Paul Lester

Review: A Brief Guide To Judaism

By Paul Lester, December 23, 2008

A Brief Guide To Judaism — Theology, History and Practice
By Naftali Brawer
Robinson, £8.99

If, like me, you are rusty on your religion, this is surely a Chanucah must-buy; a neat précis of the story and beliefs of — according to the jacket — one of the “least understood” major faiths.

More..



I can’t even swing at a golfers’ disco

By Paul Lester, November 27, 2008

It's been a busy week.

I interviewed Glen Campbell for a national newspaper, and Johnny Marr, late of The Smiths, for my book on influential (ie no one's heard of them) art-punk band Wire. I even taught Spanish to some schoolchildren (it's a sideline I have). All very impressive, I'm sure. But still no women, or indeed woman. What to do? As it says in the Torah: "A man without a female at Chanucah is like chicken soup without matzo balls." That was the Torah, wasn't it? Maybe it was my friend Simon after one too many mint Aeros.

More..

The Paperboy delivers as the Jewish James Brown

By Paul Lester, November 20, 2008

The all-time soul-man greats - James Brown, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett - may now be dead, but their spirit lives on in, of all people, a young, white Jewish boy called Eli "Paperboy" Reed.

After a year in which British female singers such as Amy Winehouse, Adele and Duffy have dominated the new-soul scene, Reed, a 24-year-old from Brookline, Massachusetts, now living in Boston, is bringing it all back home to the States, the birthplace of gritty, sweaty, horn-enhanced R&B.

More..



The neurosis doctors

By Paul Lester, November 13, 2008

It is not many television filmmakers who could assemble a cast of contributors so varied it includes Bob Geldof, Stephen Fry, Hollywood stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, philosopher Noam Chomsky and spiritual teacher Ram Dass.

And few are the filmmakers who could get Geldof to admit to suicidal tendencies and Robbins to expound on the problems of medicating "difficult" children, all the while acquiring new music for the soundtrack from the likes of Michael Stipe and Alanis Morrisette.

More..



Worry

By Paul Lester, November 7, 2008

I'm not sure if you noticed, hopefully you did, but my column didn’t appear in the JC today due to circumstances beyond my control. I say beyond my control because it really wasn't down to me, but who should ring at 9am this morning, five minutes after the shops opened, but my ex-wife, who called from the newsagent, wondering where the hell the latest instalment of Suddenly Single was.

More..

Interview: Ron Silver

By Paul Lester, October 30, 2008

Ron Silver is an actor, director and producer best known for his role as spin-doctor and presidential campaign adviser Bruno Gianelli in the acclaimed television drama The West Wing. But he is also becoming increasingly renowned for his outspoken views in the real world - on world politics, on East-West relations, American foreign policy and the future of the state of Israel.

More..



Pain

By Paul Lester, October 28, 2008

It was while I was sitting in the dentist's chair yesterday afternoon, having emergency treatment for an infected nerve, heavily sedated but still sufficiently compos mentis to feel the miniature pneumatic drill laying waste to my periodontal ligament, that I realised it's nice, at times of crisis, to have a woman around. Any woman.

More..



I’ve ventured out of my social comfort zone. Big mistake

By Paul Lester, October 23, 2008

It's great when your life starts shaping up like a bad episode of the most clichéd soap opera. This is what happened to me last week when I received a message on my mobile from a girl I'd previously met at a launch party for an expensive new designer brand of fizzy water (Eau Dear, I think it was); a girl who appears to base her texts on the collected works of the Hollyoaks scriptwriters.

More..

Review: Sarah Silverman

By Paul Lester, October 23, 2008

Hammersmith Apollo, London W6

When the audience, muttering resentments, spilled on to the street at around 9.15pm, barely 45 minutes after notorious American comedian Sarah Silverman came on stage, one was reminded of that old gag, recounted by Woody Allen in Annie Hall: "The food here is terrible - and such small portions."

More..



Funny

By Paul Lester, October 19, 2008

I'm looking forward to tonight because I'm going to review Sarah Silverman in concert at the Hammersmith Apollo for the JC. This is exciting for two reasons. One, I get to see whether Silverman really is, as per her reputation, one of the funniest comedians on the planet. And two, there's a chance I might meet a woman. I mean, I'm bound to meet women - after all, they comprise half the world's population - even if it's just the briefest of exchanges with the girl in charge of the guest-list or the lady who shows you to your seat with a torch. Do they still have those?

More..



Women

By Paul Lester, October 10, 2008

This is probably as good a time as any to reassure everybody how I feel about women. I love them. Every single one of them. My mum, my grandmothers, my sister? All great. My ex-girlfriends? Got photos of them all pasted chronologically on my wall, a veritable shrine to ladies past (although I can't help detecting a decline in the quality of pulchritude sometime around the turn of the '90s, which can possibly be put down to the loud American grunge music I was listening to back then).

More..

Suicide: How the godfathers of punk kept the faith

By Paul Lester, October 10, 2008

New Yorkers Alan Vega and Marty Rev were punks before punk was invented, known in the '70s for their violent gigs and raging synth rock. Now they're hip again, with Bono, REM and Radiohead citing them as influences.


You may not have heard of American duo Suicide, but you will have heard of the groups they influenced. Depeche Mode, New Order, Moby, Radiohead - almost every techno or industrial act, or rock band that uses synthesisers, has cited Suicide as an influence.

More..



A love life off the rails and on the buses

By Paul Lester, October 10, 2008

Sorry to come over all Charles Dickens, but this for me is the best of times, the worst of times. No sooner have I achieved superstar status in the Jewish community following my appearance as a columnist in these pages - with, I'm presuming wildly and optimistically, hundreds of dates with hot Jewish ladies eager to cheer up this poor, miserable divorcee proceeding as a result - than I face a possible ban from driving. And so won't be able to go on any of said dates.

More..



Stalker

By Paul Lester, October 8, 2008

It finally happened. It came late last night in the form of a text and an ominous bleep on my mobile phone. My very first stark warning, as a result of my Suddenly Single JC column, from a woman with whom I had the briefest of flings over a year ago. "I'd sincerely appreciate it," read the text, with the polite but firm air of a quietly grave teacher, "if you didn't discuss me or anything that went on between us." How strange. And not a little disturbing in its stern formality.

More..

Seeking normality: one other-planet popster

By Paul Lester, October 3, 2008

Admired by his peers, feted by his fans, all experimental dance musician Max Tundra wants now is for builders to whistle his songs.


Max Tundra is about to become a big star. Or, at least, he is in the minds of his fans, who believe his fast-cut, intricately assembled electronic pop has commercial potential.

More..



Fear

By Paul Lester, October 2, 2008

Oh dear. Just when I thought my ex couldn't impact on my life any more, she goes and gets me banned from driving. In a way. And it's all because of my fab! new!

More..



Phew!

By Paul Lester, September 29, 2008

Phew!

More..

Interview: Idina Menzel

By Paul Lester, September 26, 2008

Acting, singing, comedy - Idina Menzel can do it all, and that includes severe self-doubt. It has a lot to do with her parents.


Idina Menzel is one of the biggest names in musical theatre, having appeared in Rent on Broadway and Wicked in the West End, as well as a film actress, starring most recently in Disney fantasy, Enchanted. She is also a recording artist, her latest, mostly self-penned album, I Stand, being produced by Glen Ballard, the man who helped Alanis Morissette sell 16 million copies of Jagged Little Pill.

More..



My wife ran off with the builder. And you think you’re neurotic?

By Paul Lester, September 24, 2008

Not that I want you to feel sorry for me or anything, but my wife left me last year for the chap who was doing up our house. So now I’ve got three things in common with Larry David — a neurotic dislike of most social situations, not a great deal of hair, and an ex with a predilection for Men Who Can.

More..