“Mistah Kurtz – he dead.”
Oh, come on, you know:
The novel, and the poem, about the terminal termitic decay of what we laughingly call “civilization,” and the “hollow men” who (barely) populate Western society?
With all that scarecrow and “straw men” and trophy-heads-on-pikes imagery?
“This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a wimper” and all that?
Or maybe you don’t.
And you don’t want to know, either. Not anything.
In a world where “Benghazi was a long time ago,” expressing what used to be called “common knowledge,” or asking what once was considered “a normal question,” is verboten.
Jason Collins is gay, therefore Jason Collins has always been gay.
That he’s gay is everybody’s business, but it’s nobody’s business that John Maynard Keynes was.
There are fewer female musicians for me to hate, because a) there are fewer female musicians and b) I’m a chick.
It pains me to admit that I’m prone to the same irrational tribalism I denounce in others, but it’s true:
The second Sarah Palin strode onto that stage to accept the VP nomination, I turned into a six-year-old:
“A girl! A girl!! Yayyyyyy!!!”
I knew nothing about her policies. I didn’t care. I still don’t, much.
Because female performers are easier for me to identify with, they’re harder for me to dislike.
But I managed to scrape together a trio…
Last time around, I started quite a conversation about the merits, or lack thereof, of Pink Floyd and Bob Marley.
Now we’re dispatching three additional sacred musical cows to the slaughterhouse:
#3: Stevie Wonder
At the risk of wandering into Elvis Costello territory — yes, he really did say this — I’m gonna come right out with it:
If Stevie Wonder wasn’t black and blind, there’s no way he’d be as highly esteemed as he is.
A white guy who named himself “Wonder” would never hear the end of it. Instead, we never hear the end of Stevie’s songs, especially on American Idol.
OK, so that’s not his fault, but you know what is?
Besides The Secret Life of Plants and “I Just Called To Say I Love You” and “Ebony and Ivory”?
The song below.
I’m indebted to David Stubbs for putting my incoherent dislike of Songs in the Key of Life into words:
“Isn’t She Lovely” transcribes to vinyl every last icky-cooing dollop of sentimental gloop to which once-sentient adults are reduced when they have babies and, true to the album’s form, lasts longer than purgatory. Several minutes into this, with no light at the end of the tunnel of choruses, King Herod seems like one of the Bible’s more engaging and reasonable characters. “I Wish” contains the most ridiculously misty-eyed and excruciatingly doggerel-ridden reminiscence on childhood.
The “Academy of the Overrated” scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1978) is meant to get us to hate Diane Keaton just before Woody Allen changes his mind and falls into bed with her.
Yes, as Mariel Hemingway’s character puts it, Keaton and her beau are “creeps” — but mostly because their “academy” inductees are so gauche, as is their decision to inflict their pretentious pillow talk onto hapless acquaintances on a public sidewalk.
Let’s face it:
Some artists really are overrated, especially today when words like “genius” and “classic” (and the current go-to empty-calorie adjective “iconic”) have been neutered by lazy, know-nothing writers.
Today, we prick the inflated reputations of some rock and pop stars with XY chromosomes and little else to recommend them.
At the risk of sounding pretentious, cynical, or both:
I don’t shock easily.
Zombie cannibal killers? What, again?
Another new “ism” added to the “hate speech” list? So last Tuesday.
So when I made my daily visit to the blog SmallDeadAnimals.com, I figured I was staring at a typo:
[I]t costs $84k a year to go to Columbia Journalism School…
“Surely that should read ‘$8,400 a year,’” I thought.
“Or maybe that $84,000 is the entire cost of a three-year degree.
“Ha! Pretty funny that there’s a typo in an article about journalism school…”
Except there wasn’t.
That’s the correct figure.
I’ve been using Apple computers since the 1980s, and I’ve lost track of how many I’ve owned.
(Right now I have two — an iMac desktop and a MacBook Air for travel/emergencies.)
I’m not an expert, just a (very) longtime user. And a smug one.
One thing we brag about is that viruses don’t tend to affect us.
That’s why installing anti-virus programs is not only unnecessary (most of the time), but can actually mess up your machine.
The last time I brought my (previous) iMac to the Genius Bar, complaining of slow performance, the Apple Store guys just trashed the anti-virus software and my machine was back to normal.
As far as viruses are concerned, Macs:
a) represent such small market share that malicious pranksters usually don’t bother targeting them, and
b) Apple continues to “harden” its hardware, operating system, and apps to keep invasions to a minimum.
That’s why it’s especially important for Mac users to download the very latest version of the OS X and other Apple software and apps.
(Here’s a great and very recent article about Macs and viruses that covers the special circumstances when you might want to install anti-virus software.)
I’ve asked movie and music industry insiders to explain their respective businesses to me, and never end up any smarter than I start out.
How can Lyle Lovett’s album sales amount to $0.00?
How can Return of the Jedi still be in the red?
Or take Ed Driscoll’s post last week called “Hollywood’s Special Effects Industry is in Crisis”:
As Life of Pi won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, the venerable facility that created those effects – Rhythm & Hues – declared bankruptcy, and they’re hardly the first to close their doors due to financial problems. Debra Kaufman pulls from her 25 years of experience covering the industry to take a close look at how the creators of some of cinema’s indelible images are falling prey to dysfunctional business models.
As you’ve likely guessed, the bloated, ever-evolving technology required to bring those Jurassic Park raptors to virtual life is so costly, it burdens production companies with insurmountable debt.
We often read about how many weeks or months — or even years — it takes to create glossy special effects that last only seconds on screen.
Is that really a sound business model or a smart, efficient way to make anything?
I hear Buddhism is big in Hollywood, but surely they’re not basing their creative process on the making of sand mandalas – are they?
It wasn’t always like this…
During my second afternoon at the NRI Summit, mid-way through yet another congressman’s address, I mused about how easy it would be to create a Right-Wing Red-Meat Speech Generator:
First, plug in some vintage Reagan and Buckley quotations.
(Hell, mix ‘em up and see if anyone notices: “I’m from the Boston telephone directory and I’m here to help you…”)
Then sprinkle on some “hard-working Mexicans.”
Squeeze in a reference to that lousy poem carved onto an old French statue.
Finally, make “America is the greatest country in the world” a default value.
I ask you:
Why do professional conservatives pay speechwriters big money when some basic java script could produce the same mediocre results — a string of empty-calorie cliches?
I’m not the only one complaining about this.
When I was starting out as a professional writer, taking workshops or just chatting around the cafeteria table, the question was a sure sign that you had an amateur on your hands:
“But what if an editor steals my stuff?”
These same newbies were more obsessed with where and how they should type their “© by…” line than they were with writing something steal-able.
“Copyright is automatic,” I’d sniff smugly, longing to add, “Believe me, you have nothing to worry about.”
Of course, in those days, the IBM Selectric was the most advanced “word processor” available.
Email hadn’t been born and the Internet was in diapers.
You mailed your article to your editor, maybe even couriered it — or faxed it if the publication was particularly fancy.
Today, editors (and bloggers and other writers) do steal your stuff, because it’s so easy, and because notions of right and wrong are in flux.
At the same time, thanks to the same technology that makes theft so commonplace, copyright law has become harder to understand.
If you’re a writer, however, you have to at least try.
If you’re sick of me bragging about my twelve years as a blogger, good news:
I’m now in year #13.
Pretty much everything I know about blogging, I picked up via trial and error.
I taught myself HTML Rosetta Stone-style, by peeking at other sites’ source code to see how they achieved particular effects.
I also noted the way popular sites “hat-tipped” other sites when they found something juicy there, and how they thanked other blogs that linked to them.
I still strongly recommend trial and error as a learning method, especially the “error” part: there are few things more indelible than our own embarrassing mistakes.
(Even better, learn from other people’s mistakes to avoid making your own in the first place.)
However, I’m happy to pass along a few blogging tips.
These ones take you “under the hood” to make changes your readers won’t see — but will definitely notice…
Is America in decline?
I’ve been hearing the United States compared to the Roman Empire since around the 1970s, and I’m sure those apocalyptic sentiments were being expressed long before I was born.
However, it’s difficult to read and watch all the depressing stuff posted here on PJ Media and elsewhere and not conclude that, this time, it’s on.
America’s going Gibbon.
Some books propose possible ways to avert this catastrophe.
Aaron Clarey’s Enjoy the Decline isn’t one of them.
As his subtitle suggests, this book is about “accepting and living with the death of the United States.”
It’s full of counterintuitive, amusing, and sometimes infuriating advice:
What country should I move to?
What should I pack in a bug-out bag?
Why don’t black people go to national parks?
This book features something to offend everyone.
#3 — “Takin’ Care of Business” (1973) by BTO
Some Canadians consider the old “Hockey Night In Canada” theme song their country’s “other” national anthem.
(FYI: “American Woman” — our other other anthem — was improvised, too, at a gig at a curling rink after Randy broke a guitar string.)
Alas, the best version of this classic story is only available to premium subscribers to Dennis Miller’s radio show.
Today, when every computer ships with GarageBand-type software, sour notes can be sweetened with Auto Tune, and radio stations broadcast focus-grouped computerized playlists, there seems to be no room for the serendipity — – or sheer incompetence and confusion — that helped create some of the greatest records of all time.
For instance, the ultimate irony of the urban legend that “Louie, Louie” is a “dirty” song (there’s a whole book about it) is that today you can just about make out what the FBI(!) couldn’t back in 1963:
What you can’t hear are the backstories: the flukes, accidents, misunderstandings, coincidences, white lies, and willpower that wrenched classic songs from crazy recording sessions.
What you know about a particular recording can change the way it sounds.
If you’re my age, you’ve heard Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” about 10,000 times, which may be 9,999 times more than you ever wanted.
But you may not realize that lead singer Brad Delp “actually hits those high notes; there’s nothing electronic helping him.”
One of the more remarkable vocal pyrotechnics on an album where Delp’s singing gives Scholz’s guitar work a run for its money is on the passage where Delp’s ever-rising tenor rides into the first notes of the signature guitar solo, a move Boylan says was planned and executed flawlessly on virtually the first take.
You may also not know that Brad Delp committed suicide in 2007.
Now, give that 1976 recording one more listen.
See if it sounds… different.
I may be a blogging pioneer, but I’m not otherwise technically savvy.
I’ve never played a video game or “texted.”
I don’t even own a cell phone.
But along with blogging, one “techy” thing I know a little about is SEO, or search engine optimization.
At least, I did until Google ran their Panda and Penguin algorithm updates , and changed lots of their rules (mostly for the better) to punish folks who’d been trying to game the search-engine system.
And when you think of what’s at stake, it’s easy to understand why some “black hat” SEO “gurus” are always seeking the elusive formula for algorithmic alchemy, to turn search engine results placement into literal gold.
After all, an estimated 90% of Google searchers never visit page two of their results; getting your company’s site into those precious ten “page one” results for a popular and lucrative search phrase like “San Diego real estate” can mean increased business.
As well, dominating that first page when potential employers, spouses, or malicious trolls google your first and last name is a vital part of online reputation management.
I’m not an expert, but I’ve learned a few things about how to own (or at least, easily “rent”) your name on Google’s first-page results.
There’s not much you can do about nasty sites or pages devoted to dissing you unless they are literally slanderous and you can get a lawyer to send the site owner a “take down” notice.
However, you can try to push down embarrassing or nasty stuff by “owning” your page-one Google results.
These tips aren’t “tricks” — everything I’m about to tell you are all “white hat,” non-controversial things you can do to start taking control of your online presence.
TIP: Before you google yourself, ALWAYS sign out of your Google account, clear your browser cache and, if possible, use a program like HideMyIP to choose a different IP address.
Doing all this will more closely replicate what a total stranger will see when they search for you.
The Seventies was a lousy time to be a kid.
Oh, sure, it wasn’t all bad:
We didn’t wear bike helmets. Our parents made us play outside (“Get out of this house, and don’t come back ’til the street lights come on!”). We “bounced around in the back of the station wagon.” No one was allergic to peanut butter, or very much else.
Evel Knievel was a role model.
But something freakish, sinister, and incomprehensible was always being talked about, over at the Me Decade’s grown ups’ table:
Watergate (which had something to do with “bugs” invading America, I concluded; men in suits talked about it on TV so much, they interrupted my lunchtime Flintstones for months), the Patty Hearst kidnapping, Vietnam, Jimmy Carter, Bicentennial toilet seats, The Gong Show, hijackings, the Loud family, D.B. Cooper, divorce, things called “muggings,” crying Indians, gas station lineups and an unprecedented combination of high inflation, unemployment, and interest rates that adults muttered about in worried voices just out of earshot.
Epitomized by Howard Hughes’ will, fakery was epidemic:
We decorated our houses with plastic flowers and fruit. Squeaking drugstore paperback racks were laden with books about astrology, crypto-zoology, alien astronauts, and other junk history. “Everyone knew” that some all-powerful “They” had gotten away with killing the Kennedys and King. What chance did a timid, puny seven-year-old girl have?
If a rich child porn aficionado could bury a bunch of kids in their school bus, what the hell couldn’t happen?
A kid needed a break.
If you lived in my part of the world, starting around 1971, that respite came in the form of a cheap local TV show called The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.
Monty Python saved my life.
I was ten years old in 1974, when the Buffalo PBS station across the lake began airing the iconoclastic BBC comedy series every Friday night.
Being stuck in a cheap, dinky apartment that overlooked a burned-out church, with my bullying alcoholic stepfather and a meek, “see no evil” mother, surrounded at school by more extroverted, rough-and-tumble classmates — and very likely, without knowing it, clinically depressed — that half hour once a week sitting two feet from the TV was one of the only things I felt I had to look forward to.
Maybe ever, I thought at the time.
Ironically, my crappy stepfather was the one who turned me on to the show.
The first night, he “made” me watch it, the same way he was always trying to “make” me get a suntan or take up horseback riding or keep all the closet and cupboard doors in the house either open or closed depending on his inscrutable whim of the week.
My pouty resentment faded fast. For whatever reason — the cool accents, the breathless pace, the tame “naughtiness,” the “question authority” iconoclasm, the ineffable cuteness of Michael Palin — I got hooked on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
In high school, I finally met a couple of girls who shared my passion, and we became those insufferable sorts who communicate almost entirely in Python (and SCTV) catchphrases.
I bought all the Python’s albums and books by and about them, and repeatedly signed out hard to find titles from the library, like the one detailing their lawsuits and censorship battles.
His sudden post-Sandy Hook notoriety is no accident, however.
The average American doesn’t know what a “red top” is or realize that the now-defunct and disgraced News of the World was the British National Enquirer but with Princess Margaret taking on the role usually played by Bigfoot — and Morgan serving as Eavesdropper in Chief.
Before that, Morgan abused his lofty position at the Mirror to do some insider trading, for which his wrist was merely slapped. He wasn’t so lucky after publishing hoax photos of British troops allegedly torturing Iraqi prisoners—that stunt cost him his job.
Yet Morgan keeps getting new ones, his stint as King’s replacement being the latest and greatest.
At least that was the idea.
He signed a three-year, $8-million contract with CNN, but Morgan’s ratings aren’t impressive. He draws half the viewers of Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow in the same time slot.
With his contract up for renewal this year, Morgan must have been itching for attention, maybe wishing for one of those nigh on unimpeachable “moral panics” of the sort that keep those British tabloids in business.
Along came Adam Lanza. (…)
With his contract renewal a crapshoot, Piers Morgan is clearly auditioning for his next gig, on a stage built with the blood and bones of dead children.
So last week I ragged on guys for reading comic books and playing video games and consuming instead of creating and basically committing slo-mo suicide in a miasma of onanistic escapism.
I just know lots of female readers were going, “Right on! I am so forwarding this to my husband!!” — then they got to the last line of my article, about how I was going to rake Today’s Woman over the coals next.
Trouble is: the ladies who need to read this article aren’t on the internet right now; they’re at a “spa,” trying to decide between the “Brazilian” and the “Californian.”
PJ Media’s female readers are presumably politically engaged, well-informed and — just a guess — not too skanky.
So I’m preaching to the converted rather than the perverted.
If you think I was too harsh on Christmas and families and Christmas-with-families last week, consider this:
On one of these recent holiday outings, I was obligated to spend three painful hours with a young man who:
* Was wearing boardshorts and flip-flops (in December).
* Didn’t greet us when we arrived or say goodbye when we left.
* First whine-ily refused to eat dinner, then, with a heavy sigh, slammed some food on a plate and went back to watching a Home Alone marathon, leaving the rest of us, including his elderly grandmother, at the dining room table. (“He’s busy downloading some computer games,” his mother meekly explained.)
* Was completely silent for the entire evening — except twice: First, he sprang to life at the mention of The Hobbit and lectured us about those 44 frames per second. (“If you can’t handle 3D, stay home.”)
* Second, when my husband mentioned our new favorite burger joint, the kid piped up that it was “s*it” because they “serve American cheese.” (Had the same cheese been called “Tibetan,” I guarantee he’d have asked for two slices.)
Now some of your are saying:
“Kathy, it sounds like you were a pretty petulant, taciturn teenager, too. Give the boy a break!”
Did I forget to mention this “boy” is 33 years old?
Most novelty duets don’t last past the song’s three-minute mark, and with good reason.
(Exhibit A: This “American classic” that nobody really listens to.)
It’s not that the performers involved aren’t talented, but bringing them together is shallow musical stunt casting. The pairing is an ill-advised mutation, a doomed chimera.
When Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla first started appearing together onstage, unimaginative types didn’t “get” it.
Why would a distinguished, highly educated Jewish author go on the road with a foul-mouthed atheist comedian from the wrong side of the tracks?
To fans like me, this duet actually made good sense.
On his podcast, Carolla had repeatedly expressed his admiration for Prager, both as a fellow Los Angeles broadcaster and as a man whose values so closely jibed with his own.
Another fan, R.J. Moeller, made it his mission to bring the two men together to talk about politics, religion, and values.
Thanks to Moeller’s efforts, Prager joined Carolla on the air, and it was obvious to everyone within earshot that the two men were a natural team:
I’m not a big fan of Christmas. It requires me to take time off work and venture into the cold to waste time with people I don’t like, and who don’t like me back.
I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember.
As a teenager, I’d start having mini-anxiety attacks around June, anticipating the annual ritual:
Getting dragged to my aunt’s house, where even the toilet seats had “Santa” covers, and a fading twenty-year-old Johnny Mathis Christmas TV special played in an endless loop.
Every year, that side of the family insisted that we all “have fun” by playing games.
Every year, they dusted off the Trivial Pursuit board.
Every year, I won.
(“How can you NOT know the names of The Beatles?! Again?!“)
Every year, they pouted, then whispered behind my back that I was “weird.”
Especially after I pointed out that their quaint “Victorian Christmas” figurines had likely been, in real life, spreading communicable diseases with strange names to vitamin-deficient child prostitutes.
In one of her innumerable memoirs, Shirley MacLaine says the trouble with going to therapy is that you go home for the holidays and instantly realize to your horror that no one else in your family has gone to therapy.
Or, in my case, read a book.
In previous installments of this series, I’ve suggested famous (and not so famous) must-sees on your trip to Israel. You won’t want to miss your chance to float in the Dead Sea, snorkel with exotic fish in Eilat and fire a gun or two at Caliber 3 in Gush Etzion.
Now, onto some helpful hints and observations about everyday cultural cornerstones like food, language and manners.
PLUS: a crash course on words — like “settlement,” “refugee camp” and “checkpoint” — that don’t mean what you think they mean, at least in Israel.
The Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years because they couldn’t decide where to eat.
Food is a very big deal in Jewish culture, so it’s not surprising that you can eat well in Israel, and as cheaply or as expensively as you wish or can afford.
Contrary to what you may think, not all restaurants there are kosher.
Many people believe that kosher food, wherever it is served, is healthier and cleaner. I for one do get this sensation when I’m in Israel, that somehow the food is fresher and more carefully handled. When it comes to kosher food, a bug on your lettuce isn’t just a faux pas — it’s a serious violation of the law.
Every hotel offers a breakfast buffet. It’s an Israeli institution, and differs little from a similar spread in North America except for the addition of chilled fish like herring, and the absence of bacon and ham.
In fact, the presence of dairy at these buffets means that no meat — pork or otherwise — will be on the menu. Milk and meat are not combined because — to put it simplistically — milk represents life and meat represents death. (So while there are McDonald’s in Israel, they don’t serve cheeseburgers. Coffeemate was invented so that Jews could enjoy “cream” in their coffee while eating, say, a steak.)
One dish that’s standard fare in Israel, and that we fell in love with, is shakshuka. “Dr. Shakshuka’s” restaurant was closed the day we visited Jaffa, which is too bad because it is world famous:
We went to the charming Nelly’s Kitchen instead, and really enjoyed it.
In the evening, across Israel, a “switch” takes place in restaurants and dining rooms: meat is offered but dairy is not. The types of cutlery at your table setting will be different, too.
Expect your lunch or dinner order to come with bountiful plates of appetizers like humus and salad. THEN your main meal arrives. Keep this in mind when ordering (and eating.)
Since I’m from Toronto, I’m familiar with the cuisine of most cultures, and have long been a falafel fanatic. The falafel is the “hamburger” of Israel, so be sure to try one. If you’re a bland “meat and potatoes” person, this and other Israeli dishes may be an acquired taste.
Starbucks isn’t there yet, but the Israeli equivalent — Aroma — is arguably superior anyhow. You get a little piece of dark chocolate with your cup of coffee, and their sandwiches are exceptional.
In Jerusalem’s Old City, treat yourself to a poppy seed bun or other fresh pastry sold by the Muslim merchants who push their wares along on old wooden carts.
Check out the previous installments in Kathy Shaidle’s Israel Travel Series:
- 5 Places to Visit in Israel (Once It’s Safe To Go Back): Part One
- 5 Places to Visit in Israel (When It’s Safe to Go Back): Part Two
5. Caliber 3
This Gush Etzion range is one of the few places in Israel where tourists are permitted to fire guns. That makes its 2-hour courses for tourists incredibly popular, even though they aren’t exactly a walk at the beach:
At our program we combine together the values of Zionism with the excitement and enjoyment of shooting which makes the activity more meaningful. The contact with real soldiers who have experienced anti terrorism fighting means that everything shown and taught is authentic.
Don’t worry: you aren’t expected to run an obstacle course, but there is some running back and forth, yelling, and briskly paced team competition with lots of surprises.
Stick it out and you’ll be rewarded with the chance to fire a Ruger (too heavy!) and an M16.
They’ll even serve you lunch. (This is Israel; food is VERY important.)
Definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
(P.S.: Remember to wear long pants, and leave the flip flops at home. Ask permission about whom and what you can film and photograph.)
Our trainer was Steve Gar (below), an impressive guy originally from South Africa. Besides being a weapons expert, he is studying to be a rabbi and he works with special needs youth (one of whom served as Steve’s range assistant). Sorry, ladies — Gar’s married (to a Toronto girl!).
In Part One, I told you a bit about Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. My mini-travelogue continues with an absolute must-see on any trip to Israel:
First, some background on Masada:
Masada is a symbol of the ancient Jewish kingdom of Israel, of its violent destruction in the later 1st century CE, and of the subsequent Diaspora. The palace of Herod the Great at Masada is an outstanding example of a luxurious villa of the early Roman Empire, while the camps and other fortifications that encircle the hill constitute the finest and most complete Roman siege works to have survived to the present day. (…)
With the end of the Herodian dynasty in 6 BCE Judaea came under direct Roman rule, and a small garrison was installed at Masada. At the beginning of the Jewish Revolt in 66 a group of Zealots led by Menahem, one of the Jewish leaders, surprised and slaughtered the garrison. The Zealots held Masada throughout the revolt, and many Jews settled there, particularly after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple by Titus in 70. They occupied some of the Herodian palace buildings, and added more modest structures of their own, such as a synagogue, a ritual bath, and small houses.
Two years later Flavius Silva, the Roman Governor, decided to eliminate this last remaining centre of Jewish resistance. He sent the X Legion and a number of auxiliary units there, with many prisoners of war for manual duties. The Jews, led by Eleazar Ben Yair, prepared for a long siege as the Romans and their prisoners built camps and a long siege wall (circumvallation) at the base of the hill. On a rocky site near the western approach to Masada they constructed a massive ramp of stones and rammed earth. A giant siege tower with a battering ram was constructed and moved laboriously up the completed ramp. It succeeded in breaching the wall of the fortress in 73, allowing the Roman soldiers to enter.
The Zealots defended stoutly, but there was no hope of resisting the Roman attack for long. Josephus reports that Ben Yair talked to the 960 men, women, and children who survived, telling them that “a glorious death is preferable to a life of infamy.” All but two took their own lives on 2 May 73.
Masada is now a potent symbol of Jewish resistance to tyranny, but that wasn’t always the case.
It wasn’t until the 1920s that a poem about the siege reintroduced the story to the world. (That poem is said to have inspired the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.)
One of our group bravely walked up the side of the mountain — in flipflops! — but most visitors elect to take the cable car to the top.
You’ll be rewarded with spectacular views and a stirring history lesson.
Bonus: the gift shop is amazing and they’ve just added a shiny new “food court.” (However, do NOT buy the AHAVA Dead Sea beauty products at Masada — there’s an AHAVA discount store in Eilat.)
Wear a hat and sunscreen, and carry lots of water. (I bought a lumbar pack with two water bottle holders for this trip.)