the Dead (OtBotD) is now open.

Though I have seen only one of these films, I can confidently say that the one I saw was the best. Not a strong field of horses here, if we handicap with an objective eye, and no eye is more objective than mine, as not only have I not seen these films, I have not heard of them. Even with this paucity of facts, I’d hesitate to place money on LST in this one. Very tough to beat the Eagles of Death Metal in this one. On the other hand, I would still pony up a bet as the lead singer of EODM is a repugnant man who managed to make himself unsympathetic despite having been the target of a terrorist attack. You have to be an immense asshole to pull that one off, and Guy Who Isn’t Josh Homme is just that kind of asshole. This might split the vote, enabling a third movie to win with a plurality.

Rumble is about the role of Native Americans in rock and roll. I called him Morgan is about a trumpeter who shoots his wife. Contemporary Color is 90 minutes of color guards throwing flags around while Ad-Rock raps. The Grateful Dead is better than all of these things, especially that color guard bullshit. The Indian movie sounds interesting, but no one in the Grateful Dead fell victim to a series of plagues in the 16th and 17th century, so that makes them the winner.

Nobody in the Grateful Dead ever shot anyone, let alone their wives, so it beats the trumpet movie.

Why the pause?

I had to stop and think about whether anyone ever got shot.

Yeah, okay. It’s like: someone should have gotten shot.

By accident, at least. Mickey should have shot a teenager in the foot while yoinking merch. Or Garcia winging Rock in that basement they hid in.

It’s a miracle they made it out alive.

A lot of them didn’t.

True. What about the Clive Davis movie?

I think they’re making movies now for the sole purpose of padding out Netflix.

That means you’ll watch it.

Of course. I’m currently reading a memoir written by the drummer from the Spiders from Mars. I have a problem. Let’s get off of me. The topic is LST‘s odds, and OtBotD sets the line at 3-1. Gonna be tough to climb over all those dead French kids.


What? I’m talking about gambling. I’m being hard-boiled.

You’re being wicked. You’re a devil-person with wrong thoughts and you shouldn’t share them with the nice people.

May I continue?

To hell. You may continue on the path to hell.

Thank you. The other category we (this is now a communal undertaking) have a nod in is Best Director. Let’s see who we got:

First of all, Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, this is too many people. You should have eliminated Morrison, Nichol, and Orlowski right off the bat for having boring names. In a similar but opposed fashion, Agnés Varda & JR are disqualified for having too interesting a name. Evgeny Afineevsky is also out, and that’s a personal thing between me and the Russians right now. Nothing against Evgeny. Irene Taylor Brodsky has three names, so fuck her. Frederick Wiseman sounds like a old-time movie star who appeared in horror movies, so he’s scratched. Matthew Heineman is just as boring a name as Morrison, Nichol, or Orlowski; I don’t know why I didn’t group him in with the others; I apologize to you for the oversight. Ceyda Torun is Star Wars character, and therefore nixed.

Amir wins. Odds of victory: 3-1.

You gave him 3-1 on the last one.

I don’t actually know how betting works.

You are bad.

Yes. We end with demands. Amir will most likely be present for one or more of the screenings in New York and Los Angeles, so I have two:

Enthusiasts in New York

Please bother Amir and take pictures.

Amir in Los Angeles

Please bother famous people and take pictures.

I would also like to be thanked from stage, but have just decided that I will write the acceptance speech. It is forthcoming.

The Devastation Of Harvey

Hey, Amir. How you doing, buddy?

“Fine. I’m fine. Let’s talk later.”

You sure?

“Everything’s fine. Don’t worry. All good.”

Where’s Harvey’s other hand?

“Don’t worry about it.”

Is it on your shmeckel?

“I said not to worry about it.”

Did he quote Jay-Z at you?

“No, DMX.”

Harvey Weinstein quoted DMX at you?

“He was barking and crying; I assumed it was DMX.”


“Dude, I’m fine.”

Blink twice if you’re not.

“It’s a photograph. This isn’t Harry Potter. Pictures don’t move.”

They don’t carry on conversations with shut-ins, either. Blink twice if you need help.



I knew it. I’m sending help.

“Please don’t send help.”


“Oh, God, don’t send him.”

“I think I’d rather have the other Josh.”

“Amir? Buddy? Tell me, Hollywood scion Josh Brolin, and whoever this tall guy is what Harvey did to you.”

“He didn’t do anything to me.”

“On you? Did he do stuff on you?”

“I really don’t want to talk about this.”

“Amir, you’re with friends.”

“I don’t know who the tall guy is.”

“Me, either, but look at that fucking adam’s apple. Fucker looks like a half-opened Pez dispenser.”

“Guys, I’m fine.”

“Amir, dude: I am totally on your side since this morning. Last week? You would have had to take one for the team. But now, you know, situation’s changed a bit. Or maybe it hasn’t. I mean, Woody Allen’s got a new movie coming out soon, so who knows how this whole thing will end up.”

“You’re not helping, Josh.”

“Should I find a doll? You could point on the doll where he touched you.”

“No doll.”

“What about some appetizers?”

“Oh, that would be great.”

“I’ll find a waiter. You hang out with the tall guy.”

“But I–”

“So. Uh. You’re pretty lofty.”

“Wanna watch me shower?”


A Sidewalk Of New York

“Walter Becker.”

“So sad.”

“Favorite Steely Dan, Amir?”

“The original, Steve.”

“The one from the book?”

“It combines my two greatest loves: steam-power and dildos. What about you?”

“Black Friday, I guess.”

“That’s a good answer, too. What are you doing in New York?”

“Hadn’t been in a while, Amir. Needed to see the city again, and everything that makes it great.”

“The East River kayak put-in area.”

“Chase Bank.”

“51st Street.”

“The Chase Bank opposite the first one.”

“The Home Depot in Union Square.”

“Guy Fieri’s in Times Square.”

“All of Times Square, really. And Alphabet City.”

“Oh, it’s not Alphabet City any more, Steve.”


“Nope. Eho.”


“East of Houston. It’s all condos and restaurants owned by David Chang now.”

“Sounds great. Any Chase Banks?”

“Enough. Enough so you know you’re in the Greatest City on Earth.”

“And what are you doing in New York, Amir?”

“I live here.”

“Good reason. How’s the family?”

“My wife, Shpilkis, and my children Shmuley, Hummus, and Tom Hagen?”

“Yes. Your family.”

“They’re great.”

“Tom Hagen?”



“I’m raising him to be my cinematographer.”

“That’s long-term planning, Amir. Good thinking.”

“His first words were ‘Sven Nyqvist.'”

“That’s a good omen.”

“How’s the Buddhism going, Steve?”

“Well. Very well.”

“Reach Nirvana?”

“Saw it once.”


“But, you know, then I realized that I saw it and it disappeared.”

“Nirvana’s kind of a little bitch like that.”

“You dabble in Buddhism, too, don’t you?”

“I do. I dabble. More of a Jewish Buddhism, though.”

“How so?”

“The mandalas are made of brisket.”


“And instead of meditating, you just have a nice sit.”

“Sounds kosher.”

“So what’s next for Steve Silberman? Working on another book?”

“I am. The next Game of Thrones book, actually.”


“I’m a fast writer. I think I can beat Martin to the shelf.”

“Can you do that?”

“Sure, it’s easy. Make up some words, steal some Tolkien, describe meals for five pages at a time. Simple.”

“No, I mean are you allowed to do that?”

“We’ll see, won’t we?”

“I guess.”

“What’s next for Amir Bar-Lev?”

“I’m executive-producing a children’s cartoon about the Wild West.”

“Yeah? What’s it called?”

The Brony Express.

“Sounds fascinating.”

“They fight the Paiute using friendship.”

“How does that go?”

“Terribly. The Paiute use guns.”

“I love these talks we have.”

“Me, too. Chinese food?”

“Yeah, but I need to hit the ATM.”

“I think there’s a Chase Bank on the way.”


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