Without a Shtik.


These are bad days, for people like me, who are without a shtik.

For those of you who don’t know the definition, a “shtik” is a Yiddish word, defined as:

“A characteristic attribute, talent, or trait that is helpful in securing recognition or attention.”

You see these shtik people all the time, especially in the media. Like Donald Trump who can make any ugly building “the most beautiful property in the world”.  Or those expert writers and best selling authors like David Brooks or Tom Friedman who appear on the news armed with years of dispensing the same hokum, so often, that they appear to possess real knowledge about world events.

Closer to home, in Hollywood, you meet a mediocre, gum chewing woman of no discernable articulation or breeding who will tell you, with a straight poker face, that she “produces and creates reality TV”. She can’t write, act, or direct, but she has her “shtik” down pat, and she peddles it to a gullible public who eventually believes she really does know what she’s doing.

Or someone tries to pretend they have their shtik down but it falls apart when they describe themselves as an actor, voice over actor, real estate investor, and owner of a North Hollywood photo studio. The shtik becomes convoluted, muddled, therefore unbelievable.

There are sensitive people who play the guitar, who paint, who take great photos, who can dance well, who write poetry, who know the history of England since 1066, but they are of no use because they offer no shtik to the world. They frequently are jobless, struggle to make a living, and cannot define their life’s purpose in a Facebook profile.

But the honored ones, the ones who garner the most respect in America, do not care to be honest, for they have already discovered the best thing in life is to lie to yourself and be a wholehearted believer in your own bullshit. Perhaps this brings to mind the blank unlined faces of Pastor Rick Warren and his Botoxed wife? A long time back, these eternally youthful creatures hit upon a shtik of positivism and salvation through materialism and, lo and behold, it works. Even the President-Elect believes them.

The next time someone tells you that they have invented a great weight loss device, or that they are the “King of Encino Real Estate” or they call themselves “Mr. Baklava”, remember not to laugh.

They have a shtik and they are better than you.

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