[ Previous page | Sines & Cosines ]
|My Lunch With Andrei continued|
|Codrescu credits his rise to
demographics. "What has happened at NPR is that, in
1983 when I started out, I think that listenership was
around 2 million people. And it grew by leaps and bounds
so that now there are close to 8 or 10 million. It has
something to do with the fact that the baby boomers that
I'm a part of grew up and they gave up loud rock and roll
and they started listening to news and quieter music. I
Think NPR grew up with my generation."
Condiment and Metaphor
How many delicacies and staples from the old country have American Jews shucked into history? Borscht, chicken necks, gribines, calf's foot jelly. Andrei Codrescu dives into his plate of sweet and sour cabbage. But his palate is anything but limited. This is the man who uses hot sauce as both condiment and metaphor.
"Multiculturalism, in my mind, is the opportunity to avail yourself of everybody's culture and take from it what you need and play with it as you want, and to ignore the people who guard the borders and proclaim purity," he says. "We just make ourselves richer if we give up our frozen identities and our single-minded empty rituals."
Don't tell that to the Jewish continuity folks. They might say American Jews have been so open to a life that is so comfortable that a way to preserve Judaism has eluded them.
"Well, it is important to remember that we are not out of danger," Codrescu says. "That it is important to maintain the ideal of being Jews, because there are still people who hate Jews. And the world is full of anti-Semites and the Nazis are having a field day all over the place. I don't think we can escape the fact of being Jewish. Being Jewish is not cultural or environmental. It's a matter of being a Jew."
"Art has the courage to look insanity straight in the face and give it back to us in a way that helps us heal."
|More that a Jew,
Andrei Codrescu is a liberal arts guy in a MBA age, a
storyteller in a society preoccupied with the utilitarian
"Well, that's one of the important
and sad things about our world right now," he says.
"We're losing our stories. We allow
The waitress returns. "Are you finished
now?" We ask for the
"No, I don't think that true art can exist
without the elements of paradox and mystery and all of
those things," Codrescu says. "Because those
are the surprising things. And the true things.
"I wonder if many people don't see the
"Well, most people fear them, because to see the
"I don't think art is about decoration," he
says. "Quite the
The writer is at work now, testing words for their ironic elasticity, even as the fortune cookies arrive.
"If I have any job at all," he says,
"it's to put the fear of art back
He laughs at that and lights a cigarette.
[ Top of page | Sines & Cosines ]