(JTA) — When she sits down to write song lyrics, Sabrina Teitelbaum, who records music under the moniker Blondshell, doesn’t plan to reference her Jewishness. It just spills out in subtle turns of phrase.
In her song “Sepsis,” for instance, the quickly-rising 25-year-old rocker sings: “I think I believe in getting saved/Not by Jesus validation/In some dude’s gaze.”
In “Salad,” her latest track, which she debuted on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show Tuesday night, she flirts with the idea of poisoning a friend’s abuser. She sings: “Look what you did/You’ll make a killer of a Jewish girl.”
“I was bat mitzvahed and the whole thing, but I don’t know — I think, culturally, my Judaism finds its way into my music, even in ways that I haven’t really been aware of until somebody brought it up,” she said on Zoom last week from her home in Los Angeles.
Jewish-tinged dark humor is rarely seen in indie rock, especially in the woman-dominated subsets of the genre that Blondshell is being associated with, alongside the likes of Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy and Mitski. And she’s not afraid of putting it out there — the press release for “Salad” notes the song’s “nod” to her Jewishness and the fact that it came out on the first night of Passover.
Teitelbaum’s self-titled album, which is getting rave reviews in advance of its release on Friday, is full of the coming-of-age stories and feelings found in shows like “Girls” and “Broad City.” On “Kiss City,” she sings, “I think my kink is when you tell me that you think I’m pretty.” On “Joiner”: “You’ve been running around LA with trash/Sleeping in bars with a gun in your bag/Asking can I be somebody else.”
The constant undertone is one of personal trauma — from unhealthy relationships, bad sex and other dark things in her personal life that she didn’t want to elaborate on.
“There are just ways of talking about trauma that I think are kind of distinctly Jewish,” she said, “and that comes up in my music for sure.”
It’s all accompanied by earworm pop melodies and the thick guitar sounds found in some of her biggest influences from the ’90s, like Hole (Courtney Love’s main outfit) and PJ Harvey.
Teitelbaum was born in New York to a Jewish dad and a mom who converted to Judaism. She spent a lot of time watching “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and clips of Sarah Silverman standup on YouTube with her sister. The family attended a Reform synagogue and celebrated the major holidays.
She spent two years in USC’s music writing program before dropping out to fast-track her career. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she wrote electronic pop under the name BAUM. But during lockdown, she dug deep back into ’90s rock and set out at first with just a goal of improving her guitar skills.
“I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to get better. And I’m going to sit down and practice for an hour a day,’ or whatever it was. And I would procrastinate by writing,” she said. “Because I was like, I don’t want to do scales and get better at chord structure, those things. So yeah, it was me trying to get better at guitar that led to everything.”
After finishing a batch of songs as Blondshell, she signed to the buzzy Partisan Records — home to a slew of acclaimed rock groups, such as Fontaines, D.C., Idles and The Black Angels — and began releasing songs last summer. She was quickly grouped together with the vanguard of other female alt-rockers, who have been relentlessly talked about in music journalism for about a decade. The comparisons bring up mixed feelings.
“It can be flattening. People are like, ‘You’re the wave of songwriters, Phoebe Bridgers and Soccer Mommy,’” she said. “My music doesn’t sound anything like Phoebe Bridgers.”
But she added that she is prone to do some categorizing, too.
“There are a lot of women in rock. And so I also get it and I myself have done it when I’m talking about who had been influenced by — I’m like, you know, women in rock in the 90s, PJ Harvey and Courtney Love. I’m also grouping them together.”
Heading out to tour last year across the heart of the country in a van was a startling experience. It was the first time in a while — possible ever — where, as a Jew, she felt like a minority.
“I’m always surrounded by other Jews — like everybody I work with is Jewish,” she said, referencing her manager (Shira Knishkowy), her producer (Yves Rothman) and others she has met in the industry. She mentioned other Jewish rockers she has looked up to, too, including Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and the sisters of Haim.
“[Now] this thing keeps happening where I’m like the only Jew on a tour… It’s a new experience that I’m having,” she said. “It kind of gives a different context to my upbringing, and to who ends up feeling familiar to me.”
In a recent conversation with her Jewish grandmother, Teitelbaum was asked a familiar question.
“She was like, ‘What’s your manager’s name?’ I said ‘Shira.’ She said, ‘Oh, a nice Jewish girl. Does she know her name means song?’ And I was like, ‘she knows,’” Teitelbaum said with a laugh.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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