Tonight at 8

so this is a lil bit quicker than id thought, but the first of new changes coming to the blog is already up and running: the MaNishtanaTV channel over at youtube. the stuff there will be generally more lighthearted in tone than whats here at manishtana central [lol. “manishtana central“] but it should still be some pretty juicy stuff. the first vid is up [i personally think its kinda “meh“. im sure you will too] but things should only get better as we go along. lemme know if there’s anything you wanna see on it. anyhoo, let the games begin.

–MaNishtana

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As Seen On TV!

so im in the editing room, editing some blog footage of mine with a friend. some white dude sees the text “manishtana” next to this black dude on screen [me]. you know the kind of white dude. the [secular, jewish] kind whose ears perk up when hebrew terms find themselves inappropriately leaving ethnic mouths, so they feel the need to investigate on behalf of the jewish people as compensation perhaps for being religiously lax in their own lives.

anyhoo, he asks what the footage is about since he sees me in it wearing–and i quote–“what is called a yarmulke in my world.” now im incognito at the time [“incognito” meaning i like fedoras, so i was wearing one and not particularly feeling like taking it off to prove i was jew-flagging], so i just play the rough cut of the vid, since a simple viewing of it would answers his questions.  of course, his moment of clarity was not exactly how i expected:

“ah, i see. the character is jewish.”

[headdesk]

couldnt have MADE that up.

oh, yes, MaNishtanaTV is coming ppl. b/c print is becoming increasingly inadequate to berate ppl via.

–MaNishtana

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Urban Parsha Ha’azinu [deut 32:1-52]

urban parsha“.  it’s just like regular torah.  but ghetto.

and so moses began his song, which sounded suspiciously like its beat was sampled from “i’m on a boat”:

Send “Haazinu” Ringtones to Cell
Moses ft T-Pain
[Intro (T-Pain)]
(Shortayyyy) Aww yeah
Getcha ears ready it’s about to go down (shorty, yeah)
Miriam and Israel y’all had y’all chance (yeah)
But now its time for me to step up here
I’m runnin this, let’s go

[Chorus (T-Pain)]
I wrote a song (I wrote a song)
I wrote a song (I wrote a song)
Everyone listen to me cause I’m singin my new song (singin my new song)
I wrote a song (I wrote a song)
I wrote a song
Take a good hard listen to the motherf****n song (song, yeah)

[The Lonely Island (T-Pain)]
I wrote a song motherf***r take a listen here
Heaven, Earth, take a seat and gimme your ear
Like rain and dew I’m flowin and I can’t go wrong
You can’t stop me motherf***r cuz I wrote a song

G is perfect, y’all (y’all) G is faithful, trick (trick)
You all crooked like a wack-looking broken stick (stick)
He set them nations up, gave them they own land
But you special Israel, so he keep you in his hand

He found you in the desert, kept you fed and ish
Got you the manna, that fulfilled your e’ery wish
But listen up now, that’s as real as it gets
I wrote this song motherf***r, don’t you ever forget

Had y’all all regal, on his back like an eagle
But y’all wanted to bail and go and mingle
G’s the king of the world, but y’all went and kicked him
Running after new g’s like y’all aint picked him
{Shut the f**k up, this song is REAL!!!}

F**k swords, he’ll send plague, motherf***r (motherf***r)
F**k men, he’ll send beasts, motherf***r (motherf***r)
He’ll send nations unleashed, motherf***r (yeah)
Y’all wish y’all were deceased, motherf***r

Hey y’all, if you could see y’all now (see y’all now)
Arms spread wide praying to a cow (to a cow)
G’s the only g, to this I avow (I avow)
Anyone one next him, that is just impossible

[T-Pain]
Yeah, don’t worry y’all I’ll still have ya backs
When y’all captors get too hard with the smacks (yeah)
Believe and pray to me, oh (all hands up high)
They’ll never think they’d see the day
When the big G comin they way
Believe me when I say, I’ll blow them away

[Chorus]

[T-Pain]
Whoahhh
Sha-sha-shorty, shorty
Yeah yeah yeahhh

Send “Haazinu” Ringtones to Cell

[good lord i think i felt brain cells die writing that. and this is how some people speak?  for real?  cmon now, didnt what you just read seem even vaguely ridiculous?  well thats how you sound.  lets get it together black ppl.  acting black is acting black. acting ghetto is just acting stupid…

…as for “urban parsha“…hey, when something is really, truly, internally yours?  you can have a lot of fun with it.  shabbat shalom.]

–MaNishtana

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Urban Parsha Nitzavim-Vayelech [deut 29:9-31:30]

urban parsha”.  it’s just like regular torah.  but ghetto.

and G said “my word is my bond. i had abraham, isaac, and jacob’s backs cuz we was boys. and now im sayin the same thing to y’all. you roll with me and i got you. but you run with some next g dudes, and we got problems. now y’all heard how imma go in on y’all if y’all try to punk me. but if y’all wanna bounce back and get ya mind right, i’m feeling that. y’all just gotta respect the game and do the damn thing. im not tryna make this hard for y’all, so don’t be on that ‘its too far for us. we need a dollar cab and ish’ tip. cuz, real talk? everything i told y’all is right up on you. y’all don’t gotta look for it.”

and moses said to joshua “im like a hunnit twenny, man. you takin over. you gonna be the one bringing the jew crew through, na mean? so when you roll out, put ya game face on and be about it. you do that and G got ya back. now get over here and hold this blessing real quick.”

and moses said  to israel “i need y’all to spit this piece right here like every seven years, aight?  and e’erybody gotta come through, cuz y’all need to check yourselves sometimes and be reminded how G does.  in fact, hold up.  lemme break y’all off with this freestyle one time.”

[good lord i think i felt brain cells die writing that. and this is how some people speak?  for real?  cmon now, didnt what you just read seem even vaguely ridiculous?  well thats how you sound.  lets get it together black ppl.  acting black is acting black. acting ghetto is just acting stupid…

…as for “urban parsha“…hey, when something is really, truly, internally yours?  you can have a lot of fun with it.  shabbat shalom.]

–MaNishtana

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We Hold These Truths To Be Pretty Obvious…

so i’m in an inspired mood.  empowered, even.  which is usually a bad thing. lol. no, no, im kidding. i thought id write in this inspired mode b/c i dont exactly relish writing out of frustration or exasperation all the time. so i decided to randomly compose a bill of rights of sorts for jews of color. dont get me wrong im not the first to have this kind of idea and there already are a couple of “privelege checklists” floating around out there.  but those lists to me seem to focus a lil bit too much on what others have or what we dont have or what we have to fight for to change. which can be a lil daunting and/or disheartening [though no less real or true]. so ive put together a lil something that focuses on what we can do, right now. by no means is it a mandate for everyone to agree with, but im sure there’s a lil something for everyone here. [incidentally, i was aiming for 13 to sorta crib off rambam’s articles of faith, but i ended up with only ten. think that means something? lol. also, feel free to shoot me in the face if i use “lil” or “something” one more damn time.]

the joc bill of rights

1-i have the right to be jewish without having to feel apologetic about being ethnic and as such being seen as “inauthentic“. this includes not having to feel guilty about taking pride in my ethnic background, referring to/quoting its influential figures, or pursuing/acknowledging issues important to it and achievements in it.

2-i have the right to be ethnic without having to feel apologetic about being jewish and as such being seen as a “sellout“. this includes not having to feel guilty about taking pride in my jewish heritage–whether acquired or inherited–referring to/quoting talmudic sages or current rabbis, or pursuing/acknowledging issues important to it and achievements in it.

3-i have a right to my anger if i am mistreated in a jewish setting or encounter without having to endure the caterwauling of ppl telling me to “be positive” or “not complain” or “to be a positive example“. i also have the right to speak out against unjust treatment without the threat of the shadow of “lashon hara” being cast upon me.

4-i have the right to answer your insipid questions concerning my judaism–especially when i am wearing the universal symbols of judaism–with as much or as little snark as i so desire, should i choose to answer your question at all. consider this: if you ask me if/how i’m jewish and im a convert, your questions are harrassing me and reminding me of where i came from–both torah no-nos.  if you ask me if/how i’m jewish and im a born jew, then you’re calling me and my family lineage into question, thereby insulting me–also a torah no-no. so either decide which strike you want against you, or you can logically infer a conclusion from context clues.  your choice.

5-i have the right to refuse to allow people half my age to treat me as if we’re equals just because i remind them of the ethnic housekeeper they live with and order around. i have the right to demand the respect my age commands.

6-i have the right to discuss/criticize the state of israel without the accusations or insinuations that my ethnic background is the reason for any disharmonious views i might hold on the jewish state.

7-i have the right to not be impressed with cowardly non-jewish minorities who are too afraid to say anything to “massa“, but feel that since i am ethnic, they are free to hurl their prejudices at me and attack me with vehement, bigoted sentiments they wouldnt dare say to my white counterparts.

8-i have the right to believe that it is not my responsibility to guide you onto the road of humanity.  if i have informed you that the words or actions you have displayed are offensive, it is not my duty to find you an alternative.  it is your duty to ensure that the actions you take and the words you speak are not offensive. just because ive reprimanded you does not obligate me to hold your hand until you’ve discovered how to treat others with the same respect you are afforded.

9-i have the right to pursue a relationship with someone who shares my background and culture without having to weather charges that i am hoping against hope for the “impossible“, being “unrealistic“, “limiting” myself, or being “racist“. if jews dont like hearing this from non-jews when it comes to partner-seeking, what makes it ok for jews to say it to other jews?

10-i have the right, should i choose to pursue a relationship with a jew outside of my “race“, to be offered a selection of partners of the same quality and caliber as if i were any other member of that race.  i have the right to refuse to be offered the aged, eccentrics, or outcasts.  i have the right to not allow myself to settle for a partner of a lesser quality or caliber than i would accept from my own race.

and there we have it. phone operators are standing by now. lol.

–MaNishtana

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Melacha Day Parade

sure this is a lil bit late, but i have a suggestion id like to make.

i would suggest that [rampant near-nakedness, general drunkenness, and occasional homicide aside] every jew, and especially every jew of color, should see the west indian day parade at least once. [and if you’re a jew who saw it pre-conversion, see it again post-jew]. i used to live in crown heights and remember listening to the music as each float passed by.  occasionally id get an extended glimpse of the parade before being shooed away from the window by my parents b/c of the slackness [500 pt caribbean slang bonus!] happening outside. but when i was a grown up, i was dragged practically kicking and screaming over to the parkway one year [“kicking and screaming” not b/c i was particularly trying to avoid the slackness [1000 pt double word score!], but b/c im not a big fan of people. can you tell?].

anyhoo, im glad i went.  because as im watching float after float go by with its different music and people dressed in their island’s flag and eating their different foods and flowing with their island’s pride and having a good time i couldn’t help but think “is this how it used to be back in the day when ppl brought bikkurim?  or would head up to yerushalayim for the shalosh regalim waving their tribe’s banner?” and channeling that present energy into vicarious enjoyment of the past was a really, really, really, good feeling. and there’s something i think we can all learn from the labor day parade.

for example, at the parade every float comes and reps its country with its own distinctive music, food, etc. and revels in it and celebrates it. but can we imagine if there was a jewish labor day parade? we’d have the ashkenazi float [with all its chabadnik, litvisher, yechi, na-nach, etc sections] and its gefilte fish, the sephardi float and its rice and beans, the temani float and its full beged-kefet, and the joc float that…well, is just pretty much the same thing we just saw in every other float, just differently ethnic. because as it stands, there’s nothing about us that would warrant its own float beyond skin.  and that’s part of why [part of why] we are looked at skin first: b/c that’s the only difference, really.  i mean, ashki/sefard and ashki/temani are also divided along a similar white v brown or less white axis.  but what comes to mind as the difference? no kitniyot v rice & beans for pesach.  tav/sav v gefen/jefen. if we’re to be looked at beyond color, then what we bring to the table needs to evolve beyond color.

as ive posted before, b/c jocs have a tendency to either join whats already around or wash away their ethnicity, instead of using their ethnicity to define and shape their observance and practices.  and whenever i propose that jocs should allow their backgrounds to influence their judaism, to create a minhag just the same way that europeans and north africans and middle easterners allowed theirs to create “ashkenaz” “sephard” “temani” etc, not only is there resistance from [some] jocs who for some reason cant comprehend the concept of having somewhere/thing that is your own, there are also opponents among those who have the luxury of actually having a homebase to operate from. their reasoning is “why cause more divisions?” [somehow oblivious to the fact that of course they don’t see the need for someone else to create what they themselves already have].

but do we really think that if, say, tobago broke off from trinidad and established itself as a separate culture that the rest of the west indies would be up in arms? that they’d try to stop them?  or do we think they’d just accept the new independent tobago and afford it the same respect in the parade as the rest of the islands. i mean they let puerto rico march, and they already have their own separate parade.  hell, guyana isn’t even invited and they still get to march. [give it up with the west-indian thing, guys. we all know you’re part of south america].

while some say it and mean it in its intended unifying sense, most of judaism seems to cling to the “a jew is a jew is a jew” mantra as a means to extinguish and discourage cultural individuality rather than to emphasize the beauty that despite being different with a disparate number of customs, we all follow the same torah as equals.  cmon now ppl, we haven’t learned yet to talk to the rock  instead of hitting it?

and then of course there’s the lesson of unity.  sure, every other day the rest of the year things may devolve into “this island” v “that island” confrontations or hostilities. or bad mouthing over who has better men or women.  but no matter what their differences are, they are all able to come together this one day every single year, leave everything else at the door, and say “we are all west indian, and let’s celebrate that. even you guyana. even though you’re really not.

now maybe this is just my experience, but ive rarely run into jews who are able to suspend whatever weekday prejudices they have for shabbat or chagim and say “we are all jews, and let’s celebrate this day together as jews.” i mean, some ppl are able to squeeze some of that out for rosh hashana and yom kippur, but lets be real, you’re just afraid youre gonna die so you’re trying to rack up some last minute points. come say hi to me and shake my hand when the spectre of death isn’t sitting on your living room couch drinking tea.

but anyways.

when i look at the labor day parade, im looking into a window into the past of what we were and into the future of what we can be again.  im not seeing that dude painted black with horns glued to his forehead surrounded by cantily sclad gyrating women, im seeing the ox with its gold covered horns carrying bikkurim surrounded by a procession of farmers and musicians bringing them to the bet hamikdash.  im not seeing the drunk dudes falling over themselves drinking guinness, im seeing a couple of guys who got caught up in the moment and feeling of simchat torah in yerushalayim and got a lil bit too carried away. im not seeing that girl convinced she can wear that too small flag as a dress…ok, so i am seeing that girl, but im also seeing the, um, y’know, the—okay so im just seeing the girl. 

but c’mon, she’s hot.

–MaNishtana

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Urban Parsha Ki Tavo [deut 26:1-29:8]

urban parsha”.  it’s just like regular torah.  but ghetto.

when y’all post up in the land, come holler at me. bring some grub by the crib.  some of them fruits and ish.  but the fresh stuff.  and imma need y’all to break the levite crew, that convert dude, the orphan and the widow off with some paper from time to time.  when y’all come through jordanville, i need y’all to get in the studio off gerizim and ebal and hook up some beats. i want sim-simma, l-veezy, ju da man, lil izzy, jo-jo, and bennie man to lay the bless tracks, and rubizzle, mr g, dr a, zeb’loon, d.a.n., and naphtallyman to spit the curse verses, aight? now im not sayin all this ish for my health.  i need y’all to do the damn thing. repsect the game and we got no beef.  i’ll make it rain for y’all. but if y’all wanna get reckless later and get yourselves all gassed up like you got things poppin, imma lace y’all up, buhlee dat. cuz im not feeling that ish. you know who i be? i can get plague and locust to roll deep on y’all.  call up some next dudes to bumrush y’all too. i will make ish hot up in this piece. have y’all running when no one’s busting shots. i’ll make sure that no one’ll wanna roll with y’all. have your shorty running off and have y’all cats eating each other and ish. that’s how i do. do y’all really wanna test this? y’all forgot how i rolled up on pharoah? or took out them og and sichon bustas? aight then.

[good lord i think i felt brain cells die writing that. and this is how some people speak?  for real?  cmon now, didnt what you just read seem even vaguely ridiculous?  well thats how you sound.  lets get it together black ppl.  acting black is acting black. acting ghetto is just acting stupid…

…as for “urban parsha“…hey, when something is really, truly, internally yours?  you can have a lot of fun with it.  shabbat shalom.]

–MaNishtana

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shemspeeding ticket

last thursday. bellhouse. 8:30. you had to be there. b/c that was when shemspeed broke my concert cherry with their shem summerfest closeout show.

first up for the night was six point star [http://www.myspace.com/thesixpointstar]. one: kudos to putting on such a good performance despite the fact there were only about 12 ppl in the audience at that point. two: kudos for being good, period. six point reminded of mid-to-late 90’s z-100 [yknow, back when they were still good and when rock hadn’t devolved into pop yet]. their sound was solid.  good vibrant rock not trying to be pop, not trying to climb out of the pop chasm, not aping the gin blossoms or pearl jam, original, refreshing, but familiar like an old friend you haven’t seen in a while.

next up and starting with a bang was…well, i don’t know their name b/c they don’t know their name, but we’ll just go with “eytan music” [http://www.myspace.com/eytanmusic]. excellent. [although i admit i saw a sax and a trombone and was hopefully expecting a lil bit more ska, but in retrospect i realize you need a couple of trumpets to pull that off]. anyhoo, imagine if queen, billy joel, the eagles, the beatles, bryan adams and night ranger all had a massive coke-induced orgy and gave birth to a child. you’d have eytan music, a multi-armed creature lubricated with melody. there was something comfortingly nostalgic about them that i couldn’t quite put my finger on. like i’d heard them on the soundtrack to my favorite movie circa 1987-92 during a particularly bittersweet moment but couldn’t remember what movie. also, they had something very key for concert full of jews: free cds.

third in line was a group i can only assume was can!!can based on the concert flyer. they were of the body-flailing-stage-writhing-crowd-jumping-super-heavy-death-metal-we’ve-got-satan-on-lead-guitar-and-beelzebub-doing-backup-vocals genre. apparently i draw the line at nin, rammstein, and tool. judging by the crowd can!!can was very good at what they did. i just didn’t like what it was that they were doing. again, not their fault, just not my thing.

after that brief detour onto cacophony drive, we merged back onto euphony highway with a [too] short solo performance by describe [http://www.myspace.com/describemusic] before the headlining dynamic duo of ylove [http://www.myspace.com/ylove] and describe took the stage. they were phenomenal as per usual [big surprise there, right? lol] and performed tracks off their “change” album [http://www.myspace.com/describeylove] such as “yaaleli”, “change”, and “make it”. now, i love “change” and “make it” [after all, i was in the videos. lol. yes, that was a shameless plug. deal with it] but the standout song for me that night was “bring it on down”. for some reason “bring it on down” breaks clear through the glass ceiling separating “jewish hip-hop” from “just hip-hop”.  i could’ve sworn fabolous or jermaine dupri was gonna come in for the next verse.

lastly, the final performance was brought to us by electro morocco, who deserved a much larger audience than the stragglers left behind after the describe/ylove performance. electro morocco was like hearing yoel sharabi in his heyday and that one sarit haddad song i like [“bosem tzarfati“]. however i am a lil bit mad that not only can’t i figure out how to purchase their music, they don’t even have the decency to have a shoddy enough myspace layout to allow me to steal their music off the site for free. [incidentally, im also looking at you, six point star].

all in all, an excellent show, even if it was held in the middle of nowhere surrounded by enough empty warehouses that one could conceivably be shanghied into a limo by edward g robinson and never be seen again.

finally, as ive promised to do for a while now, ive reviewed “until when”,  the debut album of artist prodezra, the beat-master behind the describe/ylove single “change”. [available here http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/prodezra, and here http://www.digstation.com/albumdetails.aspx?albumid=alb000030653, and on itunes]

first the bad news: “ein od milvado” and “the lamplighter” almost sound too similar to warrant separate tracks.  now the good news: they, and every other track on the cd, are awesome.

the tracks featuring nachman [“sound the alarm”, “one with him”, “stood at sinai”] are hard. there’s no other way to put it. you come away feeling a lil bit afraid that maybe the next gangsta you see might be rocking a kipah and tzitzit under the fitted cap and baggy jeans, or that the next black jew you run into keeps a glock in a hollowed out artscroll siddur. “from strength to strength” carries the same sentiment, and i just love the juxtaposition of an urbanized ashkenazi nusach with the [apparent] sounds of gunshots in the background. “the south niggun” is an infectiously addictive track that makes you very, very angry that it’s barely three minutes long. bless the good people at apple for creating the “repeat” option in itunes, b/c they’ll also have their hands full with the even more infectious and even shorterkoach”. “change”, the ylove/describe hit single, speaks for itself, but the instrumental track lets you hear the hard-grinding, ground-rumbling beat upfront and center like the front car of a rollercoaster. now if you’re trying to woo a jewish gal and get her in the mood…well, then you’re prolly breaking a gajillion rules, the least of which being yichud. so you might wanna hurry up and marry the girl so you can use “liora” to its fullest mellow, sensual potential. and maybe this is just my personal opinion, but i’d save the eponymous “until when” track and “masa l’geulah” for either the coldest of winter nights when you need something to make you get up and go, or for those hot hot summer days when you’re tooling down the highway with the top down. at any rate, get the cd. trust me.

–MaNishtana

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Urban Parsha Ki Tetze [deut 21:20-25:19]

urban parsha”.  it’s just like regular torah.  but ghetto.

when you roll up on some next dudes, lemme just put you on that they got some fly a$$  dimepieces. like on the wifey tip. now if y’all wanna bring one of them shorties back to the crib, they gots to respect the jew game too.  she gotta drop the weave from a hot minute and getting her nails did and get her mind right. if y’all can put up with all that ish and her looking type busted, then do you. if you got two baby mamas and one of them stay stressing you, dont be punking her lil man. if dude is firstborn, he firstborn, aight? now if your lil mans turn 13 and starts straight up violating like he a big man and ish, acting mad reckless on the corner drinking 40s and tricking with them hoes, and he clown you like you ain’t ish, then take him in front of popo and dead his a$$. dont be leaving no bodies posted up after dark, tho. that ish is disrespectful. them ammonite and moabite bustas aint about nothin. they tried to play y’all. show the edomites love, tho, cuz they fam, and the egyptains get respect cuz they housed you. but make sure y’all smoke them amalekite fools, cuz they aint got no home training.

–MaNishtana

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Urban Parsha Shoftim [deut 16:18-21:9]

urban parsha”.  it’s just like regular torah.  but ghetto.

and so G said, “so when y’all get up in the crib, y’all needs to set up some popo and 5-0. and make sure them cats ain’t shady, neither. also, don’t come up in My House with some busted looking heifer telling me “nah G, its cool. this is for you.”  that ish is not sweet. now y’all are gonna want someone over y’all like a boss, so go ahead and do you, but dude can’t be od-ing on all them rides, bagging mad dimepieces, and chasing that paper. if you happen to accidentally smoke a dude, i got you. i got some cribs set up where you can dip for a minute. when i tell y’all to roll up on some next cats, y’all be ready to roll out. but if you got a new crib you aint posted up in yet, or planted some trees you ain’t got to blaze yet, or bagged a shorty but aint wifed her up yet, or if you just straight up p*****, y’all aint got to roll with the crew.”

[good lord i think i felt brain cells die writing that. and this is how some people speak?  for real?  cmon now, didnt what you just read seem even vaguely ridiculous?  well thats how you sound.  lets get it together black ppl.  acting black is acting black. acting ghetto is just acting stupid…

…as for “urban parsha“…hey, when something is really, truly, internally yours?  you can have a lot of fun with it.  shabbat shalom.]

–MaNishtana

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