Author Archives: Jeff Newman

Festival – Fallbrook, California

Avocado Festival – April 20th, 2008 – Fallbrook, California

This festival has been around since 1962. At its inception, the festival was held at the beginning of October to celebrate the beginning of the avocado season and to promote local businesses. Originally, the festival was a three day long event as well. It was a time when the local residents could walk by and browse through the wares of the numerous shops and vendors looking for good discounts. It was also a great way to mingle with their neighbors and catch up with people whom they have not seen in a while.

Some local businesses used the Avocado Festival as a fundraiser. They believed that the neighborhood atmosphere around the festival would make people more generous and likely to donate to their cause. Since then the festival has changed a great deal. Even five years later the festival’s 1962 inception, the attendance doubled from 5000 to 10000. Now in 2008, over 350 vendor booths line the main street of Fallbrook. It is a mad scene where tens of thousands of people flow into Fallbrook from all around North County to experience the Avocado Festival. In a town where the population is no more than 40,000, a sight like this is quite amazing for people who live in Fallbrook and understand what small town life is the other 364 days of the year.

Over the festivals 40 year long lifespan it has changed a lot. It began as a small town get- together and now has turned into a large county-wide celebration. Sadly, over the last ten years the festival has mutated into an event that seems much more commercial and much less homely than it once was. I remember attending the Avocado Festival ten years ago when I was nine years old. I remember it being crowded, but it still felt like home. If you take a look at the picture on the previous page, there are thousands of people filling up the road. It is barely even possible to move around, let alone shop leisurely. It didn’t feel normal and felt like the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce was just trying to make a buck rather than have the festival be like it used to. Nevertheless, the festival still had the same vendors that it always had in the past; a good assortment of desserts, various junk food stops, and small trinket stores.

The trinket stores were actually very folklore oriented. There was one in particular that caught my interest. It was selling “Earth Music.” I had never heard of this music before, but from the sample the booth was playing, it sounded very calm and tranquil. It was music that a family would play in the background of their home while they went about their daily lives. I asked the fellow who was working that booth and he said that the music originated from Celtic ancestry. He said it was common for Celtic folk to play this music in their villages to give the townspeople peaceful music to listen to long ago.

The Avocado Festival is something that many people around North County look forward to every year. They get to spend a day out in the sun wandering around Main Street with their family and friends and have a good time. They get to converse and catch up with friends whom they haven’t seen in months or even in some cases years. While the festival is not like it once was it still is an event which gives an identity to the town of Fallbrook as the avocado capitol of the world.

Annotation:

Los Angeles Times:

Meisler, Andy. “The State’s Best Tastes.” Los Angeles Times 7 Aug. 2007: 1-22.

Punishment – South Korea

Jae Ha Chang – Korean Punishment

Jae Ha has only lived in this country for the last eight years. Before that, he was a resident of South Korea, where childhood disobedience and mischievous play is a commonality. Similar to how it is in the United States. However, punishment is much more brutal for children. While spankings are not uncommon in American culture, children do not normally have to be beaten for the message to sink in that they did something wrong and should not do it again. Most of the time spankings are no big deal for American children and they continue to be mischievous.  In South Korea, this is not the case. South Korean parents beat their children more vigorously when their children misbehave. Some might say this method of severely beating their children is a more efficient way of punishing their children. Jae Ha certainly thought so.

Jae Ha has a few stories from his childhood that he will never forget about the punishments that he received from his parents. When he has twelve and still living in South Korea, he was beaten so bad by his father that he had to go to the hospital. One day, Jae and his family were watching television late at night. Everything was fine until Jae decided to be a smart aleck and say something rude and nasty to his mother. (He does not remember what he said, but he did say it was pretty crude and mean). His mother yelled at him, but did not take too much offense. However, his father was not so keen on letting him continue the night without punishment. He picked up a baseball bat, shoved his mother aside, and proceeded to take a full swing at Jae Ha’s side. Aside from the enormous bruise he received, Jae had to go to the hospital to get treatment for the wound. While this would seem unacceptable in American culture, Jae went back home the next day to normal family life. Jae and his father both acted like nothing happened because in South Korean culture. It’s not a big deal. To this day, Jae has never said anything that nasty to this mother again. The message must have stuck the punishment right on target.

Another story where Jae was beaten to learn a lesson was four years later when he was sixteen and living in America. Jae had just received his driver’s license a week before and he was driving home from school. He proceeded to get in a car accident that totaled his car. Take into mind this was only a week after he received his license. His mother came to the scene and made sure he was okay and took him to the hospital to make sure he was okay. After a week or so of rehabilitation, Jae’s mom asked him if he was feeling better. Jae’s responded with a yes, and then was beat by his mother. She took a plastic stick-like object and wacked him with it numerous times. She grounded him for four months and took away his driving privileges for six months on top of the beating. Once again, Jae was distraught by the punishment but never thought it out of the ordinary. It was completely normal to him and because of it, he was much more careful when driving.

Jae said that this type of punishment was common for most of the other Korean families he knew while living in South Korea. He also mentioned that even while living in America, these same beating punishments took place among other families. While it seems unethical and almost cruel to a person who grows up in American society, this act of beating your children as punishment is quite common among a vast number of South Korean families. Korean’s have a different sense of what is acceptable and what is unethical. Korean’s are raised from a culture that spent much of ancestry studying martial arts. From experience, martial arts teach self-defense and discipline. This discipline training makes a person stronger both physically and mentally. Because of this fact, I believe this is the reason why harsher punishments are considered tolerable in a culture where discipline is taken more seriously.

Tradition

Justin Hargrove, Keenan McCollum, Ross Chris & Jeff Newman – Shindigs at the Newman’s

Why it is so? I do not know. But my house has always been the hangout place for all my friends. Normally, friends will migrate between houses, but in our situation, the hangout place is always my house. We call our hangout’s shindigs. Why is this significant? For starters, whenever I tell anyone that is not a part of my group of friends that I had a shindig last weekend. They have no clue what I am talking about. I must enlighten them of the connotation of the word “shindig” before they realize that it is just a word that we give to our chill sessions.

The shindigs at my house are never the same either. They are always changing to whatever we happen to feel like doing at the time. Sometimes we play poker or other fun card games. Other times we play ping pong or ride scooters and skateboards. And sometimes we just decide to sit inside and play video games or relax in the Jacuzzi. Since I have gone off to college I do not get to see my friends from high school as much as I used to. Justin and Keenan always tell me to make sure that I have a shindig whenever I am home. It brings back the memories that we had as high school kids. Even though I am no longer living at home full-time, there is some hope to keep the Newman shindig legacy alive. And that hope lies in my little brother Ross Chris. I’ve recently heard that while I have been gone my brother has hosted some of his own shindigs with my friends who still are in high school. Knowing this brought a smile to my face, because I love knowing that even when I am not there, shindigs will forever be linked with the Newman house.

The word shindig is defined as “A large or festive party or celebration.” That is ironic because we have never considered our get-togethers that. And they have never been large or that festive. It is only a small group of good friends who like each other’s company and have similar interests. I asked Keenan what he thought about this, and he replied, “I never thought that deep into it. When I hear shindig, I immediately think Newman’s house.” I asked Justin the same question and he replied similarly. He said, “All I think about when I hear shindig, is the awesome food you always have for me which I get your house.”

Summing up, shindigs are merely the way we all get to see each other again. They never are too big, but they are very precious to every member of the group who gets to experience them. We are devoted on keeping this tradition alive past our adolescent years and into adulthood.

Folk Jokes

Justin Hargrove/Jeff Newman – Box of Curve Balls?

Justin is a year younger than I am, but we have still gone through the same trials and tribulations of the baseball program at Fallbrook High School. While there were plenty of bad times that we endured there, it was not all horrible. We actually had some fun sometimes. The best inside joke that we played was when we sent the newly admitted freshman running around in circles trying to find objects that did not exist. This only worked because of the fear that our head coach Matt Parker instilled in anyone who walked on the field. The young freshman would get on their hands and knees if Parker asked them too. This played perfectly into our little game.

As upperclassmen, Justin, myself, and our other friends had already gone through our initiation. Parker had already played this game on us when we were freshman. So we knew what was going on when Parker decided to start the game.

It all began when Parker would call an unknowing freshman and very firmly ask him to find any one of these four things. It was random, but each item worked just the same. Parker would yell at the freshman and tell him to “Go bring him the key to the batter’s box.” He also would ask for “a box of curve balls, the key to the flagpole, or a left-handed bat.” Now, a freshman, terrified by the mere gaze of Matt Parker would run to the assistant coach and ask for help in locating the fake item. While the rest of the team knew that there was no such thing as a “box of curve balls,” the freshman did not take the time to acknowledge exactly what he was searching for. He would be sent on a wild goose chase going from person to person asking where the box of curve balls was. If he ever went back to Parker, he would get an earful from him and then be threatened with laps if he did not continue searching.

This game would go on anywhere between 20-30 minutes. The upperclassmen would snicker anytime the freshman would come to them. But because of the fear for Parker, the freshman would continue the endless search. Eventually, the entire team would break out in laughter and the joke would end. The freshman running around had now been initiated onto the baseball team. He had joined our ring of folklore jokes. He could finally be called a part of the baseball team. And the next time that this joke was played on another freshman, he would be part of our group that knew what was going on.

Justin never was a victim of this joke, but I can vividly remember searching for a key to the flagpole my freshman year. I was embarrassed for awhile, but the experience was well worth it to become a member of the team. Feeling like I was a part of a special group of friends was one of the best feelings I had ever felt. Looking back, running around aimlessly for half an hour was well worth the reward of four years on the baseball program.

Internet Culture

(Romanian words. Doesn’t actually mean anything in Romanian, just works with the    music. Original Song by O-zone.)

Maya Hi, Maya Hu, Maya Ha

Maya Haha, Maya Hi, Maya Hu,

Maya Ha, Maya Haha

Ross Chris Newman – Famous Numa Numa Dance

In 2004, Gary Brolsma never thought that a video that he created in his bedroom would become a national internet phenomenon. Let alone a video not even in English and the performance merely being a glorified lip sync. The video popped up on a site named www.newgrounds.com. After only a few months of being online, the video recorded over a million hits. And after 6 months the video had been viewed tens of millions of times world-wide with many “Numa Numa” impersonations popping up everywhere trying to copy the original. While none were quite as good as Gary’s, they were valiant efforts.

After a year went by Gary Brolsma was featured on a CNN broadcast and on the Today Show, the shows asked him questions about his influence in making the video and also toured his home. The craze for the “Numa Numa” guy was so intense that he eventually created a new Numa video and posted that online as well. He named his new video, “New Numa, the Return of Gary Brolsma.” It was evident that Gary put much more post-filming effort into this video because unlike the first one, there were special effects and video editing. The response to this video was equally as insane as the first. In the first week of its lifetime online, it had already succeeded in reaching over one million hits; a feat normally not possible in prior internet culture and unheard of as early as five years ago.

With the advent of his New Numa video, Gary also created his own website commercializing his name and his Numa dances. The website is called www.newnuma.com. He decided that he was not going to be the only unknown to receive internet attention. Because of his great success in becoming an internet icon, he prepared a Numa Numa song/dance contest. Where the winners would receive $50,000 in prize money and have the chance for internet stardom. It is nice knowing that there are people such as Gary Brolsma who choose to give a chance to other unknown internet surfers to possibly have their chance to be an e-lebrity.

This new internet cultural phenomenon is being seen all over the world with hundreds of people deciding to put their own personal antics online and wait to see what other people say about their performances. Perhaps this will be the new method that humor is transferred because of the fact that it allows normal people around the world to express their comedic talents and have millions of people be able to view it. If they are lucky enough, they might even have the chance to become an icon just like Gary Brolsma.

Annotation:

Newspaper Article:

Los Angeles Times Los Angeles, California: Dec 3, 2006 pg. E.4

Original video can be found at the following website. http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/206373

Other sites where this video is located are at the following.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=60og9gwKh1o

New Numa Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gg5LOd_Zus&feature=related

Numa Three

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGXiN-_BCts&feature=user

Numa Numa Spoofs

http://youtube.com/watch?v=L7si10ipel0 (3 million views)

http://youtube.com/watch?v=N6j475XI1Xg (7.5 million views)

Original Song by O-Zone. (Dragostea din tei)

http://youtube.com/watch?v=BgU_m3SuYPE

Internet Popular Culture

Chuck Norris Facts:

If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars, Chuck Norris has more money than you.

Chuck Norris can sneeze with his eyes open.

Chuck Norris can eat just one Lay’s potato chip.

Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.

Chuck Norris CAN believe it’s not butter.

When taking the SAT, write “Chuck Norris” for every answer. You will score over 8000.

Ross Chris Newman – Chuck Norris popular culture.

Chuck Norris is a famous martial arts movie star who has been in dozens of different films and a couple television shows. He is most famous for starring in his TV sitcom, “Walker, Texas Ranger.” While he was a normal karate actor throughout his long career, in 2005 Conan O’Brien began a new fad of “Chuck Norris facts,” that took hold of a small internet community and eventually grew into a world-wide internet phenomenon. The jokes were originally centered on his television show “Walker, Texas Ranger,” but they gradually moved to other facets of daily life and eventually were composed of anything that any person could think of.

Chuck Norris has earned the title of being known as a tough, rugged, and strong man. This is most likely because of the roles he played in his acting career and all the “bad guy butt” he has kicked over the last few decades. He has earned the reputation of not being messed around with. Resultantly, people try and find a way to diminish a person’s standing with such a well-known and extensive history. A normal person probably would never have came up with these jokes because they perceive Chuck Norris in such high esteem, but because Conan O’Brien decided to begin the trend, others around the internet community received this as an “OK,” to continue the verbal bash on Chuck Norris.

The facts that people come up for Chuck are quite clever. The facts are normally absurd claims about Norris’s hardiness, attitude, virility, “alpha-male” status,” superiority, and masculinity such as “If you can see Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris can see you. If you can’t see Chuck Norris, you only have seconds to live.” Chuck Norris has been asked in interviews what he thinks about all these “facts” about him. He normally chuckles and responds to the interviewer that he thinks they are cute and funny. He does not take them seriously and realizes that the people who create these and the people who end up reading them have a great time doing so. So why ruin something that easily manufactures such happiness.

Chuck Norris facts are a perfect example of what the internet/digital age is capable of. Creating an internet phenomenon that is readily known throughout society from nothing. It is amazing to see how something so simple can become so important to a lot of people. Chuck Norris facts are a great way to get a quick laugh if someone is bored or is looking to cheer themselves up. I believe that is the main purpose for the advances in internet popular culture. Many people in the world are not happy with their lives, so the internet is great way to escape and experience the wonders that other people around the world have to offer.

Annotation:

Wikipedia Article.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Norris_Facts

Official Chuck Norris Facts

http://www.chucknorrisfacts.com/

More Chuck Norris Facts can be found in this book.

The Truth about Chuck Norris. By Ian Spector. 2007.

Folk Belief – Japan

Justin Dove – Seniority

In the same way American’s will say someone’s title before their name (i.e. Mr. or Mrs. Smith). The Japanese have a specific tradition they perform. Similar to Spanish in how there are formal and casual ways of saying the same word depending on whom you are talking to, the Japanese will add a word signifying that they are speaking with someone older than they are. Even if that person is a good friend and only six months older, the proper and polite thing to do in Japanese culture is to say sen-pai after their name. While I find this a commonality around the world to show respect to ones elders, the Japanese take it a whole new level. Children in class will call their instructors by sen-pai. Children will also show this respect to their parents. But the fact that a 13 year old must say this to his 14 year old friend blows my mind. I have friends who are a year younger than I am, but I would never expect them to call me anything other than my name. Justin on the other hand is used to this tradition. I asked him whether it ever was a big deal to him growing up in Japan, but he just said it was second nature. He never thought twice about it.

This tradition of seniority and respecting ones elder can be seen in other ways as well in The younger person must always bow lower than the elder at all times. This is considered common courtesy and shows respect to the elder. These acts of courtesy and politeness only occur between two people of Japanese origin. The Japanese do not expect other cultures to understand theirs and are thus not offended when others do not abide by the same rules they do. The Japanese are a very structured people. They abide by many rules and have many long-lasting traditions that they perform. I believe that all of these factors are main reasons to why their race has survived over the ages. Rules and regulations keep a nation under control. Chaos and anarchy never have the chance to erupt if there is no reason for them to do so. The Japanese are a noble and honorable race who I believe more countries should try to emulate. The traditions they perform and the culture they try to preserve is of utmost importance to them. I think this is why there is still so much folklore buried within the Japanese culture in the 21st century.

Folk Games

Patricia Newman – Halloween in Tijuana

Halloween in Tijuana is similar to Halloween in America; full of mischief and games. Trick or treating, dancing, and dressing up in costumes are only of few of things they do similar to America. While vandalism in America is common on Halloween, the teenagers in Tijuana play a game that consists of throwing eggs at each other.

There is no actual name for the game but it happens every year at the same time in the same place. The kids would save up their allowances for weeks and then spend all their money to stock up on cartons of eggs. Prior to midnight on Halloween night, the kids would organize and form up into groups of 4 or 5 so they all can fit into separate cars. There is an infamous road in downtown Tijuana known as Avenida Revolucion. This road is where all the action took place. The kids would drive up and down Avenida Revolucion identifying other kids’ cars who were there playing the game as well and then preceded to throw eggs at each other trying to make a mess. My Mom remembers one time when she was with some friends at midnight and they were in a convertible. All she remembers from the experience is the hours she spent afterwards cleaning the egg yolk and shells out of her hair as well as the many hours it took to clean the car. Retrospectively, it probably was not the best choice to go out and play this game in an open-topped car.

I asked her the reason why they played this game. She said it was to recognize the fact that they were still young and had the ability to have fun. I was surprised there was no intrinsic value to this game because normally there are religious or cultural meanings to games such as this at other times of the year. Even at Halloween there are cultural events that occur in Mexico. The Day of the Dead is a perfect example of this. However, in my Mother’s case, she played this game from the time she was old enough to be out on her own with friends until she left for college. These are the events from her childhood that identifies who she is as a Hispanic and a member of specific group of kids in Tijuana. She also uses memories such as this egg throwing game as a way to remember the good times she had with her friends as a mischievous kid growing up in Tijuana.

Folk Game – Japan

(Original Kanji)

(Japanese in English)

(English Translation)

Seiko Takeshita – Punishment Game

The Japanese are notorious for being hardcore when they play games. From Seiko’s point of view, Japanese people love to play games. And they don’t just play any game and leave it at that. On top of their already being a winner and loser, the Japanese people add a catch. They call it the “Batsu Game,” or punishment game. The loser of whatever game they are playing is at the mercy of the winner. Be it any card game, Rock-Paper-Scissors, Monopoly, or traditional Japanese game, the loser has to perform any deed that they are asked to do by the winner. The punishments can vary between very easy and simple tasks, to extremely embarrassing ones. Seiko remembers two occasions where she lost and had to perform a very embarrassing punishment. The first was she when had to run around Tokyo with very heavy eye shadow all over her face for 15 minutes by herself. The second was a time when she was forced to do a Billy’s Boot camp skit in the middle of a crowded plaza in the city of Shibuya. Billy’s Boot camp is a television workout routine that does aerobics. I asked her what would have happened if she chose not to do what she was told. She said there was no other punishment other than a hit to your reputation and the possibility that others will not want to play anymore games with you. To her, there was no other choice but to endure the embarrassment.

This addition of the punishment game can be most closely related to adding a game of truth or dare at the conclusion of any game previously played. However the catch is that it always has to be a dare. Seiko mentioned that the only reason they played the punishment game was to make the games they are playing more interesting and competitive. She said that the adrenaline rush of not wanting to lose made the experience ten times greater than just playing for no reward. This is true among many other facets of life. Where there are rewards or lack of punishment, the incentive to do your best is much greater than if you are just playing for fun. Seiko much rather prefers when the “Batsu game” is played than when it is left out.

It is clear from history that the Japanese like to play and make up games. They are known by gamers to create the best video games. They have the craziest game shows on television such as “MXC or Human Tetris,” among others. They are just a lively and energetic nation. Tokyo is known as a fun and vigorous locale to visit because of all the things there are to do at all times of the day and night. No wonder they came up with the “Batsu Game.” The Japanese have been around for a long time which has allowed them to have a long history from which they can pick and choose different traditions to perform and which are not as important. This tradition has won the test of time and will probably be carried on for many more generations to come.

Folk Ritual

Jeff Newman – Family Prayer

Gracias Diosito, por un dia mas de vida, un dia mas de alegrias (Original)

Thank you God, for one day more of living, one day more of happiness (Literal Translation)

Thank you God, for another day of life and another day of happiness (Actual Translation)

Gracias por mi casa, mi alimenta, mi abrigo.

Thank you for my house, my health, my coat

Thank you for my shelter, my health, and my clothing.

Gracias por todo lo que me has dado.

Thank you for everything that you me has given

Thank you for everything that you have given me.

Te pido por mi Papi, Mami, Jeppy y Ross Chris;

To you I ask for my Father, Mother, Jeppy, and Ross Chris;

I ask for your protection for my Father, Mother, Jeppy, and Ross Chris;

Turtle, Oreo y Sky; toda mi familia, todo el

Turtle, Oreo, and Sky; all my family, all the

Turtle, Oreo, and Sky; my family, all of the

Mundo entero, y para que nunca nos falte el

World entire, and so we never are without

World, and so we are never without any

Agua ni la luz. Amen

Water or the light. Amen

Water or the light. Amen

Shema Yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai ehad (Literal Translation)

Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One (Actual Translation)

Jeff Newman – Bedtime Prayer

My Mom and Dad came up with this prayer when I was born. They wanted to make sure that I had a strong religious background and that I appreciated my Mexican and Jewish heritage. My father met my mother in medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico in the late 1970’s. My Mother was not Jewish then. However, she did convert when they married so that I would be raised under one religion. Because of my Mother’s strong religious background, she made sure that I understood where I came from and what I was, A Mexican Jew.

I have been reciting this prayer with my family every night for my entire life. I asked my Mom if it was common for Mexican families to do this. She said it was not. She wanted to create something unique and special for our family. She created something that will live on for generations and remind our lineage of what it means to be considered part of the Newman family.

Growing up, I never really took this prayer that seriously. I was young, and no matter how many times my Mother told me to focus and actually listen to the words I was saying, I rarely did. Because we would recite the prayer at night right before bedtime I would be so exhausted that I would accidentally mumble the words. Sometimes, they would be so funny that whatever I said would stick for a few weeks and the whole family would take part in saying it. The prayer would also change whenever we got a new pet or a pet would sadly pass away. It was not uncommon to have a new variation of a portion of the prayer every couple of months.

Another important aspect is the fact that we mixed two heritages into one prayer. We begin with the Spanish portion which is followed immediately with a Hebrew prayer. My Mom made it this way on purpose to make sure that we remember our ancestry as well as our religion because they are both of equal importance. Whenever I am having a hard time and I feel like nothing will make me feel better I always say this prayer to remember my blessings and realized how fortunate I am. I am greatly looking forward to the day when I can pass this bedtime ritual onto my children and my family.