Dan Friedman

Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category


In Books, Culture on May 15, 2016 at 8:00 pm

It wasn’t just that the novel’s prologue seems to feature Sir Isaac Newton in a romantic liaison with a young Italian man that caught my attention.

25 Years With Sacha BC

In Comedy, Culture, Films, Visual Media on March 11, 2016 at 9:48 pm

For the loudest person in the room, Sacha Baron Cohen took a while to find his public voice. Or voices.

From the time I met him as a 16 year old, through our college years and while we lived together, Sacha was always the center of attention and always the funniest person around. But people underestimate his commitment to craft: he would write and rewrite jokes on his antique Mac in the basement and spend hours repeating phrases until he had accents and intonations right.

Read more: Forward

Talking to Nobby From “The Brothers Grimsby”

In Comedy, Culture, Films, Football (Soccer), Visual Media on March 11, 2016 at 9:50 am

I’d arranged to meet Sacha Baron Cohen to discuss his new film “The Brothers Grimsby,” which opens in American theaters on March 11. When I arrived at the back room of the bar to which I’d been directed, though, I was greeted by a tall, slightly pot-bellied man, who looked the spitting image of Liam Gallagher. He was holding a beer in his bandaged right hand, wearing an off-brand number 19 England kit, and appeared not to have washed in a couple of days. He greeted me warmly, thrust a beer in my direction, splashing me slightly, and indicated that we should start the interview.

Read more: 8by8Mag

Collect the Letters of M. Blanc

In Books, Culture, Travel on February 20, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Meet M. Blanc. My strange new character is Polonius meets Blanchot, Borges meets Kafka, Prufrock meets the lack of social media in postwar Paris. Read, re-read. Repeat.

You can buy the e-book, “The Complete Letters of M. Blanc,” from Dutch Kills Press in three ways, from

Kindle in Americathe UK, or  Australia,
Atavist (for web, desktop folk),
or through iBooks at Apple.

Are Jewish Men All Shylocks?

In Books, Comedy, Culture on February 20, 2016 at 4:29 pm

What to do with Shylock? I was pondering this question recently while browsing in a Barnes and Noble, when I noticed that they’d helpfully labeled the Humor shelf, “Books that make you laugh.”

Included on the Farm

In Culture, Food on February 20, 2016 at 4:27 pm

For many developmentally disabled children and their parents, the future looks bleak. Getting a job, living a fulfilling life and being independent often seem, at best, like vague ideas on the far side of a wilderness of anxiety and hardship.

Jewish Farmers, Revolutionary or Ridiculous?

In Culture, Food, Visual Media on February 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm

The unfailing response from people when I tell them I’m going to the Jewish farmers conference here, just outside San Diego, is a smile to see if I’m joking. Then, when it’s clear I’m serious, comes: “I didn’t know that there were any Jewish farmers.”

Amir Gutfreund, Writer of Wit and Power, Dies at 52

In Culture, history on February 20, 2016 at 4:18 pm

I first met Amir Gutfreund at the Pierre Hotel in the spring of 2007. To inaugurate the biggest Jewish literary prize ever, in honor of multi-millionaire Sami Rohr, literati, journalists and organizers had been gathered to one of Manhattan’s glitziest hotels. Gutfreund’s firm no-nonsense manner and even firmer sense of the absurd was in full force.

Read more: Forward, Culture

Sderot: Israel in (Rocking) Microcosm

In Culture, Films, Interviews, Politics on February 20, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Everyone should be able to agree on Sderot. Leftists, rightists, Jews, non-Jews. A small settlement of folks — unwanted by the countries they’d lived in for centuries, and thrown together in an inhospitable land within internationally accepted boundaries by the will of the central government — have combined to make a vibrant community whose musical output has transformed the region’s culture.

The Just Way To Share Water

In Culture, Politics on February 20, 2016 at 4:03 pm

A Hasidic tale illustrates why water scarcity needs ethical thinking, in California and beyond.