Ma and Pa Shtetl Learn They’re Going Back to Linkuva
In the mid-90s, when I lived in Manhattan, a friend and I used to put out a monthly comic strip called Ma and Pa Shtetl that ran in a weird little Jewish punk zine. The original strip was a riff on Ma and Pa Kettle, a series of movies from the 1940s-50s about a couple of “hillbillies” befuddled by modernity. We would photograph these little wooden statues in places around the city, and my writing partner would translate their conversations about their wonder at the late 20th century into Yinglish. (Yinglish is English Yiddish.) I’m still mad at myself that I didn’t bother to save any copies of the zine, so the original is lost to time.
My mom got me a new set of the figurines, and I’m taking them with me to Europe, where I’m hoping to revive the strip for this newsletter (because some things should be funny, right?). I’m still learning to use the phone app that let’s me make cartoons, and my Yinglish isn’t good enough for me to write whole strips in it, but these two will always be Ma and Pa Shtetl to me.
Here is my first attempt. I sure do miss my writing partner. She was the funny one, and deeply steeped in the kind of dark humor that Yiddish is famous for.
Love Ma & Pa Shtetl puh puh puh! You did a great job with the cartoon phone app. Just a bissel correction. I always have to ask my sister, Nancy, for the distinction between meshuganah & meshuga. (We are not Yiddish mavens.)
A person is a meshuganah.
“That’s meshuga” is how you say “That’s crazy.”