Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On the south side of chicago are the baddest Jews of all

Happy Passover - Hai!

The Jew Also Rises

Even though Hemingway wrote "Death in the Afternoon" specifically about Bullfighting and Sidney Franklin (The Jewish American matador) the matador (Pedro Romero) was loosely based on him and was played by a Jew as well (Robert Evans)

Sidney Franklin
Bullfighter from Flatbush (Taken from Jews in Sports)

"Of course I like bullfighting immensely, and feel a kind of voluptuous pleasure in fighting quietly, seeing the danger close at hand. I would not change that for any other sensation in life."
The speaker was Sidney Franklin, a thin, studious Jewish boy from Brooklyn, who became one of the topflight athletes in one of the most dangerous, spectacular and cruel sports in the world - bullfighting.
Always considered a Latin sport, bullfighting is curiously un-American. It is a colorful sport, the national pastime of Spain and Mexico. Champion bullfights in these lands are worshipped by excitable and noisy fans. Men like Juan Belmonte become legends and their feats are related in song and story. They make fortunes. Belmonte used to get $7,000 for a single performance in the bull ring and a smart bullfighter, if he promoted his own shows, sometimes made as much as $40,000 in a single afternoon. For example, Belmonte, about whom lyrical books of praise have been written, made more money in his career than Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney combined. Rodolfo Gaona, the star matador in Mexico, made four million dollars in six years. This is enough to indicate the hold of the sport on millions of people. But bullfighting has fascinated many Americans as well. Ernest Hemingway, the famous novelist, has written a book called Death in the Afternoon, which is actually a handbook of bullfighting. And in many of his novels and short stories his heroes are bullfighters.
Writing in Death in the Afternoon on Sidney Franklin, Hemingway said, "Franklin is brave with a cold, serene and intelligent valor but instead of being awkward and ignorant he is one of the most skillful, graceful and slow manipulators of a cape fighting today . . . He is a better, more scientific, more intelligent, and more finished matador than all but about six of the full matadors in Spain today and the bullfighters know it and have the utmost respect for him."
Why is the sport so fascinating? For one thing it offers sudden death in the ring. It is said that a matador has a six-year career. For two years he is on his way up to the top ranks. For two more years he is at his peak and then he goes downhill. This process also takes about two years, and often the end is death. The bulls are rough and tough and they play for keeps. In America auto racing is the only sport which offers death as one of its possible thrills. And the major races are always jampacked with people. It seems that danger in sport is always attractive to an audience which remains out of peril while watching daring men play for high stakes with their lives in balance.
Sidney Franklin attended Columbia University and studied commercial art. He went to Mexico to study Mayan history and managed to see his first bullfight in the land south of the border. He was drawn to it and the attraction never ceased. He decided to make the sport his life work. His Brooklyn family must have been amazed, but apparently they got used to it, all six brothers and his two sisters. In his own autobiography, Bullfighter from Brooklyn, Franklin wrote, "I have often been asked how I came to be a bullfighter; what there was in my background that led me into such a unique profession. Frankly, when I try to review my early life I am puzzled to find an answer to that riddle."
But this is how Franklin explained it elsewhere:
"Bullfighting is just as dangerous as prize-fighting, but more interesting and more honest. There can be no crooked work in the bull ring, because you can't talk to the bull. You can't tell him to lie down, and you will divide the purse with him. You either get him or he gets you."
Before one can appreciate the feats of Sidney Franklin in the bull ring, one must know something about the sport itself. Here is how Sidney told it to an American correspondent, in the years when he was the sensation of the sports pages of the world:
"Armed only with the capote de brege, or large working cape, made of silk, lined with heavy duck, the matador attracts the attention of the bull, which charges. The matador waits until the bull is only a few feet away. Then he slowly extends the cape to one side and draws the bull by with it. Man and cape have been as one object to the bull at the beginning of the charge, but here is something moving, and that is the thing to be destroyed. So suddenly that the eye can hardly follow the change, the bull's charge is deflected toward the cape.
"Then comes a series of charges back and forth, on either side of the matador. A bull can turn more quickly than a race horse, so the matador must be ready for the reverse attack. But there must be no undue hurry on his part. Misjudgment of the speed of the bull's charge, or of distance
between man and animal, may translate itself into disaster for the matador."
This is only a brief statement. The corrida, or bullfight, is much more complicated. Because the sport is traditional, Latin and full of the breath of death, it is loaded with superstitions and with customs. The critics and writers of the sport indulge in fancy words and write of bullfighting as though it were an art. Some of them consider the corrida a religion. And if you would stop to study all the terms in the sport and were to watch how things were done, with the marching and strutting of the athletes before the huge crowds, you would think that there is a very strong tie-up between religion and bullfighting.
Sidney Franklin, whose background is so different from the background which gave birth to bullfighting, overcame all obstacles and became a top man in the sport, after years of training. He made his big-time debut at Chapultepec, Mexico. This was like starting a baseball game at the Yankee Stadium. The break came to him after tedious years of fighting in small towns throughout Mexico. And then he fought in Spain, the big league of the corrida. He paid a heavy price, for he nearly was killed in his attempt to prove that a Yankee could make good at the Latin sport.
He faced a big, black wicked bull and after a few parries and thrusts, the bull's horn caught his gold-trimmed cape. In a few moments Franklin lay wounded on the sandy floor of the ring. The bull snorted and attempted to finish off the beaten man, but a swarm of men rushed in and saved Sidney. This, however, was only the beginning of the show. A short while later Sidney Franklin reappeared, bandaged up, woozy and hurt, but eager to fight again.
With a new sword and the cheers of the crowd ringing in his ears, he killed a bull and revealed that he had the kind of guts appreciated all over the world.
Although this was a bloody performance, Sidney did better later on, even if he was not cut up and wounded. In his first appearance in Seville, 10,000 fans idolized him and, when the fighting was over, carried him through the main gate. This is the sort of an honor paid only to great matadors and the performance which preceded the honor was indeed a great one.
Sidney knew that he faced a cynical audience, a crowd which had to be shown. After all, you can't easily convince a Spanish crowd at a bullfight that an American, a North American that is, can compete with Latins at an age-old Latin sport. But Sidney dispatched his first bull with a single stroke. That showed courage and skill and the audience sat back in their seats to see what else the young American had to offer. And Sidney showed them. He gave them a real performance with the second bull. He parried and sidestepped and generally displayed enormous knowledge of the game. A critic wrote, after the fight:

"It is astounding the way he tackles the bulls, calling them
with phlegmatic serenity, letting them rush into his cloak
and- pass along his body, without the slightest concern.
This mastery he demonstrated, putting his cape behind his
back when playing with the bulls with an art unequalled."

But this judgment came in the heat of excitement. It took many more years before Sidney Franklin became a real star, a fellow who could rank with the few top bullfighters. After many years of hard fighting all over the bull rings of the world, Franklin made his debut as alternativo, or main attraction, in 1945 in Seville. He killed two bulls with artistry, with coolness and with courage.
The spectators roared their approval in the Spanish manner. They called "Viva tu madre (Long live your mother!). Viva America!"
This must have been music to the ears of the long-legged Brooklyn boy who had come a long way to reach this point in a rough career. For Franklin learned, as all bullfighters must, that killing the bull is not the really important thing: it is that the killing must be done in style. It is not important to the general reader to know the difference between matadors, picadors and banderilleros, except that a picador fights the bull from a seated position on a horse and that banderilleros put harpoon-tipped shafts into a bull's neck to infuriate him and make him a more formidable foe. To Americans the sight of killing a bull, or the sight of seeing an angry bull gore to death a helpless horse is no fun. The fine points of the bullfight (like knowing if a bull favors using its left horn or its right horn, or observing if a bull rushes in a straight line or swerves while rushing at the cape) don't mean much to the North American who knows only that bullfighting is an odd sport which seems not only dangerous but cruel.
The preliminaries, the colorful trappings all seem like part of an ancient ritual which has outlived its day. Sidney Franklin often said that he hoped that the sport would become as popular as baseball in America. But it never will, for its elements are too basic and too cruel to win many Americans. It is interesting, however, that even in such a sport, which is a closed circle insofar as Americans are concerned, a Jew had become outstanding. It is difficult to understand why a Brooklynite who studied at Columbia should become a bullfighter. But he has, and his story is one of the oddest in sports history and certainly one of the most peculiar tales in this book. The Kid from Brooklyn is now the Kid from Spain and the history of the bull ring is enriched with a new and strange legend.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Craig back playing a Jew in the Dec release of "Defiance"

During the previews for Stop Loss yesterday (didjewknow favorite 100% Jew Joseph Gordon Levitt stars) I was thrilled to see that in December "Defiance" is due out. The film is based on the true story of the Bielski partisans, covered by author Nechama Tec in the book of the same name. Defiance stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell as three Jewish brothers from West Belarus who escape from the Nazis and fight back to rescue fellow Jews. I have always been a huge fan of the Jews that fought back during the Holocaust and if you look at my movie links you can see several of those films. This is similar to the book "The Adventures" based on the true story of Vilna Poland Jews that fight as Partisians in the forrest with the Polish Home Army. I am pretty sure I wrote a review of that book on my blog several months back. If I didn't I highly recommend it. Also "The Bravest Battle" about the 28 days that the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto held off the German Army (It only took 21 days for Germany to take all of Poland). I know it was not Craig's decision but in Munich a great true story was made into a weak meladrama after Spielberg had it rewritten to not be so hard on the Palestinian Terrorists that killed the Isralie athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. See the documentary "A Day in September" for more background on that. Of the 3 stars in Defiance only Liev Schreiber is of Jewish decent (his father is Jewish).

BTW it seems I am way behind Jewlicious on breaking this story:

Let My People Go Daniel Craig!May 17th, 2007 by beth
What is it with Brit Daniel Craig aka the new James Bond with the most sculpted abs ever and the Jews? First, Craig goes undercover as a Mossad agent in Spielberg’s “Munich” and now the actor has signed on in Edward Zwick’s (”Blood Diamon”) latest production about WWII Jewish Resistance fighters, “Defiance.”
Storyline follows four Jewish brothers living in Nazi occupied Poland who escape into the forest, where they join up with Russian resistance fighters in battling the Nazis and trying to save the lives of other Jews.

I actually started writing my own screen play based on both the Vilna Partisians and the Warsaw Ghetto fighters around 2000 but then I found out that the TV movie "Uprising" was on its way and that kind of killed it. I was going to call it "A Tale of Two Ghettos" and who knows I still might but I need to see how Defiance plays out. My goal would be to only cast those of Jewish ancestory in my film. Edward Zwick who directs Defiance is the only person I know of attached to the film who is 100% Jewish.

Here is some info on the real story of Defiance:
(Taken from: /www.jewishpartisans.org)
Partisans activity marked in yellow as indicated by Aaron Bell.
Tuvia Bielski was born in Stankiewicze, in western Belorussia in 1906. When Germany invaded Russia in June of 1941, Tuvia and his younger brother Zus vowed never to be caught by the Germans. Tuvia’s extensive knowledge of the area saved his life, allowing him to move around frequently to avoid being captured by the Germans, who had a warrant for his arrest.In early 1942, Tuvia began hearing rumors about partisans, and decided that if he and his fellow Jews were to survive, he must acquire arms and organize all-Jewish resistance groups. Along with two of his brothers, Zus, and Asael, Tuvia began organizing Jews. By May of 1942, Tuvia was in command of a small group, which by the end of the war had grown to 1200 people, and was known as the Bielski otriad. Tuvia had focused on saving as many Jews as possible, and would accept any Jew into his group. Many came through the family of Konstantin Kozlovski, a non-Jew, who provided shelter for Jews escaping from the Novogrudok Ghetto and worked with the partisans to free hundreds of Jews from the ghetto.The Bielski otriad carried out food raids, killed German collaborators, and sometimes joined with a Russian partisan group in anti-Nazi missions, such as burning the ripe wheat crop so the German soldiers couldn’t collect and eat the wheat. Additionally, the Bielski otriad would seek out Jews in the ghetto willing to risk escape to the forest, and send in guides to help them.
By the summer of 1943, Tuvia was the leader of 700 people. In the Nalibocka forest, Tuvia set up a functioning community, with everyone working to support the community in a variety of ways. There was a hospital, classrooms for the children, a soap factory, a Turkish bath, tailors, butchers, and even a group of musicians who played at festivals. Beyond meeting the needs of its own members, the Bielski otriad was able to provide services to other partisan groups in exchange for food and arms. By the summer of 1944, the group had grown to 1200. The group consisted mainly of the elderly, women, and children. Tuvia’s group was the largest of the Jewish partisan groups, and a high percentage of those he led survived, due to Tuvia’s strong and effective leadership, and his determination to save as many Jews as possible.
After the war, Tuvia moved first to Israel and later to the United States, where he died at age 81.

Here is a funky change of events I just found:
Jewish hero who rescued Jews from Nazis charged with conning Holocaust survivorLast updated at 15:16pm on 21st November 2007
Comments Aron Bielski has been hailed as a hero along with his three brothers for saving thousands of Jews from the Nazis and helping found a resistance network after Germany
invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.
His exploits were chronicled in books - and Hollywood even plans to release a film based on the Bielski brothers' wartime heroics next year.
But in an extraordinary twist Aron, the sole surviving brother, has now been arrested on charges of swindling a 93-year-old woman who was a survivor of the Holocaust.
Scroll down for more ...

Accused: Henryka Bell with her husband Aron
Now 80 and known as Aron Bell, he and his wife Henryka, 58, are accused of tricking Janina Zaniewska into giving them control of more than $250,000 in various bank accounts.
According to police, the couple took the woman to her native Poland after telling her she was going on holiday, but instead dumped her in a nursing home there before returning to Florida and spending virtually all her money.
The charges against the couple carry up to 90 years in prison but Mr Bell's legal team insist he strongly denies the allegations and said the old woman was going senile.
Scroll dowj for more ...

Aron Bielski is shown front centre in this undated photo from the Yad Vashem Archives of a group of wartime resistance fighters
The arrest threatens to seriously tarnished the reputation of a man was widely regarded as a Jewish wartime hero. After the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, killing or imprisoning Jews by the thousands, the Bielski brothers fled their home near Stankiewicze - in what is now Belarus - and hid out in the forest, determined to fight back against the brutal onslaught.
The brothers' encampment grew to include hundreds of armed fighters, families, children and elderly. No Jew was turned away and their partisan movement ultimately rescued some 1,200 Jews.
"To save a Jew is much more important than to kill Germans," Tuvia Bielski, one of Aron's brothers, would tell his followers.
Most other partisan groups focused solely on hunting Nazis, killing collaborators and seeking revenge, said Christian Gerlach, a history professor at the University of Pittsburgh who has studied the Holocaust extensively.
"In a way, that's what makes the Bielski unit different," Gerlach said.
Tuvia Bielski was in overall command of the encampment. Asael Bielski mostly guided the brothers' armed unit, Zus Bielski was head of reconnaissance while Aron largely played the role of messenger as he knew the forest best.
"There are thousands of people who are walking the Earth because of the decisions that him and his older brothers made," said Tuvia's son Michael Bielski, 55.
The Bielski brothers managed to improvise a resistance network and some 360 Jews who found refuge with them took up arms against the Nazis. The brothers also managed to create a whole partisan community, complete with synagogues, bakeries and even an airstrip which the Soviets used to fly in supplies and fly out the wounded.
Asael was killed in 1944 fighting for the Red Army as it moved into Germany. The remaining brothers emigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s, settling down in the New York area and working in the taxi and trucking industries. Aron retired to Florida in the 1990s.
Mr Bell's relatives said they are shocked at the charges against him.
"I don't believe it," said Zvi Bielski, 56, of New York City, Zus' son. "It's totally out of character. I love him dearly. He's been very close to me. My dad was like his father during the war. I can't imagine what happened."
Authorities claim the Bells befriended the elderly Janina Zaniewska, who was once imprisoned by the Nazis alongside Jews in Poland. She lived in the same Florida apartment complex as the Bells.
The couple persuaded her to give them power of attorney over her bank accounts, investigators said.
In May, the Bells flew with Zaniewska to Poland under the guise of taking her to visit old friends, police said. The Bells dropped her at a nursing home and returned to Palm Beach.
Police were contacted in August by a bank manager who wondered why the Bells were withdrawing Zaniewska's money. Police eventually found Zaniewska at the nursing home.
"Thank God you found me," she told authorities, according to police.
Zaniewska returned to the US on October 4. Prosecutors charged the couple with scheming to defraud Zaniewska, exploitation of the elderly and theft.
"This whole notion that the Bells sent this poor lady to Poland so they could steal her money is just preposterous," said their lawyer, Steven Gomberg.
He said the Bells were financially comfortable and were simply helping Zaniewska with her finances as her mental capacity diminished.
"We have people here, elderly people, in their 90s who are losing their faculties and have financial assets that need to be preserved and unfortunately have nobody else," Gomberg said. He added: "There was nothing stolen. She's not lost a penny."
Ewa Chyra, director of the nursing home in Poland, said Zaniewska "was aware of where she was, what was going on, who brought her here."
"Zaniewska told various stories, so one could doubt some of what she said," Chyra said. "Her moods changed a lot, from euphoria to depression, and her behavior depended a lot on her mood. She can be a very friendly, talkative, witty person ... while she can also swing to the complete opposite, and be aggressive and suspicious."
Zaniewska's attorney, Robert Montgomery, said she "has all her faculties" but fell victim to the Bells. "They stole money from her, there's no question about that, pretty much cleaned her out," Montgomery said. "She was taken advantage of."
Peter Duffy, who spent many hours interviewing Aron Bell for the 2003 book "The Bielski Brothers," said: "I'm just not willing to concede that this is actually what happened. It doesn't make any sense."