Commentary

Heeb

This is the 12th issue of Heeb since its founding in January 2002, and every time I see the word, I cry a little. Still. Haven't the editors been to France lately? Where's their sense of persecution, I ask?

It's not like it's the N- word for Jews (in that urban Hebrew slicksters are allowed to use it and abuse it, while everyone else is Michael Richards.) To the contrary, I've never noticed any of the chosen ones greeting each other with ''Wazzup, Heeb? '' Rather, the word is a purposeful misspelling of a rather antique anti-Semitic slur. Why even dredge it up?

For their part, the magazine's founders and editors maintain that the inflammatory term '' functions as 'empowerment' for the Jewish community, thus eliminating the hatred associated with the word.''

What a load of matzoh meal.

On the other hand, the magazine's sensibility is deeply Groucho-like, in that twisted like-a-pretzel, ''I would never belong to a club that would have me as a member'' manner that's familiar to so many members of the tribe (to use a stereotype). If you're into that sort of internal game of Twister, most of the content of this ''Love Issue'' is clever and artfully packaged. Even the ads are funny. (The back page promotes Streit's Matzoh with a picture of a woman holding a tray with the unleavened bread done up saucily with tomato sauce and mozzarella, under the headline ''That's Amore!'')

And the Anti-Defamation League, the organization that's tops in policing the hatred- prejudice- and bigotry game, has already deemed the publication ''deeply offensive and blasphemous'' so with that work done, let's just relax into the slur.

The cover illustration is a gift from cartoonist R. Crumb to his wife, Aline, on the occasion of their 35th anniversary, and it's a heart-shaped joy. The missus is shown carrying her 98-pound cartoonist (he wears a suit and a fedora and trademark bottle-thick glasses) surrounded by a heart on a doily. ''I feel so safe in the arms of this powerful Jewish woman,'' he states in a word balloon. ''They like sensitive wimpy artists, for some reason....'' She adds, ''plus he can whine an' kvetch better than me!''

''Aline & R. Crumb'' an arrow reads. Jew + Goy= Joy.'' Aww. To parphrase Olivia Newton John, ''Let's Get Ecumenical.''

Inside, there's an interview with Aline and drawings from her forthcoming book, Need More Love. (MQ Publications, 2007.) She's quite open about their life in France, their open marriage, her changes in weight (she now sports rock-hard abs at 58) and her ''numerous cosmetic interventions.'' Every time she starts coming across as unbearably overbearing and narcissistic, she shows some self-awareness that's kind of sweet. 'We share a sense of humor and a very similar, alienated world view,'' she says.''Our marriage is unique and very odd. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to other people, but it does work for us.''

Those heavily illustrated pages are alone worth the price of the issue. Also interesting is the ''battle of the Schwartzes.'' (You can cast your vote for the ''Schwartz of the month'' at heebmagazine.com.)

Professor Michael Eric Dyson, an African-American, is the ''honorary heeb'' and he lives up to the honor with an insightful interview linking Jews and blacks. ''Jewish women have always been demonized for the swarthy look, the voluptuous figure, the intellectual energy, the dynamism. Sounds like a sister to me,'' he says.

I'd stay away from ''The World of Polyamorous Jews.'' Let the loves that dares not speak their names go unspoken.

But nowhere is the twisted-like-a-pretzel sensibility in all its fabulous self-loathing more identifiable than in in the spread called ''Jouchebags.'' Robert Moses, Gene Simmons, (''Ozzie Osbourne, excepts as a jouchebag'') Heidi Fleiss are all asked to come up and take a bow.

There's even a Heeb horoscope, which tells me, a Virgo, ''for once in your life you're going to be spontaneous!''

The last three pages of party pictures are a waste of recycled paper, and there's just so much of fiction with prose like ''her breasts looked like two potato knishes'' that you can take. Still the issue is worth a spin, if you're into being comically conflicted. Woody Allen, the patron saint of self-loathe, probably explained it best when he said, '' I think being funny is not anyone's first choice.''

The editors would no doubt agree.


MAG STATS

Published by:
Joshua Newman
Frequency:
Somewhat erratic; 12 issues published in 5 years
Web site

Check out our previous takes on Heeb here and here.

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