Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Wisdom of a Teenager with Cancer

This morning, I went for my annual exam at Scripps Clinic, and while I was having my blood drawn to check my cholesterol, I turned my head away from the needle to read a poem that was posted on the wall. It was written by a teenager with cancer.


Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading light?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask 'how are you?' do you hear a reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in bed with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child 'we'll do it tomorrow'?
And in your haste not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die, cause you never had time to call up and say 'Hi'

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race,
Do take it slower.
Hear the music,
Before the song is over.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


He had to be forced out of the womb and into the world, and for much of his life I didn't think Jesse would ever want to leave home. As a young teen, he had planned to attend UCSD for college, live at home, skateboard to school and come home for lunch every day.

Then music took over, and he couldn't help but fulfill fans wishes to have the band, Witt, tour internationally. He started planning the tour when he was 17 (but his bandmates' moms didn't let their sons travel at that age; not that he asked our permission -- he just told us what he had planned). It was another year before they could go, but for 3 weeks over the winter of 2010-2011, Jesse, Henry & Evan took Witt on the road, touring throughout Germany (where they're progressive in their musical tastes, surprising considering they like David Hasselhoff and are now planning a Rocky musical), Poland, France, the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland and maybe a few other countries, too. Once Jesse came back (and he had booked all the venues, coordinated publicity, figured out how they were going to get from one venue to another -- each was a 4-5 hour drive away from the previous one), he expressed his desire to live in Germany for 6 months. And in January he's going to Kenya to teach music (but that'll be the subject of another post).

For now, enjoy this slide show of photos of my little boy, from birth to age 21, a little boys whose birth had to be induced because he was late and his father couldn't stick around indefinitely, but once he found his legs, he hasn't stopped running....

He is one amazing dude

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Don't Know How He Does It

People who know me know that I'm exceedingly proud of bothy of my boys, and the remarkable young men they are becoming. Today I have the opportunity to crow about something that my younger son, Jesse, is doing for a very good cause: The Che Cafe Benefit, which is planned to save the under-21 music venue on the University of California, San Diego, campus. The venue is the rare community space where kids under the age of 21 can perform and gather to listen to music. Many successful San Diego bands got their start here, but the Cafe needs to raise $12,000 to make an insurance premium payment that will allow it to stay open.

Jesse isn't the only person who has organized this benefit, or others that have taken place, but this will be the largest benefit concert -- to take place over 3 days: January 6-8, 2012. Just yesterday, the lineup began to be introduced. Go to to watch the lineup be revealed and, if you feel like it, donate to the cause.

Without intending to, Jesse is living the spirit of his great-grandfather, Jacob Marateck, aka "The Accidental Anarchist," in that he has the strength of his convictions and the courage to stand up for them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jews in Hollywood

Last week, I read an article in Heeb Magazine about  Elliott Gould, Brooklyn Boy, Hollywood Legend,
who said, in the context of discussing "Hollywood's Jew Wave" in late 1960s and early 1970s, "I think it’s difficult enough to be a Jew in this world and it always has been.” It prompted thoughts of my late father, Shimon Wincelberg, the first Orthodox writer in Hollywood. He used to tell a story about his first experience in Hollywood, which could also have been his last. And it echoes what Mr. Gould says about it not being easy to be a Jew, despite the fact that many people think that Hollywood is 'run' by Jews.

My father was summoned to meet with Darryl Zanuck, the legendary producer — on a Friday night. My father told Zanuck’s disconcerted assistant that he couldn’t meet on Friday night because it was the Sabbath. She didn’t want to bring the news to Mr. Zanuck, to whom no one said ‘no.’

After hanging up the phone, my father turned to my mother and said, “We might as well stop unpacking and move back to NY. I’ve just ended my career in Hollywood.”

But surprisingly, the phone rang a few minutes later; it was Zanuck’s secretary, this time asking, “Would it be ‘convenient’ for you to meet with Mr. Zanuck on Sunday?” My father’s point was that people respected others who had the strength of their convictions and didn’t complain about the fact that their religion ‘prevented’ them from doing something they wanted to do.

My father once got a call from an actor who was required to film a scene on the Sabbath, and didn’t know what to do. My father asked, “How much would it cost to film on Sunday, instead.” The actor replied, “$10,000.” My father said, “Then tell them you’ll pay $10,000 to film on Sunday, instead.” The director realized the actor was serious about not being able to film on Saturday, and changed the filming schedule.
Of course, my father occasionally liked to go out of his way to emphasize his ‘Jewishness.’ Also early in his career, when someone (an agent?) recommended that he change his first name because Simon sounded “too Jewish.” He agreed, and changed it to ‘Shimon.’

In spite of this, Mr. Gould is also right that there are plenty of people who would be happy to see Jews gone from Hollywood, just as many would like us to see us gone from Wall Street, medicine and law (all professions that Jews wound up in because they were prevented from being in the metalworking and woodworking guilds back in the 1600s). It's one reason some people don't believe, and resent Jews referring to themselves as "2% of the U.S. population." How can that be when we seem to be overrepresented in certain fields (but not only the top fields; apparently more than 2% of U.S. Federal prison inmates are Jewish). What must be true is a statement attributed to Jackie Mason: "Jews are like everyone else -- only more so."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Nephew, Eliyahu, the Fire Eater!

 Don't try this at home!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This past Saturday was the launch for my publishing company, Crosswalk Press's, second book. Cook the Part was created by Karin Eastham, former CFO of The Burnham Institute. Her book is a new type of cookbook that focuses on "team cooking," that is dinner parties prepared by groups of 8-12 people. Gather a group of friends and cook together, or schedule a team-building event focused on cooperation in the kitchen. The event was held at the Fairbanks Ranch Clubhouse.

In keeping with the theme of the book, many of us prepared dishes from the cookbooks for all the guests to enjoy. I made chocolate chipotle brownies from Cook the Part. The brownies are sweet, contain beer-soaked raisins, and have a slight hint of spiciness. Left, Patty Mekita with Cook the Part apple struesel cake. Yum.

Karin spoke about making the transition from the Boardroom to the Kitchen sooner than the 10 year plan she had announced in 2008. Here she is welcoming her guests, flanked by her husband, Gary, the great man behind the great woman.

The unique artwork created for the book was done by Salt Lake City artist Traci O'Very Covey, who flew in for the event.
And a good time was had by all!

Crosswalk Press' next book will be The Bitch and the Glass Ceiling: Shattering Through with Respect-Centric Leadership, by Rhonda F. Rhyne. Coming in 2012. Here, below, are my 2 partners in Crosswalk Press: Rhonda Rhyne (left), and Karin Eastham.

Stay tuned for Rhonda's book launch in 2012.

Photos by Patty Mekita

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Report from the Symposium on Moral Courage

This past weekend, I attended the Initiative for MoralCourage’s first Symposium at SDSU. It opened with “The Rescuers,” a photographic exhibit with statements from people who assisted targets of the Nazis, and the genocides of Rwanda, Bosnia and Cambodia. Leora Kahn, a Fellow in the Genocide Studies Center at Yale University who organized the exhibit, discussed the criteria for being identified as a “Rescuer.” The exhibit and the program use the same standards as those used at Yad Vashem, a “living memorial to the Holocaust,” located in Jerusalem. To be considered a Rescuer, the individual cannot have gained from his actions, received any money, or have killed anyone while protecting the persecuted. There was also a discussion of What constitutes Moral Courage? whether it involves standing up to academic fraud, military rule, or the expectations of the establishment. It is a matter of not asking permission to do the right thing.

The following day, investigative author Edwin Black, author of the “The War Against the Weak,” (he also wrote “IBM and the Holocaust”), revealed that the eugenics movement that Hitler institutionalized in Nazi Germany was developed in the U.S. with the support of Harvard, Stanford, Yale, the American Medical Association, etc. The ‘plan’ for this program was to eliminate the bottom 10% of the population (based on a biased test of intelligence) to create a better society. In this program, poverty was considered a genetic trait that needed to be eliminated through forced sterilization and even plans for a gas chamber. Not only chilling, but frightening that this fact is so little known.

Black’s talk was followed by one about the Armenian Genocide, given by Dr. Richard Houvannisian at UCLA. He noted that the Holocaust is the only genocide that has entered into human (as opposed to ethnic) history, and history books, while that of the Armenians by the Turks is little known. It is still a crime in Turkey to talk about the Armenian genocide.

As I listened to each of these talks, which was followed by one about the African Genocides, and the talk of “Rescuers,” I realized that when my father’s family escaped from Germany in 1938, they, too, had been hidden by their neighbors for about 6 weeks, and I had never asked about who those people were. My father passed away 7 years ago, but his two younger sisters are still living, so I emailed one of them to ask if she knew the names of those neighbors. Although I have not yet heard back, I expect that she was too young to know their names. If, by chance, she or my other aunt remember any of the people who had protected them, I want to track down their descendents to thank them. I can’t believe that it never occurred to me to ask.

Are there people who protected some one in your family in a similar way? Ask, and let’s find those people who, at their own risk, did what they felt was right and just, without any expectation of return, not even acknowledgement, but shouldn’t we recognize those individuals who had the Moral Courage to do what was right?

"The Rescuers" exhibit will be open for public viewing until November 24 at SDSU's Love Library.