Even thought it's not the end of a Jewish year, it's still time for reflection and all that. So I thought I would reflect on how I came to be a Jewish music blogger, of all things.
It started in college. I had a friend named Andy Carvin, and he always seemed to be going to some concert or play or something. So I asked him about it.
"You know that new arts newspaper on campus?" he replied. "I write that. And since I write the reviews, other people started sending me things to review. I'll show you."
In his dorm room were stacks of CDs. He showed me the free tickets he had gotten to dozens shows, from concerts to stand-ups to plays, even ones in downtown Chicago. And since he usually got two but didn't always have a date, I got to go to a show or two with him.
After my graduation in 1992, I needed to pick up some freelance work to support myself while I looked for a job. I met with the editor of Scene magazine, a local arts publication in my hometown, Cleveland. The editor pointed to a stack of CDs on his windowsill.
"You can review any of these you like," he said, "I'll pay you and you can even keep the CD." I selected one by the only singer in the stack I had heard of: Leonard Cohen. As I didn't really know any of his work, I went and bought a couple of his other CDs, too. I still have my published review of The Future in my scrapbook. And I finally got to see Cohen in concert just this year.
While I had been a student, I had interned at JUF. A couple of years after graduation, there was a reorganization. My former boss, Zan Skolnick, remembered me and brought me on board to fill a vacancy.
One day, I had to ask Aaron Cohen, then the editor of JUF News, a question. He was on the phone, so I looked idly around the office. That's when I saw the stack of CDs on his desk, much like the ones I had seen years before in Andy's room and at the Scene office. Without asking, I began to flip through them.
Aaron hung up the phone. "We get those all the time. But there's no one to review them. If you want to, you can keep the CDs, too."
That was in 1999. Today, I have hundreds of Jewish CDs in my collection, and my reviews have been picked up by other Jewish papers, too. I have interviewed dozens of Jewish musicians. A few years ago, JUF's website (and I was here before that existed, too!) began posting podcasts, and I moved into the new millennium embracing that technology as well, uploading interviews I have done with many major (and some that should be) Jewish musicians and singers.
Now, the "thing" is blogs, and here I am. And thanks to Leonard and Aaron Cohen (no relation, except Biblically), that's how I got here.