- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

Jewish in Seattle
“Seattle is best known as the birthplace of American cappuccino culture. It’s no surprise, then, that Seattleite Asher Hashash suggests we meet at one of the city’s 25 Starbucks. Hashash runs the Jewish Entertainment Network, a social group geared to 20- and 30-somethings, and we are here to talk about Seattle’s burgeoning young Jewish scene. …
“Gesturing around the cafe’s faux living room, crowded with young mothers and even younger dot-commers hard at work on laptops, Hashash waxes philosophical about his adoptive city. ‘Seattle is not the East Coast, but we are still part of the same hurried lifestyle we run from car to work to computer. Starbucks taps into the need to just meet and talk, to be part of a community. Now why can’t a Jewish Community Center or a synagogue do that?’ …
“For many 20- and 30-somethings in this flagship Gen X city, Jewish life does not center around minyan. … ‘Young Jews around here aren’t running to synagogues,’ Hashash tells me, ‘but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t thirsting for some kind of Jewish content.’
Leah Platt, writing on “Fresh-Brewed Judaism,” in the February issue of Moment magazine

Open secret
“It’s not as if it’s going to come as a surprise. On April 23, when daytime chat show hostess, magazine magnate and mother of three Rosie O’Donnell releases her autobiography ‘Find Me,’ readers all across the country will reportedly learn about her family, her rise to fame and her romantic relationships with women.
“O’Donnell’s revelation is at once a no-brainer and a bombshell. … It’s difficult to imagine that anyone, even the dullest blade among the entertainment gobbling populace, hasn’t sussed it out by now. …
“On the other hand, it’s not that simple. No matter how casually she may try to do it, this is a big deal. Having an open secret, a winking, don’t ask, don’t tell, personal life is one thing. Being officially out of the closet is another. … O’Donnell will easily become the biggest celebrity to ever cop to being gay, an entertainer at the height of her fame whose target audience is composed largely not of Pride Fest flag wavers but bake sale cupcake makers. Are the ordinary housewives who thumb her magazine for craft projects ready to accept their icon as an openly homosexual woman?”
Mary Elizabeth Williams, “Coming out Rosie,” Wednesday in Salon at www.salon.com

Hi-tech ‘talent’
“The computer’s proliferation has affected every element of recording. Can’t sing to save your life? Punch in a few numbers or twist a knob to achieve perfect pitch and the timing of vocal phrases, and you can sound like literally, in many cases a million dollars. …
“When MTV debuted two decades ago, the movement accelerated toward signing artists based not on vocal ability but on how appealing they would be on video. Vocals were put through the technology wringer from that point on. …
“[Producer John Macy explains:] ‘Now, everybody uses AutoTune software which goes in and analyzes and corrects the pitch for you. I can fix my 12-year-old’s flat or sharp or out-of-sync vocals in the blink of an eye.’
“Producers and engineers were messing with the title word from Cher’s ‘Believe,’ trying to widen or spread the word, referred to as flanged. They couldn’t get the effect they wanted it, but they liked the way the word sounded and left it in and wound up with the No. 1 hit
of 1999.”
G. Brown, writing on “High tech ability to mask shortcomings puts musical talent in a minor key,” Feb. 3 in the Denver Post

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