Breaking Amish. Entertaining But Very Depressing

I’m not sure if I’ve ever described a TV show that way, but that’s probably the most concise and accurate way to go in this case. So you probably “get” the entertaining part but you’re wondering about the depression angle. Well tonight’s the last night AND the after show so my pain is at an end.

Well, I’ll tell you; it’s the lying and hypocrisy. That’s just so sad to see. As you may or may not know The Learning Channel, AKA, TLC has been running a Sunday night hour long cinema verite “reality show” called Breaking Amish. The show follows 5 young people, 3 females and 2 males, who have decided to test the waters outside the Amish community for a period of time that appears to be about a month long. One of the females is from a similar-to-Amish religious community called Mennonites.

It is part of the Amish way, from the little I know, to allow young people to basically leave the community and go live among non-Amish. They call the rest of America “the English” and obviously this term dates back to when they first got here and so the big divide in those times was not just religion but part of that early American language division. A time when Dutch was just one of many languages that immigrants spoke when they arrived. These days most people who come here already speak English. And American English to boot.

So that’s my standard show description. But basically it’s MTV’s “the Real World; Amish Edition.” Because they’re taken to NYC and put up in a place they probably couldn’t afford for very long and then followed around with cameras recording the same junk that all young people do. Romance, wondering about the future, fighting and drinking.

Now, obviously the big deal here is that these guys are coming from a place of VERY low technology. And have to learn about not just computers and cell phones but elevators, coffee machines and electronic room keys. But there are other things they experiment in our modern culture like tattoos and piercings.

So what’s the problem?
Well, listen I’m not going to recap all 10 episodes but what CONSISTENTLY happens is the display by the 5 of lying and hypocrisy. And it so sad because they “free.” I mean, they got “out” for all intents and person and are able to make decisions for themselves. So to see them fall back on clearly what is standard behavior within the Amish while being OUTSIDE the Amish is just sad. Now let’s be real. They’re very young people. With 8th grade educations. So nobody is expected deep and philosophical paradigm sifts. But to repeat the very behavior they claim to be trying to get away from is just a lack of self-awareness that’s hard to watch.

IT all starts when the group is initially talking about this Kate person they’ve heard about but haven’t met. They’ve hears she’s attractive. And she is. I’d say she has more than a passing similarity to my own girlfriend-also very good looking. But they start also hearing how she’s all “stuck up.” So they’ve pre-judged her And of course they see that quality in her despite it not being there. She is not only humble, but possible the ONLY cast member that regularly defends the Amish ways!

And by the way this “judging” issue comes up a lot. Both Rebecca and Sabrina are constantly screaming Don’t Judge Me! And yet they never, never stop doing it. Comical. Well, tinged with sadness. Because both of those young ladies have terrible situations WITHIN the Amish and Mennonite community. Rebecca has an absent and adulterous father and Sabrina is adopted. So they’re both tainted if you will by their standards. Plus Rebecca has no fucking teeth. I mean she actually had her damn teeth taken from her. Crazy.

But staying with the Rebecca issue; she gets involved with Abe-to the point that they decided to get married. But turns out she was ALREADY married and divorced. And she saw nothing wrong with hiding this fact, i.e. a lie of omission.

Sabrina pulls a similar lie near the end of the series by revealing she was involved with some other guy. And if the hinting is accurate-she and Jeremiah get sexually involved. And no big deal I guess, since they’re over 18 and they too were both in marriages that ended.

Let’s stick with these 2 for a second. Jeremiah turns out to be a true sleazball. He is not just a little on the sexual side (which I’m actually cool with but he’s just clumsy and loud about it) but he is very, and I mean very, manipulative. And he engineers all kinds of devious and nasty business.

Similarly, Sabrina fabricates a pretty odd “witch” accusation against Kate. I’m talking Cotton Mathers old school accusation.

Kate of course has the best chance at a post Amish life. She’s pretty enough to actually get into a modeling agency and starts going out on calls. But you know the world, even if she doesn’t make it as a model, being attractive is a pretty good lock on better opportunities. But here’s the catch; she’s also model crazy. There is some footage of here not just drinking until she’s totally out of it, but these very odd private moments of recording herself. Way weird. Oh and by the way, turns out she was hiding a drinking and driving arrest record. I still don’t know where that mysterious arrest report came from. That’s like, the only real puzzler I saw on that entire show.

Finally Abe goes home, they kick him out. More specifically, his bother does. The reason is that he’s doing non-Amish stuff. So guess who shows up at the party and gets a lap dance? Mr. pious-ass brother.

So virtually every single one of them on the show lies and proves to be a solid hypocrite-even when given a chance to make a clean break from their insular culture. I guess, I was just hoping they lived a little better than all of us who live SUPER non-religious lives. NOPE. People are people.

Free Dental Care on Valentine’s Day in Chicago at Big Smile. My 2011 Visit. Ready for 2012?

Did you know that on Valentine’s Day, every year now, Big Smile Dental does free dental work for anybody that shows up. 2833 N Milwaukee Ave. That’s the good news. The BAD news is that I went last year, 2011, and I’ve had 365 days to right this piece and I’m only now getting around to it. My intentions, last year, was to let you guys know how to get there and generally how the experience was. But here I am, one WHOLE year late. And on here we are on Valentine’s Day 2012 and it’s already noon. Woops! Well, maybe you can use the info for next year.

Big Smile Dental

Basically here’s the deal Big Smile Dental is owned and operated by Dr. Siegel and according to the press release “No one will be refused FREE treatment on Valentine’s Day,” states Dr. Siegel, “but it is my hope that the truly needy in the community who fear dental bills more than they fear dental treatment, will be first in line to take advantage of this opportunity.” And I’m here to say last year I personally went and had my teeth cleaned.

Big Smile staff

His practice is located in Logan’s Square and you’ve gotta be careful on directions if you’re taking the train. Basically you need to turn LEFT when you get off. I’ll put a map so you can see.


I think I got there around 530AM because I really had no idea how many people in all of Chicago would show up for this free dental work. But I wasn’t too far down the block, see photos below.

The line

It was pretty damn cold the day I went. Last year we had an insane winter, and this year was a piece of cake; warm and no snow. So I showed up and it was dark as hell and cold as hell and I walked the wrong way (I went RIGHT when I got off the train) and I was counting the street numbers, so I went a super long way. And then finally I looked the address up on my phone and realized I had it WRONG, so had to turn around in walk the opposite direction in boots not made for distance but snow.

The line again

OK, let’s get to the good stuff. When they staff arrived, I think it was about 8AM, they handed out numbers to everybody. I’m pretty sure they only went to 100, so that deal about seeing everybody I don’t really know how real that is. But I imagine if you show up with a mouth full of blood and your person 101 they’ll still see you.

Now the day I went it seemed they were only doing about 3 types of procedures; cleaning, pulling teeth and maybe x-rays. But the press release for this year says.

No appointments will be made, patients will be given a time for their treatment on a first come, first serve bases Valentines morning and as much treatment will be accomplished as time allows.  “This will not be comprehensive care,” says Dr. Siegel, “rather, we will attempt to satisfy patients’ immediate needs in the time we have available.” Treatment will include cleanings, x-rays, fillings, extractions, diagnostics, and pain control.

Now let’s go back to my 2011 visit. The good thing about the numbers being handed out is that you can LEAVE once they give you your number and then take a guess as to when to come back. My number was maybe 67 and so I figured I had until the later part of the day. I went to the library to spend the morning. And that was great.


Speaking of great. What the doctor, his staff and fellow dental professionals are doing sis pretty damn awesome. Did I mention they work the day without pay? Well they do. Speaking of that let’s give a shout out to the other pros.

Dr. Chad Abed D.D.S.

Dr. Gina Kim D.D.S

Dr. David Hanson, M.D., D.D.S., the Lincoln Park Institute for Oral & Cosmetic Surgery,

Dr. Gary Hosters, D.D.S., Norwood Park Periodontics,

Dr. Henry Lotsof, D.D.S., the Ravenswood Dental Group

I think it was Dr. Hanson who did my cleaning.

Serena Wins Her 499th, 500th and 501st Matches at the 2012 Australian Open

Not really breaking stuff, but they’re saying there are only 4 players actively playing who have reached that point. So it’s something.

She beat Arn in 59 minutes just now at 3AM Saturday morning. Nothing too exciting in the game, but I’m glad she’s moving on. Like to see her play Cljisters for the title. I saw those 2 play live some years ago at the Staples Center in LA. Anyway, in this tournament the first game for Serena was against Tamira Pasze. I don’t know much about her but they were saying all kinds of stuff about this brown woman; she either had a father from Kenya and a mother from India or vice-versa, but she was playing for Austria, so go figure.

But in general day 6 at the Australian open has been pretty weird. I just watched Arn make a weird play against Serena and they keep cutting back to the Gael Monfils game against Kukushkin. They repeatedly use the word “circus” about Monfils, and I’ll admit he DOES have a weird clown like vibe about him. Oh God, he JUST did a weird trick move between the legs to confirm the monkier. But the key issue about this match is that Monfils looked like he was going to call a medial pull out, but then he came back from the dead and dragged the match out. [oh, come ON! Somebody just threw a tennis ball onto the court, and they’re saying somebody threw a beach ball down earlier] And Kuk just won the match, the end.


Watched Hewitt against Andy Roddick the other day, and it’s been a while since I saw them play, But I think it was Wimbledon that Hewitt first reached my radar; the British press was saying it looked like he was about to storm Poland-a pretty solid Nazi reference for a guy who had a very stern Aryan look. But that wasn’t cool. But that might have been where I saw him play Roddick. Anyway this time Andy had injuries so had to quite the game.

Speaking of Roddick though, he and Serena are supposed to play mixed doubles at this Grand Slam, so everybody’s waiting to see how that’s gonna go. Everybody acknowledges they’re both great players and Serena with Venus has done wonders in doubles. But can you just jam two top players together and they’ll beat practiced, well-oiled pairs?

A few days back I also got to see the best I’ve ever seen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga play. It’s always some issue with him winning, but he FINALLY pulled through clean.

I think it was later in that day that this dude Marcos Baghdatis did this strange racket braking thing. Here’s a scream shot from the video. He just broke racket after racket. Maybe one of the oddest displays I’ve seen since I stated watching the game.


So Serena hurt her ankle area a few weeks back (also in Australia, but in Brisbane). So the thing she’s wearing on her leg is I guess this tournaments fashion statement. She’s always got something.

Man! That Maria  Sharapova is a good looking woman. It took her a couple of years for her to grow on me and I usually don’t really like blond women. At all. But I can’t figure out if it’s her height I look, or the look of determination she always wears. I really feel like a cape and sword and some fur boots this woman would have been like an ideal Viking worker-woman wife.  It’s not just about being good looking you know? I mean Ivanovic is pretty but it’s not the same kind of deal. Here just like at this picture from the AO a few days ago.

She acutally played Serena last year at the US Open, so for me it was great to see  my 2 favorites play.

So let’s cross our fingers and see how she does…