Thanksgivukkah Is Coming and It Will be the Greatest Night of Our Lives
Thanksgivukkah 2013 is just around the corner and no one is more excited for it than me. Okay maybe Rob Reiner. That’s right, Thanksgiving, the national holiday where we give thanks for the previous year’s harvest and the first night of Hanukkah, the Hebrew festival of lights both fall on the same day. This quirk of the calendar has created one giant, starchy, delicious, guilt-riddled holiday for us to enjoy. It’s one of the rare occasions when something secular and something Jewish combines perfectly. It’s basically like if Liev Schrieber and Naomi Watts’ wedding ceremony was made into a national holiday minus the chocolate fountain. It’s also the opposite of watching George W. Bush light a menorah… or struggle to say “mazel tov” in that stupid hillbilly accent.
I don’t know about you but my inner Mandy Patinkin is kvelling! But before we get into all the wondrous things about Thanksgivukkah let’s take a step back and figure out how exactly this “mitzvah” (blessing) happened so that we may adequately thank “Adonai” (God, or as my people call him “G-d”) for allowing us to be alive during this once in a lifetime opportunity.
How to Survive Thanksgiving
Immediately after the big Thanksgiving meal, the scene in my parents’ house usually plays out something like this: I’ve got indigestion, everybody hates the Cowboys, and a baby or animal has thrown up in my brother’s lap. Thanksgiving is more agreeable with the aid of a cocktail.
For most people, the liquor cabinet at one’s parents’ house hasn’t been updated since the DeLorean was considered cool. But if you’re lucky, there’s a good chance that a bottle of America’s oldest spirit, applejack, lurks behind those unopened bottles of cream sherry and Midori. My prayers are with you if you’ve resorted to the family Midori.
Applejack is distilled from hard cider, and has been getting Americans sauced since the 1600s. Boozehound George Washington produced the hooch at Mt. Vernon, Abe Lincoln poured it by the glass inside his Springfield, Illinois, tavern, and that freegan-looking vagabond, John Chapman
, was the spirit’s unofficial spokesman in his lifetime, instructing farmers on how to freeze-distill—a process known as “jacking”—their own cider while he roamed about the countryside, spreading his seeds. Literally.
Turkey’s Fight for Freedom Has Caused an Authoritarian Crackdown
Özde looks like Audrey Hepburn. She has wide-set hazel eyes that are fringed with flicked-up long lashes and a button nose sprinkled with freckles that a dozen teenage boys must have gone crazy over already. She pulls her woolly cable-knit cardigan down snugly over her thumbs and breaks up a toothpick into smaller and smaller pieces: halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, until it’s impossible to break it any smaller. She displays all the unintended habits of the awkward teenager that she is, yet she speaks with the conviction of an old timer. I find myself wondering what the Turkish policemen made of her when she started throwing rocks at them in Taksim Square.
Ali is 22, but he looks older. That’s not unusual—Turkish men almost always age fast. Maybe it’s something to do with this country’s strange fashion for facial hair. Maybe this year Ali has just aged a little bit faster.
Imge is 18. She draws circles instead of dots above the “I” in her name. “We are the 90s generation,” she says. There’s a subtext to what she’s saying—hers is the generation that isn’t meant to care about politics. Their parents passed down apathy as a defense mechanism. They saw how the Turkish army overthrew the government in a coup every decade from the 60s to the 80s, and they knew about the hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, all of them locked up without trial. They learned that the safest thing to do was not to speak about any of it, and then they taught their children not to speak about it either. But something didn’t go to plan. Somewhere along the way, the 90s generation rebelled and started to speak.
Correspondent Confidential: I Posed as a Prostitute in a Turkish Brothel
Turkey Really Doesn’t Want Gay Men to Have Sex
In Turkey, it just got harder to enjoy a good old-fashioned no-strings-attached hook-up—at least if you’re a gay or bisexual man. Last month the Turkish government banned Grindr, the app that advertises itself as a way to “find gay, bi and curious guys near you” and had 125,000 users in the country.
If you try to access the app now—in the name of research, I tried—a message will appear stating that the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB, by its Turkish acronym) has banned the site “as a protection measure.” Protection, presumably, against men having sex with each other.
"I managed to buy a gas mask in a store through miming – ‘Police! Poom poom!’ [the sound of tear-gas being fired] – but when I paid for it, I just confused the shop-owner when trying to mime ‘receipt’. It was great being able to say ‘OK Glass, Google Translate ‘receipt’ to Turkish’," says Pool.
—Tim Pool talks to the Guardian about using Google Glass while covering protests in Istanbul for VICE
The Brother of a Turkish Protester Murdered by the Police Speaks Out
On June 1, the second day of Turkey’s nationwide protests that began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, Ethem Sarisülük, a laborer and human-rights activist, was shot in the head by a policeman in Ankara. After spending 13 days in intensive care, Ethem’s heart stopped, and his family announced his death on June 14. Ten days later, Ahmet Şahbaz, the police officer who killed Ethem, was released from jail by a judge on the grounds that he acted in self-defense, a move that was greeted with a lot of anger on social media and in the streets. (Ahmet’s trial was suspended by a judge last week, and advocates criticized this as another way the government was helping to protect the police.)
For the past few weeks, demonstrators have been gathering at Taksim Square in Instanbul every Saturday to demand justice for Ethem, and the cops have been responding with tactics reminiscent of those that led to the deaths of Ethem and two other protesters. Recently, I talked to Ethem’s brother, Mustafa Sarisülük, about the day Ethem was shot, the government’s response to Ethem’s death, and Turkey’s long-standing tradition of state terrorism.
VICE: Police violence in Turkey got a lot of attention in the international media thanks to the Gezi Park demonstrations, but it’s not a new phenomenon—over 140 people have been killed by the police since 2007. What was your point of view on the subject before the current tragic string of events?
Mustafa Sarisülük: “State terrorism” would actually be a better way to put it than “police violence.” With the current turn of events, many think the police are in favor of the AKP [the political party that has dominated Turkey for a decade], hence the violence. It’s not as simple as that—the police are an armed paramilitary force used by the state. From the beginning of the Republic of Turkey, the state has employed despotism, violence, and massacres. Thanks to the Gezi Park protests, the oppression is now seen by the whole society.
Did you or Ethem have to face this kind of state-sponsored terror before?
After the “deep state” events in the 90s [that revealed the existence of shadowy paramilitary groups within the government], I felt an urge to be involved because of the level of human rights violations, violence toward the people, and extrajudicial killings. Even as a kid in junior high, Ethem used to join me at the protests. Since then, we exercised our rights and freedoms of assembly, protest, and expression. We both faced violence and custody repeatedly.
The Battle for the Heart of Istanbul Rages On
Early on Saturday night, the protest village of tents and flags that had been set up in Istanbul’s Gezi Park was razed, and its inhabitants emphatically tear-gassed and cleared, at the behest of Turkey’s combative Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In response, anti-government protesters (mostly, but not exclusively, made up from Turkey’s young urban middle class) took to the country’s streets all weekend, building barricades and clashing with riot police, with crowds of several thousands blocking major highways and bridges in an effort to join them.
On Sunday—after a morning of tear-gassing in Istanbul, Ankara and other major cities—Erdogan delivered a set-piece speech to a huge pro-government rally on the outskirts of Istanbul. Designed to be a show of national unity under his Justice and Development Party (AKP), his speech was defiant and paranoid. He derided protesters as “marginal” and blamed the international press—CNN and BBC, in particular—for being “provocateurs.”
Journalist Tim Pool is streaming live from Istanbul today where antigovernment protests have been ongoing since last Friday. What began as a campaign against the city’s plans to construct a mall in a public park has escalated into a massive display of anger over the ruling party’s neo-Islamist social agenda and religiously driven laws. Riot police have moved in with brutal force, using tear gas on tens of thousands of protestors. It is the largest civil uprising in the history of Turkey.
Watch the livestream
On Friday, May 31, Turkish riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray into a peaceful protest held to save Gezi Park, one of the last green areas in central Istanbul. This set off the biggest civil uprising in the history of the Turkish Republic, calling for Prime Minister Erdogan’s resignation. The unrest has spread like wildfire to more than 60 cities where protests are still ongoing. We landed in Istanbul the day it all kicked off.
Watch the video