Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

News Fast!

circa 1970:  Israeli statesman and former prime minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion (1886 - 1973), who was committed to establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
circa 1970: Israeli statesman and former prime minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion (1886 - 1973), who was committed to establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

So the driver says to me: “No news! Just don’t listen or watch it–Lo manyen oti! (no interest to me).  I perk my ears up. “That’s why we have a government and the army! To take care of things. Let them worry”.  I am super attentive at something that sounds both crazy and intriguing.  He continues, “I was in Greece a few weeks ago, a place called Katerina, on the water; it was pure bliss.  Not a peep of news. Then I returned home.  Decided not to hear news.  Now I feel like I’m in Switzerland.  Free. After work, I only watch soccer and a soap opera or two.”  From the back seat I look at this guy and without him knowing , he’s leading me out of Mitzrayim/Egypt.

I am actually obsessed with the news, every morning digesting no less than 14 different news outlets and publications. “It gets me closer to the “truth”, I think to myself.  But after my daily “fix” I’m nervous and depressed for a good part of the day.  Furthermore, I’m powerless to change 99.9% of what I hear and see.

The driver (Moshe is his name) says to me, “You should try it. Block it out.  Who cares about this bomb, and this shooting, and whatever.  We can’t do anything about it.”  “Well I’m ready to give it a shot”, I reply. ‘Thanks”. I think to myself: “No more hearing Bibi, Trump, CNN commentators, NY Times, US Today, HaAretz, the Post, I24, Guardian, Washington Post…(oh TOI, maybe I’ll sneak a glance from time to time, but isn’t that  cheating?  According to Moshe’s rule, it is.)

Waze tells Moshe to get off at Beit Safafa/Begin junction.  I tell him to drive on to the Gilo exit–when suddenly there’s a huge monster traffic jam. We are stuck for another twenty minutes. He is cool as a cucumber sitting on a slab of vanilla ice cream.  He starts to sing.  He says “we’ll get there anyways.”  (I think to myself, “Am I in Kansas”? )  Now, any other cabby would have freaked out, practically throwing me out on my ass.  But he is calm and collected.  It’s almost scary!

I think to myself, “Hmm, maybe this news things works! It certainly seems to work for this guy”.  I glance at his balding head, it’s bobbing back and forth while he’s singing; he must be in mid 40’s, but acting teen-age-y.  Incredible! It’s as if he is enjoying the traffic jam! I thought, “This is a guy has nerves of steel”.  We arrive. He drops me off.

So here I am, sitting at home; for the last hours I’ve been going a little nuts.  The TV and computers are all OFF.  I checked my email on the tablet, then shut IT off.  I look out the window and see bright green trees dancing.  Suddenly I realize, I am in Switzerland!  I think, “Now how is all this going to work? What if an asteroid is about to hit us?  What if it’s revealed that S, B and M are having a menage a trois? What if the sky is falling?  What if OH’s trousers drop any lower.  What if the Knesset declares a day of love? (I heard that in England they have a Ministry of Happiness). What if..what if..”

They say fasts are healthy: juice fasts, fruit fasts, etc.  So why not a two week news fast?  What harm could it possibly do?  By Moshe’s philosophy, if you want to get out of Egypt don’t look back, sideways, or up..just forward, with no one whispering news in your ears, “nada“.  I am still taking all this in.  Meanwhile, please feel to call or write me in two weeks when I’ve done MY news fast, lounging in Woody Allen’s pleasure chamber, detoxing myself from good news, bad news, fake news, funny news, whatever. When I return, you will for sure see me smiling and rooting for the home team.

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About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA). His teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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