Mag leavens Jewish culture
Half a year before the first issue of Heeb magazine was due to hit newsstands, its 25-year-old editor Jennifer Bleyer had a plan of biblical proportion.Vowing to make it a “Jewish lowbrow Vanity Fair,” the Columbia grad student and Brooklyn resident seemed determined to give the ancient people some kind of hip transplant. But with Heeb due to reach the masses in mid-February, readers won’t find anything quite so ambitious. With a layout that features Jewfros (Jews with afros) and a mock-Orthodox wedding fashion spread, the mag is neither highbrow nor lowbrow. If anything, it’s gleefully unibrow. Partially funded by a Spielberg-related entrepreneurial grant, Heeb is at its best when it’s not acting like a magazine. A bubbe named Miriam and her “gentleman friend” Larry are the music critics. (Regarding turntablist DJ Qbert from the Galactic Butt Hair label, Miriam kvells: “Oh. I love that beat.”) “Urban Kvetch,” the review section, features critiques on many kinds of Judaica: a vegan snack called Bible Bar, Ari Fleischer and mistakenly, a New York Observer reporter with a Jewish-sounding surname who gave Bleyer a hard time back in July. (For the record, he’s a shaygetz. We all come from Adam, but still…) There’s an article about “jdating,” or finding the mensch of your dreams online. All of this makes for wonderful Hebraic hilarity. When the quarterly’s editorial decisions get serious, though, Heeb drags like religious-school class. An article on the private-prison evils of the Corrections Corp. seems old-hat, as is another elegy for late Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Turning to the business side, one sadly wonders how this amusing mag will survive. It cannot subsist on the likes of He’Brew beer alone. Where are the skateboard ads? At its best, however, Heeb is good for the Jews. Mazel tov.