Thursday, January 29, 2009

3 Years Gone...

Three years ago today my dear Uncle Arie, (Z'L') passed away after his struggle with Pancreatic Cancer. He lived about a year and a half after the diagnosis and ensuing Whipple procedure. That's more than twice as long as most, and we were grateful for each day.

His legacy is huge. He supported many charities and had a policy that anyone who brings themself to ask for help should not be turned away empty handed. Perhaps they weren't completely satisfied, but they always got something for their trouble.

Arie taught me so much. My only Uncle, he taught me how to put on Tefilin as my Bar Mitzvah approached. As an adult, he taught me about business, especially not to waste and how to negotiate respectfully. He encouraged and supported me as I learned how to manage our family business. He once looked at a clock I had made, which demonstrated the stages of building a home. He told me that before I had that clock made there hadn't been such a thing in the world, and now there was. That simple support meant a lot.

This is why Pioneers For A Cure exists. A tribute to a wonderful person who appreciated his family very much. Before the Pioneers project, there might not have been a place for these old songs to raise money for cancer charities selected by each artist. There might not have been iPhone Apps to raise money for cancer charities. Now there are, pending Apple's approval.

Rest well Arie. We're still hard at work, as I sit now at the very desk he used so well for so long.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Shabbat Shalom Regina

Last night we were treated to a tremendous show at the Bowery Ballroom to benefit Planned Parenthood. Regina Spektor headlined a strong lineup with The Bloodsugers & Ra Ra Riot.

Regina's voice was in fine form, her piano sounded amazing, and her ability to make mistakes into highlights was on full display.
There was an energy in the room. People are excited about Barack Obama's Presidency. The Planned Parenthood benefit stood for an embrace of the possible, as we supported the law of the land, Roe V. Wade.

This morning I happened to find Regina's MySpace blog post from last Friday, Jan. 16th. How different a time already. Israel was in Gaza, and Bush was President. Regina's blog post detailed her feelings about how Israel gets treated in the media. Here's an excerpt.

"But this is the world we live in. We should not deny that we are all scared. We are scared of planes, of crowds, of everything. We are so scared. Sometimes it feels that if there were no more Jews, or Israel (for the two are synonymous- Israel is the geographic embodiment of the nation) all of this would stop. Even some Jews feel that way. Many of us try to un-Jew ourselves all the time. It comes from a mixture of fear, guilt of surviving while others didn't, and embarrassment. We are the root of our and the World's problems, it seems. It is the Jews themselves that you will hear speak out most strongly against Israel. The instinct that drives them is the same instinct that drove them to blend in, and then be very surprised when they were put in the ghetto, too. The were surprised when they were put on the train, too. They were surprised when they were put in the gas chamber, too. They were surprised all the way till Death. Because "they weren't like those OTHER Jews"... Well. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew is a Jew." Full blog post.

My parents are both Holocaust Survivors. My Israeli wife's Father was also a Holocaust Survivor. Our kids will be eligible for the Israeli army draft if they want to stay in Israel for longer than a few weeks when they are 18 years old. I applaud Regina using the pulpit of her celebrity to take a stand. It's easy to preach to the choir. When she bashed Bush and supported Obama, I didn't share her political views as much as many of her "BrumStix" forum members. But that's OK. When she stands up for Israel, the debate on BrumStix becomes charged. There was a call for moderators and an abundance of foul language thrown around.

We are all victims of our age. Some of us read about history, getting some angle of events. The debate raging on Regina's website shows how little we know, or care to acknowledge, about the world in general and the history of the Middle East in particular. Why talk about '67, or '48? How about 1048? Visit the ancient sea port at Cesaria and read the plaque at the entrance. It basically reads... "In 970 the Romans conquered the Jews here. In 1048 the Arabs repulsed the Romans. In 1130 the Christians retook the area. In 1210 the Arabs took the area. etc..." I shouldn't use quotes because I'm surely getting most of those dates wrong, but my point is that people who have trouble remembering the previous election cycle have trouble understanding the Historic nature of the conflict. It takes two sides to resolve an issue. The area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea has been under many rulers at many times. Some people look at Jews as Unicorns. Not just for the horns, but because if there are Jews here today, than maybe there really was a David & Goliath. Maybe there really was a parting of the Red Sea. Maybe there really is a connection between these people and this land. Furthermore, the clear majority of Israelis today embrace the concept of a two-state solution with land exchanges. The prevailing thought is that there is no partner ripe for this. Hamas was indeed elected to the PA parliament in a majority.

A week passes and Israel leaves Gaza, again, and surely not for the last time it would seem. A week passes and our faith in the Office of The President seems renewed, for now.

G-d bless Regina Spektor for speaking her mind, as she always does. If we can't get fired up about something so relevant to our existence as a Humanity, we are doomed to repeat these cycles of violence needlessly. "G-d grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

This is why Pioneers For A Cure wants Regina Spektor to sing "Eli, Eli" for the cancer charity of her choice. The song is also called "Halikha LeKesariya," transliterated from Hebrew it means " A Walk to Casaria." Written by Hanna Szenes, who was in Pre-1948, Nazi era Palestine, and went back to her native Hungary to help Jews escape the death camps, only to be captured and killed at a very young age of 23.

Shabbat Shalom Regina!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mira's Art

Even in the early days of the Pioneers For A Cure project, the focus became clear that the "Pioneers" in question were really the artists contributing to the cause of raising funds for the cancer charities. Yes, we're recording public domain material from a 1929 Hebrew song book of "pioneer songs," but the focus has remained on the artists' contributions. So I want to highlight the important contribution to our cause being made by another artist who doesn't play a note. (Although she is heard chanting on Rashanim's track!)

Mira Sasson has been painting the portraits of almost every artist who has participated in Pioneers For A Cure. She's finished at least a dozen, it's kind of fun to lose count. We had briefly mentioned her here,, but will now give her her due. As we prepare our launch materials, it is plain to see that Mira's art plays a big role in how these artists have put their stamp on these songs to fight cancer.

Mira Sasson's paintings have captured the spirit of the artists. We are lucky to have these important graphical elements to illustrate the passion of our cause, before you ever hear a note. Neshama Carlebach shown.

Look for more art from Mira in this space, and hopefully in a new blog dedicated to her genuine artistic ability.

Inspiration, move me brightly...

Pioneers For A Cure has been gearing up for our launch on Jan., 29th 2009 for a while now. So, is it fair to say we've been inspired by President Barack Obama's Inaugural address? Yes we can, say that.

We've recorded almost 30 songs to fight cancer in less than a year of production. We've built our blogs to illustrate the depth of the task we have undertaken. "Curing cancer won't be easy, but pioneers do what's never been done." This is our motto. This is our aim. Dozens of artists have chosen an array of cancer related organizations to benefit from their talent and time.

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task." (from President Barack Obama's Inaugural address)

We are inspired to help those affected by cancer and to help those researching an end, a cure.
The time is now at hand to move ahead in this micro economy with our micro-donation format.
Thanks to all the people who have already supported our cause, to enable us to get to the starting line, to remain inspired.
("some rise, some fall, some climb to get to Terrapin")

Truly, we have been inspired by's "Yes We Can" video. It remains brilliant. Anyone who thinks it didn't set the pace for Obama at a critical time in a primary he barely outlasted Hillary Clinton in, has already forgotten the recent past election cycle. We don't want to copy, only to produce art at a high level and for a high ideal.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pioneer Postcards

Here's a peak at our postcards formatted for the Pioneers For A Cure project.

We're working on many of these, one for each artist & song. We hope this will help tell the story of these artists putting their stamp on these songs to fight cancer.

We've been working to get ready for our launch in two weeks. So many news stories have overwhelmed the headlines recently.
We planned all along to wait until after Barack Obama's inauguration as our next President. The news of war from Israel and Gaza has us wondering about the timing of these pioneer songs. People who are against Israel wouldn't be our audience anyway, and people who support Israel's defense of it's population might appreciate our Am Yisroel Chai. All this and a miracle landing on the Hudson have overtaken the headlines. That truly was an amazing story of heroics and heavenly intervention.

Please join us as we forge ahead in 2009 to raise funds for these artist selected cancer charities and organizations.

Friday, January 2, 2009

How's Your Hebrew?

We've been blogging about Pioneers For A Cure for some months now. We realize many Hebrew readers in Israel are left out of our English blogs, so we've translated them to Hebrew!
Thanks to the G-Man, licensed to thrill, and translate, we now have Hebrew versions of this blog and the Pioneer Producer blog.
Now if only my Hebrew wasn't so crappy, I'd be able to verify all the nice things he claims to have written.

המפיק החלוץ

שירי סרטן לרפואה

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 A Year For Pioneers For A Cure

A Happy New Year wish to all! May 2009 bring real progress in the treatment and prevention of cancer.
This is the year we've been preparing for, and we're getting ready for our launch. Over 2 dozen old Israeli pioneer songs have already been recorded, with about 16 other artists having committed to record. More than half the material is mastered, and many tracks have begun to appear on MySpace and FaceBook.
Last week Bob Clearmountain and Keith Olsen sat with Pioneer Producer Greg Wall in Santa Monica to mix our "all in" anthem, Am Yisroel Chai. It sounds great and will be out there soon.
More about that here.

Our first iPhone / iPod Touch App, FightCancer, is submitted to Apple, and we anxiously await it's appearance on the iTunes App Store. This App is a free full preview of two of our songs, one by New York Voices and the other by Karen Rosen, herself a cancer survivor. Here's a clip from Karen's song "Yelad Kat."