A Room Full of Ottomans

The Branding Iron & DJ Ofn TISh

a Doogree Records Production, 2011

 

1. Rhyming and Crime-Fighting

My name is Aryeh, but the brothers call me Louie.

Ignoring me’s like skipping MJ for Sam Bowie.

From the 70s, so my rhymes is groovy.

But my rhythms addict like facebook and youtube.

So, grab your epi-pen and watch out for bee stings;

I’ll shoot you like Marissa while Imogen Heap sings.

I’m Urim & Tumim, the High Priest’s oracle,

I’m croonin, you swoonin, ‘cause truth is in store for y’all.

You know you crave this if you're the bravest.

Can you handle when I pray this and riff on the Sages?

You say, say what? Say who? Say this.

Who me? Right now?  Currently, yeah, Davis.

Go south, fix your car on Stony Island Ave.

I’ll misspell your name like Erykah Badu.

She dumped Andre 3K, held on to their child.

I’ll play you just like Cuba Gooding played Tre Styles.

Chorus: My bio is as my bio does.

Rhyming's the biz, crime-fighting is the buzz.

I walk on water on a suspension bridge,

hit a walk-off homer off Brad Lidge.

I'm the Rookie-of-the-Year, so call me Fridge.

Won't fool ya, I'ma school ya, 'cause my name's Sidd Finch. 

Looking for Peggy in Fennaria

If you love her so much, why don’t you marry her?

My rhymes’ll drop you on your derriere

So I’ll go to the shul and say a prayer for ya. 

Pimps and rims ain't my idioms,

No rhyme slayer, a translator like the Ibn Tibbons.

Don't care about Bad Boys' feud with Death Row.

Respect KRS like Moses to Jethro. 

Only like to get high on ideas and rhymes.

I don't care that I'm a Gemini, and neither do I.

I'm the Hip-hopopotamus, my rhymes are bottomless.

A boaster, I'm upholstered, like a room full of ottomans.

Chorus.

I'm a Jew so I read about the Tabernacle.

Like Jules I don't eat no filthy animals.

Kavod is the dope for treating your body.

You know that Coke is diabetes in a bottle. 

I say no to high fructose – corn syrup.

I kick it root down when I – eat turnips.

Ratify Kyoto – like Europe.

Can't climb aboard a horse without our feet in stirrups.

Don't drink milk if you couldn't squeeze an udder.

Don't eat meat if you wouldn't watch it slaughtered.

Say, "Thank you, sir, may I please have another".

"I been working on the farm," signed, Epstein's mother. 

Don't get folks who smoke cigarettes.

They're just as messed up as Viet Nam vets.

Offer me a smoke I'll say, "Kiss my grits!"

Turns me on like asking me to lick your zits.

Chorus.

 My patience is shorter than Danny Devito

for payday robbers like Barry Zito,

for liberty stoppers like Samuel Alito,

for suicide by way of Fritos and Cheetos.

Pass the junk food, I'll give it my veto.

No crunching from me, but they'll make more Doritos.

"Sleep is the enemy" – my Columbia credo.

I wish I’d been listening to Stretch and Bobbito. 

I like to grab the mic, 'cause I'm a baller.

My favorite roots group is called Holler!

Sing some Elton John to Simba and Nala.

The sheqel is rising against the dollar.

The 3rd base coach shouldn'ta sent Sherm Lollar.

I'm pretty tall, but Yao Ming is taller.

If I want to hurry up I say, "Yo, Yalla!"

"Will there be another Def Jam?"…"Insh'Allah."*

Chorus.  

A Columbia sophomore is my cousin.

The square root of 144 is a dozen.

Why you got to fret?  Why you be fussin?

If you don't hit your head, you won't get a concussion.

I like to win a party basket. I like to swim to cardio-vasc it.

Don't answer my question before I've asked it.

Or you'll have to get a casket, when I blow a gasket.

In order to avoid mounds of trauma,

I spent time in Ohio on the ground for Obama.

It was Judgment day, honey, break it down like Rosh Hashanah.

No frownin; we crowned him with a round raisin challah.

When trouble hits I don't sit like FEMA at Katrina.

Like Xena I spit חכמה, דעת and בינה.

Auditions ain't essential when we Tony and Tina.

In Galicia your Senator'd be called Chuck Scheemer.

 

* Insh'Allah = "With the help of God" in Arabic

 

2. Object of Affection

Let's chat and banter 'bout so-called manners.

Propriety's your banner while quietly you ban her.

I don't mind if you try to be refined and talk about

privates behind the door, but I kinda

find you a liar when you speak like a wino

and your mind works on just one track like Ralph Kiner.

And you run your rhymer as much as Joe Biden,

chiming about 69ing but hide the word vagina.

I chide you for denying the place in our society

of kind conversation with words that start "gyna".

Time to identify the crime you hide inside,

lying that you can't be tried like you're a minor.

Think that women are for riding, dismount to leave crying,

not minds to confide in who can guide you inside them.

I remind you guys that all signs are you elide

the roles of your lover, mama, and child.

You'll provide and decide like you're B.F. Skinner,

but she's got to stroke you and feed you your dinner!

Angry with her suddenly, “get thee to a nunnery”,

Why you need to breed sinners?  Just wondering. 

To be your kid's mother is her only point of living?

Smothering her creative magic like Pippen?

Quit tripping with insipid pre-fitted views of women.

Multi-task, take your Ritalin, or you'll need to get a whipping.

 

Say Black women's natural hair is too radical.

You pedophiles revile hair in her vaginal

area, I swear, there's your factual error:

poison or Nair her hair -- there's the ערווה.*

Competing for a man on tv, that's reality?

Feeding on canned advertising, actually.

Resting silence like it's cute and funny,

while domestic violence rules Super Bowl Sunday.

We're sticklers and literal with political correctness,

but hypocritically chill with the willfully sexist.

You think rhymes is richest when they spits on bitches.

Ambitious for vicious disses on chicks.

Your visage is grinch-ish, it's all artifice,

artistically pillaged, self-image is spillage.

Git with this, the hitch is your niche is the ditches.

No wishes, no missions, no itch for delicious.

Ya business is which is the witchiest wickedness.

Your song is a hiss that musicians evict, so,

Snoop Dogg ain't half the rapper that I am.

Just talented at bragging of a life of sex trafficking.

Pimps and hoes – his emperor's new clothes.

His flows foreclose if you follow your nose.

Wants her froze like she goes in Madame Tussaud's.

So, adios, ya' poser, cause it's love we chose.

 

Sees fat in the mirror but wears Size zero,

to appear sexy dear, you can't feel virile.

I feel ya Ophelia and fear you're Porphyria.

The love racketeer's made you his frontier.

Need a report on McNeil & Lehrer,

need a warning lyric from Paul Revere.

But all we hear is fiddling by Nero.

Your feral he-male thinks he's a hero.

Beer-bodied slob while he hollers on hotness,

says "you talk too much", like he's from Hollis.

Barks he's a baller, but can't get hard without

government subsidized penis enlargement.

And she dumps her ducats on beauty products,

but nothing makes her look as beautiful as God does.

High heels and lace while she cleans your slop?

Boob jobs and botox so her skin don't drop?

Don't eat squat; think bony is hot?

Photoshop into an alien like Robocop?

It's a fashion hex by those ad execs

who commodified Che and Malcolm X.

Brand objects of sadder sex,

stack your decks, vex, cash your checks.

I'm just trying to highlight the sites of the fight,

so stop the violence, Take back the night.

 

* "'Ervah" = "nakedness", the Biblical term for sexual lewdness, including the Talmudic statement that "Se'ar be-ishah 'ervah" – "a woman's hair is sexually lewd" (Talmud Berakhot 24a)

 

3. People Come Up!

Looters fixed us out of due process – Robbery!
**MADA -- Magen David Adom, "The red star of David", ie, Israel's Red Cross.
***Red line at Jarvis: Chicago, yo. 2nd-to last stop on the northbound Red line "L" train
****"Goyim" -- "nations", a colloquial Hebrew term for Gentiles, sometimes with a lightly derogatory tone.
*****"tovel be-miqveh uveyadekha sheretz

*****"tovel be-miqveh uveyadekha sheretz" = "immerse in a ritual bath while holding an (impure) rodent in your hand." A Talmudic phrase for the essence of an insincere, deceptive, and ultimately frivolous and pointless faux-spiritual act.
******Meretz is a left-wing political party in Israel, actively advocating Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel. Hadash is a farther left, more radical party of Jews and Arabs advocating one, binational state of all its citizens, instead of partition.

******Meretz is a left-wing political party in Israel, actively advocating Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel. Hadash is a farther left, more radical party of Jews and Arabs advocating one, binational state of all its citizens, instead of partition.
"Chicago Falcon" – Budos Band
"Tennessee Waltz" – Sam Cooke
"Eleanor Rigby" – Ray Charles
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" – James Brown
"Could You Be Loved" – Bob Marley & the Wailers
"Every Day is a Winding Road" – Prince
"Drive My Car" – The Beatles
"We Love Deez Hoes" – Outkast
"Hello, I Love You" – The Doors
"People of the Sun" – Rage against the Machine
"A Simple Desultory Phillipic" – Simon & Garfunkel
 Home 

Suits asphyxiate life, liberty and property.

They've Limited our fate, 'cause they're bandits, corrupt;

trust Gap -- we're inmates in a Banana Republic.

Your Times Square crime fair's got me blind, it hurts!

It's not the pickpockets or knockoff Gucci purses.

See, I've got to rock you with my juicy verses:

ban graffiti but spam the man's ads, that's perverse.

You place an onus when you try to own us;

won't pay; free throw you, cause we're in the bonus.

Defeat and dethrone you, like Zeus to Cronus,

claim the public domain like Lee Quinones.

Eliminate produce, no farm zone us,

their mode is clone us, load us with doughnuts,

but we don't notice; got us by the cojones:

they know we want to keep up with the Joneses.

Chorus: And we wander like zombies, owned by the rich,

mind-slaves to Sony, Abercrombie, and Fitch. 

People come up! 

I ain’t no scholar but it’s not so hard to

see the tightening ring around your white collar.

See I've got eyes in my sockets, yo, a brain in my skull, for

I see that your religion’s Ein Od MilvaDollar.*

And while you’re condescending, executive spending,

I won’t soon forget the unending

culture of vultures that enabled that Enron.

I’ll soil myself; I’d better put my Depends on.

But stop! The culprit's not extreme cheating sharks;

at the heart, let's unlock it, the prob's the stock market.

The stock market equals limited liability

where you've blocked your assets from vulnerability.

That means possessing without responsibility.

The board wants to act ethically, they don't have that ability.

If the company's public, our funds kill agility.

So who'll clean up your messes? Hot diggety.

Chorus 

They've hacked our minds, the way we think:

Say I NEED new khakis, say I NEED new kicks.

What we need is perspective, ain't ya suppose?

Most people in the world have 2 changes of clothes.

Underneath the stitching of our Jordans

are thumbless Bangladeshi orphans.

Abuse the po' like Mike, Spike, and Bugs Bunny.

Shoes -- Do ya know?! -- It's GOT to be the money!

I gotta chime in; it's a hate crime.

Can't deny that we got Satan's back 'cause we're behind him.

It's mystifying, it's suicide

how we identify: "I buy, therefore I am".

And save it please, you hippie bozos:

your weed's from Mexican mafiosos,

and I agree, obviously, it should be legal;

meanwhile, I'll be blunt:  your bud money's lethal.

Chorus. 

Suburbs ain't natural; they're a political creation.

Research your facts, go solve the equation.

Keep the poor out of reach of nouveau riche -- it was brazen.

The city's bright colors fade to beige and

make a nation of aliens -- that's our alienation,

when the kids' only homey is a Sony Playstation.

Brotherhood forfeit, solitary orbit,

line our walls with our own self-portraits.

It's a vile con from Viacom,

to buy our minds they vie like Khan.

With their napalm ad bomb dumb-numb pogrom.

I buckle and buy it; I'm an Uncle Tom.

From Patti Smith to Prince Adam to Carlton Ridenhour,

By the Power of Greyskull, we all have the power!

I have to yell, 'cause on our brains they're waging war.

"We're mad as hell; and we're not gonna take it anymore!"

 

* "Ein 'od milvado" = "There is none other than He", Deuteronomy 4:35

 

4. Toward the Vindication of Vashti

The time is exilic, Shushan is the spot.

More chillin than Sunday in the park with Seurat.

The king got paid.  His dollar was tall,

but hard to say if he was more טיפש or רשע.*

Party poppin' more than Russell Simmons's,

comin' from 127 provinces.

Riding in with bling, diamonds and pimp rims,

dissin' the sistas, no respect for womens.

King's like, "Check it out, my girl's got it going on,

she's got more curves than Warren Spahn.

I kiss her and conquistador like Ponce de Leon.

It ain't wrong, y'all fawn, while I mow her lawn.

She'll ride my lever, I'll Nebuchadnezz-her,

for each treasure she'll pleasure me measure for measure.

No pressure, but you'd better start to shake that tail feather.

If you're clever or whatever, maybe strap on the leather.

So, בואי, מותק, מלכה ושתי.** Show us some booty and תתפשטי.***

You off the hook, so fine and busty,

and if you don’t I’ll Ayatollah your Salman Rushdie.

Don’t be a bee-otch T, you my bitch, Vashti,

wrap around the pole and get really nasty.

I’m a mojo man, though I’m old and crusty.

תרגיעי אותי, בייבי, כי כבר כעסתי".****

Chorus: Vashti!  Where have you gone?  The queen of mystery. 

"Oh, how gauche, you roach, Ahashverosh.

*****מדהים שהצלחת להוריד את הכוס.

On my dignity you won’t encroach.

For y’all I won’t take off even Grandma’s brooch.

You done lost your mind with poppy seed hamantaschen.

Spilling old poppy’s seed with all the porn you been watchin’.

Settle down, boys, douse the fire in your crotchen,

I ain’t throwing my loins to your belt-buckle notchin’.

Yo, 'Veros, read your Taros, cause your crew haven't heard.

Your narrow eros vanished, you stamina amateur.

Your limpin pimpin sags, man, grab on your catheter.

Like Dickinson I'll jag-slant your iambic pentameter."

Chorus 

9-8-7-6-5-4-3,

What the Helen of Troy happened to Vashti?

The ig'nant indignant shrill: "Killed by the king!"

But they illin', the Megillah tells no such thing.

She disappears from sight, becomes a Dark Knight,

in mystery, shines HIStory with V-Day light.

His game was to take her, saying, "Kiss me, Kate."

She flies into the night in a bad-ass pink cape.

She whispers to the sisters, daring them to be aware,

saying, "Girls, love your curls, Don't straighten your hair!"

Digs Jill and Lauryn Hill and chills at Lillith Fair.

All you dudes with attitudes – you just hating what you fear.

Chorus 

But Good Golly, Miss Molly, חז"ל did wail.******

They all holler, She belongs right back in jail!

She won't give head, so they give her a tail,

say her soiree for chaste ladies was a forced Chippendales.

But then the Talmud's like the king – arbitrary, capricious!

Anarchy in Shushan, like Rotten Sid Vicious.

Claiming she was vain, saying she was leprous.

Tradition?! God save the queen and God help us!

So you say, "But the Sages…!", because they yo' crew.

You misunderstood them; that's my news fo' you.

The numbers don't add up in your Sudoku.

On Purim they're ironic: ונהפוך הוא.*******

 

* "teepesh or rasha" = "stupid or wicked"

** "Bo'I moteq, Malka Vashti" = "Come here, sweetie, Queen Vashti"

*** "titpashti" = "Strip"

**** "Targi'i oti, baby, ki khvar ca'asti" = "Calm me down, baby; I'm already mad"

***** "Madhim she-hitzlahta lehorid et ha-kos" = "Amazing you were able to put down your cup"

****** "Haza"l" = "Our Rabbis of blessed memory", ie, the Talmudic sages

******* "Ve-nahafokh hu" = "It was reversed" (A quotation from the Book of Esther, 9:1, which becomes a theme for the Purim festival)

 

5. Longing and Desire

Having:

You think the only point of longing is having.

The horizon never shifts in your flat life traveling.

When you get it, you’ll find your whole future unraveling.

A dead-end existence sapped of laughing.

All you long for is something to conquer.

Got a vengeful gold ticket from Willy Wonka.

You fear that sincerity is just too awkward,

but transparent vibes thrive like my man Elie Kaunfer.

True, not to have is the beginning of desire,

but that’s only if to have is to what you aspire.

Don’t have, share with your half, and you’ll never tire.

Everyone wins without guns, like Macgyver.

Don’t sleep on satin sheets, 'cause you just might wet it.

The object of your longing will make you do its bidding.

It’ll empty you out, cash, debit, or credit.

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

Possession:

If you try to possess, you’ll find that more is less.

Where to march next is just your best guess.

In this madness you’re clueless, ya just gets bets.

You confess in your own life you’re just a guest.

Eyes twitching, all sweaty, you say you feel empty.

You got what you need; it’s in your clutches already.

No need to possess; you’re free – throw your confetti.

Riches, wide horizons, on your Serengeti.

You gots lots to say, like Talib Kweli.

Your ideas grow on trees like San Giorgio spaghetti.

Your healing is within, like Mary Baker Eddy.

No one owns your dreams; there ain’t no Freddy.

Don’t sleep on satin sheets, cause you just might wet it.

Authenticity?  No need to sweat it.

Just do what you do and then you gone and done did it.

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

Anti-intellectualism/ecstatic escapism:

You try to separate your heart from your brain,

your Rene DesCartesisan scheme is lame.

Ecstasy and cocaine, escaping David Blaine.

Don’t you see, you always wear your Human Stain?

Don’t dis reason or you’ll get maimed.

Be sweet in the clutch like Harold Baines.

Unfold the mundane, like John Coltrane.

You won’t be framed like Valerie Plame.

Let me break it down, like a senior thesis:

you need to learn to read, so I’ll feed you exegesis.

Like Ramona, you’re a child: you call your sister Beezus,

wet your bed and don’t get it when I call it enuresis.

Don’t sleep on satin sheets, cause you just might wet it.

Your escape latch will send you to the land of dementia.

Your road map for life needs a serious edit.

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

Nostalgia:

Your obsessive project is waxing nostalgic,

see people as mirages, dressed in camouflage.

It’s your Impossible Dream, you Man of La Mancha.

You need nostalgia like you need no stinkin’ badges.

Always rewinding your clocks and your watches,

your timing’s not quite as good as Sinatra’s.

Mumbling mantras, cluttering chochkies,

in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with Mr. Rogers.

Nostalgia pumps you up like the dudes from BALCO,

but it vanishes like that Amadeus guy Falco.

Gives you fantasies ranked as low as Paul Bako.

Your nostalgia trip’s a gallop to a massive debacle.

Don’t sleep on satin sheets, cause you just might wet it

Nostalgia makes you sick; better call a medic.

Saps your appetite before you even whet it.

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

Realism:

Say you’re looking for love, but you seek a utopia,

your phobia of reality; you’re on dope and opium.

Widen your scope; your view’s broke with myopia.

No joke, you’ll be back where you began like a mobius.

Nowhere to go next; you’re all dressed to kill.

Your still small voice suppressed, but real.

Planet Earth beckons, Fed Ex the bill.

Your delusion has swelled, take a Benadryl.

You gotta dream flexible, like Theo Huxtable.

If your dreams are Hollywood, they’re probably combustible.

Gawk at your trophies, but one day your plaques’ll fall.

Plan, collaborate, like Slash and Axl.

Don’t sleep on satin sheets, cause you just might wet it.

Lay theories on real people?  You’d better quit it.

Think they’ll play by your script?  Who you think you’re kidding?

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

Jerusalem:

Think you’re living in a City of Angels,

block calls from the truth like you’re out of range,

you’ll search for spiritual Brad Pitts and J. Los,

attaching halos on the rocks of ages.

See neighbors who are different, you’ll drown ‘em with Draino.

Someone don’t fit in, chain him by the ankles.

Wall ‘em out of sight though to them it’s painful.

Shoo him like a dog and Bingo was his name-o.

If Amos saw this, he’d unleash his rages.

You think you’re pious? You’re ignoring the Sages!

Humility and caution fill up their pages.

Dim your bright light to see the grays and beiges.

Don’t sleep on satin sheets, cause you just might wet it.

Your deluion’ll explode if you keep the real hidden.

You’ll find yourself in a war zone embedded.

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

Messianism:

You be getting high seeking your Messiah.

I may be a pariah, but you’re following a Pied Piper.

Call fakes authentic, you know you’ll buy it,

so I lie on the river and cry like Jeremiah.

Oh, you’re burnin proud of your Turin shroud.

Yearning, never searching, 3rd-stringing Ralph Houk.

To invest in success, put your tongue back in your mouth.

I once dreamt that I arrested Mr. Adam Yauch.

C’mon, back off your purple rain dance.

Pronounce your freedom; be named Prince.

Relax and balance; you’re way too tense.

Wax on, wax off, and paint the fence.

Don’t sleep on satin sheets, cause you just might wet it.

If Messiah means something, in your midst she’s embedded.

Redemption by escape?  Don’t know where you read it.

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

 

6. Where I'm from

Well, I'm back again, didja miss me?  No lyin!

The man called lion back to ionize Zion.

I am known as the Branding Iron.

In the Heights I rock the Miki up in Fort Tryon.

5-foot-10 and rising to 11.

I got more soul than De La in heaven.

My atmosphere's thick; I don't travel on the 7th.

I'm a Jewish cracker, 'cause my bread's unleavened.

A wack MC, 'cause my voice is nasal,

but I melt you with my heat, I'm so cool, I'm glacial.

I specialize in words cause my verbiage is spacial,

netting new records in Sotheby's appraisal.

I spin tales of Bruce, not Winnie, the Pooh

to those who went to shul and saw Rodney Carew.

Like Jim and Huck Finn when I swim in Jeru,

more indy than your label cause my minyan's* indy too.

Chorus:  

Where I'm from (3x) – The place, the time. 

Where I'm from (3x) – is a state of mind.

I come from a place known as the South Side.

The Jews stay away, but I take it in stride.

It's ridiculous they left such a jewel behind

for their homogenous lives where they park their hides.

My neighbor as a child was Minister Farrakhan.

My man Cramer's canine once dookied on his lawn.

My favorite pastor is Reverend Run

and light sabers don't scare me like Vader, Luke, and Han.

Sunday tv was Payton's Place.

My secrets are sweetness and so's my face.

If it's me you seek I hide without a trace,

'cause I'm lost and found with amazing grace.

Here I am, with the genius my mind creates

or more like a pastiche, some prime mix tapes.

Always thought book-burning was a big disgrace,

'cause I'm the last one learning, y'all, the Ace of Beis.**

Chorus.  

I think before I act, no Pavlov's dog,

I'm on point, share the rock, I'm no ball hog.

Make my rounds on the clock, like Phineas Fogg.

Miss Piggy didn't deserve to knock Kermit the Frog.

I never liked to be curbed, so I get perturbed

when folks modify my actions like an adverb.

I'm not disturbed so I won't move to the suburbs.

I won't demur, cause I'll say it again if I slurred.

The first word I learned how to read was "Crest".

Now my verbal prowess'll make you feel blessed.

I'm the best at inventing alphabets like Avesta.

Impress the Middle East 'cause I'm from the Midwest.

I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast,

but I kick it from Chicago, not either broke coast.

Saturday I'll cut you and salt you like a host,

and batter you like Sunday morning challah French toast.

Chorus. 

I'm up on hip hop, I'm down with the blues

and I don't think that flip-flops count as shoes.

I think horror flicks suck when compared with the news.

Me and the hiccups have come to a truce.

It's not difficult to please, cause I rhyme with ease.

I'm addicted to the beats, cause rap's my disease.

If I itch I sneeze, pound the ivories,

but I'd tickle Alicia's mmm 88 keys.

I wear boots when it snows, so my toes don't freeze.

If I go to Soho, I go on skis.***

I don't smoke much, so no munchies.

In yoga I touch my nose to my knees.

In Italy mangiamo the Provolone cheese.

In Minnesota, you know, I say "Oh, Geez!"

If I step to Ban Ki, I speak legalese:

"Please squeeze the Chinese so asthmatics don't wheeze."

Chorus

 

* "minyan" = prayer community

** "Beis" = "House of", as in "Beis Midrash"/"House of Study"

*** A day in the life of Nathanial Hornblower

 

7. Follow the Leader

Reg'lar folks lose control only when they get hammered,

ill-mannered, drunk, & stammer,

"The wife? Ahh, Damn her."

You plan your "indiscretion" in the statehouse clamor,

texting from your session it'd be cool to tap her.

Ain't you Master of your domain, Mr. Commander?

You're like George Costanza in the bathroom with Glamour.

You got enamored, grabbed her, but forgot about the camera.

I'll call you out on the news just like I'm Dan Rather.

Mr. Clean thinks that he's a lover man,

ordering whores from the Gov'ner's mansion,

like Monica inside of Bubba's pants,

playing like the White House is the Butler stacks.

Better cool yourself off on a Muffin rack,

slow yourself down in a Cul-de-sac,

or you won't ever win the public back

to restore your lost faith or the trust you lack.

You're not immune when you gamble with your Lucky pack,

you're a buffoon; they're gonna slam ya, cause your bluff is wack.

We're gonna catch you, ain't no secrets, can't hold nothing back;

no reason you'll succeed more than those other cats.

Send you out to sea like Huck on a raft.

Chase you out of D.C. from Dulles fast.

Pop goes the weasel like Bubble wrap,

'cause we'll desist and cease your rubber stamp.  

Chorus:

Come and follow the leader. 

King David to David Vitter.

Says he's sweeter than Derek Jeter,

but his pants are down on his feet-ers.

Milk her, meet her, feed her, then cheat her. 

Book space on My face when you tweeter.

Come on, y'all, heed our credo: 

The bigger lead the bigger libido.

 

What occupies my mind all the time is Why

these guys who are bright kiss it all goodbye.

Reminds me of the time* Abaye walked behind

this girl and guy, spying on the highway.

Eyed them walking and talking themselves dizzy,

thought they're clearly not prissy; they're bound to get busy.

Yo, I'll be like Spitzer, a law-enforcement fixture,

ready to pounce and make sure he don't kiss her.

This mister's got style, won't pass this trial,

'cause to talk to a woman will make him go wild.

No 911 to dial, so I gotta use my wiles,

but don'tcha know, chile, this took a long while.

They walked and talked for miles and miles,

Abaye's getting riled, the couple's all smiles,

sinner profile in their police file,

fit to do something vile 'fo walking down the aisle.

Finally the street comes to a fork, a cleft,

old boy's heading right and she's going left.

Before I can intercept and play the ref,

they're like, "See ya around; this chat has been def".

I couldn't believe it; I's beside myself.

Had it been me, I'da tapped her like she was a MILF.

Or maybe a T-GILF – a Talmudic Girl I'd Like to…עזוב**

The point is the rabbi's got no self-control,

while average folks got it together, you know?

The greater you are, the greater the freak drive.

The trait for thrill-seeking's got another side.

If you give your all on the campaign trail,

no surprise when you ball just to get some tail.

So the task for us all so our leaders don't fail:

Don't leave 'em alone, 'specially charismatic males.

Chorus

*Babylonian Talmud Sukkah 52a

** "'Azov" = "Move", ie, "forget about it"

 

8. City of David

Chorus:

City of David, City of Peace,

Criminal haven, den of thieves.

Spiritual knaves, as Jeremiah preached,

We're digging our graves with our arrogant greed.

The undivided, eternal, Come all, come one!

Never mind the person behind the curtain.

The fix is in, the deal's sealed, hon.

El-Ad can drill on and steal Silwan.

Arab permits to build -- you won't see one,

but strike 'em down, they get stronger like Obi Wan.

I'm game to come to Zion, but baby, get real, mon:

no game; you can't steal home like Neon Deion.

What kind of pioneer relies on theft and con?

Your claims of pioneer's straight frontin' agwon.

A real pioneer is creative, original,

integrates indigenous aboriginals.

My watchdog clock, tick tock, it don't stop;

I'm such a pioneer that my name is La Rock.

You're liars and thieves, a fake a crock

in the houses that you take in Sheikh Jarrah.

You're ecstatic -- you shock me like sweater static,

spastic 'bout the land like heroine addicts.

We'll be the first to die like Crispus Attucks.

Grow uncontrolled -- that tactic's cancerous.

I came into the door; I've said it before --

I'll block you like Emeka Okafor.

You gladiate with child's play like patty-cake, I'll vaccinate,

evacuate you, bat your best away like Shane Battier.

Chrous  

Lemme tell a tale that suggests you're fascists:

Abdullah or Nasr goes to study for a Master's

in France or really anywhere in the Diaspora

to enhance his chances of plans to advance.

The point of the matter: after wrapping up on campus,

he tries to prance on back to Nablus,

or whatever, wherever home in Palestine.

Border cops turn him out like he's a party crasher.

Invent defense threats that amount to slander,

cheat like Mike bit'in the ear off Evander.

What's happ'nin' is a gradual de facto Transfer.

You say you banned Kahanists, but you're not being honest.

I can't take solace when you lock out the moderates.

Immodest to cover up indecent policies.

You can't fool us, cause it's truly Gilui Arayos.*

To catch you is hardest if the warden ain't watching,

when you thought we'd bought what y'all been plotting,

but you not as smart as you think you are,

'cause we're onto you, we'll stop you, 'cause we launched an audit,

whose tale of our remaining neighbors we should harvest.

It reports that they resort to fighting us as martyrs,

'cause the posse with the hottest chance of stopping 'em you've barred.

We see urgency, emergency, our cars are MADA's,**

before you drop us on the 3rd rail on the red line at Jarvis.***

Chorus  

Never mind the Bollocks, the most obnoxious

topic to follow's your Museum of Tolerance.

And we can't talk politics if you say the word "Holocaust",

but your product, your gist, is revisionist denial.

Your land grab is frantic, so I'm gonna be candid:

to call it "tolerant" is anti-semantic.

If Goyim**** built a museum on Jewish graves,

Oh boy, you'd scream "our blood's desecrated!"

If Arabs tried this, you pricks would throw fits:

You ain't into tolerance; you're Auschwitz hypocrites.

Don't believe you when you tell us you're promoting culture;

you're thieves and deceive with Orwellian cover.

That's why we gotta stop your deceptive con,

like the Autobots on the Decepticons.

Your potion makes us sick, it's poison/ארס.

טובל במקוה ובידך שרץ. *****

You dare us to sue, when our Darrow is Clarence.

You won't wear us down, 'cause we'll vote for Meretz.******

And if they're lame, a mirage, can't put the kibosh

on your game, they botch, can't get you out of Dodge,

they talk too much, mouth like a garage,

bon voyage, by gosh, we'll give our vote to Hadash.

And as for you, doing damage with your actions and words,

we'll shut you down, take you out like the sciatic nerve.

Chorus

* "Gilui Arayos = "revealing nakedness", a catch-all Hebrew, legal phrase for sins of the most wanton sexual impropriety and immodesty.

 

9. Bad Relationship Choices (as in, Please stop making them)

I’m confounded at how you cower and feel boxed in

a space with no embers and no tenderness, no soft skin;

and I’m disempowered,

like a Black Jew in Boston, eating clam chowder.

But I got tossed in and my opinion is that you’re double-crossing yourself.

You say you’re trapped in his power, but his name’s not Austin,

and you’ve enveloped no Goldmember;

his name is…Asher?  Zalman?  Menachem Mendel?  I don’t remember.

Do you believe you’re caught in the power of his finesse?

That you’re a pawn to his knight ’cause he beat you in chess?

If you deconstruct and undress it, I think you’ll confess it,

that he does not so impress you, has no power to possess you.

Allow me to digress and stress my viewpoint:

You’ve got my blessing to be with whom you want.

But it’s silly to claim duress in that which you’ve appointed.

Make no mistake, I’m no Bill Gates,

But I’ve got two cents to state that I appreciate

your stab at breaking the habit of living impulsively.

And I know, when opportunity comes,

grab it, nab it, scoop it off the shore,

but dammit, Janet, this show is Rocky Horror,

but a picture no more.

No fiction for Scorcese or crazy David Mamet,

no: Asher’s no Easter Rabbit; this script is real.

Can you be real? 

Do you really want to be a Hamlet, a hero who is tragic,

who vindicates her former traits

by suffocating in her “grown-up” state,

because she isolates her father’s mate

as the only freight through which her new state she can inhabit?

I can’t stand it, Batya; tragic heroes are boring.

And like you said, you may be asked דין and חשבון*

for each scream and every groan.

Did you lie when you cried that you want him inside of you?

Or is this a quick-fix for you, a psychological drive-thru,

a burger and fries for a crisis deep in your bones? 

But to talk about the guy is remiss, yo,

'cause the issue at hand is Batya’s plan

for stitching up her ripped up heart, nearly kilt by guilt till it’s filt with hate, yo. 

I coulda told ya what I know, that hate will corrode ya,

and I ain’t Yoda, but hate is fear.

Now, I know what ya fear, Batya dear,

that you could implode from the weight of being freer,

that you look in the mirror and don’t find a Seer,

that the future isn’t clear, your confidence is a veneer.

So you accept daddy’s בחירה** of a guy from the Mir,

as long as you don’t have to be שומר נגיעה,***

even if you get no respect for your ideas. 

Don’t you see it?  You’re looking for a panacea.

But hate is emotional diarrhea,

it leaks you empty and weaker, staggering with nausea.

Hate is the not knowing, and guilt its accomplice,

freezing backward in fear, never bidding to accomplish

any job rich in future, of sensual yearning.

You’ll preach me some speech, maybe quote that brute Nietzche,

that in all creatures and all species, eros is hatred. 

But that’s stupid. 

I ain’t Kool and the Gang, but I’m still saying

that you gotta take the weight,

celebrate your power to make your fate…not alone, it’s true:

you’re bounded and stretched, like Ellen Degeneres by Anne Heche.

Go on, roll your eyes and kvetch; my rhymes is farfetched,

like tales of the Besht,**** and this line’s getting treacherous,

like a Congressional crèche, but time is precious,

so before you retch, relax and chiznill it,

just catch my sketch, etched and fitted.

I just couldn’t resist it and I’m fittin to insist

that the point is we’re limited and shaped by the lovers and leavers and strangers;

they’re not timid, and why should they be? 

You love, leave, or strange them, too.

It’s hopeless to flee and less interesting

than opening and rejoicing your body is your mind.

Respect your profundity and fecundity, take responsibility.

Being loved is not a threat, it’s an opportunity, yo.  

And this ain’t just about sex and it’s not about me. 

I just want to know you, but you gotta be real.

 

* "Din and heshbon" = "judgment and accounting"

** "Behirah" = choice

*** "Shomer negia" = "on guard about touching", ie, one not touching someone of the opposite sex

**** "Besht" = Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism

 

10. Desire, Stillborn

Did you ever want to talk about something so bad you thought you’d burst?

But you knew that to do so would only make things worse?

To name the rain dance wouldn’t be a good idea.

And I’m pretty sure I’m being rational, not freezing out of fear.

Communication’s like rain – a blessing…except when it’s a curse.

And I like good ideas, but also talking…oof, my head hurts.  

 

Remember my gig about desire that was grounded,

but I didn’t mind; it’s been so long since I’ve even wanted?

The desire inside reminds me that I’m alive,

like a dancing machine in the Jackson 5.

That was all bona fide, I really wasn’t jiving,

didn’t feel like I was cheating on myself like Burl Ives.

Sure, no lies, lots of sighs, knowing I won’t arrive at the prize,

chastising the insides of my thighs not to connive me to be unwise,

but, guys, don’t sympathize, the wanting gives joie de vivre.

I been feeling harmony, stayin alive, like a BeeGee.

Feeling good, cracking dope jokes and fly rhymes like Mike D.

Problem – what to do with this stillborn esprit.

I dream that like Lloyd the World should B Free,

but I don’t think I should talk about it: בָּרִי וְשֶמָּא, בָּרִי עָדִיף.*

I may have nothing left soon like the Giving Tree.

Look, I’m not laying blame or being victimy.

With the unstated naysaying, see, I actually agree.

The circumstances make no sense; I see it vividly.

It always shows up in the script when we talk closely.

That’s why I haven’t brought it up explicitly.

But check it out, see, it’s starting to get hard for me. 

I want to name the desire, to call out and go meta,

to bring it to life like Pinocchio by Gepetto.

I like you, want to be with you.  There – I said it.

That will make nothing better.  Yeah, I know, I get it.

The outcomes seem to be well comprehended:

talk and impose awkwardness on all of us?  Heaven forefend it.

Don’t even know why I write this; I sure can’t send it.

It’d embarrass everyone and probably leave us unfriended.

But lonely, cold and stoic is the life of the Jedi.

The verse you sent to be vetted pierce my heart like stilettos.

At a dead-end I bled, you fed it acid till it’s fetid.

Even the tin man wasn’t leaded; in the freeze was heat embedded.

We’re Shylocks, you know, to get hurt we’re always ready.

I tried to find another who I could want in my bed, see,

but those efforts bounced their credit; now they’re choked and deadened.

Fear not; I won’t freak out; I’m still even-headed.

Tears are shed, incredible absurdity, like Borges.

The sores and swords of your poetry dash me in the gorges.

The irony is scorching: lots to say, but not in the consortium

whose purpose is to say it – what atrocious, screwy fortune.

Your words are sometimes gorgeous, but gone, gone gone, like Bess from Porgy’s

embrace, where mercilessness leaves none blessed from Portia,

and like a mime I’m stymied as to how to bring this closure.

I’d like to torch your computer for producing this torture.

Relax, no use of force; that was just to be dramatic.

There’s no axe in the attic; I’m not violent or spastic.

My spinal chord’s elastic; I’ll keep doing my gymnastics.

My pragmatic attitude says survey all the facets.

The understanding is tacit; here, I’ll make it Socratic: 

What’s love got to do with it? (You know, starring Angela Bassett) 

It’s just hard to want to talk about something very close to home,

when it’ll bounce around and explode in our whispering dome.

There’s only so much I can be Zen, close my eyes and say OM,

so I guess when we can’t talk, instead we write poems.

 

* "Bari va-shema, bari adif" = "'Certain' and 'maybe', 'certain' is stronger", a Talmudic legal principle that a legal argument expressing certainty carries more weight than an opposing argument expressing possibility.

 

11. Sucka MC's 2009 (in honor of Run-DMC's induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

Here we go!  Here we go! 

Here we go!  Here we go!  Here we here we here we go!

Well the beat goes on till the break of dawn,

Dum diddy dum diddy diddy dum dum.

Not 3 MC's, not 2, just 1,

Dum diddy dum didy-diddy dum dum.

22 years ago my ears were opened

by some rhymes that were deffest & beats that wer' dopest.

The baddest dudes from the Hollis hood,

not bad meaning "bad" but "bad" meaning "good".

I'm the king at rock, there is none higher.

Oh, wait, no I'm not, so I guess I'm a liar.

In the old school days, I was known as Lou.

Dum diddy-dum diddy-diddy dum doo.

I'm the Branding Iron and my name is A.B.,

and I went to Columbia University.

Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!  Don't touch that dial!

Here's some props to hip hop in the New School style.

I'm a sucka mc, I won't try to deny it;

the wackiest part of town is where I reside in.

I'm dark-skinned, I live in Arnona,*

now I like to eat nuts and I even like tuna.

I spend my time in and out of Baka,*

baking sucka MC's like I'm Betty Crocker.

What I am is the King of Rock,

I make money like Daisuke Matzusaka.

I hate to upset you like Clay over Liston,

but I'm not a veteran in the hip-hop system,

new dude you've never heard, you've all been missin';

classic -- like Dave Bing on the Pistons.

I don't just bust a move, my groove is eclectic,

don't just rock the mic – yeah, I wreck it.

I'm the illest MC, cause…ah…forget it,

if I expose my secrets, ya know they'll be nekkid.

I'm the son of Roberta, brother of Eddie,

Ori's my friend and his beats are ready.

It's on a first come, first served basis;

my rhymes'll set you straight like your teeth in braces.

Sucka MC's like to front and dis,

but they jealous that my DJ's OFn TISh,

can't find their niche so often-ish,

so they pine to be me when they make a wish.

Like Phish y'all need to go to rehab.

Yes, yes, yes, you need to learn how to rap.

12 step program to clean out some RAM

from the spam that you jam that's as treif** as ham.

My curls are all mine, I don't wear a sheitl.*** 

This speech is my recital, I think it's very vital.

To Run-DMC I pay homage,

'cause you know it's like that and that's the way it is.

 

* A neighborhood in south Jerusalem

** "Treif" = not kosher

*** "Sheitl" = Yiddish word for a wig worn by some married, Orthodox Jewish women concerned that their natural hair would be sexually lewd (see "'ervah", track 2)

 

This is a list of samples in the songs you'll hear on A Roomful of Ottomans:

 

Rhyming & Crime-Fighting:

"You don't have to be Jewish" – George Foster

"Hide and Seek" – Imogen Heap

"Rapper's Delight" – Sugarhill Gang

"Flute Loop" – The Beastie Boys

Tyrone – Erykah Badu

"The Superbowl Shuffle" – The Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew

"Omar Rabbi Yochanan" – Cantor David Werdyger

"Step into a World (Rapture's Delight)" – KRS-One

Dialogue from Pulp Fiction

"Root Down" – The Beastie Boys

Dialogue from Alice television show

"End of the World Party" – Medeski, Martin, and Wood

"Can I Kick It?" – A Tribe Called Quest

Barack Obama, speech in New Hampshire, 8 January 2008

 

Object of Affection:

"Igloo" – Karen O. & the Kids

 

People Come Up!

"Money Makes the World Go 'Round" – Liza Minelli (from Cabaret)

"Know Your Enemy" – Rage against the Machine

"Bombtrack" – Rage against the Machine

"Take the Power Back" – Rage against the Machine

"Mic Check" – Rage against the Machine

"Wake Up" – Rage against the Machine"

"Money" – Pink Floyd

Spike Lee vocal, Nike commercial

Opening segment, He-Man television show

Vocal segment, Network

 

Toward the Vindication of Vashti:

"Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" – Rose Royce

"Car Wash" – Rose Royce

 

Longing and Desire:

Dialogue from Lost in Austen, Episode 1.1

"Love is Blue (L'Amour est Bleu) – Jeff Beck

"Ride or Die" – The Budos Band

 

Where I'm From:

"Wiggle-Waggle" – Herbie Hancock

"El 'Gran' Beile de la Reina" – Wynton Marsalis

 

Follow the Leader:

"Concierto de Aranjuez" – Miles Davis

"Black Satin" – Miles Davis

"The Cousin of Death" – The Beastie Boys

 

City of David

"Venus in Furs" – The Velvet Undergound

 

Sucka MC's 2009

"Seven Nation Army" – The White Stripes

"Walk this Way" – Run-D.M.C.

 

Acknowledgements:

Many friends to thank for their help, encouragement, and nurturing of this album and the writing and performing surrounding it.  First and foremost, thanks Ori for saying "sure, we could do that", doing it more seriously than I imagined possible, and for teaching me so much.  Immense thanks to the one, the only, the enchanting, the gentle, the provocative, the whimsical, the delightful Shira Z. Carmel, herself one of Jerusalem's most interesting performers.  Imagine the Israeli love-child of Tom Waits and Fiona Apple and she's a little better than that.  Judy Robkin, you're the best; thanks for taking us across the finish line with the art.  Many thanks to Ami Yares, Barak Cohen, and the whole HOLLER! crew, putting a little south back in the Middle East.  Big ups to the sandak himself, Sagol 59, still and truly the illest MC in Israel.  Much love with a Stevie funk beat to the one they call Johanna Paretzky – eternally J-Retz to me.  A 10 – and – a 10 – and – another 10 to Rock Muthaf&$%in' Wilk, Amaya, Mr. Steve Fox, JivePoetic, Jahnilli Akbar, James Merenda, Jacob Victorine, Catharsis, Thomas Fucaloro, Nadia Bourne, Caroline Rothstein, and the other poets I've picked up waiting in line at the Nuyorican Poets Café.  Thanks for the openness, generosity, and support to Chelsea Adewunmi, and I'm sorry.  No bigger cheerleaders than Drew Cohen and Lee Moore; it means a lot and shuqran.  DynaMic – thanks for seeking me out, staying in touch, and being dope.  Rena Sherbill, thanks for dropping your science on me; don't forget you're a poet.  Shiroto, you juvenile delinquent, you're going places.  Thanks for swaggering on by my scene on the way.  Murphy, thanks for the constant interest, for your own dopeness, and for coming up with the concept for the back cover art.  Bizmonides, Joey Weisenberg, Yael Shinar, and Monica Gomery, thanks for encouraging and sharing.  And fine, fine, fine, Matt Bar, even though we have mutually exclusive tastes in hip-hop, I'm glad you were around and I dig what you do.  I don't care whether you dig this joint, but will you just like The Roots and Tribe already, please!?  Noa Yammer, you're a musician; just admit it already.  Many thanks to other cheerleader friends: Hackitt, ShaaaronMillendorf, Aharon Horowitz, Tanya Sermer, Sara Meirowitz, Kennedy, Molly Weingrod, Lila Kagedan, Sarah Chandler, Jess Hunter, and most of all, H-Bomb:  you're like a brother to me.

--A.B.