Thursday, April 07, 2011

My Run-in with Yankees Security - and the Start of "Bad Behavior II"

While "The Year of Bad Behavior" is being finalized (Coming soon! Patience!), I've been patiently waiting for an interesting story to begin "Bad Behavior II: More Scalawags, Dirtbags, Bullyrags and Lollygags" (Whaddya think of the title?). Finally, I got my story, and this is how my new book will begin:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I try to head out to The Stadium at least once a year to catch my beloved Yankees. I usually go with my brothers-in-law. They and my wife are from Minnesota, and the trash-talking is a lovely enhancement of the baseball experience.

My party makes its way inside and I’m last in, but security stops me. This is the conversation that ensues:

Security guy: “That’s a Kindle.”
Me: “Yeah?”
Security guy: “I’m sorry, sir, you can’t come into the stadium with a Kindle.”
Me: “What?”
Security guy: “I’m sorry, you can’t come in with it.”
Me: “Why not?”
Security guy: “Um, hey , I’ve got a guy with a Kindle.”
Pit boss: “I’m sorry sir, you can’t come in with a Kindle.”
Me: “Why not?”
Pit boss: “It’s a distraction, sir.”
Me: “A distraction? A distraction for what?”
Pit boss: “Fouls balls, announcements n’ stuff.”
Me: “In that case, you shouldn’t let me in with this book (Too Far From Home, by Chris Jones), or anyone with a BlackBerry or phone, or kids!”
Pit boss: “I’m sorry sir, I don’t make the policy.”
Me: “Of course you don’t. Fine, is there a locker I can rent where I can put in my bag?”
Pit boss: “No sir, sorry.”
Me: “What? Is Yankee stadium going to turn away my business?”
Pit boss: “Well, there are stores around where you can rent a locker.”
Me: “Okay, can you point me to one?”
Pit boss: “Try Stan’s, it’s about a block and a half that way.”

So I look for Stan’s, which is half a block away, but there are no lockers to speak of, just open space behind the counter. And whaddya know is back there? Dozens of Kindles with tags on them!

I grab some food from the kosher stand, rejoin my group, wipe off the slight drizzle from my seat, sit myself down, enjoy the atmosphere – and the game is postponed.

Postponed? This isn’t even rain! It’s mist! I say, if we can sit through it, you can play through it. Somebody get me the Steinbrenners on the phone. Arrrgh, whatever, I’m outta here, and I’m sure the policy about rained out tickets is a very simple process.

On the train home, three clearly inebriated Yankee fans spot a Twins fan halfway down the train (overlooking my brother-in-law and nephew, whose hats are covered by hoodies) and have the following conversation at 145 decibels:

Drunks: “Ahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Minnesota sucks!”
Twinkie: “Yeah, well they didn’t suck last night!”
Sots: “Yeah, well they sucked the night before! Hahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
Minnesotan: “Yeah, well they sucked against Texas last year!”
Boozers: “Yeah, well you suck! Ahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

Okay, so they don’t descend into “Hey Trebek, I had shecks with your mother lasht night” territory, but jeez, can you keep it down a bit? And how drunk are you when we didn’t even get a game in???

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Results of the JRunners Run for Our Place 5.55k

Results of the JRunners Run for Our Place 5.55k
by Martin Bodek

JRunners has blazed a path for itself via various races and surrounding events. The club has received much attention for its preaching of fitness in the Jewish community and strong ties to important organizations within. They have raised awareness for ALS via their inaugural Brooklyn-to-Catskills relay race, are now benefiting the Ohr Meir foundation via their second relay race this year, and organized a fun loop around Prospect Park for the benefit of Our Place to raise funds to avoid having the facility and its services shut down.

On a gorgeous morning, the likes of which have not been enjoyed by runners in these parts for months, 101 men and 113 women toed the line for the 5k-and-then-some race on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011.

The start was electric with the music blasting, the dignitaries speeching, the runners reminiscing, Shlomie Dachs anthem renditioning, and out-of-the-starting-gate blasting. For the men’s race, The Hill made quick work out of the runners who did not expect the steep, sustained incline. Once the running of The Hill was complete, the top six positions held pretty much until the finish line, proving how brutal and everlasting that hill actually is.

The top 10 males completed the 5.55k course in the following order:

1 Mordechai Ovits, 34, 22:16, 6:27/M
2 Yaakov Bressler, 18, 22:35, 6:33/M
3 Matt Katz, 33, 22:50, 6:37/M
4 Moshe Gamss, 25, 23:27, 6:48/M
5 Martin Bodek, 35, 23:49 6:54/M
6 Yoel Sontag, 16, 23:59, 6:57/M
7 Moishe Sanders, 45, 24:09, 7:00/M
8 Sender Kruto, 45, 24:21, 7:03/M
9 Yisroel Pupko, 30, 24:27, 7:05/M
10 Steven Gelbtuch, 29, 24:33, 7:07/M

Age group victors were:

13-19: Yoel Sontag
20-29: Moshe Gamss
30-39: Martin Bodek
40-49: Moishe Sanders
50-59: Daniel Stirewalt
60-69: Noah Lantor

For the women’s race, the top 10 ladies completed their loop as follows:

1 Dena Nierenberg,NY, ?, 27:25, 7:57/M
2 Baila Miller, 44, 28:38, 8:18/M
3 Rachel Weissman, 25, 28:53, 8:23/M
4 Abigail Bryskin, 29, 28:59, 8:24/M
5 Leah Salomon, 24, 29:16, 8:31/M
6 Sheindy Brach, 28, 30:19, 8:47/M
7 Miriam Wielgus, 46, 30:24, 8:49/M
8 Mimi Strauss, 33, 30:30, 8:50/M
9 Miriam Soffer, 53, 30:44, 8:54/M
10 Chani Jeter, 26, 31:29, 9:08/M

Age group champions were:

13-19: Nechama Kurland
20-29: Abigail Bryskin
30-39: Mimi Strauss
40-49: Miriam Wielgus
50-59: Miriam Soffer
60-69: Hilda Zoldan
70-79: Erna Bollag

Once the handsome trophies and well-earned medals were handed out to the deserving recipients, the following were handed out in the minds and hearts of all the runners. If we can work fast enough, these will one day soon take place in the real world:

The Will Smith I Make this Look Good award: Mordechai Ovits – Mordechai took it real easy, with an upright gait, legs close together and eaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasygoing stride. He kept the same form over The Hill as he did at the finish, taking his first-ever crown by nineteen seconds over the next competitor.

The Secretariat 31 Lengths Award: Dena Nierenberg – Dena destroyed her competition in the women’s race and strode across the finish line in 27:25, fully one minute and thirteen seconds over second place. Wow.

The Montell Jordan This is How We do It Award: Yaakov Bressler – Yaakov loped into second place with a running form that the elites use: The kicking yourself in the behind stride. If you watch films of champion sprinters, you will notice this unique style of running, which is difficult to maneuver into if you’ve been running for years. Therefore, Yaakov, don’t change the way you run. You’re 18 and off to an awesome start.

The Ce Ce Peniston Finally Award: Martin Bodek – in Martin’s 143rd professional road race in 15 years of running, he medaled for the first time, obliterating his 5k PR by 33 seconds en route to the 5.55k finish. Martin could not believe he hung with the leader pack over The Hill and through to the finish. He credits his goofy Vibram shoes and forefoot striking for his newfound propulsion. We’ll be expecting big things from him.

The Muhammad Ali Rumble Young Man Rumble Award: Yoel Sontag – Not only was Yoel was the youngest male competitor in the race, he placed 6th overall despite dropping his yarmulke at the 5k mark and losing valuable seconds sprinting back for it. Impressive Kiddush Hashem and impressive running performance.

The Laila Ali Rumble Young Lady Rumble Award: Zoe Poznanski – all of 9 years old, Zoe ran with her grandmother, Savta Lynn, all the way to the finish line and crossed together at 50:44. 9! Awesome! Zoe’s dad, Mark (Lynn’s son) followed closely behind to make sure both his daughter and mom were okay. Three generations! Awesomer!

The Renaissance of the Middle Ages Award: Moishe Sanders – Moishe taught some young fellas a thing or two with his 7th place (and age group champion) placing. We are impressed.

The Dean Karnazes Run to the Race Award: Yisroel Pupko – Sruli ran – and showed GPS evidence of this – 3.45 miles to the 3.45 mile race to make it on time. Hey, Sruli, next time, run clockwise from the zoo instead of counterclockwise, and you’ll be at the start in 20 seconds.

The Steve Prefontaine Guts Award: Chani Jeter – This is our favorite award to hand out. We actively seek out and pore over all the injury stories to find the one that is most inspiring to us. We found one in Chani’s story: Three months ago, she slipped on a patch of ice and tore two ligaments in her left heel. She was given the all-clear to run just two weeks ago. She signed up to run on the Thursday preceding the race and placed 10th in the women’s race. Great show, Chani! Now we think you should go back to heel-tapping, because it hasn’t helped your batting average so far. Oh, CHANI Jeter. Oops.

The Family that Runs Together Award: Chesky and Shaindi Rand – your humble beat reporter has been fomenting some spousling rivalry amongst this happy couple, and it’s finally proven fruitful. Chesky demolished his per mile PR by 16 seconds and Shaindi took the gold for her age group. I’d call this round a draw.

The Tergat/Ramaala Photo Finish Award: Shim Perlman and Jesse Asher - Shim and Jesse crossed the finish line arm-over-shoulder together (the reason for which is still being investigated) in unison with such precision that both clocked at exactly 32:54.3. This means, you realize, that they started at the exact same time as well. They can start a new Olympic sport called Synchronized Running.

The Biggest Loser/Greatest Gainer Award: David Balassiano – Before: 273 pounds, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, 82nd place in the first JRunners 5k. After: 203 pounds, normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, no diabetes, 47th place in his second JRunners 5k. David plans to join us for the 200k and promises to do his best to be the first Sephardi to win a 5k race. To this we can only say Ya’alili!

The The Doobie Brothers Takin’ it to the Streets Award: Shoshanna Friedman – Shoshanna keeps fit at home in Queens, but heard about the race through her association with Our Place. She showed up and claimed the bronze medal for her age category! Not bad for the first time out at a road race! She asked that our very own trainer, Chaim Backman, get recognition for his invaluable assistance to her and opined that JRunners is a nice group of people. Oh GO on!

The Methusela Award: Noah Lantor and Erna Bollag – Noah and Erna were our most senior finishers, and how old they are is none of your business, thank you very much.

The Dick and Rick Hoyt Be All You Can Be Award: Aron Greenstien Pushed his grandfather Avraham Silverman in his wheelchair all the way to the finish. Mr. Silverman is 88 years old, and is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He served our country in World War II in North Africa in the infantry and in Italy as a bomber against the axis powers. I was proud to be standing next to these two gentlemen as the National Anthem was played.

The Kelly Gneiting I’ll Crawl if I Have to Award: Chanina “Sam” Grush – Sam is extremely passionate about Our Place, and signed up to complete the race no matter what. Sam weighs 500 pounds, but would not be daunted, saying, “If it takes me all day, I will crawl to the finish line, or if need be, walk cross-country in order to garner support and donations to keep Our Place going.”

And therefore, with an exclamation point, you can see why JRunners partnered with Our Place for this amazing, fun and important race.
If you buy Martin’s book – Bush II, Book I, available on – then he would be delighted to sign it for you at the next JRunners 5k race, taking place Sunday, May 22nd in Teaneck, NJ.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ya’alili Music Video: A Play-by-Play Review

It behooves you as a Jewish music lover to watch the following video and not immediately consider converting to another religion.

After all, the music is awesome. The cinematography is top rate. But the music video - shot in a kosher supermarket with product placement and singing fish - is troubling on a variety of levels. Most of which, that someone actually thought of this as a cool music video idea. (they were right, 200k views later) Therefore, to really appreciate this magical bizarre video without throwing up in your mouth - we sincerely suggest mass amounts of narcotics before viewing. So now a brief play by play:

“Ya’alili” is a meaningless word that translates to “meaningless word.” It is also the hottest hummable stuck-in-your-ear candy-coated music sensation since The Maccabeats sang their way into America’s hearts with their knockoff-of-a-knockoff song “Candlelight.”

“Ya’alili" is sung by the group “8th Day” and is YouTubable at a kosher browser near you. The video begins in Pomegranate, a grocery store designed by a squad of architects tripping on acid, by showcasing Jews from every walk of life: the Haredi Jew, the Litvish Jew, the Zionistic Jew, the Hippie Jew and the token PC black guy who clearly found himself in the wrong supermarket.

Before the music begins, the story is framed by your now-standard token Jew-with-a-chip-on-his-shoulder-who-will-see-the-light-of-day-before-the-clip-is-over. He’s closely related to the now-standard Jew-hurls -epithets-at-the-Gentile-help-but-has-change-of-heart-once-he-learns-Leroy-or-Guadalupe-actually-understands-Yiddish-but-has-hidden-that-fact-for-twenty-years.

The happy-go-lucky cashier, who is unaware he’s above water because he’s still wearing goggles, announces “Ya’alili” over the PA, and the music and dancing and grooving begins. Why he is wearing a winter coat? Just adds to his mystery.

Then suddenly this modern kosher supermarket is infiltrated by snakecharmer Sephardic musicians and guitarists in the cereal aisle. If you haven't started on those pills, please do so now.

A teenager mopping the floor suddenly goes Fred Astaire by dancing with a mop. The kid’s got moves. Like The Maccabeats, he won’t be single for long, if indeed he isn’t yet spoken for.

The butchers in the meat department then start banging their knives around, dangerously close to each other. Since the closing credits don’t say, “No shochtim were harmed in the making of this film,” it must be assumed that indeed, and unfortunately, they must have massacred each other.

Then three fish sing part of the chorus, which proves, once again, especially after the scandal in Monsey and tons of historic folklore along the same lines, that Jews simply love talking fish.

The Sephardic Jews again, with their traditional jam band outfits in the dairy section! Man, this would be great to watch while on drugs.

Wait, is that one of the butchers on the drums? Where’s the other guy? Whoa, maybe I was right. Oh, there he is again. Pshew!

And now the singers break for an apparent hot stuff eating contest. Interesting. Did you know the hotness of peppers is rated in scovilles? Now you do. (sellout alert!)

There’s the dancing kid again, definitely spoken for at this point, and the butchers dancing like Rockettes, and more hippie Jews, and the guitarist is choking on the peppers, and there are those hilarious fish again!

Trippy musical interlude by the musicians dressed like Sefardi royalty, and hey, is that Balki Bartokomous? And where did that Lubavitcher guy come from? Nice moves!

Speaking of moves, that good-looking kid is back. Whoa, put him on Cirque-du-Soleil with those crazy backflips! And look, he’s joined by his friends, dancing NSYNC/Backstreet Boys style.

Back to our chip-on-the-shoulder Jewish friend, who’s suddenly realized LSD is some real, real good stuff, and exits the store, presumably directly into traffic.

Aaaaaand credits, every one of which is Chaim Marcus. Why doesn’t he just put everything he did in one shot? Couldn’t he get some help anyway? Did he really do this all by himself? And how come there’s no acting credits? I recognize some of the actors, but can’t quite place them.

Anyway, the video is mostly meaningless fun. In other words, it’s all Ya’alili.

Martin Bodek is co-founder of, beat reporter for, surname columnist for, and author of "Bush II, Book I," availalble on

Monday, April 04, 2011

My 5.55K PR - and First Ever Running Medal!!!

The fastest and greatest race of my life, hands down. The weather was perfect, I was well-rested, psyched and feeling really good. We busted out of the starting gate in a hurry, but the immediate hill quickly weeded out the hacks while the elites left them all in the dust. Halfway up that hill, I was in 2nd place, with the leader 20 feet in front of me, and I thought, "Is he not going that fast, or am I faster than I think I am?" I think it was a combination of both. Once the hill was done, I was passed by 3 runners (Ovits, Gamss, Bresler), and these positions held all the way till the finish, proving how ridiculously difficult that hill is, and how it really does separate the chaff from the wheat.

Mile 1: Finished, including The Hill, in 7:17.

Mile 2: 6:35, I repeat, 6:35. I don't think I've ever gone faster for a mile during a race.

Mile 3: 6:44. I hit the mark in 20:38, 6:53 per mile to that point.

Mile 3.1. I hit the 5k mark at 21:20, obliterating my 5K PR by 33 seconds, still holding on to the 6:53 pace, 9 seconds per mile faster for any 5k I've ever run.

Then a kid in front of me dropped his yarmulka. As I passed, I said, "Oops, that'll slow you down a bit." I didn't mean anything by it. However, he put on his yarmulka, bolted past me, and said, "Bye!" as he did so. He forgot the number 1 rule of Martin Bodek's Competitive Running Club: You do not trash Martin Bodek, else he will thrash you. So I thrashed him and kicked his skinny little punk-ass as I motored past him and left him flagging in my wake.

Mile 3.45: I thundered across the finish line in ‎23:49! 5th place! 1st in my age group! first racing medal of my life! 6:54 per mile! Woohoo!