For the last five years in New York, I had the honor of co-hosting the infamous Punk Rock Seder, AKA The Hardest Working Seder in Showbusiness, AKA The Congos Feast of the Passover. Together Garth and I cooked feasts for 35, adopted new Passover traditions, even synthesized our own haggadah. We’ve had guests end the night asleep in the bathtub in a half-inch of used Manischevitz-–now that's a party.
So it was hard for me to imagine how on earth I was going to find a seder that could compare. Would I understand the text? Would it be OK to laugh? Could I even find anyone I wanted to spend the holiday with? Thank god for Eszter, who invited us to the Síraly Seder at Adam’s house (and spent the whole night translating for us!) The scene was much like our Brooklyn seders: jews and non-jews together, too many cooks in the kitchen, lots of jokes and textual arguments and digressions. Síraly published a special Passover issue of their in-house zine, comparing four different haggadahs side by side, including a 1920s joke haggadah.
The 1920s joke haggadah, written by Jews to lampoon Hungarian anti-semites, out-Borated Borat. In this joke version, the plagues include luxury tax and having to buy a ticket to ride the metro. The joke version of Dayenu? “If God had taken us out of Galicia, but not brought us to Hungary, Dayenu! If God had brought us to Hungary, but not to Budapest, Dayenu! If he had brought us to Budapest, but not invented the stock market, Dayenu!...”
The zine also featured some modern humor, illustrating the story of the The Four Children as follows:
The Wise Child: Wise Child comic cover
The Wicked Child: Evil Clown
The Simple Child: George Bush
The Child Who Does Not Even Know How to Ask: Paris Hilton
Well, it turned out I could really understand a lot, even without Eszter’s narration. The songs were the same, even the melodies. The dishes, the order of the meal, comparing notes with my neighbor on our grandfathers’ seders—just like home. Even the littlest guest stealing the afikomen...
Easter Sunday was a beautiful beautiful spring day. Rick and I walked up Gellert hill.
I’ve heard a lot about this Hungarian Easter tradition where men spray women with water or perfume, and women give them a painted egg. I actually spotted a bunch of giggling kids with huge water bottles in our neighborhood, ringing doorbells and looking like anxious trick-or-treaters.
The night ended in our first party at the apartment of the famous Tom Popper. Tom knows and likes literally everyone in the city. He’s easygoing, sociable, friendly, interesting, in short, the perfect host. Before I met him I heard so much about “Tom Popper’s” that I actually assumed it was a bar.
I was at the party to participate in an American Roots jam with Bob Cohen and a visiting musician/writer friend. We started playing around 9 and didn’t look up until about 12:30. During that time the party had changed dramatically. The night started with a bunch of long-term expats eating ham and talking to eachothers’ children. By 1 am everyone was young and rambunctious and loud and trashed. People danced to our Bob Wills tunes. A bald guy sat listening to us stock-still for over four hours, then wordlessly keeled over onto Tom's bed. The cast of the BBC’s Robin Hood series (which apparently shoots in Budapest) showed up. We met Will Scarlett and Robin Hood himself. They had a curly-haired, big-bellied friend who we assumed was Friar Tuck, but he turned out to be just some dude. When Rick and I stumbled home at 2:45 am, a whole new group of people were just getting there. Happy Easter!
5 months ago