This week, on the “(Is It) Good for the Jews?” podcast …
Larry Rosen: (after a month-long podcasting hiatus) So what have you been up to, other than growing a giant beard and re-branding yourself as a Trotskyite?
Eric Goldbrener: It’s not Trotskyian. I’m a hipster!
LR: OK, you do look a little bit like a hipster, but what I’m getting is … listeners, let me lay it out for you. What you’ve got here is kind of a Portland look. It’s a working-class hipster look.
EG: Damn right.
LR: And that is your father-in-law’s shirt?
EG: It’s a real live Pendleton.
LR: It’s a very cool shirt. I’ve got to say that.
EG: When (my father-in-law) passed, my wife said, “Hey, do you want my dad’s shirts? He’s got a closet full of these great wool Pendletons,” I was like, “Yeah, not really my style …”
LR: Oh, you should make it your style.
EG: … But it turns out he and I were the same size. So the other day, and by the way I’ve got about a two-month beard going here …
LR: … Clearly influenced by Mandy Patinkin …
EG: …I put on the Pendleton and thought, “Wow, that works, why not go all the way?”
EG: So I put on the Timberlands, and I’ve got my International Union of Machinists belt buckle.
LR: You look like you should be handing out leaflets on the corner.
EG: So if anyone thinks I’m turning a little pink, well, I had this exchange on Facebook the other day with an ex-colleague, and he’s a communist.
LR: Was he dressed like you?
EG: We were arguing about the Libertarian influence in America and he’s saying that, historically, Libertarians have had nothing to do with civil rights, only about free enterprise. I realize that I’ve now had this exact same debate with three progressive Jews. Maybe there’s something to be considered there. So I put on my union belt, my Pendleton, my Trotskyite mustache and ponder it.
EG: Nah. Still not convinced.
LR: But you like the look.
EG: I’m warming up to it.
LR: It is, in its way, a very Jewish look. Maybe not a present-day Jewish look, but historic Jewish look.
EG: Not present day? Where’ve you been? Hanging out at basketball games with Omri Casspi? You think that’s the present-day Jewish look?
LR: I guess I can see where you’re coming from. I was the one who pronounced you “Portland-like,” which is very present-day, though I’m not sure looking like you’re from Portland is necessarily a Jewish signifier.
EG: Take a look around, baby. This is it! I fit right in with my beard and my Pendleton.
LR: Maybe not with the union belt buckle.
EG: Especially the union belt buckle! And this is a good thing, this move to honor these Jews from the Depression, from the ’50s … In these times? This is a good thing!
LR: You’re saying that these kids walking around looking like bare-knuckle boxers from the 1890s are actually consciously honoring red diaper baby Jews with their mustaches and their vests and their boots?
EG: Maybe not consciously, which makes it even better!
LR: And let me backtrack. I don’t mind the boots.
EG: Every man should have a good pair of sturdy boots. Maybe two pairs.
LR: Thanks, Esquire magazine. What else should he have? A humidor? A flask? Maybe a loom, to spin his own wool?
EG: Now you’re being ridiculous. But there’s nothing wrong with a nice watch cap.
LR: Like Bob Dylan.
EG: A prominent Jew. But listen; here’s my point: If you’ve got these guys looking like followers of Trotsky, young guys, non-Jews, who are unconsciously imitating the style of historic, prominent Jews, Jewish intellectuals, that’s a good thing.
LR: It means that those old-timey Jews were cool enough to imitate!
EG: Exactly. Aren’t you the one who’s always moaning about how Jews aren’t cool? “Oh, all the Jews in my school were nerds.” Here’s some cool Jews for you, right under your nose.
LR: We may not agree on what “cool” is, but it does all sound like it’s pretty good for the Jews.