So here I am, as per Sarah Silverman’s request, sitting in Hallandale, Florida, at the Kahane family estate, with my dad, “Che” Kahane, and his older brother, my “Uncle Joe” Kahane. The unedited transcript of our conversation follows.
ME: So, did you see that story about the “Great Schlep” in the New York Times the other day?
CHE KAHANE: You mean the one by Jayson Blair?
UNCLE JOE KAHANE: Damien Cave.
UNCLE JOE: With reporting by “Carmen Gentile.” Talk about a “nom de guerre.” As we used to say at PM.
ME: So who’s the “darkly tanned older man with a nipple ring?” Anybody we know? I got a buddy back in L.A. with a hundred bucks says he doesn’t exist.
UNCLE JOE: Smart guy, your buddy.
CHE: According to the story, “A large percentage of nipple-ring people are in Obama’s camp.” I didn’t know that. But it must be true. I read it in the New York Times.
UNCLE JOE: Feh! What does the Times know? I bet they don’t even know what people used to call Hallandale.
ME: So, what was that, Uncle Joe?
UNCLE JOE: “Lanskyland!” Because this is where Meyer Lansky lived! This was the home of one of the greatest figures in organized crime, ever. Makes you proud…
CHE: Not as proud as I am of the Annenbergs.
ME: I’m glad you brought that up, Dad –
CHE: I thought I raised you to call me “Che.”
ME: But your name’s Morris.
ME: As you know, Barack Hussein Obama the Second –
UNCLE JOE: What is he already, some kind of hereditary monarch? The Second what?
ME: O.K., Barry Soetero the First. Whatever. The point is, a lot of nasty, right-wing, Weimar Republicans –
CHE: You stole that from Frank Rich, didn’t you? The drama critic? But it must be true, because I read it in the New York Times.
UNCLE JOE: I remember the Weimar Republic… Streseman, Bruening, von Papen, von Schleicher… Schickelgruber…
ME. Whatever. My point is, that money that Barry Junior gave away to his ACORN buddies alongside that distinguished professor of education/mad bomber who just so happened to live in his neighborhood, Bill Ayers, when they were at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge –
UNCLE JOE: Chicago, now there’s a corrupt town, thank God. Do you know David Axelrod?
ME: David Axelrod’s not from Chicago, Uncle Joe. That’s “guilt by association,” as Bobby Kennedy’s pal, Joe McCarthy, famously said. Axelrod’s from Stuyvesant Town, near the Lower East Side, went to P.S. 40. His mother worked at the old lefty PM newspaper in the forties –
UNCLE JOE: Not lefty — “idealistic.” Progressive, even.
CHE: But he went to the University of Chicago!
ME: So did Ed Asner, Saul Bellow, Allan Bloom, Robert Bork, David Broder, David Brooks, Ramsey Clark, Jon Corzine, Roger Ebert, Milton Friedman, Phil Glass, Kay Graham, Father Greeley, Sy Hersh, Jesse Jackson –
UNCLE JOE: The Chicago Theological Seminary. Close enough for government work. But he dropped out.
CHE: Honorary degree…
UNCLE JOE: Feh!
ME: And Philip Roth and Susan Sontag and Thomas Sowell and Paul Wolfowitz. The point is –
UNCLE JOE: The point is, get to the point already. I know where you’re going with this. You’re going to say that this Barry Junior the Second, Obama Soetero Obama al-Punahou, al-Harvard, al-Whatever, was doling out the money of some right-wing Weimar-Reagan Republican organization like pretzels at a White Sox game, so how could he possibly –
ME: No offense, Uncle Joe, but my point had to do with Lanskyland…
UNCLE JOE: Meyer Suchowljansky. I knew him well. The old neighborhood, Havana, Miami, Batista, I could tell you stories…
CHE: Wasn’t Lansky partners with that Irisher, Owney Madden?
UNCLE JOE: And those dagoes, Frank Costello and Charlie Lucky –
ME: Guys, we don’t use words like that any more. It’s not politically correct. How would you like it if –
UNCLE JOE: Speaking of dagoes, how about that Capone? Now there was a Chicago boy…
CHE: He was from New York.
UNCLE JOE: Like David Axelrod!
ME: Brooklyn. O.K., Naples, if you want to go all the way back. But whatever. We were talking about the Annenbergs.
UNCLE JOE: Moe. I knew him when.
ME: No, I mean Walter –
CHE: No, you mean Moses. The dad. Where do you think Mr. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s money came from?
ME: Um… TV Guide?
UNCLE JOE: Which just sold yesterday for one dollar! Which was sold to Murdoch for $3 billion in 1988. Some business! Some businessman!!
CHE: One of the greats, Moses. Started his career as a newspaper shtarker — you know what a shartker is, don’t you?